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Submitted by Bruce on Mon, 18/03/2013 - 00:27

Hi Barry,

I think you are labouring under a misapprehension here. I don't know where you got the idea that Martin Thomas has ever had a neo-Ricardian position, still less one inherited from Geoff Hodgson, who, as far as I know, never pronounced on questions of economics while he was a member of our tendency (leaving before, at the time of, or shortly after we were expelled from IS in 1971). I fortuitously found today while tidying my study (a Herculean task!) a copy of a document entitled 'Notes on Value and Crisis' written by Martin in around 1980 commenting on the positions taken by supporters and critics of the neo-Ricardians in the controversies following the publication of Ian Steedman's 'Marx after Sraffa' in 1977.

In the introduction Martin writes: “Many Marxists have dissented [from the Sraffian view] and argued *(I think correctly)* that the Sraffian revision of Marxist theory is invalid and would blot out crucial aspects of that theory.” I haven't reread the document closely but cannot find anything to suggest that “the relationship between values and prices, and profit rates are derived from the physical structure of production.” Here are a few rather different quotes:

“The value is expressed through the commodity being priced. It is not necessarily priced *accurately*. Exchange cannot be completely independent of production but it has a relative independence...”

“Prices vary from values and yet are the only socially recognised expressions of values. This does not mean that value is a theoretical fiction. Crisis proves otherwise...”

“It is possible (but practically difficult) to estimate values in terms of socially necessary labour time... In that sense value is determined prior to exchange, although it is not socially recognised...”

Now my question to you and other advocates of a “monetary theory of value” (and it is a genuine question from ignorance as I haven't read Heinrich or your article) is which of these statements, if any, would you disagree with? How does value act as the regulator of the capitalist system if there can be no measure other than price?


PS: I don't know if Martin still agrees with his 1980 position. Hopefully we'll hear from him.

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