The Warring Tribes

Ashwani Saith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Despite their great history and formidable strength and diversity, the heterodox traditions and lineages of Cambridge economics rapidly atrophied and virtually evanesced from the Faculty from the 1970s as the Faculty, and the DAE, lapsed into the control of the neoclassical orthodox camp within the Faculty through a sustained anti-heterodox campaign led initially by Frank Hahn and Robin Matthews, with 1975–1990 forming the short period of inflexion. How did this remarkable turnaround occur? How could the diverse and productive intellectual ecology that flourished and formed that great banyan tree of organically evolving Cambridge heterodox traditions mutate so rapidly into a seemingly genetically modified single-strain industrial mono-cropping culture? How were intellectual imaginations and curiosities lobotomised? Cambridge heterodox economics had not been built in a day, but given the dramatic speed of change, it seemed to have been dismantled in one. This chapter reconnoitres the battleground, reviews the opposing formations and reconstructs the strategies and modus operandi especially of the antagonists, focussing in particular on the development of Hahn’s ‘academy’ of ‘nephews’, protégés and fellow travellers and their strategic deployment in gaining control of external and internal commanding heights, that is, decision-making structures, which in turn could be utilised in the campaign against the heterodox groups in the DAE and the Faculty in Cambridge. While some parts of the overall picture are part of folklore of Cambridge warfare, this chapter brings together the many pieces of the jigsaw, and in the process elicits fresh insights into the conduct of the campaign. As such, this has largely been an untold story.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Cambridge Economics in the Post-Keynesian Era
Subtitle of host publicationThe Eclipse of Heterodox Traditions
Number of pages110
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

SeriesPalgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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