Keith Hart, a renowned and influential economic anthropologist:
“Western civilization represents itself as an economy these days. The TV news bombards us with the ephemeral movements of stock prices, exchange rates, and the latest unemployment figures. Elections are fought and lost on a government’s economic record. International diplomacy is mainly about trade and banking. The dependent societies of the Third World are compelled to give an economic account of themselves to the agents of global order, the IMF and the World Bank. All of this is supervised by the high priests, the economists, who can be relied on to issue incomprehensible statements purporting to show that they know what is wrong or that everything is alright. It is almost impossible to discuss public affairs in any terms other than economic. Even the revolutionaries are as fixated on the economy as their opponents.
It was not always so. When the western bourgeoisie was struggling to make the modern world, politics and religion figured prominently on their agenda. They knew they had to create a whole new culture to break away from the dead hand of the military-agrarian complex. It follows from this that economics has become the religion of our secular scientific civilization. (p. 155)
It is increasingly obvious that we need a new idea of economy to help us grasp what is going on in the world. The economics profession, having opted for parasitism on the existing social order, is powerless to help.” (Hart 1990: 158).
— Hart, Keith. 1990. “The Idea of Economy: Six Modern Dissenters.” Pp. 137-160 in Beyond the Marketplace: Rethinking Economy and Society, edited by Roger Friedland and A. F. Robertson. New York: Routledge.
See also these importnat books by Professor Hart:
— Hann, Chris and Keith Hart. 2011. Economic Anthropology: History, Ethnography, Critique. Polity Press
— Hart, Keith, Jean-Louis Laville and Antonio David Cattani (eds). 2010. The Human Economy: A Citizen’s Guide. Cambridge: Polity Press
— Hart, Keith. 2000. The Memory Bank: Money in an Unequal World. London: Profile.