Marxist Political Economy Working Group

Marxist Political Economy Working Group

IIPPE’s remit is to develop and promote political economy. In his day, Marx called the economics of his predecessors (predominantly Smith, Malthus and Ricardo) political economy, and he developed his own views partly through a trenchant critique of their work. Hence Capital was subtitled  ‘a critique of political economy’.  One of the things Marx could take for granted was that his predecessors all had some sort of framework of class. However, since the ‘marginalist revolution’,  a focus on class in economic theory has been superseded by a focus on methodological individualism.

The critique of mainstream economics is therefore no longer a critique of political economy; it is rather the construction of an alternative theory which builds on Marx’s work, developing political economy in ways that can both explain contemporary phenomena and engage with mainstream attempts at such explanation.

Developing political economy in this way cannot ignore other work in this endeavour since the 1960s, for Marxist economics has its own history and that history is part of the context of our present situation. So too is the persistent (and often woefully ignorant) denigration by the mainstream of fundamental tenets of Marxist economics. The consequences are, for some, a lack of knowledge of basic Marxist economics because it has largely been driven out of university curriculae. For others who have managed to acquire some basic knowledge, another consequence is a lack of self-confidence in the coherence of what they know of Marxist economics.

The Marxist Political Economy Working Group aims to counter these problems by  developing Marx’s work, recognising that the evolution of capitalism requires engagement with historical specificities that Marx himself did not and could not foresee. In pursuit of a progressive research agenda in Marxist political economy in the 21st century, we encourage non-hagiographic work in any and all of the following areas:

  • the method of abstraction
  • the labour theory of value
  • value, money and credit
  • exploitation and the value of labour power
  • the labour process
  • absolute and relative surplus value
  • reproduction and accumulation
  • business cycles and crises
  • unemployment and the reserve army of labour
  • primitive accumulation
  • the circuits of capital
  • turnover time
  • reproduction schema
  • social reproduction
  • the forms that surplus value takes (industrial profit, interest and rent)
  • trends in the rate of profit: theory and empirics
  • value and price
  • productive and unproductive labour
  • the role of the state
  • equal and unequal exchange
  • the changing forms of the world market

In all of this, the Marxist Political Economy Working Group has no sacrosanct methodology. There will also be many overlaps with the activities of other IIPPE Working Groups, and cross-WG work is strongly encouraged.

To be informed of, and hence able to participate in, the activities of the IIPPE Marxist Political Economy Working Group, send an email to to join its mailing list.