[OPE-L:5062] Re: To Paul C: about Colletti

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Sun, 18 May 1997 02:11:22 -0700 (PDT)

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At 16:33 -0700 17-05-1997, Gerald Levy wrote:
>Mike W, responding to Riccardo's [5055], wrote in [5059]:
>> I would like to discuss Napoleoni's developmnet of Colletti, in due course.
>Riccardo -- before we get to that point, could you (in due course) give us
>the citations for the articles (or books) written by Napoleoni in Italian
>that discuss this subject?
>BTW, is Claudio Napoleoni still alive?
>In solidarity, Jerry

Claudio Napoleoni died in 1988.

He was a strange figure: a quite original neo-Ricardian in the '60s (see
his "XXth century economic thought", translated in English, Martin
Roberston, 1972?, Italian edition 1963), he became a Marxian in the early
'70s - here again in a very original way. In those years he saw Marxian
economic theory as potentially fruitful, but he recognised within it
unsolved problems. From these years comes "Smith Ricardo Marx" (look
especially the introduction and the essay on Marx): Blackwell, 1975
(Italian edition 1973). After 1978, he thought these analytical problems in
Marx were impossible to solve, and more or less saved only value theory as
a philosophical theory of the alienation (for an example look at the essay
recollected in the vol 1 of Caravale G, Marx and modern economic analysis,
Elgar 1989; Italian manuscript, 1988). May be I'll succeed to have
translated in English a very important essay of 1978 "The riddle of value".
Two essays available in English are his early reaction to Sraffa, which is
difficult to qualify (it is 1961, but nearer to his Marxian years than to
his neo-Ricardian yeears), and his last paper on Sraffa (1988) recollected
in Research in Political Economy 1996 (my translation).

I base myself mainly on his 1971-1976 years. It is an uneasy reconstruction
because there was not really any systematic treatment of his views in print
in these transition years. Mine is a careful chosen selection. Be warned
that mine is a also biased reading. I was one of his pupils: almost all the
others have different interpretations, simply because he followed
Napoleoni's leaving Marxian economic theory. I tried to take up Napoleoni's
research programme, while at the same time breaking with some points also
of his Marxist years.

I am now writing a paper in English in which these issues are treated (my
oral presentation at the EEA was indeed an anticipation of what I wanted to
do, and I have to now). To be more precise, in the paper I'll reconstruct
Colletti's view (1968-1974) in a nutshell, then how some Sraffian Marxists
developed Colletti in a way that has some point of contacts with the new
interpretations by Marxians value theorists today (1970-1973), then I
summarise Napoleoni's hard criticisms against the Sraffians (1971) and his
deepning of Colletti (1971-1975). Say in a month I can post to the list
couple of pages where I summarise Napoleoni's deepening of Colletti's
reading of Marx - and send to the interested parties the whole paper.

There you'll have amore complete bibliography. An anticipation is in what

NAPOLEONI, C. (1967). L'origine del profitto. Una lettera a Sraffa. Dalla
scienza all'utopia Ed. G. L. VACCARINO. Torino, Bollati-Boringhieri.

A letter to Sraffa, after a meeting with him. Very interesting: it embodies
criticism he will maintain troughout his life. It also includes a synthesis
of Sraffa's views about how the origin of profit is analysed in hisown

NAPOLEONI, C. (1970). Smith Ricardo Marx. Considerazioni sulla storia del
pensiero economico. Torino, Boringhieri.

First neo-Ricardian version of what evenutually will become Napoleoni 1975

NAPOLEONI, C. (1972a). Lezioni sul capito sesto inedito di Marx. Torino,

Still one of the best introductions to Marx. I based myseld most on it.
Translated in German (with a very useful introduction by Cristina
Pennavaja), may be in Spanish and/or Portuguese.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1972b). Intervento. Il Marxismo italiano degli anni sessanta
e la formazione teorico-politica delle nuove generazioni. Roma, Editori
Riuniti: 184-193; 433-435.

Here you find the criticism to the Sraffian readings of Marx trying to save
Marx's theory of value as a theory of explotation while jettisoning Marx's
theory of value as theory of individual prices.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1972c). Quale funzione ha avuto la 'Rivista Trimestrale'?
Rinascita. XXIX: 32-33.

Self-criticism of his neo-Ricardian years

NAPOLEONI, C. (1973a). Smith Ricardo Marx (second revised edition). Torino,

Marxian rewriting of Napoleoni 1970.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1973b). Introduzione. Teoria della moneta Ed. C. BOFFITO.
Torino, Einaudi. IX-XVII.

Some views about money.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1975). Smith Ricardo Marx. Observations on the History of
Economic Thought. Oxford, Blackwell.

English translation of 1973a

NAPOLEONI, C. (1976a). Valore. Milano, Isedi

A transition book. Napoleoni does not believe anymore Marxian economic
theory could be saved from the Sraffian criticism. But full of insights.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1976b). Capitale. Enciclopedia Garzanti . Milano, Garzanti.

Likely written in his Marxist years. An encyclopedia entry.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1989). Value and Exploitation. Marx's Economic Theory and
Beyond. Marx and Modern Economic Analysis Ed.^Eds. G. CARAVALE. Aldershot,
Edward Elgar.

NAPOLEONI, C. (1992a). "An Essay on the Theory of Production as a Circular
Process." Italian Economic Papers I: 251-264.

In short, looking at these early '70s, I came to think that from Colletti
and Napoleoni springs the idea that commodity exchange at values adequately
represents exchange in full-blown capitalism. The problem was that of
course the law of exchange - exchange ratios - may diverge from values.
Hence, I tried to reconstruct: why they had this strange idea, which
nowadays seem closer to traditional Marxism than to the recent value
revival? And I realized that this idea is not fully explained by Colletti
(who endorsed Napoleoni's criticism against the young Marxists), and it is
much clearer in Napoleoni's development. It turns around the apparently
mystical notion of value as a real hypostatization. Though Napoleoni and
Colletti ended in a blind alley, I think that their views may be rephrased
and confirmed in a monetary circuit approach to actual capitalism, and in
an Hegelian reading of Marx's method. But on this, later (or never?).