ABDUL THE GOATHERD
Oracle of the Gods and Humble Storyteller
(translated from the ancient mathuscript by Gonçalo L. Fonseca)
"Hear then, o Economidae, nymphs of the streams
CANTO THE FIRST
In the beginning there was mercantilism. Then God created Adam Smith. Some would argue that the first being was in fact French - a Cantillon or a Quesnay to be precise - and your humble storyteller would certainly lean towards such an interpretation. But the consensus of our elders (those rotten English dogs) tells us that, instead, economics began with Adam's creation.
But to begin our story like this is already to court trouble. You see, dear reader, Adam Smith contained in him elements of both the Hebrew and the Greek deities. The Hebraic aspect of Adam spoke of judgement and "moral sentiments". But the Hellenic side told stories of the magical "invisible hand" of the gods, with virtue self-defined and judgement suspended. The parables Adam subsequently bequeathed upon his progeny only left them bewildered in this respect.
Paradoxically, it was a Jew that settled this dispute by putting the car firmly on Greek rather than Hebraic rails: the magnificent David Ricardo of London. But be warned, gracious reader, that once again this account is gathered from the stories of the elders (the same rotten English dogs) - a more Gallic interpretation would have bestowed these laurels on the brow of Jean-Baptiste Say.
Nonetheless, your meek storyteller must proceed with the song. Concordant with his Apollonic demeanor, David Ricardo was entirely Hellenic in his economic vision: his individuals were mostly passive, the puny playthings of the objective gods of history and structure. Yet, as Euripides of Hellas, Ricardo of London did have his Orestreian heroes: the persecuted entrepreneurs, fighting against the furies of diminishing marginal returns to land - only to be saved occasionally by the graceful hands of the enlightened priestesses of free trade and technological change. But the petty and vengeful gods looked upon these humans as haughty and verily regarded their haughtiness with disdain. Disguised as landlords, the gods stealthily walked among the heroes and cast plagues and misery upon them. Inexorably, sang Ricardo, no matter how brave or bold the capitalist heroes might be, the gods were destined to win in the end.
Thus was born the Classical Tragedy. Ricardo's more Hebraic but even more somber friend, Thomas Malthus, tried to paint something of a moral story in it, but the dismal Ricardian canon won out - particularly when enshrined in the McCullochian Elegies and the even more famous Tales from the Millian Nights.
But all was soon not well in the Classical realm. Behind them, a flock of avenging Eumenides, such horribly named as Lauderdale, Longfield and Senior, cast their disequilibrating curses upon the Ricardian poets. Whereas, across the wide channel, under the volcanoes of barbarous lands, the cyclops Cournot, Gossen and von ThEen forged in silent sweat the marginal weapons which were to be given to the murderers of the gods. Yet even before the Hellenic Ricardians had grasped but the breadth of this challenge, a lonely Roman, an usurping Caesar arose in their midst.
The Classical system was Latinized by Karlus Marxius. Informed by Hegelius' chronicles of Teutonic mythology, he wrote a new theogony - reinterpreting the history of the gods and how they were born and lived and died and were replaced by new races of gods - for, indeed, in Marxius' theory, everything in this world was so full of contradictions that even the immortal gods were mortal.
Marxius's theogony seemed more fit for the more violent and militant times of the advanced iron age. In Marxius's hands, the genteel Hellenic Classicism of Ricardo and Mill was replaced with more visceral Latin elements: the biting language and rhetoric reminiscent of a Juvenal or Horace - combined with the political oratory and visions of a Cato or Cicero, the idealism of a Varro and the analytical power and historical sweep of a Tacitus. This Marxius, so your humble storyteller must testify, was certainly no Hellene: if Ricardo had appeared as a gentlemanly Apollo, Marxius came forth as a virulent, bearded Mars.
Marxius's contributions to the Classical Canon were themselves found in a long ruminating summation of the logic of capital, in short, a "Summa Capitalogica". There, he provided a very detailed and comprehensive analysis in the Classical vein. His use of Ricardian metres was obvious but his conclusions were astoundingly different. For instance, in Marxius' theogony, the gods were even more merciless to the cursed House of Capital: a special place was reserved for them in Tartarus where, like Tantalus of old, they were endowed with a raging thirst for profit and then placed in the middle of the ever-receding Lake of the Profit Rate.
But, perhaps following the steps of Paracelsus, Marxius's search for the Elixir of the Transformation Problem proved to be a vexing difficulty - and far from being life-giving, this search only served to drive him and his works to their grave. Although the image of Marxius has served to embellish many a town square and eastern temple over the years, in more recent times, the "Summa Capitalogica" has been kept only in the carefully-watched vaults of a few secret monasteries - where only a handful of men, the scholastic monks of the Holy Marxian Order, have access to it and serve as curators of Marxius's flame.
Nonetheless, dear reader, by the time of Marxius' "Summa", the Classical Canon was in its death throes. The agents of Ricardian economics, many had concluded, were too passive to be deemed a suitable construct; the determination of prices and outputs, which is ostensibly a human affair, and the fate of economic activity was still in the hands of the gods of objective structures. Throughout the land of the Econ, many Olympian demi-gods, haunted by the cursing shrieks of so many Eumenides, were themselves growing increasingly restless.
CANTO THE SECOND
In the year 1871 (or was it 1874?), three young Prometheans, the romantic bohemian Léon Walras of Lausanne, the rebellious and revolted William Stanley Jevons of Manchester and the tortured daydreamer Carl Menger of Vienna were secretly armed by the cyclops. Leaping on their marginally winged mechanical steeds, the three riders stormed up from earth, broke through the gates of Olympus, dethroned the gods and proclaimed the ascendancy of a new age: the rule of subjective value theory - where humans, not history nor gods, would determine the course of events.
Yes, dear reader, it was to be the rule of man over the world - for with an almost existentialist flavor (occasionally laced with mathematics), the element of individual "choices" interacting with each other became the prime and sole determinant of the system rather than the inexorable fancies of the objective gods. Economically speaking, then, Heidegger overthrew Hegel in 1871.
Then the big brothers emerged. With the same practical, cold- blooded assiduousness that characterized Robespierre after Desmoullins, the brutally pragmatic Alfred Marshall and his minions laid their hands on the revolution and proceeded to thwart its entire meaning. Elements of the Ancien Regime began to reappear in the new textbooks - where the old objective supply curves were imposed on the new subjective demand curves regardless of ideological purity. Under their rule, the revolution was institutionalized, professionalized, sanitized and, in many ways, defanged. Indeed, to confuse the populace as to its origin and essence, it was called by the blasphemous and meaningless term "Neoclassical".
Some rebels such as the sardonic Vilfredo Pareto, the deranged, wild-eyed Knut Wicksell and the brilliant youngster and scholar, Philip Wicksteed, maintained something of the original flavor of the Promethean revolution in their oratories - but they were exiled to the ends of the economic world, chained and gagged by unhelpful editors and hostile university committees. The usurper, Alfred Marshall, founded a new dynasty that was to rule economics for a very, very long time.
Paradoxically, the Marshallian Hussars set out to silence the dissidents were sometimes accompanied by something of a devil: a mouse-looking sort of reluctant captain with an even stranger name, Francis Ysidro Edgeworth. With his eccentric passion for long words, statistical equations and recontracting, he was verily a true son of Albion. Yet his apparent treachery was a function of his modesty: for such a humble man, who had once crafted mathematical and conceptual thunderbolts to lend to the revolutionaries, had later decided to step back into the shades so as to not be part of the coalition that might block the light away from the Cantabrigian monarch.
A less troubling case was that of another promising young Promethean, named Irving Fisher of New Haven. Every once in a while, he added his Promethean fire to the Walrasian flame, but he oftentimes extinguished himself with excess supplies of paper money. Although often invoked, we must note that he did not serve in the Marshallian regiments (indeed, he was a pacifist) and quietly went on to invent new indexing systems for merchants, new diets for the rich and new genes for the poor.
Yet, dear reader, around the Alpine mountains where no rotten English dogs bark and the air is pristine and filled with utility, where water is more scarce than diamonds, where time is so subjective it seems to fly by in an instant, an Epicurean group had gathered around the aged Menger to chant the magical words of yet another Dutch Jew of Portuguese descent: "The primary and sole foundation of virtue or of the proper conduct of life is to seek our own profit". These words of Baruch Spinoza, from many suitably discounted centuries before, entranced the young Tyroleans. Little Eugen, Friedrich, Ludwig, Josef, Fritz, the young mad baron von Hayek and other irreducibly uncertain boys locked themselves in the ministries and seminar rooms of the Austrian capital and dreamed of following the style of the eternal Spinoza and so build an axiomatic-deductive edifice to explain the ways of markets to men.
The Anglo-Saxon fingers also slipped from the throats of tree- cutters in the frozen forests of Sweden. This was, after all, the home of that Promethean demon, Knut Wicksell - who would bow to no king (not even the Swedish one) and taught his students well in the art of economics and poorly in the art of professional advancement. He brought unto the heathen Vikings not the tepid tomes of England but rather the prayerbooks of the Austrians and the bibles of Lausanne. Bravely, upon these texts, Wicksell built even greater and more insightful edifices.
Long after Wicksell had gone before the Lords of Valhalla to argue his innovative ideas about money circulation, capital-structure and..um..turning convents into profit-maximizing ventures, his visionary legacy proceeded in the hands of his remarkably able students - Myrdal, Lindahl, Ohlin, Lundberg and more. Sadly, these youngsters were nonetheless ignored by most rotten English dogs and indeed, the whole country suddenly disappeared from the economist's atlas - until, years later, some of these students and their friends in high places decided to create a memorial prize to remind the world that Sweden was still there. If only, dear reader, they could remind us of how exciting and innovative it once was as well!
The Olympians too were not eliminated altogether by the inquisitional bands of Marshallian Hussars. Some Olympians - such as Sraffa, Kalecki and Leontief - lived on secretly, ocassionally interacting with the new regime, at other times just living as hermits, safely hidden from the mortal professional scythe of Neoclassicism. There, they continued to clandestinely measure things in quarters of corn, bales of wheat and tons of iron, and would deliberately forget to add utility-based demand functions to their big systems of equations. Around their hermitage, they told us, diamonds were not scarcer than water - they were simply costlier to produce.
Another group of Olympians disguised themselves as their old enemies (the Titan "Historicists") and called themselves Institutionalists. But these also lived a famished existence in small communities scattered over the barbarian wastelands of America and Germany. Some concluded that as long as they were allowed to work in peace on their tasks (hammering mountains of figures into solidly-crafted business cycles, for instance), they would not seek to provoke the wrath of the new regime.
But others, drunk with lustful rebelliousness, as the one named Veblen, heeded not the danger. Disregarding their precarious position, they laughed at and spat upon the boots of the Royal Hussars and their "revolution". But the latter branded these brave souls as insane heretics and mercilessly burnt them and their works in a radiant but terrible "Auto da FEquot;.
CANTO THE THIRD
For many years did the land of the Econ, where rarely even a derivative was to be found, thus remain. Your storyteller must sadly report, gentle reader, that this was a time of great silence and boredom indeed - and little but pestilence and inanity is bred in the bosom of boredom. Neoclassical banality followed absurdity, to be exposed only by the occasional symposiums provoked by troublemakers such as the god-in-exile, Sraffa, and a particular woman of imperfect repute.
But despite their apparent absolute power, the Bourbon kings of Cambridge should not have thought themselves so comfortable. A great migration was soon to upset the partial equilibrium they had set up. For lo, upon the horizon, scores of de-laureled mathematicians and economists that had been locked in isolation in Vienna and other areas of Europe fled from brutally real Prussian oppression during the 1930s and made their way to London and the United States - making these lands havens of stirring dissident activity.
And what a change, oh dear reader of this strange tale, was to be wrought upon the land of Econ! This human wave of unfortunates yielded forth a shining and formidable tidal wave reminiscent of the earlier revolutionary fervor of 1871. In America, the foreign anarchists and their young American allies braved royalist bullets at the barricades in the streets of Chicago, set up the Cowles Commune - and the coals of the Revolution, long smoldering, were once again inflamed. Across the Atlantic, over the previously impervious shores of Albion, a similar group of infiltrators with funny-sounding names and rather suspicious habits emerged and took over the L.S.E. and began to infect the English journals with their unquarantined continental theories. The few red-blooded Anglo-Saxons that remained in these places, such as the young John Hicks, had nonetheless read so much German, Italian, Mathematics and Swedish that they no longer spoke English and had probably also lost some of their native virtues (such as Marshallian "common sense"). So too, it is has been correspondingly revealed, of the even younger American squire, Paul Samuelson.
Oh, Economidae, restrain the language of this humble storyteller who does not merit the favor of your reasoned truth. He wishes to sing with tongue inflamed of the grand concepts and dreams of General Equilibrium Theory, of the fires ignited by the Hungarian princes, John von Neumann and Abraham Wald, and fuelled by the beautiful constructions of the grand master sculptors - Kenneth Arrow, Gerard Debreu, Lionel McKenzie and so many others - that raged through London and America. But this unworthy storyteller shall restrain himself for he is drunk on the aesthetic beauty of axiomatic precision. Still, noble reader, he must go on and report the times and verily he will attempt it.
The times indeed were revolutionary. Subversive portraits of Walras, Pareto and Wicksteed were hung in lecture halls while the royalist objective supply-siders were strung up by the neck on the boulevards of incoherence. Pamphlets and monographs full of linear homogenous functions were printed by the Cowles Commune and spread about the world. The mathematical tricolor, after almost seventy years of neglect, was once again hung from the windows of universities and institutions everywhere. Exiles came from as far as France, Japan and Israel to the new Walrasian heaven, placed the fixpointed liberty cap on top of a separating hyperplane and danced the kakutani around it. Rolling up their sleeves and whistling the Lausannaise, they set themselves to work building the new utopia, the saddlepoint of harmony, the land of General Equilibrium.
But the peculiar success of the Cowles Communists and their friends at the L.S.E. was overshadowed by a highly important palace coup in the royal capital. The charismatic Marshallian general, John Maynard Keynes, organized a tight-knit circus of renegade young officers from the elite Cambridge barracks. Urged on by an entire population impoverished by so many years of the royalist-induced depression, General Keynes and his circus were overcome by a sudden propensity to act: letting their animal spirits take over, their coup was quickly carried through under the shadows of night.
General Keynes overthrew and beheaded King Marshall's weak son and heir, Prince Pigou. The royal ministers were quickly converted into their service, acknowledging indeed the truth that was contained in the General's Theory. The monarchy was abolished and replaced with a republic - with citizen Keynes himself as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
Oh, honorable reader, let this unworthy goatherder and storyteller remind you that the republic was challenged from the first day - but vainly! Sir Dennis, forced to save the old regime, came galloping out to face the Lord Protector - but Keynes pilloried him straight back to his wonderland. A lonely Viking drakkar stormed the shores - claiming the land was owned by them ex ante. But, after a financial arrangement, they soon set sail back to Sweden (it is still unknown whether they survived the return journey). All over the country, speedily but with some difficulty, the pockets of defiance that still remained were held in check or overwhelmed altogether. The Keynesian republic was in place.
CANTO THE FOURTH
Hounded by the Walrasians out of Micro and expunged from Macro by the Keynesians, the royalists lived on a meager existence in the slums of Chicago and Manchester. Many years passed and the strange victorious duomvir of Keynesians and Walrasians persisted unabated. A tense modus vivendi had apparently been arranged between these two groups and a rapproachment was even spoken of by some young idealists. Still, the world prospered and continued steadily, and so no clash seemed imminent.
Yet there were always the exceptions. The mad baron Friedrich von Hayek, indisposed towards all rulers, whether Olympian, royalist or republican, fled to the Alpine lands, where perched atop Mount Pelerin, he would sing sad dirges to the moon and delirious elegies to the dawn. He was but a specimen of that singular group of ungrouped men that would emerge in this period - such Frank the Black Knight, Schumpeter the Sage, the sorceror Maurice Allais, the noble Sir Kenneth of Boulder, the heathen warriors Al-Schackle, Ibn-Scitovsky and El-Schelling and, lest we forget, the ever-suffering Saint Georgescu of Roegen. Like the mad baron Hayek, each of their caps, it seemed, wore a folly of a different color. During these times, the solitary haunting wails of these lonely souls would also be heard - but faintly, for the stability of the duomvir was being assiduously maintained and protected.
Yet, many years later, on a murky morning - and oh, dear reader, it was to be a dark day indeed - two footloose barbarian knights made their way down from the frosty North with savagery in their eyes and plagues in their scabbards. These pagan knights, Clower the Constrained and Axel the Lionheaded, proceeded to the duomvir and brazenly accused the Walrasians of irrelevance and their Keynesian brides of faithlessness. The entire land held its breath: surely, this dishonorable insult could not stand unanswered!
Finally, the Frankish Emperor Edmond, whom had been trained in the visionary arts by the passionate sorcerer Maurice and apprenticed at the Cowles Commune, took up the barbarians' gauntlet. Brave Edmond set forth with his Paladins to meet the challengers. The brave Paladins, which included Benassy of Gaul, Drèze of the Belgians and the nimble Jean-Michel of the Grand Mountain, were only partly effective and returned with all manners of temporary treaties and constrained boons.
However, your storyteller must note that among the brave Paladins was a knight as wily as Ganelon of old - who, later seduced by net wealth, was to become known as Barro the Traitor. Still, the barbarians had provoked the Keynesians and Walrasians to finally confront one another and settle their differences through some rationing process. Alas, there was an ensuing failure in coordination and the stability of the duomvir system was endangered.
In the meantime, there were other troubles outside the gates. From the royalist nest of counter-revolutionaries in Chicago, occasional monetarist cocktails were cast at the institutions of the new Keynesian republic. These caused tremors in public opinion but failed to restore the fallen Marshallian monarchy. Nonetheless, the tumult sealed the name of one royalist firebrand, Bonnie Prince Friedman, in the popular lore and newspapers of the hinterlands.
Still, mounted regiments of the New England Cuirassiers swept about the land to engage and contain these royalist terrorists. The Cuirassiers, among whom we count the famous Colonels Tobin, Samuelson, Solow and Modigliani, fancied themselves defenders of the Keynesian republic, and thus were often compared to the "Roundheads" of yore. But they were also called "Bastards" by others - therefore we shall take the convex combination of these two terms and henceforth label them "Blockheads".
Despite their successes against rebellious royalist pockets, the Blockheads suffered substantial losses in two isolated but bloody encounters: the Battle of Causality and the Battle of Phillips' Curve. There, Bonnie Prince Friedman had mastered the ancient art of the Midwestern Charge - whereby the monarchist ranks, abandoning all sense of battlefield decorum, rigor, coherence and empirical evidence, with spine-chilling cries and taunts (the reputed oral tradition), waving natural battleaxes and fully employing their steady quantity of broad swords of gold, would rain down frenzied and wild upon the carefully-knit and rigorously built New England ranks. However impressively and coherently the defensive lines were arrayed by the brave Colonel Tobin and his lieutenants, the ferocity of the Midwestern Charge left many of the defenders reeling.
But new things were astir elsewhere. Some of the veterans in the Keynesian army grumbled at the leniency of the rulers - arguing that the government the Lord Protector Keynes had installed was allowing for too much royalist influence. Why, they claimed, even the Blockheads seemed to be fraternizing with the very enemy they were supposed to pursue!
The veterans, Rosa Robinson, Karl Kaldor and a small group of other radicals, inspired by the subversive pamphlets of some old Olympian god-in-exile, attempted a Sraffacist putsch in the heart of the Keynesian Capital. The revolt was directed at the mercenary regiments of the Keynesian republic - royalists who had put on Keynesian colors and were now serving in Blockhead ranks.
As the first shots were fired across the streets of Cambridge, the battle was enjoined. The elite of the Blockhead cavalry raced forth to engage the Sraffacists. But cannonballs of heterogeneous capital from behind the Sraffacist barricades scattered the Cuirassiers. Upon Colonel Samuelson's arrival, they regrouped and charged once more, but the blazing cannons manned by a Sraffacist corps of Italian mercenaries foiled the Blockheads once again. The Blockheads then tried a Trojan Horse approach - sending forth surrogate production functions against the barricade walls, but the Sraffacists were not fooled and sent it back covered in explosive jelly. For a while the War of the Cambridges seemed almost set to reverse the tide of history. The wearied Blockheads offered a truce, but prodded by their initial successes, the Sraffacists pushed on.
In the meantime, from behind the Blockhead cavalry lines, a renegade regiment of the Pennsylvania Rifles led by Lieutenant Weintraub, split away from the main force and started firing from sniper posts on their old comrades. These sniper post Keynesians quickly signed a non-aggression pact with the Sraffacists and formed the "Trieste Alliance", dedicated to cleansing the republic of royalist infiltrators and preserve the ideals and memory of their beloved Lord Protector Keynes.
But the Sraffacist revolt misfired for several reasons. For one, there was constant bickering among different groups within the camp - especially among the two largest factions at the heart of the Trieste Alliance: the American Post Keynesians and the Cambridge Sraffacists. Two other related sects which had joined the fray - the armed monks of the Holy Order of Marxius and zealous pastors of the Church of Commons and Latter-Day Institutionalists - also had agendas of their own. Secondly, or so they argued, politics and numbers were against them: the Blockheads apparently used their influence in the republican parliament to bar the members of the Trieste Alliance from preaching on street-corners and lecture halls.
Thirdly, in the heat of the battle, the Sraffacists took hold of some peaceful Walrasian civilians (whom they mistook as royalists) and tried to set fire to their humble communal homes. Alas, with the assistance of the renegade Cantabrigian, Frank Hahn, the Walrasians stood not idly by while their edifices burned unjustly: they struck back by charging the Cambridge stronghold waving torches burning with intertemporal fires and vectors of heterogeneous bullets.
Perhaps the major cause of the failure of the Sraffacist revolt was that it was quickly overshadowed by another - an Eighteenth de Brumaire by the royalists. The Keynesian regime had became tired and heavy with old tenured mandarins - and thus the inevitable corruption and inefficiency which always accompanies this spread like a pestilence. The Paladin challenges, the unceasing monarchist terrorism, and the Cambridge Wars had begun to stretch the resources and resilience of its defenders. To crown their ill- fortunes, Saracen buccaneers, aboard petrol tankers, had taken to raiding the treasuries of the local princes, leaving inflation and unemployment in their wake. The populace, which was already distrustful of the reliability of the Blockheads, grew impatient.
In the royalist ghetto of Chicago, perceiving the strains and weaknesses in Blockhead ranks, the young Marquis de Lucas came up with a brilliant plot which would put an end to the Keynesian regime. Surreptitiously disguised as Walrasians (whom, it must be recalled, the Blockheads tolerated), a royalist band led by the Marquis made its way into the republican parliament and blew up a ton of RE gunpowder. The old Keynesian delegates were not all instantly killed, but they lay there wounded and dying.
Quickly enough, the Marquis de Lucas suspended the Keynesian Constitution and crowned himself Emperor of the Macro. He handwrote another constitution and proclaimed the dawn of a new classical age to the confused populace. They nonetheless elected their representative agents to a new parliament and all generations, old and young, were sworn to obedience. Even those of the loyal opposition who presumably would seek to maintain the policies of the old regime, the so-called "New Keynesian Party", swore to theorize according to the new Lucasian Code.
With the old Keynesians killed, the Trieste Alliance scattered, the Northern barbarians and the Paladins safely exiled in the duchies of Ucla, Belgium and France, the Imperial Lucasian regime seemed almost unchallengeable. It reigned for many years, buttressed by the commissioning of numerous new public engineering projects (under the Royal Business Cycle agency set up in the early 1980s) which employed many idle and bright youngsters eager to demonstrate their quantitative skills.
It is true that the old Walrasian commune was quick to take arms against the usurpers. But the Walrasians did not have the heart or energy to pursue this more effectively. In the early 1970s, after the Stability Scandal and the embarrassing Sonnenschein Affair, the commune began dissipating as its members realized that their utopian ideals could not be fulfilled. The early successful days of their Existential Proof and the Core Project were now over and few among them could foresee any more promising avenues. Some Walrasian fire was still generated during the Great Leap to Finiteness in the middle of the decade - not to be confused with the earlier Great Leap to Infiniteness or the later Great Leap to Incompleteness (it can be noticed, noble reader, that Cowles Communists, loyal to their revolutionary temperaments, tend to do things in discrete leaps). But the halcyon days were over. The slogans embroidered on the mathematical tricolor, "Objective, Constraint, Equilibrium", had proved to be an illusion and, purists as they were, the commune was gradually disbanded.
CANTO THE FIFTH
What the new Imperial regime did not notice (and certainly did not anticipate), however, was the slow gathering of the impending clouds of doom. After the disbanding of the Walrasian communes, some of its more puritanical members had gone underground and formed a secret society, the Nash Liberation Front. These, in turn, were joined underground by old dissidents and disaffected members of the new parliament who had grown tired of the edicts of the Emperor's junta. Several of these secret societies were given cover by foreign powers, such as Biology, Mathematics and Psychology, and some of the rebel groups had even set up guerilla camps in their lands. Under the very nose of the Imperial Guards, a Grand Armee of dissidents was being assembled and preparations for an invasion of the Lucasian Empire were being made.
Oh, virtuous reader, your humble storyteller has indeed seen the Grand Armee! Once, when wandering lost through the dark, strange Land of Journals, his faithful goats beside him grazing along those rocky pastures, his Walrasian heart sad, his Keynesian bones exhausted and his Olympian eyes much diminished, he decided to rest upon a hill and await the lifting of the evening mist. And when it arose, what a spectacle unfolded! Your storyteller swears upon all the gods and more that all that is to follow, bar some demon's interference, is what he verily saw.
He spotted a valley wherein were arrayed hundreds of armed men, encamped, sharpening their swords and pikes and cleaning their muskets. Like the great army assembled by Gustavus Adolphus of old in the plains of Saxony, many different flags flew everywhere over the camp of the Grand Armee - and, to the immense joy of this old spirit, they were all tinged with mathematical colors. And institutions and structures - realistic structures - were imprinted on their sabres. And from their eyes blazed forth the fire of determination, a determination to save their discipline from the cold grip of Imperial rot. Their demeanour was brave, as if to announce unto the world "no more unforgivable assumptions, no more shoddy reasoning, no more ambiguity and ideological quibbling!"
But, ah, patient reader of this story, it may seem that your weak storyteller has let his imagination take his senses prisoner. Let him then merely make his report truthfully and soberly of what he saw in the valley.
There were men and women of all lands, speaking many different tongues, arranged by banner colors into separate corners of the camp. This reserve army of the disaffected seems to have been gathered and arranged into battalions and regiments - of which your storyteller read some of the names emblazoned on their banners: Non-linearists, Bounded Rationalists, Evolutionarists, Complexians, Sunspotistes, Post Keynesians, New and Old Institutionalists and a rascally group of eclectic adventurers calling themselves the Post-Walrasians. Then there were the massive Game Theory battalions and their elite regiment of dragoons, the Evolutionary Game Theorists. And there were many others, whose banners were undecipherable but are sure to emerge forth in time. What a beautiful sight to behold! A hundred flowers blooming forth in this hidden Bohemian valley!
More importantly, gracious reader, when the excitement engendered by the impact of the initial vision wore down, your storyteller noticed there was a strange fragrance that lurked in the camp, a sweetness that danced above the pungent air filled with cannon smoke and gun ash: it was the scent of a purpose, a new revolution, a smell which reminded your old storyteller of the one of 1871 - to rebuild economics from the ground up, but with newer concepts, axioms and more realistic assumptions and structures.
There stood the Grand Armee of tomorrow! Armed with biological weapons, psychological weapons and ('tis rumored) even nuclear weapons given to them by foreign powers, they have been practicing for the invasion of the mainland in conference camps everywhere from Stockholm to Santa Fe.
Indeed, some have already mobilized and made deep inroads. The Game Theory battalions, for instance, have reportedly acquired a beachhead and swept some areas (such as Industrial Organization) clean of imperial troops. Massive technological improvements in the legionnaire's weaponry, notably in computational power, has only accelerated their advance. The nimble cavalries of Evolutionary Game Theorists and Bounded Rationalists have moved far ahead and are already holding the citadels of agent-based, rationality and uncertainty theories under siege.
Others, such as the Non-Linearists have concentrated on a terrorist campaign - infiltrating highly-populated areas such as the ostentatious palaces which house the Royal Business Cycle agency and detonating high-explosive non-linear devices in the middle of their hallways, causing immense damage and confusion (this is particularly troubling since the time-consuming and grant-gobbling calibration efforts of the Imperial Engineers of the RBC are extremely delicate and sensitive to such sabotage).
Still, your intoxicated storyteller felt a slight twinge in his heart from whence emerged a dark realization: the main thing lacking in this Grand Armee is the philosopher and general, Gustavus Adolphus himself - the fire-breathing visionary who can identify the single uniting concept and set up the research program accordingly.
The straightforward aim of "overthrowing the rot" is simply not enough. As the sad experience of the Trieste Alliance testifies, the objective has to be couched in positive terms of a conceptual revolution - as opposed to the negative one of irreducible "anti-Imperialism". Nor is this anti-Imperialist sentiment necessarily uniform across this band of armed men and women: indeed 'tis known that, like Wallenstein of old, some of the elite of the Court, such as the Sargent of the Imperial Guards, are fraternizing with the rebel army and may even lead their own troops into the ranks of the Grand Armee. Why, it is even whispered that Emperor Lucas himself desires to approach them to negotiate terms of surrender!
In the end, then gentle reader, there may be no outright revolution of the caliber or depth of that of 1871 - although there is the hint of one certainly in the air. And the possibility lies there too: dissatisfaction runs deep and the invading forces already in place are not going to retreat any time soon. Yet it is not inconceivable that perhaps the non-linearists will run out of bombs, or the complexists might blow themselves up while tinkering with their stockpile of biological weaponry, and perhaps the slivers of Keynesians left will perish in the eternal exile of anchorite puritanism. And, of course, above all, there is still that great possibility that the intermittent clashes within the ranks of the Grand Armee ascend to take on the form of permanent fissures.
No Gustavus Adolphus has emerged yet, so the field is open to all aspiring lieutenants. But a Gustavus Adolphus might never arise. Or, worse yet, he might come as an usurper, as Marshall did in 1890, to drag the discipline into the dungeons of incoherence and irrelevance for yet another century.
So your tired storyteller must end this saga with a word of caution. Perhaps at this point we should lay down our aspirations for a grand system and allow each of the battalions to roam independently for a while, proceeding on their own, examining each other in passing, learning from each other, each taking what is useful to their particular research program and leaving behind what is not. In time, if the gods are kind, there might be some convergence on some principles and possibly even a few conclusions, so that thereupon the discipline may be a bit more honest and maybe even helpful to humanity at large. But if there is not such a convergence, let us not take arms and violently charge each other in the name of ideological purity - for then we might slaughter and bury much of what is insightful and useful. Let us then listen, reflect critically, and proceed with caution.
Nonetheless, we need not rashly dismiss the dream outright. It is not unthinkable that a new conceptual revolution with the ferocity and thoroughness of the 1871 one could yet happen...and perhaps even sooner than we might expect.
Thus ends the Walrasiad. Farewell, dear reader, this exhausted storyteller must bid his leave. May the Economidae then continue to inspire our travels and investigations in this peculiar discipline and grant us the necessary wisdom to distinguish when our ideas are heading in the right direction and when they are in the wrong. In short, may ye be at least as wise as the goats I tend.