How Economics bolstered Power by obscuring it

19 January 2015

Economists consistently have upheld the power of elites, at times by taking their side overtly, but most often by ignoring or obscuring power, giving economics a veneer of science, in which the impact on people and the environment is hidden from public view.

Conventional economics has constructed a powerful ideological system that reinforces the power of capital by providing much of the intellectual firepower of neoliberalism, which has been successful in imposing destructive austerity around the world. Every reasonable demand made by grassroots social forces, such as calling for environmental protection or better working conditions, will be met by a regiment of dogmatic economists, standing ready to charge that such demands are evidence of ignorance of economics, because popular demands would undermine the presumed efficiency of markets.

Naturally, the media and corporate funded think tanks will give the economists a powerful megaphone, typically capable of drowning out the messages of the social movements. This paper is written in the hope that historical and contemporary examples of economists’ unwarranted support of corporate power might contribute to diminishing the destructive influence of economics in curtailing the progress of social movements.