Stuck: Fictions, Failures and Market Talk as Race Talk

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ClassCrits is a network of scholars and activists interested in critical analysis of law, the economy, and inequality. We aim to better integrate the rich diversity of economic methods and theories into law by exploring and engaging a variety of heterodox economic theories; including reviving, from the margins and shadowy past, discussions of class relations and their possible relevance to the contemporary context.

As a participant in the ClassCrits VI conference entitled, “Stuck in Forward: Debt, Austerity and the Possibilities of the Political”, I sat there at the end of the first day and puzzled over the fact that our discussions seemed out-of-step with what I was hearing in the country. I had felt this way before when ClassCrits was first formed in 2007.

Despite this disconnect, I suggest in this paper, as I believe the conference did and several of the symposium papers do, that we (the country and others) are stuck in practices and policies inspired by neoclassical economic precepts, despite mounting evidence that they fail to serve the majority of the population, and as absolutes, are fictions. Further, I suggest that these policies, practices and fictions are racialized in a way that, in part, encourages even economically disadvantaged people to support them, even though they primarily work to benefit the few.

Part I of this essay provides background information on ClassCrits, its themes and recent activities. Part II then explores several ClassCrits themes in more detail focusing briefly in the first instance on a critique of neoclassical economics and its understandings of the “market” before then turning to discussions of methods and arguments that explore that critique. Finally, Part III of the article ends with brief descriptions of the papers included in this symposium. Most of the symposium papers are short thought pieces or essays that engage law and legal analysis to a greater extent than does this introduction. Instead, this introduction focuses on the economic and social debates about the market and provides the context for the essays.

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Southwestern Law Review

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