Surplus value is just economic profit. The organic composition of capital is just the investment rate. Capitalist mode of production is just a verbose way of saying capitalism. Exchange value is price. Use value is quantity. Commodity fetishism copied from Charles Brosses. Is there any term in Marxism that is not just a badly translated verbose copy of the equivalent classical economics concept?

Materialism was Engels, alienation was Hegel.

  • 1
    According to this article, Although Karl Marx did not create the word, it was after his work “Das Kapital” (1867) when the term “capitalism” began to be widely used to describe an economic system based on private property as the means of production. And do you have any examples of ppl before Marx using the term "investment rate" to mean investment in things like machinery and buildings as opposed to labor? I also think your translations of commodity fetishism and use value are incorrect.
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 19, 2019 at 22:42
  • 1
    They are not even in the same category, "fetishism is the perception of the social relationships involved in production not as relationships among people, but as economic relationships". It is like saying love is money.
    – Conifold
    Sep 20, 2019 at 0:09
  • 1
    A psychological condition is "literally" the same as direct bartering/exchange of goods???
    – Conifold
    Sep 20, 2019 at 0:54
  • 1
    "Fetishism is rent because Fiat currency has no value" So you think Marx believed that there was no commodity fetishism in countries that used the gold standard (or something analogous) rather than fiat currency?
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 20, 2019 at 2:17
  • 1
    In those cases it's labor fetishism because both land and labor are inputs (not just labor) and focusing only on labor is abstract and fetishistic
    – user42363
    Sep 20, 2019 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


Two concepts associated with economics, historical materialism and alienated labor, may have been new with Marx.

Jonathan Wolff describes historical materialism as follows:

Historical materialism — Marx’s theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of human productive power. Marx sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism.

Wolff describes alienated labor as follows:

Here Marx famously depicts the worker under capitalism as suffering from four types of alienated labour. First, from the product, which as soon as it is created is taken away from its producer. Second, in productive activity (work) which is experienced as a torment. Third, from species-being, for humans produce blindly and not in accordance with their truly human powers. Finally, from other human beings, where the relation of exchange replaces the satisfaction of mutual need.

Wolff, Jonathan, "Karl Marx", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/marx/.

  • 3
    Historical material ism was Engels. Alienation was Hegel. It even says that in your source.
    – user42363
    Sep 20, 2019 at 17:27
  • @user42363 But that is based on Marx's theory of history. Sep 20, 2019 at 19:00
  • But Marx never said it was materialist. In fact it seems pretty liberal since it says events like revolutions matter
    – user42363
    Sep 20, 2019 at 19:30
  • @user42363 Look at it as putting in a kind of historicism into economics that Popper objected to. If one skips any determinism that Popper might associate with this historicism it might be a tolerable concept, however, I am not claiming by saying that that Marx's historical perspective was correct. Sep 20, 2019 at 20:12
  • Saint-Simon argued for a type of historical materialism before Marx & Engels, see the paper here, though the discussion of his mature theory starting on p. 89 suggests it was based on the idea of relations between different groups becoming more "rational" as technology advanced and societal wealth grew, rather than the Marx/Engels view of change being driven by class conflict and the idea that the hegemonic beliefs of each era are largely rationalizations of the ruling class' self-interest. Does say on p. 91 that he related social classes to economics.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jun 16, 2020 at 19:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .