Modern Economic Thought: The American Contribution

By Allan G. Gruchy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
1
Introduction: Economics in Transition

The western world is now passing through an era of widespread economic change which presents a serious challenge to the ability of the advanced capitalistic nations to manage their economic affairs successfully on some collective basis. It is also a challenge to orthodoxy in both scientific and philosophical thought. This orthodoxy has found it increasingly difficult in recent years to withstand the attacks of those who regard the current situation as a great, opportunity in which to create a better social and economic order. This is as true in economics as it is in all other fields of human thought. fSince 1929 heterodox economic views have come to enjoy a wide currency, especially in the realm of national policy making. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that recent economic and political developments in the United States have once more brought into prominence the work of those enterprising economists who, ever since the establishment of Richard T. Ely's "new school" in the final quarter of the nineteenth century, have been deeply interested not only in the reform of economic society but also in the reconstruction of economic science. These heterodox economists and their followers have had considerable influence in the shaping of national economic policies in the past fifteen years. They have had much to say in those situations in which economic theory has come face to face with the concrete facts of economic experience. It is without doubt the relevance of their economic thought to the problems of the era of the Great Depression which has given these forward-thinking American economists the "wide area of power" to which their critics have made reference.1 While trying to close the gap between theory and practice, these economists who have thought along the lines laid down by Ely, Patten, Veblen, Commons, and Mitchell have

____________________
1
Robbins Lionel, An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science, Second Edition, page 114. London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1937.

-1-

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