Michal Kalecki: la dinamica economica tra materialismo e meccanicismo

Economia Politica V:3, December 1988, pp. 343-368.

[Economic Dynamics between Materialism and Mechanism: The Case of Michal Kalecki]


Kalecki's analysis of the dynamics of capitalist economies is mainly in terms of two approaches. On the one hand he develops his analysis of the possibility of, and the conditions for, the accumulation of capital referring Marx's reproduction schemes. He emphasises the anthagonism characterizing the capitalist productive relations, and the necessity of treating the matter in terms of the totality of the capitalists and the workers. On the other hand, his description of how these antagonisms rule economic life is worked out with reference to mechanistic models, with explicit reference to the procedure adopted by classical physics.

In his reflections on some aspects of his work, in particular the possibility of practical application of his theoretical results, Kalecki realised that his mathematical models were incapable of expressing some important features of economic systems, and that they could not enable manipulation of actual economies.

He tried to solve the conflict resulting from the heterogeneity of his two approaches by superimposing the missing elements (history, causality, lack of homogeneity, etc.) onto the formal skeleton, but he did not realize that this was too narrow for his project.

Although Kalecki could not escape this contrediction, his suggestions are still very interesting, since he asks the question to what extent and with what price it is possible, in principle, to grasp the complexity and multidimensionality of real economic systems by means of rigid, mechanistic laws.