Historia versus Economía

Un académico contra el imperialismo económico


The barbarism of scholars

In the last week I have suffered the aggressive dialectical techniques of @Pseudoerasmus. He is famous for his harsh criticism of the History Manifesto, a harsh criticism that was directed to one of its authors, Jo Guldi, for being the author of lower academic position, while he was more polite with David Armitage from Harvard, because it is better being polite with Harvard. It is the rational strategy of being strong with weak people and weak with strong people, what normally is very useful to gain reputation among the right people.

The point is that his harsh criticism is in part well founded, but you cannot be harsh from anonymous account to keep a fair debate, as all people realize except if you suffer some kind of moderate autism that blocks your understanding of the basic rules of civism. What was called by Chesterton The Barbarism of Berlin.

The problem is that Pseudoerasmus suffers this kind of barbarism and he is not capable of understanding others: their intentions, motivations, aims or things like politics or culture. His narrowed mind suits perfectly the parody of the mainstream economists portrayed by heterodox economists. During a week he has been doing personal remarks, insulting, threating me and even correcting my wrong use of Spanish (I have broken my right elbow, so I had to arguee with him using my left hand to typewrite and now I have to defend myself using both hands, a bit painful really. Anyway, Spanish is not my mother tongue and I do not worry for spelling mistakes in TW’s debates).

The reason of deserving so much attention is not an easy question to answer. He requested three weeks ago my last academic publication about Modernization Theory. When he did it, I knew he wanted to make of me a punch ball for my criticisms of main stream economics (you know, it is a capital crime in modern universities), but I attended his requests and I sent him my paper. I guess the paper is good, because he has not yet attacked my work as he did with the History Manifesto.

However, the last week he started to ridicule the postcolonial historians and I decided to intervene in the debate with @parvulesco. What came afterwards was one of the most persistent exhibitions of self righteousness I have never seen. Behind his attitude was the disgust produced by Empire of Cotton of Beckert, an inconvenient book to his personal agenda to dismiss the strong ties between capitalism and imperialism in order to preserve the authority of the enlightened rationality of western culture or the efficiency of free markets. Ok, all people need beliefs and values, but, at least, accept that these are your values, not a positivistic true fact. Anyway, he had explanations for my opposition to this concept (I hate British people for Gibraltar, something like that or I was an idiot).

It was really annoying (I have a life, I have a wife, I cook, I work as tango teacher. I’m not a professional scholar with all my time to do “fisking” and winning debates on internet in order to feel that I’m the smartest guy over the world. Really, I left chess at the age of twelve because I realized that this behaviour is an illness). But I suffered with temper and education, because I was raised with ideals such as the people with mental problems are not capable of realizing what they are doing. I even suggested him to read “My Early beliefs” of Keynes (it is about the autism of scholars). His answer was that he had read all the works of Keynes and he really understood his works no like me. (I guess he was referring to Skidelsky, but who knows).

Nevertheless, he desired to “attack” me with all his aggressivity (he stated that he reserved his aggressivity to the worst minorities as mine. Actually a fearfully phrase), for a column of opinion that I published in a Spanish general newspaper. A column of 1.000  words called “The enemy is the culture” and that is a literary piece about the elitism behind the myth of individual merit. In fact, I showed him the small essay because he stated that the “rational man” was capable of choosing his own principles and values and this article was my personal opinion against the concept of economicus man. As in the article I did a reference to the selfish gene of Dawkins, he started a crazy campaign (even worse than previous) to prove me that I was wrong (Eh, Ok, memes are capable of controlling the survival machines that we are thanks to the genes. Dawkins is OK, he is not doing some kind of Calvinist atheism with his popularization of the researches of others. Dawkins is cool. I know the rules of hiper rationalists who desire being rational machines of maximizing self interest. There is nothing wrong here, do not stop and walk, mainstream economics are wonderful, you are all a bunch of backward irrational natives… ).

Thus, the spiral of madness finished with the publication of a note called “Fisking the Dadaist Hermeneutics of Carles Sirera” by Pseudoerasmus in his blog. It has been something shocking, because he elevated me to the category of Professor in my former university (I’m not professor, I have not been never professor, I was adjunct professor, that in Spain means a salary of 460 euros by month and carrying more lectures than a full time Professor, and now I work as tango teacher, Spanish teacher and waiter, but, anyway, in his madness I deserve being a Professor punch ball). The funny point is that in my TW account it is written “Fui profesor en la Universidad de Valencia”. More than one week arguing with me and he did not read the biography of my TW account. Amazing fact check.

However, his mental problems to understand social situations drive him to debunk a column of opinion and a post blog that have no any academic pretension as if they were academic contributions. He displays a proofs and sources of authority to debunk a column of opinion of less than 1.000 words published in a general media for a general audience that is not related to genetics or biology, but he lacks understanding of figurative language . And even more, he is so subtle that writes: “Both of the above exemplify Sirera’s idiosyncratic combination of infantile incomprehension, solipsistic masturbation, and malicious misrepresentation.”

I intended to explain him that the debate was not with Dawkins or about Dawkins. It was with the Spanish followers of Dawkins who defended a scientific approach that neglected culture (He has a post in English to debunk a column of opinion, a literary piece, written in Spanish as if there were no translation problems). But he replied that the audience of the message did not matter, the only that matters is the truth of the arguments. Obviously, he has a problem to understand social situations, so he does not realize what an act of speech is. In the same way, he does not take account of the intentions of the speaker, because the speaker has no intentions (as all we know, who has intentions indeed is the gene).

To sum up, I’m suffering a very disagreeable situation after suffering a very disagreeable debate thanks to an anonymous scholar who has been insulting me for one week. I can stand up with all this stuff, I worked in security services and I know what a bully is and how they work. Even I know that an Asperger bully does not realize what he is doing. He only believes in his own self righteousness, so he has green card to do what he wishes in the name of Reason, Science, Economic progress or whatever. The problem is that not all people have been trained to suffer this mobbing and resist. Guys as Pseudoerasmus eliminate competence with this kind of techniques, they try to undermine the confidence of others, move the debate to a narrowed field where they feel they are in a safe ground and attack violently anyone who is seen as an adversary (OMG, why they love Dawkins). I have seen this behaviour a lot of times in academia and it works, because people in academia with broad life experiences or professional backgrounds are a minority. The majority of members in the academia have a really narrowed life with a parental over protection past, so they do not know how to deal with these bullies.

Personally, I’m an unemployed scholar from an unknown university of a backward/failed country as Spain. I have to apply and compete for positions with people with better reputation, contacts and facilities. So, having this post in internet could be a problem. But it really does not matter. As other thousands of scholars I’m in the dilemma of priorizing my personal life with my wife or pursuing some kind of public reputation or recognition that, if you do not have personal problems of self esteem, is really worthless.

Note: excuse my English grammar and spelling mistakes. Anyway, it demanded too much pain of my right arm.


Carles Sirera Miralles (València, 1981) is a Spanish historian and adjunct professor in the University of Valencia. His principal lines of research focused on the problems of the democratization in Europe, especially during the end of Nineteenth Century and the beginnings of the Twentieth Century. As social historian, he has wrote about the sports and sociability and his thesis, Un título para las clases medias, is one of the most completed and relevant studies on the subject of the secondary school in Spain. His intellectual influences are the Alltagsgeschichte school, Norbert Elias, Fritz K. Ringer and all historians who, although the limitations of our discipline, think that is possible reach some kind of valid, useful and interesting knowledge.