ECO 357K • Marxist Economics
Marxian economics is an analytical framework for studying the development and crises of modern capitalist societies. Within its own analytical framework it studies all the usual topics of economics: labor economics, macroeconomics, the behavior of the firm, technological change, commerce and trade and so on, at both the national and international levels. This course provides an introduction to that framework through the reading of Volume I of Karl Marx's major work: Das Kapital, and through the application of that work to the analysis of contemporary society and its crises.
In this course Capital is studied primarily within the present. That is, the course is oriented toward the relevance of Marx's ideas today rather than an interpretation of the text within the mid-19th Century when it was written. This involves not only thinking the analytical categories in the present, but also extending them to new spheres of social relations which have developed since Marx wrote. Most importantly this means extending the analysis to those periods of time which workers have successfully liberated from factory and office work, but which have been subsequently colonized by capitalist relations, e.g., the time of children, of housewives and of peasants, as well as the leisure time of workers in general. We will look at how the struggle over work in the factory and office is paralleled by a struggle over work in these spheres of life, over the degree to which these periods of time can be used by people for themselves and the degree to which they find themselves reduced to the work of reproducing current class relations.