Marxist economics is the study of the laws of motion of capitalist society, allowing us to understand why capitalism perpetually goes into crisis.

Marxist economics is the study of the laws of motion of capitalist society, allowing us to understand why capitalism perpetually goes into crisis.

The economic system we live under today is capitalism: based on competition, private ownership and the production for profit. Karl Marx revolutionised our understanding of the capitalist system. With his vast collection of economic writings – including the three volumes of Capital – Marx stripped away the mysticism surrounding capitalism, uncovering and explaining its inner processes, emergent laws, and intrinsic contradictions.

Marx built upon the work of his ‘classical’ predecessors – in particular the British economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo. These enlightenment thinkers had attempted to examine capitalism on a scientific basis. In doing so, they hit upon the idea that labour was the source of all new value within society.

By developing this ‘labour theory of value’, Marx was able to explain an enigma that had eluded the classical economists: that of profit. This, Marx demonstrated, arises from exploitation – that is, from the surplus value produced by the working class. Simply put, the capitalists’ profits are obtained from the unpaid labour of the workers.

But this fact, in turn, led Marx to an even more shattering conclusion: that the capitalist system is inherently prone to periodic crisis of overproduction – crises that break out and paralyse the entirely of society, as the forces of production crash up against the narrow limits of the market.

This is the picture we find ourselves in today, as workers and youth are forced to pay for the crisis of capitalism. Armed with the ideas of Marxism, we can see that there is no way out of this crisis within the confines of capitalism. The only solution is socialist revolution.

Learn the basics

Marxist classics
& books

Introduction to Marxist EconomicsIntroduction to Marxist Economics
Alan Woods and Rob Sewell

Originally published in the 1970s, this article is a good, brief introduction to the basic method of Marxism and can serve as a first approach to the ideas developed by Marx and Engels.

In Defence of the Labour Theory of ValueIn Defence of the Labour Theory of Value
Rob Sewell

For the bourgeois economists the labour theory of value presented a paradox as well as a blind alley. “The man who found the way out of this blind alley was Karl Marx,” explained Engels.

Capitalism and CrisisCapitalism and Crisis
Nigel Warren

This article provides an overview of Marx's explanation for why capitalism goes into crisis, discussing the inherent contradictions within the capitalism system, and posing the only alternative: a socialist plan of production.

Monopoly and ImperialismMonopoly and Imperialism
Ravi Mistry

Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, has reached its limits. The monopoly board has little space left to buy and invest. The monopolists have indeed succeeded. They are no longer developing the productive forces. The game is at an end.

An Introduction to Marx's Labour Theory of ValueAn Introduction to Marx's Labour Theory of Value
Mick Brooks

One of the basic ideas of Karl Marx that is constantly being denied by the bourgeois is his theory of value. In this article Mick Brooks shows how the Marxist Labour Theory of Value is still valid today.

Wage Labour and CapitalWage Labour and Capital
Karl Marx

Karl Marx’s Wage Labour and Capital contains many important insights into the workings of the capitalist system and the way in which labour is exploited. With an excellent introduction by Frederick Engels. Available from Wellred in paper copy and as an ebook.

Value, Price, and ProfitValue, Price, and Profit
Karl Marx

Value, Price and Profit was first delivered as a speech delivered by Marx in June 1865, while he was working on the first volume of Capital that was published two years later. Also available from Wellred Books as part of The Classics of Marxism: Volume Two.

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In-depth analysis

Marxist classics
& books

Will There Be a Slump? Will There Be a Slump?
Ted Grant

Written as a discussion document in 1960, at the height of the boom, Will There Be a Slump? was a major contribution to the debate on economic perspectives. The Keynesians alleged that the capitalist state could smooth out the natural economic cycle and thus overcome crises.

"Underconsumption" and the Marxist Theory of Crisis"Underconsumption" and the Marxist Theory of Crisis
Rob Sewell

Theories of “under-consumption” are often confused with Marx’s ideas. But these are not the same as Marx explained long ago. While under-consumption certainly exists for the masses, as any worker can testify, it is not the direct cause of capitalist crisis.

The Capitalist Crisis and the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to FallThe Capitalist Crisis and the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall
Rob Sewell

There is considerable confusion about the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, which arises from a one-sided undialectical view that isolates one element in Marx’s economic theory and exaggerates its significance far beyond Marx’s intention.

Marx, Keynes, Hayek, and the Crisis of CapitalismMarx, Keynes, Hayek, and the Crisis of Capitalism
ADAM BOOTH

In this article, we compare and contrast the ideas of Keynes, Hayek, and Marx in the context of the current crisis of capitalism, to see if any of these figures and their writings really do have the answers to solve the problems facing society today.

What is Money?What is Money?
ADAM BOOTH

What is money? Where does it come from? And what does it represent? A five-part series analysing the role of money within class society, associated with the rise of commodity production.

Marxism vs Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)Marxism vs Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)
ADAM BOOTH

MMT has created a buzz on the left recently, with its supporters citing it as an answer to all our economic woes. Instead of trendy new ideas, however, we need the clear scientific analysis of capitalism that Marxism provides.

Marxism and the Theory of "Long Waves"Marxism and the Theory of "Long Waves"
Alan Woods

Kondratiev concluded that the capitalist system passes through "long waves", in which each downswing is followed by an upswing which can last for decades. However, this has no solid basis either in fact or in theory. In this article, Alan Woods explains why.

'The Deficit Myth' – Two wrongs don't make a right'The Deficit Myth' – Two wrongs don't make a right
Rob Sewell

As more and more surplus value is siphoned off into unproductive activities, the issue of “productive” and “unproductive” labour has once again resurfaced as a factor contributing to, and a reflection of, the present terminal decline of world capitalism.

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Marxist classics

Marxist classics
& books

The Poverty of PhilosophyThe Poverty of Philosophy
Karl Marx

Marx and Engels together waged a relentless struggle against the confused ideas of petty-bourgeois socialism, striving to put the ideas of socialism on a scientific basis. Marx subjected the semi-anarchist ideas of Proudhon to a withering criticism in 1847 in the Poverty of Philosophy, backed up by facts, and substantial quotations from the writings of Proudhon himself.

Theories of Surplus-ValueTheories of Surplus-Value
Karl Marx

While Marx did not manage to write a specific book on capitalist crisis, his theory of crisis is present throughout his economic writings, especially Theories of Surplus Value. Described by Engels as volume four of Capital, Marx here gives a clear outline of the fundamental contradictions facing capitalism.

CapitalCapital
Karl Marx

Marx's Capital was a book that revolutionised political economy and for the first time opened our eyes to the real workings of capitalism. The anatomy of capitalism, as a specific stage in the economic development of society, was given by Marx in its finished form in his magnum opus, consisting of volume One, Two, and Three.

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Capital reading guide

Marxist classics
& books

Will There Be a Slump? Will There Be a Slump?
Adam Booth & Rob Sewell

Marx's Capital was a book that revolutionised political economy and for the first time opened our eyes to the real workings of capitalism. It was, however, met with a wall of silence from the mainstream economists and the establishment. Despite this, Capital became regarded in the workers' movement as the Bible of the working class.

The aim of this book, written by authors from the International Marxist Tendency, is to help guide readers through the pages of volume one of Capital; to bring out the main themes and ideas contained within it; and to discuss the relevance of this great Marxist classic in terms of understanding the crisis-ridden world around us today – and, most importantly, how we can radically transform it.

Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.” - Marx, Capital Vol I, Chapter 10

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Rob Sewell introduces a Socialist Appeal event "Capital in a Day", discussing the importance and relevance of Marx's Das Kapital and what lessons it has for revolutionaries today, 150 years after it was first written.

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Capitalism is a system in which the production and exchange of commodities is generalised and universal. And it is the idea of the commodity that Marx began his analysis in Capital with, going on to explain where value comes from and why some commodities are more valuable than others. James Kilby provides an overview of Chapter 1 of Das Kapital, delving into the Labour Theory of Value, and providing the key concepts needed to understand the later sections of Marx's masterpiece.

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Ben Gliniecki explains the historical origins and social basis of money, analysing its economic role within a system of commodity production and exchange. Applying Marx's method to this complex question, Ben explores concepts such as inflation and crypto-currencies (like Bitcoin), and shows how money will not simply be abolished under socialism, but will eventually "wither away".

Will There Be a Slump? Will There Be a Slump?

Available from Wellred in paper copy and as an ebook.

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Natasha Sorrell discusses where profits come from within capitalism: the unpaid labour of the working class. In order to understand how the capitalists make their profits, Natasha looks at how wages are determined, and uses real life examples to show how the bosses are increasing the exploitation of workers today.

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Adam Booth looks at the ideas and concepts introduced in chapters 12-15 of Das Kapital, where Marx explains how the capitalists use machinery, organisation, and planning in order to reduce their costs and boost their profits. Adam, in turn, relates these questions to the zeitgeist issues of today: the monopolisation of industry under capitalism, and the concerns over automation, "technological unemployment" and the "race against the machine".

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Ben Curry looks at the question of accumulation and inequality within capitalism. In order to explain these ideas, Ben examines the dynamics of capitalism – of competition and the drive for profit – which lead to (in the words of Marx) "profits accumulating at one pole; and misery accumulating at the other". In turn, Ben discusses how capitalism comes into being through the most violent means, "with blood dripping from every pore".

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Audio & video

Marxist classics
& books

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Rob Sewell

Rob Sewell discusses Marx's economic ideas and how these explain the deep global crisis of capitalism that we have been living through for the last 10 years.

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Ben Gliniecki

Ben Gliniecki discusses the development of Marx's theories on capitalism, examining the classical economists preceding Marx who were influential in shaping his ideas on questions such as the Labour Theory of Value.

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Adam Booth

Adam Booth analyses the current crisis of capitalism and discusses Marx's theories about why capitalism enters into crisis.

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Adam Booth

Adam Booth discusses the question of technology, machinery, and innovation under capitalism, looking at how private property and production for profit have become an enormous barrier to society's development.

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Adam Booth

In this video, Adam Booth provides an overview of the history of money, using a Marxist economic analysis to strip away the veil of mystery that surrounds it.

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Adam Booth

Neither Keynesianism or MMT provide a genuine, scientific analysis of capitalism. In this talk, Adam Booth looks at these economic ideas and explains why only a Marxist perspective can offer a way out of capitalism's crisis for the left and the labour movement.

Marxism and FeminismMarxism and Feminism
00:00 / 00:00
Adam Booth

Adam Booth looks at the growing gap between the rich and poor in society today, contrasting the analysis of Thomas Piketty – the French "rock star" economist – and Karl Marx as to why capitalism creates inequality and a concentration of wealth.

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Socialist Appeal are proud to publish this education guide to help focus your studies of Marxist theory and practice. Visit the various tabs below to find links to introductory articles, classic texts, videos and audio talks for different topics. Read More
We present here Marxism 101: a series of responses and short video talks answering the most common myths and questions about Marxism, socialism, and revolution. Read More
Check out this selection of writings for an excellent introduction to many of the fundamentals of Marxist theory, providing a strong basis for those wishing to equip themselves with the ideas necessary in order to fight for socialism. Read More
Dialectical materialism is the philosophy or methodology of Marxism. We must seek to understand the laws of society and nature in order to change them. Read More
Historical materialism is the general theory of how and why society develops in the way it does. Each social system has its inherent laws of motion. If we want to overthrow capitalist society, we must understand how capitalism works. Read More
Marxist economics is the study of the laws of motion of capitalist society, allowing us to understand why capitalism perpetually goes into crisis, where inequality comes from, and what the alternative is. Read More
The Russian Revolution is the greatest event in world history for Marxists. Studying the events of 1917, and understanding why the Revolution degenerated into Stalinism, provides vital lessons for revolutionaries today. Read More
For Marxists, the state is not at all neutral. We must understand the state’s real basis and strip away its mysticism by treating it historically - taking in its origins, rise, and eventual fall. Read More
Anarchism is naturally attractive for those wanting to abolish capitalism. But only Marxist ideas can explain why bureaucracy and oppression exist - and how to overthrow the exploitative capitalist system. Read More
Marxists are irreconcilably opposed to the oppression of women and fight determinedly for liberation and against discrimination. We believe this will be achieved through the class struggle - to abolish the oppressive capitalist system. Read More
The madness of fascism expresses the historic crisis and dead-end of capitalism. But it could have been avoided if the working class had a united revolutionary leadership, prepared to take power. Read More
Nations have not always existed, nor will they always exist in the future. Marxists are internationalists, fighting for world socialist revolution as the only way forward for humanity and our planet. Read More
Wars represent the sharp extreme of capitalism’s impasse. Imperialism, Lenin said, was the "highest stage of capitalism". As long as the profit system exists, there will be wars over markets and spheres of influence. Read More
All written history, Marx stated, is the history of class struggle. Our task is to learn the lessons from history in order to prepare for the revolutionary events taking place today and in the future. Read More
Our aim is to spread the ideas of Marxism, in an organised fashion, amongst workers and youth. In order to do this, we must study the history and traditions of the working class. Read More
  • Educate Yourself
  • Marxism 101
  • Fundamentals of Marxism
  • Dialectical Materialism
  • Historical Materialism
  • Marxist Economics
  • Stalinism and the Soviet Union
  • The State
  • Anarchism
  • Identity and Oppression
  • Fascism
  • The National Question
  • Imperialism and War
  • Revolutionary History
  • Revolutionary Strategy