Friday, November 24, 2017

A Race To Suppress Academic Freedom?

The race is between the two nations competing for global dominance, the US and China.  This post is triggered by an unnamed editorial in today's Washington Post (probably authored by Fred Hiatt) criticizing China for imposing ideological limits on Chinese universities.  Since the recent party congress, 40 universities have set up centers for studyiing Xi Jinping Thought.  14 universities have come under attack for being "ideologically weak."  Joint operations between US and Chinese universities must appoint a party secretary as a vice chancellor.  There have also been restrictions on the internet and other matters.  Without doubt, putting restrictions on higher education will make it harder for China to move into a position of full global leadership.

Of course, the WaPo editorial did not notice trends in US academia that also may lead to suppression of research activity and threaten the current leading position of US higher ed in the world, although there have been reports and columns commenting on these trends.  Among them are the push for political correctness coming from students, but probably more important is the assault on higher ed coming from the Trump administration.  This is seen in the attack on tax breaks for students but also the push to distort funding for research on certain topics. While not directly on higher ed, probably the most damaging has been the attack on science in government agencies, especially the EPA, with such nonsense as banning scientists who have received funding from the agencies on their scientific advisory boards, even as those receiving funding from corporations at odds with goals of these agencies are allowed to be on those boards.

Really, it looks that the two most powerful nations on the planet are having a race to suppress academic freedom and suppress the free development of knowledge in this world at a time when we need more of that.

Barkley Rosser


Longtooth said...

I'm hard-pressed to how you make an unfounded jump from China finding several universities are "ideologically weak" to your next paragraph in which this equates to "also may lead to suppression of research activity."

You have no relationship nor did you even try to create one between China's "ideological" and the U.S.'s "suppression of research".

You are making an absurd comparative as if "ideological" belief systems in China are interchangeable with "research suppression".

While I known less than nothing about what China means by "ideologically weak" universities, I do know a lot more about the U.S.'s total disregard for educational "ideological" teaching to reduce racism and xenophobia, promote cooperative societal systems (as opposed to worshipping the individual), and combat blatant economic inequality ("its their own fault" type of thinking).

Of course the U.S.'s excuse is that the nation's population is split in half on these ideological items so how can it ever provide any ideologically coherence in it's university and grade schools curriculum. China on the other hand isn't run as a free-for-all semi-controlled system barely a step from chaos, so it has a coherent ideological premise it promotes.

I'm not at all sure this isn't in China's best interests and that the U.S. lack of coherent ideology isn't our Achilles heal.

I mean we have myriads of private (and expensive) religious universities teaching a huge variety of religious ideologies. We have grade and high schools teaching biblical creationism as if it's science. We have major private universities with odes to rasist ideologists, buildings named after them, statues of them in the "plaza", either because they're alums or because they gave a few million bucks to the University.

WE have streets and elementary schools named after racist traitors to the nation. This is an ideology too ... one that promotes the opposite of cohesion, We even have a constitution that's interpreted to let every tom, dick, and harry have, own, carry, and use weapons where-ever they feel like it. Nice ideology for a cohesive civilized nation, huh? said...


I confess that I do not know the details of what has triggered the attack on these Chinese universities for being "ideologically weak." It may be that it involves odd topics not of any real importance. OTOH, it could be topics of greater importance, quite possibly including economics. I see nothing to applaud here. It is certainly tied to the idea that the CPC should be in control of society, all of it, and that the ideology of Marxism-Leninism should be respected. I do not see much positive coming from suppressing anything in order to push this stuff, although maybe Anonymous anne will show up to claim that I am somehow impugning China and its civilization and its people by this comment.

As for the US, while we have lots of diversity of views in our higher ed system, a lot of conservatives claim that it is just the opposite of what you say, with the more well known and dominating institutions having a solid liberal to left bias, with perhaps too much being taught of what you want there to have taught more of. I am not going to pass on that, but I must admit when pushed that all studies out there do find that overall on average, college and university faculty in the US tend to be to the left ideologically of the average citizen, just as the average member of the military or police tends to be to the right of the average citizen, these people who want to crack down on all the left-liberals on campuses corrupting their children somehow never worrying about the ideological biases we find among the police and military (and the current attack on universities in both the Senate and House versions of the GOP tax bill reflects a fresh view among GOP conservatives that universities and colleges are bad for America and need to be suppressed).

Anonymous said...

You're right; political correctness and cultural Marxism are a menace that must be defeated. Support freedom fighters like Jordan Peterson so they all meet the fate of Steven Salaita and other ideologists of the left. said...


I said nothing about cultural Marxism, and the case of Salaita was about university administrators rather than students. said...

Oh, and Jordan Peterson is not in the US but at the University of Toronto, for whatever that is worth. But while Canada is nearby, what happens there is not a matter of academic issues in the US, strictly speaking.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Freedom for fake scientists?
Comment on Barkley Rosser’s ‘A Race To Suppress Academic Freedom?’

There are TWO economixes: political economics and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics, the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

It is important to realize that theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years.

Orthodox economics is clearly defined: “It is a touchstone of accepted economics that all explanations must run in terms of the actions and reactions of individuals. Our behavior in judging economic research, in peer review of papers and research, and in promotions, includes the criterion that in principle the behavior we explain and the policies we propose are explicable in terms of individuals, not of other social categories.” (Arrow)

Since the soapbox economists and agenda pushers Adam Smith/Karl Marx, economics is what Feynman called a cargo cult science. In the genuine sciences, peer review is institutionalized as quality control, in economics it has been perverted to an instrument of selection and career promotion of suitable spokespersons and representatives of the prevailing view.

The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and ALL got the foundational concept of the subject matter ― profit ― wrong. What we actually have is the pluralism of provably false theories.

This pluralism is not an indicator of academic freedom and creativity but the very proof of scientific degeneration, incompetence, and confusion. Pluralism is a political concept and relates to matters of belief. Science is about knowledge and the sole criterion is true/false with truth clearly defined as material/formal consistency.

Theoretical economics is scientifically unacceptable from Jevons/Walras/Menger onward to DSGE. So, what remains is political economics.#1 And that is exactly what can be observed from Krugman’s liberal soapbox blather to Keen’s leftist agenda pushing. Not to forget Barkley Rosser, the expert for political unrest in Catalonia, Saudi Arabia, and China who, disqualifying for an economist, does still not know what profit is.#2

Economists have never understood the overriding importance of the separation of science and politics and simply ignore that they have NO political mandate. Strictly speaking, there is no place for political economics in academia. Because of this, the question of whether there is more academic freedom in the USA or in China is as pointless as: How many angels can dance on a pinpoint? In the last 200+ years, economists have never been more than useful political idiots. Time to make economics a science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For details see cross-references Political economics

#2 You are fired! said...


The question about angels dancing on the head of a pin was always a stand-in for the question about the relation between countable and uncountable infinities.

As for me not knowing what profit is, well, I know that you think the most important thing about profit is to distinguish between retained and distributed earnings, which is an utter accounting triviality.

To Longtooth,

I should probably add a concern I have, although it has not yet gotten directly to US academia, which is Trump's suppression of scientific views he finds ideologically unacceptable, e.g. climate science. This has not yet gotten to academia, but with his supporters now only supporting higher ed at a 30% rate, I see it coming.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “As for me not knowing what profit is, well, I know that you think the most important thing about profit is to distinguish between retained and distributed earnings, which is an utter accounting triviality.”

In the last instance, it is not an accounting triviality but one of elementary mathematics. And the fact of the matter is that economists are too stupid for simple math.#1 You still don’t get it.#2

All this, though, does not matter much because academic economics is, to begin with, NOT about scientific excellence but about political agenda pushing.

Traditionally, there are two methods of governance: carrot and stick. In entrenched/affluent societies the carrot is preferred (= an offer you cannot refuse), while post-coup societies rely more on the stick (= a threat you cannot ignore). Neither method has much to do with the Humboldtian ideal of unconditional academic freedom.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 National Accounting: scientific incompetence or political fraud?
#2 How the intelligent non-economist can refute every economist hands down

Barkley Rosser said...


We have your number, and it is a big nothing burger.

Every accountant and the vast majority of economists are fully aware that retained earnings and distributed earnings are not the same thing, yes, this is trivial arithmetic we all know, even the dumbest of us, and the vast majority of us know what the only reason for paying any attention to it is, which is that retained earnings can help fund private capital investment while distributed earnings cannot. Given that at least half of private capital investment in the US is funded by other sources than retained earnings, it just is not all that important, certainly not the end all and be all bottom line you make it out to be as the foundation of a truly scientific (if completely fact free) economics.

Sorry that you look so ridiculous, but that is where it is at, Egmont. Grow up and face the truth.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “Every accountant and the vast majority of economists are fully aware that retained earnings and distributed earnings are not the same thing, yes, this is trivial arithmetic we all know, even the dumbest of us, …”

No, you simply don’t get it.

Macroeconomics is false since Keynes. Here is the corpus delicti from the General Theory: “Income = value of output = consumption + investment. Saving = income − consumption. Therefore saving = investment.” (p. 63)

This two-liner is conceptually and logically defective because Keynes did not come to grips with profit: “His Collected Writings show that he wrestled to solve the Profit Puzzle up till the semi-final versions of his GT but in the end he gave up and discarded the draft chapter dealing with it.” (Tómasson et al.)

Because macroeconomic profit is ill-defined

(i) the whole theoretical superstructure of Keynesianism is provably false,#1

(ii) all I=S and IS-LM models are provably false,#2

(iii) Post Keynesianism is provably false,#3

(iv) MMT is provably false,#4

(v) all microfounded approaches are a priori false.

Macroeconomic profit is in the Keynesian case given with Qm=I−Sm. The Profit Law says that the monetary profit of the business sector Qm is equal to the difference between investment expenditures of the business sector I and monetary saving of the household sector Sm (or dissaving −Sm as the case may be).

The correct macroeconomic Profit Law Qm=I−Sm REPLACES the untenable Keynesian I=S.

The scientific incompetence of the representative economist consists in not having realized in 80+ years the foundational error in Keynesian and After-Keynesian macro. No more proof of utter scientific incompetence is needed.

All this elementary stuff comes well before the distinction between profit and distributed profit is introduced as even the dumbest member of orthodox and heterodox academic economics has to admit.

When distributed profit Yd is taken into the picture the Profit Law expands to Qm=Yd+I−Sm. Only Allais got this equation right,#5 the rest of econ academia is still lost in the proto-scientific woods.

Fact is that economists have not gotten the Profit Law right in the last 200+ years. Academic freedom has been perverted into the privilege to produce cargo cultic trash for the political Circus Maximus and to violate the scientific standards of material and formal consistency with impunity.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Keynesians ― terminally stupid or worse?

#2 Mr. Keynes, Prof. Krugman, IS-LM, and the End of Economics as We Know It

#3 Why Post Keynesianism Is Not Yet a Science

#4 Where MMT got macro wrong

#5 How Keynes got macro wrong and Allais got it right

Thornton Hall said...

In the US, higher ed has a democracy problem. Among the ways *not* recommended for getting people to vote to give you money: telling them they are stupid if they don’t like what you do with their money.

AXEC / E.K-H said...


Behind the facade of academic freedom, peer review has long ago been corrupted to gatekeeping. See James Heckman’s Summary Chart on Twitter:

Accordingly, the scientific content of AER and the rest of economic journals has been zero for generations.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Barkley Rosser said...

Oh dear, Egmont, is this last remark a whine about how you have managed to get only about one of your many SSRN papers actually published in a refereed journal, and that one a very obscure one at that? Yeah, sure, "corrupted," hah!

Sorry, it is that pretty much everybody can see what a joke your theory is. You start out sometimes making legitimate criticisms of various economic theories, all of which have flaws, but when it gets to your big solution, what you have is your just utterly vacuous and wacky profit theory. They are not corrupt; they are accurate, well-informed, and smart, not being taken in by a bunch of looney bin drivel.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

This is the track record of economics:
• profit theory, false since 200+ years,
• Walrasian microfoundations (including equilibrium), false since 140+ years,
• Keynesian macrofoundations (including I=S, IS-LM), false since 80+ years,
• Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism = mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent,#1
• unresolved pluralism of provably false theories,#2
• scientific content of economic journals = zero,
• scientific content of economic textbooks = zero,#3
• economics is what Feynman called a cargo cult science: “They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. ... But it doesn’t work. ... So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential.”,#4
• what is entirely missing among economists is scientific competence,#5
• economics never rose above the proto-scientific level.#6

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Fact of life: your econ prof is scientifically incompetent

#2 “There are always many different opinions and conventions concerning any one problem or subject-matter …. This shows that they are not all true. For if they conflict, then at best only one of them can be true.” (Popper)

#3 The father of modern economics and his imbecile kids

#4 Yes, economics is a bogus science

#5 For details of the big picture see cross-references Science
and cross-references Failed/Fake scientists

#6 The real problem with the economics Nobel said...

Wow, an ever longer list of unpublished and unpublishable papers. Very impressive confirmation of my point, Egmont.

Anyway, I think I have really said enough on this thread, which has yet again turned into another watch you repeat yourself over and over again about your standard stuff far removed from the original topic of the thread.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

With regard to economics, academic freedom has been clearly defined: “It is a touchstone of accepted economics that all explanations must run in terms of the actions and reactions of individuals. Our behavior in judging economic research, in peer review of papers and research, and in promotions, includes the criterion that in principle the behavior we explain and the policies we propose are explicable in terms of individuals, not of other social categories.” (Arrow)

In economics, peer review ensures that only papers that conform to methodological individualism ≈ Walrasianism ≈ Neoclassics ≈ Orthodoxy are accepted. It is plain that the AER as flagship journal has executed these methodological guidelines faithfully for generations and the rest has followed suit. Unfortunately, methodological individualism is proto-scientific junk since 140+ years.

What more proof does anybody need that, with regard to economics, academic freedom has been perverted to a license for morons to crowd out scientists.

Your comparison of academic freedom in the USA and China is simply absurd and a deflection of the plain fact that economics is a cargo cult science and that the representative orthodox/heterodox economist is either stupid or corrupt or both.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke