Re: [OPE-L] gen equ and sraffa

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Fri Oct 26 2007 - 18:56:23 EDT

>But David Laibman's anecdote says it all - and I must add: why did
>not Sraffa just state those simple things more clearly in the
opening pages.

Hi Anders:

Perhaps he
didn't think it was necessary. I admire a writing style (unlike my own)
which encourages the reader to draw her/his own conclusions.  It's a
good thing, I think, to
leave something for the imagination: it
encourages critical thinking.

> The
> intellectual history of the left would have been markedly
different. What if Sraffa has said
> that Marx needed no
corrections at  all... If Laibman's anecdote is correct -

The  anecdote didn't suggest that Marx's book was
entirely correct. It suggested
instead (as David correctly
concluded) that Sraffa thought that he was "working in the tradition
begun by Marx".

>Sraffa could have written
Kliman's book - in a different  manner, in a different
> but with the same basic points.

No, Sraffa was too much of a scholar to write that book.
In any event, he would not have
allow himself to be
obbsessed with such a trivial history of thought question: he had
bigger fish to fry.

>Why on
> earth
should a man - so well versed in the history of economic
write a book, relating so little to the work of other
- especially a minor Ricardian like Marx ;-) Why write a
that do not enter into dialogue with other points of view?

My comments made in the previous post (reproduced below) speak to those

>Who was in a better
>position to write for example about the Ricardo -Marx
>relationship - so that Gary and I just could read an analysis
>from a man that had spent decades on Ricardo - and probably a
>sbustantial amount of hours also on Marx' relationship to

Evidently, he thought a critique of
marginalism was a more urgent intellectual task
neo-neo-classicism was the dominant (hegemonic) school of
He was right.

>But still - why
such a non-communicative book - after nearly forty
>years of

I don't think it's correct to say that he
was "silent" during those years:  he made his
known to colleagues, students, -- even Gramsci  --

In any event, his book  was written in
the context of the "Cambridge Controversy", a
debate with
which many of the other professors in his department were then
engaged.  It's hardly surprising, under these circumstances, that
he would intervene
in that debate.

What I do find
curious,   though, is that no one tried to actually extend the
critique of
marginalism suggested by his "prelude".
Or, did someone do that and I just missed

solidarity, Jerry

>>I think that's one of its
chief advantages. It's concise nature keeps the
focus on the most important qestions of theory from the author's
>>perspective and thus prevents readers from being side-tracked
into obscure
>>history of thought issues. In any event, this
is a question associated
>>with the *form of exposition*. One
can make no inferences
>>about a writer's ability to critique
other perspectives and grasp of the
>>history of thought based
merely on the absence of that material in a
writing. As we all know, one of Sraffa's strong points was as
>>a historian of economic thought so his not going into the
history of
>>thought in _PCBMOC_ shows basically nothing about
the author or the book.

>I have no time to enter into
a discussion of PCBMOC, but I am not at
>all convinced by your
arguments. The title is a Prelude to the
>critique of political
economy - and then I expect a bit more about
>what is coming
next, what is "political economy"

Marx, also, was
pretty vague about what was coming next. He did refer repeatedly to
the 6-book-plan but he didn't exactly produce a detailed outline of the
contents of
those books.    You might recall that
the  question "What comes next?" was raised
the last chapter of what  was later published as Volume 3 of
_Capital_.  The answer
was: classes.

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