Is there any new concept in Marxism that didn't exist in classical economics?


Surplus value is just economic profit. The organic composition of capital is just the investment rate. Capitalist mode of production is just a verbose way of saying capitalism. Exchange value is price. Use value is quantity. Commodity fetishism copied from Charles Brosses. Is there any term in Marxism that is not just a badly translated verbose copy of the equivalent classical economics concept?

Materialism was Engels, alienation was Hegel.


Posted 2019-09-19T20:51:17.027

Reputation: 21


According to this article, Although Karl Marx did not create the word, it was after his work “Das Kapital” (1867) when the term “capitalism” began to be widely used to describe an economic system based on private property as the means of production. And do you have any examples of ppl before Marx using the term "investment rate" to mean investment in things like machinery and buildings as opposed to labor? I also think your translations of commodity fetishism and use value are incorrect.

– Hypnosifl – 2019-09-19T22:42:36.890

Commodity fetishism has little to do with economic rent. Classical economists did not talk about the class struggle or dictatorship of proletariat. – Conifold – 2019-09-20T00:05:19.967

1They are not even in the same category, "fetishism is the perception of the social relationships involved in production not as relationships among people, but as economic relationships". It is like saying love is money. – Conifold – 2019-09-20T00:09:18.413

1A psychological condition is "literally" the same as direct bartering/exchange of goods??? – Conifold – 2019-09-20T00:54:14.377

1"Fetishism is rent because Fiat currency has no value" So you think Marx believed that there was no commodity fetishism in countries that used the gold standard (or something analogous) rather than fiat currency? – Hypnosifl – 2019-09-20T02:17:25.217

1In those cases it's labor fetishism because both land and labor are inputs (not just labor) and focusing only on labor is abstract and fetishistic – user42363 – 2019-09-20T02:55:00.040

But are you saying this is Marx's notion of commodity fetishism, that he would say "focusing only on labor is abstract and fetishistic" (and more than that, that this was one of the main things he wanted to call attention to when he coined "commodity fetishism"), or are you just making your own observation that it seems fetishistic to you? if the former you are completely wrong about what Marx thought, if the latter I don't see how your personal notions about fetishism are relevant to the question of whether you are describing Marx's own meaning correctly. – Hypnosifl – 2019-09-20T03:13:31.313


Karl Marx (1818—1883) revolutionary and thinker



commodity fetishism: The mistaken view that the value of a commodity is intrinsic and the corresponding failure to appreciate the investment of labour that went into its production. – Gordon – 2019-09-20T03:24:17.190

Do people think value doesn't come from land – user42363 – 2019-09-20T03:29:08.897

Note here with commodity fetishism the Object obliterates or hides or obscures the Subject. Labor, us, we humans are forgotten and the Object shines forth. All reification is a forgetting. A forgetting of the history of the object. Meaning man’s input. When you see a beautiful downtown with tall buildings, what you really see is dead labor. The forgotten. Those who build our world. – Gordon – 2019-09-20T03:30:34.320

1But assuming only labor made it leads to wrong assumptions like ignoring land and thinking resources are unlimited – user42363 – 2019-09-20T03:43:44.527

Marx’s Economics was not perfect but Joseph Schumpeter thought a lot of Marx’s work.

– Gordon – 2019-09-20T03:49:24.253

Interesting... Almost like the Neoliberal social welfare state foreseen by Fascists – user42363 – 2019-09-20T03:53:41.477

The above definition of commodity fetishism is from Oxford Reference which can be found with a search. – Gordon – 2019-09-20T04:51:47.393



Two concepts associated with economics, historical materialism and alienated labor, may have been new with Marx.

Jonathan Wolff describes historical materialism as follows:

Historical materialism — Marx’s theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of human productive power. Marx sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism.

Wolff describes alienated labor as follows:

Here Marx famously depicts the worker under capitalism as suffering from four types of alienated labour. First, from the product, which as soon as it is created is taken away from its producer. Second, in productive activity (work) which is experienced as a torment. Third, from species-being, for humans produce blindly and not in accordance with their truly human powers. Finally, from other human beings, where the relation of exchange replaces the satisfaction of mutual need.

Wolff, Jonathan, "Karl Marx", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2019-09-19T20:51:17.027

Reputation: 18 742

3Historical material ism was Engels. Alienation was Hegel. It even says that in your source. – user42363 – 2019-09-20T17:27:07.590

@user42363 But that is based on Marx's theory of history. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-09-20T19:00:13.690

But Marx never said it was materialist. In fact it seems pretty liberal since it says events like revolutions matter – user42363 – 2019-09-20T19:30:11.030

@user42363 Look at it as putting in a kind of historicism into economics that Popper objected to. If one skips any determinism that Popper might associate with this historicism it might be a tolerable concept, however, I am not claiming by saying that that Marx's historical perspective was correct. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-09-20T20:12:19.023

Saint-Simon argued for a type of historical materialism before Marx & Engels, see the paper here, though the discussion of his mature theory starting on p. 89 suggests it was based on the idea of relations between different groups becoming more "rational" as technology advanced and societal wealth grew, rather than the Marx/Engels view of change being driven by class conflict and the idea that the hegemonic beliefs of each era are largely rationalizations of the ruling class' self-interest. Does say on p. 91 that he related social classes to economics.

– Hypnosifl – 2020-06-16T19:34:31.807