Marx versus the academics: evidence on the profit rate

This paper was presented to a session of the 7th annual conference of the Association for Heterodox Economics (AHE) at City University, London, July 15-17th, 2005, and it was edited and completed in 2007. It was prepared in 2004 as part of a collective response to Samuelson’s ‘Out of the closet: a plea for Whiggish History’ in economics. This was later to become a special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Economics (CJE) on this topic. A remarkable feature of the special issue was the inclusion of contributions across the board in heterodox economics, including Marxist, Post-Keynesian and Austrian economics. Samuelson’s argument, not dissimilar in essence to Laibman’s, was that knowledge moves forward unilinearly, progressing always forward and never retrogressing. Therefore, it was unnecessary to study the history of economic thought, or return to conclusions that had been discarded by the current generation of economists, because current thinking was by definition superior to past thinking and, consequently, earlier theories could never be anything but an incomplete or inadequate version of contemporary thought.

This particular paper, a critique of Marx’s critics on the profit rate in particular, provides a useful bibliography for those who wish to go deeper into the subject.

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