The emergence and maturation of the social sciences is an important component of the expansion of institutions of higher learning in the 20th century. The discipline of Political Economy, increasingly institutionalized in various Canadian universities in the early decades of the century, secured a Chair at the University of Manitoba in 1909. After 1914, its title became “Political Economy and Political Science” and the department subsequently served “as the great mother department to which were attached newer social science disciplines until it was deemed appropriate to let them launch out on their own” (Pentland, 1977, p. 3). Political Science became independent in 1948, Geography in 1951, and Sociology and Anthropology in 1962 (p. 4). Agricultural Economics, which was taught in the Manitoba Agricultural College, became its own department when the college joined the university in 1924. In the 1930s, Agricultural Economics was absorbed into Department of Political Economy. However, according to Pentland (pp. 4–5) it was not until the late 1940s that agricultural economics became a significant “sub-department.” It subsequently separated itself from Political Economy and, in 1954, became an independent department in the Faculty of Agriculture (p. 5). The result of these disciplinary developments was that the faculty of the Department of Political Economy had, from time to time, members whose expertise lay outside the increasingly well-defined terrain of economics. Despite this, however, they did not seem to have any long-lasting direct impact on shaping and defining the curricula in Economics. Since these other disciplines left and became independent when they had reached a certain size or degree of influence, Economics was left to define and pursue its own agenda unencumbered by the needs of these former associates.
In an effort to explain the growth stagnation that hampered the United States in the period from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, mainstream economists unwittingly and…
In an effort to explain the growth stagnation that hampered the United States in the period from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, mainstream economists unwittingly and incompletely reinvented the concept of unproductive labor that is rooted in classical and Marxian economics. The price to pay for having ignored this concept had been unexplained economic events, inappropriate policy, and relative national economic decline. The mainstream economists' attempt to adopt this concept came at a cost to their theoretical core. The abandonment of the concept came at a cost to the real economy represented by the financial crisis of 2008.
For Marxists, the present controversies are rooted in Marx's own development and exposition of the labor theory of value, especially its presentation in Volumes I (Marx, 1954 ) and III of Capital. As is well known, in Volume I, Marx begins with his analysis of commodities, emphasizing the role of human labor in both its concrete and abstract aspects, and from that he develops (1) the concepts of (exchange) value, of socially necessary labor time, and of its expression in the form of money and the distinction between value and price; (2) the concepts of capital and of surplus value; and (3) the concept of the commodity labor power. With these concepts, his analysis of capitalist production lays bare the nature of capitalist exploitation and links the phenomenon of profit to surplus value (i.e., the unpaid labor time of productive workers). In Parts I and II of Volume III, Marx, explicitly allowing for the interplay of many different capitals, endeavors to show how surplus value is converted into profit, how the rate of surplus value is converted into the rate of profit, how the general rate of profit is formed, and how the values of commodities are transformed into prices of production. He claimed that the transformation preserved the following equalities: total value=total prices; total surplus value=total profits; and, the rate of profit=the rate of surplus value. Marx's presentation of this material in Volume III is, unfortunately, quite rough, since this material is comprised of manuscripts that he had prepared prior to the publication of Volume I in 1867. These manuscripts were not, however, in a final, finished state, and unfortunately Marx never got around to getting them ready for publication.