“Science without conscience is the death of the soul” this is how Rabelais expressed himself in his “Pantagruel”.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Marc Chesney for restoring the nobility of economic science by publishing his extremely clearly written book La crise permanente (translated in different languages and continuously updated versions), as well as his recent fundamental article in Current Concerns No 11 of 25 May 2021, in which he develops his critical analysis of the financial sector with simplicity, integrity and loyalty, and refers economic science back to its humane, just and universally understandable foundations. In doing so, economics is once again becoming a discipline that strives to reconcile its scientific capacities with what is morally acceptable.
It is a great opportunity that a university professor specialising in finance uses simple terms to describe extremely complex situations that appear so complex because they are penetrated by the fog of the institutions and actors involved, by the fog of the banks, by the fog of the role of tax havens in the globalised stock exchange business, by the fog of dubious speculation, the so-called “shadow bankings” (financial transactions in the shade), the prevailing inedible technical jargon in the field of economics, the victory march of crypto-currencies, the rotten tricks in international financial transactions, the fraudulent technical literature disseminated by the Chicago school, and the general acceptance of profit and disloyal competition.
“A good mind is better than a gorged one,” Montaigne stated, and he was right. The students of economics who, from their course of study, then devote themselves to the various professions in the field of economics, will undoubtedly appreciate encountering university teachers who do not orient their thinking entirely towards the logic of the current financial casino and its aberrant effects, but lead them towards reflection and interdisciplinary exchange, towards a more precise understanding of how everything is connected. The educational programmes of young economists are often characterised by very narrow specialisation, which increasingly loses sight of the comprehensive perspective and forgets the whole for sheer knowledge of details. This inevitably leads to not being able to see the wood for the trees. It is only by overcoming disciplinary boundaries that one can see the whole of the economic system.
It cannot be surprising that the “gilets jaunes” in France were convinced by the idea and the initiative that electronic financial transactions should be subjected to a micro-tax in order to renew the country’s outdated and bureaucratic tax system, which is generating more and more injustice, rampant hardship and impoverishment.
There are many fellow citizens, communities and groups today who agree that in creating a more just and humane model of society, creativity and the gift of renewal are the driving forces when it comes to taking action.
There is certainly merit in denouncing the machinations of the financial oligarchy, but working to create a different kind of economic regulation has a much wider dynamic. The future cannot be predicted, it demands the search for solutions. The best way to look into the future is to help shape it. The future is us, what is inside us.
The committee’s initiative is to be welcomed. It brings the economy back to the path of reason, to its real connections. And certainly, something like this is easier to realise in Switzerland, thanks to its direct democracy, its means of initiative and referendum, easier than in France, where democracy often remains a democracy of chatter. •
* Nicole Duprat is a political scientist with a degree in law and international relations from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques Aix-en-Provence, a teacher and a contributor to Horizons et débats.
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