August 21, 2015

The Napoleon game

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘General equilibrium theory — a gross misallocation of intellectual resources and time’


Above in ‘Unsmart allocators’ I said that equilibrium is a nonentity and this implies that disequilibrium is also a nonentity. So, any discussion about equilibrium/disequilibrium/near-equilibrium/nonequilibrium/longrunequilibrium etcetera is as good as a discussion about whether the Easter Bunny has red or green ears.

For a heterodox economist to enter any discussion about a nonentity is to fall into the Napoleon trap. Solow put it nicely: “Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The last thing I want to do with him is to get involved in a technical discussion of cavalry tactics at the battle of Austerlitz. If I do that, I’m getting tacitly drawn into the game that he is Napoleon.”

In economics, to accept the concept of equilibrium/disequilibrium means getting tacitly drawn into the game that the other guy is a scientist. He is not, he is only a dilettante economist. The last thing for Heterodoxy is to get involved in any technical discussion about nonentities with any sort of scientific Napoleons.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke