Chris Harman

Economics of the Madhouse

Further reading

All available information about each book has been provided

Chapter one: A world gone mad

On Marxist economics:

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Communist Manifesto is their best overall account of their views.

Karl Marx, Wage, Labour and Capital is the easiest introduction to his account of exploitation.

Isaac Ilyich Rubin’s History of Economic Thought (Pluto, London 1989) provides a very readable account of how Marx’s ideas developed out of those of previous political economists like Adam Smith and Ricardo.

The criticism of marginalist economics:

Paul Ormerod’s The Death of Economics (Faber and Faber, London 1995) contains a useful summary of the most recent academic attacks on orthodox economics.

Chapter four of M. Mitchel Waldrop’s Complexity (Penguin, London 1994) gives a journalistic account of orthodox economists discovering faults with their theories at a conference on chaos theory.

Böhm-Bawerk and Hilferding, Karl Marx and the Close of his System (Augustus M. Kelly, New York 1949) contains a classic debate between one of the founders of marginalist economics and one of the most influential Marxist economists of the first third of this century.

Nicolai Bukharin, The Economic Theory of the Leisure Classes (1915) is a further Marxist criticism of Böhm-Bawerk’s approach.

Other sources

On working hours:

Juliet Schor, The Overworked American; B.K. Hunnicut, Work Without End.

On stress at work:

C.L. Cooper & R. Payne (eds.), Causes, Coping and Consequences of Stress at Work (John Wiley, Chichester 1988); S.G. Wolf jr. & A.J. Firestone (eds.), Occupational Stress (Littleton, Mass 1986).

On pre-class societies:

For a summary of some of the literature, see my Engels and the origins of human society, in International Socialism (IS) 65 (Winter 1994).

On ‘the primitive accumulation of capital’:

One of the most readable sections of Marx’s Capital, vol.1, provides a harrowing account of this; Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Univ of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 1994) deals with the importance of the slave trade to capitalist development.

Chapter two: Explaining the crisis

The account of the most recent ups and downs of the capitalist system is spelt out at much greater length in a two part article I recently wrote in IS 58 and 60, Where is capitalism going. Most of my sources of empirical matter are referenced in this article.

Other sources

On Hayek:

C. Nishiyama & K.R. Leube (eds.), The Essential Hayek; Jim Tomlinson, Hayek and the Market (Pluto, London 1990).

On Keynesianism:

J.M. Keynes, The General Theory of Employment (Macmillan, London 1963); Axel Leinjonhufvud, On Keynesian Economics (London 1968); N.G. Mankiw & D. Romer (eds.), New Keynesian Economics, vol.1: Imperfect Competition and Sticky Prices (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massacusetts 1991).

Chapter Three: Getting worse

The basic arguments of this section, together with sources and critical notes, are to be found in chapter one of my book, Explaining the Crisis (Bookmarks, London 1984).

Other sources

On Taylorism:

Ed Andrew, Closing the Iron Cage (Black Rose Books, Montreal 1981); Harry Braverman, Labour and Monopoly Capitalism (Monthly Review Press, New York 1976).

On working hours:

See sources for part one.

On the nineteenth century:

E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire (Abacus, London 1994), chapter two, An economy changes gear; M. Flamant & J. Singer-Kerel, Modern Economic Crises (London 1970).

On the falling rate of profit:

J. Gillman, The Falling Rate of Profit (London 1956); S. Mage, The ‘law of the falling rate of profit’, its place in the Marxian theoretical system and its relevance for the US economy, PhD thesis (Columbia University 1963); F. Moseley, The Falling Rate of Profit in the post war United States Economy (Macmillan, London 1991).

On the capital-output ratio:

Colin Clarke, Oxford Economic Papers (November 1978).

Chapter four: Getting bigger

Once again the basic arguments of this section are to be found with sources in my book Explaining the Crisis – this time in chapter two, The crisis last time, about the interwar period.

Other sources

On imperialism:

N.I. Bukharin, Imperialism and the World Economy; V.I. Lenin, Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism; E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire.

On militarism and state capitalism:

Henryk Grossman, The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the Capitalist System (Pluto, London 1992, pp.157-8); H. Draper (ed.), The Permanent Arms Economy (Berkeley 1970). This contains reprints of some of Vance’s writings; Mike Kidron, The Permanent Arms Economy (reprint of article from first series of IS journal); Mike Kidron, Western Capitalism since the War (Penguin, London 1968); Mike Kidron, Capitalism and Theory (Pluto, London 1974).

On Stalinism:

Tony Cliff, State Capitalism in Russia (Bookmarks, London 1988) – originally published 1948; Chris Harman, Class Struggles in Eastern Europe (Bookmarks, London 1988) – originally published 1974; Chris Harman, The storm breaks, IS 46 (Spring 1990); Chris Harman, The state and capitalism today, IS 51 (Summer 1991).

On ‘revisionist’ theories:

Edward Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism (London 1909); Peter Gay, The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism (London); C.A.R. Crosland, The Future of Socialism (London 1956); Susan Crosland, Anthony Crosland (London).

Chapter five: Things fall apart

For a more lengthy account of the 1980s and early 1990s, see my two part article, Where is capitalism going?, in IS 58 (Spring 1993) and 60 (Autumn 1993).

For Hutton’s views, see Will Hutton, The State We’re In (Jonathan Cape, London 1994).

For Galbraith’s views on present day America, see The Culture of Contentment (Penguin, London 1992).

For Keegan’s views, see William Keegan, The Spectre of Capitalism (Vintage, London 1992).

For Hobsbawm’s views on the present see The Age of Extremes (Michael Joseph, London 1994) – chapters 14 (The crisis decades) and 19 (Towards the millenium). For a criticism of some of the problems with this work, see the review by John Rees, in IS 66 (Spring 1995).

For Meghnad Desai’s views, see the transcript of a debate with myself in Socialist Review (London, June 1995).


Last updated on 15 November 2009