Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hahn and Harcourt Amusing the Crowds

"During my time at Cambridge in the 1980s and 1990s I had a number of public debates with Frank Hahn, usually before the undergraduate Marshall Society, over the issues associated with different approaches to economics. The first was in the early 1980s and the room, a large one, was packed out. I as perceived to have had the better of the exchanges (there was a large Italian contingent present!). By the last exchange, though, the numbers had fallen considerably. Moreover, our arguments had not changed that much, but there was now much sympathy among the students for Hahn's views. I often clashed with Hahn in the Faculty coffee room. He has the makings of a splendid intellectual bully and he was always surrounded by acolytes, to which admiring crowd he could play shamelessly. Once he portrayed me falsely as a neo-Ricardian (I was actually attacking the way Hahn was caricaturing Pierangelo Garegnani's views, not defending the views as such) and he was delighted when in the end I lost my cool and became heated in my replies (when I could get a word in edgeways). He said something to the effect: 'Look at his red face and hear his incoherent utterings, he is mad like all neo-Ricardians'. As at much the same time Terry O'Shaughnessy and I were having vigorous debates with John Eatwell and Murray Milgate concerning the neo-Ricardian long-period interpretation of Keynes, this was a bit rich." -- G. C. Harcourt, "40 Years Teaching Post Keynesian Themes in Adeliade and Cambridge"

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