[OPE-L:7028] Re: Marxist economics?

From: Simon Mohun (s.mohun@qmul.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Apr 19 2002 - 19:55:38 EDT

It seems to me that what we call it doesn't much matter. But there are a 
whole host of unresolved issues about how contemporary capitalism works. 
For example:
1. What determines the value of labour power and wages?
2. What determines the value of money?
3. What is the predominant pattern today of technical progress? Has it 
changed? If so, why?
4. Why has the rate of profit been rising in major capitalist economies 
since 1982 or so?
5. (If you believe in the distinction) what are the consequences of the 
continuous steady rise in unproductive labour over the last third of the 20C?
6. Why is inflation so low? (Or, why was it so high in the 70s and 80s?)
7. What are the economic mechanisms of imperialism?
8. If finance is an unproductive sector, why is it so predominant?
9. How do financial derivatives and associated products connect with value 
10. What determines exchange rate movements?
(And more generally:
11. Why is Marxism so male? (Look for example at OPE-L.)
12. What do we mean by socialism, and how do we think it might work?
And I could go on.)
These are serious analytical issues and require serious work. Marxism 
surely has to be more than just a political rhetoric. Or, there's not a lot 
of point in trying to change the world if we don't understand it. I guess 
this is to say that you can call it what you will - economics, Marxist 
economics, political economy, critique of political economy or whatever 
-  the questions remain and still require our answers. Don't they?


At 14:06 19/04/02 -0400, you wrote:
>In his last message, John Holloway mentions, towards the end:
> >the impossibility of a Marxist economics
>I am not quite sure how this should be understood. I agree with the view that
>what we do is political economy rather than (neoclassical) economics, that
>they are mutually incompatible, and that a large part of our job is to
>criticise (neoclassical) economics. In this sense one could argue that
>"Marxist economics" is a misnomer, and that we do is a "critique of
>I have also heard the argument that Marxists do *not* do political economy
>but, rather, a "critique of political economy" - cf. the title of "Capital".
>I disagree with this view, because I think it conflates what Marxism *does*
>with Marx's critique of Ricardo, Smith, etc. Therefore, describing our work
>as a "critique of PE" seems to me both misguided and misleading (but I may be
>John, can you help?

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