A short history of economics at U. Mass Amherst

From Dylan Matthews.  Here is an excerpt:

The tipping point, Wolff says, was the denial of tenure for Michael Best, a popular, left-leaning junior professor. “He had a lot of student support, and because it was the 1960s students were given to protest,” Wolff recalls. That, and unrelated personality tensions with the administration, inspired the mainstreamers to start leaving.

That created openings, which, in 1973, the administration started to fill in an extremely unorthodox way. They decided to hire a “radical package” of five professors: Wolff (then at the City College of New York), his frequent co-author and City College colleague Stephen Resnick, Harvard professor Samuel Bowles (who’d just been denied tenure at Harvard), Bowles’s Harvard colleague and frequent co-author Herbert Gintis, and Richard Edwards, a collaborator of Bowles and Gintis’s at Harvard and a newly minted PhD. All but Edwards got tenure on the spot.

…Under those five’s guidance, the department came to specialize in both Marxist economics and post-Keynesian economics, the latter of which presents itself as a truer successor to Keynes’s actual writings than mainstream Keynesians like Paul Samuelson. “When I got there, the department basically had three poles,” said Gerald Epstein, who arrived as a professor in 1987. “There was the postmodern Marxian group, which was Steve Resnick and Richard Wolff, and then there was a general radical economics group of Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis, and then a Keynesian/Marxian group. Jim Crotty was the leader of that group.” Suffice it to say, most mainstream departments have zero Marxists, period, let alone Keynesian/Marxist hybrids or postmodern Marxists.


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