Plan and Market   Marx and Mechanism

 

 

2.

By what has been said above the author does not wish to imply that the whole process of reevaluation of the economic theory of socialism is in effect only a correction of dogmatic misinterpretations of Marx. At some point we have to admit that reevaluation of Marx's own theories is also necessary.

At present there is more or less a general understanding that Marxism cannot be taken only for a sum of quotations from the classics, that are allowed only to be illustrated, embellished and further diluted by their interpreters. Instead Marxism should be a viable and constantly evolving open system. Only that would be consistent with the general progress of human thought and knowledge, with improvements in methods of economic analysis, and with the actual changes in economic life that form the subject matter of economic theory. Any scientific theory is necessarily the product of its time because it is influenced by those theories that came directly before it and by the general level of scientific methods available. 

Although Marx was without a doubt an economist of genius who made a great step forward in the development of economic theory, he could not disengage himself completely from his own historical determination. It is quite obvious from reading "Das Kapital", "The Theories of Surplus Value" and other Marx's economic works to what extent was he influenced by the topics and analytical tools of his theoretical forerunners and contemporaries. This is especially true about the influence of the classical economists Smith and Ricardo, as well as of socialist thinkers such as Owen, Gray, Hodgskin and others. The evolution of economic theory continued after Marx. New problems appeared and questions, that during his time may have not been very important, came to the forefront. Also new methods were developed, especially mathematical methods, which Marx could not have used in his time.

 

The above inference does not follow solely from the autonomous evolution of knowledge, it is deeply rooted in the transformation of socio-economic reality itself. In the economy of the XXth century entirely new elements, that either did not exist at all or were insignificant during Marx's time, have achieved paramount importance. If Marxism is not to remain just a collection of quotations, that would increasingly lose relevance due to changes in socio-economic reality, then it must be continuously enriched with new knowledge. We cannot stop short of reexamination of theories that had until now been considered absolutely correct. During this process integration of new knowledge and new methodological approaches, even if they were developed by non-Marxist economists must take place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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