The enduring significance of the thought of Karl Marx

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to assess Marx's enduring significance in the center of his thought, the first volume of Capital. In Capital and related writings, Marx systematically works out his theory of value. Although Marx's value theory has been widely thought to be internally inconsistent, the "myth of inconsistency" in reclaiming Marx's "Capital" has been recently refuted by Kliman. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Based on Kliman's refutation, a logically coherent interpretation of Marx's theory is on hand. The paper therefore aims to bring out the philosophical character of Marx's critique of political economy, to which the terms and relations of value theory are essential. It is rooted in the abiding humanism he first discovered through his critical appropriation and transformation of Hegelian philosophy. Findings ‐ Following Raya Dunayevskaya in Marxism and Freedom, this paper interprets Marx to have founded a new critical science of society "that was at the same time a philosophy of history." Hence Marx's use of ontological categories in Capital ("substance," "essence," "appearance") is fully methodologically self-conscious and deliberate. Categories derived from Hegel's Science of Logic (as Lenin rightly grasped) explain the "bewitched and distorted world" of capitalist social relations. Originality/value ‐ This paper shows that, thinking historically, Marx works out the "notion" of capital from the standpoint of its negation. As if seen through a camera obscura, capital is the domination of alienated, past, objectified, abstract, and dead labor over living labor power. In conclusion, emphasis is placed on the subjective as well as the objective condition necessary to the revolutionary transcendence of the law of value.

Keywords: Economic processes; Literature; Marxist economics; Philosophical concepts

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03068291011018776

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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