Why Economics is Psychologys Neglected Branch

Do we want a choice?

True economic activity only begins with the production of a surplus. The first consequence of which is that there is a choice between producing more essentials (hence raising overall living standards) and the production of non-essentials. Such a choice offers great possibilities and great dangers to any society. Factors such as the desire to control and feel superior to others ensures that essentials remain relatively limited while more and more resources are devoted to the production of non-essentials.

A surplus of production implies a surplus of manpower. These are two sides of the same coin. Surplus production, a surplus to essentials, means it is possible for some to do nothing or to do things which do not result in the production of essentials. These are choices.

The struggle over the choice between producing essentials or non-essentials creates the need to deny that there is a choice at all. A clear perception of this choice would involve a struggle against domination by the ruling class and an effort to democratise the economy, that is, to share the surplus among all members of the society; a difficult thing to achieve even if all wanted it.

To achieve the denial of the surplus and the choices it brings, and to maintain a non-democratic pattern of production, activities which absorb the economic surplus as rapidly as possible must be seen to be very important. It is also necessary to keep some members of society working at those unpleasant tasks vital to the creation of the surplus on which the economy rests. A seemingly inevitable shortage of essentials, the declaration that most things we want are of course essential, and the perception of an overall scarcity of resources are all fundamental to this denial of the existence of a surplus.

But how could even the cleverest ruling class erect such an illusion and maintain it? The answer of course lies in the fact that most people – rich or poor – do not wish to face the choices that a surplus provides. To reveal the core injustice of society would be to give people the choice to truly control their lives and to decide what it is that would give their lives meaning. Of course most could not handle psychologically such a choice and this is a fundamental basis of the economy.

A theory of economics based on the reality of surplus production does what supply and demand economics cannot. It allows for the seemingly consciousless production and consumption of vast amounts of useless things to be explained. Not as a wonderful product of the free market but as a desperate effort to maintain control and avoid choice.

The economic problem has been solved but people cannot to pass on to the next stage until they develop the capacity to face the choices involved in having the freedom to choose.