Ricardo, Marx, Sraffa

This seminal work, edited by Ernest Mandel and Alan Freeman, was a collaboration between scholars of Marx’s theory of value intended to respond to the ‘Neoricardian’ or ‘Surplus School’ assault on Marx s value theory. It was a precursor of a number of controversial new directions in Marx scholarship which then became increasingly influential, notably the Temporal Single System Interpretation (TSSI) of Marx; and the ‘econophysics’ school pioneered by Emmanuel Farjoun and Moshe Machover and later developed in their book Laws of Chaos.

The book contains an important chapter by the late Robert Langston. It was tragically incomplete before he passed away, but the book’s authors were tasked with interpreting, making sense of, and developing Langston’s ideas. It was in this attempt that Alan Freeman and Paolo Guissani independently developed their temporal approach (at the time they called this the ‘sequential’ approach).  Giussani separately developed the ‘non-dualist’ component of this approach; they soon realised that the combination of sequentialism and non-dualism resolved the two key problems that Marx’s detractors lay at his door: it resulted in a rigorous transformation of values into prices, and a rigorous proof of Marx’s Law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (LTRPF). The two of them then approached Andrew Kliman, who realised they had been working along identical lines. They organised the International Working Group on Value Theory (IWGVT) and held ten mini-conferences on value theory, hosted by the US-based Eastern Economic Association, at which its height generated fifty papers. TSSI was born from the IWGVT’s work.

The book was made possible by the generous support of Bertha Langston and the Langston foundation. Langston tragically passed away before completing his own contribution, which the editorial team endeavoured to present in the most complete form possible, reconstructing part of it from handwritten notes. It contains one of the most critical insights for the evolution of temporay theory and in particlar the TSSI; namely, it presents the interaction between price and value as a sequence in time, without supposing (as do all the previous, Bortkiewicz-inspired, interpretations) that reproduction is complete within each period. This was the necessary step that enabled Freeman and Giussani to recreate the reasoning which Marx used to derive the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (LTRPF) and refute the Okishio theorem, which wrongly predicts that the profit rate cannot possibly fall if the capitalists engage in cost-saving innovation, as would normally be expected. They then made contact with Andrew Kliman and Ted McGlone, who had independently (and earlier) reached the same conclusion. Our subsequent collaboration let to a series of ten mini-conferences on value theory and the formation of the International Working Group on Value Theory (IWGVT). The IWGVT held ten mini-conferences on value theory, hosted by the US-based Eastern Economic Association, in the course of which the TSSI was born. The papers of the IWGVT may be found here.

The text is given here in the form of a searchable PDF an open-access publication with creative commons license. Thanks are due to the generosity of Verso, the publishers, and Mike Welte for the arduous work of scanning the printed version.

The PDF version below is a searchable version created using OCR on Mike’s scanned text. As a result, some of the equations are not rendered very well. However, restrictions of space make it difficult to upload the full imaged version. I aim to archive this in a standard repository, and at that time will embed a link to it.

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