Vive La France

· Miscellany, Salon Bloggers

A Chronicle article from January 24 circulating among my environmentalist brethren and sistren (Taking on ‘Rational Man’) discusses the politics of academic economics, and the animosity between neoclassical economists and dissidents. While professors in the U.S. are being marginalized in subsidiary theoretical programs, French grad students have taken the lead in the rebellion:

The dissidents take heart from events in France. In 2000, an online graduate-student petition proclaimed that neoclassical economics, or at least its unbridled application in teaching and research, dwelt in unreality to the point of being “autistic.”

The students dubbed their movement “Post-Autistic Economics” and quickly provoked a national debate of the French variety. Some leading publications and high-profile economists hailed the protesters, who, in petitions-cum-manifestoes, denounced economics as a morass of “imaginary worlds” that was mired in “pathological,” pseudoscientific mathematics; that was aggressively excluding pluralism; and that was, even so, barely able to explain “l’économie de Robinson Crusoe.”