Once upon a time, the intellectual subordination of economy to polity, if not well understood, was at least well described by the title of the academic discipline political economy. But, so clearly spelt out, the subject matter appeared too overtly dependent on the vagaries of politics and the inf luence of the establishment to enjoy the authority of a science. In search of dignity, political economy gracefully and cunningly, withdrew the qualifier, elevated itself with mathematical and statistical pomp and became the fictitious science of economics. Thus, without the close watch of the dropped word, it became possible to conceive a body of complex formulas, graphics, correlations and statistics not devoid of scientific coherence.
Unfortunately – the formal beauty of the mathematical dexterity being undermined by the weakness of the assumptions and the disregard of the humbled political variables – the new science proved as ‘capable at predicting’ the past as it was inept at foreseeing the future; an exercise of abstract speculation rather than a system of algorithms applicable to the socioeconomic reality.
Thus embellished, economics could be emancipated and eventually became a partner to its ancient master: politics. In this marriage of convenience mainstream economists and mainstream politicians could happily entwine in worshipping the market as a ‘mathematically proven’ harbinger of progress, prosperity, freedom and democracy; which freedom and which democracy being a subtle detail of little practical value. And, under the respectable cover of this romance, the unstoppable Ponzi scheme of capitalist credit-money has happily escalated, only suffering the temporary aff liction of occasional crises.
In another camp, duly backed by its own ‘science’, an opposite economic system has thrived for nearly a century, and then, contrary to Marx’s scientific expectations, it has collapsed in place of its adversary. To the market fundamentalists this was the proof of their credo, but to the analytical mind this was no more than the empirical failure of Marx’s principles. The disenchanted observer, instead, was reinforced in the belief that economics, notwithstanding any formalized reasoning or complex econometrics, is neither a science nor an instance of social engineering, whatever this recent definition is supposed to mean. And that, today as two centuries ago, economics is still nothing other than a social discipline that belongs to the domain of philosophical economic thinking, epistemologically very distant from a science.
Certainly, in an era when the economy is mostly expected to inspire human wants so to consume an excess of resources, the search of algorithms for the allocation of ‘scarce resources’ and the contentment of ‘insatiable human wants’ appears an outdated 19th century’s legacy. Not surprisingly, the inf luential economists were not caught off guard by this change and – the original purpose being upheld by the positive, albeit hollow, term of ‘growth’ – they redirected their scholar activity towards finance. That is, the contentment of the insatiable greed that affects capital, formerly defined as a stock of wealth, in our society more appropriately described as a stock of future wealth, in other words, credit-money. But capitalism is very different from the theoretical construction of Marxism, eventually materialized by its believers and kept alive by their faith until doubters and victims prevailed.
Capitalism is the result of chaotic social and political developments, rationalized only a posteriori by condescending scholars. Its theoretical basis is weak; only the seemingly unlimited potential for growth and the vast third world reservoir of untapped human and natural resources have sustained its reputation, its polity and its existence. That mainstream economists and politicians don’t see that this scheme is getting close to its limits is consistent with their poor forecasting record, and thus a further sign that the worst could soon occur. The humble voice of Twill is here to champion the courageous figure brave enough to challenge the current orthodoxy with a revolutionary economic paradigm that, without any pretence of being a science, could propose a path for averting the disintegration of our free society!