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Ben Franklin, Proto Marxist

Summary:
Ben Franklin was one the founding fathers of the United States. He participated in the constitutional convention. He was the first Postmaster General. He did experiments with electricity, when the Leyden jar was a new thing. There is a story about flying a kite in a thunderstorm. He also wrote about the wealth of nations: "Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous

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Ben Franklin was one the founding fathers of the United States. He participated in the constitutional convention. He was the first Postmaster General. He did experiments with electricity, when the Leyden jar was a new thing. There is a story about flying a kite in a thunderstorm.

He also wrote about the wealth of nations:

"Finally, there seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."

I find an echo of Francois Quesnay and the physiocrats in the above quotation. He was also a proponent of a labor theory of value:

"Trade in general being nothing else but the exchange of labor for labor, the value of all things is justly measured by labor."

I could not find Franklin in the index of Marx's Theories of Surplus Value. A quick google search had me stumbling upon Aiken's 1966 article.

References
  • John R. Aiken. 1966. Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, and the Labor Theory of Value. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 90 (3): 378-384.

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