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No Marks For Marx

Departments:

By Jeremy S. Bluhm

The Economics Department gives Marxist theory some late night coverage but showed this week that it is still not willing to move it to prime time in the department's graduate program. Nor it is ready to give prime time coverage to other varieties of not-purely-economic social theory.

A 14-member graduate student-faculty committee proposed last month that the department increase its emphasis on Marxist and non-Marxist social theory by including questions in these areas on the graduate-level general theory examination which could be substituted for some of the exam's questions on conventional neo-classical theory.

In a report accompanying the proposal, Albert O. Hirschman, Littauer Professor of Political Economy, explained: "We favor in principle some such arrangement, for we feel that, in its absence, interested students may be unable to devote adequate time to reading and research in the area."

The department, too, supported such a change in principle but passed a motion allowing incorporation of these fields in the exam only "after further experience has been gained" with them.

The department also rejected the Hirschman group's proposal that a special committee be set up which would familiarize itself with the field of Marxist and neo-Marxist analysis and search for non-tenure candidates in this field. Instead, it instructed the existing non-tenure faculty search committee to give "special attention to" candidates in this field.

For those in the department who contend that neo-Marxist economists cannot be judged fairly from a neo-classical framework, this was a defeat. Their contention is clearly something the department wanted to reject.

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