The labor theory of value (LTV) offers a lucid and forceful example of a “theory” thought to stand outside “history.” Considered as an “objective” form of theorizing, the…
The labor theory of value (LTV) offers a lucid and forceful example of a “theory” thought to stand outside “history.” Considered as an “objective” form of theorizing, the LTV seeks transhistorical truths about the relationship between humans and nature – whereby, as everyone knows, value in the world is produced by the fundamental force of human labor power. Marx is typically taken to have subscribed to some form of the LTV, and thus to have signed on to this form of theorizing. This article refuses to treat Marx as an analytic, ahistorical theorist who would either affirm or deny the LTV. Rather, I read Marx as a genealogist who excavates the story of labor and value within the specific historical context of an emerging capitalist social formation. This genealogical approach to Marx, and particularly to his less-often-discussed, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, shows plainly that Marx never subscribed to the LTV, but more importantly that he eschewed the form of theory that the LTV presumes. Rather than seeking to make transhistorical theoretical claims about the relation between labor and value, Marx meant to demonstrate to his readers something about the way in which a definite and concrete (historically situated) capitalist social formation establishes value. A capitalist social formation establishes its own specific value relations, by first constituting, and then dissimulating, a link between labor and value.
These two books reflect very different attitudes to classical economics: O'Brien writes from a neoclassical standpoint, Napoleoni from a Marxist one. Two questions deserve consideration. Is anything worthwhile to be gained by devoting attention to the works of the classical economists (and of Marx)? Where, if we do turn to the classics, do they lead us?
Allyn Young′s lectures, as recorded by the young Nicholas Kaldor,survey the historical roots of the subject from Aristotle through to themodern neo‐classical writers. The…
Allyn Young′s lectures, as recorded by the young Nicholas Kaldor, survey the historical roots of the subject from Aristotle through to the modern neo‐classical writers. The focus throughout is on the conditions making for economic progress, with stress on the institutional developments that extend and are extended by the size of the market. Organisational changes that promote the division of labour and specialisation within and between firms and industries, and which promote competition and mobility, are seen as the vital factors in growth. In the absence of new markets, inventions as such play only a minor role. The economic system is an inter‐related whole, or a living “organon”. It is from this perspective that micro‐economic relations are analysed, and this helps expose certain fallacies of composition associated with the marginal productivity theory of production and distribution. Factors are paid not because they are productive but because they are scarce. Likewise he shows why Marshallian supply and demand schedules, based on the “one thing at a time” approach, cannot adequately describe the dynamic growth properties of the system. Supply and demand cannot be simply integrated to arrive at a picture of the whole economy. These notes are complemented by eleven articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica which were published shortly after Young′s sudden death in 1929.
Reflecting on “The Rehabilitation of Karl Marx” as a theoretical economist 100 years after his death, Robert Paul Wolff, on the way to writing Understanding Marx, noted…
Reflecting on “The Rehabilitation of Karl Marx” as a theoretical economist 100 years after his death, Robert Paul Wolff, on the way to writing Understanding Marx, noted that Marx had written, “at a conservative estimate, five thousand pages of theoretical material”. Therefore, in order to understand Marx's theoretical achievement, which Wolff compares with Darwin, Freud and Einstein (p. 714), “The simplest sort of common sense demands that we estimate Marx's place in the intellectual history of our civilization on the basis of this mass of economic theory” (p. 713). In addition to the three volumes of Capital, the three volumes of the Theories of Surplus Value, the Grundrisse, and the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, however, “Marx also wrote, as a young man, a handful of exuberant, obscure, derivative, romantic reflections on the human condition…The same sort of common sense dictates that we not construe these youthful speculations as the final utterances of the true Marx” (p. 713). With these assertions, Wolff is reviving an old issue, for the benefit of a “modern mathematical reinterpretation of Marx” (pp. 715–16), that some had thought was laid to rest by the widespread availability of the Grundrisse.
This paper aims to argue that the principal components of the Resource‐Based View (RBV) as a theory of sustained competitive advantage are not a sufficient basis for a…
This paper aims to argue that the principal components of the Resource‐Based View (RBV) as a theory of sustained competitive advantage are not a sufficient basis for a complete and consistent theory of firm behaviour. Two missing elements are value theory and accountability mechanisms.
The paper proposes a link between value theory and accountability using a Resource Value‐Resource Risk perspective as an alternative to the Capital Asset Pricing Model. The link operates first from the labour process, where value is created but is imperfectly observable by intra‐firm mechanisms of organizational control and outside governance arrangements without incurring monitoring costs. Second, it operates through contractual arrangements which impose fixed cost structures on activities with variable revenues.
The paper thereby explains how value originates in risky and difficult to monitor productive processes and is transmitted as rents to organizational and capital market constituents. It then reviews recent contributions to the RBV, arguing that the proposed new approach overcomes gaps inherent in the alternatives, and thus offers a more complete and integrated view of firm behaviour.
The RBV can become a coherent theory of firm behaviour, if it adopts and can integrate the labour theory of value, associated measures of risk arising from the labour process and mechanisms of accountability.
Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and…
Nobody concerned with political economy can neglect the history of economic doctrines. Structural changes in the economy and society influence economic thinking and, conversely, innovative thought structures and attitudes have almost always forced economic institutions and modes of behaviour to adjust. We learn from the history of economic doctrines how a particular theory emerged and whether, and in which environment, it could take root. We can see how a school evolves out of a common methodological perception and similar techniques of analysis, and how it has to establish itself. The interaction between unresolved problems on the one hand, and the search for better solutions or explanations on the other, leads to a change in paradigma and to the formation of new lines of reasoning. As long as the real world is subject to progress and change scientific search for explanation must out of necessity continue.
This paper is a translation of the third and most important chapter of Keizaigaku shi (History of Political Economy) by the Japanese Marxist economist Samezō Kuruma (1893–1982), first published in 1948. Kuruma discusses in detail the achievements and limitations of the Classical school of political economy. He examines the fundamental ideas of Adam Smith and David Ricardo regarding the determination of commodity value and the source of surplus-value, and then looks at how these ideas are connected to production price and profit. Kuruma notes that Smith and Ricardo managed to arrive at the essential labor theory of value, but that neither could correctly apply this theory to adequately explain phenomena in the realm of competition – either abandoning the labor theory of value altogether to embrace a composition theory of value (Smith) or directly applying the theory to explain phenomena without grasping the intermediary processes of development (Ricardo). Kuruma's critique of Smith and Ricardo highlights the achievement of Marx in overcoming the limitations that ultimately led to the breakdown of the Classical school of political economy.