Economics and the Possibility of Civilisation

Horizons Course – Saturday Mornings

At a dinner given in his honour in 1947, the great economist John Maynard Keynes proposed the toast “To economics and economists, as trustees of the possibility of civilisation”.

Now economics may not be the stuff of which civilisation is made, but unless the economics is right it will not be realised as a condition enjoyed by all citizens. It does mean that economics must have a concept of civilisation as a normal development of human society which is efficient, desirable and feasible.

In this open-ended course an introduction will be devoted to assembling the concepts, methods and definitions used in the study. It outlines the range of discrete subjects essential to the formulation of public economic policy such that all might prosper, flourish and “be splendid”.

This course leans heavily on work by Ron Burgess whose studies and research into Economics were prompted by his experience as a frontline infantry man in WWII, in North Africa & Italy. His view was that the economy we find ourselves in, is defective.  This is evidenced by the maldistribution of wealth, the twin social diseases of unemployment and inflation and the persistence of crime and poverty and regional imbalance.

At an early stage of his career he concluded, with others, that the major defect in modern economics was the use of taxation as a means of raising public revenue to finance the ongoing provision of public goods and services. A destructive method which economics in general regard as a necessary evil to which there is apparently no alternative.

Burgess’ work was in the first instance to discover how the economics worked and by what measures it could be brought to relative health without provoking civil unrest and worse. Finally what would be the template for a just and equitable society.

In this endeavour we will use this series of seminars as a new approach to economics and in due course proceed to those other subjects essential to the formation of public economic policy culminating in a presentation of normal economics.

The subject is challenging with exciting possibilities open to all, the only requirement is a lively interest in current affairs.

Presented by John Franck who for many years studied under Ron Burgess, an independent macro-economist whose work forms the basis of this course. John is current director of the Economic Study Association which endeavours to develop and promulgate the work of Burgess. John Franck has been a student at the School of Economic Science since 1965.

This course takes place on Saturday mornings 9.30 – 10.45am.