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Tag Archives: Karl Marx

Sowell, Kolakowski, Baumol, Schumpeter: Böhm Bawerk Was Mistaken

Empirically, prices are fairly close to proportional to labor values. But that is neither here nor there as far as the correctness of Marx's theory of value. To see that, you have to get to the last footnote in chapter 5 of Capital. (Most "refutations" of Marx are based on ignorance of the first few pages of chapter 1.) From the foregoing investigation, the reader will see that this statement only means that the formation of capital must be possible even though the price and value of a...

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Karl Marx To Abraham Lincoln On His Re-Election

Apparently, Lincoln responded to this congratulations from the International Workingmen's Association: Sir, We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant warcry of your re-election is, Death to Slavery. From the commencement of the Titanic-American strife the working men of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of...

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Happy 155th Birthday to volume one of Capital

Happy 155th Birthday to volume one of Capital! In his 1965 farewell lecture at Brandeis University, Herbert Marcuse read a long passage from the Grundrisse’s “fragment on machines” and then observed: “But Marx himself has repressed this vision, which now appears as his most realistic, his most amazing insight!” In Time, Labor and Social Domination, published 28 years later, Moishe Postone addressed the same section from the Grundrisse and...

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Marx On The Transformation Problem In 1847

This is the start of Section 5, "Strikes and combinations of workers", in the second chapter of The Poverty of Philosophy: "'Every upward movement in wages can have no other effect than a rise in the price of corn, wine, etc., that is, the effect of a dearth. For what are wages? They are the cost price of corn, etc.; they are the integrant price of everything. We may go even further: wages are the proportion of the elements composing wealth and consumed reproductively every day by the...

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Value And Distribution

"It is the whole process of production that must be called 'human labour', and thus causes all products and all values. Marx and Ricardo used 'labour' in two different senses: the above and that of one of the factors of production ('hours of labour' or 'quantity of labour' has a meaning only in the latter sense). It is by confusing the two senses that they got mixed up and said that value is proportional to quantity of labour (in second sense) whereas they ought to have said that it is due...

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The Spread Of Marxism: A Riddle

Karl Marx died on 14 March 1883. Less than 15 people attended his funeral, and Engels gave an eulogy. Marxists existed, a century later, in every country on the face of this planet, and most had political parties, some powerful, that claimed to follow Marx. How did this change from obscurity to world-wide recognition come about? What did Marx have to say that was so persuasive? If economics were a serious subject, these questions would be explored within academic economics departments....

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Engels To Bloch in 1890

Engels had a lot to do with formulating orthodox interpretations of Marx in the period after Marx's death. So it is interesting to see what he says. I have transcribed another letter before, about the law of value. The following is about historical materialism and the relation of the superstructure to the economic base: According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Other than this...

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Mr. Etcetera

Mr. Etcetera The subtitle of T. R. Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population advertised its inclusion of “remarks on the speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and other writers.” In volume I of Capital, Marx did not mention William Godwin’s name.  One might say, rather, that Marx studiously avoided mentioning Godwin. He did, however, engage in a sustained disparagement of Malthus — particularly his essay on population. This alone would...

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The Four Circuits Of Capital

The Four Circuits of Capital Marx describes three circuits of capital in the opening chapters of Volume 2 of Capital. But when I draw a diagram, as above, a fourth circuit seems to be missing. So I have added the circuit of advanced capital. The circuit of advanced capital begins with commodities, consisting of means of production and labor power, in the hands of or under the direction of capitalists. They have purchased these commodities with monetary advances. The capitalists, at this...

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Ben Franklin, Proto Marxist

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...

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