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Sraffa’s Silenced Revival of the Classical Economists and of Marx

Guglielmo Chiodi ()
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Guglielmo Chiodi: Sapienza Università di Roma

Chapter Chapter 11 in A Reflection on Sraffa’s Revolution in Economic Theory, 2021, pp 329-359 from Palgrave Macmillan

Abstract: Abstract The standpoint of the old classical economists as well as of Marx “has been submerged and forgotten since the advent of the ‘marginal’ method”—to borrow Sraffa’s own words. The neoclassical (or ‘marginal’) paradigm, in fact, triumphantly dominated over the twentieth century (and is still dominating even now). A serious step towards the rehabilitation of the paradigm of the old classical economists was made by Sraffa (“Introduction”, The works and correspondence of David Ricardo, edited by Piero Sraffa with the collaboration of M. H. Dobb, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1951) with his remarkable ‘Introduction’ to Ricardo’s Principles, his seminal 1960 book Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (PCMC) followed a few years later, as a logical completion of his long-standing work. The chapter here proposed argues that (Sraffa, P., Production of commodities by means of commodities. Prelude to a critique of economic theory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1960) contribution has so far been mainly interpreted and used as a highly powered tool for destroying the foundations of neoclassical theory from a logical point of view, with the confident belief that attacking the logical side of the theory would have been sufficient to bring about its definite dismissal, which, instead, did not happen. As a consequence of all this, the revival of the classical economists and of Marx—which is one of the most characterizing feature of (Sraffa, P., Production of commodities by means of commodities. Prelude to a critique of economic theory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1960) contribution—was automatically silenced and this very fact precluded Sraffa’s theoretical framework from being used in a constructive way as a real alternative ‘vision’ to that proposed by the neoclassical market-centred paradigm. The aim of the chapter is to underscore the crucial importance of Sraffa’s revival referred to above, by emphasizing its usefulness in providing a genuine alternative perspective and a radically different representation of the economy, compared with that provided by neoclassical theory. An attempt will be made to show the main features of the Sraffian framework in providing such an alternative ‘vision’ which, it will be argued, is now much needed, not least for suggesting far more sensible alternative economic policies than those so far pursued in the ceaseless turmoil of present day world economies.

Keywords: Adam Smith; Ricardo; Marx; Sraffa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A10 B12 B14 B24 B51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-47206-1_11

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