[OPE-L:4446] Re: Sraffa: a Marxist economist?

riccardo bellofior (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Wed, 19 Mar 1997 10:54:54 -0800 (PST)

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At 4:52 18-03-1997, Gerald Levy wrote:
>Ajit wrote in [OPE-L:4419]:
>> In any
>> case, for your information, Sraffa was a Marxist! The greatest Marxist
>> economist of the 20th century without any doubt.

I endorse fully the former phrase, though I disagree with the latter.

There are no doubts that Sraffa saw himself as developing Marx's critique
of political economy. Simply, he had to catch up with the theoretical
developments of the bourgeous economists. I would even go so far as to say
that Sraffa didn't have much to disagree with Marx's transformation -
simply, the latter was not exact at 100%; but it worked, in his opinion. A
different question altogether is the relationship of Sraffa with the labour
theory of value as a theory which quantitatively reduces the value output
to labour. I think Sraffa changed opinion on that in his life, but that in
a very important sense he thought that "labour" is all that is going on in
production process, so that also here Marx was right.

Two warnings: it is difficult to speak of Sraffa on these issues because he
didn't wanted to speak openly; I am not a Sraffian.

Two informations, one useful, the other not. The useful one: the archives
of the Sraffa papers are open to te readers in Cambridge, but you have not
the possibility to quote unless you are the brother of Garegnni, or may be
Garegnani himself, who has the rights on them. The unuseful one: I wrote
(in Italian!) a paper with Potier after a visit in Cambridge. The first
part is merely on biographical issues. The second one is on the critical
reception of Sraffa's book in Italy in the 1960, and the reactions by
Sraffa to this reception as documented in his archive. I think the Sraffa
papers, and my article with Potier, support my position. My paper is
available to the unhappy few who read Italian.


Riccardo Bellofiore
Department of Economics
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e-mail: bellofio@cisi.unito.it
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