1st Edition

Economics, Science and Capitalism

By Richard Westra Copyright 2022
    206 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Various strains of heterodox economics have sought, and largely failed, to dismount orthodoxy from its dominant position. This book critiques the criticizers, explaining why heterodox economics challenges have faltered, and then presents a coherent alternative paradigm of its own. This simultaneously exposes the vacuousness of neoclassical economics, the limitations of heterodox critique and the subverting of Karl Marx’s revolutionary economic thought by his own disciples.

    The book draws in particular on two key intellectual traditions in making its arguments: critical realism and Marxism. From the refounding of critical realist philosophy of science in the hands of Roy Bhaskar, emphasis is placed upon the position that the ontological nature of the object of study determines the form of its possible science. However, in their theoretical constructions, neither orthodox economics nor heterodox economics problematizes the unique ontology of capitalism to the detriment of knowledge about the social world. The book maintains that a century of misthinking over Marx’s corpus has resulted in a missed opportunity to construct a paradigmatic alternative to orthodox economics. Drawing upon the tradition of the Japanese Uno approach to Marxism, and supported by Bhaskar’s development of critical realism as underlaborer for science, the book defends Marx’s writing in his monumental Capital as founding an economic science adequate to its ontological object of study. It then elaborates upon how Marxian economic theory exposes the hidden scourges of capitalism and what is required to unleash the potential of this theory for comprehensive analysis of capitalist vicissitudes, the study of economic life in precapitalist societies and the design of a desperately needed postcapitalist social order.

    Broadening its appeal as it sets out to reclaim Marx’s revolutionary legacy, this original volume critically traverses writings in mainstream and heterodox economics, cutting edge philosophy of science and Marxian political economy and introduces readers to a reconstruction of Marx’s Capital engineered in Japan. This provocative book is essential reading for everyone interested in heterodox economics, critical realism, Marxian economics and critiques of capitalism.

    1 Introduction: Economics and "the economy"

    2 How economics forgot capitalism

    3 Economics caught in a physics masquerade

    4 Rethinking science and social science with critical realism

    5 Rethinking Marx and the economic science of Capital

    6 The Uno–Sekine reconstruction of Capital: Microeconomics of value, macroeconomics of crises

    7 Levels of analysis in Marxian political economy

    8 Marxists and Marx’s unfinished project in Capital

    9 Conclusion: Capital, science and political economy in the narrow and comprehensive sense


    Richard Westra is University Professor at the Institute of Political Science, University of Opole and Research Coordinator at the Science and Technology Park, Opole, Poland. He has previously taught at universities in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Canada and The Bahamas and is international Adjunct Professor of the Center for Macau Studies, University of Macau.

    "Westra’s book is an impressive tour de force, engaging intensively with four separate debates and encompassing pressing issues in both economics and philosophy...This book is without a doubt a valuable and important contribution to the ever-growing body of heterodox economics."

    Jelle Versieren, Marx and Philosophy