For too long radical political economy has suffered for lack of a coherent alternative to formal Marxian economic theory. People have had to choose between (1) continuing to use a formal model based on the labor theory of value as Marx developed in Capital to justify and retain one’s opposition to capitalism, or (2) abandoning the formal Marxian framework as outdated, and risk losing a critical evaluation of capitalism. Radical Political Economy: Sraffa Versus Marx provides readers with a third choice.
A point-by-point comparison of Sraffian and Marxian treatments of prices, profits, technological change, economic crises, environmental sustainability, and the moral case against capitalism, are presented in six core chapters. They explain how the Sraffian treatment surpasses the formal Marxian treatment in every case. Both Marxian and Sraffian theories are presented in a highly accessible way, while large professional literatures are thoroughly referenced throughout.
Marx was not the first, but remains the greatest, critic of capitalism, and richly deserves his place in history. However it is time to use intellectual tools unavailable to Marx in the nineteenth century to improve upon his formal analysis. This book is of great importance to those who study Sraffa and Marx, as well as academics and students who are interested in political economy, the history of economic thought, and economic and philosophical theory.
Table of Contents
3 Technological Change
4 Theories of Capitalist Crises
5 Economy and Environment
6 Moral Critique of Capitalism
Robin Hahnel is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Economics, American University Washington DC, USA. He is also the Co-Director of Economics for Equity and the Environment and has published widely in the fields of radical political economy and environmental economics.
'Radical Political Economy: Sraffa versus Marx presents a powerful guide to revise the absurd idea that Sraffa and Marx are enemies. Instead of picturing them as two boxers, battling against each other like the title wrongly suggests, the book leads the reader to conceive them as two different generations of fighters struggling on the same side. Hahnel believes that Sraffa is the young apprentice with greater agility and appeal to the radical minds of the twenty-first century—and that he is ready to surpass old master Marx.' — Tiago Camarinha Lopes, Review of Radical Political Economics
‘In Radical Political Economy: Sraffa Versus Marx, Robin Hahnel argues persuasively that there is an equally radical but far more useful approach to critical problems in contemporary political economy than the economic framework forged by Karl Marx. Building on the work of the iconoclastic economist Piero Sraffa, Hahnel develops a novel analytical basis for addressing some of the most important economic challenges of the modern era, notably the mounting ecological crisis and the moral injustice of capitalism.’ — Thomas Weisskopf, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Co-author with Samuel Bowles and David Gordon of Beyond the Wasteland (1983), and After the Wasteland (1991).
‘Robin Hahnel has a fresh look at the theory of value and distribution of classical derivation and focuses attention on the contributions of Marx and Sraffa. He makes it very clear that Sraffa's analysis has the advantage of not being marred by logical inconsistencies and thus overcomes the impasse into which labour-value based reasoning has got. In a detailed, profound and highly readable investigation he expounds the analytical fecundity of the modern classical approach. The book is to be recommended to all interested in the development of political economy.’ — Heinz Kurz, Professor of Economics, University of Graz, Vienna Austria, Co-author with Neri Salvadori of Theory of Production (1995) and author of Economic Thought (2016).