An Essay on Marxian Economics

By Joan Robinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE

MARX'S theory of value has caused much confusion and generated much controversy. It seems, certainly, perplexing as we follow the uphill struggle of Marx's own mind from the simple dogmatism of the first volume of Capital to the intricate formulations of Volume III. But if we start from the vantage ground of Volume III the journey is much less arduous.

Capital is accumulating, the capitalist system is conquering fresh spheres from peasant and handicraft economies, the population is increasing and technical inventions are being made. Real wages, in general-remain constant at the level established in the pre-capitalist peasant economy,1 or, rather, fluctuate around that level as capitalists' demand for labour varies relatively to the available supply.2 The total surplus, in real terms, is the ever-increasing difference between total output and total real wages. The organic composition of capital, dictated by technical conditions, is different in different spheres.3 The rate of profit on capital tends towards equality in all spheres, for the flow of new capital is attracted towards more than average profits and repelled by less than average profits.4 Temporary differences in the rate of profit in particular industries may be due to demand (which in turn is determined by the distribution of income between workers and capitalists).5 These are evened out

____________________
1
See below, p. 30, n.3.
2
See below, p. 32.
3
Vol. III, p. 172(15).
4
Vol. III, p. 230(16) and p. 243(17).
5
Vol. III, p. 214(18).

-10-

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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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