The Psychopathology of Walrasian Marxism

This text comprises chapter 1 of Marx and Non-equilibrium Economics. It specifies a non-equilibrium (temporal) interpretation of Marx’s theory of value which demonstrates a fully consistent transformation of values into prices and reproduces Marx’s tendential law of the falling profit rate. It seeks to explain why this approach to value is inaccessible to consciousness under present social relations, and why resistance to its acceptance has been particularly strong among Marxists. This is the first full exposition of my own exposition of what was to become the Temporal Single System Interpretation (TSSI) of Marx’s theory of value. The opening paragraphs read, somewhat prophetically: There are persons naïve enough to read Marx as a source of knowledge. To such a reader – perhaps idealistic, discontent with oppression or injustice, wanting to change the world and desiring for this reason to understand how it works – Marx says, in summary: there are people who own property for its own sake, and people who do not. The latter create wealth, without which the former would not exist.  The wealthy maintain this injustice with oppression, deceit, corruption and force. They fight over the spoils, visiting on the world its ills and suffering. And the object of their desire periodically escapes control, wreaking havoc on guilty and innocent with tragic or comic indifference. However, the process gives those who create wealth, if they consciously organise to do so, the opportunity to  overturn this order and found a better one. The otherwise lifeless equations which summarize Marx’s analysis of a capitalist economy encompass all these statements, except perhaps the last. This illustrates McLellan’s (1980:77) statement that ‘The reading of Marx as an economist among economists is bound to falsify to some extent his thought. For Marx, as he himself proclaimed as early as 1844, economics and ethics were inextricably linked’. Marx’s economics offers an integrated social, political, and ethical understanding. ‘Economic’ categories, appearing as inhuman things with a mind of their own – prices, money, interest rates – are for Marx the disguised form of relations between people. He explains not just why they rise or fall but their social meaning: who gains, who loses and who rules. It is the key to how people act and are acted on; why workers are pitted against employers, poor against rich countries, and why there is inequality, oppression, war, pollution, in short the most vital issues of life on this planet. This is the source of his enormous impact on the world.