chapter  12
25 Pages

Keynes versus Marx: The Methodology of Aggregates

IN THE FOREWORD to her An Essay on Marxian Economics, Mrs. Joan Robinson writes: "Until recently, Marx used to be treated in academic circles with contemptuous silence broken only by an occasional mocking footnote." 1 Although this may well have been true in the English-speaking world, such a dictum would not apply to many other countries. Nevertheless, it is true that even in those countries where both Marxism and modern economics are equally pursued as academic disciplines, the two schools usually have not been on speaking terms with each other. One school does not understand the language of the other, and the latter would not care to understand the former. It is therefore a great tribute to Keynes that, although he himself treated Marx "with contemptuous silence, broken only by an occasional footnote," he opened a new vista in modern economics which almost naturally led to a fruitful comparison between his doctrines and those of Karl Marx. As Schumpeter wrote in his obituary essay on Keynes:

The full implication of this common feature is yet to be explored. But in a slightly narrower vein, the rapprochement between the two schools has been progressing mainly in the hands of Mrs. Joan Robinson, an undisputed Keynesian, whose interest appears to lie in making Marx a precursor, though imperfect, of "the

modern theory of effective demand." S The similar position was also expressed by Alan Sweezy in the following words:

Lately, Mrs. Robinson has expanded her foci of comparison and given us many hints which go beyond the problem of effective demand as such.5 We also have an article by Lawrence R. Klein,6 which, directing our attention to Marx's theory of the falling rate of profit,7 attempts to rewrite the Marxian scheme into an econometric model with specific "behavior equations."