In the last number of Social Scientist we had published an article by Prabhat Patnaik which surveyed cetain important tendencies in bourgeois economics over the last century or so. The lead article by Krishna Bharadwaj has a rather similar scope; it too undertakes a critical survey of post-Marxian bourgeois economics. The reason we publish these two articles in successive numbers is not only that they complement one another in several ways, but also that their perspectives differ somewhat, thus enabling the readers to get a Rashomon-like experience. Patnaik was insistent on the specificity of Marx in contradistinction both to post-Marxian bourgeois economics as well as to pre-Marxian classical political economy. Bharadwaj emphasises a different distinction: between on the one hand the "surplus approach", which was shared by classical political economy as well as by Marx and has recenthy been revived by the work of Piero Sraffa, and on the other hand the utility approach in its various forms which came to dominate post-Marxian bourgeois economics. This difference in perspectives raises the following question: is there a specifically Marxist approach different from the general "surplus approach", which is capable of yielding insights that would get lost to us if we base ourselves on the latter alone, and for which Marx's value di&cussion forms an indispensable component?
This question which is linked closely to the entire nature of the Ricardo-Marx relationship is obsiously of paramount theoretical importance. Just as, to take an analogous example, any understanding of Marxist philosophy consists pre-eminently of an understanding of the Hegel-Marx relationship, like-wise any understanding of Marxist economics consists pre-eminently of an understanding of the Ricardo-Marx relationship. Depending upon how we see this relationship, our view of Marxist economics is correspondingly shaped. It is important therefore that this relationship is seriously scrutinised. The present Rashomonesque exercise, we hope, is a prelude to more direct and forthright discussions of this question; we would like to follow up these two articles by contributions which promote such a discussion on fundamental issues.
The concept of the Asiatic Mode of Production has had a chequered history. Marx's own position on this concept, based on whatever