[OPE-L:4533] Re: In defence of Sraffa's Marxism

Ian Hun (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Tue, 25 Mar 1997 22:23:08 -0800 (PST)

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I agree with allowing various interpretations of Marx's theory of price and
value. What I don't really understand is the emphasis placed on the
'neo-classical exclusion order' on Marx and the belief that Marx's economic
theory will be accepted as a viable alternative to neo-classical theory if
only it is conceded that Marx (or, as we have seen, Engels) was consistent
in his exposition of prices of production and their relation to values in
Vol III.
What neo-classical theorists reject is Marx's relative indifference
to the question of how interaction between demand, taken as determined by
preferences and assets, thereby abstracting from other factors, such as
information, and supply, taken as determined by resources and technology
only, thereby abstracting from other factors, such as monopolistic
position, determine prices and allocations of goods.
They in turn reject Marx's notion that workers are compelled by
need to accept terms and conditions of employment which guarantee a profit
to their employers who enjoy managerial prerogative. They consider that
everything that happens in the Market is a matter of freedom, Bentham and
utility and that Marx is simply mistaken in claiming that the capitalist
employer/employee relationship undermines the implications of these. For
neo-classical theorists, workers are simply buyers and sellers of
commodities. if they don't live well from buying a selling, this simply
reflects the interaction of assets and preferences with resource and
technology constraints. If many workers do poorly, this is only because
their lack of assets forces them to deal in commodities which do not yield
such a large return. The outcome is on a par with that experienced by
capitalists who sell into a declining market.
I don't think Marx's excommunication will end with any cocnession
that he was not inconsistent in Vol II.