After much research, gnashing of teeth and drawings of many more lines and boxes, I’ve produced a “new improved” version of the economics family tree I posted last week. After much work it’s becoming fully comprehensive, yet seductively simple.
I think it’s a vast improvement on the last version, which had lost most of the clarity.
You’ll note, among other things, that there are two general streams of thought emerging out of history—one of which, with some exceptions, is largely ignored by the mainstream—and the other of which is largely in praise of big government.
That the last time there was general agreement was back just after the Marginalist Revolution, around the turn of the last century, out of which ‘progressive’ era all the various fragmented schools of today really emerged.
That many things (both good and bad) began with Knut Wicksell.
That there was economics (both good and bad) before Adam Smith.
You might note too the profound distance between the two Britons Philip Wicksteed over the direction of the Marginalist Revolution—a distance measured both by their separation in the chart and by Wicksteed’s assertion that Marshall and his followers were insufficiently aware of how radical that revolution was, making them little more than “a school of apologists” for the failures of the classical school to construct a valid theory of value.
That there’s really no such thing as a “neo-liberal” school—a “school” which exists only the minds of Susan St John, Jane Kelsey and their fellow travellers.
That for some decades after the British Classical School codified the study of economics, Karl Marx’s version of their work virtually had the English-speaking world to itself—which explains a lot--but his influence in economics a century later was less so than it was in other fields.
That there is a direct line forward from Carl Menger (“the true and sole founder of Austrian economics proper”)through Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and Ludwig Von Mises to George Reisman, and from Reisman back to the many valid but now-forgotten ideas of the Classical School—and an indirect line back from John Maynard Keynes back to the the unsound and misbegotten fallacies of Malthus and the mercantilists, and forward to the ‘Neo-Classical Synthesis’ that institutionalised those errors. . .
So it’s getting there. Mind you, it’s still not perfect. I haven’t included all the economists who feature on the various ’ten most influential economists’ lists of all-time, or even of the twentieth-century. And I’m now under heavy pressure from Will Wilkinson and a couple of others to add the New Institutional School . . . even though I have got Ronald Coase in there. At the moment.
Rest assured that I’ll be speaking to a historian of economic thought on Wednesday—as you do—to get some more perspective, and to get firmly upbraided for my errors.