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Department of Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods

The Other Sraffa - Surprises in the Archive?

Area bacheca: 1031

c) Riccardo Bellofiore (University of Bergamo, Italy)
Which Marx after Sraffa? Which Sraffa after Marx?

The relationship between Sraffa and Marx has been a controversial topic, especially in the 1970s. The unpublished Sraffa material at the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, allows for a new assessment of the connection. A reopening of the debate is in order, to overcome the dead-ends of the 1970s. The difficulty is, however, that too often the Sraffians do not seem to know enough of the new developments in the Marxian territory in the last 30 years, and that most of the Marxians do not understand the surplus approach and/or deny the presence of problematic points in the labour theory of value.

The paper will begin with a personal survey of some moments of the debate of the 1970s (especially the Italian one, which is for many reasons peculiarly significant). It will then go on tracing a a conjectural history of the path to Production of commodities by means of commodities since the late 1920s. The secondary literature of the last few years on the last topic will be taken into account, and the discontinuity of the various phases of the writing of the book will be stressed. It will be shown how and why the role of Marx in the construction of Sraffa's 1960 book has been much deeper than it could have been expected by all interpreters (and specifically, either Sraffians or Marxians) before consulting the Sraffa Archives. It will be argued that Sraffa's reference to Marx's value theory, in its own way, persists after the publication of the book. Some of the new perspectives allow to see some points of contact with the macro-monetary approaches to Marx, and especially with the New Interpretation. The paper however will stress also the differences: between Sraffa and the New Interpretation; and between both and Marx. It will be argued that both the position of the Sraffians insisting on the redundancy of value theory and the position of Marxians wishing to posit an unproblematic continuity between Marx and Sraffa are wrong.

sponsored by
Department of Economics
Faculty of Economics
University of Bergamo


December 21-22, 2010
aula 3, via Salvecchio 19
University of Bergamo - Bergamo Alta, Italy