Could homo oeconomicus become a revolutionary ? On the need to teach and practice a different economics
Philippe DE VILLE
This paper investigates the standard economic paradigm as to the possibility for the agents to become revolutionaries, i.e., to develop the desire and effective action to overturn the prevailing social order. We take our cue from Amartya SenÕs remark that the Second Fundamental Theorem of Welfare Economics might be part of Ôa revolutionaryÕs handbookÕ. In analyzing the meaning of SenÕs assertion, we uncover the deep-lying difficulties which the standard paradigm, characterized by a vision of individuals as self-enclosed ÔmonadsÕ and of social order as monadological coordiantion, has in even making sense of the notion of revolution. We are thus led to the intermediary conclusion that the neoclassical paradigm is structurally unable to see the agents as (even only potential) revolutionaries. In the course of our demonstration, we show that economics needs to be conceived not primarily as a Ôteaching aboutÕ, the economic system and the agents Õactions, but as a Ôresource forÕ the agents within the model itself to reflect on the directions they want to give to social change. We endow the economic agents themselves (and not just the theorist who looks at them Ôfrom aboveÕ) with a significant capacity to educate themselves in order to form a judgment about what kind of economy they want to act in. In other words, asking whether the economic agents might in some cases become revolutionaries leads us to militate for the need to fully endogenize economics as a component of the economic model itself.
Revolution;agency;economic models;epistemology of economics;critical theory
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