[OPE-L:5751] RE: Re: why are we on this list?

From: mongiovg (mongiovg@stjohns.edu)
Date: Sat Jun 02 2001 - 18:53:58 EDT

A brief reply to Rakesh.

>Last quarter I took a week to read the Principles and then Terry
>Peach's Interpreting Ricardo of which I found a well priced copy in
>an used bookstore (my annotated copies are in boxes right now). I am
>sure I will have to read it many more times.
>There is no doubt that important quantitative aspects of Marx's
>theory of value  are based firmly on Ricardo's theory. There is also
>no doubt that Marx's dilineation of two reasons why prices of
>production change--change in the value of the commodities themselves
>and change in the average rate of profit--comes straight from
>Ricardo. In my previous response to you, I noted that changes in
>value from the first reason was understood by Ricardo himself to
>happen on a daily basis, which to me makes long run thinking somewhat
>inimical to Ricardo's vision of capitalist dynamics. It is also
>obvious that what was most important to Marx--the chapter on the
>distinction between value and riches--has almost no real conceptual
>relation to the rest of the Principles.

I don't think Peach is the best source on Ricardo, particularly if one wants 
to understand the connection between Ricardo & Marx.  Peach depicts Ricardo as 
a thoroughly muddled thinker, and indeed favors Malthus's analytics over 
Ricardo's.   Marx would have none of that.  Peach moreover denies that R was a 
surplus theorist in the tradition of Sraffa, which again goes against the 
grain of Marx's reading of Ricardo.

Acknowledging, as Ricardo and Marx do, that the world is not static doesn't 
mean you must abandon the long-period method.  At any rate, neither Ricardo 
nor Marx felt that they needed to ditch the traditional method when analyzing 
the forces that regulate price and the profit rate. The working presumption, I 
would argue, is that the technical conditions of production change gradually 
enough to permit the use of the use of the method as a practical tool.

Once again, I do not deny, nor does any Sraffian, that other approaches are 
required and are themselves very useful for the analysis of dynamic problems.  
The classicals and Marx utilized such other methods when they moved beyond the 
theory of value and distribution.
>But all this aside, I think it is absurd to argue that Marx was
>interested in essentially the same issues as Ricardo.

>And do you deny that Marx argued that Ricardo was unable to
>understand the possibility of a general crisis due (in part) to an
>inadequate theory of money?

Again: I never claimed -- indeed I explicitly denied -- that Marx was ONLY 
interested in the problems that preoccupied Ricardo.  I would be the last one 
to suggest that Ricardo has an adequate treatment of money (though I have 
plenty of reservations about Marx's)or that Ricardo's position on the 
possibility of crisis is sound.  I don't believe any Sraffian has made such 
claims either.  Why do you (and so many others) insist on attributing those 
views to us?  All that a Sraffian would claim is that ON THE MATTER OF VALUE & 
DISTRIBUTION, Marx was ploughing much the same field as Ricardo, and that the 
PROFIT RATE are largely resolved by the approach taken by Sraffa.

>Too vague. What fish do you think he was after? An invariable
>standard to allow for the study of distribution? Do you think Marx's
>main concern was distribution? Not even the analytical Marxists would
>make this claim

I think he was trying to explain the tendential laws of motion of capitalism, 
not the day-to-day fluctuations of market prices.  The latter are what 
technicians (the economist as plumber) fuss over.  Marx was a big-picture man.
>>  Marx himself was
>>a product of bourgeois values--one of which is a rational skepticism about
>>intellectual authority.  The very notion that there is something called
>>"science" which is distinct from "ideology" (even if the former is always to
>>some degree tainted by the latter) is itself a bourgeois idea -- and one 
>>Marx would not find uncongenial: he did after all distinguish between
>>classical political economy, which he regarded as scientific (albeit flawed)
>>and vulgar economy, which he considered to be an ideology masquerading as
>Yes but Marx also thought that scientific political economy had ended
>with Richard Jones.. As for Sraffa's relation to Ricardo, I cannot
>say. I haven't studied Sraffa, but I do await a Sraffian reply to
>Blaug's recent critique.

There's one coming out, by Kurz & Salvadori.  I think Ajit is more or less on 
target.  Blaug's piece really gets Sraffa wrong.  The mistake is not different 
from the one Rakesh, Freeman and others make.  The fact that Sraffa focused on 
a particular set of problems does not mean that he denies the importance of 
all the other problems that Marx and the classicals took up.

And wasn't Jones a post-Ricardian?

best regards,


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