Fifteen scholars from eight different countries have called for the retraction of a book review containing allegations that are false and harmful to the professional reputation of Andrew Kliman, an internationally recognized Marx scholar. Those who have called for a retraction include Rick Kuhn, a recipient of the Isaac Deutscher Memorial book prize, and Eduardo Maldonado Filho, former president of the State Development Authority of Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil.
“The most obvious of several falsehoods”
Kliman’s 2007 book, Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital,” argued that some alleged internal inconsistencies in Capital remain “unproved” and are “implausible.” According to the libelous book review, Kliman wrote that the reason they are unproved and implausible is that “there exists a group of scholars who claim that no such internal inconsistency exists.” The reviewer then commented, “Following such reasoning, one could then also argue that the existence of a group of scholars who argue that the theory of evolution is false and that creationism is consistent with empirical evidence, must lead us to reject the claims of evolutionism as unproved and implausible. … This foreshadows the major weakness of this book: a lack of rigor in reasoning.”
The scholars who have called for a retraction of the review characterize this as “the most obvious of the several falsehoods” it contains. They note that Kliman actually wrote that what makes the allegations of inconsistency unproved and implausible is the fact that an interpretation of Capital exists that eliminates the inconsistencies. “It is one thing to write that X is unproved because some people claim that X is false, and an entirely different thing to write that X is unproved because there exists an interpretation of the evidence according to which X is false,” they wrote in their call for a retraction. “The first statement is ludicrous; the second is quite reasonable.”
The review was published in an economics journal that has long disparaged the interpretation of Marx’s value theory to which Kliman and others subscribe. Mike Dola, a member of Marxist-Humanist Initiative, said that this interpretation “constitutes a major challenge to the overtly or covertly dismissive attitude toward Marx that pervades academic economics. The review is just the latest of a series of attacks against it. The charges of inconsistency have been wielded like a bludgeon, and the old guard feels mortally threatened now that their bludgeon’s being taken away. But others appreciate the fact that [this interpretation] has made it harder to reject Marx without even examining his work first.”
The scholars’ call for retraction charges that the review’s “falsehoods were willful.” It notes that the reviewer, Ajit Sinha, was informed that his claims were false and that he acknowledged receipt of this information long before his review appeared.
Other reviews of Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital” have praised it highly. Writing in the leading journal of the history of economics, Bill Lucarelli said that it “stands like a beacon in recent academic controversies over Marx’s theory of value” and that “Kliman succeeds quite admirably.” Eduardo Maldonado Filho wrote that it “constitutes the most important contribution to political economy of the last three decades.” And in a review that called Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital” “the right book coming at the right time,” Mike West wrote that “the 100-year-old claims of internal inconsistency against Marx’s value theory can finally be laid to rest.”
Left: Gary Mongiovi. Center: bludgeon. Right: Karl Marx.
Reckless disregard for the truth
West’s review, published in the World Review of Political Economy, had earlier been rejected by Gary Mongiovi, co-editor of the Review of Political Economy, on the grounds that West “accepts Kliman’s line uncritically, and utterly fails to acknowledge that sensible arguments have been levelled against it.” Mongiovi is also a member of the editorial board of the journal that published the libelous review, Review of Radical Political Economics, which has thus far refused to retract it, stating that “[r]eaders ought to be allowed to decide for themselves” and that the call for retraction “strikes us as an attempt to stifle free debate.” Mongiovi has identified himself as the editor who approved Sinha’s review, even though it contained what he said “may have been a cheap shot,” and even though he and the editorial board have been unwilling to defend its accuracy. “[W]e take no stand on whether Sinha accurately depicted your meaning,” he wrote to Kliman.
Marxist-Humanist Initiative condemns the publication of the libelous review and joins the call for a retraction. Speaking on behalf of MHI, Anne Jaclard stated, “No one believes that Kliman wrote that something is unproved just because some people claim that it’s unproved. No one thinks they can get others to believe it, either. That’s not the purpose of their defamatory attack. The purpose is to show that truth and falsehood are irrelevant here: might makes right. They are trying to humiliate and demoralize Kliman, to punish him for exposing the baselessness of their longstanding campaign against Marx, and, above all, to warn students and others who are sympathetic to the project of reclaiming Capital that they will not tolerate it.” Jaclard noted that when the editorial board refused to retract the libelous review, it stated that “anyone who puts before the public an argument” on this topic “must expect” similar treatment.
Kliman hailed the statement by Sarah Thornton that “[w]hen one journalist misrepresents the facts in order to attack another, the issue is not freedom of speech. It is malicious falsehood. … [I]f by any chance you make a factual mistake, you need to correct the record as quickly as possible.” In July, a British court found that a review of Thornton’s book Seven Days in the Art World had libeled her, and it compelled The Telegraph, which published the libelous review, to pay Thornton more than $100,000 in damages as well as her legal fees. “Libel and those who practice it are immoral,” Kliman said.
Statements supporting retraction of the libelous review can be sent to Marxist-Humanist Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[EDITORS’ NOTE, October 8: readers may be interested in Andrew Kliman’s related essay, “Marx’s Struggle against Defamation: A 150th Anniversary Tribute to Herr Vogt.”]
[EDITOR’S NOTE, October 10: Some people, especially students and those who have dealings with academic journals, may be reluctant to openly support retraction, fearing with good reason that the author’s opponents or people affiliated with journals may retaliate against them. We therefore welcome statements of support that use pseudonyms or that provide no name. And we do not publish e-mail addresses without authorization.]
Additional Statements Supporting Retraction
(list in ongoing formation)
Lies usually go unpunished in economics, so it is heartening to see that MHI is gathering support for retraction of Sinha’s review –– an action which I strongly support. But I wonder whether the action should go further? It is extraordinary that Mongiovi disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy of what he is responsible for printing. If true, he should be removed from his editorship even if the review is retracted.
–– Victoria Chick, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London, United Kingdom
I support Andrew Kliman. Clearly the description of the argument in his book is factually wrong, and the refusal to correct the error amounts to intentional libel. The fact that deliberate and absurd misrepresentation is deemed a mere rhetorical device by these editors demonstrates how authoritarian the current culture is.
–– Douglas Lain, U.S.
I most emphatically support the call directed to the editorial board of the Review of Radical Political Economics to retract the libelous review of Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital,” which appeared in the pages of its journal (Summer 2009). In solidarity,
–– Mike West, U.S.
Of course I am with you.
–– Stéphane Julien, La Bataille socialiste, France (Bataille_socialiste@yahoogroupes.fr)
Sinha’s review, containing obvious falsehoods or libel in his review of Kliman’s book, Reclaiming Marx’s Capital, needs to be retracted. False interpretations or statements about other’s work, with an obvious political direction that is consistent with the philosophy of the journal the review was published in, degrades scholarship.
–– Jasenn Zaejian, PhD, U.S. (http://relatedness.org)
I wish to sign petition supporting Professor Kliman.
–– Peggy Powell Dobbins, PhD, U.S. (www.peggydobbins.net)
I’m sorry to read about this unfortunate affair. My own writings have been subjected to gross misinterpretation once or twice so I fully sympathize with you. I’m willing to subscribe to the protest letter, if this is of any help, although I doubt that this would actually result in the retraction of the review. But maybe it would serve as some kind of warning to reckless reviewers, before they caricature other people’s views.
–– Ishay Landa, Israel
Honest differences sharply expressed are always proper; libel–never. Please add my name to Andrew’s supporters.
–– Barry Finger, U.S.
I believe that the Editorial Board of RRPE should print a retraction of Ajit Sinha’s review of Andrew Kliman’s Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital.” In my estimation, Sinha willfully misrepresented Kliman’s argument, as claimed by the group of scholars who sent a letter calling for a retraction. The claim, in response, that Sinha would argue that his interpretation is entirely plausible, evades the question of whether the editorial board should take such a position seriously. Kliman’s remarks were clearly taken out of context, and “two rounds of significant revisions” should have remedied this obvious failure. The letter signed by fifteen scholars is clearly not an attempt to “stifle free debate,” but is a needed call for higher standards of academic integrity in Marx scholarship. The best policy is to acknowledge an oversight and move forward.
–– David Adam, U.S.
I read the “review” by Ajit Sinha, compared it with Kliman’s book and read the OPE-L discussion. Here’s my (uncensored) result: This review is a venomous piece of shit. Sinha is either an idiot or –– as I suppose –– a conscious and brazen falsifier! I’m glad to join those fighting againt this libelous attack!
–– Michael Schmid, Germany
I fully support your position. What do you expect from bourgeois journals? I am attacked regularly by liberal-leftists, postmodernists, and even some anarchists who are not Marxists. In some cases I consider it a badge of honor. In this case you really have a strong case. I will join the call for the retraction.
–– Immanuel Ness, U.S.
You can add my name to the list of those asking for a retraction of the review.
–– Alex Steinberg, U.S., member of Board of Directors of the Pacifica Foundation (in a personal capacity)
I support the retractation of the libelous review.
–– Esteban Mercatante, Karl Marx Institute, Argentina (www.ips.org.ar)
I would think the author of that review would be only too happy to retract that sentence.
And that the journal would encourage him to. Why has this not happened?
–– Sam Friedman, U.S.
Thanks for sending me the link “Condemn Libelous Attack on Marx Scholar.” It’s very important to never accept these defamations. And as you see you are not alone, having a lot of support, of course also from Germany. But don’t let this inconvenience cause you a heart attack, Andrew. These … persons … ain’t worth keeping you away from your scientific work.
–– Hans-Peter Büttner, Germany
A genuine example where ideology is used as the last line of defence. As I said in my Amazon comment of Andrew’s book “This title should settle the debate in Marx’ favour.” And it seems it has succeeded. Evidence of this is the refusal to retract the libellous review of the book, which, frankly, exposes the ideological and non-scientific nature of this ‘last stand’.
–– Thoralf Dassler, United Kingdom
–– Mansour Omeira [place not identified]
Please add my name to the list of signatories. Sinha’s misrepresentation of Kliman’s arguments, apparently willfully, is absolutely outrageous. A retraction of the review is clearly in order.
–– Seth Weiss, U.S..
I support the demand for retraction; see my comments above and below.
–– Anne Jaclard, U.S.
Best wishes to Andrew, and long live Marxism.
–– Fabien Tarrit, France
The unconscionable part of Sinha’s review comes down to the opening paragraph. I am happy to go on record in support of the scholars who signed the Open Letter on two grounds: (1) the factual misrepresentation of Kliman’s actual argument in RMC; and (2) the clear breach in ordinary standards of scientific integrity, wholly unworthy of a journal of the stature of RRPE.
––Tom Jeannot, Professor of Philosophy, U.S.
Please add my name to the list of your supporters.
––Maurizio Leonardi, United Kingdom
One purpose of Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital” was to let Marx finally speak for himself. In attacking Kliman’s work not with honest critique but by malicious libel, the reviewer tries to prevent this from happening. Shame on any publication that publishes dishonest work of this kind without retraction while purporting to be “radical.”
––Mike Dola, U.S.
I demand that RRPE retract the book review and publish an apology to Mr. Kliman for publishing such a slanderous review. For an organization that supposedly prides itself on intellectual integrity and academic protocol, this is a morally reprehensible thing.
––Ray McKay, U.S.
I am not affiliated with Professor Kliman in any way. The left in general, and Marxists in particular, should be grateful for the exciting and extremely relevant insights that Andrew Kliman has produced. Instead, we see pettiness of the lowest kind. The review of Kliman’s work should not be published because it is dishonest and disgraceful.
––Dr. Will Denayer, Ireland
I oppose the distortion and misrepresentations in the review.
This campaign is a travesty of the very academic standards and justice it is supposed to serve.
I have blogged on this here: http://www.philosophersbeard.org/2011/10/when-academic-judgement-gone-wrong.html
In his blog piece, “Philosopher’s Beard” states that s/he “asked why he didn’t just publish a response if he felt so strongly. Kliman replied that the review is libellous and so ‘it should be treated as an attack, not a genuine discourse’.”
This distorts what took place. What actually took place was this.
“PB” wrote to me, “The correct response would have been to publish a response.”
I replied, “You seem to suggest that I should ‘publish a response.’ THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’VE DONE! My response, in other words, is that the review is libelous—an attack, not genuine discourse—and it should be treated as an attack, not a genuine discourse.”
If someone says that the correct response to a libelous attack is not to sue, but to publish a response to a libelous attack, that’s one thing.
But when someone says that the correct response is to publish a response, but then complains that this is *not* the correct response, it seems that they’re out of their mind.
But to provide the most charitable interpretation of “PB” that I can, s/he may want libel to be responded to, but as genuine discourse. That, in fact, is the very trap that the RRPE tried to lay: dignify the libelous attack we published by treating it as genuine discourse–just a “negative review.” And then this becomes yet another dog-bites-man instance in which an author complains about a negative review. Ha ha ha!
Another possibility is that “PB” may believe that the review shouldn’t be responded to as a libelous attack, because it does not make false claims. But his/her blog post offers no argument or evidence in support of that position. In contrast, the 15 scholars who have called for the review to be retracted, and the article above, do put forward arguments and evidence.
I doubt that “PB” is writing in good faith (for all we know, s/he might be on the editorial board of the RRPE). S/he refused to answer my questions, or to respond directly to my points and his/her misstatements about facts. And his/her email messages to me were filled with gratuitous insults–interesting behavior on the part of someone who obsessively presents him/herself as a champion of Etiquette and Propriety.
But I’ll give him/her a chance to show that s/he is indeed writing in good faith. His/her blog post contains one falsehood that is patently obvious. S/he claims that the RRPE’s response to the 15 scholars’ call for retraction (available at http://www.iwgvt.org/rrpe) “notes that Kliman’s effort to strong-arm the journal into retraction appear to be ‘an attempt to stifle free debate.'” It “notes” something, but doesn’t “note” that it was “Kliman’s effort.” And it seems to be an accusation leveled not against me, but against the 15 scholars who called for retraction: “Pressing the Editorial Board collectively to disavow the considered opinion [sic] of one of our book reviewers strikes us as an attempt to stifle free debate.”
If “PB” is writing in good faith, s/he should retract this incorrect statement and respond directly to what I’ve written here, and to him/her privately.
Arghh–I must be slipping in my old age.
I overlooked two other patently obvious falsehoods in “PB’s” blog post–both related to the one I discussed above.
First, s/he claims, “The author wrote to the journal editors to inform them about the injustice,” i.e., the libelous review. False, false, false.
Second, s/he claims, “Kliman accuses the entire journal editorial board of corruption in allowing such a libellous review to be published” and the words “journal editorial board” are a link that takes you to the “Open Letter to the Editorial Board of the Review of Radical Political Economics,” i.e. the 15 scholars’ initial call for retraction of the libelous review. Andrew Kliman is *not* one of them.
Are these three falsehoods innocent?
Note that they have the effect of personalizing the dispute, and of making it look as if all that’s involved here is an aggrieved author. “PB” makes no mention in the blog post that 15 scholars from around the world, not including the author, initiated the call for a retraction.
And note that the personalization of the dispute makes it easier for “PB” to engage in ad hominem attacks and to spin a pop-psychological “explanation” of what’s going on. This would be more difficult, at minimum, if s/he were to acknowledge that 15 disparate individuals, not an aggrieved author, published the open letter to the RRPE editorial board that called for retraction.
“PB” has so little concern with, and apparently so little knowledge of, the facts of this case that it’s clear that s/he’s not qualified to comment on it. The false statements should be retracted. Given that they are the ground of the ad hominem attacks and personalization that permeate the whole blog post, it think it’s just proper etiquette 😉 to retract the whole thing and issue an apology.
The best wishes to all of you who resists these bad interpreters, and let us say – “no pasarán”.
The claim that the allegations of inconsistency are not proven because an interpretation exists that eliminates them IS NOT equivalent to the claim that allegations of inconsistency should be dismissed because there are a group of scholars who reject them. Kliman’s thesis rests upon the former claim. To assert that Kliman asks us to reconsider the allegations as unproven simply because others reject them is disingenuous and false. Kliman should be vindicated!
This is way over the top. These disagreements are wholly within the parameters of ordinary debate. It is one thing to disagree with Sinha, but to call his criticism ‘libellous’ is, well, plain wrong. If you do not believe me, pursue the libel in court, and see what the outcome is.
Disagreement is not something to be stamped on and stricken from the record. It is the life of intellectual development.
Sinha disagrees with Kliman. That’s life. Get over it. Or better still, use the disagreement to develop the argument further.
It seems that Heartfield and others who persist in blaming Kliman in this dispute, are doing so because they mis-read what Sinha wrote. If what Sinha wrote were just his opinion of the book or the arguments in it, that would be OK (no matter how stupid his opinions might be). Opinion is not libel. The libel in this situation is that Sinha claims Kliman wrote something that Kliman did not write–Sinha makes a factual allegation that is simply untrue and is harmful to Kliman and the book’s reputation. Libel consists of telling lies about someone that are not clearly just opinion.
It’s not helpful to say, “use the disagreement to develop the argument further.” Kliman’s whole book IS a development of the argument. Sinha’s dismissal of the book is based on his own misrepresentation of a fact that is one step in Kliman’s argument, and so Sinha’s lie “entitles” him to dismiss the whole book.
I wish those who opine that the conflict is based in personalities or differing interpretations, would pause and examine the facts. The distinction between opinion and fact is not that complex if you think it through!
This is just a demotic argument. Sinha said that Kliman’s case that the ‘internal consistency’ had been resolved was only a claim, not the last word. He’s right. Kliman’s development of the argument is not the only allowable one.
This hystrionic response to disagreement is the very opposite of pluralism
For someone who clings so emphatically to the fact-value distinction, you ought to know that the question of whether something is, or is not libelous is decided by a court. No court would find for Kliman in this case, as you know full well.
Big words like ‘lie’ and ‘libelous’ are just crutches for a weak argument
Sinha may have said what you say he said. But he *also* said something else–he claimed Kliman wrote something that Kliman did not write. That’s not a difference of opinion, but a factual allegation that is simply untrue.
No one is responding in a histrionic manner to disagreement. I have no objection to the publication of your comment that “Kliman’s case that the ‘internal consistency’ had been resolved was only a claim, not the last word.” In fact, I approved it–i.e., published it.
Please note that there have been other negative reviews of the book, and no one is calling for their retraction or calling them libelous. That is because they contain opinions, not false and harmful statements as to the facts.
If the RRPE or Sinha think that it’s false to say that the review is libelous, they can sue and let a court decide.
Since I am not an attorney, I abstain on the question whether Sinha’s review of RMC rises to the level of “libel,” although it is shoddy work. It essentially begs the question in the logician’s sense of a petitio principii. After the opening paragraph, the first real argument concerns Dmitriev, which even I (not being a trained economist) could rebut. I am confident that Kliman would take care of the rest by bowling 200.
To me, then, the unconscionable part of Sinha’s review comes down to the opening paragraph. I am happy to go on record in support of the scholars who signed the Open Letter on two grounds: (1) the factual misrepresentation of Kliman’s actual argument in RMC; and (2)the clear breach in ordinary standards of scientific integrity, wholly unworthy of a journal of the stature of RRPE.
I would only add the following context, to which Kliman has already adverted on the MHI website. This affair is indeed reminiscent of the Vogt Affair. Marx’s entanglement in this sordid business has often been claimed to demonstrate a flaw in his character. Interested parties would profit by reading Kliman’s “Marx’s Struggle against Defamation: A 150th Anniversary Tribute to Herr Vogt.” Kliman writes that for someone like Marx, “the personal is political.” I would add that for someone like Kliman, “the personal is political.”
What is finally at issue is the attempt on the part of twentieth-century “Marxian economists” to suppress the TSSI. Only after making his arguments, not only brilliantly argued and “rigorously reasoned,” but accessible to ordinary readers such as me, does Kliman consider–in his “Summary and Conclusions”–“the factors behind the suppression of the new findings in value theory” (RMC, p. 210). The argument of RMC is conceptual, bearing on Marx’s own framework categories of DVLT and SNLT. Only after making his conceptual arguments on behalf of “the original Marxism of Marx” does Kliman go on to consider the political reasons that stand in the way of his reclamation project, in which he is not alone. Among these political reasons is that the person, Karl Marx, was a revolutionary, whose philosophy is revolutionary, and who openly and proudly declares for the social revolution that is in fact already underway, gestating in the womb of existing society.
The presentation, defense, and development of the TSSI is an integral part of the theoretical aspect of praxis. This affair is not about personal ego or personal vanity. It is about the academic politics of suppression.
Hence, the signers of the Open Letter appeal to “evidence.” In his review, Sinha writes of “empirical evidence.” Ch. 11 of RMC raises the question of “An Empirical Defense of the Law of Value?” There Kliman demonstrates why an “empirical defense” is likely to fail, with or without an elegant mathematical formalism. The deepest issues are conceptual, theoretical, and philosophical. Sinha should read Edmund Husserl on the idea of evidence and making evident. There is a political will to suppress what Kliman makes evident in RMC. Sinha’s review is, in effect, an expression of this political will.
Professor of Philosophy
I am afraid I have come across this campaign from 3 separate sources and took the time to download and read the articles in question.
I bought a copy of Andrew’s book as part of my re-reading of
‘Capital’ but haven’t had the chance to read it.
Its seems to me to be a negative review but hardly libellous – the review in question starts with a fairly ham-fisted analogy which attempts to dismiss TSSI tout court and then goes thru several examples which I assume are re-assertions about ‘traditional’ interpretations (or misinterpretations) of Marx.
I am in no position to judge them but I would have thought it better to respond to the substantive points than to launch a campaign of this type. If this is indicative of a broader campaign against Marxism by the editors of teh journal or the author it’s a pretty poor effort but hardly libel I wouldn’t have thought.
I can see Andrew is very upset by these matters but I am not sure its libel or that the best way to proceed is this sort of internet campaign which I think makes Marxists look paranoid and unwilling to debate.
It seems to me that you are on an ego trip. You got a negative review in URPE. You could respond to the review if you like. Getting numbers of people to support you and your book creates publicity for your book. Why do you call a negative review a case of libel?. When anyone writes a book you have to accept the possibility of negative reviews. Getting people to send letters of support will prove nothing. It will create publicity for you and your book. I am sure that you would have preferred a positive review in URPE, a well known radical economics journal.
If the review is liable, you should sue. I think we should be asked to support people who are really under attack, not people who are interested in their self-promotion. A negative review is a minor event. What is all the emotional distress you are suffering from as the result of a negative review?
I don’t think I agree with libel and slander suits. Turning to the law is not a good response. As was stated above, publishing a response is the right way to go. Crying libel (even if the information is truly ridiculous) is an action that is threatened all too often. Even patent ridiculousness shouldn’t be suppressed; it should instead be exposed in its patent ridiculousness. Counter-evidence, and debate is a much better action than calling for retraction.
@Shane Hopkinson @Arno Blunt
I agree that debate is a good thing. We’re having one here. Supporters of retraction are engaging with non-supporters.
The question is: how does one debate false accusations of gross professional incompetence?
I’m falsely accused of having written a book in which my central argument is that something hasn’t been proved simply because a group of scholars CLAIMS that it hasn’t been proved. A supposedly scholarly journal has given this accusation its stamp of approval, by reviewing the piece that leads off with this accusation, approving it, and publishing it.
Take an analogous case in which a false accusation of gross professional incompetence is published: an engineering publication publishes a false accusation that an engineer designed a bridge that immediately collapsed. How can the engineer debate this false accusation? By
* saying that it’s false;
* bringing evidence that it’s false;
* explaining how the evidence shows that it’s false; and
* publishing the correction.
That’s exactly what I and others are doing in this matter.
But the false allegation against the engineer cannot be withdrawn or undone–it’s in a print publication. To set the record straight and clear his name, the engineer can’t just publish “the other side” somewhere. He has to try to make sure–as best he can, because it’s not 100% effective–that everyone who has read or heard about his gross incompetence also hears that the accusation is false. So he has to say, to the widest audience he can reach, that the accusation is false.
That’s exactly what I and others are doing in this matter.
But this doesn’t really set the record straight and clear his name, because it’s “his word” against an author, a professional publication, and the editors of that publication. So people aren’t sure, some say “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire,” some side with the accusers, etc.
If a lot of other people publicly say that the accusation is false, as they have in our case, that helps a great deal.
But public support still doesn’t really set the record straight and clear the engineer’s name, because there still seem to be “two sides to the story” here.
The best that the engineer and supporters of the truth can do–and it’s far from sufficient, because the false accusation can never be withdrawn or undone–is to get the publication itself to admit that the allegation is false, i.e., to retract it.
That’s exactly what I and others are trying to achieve in this matter.
It’s not the case that debating is one thing, while calling for retraction and justifying that call is something mutually exclusive. The latter is a method of debate.
Why do you mention lawsuits, Arno? I’m haven’t sued or said I’ll sue. If the journal or the author of the review disagree that the review is libelous, they can sue us for libel. It’s true that libel is illegal, but so is negligence in many cases. By itself, a statement that someone was negligent is not a threat to sue them, and neither is a statement that someone libeled.
Shane, you’re right that “the review in question starts with a fairly ham-fisted analogy which attempts to dismiss TSSI tout court,” etc. But it *also* falsely accuses me of having written a book in which my central argument is that something hasn’t been proved simply because a group of scholars CLAIMS that it hasn’t been proved. That’s not a fairly ham-fisted analogy. It’s not even an analogy. It’s an accusation of gross professional incompetence.
Sorry…I got this on my Facebook news flow…You know, I read sh*t from some big name Marxist gurus every day…some of it brings me to tears when I think of a generation of progressive minded youth, desperate for answers about their stolen futures, who lurch from international speaking engagement to conference to imbibe some of this stuff….URPE is a reputable journal…and we ALL have to take some criticism…Kliman should stop whining and be glad that there are people reading his books and willing to take the time to review them…And if you don’t like the review…stand up and fight back with argument as to why it is what you are claiming here. Indeed, there are some serious debates Marxists need to have amongst themselves and trying to bully some into silence because they stepped on another Marxists toes…please…(Oh, I am arguing here on simple principle…I have neither read Kliman’s book nor the review)…
Dear Dr. Westra,
As you say, you don’t know the facts here. I’d like to suggest that you familiarize yourself with the facts before passing judgment. Below, I reproduce the open letter signed by 15 scholars throughout the world who called for the “review” to be retracted.
Please also see “Why standards matter in heterodox economic publishing: the case of the Review of Radical Political Economics,” http://www.ntu.ac.uk/nbs/document_uploads/109019.pdf, by Alan Freeman and Julian Wells, and “An Unacceptable Misrepresentation,”http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.13169/worlrevipoliecon.5.1.0096?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents, by Nick Potts (World Review of Political Economy
Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring 2014), pp. 96-116) before deciding that it is a “reputable journal.”
Given that 15 scholars signed the open letter calling for retraction, and that dozens of others (including Victoria Chick, an eminent *non-Marxist* scholar) have also called for retraction, and that 2 scholarly papers have been written about the matter, it is wrong to try to personalize and psychologize the issue as “Kliman … whining.” I hope you will retract that.
Not liking a “bad review” is not the issue here. There are lots of reviews I don’t like, but I–and others–don’t go around calling them libelous on that account. What is at issue here is that the alleged “review” knowingly contains a false claim about what I say, and the falsehood is harmful to my reputation.
It would be nice if that could be combated by simply denying that I say what it claims I say. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. No one believes I say what it falsely claims I say. The point wasn’t to get people to believe it. The point was to show that they could get away with a false and damaging statement even though the falsity of it is obvious, and even though dozens of people have protested. The only way to combat it is to stop them from getting away with it.
Open Letter to the Editorial Board of the _Review of Radical Political Economics_
15 October 2010
We are dismayed you have published a book review containing misrepresentations and falsehoods about the work under review. This brings disrepute upon critical economics at the height of a crisis of confidence in mainstream economics. In line with general scholarly standards, for example the Committee on Publication Ethics’ _Code of Conduct_ (publicationethics.org/files/u2/New_Code.pdf), we request you retract the review.
The reviewed work is Andrew Kliman’s book, _Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital”: A refutation of the Myth of Inconsistency_, and your review, by Ajit Sinha, appears in the Summer 2009 issue of your journal. For brevity, we limit ourselves to the most obvious of the several falsehoods it contains but are happy to supply further detail on request. The review begins as follows:
‘In the preface to this book, Andrew Kliman claims that his aim is “to reclaim Marx’s Capital from the century-old myth of internal inconsistency.” Then the reader is told that there exists a group of scholars _who claim that no such internal inconsistency exists. And therefore, according to Kliman,_ “The very existence of the TSSI [such an interpretation, generally called the Temporal Single System Interpretation] carries with it two important consequences. First, the allegations of inconsistency are unproved. Second, they are implausible.”’ [emphasis added]
Kliman did not write what your reviewer claims. He did not state that the allegations of inconsistency are unproved and implausible because _a group of scholars claim that_ no such inconsistency exists. Immediately prior to the sentences that Sinha quoted, he wrote that the allegations are unproved and implausible because _“[a]n alternative interpretation_ developed during the last quarter-century––the temporal single-system interpretation (TSSI)––_eliminates all of the apparent inconsistencies”_ (_Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital,”_ p. xiii, emphasis added).
As editors, you should have been aware of the misrepresentation in your reviewer’s argument. Firstly, it is evident from any proper reading. Secondly, you first published, in the same issue of your journal, Richard D. Wolff’s review of _Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital”_ which correctly characterizes the author’s thesis in its opening paragraphs, flatly contradicting Sinha’s review:
‘What the critics actually “proved” was that _their_ particular interpretations of Marx’s arguments contained logical inconsistencies. What Kliman explains is that alternative interpretations– at least as warranted by Marx’s writings as the critics’ interpretations – yield no such inconsistencies.
‘By showing that alternative interpretations are possible and reflect the interpreters’ different theoretical commitments, Kliman pulls the rug out from under the critics.’
Sinha’s review further falsely, and tendentiously, charges the reviewed author with “lack of rigor in reasoning”:
‘Following such reasoning, one could then also argue that the existence of a group of scholars who argue that the theory of evolution is false and that creationism is consistent with empirical evidence, must lead us to reject the claims of evolutionism as unproved and implausible. … This foreshadows the major weakness of this book: a lack of rigor in reasoning.’
This is based on the same elementary failure to distinguish between an unsubstantiated claim that something is false and an interpretation of the evidence according to which it is false. It is one thing to write that X is unproved because some people _claim_ that X is false, and an entirely different thing to write that X is unproved because there exists an interpretation of the _evidence_ according to which X is false. The first statement is ludicrous; the second is quite reasonable.
These falsehoods were willful. In November 2007, Sinha was informed that the paragraph’s claims were false (see http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/ope/archive/ 0711/0219.html). He responded to this information shortly thereafter, a year and a half before you published your review (see http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/ope/archive/0711/0230.html)
Ajit Sinha was a long-term member of your editorial board, for eleven years, from 1993-1995 and from 1997-2006. A conflict of interest is involved. You should have taken especial care, given Sinha’s close association with your journal, to ensure that his status did not lead to your publishing a review that intentionally misrepresented the reviewed work. You could easily have established the willful nature of Sinha’s allegations but did not do so.
You should now make clear that Sinha’s review breaches normal standards of scientific integrity, and retract it.
Eduardo Maldonado Filho