Comparison Between Malthus And Marx Theory Pdf

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comparison between malthus and marx theory pdf

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Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers.

Marxian economics

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Kamran Nayeri. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. IntroductionIt is estimated that the world population reached one billion in It took years before it reached two billions in By it reached 3 billions, only 33 years later.

Thereafter the world population reached 4 billions in , 5 billions in , 6 billions in and 7 billions in It is projected that the world will have around 9 billions by The massive increase in the population has been combined with a rise in the real per capita GDP. The ratio of real GDP in to was 3. Meanwhile, 2.

The U. In a planet with finite resources, clearly there is a "population problem. Among the same milieu it is common to mock Karl Marx's critique of Malthus' theory. In what follows, I will argue that this common belief is false and it is at best based on inadequate knowledge of these writers. In particular, I will focus on the claim of my ecological socialist fellow Saral Sarkar who believes "Malthus was right" and "Marx was wrong" on the population question.

As some readers know, this writing is part of my discussion of Saral's recent writings regarding causes of the Great Recession. In these as well as earlier writings , Saral has displayed increasing hostility to Marx. While critical appropriation of any thinker's contributions is a welcome method of developing new ideas or extending earlier ones, hostility being critical without due process is an impediment to progress.

Thus, it is alarming to me that Saral in his recent essay treats U. President Barack Obama and former Vice President Al Gore with more respect than he accords to Marx and in his letter he accuses Marx of being "biased" and "wrong" without any serious examination of the issues involved. In what follows, I will briefly take up Saral's accusation that Marx was "biased' in developing his labor theory of value and then in more detail discuss Saral's preference for Malthus against Marx in discussing the population question.

Was Marx biased in developing his labor theory of value? In his letter, Saral writes: "I have shown [in Crises of Capitalism, ] with a quote from George Caffentzis that Marx was biased when he set up the labor theory of value.

Theoretically, Marx could have taken different paths in the understanding of machines and still remained anti-capitalist. For example, he could have argued that machines create value but this value was the product of a general social and scientific labor which ought not be appropriated by the capitalist class. Such as approach was indeed taken up by Veblen and others in the early twentieth century…. It was to point out that…for all the thunder of its steam hammers, for all the intimating silence of its chemical plants, capital could not dispense with labor.

Labor is not the only source of wealth, but it is the only source of value. Thus, capital was mortally tied to the working class, whatever the forces that it unleashed that were driving to a form of labor-less production.

This was the political card that Marx played in the political game against the ideological suffocation of the machine. It…proved to be a useful one not only in the struggle of the s. But above text does not substantiate Saral's blunt statement that that "Marx was biased. There is a world of difference between being partisan and being biased. However, there is nothing new or surprising about Marx being partisan.

Everyone knows that Marx was a champion of the working class from early in his adult life. Does this make his labor theory of value biased and wrong? So, why mock Marx? Second, as Caffentiz correctly says and Saral somehow misses , Marx's labor theory of value originated in earlier theories developed by the classical political economists from John Locke to Adam Smith and Ricardo. So, Marx's labor theory of value was not in Caffentiz own words "some supra historical, a-prioristic ratiocination" creation.

That is, it was not arbitrary and therefore could not be "biased. Marx's labor theory of value is about human alienation in the capitalist society that makes the rule of capital and exploitation of labor possible.

It is the application of his historical materialist method for the understanding the laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production. In this, Marx has no parallel and anyone interested to transcending the capitalist civilization would need to read and understand Marx. Third, Caffentzis's statement that Marx did not think that machines contribute value to the product is based on a misunderstanding of his theory.

In Marx's theory, capital that include machinery is "dead labor. Thus, in Chapter 10 of volume one of Capital, "The Working Day," Marx writes: "Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.

The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him. The idea that machines can create value independent of human beings is an alienated bourgeois notion. It took root in the neoclassical marginal productivity theory. In Economics, Socialism and Ecology: An Outline, Part 1 I summarized it as follows: "Soon, John Bates Clark American and Phillip Henry Wicksteed Swedish developed the marginal productivity theory as the neoclassical theory of income distribution according to which wages, profit and rent were paid according to the contribution of last unit of their input.

Thus, wages due to workers are paid to them no less and no more than their contribution. The same applied to profits and rents. Thus, economic justice was served in the capitalist market economy. The fact that neoclassical theory is the dominant economic doctrine of our time indicates that the notion that capital in general and machines in particular create value is in fact part of the mainstream ideology that serves the interest of the ruling class.

Given the ahistorical nature of the neoclassical theory, it is fair to imagine a future world where robots make everything but there are no humans. The question is: do they create value? Likewise, imagine a society where robots make every thing perhaps a strange view of a socialist society. Is there value being created by the robots? From Marx's perspective, the answer would clearly be "no. It is obviously Caffentzis's or Saral's choice to define value different from the way Marx used the term.

Then they would have to develop an entire theory of capitalism that is different from Marx's. We do not know what that theory would be. But to denounce Marx for not defining value in the way neoclassical theory or Veblen defined it is simply not scholarship.

Was Marx wrong about Malthus? Advising me in his letter not to characterize neoclassical economics as bourgeois, Saral writes: "There are many bourgeois theorists who have thought and worked honestly. Bourgeois Malthus was right, while Marxist Marx was wrong. What was "Marxist" Marx wrong about and bourgeois Malthus who "thought and worked honestly" correct about? I along with other readers would have no clue. In his "Introduction," Saral initiates a discussion about paradigm shift to motivate limits to growth as an alternative and superior paradigm to "Marxism.

Also, never mind that limits to growth and Marx's theory operate on entirely different planes: the first is about limits of planetary systems supporting human societies and the other is about the historical dynamics of class societies and potential for human emancipation. They are not contradictory and in my reading of them they can be made complementary in search for a solution to the crisis of the bourgeois culture and society.

Saral then uses a article of the crisis of "Marxist paradigm" and the superiority of the "limits to growth paradigm. It is in this context that Saral introduces Malthus. He writes: "Marx and Engels were not aware of the limits to growth. Although Malthus had dealt in 18th century with the population problem in relation to the growth of food production-an important aspect of limits-to-growth paradigm-Marx and Engels and all their disciples vehemently rejected his theory.

But was Malthus's theory of population an early formulation of natural limits to growth? There were others with similar ideas that predated Malthus. In what sense Malthus' theory of population is unique or superior to his predecessors? Why these ideas emerged over years ago?

Was there a "population problem" in England, Western Europe or the world? Saral does not deal with any of these key questions. His discussion of Malthus' population theory appears in a short section entitled "Malthus: the Difference Between Problem and Policy" on pages He frames the discussion as follows: "We must begin with Malthus.

We must differentiate between problem and policy. Population policy can be debated, formulated, and accepted or rejected. But the population problem is an objective state of affairs, which cannot be conjured away. According to him, the poor are themselves to be blamed for their poverty.

But the question is whether for this reason, Malthus' presentation of the problem is also wrong. Strangely enough Saral leave his own question unanswered. Of course, indignation against Malthus is justified. All his life he stood against all reforms to alleviate the horrendous condition of the British working class, especially the poor. He was a staunch representative of the most reactionary section of the English propertied classes.

Capitalism and Population: Marx and Engels Against Malthus

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Theories of Population: Malthus Theory, Marx’s Theory and Theory of Demographic Transition

In his book An Essay on the Principle of Population , Malthus observed that an increase in a nation's food production improved the well-being of the populace, but the improvement was temporary because it led to population growth, which in turn restored the original per capita production level. In other words, humans had a propensity to utilize abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high standard of living, a view that has become known as the " Malthusian trap " or the "Malthusian spectre". Populations had a tendency to grow until the lower class suffered hardship, want and greater susceptibility to famine and disease , a view that is sometimes referred to as a Malthusian catastrophe.


His theory of population was christened as theory of surplus population. Karl Marx completely rejected Malthusian theory. Karl Marx is regarded as the Father of Communism. He did not separately propose any theory of population, but his surplus population theory has been deduced from his theory of communism. Marx opposed and criticized the Malthusian theory of population. According to Marx, population increase must be interpreted in the context of the capitalistic economic system. A worker is paid less than the value of his productivity.

Sociologists have long looked at population issues as central to understanding human interactions. Below we will look at four theories about population that inform sociological thought: Malthusian, zero population growth, cornucopian, and demographic transition theories. Malthus identified these factors as war, famine, and disease Malthus Thinking practically, Malthus saw that people could produce only so much food in a given year, yet the population was increasing at an exponential rate. Eventually, he thought people would run out of food and begin to starve.

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