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Appearances do mislead: Marxist economic theory and the demise of labour theory of value.Part two: Das Kapital au contraire

Alberto Battistini

Department of Economics University of Siena from Department of Economics, University of Siena

Abstract: Completely renouncing the labour theory of value, Marxist economic theory has in fact obliterated Marx’s specific contribution to the same theory and more generally to the critique of political economy: the theory of surplusvalue, that is the difference between the use-value and the exchange-value of labour power as a determinant of profit in perfectly competitive conditions and of the contradictory character of the capital accumulation process. Starting from the observation that such a contribution is instead still relevant and timely, both in theoretical and practical terms, in this paper it is shown how it could be made independent from its original analytical formulation in terms of labour quantity. It is indeed such analytical formulation, which Marx largely borrowed from Ricardo, that today seems useless, again for both theoretical and practical reasons. More specifically, then, in the first part of this paper the static part of such theory has been dealt with, verifying in particular the hypothesis that the role played by the Ricardian notion of production cost, which Marx, differently from Ricardo himself, significantly used to also determine wages, could be played by the general notion of transaction costs, in the Coasean meaning of the costs of using the price system. This second part, instead, tackles the dynamic part of the same theory, verifying in particular the hypothesis that capital, in Marx’s definition of money in motion in the Money ? Commodity ? More Money circuit, can be taken as unit of analysis in an evolutionary process substituting the so-called circular vision of the production process, which Marx also borrowed from Ricardo but actually goes back directly to Quesnay and, equally notably, has been thought with reference to an agricultural economy. The end result is an institutional and evolutionary re-interpretation of Marx’s version of the labour theory of value

Keywords: transaction costs; wealth effects; use-value; exchange-value; differential replication; methodological individualism. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his and nep-hme
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