[Marxism] Ideologically Loaded Rhetoric of Mainstream Economics

michael perelman michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Sat Oct 17 11:13:25 MDT 2009

A half-century ago, John Kenneth Galbraith had a marvelous description 
of the shaping of language regarding crises.

Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1958. The Affluent Society (Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1998).

38: "Marx's reference to the "capitalist crisis" gave the word an 
ominous sound.  The word panic, which was a partial synonym a half 
century ago, was no more reassuring.  As a result, the word depression 
was gradually brought into use.  This had a softer tone; it implied a 
yielding of the fabric of business activity and not a crashing fall. 
During the great depression, the word depression acquired from the event 
described an even more unsatisfactory connotation.  Therefore, the word 
recession was substituted to connote an unfearsome fall in business 
activity.  But this term eventually acquired a foreboding quality and a 
recession in 1953-1954 was widely characterized as a rolling 
readjustment.  By the time of the Nixon administration, the innovative 
phrase "growth recession" was brought into use."

I am presently reading Reinhart and Rogoff's new book.

Reinhart, Carmen M. and Kenneth S. Rogoff. 2009. This Time Is Different: 
Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

The book is an encyclopedic study of crises through the lens of 
monetarism and public finance.  The authors also casually bandy about 
the expression, "financial repression," for any policy that 
inconveniences the financial system.

I wonder what the academic economics community would think of a book 
that routinely described economic policies in terms of labor repression. 
  I suspect that no matter what the quality of the book might be such 
language would automatically convict the author of unacceptable bias.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA

530 898 5321
fax 530 898 5901

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