Marxian Exploitation and Distributive Justice 
Marxian Exploitation and Distributive Justice
by Yale / Ian Shapiro
Video Lecture 11 of 25
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Date Added: June 18, 2011

Lecture Description

Exploitation is an important technical--not normative--concept in the theory of Karl Marx. Although we are dealing with voluntary Pareto transactions, under capitalism, exploitation occurs whether or not an individual is better off. Capitalism is destined to fail, says Marx, because of (1) the possibility for liquidity crises, (2) the nature of capitalist competition inducing declining marginal profit on the industry-wide level, (3) the fact that capitalist competition eliminates competitors and promotes monopolies, (4) weak demand, as workers could not pool their money and buy all that they produce, and (5) the fact that "workers will come to realize that they have nothing to lose but their chains." However, communism (that distribution should be "to each according to his needs") can only arise from socialism ("to each according to his work"), which in turn can only arise from superabundance created by capitalism. However, scarcity is very much a reality, which makes superabundance impossible; this, Professor Shapiro points out, is the major weakness in Marx's theory.

Reading assignment:
Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, Capital, Vol. I, pp. 361-84, 417-19

Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, Critique of the Gotha Program, pp. 525-41

Course Index

Course Description

This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.

Course Structure:
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.

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