Wow, After 20 years running my self hosted WordPress site strategic econ.com I’ve decided to go minimalist and rely on a basic Worpress.org account.So many ideas, so many books i’m reading and have read, so many conference talks I’ve been following.
The Narrow Corridor by Darren Acemoglu and James Robinson has made a deep impact on me. I think back to Stanford, the protests against Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam war, and the econ theory classes with Serge Kolm and with Mordecai Kurz. We (students and teachers) wanted to do something, to be part of the protests, but also questioned why our theories – competitive equilibrium, monetary theory, gave us no theoretical apparatus to even discuss violence and power , in any kind of “transactions”. And of course I had no understanding of any kind of global historical conquest, domination , coercion, murder rape pillage appropriation, much less the brutality domination and subjugation that pervades so much of ordinary life.
Dominance, subjugation, power, deference,appropriation, expropriation, coercion ….none of these ideas/conspts played any part in my education in economics at UBC and Stanford, nor in the education – teaching – I provided over the next 40 years. Time to rectify that!! And, folloing up a reference I’ve been working my way through Philip Pettit’s Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World . It is the intellectual framework he provides that excites me – since as an economist I have more or less unknowingly adopted the idea of freedom as non-interference in choice – classic Benthamite and JS Mill articulation of notions of liberty and freedom. .Time to dust off the modelling behind basic general equilibrium ideas like the Edgeworth box , strategic equilibrium ideas, and single agent constrained optimal choice and rethink – re-analyse – within the framework Pettit develops about freedom/liberty , power, subjugation and domination . Along the way perhaps empower budding young economics students to work to keep us in the Narrow Corridor