Stephen Marglin, research and politics, and Rethinking Economics

May 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Thanks to Yuan Yang and the other folks at Rethinking Economics for sharing this 1980 article on Stephen Marglin on facebook just now. My favourite quote from the article is this:

After publishing several neoclassical tracts and receiving tenure in 1967, Marglin left again for India. While there, he fell in love with and later married a French woman raised in Morocco who sensitized him to the wealth of non-Western cultures. he explains. At the same time the student uprisings that brought Paris to a near-standstill in 1968 helped to dispel Marglin’s belief in the immutability of the capitalist order. Marglin returned to Harvard no longer believing that the liberal position made sense.

The extreme change in Marglin’s beliefs led some to believe that he had been a “closet Marxist” at the time he was a candidate for tenure. Malcolm Gillis, professor of Economics, attributes this charge to the fact that Marglin was making radical statements during the late ’60s, “a time of academic acrimony.” Marglin today acknowledges that if his present radicalism had then been evident in his work, the University would have probably refused to grant him tenure. Still he denies being a “closet anything. I believed in the separation of my work from my politics then. I don’t anymore,” he says. Having tenure however, made it easier for him to become a radical since he possessed a secure income as well as the “inner security that came from knowing I had made it in their world,” he adds.

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