[OPE-L:4473] Re: Sraffa: a Marxist economist?

Ajit Sinh (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 01:41:16 -0800 (PST)

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At 05:55 PM 3/20/97 -0800, you wrote:
>Alan wrote in [OPE-L:4463]:
>> I agree that Sraffa was a great Marxist.
>What other "great" Marxist economists have there been who: a) never wrote
>about Marx, Marxism, and/or Marxist economics, and; b) never claimed in
>their published or unpublished writings, their lectures or speeches, their
>private letters, or even informal conversation that they were a Marxist?
>For those who want to repeat the above assertion, I would like to see some
>documentary evidence. Is that asking too much?
>In solidarity, Jerry

Lot of water has flowen under this bridge while I was busy with Mike L. I
think, Jerry you are asking the wrong questions. When I said that Sraffa was
the greatest Marxist economists, I didn't mean that he beat his chest real
hard and claimed that. I never had an opportunity to see Sraffa in person.
Now, everybody I know, who has known Sraffa personally, tells me that he
considered himself a Marxist. Riccardo has no doubt about it, which Italian
would not know that? But this was not my point. My point is that Marx was
the greatest 'surplus approach' economist, and it was Sraffa who brought the
rational kernal of Marxian economics to light and established it as a
superior theoretical structure to the mighty sophisticated looking
orthodoxy. You keep claiming that Sraffa was a Ricardian. You may or may not
know that the controversy over Ricardo is much more intense than even on
Marx. Though I'll not challange Sraffa's reading of Ricardo, I would say
this much. Anybody who has read THEORIES OF SURPLUS VALUE closely cannot
fail to see that Sraffa's reading of Ricardo is highly influenced by Marx's
reading of Ricardo. When I was in Toronto, I came to know Sam Hollander
quite well, you might know Sam Hollander is one of the leading proponent of
anti-Sraffian reading of Ricardo. When I suggested to him that Sraffa's
reading may be influenced by Marx, he took it very seriously, and even
publickly announced it in a seminar at York University suggesting that he
was going to look into my suggestion closely. Recently, I was reading a
paper where I read a reference to Arrow's paper on Ricardo, where Arrow
makes exactly the same point, that Sraffa's reading of Ricaro is influenced
by TSV. If you read Samuelson's paper in Essays in Honor of Piero Sraffa,
edited by Bharadwaj and Schefold, Samuelson will tell you that from very
early on, after first discussion with Sraffa, he had known that Sraffa was a
Marxist. A well known Ricardo scholar, Lugi Porta, wrote a long article in
HOPE arguing that Sraffa's reading of Ricardo is a reading of Marx into
Ricardo. These are not stupid people. In the end, let me make this point.
I'm not saying that Sraffa's reading of Ricardo is incorrect--in that case
Marx's reading of Ricardo would turn out to be incorrect too. Cheers, ajit