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Reviving an interest in Marxist economics

by Dave Riley

Now is the time to dust out those old texts books and learn up on the market. Way back when -- I was taught Keynesian economics by folk who today perhaps would not own up to such a grounding as John Maynard Keynes is supposedly old hat as laissez faire laissez passe is apparently the vogue.

In my attentive economics tutorial was David Morgan who later went on to CEO Westpac Banking Corporation. So Keynes -- whose he?

(Maybe you are asking yourself that very question.)

So while I can boast that I sort of vicariously rubbed shoulders with finance capital I soon enough gravitated to the Labour Theory of Value and the whole Das Kapital thing.

As part of my studies in the mid eighties at the DSP run Marxism school I waded through the three volumes of Marx's Capital during a very intense few weeks.

Unfortunately since then I've tended to drift into a sort of dialectical materialism template where I've valued that way of 'seeing' rather than fall into an economics default POV. While the capitalist mode of production is dinky dye for real the way Marx described it, there's been too much determinism burdened upon it as though everything could be explained by simply looking at the business cycle.

That, by the way, is very undialectical...

Of course in the gross long term view that's the key dynamic -- this mode and its development -- but there's so many mediations in play between the mode and me and you that you cannot draw a straight line as to cause and effect. That doesn't seem to stop Newbie Marxists trying to do just that.

But when the recent events on Wall Street occur you have to return to the books and review the matter and the motion with an eye on causation factors..

The problem is that unless you have a working knowledge of Marxian economic theory it's so very easy to miss-read these events and fall victim to a shallow analysis.

Nonetheless, while I worked up a powerpoint yesterday evening, overnight on the web its notched up almost 600 views on Slideshare (plus 0ver 100 downloads) and has been featured as part of their new Finance category.

('NEW Finance category' suggests that all eyes are watching the market collapse).

Ironic isn't it? Here I am bashing together some DIY Marxist homilies to describe the Wall Street debacle and the would be whatevers are wondering that maybe there' s more to it than what 's being offered as an explanation in the local media's finance commentaries.

That suggests to me that Marxism's economic analysis -- a rather basic element I'd think of the methodology -- is suddenly of potent relevance to the here and now. How else can you explain this massive contradiction of financial collapse met with a gross and very public attempt to bail out the big end of town gratis. No strings. No receipts. Take the money (all $700 billion of it)...please!

No wonder people are both nervous and scratching their heads.

So if you have superannuation pending I'd be very worried indeed. But then you may see fit to ask yourself what was my super all about as before you can get your hot little hands on it the cash is being utilized by god knows who to play at jacking up their personal worth in the casino we call the stock exchange.

And we thought our pandemic gambling problem were the neighborhood pokies!

So let's revive Marxist economics by doing a bit of homework and there 's no better place to start than under the chair of Ernest Mandel.

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This audio comment by John Bellamy Foster is very much to the point.


LeftCast April 29th, 2008

Original audio source

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