I would like to understand the current controversy going on over at many more-read blogs than this one regarding "orthodox" and "heterodox" economics. At least, I'd like to understand it better. I'm sympathetic to a general critique of what we're apparently obliged to describe as "orthodox" economics - unrealistic standard assumptions, unrealistic views of rationality, fetish maths, ponyism - but I am, to say the least, very unclear on how "heterodox" differs from either a) just good economics, b) J.K. Galbraith, or c) critical theorist blethering.
No doubt this is unfair, but there are so many strawmen being bayonetted in this debate that I thought I might find time for a spot of close-order drill myself. Also, I was frightened by Post-Autistic Economists as a child - well, as an exchange student at Vienna University in the autumn of 2001, which is much the same. The PAEs were highly popular there, for reasons which usually added up to "no more quantitative methods class! Woo! And you're a fascist."
If you think that's unfair, well, it wasn't me. More recently, I followed a lunk to the Robert Vienneau blog and his critique of comparative advantage. Now, I'm not sure whether the problem was like the dog listening to music - I'm not bright enough to understand it - like the man listening to music through a pile of socks - the exposition clouded the clear, not the other way round - or whether it actually is what it seemed to me to be. That being a weird corner case strongly at variance with history, and based on assumptions even odder than neoclassical ones.
Curiously, this weekend I was talking to a Canadian writer about Social Credit among other things, and it struck me that historically you're more likely to be crazy if you think you've discovered a new economic principle than if you think you've discovered a new law of physics, so I think my scepticism is justified.
So, can anyone show me where to reswitch the Light on, the Provisional Truth, and the Path-Dependent Way? This is basically a great big wolf-whistle to Dsquared, naturally.