Journal Article

The autonomisation of abstract wealth: new insights on the labour theory of value

Tomas Nielsen Rotta and Rodrigo Alves Teixeira

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Volume 40, issue 4, pages 1185-1201
Published in print July 2016 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online June 2015 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/bev028
The autonomisation of abstract wealth: new insights on the labour theory of value

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  • Economic Methodology
  • History of Economic Thought (to 1925)
  • History of Economic Thought (1925 onwards)

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We theorise the forms of value in the Marxist system in a way that challenges the dominant tradition. The standard procedure has been to read Marx’s Capital as an analysis that begins at a high level of abstraction and moves towards more concrete concepts. Our alternative approach posits that the forms of value in the Marxist system evolve from more concrete towards more abstract forms of wealth that increasingly separate from and obscure labour exploitation. Our procedure therefore replaces the dominant interpretation of ‘successive approximations’ employed by most scholars. We develop a broader account of Marx’s project alongside textual evidence retrieved from many of his writings. We also provide a new way to incorporate the monetary, financial and rentier forms of wealth into Marx’s labour value theory. The proposed alternative approach can potentially open a research agenda on the contemporaneous dynamics of abstract and concrete forms of wealth in advanced capitalism.

Keywords: Marx; Capital; Abstract wealth; Autonomization; Labor theory of value; B51; B14; B24

Journal Article.  9345 words. 

Subjects: Economic Methodology ; History of Economic Thought (to 1925) ; History of Economic Thought (1925 onwards)

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