The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Sunday, May 31, 2009

More from Herbert Gintis
Mike Rappaport

This man used to be a Marxist, but not any longer.  His Amazon reviews are numerous and quite a fun read.  This is from a recent review of Vernon Smith's autobiography:

Vernon's discussion of the power of university administration to foster either excellence or mediocrity also strikes home, as my experience has been quite similar. Most deans prefer mediocrity, because it involves lower job pressure, you don't make enemies, and you can rise up the academic hierarchy by moving from university to university. Sticking your neck out with creative ideas may benefit the larger academic community, but it makes enemies and makes you persona non grata in the university administrative community. Examples of creative leadership are Dean Alfange, who brought a bunch of crazy radicals to the University of Massachusetts, Larry Summers, who tried to bring Harvard University in the Twenty-First Century and was fired for it, and Yehuda Elkana, my rector at Central European University, who has pioneered the development of an American style university in the heart of bureaucratic Europe with its ossified university systems (yes, European university are even worse that American, because there is virtually no inter-university competition, and the faculty is complicit with the administration in the repression of excellence).

Update: In another review, Gintis says about Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom: 

Capitalism and Freedom is the product of a lecture series given by Milton Friedman in 1956 and published in book form in 1962. It is Friedman's greatest work in political philosophy, and it may take its place in history beside side the works of Hobbes, Hume, Locke, and Mill. The past half-century has produced nothing else of its caliber in the realm of political economy. Friedman's intellectual mentor, Friedrich von Hayek, wrote important works in this area in an earlier period, but his writings are today mostly of historical interest except to the expert. Capitalism and Freedom vibrates with life and relevance, and may do so for a very long time.

I don't want to suggest that Gintis is now a free market economist -- he seems closer to the center to me -- but he is very far from where he used to be. 

Further Update: Tom questions how centrist Gintis is.  My sense is that he is critical of what he regards as the ideological left and right.  Here is an excerpt to give one the flavor of his analysis:

The main problem [with this analysis] is that the social democratic vision has not been turned back, but rather has been largely realized in the form of (a) the end of legalized discrimination against African-Americans; (b) the huge increase in the rights of women against the claims of patriarchy; (c) the rise of a culture that asserts racial tolerance and affirms gender equality; (d) a wide-spread system of social safety nets in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance; and (e) a vigorous system of laws and social institutions protecting the rights of children against sexual and physical violence. I would argue that there are several new social priorities that have arisen given the basic resolution of the aforementioned social problems, but that social democracy has not shown itself popular among voters in solving these problems. Moreover, some of the old social democratic institutions, such a support for labor unions, were merely a means of forging a political united front of a labor aristocracy and the political social democrats that worked to the detriment of the majority of voters, including most workers.

Recognizing that most of the social democratic vision has been achieved and that unions are generally a force for bad takes one a long way towards the center.

http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2009/05/more-from-herbert-gintismike-rappaport.html

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bf6e253ef011570b4f429970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More from Herbert Gintis
Mike Rappaport
:

Comments

"It is Friedman's greatest work in political philosophy, and it may take its place in history beside side the works of Hobbes, Hume, Locke, and Mill." That's pretty persuasive evidence of patriotism, verging almost on jingoism.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 1, 2009 4:10:16 AM

No, no, no - how stupid of me. "Friedrich von Hayek..... his writings are today mostly of historical interest except to the expert": it's just a lefty ruse to persuade people not to read Hayek.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 1, 2009 6:07:43 AM

I think he's moved to the center but he's still a man of the left, I would say. If you read his reviews into 2008, he makes lots of deprecating comments about free market economics. Maybe if he lives long enough he will move all the way to the center. He does write great Amazon reviews however. He must read at an astonishing rate.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Jun 1, 2009 10:05:42 AM

Have strong feelings about, please continue to let me feel your article.

Posted by: guci shoes | Mar 22, 2010 11:31:38 PM


Don‘t try so hard, the best things come when you least expect them to.

Posted by: jordan shoes | Mar 22, 2010 11:32:41 PM

Maybe if he lives long enough he will move all the way to the center.

Posted by: Replica jerseys | Sep 3, 2010 8:58:12 PM