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17. 4 2012 (22:00)
Aditya Chakrabortty (Economics is in crisis, G2, 17 April) should be more patient and perhaps look at the history of economics to understand that it takes time to construct an alternative paradigm in the face of crisis. There is no free lunch in economics, not even fast food. It took Keynes till 1936, seven years after the stock market crash of 1929 and two years after the UK economy had recovered from the crisis, to offer his general theory. The first sentence of the preface to the general theory says it is a book "addressed to my fellow economists". Economists talk to each other and test out the logic of their ideas before launching in the popular domain. There are numerous post-Keynesians, monetarists, Hayekians and neo-Marxists blogging away about the alternatives. If Chakrabortty wants hard print, he can look at Peter Flaschel and Sigrid Luchtenberg's Roads to Social Capitalism, just published. It is mathematical, of course, but it offers a series of alternatives based on the insights of Marx, Schumpeter and Keynes. More, no doubt, will follow. Economics can look after its own redemption.
House of Lords
• Chakrabortty's piece is interesting but flawed. His claim that no one has stepped into the breach since Marx, Wright-Mills and Bourdieu suggests he doesn't get around much. Poking fun at what an "entire discipline ... [of] sociologists did at their recent conference", most of the time discussing the holistic massage industry ("using a Foucauldian lens", shock horror), is of course amusing. But to judge recent sociological analysis of class, education, welfare and political economy (Savage, Scott, Ball, Skeggs and others) ignores a critical body of work addressing the failings of market and neoliberal reform. Politicians may decide to ignore such critical work, but it's troubling that he is unaware of important contributions to the field he is talking about.
Emeritus professor of education, University of Warwick