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Perinomics: a yet to exist discipline

Summary:
From Edward Fullbrook Humankind urgently needs a new discipline.  Our very survival may depend on it.  Natural science tells us that the economy now threatens humanity with calamity and potentially with extinction; and the daily news tells us that the economy’s forty-year upward redistribution of wealth, income and power threatens democracy and social order.  But meanwhile the only discipline that directly engages with today’s economy is the one whose “wisdom” has guided it to its present state. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that economists have knowingly guided us to the ultimate precipice.  But we find ourselves on this precipice today because economics’ conceptual framework (equilibrium, utility, independent agents, marginalism, linearity, micro reductionism, and GDP

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from Edward Fullbrook

Humankind urgently needs a new discipline.  Our very survival may depend on it.  Natural science tells us that the economy now threatens humanity with calamity and potentially with extinction; and the daily news tells us that the economy’s forty-year upward redistribution of wealth, income and power threatens democracy and social order.  But meanwhile the only discipline that directly engages with today’s economy is the one whose “wisdom” has guided it to its present state.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that economists have knowingly guided us to the ultimate precipice.  But we find ourselves on this precipice today because economics’ conceptual framework (equilibrium, utility, independent agents, marginalism, linearity, micro reductionism, and GDP obsession) has blinded us to the larger reality, the one that includes the biosphere and society.

Because of the scale of today’s economy and the size of the human population, it is now the economy’s effects beyond the economy itself that are the most significant and pressing when it comes to human welfare.  But economics’ underlying conceptual system prevents it from considering these effects except on an ad hoc and usually casual and non-professional basis.  Therefore, humanity urgently needs a discipline that brings together on equal footing natural science, social science, and economics so to provide the broader narrative.

To get discussion going, I am giving this yet to exist discipline a name, “perinomics”, its Greek etymology being “surrounding or enclosing accounts” rather than “economics”’ “home or family accounts”.  The creation of perinomics would quickly enable five significant things.

  1. It would bring natural scientists, social scientists, and economists into the same room.
  2. It would provide an on-going narrative focused on the economy’s impact on the biosphere and society.
  3. Because perinomics would identify itself as a discipline separate from economics, it would immediately sidestep the power structure of economics that marginalizes the teachings of those who dissent from the traditional “wisdom”.
  4. In public discussion regarding the economy, perinomists would soon command a prominent place on the platform.
  5. The new discipline’s agenda would be publicly welcomed by many natural scientists.

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