The labour theory of value: the origins of Marxist economics


Marx revolutionised political economy with the publication of Capital, in which he brilliantly analysed capitalism in all its aspects, and explained why it inevitably goes into crisis. However, Marx did not suck his ideas out of his thumb. Rather, he stood on the shoulders of the most-advanced bourgeois political economists: in particular Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

These two thinkers both proposed the labour theory of value, which is to say, that the value of commodities originates with human labour. However, later bourgeois economists abandoned this theory, because its implications were dangerous. After all, if workers are the source of all value, shouldn’t they lay claim to the fruits of their labour? 

While Smith and Ricardo were limited by their one-sided, bourgeois approach to economics, their ideas were nevertheless a major breakthrough that Marx was able to develop and refine with his theory of surplus value, from which profit is extracted. This laid the foundation for Marxist economics: the most powerful tool of analysis available to us.

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Rob: Comrades, this capitalist crisis is affecting the lives of billions of people everywhere, and therefore an understanding of what is going on, an understanding of Marxist economics, has become more relevant than ever. And central to this understanding of Marxist economics is the labour theory of value.

Of course, Marx didn’t suck this idea out of his thumb, so to speak. In fact, all of the foundations of Marxism were based on the most advanced ideas of the time – and this also applies, clearly, to economics. And the most advanced ideas at that moment were the ideas of the bourgeois classical economics, represented above all by individuals like Adam Smith and David Ricardo. These were – although bourgeois economists – extremely serious economists who delved into the workings of capitalism. It must be said, they stand up as giants compared to the so-called economists of today. Today’s professors and professional economists are nothing more than apologists for capitalism, while the school of bourgeois classical economy made enormous advances in understanding the laws of capitalism; and Marx not only admired them, but paid tribute to the work that they had done, the pioneering work they had accomplished.

Marx was able, however, not only to understand, but to deepen and develop these ideas and draw the necessary conclusions from them. One of the key problems of these classical economists was that they viewed capitalism as the pinnacle of society, rather than understanding that it was simply a transitory stage in the development of human history. Marx therefore carried out a thorough critique of this school of thought, demonstrating that capitalism’s internal contradictions themselves were precisely the seeds that were preparing a downfall of the system.

Lenin often remarked that the great genius of Marx is that he saw [economics] not as a relationship between things but a relationship between people; and, ultimately, this is a relationship between classes. In other words, he was able to see behind the appearances of capitalism, and was able to discover the real relationships behind this veil, behind this mask.

Now, the classical economists grappled with this 2,000-year-old problem, the question of value. What is value? How much is something worth, and how do we determine the value? It was the investigations of these bourgeois classical economists who discovered this labour theory of value, and this became the bedrock of their ideas – and also the bedrock of a Marxist understanding of capitalism. Of course, with the development of capitalism and the class struggle, the ruling class realised that such a theory – where the working class would produce the value in society – was an extremely dangerous theory as far as they were concerned. They therefore abandoned that idea completely and embraced subjective ideas about economics. Their theories were there to justify the capitalist system, not to explore it.

Nevertheless, the labour theory of value is actually the answer to this riddle. Under capitalism, the characteristic is that there are trillions of commodities exchanged on the world market every day – and yet there is no plan, no preconceived idea. In fact, the whole system is anarchic. The system not only survives, however, but advances! And the reason for this is that it is regulated by this law of value.

Now, to understand this a bit more, we need to deal with the nature of the commodity. As Marx explained, the commodity is the cell of capitalism. The prime characteristic of the commodity is that it is a product for sale; and one of the essential features, in order for it to be sold, is that it has to be useful. Otherwise no one would want to buy it. If I were to make a pair of trousers which had three legs, there wouldn’t be much of a demand for this because there’s not many people with three legs. So it would be a completely wasted opportunity – wasted labour. Or if you made a bicycle with square wheels, it would be completely useless. So the fact that a commodity must be useful is essential. And in fact, it was Adam Smith who gave the name to the use-value of a commodity – it has a utility. Of course, the use-value of a chair is to sit on it; the value of a coat is to wear it to keep warm; and the use-value of drinking a pint of beer is to quench your thirst and feel happy.

But under capitalism, the driving force for production is not whether things are useful. The driving force of capitalism is to make money. So the capitalists don’t care what they produce, they’re not interested in that – as long as it produces money! They could produce t-shirts with “I love Boris Johnson” on it, or they could produce weapons of mass destruction – it doesn’t make any difference, as long as they can make profit at the end of the day. What interests them is exchange value: how much money they’re going to get from producing something.

So a commodity has these two features: it has a use-value and it also has an exchange value. Now, exchange arises at a certain point in historical development. It emerges when there’s a division of labour in society. Of course, if there’s no division of labour, then there’s no need to exchange something. Everyone’s got the same things. But as soon as you’ve got a division of labour, then things have to be changed one for another; and this is where the law of value begins to operate.

Of course, in a system of barter, you can have a baker, for instance, who has bread and is looking for a pair of shoes – but they have to find a shoemaker who’s interested in some bread before an exchange can take place. So, given that inconvenience, a new factor arises called money, which allows exchange to take place more freely. This money becomes the ‘universal equivalent’, basically; it allows exchange to take place. The baker will sell his bread and get some money, and then use the money to buy shoes if he needs shoes. But we have to get behind this: how much bread – that’s the point – is needed to exchange for a pair of shoes, even if you use money? Or how many coats can you change – exchange – for so many bottles of aftershave, or whatever you like?

It was the classical bourgeois economists who realised that there’s only one common property to commodities; but this cannot be the utility, or the usefulness of something. This is because what is useful for one person is not very useful for another; and you’ve also got things which are necessities, and therefore extremely useful, but which do not attract much of a price. If it was based on utility, a loaf of bread would be more valuable than a car.

It was Adam Smith who explained, “Water and air are abundantly useful; they are indeed indispensable to existence, yet, under ordinary circumstances, nothing can be obtained in exchange for them.” Gold, he says, on the other hand, “though of little use compared with air or water, will exchange for a great quantity of other goods.” He therefore concludes, “Utility then is not the measure of exchangeable value, although it is essential to it.”

So what is the common property held by all commodities, if not their utility? It can’t be colour, it can’t be weight, it can’t be sise – because all commodities are different. The only thing that all commodities have in common is that they are products of human labour. Nothing else.

As Adam Smith again explained, “The real price of everything, what every thing really costs to the man who acquires it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it… Labour was the first price – the original purchase-money that was paid for all things.” Then he goes on to explain, “It is natural that what is usually the produce of two days’, or two hours’ labour, should be worth double of what is usually the produce of one days’ or one hours’ labour.”

So therefore, according to these classical economists, the amount of labour contained in a commodity determines their value; and Adam Smith explained that the measurement of this is the time it takes to produce something.

Therefore, for these classical economists, VALUE is not a subjective thing – something you thought of – but precisely is an objective reality about the amount of labour-time embodied in the production of that commodity.

Just as an aside, I’ll clarify one point: I saw a trade union banner the other day on the internet which said “labour is the source of all wealth”. It’s not scientifically correct – it sounds good, but it’s not scientifically correct – because nature also provides the raw materials which labour works on in order to develop use-values; to develop products. In fact, it was the economist William Petty, an English economist from the 17th century, who said that labour is the father of wealth, but the Earth is the mother of wealth.

But if we return to the theme that we were discussing a little bit earlier: workers have got different skills and they produce different things. As previously mentioned, the baker produces bread, the shoemaker produces shoes, and so on and so forth. What these items are, are products of concrete labour; they are specific to the skill that created these commodities. But the labour of workers can be looked at in a different way; because the labour of these particular workers make up the social labour force of society, whose collective efforts fulfil the needs of that society.

In other words, this particular labour is part of the pool of generalised labour, universal generalised labour. This is a particularly important concept to understand, because it is the only way in which exchange can actually take place. Each commodity needs to be exchanged and compared with another commodity so it can be exchanged; and that can only be done if they are the same. So if everything is reduced to generalised labour, then there’s no problem about exchange, because it’s only certain amounts of generalised labour. So in exchange, the concrete character of commodities is set aside.

Say you go into a supermarket and you want to buy certain things: you want to buy an apple, an orange, a pear, a pineapple. And each of these things have their own particular tastes and properties. But we can generalise it; we can say it’s so much fruit – in the same way that we can look at, in exchange, concrete labour transformed into generalised, homogenous labour.

Of course, there have always been objections from bourgeois economists: “Oh, labour theory of value – what about lazy workers?!” Now, of course, if there’s a shoemaker and he starts to make shoes, but he has a cigarette break and a coffee break every two minutes – obviously that shoemaker doesn’t make as many shoes as the guy next door, who’s working all the time. And it would be a silly idea to think that the lazy worker has got shoes twice or three times as valuable as the person next door, who’s produced at the normal speed and productivity.

But you don’t have to take my word for it: if you tried to sell those shoes on the market, and you asked, instead of ten pounds, thirty pounds for them, you wouldn’t sell them! It would be wasted labour. So the labour that makes up the value in commodities is not made up of the particular labour, or the individual labour, but is made up from socially necessary labour; and that simply means labour which operates under the average conditions, or the average productivity of labour at that particular time.

Now, it is true that there are workers with different degrees of skills: there are skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, and unskilled workers. But in exchange, this is all reduced to generalised unskilled labour. Skilled labour, then, simply becomes multiples of unskilled labour. Now, this is not written down anywhere: it’s decided on the basis of the market itself; on the demands of the market.

In this market, the total buying power of society is supposed to buy all the commodities that are produced. The problem with capitalism is that it’s not planned, and therefore very often there are commodities which are unsold on the market. In other words, overproduction is taking place; and what that means is these excess commodities weren’t socially necessary under those conditions of the market. This is then just wasted labour – if it’s not sold it’s wasted. It was never wanted and it’s not needed.

This is how the law of value operates. It sifts out on the market which commodities have got the necessary labour time involved in their production. It sifts out what is needed and what is not needed. How different this would be in a planned economy, a socialist economy! Because we would ascertain the needs of society, there would be no overproduction; and this would be done in advance – we’d work out what was needed and we would produce what was needed. It’s as simple as that.

Under capitalism, the law of value only operates after production has taken place and spewed onto the market; and you only find out afterwards whether those commodities are socially useful or not. I think this also brings into the fact that this concept of value is a historical category. It is linked to commodity production. But commodity production didn’t always exist, so prior to this there was no labour theory of value. There was no value. There was no exchange. And likewise, under socialism, this law, this value, will cease to operate. Because you’re not producing commodities for the market – you’re producing for the needs of society, which is totally different!

Of course, under socialism, there will be a massive development of the productive forces – and prices will lose their significance, because you’re producing so many commodities for people’s needs. When you reach the highest stage of socialism – of communism – there won’t be any money. Money will just have withered away. There won’t be any working class, there won’t be any classes. Presumably, you’d go down to the supermarket – if supermarkets exist under communism, I’m not sure – and there won’t be any prices. You would just take what you need.

On the broad scale of things, capitalism is there to, through the price mechanism, allocate the resources of society. But of course, this is based on profitability. In other words, where there is a demand for something – where there is a scarcity – then capital will flow into that sector, because it will be more profitable.

Now, what is socially necessary – which, as previously mentioned, is not fixed at a certain point – changes, and changes continually, with the development of the productivity of labour. Take the case of computers, for instance. In the 1970s you had IBM computers, which were extremely big and cost thousands, a lot of money. And the reason why they cost a lot of money is that they contained a lot of labour time in their production. Of course, today you can get a computer for around $300, £300. The value has come right down, because the amount of socially necessary labour involved in them has become less and less and less.

Of course, the capitalists are looking for profitability, and they gain this through increasing the productivity of labour, of their workforce. They are constantly trying to reduce their costs – if you like, wage costs – in order to increase their profitability. Look at the example of the steel industry in Britain, for instance (or what’s left of it). In the early 1970s there were 325,000 steel workers in Britain, and since that time the whole of the steel industry has been restructured. And although the total production has gone down by half – they only produce half of what they did in 1970 – the workforce has actually gone down from 325,000 to 35,000, producing half of what the previous figure produced. And this works out roughly at about a 500 percent increase in the exploitation of the steel workers over those years. Of course, this didn’t solve the problem: they still closed the steel industries, because there’s a world glut – which shows the anarchy of capitalism.

There is another point we should grasp as well. Adam Smith used the term that value was the “natural price” of a commodity. But he said there’s also a market price. There was the value price, which was the natural price, and there was a market price, the thing you paid for in the shops. The market price would fluctuate because of the law of supply and demand – but it would fluctuate around an axis, which was the value of the commodity. That’s why Marx wasn’t interested in market prices; he wanted to get to the root of the question, which is the value of the commodity around which the prices oscillate.

Whatever the value – or whatever the supply and demand, rather, of the commodity – there will always be some commodities far more expensive than others, more valued than others. The price of a car will always be more than the price of a television set, for instance, because the car represents a higher amount of socially necessary labour time applied in its production.

But certainly value is the key to understanding these economic concepts, because it’s the increase in the productivity of labour which results in the fall of prices. The fall in the price of computers was nothing to do with supply and demand, and everything to do with the amount of socially necessary labour gone into it, which was less and less and less.

Of course, you can have monopoly prices. Monopolies do exist, and they can keep prices artificially high; and as a result they can have monopoly profits which are higher than the average rate of profit across the economy. But the monopoly capitalists can only get this advantage by decreasing the average of the rest. In other words, the total values of society remain the same – they’ve just been redivided, that’s all.

Now, the labour theory of value allowed Marx to revolutionise economics, and above all it laid the basis to understand this concept of surplus-value, and where it comes from. Money, after all, is invested by the capitalists, and at the end of the day they get more money in return.

But how is this “magic” performed? How can this miracle be achieved? Clearly, this surplus-value can’t come from buying things cheap and selling them dear, because if everybody did this then no one would gain out of it; there would be losers and people who win, but at the same time, the same value would exist in society. For instance, if I had a bicycle which is valued at £15, and I exchanged it for a table worth £5, the values would change. I’ll be left with less, and the person who bought my bike would have more; but the total value of £15 would remain the same.

The bourgeois economists at the time of Ricardo and Smith explained that commodities exchange at their value, and that the value of the commodity is determined by the amount of socially-necessary labour time employed in making it. So if commodities are changed on an equal basis, how does inequality come about?

It was Marx who discovered the brilliant idea of surplus value. But to do it, he had to understand a particular problem; a way of looking at things. Above all, what did the worker sell to the capitalist? After all, the worker has no means of production; the only thing the worker has is the ability to have to work, and that’s what they sell. And the classical economists thought that the worker sold his labour to the boss, which is not true. What he sells to the boss is his capacity to work – in other words, his labour-power. And the capitalist pays for this labour-power, at the value of labour-power, and takes it to his factory in order to make it work for him. The surplus value is the difference between what the worker receives in wages and what he produces in values in the factory. The worker gets the going rate for wages. He gets the full value of labour-power; just like other commodities are sold at their value, so is labour-power.

But what is the value of labour-power? It is the cost of producing the commodities that will keep the worker alive for the next day’s work. And what we mean by that is, enough money to be able to be able to get the necessities of life, to pay the rent, and to bring up a family (the next generation of workers for the capitalists of the future). So the worker is not robbed, then, because he gets paid the full value of his labour-power. He’s not robbed and he’s not cheated. Labour-power is paid in full; what he doesn’t get is the full fruits of his labour.

Of course, in real life, workers are swindled, that’s for sure! They’re forced to work unpaid overtime, they don’t get their wages on time – all number of tricks that the employers pull in order to short-change the worker. But that’s not the main point as far as we’re concerned: the main thing is that he does receive – the worker receives – the full value for his labour power.

Of course, like other commodities, the value of labour power can be pushed down below its value – or it can be pushed above its value, depending on the class struggle. There was an example not too long ago of women textile workers in Leicester in the north of England. They were being paid £4 an hour, which is half the minimum wage in Britain. So that was clearly below the value of their labour power. And in many countries, particularly what they call ‘third world’ countries, many workers are receiving well below the value of their labour-power. We know that because they’re in conditions of poverty and starvation.

The classical economists were very confused about this idea of labour and what the workers sold. They made the mistake to say that the worker sold his labour to the capitalist, which is not true. Labour is the process of work. But labour-power is the capacity for work, which is entirely different. And it was Karl Marx who discovered this difference, this secret of capitalist exploitation. In particular, Marx understood that this labour-power was completely different from any other commodities ever produced. In fact, this commodity dominated all other commodities, insofar as it could produce more value than its own value – something no other commodity could do.

Of course, the value produced by a worker can be measured over the working day. In an 8 hour working day, the worker produces 8 hours worth of value. But the worker does not receive, in those 8 hours, the 8 hours’ value he creates. If he did, there would be no profit. In practice, the worker produces values when he goes to work that will cover his wages in probably the space of half the working day. So in other words, in an 8 hour working day, the worker will cover his wages, or her wages, within 4 hours. Within those four hours, they cover their wages, but after that, the worker then doesn’t say, “Okay, I’m going home now, I’ve covered my wages.” The capitalist says, “Hey, I’ve got a contract with you, and you have to work 8 hours’ shift, not 4, and therefore continue to work!” And it is in this extra 4 hours that surplus-value is created and appropriated by the capitalist class.

Therefore we can divide the working day into two halves. The first half can be considered necessary labour time, which in this case of 8 hours would be 4 hours labour-time; and the remainder would be surplus labour time, in which surplus value is created – again, 4 hours. And in the same way – whether it’s the industrial worker under capitalism, the slave in slave society, or the serf in feudalism – the working day is divided between these two things.

The clearest example is feudalism: the serf would work three days on the lord’s land and three days on his own land. On his own land, he would produce the necessities to bring himself and his family up; and the three days on the lord’s land would be surplus labour.

In the case of the slave, it does look as if the slave produces only surplus labour time – after all, he’s owned by the slaveowner. But this is an illusion, because the slave also has to eat and drink and get the necessities for him to survive. However small it is, that’s the necessary time that he needs to get the necessities for himself, and the rest is surplus labour.

Within the capitalist system, it’s also true that the relationship between the worker and the employer – and surplus value – is disguised. The illusion is created that the worker receives the full value of his labour, which is not the case.

You could say that, under capitalism, the commodity is made up of a number of elements. When the worker goes into the factory, he uses the machines and the raw materials to produce products, or commodities. The value of the commodity is made up firstly of the raw material values and the depreciation that is transferred into the new commodities. Of course, raw materials which are completely used up in the production process are transferred completely into the new product. But when it comes to fixed capital, like machinery, it’s only over a period of time that small pieces of the machine – or the value of the machine – is worn down and transferred into the new products. Perhaps it will take ten years for the machine to be worn out; so over that period a certain percentage – say 10% a year – of the value of the machine will be transferred into new products before the machine is scrapped.

So you’ve got a value which is being transferred – but then you have new value created by the labour of the working class in the factory. This new value would cover the worker’s wages, and part of it would become surplus value, to be taken by the capitalist.

The raw materials and the machines and the buildings that are used by the capitalist, Marx called constant capital. It was constant insofar as the value was simply transferred from the old stuff into the new product. And Marx called the capital which covered wages variable capital. The reason he called it variable is because it’s the part in which new values are created; it varies, or increases, value. In one sense, the machinery and the raw materials and the buildings can be considered dead labour, in that it was made by workers in the past and just brought forward into these areas. Whereas Marx called variable labour living capital (as opposed to dead capital). Dead capital, or dead labour, which it should be called, is static: machines and raw materials can lie idle for as long as you want, they won’t add any new value – in fact, they’ll deteriorate. But as soon as you apply living labour to this dead labour, then it comes alive and it produces new values (including surplus value).

I will give the simplest example I can give to illustrate the process: let’s assume the capitalist has a total value of £100 – and it could be €100, $100, it doesn’t matter, we’ll call it £100 – where investment in constant capital is made up of £90, and the investment in wages is £10. Now let’s say, after a working day, the worker produces an extra £20 of new value. £10 of that £20 would cover his wages, and the other £10 would be surplus value.

This would allow us to calculate, first of all, the rate of profit of a company – which can be calculated by the surplus over the total capital employed. So if the surplus is £10 and the total capital is £100, then you can see that the rate of profit is 10%. But we can also calculate from this the rate of exploitation – or the rate of surplus value, as Marx explained.

How is the worker exploited? What is the degree of exploitation? And this is a different formula: this is the surplus created by the worker over the wages, the variable capital, that the worker receives. So the surplus of £10 over the wages of £10 would give you a rate of exploitation – or a rate of surplus value – of 100%.

It must be stressed that surplus value can only be created in production and not in circulation. In fact, profit is nothing more than the unpaid labour of the working class.

I saw a meme recently claiming that profit is the unpaid wages of the working class. Well, I’m afraid that’s false. The working class receives wages which are negotiated – he’ll receive the full value of his wages, as we said before. He receives the value of his labour-power, that’s all – and he’s not robbed, it’s an equal exchange. So the correct formula is that profit is the unpaid labour of the working class, because he’s not paid the full fruits of his labour. He’s paid wages, but not the full fruits of his labour, which is different.

And as far as the class struggle is concerned, really it can be defined as the struggle over the surplus value produced by the working class. If the worker gets more wages in striking against the boss, the boss will simply get less profits. It’s as simple as that, and vice versa: if the boss gets more profits, the workers will get less wages.

Of course, this poses a contradiction for capitalism: because the worker is a producer, but he’s also a consumer. If the worker doesn’t receive the full value of his labour, which he doesn’t, he’s not able to buy back the commodities that they produced. But the capitalist system obviously overcomes this problem, otherwise it would collapse on day one; and clearly, the capitalist economy is divided between means of production which produce consumer goods, and means of production producing capital goods. Workers don’t go around buying iron ore, for instance, or coal, or other such stuff. So what happens is, the capitalists take the surplus value extracted from the labour of the working class, and invest it in more means of production.

This leads, obviously, to greater and greater amounts of constant capital in relation to variable capital – in other words, more machinery, more factories, more productive forces. But this allows a huge increase in the productivity of labour. A hundred years ago, you would probably have a hundred labourers with a spade to dig a hole a mile long, and it would take them two weeks. But today, you can get one worker operating a mechanical excavator and he will dig that same trench in what, two days? One worker, using that machinery. The problem is that a hundred years ago, even at today’s prices, a shovel cost £10. So 100 shovels: £1000. Whereas a worker who has a mechanical digger – this mechanical digger will cost £100,000. This is an enormous amount of constant capital increasing the productivity of that worker. The problem is that surplus value only comes from the labour of the working class – it doesn’t come from constant capital. So you find that, over time, with the buildup of constant capital, there’s a tendency for the rate of profit to fall.

The capitalists get around this, at least temporarily, by further intensifying the exploitation of the working class. They extend the working day – although unfortunately there are limits to that, as there are only 24 hours in a day. They will speed up the machines, or intensify labour; and in that way, the tendency will be pushed back. But capitalism is an accumulation of industry, of technique, of the productive forces. With this development comes concentration and centralisation of capital; and from competition you’ve now got monopoly capitalism. Of course, the problem with capitalism is that it produces without any knowledge of how much it can sell, and therefore goes into overproduction. But it’s not overproduction as far as society is concerned – society needs a lot of things done! It is only overproduction for the capitalists’ purpose of profit-making.

Recently we’ve seen, over the last ten years, deeper and deeper crises of the capitalist system. It’s clear that capitalism is reaching a complete impasse. It cannot develop the productive forces as it did in the past. And there’s a huge block now – the nation-state and private ownership are a colossal barrier to the development of society. As Marx explained, when society is incapable of developing the productive forces, then revolution is on the order of the day.

Under capitalism, society is dominated by money and the tyranny of commodities. Most people do not understand this contradiction they face. This tyranny can only be ended when we have a planned economy brought in on a world scale; when we have the rational planning of resources internationally to fulfil the needs of society. That can only come about by the overthrow of capitalism by the working class. In doing so, in the words of Engels, mankind will leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom; and from the realm of freedom to the realm of superabundance, and the end of poverty and squalor of the masses of this world.


Frederik: All civilisation so far has been based upon exploitation – upon one class in society extracting the surplus labour of another. I think one thing is clear to most people: a slavemaster would only keep a slave if he got more out of it than he gave the slave to eat. The slave must both reproduce the equivalent of what he or she consumes and produce a surplus for the slave owner. This is another way to say that the slavemaster only keeps a slave if he can exploit him or her.

And I also think that no one would question that a feudal lord would only keep a serf if the serf could produce more than he or she consumed – that is, if the serf could produce a surplus and be exploited.

Now as you know, under capitalism the liberals indignantly deny that there is exploitation. But the most self-evident fact of the system is exactly this. A capitalist only hires somebody if that person can produce more than he or she costs. Otherwise, the capitalist makes no profit. And Rob explained the details of this very well in the leadoff – the profit comes from the surplus labour of the workers, which under capitalism means the surplus value.

You might remember that last summer the Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, decided to fly into space. And he did something unusual for a capitalist – he actually admitted where all his riches came from. He said this: “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you guys paid for all of this.” And this created a lot of anger, actually. Because yes, it is true, like he said – they did pay. But it wasn’t voluntary – it wasn’t as if they bought him a beer in a pub or something. It was through their sweat and tears. These workers had no choice but to allow this gangster to exploit them.

Marx wasn’t the first one, actually, to note where the profits of the capitalists came from – but he was the first to manage to explain it scientifically. What Marxist economics really describes is not the economy in a narrow sense, but the living organism of capitalist society. This is the historical materialism for the world that we live in, with all its contradictions and all its struggles. I think you get a much better understanding of this world of 2022 by reading Marx’s Capital than you do by reading the news.

Lenin said that politics is concentrated economics, which I think is very true. In the post-war period in the imperialist countries, you had a massive growth of the productive forces. This was sufficient to increase the surplus of the capitalists and the standard of living of the workers – and for a whole period in the imperialist countries, this blunted the class struggle. Among many workers it created illusions in reformism and in capitalism. Now the opposite is the case, because somebody has to pay for the crisis of the system.

The reformists like to find compromises where ‘everyone is the winner’; but now, this is materially impossible. The reason is very simple – it’s because the productive forces are not growing, and this means that the fight over the value created by the working class becomes more intense. Everywhere you have a deep political crisis opening up. So you get intensified struggle between the classes – sharp class struggle back on the agenda – but you also get an intensified struggle within the classes, specifically within the ruling class.

Within the ruling class you start getting these massive divisions opening up when they try to maintain their rule, and when they try to maximise their share of the surplus value – I think these two things are very much connected. These divisions are a part of the crisis of the economy, a part of the crisis of capitalism. You see them express themselves very clearly now, on all fronts. You see the divisions between different imperialist blocs, which are reaching a qualitatively new level with the current war in Ukraine. You get bigger divisions within these imperialist blocs as well, such as the divisions within NATO and within the EU. You even get massive divisions within the countries themselves, where you see different parts of the state go to war with each other.

So you have class struggle, divisions, wars, chaos, and this expresses and is part of the economic development, and of the crisis of capitalism – with massive shocks that are reshaping the minds of millions. It's putting revolution firmly back on the order of the day in every country on Earth, and it's paving the way for the first civilisation without any exploitation. It's paving the way for socialism. Thank you.

Adam: As Rob explained in his introduction, Marx took the best ideas of the classical bourgeois economists who came before him – people like Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who he considered the high point of the classical school. I just want to touch on how economics, or bourgeois economics, developed after Ricardo.

As I said, Ricardo was really the pinnacle of bourgeois economics. He and Smith had tried to understand capitalism scientifically. They saw it as a system that could be understood, and a system with its own laws and dynamics that could be understood as a science. But the problem is they weren't thorough materialists and dialecticians. Their ideas and methods contain serious flaws. Their ideas were inconsistent, incomplete, and contradictory, particularly when it came to the labour theory of value.

We see that the whole method was imbued with an idealistic approach, a philosophically idealistic approach. They saw themselves as part of a field called ‘political economy’; but their political economy was not rooted in historical materialism, in the Marxist view of history. They didn't have a materialist view of history, but rather they idealistically saw themselves as discovering eternal truths and timeless laws. They believed that they could uncover these laws through hypothetical thought experiments, like the famous Robinson Crusoe on an island. They presented these hypothetical experiments – of two men on an island trading with each other – because for them capitalism was just a scaled-up version, with lots of individuals all exchanging in such a way.

Now Marx took the positive aspect of Smith and Ricardo's ideas, but the people who came after Smith and Ricardo seized on the negative aspects; the worst aspects of their method and ideas. The bourgeois who came after Smith and Ricardo took their idealism and developed it in an extreme way. Marx referred to these people as the vulgar economists, because they were no longer trying to analyse capitalism scientifically. They weren't interested in explaining economic phenomena; instead, as Marx said, they became mere apologists for capitalism.

This began with people like Jean-Baptiste Say, who developed something called Say’s Law. This said that supply always creates its own demand, and was effectively a precursor to libertarianism – with people like Mises or Hayek and the Austrian school that they came from. These open reactionaries asserted that the free market was always efficient; that the ‘invisible hand’ of the market was all-powerful, if only it was left unrestrained by the state and trade unions and so forth.

Another vulgar economist that Marx criticised was a man called William Stanley Jevons, and along with people like Léon Walras and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, he developed something called ‘marginal utility theory’. This was an extremely subjective idealist view of the theory of value. Instead of seeing value as something determined objectively by labour, it was simply determined subjectively by utility, or usefulness. In other words they confuse the use-value of a commodity with its exchange-value. This was also the foundation of the Austrian school and people like Von Mises.

But the thing is that the classical school, Smith and Ricardo, paved the way for this reactionary trend in economics; because they were liberals themselves who were imbued with a very individualistic, idealistic method. For them, the economy could be scaled down to, or boiled down to, just exchanges between two people on an island; and their labour theory of value was very individualistic. It was all based on Robinson Crusoe working away on his island, comparing different products; rather than, as Rob said, being based on socially necessary labour time and the idea of an objective market price.

The vulgar economists also spawned another bourgeois school of economics in Cambridge, England. A professor called Alfred Marshall took the ideas of marginal utility theory, along with those of Adam Smith and people like John Stuart Mill, and he tried to apply these at a macro level to the wider economy. In other words, he wasn't just trying to analyse prices and profits, but the whole economy. He developed the idea of an economic equilibrium: a balance within the economy between production and consumption, between supply and demand. These were the ideas that then became Keynesianism, because Keynes was one of his disciples at Cambridge.

Keynes also tried to look at the wider economy, and the imbalances between investment, consumption, and government spending. He believed that the economy was a system that could be managed – he called it “demand-side management” – through state intervention. The government could stimulate the economy and plug gaps in effective demand through its investment. In other words, Keynes thought that capitalism was something that could be managed and patched up, and that was what he saw his role as being – his ideas were there to help capitalism dig itself out of its crises. He himself, in his own words, saw himself as an educated bourgeois who was there to provide pragmatic advice. And he was also an idealist in this sense, because he saw capitalism abstractly, as a machine that could be controlled. He saw it as a set of equations that could be balanced and solved, just like the Hayekians and other academics do today. Instead of understanding capitalism scientifically, he was just trying to provide a remedy to address the worst symptoms of capitalism and its contradictions, and this is why he appeals to the reformists today.

By contrast, we as Marxists see the economy as a living class struggle, and Marxist economics as a guide to action; a way of understanding capitalism, and its laws, dynamics, and contradictions – not to try and patch up this bankrupt system, but to overthrow it. Thank you.

Niklas: So the question is, why do we study the labour theory of value? It's because it has practical consequences. The reformists and the bourgeois, they want to deny the existence of irreconcilable differences between capital and labour. They want to hide the truth to the world, and to the workers in particular.

Now, why is this? To reformists, the labour theory of value poses a difficulty. We have two interests that are diametrically opposed. This means that when reforms are enacted, whatever pretty phrases they might put on the situation, the class struggle remains. The capitalists will attempt to squeeze more surplus value out of the workers, and the workers will attempt to resist, or attempt to claw back some of what has been given up before. One class’ loss is the other class’ gain. Therefore, although of course negotiations play a role in the trade union struggle – also for Marxists – these negotiations aren't about two parties with common interests; they are between two warring parties, two parties at war with each other, who agree to a temporary truce. Under capitalism there can be no lasting class peace. There can be no peaceful coexistence, no social partnership, except at the expense of the working class. And this is what the reformists tried to hide.

We're now being faced with a wave of inflation. The bourgeois press are telling us that workers shouldn't ask for a wage increase – because of course if they ask for wage increases it will be ‘bad for everyone’. But I'll tell you who it's really going to be bad for. If the workers agree not to pursue a wage increase, it would be very bad for the workers and very good for the capitalists. If the capitalists can sell their product for 10% more money, but don't have to pay the workers another 10% in wages, guess who is going to pocket the difference!

Most workers will see through this. Precisely in a period like this, these kinds of questions become a lot more concrete. Whatever rainbow flags the companies might display in their offices, whatever phrases they might talk about in terms of work-life balance and so on, about caring for their employees – here it is in black and white. Will the company match the inflation by increasing the wages? The question is posed: who will pay for the inflation? Is it going to be the workers or the capitalists?

I'll take another example from the question of environmentalism. Some years ago, there was a policy in Sweden, a government policy advocated by the Green Party; and it was implemented by the Green Party and the Social Democrats, I think with the left parties well on board. I've seen variants of this in many other countries. They call it the ‘green tax exchange’, which sounds very innocent, doesn't it? What the policy was, was to cut employers’ contributions to social security – that is, the taxation on the employer – and instead increase the tax on energy and fuel. So there will be no difference to the government budget, and an environmental benefit from this higher cost of fuel. So everyone would be happy, you know, it's a great solution to solve the environmental problems! Except, of course, a tax on energy is paid by workers through their energy bills; and the social security contributions, or ‘tax on work’ as they called it, these taxes were paid by the employer! So here we have a very good example of a green policy, or so-called green policy, which directly moved surplus value from the working class to the capitalists. A policy to make the workers pay for the climate crisis, and at the same time enrich the capitalists even further.

Of course, these incentives to solve the climate problem don't work anyway; but this really reveals the petty-bourgeois nature of the Green Parties. To make things worse, the origins of these employer social security contributions came from collective bargaining. Throughout the post-war boom, when industry was booming, the workers agreed to abstain from wage increases – or the trade union bureaucrats, on behalf of the workers, agreed to this – and through the social partnership model, they abstained from wage increases so that employers would help fund sick pay, health care, and so on. But now, the workers face cuts in sick pay and the burden of paying for this sick pay has moved from the bosses to the workers. So here's a truly fine policy for anyone who wants to turn the workers against the green movement, or against the environmental movement. And obviously we reject any such attempts to solve the climate crisis.

The labour theory of value is therefore our help in understanding and also exposing the various means by which the capitalists attempt to increase their share of the pie. It remains a fundamental cornerstone in our understanding of capitalism and why we need to overthrow it.

James: As Rob and others explained, the ruling class abandoned any idea of a labour theory of value after Marx, and bourgeois economics retreated into subjectivism. They attempt to explain value from the standpoint of individuals and their preferences, instead of as an objective law that emerges from millions of interactions. I think that most economics courses at schools or universities don't even mention Marx. They just pretend he never existed. But when they do try to demolish Marx, they tend to focus on things like the price of luxury goods, like diamonds, or works of art, or fine wines, to pick holes in the labour theory of value.

The most famous attack is what they call the ‘diamond water paradox’: which is to say that, although water is more useful to humans than diamonds for survival, diamonds sell for much higher prices than water. Actually, this isn't really an attack on Marx's labour theory of value, but more of an attempt to justify marginal utility theory. The argument goes that it's not labour time that determines prices, as what about things like fine wines? Presumably, they take a similar amount of time to produce than less tasty wines, so therefore it must be the fact that people subjectively value some wines more than others, and that this subjective preference therefore determines the price.

This is then supposed to explain why diamonds fetch such high prices, because some people subjectively value them very highly. There's no explaining why this is, but never mind. The paradox is, then: how can something like diamonds be more highly valued than water, which is essential for survival? The answer, according to this theory, is that it is not the total utility of water that is compared to the total utility of diamonds, but only the marginal utility i.e the usefulness of obtaining one more unit of a commodity as we consume more and more of them; so that where water is in high supply and diamonds are in short supply, supposedly the usefulness to someone of obtaining one more diamond is meant to be far greater than the usefulness of obtaining an additional glass of water. Hence the higher prices. But for someone dying of thirst in the desert, they will be prepared to pay more for this water than for diamonds. Therefore, price, which they conflate with value, is simply reduced to the preferences of individuals.

Those that assert that this demolishes Marx's labour theory of value either don't know what they're talking about or are willfully deceitful, as even Adam Smith differentiated between the use-value of the commodity and its exchange-value. What’s more, he used the example of water and diamonds to prove this point: that it is precisely the enormous amount of time spent in finding diamonds that gives them a high value. Marx points out in Capital that if more productive diamond mines are discovered, the value of diamonds decreases, as the socially necessary labour time required to find them has decreased. He also points out that there is a crucial difference between value and price, which is strikingly evident in the case of unique items, such as works of art, or commodities that are almost unique, like a fine wine from a certain vineyard. Marx explained how in these cases, which are akin to having a monopoly, the price of these commodities can diverge significantly from their value as they cannot easily be reproduced en masse.

When talking about the law of value, however, Marx is referring to generalised commodity production: items that can be easily reproduced in practically limitless quantities. So while someone paid $11.8 million for a painting of a can of soup by Andy Warhol – something that is unique – no one can charge that amount for an actual can of soup, no matter how much someone may like its taste. It's telling that the bourgeois economists base their theories on highly abstract scenarios, such as two people on an island trading between one another, or someone dying of thirst in the desert. They do this to obscure the real relations of capitalism. Reproduction is carried out on a mass scale through large-scale industry for sale on the world market, and society is divided into classes with irreconcilable interests. Their theories are nothing more than an attempt to justify this system – the rule of the bankers and billionaires. Marxism instead starts from an analysis of this real world, in all of its complexity; not to try and prettify and justify it, but to understand it in order to change it.

Sandro: Marx said that those who demand proof for the labour theory of value simply don't understand what it's about. This is because the labour theory of value expresses something that literally every child understands. If a group of people live together in an apartment, and one person contributes to the housework for 10 minutes every week, and the others maybe an hour or more every day, then everybody understands that this person is taking advantage of the others. This person profits from their labour.

In an annotation to the third volume of Capital, Friedrich Engels explains how the exchange of products according to the necessary labour time has developed historically.

I quote: “The peasant of the Middle Ages was fairly well aware of the labour time required to produce the objects he exchanged. The blacksmith and the village cartwright worked under his eyes. The articles that they exchanged were each one's own products. What have they expended in making these products? Labour and labour alone; to replace tools, to produce raw material, and to process it, they spend nothing but their own labour power. How, then, could they exchange these products of theirs otherwise than in the ratio of labour expended on them? Or is the belief that the peasant and the artisan were so stupid as to give up the product of ten hour’s labour of one person for that of a single hour's labour of another? The peasant and the artisan would not let themselves be ripped off. This is the social content of the law of value.”

So the labour theory of value is not some kind of academic hypothesis. It describes how work is distributed in society; it is about relationships between people, not between things, as Rob said. When equivalents are exchanged, equal amounts of labour are exchanged; when unequal exchange occurs, one side benefits from the work of the other. When I take away a great deal of value from someone, I've taken away an equal amount of labour from them. Suppose someone works for years to afford a car. Let us disregard the exploitation of wage labour for a moment. If I steal that car from him, then he has spent years working not for himself, but for me. The more expensive the car, the more he has worked for me. Value and labour time are identical.

We know that under capitalism, a minority benefits from the labour of the majority; and this minority, the bourgeoisie, bases its rule on lies and deceit. Their claim that the labour theory of value is obsolete is precisely such a lie. They are saying that value and labour have nothing to do with each other, that trading the product of 10 hours work for the product of one hour's work is not stupid but perfectly normal and agreeable. This is the purpose of the marginal utility theory, and it has nothing to do with science. What the bourgeoisie pay us as wages requires much less labour to produce than we do for them.

Rob has explained how the working day is always split into two parts, one of which is unpaid. I work in a factory myself. A few weeks after I started working there, some of my co-workers mentioned that they had calculated that after half an hour of work our wages are already produced. My co-workers didn't read this in Capital or any other book. They just saw the extremely expensive products in their hands and understood that they were being taken advantage of. This shows how the social content of the labour theory of value is immediately clear to everyone – to everyone except the bourgeoisie, who treats it as a purely academic hypothesis, which it tries to counter with its absurd marginal utility theory. So they end up denying that wealth comes from human labour, that labour is why we have food, houses, cars, planes, phones, clothes, and so on. They end up claiming that the creator of this wealth is not the working class but themselves, the class of ‘entrepreneurs’. This is not a scientific thesis – this claim has no merits that could be appraised objectively. This is a mystification, an idealistic lie that is about as realistic as astrology.

The difference between astrology, or the marginal utility theory, on the one hand and physics, or the labour theory of value, on the other, is precisely the difference between science and superstition, or between dialectics and empiricism (albeit an empiricism of the crudest, most stupid and superstitious kind). They say there is no value, that there are only prices. They move through supply and demand, and that's all there is to know about it. There are no values at all, there are only prices and they change all the time. And like this, the bourgeoisie ends up incapable of explaining why popcorn will always be more expensive than corn, or why cake will always be more expensive than flour – or why a wage labourer will never earn as much as he produces. These questions are not relevant to the bourgeois economist. What's relevant is the celestial movement of prices and of supply and demand curves. They behave like astrologers who just stare at lights moving in the sky without understanding them. But the dialectical method looks for essences behind appearances. Prices are affected by supply and demand, and this is why they deviate from values, but they still oscillate around the values. They are incomprehensible without the values, just like the movement of stars and planets is incomprehensible without gravity.

In The History of Philosophy, Alan explains how the ruling class tries to fight progress by denying that reality exists. In the 18th century, Bishop Berkeley denied that our perceptions are caused by real things. Today we have postmodernism and identity politics which say the same thing – and so does marginal utility theory when it denies that prices are expressions of value. It's all the same, they do this in every field – quantum physics, gender studies, monetary theory, linguistics, politics, philosophy. They say that there are no facts, only so-called narratives. The marginal utility theory is part of this general assault on the concept of reality. But the fact that the bourgeoisie has spent over a century trying to convince us that reality does not exist only proves that reality is on our side.


Rob: I think that the discussion was an excellent one given the complexity of the subject. I'd like to underline a few points made by the comrades.

Firstly, bourgeois economics is in crisis because capitalism is in crisis! They are incapable of understanding the contradictions of capitalism. In fact, bourgeois economics is a fraud, it is bankrupt – they are just witch doctors in reality – in facing the real economic developments in society. And the reason why they attack Marx is because obviously the crisis is pushing people in the direction of Marxist Economics and an understanding of what's going on. This is what terrifies them – that Marxism becomes popular because of the impasse of the capitalist system itself! As Lenin said, life teaches – and the workers are being taught the crimes of capitalism firsthand.

In relation to the classical bourgeois economists: of course they had their limits, they were just like infants in looking at the capitalist system at its earliest stages. But at least they were honest. The physiocrats in France who analysed, yes, maybe agriculture, but looking at how surplus is created. And based on the work of these people, then you had Adam Smith and then Ricardo taking these ideas further, advancing them; and that's why Marx studied these people. They were giants, at the time, in relation to understanding capitalism. Yes, they had their limits, that is true; no doubt about it. But they also discovered important truths, and particularly the labour theory of value. Marxism is based upon the work of these pioneers – criticised by Marx and developed by Marx.

I've read Adam Smith, I've read David Ricardo's writings, and they are very interesting – and I'll tell you what, they’re a million light years removed from the university rubbish they teach as economics today! And [it was] precisely because they’d hit on this revolutionary idea of the labour theory of value that the ruling class decided that those ideas were too subversive, and needed to be put away, destroyed, hidden. In other words, for the sake of defending capitalism, they were prepared to turn their back on real scientific advance.

And that is why Marx said that these people, that this new generation after Ricardo, were in effect prizefighters for capitalism and nothing more than that. They revised everything; instead of an objective basis of economics – in other words, the labour theory of value – they went for utility, this pathetic idea of marginal utility, which is based simply upon the usefulness of things, as we explained. In reality, it's a fancy term for the law of supply and demand, in effect, which does not really explain anything – that's the point! It's the surface of events, it's the appearances! The bourgeoisie weren't interested in a scientific analysis of capitalism, so all those so-called economists who came afterwards are only interested in market relations and so on, the superficial aspects. And that's the case today. If you read Keynes, for instance – I read Keynes not so long ago – what a waste of time! And of course you have the monetarists who have come forward, Milton Friedman and so on, who think they they have understood what needs to be done to solve the problems. But as we say, both schools are wrong; and sometimes they can be partly right as well but from the opposite point of view.

But the point is that the task of economics today is to pull the wool over the eyes of the working class. What good are the forecasts of the economists? In reality they always get it wrong because they do not understand what they're dealing with. After all, you remember – oh, of course, you don't, I’ve lived a bit longer – they came in the 1950s and 60s: capitalism had changed, the working class doesn't exist, exploitation doesn't exist, everybody's going to become middle class! And obviously, because of the boom or the upswing at that time, then it looked a bit credible. But it was only short-sightedness; they didn't see what was happening underneath, and all the problems have been accumulating and accumulating. As Marx explained, they can put off the ‘evil day’; but in doing so they create further problems down the line.

We should remember that one of the first critiques of Marx – Say’s Law – is that Marx was wrong because capitalism wouldn't be going into crisis, it couldn't go into crisis – because everything would balance out. But when crisis – as in 1929 – banged them on the nose, they said: oh, there is a crisis, yes, it's a crisis – but it's a crisis of creative destruction. In other words, it's a positive crisis. And this is the line of the bourgeois economists at the present time – although some, of course, have hit on the idea that there's something going wrong here. But they're incapable of understanding what is that ‘going wrong’ thing? Some even pay lip service to Marx: well, he might have said something there, might have something right – but of course this revolution business, well, that's another matter, no no no, not revolution.

But of course, the whole task is to confuse, isn't it? To blur the class struggle, the class divide, the class division. But these contradictions are becoming more and more visible by the day, and therefore they cannot hide this crisis and impasse of capitalism – although even then the left reformists in particular say, “Oh, what we want is a better capitalism, is a nicer capitalism, is a good capitalism”. But there's no such thing! What we have is capitalism in dire economic and social crisis. It’s reached a complete and utter impasse. It's exhausted itself, and what we're having is like the knot being re-tied, isn't it? Between today and the crisis of the interwar period, but on a higher level.

I had a laugh the other day – a smile, I should say – reading Trotsky. I think it was 1938-39, when he predicted that in America, Das Kapital would be more popular than ice cream. Well, that prediction obviously has been cut across because of the world economic upswing following the second world war. But now the knot is being re-tied to the 1930s, and the working class are coming to realise that no amount of tinkering with capitalism is going to solve its problems; and that capitalist crisis means a relentless attack on the living standards of the working class, whatever party is in power.

And therefore the class struggle goes on and intensifies, and everything is being put to the test. The apologists of capitalism, therefore, inside and outside the labour movement, have a tough task in trying to convince the working class that everything is fine under capitalism. Now, with the reality of wage cuts and inflation, again the bosses and their apologists are saying, “Yes, wage rises cause inflation”. In other words, the working class must accept a reduction in living standards.

I did explain in my opening remarks that the fundamental contradictions of capitalism are preparing for a collapse. But capitalism will not collapse under its own volition. The capitalists will always find a way out, but that is always at the expense of the working class; and therefore if the working class fails to take power, then the capitalist class will take its revenge on the working class. What is required is the overthrow of capitalism, a conscious overthrow, and the reorganisation of society. All you have to do is open the newspapers to see the cataclysmic crisis unfolding on a world scale – and there's no solution to it. Of course, it propels the capitalists to attack the working class. But it’s this very crisis, then, that gives birth to the idea of a fundamental change in society.

But the revolution doesn't occur by the workers going: “Hmm, socialism looks good; capitalism looks bad”. The revolution occurs when the ruling class cannot rule in the old way and the working class cannot live in the old way. This is the basis of the contradiction that they face at the present time. Capitalism on a world scale has created a phenomenal productive potential, but it cannot be used by capitalism because it's not profitable to use it; and therefore, in periods even of boom, they can only use 80% of capacity, and in periods of slump they can't use something like 70 or 60 percent of capacity. That shows the revolt of the productive forces – they cannot use them! As Marx explained in the Communist Manifesto, there's too much food, there's too many things created for capitalism's needs; and therefore there's no real way out, except for more misery and more assaults on the living standards of the working class and the middle class as well.

So whilst capitalism has brought into being the potential for solving humanity's problems, it cannot do so. It's only when we, the working class, takes in its hands the productive forces and plans the resources for the benefit of all, that these contradictions can be resolved. Private ownership and the nation-state are the main barriers to the development of society.

And as Alan mentioned a bit earlier, the potential for robotics and of technology and scientific advance to reduce the working week to practically nothing is possible! The great socialist Paul Lafargue, wrote a book, The Right to Be Lazy, about how humans could enjoy being lazy, and leisure time – that's our instinct, after all! I mean, who the hell wants to work? In particular, 8, 9, 10, 12, hours a day?! But that's what capitalism imposes on us, particularly in the third world and the disgusting conditions imposed on the working class there. So yes, socialism offers liberation from this misery of capitalism – economically, politically, socially, and culturally, as we said. But a world plan of production in the hands of the working class, in a very short period of time, would transform the entire planet. Deserts could flourish. We could transform the entire planet for the interest of the environment and the interest of working people as a whole. But in the hands of the capitalists, yes, it's barbarism and destitution, and it’s ecological misery and destruction. So what a great gift to [the] human species, if we owned and controlled the means of production.

Now, I would say, this is within our grasp. The conditions capitalism is creating spell revolution everywhere. It's not a question, “Is there going to be a revolution or isn't there?” There will be! The main question is, is it going to be a successful revolution? And that means the building of a revolutionary leadership internationally, that’s prepared to go all the way, as the Bolsheviks did in 1917. That's the task that lies before the working class and lies before every one of us. So yes, it is a future of either barbarism and misery; or of super abundance and pleasure for all, by saying “the hell with capitalism, the hell with class society” and victory to the working class on an international basis. Thank you.