Social Scientist. v 3, no. 33 (April 1975) p. 3.


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J E KING

Samuelson s 'Marx-Kritik'

PROFESSOR Paul Samuelson has recently returned to the criticism of Marxian economics, and in doing so has provoked a considerable controversy.1 In this paper I outline Samuelson's criticisms of Marx, discuss their validity, and assess their significance as an attack on Marxian political economy as a whole.

Samudson's 1971 article is long, discursive, and poorly structured. Important arguments are relegated to footnotes, while numerical examples . and potted histories of economic thought clutter the text. At the end of it all, the reader is left with the impression that Samuelson has presented a formidable case against Marxian economics, but with no clear and concise summary of the case itself.

In fact Samuelson makes three main points.2 Firstly, he attacks Marx's theory of technical change. He argues that the rate of profit can decline as a result of innovation only if the real wage increases, and that Marx was wrong to predict a falling rate of profit with constant real wages. The other two lines of attack, which make up the bulk of Samuel-son's argument, focus on the labour theory of value. Samuelson critcizes the transformation of labour values into prices of production as ^a process of rejection and replacement"8, whereby an incorrect analysis is replaced by a correct one. Futhcrmore, he suggests that the concept of



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