The Lazonick Hiring

THE HIRING of William H. Lazonick, a Marxist graduate student and teaching fellow, as assistant professor of Economics last week, is not a cause for celebration. The Economics Senior faculty, simply by hiring Lazonick, has hardly reversed its continuing opposition to radical teachers of recognized the importance of Marxian analysis. Rather, Lazonick's appointment shows that the conservative majority of the department's senior faculty has recognized the necessity of maintaining a any enclave of radical economists for the next five years, while keeping Economics overwhelming orthodox bias exactly as it is.

The department's decision to hire Lazonick was the product of ongoing student pressure for the inclusion of radical economists and radical theory to rival the neo-classical teaching that often merely supplies theoretical justification for the present economy and social structure of such professors as Dunlop. Duesenberry and Caves. Formally, Lazonick's hiring was the fulfillment of a pledge made last April to hire one economist interested in "social problem" for 1975-76. This decision, in turn grew out of the recommendations made early in 1974 by a curriculum review committee, chaired by professor Kenneth J. Arrow.

Yet, both the formation of the Arrow Committee to review curriculum, and the department's pledge to hire a Marxist economist as a junior faculty member, were in response to angry student pressure--mainly among graduate students--following the refusal of Economics to grant tenure to Associate Professor Samuel Bowles in 1972 or any other radical economist, even though the department has had as many as four radical junior faculty members to choose from.

Whatever miniscule gain for radical economics at Harvard the Lazonick appointment represents, the credit for it must be taken by the students who have and are demanding a place for Margion economics, and not by the departments, senior faculty, three-quarters of whom have consistently opposed the hiring of a tenured radical economist.

Still, the conservative make-up of the Economics faculty makes any real progress towards the inclusion of Marxian economics impossible. This year there were two radical economists on the department's faculty--Stephen A. Marglin '59, professor of Economics, and Arthur MacEwan, lecturer on Economics. With the expiration of MacEwan's contract this June, and the hiring of Lazonick, the number of radicals on the Economics faculty for next year remains exactly the same as this year: one senior faculty member--Marglin--whom the department cannot get rid of, and one junior faculty member, Lazonick. In the short-term, the senior faculty's decision to hire Lazonick, in part to replace MacEwan, does not make the situation one bit better.


In the long range view, moreover, the situation for radicals in Economics has grown noticeably worse. In the fall of 1969--at the height of student demands for reform at the University and protest over the war in Vietnam--there were five radical economists on the faculty. In the years between 1970 and 1974 three of the four-junior faculty radicals here were refused tenure. With the departure of MacEwan at the end of this year, each one of the four will have left Harvard for other universities, at least three of them finding tenured positions elsewhere.

Radical economics ought to have permanent standing within the Harvard Economics department. Graduate student demands, last year's report of the Visiting Committee of the Board or Overseers, which questioned the department for its failure to provide alternative economic explanations to the orthodox view, and the departure of Nobel laureate Wassily W. Leontief, Lee Professor of Economics, all emphasize this necessity.

The department must give a large and significant portion of its tenured and non-tenured positions to radical and non-radical economists involved in the study of the social basis and problems of the present economic system.

One single appointment of a junior faculty member like Lazonick--even if he is a proven expert on Marx and Marxian analysis--as Lazonick is--will not undo the consistent obstructionist position taken by the department's senior faculty over the last several years.

To survive as anything but an isolated antiquated institution unresponsive to student wishes or broad intellectual and social challenges, the Economics department must recognize that Marxian and social economics in general are at least equal in importance and validity to the prevailing orthodoxy.

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