Dear All,

While I previously said "I quit," I guess I lied. "Winners are not quitters; quitters are not winners" (as my cousins would say). 

Following up on Randy's post, but also on Brian's, it is quite true that most budding economists have learned one story only. They secure their union card, get hired, then some of them for some reason discover a Veblen, a Marx, a "real" Adam Smith, stumble across the Cambridge Controversy, or whatever. They begin harboring dangerous thoughts. But tenure and promotion decisions loom. What do they do? (This is a rhetorical question, though some, to be sure, have followed their intellectual noses.) True, there are some (liberal arts) colleges and some public universities that tolerate the dissidents, even welcome them. But, this is not the standard at Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, etc.--though even in such august houses we can find a history of deviants located there; Galbraith at Harvard, Baran at Stanford, Lange at Chicago. (Though Lange taught GE theory and econometrics. Knight though him more "neoclassical" than Knight himself.) I have a story about Galbraith below.

The fraud that Randy and I have wrote to has been perpetrated by the high priests of the profession. Followers may well be good, decent underlings who know no better. After all, we can specify any number of significant frauds in history in which the majority of adherents were sufficiently bamboozled to simply accept what they were trained to accept. We look back and ask, how could folks believe in Zeus--name your god of choice. But they did--and sacrificed, and contributed dough to the temples, etc. Closer to whom, how could folks accept slavery. Even closer, how can people accept the racist ideology? They may have no material interest in the various doctrines that support slavery, racism, whatever, and they might otherwise be decent people, but the ruling ideologies dominate. And, whomever controls the main instruments of communication controls the dominant ideologies. The professionalization of the discipline in the last part of the 19th C (see the work of Dorothy Ross among others), along with the establishment of the main journals, cleansing of departments, set the terms for the eventual domination of neoclassicism. Sure, sure, some departments survived with deviants in hand. Sure, sure, Veblen taught at Chicago and was editor of the JPE. Sure, sure, it took a while before the AER stopped publishing articles not particularly sympathetic to orthodoxy. But heterodoxy was always in the distinct minority, and eventually--post-WWII--driven out of the limelight entirely. Only a few orthodox economists took on the deviants directly. Frank Knight was a prime candidate for the leadership of this small group. For the most part, deviants were simply ignored. 

AS to Brian's invoking of Duke Ellington and his remark on "just good music, and just bad music." The problem with this is that "good music" will be defined by those who dominate the terms of the classification of such. In our world, that would be the leading orthodox economists at the leading universities. We're just mere harmonica players who play off-key and struggle to make a dime. At best, we might be pitied. 

Now, the Galbraith story. At the last ASSA meetings in Atlanta, I was waiting for an elevator. When the doors opened, out stepped Jamie Galbraith. We said our respective hellos, and when I entered the elevator, there was a group of young grad students, most likely on the job market. I said, "do you know who that was? That was the son of John Kenneth Galbraith." I was met with blank stares. 

OK, now I really quit--unless I, once again, come out of retirement. 


John F. Henry
Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

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From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Wray, Randall
Sent: Monday, May 6, 2019 9:53:53 AM
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Subject: Re: AW: [AFEEMAIL] Neoclassicism, etc.

I know I've said more than enough, but wanted to provide Minsky's views on this. 

As you all know, Minsky went to Harvard with many of them and remained friendly with most of them all his life. I already reported his statement that the "bastard Keynesians" (I don't think he used that terminology) had "lost their nerve" as they defanged Keynes precisely because they did not want to talk about distribution. "Rising tides" was an easier sale and protected them from the danger of being identified as socialists. 

He also called them "court economists" who played the official role of telling our leaders what they wanted to hear. Yes, the naked emperor's clothes are so beautiful.

This implies intentionality of the elite economists who control the discipline. 

Ironically, it only got much worse after that as the old "bastard Keynesians" were replaced by transparently dishonest "economists" with the most implausible "theories", so distasteful that even insiders like David Stockman had to write kiss-and-tell books.

L. Randall Wray
Senior Scholar, Levy Economics Institute

Co-editor Journal of Post Keynesian Economics
ISSN 0160-3477 (Print), 1557-7821 (Online)

New Book: Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the work of a maverick economist, Princeton University Press
New Book: Modern Money Theory: a primer on macroeconomics for sovereign monetary systems, Palgrave Macmillan 
Please make note of my new email address as I will be transitioning all email to:

From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of McDonough, Terrence <[log in to unmask]>
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Subject: Re: [AFEEMAIL] AW: [AFEEMAIL] Neoclassicism, etc.

Hi All,

Wolfram hits the nail on the head with point 2 below.  A scientific project would have been well into the replacement of the neoclassical worldview by now.  The problem which they face is that they must resolve problems and anomalies in Kuhnian fashion AND simultaneously find a paradigm with the requisite ideological functionality.  This failure to move on is in fact one of the best pieces of evidence that neoclassical economics has been ideological from the start.


From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Wolfram Elsner <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday 6 May 2019 09:47:50
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Subject: [AFEEMAIL] AW: [AFEEMAIL] Neoclassicism, etc.






fully agreed, no problem. I have argued that a lot of dynamics in the neoclassical mainstream is taking place in generating variants of models and mid-range theories, which apparently is located in the protective belt, while their teaching, advising, public ideology-generating all refer to (are based on) the hard core of basic axioms, the basic world-view and core reference models of the world.


And there is located individualist optimization and myopic rationality, partial equilibrium and general equilibrium, as you say.


But as they have crashed (i.e., being increasingly unconvincing and unattractive, running into puzzles, if you like) with a lot of their core, namely individualistic isolated rationality and GET, very few of them really continue to work in their hard core, but tend to do research in the protective belt. So the core remains untouched, which of course is its characteristic, and thus can still be used in textbook writing, teaching and public bla-bla-ing.


The question then has been for years (increasingly so since 2008), why such a paradigm does not fall into a severe crisis and gets replaced, according to Kuhnian sequences. This has to do with both


(1)  the “internalist” problem of measuring and proofing in the social sciences and with

(2)  the “externalist” function of economics (in particular) to generate the legitimation, ideology and everyday rhetoric (and consciousness) of the ruling system.


Which in turn means, as I have argued, there is a growing schizophrenia between their hard core and their protective belt, if you prefer it this way.







Von: AFEEMAIL Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] Im Auftrag von Yoshinori Shiozawa
Gesendet: Sonntag, 5. Mai 2019 21:57
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Betreff: Re: [AFEEMAIL] Neoclassicism, etc.


Terry and Wolfram's comments are amusing, but are missing the target. As Lakatos argued, any research program have a hard core and protective belts. Terry and Wolfram are talking about protective belts. When we want to define a school of economics, we should detect the hard core. Political opinions and arguments belong to protective belts.


In my last post, I wrote about theoretical framework. I was talking about the hard core of classical and neoclassical economics. Hick's characterization may be too coarse as a definition and we have to add more words in order to get a clear definition of the hard core of the neoclassical economics. It must contain at least two pillars:

(1) a framework of analysis based on agents' optimization and system's equilibrium,

(2) a value theory built on the above framework, i.e. a theory that economic states can be described by the equilibrium point of demand and supply functions. 


(1) is more general and characterize the methodology of neoclassical economics but remains too abstract. As a hard core of economics, it needs to contain the second pillar. The prototype of (2) was formed at the time of Jevons and Marshall, but it is better to say that it was Marshall who created the very prototype in the form of crossing point of demand and supply curves. This is what I believe as the rough history of economics in English speaking world. Cases of countries in the European continent may be very different.


Yoshinori Shiozawa