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Amin (2010): The Law of Worldwide Value
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The Law of Worldwide Value
Loi de la valeur et le materialisme historique
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In his new extensively revised and expanded edition of this book, Samir Amin suggests new approaches to Marxian analysis of the crisis of the late capitalist system of generalized, financialized, and globalized oligopolies following on the financial collapse of 2008.

Considering that Marx′s Capital, written before the emergence of imperialism as a decisive factor in capitalist accumulation, could provide no explanation for the persistent ″underdevelopment″ of the countries of the ″global South,″ Amin advances several important theoretical concepts extending traditional Marxian views of capitalist evolution.

Most strikingly, he proposes adding to the model of reproduction in Volume II of Capital a Third Department of Production devoted to surplus absorption, necessitated by the capitalist tendency constantly to produce an economic surplus too large to be realized by the consumption and investment purchases generated within Marx′s original two-department model.

Equally interesting is his theoretical concept of ″imperialist rent,″ derived from the scaling of radically different wages paid for the same labor in countries of the North and the South, whose effect has been to provide Northern capital with sufficient profits to permit it to pacify for a long period its conflict with the Northern proletariat. To account for this new type of rent he extends the Marxian ″law of value″ in the form of a ″law of globalized value″ whose operations determine such changes in the polarized world system as the industrial growth of many Third-World nations within the global imperialist context.

Amin sees the present crisis as a moment in the second long crisis of the capitalist system, dating from the early 1970′s (the first long crisis, he maintains, lasted from 1873 until 1945). He sees no exit from repeated crises under capitalism except the descent into barbarism. The challenge is not to escape from the crisis of capitalism—a hopeless project—but to escape from capitalism in crisis. And Amin reasserts his historical optimism as to the socialist project. He expects a ″second wave″ of socialist attempts that will stem from the self-liberating efforts of the nations and peoples of the South which, by eliminating the imperialist rent, will lead to an awakening of the Northern popular classes to join the awakening of the global South. This book has an important place among the theoretical resources for anyone involved in the study of contemporary Marxian economic and political theory. (MR)

CHAPTER ONE: The Fundamental Status of the Law of Value 15
1. An Illustration with a Simple Model of Accumulation 18
2. Realization of the Surplus Product and the Active Function of Credit 22
3. Given the Hypothesis of Unchanging Real Wages, Is Accumulation Possible? 23
4. From Prices of Production to Market Prices 28
5. The Unavoidable Detour by Way of Value 30
6. Is an Empiricist Approach to Accumulation Possible? 33
7. Sraffa's Schema 33
8. Economic Laws and the Class Struggle 44
9. Is the Law of Value Outdated? 50

ANNEX TO CHAPTER ONE: An Algebraic Model of Expanded Reproduction 55

CHAPTER TWO: Interest, Money, and the State 61

CHAPTER THREE: Ground Rent 71

CHAPTER FOUR: Accumulation on a Global Scale and Imperialist Rent 83
1. The Global Hierarchy of the Prices of Labor Power 86
2. One Accumulation Model, or Two? 89
3. Social Struggles and International Conflicts in a Global Perspective 90
4. Unequal Access to the Natural Resources of the Planet 94
5. Theory and Practice of Extractive Rent 95
6. Ecology and Unsustainable Development 100
7. The North-South Conflict over Access to the Planet's Resources 105
8. Has Imperialist Rent Been Called into Question? 110

Concluding Political Remarks 113

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