Anti-Equilibrium (1971) was well ahead of its time in emphasising that (i) economics should draw from biology, rather than physics, as its methodological underpinning; (ii) evolutionary logic requires a different type of decision-making in simple, routine matters, as opposed to large and important decisions; (iii) the most important production processes are non-linear, with increasing returns to scale being the rule, rather than the exception in modern capitalist economies and — in conclusion — that there is no such thing as general equilibrium. In modern societies, goods and services are either in shortage (Socialism) or in a state of oversupply (Capitalism). It is either a buyers’ market or sellers’ market.
A recent international conference, entitled Transition in Perspective offered an opportunity for the author to take stock of the achievements of the post-socialist economies since the regime change in 1989/90. The analysis was carried out in two dimensions, in the political and the economic one. Regarding the first one, the record is largely positive: many countries have regained their independence, although in some cases the price was high and the fundamentals of democracy are still missing. In civil wars and inter-ethnic fights far too many people were killed and/or displaced. Since about 2000, many countries fell in the hand of autocratic leaders. In terms of catching-up with the income levels of the advanced economies, less than half of the countries were truly successful. The people have good reasons to be disappointed.
János Kornai, the most distinguished Hungarian economist passed away on 18 October 2021. This short essay, written by a long-time disciple of Kornai tries to prioritize his scientific achievements spreading over six decades. The conclusion is that Kornai's most important contribution to the principles of economics was already presented in his 1971 book, entitled Anti-equilibrium, and without this book his most respected later works and his other original concepts, like the soft budget constraint or the shortage economy, cannot be understood.
Nicholas Kaldor and János Kornai are known in the academic literature as the most principled and unyielding opponents of the neoclassical, mainstream economics in general, and the Arrow-Debreu General Equilibrium Theory (GET) in particular since the beginning of the 1970s. Nevertheless, they remained in the minority camp with their views until today. The mainstream of the economic profession still holds that only the neoclassical paradigm offers a comprehensive, systematic, consistent and, above all, mathematical (hence “scientific”) description of how modern economies operate. This paper aims at investigating why these two prolific writers, who were friends and spoke the same mother tongue, did not find a common ground and did not even try to build a school of followers jointly.
Nem helyes azt elvárni az iskoláktól, hogy minden létező problémára ők készítsék
fel a gyerekeket. A tanulmány legfőbb mondanivalója az, hogy a 6–14 éves
korosztálynak egy olyan élet- és viselkedésstratégiát kell megtanítani, amely
fontos területeken ellentmond a humán evolúció évezredek során kialakult
logikájának. A túlélés genetikai programja a rövid távú optimalizálásra
ösztönöz. A hosszú élet, az egészséges öregkor viszont azt feltételezi, hogy az
emberek ellenállnak a rövid távú örömforrásoknak. A jó hír az, hogy a bizalom,
az önkontroll, az akaraterő fejlesztése tanítható – erre nyilvánvalóan a
mélyszegénységben élő családok gyermekeinek van a legnagyobb szükségük. Ez
kellene, hogy legyen az iskolai prevenciós programok elsőszámú célja.