Canon

The Canon of Sraffa | Economic and political weekly

A reflection on Sraffa’s revolution in economic theory edited by Ajit Sinha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2021; pp xxv+ 601, 14,821 (hardcover).

No revolution in economic theory has been quieter and more explosive than that sparked by the publication of Piero Sraffa’s little volume Production of commodities by means of commodities, in 1960. Using linear algebra, the author sought nothing less than to solve puzzles of classical theory, as well as to set up a research program in political economy.

Over time, Sraffa’s economy settled into a rich, thick soup resting in a kitchen presided over by a handful of mostly Italian chefs. Then Ajit Sinha came in and started stirring the pot. His contestation of the culinary skills of the owners of the Sraffa cookbook continues through this volume which is a collection of ideas from the best international researchers on the subject. A galaxy of 25 stars shines on 18 chapters. The format of each reminded me of my school debates; there is thesis followed by antithesis, ending with a counter-counter. The scholarship is astounding and a full assessment would test my abilities and the friendliness of the editors of this journal. I only skimmed a few themes with the associated authors.