Radical Professionals vs Radicals who are Professionals, was Re: Tax breaks and WTO

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sun Jan 2 10:52:08 PST 2000

Michael Pollak wrote:

> Part of why I'm interested in your idea is because it would
> kind of solve the problem of taxing multinationals.

We have here in a nutshell the difference between being a radical who is an economist and an economist who is a radical. The latter looks for solutions to problems. The former asks the question of how the working class can achieve the kind of power (however partial) that can make "solutions to problems" a relevant concern.

This was my first major lesson in politics, occurring at the conference at which I first decided that I had better explore what marxists had to say. It was a conference on "Radicals in the Professions," held in Ann Arbor in (I believe) the summer of 1967. At one of the plenaries the chair asked, "Are we radical professionals or are we radicals who are professionals?" I decided then that I was the latter, not the former; and that, as Frost said, made all the difference.

Occasionally, but only occasionally and by accident, the two are the same. They are all too often not only not the same but are in positive contradiction -- and attempts to resolve that contradiction as non-antagonistic (which express a longing to escape alienation *inside* capitalism) are the route to academic irrelevance.


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