Testing Marx: the LTV

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Apr 23 06:56:17 MDT 1995

Labour Theory of Value: Testing Marx.

The Spring 1995 issue of Capital and Class (number 55 and
subscription details from CSE, 25, Horsell Road, London N5 1LX
tel/fax 0171-607-9615) carries an article by Paul Cockshott,
Allin Cottrell and Greg Michaelson, testing certain Marxist
propositions, including the Labour Theory of Value, against
empirical input-output data from Britain.

The methodology is described in commendable detail. Although
I am not qualified myself to judge the technical aspects, the
article is now in the public realm and has a right to ask for
support or correction. It seems fairer that Paul himself should
not have to seek this and therefore I am posting the conclusion
of the article and asking Marxist economists, both those who
support the labour theory of value and those who dissociate
themselves from it, if possible to note this article and to

Chris Burford


Conclusion of article:


"The empirical data we have presented lend strong support to two
key theses of historical materialism and conditional support to
a third. First, we have been able to confirm the work of Shaikh,
Petrovic and Ochoa [for the US, Italian and Yugoslav economies]
in demonstrating the validity of the classical labour theory of
value. Second, we have shown that Marx's immiseration hypothesis,
interpreted as a tendency for the rate of exploitation of
productive labour to rise, is valid. Third, we have produced
evidence that the hypothesis of a rising organic composition of
capital and a falling rate of profit has some validity, but is
crucially conditional on active capital accumulation, which
cannot always be assumed. Our most general conclusion, in line
with the other recent work cited in the Introduction, is that
Marxian economics has nothing to fear, and a good deal to gain,
from a confrontation with the data-record for actual capitalist


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