Karl Marx is the most historically foundational and systematic critic of capitalism to date, and the years since the 2008 financial crisis have witnessed a rebirth of his popular appeal. In a world of rising income inequality, right-wing nationalisms, and global climate change, people are again looking to the father of modern socialism for answers.
As this book argues, every era since Marx’s death has reinvented him to fit its needs. There is not one Marx forever and for all time. There are a thousand Marxes. As Thomas Nail contends, one of the most significant contributions of Marx’s work is that it treats theory itself as a historical practice. Reading Marx is not just an interpretative activity, but a creative one. As our historical conditions change, so do the kinds of questions we pose and the kinds of answers we find in Marx’s writing.
This looks like a great paper on the importance of ecological value theory.
Excerpt from “Value, Nature & The Vortex Of Accumulation,” Jason Moore and Richard Walker
Why bother with value theory? When the classical political economists began to deploy a theory of value to understand the economy it was because the generalization of markets meant that commodity prices had come to be regulated by exchange. For the classicals, value was an objective foundation behind the vagaries of prices, and in a pre-industrial era of handicraft or “manufacture,” labour time was the obvious standard determining value. At the same time, however, they were engaged in fierce debates with opposing views of economy, state, and society. In these debates, the theory of value was mobilized as a weapon of social change, which is why it was called political economy (Varney 2012; Farber 2006).
Marx trod in the footsteps of his predecessors.The labour theory of value was the obvious starting point on a long analytic journey to uncover the workings of capital. For Marx, value was not just the basis of price determination, but the key to unlocking the source of profits, class struggle, and capital accumulation. Along the way, he made technical corrections to the classical theory of value to account for the greater complexity of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism (Marx 1977).1 Most of all, he made two great discoveries: how surplus value could arise in a system of equal exchange and how generalized value turned into capital accumulation.