[OPE-L:6637] [OPE-L:98] Messages from Alan

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 18 Sep 1998 15:55:02 -0400 (EDT)

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[The server was down for some time. Alan has been trying to send us the

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Hi Jerry

I sent these attached messages all to the list yesterday but nothing has
come back to me. Is the server down again? I'm worried about sending them
again in case they have actually gone out, but for some reason didn't reach

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Message-ID: <35FE5487.AFB2F417@greenwich.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 14:50:31 +0300
From: Alan Freeman <a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk>
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Subject: Condolences
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Let me add my condolences about Bon Copain. Still, better to sink boats
than bodies, so further good health to Jerry.

Can I make a two further requests for addition to the list which I am sure
would both extend its international reach and add substantially to the
discussion and range of topics covered? Number 1 is Sungur Savran, who I
think many people know. The other is less well known outside of Turkey:
he's called Nail Satligan. I met Nail (and renewed my acquaintance with
Sungur) in Istanbul after the conference of METU (Middle East Technical
University) for which many Turkish economists must be congratulated, but my
personal thanks extend especially to Ahmed Tonak. It seems to me that
Turkish Marxism is going through a remarkable and important revival
particularly among young people.

Nail is a very accomplished Marxist who teaches economics at the University
of Istanbul and is intensely interested in debates on Marxist economic
theory. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the discussion on value
theory, in which he has been involved since the 70s. He works closely with

Also, I can't recollect Ahmet being on the list? When I was talking to him
it never occurred to think that he wasn't, but when I went back over past
posts I didn't see him listed as a member, though my records are a bit
incomplete, and I'm on a plane. I never asked him, so I don't know if he
wants to be.

Perhaps there are also other Turkish contributors that might be considered.
I was *very* impressed.


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Message-ID: <35FE54BD.F73DBE08@greenwich.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 14:51:25 +0300
From: Alan Freeman <a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk>
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Subject: Globalisation?
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The pundits seem to be slightly less sure about globalisation than
they used to be.

Here's a short cull of the world's press I wrote for a recent presentation:

The end of the end of history?

I think Le Monde for 1 September best summarised the current state of
economic knowledge. Its front-page cartoon featured an editor waving a
manuscript headed 'The World Crash, explained for my daughter'; "Great
title," sighs the despairing author, "but I'm buggered if I can write the
first two lines."

The economists seem to concur. "The great truth of the stock market," says
the Washington Post's Tim Smart,[1] "is that no-one knows what will happen
Monday." So much for forecasting. "The reason this is potentially
calamitous," says Jeffrey Garten, dean of the Yale School of Management,[2]
"is that no one is in charge." So much for the hidden hand. "We are already
in the so-called capitulation stage," records Christine Callies of Credit
Suisse Boston,[3] "the point where people are really throwing in the
towel." So much for incisive scientific analysis. "What is happening in
Russia and the Pacific Rim is unprecedented," says Alan Sinai, chief
economist of Primark Decision economics, "and the policy-makers in the
United States do not know what to do."[4] So much for the end of history.

While we're on the end of history, Francis Fukuyama muses "The past few
months have been really the first time since the beginning of the decade
that I felt that I could really be proven wrong."[5] Thanks a bundle,
Francis; don't bother calling.

More considered analyses were to hand: Die Zeit's 27 August front page led
off the Doom and Gloom pack. Headlined 'Die Grosse Unordnung' (a citation
from Mao Tse-Tung) it explained that "The world economy is upside-down. No
trace is left of Creative Chaos: Asian misery, Russian disaster, and Latin
American malaise have wrought a global crisis. It is up to the USA and
Europe to confront the danger, but where has crisis-management fled? Who,
really, concerns themselves with ordering the world anew? All year the
economists told us 'a lot more has to happen before we have need worry'.
Well, it's happened."

The 'world has ended' theme echoed in the Financial Times 28th August LEX
column ('Das Kapital revisited') which opens "From the triumph of global
capitalism to its crisis in barely a decade?" though it stoutly, if
comprehensively concludes that "Capitalism itself, warts and all, is still
better than any alternative." Hey guys, be happy: think how much worse it
could be.

Though the more panic-ridden judgements receded, the Independent[6] offered
a sober and enlightening balance sheet under the headline 'The Day
capitalism died in Russia' where, it says, a 'bastard version of
capitalism, implanted at Western urging and largely on the basis of Western
money, is in its death throes."

"[T]his may be a defining moment. The steady advance of American style
capitalism, led from the front by the shock troops of its capital markets
and supported by the prop of the IMF, seems suddenly and decisively to have
been brought to a grinding halt. All over the City and Wall Street,
investment bankers are saying Russia has had it, it's on its own and we'll
never touch the place againas fast as Russia and others can impose
exchange controls, its only realistic option given the scale of the flight
of money, the international capital markets are in any case packing up
their stall and sticking their money into Western bonds. And there appears
nothing the IMF or anyone else can do about it.

"What we may be witnessing is the end of globalisation, or at least a
setback in the process, lasting possibly many years. Globalisation is all
about the free movement of capital; that's its big driving force, and over
the last ten years, financial markets have pushed out the boundaries as
never before, feeding the great US bull market on a wave of American
triumphalism in the process.

"Is this now all coming to an end? That's the real significance of Russia.
We must all pray that this alarmist take on events turns out to be wrong or
exaggerated. But it's the reason why equities are plunging, bonds are
soaring and the pound is once more climbing back to the tree D-Mark level.
These are frightening times we live in and the end game is still a long way
off. No wonder there's such a flight to safety."

Prayer is an unusual policy recommendation for a respectable Western
newspaper. It isn't exactly clear how it will help - let alone who we
should pray to, what we should pray for, or who should be doing the
praying. The 'frightening times' arose precisely when and because the world
followed the IMF and American style capitalism, more scrupulously and
completely than at any time this century. The most obvious cause-and-effect
response is to stop following them; this needs neither God nor Economist.

This brings me to my basic point, namely, what is the use-value of an
economist? We do not employ weather-forecasters to tell us it's raining.
If the best advice on offer is collective prayer, we can get a priest. And
if economists can neither predict nor advise, what exactly are they for,
and why should the public pay any attention to them?

In this respect, any unlobotomised observer will notice a slight
discrepancy. Just one week before International Business Week offered a
supplement on 'the 21st Century Economy'. "For two months," it explained,
"a team of Business Week reporters and editors has examined every aspect of
the economy from technology to politics to higher education."

"Our findings? The 90s are no fluke. Despite Asia's woes, all the
ingredients are in place for a surge of innovation that could rival any in
history. Over the next decade or so, the New Economy - so far propelled
mainly by information technology - may turn out to be only the initial
stage of a much broader flow of technological, business and financial
creativity that will sweep across the world.

"Call it the 21st Century Economy - an economy that, driven by
progress, can grow at a 3% pace for years to come - what's more, the US
economy seems to be undergoing a wholesale rejuvenation. Businesses,
financial service firms, and universities are re-inventing themselves. Even
politicians and policymakers are starting to grasp the new technological
and economic realities."


The Independent for 28th August and Business Week for 24th August can't
both be right. The entire world can't be swept by creativity at 3% per
annum while it goes to hell on a bicycle.

We don't need Harvard Graduates to tell us that technology makes social
progress possible: what we need to know is whether a market society can
deliver this progress to the end-user. If the answer is 'it depends how
hard we pray' then the locker-room pep-talks from team IBW, with all its
collective expertise, amount to little more than gee-whiz teenage
tech-dreams, addressing none of the real practical problems facing the
world in the next century. Yet world economic policy, affecting the lives
of thousands of millions of people, has been informed and set precisely by
such locker-room pep-talks.

Thus Nancy Dunne of the Financial Times for 10th September, quoting an
anonymous Congressman on Clinton's current difficulties: "Well, at least it
isn't happening to someone important, like Greenspan or Rubin."

Yes, bankers maybe do have more impact on the world than presidents, and
probably more freedom of action. But when they impose their latest package
of misery and death, instead of openly stating its political objectives and
content for the public to accept or reject, they take sanctimonious cover
behind an alleged economic 'science' which, if the informed reaction to the
crash is anything to go by, has no more in common with objective human
knowledge than ancient soothsaying.

Whether or not this is a defining moment for capitalism, it is
for its prophets. The conclusion which ordinary people may well draw from
the collective output of the economics profession, with all its prizes and
professorships, its learned journals, graduate schools and business
analysts, is that in the hour of a crisis which flatly refuted the received
wisdom it had offered for the last two decades of the century, it was lost
at sea without a compass.

[1]Tim Smart, 'Dow's Saw-Toothed Descent Stirs Fears: Is the Bull Market at
an End', New York International Herald Tribune 31st August 1998

[2] Nicholas Kristof, 'A Scramble for Response to Crisis: weakness at the
Top Clouds World's Search for Solutions', New York International Herald
Tribune 31st August 1998

[3] Margaret Doyle and Andrew Cave, 'Market fall brings fears of 1929-style
recession', Daily Telegraph September 1st 1998

[4] op cit

[5] Nicholas Kristof, 'It's a bad time for weak leadership', New York Times
30th August 1998

[6] "Markets hit the Russian Buffers", Independent 28 August 1998

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Message-ID: <35FE54FE.FB19B3F9@greenwich.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 14:52:31 +0300
From: Alan Freeman <a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk>
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I think it's quite interesting that Brendan finds it difficult to trace his
way through the past discussions. Maybe it puts a different light on the
archives question.

My first reaction was to suggest that some of us should do a bit more
writing to produce a kind of FAQ. The problem there is that, first of all,
that's a lot of work, secondly, of course, to have an FAQ you need a
definitive and generally-accepted answer. But on this list as far as I can
see the only general agreement is that there is no general agreement, if
you'll excuse my paradox [I think I just proved it is logically impossible
to disagree about everything. Interesting.]

But what we might do is the following: we could each select out a set of
'key past posts' that we regard as central to the expression of things that
we want to say on the list, as the debate has so far developed. Then, this
could be made available to new members. I'm certainly willing to do that
for my part.

Indeed, maybe it's too much to hope but with a little bit of goodwill, a
few discreet editings, and a couple of postscripts, we might put together a
subset of contributions which, for want of a better descriptive term I will
call "closed under integrity", i.e. contributions which actually represent
what the participants really want to say after due consideration, and which
only address each other.

Then, heaven forbid, it might not hurt too much to let the odd member of
the general public see it...


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Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 14:52:56 +0300
From: Alan Freeman <a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk>
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I think rumours of OPE's death are greatly exaggerated.

I can't comment on the general lack of interventions from others but I can
state the reasons I've been a bit quiet.

Allin [OPE-85] states "If people positively want their ideas to be
accessible to the public at large, there is an obvious expedient: publish
in the journals."

Unfortunately, Allin, by and large we don't get published in journals,
particularly left journals. That's the long and the short of it. To this I
must make two extremely important exceptions: first a symposium which Paul
Zarembka has arranged in the next issue of RIPE in which David L, Andrew,
Duncan and myself will have contributions, which I think is a welcome
initiative I am glad to acknowledge publicly, and second a number of very
generous offers I have from third world journals. Since most Westerners
don't take time out to read Turkish, Portuguese, Hungarian or Spanish this
doesn't exactly solve the problem of intervening in the ongoing discussion
in the profession: a fact which makes me sharply aware of the obstacles
that 'normal publication' places in front of third-world participants.

That means:

(a) for my part I put a lot of work into running a conference and a website
that doesn't exclude people on the basis of their theoretical position;

(b) I spend a lot of time going to conferences, where it's generally easier
to get in than journals and also, you get to hear the other guys.

(c) when I'm not going to conferences or fighting to get into conferences
whose organisers have shafted me, I'm moonlighting to pay for the cost
of going to the conferences that have agreed to let me in.

(d) I spend an increasing time preparing stuff to submit the second or
third time round either to journals that come up with requests for frankly
insulting and unscholarly changes or to other journals, because the first
journals rejected
it for spurious reasons.

(e) I'm getting to be late with the stuff that is accepted in the
exceptions mentioned above, about which I'm very embarrassed.

(f) I'm getting to be late with responses to perfectly reasonable requests
about our own conference, about which I'm equally embarrassed.

Moreover my situation is infinitely better than most others who share my
views, because for some reason that is lost on me I can at least sometimes
get listened to on the basis of what passes for a public profile. Not
actually a good reason to get listened to, but it places an even bigger
onus on me, when my comrades don't even get a look-in, to produce material
when I do.

So, apologies: it's getting difficult to find time. Of course, if my
comrades were not finding it so hard to get an audience then I could devote
more time to OPE...


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Message-ID: <35FE5527.4A89984C@greenwich.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 1998 14:53:11 +0300
From: Alan Freeman <a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk>
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Subject: I think there's some progress on the archives
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Let's not rush into another polarisation on the archives. In a world where
David Trimble is about to shake Gerry Adams by the hand, surely some
accomodation is possible on OPE.

I think Jerry's [ope-81] is both constructive and helpful. I welcome it and
endorse it. I was also glad to see Paul Z's [OPE-87] endorsement and I'm
happy to go along with his suggested restrictions which I think are a good
working compromise.

We are deeply divided on this question: all the more important to proceed
carefully and without excess, and look for constructive ways in which we
can resolve the concerns of each side. I wouldn't be as foolish as to seek
bipartisanship, however mutual respect is required. Chris [OPE-97] is
quite entitled to refer to his own need to make mistakes and not be cited,
but there are valid contrary requirements, in particular the legitimate
scholarly requirement of those not on the list to have some knowledge of
the discussion taking place in it, and the legitimate scholarly requirement
of participants other than Chris to communicate the discussion, subject to
normal restraints on citation, to non-participants with a genuine interest
in the debate; just as, in normal research activity, one on occasions
communicates private correspondence to other individuals subject to the
permission of the originator: something I am sure that both Chris and Paul
regularly do.

The present arrangement imposes a very peculiar restraint on those such as
myself who contributed very carefully to the debate on the understanding
that the material would, at some point, be re-usable in other contexts. It
means that, not only can I not communicate the contributions made by others
others on the list: I cannot even communicate my own contributions, insofar
as they refer to comments by others who prefer not to be cited. Nor can I
simply reproduce them in journals as Allin suggests, even assuming that
journals started publishing it, because my contributions frequently refer
to other contributions on the list. One cannot, in a journal article, write
'some Marxists argue x' without citing the Marxists that argue it. If the
argument is advanced only within OPE, one cannot actually make any public
reference to it at all, which means that one cannot address the issue.

I also increasingly find that in discussions elsewhere, OPE is mentioned
and people (such as Barkley) are inquisitive and interested to know - not
unnaturally - whether they can see parts of the discussion, because it is
relevant to research they are doing. I am placed in the very awkward
position, as I've indicated before, of having to say that I cannot even
tell them what I myself have said, even though I would like to.

I'm afraid that this is a very hard idea to defend, and I personally feel
that it is hard to defend because it is not really defensible. Actually,
let's face it, the reason we must allow Barkley access to our archives, is
that there is no defensible reason not to. If there is, this list hasn't
heard it.

When I was invited to join the list, the need for it to be closed was not
posed as a need to speak off the record. It was posed in terms of the need
to avoid disruptive participants, and to have a list volume that was too
great. I not only joined on this basis but spent a lot of time and energy -
which I could have spent otherwise and elswhere - on the supposition that I
would be able to refer other interested parties to this discussion.

Therefore, there is a conflict of requirements and this must be resolved, I
think, by some process of compromise. On the basis of past discussions I
think that a vote on future procedure would probably lead by a large
majority to a list open archives, subject to the kind of restriction that
Paul Z suggests, but closed membership. However, I'm not sure such a vote
would be helpful or even right. We have to respect the needs of a small
number of participants who in the past have assumed, like Chris, that their
comments were off the record. I for one certainly think it would be
unethical to release any material which anyone, in good faith, has been
contributed on the assumption it would be private. This, therefore, cannot
be resolved by a vote. We cannot vote, even by a majority, to suspend an
individual's rights or violate normal rules of good conduct. But - by
virtue of the respect shown to them by the rest of the list - this implies
that the minority which would prefer the archives to stay closed have an
effective veto.

Such a situation is inherently conflict-ridden. It has to be resolved by a
compromise of some kind, which means that good will and mutual respect are
a much-required ingredient of the discussion. That's why I think Jerry's
proposal, with Paul Z's caveat, is a good basis to proceed.

Specifically on Jerry's proposal:

"We are going to continue to have to deal with situations like this on a
case-by-case basis until we adopt a policy regarding access to the
archives. This is a real distraction for us and a very strong reason to
re-consider opening the archives."

"Let's begin by giving Barkley Rosser access to the archives ... Does
anyone object?"

I think both these are good suggestions. First, Jerry suggests we
reconsider the issue at some point. That gives me confidence that at some
point OPE members will address my own concerns, which are strongly opposed
to, and begin from an entirely different perspective to, those few members
who feel the list should be a place where comments are off the record.

Second, he suggests we address it case-by-case for now. That means we can
have some practical experience of the consequences of archive access. So
when we next discuss the question, we'll have some new data and we won't
just re-visit the same old question.

Third, I think he introduces a good principle for dealing with consensus
issues, namely, unless anyone objects, he'll go ahead.

I would add that it's probably best that for an objection to count, it
should be registered
on the list rather than privately with Gerry. That's the general internet
principle in any case, and it's a good one. If a request to access the list
is vetoed, and the list does not know the reasons or the source of the
objection, we cannot address the concerns of the objector, and moreover it
will simply become the source of speculation and rumours if someone is
denied list access and we cannot say why.

I also think that if the issue arises again, there ought probably to be
some kind of time limit. Otherwise, people like Barkley will be waiting
indefinitely without knowing when things might change. Not only do I think
that's impolite to Barkley, I don't think it does the reputation of the
list any good at all. It's all well and good to respect the needs of
members that wish a private discussion but, since the existence of the list
is not private, I hope it will be appreciated that at least for myself, it
is quite difficult to justify this position externally - especially when I
don't agree with it. This is a pressure that is building up as more and
more people 'out there' become aware of OPE's existence. In considering our
response, we need I think to be more conscious of how it looks to the
outside world, above all when it involves conscientious and respected
scholars such as Barkley.

So I think that we should go ahead and provide Barkley access to the
archives unless an objection is registered on the list within a reasonable
time; also Jerry should make known to Barkley the concerns which have been
expressed on the list about the consequences of archive access.