Episode 77: Capitalist Exploitation – G. A. Cohen & Ben Burgis vs. Karl Marx
The co-hosts discuss Andrew’s just-published article, “Karl Marx Systematically Exploited by Ben Burgis: Marx’s Exploitation Theory vs. G. A. Cohen’s ‘Plain Argument,’” which continues a debate aired in two episodes of Radio Free Humanity last year. Andrew likens Burgis’ “theoretical appropriation” of Marx’s exploitation theory to cultural appropriation. Brendan and Andrew discuss Burgis’ formulation of exploitation in terms of “capitalists’ control of part of the product,” which Andrew says is factually incorrect, contrary to Marx’s theory, and unable to capture the dynamics of class struggle. They also discuss what the term “exploitation” means, how it differs from oppression and “unjust” property rights, and why the definition of exploitation is central to this debate. They discuss Cohen’s critique of Marx’s value theory as well as Burgis’ new one. The co-hosts then revisit the debate of last year. Andrew recaps his argument that Cohen’s “Plain Argument” that capitalists exploit workers is logically invalid, and he and Brendan discuss the significance of logical validity, where and why the “Plain Argument” goes wrong, and why Burgis embraces it.
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