[OPE-L:5103] Horvat on suppression of theoretical perspective plus ...

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Sat Mar 03 2001 - 11:55:40 EST

I bought an interesting book by Branko Horvat (along
with another book, Michael P's _Transcending the
Economy_) on sale a little while ago at "The Strand"

Branko Horvat's book, _The Theory of International
Trade: An Alternative Approach_  (NY, St. Martin's
Press, 1999) gives a rare "in print" example of
(should I say, "alleged"?) suppression:

"Since I do not find neoclassical theory of great use,
not much of it will be found in this book. But I made 
every effort not to neglect any good scholarly work as
the list of references demonstrates. On the other
hand, Neo-Ricardian theory naturally fits into my
theoretical framework much better and I do not
hesitate to use the research results of Neo-Ricardians.
At the time of writing, I was not aware how dangerous
that was. Later I observed that Neo-Ricardians are
mostly ignored and rarely if ever quoted in the
mainstream literature. The reason for this neglect was
explained to me in a letter by Christopher Bliss after
he had negatively reviewed my book on value and
capital -- without having given himself the trouble of
reading it! Professor Bliss advises me of the fact that
'in this field there is a large divide between the broadly
"Neo-Ricardian" writers and those of a more
"Neoclassical" inclination,' classifies me among 
unpleasant Neo-Ricardians (which I am not) and states
that he does not belong to the 'same school (sic!),'
adds that 'reviews ought to be entertaining' and 
observes that 'ultimately such issues are matters of
opinion,' leaving no doubt that his opinion is negative.
A nice set of 'scientific' criteria. Professor Bliss is one
of the editors of *Economic Journal* and a former editor
of *Oxford Economic Papers*." (pp. x-xi).

I think it took some courage on Horvat's part to make
the above public. I think it is far more common for
victims of theoretical suppression to go "silently
into the night".  In any event, his story is a good case
study of how all heterodox theoretical perspectives are
suppressed by the oppression of the marginalists.

I wonder: what were the reviews like for *this* book?

The next paragraph some on this list might find 
interesting as well:

"Neo-Ricardians, however, do themselves a dis-service
in constantly attacking the labour theory of value trying
to show how Sraffa demolished it. It seems to me that they
believe that only one labour theory imaginable is that 
of Ricardo and Marx. In Chapter 17, I showed what
motivated Marx to use the value theory that was at
hand, namely that of Ricardo. If Neo-Ricardians drop the
assumption of one possible labour theory, they will 
realize that a poor labour theory may be replaced by
a better one and that Sraffa could have written a simpler book free of artificial constructs. Perhaps, some day
Sraffians may attempt to accomplish that. But that will
not endear them to the dominant academic coterie" 

The above is very suggestive and assertive and I have
not read Ch. 17 on "Unequal Exchange" so I can not
comment further at this time. 

In solidarity, Jerry

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