[OPE-L:4525] Re: Re: Marxist economists

From: glevy@pratt.edu
Date: Wed Nov 15 2000 - 11:14:03 EST

A response to Alejandro R's [OPE-L:4520]:

> My point is not wheather or not one is *willing* to use the 
> term "marxist
> economist" in the professional life. In the countries where I can 
> work,
> *I'm not allowed to use that term*. That's all.

Is your point that in many parts of the world Marxists are not hired as economists if they identify themselves as Marxists? Wouldn't that be the case *independently* of whether they identify themselves as "Marxist economists"?  E.g. if they called themselves "revolutionary socialist critics of economics" I suspect that they also wouldn't be hired. 

> Or, as in theory these are
> "free countries", I may use it in as a Quixotic act only to find that
> nobody will take me seriously. In part, this is due to the fact that those
> who have been calling themselves "marxist economists" have always
> maintained that "Marx's Economics" is only a self contradictory, cumbersone
> and metaphysical theory and have been very busy "demonstrating" this for
> many years.

To begin with, you over-generalize. *Not all* of those who identified themselves, in part,  as "Marxist economists" have "always maintained" this. E.g. the foremost person who in recent decades most popularized the terms "Marxist economics" and "Marxist economist" (even though he would almost certainly have identified himself as a revolutionary socialist rather than *just* a Marxist economist) was ... Ernest Mandel. 

Secondly, the fundamental reason why mainstream economists don't take Marxists seriously is not *primarily* a result of the critique by some Marxists of Marx. Indeed, I would suggest that this -- to the extent that it is used at all -- is merely *one* of the rationalizations that they use for their ideological dismissal of Marx and Marxism. I suspect that a larger aspect of their critique is the claim that the uncritical support for Marx by "most" Marxists is ideological and, indeed, "religious". A more prominent and more popular claim, though, concerns what they claim to be the "false" nature of Marx's "predictions": i.e. they claim that *experience*, particularly in the former USSR, shows that Marx and Marxism is a "failure".

> Perhaps a real recent example can illustrate the point: Some months ago
> some friends holding academic positions in a South American country applied
> for a small grant to a State funded academic organization. Their purpose
> was to get, and review recent literature on Marx's economic theory and,
> subsequently, publish a critical summary. The application was rejected on
> the basis that it had been demonstrated many years ago, by the Marxist
> economists themselves, that Marxist economics has no logical foundation and
> therefore it was absurd to spend money and time in that research.

I have no doubt that this happens and it should be opposed when and where it happens.  This is not primarily a consequence, though, of the positions taken by "Marxist economists". Rather, it is a consequence of the ideological hegemony of neo-neoclassical economic theory. Their suppression extends to all of what might be loosely called "heterodox economics". This dismissal and suppression also extends to most of those that you call "Marxist economists". 

In solidarity, Jerry

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