The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Loria, Achille (1857–1943)

  • G. de Vivo
Reference work entry


Born in Mantua, Loria was Professor of economics at Siena, then Padua, and finally Turin; he died near Turin in 1943. In 1919 he was made a member of the Italian Upper House (where he was one of the few to vote against the Fascist government after their murder of G. Matteotti in 1924). He was well known both in Italy and abroad. A correspondent of the British Economic Association (later the Royal Economic Society), he contributed several notes (mainly on Italian economics and economists, including obituaries of, among others, Pareto, Barone and Pantaleoni) to the Economic Journal, and to Palgrave’s Dictionary (1894–9). His views on economic theory were rather confused. Böhm-Bawerk wrote: ‘Loria’s cogitations in the field of theory often impress me as being far more imaginative than they are precise, and to be frequently interlarded with very superficial misinterpretations of other economists’ opinion’ (1914, p. 479; Schumpeter’s judgement was less harsh: 1954, p. 856n.). Indeed, Gramsci entitled a section of his prison notebooks ‘Lorianismo’, and devoted it to recording ludicrously original conceptions. One of these was Loria’s idea that by spreading glue on the body of aircraft one could harvest so many birds as to solve the world food problems and free the workers from their dependence on capitalists for subsistence. Loria tried to present himself as the true originator of the doctrine of historical materialism. As Seligman (1907, p. 136n.) wrote, ‘that so many critics in England, France, and Italy should have hailed Loria as the originator of [this] doctrine’ is ‘a singular testimony to the neglect of Marx’s writings outside of Germany’ (a similar point is also made by Croce 1896, p. 22). Loria’s claim was ridiculed by Engels in the Preface and Supplement to Volume III of Marx’s Capital, and by Croce (1896).

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  1. Croce, B. 1896. Le teorie storiche del prof. Loria. As reprinted in Materialismo storico ed economia marxistica. Bari: Laterza, 1968.Google Scholar
  2. Einaudi, L. 1932. Bibliografia di Achille Loria. La Riforma Sociale No. 5, Supplement.Google Scholar
  3. Schumpeter, J.A. 1954. History of economic analysis. London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  4. Seligman, E.R.A. 1907. The economic interpretation of history, 2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. von Böhm-Bawerk, E. 1914. Capital and interest. History and critique of interest theories, 3rd ed. South Holland: Libertarian Press, 1959.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. de Vivo
    • 1
  1. 1.