This article seeks to dispel a number of misunderstandings concerning Marx’s categories of labour, value and state. Readers are reminded that while labour is the source of value, i.e., exchange value, for Marx, it is by no means the sole source of value in the broader sense of usefulness for human beings, since Nature also participates in the production of “wealth.” Further, the oppressive character of labour - “work” - results from wage labour and the relations of exchange, which is something quite distinct from a division of labour. Paresh goes on to show how foreign to Marx’s thinking is any idea of a “workers state” involved in some kind of “planned economy,” and rejects the idea of the working class having its own state machine governing a transition period between capitalism and communism.
Source: An earlier version of the paper was presented at “Marxism 2000,” University of Massachusetts at Amherst, September 21-24, 2000. Amended by the author for inclusion in “Marx Myths and Legends.”.
This is a substantially revised and enlarged version of the paper that Paresh Chattopadhyay presented earlier in Berlin and London, copied from http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/OPE/.
Paresh Chattopadhyay teaches political economy at the Department of Sociology at University of Quebec at Montreal. He mainly offers courses on Marx, but also on the political economy of development and on quantitative methods in social sciences. His interest is in Marx’s critique of political economy and is explicitly based on the Marxist categories as they appear in Marx’s original works. He has also extensively written on the question of the development of the third world, the agrarian question in India, and on the (ex)soviet economy in the light of Marx’s Capital, and the theory of accumulation of capital. He is involved in the project of multi-volume Marx-Engels Historisch Kritisches Woerterbuch published under the sponsorship of the Philosophy Department of the Free University of Berlin and is connected with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences in Berlin. His most recent publication is The Marxian Category of Capital and the Soviet Experience, Praeger, 1994. His work has been published in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese.