[OPE-L:5787] Re: Re: Marx and Ricardo [and Malthus]

From: Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Date: Mon Jun 04 2001 - 18:57:12 EDT

Marx could also praise Malthus, as in the case where Malthus was the only one to
recognize that longer hours were the cause of increased profits.

"All honour to Malthus, that he lays stress on the lengthening of the hours of
labour" (Marx 1977, p. 666n).

Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> Re Rakesh's [5770]:
>  > Isn't Marx most contemptuous of Malthus'
> population theory (the  greatest calumy ever heaped on the human race or
> some such what
> unforgettable line though alas I have forgotten) while at the same  time
> underlining that Ricardo
> could only respond with forced  abstractions and his followers with pathetic
> word games in the face
> of Malthus's valid objections?  <
> Oh, yes, Marx was contemptuous of the
> Malthusian population theory. Yet, he was
> *generally* contemptuous of Malthus. This,
> of course, was not personal animosity on
> Marx's part (although some might read it as such)
> but rather *class hatred*.
> Malthus's "purpose", Marx claimed, was to write
> "an apologia for the existing state of affairs in
> England, for landlordism, 'State and Church',
> pensioners, tax-gatherers, tenths, national debt,
> stock-jobbers, beadles, parsons and menial
> servants ('national expenditure') assailed by the
> Ricardians as so many useless and superannuated
> drawbacks to bourgeois production and as
> nuisances" (_TSV_, Part III, Ch. XIX, pp. 51-2.)
> He goes on to consider Malthus's individual works:
>  "Malthus's book _On Population_ was a lampoon
> directed against the French Revolution and the
> contemporary ideas of reform in England
> (Godwin, etc.). It was an apologia for the poverty
> of the working classes. The *theory* was
> plagiarised from Townsend and others.
> His *Essay on Rent* was a piece of polemic
> writing in support of the landlords against industrial
> capital. Its *theory* was taken from Anderson.
> His _Principles of Political Economy_ was a
> polemic work written in the interests of capitalists
> against the workers and in the interests of the
> aristocracy, Church, tax-eaters, toadies, etc.,
> against the capitalists. Its *theory* was taken from
> Adam Smith. When he inserts his own inventions,
> it is pitiable. It is on Sismondi that he bases
> himself in further elaborating the theory" (Ibid,
> pp. 61-2).
> Despite making some valid points re Ricardo
> (e.g. having an emphasis on *unequal exchange*
> between capital and wage-labour {Ibid, p. 14}),
> Marx viewed Malthus as a *reactionary
> representative of the Church, feudalism, and
> the absolute monarchy* (thus Marx wrote that
> Malthus "wants bourgeois production as long
> as it is not revolutionary"). In contrast, Ricardo
> was as viewed as a representative of classical
> liberalism which during Ricardo's time Marx
> thought was revolutionary and progressive in
> contrast to the the likes of "Parson Malthus".
>  >Ricardo made a scientific leap forward, but
>  could not complete it. <
> Whereas, Marx thought that Malthus took a
> leap backwards: Malthus sought to "drag
> political economy back to where it was before
> Ricardo, even to where it was before Adam Smith
> and the Physiocrats" (Ibid, p. 16)
> >  So Marx's critique of political economy begins with the problems that the
> Ricardian school could
> not solve...as Malthus and other critics
> demonstrated.  I don't see how Marx's theoretical
> efforts make sense without  recognition
> of the scientific or  objective validity of the criticisms  made by  Malthus
> and others of
> Ricardo.<
> By no means did Marx just take Malthus's side in
> these debates. Indeed, he often supported
> Ricardo against Malthus on specific issues.
> In solidarity, Jerry


Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929
fax 530-898-5901

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