[OPE-L:5755] Re: RE: Re: why are we on this list?

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Sat Jun 02 2001 - 22:30:38 EDT

Gary, don't have my copies of Ricardo, Marx and Peach in front of me, 
so a very brief reply.

>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.

You've got Marx wrong.  As Andrew B just noted, Marx praised Ricardo 
for attempting to save an explanatory theory in which value is the 
explanans in the face of the recalcirance of the concrete, though I 
am not sure that the source of Ricardo's failure here is his 
commitment to analytical logic, as Andrew B has suggest.

  At any rate,  Marx clearly thinks Malthus had been quite effective 
in critique, and Marx's sharpest criticism is actually not of Malthus 
as you imply but of Ricardo's followers (eg. MacCullough) who 
attempted to defend Ricardo in the face of real problems with verbal 
games and the like.

So in appreciating the real force of Malthus' objections, Peach is 
quite consistent with Marx.

>   Peach moreover denies that R was a
>surplus theorist in the tradition of Sraffa,

Sraffa comes after Ricardo, right? So how could R be in the tradition 
of S? To me, it seems that Peach's reading of R is in important ways 
similar to Rubin's.

>which again goes against the
>grain of Marx's reading of Ricardo.

Marx could not have read R in the Sraffian surplus tradition; and 
Marx does not praise R so much in my estimation for being in the 
surplus tradition but for attempting a scientific explanation of the 
phenomena which seemed on the face of it to contradict the labor 
theory of value. Moreover, Marx respects Ricardo's scientific 
discipline in argument, e.g.,  his careful maintainence of the 
distinction between explanans (value) and explanandum (profit, wages, 
rent)--though due to the absence of the labor power/power distinction 
Ricardo cannot escape the circle in which Adam Smith was stuck.

Yet for Marx, Ricardo is clearly a giant of scientific integrity. 
Perhaps Peach's estimation is not so high as Marx's, but surely Peach 
does not reduce Ricardo's value theory to its ability to function as 
a justification for the repeal of the corn laws (see Brewer vs. 

>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.

No my reading of Ricardo--and Marx follows him here--is that natural 
prices or prices of production change in clear and significant 
fashion due to changes in the average rate of profit only over the 
long run. This is simply because changes in the average rate of 
profit take some time to clearly assert themselves in the face of the 
chaos of market relations.  However, prices of production do change 
fairly constantly due to changes in the values of the commodities 
themselves. You will note that Marx appropriates this two fold 
foundation for changes in prices of production from the first chapter 
of Ricardo's Principles.
I disagree here with you and Fred about the appropriateness of long 
run thinking in terms of the analysis of prices of production.

So again I ask you: since your presumption is not shared, how do you 
propose to operationalize and test it? And if this is but a 
presumption, then why the fierceness of your criticism towards those 
who do not share it?

>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.

No but you did say that Marx was ESSENTIALLY interested in the same 
problems as 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.

but they don't recognize Marx's critique of Ricardo's money theory or 
crisis theory--see Steedman on Marx on Ricardo. By the way, there is 
an excellent discusssion in many places in Felton Shortall's 
Incomplete Marx of Marx's critique of Ricardo's (and Ricardo's 
followers') money and crisis theory.

>  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.

But here you miss the qualitative side of Marx's value theory which 
is not only a theory of distribution or the profit rate. Marx is very 
explicit that the qualitative side of value theory completely escapes 
Ricardo. We have a couple of names for the qualitative side on this 
list--value form and the necessity of money.

>  >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.

Prices of production and market prices can both be changing not in 
the long term.

>  The latter are what
>technicians (the economist as plumber) fuss over.  Marx was a big-picture man.

Except when it came to the microscopic treatment of the commodity.

>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.

Let's be clear here. Freeman is a leading theorist; I, a mere 
autodidact, find him (and John E, Andrew and Carchedi) right about a 
lot of things. Of course I wish they would acknowledge the roots of 
their dynamics in Grossmann's dynamics books. I consider myself a 
student of Grossmann and Mattick, Sr.

>   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?

yes indeed. A while ago, I read the one dissertation every written in 
the uS about Richard Jones--early 1930s by a Chinese student at 

thanks for the reply, R

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