Leon MacLaren (1910-1994) was a barrister, politician, philosopher and the founder of the School of Philosophy and Economic Science. He considered the true goal of Economics to be the discovery of the conditions which allow every individual to find a fulfilling life. In his view, science was a study of laws that exist in nature, whilst economics was a study of the humanities, with the interaction of human nature and the natural universe at its heart.
MacLaren defined economics as ‘the study of the natural laws which govern the relationships between people in society’.
This book is based on a three-year course prepared by Leon MacLaren for the School of Economic Science in London in the late 1960s. The editor, Raymond Makewell, presents the original subject matter revised with more recent examples and statistics from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and USA.
Instead of making supply and demand the starting point, it begins with the simple observation that all material wealth is ultimately derived from land, and, where goods are exchanged, the first requirement is trust or a system of credit. From this starting point the major characteristics of the modern economy such as banking, companies or corporations, international trade, taxation and trade cycles are examined in terms of the conditions that govern how and why they evolved and how they operate today.
The framework in which the economy operates is examined in terms of how the system of land tenure and the concepts of property evolved in the English-speaking world, the role of government in economic affairs, and the degree of economic freedom. This reveals how the current economic situation denies people access to all that they need to work and produce wealth for themselves.
Injustice is the inevitable result and poverty its inseparable companion.
Raymond Makewell has lived and worked in Australia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East. The majority of his professional life has been spent in banking and the computer industry. He had senior roles in the design of new technologies for banks by multinational companies and in the application of these technologies by banks. He discovered the economic teaching of Leon MacLaren in the late 1970s and has run public courses teaching these ideas for many years. In 2007 he undertook a Bachelor of Economics degree and found that what was taught in universities about how people and business behaved was completely unlike what he had observed during 40 years of international business experience, and that economics was being considered devoid of history, politics and ethics. Although there was material in print which challenged many ideas of the neo-classical economists, there was very little available that presented a comprehensive, cogent, alternative view of the economic system. This book has been written to address that gap.
‘The editor of The Science of Economics, Raymond Makewell, has done a wonderful job of making MacLaren’s thinking relevant to our times … MacLaren has important ideas on economic justice that we also need to reflect on in the wake of banking scandals and growing economic inequality.
Although MacLaren made his thought independent of its original inspiration in the work of Henry George, there is no doubt that George’s influence runs right through this book … MacLaren, like George, insists that land is the basis of economic activity … George’s vision … is certainly the inspiration for the many groups today arguing for the LVT [land value tax], and, in MacLaren’s reworking of it, deeply thought-provoking.
Whether one agrees that MacLaren’s economics is more scientific than any other, or agrees with the arguments for the LVT, is not the point here. What matters is to engage with any thinker who is serious about economic justice. It matters because, although it may seem like a deeply refractory problem, not thinking about it is collectively the most likely cause of the economic mess we are in today. This book will be of great interest to anyone concerned with this problem.’
Mike King, The Network Review, the Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network