Thursday August 21st, 2014, 1:59 pm (EDT)

The Law of Worldwide Value

The Law of Worldwide Value
ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-233-4

144 pages, 8 charts and 1 table. Paperback.

Cloth (ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-234-1)

Released: December 2010

Price: $19

In his new extensively revised and expanded edition of this book, Samir Amin suggests new approaches to Marxian analysis of the crisis of the late capitalist system of generalized, financialized, and globalized oligopolies following on the financial collapse of 2008.

Considering that Marx’s Capital, written before the emergence of imperialism as a decisive factor in capitalist accumulation, could provide no explanation for the persistent “underdevelopment” of the countries of the “global South,” Amin advances several important theoretical concepts extending traditional Marxian views of capitalist evolution.

Most strikingly, he proposes adding to the model of reproduction in Volume II of Capital a Third Department of Production devoted to surplus absorption, necessitated by the capitalist tendency constantly to produce an economic surplus too large to be realized by the consumption and investment purchases generated within Marx’s original two-department model.

Equally interesting is his theoretical concept of “imperialist rent,” derived from the scaling of radically different wages paid for the same labor in countries of the North and the South, whose effect has been to provide Northern capital with sufficient profits to permit it to pacify for a long period its conflict with the Northern proletariat. To account for this new type of rent he extends the Marxian “law of value” in the form of a “law of globalized value” whose operations determine such changes in the polarized world system as the industrial growth of many Third-World nations within the global imperialist context.

Amin sees the present crisis as a moment in the second long crisis of the capitalist system, dating from the early 1970’s (the first long crisis, he maintains, lasted from 1873 until 1945). He sees no exit from repeated crises under capitalism except the descent into barbarism. The challenge is not to escape from the crisis of capitalism—a hopeless project—but to escape from capitalism in crisis.  And Amin reasserts his historical optimism as to the socialist project. He expects a “second wave” of socialist attempts that will stem from the self-liberating efforts of the nations and peoples of the South which, by eliminating the imperialist rent, will lead to an awakening of the Northern popular classes to join the awakening of the global South. This book has an important place among the theoretical resources for anyone involved in the study of contemporary Marxian economic and political theory.

A substantial contribution to Marxist analysis…without a doubt a significant advance.

—CHOICE

Samir Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 and received his Ph.D. in economics in Paris in 1957. He is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal. His numerous works include Eurocentrism: Second EditionThe World We Wish to SeeThe Liberal VirusAccumulation on a World ScaleUnequal Development, and Spectres of Capitalism.