9780717804764 / 0717804763

Underconsumption theories: A history and critical analysis


Publisher:International Publishers



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About the book:

From the back cover: "This book is the first to undertake a comprehensive history of the development of "underconsumption" theories of political economy, and at the same time the first to offer a systematic critique of "underconsumptionism" from a Marxist standpoint. Long influential in socialist and economic thinking, this type of theory has been taken to provide a simple explanation of capitalist crises by tracing back their cause to lack of purchasing power by the mass of wage-workers. Marx himself has often been misrepresented (by both followers and critics) as a crude type of "underconsumptionist"--whereas it is here shown that any such interpretation fails to appreciate his analysis of "the law of capitalist society." It is shown that a similar misinterpretation has been applied to Rosa Luxemborg's analysis in her studies of capitalist accumulation. Michael Bleaney traces two distinct strands of "underconsumption" theory--one stemming from Malthus and emphasising the absolute level of savings, the other from Sismondi who emphasised the distribution of incomes as the cause of crises. He examines the connections of these theories with "classical" ideas of investment and revenues, and their influences in contemporary economic thinking. This history and critical analysis offers new insights both to the academic economist and to those primarily interested in a political way in problems of the causes of capitalist crisis and the possibilities of a planned economy free from crises."

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