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Effective Demand and Say’s Law in Marxist Theory

15 October, 2018 Leave a comment

GPERC cover

The new version of my working paper “Effective Demand and Say’s Law in Marxist Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective” is now available here. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Direct link to PDF file here.

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Effective Demand and Say’s Law in Marxist Theory: An Evolutionary Perspective

Abstract

In this paper I theorize the roles of effective demand and Say’s Law in the Marxist theory of exploitation and accumulation. I claim that an exogenous rate of exploitation implies deploying the strongest version of Say’s Law, which leads profit rates not to equalize across sectors. Marx’s own procedure in Capital III was therefore logically mistaken. Once Keynes’ principle of effective demand is introduced, the rate of exploitation, and hence the distribution of income between wages and profits, becomes endogenous to aggregate demand. Profit rates can then equalize across sectors and prices of production can function as gravitational centers for market prices in a competitive economy. I develop an innovative evolutionary approach to demonstrate how effective demand, within the Marxist framework, determines the rate of exploitation and the rate of profit. At the intersection of Marx, Keynes, and Kalecki, my evolutionary framework integrates effective demand, functional income distribution, profit rate equalization, technological diffusion, and the gravitation towards prices of production.

Key words: Marx, Keynes, Kalecki, Effective Demand, Say’s Law

JEL codes: B51, C73, D20

Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx

15 October, 2018 Leave a comment

I am glad to announce that some chapters of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx (edited by Matt Vidal, Tony Smith, Tomás Rotta, and Paul Prew) are now available for free download. Our handbook will feature over 40 chapters from several scholars. The print version of the full volume is expected to come out in April 2019. The table is contents is available here. Link to the handbook here. My chapter on the “Commodification of Knowledge and Information“, co-authored with Rodrigo Teixeira, is available here.

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Abstract

Karl Marx is one of the most influential writers in history. Despite repeated obituaries proclaiming the death of Marxism, in the 21st century Marx’s ideas and theories continue to guide vibrant research traditions in sociology, economics, political science, philosophy, history, anthropology, management, economic geography, ecology, literary criticism and media studies.

Due to the wide influence and reach of Marxist theory, including over 150 years of historical debates and traditions within Marxism, finding a point of entry can be daunting. The Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx provides an entry point for those new to Marxism. At the same time, its chapters, written by leading Marxist scholars, advance Marxist theory and research. Its coverage is more comprehensive than previous volumes on Marx in terms of both foundational concepts and empirical research on contemporary social problems. It also provides equal space to sociologists, economists, and political scientists, with substantial contributions from philosophers, historians and geographers.

The Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx consists of seven sections. The first section, Foundations, includes chapters that demonstrate that the core elements of Marx’s political economy of capitalism continue to be defended, elaborated and applied to empirical social science, including historical materialism, class, capital, labor, value, crisis, ideology, and alienation. Additional sections include Labor, Class, and Social Divisions; Capitalist States and Spaces; Accumulation, Crisis and Class struggle in the Core Countries; Accumulation, Crisis and Class Struggle in the Peripheral and Semi-Peripheral Countries; and Alternatives to Capitalism.

List of contributors

Gilbert Achcar, Kevin B. Anderson, Deepankar Basu, Paul Blackledge, Lin Chun, Brett Clark, Debarshi Das, Nicholas De Genova, Pat Devine, Barry Eidlin, John Bellamy Foster, Alan Freeman, Martha E. Gimenez, Sam Gindin, Henry Heller, John Holloway, Peter Hudis, Bob Jessop, Walda Katz-Fishman, Andrew Kliman, David Laibman, David Mandel, Terrence McDonough, Mark McNally, Fred Moseley, Patrick Murray, Bertell Ollman, Leo Panitch, Leda Maria Paulani, Jeff Powell, Paul Prew, Jan Rehmann, Geert Reuten, Tomás Rotta, Magnus Ryner, Jerome Scott, Tony Smith, Guido Starosta, Dan Swain, Erik Swyngedouw, Rodrigo Teixeira, Matt Vidal, Erik Olin Wright

 

The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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My paper “The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value”, co-authored with Rodrigo Teixeira, was published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics. Here you can find the abstract and the link to the paper.

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The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value

We theorise the forms of value in the Marxist system in a way that challenges the dominant tradition. The standard procedure has been to read Marx’s Capital as an analysis that begins at a high level of abstraction and moves towards more concrete concepts. Our alternative approach posits that the forms of value in the Marxist system evolve from more concrete towards more abstract forms of wealth that increasingly separate from and obscure labour exploitation. Our procedure therefore replaces the dominant interpretation of ‘successive approximations’ employed by most scholars. We develop a broader account of Marx’s project alongside textual evidence retrieved from many of his writings. We also provide a new way to incorporate the monetary, financial and rentier forms of wealth into Marx’s labour value theory. The proposed alternative approach can potentially open a research agenda on the contemporaneous dynamics of abstract and concrete forms of wealth in advanced capitalism.

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Key words: Marx, Capital, Abstract wealth, Autonomization, Labor theory of value
JEL classifications: B51, B14, B24

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Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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My paper “Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework” was published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics via advance access. Here you can find the paper, the appendix to the paper, and also all the data series that I computed for this piece of work.

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Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework

In this paper I offer an innovative analysis of unproductive accumulation in the United States economy from 1947 to 2011. I develop a new theoretical and empirical framework to analyze the accumulation of capital in its productive and unproductive forms. I also develop a methodology to compute Marxist categories predicated on the idea that the production of knowledge and information is an unproductive activity that relies on the creation of knowledge-rents. In particular, I provide new empirical estimates to uncover the shifting balance between productive and unproductive forms of accumulation. The accumulation pattern observed during the 1947-1979 phase that prioritized productive accumulation gave way after the 1980s to a contrasting pattern prioritizing unproductive accumulation. Unproductive activity has been growing at a fast pace in terms of incomes, fixed assets, and employment. Among all forms of unproductive activity, my approach places special attention on how the production of knowledge and information has constituted a rising share of total unproductive income and capital stock. Additionally, productive stagnation and rapid unproductive accumulation have been related to greater exploitation of productive workers and to widening income inequality.

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Key-words: Unproductive Activity, Capital Accumulation, Exploitation, Inequality, Stagnation

JEL Codes: B51; E01; O34

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Unproductive Accumulation in the USA: Lecture Slides

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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On March 21st 2018 I gave a lecture titled “Unproductive Accumulation in the USA” at King’s College London (KCL). This lecture was part of the Seminars in Contemporary Marxist Theory that takes place monthly at KCL.

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The slides of my lecture can be found here:

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https://marx21.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/tomasrotta-unproductive-accumulation-in-the-usa-21march2018.pdf

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More information on KCL’s Seminars in Contemporary Marxist Theory here:

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https://www.kcl.ac.uk/marxist-theory-seminar/cmt.aspx

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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information: Lecture Slides

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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On May 17th 2018 I gave a lecture on “The Commodification of Knowledge and Information” at the University of Greenwich in London. This lecture was part of the “Lecture Series in Selected Topics in Post-Keynesian, Institutionalist, Feminist and Marxian political economy” organized by the Greenwich Political Economy Research Center (GPERC).
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The slides of my lecture can be found here:
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https://marx21.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/tomasrotta-the-commodification-of-knowledge-and-information-17may2018.pdf
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More information on our Lecture Series can be found here:
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http://www.gre.ac.uk/business/research/centres/gperc/news/events/lecture-series
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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information: New Working Paper Version

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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The the new version of my GPERC working paper with Rodrigo Teixeira is now online.

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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information

In this chapter we present an analysis of the commodification of knowledge and information in contemporary capitalism. We provide a consistent account of how information as a commodity effects the workings of both capitalism and of Marxist theory. The first part of the chapter critically revisits Marx’s own writings on the commodification of knowledge and how the immaterial labor hypothesis initially interpreted these writings. Based on the new categories knowledge-commodity and knowledge-rent, we then present our own approach in response to the challenges raised by the immaterial labor hypothesis. Lastly, we analyze the more recent contributions on the commodification of knowledge and information within the Marxist literature. The current debate on the value of knowledge has been divided between two camps: the reproduction cost approach, and the average cost approach. At the end of the chapter we present empirical estimates of the magnitudes of knowledge-rents.

Key-words: knowledge-commodities, knowledge-rents, value theory, Marx, immaterial labor

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