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Marx 200: The Abiding Relevance of the Labour Theory of Value

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Abstract

Marxist political economy is alive and well, and not just because of the habitual turn to Marx in response to any crisis of capitalism. Both through Capital and through the continuing evolution of Marxism, Marxist political economy offers valuable insights that can illuminate the modalities of social and economic reproduction and the relationships between (different aspects of) the economic and the non-economic. Marxism’s presence has been felt through its own internal debates and debates with other approaches to political economy, and even through its influence on those reacting against Marxism. The key to the continuing relevance and analytical strengths of Marxist political economy lies in its capacity to provide a framework of analysis for unifying disparate insights into and critiques of the contradictions of capitalism across the social sciences. The instrument for forging that unity is Marx’s theory of value, the potential of which is examined and illustrated with reference to the Sraffian critique and two key concepts in Marxian political economy: the value of labour power and financialisation. They are explored in the light of the processes of commodification, commodity form and commodity calculation.

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... For recent responses to such endeavours, see Fine (2017) and Fine and Saad Filho (2018). The position adopted here is totally different, emphasizing both quantitative and qualitative aspects of Marx's value theory and their irreducible attachment to one another in examining the capitalist "economy" and society as a totality. ...
... Further,Gehrke and Kurz (2018), for example, set out key differences based on how Sraffa approaches Marx's work; whilst Fine (2019) andFine and Saad-Filho (2018) illustrate how this looks from the reverse. ...
Chapter
The chapter first sets out some of the core commitments of an original CPE. It then considers matters of claims and complexity – focussing on continuity and discontinuity between CPE and the mainstream – before exploring some of the key themes of CPE. While contending that the limited mainstream perspective on CPE is mainly a product of ignorance, the chapter concludes by highlighting the relevance of CPE for contemporary political economy.
... However, apart from a rejection of the two starting premises of mainstream economics (i.e. that social outcomes are caused by the sum of individual actions, and that economies tend towards equilibrium), explanations of how change happens vary across the heterodox economics traditions (Arnsperger and Varoufakis, 2006;Jo, 2011;Lawson, 2013). For example, Post-Keynesians emphasise how fundamental uncertainty justifies an active role for government to create desired change (Dequech, 2012), while Marxist economists see change driven by the contradictions of capitalist expansion via the appropriation of labour's surplus value, and the commodification of the social and natural world (Fine and Saad-Filho, 2018). ...
Article
The concept of provisioning systems has recently emerged as a promising way to understand the differences between levels of resource use and social outcomes observed across societies. However, the characteristics of provisioning systems remain poorly understood. Here, we make a new contribution to conceptualising provisioning systems and to understanding differences in the resource efficiency with which they achieve social outcomes. We define a provisioning system as a set of related elements that work together in the transformation of resources to satisfy a foreseen human need. We analyse six theories in terms of their contribution to understanding provisioning systems within the biophysical and social constraints of Raworth’s “Safe and Just Space” framework. We find that most of these theories fail to prioritise human needs and well-being, and do not incorporate explicit environmental limits. However, they provide important insights that we draw upon to identify six important provisioning system elements (households, markets, the commons, the state, techniques, and material stocks). Based on the theories, we also identify two important relationships between elements, namely feedbacks and power relations. We further propose the concept of “appropriating systems” as a component of provisioning systems. Appropriating systems reduce the resource efficiency of human well-being via rent extraction, and act as a barrier to meeting human needs at a sustainable level of resource use. We combine these concepts into a new framework, and discuss applications to energy systems.
... Special attention should be paid to the work Dzarasov [16], which indicate the existing disproportions in the distribution of the value added between the subjects of the world economy and corporations. This direction in the analysis of created (surplus or added) value still has not lost its relevance and inspires many new studies Tomba [17], Fine and Saad-Filho [18], Bassanini and Manfredi [19]. The common drawback of the reviewed works is their theoretical and abstract character, formulated hypotheses and assumptions are not confirmed on the concrete data of specific companies, and techniques for estimating value added distribution are not developed. ...
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The modern Russian economy is basically the economy of corporations, both public and private. For this reason, the peculiarities of economic relations between the main centers of power in corporations and outside them, affect the results and efficiency of the economy. Corporations are becoming instruments of geopolitical influence, establishing economic ties with neighboring countries even under conditions of external pressure. One of the typical Russian corporations today is Gazprom, the largest gas producer. It combines the strengths of both the state and private corporations. The article considers in detail the distribution of value added to Gazprom according to the consolidated financial statements for 2012-2017. It reveals trends and patterns that allow to determine the strengths and weaknesses of this corporation as a driver of the development of the Russian economy. The main stakeholders (state, employees, top management and creditors) are identified. The research uses methods of synthesizing the partial indicators of various forms of reporting, data from Gazprom’s official website and open sources. The uniqueness of the research consists in the author’s method of calculating the amounts of value added received by each stakeholder. The role of the State as the main stakeholder of the corporation Gazprom is justified.
... The key to the continuing relevance and analytical strengths of Marxist political economy lies in its capacity to provide a framework of analysis for unifying disparate insights into and critiques of the contradictions of capitalism across the social sciences. The instrument for forging that unity is Marx's theory of value (Fine and Saad-Filho 2018). ...
Article
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This paper examines some of the challenges raised by Joan Robinson in constructing a Post-Keynesian economic theory, with the intent to provide some assessment of their relevance today. Rather than dwell on her criticisms of neoclassical economics and of the Neoclassical synthesis, on which much has already been written (even though, unfortunately, not taken on board by mainstream economics), the focus here is on her arguments on how to construct a Post-Keynesian economic theory, possibly now forgotten or at any rate neglected. It is argued that there is still much to be learnt by reviving them today.
Article
This paper traces the roots of precarity as a concept emerging from French sociological discourse , then permeating through networks informed by Italian autonomism, before re-emerging in the writings of figures such as Guy Standing and Arne Kalleberg. It is shown that, despite the claims of the literature, precarity in employment is not typical in the United Kingdom. Here, temporary employment remains the exception and employment tenure remains stable. This can best be explained by radical political economy. Capital is not interested simply in engendering precarity; it is also concerned with the retention and reproduction of labor power, leading to contradictory imperatives. The resonance of the narrative of precarity, in spite of this, reflects a long retreat from class within radical theory and the insecurities present in working life. JEL Classification: B510, E2, J2
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Financialization has become the go-to term for scholars grappling with the growth of finance. This Handbook offers the first comprehensive survey of the scholarship on financialization, connecting finance with changes in politics, technology, culture, society and the economy. It takes stock of the diverse avenues of research that comprise financialization studies and the contributions they have made to understanding the changes in contemporary societies driven by the rise of finance. The chapters chart the field’s evolution from research describing and critiquing the manifestations of financialization towards scholarship that pinpoints the driving forces, mechanisms and boundaries of financialization. Written for researchers and students not only in economics but from across the social sciences and the humanities, this book offers a decidedly global and pluri-disciplinary view on financialization for those who are looking to understand the changing face of finance and its consequences.
Article
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This paper provides a framework for understanding the material cultures of financialisation. It does so through a tight definition of financialisation itself (as the spread of interest bearing capital across economic and social reproduction) but also attaches financialisation to broader influences through commodification, commodity form and commodity calculation. These in turn are used to frame the material culture(s) of financialisation through deploying the 10Cs derived from the System of Provision approach: that the material cultures of financialisation are Constructed, Construed, Conforming, Commodified, Contextual, Contradictory, Closed, Contested, Collective and Chaotic. Some emphasis is placed upon the ‘distance’ of financialisation as such from most everyday practices and the systemic lack of knowledge of the financial system however it is represented and experienced.
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This article examines the theories and practices of neoliberalism across 13 aspects of (‘things you need to know about’) neoliberalism. They include the argument that neoliberalism is not reducible to a cogent ideology or a change in economic or social policies, nor is it primarily about a shift in the relationship between the state and the market or between workers and capital in general, or finance in particular. Instead, neoliberalism is a stage in the development of capitalism underpinned by financialization. Neoliberalism by its nature is highly diversified in its features, impact and outcomes, reflecting specific combinations of scholarship, ideology, policy and practice. In turn, these are attached to distinctive material cultures giving rise to the (variegated) neoliberalization of everyday life and, at a further remove, to specific modalities of economic growth, volatility and crisis. Finally, this paper argues that there are alternatives, both within and beyond neoliberalism itself.
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Introduction 1. Materialist Dialects 1.1 Real Abstractions and Mental Generalisations 1.2 Marx, Hegal and 'New Dialects' 1.3 Conclusion 2. Interpretations of Marx's Value Theory 2.1 Embodied Labour Approaches 2.1.1 Traditional Marxism 2.1.2 Sraffian Analyses 2.2 Values from Theories 2.2.1 The Rubin Tradition 2.2.2 The 'New Interpretation' 2.3 Conclusion 3. Value and Capital 3.1 Division of Labour, Exploitation and Value 3.2 Capital 3.3 Conclusion 4. Wages and Exploitation 4.1 Wage Labour and Exploitation 4.2 Value of Labour Power 4.3 Conclusion 5. Values, Prices and Exploitation 5.1 Normalisation of Labour 5.1.1 Labour Intensity and Complexity, Education and Training 5.1.2 Mechanisation, Deskilling and Capitalist Control 5.2 Synchronisation of Labour 5.2.1 Value Transfers 5.2.2 Technical Change, Value and Crisis 5.3 Homogenisation of Labour 5.4 Conclusion 6. Composition of Capital 6.1 Understanding the Composition of Capital 6.2 Production and the Composition of Capital 6.3 Capital Accumulation 6.4 Conclusion 7. Transformation of Values into Prices of Production 7.1 Surplus Value, Profit, and the Composition of Capital 7.2 From Values to Prices of Production 7.3 The Transformation of Input Values 7.4 Conclusion 8. Money, Credit and Inflation 8.1 Labour and Money 8.2 Money and Prices of Production 8.3 Credit, Money and Inflation 8.4 Conclusion Conclusion References
Article
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Within the framework of Marxist political economy, financialization is understood through the prisms of logical, theoretical, and historical perspectives. It is defined in terms of the increasing presence of interest bearing capital, as distinct from credit as such, the role this plays in real as opposed to fictitious accumulation of capital, and how this has underpinned the period of neoliberalism, including the global crisis. Financialization is seen as the expansion of interest bearing capital in intensive and extensive forms. The first is notable in terms of the growth and proliferation of financial assets themselves with increasingly distant attachments to production and exchange of commodities themselves, and the second involves the extension of interest bearing capital to new areas of economic and social life in hybrid forms with other types of capital. An appendix draws out the differences between the approach taken herein and the approach on financialization taken by Costas Lapavitsas.
Article
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Taking Bellofiore (ed.), Rosa Luxemburg and the Critique of Political Economy as a point of departure, a number of themes are explored. The first is that the expansion of the capitalist mode of production increases the scope of non-capitalist commodity production rather than relying upon and exhausting it. The second is that Marx's reproduction schema are inappropriate for analysing the dynamics of capitalism, whether for Luxemburg's underconsumption or for her opponents. In addition, a broader appreciation of Luxemburg's political economy is drawn out of Bellofiore's volume, including discussion of the value of labour power, arguing that her insights have been too readily discarded for reasons of settling otherwise irrelevant intellectual and political debts that should have long since been written off.
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Responding to comments by Ben Fine in relation to the concept of the degree of separation among workers, this article argues that Fine (a) confuses Marx's levels of analysis and thus cannot distinguish between necessity and contingency; (b) fails to grasp the problematic character of Marx's discussion of relative surplus-value once we remove the assumption of a given standard of necessity; and (c) accordingly remains trapped (like so many others) in a 'Ricardian Box' that Marx himself was able to escape.
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Recent developments in social policy under neo-liberalism have been driven by the requirements of, and responses to the dysfunctions of, financialisation. Whilst the current crisis has undermined the legitimacy of neo-liberalism, shifts in social policy will require a combination of greater resources and commitment to programme-specific approaches that are geared towards creation of some form of (developmental) welfare state. Otherwise, early evidence from response to the crisis suggests minimal intervention relative to need and continuing subordination to the imperatives of financialisation.
Article
One of the most prominent stylized facts about contemporary capitalism concerns its “financialization.” Like all economic stylized facts, however, facts about financialization are recognized by some commentators and not by others. This article offers one explanation why. It argues that the claims we can make about “the economy” depend upon how we envision that economy in the first place. The economy can be pictured in myriad ways – it is multiple, not singular – and different pictures of it enable the identification of different stylized facts about it. So it is with financialization. The article illustrates this by examining the history of two different traditions of picturing the economy. One – national accounting – increasingly has enabled financialization to be seen; the other – mainstream economics – generally has not.
Article
Fred Moseley’s interpretation of Marx’s Capital (focusing on the transformation of values into prices of production) is taken as a critical point of departure, especially for its treatment as an analysis of equilibrium. Instead, through extensive reference to previous work, a dynamic interpretation is offered of the transformation, locating it in relation to abstraction in Marx’s political economy (and its antipathy to equilibrium) and to Marx’s theory of the dynamics of capital accumulation as presented throughout the three Volumes of Capital.
Chapter
The welfare regime approach to social policy is shown to be past its use-by date, not least for imposing an ever-expanding set of ideal types that do not fit unyieldingly variegated outcomes across sectors and countries. Moreover, like many other approaches, it tends to derive its analytical framing from the Keynesian period as opposed to forging an understanding of neoliberalism and the increasing role of financialization as a direct and indirect influence upon social policy. Alternatives should be posed in terms of addressing both the transformational/developmental role of social policy and its sector-specific systems of provision.
Book
The first volume of this critical history covers the social, political, and theoretical forces behind the development of Marxian economics from Marx's death in 1883 until 1929, the year marking the onset of Stalin's "revolution from above," which subsequently transformed the Soviet Union into a modern superpower. During these years, Marxists in both Russia and Germany found their economic ideas inextricably linked with practical political problems, and treated theory as a guide to action. This book systematically examines the important theoretical literature of the period, including insightful works by political functionaries outside academia--journalists, party organizers, underground activists, and teachers in the labor movement--presented here as the primary forgers of Marxian economic thought.Beginning with Engels's writings, this book analyzes the work of leading Marxist economists in the Second International, then concludes with a review of the intellectual movements within the Marxian political economy during the 1920s. A second volume treating the period from 1929 to the present will follow.Originally published in 1989.The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
Chapter
The current global crisis has, unsurprisingly, brought comparisons with other such episodes in the past, not least the collapse of the post-war boom and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Beyond competition for degree of severity, comparative analysis has not preceded much further, not least because differences between eras tend to dominate shared characteristics. The thirties heralded the emergence of Keynesianism (undoubtedly propelled by wartime interventions), while the stagflation of the 1970s witnessed the blossoming of the monetarist counter revolution, the most extreme forms of perfect market economics, and the period of neoliberalism.
Chapter
No one can doubt that the evolution of social policy over the past 30 years, in developing and developed worlds, has been heavily influenced by ‘neoliberalism’. It has been associated with fiscal constraints, privatization, commercialization, user charges and so on. But the global crisis from 2007 has thrown reliance upon market forces into doubt, necessitating reassessment of how such reliance came to predominate and what is to be done about it by way of alternative.1
Article
Over the past decade, the concept of financialization has moved from the periphery to the mainstream of scholarly inquiry across several social–scientific disciplines, human geography among them. The subject of a burgeoning, variegated literature advancing both theoretical delineation and empirical substantiation, processes of financialization, on many accounts, belong alongside those of globalization and neoliberalization as the defining dynamics of late modern capitalism. In the spirit of fostering a constructive dialogue, this article develops a broadly based critique of such accounts, one structured around the core idea of limits. Financialization, it suggests, is substantively limited, both as a concept and as the array of real-world processes to which that concept variously pertains. The article identifies and fleshes out five key sets of such limits and the connections between them: analytic, theoretic, strategic, optic, and empiric limits. If the concept of financialization is to do substantially positive descriptive and explanatory work going forward, the article submits, these limits must be explicitly recognized and their implications explicitly factored in. This, the article concludes, is no small challenge.
Article
The term "financialization" is a recognition that finance has come to play a key role on the modern capitalist economy. But users of the term do not agree on its meaning and recognition of the growing scale of finance has not brought about an increased understanding of financial processes. The paper examines the reasons for increased turnover in financial markets. The main themes in the literature on financialization are examined and shown to lack a coherent account of financial processes that goes beyond the evidence of financial activity.
Article
I. The simplest Austrian and more general models, 568. — II. Why reswitching can occur, 571. — III. Reswitching in a durable-machine model, 573. — IV. The well-behaved factor-price frontier, 574. — V. Unconventional relation of total product and interest, 576. — VI. Unconventional capital/output ratios, 577. — VII. Reverse capital deepening and denial of diminishing returns, 579. — VIII. Conclusion, 582.
Book
This Companion takes stock of the trajectory, achievements, shortcomings and prospects of Marxist political economy. It reflects the contributors' shared commitment to bringing the methods, theories and concepts of Marx himself to bear across a wide range of topics and perspectives, and it provides a testimony to the continuing purpose and vitality of Marxist political economy.
Article
This book is a commanding assessment of labour market theory across the social sciences. It provides a radically original critique of labour market theory, which draws constructively but critically on existing literature. The work: * contributes to the debates on key issues in labour economics such as unemployment, gender, equal pay and the minimum theory * illustrates the policy implications in empirical studies * supplements existing orthodox labour market theory texts.
Article
Prompted by the debate over Michael Lebowitz's contributions on the relative absence of class struggle in Marx's Capital (and, in particular, the determining if subjective role played by labour in resisting capital), this paper seeks to push analysis forward by closer examination of the notion of the value of labour-power. It does so by arguing that labour markets are structured, reproduced and transformed in complex and differentiated ways, whilst the moral and historical elements that make up the use-value interpretation of the value of labour-power also need to be addressed in a differentiated manner rather than as a fixed bundle.
Article
The notion of financialisation as the exploitation or expropriation of workers' wages in the sphere of exchange is taken as a critical point of departure. In this way, financialisation is more deeply rooted in contemporary developments, including the slowdown preceding the current global crisis, and in Marx's own theory of finance. Financialisation is seen to represent the increasing penetration of interest-bearing capital across economic and social reproduction and to be a key defining moment of neoliberalism.
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