A Return to Free Market Economics?: Critical Essays on by John Jewkes

By John Jewkes

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Some sociologists, indeed, have claimed that they, too, can usefully predict inventions and technical progress. There are historians prepared to believe that history repeats A Return to Free Market Economics·' itself, that by discovering congruent past and present sets of circumstances, the future can be foreseen. I know of no means of disputing such claims by scholars in other fields except by reasoning which also cuts the ground from under the feet of the economist. It is, incidentally, worth while noting that one group is frequently highly sceptical about the work of other groups of forecasters.

I do not recall any British economist, before the event, asking these simple questions and, after the event, it is the doctors themselves and not primarily the economists who have raised these questions. Or take the British Nationalisation Schemes that, whether they have been good or bad, have been very important institutional experiments. The systematic examination of them, before or after the event, has been surprisingly perfunctory. Or take the very important matter of the relation between the size of, or the degree of monopoly possessed by, industrial organisations and the frequency of invention and industrial development.

You may call this commonsense or a sense of the practicable, the feasible, or cool scepticism, or middle-of-the-road thinking. But it seems to me most likely to flourish among those who are aware of the past, and aware of it because they have rubbed up against the facts of history, sought to place themselves in other men's minds, watched the frustration of expectations, the occurrence of the unlikely, the failure of the probable, the collapse of well-laid plans, and the constant emergence of some new pattern out of standard and familiar elements.

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