Libertarian Communism: Marx, Engels and the Political Economy of Freedom

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Hardcover , pages. Published December 15th by Palgrave Macmillan first published More Details Other Editions 2. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Libertarian Communism , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Libertarian Communism.

Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Edvin Imeri rated it it was amazing Sep 10, Vivek rated it it was amazing Oct 17, I am interested to read this. Si Lee rated it liked it Dec 08, Stupot rated it really liked it Oct 01, Christopher marked it as to-read Jul 12, Timothy marked it as to-read Dec 19, Nihil marked it as to-read Aug 02, Kyle marked it as to-read Sep 05, At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto.

From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

The concept dialectic emerged from the dialogues of the ancient Greek philosophers , but it was brought out by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the early 19th century as a conceptual framework for the often opposing forces of historical evolution. Historical determinism has also been associated with scholars like Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler , but in recent times this conceptual approach has fallen into disuse.

Terry Eagleton writes that Marx's writings "should not be taken to mean that everything that has ever happened is a matter of class struggle.

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It means, rather, that class struggle is most fundamental to human history". Academic Peter Stillman believes Marx's status as a determinist is a "myth". Other than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. Hence if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase. In an effort to reassert this approach to an understanding of the forces of history, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar criticised what he considers narrow conceptual basis of Marx's ideas on historical evolution.

Sarkar's main concern with the human element is what imparts universality to his thesis. Thus while social evolution according to Marx is governed chiefly by economic conditions, to Sarkar this dynamic is propelled by forces varying with time and space: sometimes physical prowess and high-spiritedness, sometimes intellect applied to dogmas and sometimes intellect applied to the accumulation of capital p. The main line of defence of the Sarkarian hypothesis is that unlike the dogmas now in disrepute, it does not emphasise one particular point to the exclusion of all others: it is based on the sum total of human experience — the totality of human nature.

Whenever a single factor, however important and fundamental, is called upon to illuminate the entire past and by implication the future, it simply invites disbelief, and after closer inspection, rejection. Marx committed that folly, and to some extent so did Toynbee. They both offered an easy prey to the critics, and the result is that today historical determinism is regarded by most scholars as an idea so bankrupt that it can never be solvent again.


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Various economists have argued that a socialist state would by its very nature erode the rights of its citizens. The U. Friedman's view was also shared by Friedrich Hayek , who also believed that capitalism is a precondition for freedom to flourish in a nation state. Proclaiming itself individualistic, it organizes collectively in order to promote the aims of a few.

Socialism, on the other hand Anarchists have also argued that centralised communism will inevitably lead to coercion and state domination. Mikhail Bakunin believed Marxist regimes would lead to the "despotic control of the populace by a new and not at all numerous aristocracy". Marxian economics have been criticized for a number of reasons. Some critics point to the Marxian analysis of capitalism while others argue that the economic system proposed by marxism is unworkable. There are also doubts that the rate of profit in capitalism would tend to fall as Marx predicted.

In , Marxian economist Nobuo Okishio devised a theorem Okishio's theorem showing that if capitalists pursue cost-cutting techniques and if the real wage does not rise, the rate of profit must rise. The labor theory of value is one of the most commonly criticized core tenets of Marxism. The Austrian School argues that this fundamental theory of classical economics is false and prefers the subsequent and modern subjective theory of value put forward by Carl Menger in his book Principles of Economics.

The Austrian School was not alone in criticizing the Marxian and classical belief in the labor theory of value. British economist Alfred Marshall attacked Marx, saying: "It is not true that the spinning of yarn in a factory [ It is the product of their labour, together with that of the employer and subordinate managers, and of the capital employed".

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According to Marshall, price or value is determined not just by supply, but by the demand of the consumer. The shift from labor being the source of all value to subjective individual evaluations creating all value undermines Marx's economic conclusions and some of his social theories. Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan argue that most studies purporting to show empirical evidence of the labor theory of value often make methodological errors by comparing the total labor value to total price of multiple economic sectors, which results in a strong overall correlation but this is a statistical exaggeration; the authors argue that the correlations between labor value and price in each sector are often very small if not insignificant.

Bichler and Nitzan also argue that because it is difficult to quantify a way to measure abstract labor, researchers are forced to make assumptions.

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In other words, the researcher assumes precisely what the labour theory of value is supposed to demonstrate. The economic calculation problem is a criticism of socialist economics or, more precisely, of centralized socialist planned economies. The free market solution is the price mechanism , wherein people individually have the ability to decide how a good should be distributed based on their willingness to give money for it.

The price conveys embedded information about the abundance of resources as well as their desirability which in turn allows on the basis of individual consensual decisions corrections that prevent shortages and surpluses.

"Capitalism Towards an Uncertain Future": An Interview with Ernesto Screpanti

Mises and Hayek argued that this is the only possible solution and, without the information provided by market prices, socialism lacks a method to rationally allocate resources. The debate raged in the s and s and that specific period of the debate has come to be known by economic historians as the socialist calculation debate. Some critics of socialism argue that income sharing reduces individual incentives to work and therefore incomes should be individualised as much as possible.

They further argue that incentives increase productivity for all people and that the loss of those effects would lead to stagnation. It is the common error of Socialists to overlook the natural indolence of mankind; their tendency to be passive, to be the slaves of habit, to persist indefinitely in a course once chosen. Let them once attain any state of existence which they consider tolerable, and the danger to be apprehended is that they will thenceforth stagnate; will not exert themselves to improve, and by letting their faculties rust, will lose even the energy required to preserve them from deterioration.

Competition may not be the best conceivable stimulus, but it is at present a necessary one, and no one can foresee the time when it will not be indispensable to progress. However, he later altered his views and became more sympathetic to socialism, particularly Fourierism , adding chapters to his Principles of Political Economy in defence of a socialist outlook and defending some socialist causes.

Nonetheless, some of his views on the idea of flat taxation remained, albeit in a slightly toned-down form. This hope [that egalitarian reward would lead to a higher level of motivation], one that spread far beyond Marx, has been shown by both history and human experience to be irrelevant. For better or worse, human beings do not rise to such heights. Generations of socialists and socially oriented leaders have learned this to their disappointment and more often to their sorrow. The basic fact is clear: the good society must accept men and women as they are.

Edgar Hardcastle responds to this by saying "They want to work and need no more inducement than is given by the knowledge that work must be done to keep society going, and that they are playing their part in it along with their fellow men and women". He continues by criticising what he sees are the double standards of anti-socialists, "Notice how they object to the unemployed receiving a miserly dole without having to work, but never object to the millionaires most of them in that position through inheritance being able to live in luxurious idleness.

Vladimir Karpovich Dmitriev writing in , [53] Ladislaus von Bortkiewicz writing in — [54] and subsequent critics have alleged that Karl Marx 's value theory and law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall are internally inconsistent. In other words, the critics allege that Marx drew conclusions that actually do not follow from his theoretical premises. Once those errors are corrected, Marx's conclusion that aggregate price and profit are determined by—and equal to—aggregate value and surplus value no longer holds true. This result calls into question his theory that the exploitation of workers is the sole source of profit.

The inconsistency allegations have been a prominent feature of Marxian economics and the debate surrounding it since the s. Proponents of the temporal single system interpretation TSSI of Marx's value theory, like Kliman, claim that the supposed inconsistencies are actually the result of misinterpretation and argue that when Marx's theory is understood as "temporal" and "single-system", the alleged internal inconsistencies disappear. In a recent survey of the debate, Kliman concludes that "the proofs of inconsistency are no longer defended; the entire case against Marx has been reduced to the interpretive issue".

Marxism has been criticized as irrelevant, with many economists rejecting its core tenets and assumptions. Marx was an important and influential thinker, and Marxism has been a doctrine with intellectual and practical influence. The fact is, however, that most serious English-speaking economists regard Marxist economics as an irrelevant dead end.

Some criticisms are based on the assertion that the Marxian conception of society is fundamentally flawed. Jean-Paul Sartre concluded that "class" was not a homogenous entity and could never mount a revolution, but continued to advocate Marxist beliefs. Arguments against Marxism are often based on epistemological reasoning. Some Marxist "laws" are vague and can be interpreted differently, but these interpretations generally fall into one of the aforementioned categories of flaws as well. What Marx accomplished was to produce such a comprehensive, dramatic, and fascinating vision that it could withstand innumerable empirical contradictions, logical refutations, and moral revulsions at its effects.

The Marxian vision took the overwhelming complexity of the real world and made the parts fall into place, in a way that was intellectually exhilarating and conferred such a sense of moral superiority that opponents could be simply labelled and dismissed as moral lepers or blind reactionaries. Marxism was — and remains — a mighty instrument for the acquisition and maintenance of political power. Allen , and Francis Fukuyama argue that many of Marx's predictions have failed. The socialist revolution would occur first in the most advanced capitalist nations and once collective ownership had been established then all sources of class conflict would disappear.

Instead of Marx's predictions, communist revolutions took place in undeveloped regions in Latin America and Asia instead of industrialized countries like the United States or the United Kingdom. Popper has argued that both the concept of Marx's historical method as well as its application are unfalsifiable and thus it is a pseudoscience [82] that cannot be proven true or false:.

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Facts and Principles. Cohen - - Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 3 The German Ideology. International Publishers. Allen W. Wood - - Mind Michael O. Hardimon - - Cambridge University Press. On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Friedrich Schiller - - Dover Publications. David James - - European Journal of Philosophy 25 2 Jan Kandiyali - - European Journal of Philosophy 25 3 Marx and Alienation: Essays on Hegelian Themes.

Sean Sayers - - Palgrave-Macmillan. Religion and Communism: Feuerbach, Marx and Bloch. Vincent Geoghegan - - The European Legacy 9 5 Marx: A Very Short Introduction. Peter Singer - - Oxford University Press. The Neo-Communist Manifesto.