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Everybody Must Get Stoned

April 18, 2011

Quick rant here:

I really like political economy as you’d all be aware. However, my Modern Capitalism unit is driving me absolutely insane. I try to do some work, but it seeks to stop me at every possible turn. The subject is naturally confusing and difficult – we’re presented with very detailed into accounts, with very long readers, and we’re expected to understand exactly how these models work, which feature some unorthodox calculus and algebra, and then we’re shown exactly why they’re wrong and they’re in fact applicable. Big whoop, that’s what uni’s about – the course is difficult but rewarding.

However, it becomes strenuous when the reader is poorly organised. Firstly, the numbers of each page are barely visable, and in most cases not there at all – not to mention upside down in the majority of cases. Secondly, we’ve been given a number of compulsory readings as background knowledge, but these are for some reason interwoven into the weekly readings. That would be understandable, except they’re listed as compulsory in one week, to be listed again in a following one. There are other readings too, not compulsory ones, but surely wouldn’t we have already read the background ones – wouldn’t it be more helpful if we could then read something presumably more relevant to the topic? Most of the time I’m just confused – I don’t know which readings are negligible and which aren’t. Doing them all is really not an option, at least not until stuvac.

Finally, the lecturer frequently emails us, telling us to replace certain readings (once even a compuslory one) and instead read the emailed documents, including one in which he attached as a .txt document. 16,600 words. As a text document. Formatted, like a text document. I’m not going to do it for tomorrow, how can anyone? If it were a word document I’d simply print it, or at least I’d be able to read it properly on my computer screen.

It’s a great subject, the lecturer’s humourous and devastaingly intelligent despite his thick Italian accent. I just wish that, just like Julia Gillard, it would stop trying to make me dislike it.

Edit: I should stress it’s the combination of a difficult subject with an intense theoretical framework (and a reader twice the size of my already-thick Government ones) and a poorly organised system that is the real frustration, because these theories and models are quite difficult, and very hard to remember in great detail, requiring a significant amount of double reading – which is of course precisely what the reader tries its darndest to hinder.

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From → Personal

5 Comments
  1. Joseph Halevi is a great lecturer, the kind I imagined before coming to university. My recommendation on that course it to go off the reservation. Halevi claims the weekly reading constitutes a hermetically sealed learning path and that you shouldn’t read outside of it, but it becomes necessary at times. There’s just too much material in that course to digest from reading primary sources alone.

    • Oh I really like him – I wish he had a stronger speaking ability, but he’s very intelligent, and by and large there’s no real difficulty in understanding him, although I do wish in the Tuesday lectures he had a microphone. I don’t get how anybody doesn’t sit up the front.

      I’ve sorta solved my issue with a lot of this by just trying to read everything, and it’s actually fairly successful. I certainly don’t get everything, so this essay will be tough, but doable.

      I’m definitely going to do as you say though and read more Kalecki when I get the chance.

  2. Have you had the major essay yet? They marked them very lightly when I did it last year, I know of one person who got 90% for his essay on rational expectations/new classical macroeconomics and at no point mentioned general equilibrium theory. I did mine on Marx and Keynes’s understanding of unemployment and crisis, mentioned almost nothing on falling rates of profit and still managed to get a HD with the tutor commenting that he understood the constraints of the word limit.

    • Ah wow that’s good to hear – honestly I haven’t finalised my question yet (it’s due in 9 days), I thought I was going to do the Keynes/Kalecki vs Neoclassical on prices and unemployment, but to me that was such a flakey argument – I have no idea what they actually want me to talk about there. Wage prices I get. Prices, as in the prices of commodities? No clue.

      Was just going to do Keynes/Kalecki, how they differ from post-War “Keynesianism” in further light of the rational choice theories, because it’s closer to what we’ve been doing atm (and I’ve been reading a lot of), and I probably know more about it.

  3. Good to hear they aren’t harsh markers though.

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