The Poverty of PPE, Episode Twelve


52. In the light of the foregoing, this paper obviously should make way for the study of political economy. The paper as it stands at the moment is easy to criticise, primarily because of its partial approach. The major economic problems of this country remain unsolved and the responsibility, at least partly, lies with those academic economists who have not been able to free themselves at this level of discussion from attempts to explain all our problems as the result of a single economic cause. The endless and largely sterile controversies over whether it is the rate of investment, the balance of payments, the level of employment or what have you, which is the real cause of our problems stem from the failure to construct a total, interdisciplinary model which will recognise the possibility of overdetermination of our problems. The spirit of Dunkirk lies heavily on the economic organisation paper: 300 sweating undergraduates are annually employed in Finals to help their examiners help Harold Wilson help British capitalism.

53. Clearly, to alter the approach to this area of study would involve not only different teaching methods (e.g. multidisciplinary classes) but would embarrass many of those Oxford economists most intimately connected with Whitehall, who peddle their favourite nostrums equally to their Whitehall employers and their Oxford students. Yet again we see the many ramifications of the demand for a change in the intellectual content of the course. We can state this most succinctly as follows: change in content alone cannot result in a satisfactory course without a change in the form of the course.

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