Many people beginning a study of marxism become bogged down in mastering preliminary concepts and never get to apply the theory to complex, economy-wide problems. Of course this is to some extent inevitable. Marxism is a science with a complex object; on top of this it has not been developed in as systematic a way as several of the other sciences. But the main difficulty is that most people come to marxism much later than they come to other sciences. Whether this first contact is through the labor movement or in a more conventional academic setting it remains true that a number of basic concepts have to be understood before anything very interesting can be said; we cannot rely on schools’ teaching about the use-value/exchange-value distinction in the way they explain the basic concepts of mathematics, physics and biology. This puts a special onus on those teaching marxism to connect the basic concepts with some more interesting results of the theory.
Recommended CitationEconomic Notes, Australian Left Review, 1(64), 1978, 36-42.