Re: [OPE-L] Michio Morishima, 1923-2004

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Mar 27 2005 - 08:05:09 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen Keen" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2005 6:04 AM
Subject: RE: [OPE-L] Michio Morishima, 1923-2004

Interesting post Jerry!

Keep me in the loop on this one. For my part, I wasn't particularly
influenced by Morishima--I think he took a wrong tack in trying to express
Marx in marginalist terms because Marx's theory of value was fundamentally
objective whereas the neoclassicals have a subjectivist theory of value.
My interest is in providing a proper expression of an objective and
dialectical theory of value--and as you know I regard the labor theory of
value as flawed in that light.

Of the latter group of scholars you mention, the one I do give great
credence to is Arun Bose. His "Marx on inequality and exploitation" is a
classic--and, as it happens, so is the critique he has in there of the
labor theory of value.


Steve Keen
Ph: 61 (0)2 4620 3016
Mb: 61 (0)425 248 089

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sat 3/26/2005 12:26 AM
To: Stephen Keen
Subject: Fw: [OPE-L] Michio Morishima,   1923-2004

----- Original Message -----
From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 8:24 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Michio Morishima, 1923-2004

> Jerry, Morishima was one of the few academic economist (Non Marxist) who
considered Marx seriously, even he did not understand Marx
> On the contrary, he tried to understand Marx under neoclassical light.


Yes, but Morishima was a curious figure who both embraced general
equilibium theory (in fact, maintaining that Marx had anticipated Walras!)
and was influenced by classical theory.

Perhaps an explanation for this is to be found in his apparant belief in
economics as a science in which advances are brought about through an
evolutionary process.  The more specific context seems to be a
dissatisfaction with the divisions that existed among Japanese economists.
Thus, he complained (in the 'Introduction' to _Marx's Economics_) that the
two economics associations -- one for Marxian economists
and one for non-Marxists -- have never had any "fruitful conversation
between them":

"they are at daggers and describe each other as a society for
reactionaries and a society for economists with lower I.Q.s."

This made me, upon re-reading it, laugh.  I was reminded of Rodney King's
famous rhetorical question:  "Why can we all just get along?". The
implicit belief behind his book seems to be that if he can show the
contribution to thought of Marx in marginalist terms then
economists will appreciate and understand each other better.
If he believed that, it was a naive belief, imo.

It is unclear to me how rigorously studied Marx.  He gives Okishio a lot
of credit for his understanding: "With much help from Professor Okishio's
books ...I had gathered almost all the material for this book in
September, 1968" (Ibid, 'Preface', pp. vii- viii).  He also thanks Joan

Morishima's writings on Marx seemed to have been welcomed
at the time that they were first published by many Marxians.  Perhaps one
explanation for that was that in the context of the period _any_
sympathetic critique of Marx whether it was written by Morishima
or someone like William J. Baumol was welcomed ... by some.
(I am recalling the reception to which Baumol's reply to Samuelson in the
_Journal of Economic Literature_ received.)

In any case, Morishima and the 'Fundamental Marxian Theorem'
have influenced some diverse traditions in Marxian theory.  Obviously, he
strongly influenced Analytical Marxism and Rational Choice
Marxism, most notably John Roemer but also OPE-L member
Gil Skillman.    [btw, what has become of Analytical Marxism?  What are
they writing about now? ]    Yet -- after pulling some volumes from one of
my bookcases -- I can see that many others were influenced
as well, e.g.  Arun Bose, Gilbert Abraham-Frois & Edmond Berrebi,
George Catephores, Karl Kuhne.  [NB:  in almost 10 years of discussion we
have hardly ever discussed this latter group of scholars.  What is the
reason for that?  Aren't their writings worth discussing and evaluating?]

One wonders to what extent his goal of getting mainstream economics to
take Marx (and Marxians) seriously has succeeded.  More successful, it
seems, was his attempt to get more Marxians to take mainstream
theory seriously and attempt a 'merge' whereby the 'advances' of
mainstream thought would be incorporated into Marxian theory.

While Morishima didn't originate these theories, I think he also has to be
given credit ... or blame ... for perpetuating and popularizing *dualism*
and *simultaneism* in Marxian theory.

In the conclusion of his book, he seeks not to re-cast Marx's
theory as marginalism but to bring it up to date with the "von
Neumann Revolution."    While Alejandro is right to suggest that
Morishima understood Marx "under neoclassical light", he also
attempted to understand Marx under (modern) classical light.  But, are
these two influences -- Von Neumann and classical theory
and Walras and GET -- consistently married in the writings of

What do you -- and others think on the list, believe are the positive
contributions that Morishima made to the study of political economy?
Negative contributions?

In solidarity, Jerry

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