Social Scientist. v 27, no. 316-317 (Sept-Oct 1999) p. 51.

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EMS on the Agrarian Question: Ground Rent and its Implications

The Marxist theory of Ground Rent is of outstanding importance for analysing landed property and is indispensable for a theoretical understanding of the tasks of the democratic movement in a country like ours where agriculture is such an important sector of the economy, and where concentration of land ownership continues to prevail. EMS Namboodiripad was one of the few Indian Marxist thinkers and leaders who wrote systematically on the agrarian question and whose analysis was informed and shaped by his reading of Marx's theory of Ground Rent. This brief paper will be in three parts : in the first we will briefly review Marx's theory of Ground Rent and see in what way it differs from Ricardo's theory of differential rent , showing that EMS was well aware of and explicated the difference. In the second part we will discuss EMS's early views on the agararian question as set out in his Minute of Dissent to the Committee on the Malabar Tenancy Reform set up in 1937. In the third part we will again in brief, discuss the evolution of EMS's views on ground rent in the light of the limited land reforms carried out in most states in the post-Independence period.


Marx discusses the theory of Ground Rent at great length in Capital Vol. HI1 as well as in the course of his critique of other economists, particularly of Ricardo, contained in Theories of Surplus Value Part.II2. The Marxist theory of Ground Rent was clearly discussed in simple and understandable language by Karl Kautsky in his The Agrarian Question, a book 3 of which V I Lenin thought highly and reviewed favourably as well as defending it from Narodnik

* Professor of Economics, CESP, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 9 - 10, Sept. - Oct. 1999

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