Tag Archives: Marxism

Mavroudeas S. (2022), ‘The adventures of Economic Policy within Mainstream Economics’ in Essays in Economic Theory and Policy in Honor of Professor Stella Karagianni, Athens: Gutenberg

Economic Policy covers the aims and the instruments of state economic interventionism. As a broad problematique it existed from the very birth of the science of the economy. However, as a special subject-area it was inaugurated in the interwar era and formalized by the beginning of the post-World War II era. Since then, Economic Policy faced serious ups and lows within economic analysis and policymaking. Particularly within Mainstream Economics (the nowadays dominant tradition within the science of the economy), Economic Policy – and especially its ‘hard’ versions of active fiscal policy, discreet industrial policy and planification – moved from the initial highs of the interwar and Keynesian era to the lows of the Neoliberal period. During the latter Economic Policy was dehydrated from crucial tools and downgraded as a subject because it was castigated as prone to labour demands and popular concessions that suppressed capital’s profitability. Since the beginning of the 21st century – and as a result of the blatant failures of the Neoliberal deregulationist movement – a return of active Economic Policy is on the cards. However, this return within Mainstream Economics is both belated and very problematic. The contemporary orthodoxy of New Keynesianism attempts rather ineffectively to marry an activist economic policy with its neo-conservative insulation from popular pressures for better wages and working conditions. This paper analyses the adventures of Economic Policy within Mainstream Economics from the standpoint of Marxist Political Economy.




‘The Political Economy of the COVID-19 pandemic’,S.Mavroudeas

Selected and revised papers from the proceedings of the ICOPEC 2021 Conference have been published by IJOPEC Publications in a collective volume titled ‘The Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on societies and economies’.

I was an invited speaker at the conference and I contributed a paper titled ‘The Political Economy of the COVID-19 Pandemic’, which is included in this collective volume.

The links to my paper are the following:



The whole e-book can be assesed at IJOPEC’s website: http://www.ijopec.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/2021_08.pdf

15th WAPE panel: ‘A critical review of the Financialisation Hypothesis’ – video

Following below is the video recording of the PANEL 8. ‘Capitalist Accumulation and the Financialisation Hypothesis: a Critical Review‘, that took place during the 15th WAPE Forum.

The chair and discussant of the panel was Lefteris Tsoulfidis (Professor of History of Economic Thought, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece).

The panelists were:

  1. Stavros Mavroudeas (Vice Chair of the World Association for Political Economy, Professor of Political Economy, Department of Social Policy, Panteion University,  Greece) & Turan Subasat (Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Turkey) presenting ‘The Financialization Hypothesis: A Theoretical and Empirical Critique
  2. Michael Roberts (Independent Marxist Economist, UK) presenting ‘The Great Recession: a Marx, not a Minsky moment
  3. Ricardo Gómez Uribe (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México(UNAM), Mexico) presenting ‘Store of Value and Means of Circulation: an Old Contradiction with New Expression’

The link for the video recording of the panel is the following: https://youtu.be/iqPhjoLmD0A

A video-lecture by P.Bond on financialisation

Patrick Bond (Professor of Political Economy, University of the Western Cape, School of Government) has made a very illuminating video-presentation on the subject ‘Financialisation theories’.

Part of the video-presentation is based on Mavroudeas S. & Papadatos F. (2018), ‘Is the Financialisation Hypothesis a theoretical blind alley?’, World Review of Political Economy vol.9 no.4.

Our paper can be downloaded at



Patrick’s video-presentation follows:

lecture 45 – Financialisation theories from Patrick Bond on Vimeo.

‘The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ by S.Mavroudeas – INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL THOUGHT

In the recent issue of INTERNATIONAL CRITICAL THOUGHT it is included an article authored by me and titled ‘The economic and political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic’.

It can be assesed, downloaded (and even listened to through the LISTEN button) via the following link:


Research Article

The Economic and Political Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Stavros Mavroudeas Received 11 Jun 2020, Accepted 28 Jul 2020, Published online: 03 Feb 2021


The COVID-19 epidemic has triggered a twin (health and economic crisis). The first is caused by the “metabolic rift” (capitalism’s uncontrollable and insatiable commodification of nature) that leads to the modern “emerging epidemics” of zoonoses. The economic crisis was already simmering but lockdowns triggered and aggravated its eruption. Furthermore, it argues that socialism is better equipped to confront health crises due to its superior state economic capacity, better co-ordination mechanisms and focus on the well-being of the labouring classes’ majority of society. Additionally, this commentary explains that this twin crisis will aggravate the current state of intra-imperialist conflicts and will intensify the process of “de-globalisation.” Confronting this situation the Left and the Communist movement should not become subservient to intra-bourgeois conflicts (as anti-neoliberalism argues) but pursue class politics against capitalism and at the same time fight so as the burden of the crisis is paid by capital and not labour.

Additional links:



‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’ – Stavros Mavroudeas, FARAK International Conference

I was invited to speak at the International Conference on ‘Liberalism, Marxism, Study of Realism, Gandhism and Communism’, organised by FARAK in India.

The subject of my speech is ‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’.

The transcript of my speech and the video follows.



FARAK international conference

‘Liberalism, Marxism, Study of Realism, Gandhism and Communism’


‘Marxism and its contemporary relevance’


Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor of Political Economy

Panteion University, Athens, Greece

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr


What is Marxism and why is relevant today

In 1989, after the fall of the Eastern bloc, mainstream pundits professed the death of Marxism.

However, not long since, around the 2008 global capitalist crisis this mainstream belief was shaken. Even die-hard mainstream voices (like the FT and the Economist) professed that Marx is more relevant than ever today. Of course, they gave a distorted picture of Marx and Marxism. Nevertheless, the ‘death of Marxism’ argument was buried for good.

The advent of the current COVID-19 health-cum-economic crisis reverberated even more strongly the contemporary relevance of Marxism.

But what gives Marxism this enduring analytical and practical power?

The answer lies in his ‘DNA’. Marxism is an entity comprising of (a) a worldview, (b) a socio-economic analysis and (c) a guideline for social praxis.


Marxism’s worldview

The essence of Marxism’s worldview is the very realistic proposition that our world is material, conflictual and dynamic.

  • Material because it is the matter (rather than some metaphysical mind) that forms our world.
  • Conflictual because contradictions (between social classes, opposing interests etc.) are the rule.
  • Dynamic because the struggle between the opposing sides of these contradictions generates change.

This is the old philosophical tradition of dialectics. Marx and Engels based this perspective on material conditions (rather than on idealist principles as for example in Hegelian idealist dialectics).

Hence, Marxism conceives the world as a material entity which is riddled with contradictions (and not harmony) and is prone to changes.

Marxism’s world view is organized on the basis of two intertwined theoretical sets: Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism.


Dialectical Materialism

Dialectical Materialism offers the methodology to understand our world. It is founded on the old dialectical scheme of thesis – antithesis – synthesis. This scheme signifies that out of the struggle between opposing sides (thesis and antithesis) a new situation will emerge (synthesis).

Among the many other features of the dialectical materialist analysis two have a prominent role and are particularly pertinent for comprehending the contemporary world.

The first feature is the distinction between appearance and essence. Its situation has an external appearance (the way it is presented in everyday life). But beneath it is hidden an essence; that is a system of generic relations that may not be viewed with a naked eye, but it dictates the way things evolve. For understanding the true condition of things, the human theory must move beyond the realm of appearances and discover the hidden essence of things. According to Marx’s very accurate dictum ‘all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided’. The essence represents the general, generic elements and their concomitant laws of motion of a thing and/or a situation. Thus, it represents its general characteristics or, in dialectical materialist terms, its abstract dimension. The appearance is the modification of this general character with specific and special (for each particular case) characteristics. Hence, the appearance belongs to the level of the concrete.


Appearance Essence
concrete abstract



The second crucial feature is the method of abstraction. It follows from the previous feature. In order to understand the world, we have to proceed beneath the level of the appearances and discover the hidden but governing level of essence. Science should do this through the method of abstracting from special characteristics (which are of a lesser importance), concentrate on the few basic aspects and then dig beneath them to discover the hidden essence.

abstract                     concrete



Historical Materialism

Historical Materialism is the application of the dialectical materialist perspective in comprehending the human history. Marxism breaks radically from pre-existing conceptions of history as the result of the impact of ideas that were to effect changes in a society. For Marxism, ideas stem from material conditions. At the heart of material conditions is the economy; that is the system through which the humankind gets the necessities for its subsistence. This has been characterized, by friends and foes, as economic determinism. It is indeed economic determinism (as even Bill Clinton recognized that ‘It is the economy stupid’ that matters). But, contrary to the various anti-determinists, it is a determinism that (a) permits degrees of freedom and (b) recognizes feed-back effects. Hence, it is not a mechanistic determinism, as they erroneously clamour. In more strict Marxist terms, the economic relations are the base on which the superstructure (the rest of the social relations) is erected.

Contradictions – that is the struggle between opposing sides – in class-divided societies takes the form of class struggle between social classes. The primary field of this class struggle is the economy, but it subsequently spills over to the rest of social relations (which in turn affect the economy through feedback circuits).

Then Marxism explains the evolution of human societies through a stages of history theory. Human societies are organized on the basis of modes of production (MoP – that is configurations of socio-economic relations between different classes). Thus, different modes of production are recognized (primitive communal societies, slavery, feudalism, capitalism etc.). Each MoP has exhausted its life cycle and is ready for substitution by another MoP once it can no longer develop the forces of production (FoP – that is expand the well-being of societies).



Marxism’s socio-economic analysis

The world’s materiality rests primarily on the economy. For this reason, Marxism accurately profess the primacy of the economy over the rest of the social relations. Thus, Marxism’s second fundamental axis is his system of political economy. It consists of the Labour Theory of Value (LTV) and the Theory of Surplus-Value.


Labour Theory of Value

This theory regards human labour as the sole creator of wealth. Human labour is the only active component of the production process and the one that sets in motion the other FoP (means of labour etc.). Without human intervention no wealth-production can take place. Consequently, in capitalism (capitalist commodity production), where almost all goods become commodities, the amount of labour spent over the production of each commodity is its value. This (labour) value passes through a series of transformations (as it passes from the sphere of production to the spheres of circulation and distribution) and it is ultimately expressed as (monetary) price. Hence, value determines price but the latter – contrary to D.Ricardo – almost never coincides with its determining value; it rather fluctuates around it. This is the famous Law of Value:

value      determines               price


Marx formulated this conception through his Value Theory of Abstract Labour (that is a social conception of labour), as distinct from Ricardo’s (and the majority of Classical Political Economy) Value Theory of Embodied Labour (that is a technical conception of labour). Also contrary to Ricardo, value determines price but (a) through an indirect mechanism passing through different spheres (Prices of Production) and (b) at a subsequent phase prices feed-back on values.

Theory of Surplus-Value

This is the theory that explains how exploitation takes place in the capitalist system. It is based on the valid assumption that what it is bought and sold in the labour market is not the labour performed but the ability to perform labour (labour-power). This assumption grasps very accurately the fact that what a capitalist buys are hours of labour under his command and not the actual labour performed. The capitalist pays to the labourer a certain amount (value of labour-power). Then, the capitalist implements his managerial prerogative and is able to extract from the labourer’s work more value than what he has initially paid him. This is called surplus-value, it is unpaid labour and it is transformed in the capitalist’s profit.

It is worth noting that no other economic theory (Neoclassical, Keynesian etc.) can offer a different coherent explanation of the capitalist’s profit.

Subsequently, Marxism argues that capitalism is a socio-economic system organized around the extraction of profit (profit motive). This is again a very realistic assumption that no other economic theory can offer a satisfactory alternative.

From the rich and sophisticated Marxist economic analysis two elements are especially important.

The first element is that the capitalist system is riddled with internal contradictions. A consequence of these contradictions is the regular appearance of economic crises. Marxism, as opposed to mainstream Economics, has a very developed and meticulous theory of economic crises. The basis of the Marxist theory of economic crises is the famous Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall (LTPRF). The gist of this argument is that capitalists by competing among themselves for greater profits ultimately lead the system to overaccumulation (that is expansion beyond its realistic dimensions) and thus to a falling rate of profit. This falling profitability tendency, once surpassing certain definite levels, leads to economic crises (that is the collapse of normal functioning of the system and the reduction of the GDP). In a nutshell, this conception argues that the ‘success’ of the system leads to its ‘failure’.

Relentlessly, Marx emphasises this self-destructive force built into the process of capitalist development:

‘And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand, by the enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.’


The second important element of Marxist economic analysis is that as the capitalist system ‘grows old’ (that is it fails to expand the FoP and becomes an obstacle to their further development), then it increases the exploitation of the toiling masses. This takes the form of relative (but also absolute in several cases) immiseration of the popular classes. In stricter terms, this explains the increase of economic inequalities and poverty in contemporary capitalism.



Marxism’s guideline for social praxis and change

Based on his worldview and his socio-economic analysis, Marxism offers his guideline for social praxis. It argues that once a socio-economic system is exhausted it is futile to try to reform it. Thus, it is necessary to remove it and substitute it with a better one. This has happened in the past with the succession from pre-capitalist socio-economic systems to the capitalist socio-economic system. Hence, Marxism pivot for social praxis is the societal change.

This societal change does not take place smoothly and peacefully as vested dominant interests and social classes do not relinquish their grip on society. Thus, societal change comes through class struggle:

‘The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles’


In the case of the capitalist system, class struggle takes place on the basis of the antagonistic relation­ship between its two main classes: labour (the creator of social wealth) and capital (the appropriator of the greater part of social wealth). Marxism argues that labour (the working class) is the instigator of societal change towards a more just and equitable socio-economic system: socialism (and ultimately communism). Class struggle by labour (and the rest of the allied with-it popular classes) should not try to reform the system as this is futile. Instead, it should follow the strategic aim of overthrowing the whole system. This strategic aim is organized at the tactical level with the everyday struggles for ameliorating the working and living conditions of the toiling classes.


The contemporary relevance of Marxism

Marxism’s ‘DNA’ (his worldview, socio-economic analysis and guideline for social praxis) gives him his analytical and practical superiority and explains his contemporary relevance.

The recurrence of economic crises during the recent decades (e.g. 2008, 2020) emphasises Marxism’s superiority against mainstream Economics. His focus on economic crises makes Marxism better equipped to understand bot the existence and the recurrence of this phenomenon; whereas mainstream Economics simply lack a general theory of crisis or hve a very weak one (in the case of Keynesianism).

Similarly, the increase of inequalities and poverty in contemporary capitalism prove the contemporary relevance of Marxism. Again, mainstream Economics fail to offer a convincing alternative perspective.

But also, at a deeper epistemological level, Marxist materialist dialectics and their notion of contradiction prove particularly apposite in understanding the contemporary world that is riddled with conflicts and antagonisms.


‘The relationship between working time and productivity –Intensity of labour’ by Alexis Ioannides & Stavros Mavroudeas, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL ON WORKING CONDITIONS



‘The relationship between working time and productivity – Intensity of labour’

by Alexis Ioannides & Stavros Mavroudeas,



Influential economists like Marx, Jevons, Chapman and Robbins argued that working time and labour intensity – productivity are strongly correlated. Nevertheless, the quantitative relationship between these two magnitudes has never been estimated. This article makes a step towards estimating this relationship. It proposes a new theoretical formulation, following the ideas of influential economists. It utilizes for the first time data from ergonometric experiments to estimate the material basis of this relationship. The estimated relationship between working time and maximum intensity for manual labour is mainly based upon the physical limitations of human body. The findings confirm the thesis of a strong negative correlation that can lead to output maximization following a working time reduction. They can also be used to explain the long term decreasing trend of working time that seems to reach an end in our days.



Click to access IJWC.19_Ioannides&Mavroudeas_p.27.45.pdf







Friedrich Engels and his contribution to Marxism by S.Mavroudeas – HUMAN GEOGRAPHY


Human Geography

First Published July 8, 2020 Research Article



Friedrich Engels and his contribution to Marxism


Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor (Political Economy)

Dept. of Social Policy

Panteion University

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr



The 200th anniversary of the birth of F.Engels comes at a time when his contribution to Marxism is being disputed by Neue Lekture and Sraffian authors, based on the alleged discovery of him having distorted Capital. The evidence presented by the new anti-Engelsionists are flimsy and essentially philological hair-splitting arguments. The common ground uniting them is their abhorrence for the existence of Marxism as a coherent theoretical tradition and as a weapon for the revolutionary struggle of the working class for the emancipation of human society.


A short biography

This year marks the anniversary of the 200 years since the birth of Friedrich Engels, the co-founder of the Marxist tradition. He was born on the 28th of November 1820 at Barmen-Elberfeld (later renamed Wuppertal) in Germany. He came from a bourgeois family with industrial and merchant enterprises in Germany and England. At the age of twenty he followed the radicalization of the German student youth of that time and joined the so-called Young Hegelians. The Young Hegelians were a radical group that disputed social conformism and supported democracy and anti-clericalism. German student youth – coming mainly from bourgeois origins as the university was still an upper-class fiefdom – were profoundly disillusioned by the failure of the bourgeois democratic revolutions in the then segmented Germany. These revolutions that strived for a unified democratic society were initiated by the bourgeoisie but fought for by the peasants and the workers. Once they were crushed by foreign interventions, the bourgeoisie soon compromised and the popular classes remained to fight till the bitter end. This led a sizeable segment of the student youth to dispute the social progressiveness of the bourgeoisie and to seek the emancipator of the human society in the less-knowledgeable but more steadfast popular classes. This was indeed the course followed by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

Engels met Marx in 1842 but their life-long friendship and scientific and political collaboration begun in 1844. He had become a communist before Marx, with the latter following soon afterwards. They co-authored in 1847 the Manifesto of the Communist Party which delineated the strategy and the tactics of the communists on the eve of the democratic revolutions in Europe at the end of the 19th century. He participated in the 1849 revolutionary uprisings in Germany and fought with one of the best revolutionary military detachments. This experience earned him the nickname ‘the General’ among his and Marx’s circle.

After the failure of these revolts Engels returned in 1850 to Manchester to work for the family textile enterprise and leading a literally double-life: on the one side as a factory manager and on the other hand as a social revolutionary fighting against his very class. At the same time Marx, after several expulsions from other European countries, settled in London and their collaboration intensified. As during the 1849 revolutions (when Engels participated militarily in them and Marx took the role of the political spokesperson), a very neat division of labor existed between them. Engels was primarily occupied with garnering political support while Marx concentrated on theoretical analysis. Nonetheless, as it will be argued below, this does not diminish Engels’ theoretical stature as he actively participated in the formation of Marxist theory by his own contributions, his co-authored works with Marx and, above all, by his immense knowledge of the actual workings of the capitalist economy. When Engels eventually retired in 1870, he moved near Marx in London and their collaboration intensified further.

When Marx died in 1883, Engels undertook the Herculean feat of editing Marx’s unpublished work and particularly the second and the third volume of Capital. He, moreover, worked energetically for the promotion of Marxist theory in tandem with the creation of workers’ revolutionary parties. This exemplified his shared with Marx conviction – later expounded by Lenin – that there cannot be a revolutionary party without a revolutionary theory and program. Engels died in 1895 having made an immense contribution in developing, expanding and systematizing the Marxist tradition. For this he is rightfully respected as the co-founder of Marxism.


Engels’ contribution to Marxist Political Economy

Engels’ theoretical contributions span several fields. However, it is worth highlighting his work in Political Economy that is often neglected; and this sometimes goes hand-in-hand with some recent gratuitous attacks on his editorship of Marx’s Capital. This is a totally erroneous conception. Engels was not only a profound connoisseur of the actual workings of the capitalist economy but also a talented economist.

He wrote The Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy which greatly impressed Marx and motivated him to study Political Economy. In this he offers a critical analysis of the Value theory of Classical Political Economy and pinpoints several of its deficiencies (e.g. Ricardo’s setting the market price according to the least efficient producer). He also endeavors in several other crucial issues like the existence of economic cycles and capitalism’s inherent tendency through labor-saving technical change towards creating a surplus population (what later Marx termed the ‘reserve army of labor’). Additionally, he recognizes the tendency towards concentration and centralization of capital as well as the role of market speculation. Last, Engels analyses the inefficient character of the capitalist economy and the superiority of a planned economy.

His Condition of the Working Class in England – written in 1844 before the beginning of his collaboration with Marx in 1845 – explores several crucial issues that later constituted the backbone of Marxist Labor Economics. He studies the labor market and the determination of wage and unemployment (again through the process of the reserve army of labor), the industrialization process and the consequences of technical change. A major Engelsian contribution is his recognition that labor’s class struggle through trade unions have viable results and lead to sustainable better wages and working conditions. This argument pioneers the Marxist wage theory as constituted by a physical and a social part and its radical difference from Ricardo’s conception of the wage as necessarily confined to the physical part (through the doomed Malthusian theory of population). This theme is echoed in his later (1872) Housing Question, where he again stressed the social determination of the value of labor-power.

But Engels’ study on the Housing Question goes further beyond and explores meticulously hot topics of Geography in general (and Economic Geography in particular). He analyses how the problem of working class’ housing arises in capitalism and how the latter exploits it but never actually solves it by geographically moving it problem around.

Engels’ Anti-Duhring (1873) devotes a whole section on Political Economy where he analyses scientific methodology, the theory of surplus-value and the theory of rent. He rightfully emphasizes that the theory of surplus-value (and of course the underlying Labor Theory of Value) and the law of falling rate of profit to fall (LFRP) constitute the basic tenets of Marxist economic analysis and its primary differentiae specificae from Classical Political Economy[1]. A usually neglected gem in Engels’ Political Economy contribution is his focus on the effect of the turnover of capital in relation to profitability. The turnover of capital is the time required for profits to be reaped from an investment. A shorter turnover of capital enables capital to reinvest more rapidly and thus increase its annual profitability. Engels, based on his own knowledge of capitalist enterprises, pinpoints that it is a counter-acting factor in the tendency of the rate of profit to fall; an issue remaining till today unexplored in Marxist economic analysis.

Notwithstanding, Engels’ major contribution in Marxist Political Economy is his unmitigated feat in streamlining Marx’s notebooks into the second and third volumes of Capital. This required not a scholastic philological editor but a very accomplished political economist with profound knowledge of the issues at hand. Engels was able to succeed in this not only because he had this quality but also because he was ‘flesh and blood’ of Marx’s thinking. Marx’s economic analysis would not be so powerful without the very close interaction and interweaving with Engels’ intimate knowledge of capitalism’s modus operandi and strong economic analysis abilities.


On some gratuitous attempts to counterpose Engels to Marx

Frequently Engels was attacked as a distorter of Marx’s thought. The common ground behind almost all these attacks is the fact that Engels made Marxism a political and intellectual force by systematizing it and also by organizing and directing political parties based on Marxism. This brought the wrath of many foes but also of several dubious ‘friends’, that prefer Marxism to be an amorphous ‘critical’ approach without political intervention.

Some initial attacks took place immediately after the publication of Capital and the energetic promotion of Marxism by Engels.

The first serious attacks were unleashed in the 1970s and 1980s and focused on philosophical and methodological issues. Engels was falsely accused of misrepresenting Marx’s dialectics as a mechanistically objective method and of trying to imprison Marx’s free critical spirit in the cage of a standardised ‘system’ (e.g. McLellan (1977), Carver (1984)). This attack had sometimes an ultra-leftist allure as it pronounced the supposed indeterminacy of class struggle as opposed to strict laws of motion. In the ensuing debate it was proven that, despite minor differences, Engels was consonant with Marx. Foster (2017) and Blackledge (2020) give an accurate presentation of this wave and also a brilliant reply to it.

The second wave of attacks emerged since the 1990s and centered more on the Political Economy of Marx and Engels. It is led by the Neue Lekture[2] (NL) authors and their hijacking of the MEGA project and it is being seconded by Sraffians. It maintained that Engels distorted Capital by making unwarranted interventions and mispresenting it as a finished work whereas it is simply an incomplete research project. Among others, Engels is accused of ascribing to Marx a theory of economic crisis based on the Law of the Falling Profit Rate, whereas the latter was supposedly agnostic.

Their main attack is on Capital III, although the whole Capital also draws their fire. They cannot accuse Engels of falsifying Capital I as this was published while Marx was alive. However, much of their accursed subjects (the Labour Theory of Value (LTV) for the Sraffians, the theory of money and the LFRP for both of them) are already clearly delineated in Capital I. Hence, their main effort is to draw a wedge between Capital I and Capital III, by arguing that Marx had second thoughts on these issues and Engels hide them while editing Capital III.

M.Heincrich, a prominent NL spokesperson, maintains that Engels’ editorship distorted Marx’s text by presenting it as a coherent work whereas it was not only an unfinished but also an unfinishable work: Marx’s thought was ‘far more ambivalent and much less developed’ and ‘it is doubtful whether the materials were available to complete Capital’. He even implies bad intentions, by maintaining that Engels ‘by no means indicated all the interpolations and alterations he made’ in Capital III (Heinrich (1996-7)). His alleged proofs of Engels’ ‘crimes’ are based on Vollgraf & Jungnickel (2002). A careful examination of their proofs shows that they are insubstantial and simply hair-splitting arguments. Vygodskii & Naron (2002) have very accurately criticized them for not comprehending the historical character Capital III and for inordinately putting themselves in Engels’ boots as Capital’s ‘modern’ editors.

In analytical matters, his main focus is on crisis theory. Heinrich (2016, p.127) boldly declares that after 1865 ‘Although Marx made no more explicit reference to the “law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall,” a strong indication suggests that Marx no longer adhered to this law’. The textual evidence he offers is irrelevant as he is totally ignorant of the distinction and the relationship between the value composition of capital (VCC), the technical composition of capital (TCC) and the organic composition of capital (OCC) (see Saad-Filho (1993)). Thus, he refers to a passage where Marx argues that there can be an increased VCC with an increased profit rate. But Marx’s LFRP rests upon the OCC and not the VCC.

The next analytical point he tackles in Heinrich (1996-7) is credit theory where he declares that he discovered obvious evidence of Engelsian manipulation of Marx’s work. He argues that Marx has opted for not discussing credit theory at the highly abstract level of Capital, but at a lower level linked to a number of historically specific institutional factors. He even declares that for Marx ‘there cannot be a general credit theory’. He then accuses Engels for presenting the research material found in Marx’s manuscript on the general level. This is a totally imprudent argument. First, the analysis of credit is part and parcel of the theory of money. And Marx’s theory of money is an organic part of the analysis of Capital. Second, Marx’s analysis proceeds from the abstract to the concrete. Consequently, his analysis of credit follows the same route and cannot be relegated to some middle-range level.

Heinrich’s (2016) additional ‘proofs’ are also red herrings. He submerges into Marx’s correspondence but the best he can discover is that Marx was testing his crisis theory by examining several concrete empirical cases. Therefore, the rest of his attack on Engels for falsifying Marx is simply erroneous.

The only point that Heinrich makes a serious substantive argument is his critique of Engels’ historical transformation problem (and the existence of simple commodity production as a system per se). This is a well-known error of Engels for which, however, he took the full responsibility. Thus, he cannot be accused as a falsifier of Marx on this count.

The Sraffians have jumped onto the NL bandwagon. Their perspective is not so much textual scholasticism but economic analysis. The controversy between Marxism and Sraffianism is well-known and centers upon the Sraffian rejection of the LTV and the LFRP. H.Kurz (2018), an eminent figure of Sraffianism, praised the MEGA edition for presenting Marx as a ‘renaissance man and homo universalis’ rather than as a political activist. He accuses Engels that ‘He was not, at least not throughout, the innocent editor as which he portrayed himself, although there is reason to presume that he felt he was’. He laments that MEGA did not find any wavering by Marx regarding the LTV. But Kurz (2018, p.16-7) finds a true watershed regarding the LFRP. He readily espouses all NL claims about Marx having second thoughts about the LFRP. And, of course, that Engels consciously concealed this. His conclusions are revealingly political. From MEGA’s debunking of Marxism as a system he concludes that Marx had reservations about the inevitability of socialism (Kurz (2018), p.23).


In praise of Engels, co-founder of Marxism

The attacks on Engels are neither justified nor bona fide.

For the anti-Engelsionists that try to place themselves as the true interpreters of Marx’s thought, history leaves no room for them. Marx and Engels’ close personal relationship, common way of thinking, division of labour (both theoretical and political) is beyond any dispute. Marx regularly discussed economic matters with Engels. Furthermore, no modern editor could achieve transforming Marx’s manuscripts to a book as it lacks their close personal relation and their long-standing identification in theoretical and political matters.

The main reason why Engels has attracted so much rancor is that he systematized Marxism as theoretical system and transformed it to a mass political movement. This is his ‘cardinal sin’ and for this contemporary anti-Engelsionists practically prefer that Capital should not have been published: ‘it is an unfinished and unfinishable work’. For this reason, they try to portray Marx as a ‘liberal thinker’ (Carver (1984)) as opposed to the devious communist Engels. It is true that Engels became a communist before Marx. But it is equally true that Marx and Engels are the co-founders of Marxism and the communist movement[3]. Their bond cannot be severed despite the copious efforts of the anti-Engelsionists.



Blackledge P. (2020), ‘Engels vs. Marx?: Two Hundred Years of Frederick Engels’, Monthly Review, 72:1

Carver T. (1984), ‘Marxism as Method’ in T.Ball & J.Farr (eds), After Marx, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Foster J.B. (2017), ‘The Return of Engels’, Monthly Review, 68:10

Heinrich M. (1996-7), ‘Engels’ Edition of the Third Volume of Capital and Marx’s Original Manuscript’, Science & Society, 60: 4

Heinrich M. (2016), ‘Capital’ after MEGA: Discontinuities, Interruptions and New Beginning’, Crisis & Critique 3:3

Kurz H. (2018), ‘Will the MEGA2 edition be a watershed in interpreting Marx?’, The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 25:5

McLellan D. (1977), Frederick Engels, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Saad-Filho A. (1993), ‘A Note on Marx’s Analysis of the Composition of Capital’, Capital & Class 17:2

Vygodskii V. & S. Naron (2002), ‘What Was It Actually That Engels Published in the Years 1885 and 1894? On the Article by Carl-Erich Vollgraf and Jürgen Jungnickel Entitled ‘Marx in Marx’s Words’?’, International Journal of Political Economy 32:1

Vollgraf C-E. & J. Jungnickel (2002), ‘Marx in Marx’s Words’? On Engels’s Edition of the Main Manuscript of Book 3 of ‘Capital’’, International Journal of Political Economy 32:1


[1] As it is well-known, the Marxist LTV has been habitually attacked by many friends and foes of Marxism; beginning with Bohm-Bawerk, continuing with the Sraffians and nowadays with D.Harvey (who recently professed that Marx had no ‘Labor’ theory of value). The gist of these attacks is that on the basis of LTV Marxism proves that capitalism is an exploitative system that has to be overthrown.

[2] The NL proposes a new reading of Marx against the supposedly rigidness of classical Marxist theory. First, it argues that Marx has a monetary theory of value, implying that abstract labour is directly associated and incarnated in money. This is a well-known fallacy that Marx explicitly rejected in his critique of Franklin. Second, the NL abhors considering the state as an instrument of the bourgeoisie and argues that although it supports the capitalist system it has also considerable degrees of freedom. This led the NL to relativism and reformist politics. Third, it questions the revolutionary character of the proletariat.

[3] It is revealing how their co-authored founding text of the communist movement, the Communist Manifesto, was preceded by Engels’ (1847) Principles of Communism.


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‘Labour Process Theory: A Critical Reappraisal’ – S.Mavroudeas ICOPEC 2020, Marmara University, Istanbul

I was an invited speaker in ICOPEC 2020 (Marmara University, Istanbul http://www.icopec.org/)

The subject of my presentation was ‘Labour Process Theory: A Critical Reappraisal’

Below follow (a) the abstract of my talk and (b) my voice powerpoint


11th International Conference of Political Economy

Global Inequalities

June 24-26, 2020, Marmara University, Istanbul


‘Labour Process Theory:

 A critical reappraisal’


Stavros Mavroudeas

Professor (Political Economy)

Dept. of Social Policy

Panteion University

e-mail: s.mavroudeas@panteion.gr

web: https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com




Labour Process Theory was born after H.Braverman’s ground-breaking work ‘Labor and Monopoly Capital’ (1974). Its major contribution was that it reinstated at the foreground the Marxist analysis of Labour Economics as a credible alternative to both the Neoclassical and the Keynesian theories of Labour Economics. Following from this a vibrant discussion was born that led to the creation of the scientific sub-field of Labour Process Theory within the academia. Notwithstanding its crucial contributions and significant advances over the previous forty years, today the Labour Process Theory is in a stalemate. This has been accurately characterized as a state of identity crisis. This paper reviews the evolution of Labour Process Theory and periodizes it in four distinct phases. The first one is marked by Braverman’s seminal contribution and his deskilling thesis. The second one scrutinised several of Braverman’s stylized facts (and especially the deskilling thesis) and expanded analytical and empirical studies to new issues (e.g. labour market segmentation, power and control in the workplace, designing job descriptions, cohersion and consent in the factory). The third phase attempted a generalization of the Labour Process Theory and ventured into macroeconomic projections on the basis of it (e.g. theories about Fordist and psot-Fordist capitalism, Flexible Specialisation). The last phase is characterized by a distancing from the Marxist theory of the social mode of production, the Labour Theory of Value and class struggle and is being lost in interesting but limited empirical issues concerning the workplace and managerial strategies. This paper argues that a return to the foundations of Marxist economic analysis is necessary in order for the Labour Process Theory to regain its identity and explanatory power. This task is particularly pressing in the current era of rapid changes in the workplace and the labour market.


The political economy of the COVID – Michael Roberts talks to Prof. Stavros Mavroudeas

Michael Roberts has been publishing a series of very interesting videos in his YouTube channel.

I participated in one of them and gave a talk on ‘The Political Economy of COVID-19″.

Below are (a) the links for the video of the talk and (b) the powerpoint of my talk