Social Scientist. v 12, no. 134 (July 1984) p. 3.

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The Resurgence of Political Economy

IN THE POST-SIXTIES we have experienced a remarkable resurgence of interest in classical and Marxian political economy, marked, on the one hand, by a still continuing confrontation between the mainstream neoclassical theory and the surplus-based analytical systems, deriving from political economy and attempts, on the other, at evolving approaches to economic problems broadly within the surplus framework. Theoretical debates and advances have moved mainly on three terrains:

first, in the classical and Marxian political economy. This has enabled a clearer perception of the analytical development of political economy as a theoretical system: the peculiarity of the concepts and particular propositions that were developed, the form in which logical difficulties arose and were confronted by the successive classical theorists, particularly Smith and Ricardo, with varying degrees of success. It has also provided a perspective to view the radical extensions and reformulations of the earlier rudimentary theory in the hands of Marx who posed new theoretical problems and added entirely new dimensions. No doubt, this has evoked strong controversies but active debates constitute proof of a theoretical system being alive and kicking, and growing. Secondly, the established neoclassical theory which was initiated around 1870s has ever since continued to dominate economic theory, despite occasional exposures of its weaknesses, is being critically scrutinised, both with regard to its logical self-consistency as also the ability to handle and interpret the real world experiences of economies. Thirdly, many attempts are underway that can be broadly fitted within the rubric of surplus-based analysis, taking inspiration from Marx and other Marxist writers like Lenin, Rosa Luxemberg, and Kalecki. The range of these problems is diverse spanning from issues concerned with the dynamics of the capitalist systems to the experience of developing economies in their national and international settings.

The present paper, of necessity, can have no pretentious of covering the vast ground. Instead, we have restricted ourselves basically to reviewing the 'revival' of the classical approach, particulary to value and distribution in bringing out the distinctivenessof its approach

*Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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