An introduction to marxist economic theory

Obviously the peasants knew, on the basis of their own experience, the approximate labor-time needed to produce a given quantity of cloth. On the other hand, if we probe into the deeper social and collective side of the problem, we begin to understand what lies below the surface in a society organized on the basis of an economy of labor-time.

When we look at the more highly developed and prosperous farms, those bordering the big cities, for example, and which are basically on the road to becoming industrialized, we see that work is much more regular and the amount of expended labor much greater, being distributed in a regular way throughout the year, with dead seasons progressively eliminated.

Having made this reservation, we can now repeat that the living cost of labor-power constitutes its value and that surplus value is the difference between this living cost and the value created by this labor-power.

It is only by studying these laws that we not only achieve the best understanding of society, but also discover the role and tasks of revolutionaries. Furthermore, there was a unity between the producer, his product and its consumption, since he generally produced for his own use or for those close to him, so that his work possessed a directly functional aspect.

We are struck by the fact that a very advanced integration of agriculture and various craft techniques exists and that regularity of labor is true for the countryside as well as the city, so that an accounting system in terms of labor, in labor-hours, has become the force governing all the activity and even the very structure of the collectives.

The origin of this economy based on an accounting in labor-time is also clearly apparent in the division of labor within the village as it existed between agriculture and the crafts. The common quality of commodities, consequently, resides in the fact that they are the products of abstract human labor and it is this which supplies the measure of their exchange value, of their exchangeability.

Here again we clearly see the mechanism of an accounting system in work-hours, a society functioning on the basis of an economy of labor-time, which is generally characteristic of the whole phase which we call small-scale commodity production.

However, the general definition must be qualified in several respects. Marx occupied himself primarily with describing capitalism. It takes place through the process of exchange, like all important operations in capitalist society, which are always relations of exchange.

But to Adam Smith, it is general social labour — no matter in what use-values it manifests itself — the mere quantity of necessary labour, which creates value. What is the value of labor-power?

Marxian economics

A formal statement of the law is: But as soon as a division of labor exists, as soon as there is contact between social groups producing different use values, then exchange can come about, at first on an occasional basis, subsequently on a more permanent one.

If the exchange value of commodities depended only on the quantity of labor expended individually, that is, on the quantity of labor expended by each individual in the production of a commodity, we would arrive at this absurdity: For the products of the carriage industry, supply exceeds demand, prices fall and goods remain unsaleable.

Before I write anything else, I want to pause and note that Mandel seems to equivocate on the definition of surplus-value in the early chapters of his book.

I am pretty sure that this is simply a misunderstanding on my part, but if anyone can describe what a situation in which workers were remunerated fairly perhaps equally for their labor and still generated surplus value would look like, I would appreciate it.

There is also a postcapitalist society based on commodities, a transitional society between capitalism and socialism, such as present-day Soviet society, for the latter still rests in very large measure on the foundations of exchange value production.

Paper money is, in this model, a representation of gold or silver, almost without value of its own but held in circulation by state decree.

An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory

Marx saw this relative surplus population as coming from economic causes and not from biological causes as in Malthus. On the contrary, the idea of quality is used in the bourgeois ideological sense, according to which the quality of labor is supposed to be determined by its social usefulness, and this is used to justify the incomes of marshals, ballerinas and industrial managers, which are ten times higher than the incomes of unskilled laborers.

If this difference did not exist, of course, then no employer would hire any worker, since such a purchase of labor-power would bring no profit to the buyer.

For a long time the division remained quite rudimentary. Not all human wants are innate to man. I thought this exercise was helpful insofar as it stripped away peripheral details to reveal that at the heart of profit-making there is human labor. Concretely it means that the selling prices in this industry or enterprise, which is operating below average productivity, approach its production costs or even fall below them, that is to say, the enterprise is operating at a very low rate of profit or even at a loss.An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory () The Marxist Theory of Alienation The Law of Value Determination of the Exchange Value of Commodities What is Socially Necessary Labor?

The Origin and Nature of Surplus Value The Validity of the Labor Theory of Value II. In fact, Mandel provides an authoritative outline of Marxist economic theory, from the labor theory of value to what causes worldwide unemployment, depression, and war.

Reading this book will help you become a more conscious fighter for our class/5(9). Marxian economics, particularly in academia, is distinguished from Marxism as a political ideology as well as the normative aspects of Marxist thought, with the view that Marx's original approach to understanding economics and economic development is intellectually independent from Marx's own advocacy of revolutionary socialism.

- A modern introduction to the basic elements of Marxism and why socialism is the only way forward for humanity. The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels - The founding document of the Communist movement, more relevant today than when it was first written over years ago, predicting such phenomena as globalisation, economic crisis and inequality.

Similarly, the theory of social surplus product and surplus labor, which we discussed at the beginning of this work, constitutes the basis for all Marxist sociology and is the bridge connecting Marx’s sociological and historical analysis, his theory of classes and the development of society generally, to Marxist economic theory, and more.

In fact, Mandel provides an authoritative outline of Marxist economic theory, from the labor theory of value to what causes worldwide unemployment, depression, and war.

Reading this book will help you become a more conscious fighter for our class.

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An introduction to marxist economic theory
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