In 1997 Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy (hence GD-DL) kindly produced a response to my 1996 general formulation of the Temporal Single-System (TSS) interpretation of Marx’s value theory. Dumenil and Levy’s paper was subsequently published in 1999 by the Review of Radical Political Economy. I submitted this response to RRPE but it was rejected, as was a second reply. My response welcomed GD-DL’s contribution, stating that ‘a near-universal silence reigns in economics with regard to this long-standing body of work, involving some seventeen authors and dating back to 1980. Every serious engagement with it can only alter this circumstance and we welcome DL’s intervention without reservation.’ The same cannot be said of RRPE’s double rejection.
For reasons of historical interest, I reproduce here the referee reports and rejection letter I received to this, the first submission. This is an unusual step, but with two decades between the initial submission and the date of this post, I think scholars are owed the right to judge whether the rejection was justified, whether the second was justified, and also whether I was correct in my subsequent reaction, which was to assume that RRPE was esssentially acting as a house journal for the outlook of its editors, so that no further point would be served by submitting to it.
The situation which arose is thus as follows: we, through the limited network of the IWGVT, published without reservation a frontal attack on our work. Thus, we gave everyone engaged with our work full access to GD-DL’s critique (as, with the publication of The New Value Controversy, they had access to David Laibman’s critique, Fred Moseley’s critique, and so on). In contrast, RRPE – with a long-established and worldwide franchise – distributed GD-DL’s critique of our work to the world at large, but denied their readers access to the response. They did so not on the grounds that there was any defect of scholarship in the responses submitted, but on the grounds that they wanted a different response. It should be borne in mind that this was in an era when the printed word was the main means of distribution of ideas: two decades were to pass before the era of open access. Thus, the refusal to print our response meant that the majority of Anglophone readers with an interest in Marx’s theory simply heard GD-DL’s frontal attack on TSSI, but did not get to hear the TSSI reply.
The method involved was thus no different, in essence, from the way in which neoclassical dogma chose to reject the papers of all those of its heterodox critics; the RRPE editors had no serious objection to the response on scholarly grounds, but simply wanted to restrict what they allowed their clientele access to, to that which they found convenient.
This leads to the very important conclusion that the ‘schools’ of economic theory including its heterodox schools – Keynesianism, Marxism, and so on – are part of the system of regulation by means of which economic dogma is maintained. This insight was reflected in the 2005 paper which Andrew and myself sumitted to the AHE entitled ‘Critical Pluralism: beyond Talking the Talk’ and led to a systematic attempt to elaborate a practice of assertive pluralism which would apply not just to the orthodox mainstream, but to its heterodox critics also.
We leave it to our readers to decide whether there were any reasonable scholarly grounds for RRPE’s rejection of this, and the following submission. We believe there no other grounds than that the submission said things that they did not wish their readers to hear. That is, they suppressed it. Suppression is an uncomfortable word and can be used abusively – however it is an analytically precise term. In this case, I think the evidence shows, it applies.