INET Scotland

I am here at the INET Conference Reawakening…the conference is about to commence.

The last two days we were at the Festival for New Economic Thinking.  See my video blog from earlier this morning here. I was part of the History of Thought Working Group with the Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) and each of us in the group has a quote from HoT and a wall that expressed it.  Well I made the most of the space and quite graffiti-like plastered it with images of the archive and and other supporting material. I have a photo of it here.

Several young scholars came up inquiring about starting a Sraffa Working Group at YSI and while here I will talk to people to see how to go about this.  If anyone is interested in this endeavor then email me at; I will be monitoring that email with greater frequency as we launch this project.

We had a great time at the Festival and there was tremendous energy with the young folks who simply out are fed up with the garbage that is passed off as ‘scientific economic inquiry’. Good for them! And good for us that they are challenging things!

And I told anyone who would listen that with the release of the Sraffa Archive made available well the possibilities are very fruitful indeed! There is tremendous fertility associated with the Sraffa Archive; it reminds me of the fresh water lakes of my youth in Polk County Florida where any random toss of the cast net was certain to catch something! Young scholars are very fortunate indeed!

Lots of excitement here and makes one know that vibrant economic theory is alive!

Trinity 2.0 Update & INET Conference in Scotland

We are marking the beginning of the upload of the Trinity 2.0 arrangement of the Sraffa Papers. You can find the most recent iteration of my paper here.  Look especially at the Appendix, as there can be found (i) the hyperlinks for D2/4 Sraffa’s Lecture Notes on the Advanced Theory of Value (T2 here and WT here), and (ii) the first 13 files of D3/12; these latter are the files from Sraffa’s constructive activity in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Recall that D3/12 are Sraffa’s Notes on Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (PCMC) and consist of 115 files and over 7,000 mostly handwritten pages written over a 30 year period in three distinct phases: (i) 1928-32, (ii) 1940-46, and (iii) 1955-60; what is included as an appendix to the attached are hyperlinks to the material in (i). For a color-coded breakdown of the material in D3/12 click here; note this table appears in the Appendix of the linked essay.

Sraffa in the Preface to PCMC calls the material in D3/12 Notes on Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities a “mass of old notes”. The Trinity 2.0 Arrangement of this “mass” represents an organic interface between (i) the original arrangement by Krishna Bharadwaj and Pierangelo Garegnani (the BG arrangement; a version of the catalogue is archived as J14 and can be found here) and (ii) the Wren Trinity arrangement (WT) completed by Jonathan Smith of the Wren Library in the early 1990s.  You can see a visual mapping between the BG and WT arrangements here; note this figure is also in the linked essay.

Trinity 2.0 (T2) interfaces the two and provides a complementary co-convention to the material.  It is an organic interface of (i) BG whose primary focus is that of the inner-file content conceived as a collection of note-sets or documents with (ii) WT whose primary focus is the macro-ordering of the 115 files in D3/12 according to chronological and conceptual order.  The details are in the linked essay from which we have the following figure here illustrating the T2 interface.

The conclusion I hope people will draw is that in order to get the most robust and deep understanding of the material as possible, the archive should be understood in terms of all three conventions, as well as Sraffa’s own pagination which is sporadic but at times thorough on several important documents.

Also I will be at the INET Festival for New Economic Thinking in Edinburgh Scotland later this this week on October 19-20 at the Young Scholars Initiative (YSI) to discuss this as part of the History of Economic Thought Working Group (a list of all YSI Working Groups is here).

In the HoT group we have all come up with quotes from figures in the history of economic thought and we will expound on them as the Festival. The quote I chose is of course from the Sraffa Archive. It is a short note that Sraffa wrote on January 22, 1957 that reads:

“Just enough to hand it over before going down”

January 1957 would begin the final push to publish PCMC. For the next three years until 1960 Sraffa would tie up loose ends theoretically and otherwise get his manuscript that had been in the works conceptually since the late 1920s finally into published form. A timeline of this period, including the prominence of the above quote, is here.

The note is archived according to Wren Trinity as D3/12/58/2:(e3); clicking on the ‘e3’ in the citation takes you to the electronic Wren Trinity (eWT) numeration for the image, which is different from the ‘official’ WT designation. The reason for the discrepancy is that the numeration of images for purposes of website construction necessarily became at odds with the WT convention; this effectively created but another archival schema and in the Trinity 2.0 arrangement the interface between all these different ways to categorize and account for the same material is meticulously laid out. Making this very clear from the outset at this dawn of a new plane altogether of Sraffa archival scholarship is crucial in order to avoid any further muddling of matters and thereby streamlines the interface between the scholar and the text and allows for Sraffa to finally speak for himself. At least that is the goal.

The Festival precedes the INET Conference on October 21-23.  It is appropriate to be discussing and introducing all of this to scholars “younger and better equipped for the task” as Sraffa writes at the end of the Preface of PCMC.

So if anyone is going to the INET Conference this weekend then let’s try to meet.  I will be there to talk to anyone that wishes to converse all about Sraffa’s archive and the exciting new potential of Sraffa scholarship; send email to or

A video on this has been posted on the Heretical Sraffa You Tube Channel here.

In general I will be video recording more  including lectures on PCMC and introductory videos to each of the files in the archive. Also we will be moving shortly to a more proper website as opposed to the scroll down word press blog.  I plan to post some videos in Scotland too, so see you there!

Scott Carter@HereticalSraffa

Economics and Alchemy

The following was posted on the SHOE (Society of the History of Economics) list serve in response to a thread there and I wanted to share it on this blog:


With apologies for the length, I too have something to further add to this thread …it concerns the pursuit of ‘truth’ or the lack thereof in economics…

Economics should be a practical science. Certainly there is a rich tradition for this to be so in many theoretical traditions within the discipline. But practicality means that ways of thinking especially as regards the most fundamental principles of the science should change if demonstrably shown to be problematic and even outright wrong by properly formulated and tested reasonably objective criteria. But within economics this unfortunately does not happen nor is it encouraged; in fact the opposite! It is not a real big secret that our discipline is rather loathe to accept results of evidence that seriously undermines certain of the most sanctimonious principles of the mainstream of thinking. Two examples of this come to mind.

First concerns the minimum wage. Study after recent study has shown that increasing the minimum wage has positive effects in terms of wage increases across the board (even for those adjacent communities not governed by the minimum wage) and a positive impact on aggregate income via simple effective demand multiplier mechanisms associated a high consumption propensity of wage earners at the lower tier; and the increased minimum wage has effectively zero negative employment effects! In fact the opposite as, via effective demand, increased income often translates into increased output demand and hence increased demand for employment. The point here is this is what loads of evidence since the 1990s shows! At some point this should not be a matter of debate but rather the point of departure of theorizing; but it is not.  Instead the above scenario implies the dangerous notion that a downward sloping demand curve for labor may be bogus, and this crosses ideological terrain that certain powerful elements in our discipline just cannot accept. It’s unfortunate really, because here economics risks ceasing to be a science and becomes riddled with guns-for-hire as regards corporate and monied interests and influence (especially in the academy and with research opportunities; this speaks to the topic of the thread…).

Second is the the intellectual poverty of the Cobb-Douglas and generally well-behaved aggregate production functions which accord to standard neoclassical postulates when they are used to ostensibly corroborate and/or justify aggregate marginal productivity of ‘capital’.  But nothing of the sort actually exists, not even by violent abstraction or approximation. And mindful mainstream economists such as Frank Hahn, Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow, Herbert Simon, Mark Blaug, and C.E. Ferguson among others of that generation were at times honest enough intellectually to recognize this.  But not the current generation; witness Professor Mankiw who takes heart in the high R squared from empirical tests of malleable capital aggregate production functions as ‘proof’ that marginal products of ‘capital’ exist and are ‘well-behaved’, without himself seeming to know or care to learn that the purported ‘good fit’ comes from the fact that what is being tracked is NOT the so-called ‘marginal product of aggregate capital’ but rather simply an Euler-type income identity!

What is so frustrating is that this is nothing new; as far back as 1938 and 1939 Horst Mendershausen identified these types of problems with the then spanking-new Cobb-Douglas.  Phelps-Brown revisits this in 1957, Franklin Fisher in the 1960s, Anwar Shaikh’s HUMBUG production function in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the 1990s into the 21st century the extensive work by Jesus Felipe, John McCombie, and others.

But all that is erased, and the new generation of economists remain ignorant of these issues, as if they never existed, or have been unequivocally answered when in fact they have not; rather these tough questions have been avoided and those that ask them dismissed and denied tenure, and quite ostrich-like heads are firmly planted into the ground and the mantra of “free markets”, the purported sovereignty of the consumer, and the so-called ‘marginal method’ of constrained optimization is recited ad nauseam.  As Joan Robinson lamented late in her life, we are again thrust with essentially the economic theory that existed before Keynes.  To my mind that is the truly reactionary element in all of this…the retrenchment and further entrenchment of bad theories that lead to bad policies all of which are known and have been shown to be failed. And in this economic ceases to be a practical science and risks becoming for all intents and purposes alchemy.

Scott Carter
The University of Tulsa

Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC are online now!!

It is with great pleasure to announce that Sraffa’s Notes on Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (PCMC) has been uploaded on the Wren Trinity website.

I made two videos on this event that are being posted now on the Heretical Sraffa youtube channel. The first one was on May 11 immediately after having learn of the upload; you’ll see I’m very excited.

The second video was shot 11 days (and one broken arm!) later on May 22 and introduces the different archival conventions developed. Here I work through the various conventions used for the material. In the dialogue box people can download my recent paper on this. In that paper the different conventions are hyperlinked to the different online databases. All this makes Sraffa’s archive come ALIVE! As readers will see, there are two different online databases. The first is the Wren Trinity website, and the second is the Trinity 2.0 database.

You can get my paper here, and the Wren website is here and the 115 files in D3/12 Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC is here. Everything is in my paper. If you go to the various tables there you will see that all of the archive is hyperlinked. I described with the interface in the second video as well as in the paper.

There will be plenty more from this point on. In fact I will be changing this website from a scroll down blog to a website proper. This will be happening in the coming weeks. So tune in, read the paper attached, and peruse the archive and enjoy the wonderful opportunity we now have for the first time to study the unfettered work of one of the most brilliant minds in Twentieth Century economic thinking.


First Video (May 11, 2017):

Second Video (May 22, 2017):

D2/4: Lectures on Advanced Theory of Value online: Wren Library and Trinity 2.0

It is with great pleasure that we announce the uploading of Sraffa’s Lecture Notes on the Advanced Theory of Value from the Lectures he gave at Trinity College in 1928-31. Last week Jonathan Smith and his staff uploaded all of the images, and with this blog post we unveil the Trinity 2.0 arrangement of the file.

The original images from Trinity website are here. The slideshow that arranges the material that we have been working on is here. You can get the slideshow in PDF format here. There is a video announcing it here.

With this blog post we unveil the Trinity 2.0 arrangement of the material. What is key in that arrangement is a deep understanding of structure of the archive as a collection of independent note-sets collected in what we will term ‘documents’, denoted by the Greek ‘δ’. These documents are discerned from the previous arrangements of the material, of which there are two: the original Bharadwaj-Garegnani (BG) arrangement from the 1980’s and the Wren Trinity (WT) arrangement in the 1990s. For D2/4 BG is not a factor and we only develop Trinity 2.0 from Wren Trinity. This will not be the case for D3/12 Notes on PCMC and the Trinity 2.0 arrangement of that section of the archive is very complex and  interfaces meticulously BG and WT as well as consideration of Sraffa’s own pagination and structure. Indeed Sraffa’s own pagination and structure takes precedence over all else as the purpose of Trinity 2.0 is to reproduce as much as possible Sraffa’s method of inquiry and allow the reader to see for themselves the purview of matters from Sraffa’s desk; in this we reproduce the methodology and approach that Sraffa himself applied to his exposition of archives of David Ricardo, especially the letters as we saw from a previous post.

The biggest development in Trinity 2.0 is an understanding of the material in each file on two levels, (i) that of the document across the file, and (ii) that of the image-page (IP) within the document.  At the level of the document each is positioned relative to the total. For D2/4 there are a total of 44 documents according to the Wren Trinity convention, and each document will be archived in terms of the total; thus 1-44 is the first document out of 44 and 3-44 the third out of 44, and so on…At the level of the image-page (IP) each will be archived relative to the total number of IP’s in the document. Taking D2/4 again as our example, the largest document is the third, which consists of 156 IP’s. The, say, 1st, 30th, and 100th IP of this third document would therefore be archived as D2.4.3-44.1-156 for the first, D2.4.3-44.30-156 for the third, and D2.4.3-44.100-156 for the 100th individual IP.  The Trinity 2.0 convention also identifies the meticulous interface with the Wren Trinity arrangement as well as Sraffa’s pagination as can be seen when clicking on the above.  All of this is meant to assist those readers interested in Sraffa’s archival material get a handle on the structure and content of the material.

So enjoy reading Sraffa’s Lecture Notes on the Advanced Theory of Value. Any indexing you may do please let me know so that we can coordinate efforts!

No scholar (this site included) knows unequivocally what Sraffa ‘really meant’…

The following comment below was posted on the INET site here in the Comment section to the blog devoted to Ajit Sinha’s new book from Palgrave Macmillan (Revolution in Economic Theory: The Economics of Piero Sraffa) . I have made it a point to reject the trend in (bourgeois) academia and not be overly and unnecessarily critical the work of other scholars.  Any work that discusses Sraffa and his archival legacy is welcome.

It is however important that people are mindful and wary especially when it comes to any scholar (myself included) who claims to know what Sraffa ‘really meant’. Sraffa’s impact is very much wide open and remains very much in the nascent Prelude stage in which he wrote it…and nobody has yet to really figure it all out; to do that we (by which I mean ALL interested scholars) need to study the archival material in its entirety over several years…indeed even after 50 years since the publication of Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, scholarship out of Sraffa’s brilliant but cryptic monograph is still in its infancy…

This is a general sentiment not addressed to any single scholar, and again includes this site as well. And this is what makes Sraffa scholarship quite exciting and very much alive, especially now on the eve of the release and digital-opening of the Sraffa Archive.

Also people should be very mindful about the context, authenticity, and correctness of any of the transcriptions in published accounts of Sraffa’s archive; and again included in this warning is my own work too. In the first place all transcriptions are taken out of context as they are the exclusive purview of the scholar who went to the Wren Library and fetched the material; in this sense all transcriptions in the published account suffer from selection bias.  And secondly, there are often serious errors and omissions in the transcriptions when compared side-by-side with the original document and/or image.  I know this was true of the transcriptions in the early version of my 2014 Research in Political Economy ‘Pool of Profits’ paper, and I was very fortunate to have had the digital images in possession to proof the transcriptions before publication, which means for that publication at least the transcriptions are ‘correct’, although there are some omissions of passages that Sraffa had crossed-out.  The same goes for the Palgrave Macmillan book co-edited with Riccardo Bellofiore (2014) Towards a New Understanding of Sraffa: Insights from Archival Research which also was published after gaining access to the digital images; accordingly all the transcriptions there too are correct.

However I also know that no other scholar has a copy of the digital images, and accordingly it is very possible, nay likely, that errors and omissions in transcription exist in other published accounts of the archive; one thing for certain is that no scholar can vouch 100% for their correctness. And this is in my opinion a problem…can anyone say ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’?…

One of the projects we are doing is to render a compete account of the archival material from D3/12 already published and point out any and all errors and omissions in transcription.  In my humble opinion it is only after such an account that scholarship which uses Sraffa’s archival material can (re)claim the status of being truly scientific and unblemished.

POST on INET site in relation to Sinha’s new book on Sraffa:

I encourage people to wait for the entirety of Sraffa’s Papers to come out before accepting any single scholar’s definitive statements about what Sraffa ‘really meant’. The fact of the matter is like all Sraffa scholars, Sinha has only perused a fraction of the archival material. Hence any definitive statements to have discovered something that nobody else has should be taken with a grain of salt. Sraffa’s archival legacy should be put first, not the agenda of individual scholars. Also people should be mindful and wary of the transcriptions that appear in any published account of the archive including those in Sinha’s book, as they are often rife with error. As the archival material finally is made public then the merits of all Sraffa archival scholarship will finally be able to be adequately judged; but until such time discerning scholars should be wary of all scholarship (including my own) that makes definitive statements about what Sraffa ‘really meant’. Scott Carter (Heretical Sraffa)

On Sraffa’s Various Introductory Comments in the Ricardo Edition as influence…

The Trinity 2.0 arrangement of Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC is an organic interfaced archive combining the Bharadwaj-Garegnani (BG) and Wren Trinity arrangements. We will have a lot to say about this in upcoming posts, but at this stage it is important to know that the methodology of the arrangement takes as its cue the manner which Sraffa handled archival material of David Ricardo and developed his Ricardo Edition, the masterful eleven volumes of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo.

Especially insightful is the way Sraffa presents the Ricardo Correspondence, and once we begin to explore this we discover that it is no accident the title to Works includes the Correspondence, because presented here is a truly masterful scholarly treatment of David Ricardo’s correspondence. We are fortunate to have the material of the Ricardo Edition available to us on the web, through the website at the Online Library of Liberty from the Austrian website Liberty Fund.  The subtitle to the Online Library of Liberty is ‘A Collection of Scholarly Works about Individual Liberty and Free Markets’. It is ironic that an Austrian free market worshipping website is more open with the scientific literature than heterodox economists have been!  But I digresss…

To get a good idea of how we plan to go about the Trinity 2.0 arrangement, it is suggested that interested readers consult all of Sraffa’s various Introductory Notes that appear throughout the 11 volumes of the Works, and especially the Introductory notes that are in Volume VI which begins the Ricardo Correspondence, the subject of volumes VII, VIII, and IX.  In Table 1 below we have three of the main excerpts from Sraffa’s arrangement of the letters in Volume VI.

Table 1: Excerpts from Sraffa’s Introductory Notes from Works VI (see below Table 8 for complete Introductory Notes)

Preface to Volumes VI-IX
I. Ricardo’s Correspondence, p. xiii.
IV. The Letters in the Present Edition, p. xxxviii

In these Introductory notes Sraffa tells us how he arranges the letters, and the methodology and rationale behind his manner of exposition.  Specifically, what is of interest is how Sraffa numbers each letter and indicates from whom it came and to whom it is going. There is an interesting Table on page xiv of Works VI that breaks down the letters into the various correspondents, data which we can aggregate:

Table 2: Data on the Breakdown of the Ricardo Correspondence (Works VI, p. xiv)

Total % Total (to + from) To From to/from
Malthus 30.09% 167 92 75 1.227
Jas. Mill 19.28% 107 58 49 1.184
Trower 17.84% 99 54 45 1.2
Other 16.04% 89 44 45 0.978
McCulloch 13.69% 76 41 35 1.171
Say 3.06% 17 7 10 0.7
555 296 259 1.143
53.33% 46.67%

From these aggregate data, we see that the Ricardo correspondence consists of 555 letters, 30% of which are from correspondence with Malthus, 19% from James Mill, etc. on down the second column.  From the last column we see that Ricardo responded more than he received, the exception being the exchange with Say.

Sraffa numbers the letters from 1 to 555 consecutively and arranges them in chronological order.   He tells us the rationale for this in the Introductory Notes to Works VI:

“In contrast with previously published collections, the letters to and from the various correspondents have been arranged in single chronological series. The reader is thus placed as it were behind Ricardo’s desk at Gatcomb Park and reads the letters as Ricardo writes them or receives them” (Sraffa, Works VI, p. xiv)

It is this feeling of being ‘placed behind the desk’ that the Trinity 2.0 arrangement attempts to impart on the reader, here of course the desk being that of Sraffa’s at Trinity College, perhaps in his Private Room at Neville’s Court or maybe his office at the Marshall Library.  And yes this is a monumental task, because as we will see with the Sraffa papers, complete chronological order is not possible as there is tremendous zig-zagging going on analytically throughout the material.  Fortunately for us the new technology allows for us to deal with this, especially in terms of the ability to hyperlink notes, etc.

This is the attempt that is being made with the Trinity 2.0 arrangement of Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC, archived as D3/12 according to Wren Trinity.  So that readers of Heretical Sraffa can be as up-to-speed as possible, and for all of us to be on the same page methodologically, below are tables that have the links to Sraffa’s various Introductory comments throughout his Ricardo edition.  Readers are encouraged to go through these commentaries to see the manner which we conceive of the handling of Sraffa’s own archival material as being influenced by the way he handled that of Ricardo.

Sraffa’s Various Introductory Notes and Comments in his Ricardo

Table 3: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volume I: Principles of Political Economy

I. The Writing of the Principles, p. xiii.
II. James Mill’s Contribution, p. xix.
III. Arrangement and Subdivision, p. xxii.
IV. The Chapter On Value in Edition 1, p. xxx.
V. Principal Changes in Chapter On Value in Eds. 2 and 3, p. xxxvii.
VI. Edition 2, p. xlix.
VII. Edition 3, p. liii.
VIII. The Present Edition, p. lx.

 Table 4: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volume II: Notes on Malthus

Section I
Section II
Section III
Section IV
Section V

 Table 5: Works Volume III: Pamphlets and Papers, 1809-1811 

Prefatory Note to Volumes III and IV
Notes on the Bullion Essays
Appendix to the ‘Price of Gold’
Notes on ‘Notes on Bentham’
Notes on ‘Notes on the Bullion Report’
Notes on ‘Notes on Trotter’
Notes on ‘Observations on Trower’s Notes on Trotter’
Notes on ‘Observations on Vansittart
Appendix: ‘Mr. of the Bullion Report
Appendix: TABLES OF CORRESPONDING PAGES for Ricardo’s Pamphlets in the original editions, 1811, McCulloch’s edition (Works, 1846 etc.), Gonner’s edition (Economic Essays, 1923 etc.), and the present edition.
Appendix: Reply to Mr. Bosanquet’s Practical Observations

 Table 6: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volume IV: Pamphlets and Papers, 1815-1823

Notes on ‘Essay on Profits’
Notes on ‘Economical and Secure Currency’
Note on ‘Funding System’
Note on ‘Protection to Agriculture’
Note on ‘Plan for a National Bank’
Notes on Fragments on Torrens
A Note on Prices and Taxation 1821
Notes on the Papers on Blake
Note on ‘Absolute Value and Exchangeable Value’
Appendix: The ‘Ingenious Calculator’
Appendix: TABLES OF CORRESPONDING PAGES for Ricardo’s Pamphlets in the original editions, 1815–24, McCulloch’s edition (Works, 1846 etc.), Gonner’s edition (Economic Essays, 1923 etc.), and the present edition

 Table 7: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volume V: Speeches and Evidence

List of Speeches
Prefatory Note
Introduction to the Speeches in Parliament
Notes on the Evidence on the Resumption of Cash Payments
Note on Two Papers on Parliamentary Reform

 Table 8: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volumes VI-IX (Letters; Sraffa’s Introductory Notes all in Volume VI)

Preface to Volumes VI-IX
I. Ricardo’s Correspondence, p. xiii.
II. The Main Correspondents: James Mill , p. xv
II. The Main Correspondents: Malthus, p. xviii
II. The Main Correspondents: McCulloch, p. xxi
II. The Main Correspondents: Trower, p. xxiii
II. The Main Correspondents: Say, p. xxv
III. Other Correspondents: Bentham, p. xxviii
III. Other Correspondents: Maria Edgeworth, p. xxxii
III. Other Correspondents: Grenfell, p. xxxiii
III. Other Correspondents: Grote, p. xxxiii
III. Other Correspondents: Horner, p. xxxiv
III. Other Correspondents: Murray, p. xxxv
III. Other Correspondents: Place, p. xxxv
III. Other Correspondents: Sharp, p. xxxvi
III. Other Correspondents: Sinclair, p. xxxvii
III. Other Correspondents: Tooke, p. xxxvii
III. Other Correspondents: Wakefield, p. xxxviii
IV. The Letters in the Present Edition, p. xxxviii

 Table 9: The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Volume X: Biographical Miscellany

Note on the Authorship of the Memoir of Ricardo
Addenda to the Memoir of Ricardo:  I. Introductory
Addenda…:  II. The Family of Abraham Ricardo
Addenda…:  III. The Delvalle Family
Addenda…:  IV. Ricardo’s Childhood and Education
Addenda…:  V. Independence and Marriage
Addenda…:  VI. The Wilkinsons
Three Notes: (1) Where Ricardo lived in London
Three Notes: (2) A Note on Clubs and Societies
Three Notes: (3) A Note on Portraits
A Family’s Who’s Who:  I. David Ricardo’s Brothers and Sisters
A Family’s Who’s Who:  II. Ricardo’s Children
Ricardo in Business: I. As a Jobber on the Stock Exchange
Ricardo in Business:  II. As Loan Contractor

Ricardo in Business:  II.Loans for Great Britain and Ireland: 1805-1820

Ricardo in Business:  II.Notes on the Table Overleaf

Ricardo in Business: III. A Canard
Ricardo in Business: IV. Investment and Estates
Ricardo in Business:  V. Ricardo’s Will
A Selection of Family and Private Letters: I. Early Letters to J.H. Wilkinson
A Selection of Family and…: II. ‘Ricardo’s Letter to the Old Doctor’
A Selection of Family and…: III: The Fraud of 5 May 1803
A Selection of Family and…: IV: The Loan of 1807
A Selection of Family and..: V: Jacob Ricardo
A Selection of Family and…: VI: Two Sisters Decline a Present
A Selection of Family and…: VII: A Visit to Cambridge
A Selection of Family and…: VIII: A Letter to a Wine Merchant
A Selection of Family and…: IX: The Cumberland Affair
A Selection of Family and…: X: A Servant and Two Masters
A Selection of Family and…: XI: Fanny’s Marriage
A Selection of Family and…: XII: Ricardo to Miss Mary Ann
From Maria Edgeworth’s Letters to Her Family
Introductory Note to the Journal of a Tour on the Continent
Appendix: (A) Bibliography of Ricardo’s Works
Appendix: (B) A Survey of Ricardo Manuscripts
Appendix: (B) A Survey of Ricardo Manuscripts: Ricardo Papers
Appendix: (B) A Survey of Ricardo Manuscripts: Mill-Ricardo Papers
Appendix: (C) Commonplace Books
Appendix: (D) Ricardo’s Library
Supplement to Volume I: New Evidence on the Subdivision of Chapter VIII of the ‘Principles’ of 1817
Supplement to Volume IV: Notes on ‘A Reply to Mr. Say’s Letter to Mr. Malthus
Corrections to the First Printing of the Previous Volumes

Happy Holidays from Heretical Sraffa!

Yes it has been a while since the last post.  But fret not, we have been busy.  The idea of the videos went well and thanks to all that have viewed them.  We will definitely be using video lectures in the future and are currently thinking of ways to make them less haphazard and better production quality, and also with accompanying material such as slideshow presentations, spreadsheets, and other documents.  And as the archive becomes public we will also be studying the original material and that too will be made available to all.

We are in the process of making the Trinity 2.0 archive, that is to say the nuts-and-bolts of creating the interface for the proposed arrangement of D3/12.  This arrangement is dubbed ‘Trinity 2.0’ and represents the interface between the original (preliminary) arrangement of the material in the mid to late 1980s by Mrs. Bharadwaj and Professor Garegnani (Bharadwaj-Garegnani or BG) with the Wren Trinity (completed) arrangement by Jonathan Smith of Trinity College in the early 1990s. For a side-by-side comparison of the different metafile structures of Sraffa’s Notes on PCMC click here.

In this process we are taking full advantage of Google chrome and all the features there.  The interface we are developing is one that uses Google presentation and takes advantage of the large blank canvass provided.  What this has  allowed is for a presentation of the material in terms of a tandem screen, where the image-page appears on the left and a complete transcription on the right. I encourage people to get Google accounts as this moves forward.

We look forward to sharing these developments and more with all people interested in the archival legacy of Piero Sraffa.  As indicated in previous posts this material belongs to us all and it is up to us to takes matters into new and uncharted directions as we move into the New Year of 2017 and into the future.

Happy Holidays and a Safe New Year to All!

Click here for a brief holiday video.

Sraffa’s visit to China in 1954


Heretical Sraffa is proud to have our first Guest Bloggers, Andres Lazzarini from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and Gabriel Brondino from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

They go through in detail two of Sraffa’s diaries regarding his visit to China in 1954.  This is an example the possibilities that can come from unfettered access to the archival material. I think that Guest Blogging is a great idea and as we get our website in better order we will have more of this.

A word on the archival convention:  The diary images show two pages, the back of the previous page (verso = v) and the front of the subsequent page (recto = r).  Hence a single image will thus be designated according to the general convention:

E{Diary Number} ff. {previous page}v-{subsequent page}r

Sraffa’s visit to China in 1954  

by Gabriel Brondino & Andres Lazzarini

[See a picture of Sraffa from 1978 posing outside of Neville’s Court in Trinity College here: E55(5r)]

In her tribute to Domenico Demarco, Professor Franca Eugenia Assante reports that in 1954 the former professor of Economic History of the University of Naples had taken part in what had been the first official Italian visit to the newly created People’s Republic of China. The official delegation from Italy was headed by Senator Mario Palermo and the members of it were a small number of renowned Italian scientists, among whom was Piero Sraffa.[note 1]

In the recently disclosed archives of Piero Sraffa, housed at the Wren Library, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, we find two diaries (E26 and E55) in which Sraffa wrote about his activities while in China (as well as other places). E26 is the Cambridge Pocket Diary for the period 1953-1954, while E55 is a Chinese red-coloured hardcover notebook bought in mid-October 1954 during the trip, presumably to write down in a clearer way annotations that are also in E26. E55 consists of roughly 200 hand-written pages, the vast majority in Italian.

The visit to China spanned from late September to mid-November 1954. The cities which Sraffa reports included Shanghai, Canton, Changsha, Shaoshan, Wuhan, Peking (now Beijing), Tientsin (now Tianjin), Anshan, Fushun, Shenyang and Nanking.

From what we can read from the E55 diary, the programmes in each of their visit had been scheduled well in advance. Normally they included visits to monuments, museums, mausoleums, agricultural cooperatives, industrial workshops, research institutes, universities, cultural associations, infrastructure developments, and mines. Quite often during the visit, the Italian delegation would attend cultural events such as theatre plays or films. In Sraffa’s notes there is plenty of evidence that the delegation had the opportunity to get a deeper knowledge of the development of that country after the 1949 revolution by interacting (through the scheme talk-questions-replies) with Chinese officers in their capacities as official hosts.

Anyone who reads these diaries will be able to appreciate that Sraffa goes into details in his description of his daily activities in China. For most of the cities visited, we can find accurate overviews of their history, demographics, climate, health and education facilities available, major economic developments, salient historical facts, major historical wars and conflicts. The material reported speaks to Sraffa’s high standard for accuracy. This is of course no news for anyone familiar with Sraffa’s economic thought. Yet in these material we find Sraffa being interested not only in economic matters (specially, but of course not limited to, the comparative figures for a number of economic variables in each of the cities, such as production, employment, and wages) but also in a broad range of issues, including education (all levels), health policies, agrarian reform, the situation with the prison inmates, arts, gender issues, etc.

On every occasion in which the delegation had the chance to raise questions in the visit Sraffa would note in detail about the issues discussed. For example, in Nanking, in a visit to a “semi-socialist” legume cooperative (E55 ff. 17v-18r), Sraffa describes how the income is distributed among its members, its relationship with the banks, the composition and age of the means of production, the role of women, the instruction of the workers, the number of families in town, the commodity composition of the labourers’ wage, the economic relations with the city from which the cooperative bought their inputs. Such examples of interest in the specific developments which were occurring in China at that time can also be found for other cities, towns or cooperatives. These diaries, it could be argued, offer a very accurate overview of issues – we can infer – in which the delegation had a profound interest (and perhaps other western countries too).

The E55 diary also contains, to the opinion of the present writers, two streams of reflection that are salient in Sraffa’s reports. One of them is his methodical consideration, on the occasion of a visit to a wool sewing workshop in Tientsin, of the “relationships between the state and the private industry” and “between workers and capitalists” (E55 ff. 34v-35r). In particular, he devotes interest in the distribution of the “net profits” among the State, the capitalists, the “workers’ welfare and awards for the advanced ones”, and the “reserves for development”. He notes the labourer’s maximum and minimum nominal wages as well as the price of a meal at the worker’s canteen.

The second reflective stream is a long account of a meeting at the Foreign Affairs Association in Peking (E55 ff. 46v-47r, E55 ff. 47v-48r, E55 ff. 48v-49r) in which the delegation was introduced to the features, development and scopes of the Chinese agrarian reform. Sraffa there describes the amount of mountainous land in China, the rural population and other basic data. He reports the figures on production and the purchasing power of farmers for 1950-51 and 1952, and the rules of distribution of product for each of the different forms of organisation (mutual aid, production cooperative and cooperative of higher form).

Further interesting issues emerging from the diaries are sundry political reflections regarding the socialist project in China. For example, in a loose page where he describes the industry in the city of Wuhan, we can read:

Socialist re-education of trade and capitalist industry:

‘to use, limit, re-educate’ is the new politics.

What does ‘abolition of the capitalist class, not of the capitalists’ mean [?] Abolition of the private firm towards the state capitalism.


1) unified purchase of the product (production according to the plan)

2) total purchase of the product (without plan)

3) purchase order and finishing

To transform into socialist firms through state capitalism. To transform private property into socialist property. At the same time, re-education of people. When the firms will have been transformed into socialist firms, also capitalists will have become socialist citizens. This sort of transformation is the dominant feature in China.[note 2]

Sraffa ends his visit to China on 15 November (E55 ff. 52v-53r, E55 ff, 53v-54r). He then travelled to Moscow along with the delegation from 17-22 November (E55 ff. 54v-55r, E55 ff. 55v-56r, E55 ff. 56v-57r, E55 ff. 57v-58r, E55 ff. 58v-59r, E55 ff. 59v) but then he would continue alone up to Warsaw on 22-24 November (E55 ff. 59r, E55 ff. 59v-60r, E55 ff. 60v-61r, E55 ff. 61v-62r) where he meets, among others, Oskar Lange. He stopovers in Prague on the night of November 24th and writes in his diary that he would work that evening on “two pages on the agrarian reform” (E55 ff. 62r). The following day he gets to Zurich by air in the early afternoon and some hours later he rode on a train direct to Milan (E55 ff. 62v-63r). While in Milan from 25-30 November (E55 ff. 63v-64r), Sraffa meets with many people, including Raffaele Mattioli, Vando Aldrovandi and Giulio Einaudi. Again, on 27 November Sraffa “spent the day to finish the Agrarian Reform” and the same day he sent a draft of it to Francesco Flora (who lived in Bologna) who also was one of the members of the Italian delegation in China (E55 ff. 62v).

From the 1st to the 6th of December Sraffa would go to Rome (E55 ff. 63v-64r, E55 ff. 64v-65r, E55 ff. 65v), where he met with a series of personalities including Luigi Einaudi (at the time President of Italy), Palmiro Togliatti, Carlo Levi, and with some friends and colleagues (Sergio Steve, Raffaele Mattioli –again-, etc). The delegation drafted a first report for the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry of its visit to China on 3 December at “Centro Cina” (E55 ff. 63v-64r), but Sraffa notes on 4 December that they are “waiting for the Flora report”, which arrives on the following day. On December 6th we read: “Relazione Flora pessima” [“Flora report lousy”] (E55 ff. 64v).

We do not know more from these diaries what “relazione Flora” was about. Also, we do not know what happened with Sraffa’s draft on agrarian reform (which he had sent to Francesco Flora less than a fortnight back) nor whether the “Flora report” had anything to do with the manuscript. It is possible that when more of Sraffa’s material becomes available the draft on the agrarian reform could be found for a deep examination. It will be also interesting to analyse the draft on the agrarian reform in relation to the extensive data of cooperatives, factories, labour demographics which Sraffa carefully reviews in each city or town he visited with the delegation. This perhaps may provide additional insights regarding Sraffa’s method of analysis for practical issues.

While we are looking forward to the uploading of further manuscripts of Sraffa which will certainly shed light on his views of his visit to the Asian country, it may be noted that both diaries E26 and E55 display material which goes against notions exclusively regarding Sraffa as a scholar aloof from empirical matters due to his economic thought being highly abstract. Of course a diary is just a report of a series of specific activities at some point in time, and from which we cannot derive any conclusive hypothesis about Sraffa’s thought.

But these diaries do reflect Sraffa’s analytical ability as an observer of the real world, reproduced in his very-well thought and accurate descriptions, thus showing a Sraffa taking a manifest interest in what was going on in that country under the new set of rules after the revolution in 1949. No doubt, upon release of further manuscripts, Sraffa scholars will be able to appreciate for themselves the level of accuracy and interest on the part of Sraffa on so many practical and empirical themes.


[note 1] Franca Assante (2012), “Domenico Demarco”, Società Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti in Napoli, Naples, 2012, pp. 21-22. Other members included: Orio Ciferri (a Professor of Chemistry from University of Pavia), Francesco Flora (a historian of Italian literature from Bologna); Orfeo Rotini (chemistry) and the sinologist Piero Corradini.

[note 2] Translation by the present authors. The original in Italian reads:

Rieducazzione socialista del commercio e industria capitalista

‘utilizzare, limitare, rieducare’ è n. politica

Cosa vuol dire eliminazione dalla classe capitalista, non dei capitalisti. Eliminaz. dell’impresa privata verso il capitalismo di Stato.

Forme: 1) acquisto unificato del prodotto (prod. secondo piano)

2) acquisto totale del prodotto (senza piano)

3) ordinaz. e finitura

Transformare in imprese socialiste attraverso il capitalismo di stato. Transformare la propr. cap. in propr. socialista. Parallelam., rieducazione degli uomini. Quando le imprese saran transformate in imprese socialiste, anche i capitalisti saran diventati cittadini socialisti.

Questa specie di transformaz. è il carattere dominante della Cina.