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Resurgent interest in the life and work of the Italian Cambridge economist Piero Sraffa is leading to New Directions in Sraffa Scholarship. This chapter introduces readers…
Resurgent interest in the life and work of the Italian Cambridge economist Piero Sraffa is leading to New Directions in Sraffa Scholarship. This chapter introduces readers to some of these developments. First and perhaps foremost is the fact that as of September 2016 Sraffa’s archival material has been uploaded onto the website of the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge University, as digital colour images; this chapter introduces readers to the history of these events. This history provides sharp relief on the extant debates over the role of the archival material in leading to the final publication of Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, and readers are provided a brief sketch of these matters. The varied nature of Sraffa scholarship is demonstrated by the different aspects of Sraffa’s intellectual legacy which are developed and discussed in the various entries of our Symposium. The conclusion is reached that we are on the cusp of an exciting phase change of tremendous potential in Sraffa scholarship.
Rosa Luxemburg is not an under-consumptionist stressing the tendency to stagnation, it is rather an under-investment perspective: the effective demand crisis results from…
Rosa Luxemburg is not an under-consumptionist stressing the tendency to stagnation, it is rather an under-investment perspective: the effective demand crisis results from the disequilibria determined by a vibrant capitalist accumulation, and stems from production rather than circulation. To show this, the chapter deals with three dimensions of Rosa Luxemburg's economic thought. First, how Luxemburg's approach in her 1913 book is related with some of her prior writings, especially Social Reform or Revolution? and the Introduction to Political Economy. Second, the re-reading that Luxemburg herself provided of her own argument in terms of a macro-monetary circuit model like the one we read in her Anti-Critique. Third and last, in which sense Marx's monetary labour theory of value was for her the essential starting point, which cannot be just set aside. This last point will be preceded by a détour, the critical consideration of some key papers by Kalecki on capitalism and reform, including his late paper with Kowalik on the ‘crucial reform’. The chapter concludes with some hints pointing towards an interpretation of capitalism and its recurring crises where exploitation and effective demand are both essential in accounting for the ascent and collapses of different forms of capitalism itself.
There are two influential interpretative positions in the current debate on the crisis among Marxists. The first understands financialization as a consequence of the…
There are two influential interpretative positions in the current debate on the crisis among Marxists. The first understands financialization as a consequence of the tendential fall of the rate of profit. The other interpretation, prevalent among those influenced by Keynesianism and Neoricardianism, refers to the tendency toward the crisis of realisation, because of the squeeze on the wage bill and the insufficiency of consumer demand. In both cases, the current crisis is the crisis of a feeble capitalism, permanently stagnationist. A Marxian interpretation of the crisis cannot be separated from the tendential fall of the rate of profit. This latter, however, cannot be accepted as it is presented by Marx, and it must be rethought as a meta-theory of the crisis, including within it the different crisis theories that can be derived from Capital. This article first provides a personal survey of Marx's crisis theories, often presented as opposed to each other. Second, it seeks to integrate the different positions into a unitary discourse, within a nonmechanical reading of the fall of the rate of profit. This discourse then mutates into an historical sketch of the long dynamic of capital: from the Great Depression of the end of the nineteenth century, to the Great Crash of the 1930s, to the Social Crisis in the immediate processes of valorisation of the 1960s–1970s (the Great Inflation). Finally, the “new” capitalism (the Great Moderation) and its recent crisis (the Great Recession) are read – integrating Marx and Minsky – as the conjunction between the real subsumption of labour to finance and the fragmentation of labour.
Professor Solow’s original comment from 2007 is addressed seven years later. Here the foundational character of Sraffa’s archival material is stressed and no longer is the…
Professor Solow’s original comment from 2007 is addressed seven years later. Here the foundational character of Sraffa’s archival material is stressed and no longer is the search for what Sraffa “really said” or much more nefariously what he “really meant” (especially as regards the relation to Marx) the endeavour pursued. This means rendering unto Sraffa what is his and using the foundations he provides from archival material to re-conceive Marxian income distribution theory and policy as a “positive” aspect of economic science.
This chapter argues that the Marxian theory of exploitation underlies the concepts of surplus and deficit industries that appear in Sraffa’s (1960) Production of…
This chapter argues that the Marxian theory of exploitation underlies the concepts of surplus and deficit industries that appear in Sraffa’s (1960) Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. This is seen from archival research of the unpublished papers of Piero Sraffa housed at the Wren Library, Trinity College, University of Cambridge. There it is shown that the origin of these concepts lies in the Marxian theory of exploitation that Sraffa developed regarding the notion of the ‘pool of profits’ the Italian economist utilized over a 14-year period from 1942 to 1956. The chapter engages in an extensive textual study of the archival evidence and then presents a simple analytical model of these relations.
This essay explores certain aspects of single product industry basic systems of the type Sraffa develops in Part I of Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. It…
This essay explores certain aspects of single product industry basic systems of the type Sraffa develops in Part I of Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. It focusses on triangular trade as the simplest expression of the more general n-commodity case. Two elements of the framework are explored: (i) the relation of exchange between all commodities, conceived as the configuration of exchange which is applicable to the subsistence and surplus models, and (ii) the value/price expressions of labour time, applicable to the surplus model only, which posits the productivity of, remuneration to and extraction from living labour added to the system. This analysis complements and extends the Marxian reading of Sraffa’s notions of surplus and deficit industries first explored in Carter (2014b). The methodology of ‘given quantities’ in expositing the relations developed is adopted in this essay as it corresponds to the same method employed by Sraffa. This allows readers to easily move from the present essay to Sraffa’s book and importantly his archival notes which are now for all interested parties available as colour digital images on the Wren Library website.
The chapter presents a short biography of Kalecki, from his early years in Łódź, through his economics research and development of his theory of business cycles, participation in the Keynesian Revolution and work after the Second World War on the economics of socialism and the developing countries. The key role of capital accumulation (investment) in determining levels of employment and total output is put forward as Kalecki's main innovation. There are evident similarities between Kalecki's theory of the business cycle and that of the Austro-Marxist Emil Lederer, as well as in the distributional analysis of Rudolf Hilferding. Kalecki's analysis of monetary circulation, and the centrality of his theory of profits was anticipated by Rosa Luxemburg in her Anti-Critique. But that monetary theory is rooted in a Marxian understanding of money as a means of settlement between capitalists.
Luxemburg’s legacy is customarily reduced to two “errors”: crude economic determinism, blind belief in the spontaneity of the masses. The paper reconstructs Luxemburg’s…
Luxemburg’s legacy is customarily reduced to two “errors”: crude economic determinism, blind belief in the spontaneity of the masses. The paper reconstructs Luxemburg’s arguments about the tendency to the “final” breakdown of capitalism and her criticism of Lenin, and shows how her economic theory and political perspective are different and much richer than usually recognized. Building not only on the Accumulation of Capital but also on the Introduction to Political Economy, the paper shows that: (i) Luxemburg saw the internal link between value, abstract labour and money; (ii) she emphasized the connection between dynamic competition, relative surplus value extraction, and the “law” of the falling tendency of the “relative wage”; (iii) her theory of the crisis is not underconsumptionist. The shortage of effective demand is seen as ultimately due to a fall of autonomous investment caused by inter-sectoral disequilibria springing from the revolution in the methods of production and the consequent relative reduction of workers’ consumption. “Disproportionalities,” as soon as they affect important branches of production, end up in a general glut of commodities. The paper also assesses Luxemburg political views. Her theory of the party was very different than the one held by the Bolsheviks, but it was a view in which the organization was essential for building class consciousness “from below.” Thus, in the end, Luxemburg’s questions seems to be more interesting than her critics’ answers, her defeats more fruitful than her opponents’ victories. The paper also considers the relationship between the personal and the political in Luxemburg.
The aim of this chapter is to compare the content of two essays: Oskar Lange's 1931 ‘Crisis of Socialism’ and Tadeusz Kowalik's 1996 ‘August – the Bourgeois Revolution of…
The aim of this chapter is to compare the content of two essays: Oskar Lange's 1931 ‘Crisis of Socialism’ and Tadeusz Kowalik's 1996 ‘August – the Bourgeois Revolution of the Epigones’ in order to try to determine the extent to which Lange's paper influenced Kowalik's ideas. We find that Lange's article was possibly Kowalik's only source of theoretical knowledge about bourgeois revolutions and their course when he wrote his 1996 piece. What probably struck Kowalik most in ‘Crisis of Socialism’ in the context of Polish transformations was the similarity (real or apparent) between the situation in Poland in 1905–1918 and that in 1980–1989 (or even 1980–1992), that is, the possibility of constructing a ‘bourgeois class state’ only through a workers revolution immediately preceding such a construction. On the basis of this analogy, in ‘August…’ Kowalik, as we argue, introduced a novelty into his reflections: he fortified his earlier, more lax analyses with the concept of ‘bourgeois revolution.’