Marx on Smith

  • Rory O’Donnell
Part of the Studies in Political Economy book series (STPE)


In restating the view of Dobb and Meek that ‘Smith would be included as a theorist of both “distinct and rival traditions in nineteenth century economic thought”’ Bradley and Howard add ‘Marx seems the first to have explicitly noted this aspect of Smith’s work’ (1982, p. 34). What these authors have in mind are a number of statements by Marx, of the following sort:

Adam Smith’s successors, in so far as they do not represent the reaction against him of older and obsolete methods of approach, can pursue their particular investigations and observations undisturbedly and can always regard Adam Smith as their base, whether they follow the esoteric or the exoteric part of his work or whether, as is almost always the case, they jumble up the two. (Marx, 1861–63, II, p. 166; see also 1861–63, I, pp. 88, 151; and III, p. 20)

This statement could, at first sight, be seen as a two streams proposition. In order to assess whether such a view is justified it is necessary to examine Marx’s many comments on Smith’s work in more detail.


Natural Rate Labour Theory Natural Price Surplus Theory Surplus Approach 
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Copyright information

© Rory O’Donnell 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rory O’Donnell
    • 1
  1. 1.National Economic and Social CouncilDublinIreland

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