The Corner


Left-Wing ‘Heterodox Economists’ Dominate This Economics Department

The realm of academic economics is not nearly so dominated by leftists as is the case with many other fields, such as sociology, anthropology, English, and anything with “studies” in its name. Nevertheless, one finds plenty of militant leftists teaching in economics departments across America. It’s not unusual for them to gain control.

One place where they have is Wright State University in Ohio. In today’s Martin Center article, one of the non-leftists, Evan Osborne, writes about his “Life Among the Academic Radicals.”

Osborne explains that his department is controlled by “left-heterodox” economists who are “critical of relying on market competition to achieve better economic outcomes, and the main arguments in favor of such competition are dismissed as mere ‘neoclassical economics.’” To them, market processes are systematically unfair and keep people poorer than they should be.

While all department members may teach the introductory courses, the electives are reserved for the lefties, and it’s futile for a non-lefty to suggest any new elective course.

The biggest problem, as Osborne sees it, is that the lefties are not interested in intellectual exchanges, but instead “protect their ideology at all costs.”

Osborne concludes:

Diversity of ideas is and ought to be applauded in the humanities and social sciences. (In the natural sciences too, as long as the ideas are confined to those that have survived experimental testing.) But that diversity should include discussion of where the ideas came from, their real-world performance when implemented (which is especially important when discussing Marxism, where the record is substantial and grim), and freedom to criticize them. A desire to listen as well as talk, in other words.

At WSU, these things are lacking. For students who want to experience genuine, honest and ongoing discussion—i.e., learning—about economics, it is not the place to be.

Too bad for the students at Wright State who have intellectual curiosity, as well as for the taxpayers of Ohio.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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