Elements of Marxian Economic Theory and Its Criticism

Elements of Marxian Economic Theory and Its Criticism

Elements of Marxian Economic Theory and Its Criticism

Elements of Marxian Economic Theory and Its Criticism

Excerpt

Authors of textbooks make a profession of modesty; let me join that multitude. Whoever considers the difficulty and complexity of Marxian political economy may well tremble at his assurance in assigning himself to expound that doctrine.

Yet it must be done. Marxian political economy was for a long time regarded as one of the exploded, ponderous systems of the Nineteenth Century. The critique of the Austrian school, especially, was thought to have done it in. Mr. J. M. Keynes wondered how such a dull, implausible doctrine had ever engaged the attention of intelligent men.

Today that attitude is no longer maintained, nor is it tenable. Whatever may be the appraisal of Marxian economic theory, it is followed by too many serious and competent scholars and it has too great a political impact to suffer further academic neglect. Yet it is regrettable that it is still slighted. A doctrine so challenging is at least good intellectual discipline. Yet textbooks on economics cite it in passing, or fail to mention its specific doctrines, placing it under the rubric of socialism with little detail or, in several cases, I regret to say, it is even described inaccurately. One celebrated text in the history of economic doctrine has given the reverse of its teachings on central points.

Perhaps the reason for this neglect is the comparative want of material in the English language. In German and French, and, of course, Russian, there is no want of manuals and studies with full scholastic apparatus and conforming to the highest academic standards. Marxian doctrine, instead of being a sectarian teaching confined to agitators and presented in a composite style of economic doctrine and social anathemas, has taken on full university citizenship. The influence of Dobb at Cambridge, Laski at London, and Lindsay at Balliol, has extended Marxian studies in England and the large number of scholars come from the Fascist lands have given their talents. The statistical work of Kuczynski is an example.

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