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Marx and Ricardo on Machinery: A Critical Note

Miguel Ramirez

No 1706, Working Papers from Trinity College, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper critically discusses the important and relevant—not to mention controversial— views of Ricardo and Marx on the impact of machinery on labor productivity, the organization of production, and the wages and employment prospects of the working class during the capitalism of their day. First, the paper turns to Ricardo’s assessment of the introduction of machinery and its likely effects on the laborer and the rate of profit and accumulation—one which went through a substantial revision (and reversal) between the first and third editions of his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Then we discuss Marx’s own critical analysis of the historical development of machinery and its impact on the labor process, the so-called “compensation principle,” and how the rising organic composition of capital ostensibly generates a “redundant or surplus-population”during the course of capitalism development. We highlight Marx’s intellectual debt to Ricardo (and John Barton) insofar as his theory of technological unemployment is concerned. Lastly, the paper summarizes the views of Ricardo and Marx and offers some concluding remarks.

Keywords: : Capital; compensation principle; fixed vs. circulating capital; gross vs. net income; machinery; rate of surplus-value (profit); Say’s Law of Markets; surplus-population; time of production; turnover of capital (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B10 B12 B14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 29 pages
Date: 2017-11, Revised 2017-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-pke
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http://www3.trincoll.edu/repec/WorkingPapers2017/WP17-06.pdf First version, 2017 (application/pdf)

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Journal Article: Marx and Ricardo on machinery: a critical note (2019) Downloads
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