Metaeconomics - A Really New World order

Metaeconomics: Home Page

Welcome to the Metaeconomics website, which has been designed to raise aware­ness that the global economic system is in terminal breakdown and argue the need for a new economic paradigm, to which I have given the identifying name Metanomics.

The website could be entitled “Economics at the Crossroads” and I offer in the last section a signpost to a sustainable future. The body of the site is made up of information, historical and current, to support my case. Some of the information is hardly more than simple economic logic, some is rather technical, and this has created a difficulty in identifying and writing for a target audience. While I hope that professional economists may find something here of value, the website has been designed largely with the non-specialist in mind.

It is unusual in having an exceptional amount of text, for which an apology and explanation is offered here in advance. As the supporting evidence for the website’s argument built up, the text expanded beyond its original plan in order to give proper weight to unfolding events and, as a result, has ended up half way between a website and a decent-sized book. Even so, much significant material has had to be omitted. It is hoped the “book of the website” will be published in 2018, but this is a moving target, since the most momentous economic events continue to unfold in a dramatic and often barely credible way. Who could have thought in 2010, for instance, that many banks five or six years later would not be paying interest on deposit accounts, and even charging their customers for borrowing their money, or that governments would be issuing bonds that paid zero and sometimes negative interest and, equally incredible, would find buyers for them? The list of these outrageous innovations grows steadily and it seems as though economists and politicians are too mentally numbed to react to them. Each successive blow to the pillars of economic sanity is received quite calmly, as though it were part of a new economic wisdom. 

As always in such confusion, one seeks an explanation by asking Cui bono? – who benefits? – and the obscure and crisscrossing trails eventually lead back to global banks and transnational business corporations (TNC’s), which are using their financial power to rewrite the rules of classical economics. If he were writing today, Adam Smith’s book would more properly be called The Wealth of the Managerial Class. As will later be detailed, global economic activity is driven and controlled by the abuse of the power of these mega banks to create money out of nothing and of the TNC’s to override the legal requirements of elected governments.

Once a corner of the curtain of respectability that conceals these activities is lifted, what comes into view is nothing less than criminal conspiracy on a scale that cannot be understood without some serious study and I think it is true to say that no mainstream economists take this development into account as they juggle their ever more esoteric equations. Economic theory proceeds as though fraud, greed, incompetence, lust for power and dirty tricks never intruded into the economic affairs of men.  George Soros’s 2008 book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets attributes economic malfunction to poor regulation, seemingly unaware that the regulatory bodies in many countries, not least the United States, are themselves corrupted. If, as this website argues, and for which it offers evidence, economic policy really is driven by fraud on a global scale and at government level, to ignore or deliberately blind oneself to the fact must lead ultimately to an economics of delusion and, more to the point, much human misery.

The two key words on the website are metaeconomics and metanomics and in one sense the website may be seen as an attempt to gain deeper understanding of both and of their significance in the economic future now bearing down on us. Metaeconomics is, broadly speaking the study of the foundations of economics and differs from economics proper in that it examines elements that we normally take for granted, such as money, banks and corporations with a view to radical changes. Ernst (Fritz) Schumacher popularized the term metaeconomics by defining it as “economics as if people matter,” but since his time we have become aware also of the need for an “economics as if the planet and species mattered.” While completely in sympathy with these approaches, my particular concern has been to explore the deepest anthropological foundations of economics – where history, political theory, science, ethics, spiritual awareness and psychology come together – and bring these to the surface. These are critical areas which ultimately determine the kind of economic theory and practice we adopt and they usually go unquestioned in textbooks. From the limited analysis on this website several out of sight but vitally important principles will emerge, but especially the following:

As the implications of these statements unfolds, there comes the realisation that what might at first appear to be a matter of economic reform, involving no more than adjustment to current theory and practice, calls in fact for a revolution as historically important as the abolition of slavery, which once was an integral part of a global economic system. It might at this point be useful to point out that many experts of the time argued that the whole concept of abolition was naively idealistic and unreal and that global economics would collapse without slavery. That same charge will doubtless be levelled against the central argument of the website, which is that we cannot solve the economic problems that have been created by humans at their current level of evolution without rising to a higher level of scientific and spiritual intelligence, empathy and logistical skill.

The wider problem, involving all aspects of human evolution is treated on my website

which opens up questions about the need for paradigm change not only in economics but in science, spirituality and education if we are to escape from the several cul de sacs down which each discipline is now travelling. It also contains information on various of my papers, which can be downloaded without charge, or my published books, including my latest,The Global Energy Trap and a Way Out (Matador, 2017). This deals with the complex economics of fossil fuel and renewable energy and can be purchased from the website at a discount from the published price.

The term metanomics, which I use to identify the proposed paradigm change is not strictly a neologism, but is not to be found in mainstream economics. It was invented by the now largely forgotten social philosopher Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (1888-1973) to indicate an economic theory based on principles of ethics and social justice. There is nothing new about that: Adam Smith, the founder of the science of economics was a professor of moral philosophy and Aristotle’s economic writings are to be found in his Ethics. What Rosenstock-Huessy and virtually all reforming theorists fail to see is that a sustainable, green or human-centered economics is a logical contradiction without a deep-rooted reform of the concepts of fractional reserve banking and the limited liability company, more particularly the global corporation. Whether on the small or large scale, the corporation is based on the principle of “maximising shareholder value”. This seems to be morally neutral but in practice comes up constantly against other moral principles, such as the need not to harm the environment and to pay a just wage to the company’s employees. By the terms of this new morality, a board of directors which chooses to spend profits on improving the environment or the wages or living conditions of its employees is acting unethically and breaking the rules of its incorporation. This is no abstract philosophical principle, but a decision which faces many company directors every day. It would be no exaggeration to say that managing a big public company is in itself a moral hazard. This has been recognized for a long time, as also has the unpredictability of a future in which the corporation, national and transnational, would become totally dominant in economic affairs. As early as 1932, Adolf Berle’s and Gardiner Means’ classic work The Modern Corporation and Private Property looked forward to a time when “practically all economic activity will be carried on under the corporate form.” Examples of the inhuman, and dehumanising, effects of the principle of maximising profit are not hard to find, perhaps the most obvious being the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, when over 10,000 people died from poisonous gas generated from accidental breakdown in a chemical plant. The lengths to which the responsible company, Union Carbide, went in order to avoid, delay or minimize compensation is a stain not only on industrial history but on the human race itself, and what is most deeply worrying is that the immorality of this corporate behaviour was perpetrated by quite normal human beings, some at least of whom, no doubt, attended church or synagogue every weekend.

Like Marxism, corporate capitalism has become a quasi-religion, as may be illustrated by following statement made by the chairman at the Dupont Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in 1972, taken from Mark Hamilton, God-Man: Our Final Evolution. (Henderson, Nevada: Neo-Tech Books, 1998. p. 442, ISBN 911752-84-6):

“One cannot imagine a more eloquent testimonial to the potency of man than E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Man and capitalism working together are the essence ... of man’s well-being and happiness …. Within Du Pont, no higher cause exists than serving the stockholders by increasing their long-range common-stock values.”

What is different about metanomics, and justifies calling it a new paradigm, is that it starts from analysis of the dysfunctionality of key elements in economics – notably money, profit, banking and corporation – and finds the cause in assumptions about the nature of human evolution. Or, put differently, human evolution is now seen to depend on a radical revision of economic theory. Theory is thus forced to propose different systems based on new assumptions. From this new perspective, the right of economics to be called a science can be more clearly seen but, more significantly, the need for an articulated system that will respond to the actual needs of humans from micro- to macro-level. The challenge is taken up, or at least introduced, in the last section of the website Metanomics and a New World Order.  It will be obvious, even from these brief remarks, that it presents a massive and long-term task, but in the same breath it must be said that paradigm change of its nature involves changes in theory and practice on a large and disturbing scale. It would hardly be too much to say that a university degree course would be required to understand all the factors that have taken us to this point before embarking on the construction of a theory that aims to set them all right.

Paying my Debts

Isaac Newton famously said that if he could see further, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants, and no one can write seriously about economics without the same feelings. It goes without saying that one must be grateful to Adam Smith, Ricardo and Marx, the great founding figures, for doing the heavy intellectual lifting, and to Keynes a century later for giving us “modern” economics, which made balancing the national budget a rather quaint old-fashioned idea. But all these were in a sense prisoners of the self-regulating machine model that has been the basis of economic theory. Marx, of course, was the exception in condemning free market economics, but still believed that economies worked like machines if directed from above by expert socialists.

My greatest debt is to those theorists who, while not rejecting the principle of competition or the free market, worked more on the margin where economics overlaps with sociology and ethics, and who were as much concerned with social justice or ecology or political theory as with economics in the narrow sense. Much of what I normally take to be my own insights is usually forgotten wisdom learned from Mill, Jevons and Bagehot who wrote for an earlier age, from Schumacher, Silvio Gesell and Barbara Ward in the more recent past and a host of contemporary writers who are alerting us to the need for a global economics that is sustainable, ecologically sensitive and socially just. In this they are at odds with most mainstream economics, and sometimes seem to inhabit a parallel universe. My indebtedness to them would call for too long a list, and though it is really invidious to single out names, I feel I should mention Lester Brown and Colin Hines for their passionate and informed work on the effects of globalisation, and David Korten, William Greider and William Engdahl for their professional sleuthing into the nefarious Realpolitik that drives it. For insight into monetary theory and community I acknowledge my debt to Thomas Greco, the late Ferdinand Lips, Bernard Lietaer and Richard Douthwaite.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank Jennie Dawson, of Lakeland Web Design for her professional help in constructing this website, finding solutions to many technical difficulties, and helping to shape a theme that has constantly overflowed its boundaries.

The obverse to Newton’s famous saying is that if one stands on the shoulders of giants, one should be able to see further, and that, I hope, justifies this website. From where I stand I see a world which is calling for a revolution in economic theory and practice, which ultimately demands far more than tweaking or incremental change or ever more complex or aesthetically pleasing equations. It calls for a whole new look at the claims of economics to be a science and, deeper than that, a revolution in our understanding of social structures and of human evolutionary potential. If that claim is found to be plausible, metanomics will restore the study of economics to its ancient place, at the heart of moral philosophy.





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