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Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty


  • Thomas E. LAMBERT

    () (Northern Kentucky University, USA.)


This paper proposes that one major explanation of growing inequality in the United States (US) is through the use of the concept of economic surplus. The economic surplus is a neo-Marxian term which combines the traditional Marxian tenet of surplus value with other ways that surplus value can be invested in a mature, advanced capitalist economy. A rising economic surplus that is not absorbed through growing consumer spending, luxury spending or government spending results in stagnant wages and growing inequality via higher levels of underemployment and greater monopoly and monopsony power among a decreasing number of huge, powerful corporations. Therefore, the politics surrounding the growth of inequality in the US has to be understood first by understanding over accumulation of the economic surplus by those at the top of the US capitalist class. This research note gives estimates of the rising economic surplus over the last several decades in the US as well as how these correlate with the level of inequality. The growth of the economic surplus gives rise and form to the politics of inequality and austerity. As time goes by, the politics of inequality and austerity in the US will be manifested by greater corporate influence in the political system, greater political polarization, less government effectiveness, and more debates about welfare spending, corporate taxation, taxes on upper income households, and taxes on wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas E. LAMBERT, 2016. "Monopoly Capital and Capitalist Inequality: Marx after Piketty," Journal of Economics and Political Economy, KSP Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 151-159, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ksp:journ1:v:3:y:2016:i:1:p:151-159

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas E. Lambert & Edward Kwon, 2015. "Monopoly capital and capitalist inefficiency," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 533-552, July.
    2. Simon Mohun, 1996. "Productive and Unproductive Labor in the Labor Theory of Value," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 30-54, December.
    3. Gary Mongiovi, 2015. "Piketty on Capitalism and Inequality," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 47(4), pages 558-565, December.
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    More about this item


    Alienation; Fascism; Inequality; Monopoly capital; Occupy movement; Political science; Socialism; Tea Party.;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • P10 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P40 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - General


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