Essays On Marxism

Paperback, 76 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-85345-292-8
Released: 1971

These three essays by the independent German Marxist Karl Korsch offer expositions, often in polemical form, of basic Marxist ideas. Since they cover both sociology and economics, they are excellent guides for the student on the most introductory, though not the most elementary, level. The first essay, “Leading Principles of Marxism,” takes up Marxism on the plane of sociology and deals with the relation of Marxism to Comte and positivism, and to bourgeois sociology in general. The second, his introduction to the 1932 German edition of Capital, consists of an assessment of the work in human thought and an important reader’s guide to Volume I. The third, “Why I Am a Marxist,” is a polemic against various distortions in Marxism and an affirmation of the revolutionary, as against the academic, character of Marxism.

Karl Korsch (1886-1961) was strongly influenced in his youth by the syndicalist movement and later joined the Fabian Society. After the First World War he became a lecturer at Jena University and a member of the Communist Party. In subsequent years he was editor of the party’s theoretical journal and a Communist deputy to the Reichstag, but was expelled in 1926. He left Germany in 1933 for the United States, where he taught at Tulane University and worked with the International Institute for Social Research in New York.


Paperback, 96 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-424-6
Releasedate: November 2013
Also available as an e-book

In this slim, insightful volume, noted economist Samir Amin returns to the core of Marxian economic thought: Marx’s theory of value. He begins with the same question that Marx, along with the classical economists, once pondered: how can every commodity, including labor power, sell at its value on the market and still produce a profit for owners of capital? While bourgeois economists attempted to answer this question according to the categories of capitalist society itself, Marx sought to peer through the surface phenomena of market transactions and develop his theory by examining the actual social relations they obscured. The debate over Marx’s conclusions continues to this day.

Amin defends Marx’s theory of value against its critics and also tackles some of its trickier aspects. He examines the relationship between Marx’s abstract concepts—such as “socially necessary labor time”—and how they are manifested in the capitalist marketplace as prices, wages, rents, and so on. He also explains how variations in price are affected by the development of “monopoly-capitalism,” the abandonment of the gold standard, and the deepening of capitalism as a global system. Amin extends Marx’s theory and applies it to capitalism’s current trajectory in a way that is unencumbered by the weight of orthodoxy and unafraid of its own radical conclusions.

Samir Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 and received his Ph.D. in economics in Paris in 1957. He is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal. His numerous works include The Law of Worldwide Value, Eurocentrism: Second EditionThe World We Wish to SeeThe Liberal VirusAccumulation on a World ScaleUnequal Development, and Spectres of Capitalism.

Marxian political economy, Samir Amin observes in Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory, has all too often been content with the mere exegesis of Marx’s texts while failing to utilize his method to extend the critique of capitalism to the present. Representing a sharp departure from this, Amin’s revolutionary new work, Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory, outlines the fundamental changes in the analysis of the system, including value theory, that are necessary in order to understand today’s ‘capitalism of generalized, financialized, and globalized monopolies.’ Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory is an indispensable part of the theoretical synthesis that Amin has offered in recent years, including The Law of Worldwide Value and The Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism. To say that I highly recommend it to all of those concerned with these issues would be an understatement.

—John Bellamy Foster, editor, Monthly Review

What is splendid in Amin’s writing … is his lucidity of expression, his clear consistency of approach, and, above all his absolutely unwavering condemnation of the ravages of capital and of bourgeois ideology in all its forms … Amin remains an essential point of reference, and an inspiration.

—Bill Bowring, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

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Book Type

eBook, Cloth

Publication Date

October 2013

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