- Capitalism and Alternatives -

The Scholastics have come and gone.

Posted by: Quincunx on March 03, 19100 at 23:33:12:

In Reply to: The Scolastics are coming! The Scholastics are coming! posted by Frenchy on February 28, 19100 at 13:55:53:

I've posted about this before so I'll do it again...

CHICAGO SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS. A great center of contemporary
scholasticism. The economists working there and produced by it are
as important to the stagnation of useful thought as the Schoolmen of
the University of Paris were at the height of the Middle Ages.

Like that of the Paris scholastics, their mastery of highly complex
rhetorical details obscures a great void at the centre of their
argument. They also share a tactical genius for exporting their
conceptual definitions to less important centres around the world. The
result is a pleasing symphony of international echoes imitating their
calculations and cadences so confirming their correctness, even when
their policies bring economic disaster. The percussion section of
Chicago's orchestra is the Nobel committee for economics. Each golden
medal is like another congratulatory parchment presented at the end of
an elaborate theological debate.

But what of content? There isn't much. What of Friedrich Hayek and
Milton Friedman? These minor Thomists preach little more than
inevitability and so counsel passivity.

What they call libertarian economics is a remarkable revenge of the
scholastics on the men of the Enlightenment, who had theoretically
destroyed them. Peel away the tangle of intellectual leaves from the
Chicago School and what remains is a great clockmaker god who has set
the world ticking. But the conclusion of the Enlightenment was that
god's indifference left humans free to organize the world as they
wished. Chicago has so deformed this idea as to invert it. The great
clock has been turned into an absolute, all-encompassing system. Better
than an ideology, the world is its own absolute economic truth. We must
remain passive before its majesty.

This is a denial of Western experience. It is nonsense which simply
comforts the power slipping increasingly into the corporatist

Strategic thinking can save a great deal of time wasted over tactics. A
large number of America's economic problems, and those of the West
[and of the world?], could be solved by shutting down the Chicago School of Economics.

This would not prevent the academics employed there from preaching
their essentially anti-social and amoral doctrines. They would be
gathered up with delight by the hundreds of imitation Chicago Schools.
The purpose of closure would be simply to disentangle a tendentious
ideology from its unassailable position within contemporary power
structures. The same sort of liberating shock treatment was applied to
European civilization in 1723 when the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was
disbanded. The effect was to set free the ideas of the Enlightenment.

[pp. 60-61]
-- John Ralston Saul, "The Doubter's Companion" (NY: Simon & Schuster,

Another bit on Austrian economists

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