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If they're so rich, why ain't they smart? Another prelude to the critique of economic theory


  • Freeman, Alan


This is a mirror, deposited with MPRA for completeness, of the same paper at the Social Science Research Network, which can be found at It should be cited as 'Freeman, Alan. 1997. If They're so Rich, Why Aren't They Smart? Another Prelude to the Critique of Economic Theory (November 6, 1997). European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE), 1997. Available at SSRN:' Economics, it argues, has lost its way and has proven itself incapable of reasoning or explaining the world we observe. Increasingly, it plays a religious rather than an explanatory role. The reason for this is the substitution of a dogma – equilibrium, or comparative statics – for scientific enquiry. This is illustrated by a detailed discussion of the profession’s treatment of Marx’s value theory. It has substituted, for Marx’s own theory, an equilibrium ‘reading’ of Marx that removes, from the theory, its capacity to explain crisis. The article was written at a time when an alternative reading of Marx – which became known as the TSSI or Temporal Single System Interpretation – had been made available to the academic world, at a time when there were still grounds to expect that this discovery might be received in a scientific manner. The article presages subsequent development of the debate, in the course of which the defenders of the equilibrium reading have systematically refused to engage with the temporal alternative. The fact that the temporal reading was not accepted, it argues, is evidence of a profound malaise at the heart of economics, to which academic Marxist economics is no exception. The equilibrium paradigm is at the root of what is now, in 2009, coming to be called the ‘systemic failure’ of economics. It is what renders economics impervious, theoretically, to theoretical comprehension of the world around it. In the dock, the paper argues, is not Marx but Marx’s target: the economics profession. This is not just a question for scholars but millions – probably billions – of victims of the market economics of the 20th Century. If the conclusions of this paper are true, then a very powerful weapon is available to these victims, of which they have been deprived for more than eighty years by the neoclassical reading of Marx: Marx’s own ideas.

Suggested Citation

  • Freeman, Alan, 1997. "If they're so rich, why ain't they smart? Another prelude to the critique of economic theory," MPRA Paper 52699, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 04 Feb 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52699

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michele I. Naples, 1989. "A Radical Economic Revision of the Transformation Problem," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 21(1-2), pages 137-158, March.
    2. Michele I. Naples, 1985. "Dynamic Adjustment and Long-Run Inflation in a Marxian Model," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, September.
    3. Foley, Duncan K., 1982. "Realization and accumulation in a Marxian model of the circuit of capital," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 300-319, December.
    4. Samuelson, Paul, 2012. "Understanding the Marxian Notion of Exploitation: A Summary of the So-CalledTransformation Problem Between Marxian Values and Competitive Prices," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, pages 182-202, August.
    5. Freeman, Alan, 1996. "The Psychopathology of Walrasian Marxism," MPRA Paper 1539, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ramos-Martinez, Alejandro & Rodriguez-Herrera, Adolfo, 1994. "The Transformation of Values into Prices of Production : A Different Reading of Marx's Text," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1994014, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    7. Freeman, Alan, 1995. "Marx without Equilibrium," MPRA Paper 1207, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item


    TSSI; Value Theory; Crisis;

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian


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