THE fundamental differences between Marxian and traditional orthodox economics are, first, that the orthodox economists accept the capitalist system as part of the eternal order of Nature, while Marx regards it as a passing phase in the transition from the feudal economy of the past to the socialist economy of the future. And, second, that the orthodox economists argue in terms of a harmony of interests between the various sections of the community, while Marx conceives of economic life in terms of a conflict of interests between owners of property who do no work and workers who own no property. These two points of difference are not unconnected -- for if the system is taken for granted and the shares of the various classes in the social product are determined by inexorable natural law, all interests unite in requiring an increase in the total to be divided. But if the possibility of changing the system is once admitted, those who hope to gain and those who fear to lose by the change are immediately ranged in opposite camps.
The orthodox economists, on the whole, identified themselves with the system and assumed the role of its apologists, while Marx set himself to understand the working of capitalism in order to hasten its overthrow. Marx was conscious of his purpose. The economists were in general unconscious. They wrote as they did because it seemed to them the only possible way to write, and they believed themselves to be endowed with scientific