Re: [OPE-L] Michio Morishima, 1923-2004

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Fri Mar 25 2005 - 08:24:05 EST

> Jerry, Morishima was one of the few academic economist (Non Marxist) 
> who considered Marx seriously, even he did not understand Marx originality. 
> On the contrary, he tried to understand Marx under neoclassical light.


Yes, but Morishima was a curious figure who both embraced general
equilibium theory (in fact, maintaining that Marx had anticipated Walras!)
and was influenced by classical theory.  

Perhaps an explanation for this is to be found in his apparant belief in 
economics as a science in which advances are brought about through
an evolutionary process.  The more specific context seems to be a
dissatisfaction with the divisions that existed among Japanese economists.
Thus, he complained (in the 'Introduction' to _Marx's Economics_) that
the two economics associations -- one for Marxian economists
and one for non-Marxists -- have never had any "fruitful conversation 
between them":  

"they are at daggers and describe each other as a society for 
reactionaries and a society for economists with lower I.Q.s."

This made me, upon re-reading it, laugh.  I was reminded of Rodney
King's famous rhetorical question:  "Why can we all just get along?".
The implicit belief behind his book seems to be that if he can show
the contribution to thought of Marx in marginalist terms then 
economists will appreciate and understand each other better.  
If he believed that, it was a naive belief, imo.

It is unclear to me how rigorously studied Marx.  He gives Okishio
a lot of credit for his understanding: "With much help from Professor
Okishio's books ...I had gathered almost all the material for this
book in September, 1968" (Ibid, 'Preface', pp. vii- viii).  He also
thanks Joan Robinson.

Morishima's writings on Marx seemed to have been welcomed 
at the time that they were first published by many Marxians.  Perhaps
one explanation for that was that in the context of the period _any_
sympathetic critique of Marx whether it was written by Morishima
or someone like William J. Baumol was welcomed ... by some.
(I am recalling the reception to which Baumol's reply to Samuelson
in the _Journal of Economic Literature_ received.)

In any case, Morishima and the 'Fundamental Marxian Theorem' 
have influenced some diverse traditions in Marxian theory.  Obviously,
he strongly influenced Analytical Marxism and Rational Choice 
Marxism, most notably John Roemer but also OPE-L member
Gil Skillman.    [btw, what has become of Analytical Marxism?  What 
are they writing about now? ]    Yet -- after pulling some volumes from
one of my bookcases -- I can see that many others were influenced 
as well, e.g.  Arun Bose, Gilbert Abraham-Frois & Edmond Berrebi,
George Catephores, Karl Kuhne.  [NB:  in almost 10 years of discussion
we have hardly ever discussed this latter group of scholars.  What
is the reason for that?  Aren't their writings worth discussing and

One wonders to what extent his goal of getting mainstream economics
to take Marx (and Marxians) seriously has succeeded.  More successful,
it seems, was his attempt to get more Marxians to take mainstream
theory seriously and attempt a 'merge' whereby the 'advances' of
mainstream thought would be incorporated into Marxian theory.

While Morishima didn't originate these theories, I think he also has to
be given credit ... or blame ... for perpetuating and popularizing
*dualism*  and *simultaneism* in Marxian theory.   

In the conclusion of his book, he seeks not to re-cast Marx's
theory as marginalism but to bring it up to date with the "von 
Neumann Revolution."    While Alejandro is right to suggest that
Morishima understood Marx "under neoclassical light", he also
attempted to understand Marx under (modern) classical light.  But,
are these two influences -- Von Neumann and classical theory
and Walras and GET -- consistently married in the writings of

What do you -- and others think on the list, believe are the positive 
contributions that Morishima made to the study of political economy?  
Negative contributions?

In solidarity, Jerry

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