Marx Emasculated

Karl Marx

Michael Heinrich An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital (Monthly Review Press, New York, 2012)

This book has gone through nine editions and is widely used in German universities. It has the stamp of approval of academic Marxists: the back cover is peppered with effusive praise: ‘a “must-read” in our time of crisis’, ‘The best introduction to Capital I have read’, ‘A brilliant presentation of Marx’s Capital’, ‘the best short introduction to Marx’s Capital to ever appear in English’, ‘The best and most comprehensive introduction to Marx’s Capital there is’.

This book claims to bring to bear the insights of ‘Neue Marx-Lektüre’, a ‘new reading’ of Marx, and in particular of his theory of value. This ‘new reading’ reappeared in the student movement in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. It might seem to be of particular interest to us, since the RCG was actively involved in the debates around political economy at this time,[1] and where it developed its criticism of the reformist solutions to crisis ridden capitalism, explained the nature of women’s oppression, and applied our understanding of imperialism to Ireland and South Africa. The working class was then facing growing unemployment and inflation, and was confronted with a brutal hypocritical ruling class ideological assault, blaming them for the crisis. At the time the RCG confronted the opportunist positions of the International Socialists (the then name of the British SWP) and of the CPGB and the ‘Broad Left’. These were simply Keynesian policy prescriptions disguised by an emasculated Marxist terminology. Their ‘arguments’ relied on accepting criticisms long ago made of Marx’s Capital by an Austrian Finance Minister in the 1890s – von Bohm-Bawerk – for example an invented ‘transformation problem’, the rejection of Marx’s explanation for a tendency for the rate of profit to fall, and rejection of the theory of crisis. Developing our critique at that time of these positions was essential to our political intervention.

Given the enormous theoretical deficit existing elsewhere on the British left today as far as the contribution of Marx and Engels is concerned, one should only welcome a book which promises to help newcomers understand Marx’s revolutionary materialist theory of capitalism. Sadly this book is, from start to finish, an unrelenting distortion and rejection of revolutionary Marxism.

Why read Capital?

For Marx, capitalism is a profit-making system requiring the continued exploitation of the working class. However, production continually runs up against the limits imposed by profit-making – the barrier to capitalist production is the capitalist social relation itself. These continual collisions take the form of recurrent crises, which can only temporarily be overcome by massive attacks on the material conditions of the working class: throwing them out of work, cutting their wages, deepening their misery and meanwhile intensifying conflict with other capitalists. However, by creating a class of wage labourers, capitalism has created its own grave-diggers: crises drive the working class to rebel and overthrow the political and economic regime of capital. Although Marx and Engels had established this in the 1840s, a full scientific understanding of this was only provided by the explanation Marx developed in Capital. He wrote Capital in order to provide the working class with a clear understanding of its situation and what it has to do to overcome it. We read Capital to develop and share in this clarity and to enable us to engage in this struggle in the most effective way possible. Marx’s Capital is a scientific work, yet also a partisan work – it develops, through a criticism of the most advanced understanding of capitalism’s theoretical representatives, ‘the political economy of the working class, reduced to its scientific formulation’.[2] It is not an academic work: it was written for the working class, not for the intelligentsia. It demonstrates that all the major social problems have their roots in the social relations of capitalism and these can only be done away with by doing away with capitalism, and that capitalism is doomed to recurrent crisis until it is replaced – or destroys us and the rest of nature as we know it.

Bye-bye Marxism

Any initial optimism about this book swiftly waned when I was startled to read that: ‘there is in fact no such thing as “Marxism”’ (p10). That’s right: almost all previous “Marxism” – Heinrich’s inverted commas – is junk. ‘Marxism-Leninism’, ‘traditional Marxism’, ‘worldview Marxism’ – whatever you care to call it, is just plain wrong, rubbish. The accumulated experience and lessons of more than a century and a half of struggle and debate by millions of workers, through the First, Second and Third Internationals, the Paris Commune, two world wars, fascism, several revolutions as well as liberation struggles of all kinds, and the experience of the socialist countries, goes straight in the trash, all flawed. Heinrich apparently knows better. Their intense and valuable debates over reform versus revolution, peace and war, imperialism, national oppression, revolutionary tactics, the construction of socialism, the oppression of women and so on, are, apparently, irrelevant. For a sentence or two, it might seem that there is an exception to the trend: the so-called ‘Western Marxism’ of Korsch.[3] Lukacs,[4] and the Frankfurt School. But, after a swift glance, we learn that these failed to engage in the ‘critique of political economy’ and sentence gets briskly passed. Indeed Marx himself fails to make the grade - even the Communist Manifesto gets tossed into Heinrich’s intellectual incinerator (‘an ingenious intuition rather than … far-reaching scientific knowledge’, p22).

Surprising as this sweeping and total dismissal of the Marxist heritage is, the explanation for it gives further pause. The tale told (pp23-25) is not a new one: it is as old as ‘western civilisation’, and probably has some primordial appeal – Marxism underwent the Fall from Grace; it experienced Paradise Lost in secular garb. After Marx died, serpent-Engels offered the innocent workers’ movement a poisoned apple – Anti-Duhring and two dubiously edited volumes of Capital – which ‘simplified’ Marxism (apparently a bad thing in Heinrich’s view) and poisoned the workers’ movement into viewing ‘the end of capitalism and the proletarian revolution as inevitable occurrences’ (pp24-25). This was bad enough, but even worse was to come: serpent-Lenin then engaged in ‘further simplification of this worldview Marxism’ and had the temerity to claim that it ‘cannot be reconciled with any superstition, any reaction, any defence of bourgeois oppression’ (p25). This fresh dose of poison split the movement, resulting in a Communist wing that ‘existed above all to justify the zigzags in the domestic and foreign policy of the Soviet Union’, which ‘suffocated open discussion’ and which has dominated ‘ideas in general circulation today’ (pp25-26). Everybody tragically, has been out of step except, apparently, Heinrich. How millions of apparently sensible people fell for this bogus ‘Marxism’ is not explained. Nor how it is that only Michael Heinrich, alone in the entire world, did not. Clearly excessive modesty is not one of Heinrich’s failings.

How does Heinrich intend to purify us? By treating us to a strong dose of ‘new reading’. What is this ‘new reading’ as applied to Marx’s use of the theory of value? It emphasises that capitalism ‘is mediated by value and thus “fetishized”.’ (p10). This is hardly ‘new’: Marx himself, after all, emphasised the importance of the first chapter and the forms of value in his foreword to the first German edition of Capital, and in the afterword to the second. In a footnote to the section of Chapter 1 on commodity fetishism, he emphasised his difference with classical bourgeois political economy over this issue.[5] As early as 1871, the Russian Professor Sieber, in his book David Ricardo’s Theory of Value and Capital, emphasised precisely the issue of forms of value and the role of fetishisation,[6] as have many other Marxists. Plekhanov and Lenin, both awful ‘worldview Marxists’ according to Heinrich, were, of course, familiar with Sieber’s book and hence with the forms of value. We recall Lenin’s famous remark that:

‘Just as the simple form of value, the individual act of exchange of one given commodity for another, already includes in an undeveloped form all the main contradictions of capitalism’.[7]

II Rubin’s 1928 book, published by the State Publishing House in Moscow, Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value (translated into English in 1972) puts the fetishism of commodities right at the forefront of his analysis. The Soviet Marxologist Vitaly Vygodsky, another ‘worldview Marxist’, was well aware of the role played by fetishism.[8] The ‘new’ reading Heinrich claims to apply is not so new, nor so original. After all, it is there for the reading in Marx’s Capital.

Bye-bye ‘the most important law’

Heinrich seems more interested in bashing ‘worldview Marxism’ than in explaining Marx’s Capital: his analysis of value and its ramifications jumps from one criticism to another, instead of focusing on what Marx is really saying. His ‘new’ reading rapidly starts to run out of steam by the end of the third chapter of Capital – he treats the whole of Volume II in just ten pages! Some of the most frequently distorted parts of Capital in Volume III are rapidly glossed over. The distortions of Marx’s derivation of prices and formation of a general rate of profit – historically the object of sustained attack by bourgeois economists and revisionists - are dealt with by some ineffectual verbal hand waving over a couple of pages, instead of the robust defence[9] which is needed, and which is possible, given a proper understanding of the law of value.

We arrive at the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Marx attached very great importance to this law, a fact which Heinrich somehow omits to tell us. For Marx, ‘In every respect, this is the most important law of modern political economy, and the most essential one for comprehending the most complex relationships. It is the most important law from the historical standpoint’;[10] ‘it is the most important law of political economy’;[11] ‘one of the greatest triumphs over the pons asini of all previous political economy’;[12] ‘Since this law is of great importance to capitalist production, it may be said to be a mystery whose solution has been the goal of all political economy since Adam Smith’[13] In short, the tendency for the rate of profit to fall was a very big deal for Marx.

When Heinrich attempts to disprove the law, he argues that the ‘quantitative development’ of the rate of surplus-value and the value-composition of capital ‘is decisive for the movement of the rate of profit’ (p151). He believes that the rate of profit is indeterminate, that there is supposedly no demonstrable tendency. His argument comes down to this clincher: ‘If constant capital does not increase strongly enough to compensate the reduction of variable capital, then the total capital advanced declines. In this case, we have a declining mass of surplus value and declining capital. Whether the rate of profit falls depends upon …’ (p153). ‘We’ don’t need to read any further: if the capitalists ‘have a declining mass of surplus value and declining capital’ they’ve got a much bigger problem to worry about than the rate of profit: the total value of capital has declined. Since the whole point of capital, as self-expanding value, is to increase value, capitalism will be plunged into crisis. Heinrich’s ‘refutation’ of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is made by arguing that capital eventually implodes in order to avoid a falling return on investment!! He fails to see his own bizarre ‘logic’ has a big hole, and he falls straight into it.

The movement of the rate of profit is not dependent simply on abstract quantitative ratios: there are certain objective limits. These quantitative ratios have to move within the confines of the working day, real material changes in the labour process and the requirement that value continually expand. Productivity increases, even if they occur magically for free, increase the organic composition of capital because it is ‘just another expression for the progressive development of the social productivity of labour, which is demonstrated precisely by the fact that the same number of labourers, in the same time,ie, with less labour, convert an ever-increasing quantity of raw and auxiliary materials into products’.[14] Doubling productivity means doubling the mass of raw materials consumed in the labour process and therefore, other things being equal, doubling the value of these, significantly increasing the value of constant capital used up relative to variable capital. If capital also has to be laid out on additional machinery to gain the increase, then this increases this ratio even further. This is why Marx calls it a tendency. The value composition – the proportion of constant to variable capital – necessarily rises relatively to the increase in productivity.

At the same time it becomes increasingly difficult to increase the absolute amount of surplus labour performed – and hence surplus value – with each increase in productivity. When an eight-hour working day contains four hours of necessary labour time, a halving of the value of labour power will increase surplus labour by two hours. Halve it again, and surplus labour will only increase by one hour. Halve it yet again, and the increase will be just 30 minutes.[15]

If Heinrich, or anyone, really believes that the tendency of the rate of profit is indeterminate, all he or she has to do is to produce an arithmetical series which shares Marx’s assumptions, running for several decades, demonstrating this supposed indeterminacy. The fact that, since 1894, 120 years ago, when Volume III was first published, nobody has been able successfully to produce such an example, shows how vacuous and baseless these sorts of assertions are.[16]

Bye-bye crisis

In several places, the book claims that capitalism is crisis-prone. But when we examine Heinrich’s explanation of crisis, he nowhere demonstrates this. Capitalism has a tendency toward unlimited extension of production, which apparently confronts a limited ability to consume (p172). Consumption has three components, including working class consumption (never sufficient to consume the whole product), capitalist luxury consumption (negligibly low) and finally the investment demand of capitalists in new and replacement means of production. ‘This is the decisive variable … Whether investments in productive capital (means of production and labor-power) are high or low depends, on the one hand, upon the expected profit … and on the other hand, upon the difference between the expected rate of profit and the rate of interest’ (pp172-3, MH emphasis). There is not a shred of support for this theory anywhere in Marx: it is actually a drastically simplified version of Keynes’ General Theory: in Keynes-speak: ‘There will be an inducement to push the rate of new investment to the point which … taken in conjunction with its prospective yield, brings the marginal efficiency of capital in general to approximate equality with the rate of interest.’[17] Investments in productive capital, according to Heinrich, depend first on capitalists’ subjective expectations – a psychological variable that is apparently entirely whimsical – and on the rate of interest which, determined by supply and demand (p157), could move in any direction. It is clear then that, in Heinrich’s interpretation, it is impossible to discern any tendency or necessity for investment in productive capital to take any particular course. There is therefore no theoretical or logical basis in Heinrich’s theory for asserting either a proneness to crisis or a tendency to overproduction which leads to crisis. It is not, therefore, Marx’s theory which is ‘indeterminate’, but Heinrich’s interpretation of it. Everything is dependent on the arbitrary mood of the capitalist and the uncertain course of interest rates – no valid statements can be made regarding capitalism’s immanent behaviour. Indeed, in this interpretation, there is nothing to stop the state stepping in to adjust interest rates or compensate for the deficiency in investment by expanding its own consumption – a classic programme for reforming capitalism so there is no need to get rid of it.

Bye-bye class struggle

Interesting is Heinrich’s attitude to classes and class struggle. One of the flaws of “Marxism”, as Heinrich sees it, is that it ‘proceeded from the assumption of a necessary transformation of the proletariat into a revolutionary class … Insofar as the real proletarians were not clear about their role, they should be helped along – mainly by the “party of the working class”’. One can ‘find these two false conclusions, and a deterministic conception of history building upon them, in some of Marx’s works, above all in the Communist Manifesto … In Capital, Marx is considerably more cautious’(p196).

This argument immediately runs up against this incautious passage from Capital:

‘Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated. ... we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people.’

This is not, as Heinrich would have it, an ‘assumption’, but a conclusion! In a footnote to this passage, Marx quotes from the wicked Communist Manifesto:

‘What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable ... Of all the classes that stand face-to-face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes perish and disappear in the face of Modern Industry, the proletariat is its special and essential product.’[18]

To us deluded “worldview Marxists”, this would seem to be a direct slap in the face for Heinrich, a strong hint, at the very least, that his interpretation of Capital has run completely off the rails. But Heinrich rises to the challenge and scribbles a long dismissive paragraph which finally sniffs: ‘A revolutionary development can arise; it is not impossible, but it is anything but inevitable’(p198). There is nothing special about the proletariat: ‘the most “impoverished” sectors of the population in no way automatically move to the left; they can just as well turn toward rightwing, nationalist, and fascist movements’ (p127). Apparently, Marx the hot-head just got carried away: ‘the passage is more an expression of hope than analysis; revolutionary enthusiasm triumphed over the cool scholar … There are no certainties here, merely a struggle with a conclusion that is up for grabs.’

This only makes sense if there was some kind of break between the ‘young Marx’ and the ‘old Marx’ who wrote Capital: all that stuff about the proletariat was just youthful enthusiasm and a mature Marx changed his mind later. However, Marx and Engels never abandoned the general principles of the Communist Manifesto: indeed they republished it in 1872 and subsequently. In 1879, when Carlo Cafiero sent him a copy of his A Compendium of Das Kapital, Marx responded that what was missing was ‘proof that the material conditions indispensable to the emancipation of the proletariat are engendered in spontaneous fashion by the progress of capitalist production [and the class struggle which finally leads to a social revolution. What distinguishes critical and revolutionary socialism from its predecessors is, in my opinion, precisely this materialist basis.]’[19] They subsequently reiterated the continuity of their politics: ‘For almost 40 years [ie, since the 1840s. SP.] we have emphasised that the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and proletariat is the great lever of modern social revolution’[20]. What Heinrich wants to throw out here is precisely something which was to Marx essential. The real break here is not between the young Marx and the old, but rather between a ‘hot headed’ ‘young Heinrich’ and the old ‘cool-academic-careerist-scholar’ Heinrich.

Heinrich doesn’t like the Marx and the “Marxism” he finds. In its place he wants to create another Marx. This he does by simply throwing out anything he doesn’t like. But he has no uniform principle of criticism – different reasons every time. Engels was too simple, Lenin even simpler still. The ‘transformation problem’? Marx made a mistake and then just gave up. The tendency for the rate of profit to fall? So simple to disprove and silly old Marx didn’t see it. Crisis? Serve up some stewed Keynesianism instead. A revolutionary proletariat? Marx just got carried away.

When things reach this stage, we can’t help wondering what ‘cool-scholar’ Heinrich makes of Marx’s Thesis 11 on Feuerbach: ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point however is to change it.’ Marx never was the ‘cool scholar’ Heinrich wants him to be: primarily ‘a critic of a social structure’ (p10). As Engels put it: ‘Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being … Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’[21] Heinrich’s entire project is to conceal this Marx from his readers and to exculpate anything Marx says to the contrary. In its place, we have a recycled version of ‘Marxist humanism’: instead of everyone being helpless victims of capitalism’s ‘alienation’, everybody, bourgeoisie and proletariat alike, are caught up in this machine. ‘Everybody, including those who profit from the operation of capitalism, is part of a gigantic wheelwork [ie, caught up in the cogs]. Capitalism turns out to be an anonymous machine, without any foreman who steers the machine or can be made responsible for the destruction wrought by the machine.’ (p185) All that’s substantially different from ‘Marxist humanism’ is that it is built up on a basis of the ‘critique of Political Economy’ instead of philosophy. This capitalism has no immanent self-destructive tendencies, contains no obvious preparation for any alternative, and no agent for changing it. By contrast, Marx’s capitalism is self-destructive, lays the material basis for a new society and, in the working class, creates the agent to effect the transition: the working class

‘know that in order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending by its own economical agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to realise, but to set free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant.’[22]

Just four years after the publication of Capital, the seizure of power by the workers of Paris, who established the Paris Commune in 1871 provided practical confirmation of Marx’s analysis.

Well Hello Bourgeoisie!

While any hint of revolutionary pretensions from the working class get smacked down right away, capitalists receive quite different treatment in Heinrich’s hands. Marx remarks that

‘I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense couleur de rose. But here individuals are dealt with only insofar as they are the personifications of economic categories, embodiments of particular class-relations and class-interests. My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains’[23].

What Marx clearly means by this is that no-one deliberately and consciously created these relations – their ‘evolution’ is ‘a process of natural history’. Nor are these relations under conscious control. They cannot be changed by a change in the behaviour of the capitalists. Capitalism behaves as it does not because of capitalists’ greed, malice or evil but because of the social relation of capital. Heinrich takes this idea and gives it a subtle twist: capitalist and worker are equally helpless victims:

‘Individual capitalists are forced into this movement of restless profiteering … He is therefore forced to participate, whether or not he wants to. … capitalism rests upon a systemic relationship of domination that produces constraints to which both workers and capitalists are subordinated.’ (p16, MH emphasis)

But just because capitalism’s contradictions are not the result of capitalist greed, malice or evil, does not mean that capitalists are not greedy, malicious and evil! Nobody is forced to be a capitalist, an exploiter. Capitalists are not automatons: they are ‘capital personified and endowed with consciousness and a will.’[24]

Marx had no hesitation in recognising capitalists’ responsibility for their behaviour and calling them on it. Referring to the Reports of the Children’s Employment Commission, he wrote to Engels: ‘I hope that the bourgeoisie will think of my carbuncles for the rest of its life. What swine they are: here is more evidence. … It is a question of the abolition of torture for 1½ million people, not including adult male working men!’[25] The historical material in Capital illustrating the condition of the English and Irish proletariat during the previous 20 years was not part of Marx’s original plan and was added because he was too ill to ‘make any progress with the really theoretical part’.[26] He was quite clear that it ‘only serves me as an argumentum ad hominem.’[27] It forms a lengthy sustained condemnation of the bourgeoisie. Contrast this with Heinrich, who at every twist and turn becomes the ‘attorney for the defence’, assuring us that capitalists can’t help what they do!

The excuse that capitalists are victims of circumstances was raised in criticism against Marx and Engels, who responded:

‘Sadly we are all “children of our time”, and if this be sufficient grounds for our excuse, it is no longer permissible to attack anyone, and we for our part would have to desist from all polemic, all struggle; we would calmly submit whenever kicked by our opponents, because we would know in our wisdom that they are “only children of their time” and cannot act otherwise than they do. Instead of repaying them their kicks with interest, we should rather, it seems, feel sorry for the poor fellows.’[28]

The ‘special case’ of anti-Semitism

Given the book’s reluctance to dirty its hands with the profane consequences of capitalism, it is surprising to discover a whole section devoted to anti-Semitism. Apparently ‘Anti-Semitism in bourgeois-capitalist society is … fundamentally distinct from all other forms of discrimination’ because only in ‘modern anti-Semitism are central constitutive principles of society [ie, money, profit-making etc] projected “outward” onto a “foreign” group’ (p189). In the first place, this is a thoroughly racist idea: what is so different and special about Jews to suggest that they alone should undergo this projection? Secondly, it is simply not true: there are other societies in the world where tribes, castes, clans, nationalities and other groups suffer the same projection. Third, the labour market and the wage contract are just as much ‘constitutive’ economic ‘principles’ as money and profit-making: consider the accusations that women, immigrants, black people are likely to ‘undercut our wages’ and ‘steal our jobs’. Today, these excuses for racism are far more pervasive and prevalent than anti-Semitism. To try to put them in the back of the bus, as Heinrich implicitly does, is itself thoroughly racist.

Marx emasculated

What is missing from Heinrich’s account is any examination of the lawfulness of Capital: it is littered with laws: the law of value, the law of the falling rate of profit, laws of wages and more. The entire purpose of Capital is ‘to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society’.[29] ‘It is a question of these laws themselves, of these tendencies working with iron necessity towards inevitable results.’[30] Deprived of its lawfulness, much else of Capital disappears. How comforting to the bourgeoisie and its professors!

One will seek in vain here for the Communist Manifesto’s ‘Spectre haunting Europe’. The Marx which Heinrich raises from the dead is almost unrecognisable. Eyes dull and lifeless, bald, no teeth, no claws, no bite, no fire, no passion, no pugnacity, completely cowed: a Marx tamed, a pet trained to amuse the petit-bourgeoisie, distracting them from joining revolutionary struggle, and to reassure the ruling class.

Unlike Marx’s ‘most terrible missile … hurled at the heads of the bourgeoisie’[31], Heinrich delivers a damp, shameless, revisionist squib which distorts Marxism all along the line.

Steve Palmer


[1] See the articles by David Yaffe ‘Value and Price in Marx’s Capital’, in Revolutionary Communist 1 and ‘Inflation, the Crisis and the Post-War Boom’ by David Yaffe and Paul Bullock in RC 3/4. Also by Peter Howell on ‘Productive and Unproductive Labour’ in RC 3/4, and Olivia Adamson, Carol Brown, Judith Harrison and Judy Price on ‘Women’s Oppression under Capitalism’ in RC5.

[2] Engels, ‘Karl Marx’, 1869, See also Marx, Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association, 1864: ‘the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class’,

[3]Marxism and Philosophy, Verso, 2012.

[4]History and Class Consciousness, Merlin, 1975.

[5] Capital I (International Publishers, New York, 1967), p80 fn2 (Penguin edition, p174 fn34). Entirely absorbed in the analysis of the magnitude of value, ‘It is one of the chief failings of classical economy that it has never succeeded, by means of its analysis of commodities, and, in particular, of their value, in discovering that form under which value becomes exchange value. Even Adam Smith and Ricardo, the best representatives of the school, treat the form of value as a thing of no importance’

[6] See Capital I, pp16-17 (Penguin ed, p99). An English translation of the first chapter of Sieber’s book is available as ‘Marx’s Theory of Value and Money’, Research in Political Economy, Volume 19, pp17-45, 2001. See also Sieber, ‘Marx’s Economic Theory’, ibid, Volume 27, pp155-190, 2011.

[7] From ‘Conspectus of Hegel’s Science of Logic’, Collected Works, 38, pp178-179.

[8] See A Book for All Time (Novosti Press Agency, Moscow, 1967) Chapter 3; also Story of a Great Discovery (Berlin, 1974) Chapter 3.

[9] See Yaffe, ‘Value and Price’, op cit.

[10] MECW, 29, p133

[11] MECW, 33, p104

[12] Marx to Engels, April 30, 1868, MECW, 43, p24.

[13] Capital III (International Publishers, New York, 1967), p213, Chapter 13 (Penguin edition, p319).

[14] Capital III, p212. (Penguin edition, p318).

[15] This point is extensively discussed in the Grundrisse, MECW 28, pp260-266. (Penguin edition, pp333-341.)

[16] The extension, by Henryk Grossman, of Otto Bauer’s well known schema (‘The Accumulation of Capital’ (1913) in Richard B Day and Daniel Gaido, Discovering Imperialism (Haymarket, Chicago, 2012) pp713-743), extrapolating them from 4 to 35 years and demonstrating the consequent breakdown is a terrible warning against such attempts! The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System (Pluto Press, London, 1992) p74ff.

[17] Keynes, General Theory, p248.

[18] Capital I, p763 (Penguin p929). In the afterword to the second German edition of Capital (1873), Marx describes the proletariat as ‘the class whose vocation in history is the overthrow of the capitalist mode of production and the final abolition of classes’. Ibid, p16 (Penguin p98).

[19] Marx to Cafiero, July 29 1879, MECW, 45, p366.

[20] Circular Letter to Bebel et al, September 17-18 1879, MECW 24, 269.

[21] ‘Speech at the Graveside of Karl Marx’, MECW, 24, p468.

[22] ‘The Civil War in France’, MECW, 22, p335.

[23] Capital, I, p10 (Penguin, p92). Quoted by Heinrich on p185.

[24] Capital I, p152 (Penguin, p254).

[25] Letters on Capital, pp104-5, June 22 1867. See also Marx to Engels, February 13 1866: ‘the English manufacturing swine’, ibid, p98.

[26] Marx to Engels, February 10 1866, Letters on Capital, p97.

[27] Marx to Meyer, April 30 1867, Letters on Capital, p102.

[28] Marx and Engels, Circular Letter to Bebel et al, September 17-18 1879, MECW, 24, p266.

[29] Capital, I, p10 (Penguin, p92).

[30] Ibid p8 (Penguin, p91).

[31] Marx to Engels, April 17, 1867, Letters on Capital, p101.


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