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The Fallacies of 'New Dialectics' and Value-Form Theory

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Chris Arthur's approach aims at a systematic re-ordering of Marx's categories. This article argues that his approach is actually a different ordering of different categories that are positioned within a specific theoretical whole, a Hegelian re-interpretation of Marx and especially of abstract labour, which distances itself from Marx. While the debate has focused mainly on the philosophical aspects of Arthur's work, its economic features have not been the object of a systematic analysis. Yet, a full assessment of the 'New Dialectics' should include explicitly a systematic internal critique of its economic dimensions. The aim of this article is to assess the internal consistency of the economic ramifications of the 'New Dialectics'. The focus is on the notions of abstract labour, concrete labour, and exploitation. Arthur's faithfulness to Marx, or correspondence to Marx's quotations, is not the criterion used to assess the 'New Dialectics'. Rather, the criterion is whether it (a) discovers logical inconsistencies in Capital and (b) is itself free from inconsistencies. The answer is negative in both cases.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam;, Email:


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