Gilbert Faccarello and Masasbi Izumo (eds). The Reception of David Ricardo in Continental Europe and Japan.
Almost half of this absorbing volume is taken up by the first two chapters, each more than sixty pages in length, on the reception of Ricardo in France (by Alain Beraud and Gilbert Faccarello) and in the German-speaking countries (Christian Gehrke). They are followed by much shorter contributions on Ricardo's reception in Portugal (Jose Luis Cardoso), Spain (Salvador Almenar), Italy (Anna La Bruna and Annalisa Rosselli), Russia (Denis Melnik) and Japan (Masashi Izumo and Shigemasa Sato).
We learn from Beraud and Faccarello that Ricardo's legacy in France was 'fragmented, and French-speaking economists only retained the aspects of Ricardo's doctrines that were of interest to them, discarding or criticizing the rest' (p. 64). Their discussion is restricted to the nineteenth century, but since the first acceptable French translation of the Principles appeared only in 1992 (p. 19) it is likely that this judgement would extend into the twentieth century. In fact 'no French economist could be considered as a Ricardian, except Pellegrino Rossi, and then with qualifications' (p. 64). Ricardo's ideas on rent and on money seem to have had some impact in France, but Beraud and Faccarello have little to say about the theory of value and almost nothing on trade or capital accumulation. There are, however, some intriguing snippets of information. In 1819 Sismondi was already anticipating Sraffa in attributing to Ricardo a 'com model' in which agricultural output and means of production were identical (p. 44), while by 1840 Cherbuliuez was pointing the way towards Henry George by advocating a single tax and the nationalisation of land (pp. 45-7).
It also took almost a century for a decent German translation of the Principles to appear: this one, by Heinrich Waentig, was the third attempt and was published in 1905 (p. 78). By this time, Gehrke tells us, Ricardo's influence had both waxed and waned. His ideas were prominent in the first half of the nineteenth century but then faded as the historical school emerged and Ricardian economics came to be tarred with the socialist brush. Like Beraud and Faccarello, Gehrke restricts his discussion to the pre-1914 period, focusing on the work of F.B.W. Hermann (pp. 90-101), J. C. Rodbertus (pp. 101-9), Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz (pp. 109-25) and Georg von Charasoff (pp. 125-9). Little known in the English-speaking world, Hermann provided a mathematical formulation of the Ricardian system and also generalised the principle of diminishing returns to all factors of production. Gehrke is unimpressed by Rodbertus's elaboration of Ricardo's theory of value but more favourably disposed towards the contributions of Bortkiewicz and Charasoff to the 'modern' that is, the Sraffian--reformulation of the classical approach to value and distribution. I would have liked a little more on Charasoff; unfortunately Melnik has nothing to add on this German-speaking Armenian from Tsarist Georgia.
In Spain, Portugal and Italy Ricardo's influence seems to have been minimal for much of the nineteenth century. The one exception, discussed by La Bmna and Rosselli, was the reception of his monetary ideas, which influenced Italian debates in the 1860s and 1870s. In pre-revolutionary Russia, Melnik notes, Ricardo's work was 'regarded ... as a prior stage in the development of any given approach, rather than an element of the current theoretical context. In other words, it had entered Russia already a part of history' (p. 195). He devotes only five pages (pp. 202-7) to the treatment of Ricardo in the Soviet Union. I would have liked this section to have been considerably longer, including (for example) more information about the editor of the Russian edition of the Collected Works (1955-61), the remarkable Maria Smith (Falkner-Smith) (1878-1968) (p. 206 and p. 209 n.9).
Only in Japan, of the countries covered by this volume, was any great interest taken in Ricardo's theory of capital accumulation. Although the Principles were not translated into Japanese until 1921, Ricardian ideas were introduced at one remove via Japanese editions of the works of such obscure Westerners as Arthur Latham Perry, Arthur Crump and John Barnard Byles (pp. 215-16). All ten volumes of the Collected Works were published in Japanese in the early 1970s (p. 240), leading to extensive debates over the 'com model' interpretation (pp. 223-5) and subsequent discussion of Ricardian monetary theory (pp. 225-6). Izumo and Sato provide a very extensive bibliography of work on Ricardo by Japanese scholars in both English and Japanese (pp. 232-42).
In sum, this is a fascinating volume that will be of great interest to all Ricardo enthusiasts. The editors should be encouraged to extend their project to the influence of Ricardo in other parts of the world: most certainly India and China, and perhaps also Scandinavia and the Americas.
J.E. King *
* Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University and Honorary Professor, Federation University Australia. Postal address: 36 Amiet Street, Greensborough, Vic 3088, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Publication:||History of Economics Review|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2015|
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