Productivity of Culture

George Krimpas

is former Director of OECD - Greek Section, Prof. of University of Athens


presentation: A Perspective for a Civilized Life
categoriy: Culture and Economy


The dismal science of political economy, predicting misery and stagnation, gave way to the irresponsible science of neo-laisser-faire, predicting an ever rising tide to lift all boats. Remuneration inequality of one to fifty, considered [by no less than Keynes] ridiculous, gave way to remuneration “justice” of one to five hundred. And the geopolitics of the subject substituted human liberty for security and the struggle against “terror”. As for civilization, it is a market thing.

Civilization is a mean, motion within tranquility, a curious amalgam of principle and judgment. Openness and continuity of tradition are of a pair. Leisure - “scho’li” - is the objective, work or, better, labour - “a’-scholia” is the constraint or burden. But what is the civilizational content of leisure? The civilizational hubris of currently prevalent [but not dominant] political economy is the validation of leisure in market terms. Market validation of non-market things is the enemy.

The perspective, or perhaps pro-spective, of/for a civilized life, is an open/close problem, of politics as ordinary struggle for power and of political economy as the designed logic of a viable, reproducible social order. The Jacobin-Marxian as well as the more recent Keynesian perspective or desired prospective need a third leg to stand on – the environmental crisis. It is noteworthy that the Stern Report has its roots in the political economy of Marshall, of more than a century ago. Constraints are a didactic instrument of history.

There is no doubt that technology can do it. But there can be doubt as to whether the politics will be adequate to the junction of the market thing and the non-market thing. And there is ever the question of power, the most open-ended query of all. One would wish that Alexander Hamilton, among others, would be member of the European Council.

Perhaps it takes a constraint to restore the mean to its proper hegemonic place in the scheme of things. The name of the capping stone is, after all, “harmony”.


Born Athens 1936, attended Peiramatikon and Athens College, Fulbright Scholar at the University of Texas, Research student and fellow at the London School of Economics, Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, Lecturer and Reader at Brunel University, London, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Athens [now Emeritus], Chair of the Department of Economics, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Politics, Vice-Rector [Planning and Finance], presently Lecturer, Doctor of Philosophy in Economics Programme. Founder member of the Alexandros Papanastassiou Club before the junta, ditto of Democratic Defence during the junta and after. Lately Ambassador to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and first Chairman of the Centre for Progressive Policy Research, a left-of-centre Think Tank.

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