Monday, 6 September 2021

Why School 1

Why Schools of Economics and Political Science Should be Closed Down, is set within the paradigm of the finance-driven industrial and technological progress of the last two centuries. Presently, finance is the lifeblood of the global economic, political and cultural systems upon which we are utterly dependent from the day we draw our first breath to the day we draw our last. John Papworth's booklet was published in 2011, at a time when, following the 2008 crash, far-sighted statesmen and citizens sought to counter the pressure to abandon national currencies in favour of "the economics and politics of super-scale" (page 6). As JP so aptly asks, how many of the citizens of those countries (Greece, Iceland, Ireland) understood what it really meant to trade in their on currency, "the lifeblood of their own state" in favour of a European single currency? (See Dele Ogun's Foreword to JP's booklet. )

We use money everyday, indeed, without it we cannot last out a day. Yet, amazingly, we haven't a clue about what money is, where it comes from, how it is made, who makes it and on what authority. If you ask an academic economist to explain, the answer will come back, "Oh don't ask me! Money is a matter for accountants to take care of. Economists have more important things to bother their heads about: supply, demand, markets, all that sort of thing". So does it really matter what money is? If professors of economics are not interested, why bother our heads about it?

It is not the first time the question has arisen. As the First World War drew to a close, fear, doubt and utter confusion reigned supreme. Just as with the vaccers and the anti-vaxxers of today, there were conflicting camps. Many thought that, having fought well and won the battle, there would be a return to the 'old normal' of the pre-First World War era. Other recognised that unprecedented change was taking place, and troubled waters lay ahead. The task was to understand what had happened, and what was happening as a result.

At that time, roughly a century ago, there was no mass media, not even radio booming into people's homes. News was circulated through the hard copy press, in the form of daily news sheets and weekly periodicals sold through local newsagents and financed by the readers. These were read aloud in many households, deposited in public libraries, and debated in pubs, clubs, churches and local meeting places. Until the late 20th century periodicals were kept in local libraries and could be consulted by members of the general public, as could topical books featured in reviews in the same periodicals. The hard copy literature of the so-called interwar years is highly readable and makes interesting reading. Unlike today, they were not dependent upon funding from the corporate world. Weekly journals include The Tablet and the New Statesman, which survive to this day, and The New Age and The New English Weekly which do not.

It is to the latter two journals that we must turn to discover how and why "schools of economics and political science" were opened up. Founded by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, who drew up the original Constitution of the Labour Party in 1918, the London School of Economics turned out bankers, economists and politicians promoting the orthodox theories of political economy so comprehensively debunked in JP's text. Future leading figures in Labour politics made their names by addressing audiences, throughout the UK, refuting the guild socialist writings of A.R. Orage, Clifford Hugh Douglas and others. Referred to in the previous Blog (To Despair .. ) The history of these writings is spelled out in the two texts The Political Economy of Social Credit and Guild Socialism and Understanding the Financial System. Both are available to download from the website:

Why Schools, debunks the accepted doctrine of economic orthodoxy that includes 'labour' as one of the factors of production, alongside land and capital (see page 12). For JP, this suggests that individual human beings, made in the image of god, "are of no more or less account than a share certificate or a cabbage patch". In similar vein, in 1934, readers of the New Age were presented with an exploration of labour theory of value. In assessing the value of work, whether paid or unpaid, how is an hour's work to be valued? What yardstick may be most appropriate to evaluate comparison between the hourly value of the work undertaken by:

(1) a Professor at the London School of Economics,

(2) The Editor of The New Age,

(3) the late Mrs Norman for her feat in bearing and rearing her son, our Montague (Governor of the Bank of England in 1934)? (The New Age, 1934)

Schools of economics and political science are all, like the London School of Economics, founded upon the premise that labour, the work of human beings, is merely one of the 'factors of production'. Alongside land and capital, it is merely to be valued according to the financial value it creates. The theme explored by the guild socialists in the so-called 'interwar years of the 20th century is echoed by JP in the 21st century, but with one big difference. The guild socialist/ Douglas/social credit/New Age texts were widely read in hard copy. The massive range of papers, books, journals and pamphlets were freely discussed by people of all walks of life throughout the length and breadth of the English-speaking world. In the present time electronic communications can create the illusion of freedom of information leading to informed consent on matters of health, welfare, political rights and freedoms. But it is an illusion. At one time, back in the late 19th century, the cry was to educate our (new) masters, the electorate. Now it is blatantly obvious, we must set about educating ourselves. There is no better place to start than with Why Schools..., supplemented by the two texts mentioned in this blog.

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