The Book of Threes

A comparative analysis of three economic theories

There are two dominant economic theories that help shape current political actions regarding international trade of hazardous waste: Neoclassical and World-Systems theories–both essentialist in epistemology and ontology. I show that Neoclassical theory calls for the policy of free trade in hazardous waste, while World-Systems theory calls for the policy of trade bans in hazardous waste between OECD and non-OECD countries. Both theories assume that theory is the primary determinant of policy and that policy will necessarily achieve the stated objective (maximum material well-being for Neoclassical theory and the end of unequal exchange between developed and peripheral countries for World-Systems theory).

A third, relatively-new theory that is not widely known is Marxian Class theory, which is nonessentialist in both epistemology and ontology. It has a very different conception of policy than essentialist theories. Marxian Class theory views itself as one among an infinite number of processes that helps shape political interventions, which it views as being among an infinite number of processes that help to shape the stated objective. Because of its unique entry points, the class process and overdetermination, it has the potential to focus attention on the otherwise ignored process of exploitation. This theory is therefore in a unique position to help push the social totality toward elimination of this injustice, and to help create alliances among those whose foci may differ but whose larger goals are to create a less toxic and more equitable social totality.

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Three is the Magic Number

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