Questions and replies about Marxist political economy

A letter and reply on the “Sraffa-based” critique of Marx

By Nick Beams, 5 March 2003

The so-called Sraffa-based critique of Marxism, associated most immediately with Ian Steedman and his book Marx After Sraffa, is not an attempt to provide a solution to problems Marx left unsolved or to provide a correction to his supposed errors.

Questions on socialist organisation and planning

By Nick Beams, 20 January 2003

While it is not possible to determine in advance the forms of organisation that will emerge in the course of a series of economic and political struggles, there is no question that, given the vast changes in the economy over the past decades, they will involve the broad mass of the population.

On capitalist economic relations and the foundations of law

By Mike Head, 14 October 2002

The development of capitalist economic relations shaped the content and structure of law in many ways but the most fundamental concern the core concepts of private property and contract.

A question on the falling rate of profit

By Nick Beams, 15 July 2002

The increasing social productivity of labour is expressed in the tendency of the rate of profit to fall because in any given quantum of capital, there will tend to be smaller proportion of living labour (the sole source of surplus value).

Some questions and answers on life under socialism

By Nick Beams, 30 May 2002

Dear Mr Beams,

Democracy and the "dictatorship of the proletariat"

By Nick Beams, 4 April 2002

Dear Nick Beams,

Machinery and the origins of surplus value

By Nick Beams, 19 March 2002

Emphasising the objectivity of his method in one of his last writings, Marx explained that what he began with was not “concepts” and hence not the “concept of value”. These had to be derived from an examination of objective social processes.

Technology, the service industries and socialism

By Nick Beams, 25 February 2002

While an initial reading of Marx may well lead to the conclusion that so far as he was concerned services did not constitute commodity production, further examination makes clear that his definition of a commodity extended beyond the production of material things.

Two exchanges on the US economy

By Nick Beams, 20 February 2002

In this exchange, Nick Beams replies to questions from a reader about his analysis of the deepening contradictions in the US economy at the beginning of the 2000s.

The cause of capitalist crises

By Nick Beams, 12 February 2002

In this exchange, Beams replies to a WSWS reader who writes, in critique of Marxist economics: “If capitalists extract too much profit, they destroy the ability of employees to buy.”

Surplus value and the rate of profit

By Nick Beams, 6 February 2002

In this exchange, Beams replies to a reader who asks: “ What is the mechanism by which capitalism takes the surplus value extracted in one department of production (more labour intensive) and transports it to the profit and loss statement of another department of production (more capital intensive)?”

An exchange on wages under a socialist society

By Nick Beams, 8 January 2002

In this exchange, Beams replies to a reader, who asks: “In a socialist state, how would the matter of wages be settled?”

A letter on the contradictions of capitalism

By Nick Beams, 17 December 2001

A reader asks: “Is it true that exploitation of workers leads to surplus, and that the increased surplus constitutes a lessening of demand? Would this be the fundamental contradiction?”

A question on the contradictions of capitalism

By Nick Beams, 26 November 2001

In this exchange, Beams replies to a reader who asks how the conflict between the growth of the productive forces and the nation-state system has expressed itself throughout history.

A question on currency contradictions

By Nick Beams, 10 August 2001

A reader asks: “If Japan added liquidity to their economy, would that let the US talk the dollar down?”

A question on Marx and Keynes

By Nick Beams, 8 August 2001

Keynes opposed the fundamental Marxist conception that the economic crises which wracked the capitalist system were the outcome of structural contradictions arising from private ownership and production for profit.

Another question on socialist planning

By Nick Beams, 17 July 2001

Beams replies to a WSWS reader, who writes: “If the Central Government ... makes a mistake, there is no real check and balance to correct the error.”

Further correspondence on socialism and human nature

By Nick Beams, 22 June 2001

The argument of the proponents of the “free market” and capitalist ownership of the means of production is that socialism is “unnatural” and therefore doomed to failure because it violates the inherent drive in every human being towards the exclusive ownership of property.

A question on “rent-seeking”

By Nick Beams, 13 June 2001

In Volume III of Capital, Marx deals with the relationship between the different components of capital, showing how the surplus value extracted from the working class is divided among them.

Reply to a criticism of globalisation lecture

11 June 2001

Beams replies to a reader, who writes, “human capital is not homogeneous” and therefore it “should not come as a surprise that human capital employed in the knowledge-based industries has a higher economic rate of return (or ‘surplus value') than human capital employed in low-skilled occupations.”

Reply to Nick Beams

1 May 2001

A reader writes: “Your letter though intelligently presented still refuses to acknowledge the true nature of humankind.”

An exchange on socialism and human nature

By Nick Beams, 1 May 2001

Beams replies to a letter from a reader about a previous correspondence, which states: “Your letter refuses to acknowledge the true nature of humankind. Centralised planning does not work and history has shown that to be true and so does the present. The freer the society the more prosperous it is.”

Reply to a letter on socialism and economic laws

24 April 2001

To whom it may concern:

Correspondence on global recessionary trends

By Nick Beams, 17 March 2001

Dear Mr. Beams,

Nick Beams replies to two readers on the issue of surplus value

By Nick Beams, 9 March 2001

In the following correspondence, Nick Beams, a member of the World Socialist Web Site editorial board, replies to two readers on the issues raised by his article “Surplus value and the Bush tax cut plan” posted on March 5.

Correspondence on US recession

19 February 2001

Dear Editors,

An exchange on globalisation

24 November 2000

Dear WSWS Editorial Board:

A question on the economic reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union

By Nick Beams, 12 September 2000

Dear Editors,

Reply to a question on debt

3 August 2000

Dear Nick Beams,

Nick Beams replies on globalisation, Marx and political power

13 May 2000

To the WSWS,

WSWS Editorial Board member Nick Beams replies to a reader's question on the labour theory of value

29 April 2000

Dear Mr. Beams:

Nick Beams replies to a reader's question about the law of the falling rate of profit

29 March 2000

The following is a question by a reader in Germany concerning the law of the falling rate of profit and a response by WSWS Editorial Board member Nick Beams.

An exchange on the privatisation of public utilities

17 March 2000

Dear Editors,

An exchange on socialist planning

4 March 2000

The following is a letter from a reader about socialist planning and a reply from World Socialist Web Site editorial board member Nick Beams.

Marxist internationalism vs. the perspective of radical protest

A reply to Professor Chossudovsky's critique of globalization

By Nick Beams, 25 February 2000

The World Socialist Web Site is publishing here the third and final part of a three-part article by Nick Beams, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia and member of the WSWS editorial board, replying to an article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, “Seattle and beyond: disarming the New World Order,” which was posted by the WSWS on January 15, 1999. Beams is the author of numerous articles and lectures on modern capitalist economy, including Marxism and the Globalisation of Production and The Significance and Implications of Globalisation: a Marxist Assessment.

Correspondence on the breakdown of the profit system

1 November 1999

The following exchange concerning the breakdown of the profit system is part of an ongoing correspondence between Nick Beams, a member of the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board, and WSWS readers over questions of Marxist political economy.

The speculative appreciation of the stock market: a reply to a letter

By Nick Beams, 30 August 1999

The following letter, written by WSWS Editorial Board member Nick Beams, replies to a message from a reader. The message is appended below.

The breakdown of the profit system

Letter from a WSWS reader

24 August 1999

The following letter was sent by a WSWS reader. A reply, by WSWS editorial board member Nick Beams, can be found at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/aug1999/cor1-a24.shtml

The breakdown of the profit system: perception and scientific analysis

By Nick Beams, 24 August 1999

The following is a reply by WSWS editorial board member Nick Beams to a letter from a reader, IM. The reader's letter can be found at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/aug1999/cor2-a24.shtml

The impact of growing labor productivity: a letter from a WSWS reader

20 August 1999

The following letter was sent by a WSWS reader. A reply, by WSWS editorial board member Nick Beams, can be found at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/aug1999/corr-a20.shtml

An exchange of letters

The impact of increasing labour productivity on the crisis of profit system

By Nick Beams, 20 August 1999

The following is a reply by WSWS editorial board member Nick Beams to a letter from a reader, IM. The reader's letter can be found at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/aug1999/cor2-a20.shtml

Correspondence from MM

13 August 1999

Dear Editors:

A reply to correspondence on Marx's theory of value

13 August 1999

The following is a reply by Nick Beams to a series of questions raised by MM on Marx's theory of value. The initial e-mail, plus selections from subsequent correspondence, can be found at:http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/aug1999/val2-a13.shtml

Is economic value subjective?

23 June 1999

To the editor:

The law of value and the crisis of capitalism

By Nick Beams, 16 June 1999

The following is the third in a series of exchanges between Nick Beams, the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Australia and WSWS editorial board member, and Stan R. The earlier exchanges are linked at the conclusion of the present correspondence.