For hundreds of years economists have misrepresented the complexity of human psychology and worked with an asocial understanding of wellbeing. They have celebrated wealthy and powerful patrons and turned a blind eye to pervasive elite crime. They have recommended brutal policies and sanctified the “invisible hand” of supposedly beneficial markets – while downplaying destruction to communities and environments.
Originally part of moral philosophy, economics is a ‘gospel’ that human problems can be traced back to ‘scarcity’, with salvation in efficiency, competitive markets, specialisation, technology and growth. In the contemporary world this guiding faith in the pursuit of growth is crashing against ecological boundaries. The economic system is caught in a Catch 22 because, without growth, it will be impossible to service debts and the financial system will implode.