News

Loading...

Friday, October 26, 2012

An Interesting Point on Economic Camps

I just had lunch with a friend of mine who is a Marxist / Post-Keynesian economist. I was struck once again by something I first noted while meeting leftist economists in the UK like Tony Lawson and Andy Dennis: these folks tend to have much more respect for people like Mises and Hayek than do most mainstream economists (who have even heard of Mises or Hayek). They think Mises and Hayek got important things wrong, but at least they were wrestling with the really vital issues in basically the right sort of way, unlike today's mainstream, whom these leftists regard as (mostly) entranced by highly abstract models and out of touch with the real world. (My friend has great respect for the really top-notch mainstream people, whom he regards as being able to transcend those models and see them for what they are: abstractions.)

9 comments:

  1. Yes, I suspect the political spectrum is not a line, but a loop.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is today's hard-left doing serious work? That must sound callous, but I'm asking in earnest. You will find more Slavoj Zizek in Barnes and Noble than Friedman, Hayek, and Mises combined. I have only read journalistic accounts of people like Zizek and Badiou, and so confess ignorance, but their popularity has begun to creep me out (Zizek sleeps beneath a portrait of Stalin).

    I had assumed that communists in 2012 were simply very ideological.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marxist != communist, necessarily.

      Delete
    2. Really? I could see the inverse (communist!=Marxist), but I can't imagine what a non-communist Marxist would have to say.

      I guess maybe you're talking about anti-capitalist people who don't think communism will work either? But I don't think you can call John Medaille a Marxist.

      Delete
    3. Certainly, Gabe. Recall that Marx wrote very little about communism, and LOTS about capitalism. So you just have to think there is a lot of truth in Marx's analysis of capitalism to call yourself a Marxist. You can think his vague, utopian communist ideas are nonsense.

      Delete
    4. "Today there is a vibrant post-Marxism, associated with the efforts of those active in the scholarly journal Rethinking Marxism, for instance. Rather than trying to solve esoteric puzzles about the labor theory of value or offering new theoretical models of a planned economy, many of today’s sharpest post-Marxists appreciate marginal analysis and the knowledge and incentive problems of collective action." -- http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Marxism.html

      Delete
  3. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm broadly on the left. I was trained at AU in the late 70's and early 80's. We looked across the Potomac to GMU and saw what we took to be the enemy. Now I go to conferences and end up having much more to talk about with GMUers and other Libertarians than with Neo-classicals. This is because they actually have read Smith, Mill, Keynes, Hume, Kant etc. while the representative neo-classically educated economist has not - and is proud of his ignorance! The late Don Lavoie became one of my greatest intellectual friends. Our acquaintance began when I gave a paper at the Easterns which was quite critical of the argument that he and McCloskey and others were making that there was a deep affinity between hermeneutics and libertarian economics. He was assigned to discuss the paper - I prepared to be eviscerated. Instead he loved the paper, urged me to send it to Critical Review, and our friendship began. We both loved Hannah Arendt's work and organized a session at the Easterns a couple of years later on What Economists Can Learn From Arendt. He was generous, open-minded, passionate, one of the most well-read people I have ever met - and brilliant, to boot.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder whether "Rivalry and Central Planning" will be re-pressed. I appreciate the story, Kevin. It sounds like Mr. Lavoie was wonderful and is missed dearly.

    ReplyDelete