Resurrecting Veblen

In 1919 Veblen an early economist, a qualitative economist,  described how societies are resistantly-slow to acknowledge “era-driven” change.  “Things which, under the ancient canons of knowledge, have habitually been regarded as known facts, will under altered circumstances prove themselves by experience to have only a supposititious reality.”

In his time, Veblen understood the emergence of a “new order” that brought in “machine industry, corporation finance, big business, and the world market, Under this new order in business and industry, business controls industry.”   The society and economy were captured by vested interests who were at that time in the process of reconciling economic dislocations through the process of war.      The dynamics he describes are well familiar because they apply to our time, our outmoded beliefs in light of an “era-change.”

Today the global economy may be integrated but the societies and nations that compose it are not.       The scarcity of fishing stocks (South China Sea), a break in global integration, a drug-resistant bacteria, a failed monoculture crop,  an environmental issue, the fragility of economic perfection all has the potential to cause a massive dislocation in the form of a human die-off or a catastrophic war.