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Marxian Economics

The economic crisis — the Marxian explanation

Book Review: A useful introduction to Marx

Marx's Capital by Ben Fine (Macmillan)
 
Subject to certain reservations dealt with below, Marx's Capital by Ben Fine (Macmillan’s Studies in Economics, Paperback, 76 pages, £1.50) achieves what the author set out to do and should serve as a useful introduction to the three volumes of Capital.

Exchange Is No Robbery

 If use-value is not the basis by which exchange-value can be measured, what then is the “something" common to all commodities by which this can be effected?

 Take the two metals, iron and gold. Both are mined and brought to market where they exchange, weight for weight, in a ratio of some thousands to one. It is not their respective use-values that causes this exchange disparity, for while gold is a commodity essential to the capitalist mode of production, in that it is hoarded by the banks to back up the money-notes issued by them as currency, etc., a more than equal case exists for iron in that it is the material of industrialisation and its modem machinery and tools without which present-day society ceases to function.

For Use or Profit?

 Societies in the past have subsisted without their material wealth being an accumulation of things for sale. This was historically and radically changed by the rise of capitalist production, which, seizing upon the simple domestic industry of the time, transformed it into capitalist manufacture. The handicraft workers who had worked independently of each other now became employed as wage workers in a co-operative effort under one roof, where the tools, workshop and product were the property of a single employer. With the invention of power-driven machinery these manufactories gave place to large-scale production, so that to-day one cannot think of modern capitalism without its factory system, its heavy industry and the resultant flood of commodities seeking a market.

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