For the political ideology commonly associated with states governed by communist parties, see Marxism–Leninism
Marxism has had a profound impact on global academia, having influenced many fields, including anthropology
, art theory
, cultural studies
, film theory
, literary criticism
, media studies
, political science
, science studies
, urban planning
Marxism seeks to explain social phenomena
within any given society by analyzing the material conditions and economic activities
required to fulfill human material needs. It assumes that the form of economic organization, or mode of production
, influences all other social phenomena including wider social relations, political institutions, legal systems, cultural systems, aesthetics and ideologies. These social relations, together with the economic system, form a base and superstructure
. As forces of production
) improve, existing forms of organizing production become obsolete and hinder further progress. As Karl Marx
At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or—this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms—with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution
Then the capitalist mode of appropriation, in which the product enslaves first the producer, and then the appropriator, is replaced by the mode of appropriation of the products that is based upon the nature of the modern means of production; upon the one hand, direct social appropriation, as means to the maintenance and extension of production — on the other, direct individual appropriation, as means of subsistence and of enjoyment.
Engels did not support the use of the term Marxism
to describe either Marx's or his own views.:12
He claimed that the term was being abusively used as a rhetorical qualifier
by those attempting to cast themselves as real followers of Marx while casting others in different terms such as Lassallians
In 1882, Engels claimed that Marx had criticized self-proclaimed Marxist Paul Lafargue
by saying that if Lafargue's views were considered Marxist, then "one thing is certain and that is that I am not a Marxist".:12
The discovery of the materialist conception of history, or rather, the consistent continuation and extension of materialism into the domain of social phenomenon, removed two chief defects of earlier historical theories. In the first place, they at best examined only the ideological motives of the historical activity of human beings, without grasping the objective laws governing the development of the system of social relations. [...] in the second place, the earlier theories did not cover the activities of the masses of the population, whereas historical materialism made it possible for the first time to study with scientific accuracy the social conditions of the life of the masses and the changes in these conditions.
Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.
Marxism uses a materialist
methodology, referred to by Marx and Engels as the materialist conception of history and later better known as historical materialism, to analyse the underlying causes of societal development and change from the perspective of the collective ways in which humans make their living.
Marx's account of the theory is in The German Ideology
and in the preface A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
All constituent features of a society (social classes
, political pyramid and ideologies
) are assumed to stem from economic activity, forming what is considered as the base and superstructure
. The base and superstructure metaphor describes the totality of social relations by which humans produce and re-produce their social existence. According to Marx, "[t]he sum total of the forces of production accessible to men determines the condition of society" and forms a society's economic base.
This relationship is reflexive
, in that the base initially gives rise to the superstructure and remains the foundation of a form of social organization
. Those newly formed social organizations can then act again upon both parts of the base and superstructure so that rather than being static, the relationship is dialectic
, expressed and driven by conflicts and contradictions. As Engels clarifies:
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman
-master and journeyman
, in a word, oppressor and oppressed
, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
Marx considered recurring class conflicts as the driving force of human history as such conflicts have manifested themselves as distinct transitional
stages of development in Western Europe
. Accordingly, Marx designated human history as encompassing four stages of development in relations of production:
- Primitive communism: co-operative tribal societies.
- Slave society: development of tribal to city-state in which aristocracy is born.
- Feudalism: aristocrats are the ruling class while merchants evolve into capitalists.
- Capitalism: capitalists are the ruling class, who create and employ the proletariat.
While historical materialism has been referred to as a materialist theory of history, Marx does not claim to have produced a master-key to history and that the materialist conception of history is not "an historico-philosophic theory of the marche generale
, imposed by fate upon every people, whatever the historic circumstances in which it finds itself". In a letter to editor of the Russian newspaper paper Otetchestvennye Zapiskym
(1877), he explains that his ideas are based upon a concrete study of the actual conditions in Europe.
Criticism of capitalism
According to the Marxist theoretician and revolutionary socialist Vladimir Lenin
, "the principal content of Marxism" was "Marx's economic doctrine".
Marx believed that the capitalist bourgeoisie
and their economists were promoting what he saw as the lie that "the interests of the capitalist and of the worker are [...] one and the same". Thus, he believed that they did this by purporting the concept that "the fastest possible growth of productive capital
" was best not only for the wealthy capitalists but also for the workers because it provided them with employment.
is a matter of surplus labour
—the amount of labour performed beyond what is received in goods. Exploitation has been a socioeconomic
feature of every class society
and is one of the principal features distinguishing the social classes. The power of one social class to control the means of production
enables its exploitation of other classes. Under capitalism, the labour theory of value
is the operative concern, whereby the value
of a commodity
equals the socially necessary labour time required to produce it. Under such condition, surplus value
—the difference between the value produced and the value received by a labourer—is synonymous with the term surplus labour
and capitalist exploitation is thus realised as deriving surplus value from the worker.
In pre-capitalist economies
, exploitation of the worker was achieved via physical coercion
. Under the capitalist mode of production, those results are more subtly achieved because workers do not own the means of production and must "voluntarily" enter into an exploitive work relationship with a capitalist in order to earn the necessities of life. The worker's entry into such employment is voluntary in that they choose which capitalist to work for. However, the worker must work or starve, thus exploitation is inevitable and the voluntary nature of a worker participating in a capitalist society is illusory; it is production, not circulation, that causes exploitation. Marx emphasised that capitalism per se
does not cheat the worker.
(German: "Entfremdung") is the estrangement of people from their humanity, and a systematic result of capitalism. Under capitalism, the fruits of production belong to employers, who expropriate the surplus created by others and so generate alienated labourers. In Marx's view, alienation is an objective characterization of the worker's situation in capitalism—his or her self-awareness of this condition is not prerequisite.
Marx distinguishes social classes on the basis of two criteria, i.e. ownership of means of production and control over the labour power
of others. Following this criterion of class based on property relations, Marx identified the social stratification
of the capitalist mode of production
with the following social groups:
- Proletariat: "[T]he class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live". The capitalist mode of production establishes the conditions that enable the bourgeoisie to exploit the proletariat as the worker's labour generates a surplus value greater than the worker's wage.
- Bourgeoisie: those who "own the means of production" and buy labour power from the proletariat, thus exploiting the proletariat. They subdivide as bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie.
- Landlords: a historically important social class who retain some wealth and power.
- Peasantry and farmers: a scattered class incapable of organizing and effecting socio-economic change, most of whom would enter the proletariat while some would become landlords.
Class consciousness denotes the awareness—of itself and the social world—that a social class possesses as well as its capacity to rationally act in their best interests. Class consciousness is required before a social class can effect a successful revolution and thus the dictatorship of the proletariat
Without defining ideology
Marx used the term to describe the production of images of social reality. According to Engels:
[I]deology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, it is true, but with a false consciousness. The real motive forces impelling him remain unknown to him; otherwise it simply would not be an ideological process. Hence he imagines false or seeming motive forces.
Because the ruling class controls the society's means of production, the superstructure of society (i.e. the ruling social ideas), are determined by the best interests of the ruling class. In The German Ideology
, Marx says that "[t]he ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is, at the same time, its ruling intellectual force".
The term political economy
initially referred to the study of the material conditions of economic production in the capitalist system. In Marxism, political economy is the study of the means of production, specifically of capital and how that manifests as economic activity.
Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn't even know where north or south is. If you don't eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you're lost in a forest, not knowing anything.
— Cuban revolutionary and Marxist–Leninist politician Fidel Castro
on discovering Marxism, 2009
This new way of thinking was invented because socialists
believed that common ownership
of the means of production (i.e. the industries
, land, wealth of nature, trade apparatus and wealth of the society) would abolish the exploitative working conditions experienced under capitalism. Through working class revolution, the state
(which Marxists saw as a weapon for the subjugation of one class by another) is seized and used to suppress the hitherto ruling class of capitalists and (by implementing a commonly owned, democratically controlled workplace) create the society of communism
which Marxists see as true democracy. An economy based on co-operation on human need and social betterment, rather than competition for profit of many independently acting profit seekers, would also be the end of class society, which Marx saw as the fundamental division of all hitherto existing history.
Marx saw work, the effort by humans to transform the environment for their needs, as a fundamental feature of human kind. Capitalism
, in which the product of the worker's labour is taken from them and sold at market rather than being part of the worker's life, is therefore alienating to the worker. Additionally, the worker is compelled by various means (some nicer than others) to work harder, faster and for longer hours. While this is happening, the employer is constantly trying to save on labour costs by paying the workers less and figuring out how to use cheaper equipment. This allows the employer to extract the largest amount of work and therefore potential wealth from their workers. The fundamental nature of capitalist society is no different from that of slave society, in that one small group of society exploits the larger group.
Through common ownership
of the means of production, the profit motive
is eliminated and the motive of furthering human flourishing is introduced. Because the surplus produced by the workers is the property of the society as a whole, there are no classes of producers and appropriators. Additionally, as the state has its origins in the bands of retainers hired by the first ruling classes to protect their economic privilege, it will wither away
as its conditions of existence have disappeared.
Communism, revolution and socialism
Left-wing protester wielding a red flag
with a raised fist
, both symbols of revolutionary socialism
According to The Oxford Handbook of Karl Marx
, "Marx used many terms to refer to a post-capitalist society—positive humanism, socialism, Communism, realm of free individuality, free association of producers, etc. He used these terms completely interchangeably. The notion that "socialism" and "Communism" are distinct historical stages is alien to his work and only entered the lexicon of Marxism after his death".
According to orthodox Marxist
theory, the overthrow of capitalism
by a socialist revolution
in contemporary society is inevitable. While the inevitability of an eventual socialist revolution is a controversial debate among many different Marxist schools of thought, all Marxists believe socialism is a necessity. Marxists argue that a socialist society
is far better for the majority of the populace than its capitalist counterpart.
The socialization of production
is bound to lead to the conversion of the means of production into the property of society. [...] This conversion will directly result in an immense increase in productivity of labour, a reduction of working hours, and the replacement of the remnants, the ruins of small-scale, primitive, disunited production by collective and improved labour.
Schools of thought
Classical Marxism denotes the collection of socio-eco-political theories expounded by Karl Marx
and Friedrich Engels
. As Ernest Mandel
remarked, "Marxism is always open, always critical, always self-critical". Classical Marxism distinguishes Marxism
as broadly perceived from "what Marx believed". In 1883, Marx wrote to his son-in-law Paul Lafargue
and French labour leader Jules Guesde
—both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles—accusing them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggle. From Marx's letter derives the paraphrase, "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist". Accusing Guesde and Lafargue of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and "of denying the value of reformist struggles, Marx made his famous remark that, if their politics represented Marxism, 'ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste' ('what is certain is that I myself am not a Marxist')".
American Marxist scholar Hal Draper
responded to this comment by saying: "There are few thinkers in modern history whose thought has been so badly misrepresented, by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike".
Libertarian Marxism includes currents such as autonomism
, council communism
, De Leonism
, parts of the New Left
, Socialisme ou Barbarie
Libertarian Marxism has often had a strong influence on both post-left
and social anarchists
. Notable theorists of libertarian Marxism have included Maurice Brinton
, Cornelius Castoriadis
, Guy Debord
, Raya Dunayevskaya
, Daniel Guérin
, C. L. R. James
, Rosa Luxemburg
, Antonio Negri
, Anton Pannekoek
, Fredy Perlman
, Ernesto Screpanti
, E. P. Thompson
, Raoul Vaneigem
and Yanis Varoufakis
who claims that Marx himself was a libertarian Marxist.
V. Gordon Childe
, an Australian archaeologist and one of the 20th century's most prominent Marxist academics
According to a 2007 survey of American professors by Neil Gross
and Solon Simmons, 17.6% of social science
professors and 5.0% of humanities
professors identify as Marxists, while between 0 and 2% of professors in all other disciplines identify as Marxists.
The theoretical development
of Marxist archaeology
was first developed in the Soviet Union
in 1929, when a young archaeologist named Vladislav I. Ravdonikas published a report entitled "For a Soviet history of material culture". Within this work, the very discipline of archaeology as it then stood was criticised as being inherently bourgeois, therefore anti-socialist and so, as a part of the academic reforms instituted in the Soviet Union under the administration of General Secretary Joseph Stalin
, a great emphasis was placed on the adoption of Marxist archaeology throughout the country.
These theoretical developments were subsequently adopted by archaeologists working in capitalist states outside of the Leninist bloc, most notably by the Australian academic V. Gordon Childe
, who used Marxist theory in his understandings of the development of human society.
While some members of the group, most notably Christopher Hill
and E. P. Thompson
, left the CPGB after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
, the common points of British Marxist historiography continued in their works. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class
is one of the works commonly associated with this group. Eric Hobsbawm
is another example of this group's work. C. L. R. James
was also a great pioneer of the 'history from below' approach. Living in Britain when he wrote his most notable work The Black Jacobins
(1938), he was an anti-Stalinist
Marxist and so outside of the CPGB. In India, B. N. Datta and D. D. Kosambi
are considered the founding fathers of Marxist historiography. Today, the senior-most scholars of Marxist historiography are R. S. Sharma
, Irfan Habib
, Romila Thapar
, D. N. Jha
and K. N. Panikkar
, most of whom are now over 75 years old.
Marxist aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics
based on, or derived from, the theories of Karl Marx
. It involves a dialectical
, or dialectical materialist
, approach to the application of Marxism to the cultural sphere, specifically areas related to taste such as art and beauty, among others. Marxists believe that economic and social conditions, and especially the class relations that derive from them, affect every aspect of an individual's life, from religious beliefs to legal systems to cultural frameworks. Some notable Marxist aestheticians include Anatoly Lunacharsky
, Mikhail Lifshitz
, William Morris
, Theodor W. Adorno
, Bertolt Brecht
, Herbert Marcuse
, Walter Benjamin
, Antonio Gramsci
, Georg Lukács
, Ernst Fischer
, Louis Althusser
, Jacques Rancière
, Maurice Merleau-Ponty
and Raymond Williams
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Together with Marx, Engels co-developed communist theory. Marx and Engels first met in September 1844. Discovering that they had similar views of philosophy and socialism, they collaborated and wrote works such as Die heilige Familie
(The Holy Family
). After Marx was deported from France in January 1845, they moved to Belgium, which then permitted greater freedom of expression
than other European countries. In January 1846, they returned to Brussels to establish the Communist Correspondence Committee.
In 1847, they began writing The Communist Manifesto
(1848), based on Engels' The Principles of Communism
. Six weeks later, they published the 12,000-word pamphlet in February 1848. In March, Belgium expelled them and they moved to Cologne
, where they published the Neue Rheinische Zeitung
, a politically radical
newspaper. By 1849, they had to leave Cologne for London. The Prussian authorities pressured the British government to expel Marx and Engels, but Prime Minister Lord John Russell
Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union
In 1919, the nascent Soviet Government established the Communist Academy
and the Marx–Engels–Lenin Institute
for doctrinal Marxist study as well as to publish official ideological and research documents for the Russian Communist Party. With Lenin's death in 1924, there was an internal struggle in the Soviet Communist movement, mainly between Joseph Stalin
and Leon Trotsky
in the form of the Right Opposition
and Left Opposition
respectively. These struggles were based on both sides different interpretations of Marxist and Leninist theory based on the situation of the Soviet Union
at the time.
The theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is universally applicable. We should regard it not as a dogma, but as a guide to action. Studying it is not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases but of learning Marxism-Leninism as the science of revolution. It is not just a matter of understanding the general laws derived by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin from their extensive study of real life and revolutionary experience, but of studying their standpoint and method in examining and solving problems.
From Stalin's death until the late 1960s, there was increasing conflict between China and the Soviet Union. De-Stalinization
, which first began under Nikita Khrushchev
and the policy of detente
, were seen as revisionist
and insufficiently Marxist. This ideological confrontation spilled into a wider global crisis centered around which nation was to lead the international socialist movement.
Following Mao's death and the ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping
, Maoism and official Marxism in China was reworked. This new model was to be a newer dynamic form of Marxism–Leninism and Maoism in China. Commonly referred to as socialism with Chinese Characteristics this new path was centered around Deng's Four Cardinal Principles
which sought to uphold the central role of the Chinese Communist Party and uphold the principle that China was in the primary stage of socialism
and that it was still working to build a communist society based on Marxist principles.
Late 20th century
In 1959, the Cuban Revolution
led to the victory of Fidel Castro
and his July 26 Movement
. Although the revolution was not explicitly socialist, upon victory Castro ascended to the position of prime minister and adopted the Leninist
model of socialist development, forging an alliance with the Soviet Union.
One of the leaders of the revolution, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
, subsequently went on to aid revolutionary socialist movements in Congo-Kinshasa
and Bolivia, eventually being killed by the Bolivian government, possibly on the orders of the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA), although the CIA agent sent to search for Guevara, Felix Rodriguez, expressed a desire to keep him alive as a possible bargaining tool with the Cuban government. He posthumously went on to become an internationally recognised icon.
In the People's Republic of China
, the Maoist
government undertook the Cultural Revolution
from 1966 through to 1976 to purge Chinese society of capitalist elements and achieve socialism. However, upon Mao Zedong
's death, his rivals seized political power and under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping
, many of Mao's Cultural Revolution era policies were revised or abandoned and much of the state sector privatised.
At the turn of the 21st century, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam remained the only officially Marxist–Leninist states remaining, although a Maoist government led by Prachanda
was elected into power in Nepal in 2008 following a long guerrilla struggle.
The early 21st century also saw the election of socialist governments in several Latin American nations, in what has come to be known as the "pink tide
". Dominated by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez
, this trend also saw the election of Evo Morales
in Bolivia, Rafael Correa
in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega
in Nicaragua. Forging political and economic alliances through international organisations like the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas
, these socialist governments allied themselves with Marxist–Leninist Cuba and although none of them espoused a Stalinist path directly, most admitted to being significantly influenced by Marxist theory. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez
declared himself to be a Trotskyist
during his swearing-in of his cabinet, two days before his own inauguration on 10 January 2007.
Venezuelan Trotskyist organizations do not regard Chávez as a Trotskyist, with some describing him as a bourgeois nationalist
while others consider him an honest revolutionary leader who made major mistakes due to him lacking a Marxist analysis.
For Italian Marxist Gianni Vattimo
and Santiago Zabala
in their 2011 book Hermeneutic Communism
, "this new weak communism differs substantially from its previous Soviet (and current Chinese) realization, because the South American countries follow democratic electoral procedures and also manage to decentralize the state bureaucratic system through the Bolivarian missions
. In sum, if weakened communism is felt as a specter in the West, it is not only because of media distortions but also for the alternative it represents through the same democratic procedures that the West constantly professes to cherish but is hesitant to apply".
Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping
has announced a deepening commitment of the Chinese Communist Party
to the ideas of Marx. At an event celebrating the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth, Xi said "We must win the advantages, win the initiative, and win the future. We must continuously improve the ability to use Marxism to analyse and solve practical problems", adding that Marxism is a "powerful ideological weapon for us to understand the world, grasp the law, seek the truth, and change the world". Xi has further stressed the importance of examining and continuing the tradition of the CPC and embrace its revolutionary past.
The fidelity of those varied revolutionaries, leaders and parties to the work of Karl Marx
is highly contested and has been rejected by many Marxists and other socialists alike.
Socialists in general and socialist writers, including Dimitri Volkogonov
, acknowledge that the actions of authoritarian socialist
leaders have damaged "the enormous appeal of socialism generated by the October Revolution".
“We are … sons of Chavez, heirs of Bolívar … and of Lenin. Even Trotsky, why not? I won’t add Stalin, otherwise some comrades will strangle me,” Nicolas Maduro
told the Italian communist newspaper il manifesto. 
Criticism of Marxism has come from various political ideologies and academic disciplines.
This includes general criticism about lack of internal consistency, criticisms related to historical materialism, that it is a type of historical determinism, the necessity of suppression of individual rights, issues with the implementation of communism and economic issues such as the distortion or absence of price signals and reduced incentives. In addition, empirical and epistemological problems are frequently identified.
Its practitioners remind one of Narcissus
, who in the Greek legend fell in love with his own reflection. [...] Sometimes it is necessary to devote time to clarifying and developing the concepts that we use, but indeed for Western Marxists this has become an end in itself. The result is a body of writings incomprehensible to all but a tiny minority of highly qualified scholars.
Additionally, there are intellectual critiques of Marxism that contest certain assumptions prevalent in Marx's thought and Marxism after him, without exactly rejecting Marxist politics.
Other contemporary supporters of Marxism argue that many aspects of Marxist thought are viable, but that the corpus is incomplete or outdated in regards to certain aspects of economic, political or social theory
. They may combine some Marxist concepts with the ideas of other theorists such as Max Weber
—the Frankfurt School
is one example.
Philosopher and historian of ideas Leszek Kołakowski
pointed out that "Marx's theory is incomplete or ambiguous in many places, and could be 'applied' in many contradictory ways without manifestly infringing its principles". Specifically, he considers "the laws of dialectics" as fundamentally erroneous, stating that some are "truisms with no specific Marxist content", others "philosophical dogmas that cannot be proved by scientific means" and some just "nonsense". He believes that some Marxist laws can be interpreted differently, but that these interpretations still in general fall into one of the two categories of error.
shows that if capitalists use cost-cutting techniques and real wages do not increase, the rate of profit must rise, which casts doubt on Marx's view that the rate of profit would tend to fall.
The allegations of inconsistency have been a large part of Marxian economics and the debates around it since the 1970s. Andrew Kliman
argues that this undermines Marx's critiques and the correction of the alleged inconsistencies, because internally inconsistent theories cannot be right by definition.
Epistemological and empirical
Marx's predictions have been criticized because they have allegedly failed, with some pointing towards the GDP per capita increasing generally in capitalist economies compared to less market oriented economics, the capitalist economies not suffering worsening economic crises leading to the overthrow of the capitalist system and communist revolutions not occurring in the most advanced capitalist nations, but instead in undeveloped regions.
and social democrats reject the idea that socialism can be accomplished only through extra-legal class conflict and a proletarian revolution. The relationship between Marx and other socialist thinkers and organizations—rooted in Marxism's "scientific" and anti-utopian socialism, among other factors—has divided Marxists from other socialists since Marx's life.
Anarchist and libertarian
has had a strained relationship with Marxism since Marx's life. Anarchists and many non-Marxist libertarian socialists reject the need for a transitory state phase
, claiming that socialism can only be established through decentralized, non-coercive organization. Anarchist Mikhail Bakunin
criticized Marx for his authoritarian bent.
The phrases "barracks socialism" or "barracks communism
" became a shorthand for this critique, evoking the image of citizens' lives being as regimented as the lives of conscripts
in a barracks
is critical of Marxism's dogmatic strains and the idea of Marxism itself, but still appreciates Marx's contributions to political thought. Unlike some anarchists, Chomsky does not consider Bolshevism
"Marxism in practice", but he does recognize that Marx was a complicated figure who had conflicting ideas. While acknowledging the latent authoritarianism in Marx, Chomsky also points to the libertarian strains that developed into the council communism
of Rosa Luxemburg
and Anton Pannekoek
. However, his commitment to libertarian socialism has led him to characterize himself as an anarchist with radical Marxist leanings (see the political positions of Noam Chomsky
Other critiques come from an economic standpoint. Vladimir Karpovich Dmitriev
writing in 1898, Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz
writing in 1906–1907
and subsequent critics have alleged that Marx's value theory
and law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall
are internally inconsistent. In other words, the critics allege that Marx drew conclusions that actually do not follow from his theoretical premises. Once these alleged errors are corrected, his conclusion that aggregate price and profit are determined by and equal to aggregate value and surplus value no longer holds true. This result calls into question his theory that the exploitation of workers is the sole source of profit.
and James A. Robinson
argue that Marx's economic theory was fundamentally flawed because it attempted to simplify the economy into a few general laws that ignored the impact of institutions on the economy.
- ^ Wolff, Richard, and Stephen Resnick (August 1987). Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical. The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-8018-3480-6. The German Marxists extended the theory to groups and issues Marx had barely touched. Marxian analyses of the legal system, of the social role of women, of foreign trade, of international rivalries among capitalist nations, and the role of parliamentary democracy in the transition to socialism drew animated debates ... Marxian theory (singular) gave way to Marxian theories (plural).
- ^ O'Hara, Phillip (September 2003). Encyclopedia of Political Economy, Volume 2. Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-415-24187-8. Marxist political economists differ over their definitions of capitalism, socialism and communism. These differences are so fundamental, the arguments among differently persuaded Marxist political economists have sometimes been as intense as their oppositions to political economies that celebrate capitalism.
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- ^ Kliman states that "Marx’s value theory would be necessarily wrong if it were internally inconsistent. Internally inconsistent theories may be appealing, intuitively plausible and even obvious, and consistent with all available empirical evidence––but they cannot be right. It is necessary to reject them or correct them. Thus the alleged proofs of inconsistency trump all other considerations, disqualifying Marx’s theory at the starting gate. By doing so, they provide the principal justification for the suppression of this theory as well as the suppression of, and the denial of resources needed to carry out, present-day research based upon it. This greatly inhibits its further development. So does the very charge of inconsistency. What person of intellectual integrity would want to join a research program founded on (what he believes to be) a theory that is internally inconsistent and therefore false?" (Andrew Kliman, Reclaiming Marx's "Capital": A Refutation of the Myth of Inconsistency, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007, p. 3, emphasis in original). However, in his book, Kliman presents an interpretation where these inconsistencies can be eliminated. The connection between the inconsistency allegations and the lack of study of Marx’s theories was argued further by John Cassidy ("The Return of Karl Marx," The New Yorker, 20 & 27 Oct. 1997, p. 252): "His mathematical model of the economy, which depended on the idea that labor is the source of all value, was riven with internal inconsistencies and is rarely studied these days."
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