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      World Review of Political Economy
      Pluto Journals


            The article discusses the relevance of a reference to the framework(s) of analysis of capitalism developed by Marx during the second half of the 19th century in the analysis of contemporary capitalism. The perspective is simultaneously the history of modern human societies and, more technically, the economy of capitalism. The contention is that, in both instances, a Marxian political economy provides the foundations of our understanding, but a number of adjustments are also required. The analysis of modern corporations in Volume III of Capital, with the separation of ownership and management, must be prolonged to present-day institutional features and mechanisms. The homogeneity of wage labor must be broken to incorporate the class foundations of the social divide between managers and other categories of production or clerical workers. The new framework allows for the reassertion of the role of class struggle as the engine of history. Concerning basic concepts, such as the theories of value and capital, or mechanisms, such as competition, the business cycle, and technical and distributional tendencies, the issue is the use of contemporary theoretical and empirical tools, introducing to a process of "sophistication" rather than "revision."


            Author and article information

            World Review of Political Economy
            Pluto Journals
            1 April 2010
            : 1
            : 1
            : 7-22

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            Political economics


            1. G. Duménil and D. Lévy, Capital Resurgent. Roots of the Neoliberal Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), Part IV; G. Duménil and D. Lévy, The Crisis of Neoliberalism. From the Subprime Crash to the Great Contraction (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, forthcoming, Fall 2010), Part I.

            2. "On the basis of capitalist production, the capitalist directs both the production process and the circulation process." K. Marx, Capital. Volume III (New York: Vintage Books, The Marx Library, 1981), p. 503.

            3. "Capitalist production has itself brought it about that the work of supervision is readily available, quite independent of the ownership of capital," Capital III, p. 511.

            4. "The general law is that all circulation costs that arise simply from a change in form of the commodity cannot add any value to it," Capital II, pp. 225-226.

            5. "This is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself, and hence a self-abolishing contradiction, which presents itself prima facie as a mere point of transition to a new form of production.," Capital III, p. 569.

            6. R. Hilferding [1910], Finance Capital. A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development (London, Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).

            7. Ernest Mandel, Les étudiants, les intellectuels et la lutte de classes (Paris: La Brèche, 1979).

            8. N. Poulentzas, Pouvoir politique et classes sociales (Paris: Maspero, 1972); G. Duménil, La position de classe des cadres et employés (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1975).

            9. J. Lojkine, Adieu à la classe moyenne (Paris: La Dispute, 2005).

            10. This section draws on G. Duménil and D. Lévy, The Economics of the Profit Rate. Competition, Crises, and Historical Tendencies in Capitalism (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 1993); La dynamique du capital. Un siècle d'économie américaine (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1996); G. Duménil and D. Lévy, Economie marxiste du capitalisme (Paris: La Découverte, 2003). G. Duménil and D. Foley, "Marx's Analysis of Capitalist Production," in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (London, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); G. Duménil, M. Löwy, and E. Renault, Lire Marx (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2009).

            11. Capital III, p. 615. The refutation is given in Capital II, p. 486.

            12. G. Duménil and D. Lévy, "Stability in Capitalism: Are Long-Term Positions the Problem?," Political Economy 6, 1-2 (1990): 229-264.

            13. G. Duménil and D. Lévy, "Being Keynesian in the Short Term and Classical in the Long Term: The Traverse to Classical Long-Term Equilibrium," The Manchester School 67, 6 (1999): 684-716.

            14. G. Duménil and D. Lévy, "Technology and Distribution: Historical Trajectories à la Marx," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 52 (2003): 201-233.

            15. Séminaire d'Etudes Marxistes, La finance capitaliste (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2006).


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