Thus every economist tends to frame his theories in such a way that certain elements acquire in them importance which is entirely out of proportion of the part they play in real life, but reflects the necessity
ofᴵᴺ which the economist has been of opposing oppositeᵒᵇˢᵒˡᵉᵗᵉ theories or popular prejudices. And when the theory has crystallized and we have forgotten the way in which it has grown, we are often inclined to over-estimate the importance of certain elements simply because for long forgotten historical reasons they play a very large part in accepted economic theory.
A further disturbing element is that in the background of every theory of value there is a theory of distribution. The real problem to be solved by a theory of value, that is: «Why is a commodity exchanged with another in a given ratio?» is constantly transformed into the entirely different one: «How is the price received for the product distributed between the factors of production?». […] There is a continuous attempt at visualizing in the microcosm of any one particular commodity a process which takes place only in all commodities as a whole, considered simultaneously, that is in society as a whole.
And often theories of distribution in their turn are meant not so much as a means to analyzing the actual process through which the product is distributed between different classes, as for showing either that the present system is wrong and should be changed, or that it is right and it should be preserved. Thus
it becomes an analysis of what is it ᵗʰᵉ ᵗʰᵉᵒʳʸ becomes a form of propaganda for what ought to be.
— Sraffa papers (D2/4.3.3-4), quoted in Panico, Pinto & Ayul - “Income Distribution and the Size of the Financial Sector: A Sraffian Analysis,” 4