Modern economics is a conjuring trick. The effective conjurer creates an illusion of magnificent proportions--chopping a beautiful young woman in half, the disappearance of a wedding ring and its reappearance, the correct prediction of a privately chosen playing card. So does, in like fashion, the modern economist.
The two tools of the act of conjuring that is known as modern economics are misschooling and hijacking.
Having gone through the rigorous process of misschooling in modern economics in two continents, I may be considered qualified to make a statement or two on this topic, since no one else has. You see, once you have been misschooled it is in your self-interest to keep your 'bloody mouth shut,' as my adviser in graduate school in economics advised me to do. I have kept my 'bloody mouth shut' for too long not just from self-interest but also from consideration for the feelings of my old teachers and professors. I have come to realize that that is wrong and that I must speak up.
I was first misschooled at Jamnabai Narsee School in Bombay, where I did not have to read a single word of Gandhiji's in all my years of miseducation. This school was considered one of the best schools in Bombay. The only time Gandhiji came up was right before Gandhi Jayanti one year when the school arbitrarily decided that students would give speeches on Gandhiji's birthday.
Since I was considered to be the best speaker in my class, my teacher handed me a speech written by one of my classmates' father and asked me to 'mug up' the speech to deliver on Gandhiji's birthday. The speech made me nauseous. It had profoundly stupid statements such as, "He was known as the naked fakir."
Luckily for me I went crying to my father. He had studied in a school run by freedom-fighters and read Gandhiji's autobiography in its original Gujarati (his Principal had given it to him) and was able to help me make my own speech which I delivered to all the other fourth standard students. After that Gandhiji was never mentioned again in my school.
That brings us to college. I received my BA in economics from St. Xavier's College, Bombay. This college was considered to be one of the best colleges in the country. In my five years of miseducation at St. Xavier's I never had to read Gandhiji and I had never even heard of Kumarappa! The elocution contests were sponsored by the chamber of commerce and needless to say I never once won these competitions or even got selected to represent my college. I must hasten to point out that my professors were some of the sweetest people I have ever met. They were kind, generous and taught us what they themselves had been taught. I remember my mother, who was herself denied an education by her parents because she was a girl, asking me quite innocently in my third year of college if we studied Vinoba in economics class and I asked (much to my shame now but not then), "Who's that?" I would like to point out that as a National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) Scholar I was considered to be one of the brightest that the college had produced.
I fear things are not much better now. If asked about Hind Swaraj, the bright college student today is very likely to ask, "What's that?" And referring to Ram Rajya, the same student is most likely to think that reference was being made to bigoted ideas of the extreme right.
I received my MA in economics from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and awarded the title of University Fellow. If India had been a miseducation, America was miseducation magnified. In the name of education, mental gymnastics aided by mind-numbing mathematics were presented and memorized, all in the aid of preserving a patently unequal economic system controlled by the rich and powerful.
That has been my own experience of misschooling in economics. Had it not been for my father, a brilliant maverick economist, and our family's tradition of reading and long conversations late into the night, I would have been perfectly molded into the model economist. Unfortunately for me, my father died when I was 16 years of age, and that loss left me at the mercy of my misschooling until my awakening.
Let us return to our analogy of the modern economist as showman-conjurer. We have examined above the first of the two tricks up the conjurer's sleeve, that is miseducation. We understand through my personal experience how so-called higher education in modern economics is brainwashing in the interests of fear and greed. It is not that Gandhian economics is rejected by this system, it is that it is never ever brought up! Show me the economics professor who talks of Gandhiji in his or her class and I will touch their feet. I have yet to touch any economist's feet.
The second tool of the economist-conjurer is hijacking! The modern economist hijacks concepts that should with common sense mean one thing but are made to appear as something else altogether. We will examine just two of about a thousand such concepts.
Consider rationality. Common sense tells us that people and animals and as scientists have shown us more recently, even plants, are rational in the sense that they care about being alive and preserving their kind. So we would have to agree that the common sense meaning of Rational Man would be that he (or she) take actions that would preserve mankind. But modern economists insist that the basic axiom (axioms are never proven--they are stated as accepted facts) of life is that individuals only care for themselves, that they want more more more, that human wants are unlimited! Common sense tells us that if every single person wants everything that is in this world and more, mankind would perish from constant conflict. That would hardly be rational for the species!
Consider freedom. Modern economists say freedom consists in being able to buy anything one pleases. But common sense tells us that to buy things means to use money and to use money in turn means to have to earn it. How is a person to be considered free who has to toil long hours, not to grow his or her food, but to make someone at the helm of a very large organization fantastically rich? This so-called freedom is paid for by the blood and sweat of the people forced to work long hours at meaningless jobs, away from their families and communities, to purchase shoddy goods that are put away in a while, food removed of all nutrition that is bad for their health, just to plop down in front of a giant television set where they will be told what they must consume next.
Rationality and freedom are just two of a thousand common sense ideas that have been hijacked by modern economists and brought into the conjuring act.
With the skillful and persistent use of misschooling and hijacking the modern economist is constantly creating illusions for the world to see and believe.
In the meantime suffering increases, we are more lonely than ever before and parents have no time for their children and children have no use for their parents.
I could go on and on and on. I could write a book on all this. But really, who is listening? Who would bother to read my book?
Posted by Abhay Burjor Ghiara at 5/29/2015