Marxian Political Economy

Jannis Eicker and Anil Shah
2. Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics, 2018
Level: beginner
Perspective: Marxian Political Economy
Topic: Capitalism, consumption, Crisis, financialization, globalization, inequality, markets, money & debt, Neoliberalism
Format: Course description/syllabus

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Marxian Political Economy

This syllabus was originally taught in the 2. Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics in 2018. 
Instructor: Jannis Eicker and Anil Shah


Course Summary

The workshop introduces into the field of critical political economy and tries to identify the role of finacial markets in capitalism, the reason for financial crises and the relevance of Marx in regard to these topics. 

With the advent of the financial crisis in 2007, the general public seems to have rediscovered the works of Karl Marx. But why and how are Marx’s writing relevant today? What role do they play in the debates around pluralism in economics? Which role do financial markets play in capitalism? Why are recurrent crises inevitable? And how does the current International Political Economy interpret present crises with reference to Marx? The workshop engages with these questions and by doing so introduces students to Critical Political Economy. This reader is conceptualized as supportive learning material to a workshop held at the 2nd Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics. The course outline is divided into two parts. While the first couple of sessions deal with the theoretical foundations of Marxian Political Economy (including crisis theory), the second part will focus on understanding the past decades of financeled capitalism. Thereby the recent financial and Euro crisis are historicised as part of re-structuring of capitalist development since the 1970s. Core readings cover essential arguments the session’s topic while further reading texts deepen the understanding of specific aspects of each topic. During the one week workshop the concepts, arguments and questions from the texts were discussed in class and supplemented by lecturer’s presentations, videos and group work. The course outline can, however, also be used as an introduction into a Critical Political Economy approach which tries to make sense of contemporary global developments and crises of capitalism.

Course Overview

Schedule of topics covered and mandatory readings

Session 1 Why and How to Read Marx (Today)?

Literature: 

  • Foster, Bellamy (2018): Marx’s Open-Ended Critique, in: Monthly Review 70(1), online.

Optional Literature: 

  • Basu, Deepankar (2017): The Structure and Content of Das Kapital, in: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol L II, 37, 51-69.

Session 2 Critical Political Economy and Pluralism in Economics

Literature: 

  • Milonakis, Dimitris and Fine, Ben (2011): From Political Economy to Economics. Method, the social and the historical in the evolution of economic theory, London and New York: Routledge, 1-10.

Optional Literature:

  • Gruffyd-Jones, Branwen (2012): Method of political economy, in: Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho (eds.): The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 220-226.

Session 3 The Capitalist Mode of Production

Literature: 

  • Harvey, David (2018): Marx, Capital and The Madness of Economic Reason (Chapter: Introduction), New York: Oxford University Press, 1-23.

Optional Literature:

  • Arrighi, Giovanni (2010[1994]): The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times (Chapter: Introduction), London and New York: Verso, 1-27.

Session 4 Finance & Capitalist Development

Literature: 

  • Marois, Thomas (2012): Finance, finance capital and financialization, in: Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho (eds.): The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 138-143.

Optional Literature:

  • Altvater, Elmar (1997): Financial Crises on the Threshold of the 21st Century, in: Socialist Register 33, Online.

Session 5/6 Marxian Crisis Theories I + II

Literature: 

  • Clarke, Simon (2012): Crisis theory, in: Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho (eds.): The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 90-95.

Optional Literature:

  • Panitch, Leo and Gindin, Sam (2011): Capitalist Crises and the Crisis this Time, in: Socialist Register 47, Online.
  • Harvey, David (2010): The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (Chapter 2: Capital Assembled), London: Profile Books, 40-57 .

Session 7 A New Phase of Capitalist Development? Financialization & Finance-led Accumulation

Literature: 

  • McNally, David (2011): Global Slump. The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (Chapter: Financial Chaos: Money, Credit, and Instability in Late Capitalism), Oakland: PM Press, 85-112

Optional Literature:

  • Nesvetailova, Anastasia (2004): The Logic of Neoliberal Finance and Global Financial Fragility: Towards Another Great Depression? In: Paul Zarembka (ed.): Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg’s Legacy, 61-90.

Session 8 The Politics of Neoliberal Globalization

Literature: 

  • Mercille, Julien and Murphy, Enda (2015). Deepening Neoliberalism, Austerity, and Crisis. Europe’s Treasureland, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 8-31.

Optional Literature:

  • Soederberg, Susanne (2005): The Transnational Debt Architecture and Emerging Markets: the politics of paradoxes and punishment, Third World Quarterly, 26(6): 927-949.

Session 9 On the Road to Crisis: Subprime Mortgages in the US

Literature: 

  • Lapavitsas, Costas (2014): Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All (Chapter 9: Tending to Crisis: Gigantic Turmoil Breaks Out in 2007, extract), London: Verso.

Optional Literature:

  • Dymski, Gary; Hernandez, Jesus and Mohanty, Lisa (2013): Race, Gender, Power, and the US Subprime Mortgage and Foreclosure Crisis: A Meso Analysis. Feminist Economics 19(3): 124-151.

Session 10 Managing the Crisis: Sovereign Debt, Euro Crisis and Austerity

Literature: 

  • Lapavitsas, Costas (2014): Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All (Chapter 9: Tending to Crisis: Gigantic Turmoil Breaks Out in 2007, extract), London: Verso.

Optional Literature:

  • Panageotou, Steven (2017): Disciplining Greece: Crisis Management and Its Discontents, in: Review of Radical Political Economics, 49(3): 1-17.

Session 11 10 Years after the Crash: Debt is Everywhere

Literature: 

  • Soederberg, Susanne (2015): Debtfare States and the Poverty Industry: Money, Discipline and the Surplus Population (Chapter 5: Debtfarism and the student loan industry), London and New York: Routledge, 104-132.

Optional Literature:

  • Lazzarato, Maurizio (2011): The Making of the Indebted Man. An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 13-35.

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