Joseph Halevi: The Contemporary Relevance of Fred Lee’s Heterodox Political Economy

The Fred Lee Memorial Lecture at the SHE Conference, December 5-6, 2016, at the University of New South Wales. Sydney, Australia

The Lecture was aimed at highlighting the importance of Lee’s work and commitment to US Labor. It argued that the latter aspect is strictly connected to Lee’s research in the exploration of the nature and causes of US corporate power. The Lecture also pointed at the role Lee gave to class and ideological struggle at the level of academia and of teaching institutions. In this respect his book on the History of Heterodox Economics (Routledge 2009) is exemplary as it shows how tough the clashes have been in the United States since the last decades of the 19th century. The Lecture then discussed Lee’s contributions to economic analysis and history of economic thought. The Lecture stressed and elaborated upon the importance that Lee assigned to Gardiner Means and to the notion of administered prices. Lee’s work produced his fundamental volume Post Keynesian Price Theory (Cambridge University Press 1998), where the main approaches to non marginalist pricing are dissected. These are the Administered Prices approach, the Oxford-Andrews Approach, the markup Kaleckian Approach and the Sylos Labini Approach. By referring approvingly to a recent paper by Tae-Hee Jo (Journal of Economic Issues, no.2, 2016), the Lecture argues that there is no conventional price mechanism. The Lecture ends by validating Lee’s prediction made in the mid 1990s concerning the impossibility to reproduce end expand heterodox economic ideas within the academia because of the total and sectarian control exercised by mainstream economists.

[The video of the lecture will be available in early 2017.]