Market-based thinking is at the heart of how academe thinks of itself, and that’s a travesty

David Sessions in The Chronicle Review:

The campus upheavals of the 1960s brought a wave of responses from the professoriate, but one in particular stood out. Written by two economists, James M. Buchanan and Nicos E. Devletoglou, Academia in Anarchy (Basic Books, 1970) opened with a law-and-order quote from Richard Nixon and was dedicated to “the taxpayer.” The authors explained that they wrote with “indignation” after observing the bombing of the UCLA economics department, where Buchanan taught, and the “groveling of the UCLA administrative authorities” to a “handful of revolutionary terrorists.”

Buchanan and Devletoglou suggested an overhaul of higher education aimed at bringing the student movement to heel. At the time, California had proposed a master plan of universal free higher education across its system. But the authors of Academia in Anarchy argued that the proposal suffered from a lack of basic economics — meaning not simply economic calculation, but Buchanan’s conception of economics as an all-encompassing moral and behavioral philosophy. “Almost alone among social scientists,” they wrote, “the economist brings with him a model of human behavior which allows predictions about human action.”

More here.