Meme Wars – the creative destruction of neo-classical economics

Meme Wars - the creative destruction of neo-classical economics

Looks like there’s a new book out that wants to revolutionalize economics with the hope that one day we can transform currently existing capitalism. Big wish but if we do not aim high where else are we going… more environmental degradation, more financial crises that favour the rich and the multinationals, more hyper consumerism that takes us towards self destruction.

Kalle Lasn, the author of Meme Wars and an important figure in the Occupy movement, wants to inspire a new type of economics that goes beyond the faux-rationalism of the old one and puts humans and the environment in its centre. He acknolwedges that his ideas aren’t new and he’s happy to build on existing alternative economics thinking.

“Lasn sees three problems with conventional economics teaching. First: orthodox or neo-classical economics has brought the world to the brink of financial ruin. Second: by fostering a consumer culture, it has turned humanity into a selfish, anxious race. Third: it fetishises economic growth – even though this growth is ultimately destructive, since it both makes us unhappy and wreaks unsustainable havoc on the planet’s natural resources. “This is one of the most fatal flaws in neo-classical economics,” says Lasn, in a delicate Estonian lilt that belies the passion of his argument. “We cannot keep on selling off our natural capital and calling it income. It’s the most stupid mistake of all … When they measure growth, they don’t measure real progress.”

The path he lays out isn’t revolutionary in the sense that it does not involve throwing away capitalism, but it does involve creative subversion and the development of an alternative vision, perhaps based on a steady-state economy and measuring wealth and happiness differently. The task has never been bigger… from trying to shift governments, corporations or general consumerist culture, to attempting to reverse the civilizational logic that underpins the machinations of our most basic societal structures… but the stakes have never been higher either, from devastating international economic malaise to approaching a tipping point with the environment from biodiversity, to global warming, to water and energy, to pollution.

I might put this on my summer reading list.

Kalle Lasn – review of Meme Wars in the Guardian

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