This chapter examines the formation of Joan Robinson’s early views on Marx through a dialogue with Maurice Dobb, and then the reception of these views at the time by Kalecki, Keynes and some reviewers. It considers also her enduring views on Marx’s economics. An Essay on Marxian Economics (EME)1 (Robinson, 1942b) is an important book. It is one of the few serious attempts by an economist to reconcile Marx’s economic theory with orthodox and Keynesian economic theory. The predominant area of engagement between orthodox and Marxist economists had for some time been the issue of the transformation of values into prices. Joan Robinson’s book argued that ‘value’ was not necessary to Marx’s overall argument. Perhaps this was her strategy of redirecting attention back onto the other aspects of Capital. It was unusual for a prominent academic economist to take Marx seriously (although some of her colleagues, Maurice Dobb and Piero Sraffa, took Marx very seriously, as did Paul Sweezy). Joan Robinson’s intuition was that there was a certain sympathy between Keynes’s theory of employment and effective demand and Marx’s theory of crises, and that his presentation of the relevant questions to be posed was pertinent.2 Another element of her enquiry was her attempt to escape Marshallian orthodoxy. Thus, her book contains a critique of the orthodox theory of the normal rate of profits.
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- Marx in Joan Robinson’s Argument
G. C. Harcourt
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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