Greed and the Crisis of Capitalism

As emphasized in the previous posts by Mady, one of the key problems with current economics (both theory & practice) is the lack of ethical bases. I believe there is no solution except by re-introducing ethics into the study of economics. Justice and equity are crucial to any study of economic systems. In contrast, the unfettered pursuit of profits lies at the heart of capitalism, as Max Weber clarified.

The goal of this blog is the same as the demand of the Manchester students: radical reforms in conventional economic syllabi. Since the dissent to orthodoxy remains a minority position, spreading the message requires development of self-contained texts/lectures. Here the emergence of MOOC’s provides a useful lead — Designing self-contained teaching modules to support courses which challenge orthodoxy, could be an essential and central component of any strategy for radical curriculum revision. To this end, I have started creating lectures and modules which could be used as components of heterodox courses.

One recent lecture of this type is called “Current Crisis in Capitalism: Causes and Consequences“. This was a talk delivered at conferences in Turkey and Indonesia, addressed to a Muslim audience. It traces the root of the current crisis in Capitalism to the promotion of greed as a virtue over the past century or longer. It also suggests that responses & remedies to the crisis must have a firm ethical basis, which Islam provides.

More generally it should be possible to get widespread agreement on some core ethical principles, and use them as a basis for creating an alternative economics for the twenty first century. This should be a high priority item to build a “rainbow coalition” necessary to fight against current un-ethical economic systems. Also, the construction of MOOC style lectures and modules would be extremely useful for teachers struggling to create coherent alternatives to conventional economics.


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