Marx ratio

by David Ruccio

Occasional Links and Commentary | May 29, 2018

Marx ratio

First there was the Great Gatsby curve. Then there was the Proust index. Now, thanks to Neil Irwin, we have the Marx ratio.

Each, in their different way, attempts to capture the ravages of contemporary capitalism. But the Marx ratio is a bit different. It was published in the New York Times. Its aim is to capture one of the underlying determinants of the obscene levels of inequality in the United States today—not class mobility or the number of years of national income growth lost to the global financial crash. And, of course, it takes its name from that ruthless nineteenth-century critic of mainstream economics and capitalism itself.Read More »


Utopia and value theory

by David Ruccio

Progress in Political Economy | May 22, 2018

Mainstream economists refer to it as price theory, everyone else value theory. But whatever it’s called, it’s at the center of economists’ differing explanations of what happens in (and alongside) markets.

As I see it, price/value theory serves as the framework to explain a wide range of phenomena, from how and for how much commodities are exchanged in markets through the determinants of the distribution of incomes to the outcomes—for the economy and society as a whole—of the allocation of resources and commodities through markets.Read More »

World Bank: abolish minimum wage, other labour laws

by Subodh Varma

News Click | April 24, 2018

The World Bank (Image Courtesy: Anadolu Agency)

The recently released ‘working draft’ of the World Bank’s flagship World Development Report (WDR) for this year neatly summarises what the world capitalist class is thinking-or should be thinking–about labour. Calling for a new social contract, the draft suggests that while income and social insurance can be provided by the state employers should be freed of this onus and allowed to abandon such ‘outdated’ concepts as minimum wage, long term job security, protection from hire and fire, severance pay, doing away with ‘colonial era’ labour laws, and linking of wages to productivity. These suggestions are under a section sub titled ‘Protecting Workers’, in chapter six.Read More »

The Expropriation of Nature

by  and 

Monthly Review |  Volume 69, Issue 10 (March 2018)

Stacking guano in the Ballestas Islands

Sacking guano for export on the Ballestas Islands, Peru.

Twenty-first-century monopoly-finance capitalism constitutes what Karl Marx once called an “age of dissolution.”1 All that is solid in the current mode of production is melting into air. Hence, it is no longer realistic to treat—even by way of abstraction—the crucial political-economic struggles of our day as if they were confined primarily to the exploitation of labor within production. Instead, social conflicts are increasingly being fought over capitalism’s expropriation and spoliation of its wider social and natural environment.2 This historical shift and the deepening fissures that it has produced can be seen in the growth of what David Harvey has termed “anti-value politics,” directed at the boundaries of the system and visible in such forms as the ecological movement, growing conflicts over social reproduction in the household/family and gender/sexuality, and global resistance to the expansion of imperialism/racism.3 To understand these rapidly changing conditions, it is necessary to dig much deeper than before into capital’s external logic of expropriation, as it was first delineated in Marx’s writings during the Industrial Revolution.4Most important, because at the root of the problem, is the extreme expropriation of the earth itself and the consequent transformation in social relations.Read More »

Commoditisation and the public sphere

by | March 30, 2018

JNU Crisis

Central to liberalism is a distinction between two spheres, the sphere of the market (or more generally of the economy) where individuals and firms interact to exchange their wares; and the sphere of public discourse where individuals interact as citizens of a polity to debate and determine the actions of the State. The importance that liberals attach to this second sphere was underscored by Walter Bagehot, the nineteenth century British essayist of liberal persuasion, who had lauded democracy as “government by discussion”. He had thereby emphasized two basic liberal political tenets, namely the role of public discourse and need for the State to be responsive to it.Read More »

Glimpses of Bourgeois Democracies

 by | March 28, 2018

Following are three political incidents/developments from two matured bourgeois democracies.

Alleged bribe

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, isn’t shameful for all the election bribery he allegedly accepted gladly from a foreign “friend”, who was murdered later, and in this murder ploy, the French leader was an aggressive participant. A stark show of bourgeois politics with “friendship”!Read More »