- Tadbir urus
- Ilmu pengetahuan
Among the many entirely widely held but incorrect notions that affect me like fingernails on a chalkboard is that economics is a “Dismal Science.” It is neither a science and most definitely not dismal. Sebenarnya, the context of the origination of that appellation contradicts the general impression held even by supposed economic experts.
The story begins with the understanding that communism is very old indeed – the pilgrims were communists, misalnya. National Socialism (Nazism) is at least as old as Plato’s Republic. What still is truly revolutionary is Adam Smith’s idea of individual economic liberty.
More revolutionary yet was the concept Smith felt was so important that he began his treatise with it – and not the “invisible hand”. That is the amazing increase in productivity caused by specialization, and therefore a fantastic future prosperity. In chapter one of his treatise he illustrates this idea by taking us through a pin factory, showing how specialization increased productivity from a few pins a day per worker the old way to thousands per day with specialized tasks.
Following Smith’s lead, with a few exceptions like Malthus and Ricardo (the Iron Law of Wages), the early practitioners classical of economics were an amazingly optimistic bunch. Their optimism was so widespread and powerful that economic analysis was among the most important arguments deployed to eliminate slavery in the British Empire.
The thinking was that free men would be far more productive than slaves, especially when all the costs were tallied. Oleh kerana itu, the British sugar and rum trades would not suffer if slavery were eliminated.
After the slave trade was eliminated in 1833, there were some severe problems. The former slaves would not work the sugar plantations in the West Indies. The economists’ response was that plantation owners simply needed to raise wages and improve working conditions. The black slaves, being human like the rest of us, would respond accordingly and everything would be fine.
In that era, everyone including the abolitionist was racist if you define racism as belief in the inherent superiority of the white race. Enter Thomas Carlyle, the renowned Scottish 19th century historian. He was a thoroughly disgusting racist of the worst kind who passionately believed that all races, especially the black race, were created to serve and be enslaved by the superior whites.
Carlyle was particularly dismayed by the problems abolition caused the rum trade and sugar plantations. In order to pen his prescriptions he wrote the now infamous, but apparently generally unknown essay “Occasional Discourse On The Nigger Question.” That is the exact title – Google it for yourself.
In that essay he said Britain should re-enslave the natives forthwith. It was in response to the pesky opposition to slavery by economists that he referred to them as practitioners of the “dismal science.” This is the origin of the term.
The context of the phrase, “dismal science”, is exactly the opposite of the general impression. It falsely colors the perceptions of millions, including nearly all economics practitioners. It is just one of many elements of common wisdom and orthodox that is exactly wrong!
Now you know the truth. Judge the uninformed claiming expertise accordingly.