The Value Controversy

The Value Controversy, edited by Ian Steedman with contributions from Erik Olin Wright, Verso 1982

Contributors: Ian Steedman, Paul Sweezy, Simon Mohun, Anwar Shaikh, Sue Himmelweit, Geoff Hodgson, Erik Olin Wright, Pradeep Bandyopadhyay, Michael de Vroey, Makoto Itoh, G.A. Cohen

One of the fruits of the revival of socialist economic theory over the past decade has been a wide-ranging debate about the validity of Marx’s labour theory of value. At the heart of the discussion stands the theoretical work of Piero Sraffa and the conclusions drawn from it by such economists as Ian Steedman. Initially confined to a relatively narrow circle of specialists, the controversy about value theory has since spread to wider circles of the left. But although general awareness that the stakes of the dispute are of concern to all socialists is now extensive, understanding of the issues involved has remained more restricted than need be. This volume presents, for the first time, a comprehensive yet accessible overview of the discussion. The essays discuss not only the value debate itself, but also its relevance to such issues as capitalist crisis, the theory of exploitation, and historical materialism. Comprehensible to the non-specialist, but without sacrificing rigour or oversimplifying the issues, the articles assembled here offer a definitive summary  of the current state of one of the crucial aspects of Marxist thought.

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Selected material:

The Value Controversy and Social Research by Erik Olin Wright

Critique of Wright 1: Labour and Profits, by Geoff Hodgson

Critique of Wright 2: In Defense of a Post-Sraffian Approach, by Pradeep Bandyopadhyay

Reconsiderations by Erik Olin Wright