Democracy  &  Nature, Vol. 3, No. 3


Competitive Markets and the Environment: A Critical Examination of Orthodox Economics

 Simon Avenell and Herb Thompson

Abstract The ‘neo-classical’ version of economics epitomises the hard core of orthodoxy for most economists and neo-liberal commentators. The theoretical and epistemological premises of neo-classical economics are, at the very least, highly suspect. Yet its analytical content remains at the top of hierarchical discourse, reinforcing the self—perception of ‘Western’ civilisation as a domain of autonomous, self-interested and rational individuals maximising their socio—economic interests most efficiently. ‘Economic knowledge’ is thereby controlled within meta­phors which portray mechanical order. Herein, orthodox conceptions of efficiency and competition are examined. After presenting the manner in which these structured concepts are integrated into the analysis of ecological and environmental questions, the tautologies and inadequa­cies of orthodoxy are exposed. Whether or not ‘Green Economists’ can escape the strictures of orthodoxy remains conjectural, depending upon the results of struggle within the political, economic, and ideological spheres.