Capitalist Accumulation and Theories of Growth
DONALD J HARRIS, CAPITAL ACCUMULATION AND INCOME DISTRIBUTION, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1978, ppix+313, cloth ^8.50.
THE one thing every graduate student of economics is familiar with is the so-called inspiration that post-war reconstruction gave to growth theory. In fact it is even argued that any concern for growth under capitalist production arose only in the post war era. But the concern for growth, or accumulation, can indeed be traced to the classical economists and more importantly to Marx. What the post-war era has seen is a surfeit of abstract models which, as Amartya Sen remarked, concerned themselves with esoteric issues and saw their potential wasted away.
The theory of accumulation and the contradictions inherent in accumulation in a capitalist system were the concern of Marx who discusses these issues in a schematic manner in his elaboration of the systems of expanded reproduction. In the post-Keynesian era the Harrodian revival of interest in the contradictions of capitalist accumulation only recalls much of the discussion that has already taken place within the Marxist school. In fact the richness of Marx's analysis is never surpassed in any of the post-war discussion on accumulation, be it neo-classical or post-Keynesian. This seems to be the burden of Harris's argument in the book under review. Harris attempts to examine the link or lack of it between the Marxist and post-war discussion of growth and distribution.
Harris seeks to provide an "interpretation" and an "assessment" of the "contemporary lines of approach to a theory of accumulation and income distribution in the capitalist economy"|(p 1) trying to reconstruct, in the process, the many problems and issues that arise in such a theory. Harris's perspective is clear from the