iron law of wages

Related Overviews

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766—1834) political economist

Karl Marx (1818—1883) revolutionary and thinker

market economy

David Ricardo (1772—1823) political economist

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A doctrine imputed by Marx to the German socialist Ferdinand Lassalle (1825–64) and vituperatively denounced in Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875). It is the idea that under capitalism wages are necessarily held at the barest level of subsistence that allows the worker just to survive in order to work and reproduce the children who will be the next generation of the working class. Marx denounces this as no more than a reworking of Malthus. Some of Marx's earlier work nevertheless gives the distinct impression that Marx also once believed in the iron law of wages.

Subjects: Politics.

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