Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Steve Pressman on the origins of the Review of Political Economy (ROPE)

Of particular is Steve's discussion of the scope of the journal, and why it became dedicated to the old political economy tradition. In his words:
Someone suggested that we broaden the scope of the new journal. A first thought was to add institutional economics. I had long been an admirer of John Kenneth Galbraith, someone who bridged the gap between Post Keynesian and institutionalist thought, and supported the suggestion. Geoff Hodgson, who was there and slated to be the Book Review Editor of the new journal, had a strong institutional bent (Hodgson, 1988) and also supported this idea. Such a journal would overlap with both the JPKE and theJournal of Economic Issues to some extent. This suggestion had the benefit of not stepping on anyone's toes. It would provide authors with an opportunity to explore similarities and differences between these two schools of thought as well as to publish papers taking either perspective or criticizing either perspective. Still, there was considerable opposition to the idea. 
I then suggested something a bit different—adding Sraffian or neo-Ricardian economics to the scope of the journal. The publication of Eatwell & Milgate's (1983) critical book on Post Keynesian economics exacerbated the split between the American Post Keynesians and the European Sraffians. Even before publication of this book, there were tensions between these two schools, which surfaced initially at the annual Post Keynesian summer schools held in Trieste, Italy. My idea was to encourage a dialog between Post Keynesians and Sraffians, and to see if it were possible to repair some of the damage that had been done. This proposal also encountered considerable opposition. 
After rejecting a few other suggestions, someone (memory fails, I am not sure who it was) proposed something even more radical—a return to political economy. The idea was to bridge the gap among all the different heterodox traditions in economics, including some of the more market-friendly schools of thought, such as Austrian Economics. We would welcome papers that explored similarities between Post Keynesian and Austrian views of uncertainty, papers that examined the behavioral assumptions in the General Theory and in macroeconomics, papers that approached policy issues from different theoretical perspectives, as well as papers that addressed the overlap among some of the different non-neoclassical paradigms. Somewhat surprisingly, especially given what transpired earlier, this proposal won the endorsement of everyone there. We decided to make the new journal as open and as inclusive as possible. 
The result was a journal seeking to revive the grand tradition of classical political economy. It would publish in virtually every strand of political economy. The statement that is printed on the inside cover of the journal, and appearing on the journal's homepage, boldly proclaims this objective.
Pressman tells the whole story here.

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