The Delusions of Economics

The Misguided Certainties of a Hazardous Science

Gilbert Rist


Gilbert Rist presents a radical critique of neoclassical economics from a social and historical perspective.
In The Delusions of Economics, Gilbert Rist presents a radical critique of neoclassical economics from a social and historical perspective. Rather than enter into existing debates between different orthodoxies, Rist instead explores the circumstances that prevailed when economics was 'invented', and the resultant biases that helped forge the construction of economics as a 'science'.

In doing so, Rist demonstrates how these various presuppositions are either obsolete or just plain wrong, and that traditional economics is largely based on irrational convictions that are difficult to debunk due to their 'religious' nature. As a result, we are prevented from properly understanding the world around us and dealing with the financial, environmental, and climatic crises that lie ahead.

Provocative and original, this essential book provides incontrovertible proof that the construction of a new economic paradigm - pluralistic, ecologically compatible, grounded in reality - has now become a necessity.

Author Bio

Gilbert Rist is professor emeritus at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He is the author of The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (Zed, 2008)

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • 1. Economics between History and Anthropology 
  • 2. A Failed Scientific Ambition 
  • 3. Homo Oeconomicus: A Dangerous Phantom 
  • 4. Exchange 
  • 5. The Fairy Tale of Scarcity 
  • 6. Utility and Futility 
  • 7. Equilibrium 
  • 8. The Growth Obsession 
  • 9. Growth Objection 
  • 10. Economic 'Science' as Religion 
  • 11. Towards a New Paradigm? 
  • Conclusion


'This is a work of sustained blasphemy. It lays bare the absurd assumptions of that lethal religion called "mainstream economics".'
Edward Fullbrook, Editor of Real-World Economics Review

'This book is a great contribution to getting beyond the contemporary pseudo-religion of economics and warrants the widest audience and discussion.'
Trent Schroyer, Ramapo College of New Jersey

'The intellectual audacity of this book will no doubt fire peoples' social imagination.'
Michel Pimbert, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

'A fine, extensive and accessible synthesis, which for that reason one can only hope will be widely read.'
Le Portail francophone des sciences sociales

'Gilbert Rist proposes a different way of conceiving of the economy and therefore society.'

'The work remains a clear and useful antidote to mainstream economic thinking.'
Gilles Raveaud, Alternatives économiques


Publication Date: 24 November 2011
224 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848139220
Hardback: 9781848139237
eBook ePub: 9781848139251
eBook PDF: 9781848139244
eBook Kindle: 9781780323633

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.