[OPE-L:6433] RE: How taking a class in Marx and/or Marxian economics is valuable for business students

From: Mongiovi Gary (mongiovg@stjohns.edu)
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 11:44:33 EST

Hang on a sec.  Jerry's take on this seems off-target to me.

First of all, one needn't take a course in Marxian economics to understand 
the potential benefits of screwing workers.  That's so pervasive an element 
of the management-class Zeitgeist it doesn't have to be learnt from a book. 
 What is curious is that the management textbooks teach precisely the 
opposite of what is routine business practice: participatory approaches are 
better than autocratic approaches, carrots are preferable to sticks. During 
the downsizing of the 1980s the newspapers were rife with stories about 
middle-managers showing up for work, being handed a  pink slip, and being 
told to clear out their desks and leave the premises withing half an hour. 
 I thought at the time, Jesus, didn't any of these pricks pay attention to 
their MBA personnel management lecture on how to minimize the morale 
consequences of layoffs? Every one of my colleagues in the Management 
Department here at St John's would forcefully argue that that's exactly the 
wrong way to handle dismissals.  Yet it's commonplace. That's a puzzle that 
i think Marxian economics might be able to explain (official ideology 
obscures what's actually happening). Some exposure to Marxian economics 
might also give the manager pause: why am I doing something that my 
training teaches me is unsound practice?  It might also sensitivize him to 
his own expolitation: I wonder how many managers feel compelled to do 
things they find morally repugnant because of an oppressive corporate 

Regarding the SUNY Dean, well, he sounds like a Stalinist to me.  Marxian 
economics can't be blamed for the dysfunctional personalities of people in 


-----Original Message-----
From:	gerald_a_levy [SMTP:gerald_a_levy@msn.com]
Sent:	Wednesday, January 23, 2002 9:08 AM
To:	ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
Subject:	[OPE-L:6429] How taking a class in Marx and/or Marxian economics 
is valuable for business students

Re Michael P's [6403]:

> The first time I taught Marxian economics, 3 decades ago, I had an MBA
> student tell me that the class was the most useful business class that he
> every had.  I don't know what happened to him.

He probably went on to become a very successful business manager.

Let's consider some essential lessons from a managerial perspective that a
student might be able to draw from taking a class in Marxian economics:

-- It's 'us' (management) vs. 'them' (the workers);

-- Minimize per unit costs of production as a means of increasing
    firm profit margins;

-- Screw workers!  To wit:

    *   pay workers the lowest possible wages;
    *  offer workers the least possible benefits;
    *   increase working hours, if possible and up to a certain point;
    *  deskill workers if possible;
    *  divide workers and oppose unionization and unions;
    *  increase the intensity of work (speed-up) wherever possible.

--  comprehend the ethic of the marketplace: profit maximization
     no matter who else or what else in society is hurt.

-- on matters of common interest, enter into agreement with other
    capitalists (e.g. join lobbying associations).

etc. etc.

It might be interesting then to have some kind of follow-up survey
to find out what percentage of students who took classes in Marxian
or radical political economy then went on to use that knowledge
against the working class. It might even be interesting to know how
many students have been paid by government intelligence agencies
to take classes in Marxian economics.

A 'radical' in management, from my experience, can be a worker's
worst enemy: I remember a Dean at a SUNY college who thought
of himself as a Marxist (and who was at the time a sympathizer of the
CPUSA) who did everything possible to screw workers including
mass firings of minority faculty and other 'troublemakers'.   This just
goes to show that a little knowledge in the wrong hands is very

Some of the above lessons are not really learned in business classes
because of the ideological camouflage in the texts (instead, I think these
lessons are learned by most managers in practice on-the-job). Thus classes
in Marxian economics have great advantages for potential business managers.

In solidarity, Jerry

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