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“Introduction to Marxist Economics”: Ben Fine

Ben Fine from SOAS University explains the fundamental ideas of Marxist Economics as a part of lecture series “What you won’t learn in an economics degree: an introduction to heterodox economics”.

The lecture was hosted by Post-Crash Economics Society Manchester and Manchester’s Political Economy Institute.

To watch the videos of the previous lectures go to…

On the 4th of February we are lucky to have the Marxist economist Ben Fine from SOAS University in London for the fifth instalment in our lecture series “What You Won’t Learn in an Economics Degree: an Introduction to Heterodox Economics”. Fine is one of the Uk’s best known Marxists and has authored and co-authored a number of books on the subject, including an introduction to Marx’s capital. Marxist economics is often misunderstood or even scoffed at because of its perceived political implications. However, with the global economy in crisis, some believe it’s now hard not to take seriously many of the things Marx wrote about capitalism’s systemic tendency toward catastrophe.

According to the Marxist analysis, labour is the sole source of ‘value’, and capitalists make a profit by paying labourers wages lower than the value the labourers produce. However, as technology develops, capitalists tend to substitute capital for labour to increase productivity. This has the perverse effect of lowering the amount of labour performed – and therefore the surplus produced – in the economy as a whole. As the rate of profit falls, this manifests itself in periodic crises as capitalists cut back to try and recover profits.

While neoclassical (and Austrian) economics tend to take the individual as the most important unit of economic analysis, Marxism groups people into classes depending on their relation to the economy. Workers (or the proletariat) are those who depend on wages for subsistence, while capitalists are those who own the ‘means of production’ and employ workers.

As a society Post-Crash are campaigning for changes to the economics syllabus at Manchester, and one of the questions we are most regularly confronted with by unsure students is ‘What else could be included on the syllabus?’. This series is therefore attempting to answer this crucial question. We’ve already had lectures on Austrian, post-Keynesian and Institutional economics, and other schools of thought that will come later on should include Ecological, Feminist and Evolutionary economics. If any of that sounds interesting come along and learn about how broad and diverse economics could and should be.

Part 1

Part 2

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