A Fabian on Marx

A well-known Fabian, who died recently, has been the means of press reviewers having a tilt at Marx. Professor Philip H. Wicksteed’s life, written by Prof. Herford, refers to Bernard Shaw’s debate with Wicksteed in the ’eighties.

Wicksteed is little read here, hut in American colleges the students are referred to his writings on Economics for guidance. This professor imbibed ideas from Jevons and “popularised” the utility theory of value. In 1884 he set out to show that Marx was wrong; labour was not the measure of value, and Marx had admitted this by including usefulness as a necessary condition of an article having value. Wicksteed’s ideas, like Jevons, were a revival of theories of supply and demand, which Marx had already exploded. Bernard Shaw squashed Wicksteed by using Marx’s economic writings. Shaw, however, found that Marx’s ideas were not suitable for intellectuals, and so he joined Wicksteed in worshipping at the shrine of Jevons.

The practice of modern capitalism in concentrating upon reducing the time spent in producing articles in order to sell cheaper, is a tribute to the truth of the labour theory of value. Nowadays, Bernard Shaw says Karl Marx “made a man of me,’’ which is a nasty blow to the Star reviewer, who says Shaw knew that he was beaten by Wicksteed.

Adolph Kohn