Since Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan came to power 30 years ago, the neoliberals have had it pretty much all their own way in terms of prevailing economic thought and practice in the West. Now, Econ4 (“4 people, 4 the planet, 4 the future”) is looking to create a powerful body of economists to drive a “profound departure from the economic orthodoxies of the past”.
The neoliberals’ dominance continues today, despite the fact that the theory has become thoroughly discredited by financial collapse, global imbalances, mass unemployment and environmental degradation. Now, in the US – the arch capitalist nation – Econ4 is looking to change all that.
The thing is, ideologies are supported by the interests which benefit from their practice, and it is unlikely the banks, media and major corporations who support its agenda will want to give up without a fight.
So it will be interesting to see how that battle develops, with the pincer movement of academic agitation and direct action by organisations such as US Uncut taking shape in the Land of the Free. Any successes they enjoy will surely inspire groups opposed to austerity here in Britain.
Meanwhile, Econ4 has also issued the statement below outlining in very broad terms what it wants from the “new economy”. Its agenda is almost certainly as relevant here in the UK as it is in the US. Watch this space.
Statement on building the new economy:
We are economists who think that the economy should serve people, the planet, and the future.
Some politicians and economists still cling to the old claims that bigger is better, greed is good, a fossil-fuelled economy is inevitable, and inequality is efficient. A growing body of evidence has shown this model to be bankrupt.
Instead of prosperity, it is feeding ever-wider inequalities of wealth and power that erode our health and economic well-being.
Instead of full employment, it is generating monthly job growth that fails to match labour force growth.
Instead of a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren, it has brought us to the brink of an unprecedented environmental crisis, consistently overstating the costs of actions to protect our climate while understating their benefits.
Instead of a competitive and resilient economy, it has fostered the growth of too-big-to-fail banks and corporations whose political power threatens the integrity of our democracy itself.
We call for a new economy founded on the building blocks of a level playing field, true-cost pricing, resilience, and real democracy.
In addition to new and effective policies in the critical arenas of job creation, housing, health care and regulation, we call for support for 21st century alternatives to the centralised, unfair, and unsustainable economy of the 20th century.
If you’re an economist and would like to add your name to this statement, please send us an email by clicking here (firstname.lastname@example.org).