chapter  Seven
17 Pages

Joan Robinson and the Marxists

Until 1942, Joan Robinson's reputation in North America was that of a brilliant theorist who had a thorough understanding of the new Keynesian economics. With the publication of An Essay on Marxian Economics, the image of Joan Robinson in the minds of Americans began to change. In her introduction, Robinson came immediately to the point. The fundamental differences between Marxian and traditional economics were two: first, orthodox economists assumed the capitalist system to be a part of "the eternal order of Nature," while Marx thought it "a passing phase"; second, orthodox economists saw a harmony of interests in the community, while Marx conceived of economic life in terms of a conflict of interest. The English and North American reviews of Robinson's new book stressed her Keynesianism, her criticism of Marx and of orthodox economics. In 1971, at the debates on capital theory, Robinson objected that Marxists "generally dismiss the whole thing as a deception without bothering to understand it."