What I am reading – Money and Totality by Fred Moseley

FMoseley Money and TotalityMoney and Totality by Marxist economist Professor Fred Moseley was published last year and I have recently managed to get hold of a copy of the affordable paperback edition. For those interested in Marxist political economy and how it can contribute to understanding the workings and evolution of capitalism, this work, 20 years in the making, is surely worth some study.

Michael Roberts’ blog, which I often find informative in its alternative perspectives to both mainstream and Keynesian economic thought, can be found here. His review of the book is here, and Roberts is certainly enthusiastic about it, citing it as probably the best book on Marxist economic theory this century.

While I am only a little way through the book, I am finding it both clearly written and thoroughly absorbing. Moseley repeats the same central arguments over and over, presenting his key thesis from different perspectives, using some basic algebra and substantial textual evidence to support his case. While some may find this irritating, I have so far found it helpful in grasping the point of the work.

The subtitle on the front cover reads: ‘a macro-monetary interpretation of Marx’s logic in Capital and the end of the ‘transformation problem”. For those not familiar with the seemingly esoteric nature of the latter, Roberts’ review provides some enlightenment. The interpretation is ‘macro’ because it claims that Marx begins his theory by looking at the capitalist economy as a whole, which precedes his examination of individual industries and firms. This is the opposite of mainstream macroeconomics, which starts with ‘micro-foundations’. The interpretation is ‘monetary’ because values and prices are quantified in money in the ‘circuit of money capital’, which is at the centre of Marx’s theory. This is the key to Marx’s logic according to Moseley.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not a socialist, or at least that I do not find favour with the socialisms attempted across the world to date. But capitalism, despite its power to transform society and create material wealth, is certainly a flawed system. If you can excuse the play with semantics, I am open to ‘post-capitalism’, if such a thing can evolve from where we are now. I remain critical of the Labour Theory of Value, an important but controversial part of Marx’s theory, and am sympathetic to those, like Steve Keen here, who argue that both labour and capital goods can produce what Marx calls surplus value in production, rather than labour alone being the sole source of surplus value.

Despite keeping my doubts in mind as I read the book I am, as already mentioned, finding it most absorbing. It may be a little early to recommend it, but I will write more about it when I have finished.

 

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