Episode 51: Marx’s Reproduction Schemes: Unbalanced Growth and Critique of Trickle-Down Economics

The co-hosts discuss Andrew’s paper, Marx’s Reproduction Schemes as an Unbalanced-Growth Model, which challenges decades of commentary on the schemes of reproduction in volume 2 of Marx’s Capital. According to the conventional wisdom, the schemes are equilibrium models, in which production of means of production and production of consumption goods grow at the same rate––either because that was Marx’s own view of capitalist accumulation or because he wanted to highlight the obstacles to balanced growth. Andrew and Brendan discuss the fact that the overriding purpose of the schemes was to refute Adam Smith’s trickle-down argument that all capital investment ultimately serves to increase employment and pay. Andrew notes the lack of evidence that Marx intended to model balanced growth, and he argues that the schemes actually depict unbalanced growth––a transition from a no-growth economy to a growing economy, which comes about by production of means of production growing faster than consumer production. He and Brendan discuss the fact that this is how capitalist development has indeed taken place, in country after country, and the fact that the modern balanced-growth view of the schemes contradicts the view of earlier commentators such as Lenin.

The current-events segment focuses on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The government’s willingness to let the Afghan people, especially women, be oppressed by the Taliban shows that its aim was never humanitarian intervention. Reference is made to a recent article by Anne Applebaum, which includes a tweet from Yanis Varoufakis.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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September 11, 2021

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