chapter  4
13 Pages

Theoretical humanism in crisis

The case of Walrasian economics in the post-war period

This chapter provides the general properties of an Arrow Debreu (A-D) economy and discusses the structuralist moments of the A-D model together with the perceived normative, political, and policy implications of these structuralist moments. The A-D model is neither the first nor the final reformulation of the Walrasian general equilibrium model. By the 1950s, there were already a number of different formulations articulated by, among others, Cassel, von Neumann, and Hicks. The multifarious ambiguities and uncertainties that characterize empirical things emanate from the political, cultural, and natural attributes of commodities that are suppressed when they are transformed into objects of the A-D economy. In short, for the A-D model, the production is a frictionless, automatic process of optimization that takes as its domain the entirety of commodity space. The auctioneer and its contradictory position within the purportedly individualist framework of the Walrasian system already identified by a number of scholars as a structuralist moment of an otherwise theoretical humanist discourse.