Re: [OPE-L] Jacques Gouverneur's new text on Marxist economics

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Wed Feb 02 2005 - 09:08:32 EST

> Jerry, in my view that is a real text book.  A real text book is 
> produced only by teachers who are deeply involved into 
> communicate with students. Gouverneur spent a lot of time 
> teaching the issues of  the book; hence most of the material was 
> tested by experience. As any other good text book,  it is well 
> organized: exposition, resume, etc. 

Hi Alejandro:

I still haven't had luck downloading and opening-up the Gouverneur
book, but I agree with you that there is a need for good introductory
texts and that writing a text requires special skills.  

Happily, there have been several other introductory texts written
in recent years including Charles Andrews'  _From Capitalism to 
Equality_ (Needle Press, 2000),  N.S. Ranganayakamma's _An
Introduction to Marx's 'Capital'_ (Sweet Home Publications, 3 
volumes, 1999) and Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho _Marx's 
Capital_ (4th ed., Pluto Press, 2004).   Since the subject of
Gouverneur's book is on capitalism, rather than Marx's _Capital_,
it might be better suited for an introductory economics text than
the latter two books (which could be assigned for courses on Marx 
or perhaps as 'supplementary' texts for other courses).  

_From Capitalism to Equality_ could be used in an introductory
course although I haven't used it for that purpose.  Paul Z, didn't 
you assign that book in 1 or more of your courses?  How did it

Increasingly, more and more colleges in the US -- under the guise
of "standardization" -- have mandated specific (marginalist, of 
course) texts for introductory courses.  Is this also an international
trend?   This obviously restricts one's ability to assign the text
that one prefers.  In the past (before there was a "uniform" required
economics text) I had assigned a couple of radical introductory 
economics texts -- Samuel Bowles and Richard Edwards
_Understanding Capitalism: Competition, Command, and Change in 
the U.S. Economy_ (2nd ed., Harper Collins, 1993; I also used the
1st edition) ) and  Francis Green and Bob Sutcliffe _The Profit System_ 
(Penguin, 1987).   Both are long since out-of-print.   Of the 2 I much 
preferred Bowles and Edwards because it really was laid out as a 
text with definitions in the margins, understandable graphs, a glossary, 
etc.  and was extremely well-written. It even had an instructor's 
manual!  OTOH, _The Profit System_ was far less expensive (with a
list price at the time of  US$7.95).  There were, of course, some issues
on which I disagreed with the authors of both texts, but that's OK. I
don't mind interjecting my own perspective in class that differs with the
authors of a text -- indeed, I think it is important from the perspective of
encouraging the students to _critically_ engage the contents of a text
even when the text is progressive.

For a class at Pratt Institute in the Fall on "Capitalism and Socialism"
I've decided to try something new. I've decided to assign Katy Siegel
and Paul Mattick _Art Works: Money_ (Thames & Hudson, 2004) for
the capitalism part of the course.  Their book is an _art text_ so this will
be a bit of an experiment.  I thought this was worth a try because the
overwhelming amount of the students who take the course are art and
design students.  I'd like to use the _graphics_ in the text as a way of
stimulating discussion about capitalism.  It's an unconventional approach
but I think it's important for faculty to try new things in the classroom.

Gouverneur's text has two _huge_ advantages over other heterodox
texts: students can download it for free and it is written in English,
French, and Spanish.  In recent years I have attempted with some
success to substitute free online sources for expensive printed texts.
This is a move that has been welcomed with cheers and applause in 
some of my classes! When you consider the price of some of the
standard texts, you will appreciate why there was this enthusiastic
response. In some areas, a lot of students are bilingual and having
the ability to assign a text that can be read in Spanish or French is
a distinct advantage.

I'd be interested in knowing -- to the extent that listmembers are able
to and have assigned heterodox texts for introductory economics
courses -- what texts they use and what their experience has been.

> In adition of that, Gouverneur's book has original material  for 
> understanding or develop Marxian thinking. I will give an example 
> of this in a next post.

Yes, please.

In solidarity, Jerry


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