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View Diary: Heterodox Economics 101: Reclaiming Evolution (11 comments)

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  •  Marx & Veblen (0+ / 0-)

    Mark is a protean figure; historian, sociologist,philosopher, politician and more. His great limitation was perhaps his beleif that he could create a science by setting up a bunch of postulates (the same mistake Freud made).  This give the whole thing an air of power and plausibility it doesn't deserve. What I call the gears and pistons approach to social science.  As a former devotee, for me it was the realization that neither the labor theory of value nor the theory of surplus value could hold water that made me jump ship.
        Veblen remains for me a model economist, because he practices what you might call anthropoligical economics.  That is he situates finacial behavior in a context of custom and ritual. This is how we really make economic choices.  In comparison, Marx too readily accepted the rational man model.

    •  Homo Economicus (0+ / 0-)

      I almost, sort of kind of agree. I guess I would like to qualify that a bit.

      Marx was one of the first to systematize the idea that people in different historical epochs as well as positions in life could look at and see the world differently. So in that sense I think he is the anthropological frame of looking at human action.

      Also, his idea of "rational economic man" differs from that of the neo-classical idea. Marx does accept (I think) that many people in capitalist society are driven to act in a narrow, maximizing framework. However, he regarded that kind of action as narrowly rational but socially irrational and destructive (note the parallel to Weber). He also thought in a good society people could learn to not be motivated by pecuniary instincts (to borrow Veblen's phraseology). Also, in fairness to Marx I think he did understand the importance of ideology.

      I will say that Marx perhaps overemphasizes however the material component in all of human motivation. He clearly thought that in capitalist society you could identify an objective, material interest for different classes and therefore delineate false consciousness. He also seems in some cases to extend this back into pre-capitalist societies.

      So I do agree: Veblen has a richer understanding of human action and motivation but I don't think Marx was quite as narrow as you portray him.

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