An Essay on Marxian Economics

By Joan Robinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE LONG-PERIOD THEORY OF EMPLOYMENT

FOR the most part, Marx conducts his argument upon the assumption that there is no problem of the inducement to capitalists to invest in real capital: "Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets."1 The capitalists are not particularly interested in enjoying luxurious expenditure;2 they are interested in acquiring more capital, and each is forced by the competitive struggle to enlarge his capital so as to take advantage of new techniques. So long as they have some profits to invest, they can be relied upon to invest them, irrespective of the prospect of profit or the rate of interest.3 Thus, in the main argument, the problem of effective demand does not arise. This problem is treated separately by Marx, as the problem of "realising surplus value", and his treatment of it is discussed below.4

The problem of unemployment exists, however, even when the problem of effective demand is ruled out. The amount of employment, at any moment, depends upon the amount of capital in existence and the technique of production. As time goes by, capital accumulates and the amount of employment tends to increase. Available

____________________
1
Vol. I, p. 606(60).
2
Vol. III, p. 285(61).
3
At one point Marx speaks of a fall in profits reducing accumulation "because the stimulus of gain is blunted" (Vol. I, p. 633 (62). But the idea is not followed out, and the rest of the argument is consistent with the fall in accumulation being due merely to the fact that there is less profit available to be invested.
4
See Chapter VI.

-29-

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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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