Recently, Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins presented the central arguments of their book, The Econocracy, to a packed room in Uni Place.
Noone could debate that these three had really thought this all out. Challenges were met always with referral back to the core message of the student movement, one which appeared more than ever to be uncontroversial. The room seemed engaged and respectful of the message.
Present were all kinds of people of different ages and voices, ranging from one man who semi-jokingly suggested that economics as an entity might reasonably be discarded of, given it’s apparent uselessness in understanding the world.
We had an engineering professor who proposed most enthusiastically that there should be a charter, similar to most professions. Such a charter would likely see countless economists struck off following 2008 of course, the thought of which elicited a chuckle from the audience. This proposition did seem to have a certain strength to it somehow.
It stood out when Francesca in the work of PCES, rather than satisfying our youthful urge to ‘smash things up’, we instead reason and establish a dialogue with, the economics department and university at large. Rather than just expressing our frustrations to the good pedestrians of Oxford Road. This observation seemed particularly meaningful given the composition of the room where we had economics professors, administrators and general serious-looking adults.
I was talking to a social anthropology professor in front of me who was most vociferous about how he thinks that social anthropology is in a similar state to economics. He talked of there being very specific case studies with a lack of emphasis on a holistic approach, leaving the subject with findings that are useless to the real world. And that to try to tackle this trend there is a similar movement going on within social anthropology department.
His view is hard to put down in simple terms but we can say that it is the general idea that in so many of these subjects of the social sciences, especially true as he says in social anthropology, there has been a setting of parameters outside which approaches are ignored, neglected or dismissed.
This begs the exciting question: what will there be next? The Post-Crash Social Anthropology Society?
This book is part of a wider movement of people who are not part of the academic establishment, campaigning with sound arguments that there needs to be a shift.
As one of the keynote speakers alluded to: The Econocracy can be placed in a far wider context, far beyond that of the student movement. Namely that of the emergence and development of the kind of ideas that came to organise our economy. Free trade was born here in Manchester, as was it’s anthesis: Marxism. And now, from Manchester, a challenge to the way that the educational and indeed political establishment approaches economics.