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The Unmaking of Marx’s Capital: Heinrich’s Attempt to Eliminate Marx’s Crisis Theory


  • Kliman, Andrew
  • Freeman, Alan
  • Potts, Nick
  • Gusev, Alexey
  • Cooney, Brendan


Michael Heinrich’s recent Monthly Review article claims that the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit (LTFRP) was not proved by Marx and cannot be proved. Heinrich also argues that Marx had doubts about the law and that, for this and other reasons, his theory of capitalist economic crisis was only provisional and more or less in continual flux. This response shows that Heinrich’s elementary misunderstanding of the law––his belief that it is meant to predict what must inevitably happen rather than to explain what does happen––is the source of his charge that it is unproved. It then shows that a simple misreading of Marx’s text lies at the basis of Heinrich’s claim that the simplest version of the LTFRP, “the law as such,” is a failure. Marx’s argument that increases in the rate of surplus-value cannot “cancel” the fall in the rate of profit is then defended against Heinrich’s attempt to refute it. Finally, the paper presents evidence that Marx was indeed convinced that the LTFRP is correct and that he regarded the crisis theory of volume 3 of Capital as finished in a theoretical sense.

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  • Kliman, Andrew & Freeman, Alan & Potts, Nick & Gusev, Alexey & Cooney, Brendan, 2013. "The Unmaking of Marx’s Capital: Heinrich’s Attempt to Eliminate Marx’s Crisis Theory," MPRA Paper 48535, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 Jul 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:48535

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan Freeman & Guglielmo Carchedi (ed.), 1996. "Marx and Non-equilibrium Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 737.
    2. Freeman, Alan & Kliman, Andrew, 2008. "Simultaneous Valuation vs. the Exploitation Theory of Profit: A summing up," MPRA Paper 6891, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Freeman, Alan, 1998. "A general refutation of Okishio’s theorem and a proof of the falling rate of profit," MPRA Paper 1998, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Freeman, Alan, 2016. "The Whole of the Storm: Money, debt and crisis in the current Long Depression," MPRA Paper 84394, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Freeman, Alan, 2015. "Social Structures of disaccumulation: a 101 on the rate of profit and the cause of crisis," MPRA Paper 69649, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Feb 2016.

    More about this item


    Crisis Theory; Marxist Economics; TSSI; Rate of Profit;

    JEL classification:

    • B4 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology
    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity

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