Monday , May 27 2024
Home / EconoSpeak


The Econospeak blog, which succeeded MaxSpeak (co-founded by Barkley Rosser, a Professor of Economics at James Madison University and Max Sawicky, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute) is a multi-author blog . Self-described as “annals of the economically incorrect”, this frequently updated blog analyzes daily news from an economic perspective, but requires a strong economics background.

Opium of the People and Radical Chains

The historical dust has not settled, but at this moment it seems clear that a proletariat which does not embrace Marxism is entirely possible. Why not, then, Marxism without a proletariat? In a thoughtful article, "Radical Chains: The Marxian Concept of Proletarian Mission" (Studies on the Left, September-October, 1966), Oscar Berland argues that this is not only a thinkable but also a necessary thought. Ronald Aronson's "Reply" to Berland agrees that the proletariat has lost its...

Read More »

The University at War and the Iceberg Strategy

While looking for old sources discussing the "manpower channeling" policies of the U.S. Selective Service (draft) during the Vietnam war, I uncovered a treasure trove of 1960s essays on the military-industrial-academic complex. The first one that caught my eye was "The University and the Political Economy" by James O'Connor. O'Connor later wrote The Fiscal Crisis of the State and founded the journal, Capitalism Nature Socialism. "The University and the Political Economy" appeared in the 1969...

Read More »


Fifty-four years ago Les Temps Modernes published an essay by André Gorz titled, "Destroy the University." I am posting it here adding occasional underlining for emphasis and commentary at the end. As I will explain in my comments, this piece is of interest to me because of its relevance to current student demonstrations but also because of Gorz's pioneering thought on ecological politics and on the future of work.Destroy the University, by André Gorz1. The university cannot function, and we...

Read More »

Leisure to Attend to Our Spiritual Business

ABSTRACT: Time is central to Martin Hägglund’s discussion of secular faith and spiritual freedom. Time is precisely what is finite in this life and presides over the relationships we value and our risk of losing them. Hägglund adopted the notion of disposable time from Karl Marx’s Grundrisse and reframed it as the more descriptive socially available free time. Following Marx, Hägglund advocates the revaluation of values so that socially available free time would become the measure of value...

Read More »

The Unknown Unknown Marx

Toward the end of his 1968 essay, "The Unknown Marx," Martin Nicolaus quoted Marx's enumeration of four barriers to production under capital that "expose the basis of overproduction, the fundamental contradiction of developed capital." Nicolaus qualified what Marx meant by overproduction to be "[not] simply ‘excess inventory’; rather, he means excess productive power more generally."‘These inherent limits necessarily coincide with the nature of capital, with its essential determinants. These...

Read More »

Matt Huber’s and Leigh Phillips’s “classical Marxist critique” of Kohei Saito

I have expressed my disagreement with Kohei Saito's Slow Down and Marx in the Anthropocene in previous posts. I welcome Huber's and Phillips's critique of Saito at Jacobin. They get much right in their criticism of Saito's Utopianism and implicit primitivism but they share with Saito a fundamental misreading of Marx. This misreading is based on a speculative interpretation of a stirring but ambiguous passage in Marx's Preface to his 1859 Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:In...

Read More »

Lost in translation: Slow Down by Kohei Saito

Kohei Saito's "manifesto" of degrowth communism was BIG in Japan, selling half a million copies in the first year and a half after publication. It's debut in English is already tarnished, though, by a colossal, cringe-inducing Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion error that repeats throughout the book.The formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit is: multiply the Celsius temperature by 1.8 and add 32. The addition of 32 is to account for the fact that the freezing point of water is 0° in...

Read More »

In Memoriam: Robert Solow

     One of the tallest trees in the economic forest has fallen:  Bob Solow has died at the age of 99.The modern study of economic growth could not have happened without his work, of course.  He was also one of the funniest economists I know. For years I have had the following quote from him on my office door,  which hilariously sums up his attitude to Lucas and Sargent on business cycles:"Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now and announces to me that he is Napoleon...

Read More »