Marx referred to the latter as the "base" and the former as the "superstructure"; one does not have to agree with this metaphor or with the priority it implies to see that it is a fruitful conception. Keynes had never taken Marxism seriously, and for the most part he never would. Marxism, by contrast, provides a clear, scientific analysis of the capitalist system, its relations and laws, and why these intrinsically lead to crises. Like their traditional Keynesian predecessors, MMT supporters believe that there should never be any slump, or any need for austerity and balanced budgets, since governments can always step in by creating money and spending it. Already on our list? Dobb died in 1976, before this Soviet vision had collapsed completely. Economists had fancied themselves counsellors to the sovereign for centuries, hence the “political” in political economy. ... John Maynard Keynes joined this counter tradition by breaking with free trade and advocating active … Rod O’Donnell (University of Technology Sydney), ‘Keynes and Marx: Towards constructive Dialogue’ Date: Thursday 24 August 2017 Time: 4pm-5.30pm Location: Merewether Seminar Room 398 Abstract: Both Keynes and Marx were philosopher-economists, creative thinkers, and theoretical and practical revolutionaries.. A new kind of planning was born, and it was christened “Keynesianism.”, Meanwhile, a rising generation of largely American economists was remaking their discipline. Medieval monarchs – and their subjects – learnt this the hard way, when prices soared and inflation shot up in response to endless debasements of the currency. But Dobb himself was too occupied with the impending revolution to bother with the details of a present he assumed would soon be consigned to history. Too often, Dobb forgot this lesson. Throughout, he displayed a creativity and intellectual dexterity that proved Marxism was a vital, living tradition. Full employment became the horizon of the Left, strangling the more ambitious programs that had flourished in the Depression. In 1932, CPGB higher-ups had initiated a campaign designed to punish Dobb for perceived violations of the party line. Marx probably wasnt even a Marxist. A few years later, after Dobb had finished a PhD at the London School of Economics, Keynes helped secure him a post at Cambridge. Throughout Capital, Marx frequently highlights the need to examine the economy in its totality, rather than simply isolating specific aspects of the system or concentrating on the behaviour of single individuals and transactions. Friedman, Keynes and Marx (1978) From the December 1978 issue of the Socialist Standard The capitalist system operates according to definite economic laws which governments can neither change nor overcome; to the extent that they try to they generally make … “Once economic theory is allowed to employ the deus ex machina of an impartial, classless state, actuated by social purposes and ironing out the conflicts of actual economic society,” Dobb commented acidly, “all manner of attractive miracles can be demonstrated.”. Marxism. He was a masterful debater when he wanted to be. Keynes on Marx and Das Kapital Books + Ideas — October 2011 Some friends have been debating what Keynes thought of Marx and wanted to get hold of a letter he wrote to Bernard Shaw about this. In 1925, sympathisers with the Soviet Union were treated to a world-class […]. He had still been part of the inner circle a few years earlier when he had composed a short but thoughtful review of The General Theory’s predecessor, Keynes’ two-volume Treatise on Money, which Dobb judged a “milestone.” But as the 1930s advanced, he drifted outside Keynes’ inner circle, standing apart from the debates that swirled around The General Theory. We cannot print our way to socialism. If you mean what was the difference in their beliefs, that’s a hard question to answer because they wrote about entirely different things, for entirely different purposes and entirely different audiences. Though Dobb considered himself an inheritor of a noble tradition of political economy, he was a political economist who did not take the political seriously. Keynes’ emphasis on capitalism’s instability was lost among soothing assurances that growth was all but guaranteed, and that even aggressive countercyclical spending would only be needed in emergencies, like oxygen masks in airplanes. Broadsides against the status quo have their place, but the most effective indictments are usually the most precise — the sharper the blade, the deeper the wound. Decades afterward, Dobb would remember with affection that even wariness of socialism and ignorance of the USSR could not stop Keynes from lecturing Soviet officials on monetary policy. Even Keynes himself was forced to admit defeat. Just No. Private property, for them, remains inviolable and sacrosanct. In past recessions, the figure falls to as low as 40-50%. The analysis of imperialism, especially, shows Dobb at his best, tying sharp history to rigorous economics and using the resulting synthesis to address a problem of enormous relevance to his moment — namely, fascism. Those on the left who have spent years arguing against austerity and for demands such as a ‘universal basic income’ (UBI) understandably believe that their time has come. Reflecting in the 1960s, he complained that it was “was too hurriedly written and not based sufficiently deeply in theoretical thinking” so that “to academic economists it seemed too polemical and negative and remote from contemporary discussion; to many Marxists it seemed to make too many concessions to Marshallian language and to have too academic a form.”. These were reasonable, albeit harsh, criticisms. The tangle of personal, political, and intellectual complications that made it so difficult for Dobb to talk about The General Theory gnarled through his career. At the same time, whilst the state can create money, it cannot ensure that this money is put to use. The state can try to avoid taxes and borrowing by printing money. The state can create money. While his eyes were fixed on the future, his critique lost purchase on its times, and he was left sparring with the shadows of his opponents. After his painful reminder of the importance of demonstrating his commitment to the cause, and with so many other duties agitating for his attention, it was easy to let mastering The General Theory fall to the side. His concern was less that workers might eat, and more that they might buy and consume, thus providing a market – the ‘effective demand’ – that the capitalists required in order to sell their produce and make a profit. They could adhere to the discipline’s current conventions, producing narrow studies concerned with the behaviour of prices in markets. Don’t worry, we can turn on the government’s taps. Production under capitalism is for profit. But Dobb was never entirely comfortable at Cambridge. We must tackle the roots of the capitalist system: private ownership and production for profit. In Dobb’s eyes, Keynes’ chest pounding about a great escape from orthodoxy was a mixture of melodrama and marketing. Tim Shenk is a graduate student in history at Columbia University, and the author of Maurice Dobb: Political Economist (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). China: SOE bond defaults show turbulent days ahead, USA – Il socialismo rivoluzionario e la lotta contro il presidente di Wall Street. No, our criticisms come from a Marxist perspective – from the standpoint of what is good for the world working class; from what is necessary to abolish capitalism and liberate humanity. Whatever the forum, he offered staunch defences of the Soviet Union in general and Stalin in particular. Easy – just add it to the bill! He still believed that only Communists united “the kind of organisation, combining discussion with discipline and a tradition of political theory with realistic thinking in face of changing situations, that offered . If anything, boosting state expenditures would make a nation more prone to crisis by directing money to less productive ends than what entrepreneurs would discover without government intervention. When Pollitt objected that he was too young — he had only finished his first year as an undergraduate — Dobb told him, “That’s why you can do it and I can’t.” In the discussion that followed Pollitt’s talk, Dobb did not say a word. No economist — maybe no human — has ever been better at scorn than John Maynard Keynes. The solution, Keynes asserted, was for the state to step in any make up for the shortfall in demand. Posted by Editor - Business News | Dec 14, 2020 | Financial | 0 | China’s new focus on demand reform borrows ideas from Marx more than Keynes South China Morning Post. For example, all other things being equal, if the government prints two notes where there was one previously, this devalues the currency by half, and therefore prices in the economy will double. Governments everywhere are pumping money into the world economy to keep it on life support. And real value is created in production, as a result of the application of socially necessary labour time. Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the Red bookshops.” “It is hard,” he concluded, “for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.”. The ironies must have seemed cruel. He spent countless hours working for party organisations, cultivating young Communists as a teacher in summer schools, serving as “chairman of the faculty of economics” for the party’s educational institute, and even helping to start a CPGB film company. From his outpost at Cambridge, where he mentored students ranging from Eric Hobsbawm to Amartya Sen, Dobb held forth with equal confidence on the history of capitalism, the practice of socialism, and the future of communism. Only by bringing in common ownership over the means of production and implementing a socialist economic plan can we satisfy society’s needs. But the character of economic debate, just like the character of economics, had changed. Similar to Marx, although Keynes denies any Marxian influence, Keynes moves his analysis of the economy beyond the barter system and real analysis and attempts to understand the dynamics of a monetary production economy. This is the real problem with reformist demands like UBI, which do nothing to challenge the power of the capitalist class. He was, after all, correct that Keynes harboured no aspirations for capitalism’s overthrow. He was a masterful debater when he wanted to be. 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