[OPE-L:2837] Rx Economics/Keynes

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 08:17:13 EDT

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Riccardo: you must explain not only why Keynes was not a vulgar economist.
You must also explain why he should be regarded as a political economist
(in Marx's sense of the term).

In [OPE-L:2833], you wrote:

> my point is: do Marxists today (or 50 years ago!) need
> to consider Keynes (like Kalecki, like Robinson, like Sraffa, like Minsky),
> a political economists, and not a vulgar economist, like Marx considered
> Ricardo a political economist, or not? My answer is: yes.

To which, Paul C agreed in [2836].

I agree that Kalecki, Robinson, and Sraffa were not vulgar economists. I
also think that Minsky can not be accurately accessed with that term.

(... the following will probably not make me very popular with Keynesians

But, was Keynes a "disinterested inquirer" who was engaged in "genuine
scientific research"?

I would say that Keynes' standpoint was that of an *economic mechanic*
or a *pharmacist* writing prescriptions for the ailments of capital.

By concentrating his analysis on the *short-run*, he did not even attempt
to comprehend the long-term processes of capital accumulation. There is
of course merit to examining the short-run, but when one has a theory for
the SR that is not part of an integrated theory for the longer-run, then
one doesn't have a theory which is capable of comprehending
capitalism: just a theory that may (or may not) be "useful" for a period
of time (for preserving capitalism). Not only did Keynes refuse to accept
the scientific challenge of developing an integrated SR and LR theory, but
his "prescriptions" (i.e. policy proposals) were written from the
standpoint of making capitalism work better (or, if you will, prescribing
a drug that prolongs the life of the patient even before one has
conducted a thorough-going scientific evaluation and testing of
the patient. Since the life of the patient -- capitalism -- has been
saved, no doubt *capitalists* are happy with the result). [As a
recent patient, though, I want to know the long-term health consequences
of the medicines prescribed before I start popping pills!].

So, if one's standpoint is "What should I propose to policy makers (in the
state and international financial institutions) to make capitalism work
better (and/or save capitalism)?", does that mean that one is a political

In solidarity, Jerry

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