Robert Lucas: the rationality of capitalism

Michael Roberts Blog

Robert Lucas has died at the age of 85.  Lucas was a leading mainstream neoclassical economist at the University of Chicago – the bastion of neoclassical equilibrium economic theory.  In 1995, Lucas received a ‘Nobel prize’ for his theory of ‘rational expectations’.  He was regarded by Greg Mankiw, the author of the main mainstream economics textbook used in universities, as “the most influential macroeconomist of the last quarter of the 20th century.”

It is an irony, given the body of his work, that when Lucas started studying economics, he considered himself a “quasi-Marxist” because he reckoned that it was the economic foundation of society that was the driver of history, not the ideas of individuals.  The irony is that his main contribution to mainstream economics was eventually to present a theory that economic change was driven by the ‘rational’ action of ‘agents’ i.e, individuals as consumers.

What is ‘rational expectations’…

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Marxism: More relevant than ever

Journal of People

by John Bachtell

People’s World| May 25, 2018

Marxism: More relevant than ever

Still relevant: Brochures with a portrait of Karl Marx at the exhibition ‘Dystopia – For the 200th birthday of Karl Marx’ in the art collection of the town museum in Jena, Germany, Friday, May 4. | Jens Meyer / AP

Communist Party USA leader John Bachtell will address the international conference “Marxism of the 21st Century and the Future of World Socialism,” sponsored by the Communist Party of China on May 28 in Shenzhen. This is the text of his remarks, as prepared for presentation.

We enthusiastically join in celebrating Karl Marx on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth and express deep appreciation to the International Department of the Communist Party of China for hosting this event.

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Marx’s birthday and the dismal science

Journal of People

A few observations

by Carolina Alves and Ingrid H. Kvangraven

Developing Economics | May 29, 2018


With 2017 marking the 150th anniversary of Capital and 2018 marking the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx, it is not a surprise that the number of events and exhibitions celebrating Marx’s work and exploring the significance of Marxism in the world today have gone through the roof. A little sample can be found here, here, here, here and here (see also The Guardian’ssum up of exhibitions, books – and pub crawls)! And it would be unfair to not mention the British Library’s PhD placement on Karl Marx offered last summer, which aimed to develop ideas for events and activities that would engage the public and research communities with Marx’s life and his wider legacy (with a brilliant emphasis on Marx’s daughter Eleanor – a writer and political…

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An interview with Karl Marx

Journal of People

by John Swinton

People’s World | May 05, 2020

An interview with Karl Marx The Karl-Marx-Monument in Chemnitz, Germany. Marx was born May 5, 1818. | Uwe Meinhold / AP

The following interview with Karl Marx, published in the New York Sun on Sept. 6, 1880, was written by John Swinton, printer, journalist, and editor, when he visited Europe. It first appeared in our pages as part of the May 5, 1940 edition of the Sunday Worker. Swinton’s enthusiastic appreciation of Marx gives a vivid picture of Marx with his family and expresses the admiration of an American journalist who could not help but feel the genius of the working class leader. A few of Swinton’s ideas were somewhat inaccurate, as, for example, his reference to the “stormy Bakunin” and to “the brilliant Lassalle” as “pupils of Marx.” Bakunin was an inveterate enemy of Marx, and Lassalle never represented Marxism, but, on the contrary, distorted…

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Journal of People

Karl Marx, born May 5, 1818, has been buried so many times that his resuscitation threatens to become an everyday occurrence


Granma| May 07, 2020

Karl Marx, born May 5, 1818, has been buried so many times that his resuscitation threatens to become an everyday occurrence. There are several ways to return, one is as a memory of something that has stood the test of time, and in this sense, he is seen as the master mason who laid the first stone for a project that continues. In fact, that is part of the merit of Marx’s work. This is how very influential – and not at all communist – Jacques Attali once described him, “He was the first to grasp the world as a whole, which is at once political, scientific and philosophical. From that point of view, he is, as the communist historian…

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Rates up, economy down

Michael Roberts Blog

The two main central banks in the advanced capitalist economies, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB), raised their ‘policy’ interest rates again this week. The policy rate sets the floor for all borrowing rates in these economies. Both central banks hiked their rates by another 0.25%, so the Fed’s rate now stands at 5.25% and the ECB’s at 3.7%. This compares with just 0.25% and 0% respectively two years ago.

The professed aim of these hikes is to ‘control’ inflation and drive the currently high rates back to the so-called target rate that both central banks have of 2%.  I and others have argued firmly, with evidence, that this monetary tightening policy will have little effect on getting inflation down because the causes of inflation do not lie in excessive money supply (the monetarist theory) or in excessive wages driving up prices (the Keynesian theory). Neither of…

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William Serafino

MISIONVERDAD | February 17, 2023

The narrative about the Venezuelan government’s shift towards a neoliberal economic policy has been going on for some time now and has been promoted by the mainstream media. Presented as a bombastic slogan, as a general and extravagant yet blurry statement, this narrative is based on unconnected fragments of reality that lead to an incongruous and unreadable mosaic.

For those who propagate this narrative, the supposed neoliberalism of President Nicolás Maduro is defined by so many things at once that it is difficult to see where the central point that verifies his supposed ideological conversion really lies.

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Vladimir I. Lenin — May Day

Journal of People

In Defense of Communism | May 01, 2022

The text was written by Vladimir I. Lenin in April 1904:

Comrade workers!May Dayis coming, the day when the workers of all lands celebrate Their awakening to a class- conscious life, their solidarity in the struggle against all coercion and oppression of man by man, the struggle to free the toiling millions from hunger, poverty, and humiliation.

Two worlds stand facing each other in this great struggle: the world of capital and the world of labour, the world of exploitation and slavery and the world of brotherhood and freedom.

On one side stand the handful of rich blood-suckers. They have seized the factories and mills, the tools and machinery, have turned millions of acres of land and mountains of money into their private property. They have made the government and the army their servants, faithful watchdogs of the wealth they…

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What Are the Origins of May Day?

Journal of People

Rosa Luxemburg

Written: 1894. First published in Polish in Sprawa Robotnicza.
Published: From Selected Political Writings of Rosa Luxemburg, tr. Dick Howard, Monthly Review Press, 1971, pp. 315-16.
Online Version: April, 2002.
Proofed: by Matthew Grant.

The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The day of this celebration was to be April 21. At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year.

In fact, what could give the…

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