| ‘Economic Crisis and the crisis of Economics:|
Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative’
Professor of Political Economy
Dept. of Social Policy
e-mail: [email protected]
This video lecture focuses on the current crisis of Economics and the relevance of Political Economy as a realistic and credible alternative. The last global capitalist crisis of 2008 reopened discussions on the issue of economic crisis; an issue long forgotten by the dominant tradition within economic theory, Economics. Economics (that is the study of the economy in abstraction from social and political relations, as a ‘play’ between individuals and not between social classes) has failed, in both its Mainstream (Neoclassicism) and Heterodox (Keynesianism) versions to forecast, comprehend and confront the 2008 crisis. This is a repetition of Economics’ dismal record against almost all previous major economic crises. Its Mainstream version considers capitalism a perfect system where crises erupt only because of deformations of the ‘normal’ functioning of the market. Its Heterodox version maintains that capitalism – because of its anarchic nature – is prone to crises but the existence of an overseer (in the form of the state) can secure the avoidance of such sad episodes. Both versions have failed utterly as the crisis hit both deregulated and regulated economies. On the other hand, Political Economy – the other major tradition in economy theory – proposes a more realistic and credible understanding of the economy. The latter is not an ‘play’ between individuals but between antagonistic social classes. This class struggle within the economy has an inherent social nature and is necessarily linked with politics. Thus, Political Economy argues for a unified analysis of the economy, the society and politics. Within Political Economy the Marxist tradition argues that capitalism is a system that passes from periods of booms to periods of bust. This is the normal functioning of the system as it exhibits cyclical fluctuations (economic cycles). Thus, crises are not an aberration but a normal characteristic. Moreover, state intervention can affect the eruption and the evolution of crises but it cannot extinguish their existence. This analytical framework has greater explanatory power that Economics.