Political Economy: Early English Value Debates

Building the Fabian Church of the Future

Early English Debates in Marxist Value Theory

The Fabian Stained-Glass Window at the London School of Economics

Vulgar Socialism under construction: Sidney Webb and Bernard Shaw hammer Africa and Asia.
[The Fabian Stained-Glass Window, designed by Shaw, 1910. London School of Economics.]

In his Preface to Volume III of Capital, Engels publically remarked that "Mr. George Bernard Shaw" was building "the Fabian Church of the Future" on "the foundation of Jevons’s and Menger’s theory of use-value and marginal utility". Indeed, the Fabians saw themselves, quite consciously, as building a socialism not just different from Marxism but in opposition to it: ''there are at the present moment four people in London, calling themselves 'Socialists', who claim to have refuted our author [i.e. Marx] completely by opposing to his theory that of - Stanley Jevons! ...'', Engels told Danielson in 1888. He was almost certainly referring to the participants in the Fabian sponsored value debate whose contributions we reproduce below, together with Shaw's memorandum on 'Fabian Economics'. This is the first time all these articles have been brought together and published in any media.

The Debate:

Shaw - 'Who is the Thief?' - Justice - March 15, 1884
Wicksteed - 'Das Kapital: a criticism' - Today - October 1884
Shaw - 'The Jevonian Criticism of Marx' - Today - January 1885
Wicksteed - 'The Jevonian Criticism of Marx (A Rejoinder)' - Today - April 1885
Foxwell - 'The Textbook of Modern Socialism' - Pall Mall Gazette, May 6th 1887
Shaw - 'Marx and Modern Socialism' - Pall Mall Gazette, May 7th, 1887
Hyndman - 'Reply'  - Pall Mall Gazette, May 11th, 1887
Shaw - 'Rejoinder' - Pall Mall Gazette,  May 12th, 1887
Hyndman - 'Rejoinder' - Pall Mall Gazette,  May 16th, 1887
Mrs Besant - 'Marx's Theory of Value' - Pall Mall Gazette, May 24th, 1887
Shaw - 'Karl Marx and Das Kapital I' - The National Reformer, August 7th, 1887
Shaw - 'Karl Marx and Das Kapital II' - The National Reformer, August 14th, 1887
Shaw - 'Karl Marx and Das Kapital III' - The National Reformer, August 21st, 1887
Engels - Letter to Danielson - January 5th, 1888
Engels - Letter to Danielson - October 15th 1888
Wallas - 'An Economic Eirenicon' - Today - March 1889
Hyndman - 'Marx's Theory of Value' - Today, April 1889
Shaw - 'Bluffing the Value Theory' - Today, May 1889
Carpenter - 'The Value of Value Theory' - Today, June 1889
Engels - Letter to Schmidt - September 12th, 1892
Hyndman - 'The Final Futility of Final Utility' - 1894
Engels - 'Preface to Volume III of Capital' - October 4th 1894
Belfort Bax - 'The Economic Conception of Value' - 1895
Belfort Bax - 'Our Fabian Philosopher' - Justice, November 28th 1896
Shaw - The Unsocial Socialist, Chapter 5. - 1883 [Published 1887]
Shaw - Memorandum - The History of Fabian Economics - 1915