Not Marx

Posted: 28 October 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,


It seems we have an answer to the question I posed yesterday, about whether or not Marxian economists will be invited to the table in Soros’s Initiative for New Economic Thinking.*

First, there’s Anatole Kaletsky’s essay [ht: sw] offering “Three Cheers for the Death of Old Economics”:

A good test of whether this venture proves successful will be to ask a simple question: Was Adam Smith an economist? Were Keynes or Hayek? By the standards of what is taught as economics today, the answer is “no”. They may have explained some of the deepest mysteries of human life: why the pursuit of individual self-interest increases the wealth of nations; why market economies suffer prolonged slumps; why central planning never works.

Conspicuous by his absence is Marx. And, of course, there’s the assertion—without evidence or argument—that “central planning never works.”

Then, there’s Soro’s ridiculing of “university Marxists“:

CF Do you think university faculties will accept the sort of outside influence?

GS There will be great resistance and people in the universities are rather despondent because they realise that papers that don’t conform to the prevailing dogma are not accepted by the periodicals which are used to give tenure. So there is a self-perpetuating quality about tenure and the people who are involved in it are pretty despondent about breaking in. I am much more optimistic because I think that this financial crisis has definitely proven that that is unrealistic, that they dogma has lost touch with reality. And I think reality will push its way in, in the form of the students who will not want to study a dogma whose time has passed. It’s like a little bit like Marxist dogma. The collapse of the Soviet Union did not bring an end to Marxism. There are still Marxists at universities, maybe more in Europe than in America, and eventually they’ll die out, but until then, they will be there. But they may not have any students listening to them.

It’s pretty clear—and, some will say, not surprising—that Marxian ideas will not be among the hundred theories allowed to bloom in Soro’s well-funded corner of the world. One way of putting this is, within the world of Stiglitz and Soros, questions can be raised about crises within capitalism but not about crises of capitalism.

* Nick Kraff has also questioned the breadth of Soros’s initiative.

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