Two different Tylers talk about the Tyranny of the Majority.
I like Joel’s book but I think he is far too pessimistic about the prospects for diversity in the modern world.
The very existence of heterodox economics brings benefits. A
personal anecdote will suffice. My first two publications were both in
heterodox journals: the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and the (institutionalist) Review of Social Economy.
These articles lifted me into a top graduate school and financial aid
(can you imagine how confused the admissions committees were to see a
GMU undergrad with an apparently leftie publication record?). I would
not have had comparable success at Econometrica.
This tale relates to the value of diversity more generally. We will
miss much of the value of diversity by simply listing a bunch of
diverse elements and evaluating them one-by-one. Diversity brings
broader benefits by allowing people to use niches as ladders to further
steps, frequently into the mainstream, or in my case into another
niche. Diversity is also a form of insurance, and of course it doesn’t
always pay off. Finally many excellent mainstream or sometimes even
right-wing economists started with an intense interest in social
justice, often gleaned from heterodox writings. Vernon Smith was once
a socialist, and George Stigler was early on a trust-basher.
Yes the profession is getting better but we also are losing too much
diversity in terms of schools of thought. The diminution of the
Austrian School, as an organized and intellectually alive phenomenon
seems to me a shame, even though I don’t believe in a unique Austrian
method. Heterodoxies encourage the mainstream to be more philosophical
and more self-reflective.
Sometimes intellectual inefficiency is efficient, and my remarks about heterodox economics should be taken in this light.
The emphasis is mine. As is the question: Isn’t the second Tyler describing the Tyranny of the Majority? If so, what are the Waldfogel-ian fixed costs that are preventing all the different flavors of economics from flourishing?