Marxist Economic Theory (VOL-1&2)


Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2014

379 pages

Series: NULL

Price INR 750.00
Book Club Price INR 563.00

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Some of the chapters are very good and well explained but others not so good. I was very impressed with his chapter on the contradictions of capitalism. Also the later chapters on monopoly capital and imperialism. Mandel held to the Trotskyist idea that the Soviet Union was a degenerate worker's state and could have returned back to a worker's state with a political revolution and this is reflected in his chapters on the soviet economy. The chapter I was really disappointed with was the chapter on money where his explanations aren't clear and which aren't suitable for anyone who hasn't had some background reading in finance. I was also disappointed that Mandel didn't say more about Marx's method in 'Capital', true this is a book on Marxist economics rather than a book about 'Capital' but the economic theory of Marx is largely derived from 'Capital' and more attention could have been paid to the method he used in developing his economic theories. Mandel does mention this method in the introduction but it's only a short description rather than a full explanation. One of its strong points is that Mandel tends not to drown the reader with algebraic formula. I've heard it said that Mandel wrote for workers. Perhaps he wrote some books for workers but not this book. The book is suitable for middle to upper class well educated people and not for toilers unless they're really committed and can be helped along whilst reading it. I suspect Mandel was like a lot of well healed academic Marxists-there were no garbage collectors in the gallery being played to. All in all it's not a bad book and worth the effort. Normally I don't bother with 'not bad' reviews sticking to the very exceptionally good and extremely poor-to be avoided. But this is a big book, two volumes and 730 pages or so long and has very exceptionally good chapters and some that really needed to be better explained. It's a good book to complement with both volumes of David Harvey's ' A companion to Marx Capital' or indeed as a precursor to reading Marx's Capital volumes 1,2 and 3. Also it's a good introduction to Lenin's theory of imperialism which Mandel updates with his own theory of late capitalism. It's somewhat dated being written in the early 60's but surprisingly relevant in many ways to today's global economy. Indeed Mandel's ideas on the development of modern imperialism anticipated many aspects of neo liberalism.