Review Of 2 Books: ‘Doughnut Economics’ And ‘Another Economy Is Possible’

Summary

Critiques of the failures of economics as a discipline.

Authors Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics and Manuel Castells in Another Economy Is Possible provide penetrating critiques highly relevant to today’s political debates.

Alternatives and practices in both markets and commons to cope with the crises of economism.

Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth, Chelsea Green, USA (2017)

Another Economy Is Possible, Manuel Castells, Polity Press, UK and USA (2017)

By Hazel Henderson

Copyright ©2017 Hazel Henderson. All Rights Reserved.

These two new critiques of economics by economist Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics and sociologist Manuel Castells in Another Economy Is Possible follow a long but formerly obscure tradition. Some background may be helpful.

Critiques of the failures of economics as a discipline, a pseudo-science and why it nevertheless became a ubiquitous public and private policy tool have persisted for over a hundred years, as I documented in The Politics of the Solar Age (1981, 1988). The most powerful came from scientists: Nobelist chemist Frederick Soddy in 1921 with his paper at Birkbeck College and the London School of Economics (LSE). Physicist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen wrote “The Entropy Law and the Economic Process” in 1971, which I reviewed in the Harvard Business Review. Both these scientific critiques demonstrated the fundamental error in economic theories of whatever ideological persuasion: ignorance of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics and the consequent omission of energy as a basic factor of production.

Economists’ myopia stemmed from their narrow focus on human affairs – with little apparent awareness of how our home planet functions in relationship to our mother star, the Sun, which provides our daily energy income and the source of life. Most indigenous people worldwide grasped this relationship with many being Sun-worshippers. Economics was a political power game in the England of Adam Smith, then correctly named political economy. Smith’s brilliant observations of empathetic human behavior in his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) then widened to how humans behaved competitively at a distance, in larger groups beyond family and community, and as trust in wider markets grew along with technological innovation in his famous Wealth of Nations in 1776.

Review Of 2 Books: ‘Doughnut Economics’ And ‘Another Economy Is Possible’

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