The fake Nobel economics prize was part of a ploy to de-democratize control over economic decisions. And it worked!

Another year, another round of Nobel Prizes, and yet another opportunity to remind people that — unlike the other Nobel Prizes — there is no actual Nobel Prize in Economics. There never has been. 

The fake Nobel prize in economics was part of a propaganda ploy hatched in the 1960s by Sweden’s activist central bank to imbue neoclassical (aka neoliberal) economic theories with mainstream credibility and respect. The plan was to give what was in essence a radical political ideology the sheen of a real, hard science — in line with the Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics and biology.

That history is reflected in this year’s winners — two obscure economists working in a very narrow field: a subset of game theory that deals with optimizing auctions. Wow! Wait, auctions? Huh? 

We’re surrounded by oligarchy, austerity, corporate power over every aspect of our lives, environmental destruction on a global scale. And we’re talking designing slightly more efficient auctions? I don’t know about you, but it seems like some seriously narrow-minded accountant-type work given our dire apocalyptic times.

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