As I said before, the US replaced economists with financial mathematicians. The difference between the two is significant. The former is concerned with eradicating scarcity/poverty and liberating a society "from pressing economic cares"—and as a Marxist vanishes at the very moment capitalism vanishes, an economist vanishes at the moment a society is unchained from its economy. The latter is simply about the mathematics of making money and nothing more. At one point in US history, around late 60s and early 70s, economists were no longer needed (the Keynesian years are the twilight of economics) and vacuum was quickly filled by those whose main project was creating an ideal environment for entrepreneurs and investors. What we have today is the result of this project: ownership society.

In ownership society, everyone is an entrepreneur (Gary Becker's human capital) and all that we do is tied to the fluctuations of the market (Carlo Vercellone's "becoming-rent of salary"). We are rational actors in the speculative paradise of an efficient market. True, this utopia took a hit in 2008, but its structure remained intact. But even if we found a way to dismantle ownership society, we couldn't just go back to Keynesian economics because we already live in a society that has eradicated poverty, a society whose scarcity is caused by cultural and not natural forces—meaning, we no longer need economics. (One solution to the death of this profession has been behavioral economics; but this solution turns out to be nothing more than a response to the flaws in the rational actor theory at the heart of the neoclassical mode—behavioral economics does not provide answers to what to do "when accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance.")

But what kind of profession should replace economics? Recall that Marx saw the universal as the metabolic relationship between humans and nature. It's this relationship that needs the attention of our best thinking. At present, we have too many good minds tied with up the mathematics of transforming pennies into nickels for those who have "semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities" (what we call economics today), when what we really should be trying to solve is the bad state of the current interchanges between the urban and nature, between human life and all other life forms, nations and biogeochemical cycles. This kind of work does not need an economist (whose main concern is, after all, economic growth and development) but men/women who specializes in the manipulation and invention of human behaviors. Human plasticity is the resource of concern for this profession. The social engineer replaces the economist.

IMG_20130327_091448_edit_1.jpeg