Political Economy based on Marx

Elena Papagiannaki
Summer Academy 2022 for Pluralist Economics, 2022
Level: leicht
Perspektive: Marxistische Politische Ökonomik
Thema: Krisen, Kapitalismuskritik
Format: Syllabus

This workshop was originally taught at the Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics 2022
Instructor:  Elena Papagiannaki (Birmingham City University, UK)

‘We cannot afford their peace & We cannot bear their wars’:
Value, Exploitation, Profitability Crises & ‘Rectification’


Day 1

  • Workshop Session 1: INTRODUCTION (Workshop’s Structure, Political Economy as Science, Sources & Datasets)
  • Workshop Session 2: LECTURE 1: Modes of Production, Labour Theory of Value, the Law of Value & Money (RECORDING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA8WlGy3ElQ&list=PLHmyyN2MktOkw_y236lXBt3jFvAo7bWhp&index=2)
  • Workshop Session 3: DISCUSSION OF LECTURE 1 – Q&A, Quiz questions, Practical Exercises on calculating value, price and money based on statistical databases.

Day 2

  • Workshop Session 4: FREE-FLOW discussion based on Lecture 1, Q&A and potential essay topics for students’ assessment. 
  • Workshop Session 5: LECTURE 2: Marx on Surplus Value, Exploitation, Wages and the Rate of Profit (RECORDING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2xDnUbLgzU)
  • Workshop Session 6: DISCUSSION OF LECTURE 2 – Q&A, Quiz questions, Practical Exercises on calculating the rate of surplus value, the rate of profit and graphical representation based on statistical databases.

Day 3

  • Workshop Session 7: FREE-FLOW discussion based on Lecture 2, Q&A and narrowing down to possible essay topics for students’ assessment.
  • Workshop Session 8: LECTURE 3: Simple & Extended Capitalist Reproduction, Capitalist Crises, Rectification and Wars (RECORDING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7TF0Rs_Of4)
  • Workshop Session 9: DISCUSSION OF LECTURE 3 – Q&A, Quiz questions, Practical Exercises on mapping Department I and II of the economy and Productive and Unproductive labour on archeogram.

Day 4

  • Workshop Session 10: FREE-FLOW discussion based on Lecture 3, Q&A, finalising essay topics for students’ assessment and division of labour among students. 
  • Workshop Session 11: Explore journal articles and books to compose the theoretical part of the essay. 
  • Workshop Session 12: Explore statistical datasets to compose the theoretical part of the essay.

Day 5

  • Workshop Session 13:  Student meetings (facilitator present upon request) 
  • Workshop Session 14: Student meetings (facilitator present upon request)
  • Workshop Session 15: Student meetings (facilitator present upon request)

Day 6

  • Wrap-up:  Final Meeting 


These journals, websites, databases are all good places to start searching for research on any given topic:  

Reading List:

Lecture 1 Topics

Dialectical and Historical Materialism (brief introduction)

  • Political Economy as a Science 
  • The Forces of Production, the Relations of Production and the Modes of Production
  • Class Struggle
  • The Economic Laws
  • The Classical Political Economy (CPE), Neoclassical Economics vs the Critique of Political Economy

The Law of Value (extended analysis)

  • Use Value VS Value
  • Concrete VS Abstract Labour
  • Form of Value
  • The Functions of Money
  • Price VS Value

Essential Reading:

Further reading:

  • Engels, F. (1876). 1986." The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man.". Karl Marx and Frederick Engels Selected Works. New York: International Publishers. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1876/part-played-labour/index.htm 
  • Manya M. Mooya, Aristotle to Marshall: The Evolution of Economic Value Theory. 
  • Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1888). Theses on Feuerbach, no. 11. Marx and F. Engels, The German Ideology, Pts I &, 3, 199. Available: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/ 
  • Marx, K. (1857). Grundrisse: Foundations of the critique of political economy (rough draft) Penguin, Harmondsworth. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ 
    • The Chapter on Money
  • Philp, B., and Trigg, A. (2015) Heterodox economics, distribution and the class struggle. In Jo, T, and Todorova, Z.  (eds. ) Advancing the Frontiers of Heterodox Economics: Essays in Honor of Frederic S. Lee. London: Routledge Advances in Heterodox Economics.
  • Spirkin, A.G., 1983. Dialectical materialism. Moscow: Progress Publishers.


Lecture 2 Topics

The Law of Surplus Value (extended analysis) 

  • What is Capital? 
  • Transforming Money to Capital
  • The Components of Capital 
  • Commodification of Labour OR Labour Power? 
  • The Labour Wage in Capitalism 
  • Surplus-value and Unpaid Labour
  • The Allocation of Surplus Value
  • Productive and Unproductive labour

The Rate of Profit (extended analysis)

  • The Profit of the Industrial Capitalist
  • INTRA-Industrial Competition (Competition WITHIN a branch)
  • INTER-Industrial Competition (Competition AMONG branches)
  • Merchants’ Profit, Loan Capital (Interest), Ground Rent 
  • The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (TRPF)

Essential Reading:

  • Marx, K. (2018). Capital: Volume I. 
    • PART II: Transformation of Money into Capital – Chapter 4, 5 and 6 
    • PART III: The production of Surplus Value – Chapters 7, 8 and 9  
    • Part IV: Production of Relative Surplus Value – Chapter 12
    • Part V: The Production of Absolute and of Relative Surplus-Value – Chapters 16, 17, 18
  • Marx, K., 1910. Value, price, and profit. CH Kerr & Company. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/value-price-profit.pdf 
  • Fine B. (1989), Marx’s Capital, Palgrave MacMillan

Further reading:

  • Cuestas, J. C., and Philp, B. 2012. Economic Class and the Distribution of Income: A Time-Series Analysis of the UK Economy, 1955-2010. International Review of Applied Economics, 26(5), pp.565-578.
  • Foley D. (1986), Understanding Capital: Marx’s Economic Theory
  • Kaldor, N., 1955. Alternative theories of distribution. The review of Economic Studies, 23(2), pp.83-100.
  • Philp, B., Slater, G., and Wheatley, D. (2015) New Labour and Work-Time Regulation. Cambridge Journal of Economics 39 (3), 711-732.
  • Spencer, D., 2017. Work in and beyond the Second Machine Age: the politics of production and digital technologies. Work, employment and society, 31(1), pp.142-152.
  • Spencer, D. A. (2018). Fear and hope in an age of mass automation: debating the future of work. New Technology, Work and Employment, 33(1), 1-12.
  • Spencer, D., & Slater, G. (2020). No automation please, we’re British: technology and the prospects for work. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 13(1), 117-134.
  • Tsoulfidis, L., 2015. Contending conceptions of competition and the role of regulating capital. Panoeconomicus, 62(1), pp.15-31.


Lecture 3 Topics

The Basic Economic Contradiction of Capitalism (brief outline)

  • The birth of the Reserve Army of Labour (Unemployment)
  • The Immiseration of the Proletariat 

The Basic Cause of Crises and their ‘solution’ (extended analysis)

  • Capitalist Simple and Extended Reproduction 
  • Disproportionality of Department I and II
  • Crisis of Over-accumulation of capital
  • The Periodicity of Crises, Rectification and Wars

Essential Reading:

  • Marx, K. (2018). Capital: Volume III. 
    • PART I - The Conversion of Surplus-Value into Profit and of the Rate of Surplus-Value into the Rate of Profit :  Chapter 2 and 3
    • Part III. The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall : Chapter 13 and 14 
  • Marxists Internet Archive (2014). POLITICAL ECONOMY, A Textbook issued by the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/economy/authors/pe/index.htm 
  • Mavroudeas, S. (2015) The Greek saga: competing explanations of the Greek crisis. (Discussion Paper) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University. 38 p. (Economics Discussion Papers, no. 2015-01). Available at: https://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/30428/1/2015_001.pdf

Further Reading:

  • Dunne, J.P., R.P. Smith, D. Willenbockel. 2005. “Models of Military Expenditure and Growth: A Critical Review.” Defence and Peace Economics. Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 449– 461. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10242690500167791
  • Dunne, J.P. 1996. “Economic Effects of Military Expenditure in Developing Countries: A Survey,” pp. 439–464 in N.P. Gleditsch, A. Cappelen, O. Bjerkholt, R.P. Smith, and J.P. Dunne, eds. The Peace Dividend. Amsterdam: North Holland.
  • Grossmann, H., & Kennedy, T. (1992). The law of accumulation and breakdown of the capitalist system. London: Pluto Press. Available at: http://digamo.free.fr/grossm29.pdf 
  • Lenin, V. I. (1927). Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism. Vanguard Press.
  • Luxembourg R. (1913), The Accumulation of Capital. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ 
  • Maniatis, T. (2012, April). Marxist theories of crisis and the current economic crisis. In Forum for Social Economics (Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 6-29). Routledge.
  • Sweezy, P. (1949), The Theory of capitalist development, London: Dennis Dobson
  • Shaikh, A. (1978), ‘Political Economy and Capitalism: Notes on Dobb’s Theory of Crisis’, p.233 2:2 (1978:June)
  • Smith, R., Dunne, P., 1994. Is military spending a burden? A ‘Marxo-marginalist’ response to Pivetti. Cambridge Journal of Economics 18 (5), 515–521.


Download syllabus here


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