HE HEDGEHOG REvIEW / SUMMER 2010
ocked to the talk shows, newspapers, magazines, and op-ed pages, but beyond that,they also entered the blogosphere in a big way or perhaps the rst time. Not only did hallowed Big Names begin posting blogs, but so did preiously unsung obscureeconomics aculty and, more signicantly, students o the subject.
Prior to the crisis,economics was something that the aerage person had gone out o their way to aoid.Suddenly, it seemed like eeryone with a web browser harbored a quick opinion about what had gone wrong with economics, and was not at all shy about broadcasting it tothe world. Consequently, the question o the con-tent and signicance o modern economics or thecrisis collapsed into an unseemly ree-or-all, only intermittently abated, pitched somewhere betweena barroom brawl and a roller derby, a scrum whichsummoned orth the current paper.I’m not interested in getting in a ew suckerpunches o my own, and I’m not congenitally apeacemonger or a conciliator, much less inclinedto preach the irtues o a quiet lie, but there doesseem some irtue in taking a deep breath and sur-eying the atermath. Maybe we might extract a ew lessons rom the asco and enter-tain the possibility o analysis o the cut and thrust o recriminations as a phenomenonin their own right, i only to presere some small part o it beore it is expunged romthe collectie memory o the proession (a purge I ully expect is already underway). Apologists are already hyperentilating that
nothing untoward has happened
Lesson 1: Tis Is What Happens When You Banish History and Philosophy
Te readers may struggle to nd it within their own hearts to eel sorry or econo-mists in their plight, and it is not the intention o the current author to stoke pity oreen
in readers. Rather, the task is to recount these eents as a sequenceo otherwise aoidable tragedies, the rst o which must be conceded to hae been theexile o history and philosophy rom any place within the contemporary economicorthodoxy. Ater a brie irtation in the 1960s and 1970s, the grandees o the pro-ession took it upon themseles to express their disdain and scorn or the types o sel-reection practiced by “methodologists” and historians o economics and to goout o their way to preent those so inclined rom occupying any tenured oothold inreputable economics departments.
It was perhaps no coincidence that history and philosophy were the areas where oneound the greatest concentrations o skeptics concerning the shape and substance o thepostwar American economic orthodoxy. High-ranking journals, such as the
Quarterly Journal o Economics
, and the
Journal o Political Economy
,declared they would cease publication o any articles whatsoeer in these areas, atera long history o acceptance. Once this policy was put in place, then journal rankings were used to deny hiring and promotion at the commanding heights o economics to
Suddenly, it seemed like everyone with a web browser harbored aquick opinion about what had gone wrong with economics,and was not at all shy about broadcasting it to the world.