The Marxian Failure and Legacy 
The Marxian Failure and Legacy
by Yale / Ian Shapiro
Video Lecture 12 of 25
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Date Added: June 18, 2011

Lecture Description

We previously established that the reality of scarcity invalidates Marx's core idea of superabundance, and mortally wounds his theory. Certainly, his historical predictions about worker-led socialist revolutions around the world were off-mark. Today, Professor Shapiro presents more of the shortcomings of the Marxian tradition. These include Marx's failure to account for the ability of the state to buttress capitalism and stave off the conditions needed for its self-destruction, the lack of a declining tendency in the economy-wide rate of profit, and the incoherence of a labor theory of value. It becomes clear that the Marxian theory is riddled with holes. However, Marx does leave two important legacies in his wake: a good critique of markets as distributors of either good or harms in society, and a power-based argument about freedom.

Reading assignment:
Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, Capital, Vol. I, pp. 443-65
Roemer, "Should Marxists be interested in exploitation?"
Shapiro, Moral Foundations of Politics, chapter 4 [optional]

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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