Economics as a colonial discourse of modernity
DOI link for Economics as a colonial discourse of modernity
Economics as a colonial discourse of modernity book
What part has economics played as a colonial discourse of modernity? This generally neglected question is addressed by Dimand, Grapard, and Callari who investigate the colonial moments in classical political economy’s nineteenth-century emergence as a modernist ‘science of society’ and subsequent reinterpretation and evolution into twentieth-century neoclassical economics. Classical political economy was a late entrant among modernist discourses, but its ambition was hardly modest. It proposed to do no less than lay out ‘laws’ for human interaction in that domain of society in which the requisites of material well-being and survival were regulated and determined. Its key, from the beginning, was that it possessed a logic always hidden from view: the ‘father’ of political economy, a man of the commonest of surnames, Smith – but biblically forenamed Adam – thus laid the cornerstone of the new science in his assertion that markets worked ‘as if by an invisible hand.’ This crucial trope created classical political economy as a modernist discourse by casting it as a science of universal abstractions shed of its historical skin. One hundred years later neoclassicism completed this program by revealing that the laws of economic science operated even within the human mind, allowing one to “treat economy as a calculus of pleasure and pain” on “close analogy to the science of statical mechanics” (Jevons 1970: 44). How, then, does a modernist discourse rotate upon itself to become a colonial discourse?