50 Years Ago: Importance of Marx’s Economics

The economic conditions which make socialism possible simultaneously make it necessary. Indeed, logically, there can be no distinction between the terms. Socialism can be possible only if the forces making for its establishment are stronger than those retarding it, in which case it is inevitable. Seeing, however, that society consists of human beings, social development must inevitably consist of the more or less conscious activity of human beings. The social development will force them to recognise the problem and the solution to it. Mr Postgate’s final chapter (of Karl Marx), however, merely sums up the fallacious attitude which peeps out in his winding up of his earlier chapters.

For example, on page 72 he says: “We see that the labour theory of value explains the growth and composition of capital as accurately at least as any other.” What astuteness! One would have thought that if the theory which finds the source of value in labour is accurate, then “other” theories (which find it elsewhere) are decidedly inaccurate.

Mr Postgate follows the current fashion among “intellectuals” of professing to regard the economics of Marx as of much less importance than the materialist conception of history. The absurdity of this is apparent on the face of it. According to Marx’s view no epoch can be understood apart from its economic basis. His critical examination of capitalism as a system of production is, therefore, of fundamental importance. The understanding of previous history is necessary, since out of the past capitalism arose: but in Marx’s own words, we have not merely to explain the world but to change it, and must therefore understand what it is that we wish to change.

(From an article, “Marx and Lenin — Distorted Views”, by E. Boden, Socialist Standard, December 1933.)