Karl Marx's Theory Of Value On The Contemporary Capitalist Economy

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Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development
ISSN 2222-1700 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2855 (Online)
Vol.3, No.5, 2012

www.iiste.org

An Analysis of Karl Marx’s Theory of Value on the
Contemporary Capitalist Economy
Anthony Imoisi Ilegbinosa
School of Graduate Studies, University of Port Harcourt, P.M.B 5323, Rivers State, Nigeria
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Email of the corresponding author – mcanthonyby@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract
The paper examines Karl Marx’s theory of value and its implications on the contemporary capitalist economy. By doing this, the paper critically reviews the principles of Marx’s value analysis by extrapolating from the writings of Karl Marx and Neo – Marxists which fits into the Marxian theory of value. The study indicates that capitalism does have an overall tendency to extract surplus value from labour provided by the workers, since it is the most malleable (influenced) of things within the confines of capitalism in the production process as noted by Marx. According to Marx, a system like capitalism, where people are coerced or forced to sell their labour in order to survive is unjust and that in the modern capitalist economy, the rate of profitability or success in production is determined by the ability to produce surplus value. In contemporary capitalist economy, during the production process, the worker uses his/her labour to produce adequate goods and services, but only receive wages enough for subsistence, hence making a surplus for the capitalist. However, the question still remains whether the labourers/workers/proletariats have a choice of selling their labour or not in order to survive in the contemporary capitalist economy as it were in orthodox capitalism?
Keywords: Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Surplus Value, Exploitation, Bourgeoisie, Proletariat,
Means of Production, Modes of Production, Profits, Wage
1.

Introduction

More than hundred years after his death, Karl Marx’s writings continue to attract interest across the world.
Marx’s life and work have continued to attract the attention of social scientists, trade unionists, labour unionists and many others. However, in his book Capital, Marx provides a uniquely insightful explanation of the inner working of capitalism and the articulation between distinct aspects of this economic system
(Howard and King, 1991). In his writings, value plays an essential role in Marx’s critique of capitalism
(Vroey, 1982). This is not a simple concept, and it has been interpreted in widely different ways, virtually every controversy within Marxist economics is at bottom a controversy concerning the nature and status of value theory. Karl Marx disagreed with the principle of capitalism, that it creates working conditions viewed as unfair and unjust and wishing to replace it with a different method of production and social organization through revolution, which is socialism. His theory was based on his method of dialectical materialism. Thus, Marx sees capitalism to be a historically specific mode of production. The way in which the productive property is owned and controlled, combined with the corresponding social relations between individuals based on their connection with the process of production, in which capitalism has become the dominant mode of production. Today, as posited by Marx, inequity and exploitation are the order of the day of the capitalist economy. In which the exchange value of labour power, as reflected in the wage, is less than the value it produces for the capitalist, that is, surplus value. This is heavily disguised by ‘market’ or capitalist ideology and by the vacuous discourse of ‘globalization’, while both have been fraying at the edges. 1

Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development
ISSN 2222-1700 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2855 (Online)
Vol.3, No.5, 2012

www.iiste.org

However, this article examines Marx’s theory of value as it relates to its relevance to the contemporary capitalist economy.…