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Neither Up Nor Down

Vinod Vyaslu and Sarthi Acharya

By A. Bose
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 237, Rs. 70.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 1 July/August 1980

This is the third book of the trilogy that Bose has been working on, wherein he has painstakingly and with meticul­ous precision worked out detailed proofs and consistency exercises on Marx's Fundamental Theorem of Exploitation. Bose reads Marx as a theorist who has propounded two distinct approaches to the study of capitalist exploitation: one based on the labour theory of value and the other based on the capital theory. These two approaches, he maintains, are mutually exclusive and independent, and have their own role to play in analysis and history. There are many others who share this view. The principal point of the book is to show that the labour-value approach is inadequate to prove Marx's fundamental exploitation theorem. He shows that wage-differentials, exploitation and the like would exist even in a post-capitalist society if the exploitation theory is worked on labour value. The 'unstruc­tured version', as Bose calls it, is not a valid Kuhn paradigm and cannot be used as a scientific basis to eradicate capital­ism. Instead, Bose is satisfied with the 'capital theory approach' of Marx in ex­plaining capitalistic exploitation. He finds the capital theory approach, which says that capital is not a commodity but coercive social power, to be valid in the Kuhn paradigm and logically consistent and to have acted as a powerful vehicle against capitalism and the establishment of a socialistic order in dozens of coun­tries. This is as far as his results go. One is at a loss, however, to understand how this distinction is useful for further clarity on revolutionary action, strategy or even understanding class forces. Bose's book is full of theorems, lem­mas and axioms, typical of the neo-clas­sical economic theories and looks some­what abstract and esoteric. A frank admission is that the reviewers have not been able to fully follow its mathemati­cal rigour. However, a point needs to be mentioned here. An orthodox Marxian would be quite uncomfortable with the set of axioms presented; for example, the impossibility theorems, which state that labour and commodities are both sources of wealth, value, surplus value and profit, are more neo-Sraffan than Marxian in nature. Further, the Bose-axiomatic approach to Marxian analysis may not be acceptable in conventional Marxism. The book pivots on the strong and weak forms of the fundamental Marxian theorem, the various forms of which have earlier been examined by Morishima and ...

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