The marketisation of academia and its adverse effect on intellectual and methodological pluralism

On the monoculture of american international political economy:

“The monoculture we observe today also seems to me to be the product of a competitive academic environment in which we are compelled to live by the mantra of ‘publish or perish’. Eager to make a name for ourselves in an ‘evolutionary struggle for journal space’ we quickly learn that paradigmatic or methodological eclecticism is a luxury for those with tenure and established reputations.”…”We collectively converge, willingly or not, upon a socially constructed conventional wisdom.”

Catherine Weaver (Review of International Political Economy 16:1; 2009, page 1)

Akerlof’s lemons were rejected 3 times…before getting the Nobel

Akerlof’s article excerpt:
“By June of 1967 the paper was ready and I sent it to The American Economic Review for publication. I was spending the academic year 1967-68 in India. Fairly shortly into my stay there, I received my first rejection letter from The American Economic Review. The editor explained that the Review did not publish papers on subjects of such triviality. In a case, perhaps, of life reproducing art, no referee reports were included.

Michael Farrell, an editor of The Review of Economic Studies, had visited Berkeley in 1966-67, and had urged me to submit “Lemons” to The Review, but he had also been quite explicit in giving no guarantees. I submitted “Lemons” there, which was again rejected on the grounds that the The Review did not publish papers on topics of such triviality.

The next rejection was more interesting. I sent “Lemons” to the Journal of Political Economy, which sent me two referee reports, carefully argued as to why I was incorrect. After all, eggs of different grades were sorted and sold (I do not believe that this is just my memory confusing it with my original perception of the egg-grader model), as were other agricultural commodities. If this paper was correct, then no goods could be traded (an exaggeration of the claims of the paper). Besides — and this was the killer — if this paper was correct, economics would be different.

I may have despaired, but I did not give up. I sent the paper off to the Quarterly Journal of Economics, where it was accepted.”

Adam Smith on employers’ bargaining power

“We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combination of masters; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject” (Smith in the wealth of nations, p 84, quoted in Manning (2003) Monopsony in Motion: Imperfect competition in Labor Markets, page 14; footnote 9)

ECB independence and democracy

“The legislature cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands; for being but a delegated power from the people, they who have pass it over to others” (Locke in the Second Treatise on Civil Government)… what about monetary policy?

The economics of academic publishing

Interesting article by George Monbiot on academic publishing. His quote of Deutsche Bank analysis sums it up pretty well:

“But an analysis by Deutsche Bank reaches different conclusions. “We believe the publisher adds relatively little value to the publishing process … if the process really were as complex, costly and value-added as the publishers protest that it is, 40% margins wouldn’t be available.”(11) Far from assisting the dissemination of research, the big publishers impede it, as their long turnaround times can delay the release of findings by a year or more(12).”

Mill on Conservatives

Taken from Brad Delong post on ‘The Heritage Filter: Does America Have a Future in Which There Are Smart Conservatives?’:
“John Stuart Mill famously wrote to John Pakington:
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”

Keynesian and Chicago economics

Classic quote by Krugman discussing what others say about Keynesian economics:
“Mulligan is critiquing something he heard about Keynesian economics somewhere, maybe in a bar, without bothering to inquire at all whether that’s how it really works. And I stand by my equally well-sourced assertion that Chicago economics relies on goat sacrifices.”

"Lack of money is the root of all evil"

One of the founders of the LSE, George Bernard Shaw, famously said that “Lack of money is the root of all evil”.  
This is certainly how one should see the initial acceptance by the LSE of 1.5 million pounds given by the so called  “Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation” to fund a “a virtual democracy centre” (no, I’m not joking). In light of the ongoing cuts to the higher education budget, the pessimist might expect even more ‘moral flexibility’ concerning our sources of funding.
But don’t worry the School has recently declared that “In current difficult circumstances across the region, the school has decided to stop new activities under that programme” and that “only £300,000 has been received to date”… and the school certainly knows how difficult the circumstances are right now, as illustrated by the somewhat comical and insightful declaration by a well known member of the academic staff:
“Watching Saif give that speech – looking so exhausted, nervous and, frankly, terrible – was the stuff of Shakespeare and of Freud: a young man torn by a struggle between loyalty to his father and his family, and the beliefs he had come to hold for reform, democracy and the rule of law. The man giving that speech wasn’t the Saif I had got to know well over those years.”
If “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve” (Shaw once again), what do current academic governance structure ensure?


Who said that? (part 2)

“The bourgeoisie…has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and Gothic cathedrals…. The bourgeoisie… draws all nations…into civilization…. It has created enormous cities… and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy [sic!] of rural life…. The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.”

It was Marx (Communist Manifesto)!, indeed, as Schumpeter notes: “Observe that all the achievements referred to are attributed to the bourgeoisie alone which is more than many thoroughly bourgeois economists would claim. This is all I meant by the above passage—and strikingly different from the views of the vulgarized Marxism of today or from the Veblenite stuff of the modern non-Marxist radical.” (footnote 2, Chapter 1, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy). 
 In an earlier post I referred to quite critical quote by Adam Smith.Clearly, this should serve as a caution to simplifying the thoughts of fairly complex thinkers.

*UPDATE: A good friend of mine points out that the above quote should be taken against the backdrop that “Marx defines the bourgeoisie’s existence only through the appropriation of labour power (exploitation) [and that] It is certainly implicit here”. It’s a good point, if you’re interested in historical materialist approaches, have a look at his recent book.