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Critical Traps

The more I present and write about this nomad economics, the more convinced I am that one of the core challenges is the escape from what could be called the critical trap. It's all too easy to try and define what it is in relation to existing reference points, to present the ideas in contrast to existing ones, neoclassical economics, post-autistic economics, marxism, behavioral economics. But in doing so you are already half way into the trap. The conversation is no longer about the subject at hand, but instead is cleaved in half. It's about the subject still, if you are lucky, but it also about the contrasting object, and objects have gravity, distortive gravity.

Few things can be as damaging to a creation, particularly a young creation, as getting sucked inside the gravity of another. The idea itself might get lost, forgotten, surrendered to the forces. Or the idea might change, warp, become as much about the object it opposes as it does about itself. There is something of a cherished notion of intellectual combat, idea versus idea, in western thought, and it is not without merit. But it is not the only way. Concepts are rarely as oppositional as they are made out to be. A nomad economics does not need to take space from the neoclassicals or marxists in order to exist, it can happily swarm around them, find new grounds and continue to grow. There are points of course were conflicts may rise up, but to get caught up, to focus too hard on those points, that is a path away from creation and towards the defeats of conflict. And there are many defeats in conflict.

It is not that all critique is bad, used properly in the right circumstances it can work wonders, transform good ideas into bad and separate the meat from the flab. But like a sharp blade it's uses vary tremendously. All to often nowadays critique resembles something more like a battleax or broadsword than the chef's knives and surgeon's scalpels we need. A nomad economics needs to grow not be defended, to learn not to critique, evolve onward not hold its ground. A nomad economics is not a reactionary economics, although indeed it sometimes looks to the past for insights.

I can't deny having certain critiques of neoclassical economics and marxist political economy, critiques I find valid and could well serve as justifications for the need for a nomad economics. In the short run too, these critiques seem to work rather well a explaining my position. But each critique in the end is as much an attack on a nomad economics as it is on its "opponents". Needless to say these are needless attacks, for a nomad economics is strong enough to grow on its own, to develop without fighting, to evolve, to create. To multiply possibilities, a better world is possible if we can just avoid the critical traps...

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