An Essay on Marxian Economics

By Joan Robinson | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

THE purpose of this essay is to compare the economic analysis of Marx Capital with current academic teaching. The comparison is, in one sense, a violent anachronism, for the development of Marx's thought was influenced by controversy with his own contemporaries, not with mine. But if we are interested, not in the historical evolution of economic theory, but in its possible future progress, this is the relevant comparison to make.

Until recently, Marx used to be treated in academic circles with contemptuous silence, broken only by an occasional mocking footnote. But modern developments in academic theory, forced by modern developments in economic life -- the analysis of monopoly and the analysis of unemployment -- have shattered the structure of orthodox doctrine and destroyed the complacency with which economists were wont to view the working of laisser-faire capitalism. Their attitude to Marx, as the leading critic of capitalism, is therefore much less cocksure than it used to be. In my belief, they have much to learn from him. The chief difficulty in learning from him arises from the peculiar language and the crabbed method of argument which he used, and my purpose is to explain what I understand Marx to have been saying in language intelligible to the academic economist.

At the same time, I believe that modern academic economics has something to offer to the Marxists. First, a reconsideration of Marx's argument in the light of the more precise and refined methods of modern analysis clears up many obscurities in his theory, and helps to

-v-

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An Essay on Marxian Economics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by Joan Robinson ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter II - Definitions 6
  • Chapter III - The Labour Theory of Value 10
  • Appendix - Value in a Socialist Economy 23
  • Chapter IV - The Long-Period Theory Of Employment 29
  • Chapter V - The Falling Rate of Profit 35
  • Chapter VI - Effective Demand 43
  • Chapter VII - The Orthodox Theory of Profit 52
  • Chapter VIII - The General Theory Of Employment 63
  • Chapter IX - Imperfect Competition 73
  • Chapter X - Real and Money Wages 82
  • Chapter XI - Dynamic Analysis 92
  • References to "Capital" 96
  • Index 103
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