10. Marx's Theory of Capitalism

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Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

Today, Professor Shapiro continues his discussion of Enlightenment theory of Karl Marx, focusing on the foundations of his theory of capitalism. The central question is, how is wealth created under capitalism at the micro level? For Marx, Adam Smith's invisible hand is not entirely benevolent. His labor theory of value stipulates that living human labor-power is the only way to create new value, and therefore capitalists who shift toward capital-intensive production cannot actually create new value. Marx also assumes wages are at the level of subsistence, and that capitalists turn a profit by exploiting the surplus labor time of workers. Professor Shapiro also explores some corollary concepts to Marx's mode of production--the class-for-itself/class-in-itself distinction, socially necessary labor time and surplus labor time, and the extent to which workers are other-referential.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction: Class Agenda and Marx's Characterization of Freedom
07:12 - Chapter 2. Marx's Theory of Science
16:37 - Chapter 3. The Labor Theory of Value; Exploitation and Injustice
22:37 - Chapter 4. The Labor Theory of Surplus Value
35:37 - Chapter 5. Relative & Absolute Surplus Value & Rate of Exploitation

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.