The Marxians In Ec Dept. Fail Again

The Harvard Economics Department cemented its status as an immovable object even more firmly this past year. For nearly a decade, reformers have tried to get the department to recognize Marxian economics as more than just a curiousity. This year, as in all the past years, the department refused.

The refusal this year came in a closed meeting of senior faculty held on April 31. There the department voted down a committee report written by one of its most prominent members which recommended the inclusion of Marxian economics in the required graduate curriculum.

The reformers' efforts to bring the issue of Marxian economics up in the guise of structural change in the curriculum marked a change in strategy from previous years. On other occasions, the political controversy had been focused on the department's refusal to give any Marxian economists tenure.

By this year, though, it was increasingly clear that the department didn't want to hire Marxians at all. From a high of five radicals two years ago, the Marxian contingent has dropped to two professors.

Although it appeared that the hiring battle was lost, the recommendations of a curriculum reform committee headed by Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of Economics, Nobel laureate, and a man who had just made known that he was considering accepting an offer to teach at Stanford, underlined that the reformers' challenge was still serious.


But by recommending changes in the graduate curriculum, the Arrow Committee was proposing changes in an area the department holds almost sacrosanct--the training of future colleagues.

The department's predictable rejection of the recommendations with only weak concessions to the reformers, moved James S. Duesenberry, chairman of the Economics Department to declare victory. "I've been screwing around about this [issue] for two years and as far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to do another thing about it," he said.