Three Essays on Marx's Value Theory

Three Essays on Marx's Value Theory

Samir Amin

Language: English

Pages: 96

ISBN: 1583674241

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this slim, insightful volume, noted economist Samir Amin returns to the core of Marxian economic thought: Marx’s theory of value. He begins with the same question that Marx, along with the classical economists, once pondered: how can every commodity, including labor power, sell at its value on the market and still produce a profit for owners of capital? While bourgeois economists attempted to answer this question according to the categories of capitalist society itself, Marx sought to peer through the surface phenomena of market transactions and develop his theory by examining the actual social relations they obscured. The debate over Marx’s conclusions continues to this day.
Amin defends Marx’s theory of value against its critics and also tackles some of its trickier aspects. He examines the relationship between Marx’s abstract concepts—such as “socially necessary labor time”—and how they are manifested in the capitalist marketplace as prices, wages, rents, and so on. He also explains how variations in price are affected by the development of “monopoly- capitalism,” the abandonment of the gold standard, and the deepening of capitalism as a global system. Amin extends Marx’s theory and applies it to capitalism’s current trajectory in a way that is unencumbered by the weight of orthodoxy and unafraid of its own radical conclusions.



















in a system that moves from disequilibrium to disequilibrium without ever tending toward an equilibrium that can in advance be defined in economic terms. By nature, capitalism is an unstable system. Thus the disorder that characterizes it is a reality that cannot be gotten rid of by any economistic reduction. This disorder, nevertheless, is successfully regulated, often (but not always) by national state policies mobilizing, on one hand, the systematic construction of hegemonic social blocs, and

have introduced yet another ground for permanent chaos. The loss of the reference point constituted by metallic money implies a critique of the logic of accumulation. That Social Value and the Price-Income System 47 loss of reference brought about the appearance of a new way to manage accumulation, linked to the disorder of thenceforward possible inflation. Currently, the affirmed will to preclude any inflationary outlook, still without a return to metallic money but by carrying out permanent

accelerated generalizing of proletarianization. This acceleration takes the form of a generalization of wage labor in the centers and the growth of such labor at dizzying speed in the peripheries. Of course, the new generalized proletariat, confronting the generalized monopolies, is segmented. Among other things, it is divided on the one hand between its preponderant forms in the centers, which are implicitly linked to the modes of control of the worldwide system and to the international division

Great Financial Crisis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2009). Also see Samir Amin, “Capitalism and the Ecological Footprint,” Monthly Review 61/6 (November 2009); and “Unequal Access to the Planet’s Resources” and “The Extractive Rent” in The Law of Worldwide Value, pp. 95–100. Concerning the nature of Marx’s project, I refer the reader to Michael Löwy’s excellent Les aventures de Karl Marx contre le baron de Munchhausen (Paris: Syllepse, 2012). Concerning my rapid allusions to Marx’s

two fields of competition among capitals, which enable the passage from values to prices of production and to market prices. That treatment calls for specifications about the nature of Marx’s project, the productivity of social labor, the question of the transformation of values into prices of production, the concept of abstract labor, and the trend over time of the rate of profit. Marx’s Project Marx’s project, in his critical analysis of capital, was to separate out the mode of operation of

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