postmodernism and neoclassical economics

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Tue Feb 2 18:54:53 PST 1999

Michael Yates wrote:

> Friends,
> In a review of "In Defence of History: Marxism and the Postmodern
> Agenda" (edited by Ellen Wood and John Foster, Monthly Review 1997),
> economics professor, Yanis Varoufakis of the Univ. of Sydney, says,
> "Come to think of it, the asymptotic limit of postmodern fragmentation
> is the neoclassical general equilibrium economic model. In both cases,
> the only admissible social explanation springs from differences in
> preferences (and if identities are freely chosen, in identities) which
> are constructed in such a manner that they ban any comparison across
> persons. As for social relations, these are reduced to interplay,
> voluntarism and exchange. Freedom is defined in negative terms, and
> structural exploitation is axiomatically rendered meaningless. Above
> all else, both neoclassicism and postmodernity espouse a radical
> egalitarianism that is founded in the rejection of any standard by which
> the claims of one group (or one person) are more deserving than those of
> another. Moreover, both fail to provide a principle that promotes, in
> the context of their radical egalitarianism, respect for the other's
> difference or utility. If indeed postmodernity is analytically
> indistinguishable (at least in the limit) from neoclassical economic
> method, is there any doubt about this book's pertinence? After all, the
> whole purpose underpinning the emergence of the neoclassical economic
> project, at a time when Marx's "Capital" was beginning to bite, was to
> rid economics initially, and social science later, of history."
> What do list members think of this?

First as tragedy, then as farce.

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list