Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce the “Radical economics” issue in International Journal of Social Economics. Design/methodology/approach – “Radical economics” has two basic meanings. One employs the basic sense of “radical”, whatever goes to the roots of the matter. The other common meaning of radical has to do with whatever diverges from the orthodoxy of the time. This issue examines radical economics in both senses. Findings – The recent world economic crisis raises basic questions about economic thought. Complex mathematical formulae led banks to take what proved to be unwarranted risks. Behind them is a tendency to regard economics as a self-contained discipline. Complexities which sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists and historians have done something to unravel are sometimes simply ignored. The philosophical bases of the economic theories in circulation are often more than two centuries old. But some important ideas from the past have been forgotten, the distinction between wealth and riches is one. Social change also plays a part in the problems. Community friendly capitalism, ridiculed and attacked by some economists, has faded. At a deeper level the tendency for the rich to get much richer while the poorest people in the world are only slightly better off has produced more instability and uncertainty, which economists have not successfully addressed. Practical implications – It is hoped readers will join in these ongoing explorations. Social implications – The recent economic crisis has been importantly a crisis of confidence. Economic studies, which offer hope for change, can be an element in increasing confidence. Originality/value – The problem posed by the constant expansion necessitated in the ordinary way the need to invest profits may threaten the sustainability of life on our planet and no immediately available economic theory seems to address this. This issue begins to raise the essential questions, with hopes of continuing the discussion.