Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Economics Departments, Marx's Days Are Like Grass, Like A Flower Of The Field He Bloomed

Russell Jacoby asks, in the 25 July 2008 issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education, "How is it that Freud is not taught in psychology departments, Marx is not taught in economics, and Hegel is hardly taught in philosophy?"

I occasionally point out treatments of Marx using the techniques of modern mathematical economics. Lots of work has been done in this vein. I might as well mention analytical Marxism, as developed by, for example, John Roemer; Morishima's 1970s work drawing on Johnny Von Neumann; and, of course, Sraffians, such as John Eatwell or Ian Steedman. In regard to the latter, some economists have disputed Steedman's interpretation of Marx's work. I here have in mind Dumenil, Lipietz, and Foley's "New interpretation" and the Temporal Single System approach associated with such economists as Alan Freeman and Andrew Kliman. Perhaps Jacoby is aware that if economists chose to teach Marx, they have much work to draw on. After all, Jacoby notes that Wassily Leontief taught a 1936 seminar on Marx at Harvard. Duncan Foley's testimony (I believe in Colander, Holt and Rosser (204)) is just one demonstration that the ignorance of Marx among orthodox economists cannot be justified on normal scholarly or scientific norms.

I don't expect vulgar political economic monopolists to even acknowledge the existence of their suppressed competition. Orthodox economists just refuse to reference lots of literature, for example, in heterodox journals.

Reminder to myself: Read Andras Bródy's Proportions, Prices, and Planning: A Mathematical Restatement of the Labor Theory of Value (Akadémiai Kiadó, 1970) for an early analytical examination of Marx. Read Victor S. Venida's "Marxian Categories Empirically Estimated: The Philippines, 1961-1994" (Review of Radical Political Economics, V. 39, N. 1 (2007): 58-579) for recent econometric work.


Tom said...

Can't say anything about Hegel, but, well Freud's psychoanalysis in my opinion is just an instrument for psychoanalysts to get the patient to pay empirically unproved neverending "therapies". While I respect Freud, it is really no serious science.

But the difference between Marx and Freud is that psychologists of today at least know what Freud wrote. Economists, at least the ones I know think that Marx' economic work consists of the Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei.

Robert Vienneau said...

I don't claim to understand Hegel, and there are many great philosophers. I'm not all that great a fan of Freud either. By the way, Brian Leiter doesn't think much of Jacoby's claims about what's taught in philosophy classes.

I have never been able to understand the frequently-repeated claim, including by supposed economists, that the 1989 revolutions refute Marx. Capital was an analysis of capitalism. It was not about how to run a society after the revolution.

peter said...

In addition to the 1989 revolutions not refuting Marx's analysis of capitalism, there is a strong case to be made that Marx's reputation as an analyst was a victim of his own success. PRECISELY BECAUSE he was so accurate in his descriptions of the emiserations of capitalism, capitalism changed in response, thereby undercutting his analysis. Is a prophet to be
considered false because his prophecies are so accurate as to be self-denying?