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International Socialism, Summer 1965


B. Rosso

Ancient and Modern


From International Socialism, No.21, Summer 1965, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Essays in the Economics of Socialism and Capitalism
Ed. R.L. Smyth
Duckworth, 50s.

On Competition in Economic Theory
P.W.S. Andrews
MacMillan, 21s.

The first book presents under four headings a selection of papers read to the Economics Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science between 1886 and 1932. Fifteen essays appear, and the list of authors is impressive; but the book as a whole is disappointing. For a start, the title is misleading; only two of the essays have more than an indirect reference to Socialism, and even then it is a ‘Socialism’ which is denned merely in terms of State ownership. Some of the papers – such as Jevons’ notorious ‘proof’ of the connection between sunspots and the trade cycle – are of interest solely as historical curiosities. The general effect is confused; none of the four sections can be read as a coherent whole. Since all but one of the papers had already appeared in print, it is difficult to see why this book was produced. At the price it is certainly hard to imagine who will buy it.

For some thirty years, academic economists have recognised that the theory which they teach bears little or no relation to economic facts. Mr Andrews reviews the numerous attempts which have been made during this time to produce a more realistic theory of the firm, and demonstrates in detail their inadequacies. His basic criticism, however, is of marginalist, static equilibrium theories in general. It is always enjoyable to observe the internecine battles of bourgeois economists; but this consideration apart, Mr Andrews’ book is useful and interesting, and possesses the virtues of clarity and conciseness.

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