Market, socialism and democracy in an interdisciplinary perspective
This paper has been included in the publication
“The Economics Curriculum: Towards a radical reformulation”
In this period of economic and social distress, a thorough re-appraisal of the foundations of our economic and social systems has been emerging in virtually all the most developed Countries.
We will address some elements of such issues by analysing how, within a pluralistic and interdisciplinary perspective, a number of heterodox theories — in particular, institutional economics, Marxism and other theories of socialism and social justice — can help us to identify significant aspects of market, capitalism, socialism and democracy.
In fact, although these “familiar” concepts have shaped the complex “material” and “spiritual” evolution of our societies, it is still largely unclear how this influence has unfolded in real situations.
As a matter of fact, these concepts convey complex meanings which are interpreted differently according to the different theories, interests, values of the subjects involved. Furthermore, these interpretations often acquire an implicit character, since, to each person, they are ingrained in deep seated habits of thought and life in which the unconscious component is likely to play a relevant role.
Also for this reason, the social and political conflicts related to these issues often assume an emotional and intransigent character, which does not help to clarify what are the real aspects at the stake.
For instance, there is a strong conflict between the advocates and the detractors of the market. But what is the meaning of the market? Is it, as held by classical and neoclassical economists, a kind of “exogenous” mechanism strictly associated with capitalism? Or else, is it an institution created and maintained by public intervention and which, for this reason, can be present also in a socialist economy?
In our work, we will employ this pluralistic and interdisciplinary perspective for analyzing some controversial elements of the (i) definition and analysis of the market; (ii) authoritarian and democratic socialism, namely, how to bring together freedom and social justice; (iii) the possibility of reformulating Marx’s theory of value without reference to the concepts of Classic Economics; (iv) the theory of historical materialism and the importance of bringing to the fore also the cultural and psychological factors; (v) the links of these issues with the debate between holism and methodological individualism; (vi) the importance of an interdisciplinary approach for reaching out the manifold aspects of these concepts and, on this basis, to identify suitable policies for our most urgent economic and social problems; (vii) within this ambit, we focus on the psychoanalytic perspective in elucidating many aspects of person-society dynamics, with particular attention on how it can improve the process of policy action.