27th Feb 2020: The Colonisation of Economics and the Reduction of Everything to Finance

Come along to the Safari Lounge (21 Cadzow Pl, Edinburgh EH7 5SN) at 6pm to listen to a talk about economics and finance by Alex

Human Habitat

Title of talk:

The Colonisation of Economics and the Reducton of Everything to Finance


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Contextualising Human Activity
  • The Instrumentalising Euphemism Of The Marketplace
  • The Origins Of Political Economy
  • The effects of mathematical abstraction
  • Laissez Faire Economics and the rise of the Chicago School
  • The regulation of society by the ‘free market’
  • Education and human capital: The changing of public goods to private products


A few paragraphs on your subject:

This presentation is the start of a series in which I examine the impacts of a market driven society as related to homo sapiens as social mammals. The effects of the reductive pressures of finance are to create underclasses through exclusion from cultural production (Select Committee on Financial Exclusion, 2016) damaging their ability to develop and contribute to a mutually recognitive whole (Gunn, 2018).


These underclasses are vulnerable to exploitation through their dehumanisation and devaluation (Kaufmann, Kuch, NeuhSuser & Webster, 2011). Education has been explored as a tool in this process (European Round Table of Industrialists, 1998) and is linked to a history of reducing the field of political economy to expressions of finance.


To scrutinise this cultural schema I bring in natural history perspectives to help us analyse from a third perspective the effects of ‘opportunities reduced to finance’ on our species. I argue that education is human development (United Nations, 2004) and as such is a vital element of the habitat of homo sapiens as a social mammal (Thornton & Raihani, 2010).


The harms visited upon an animal by the erosion of it’s habitat (sociological and physical) are significant and marked. Viewed from this perspective we can understand education as essential for health, happiness, and generative behaviours. Mental and physical illness, anxiety, stress and negative behaviours emerge from the destruction of the habitat of our species (Forbes, 2007) forcibly changing cooperative behaviours to competitive ones thereby negating the possibilities which come from collaborative endeavour.


The transformation of the living environment from one of holism affording nurture to an industrial environment which increasingly operationalizes living beings for the extraction and concentration of wealth in the form of finance is a lens through which we can understand the context of the central thesis of this work – ‘Education as Human Development’.


Instrumentalising animals via industrial farming results in under developed brains (Darwin, 2009) through impoverishment of environment – also known as habitat (Diamond, Krech & Rosenzweig, 1964; Diamond, Greer, York, Lewis, Barton, & Lin, 1987; Diamond, 2001).


In the human context I propose a similar process may explain the reversal of the Flynn Effect (Flynn, 1984; Flynn & Shayer, 2018) where we see a reduction of intelligence levels across industrialised nations; whether we read IQ testing as a measure of ability or whether we read it as a measure of cultural dislocation (Hall, 2006).


As a response to the erosion of habitats I argue we must cease consuming the world’s resources mindlessly and attend to collective sustainable futures responsibly through a practice of rewilding (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, 2016) our intellectual, social, economic and environmental landscapes if we are to avoid catastrophic ends to the means we are employing. In this education is critical to evolving appropriately (O’Hearn, 2009) to the emerging challenges of our changing world.


This thesis is an expanded version of a presentation given at the British Educational Research Association conference held in Liverpool John Moores University which had the theme of ‘Transitions: Challenges, Threats & Opportunities across the Post-compulsory Sectors’.


A few paragraphs about you:

Alex Dunedin runs the Ragged University project dedicated to opening up learning opportunities which develop capabilities independent of finance. Coming from a homeless background, he is particularly interested in finding models of education which can function in the most inhospitable and unresourced environments so that society as a whole can flourish.


Many of his understandings have been developed through sharing individuals and he gained his education via pro-social behaviours found in community. He believes informal education is an important complement to formal education and researches how people beyond formal education might be valued for their contributions to fields of knowledge. People are invited to offer critical perspectives and ask questions as this is an essential mechanism he uses to be in dialogue with society.


What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?

Select Committee on Financial Exclusion, (2016), ‘Tackling Financial Exclusion: A Country That Works For Everyone?’, House of Lords Report of Session 2016-17, HL Paper 132: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldfinexcl/132/132.pdf

Gunn, R., (2018), The Philosophy of Mutual Recognition by Richard Gunn, Ragged University: https://www.raggeduniversity.co.uk/2018/05/14/31st-may-2018-the-philosophy-of-mutual-recognition-by-richard-gunn/

Kaufmann, P., Kuch, H., Neuhauser, C., Webster, E., (2011), ‘Humiliation, Degradation, Dehumanization: Human Dignity Violated’, New York: Springer: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321599404_Humilia tion_Degradation_Dehumanization_Human_Dignity_Violated


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Kauppinen, I. (2014). The European Round Table of Industrialists and the restructuring of European higher education. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 12(4), 498–519: doi:10.1080/14767724.2013.876313

United Nations, (2004), ‘Human Development, Health And Education’, New York: United Nations: https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Human_Developmen t_Health_and_Education.html?id=GGhNAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc =Y

Thornton, A., Raihani, N.J., (2010), ‘Identifying Teaching In Wild Animals’, Learning & Behavior 38: 297: https://doi.Org/10.3758/LB.38.3.297

Forbes, S., (2007), ‘A Natural History of Families’, Princeton Princeton University Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan ProQuest 2007: shorturl.at/rBP36

Darwin, C., (2009), ‘Variation Of Animals And Plants Under Domestication: Volume 1’, New York: New York University Press: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2871

Flynn, J. R., (1984), ‘The Mean IQ of Americans: Massive Gains 1932 to 1978’, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 1, 29-51, Department of Political Studies University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Flynn, J. R., Shayer, M., (2018), ‘IQ Decline And Piaget: Does The Rot Start At The Top?’, Intelligence Volume 66, January-February 2018, Pages 112-121 https://www.gwern.net/docs/iq/2017-flynn.pdf

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, (2016), Rewilding and Ecosystem Services’, Postnote 537: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0537#fullreport

O’Hearn, D., (2009), ‘Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom Ten Years Later’, Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 8, Spring, pp. 9-15: https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-8/amartya-sens-development-freedom-ten-years-later

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