[OPE-L:4170] Re: Critiquing exploitation

Duncan K. Fole (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Fri, 7 Feb 1997 19:48:09 -0800 (PST)

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I don't think there's much recent work in this direction. He should read
the Introduction to J.B. Clark's textbook on the Distribution of Income,
which is an eye-opener. I think most modern neoclassicals view this and the
work of Bohm-Bawerk as settling the issue once and for all, so they don't
bother to rewrite it much. He might check out Mark Blaug's account of Marx
and exploitation in his works on the history of thought, though.

Neoclassical economists almost universally interpret the word
"exploitation" in economic terms to refer to cases where labor is paid less
than its marginal product. Marx clearly uses it to refer to the
(effectively universal) case where labor is paid less than its average
product. There was in the thirties and forties a bit of a literature
pointing out that marginal productivity factor prices had no claim to being
fair or just (I think Scitovsky writes about this in his book, and I think
Will Baumol makes this point, too.)

When I was discussing these issues at Stanford prior to my rapid departure
therefrom, the neoclassicals took the position that everything in Marx that
was correct had been incorporated in neoclassical theory (such as
input-output analysis stemming from the reproduction schemas, and certain
ideas in growth theory, such as the tradeoff between capital and labor
productivity) and that everything else had been sifted and found incorrect.


>I have a graduate student who is writing a paper that includes a section
>where he argues why exploitation (capitalist) is bad. He was curious, and
>I couldn't help him much, whether there have been relatively recent (say,
>post WWII) sophisticated articles written by economists who have taken on
>the Marxian theory of unpaid labor. In other words, he's looking for the
>strongest case neoclassicals or others have made against Marxist theories
>of exploitation, as a normative or organizing concept.
>Can anyone help him and myself out with references and/or arguments? Or
>have neoclassicals basically ignored Marxist arguments after JB Clark?
>Steve C.
>Stephen Cullenberg office: (909) 787-5037, ext. 1573
>Department of Economics fax: (909) 787-5685
>University of California Stephen.Cullenberg@ucr.edu
>Riverside, CA 92521

Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu