Market Challenges to Democracy: The Political Economy of Hyman P. Minsky

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation seeks to reengage the field of political economy to establish a political response to financial crisis, as well as the resulting social crisis of everyday life, using the political economy of Hyman P. Minsky. As an academic field, political economy is in a strange kind of limbo. The separation of politics and economics is easy enough to see, and even within economics, there is another cleavage between economics proper and the history of economics. This yields some very strange conjectures about what it means to be an "economist," and how things can be a matter for either economic "policy" or "political economy" as if these categories were all jumbled up in a grab bag of available methodologies. This dissertation seeks to carve out some intellectual terrain in what can be called political economy by engaging in an interdisciplinary way, inspired by Minsky, in order to offer a cogent political analysis of financial crises. Minsky gives five possible definitions for political economy: the discipline of Economics, a code name for Marxism, rational choice theory of profit maximization, the management of macroeconomic policy, and finally an interdisciplinary view of political economy that works in concert with other social sciences and humanities in order to identify and remedy social ills such as unemployment and poverty. The reading of Minsky in this dissertation is thus in an explicitly political way in order to bridge the gap between various kinds of economics and the various social sciences. By analyzing and critiquing each of these possible definitions of political economy, it becomes clear that a properly social definition of political economy is the final, interdisciplinary one. This dissertation argues that Minsky had a "preanalytic vision" of the kind of society he wished his political economy to yield, and is a first step in fleshing out a political program for that vision.



political economy, democracy, crisis, everyday life, Minsky