Miserable Bankruptcy of Mainstream Economics

Capital-centered economics is unscientific and irrational. It does not provide people with a coherent, integrated, and cogent understanding of the economy. Instead it increases confusion every day, leaving people rudderless and disoriented about what is really happening.

The capitalist economic system is always chaotic, anarchic, and violent, but the last two years have been more volatile and disordered than usual. Stability and security remain elusive. Uncertainty and anxiety are ever-present. Sustained healthy economic growth is largely absent.

In the most schizophrenic way, one week the monopoly-controlled media claims that the economy is doing extremely well while the following week we are told the economy is collapsing. We are to accept constant uncertainty and precariousness and conclude that this is the best we can do. A CNBC news article, After a huge year for growth, the U.S. economy is about to slam into a wall, is emblematic of this incoherence and irrationalism. So is this headline from U.S. News & World Report, The Maddening Reality of the Biden Economy, and this one from CNN Business, America’s economic recovery is about to go into reverse. What “growth”? What “recovery”? And why are “growth” and “recovery” suddenly “about to go into reverse” or “slam into a wall”?

The main nagging economic problems are well-known: endless debt of all kinds, ceaseless money printing, high inflation, growing inequality, extensive supply chain disruptions, more poverty, rising insecurity, widespread under-employment, erratic business hours, poor wage growth, prevalent homelessness, additional pay-the-rich schemes, and more.

These grave problems are interrelated and reflect an economy dominated and distorted by a handful of competing owners of capital while the vast majority, the actual producers of wealth in society, remain marginalized and disempowered, reduced to helpless bystanders watching everything decline. We are to believe that conscious human control of the economy is impossible and that all we can do is “make the best” of a treacherous situation, “endure the pain,” and “weather the storm together.” Apparently there is no alternative to this obsolete state of affairs. We are to “wait things out,” cross our fingers, and hope that things magically sort themselves out.

Existing conditions are screaming for new social, political, and economic relations but the present authority refuses to modernize relations to bring them on par with what is needed. The international financial oligarchy is desperately hanging on to a dying and decaying world, determined to block the new.

What are people to make of this untenable situation? What should they do? How can they change the situation in a way that favors them?

Continually engaging in a conscious act of finding out and combing analysis with action are critical to opening the path of progress to society. These are not easy responsibilities, especially under oppressive anti-conscious conditions.

Economic problems cannot be solved without concrete analysis of the conditions and collective action to solve problems. The rich and their allies are not going to solve anything. They have no interest in the balanced extended reproduction of society. They cannot be relied on because they are concerned only with their narrow private interests, not the economy as an integrated whole. They reject public control of the economy. Nor do they want anyone engaging in conscious investigation of what is going on and organizing with others to create new pro-social arrangements. The ruling elite does not want its domination challenged in any way, no matter how many lofty phrases they throw around about being democratic, inclusive, and progressive.

Blindly repeating and supporting the ideas of the rich and their political representatives will not lead to one iota of progress. Embracing the outlook and agenda of the ruling elite and rejecting theory, analysis, and investigation will only perpetuate the destructive status quo. It is only by taking up our social responsibility together that we can overcome the forces dragging society backward. It is both possible and necessary to understand and control the economy to serve the people as a whole. Living and working standards do not have to decline in this modern age. The economy is not a mystery. It can be directed to serve the general interests of society.

Under existing arrangements we have seen what happens when different sectors of the economy are dominated by competing owners of capital interested only in their own profits no matter how damaging this is to the social and natural environment. The economy is prevented from being self-reliant, balanced, and coordinated to serve the broad needs of a modern society based on mass industrial production.

Under capitalism everything is so discombobulated that one “glitch” in one sector leads to disruptions, distortions, and upheaval elsewhere. Why is this unsustainable state of affairs allowed to prevail in 2022? Is there no alternative to this backward state of affairs?

Major owners of capital are a block to progress and progress begins by taking a stand against the old and in favor of the new. It begins by rejecting a capital-centered outlook of the economy and society. Together we can decipher and understand what is going on and collectively improve the social and natural environment. Only we can usher in the alternative to the status quo.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.