Progress is slow partly from mere intellectual inertia. In a subject where there is no agreed procedure for knocking out errors, doctrines have a long life. A professor teaches what he was taught, and his pupils, with a proper respect and reverence for teachers, set up a resistance against his critics for no other reason than that it was he whose pupils they were.
An Essay on Marxian Economics (Second Edition) (1966)
I began to read Capital, just as one reads any book, to see what was in it; I found a great deal that neither its followers nor its opponents had prepared me to expect.
Preface To The Second Edition, p. vi
Until recently, Marx used to be treated in academic circles with contemptuous silence, broken only by an occasional mocking footnote. But modern developments in academic theory, forced by modern developments in economic life — the analysis of monopoly and the analysis of unemployment — have shattered the structure of orthodox doctrine and destroyed the complacency with which economists were wont to view the working of laissez-faire capitalism. Their attitude to Marx, as the leading critic of capitalism, is therefore much less cocksure than it used to be. In my belief, they have much to learn from him.
Foreword, p. xxii
The fundamental differences between Marxian and traditional orthodox economics are, first, that the orthodox economists accept the capitalist system as part of the eternal order of Nature, while Marx regards it as a passing phase in the transition from the feudal economy of the past to the socialist economy of the future.
Chapter I, Introduction, p. 1
In general, the nightmare quality of Marx's thought gives it, in this bedevilled age, an air of greater reality than the gentle complacency of the orthodox academics. Yet he, at the same time, is more encouraging than they, for he releases hope as well as terror from Pandora's box, while they preach only the gloomy doctrine that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Chapter I, Introduction, p. 4-5
Voltaire remarked that it is possible to kill a flock of sheep by witchcraft if you give them plenty of arsenic at the same time. The sheep, in this figure, may well stand for the complacent apologists of capitalism; Marx's penetrating insight and bitter hatred of oppression supply the arsenic, while the labour theory of value provides the incantations.
Chapter III, The Labour Theory Of Value, p. 22
If there is any law governing the distribution of income between classes, it still remains to be discovered.
Chapter IV, The Long-Period Theory Of Employment, p. 34
Modern technique, as Marx pointed out, fosters the concentration of capital, and the levels of profits is supported by a scarcity of enterprise which is not due to the real cost of risk-bearing, but to the scarcity of individuals who have anything to risk.
Chapter VII, The Orthodox Theory of Profit, p. 57-58
Chapter VIII, The General Theory of Employment, p. 66
If a rise in wages does not raise prices, a fall will not reduce them.
Chapter X, Real And Money Wages, p. 89
Marx, however imperfectly he worked out the details, set himself the task of discovering the law of motion of capitalism, and if there is any hope of progress in economics at all, it must be in using academic methods to solve the problems posed by Marx.
The orthodox doctrines of economics which were dominant in the last quarter of the nineteenth century had a clear message. They supported laisser faire, free trade, the gold standard, and the universally advantageous effects of the pursuit of profit by competitive private enterprise.
Introduction, p. vii
In all the talk in the Principles (as opposed to the formal analysis) it is not the saving of rentiers but the energy of entrepreneurs which governs accumulation.
Rosa Luxemburg maintained that the capitalist system can keep up its rate of investment (and therefore its profits) only so long as it is expanding geographically.
Chapter III, Interest and Profits, p. 50 (confer Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Buch II, Chapter XX, p. 474)
But once we bring historical time into the argument, it is not so easy to present the free play of the market as an ideal mechanism for maximizing welfare and securing social justice.
Chapter IV, Increasing and Diminishing Returns, p. 63
When a large part of the market for British textiles was in the colonies, a fall in the price of tea and cocoa caused unemployment in Lancashire.
Chapter V, Nonmonetary Models, p. 67
There is an unearthly, mystical element in Friedman's thought. The mere existence of a stock of money somehow promotes expenditure. But insofar as he offers an intelligible theory, it is made up of elements borrowed from Keynes.
Chapter VI, Prices and Money, p. 87
Time, so to say, runs at right angles to the page at each point on the curve.
Chapter VII, The Theory of the Firm, p. 104
The nature of technology depends very much upon what the public can be induced to put up with.
Chapter VIII, Growth Models, p. 140
Even if the crises that are looming up are overcome and a new run of prosperity lies ahead, deeper problems will still remain. Modern capitalism has no purpose except to keep the show going.
Chapter 1, The Second Crisis of Economic Theory, p. 3
It is a popular error that bureaucracy is less flexible than private enterprise. It may be so in detail, but when large scale adaptations have to be made, central control is far more flexible. It may take two months to get an answer to a letter from a government department, but it takes twenty years for an industry under private enterprise to readjust itself to a fall in demand.
Chapter 3, Obstacles to Full Employment, p. 27 (See also: General Motors)
It is impossible to add the stock of money to the flow of saving.
Chapter 4, The Concept of Hoarding, p. 32
But, as soon as speculators become an important influence in the market, their business is to speculate on each others behaviour.
It is much easier to organize control over one industry serving many markets than over one market served by the products of several industries.
Chapter 15, 'Imperfect Competition' Revisited, p. 167
Income from property is not the reward of waiting, it is the reward of employing a good stockbroker.
Chapter 16, The Theory of Value Reconsidered, p. 188
At any moment there is certainly not balanced trade between the various areas of the habitable globe that happens to be under seperate national governments — there is an ever-changing pattern of deficits and surpluses.
Chapter 19, The Need For A Reconsideration, p. 218
It seems that neither the Keynesian nor the Marxian prognosis of the future of capitalism is being fulfilled and we are left without any particular theory as to what will happen next.
Chapter 20, Has Capitalism Changed?, p. 227
To supply goods is a source of profit, but to supply services is a ' burden upon industry '. It is for this reason that when, as a nation, ' we have never had it so good ' we find that we ' cannot afford ' just what we most need.
I must mention my special intellectual debt to Joan Robinson, with whom I had the opportunity to discuss over a period of nearly twenty years some of the problems analysed here. She, more than anybody else, convinced me of the radical content of Keynesian economics which we could decipher more easily with the help of Marx and Kalecki.
Amit Bhaduri, Macro-Economics - The Dynamics of Commodity Production, Preface, p. xii
I claim that this dinner, too much to eat and drink, was the basic reason why, for the only time in my life, I slept with Joan Robinson. Let me tell you the story. Ken Arrow was to read his famous paper - we know now that it was famous - on uncertainty and the economics of medical care, and I was one of the guests asked to come to the Arts Theatre Restaurant. It was a cold winter's night, we ate and drank a lot, and then we went into this room with a great big fire and a huge couch. Joan sat here, and I sat there, and Ken was sitting as close to me as you are now, and both Joan and I went to sleep while he read his paper.
Paul Samuelson, quoted in Michael Szenberg, Lall Ramrattan and Aron Gottesman, "Ten Ways to Know Paul A. Samuelson" (2006)
Instead, I would concede her a point of uncertain importance. There isn't really a great deal to economics, considered as a logical structure based upon a few indisputable axioms about the world. … A logician is a wondrous creature, but he cannot distinguish between the two simple errors: if A = B, and B = C, then (1) A = 1.01C, and (2) A = 1065C. An economist can.
That combination, Hayek, Myrdal and Robinson, might have cast the contributions of each into sharper relief: three pioneers who, after important early contributions, gave up economics for political activism.