I was at an open seminar on tuesday on the subject of land conflicts in the 21st Century. I intend to post about the seminar soon, probably when the muppets at comhem reconnect me to the tinternet. But before then I want to make a comment about polemics in academia.
I thought marxist geography had more or less died out: I have never been a big fan and find much of it blinkered and deterministic in a way that has surely been discredited since 1989. Nevertheless, at the seminar marxist geography and political economy seemed alive and well. One rambling half-hour rant was nothing but a polemic on the evils of the market economy and capitalism. As a great believer in academic freedom, I can accept this, even celebrate it. What I find hard to accept is the political orthodoxy that accompanies it and the persistent use of perjorative terms, for example, neoliberal(-ism and -ist). Apparently it is impossible to mention a market economy without prefixing neoliberal. Once one speaker had used the term almost everone else felt obliged to establish their credentials by joining in. Apparently, these critical ipod-carrying, car-driving, broadband using academics have found some miraculous way of acquiring their baubles without engaging in market economics.
Personally, I’d like to celebrate the market economics that have allowed the populations of, for example, Estonia, East Germany, Hungary, and even Russia, drag themselves out of the mire created by marxist-leninist central planning. Planning incidently that gave us great advances such as: massive famines in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, in China in the 1960s, and gave us the legacy that is the Aral Sea today. I haven’t even started on the tendency for these policies to be linked to totalitarian regimes that make the US "military-industrial complex" look like Greenpeace. Happy Birthday to the reunited Federal Republic of Germany and let us not forget why in the end the market capitalist West became more attractive than the peoples socialist republic in the East. And if you want to discuss this, please avoid perjorative terms, and keep it respectful and polite!