Neue Marx-Lekture
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Neue Marx-Lekture

Neue Marx-Lektüre or "NML" (German: "New Reading of Marx") is a revival and interpretation of the economic theory of Karl Marx, which started in the mid-1960s in Western and partly Eastern Europe, and opposed to the interpretation of Marx of both Marxism-Leninism and social democracy. Neue Marx-Lektüre covers a loose group of authors mainly from the German-speaking countries, who reject certain historizing and empiricist interpretations of Marx's analysis of economic forms, many of which are argued to spring from Friedrich Engels and his role in the early Marxist workers' movement.


The school of thought is influenced especially the work of the early Soviet thinkers Evgeny Bronislavovich Pashukanis and Isaak Illich Rubin and the critical theory of Theodor Adorno. The works of Helmut Reichelt and Hans-Georg Backhaus in the seventies and eighties, and the writings of Michael Heinrich in the nineties, produced at the turn of the millennium a partly academic, partly off-academic debate concerning the question of value. These authors depart in a number of respects from the traditional Marx reading related with the workers movement, the bourgeois state and state socialism.

The Neue Marx-Lektüre rejects

  • premonetary theories of value, according to which already the single concrete work creates value, and the essence of value is a direct outcome of the invested time of labour. On the contrary the social character of work creating value is emphasized.
  • conceptions of the state as a manipulative instrument of a ruling class. On the contrary, the Staatsableitungsdebatte (state derivation debate) has an understanding of the state as a structurally necessary, but relatively separated part of capitalism.
  • theories of history which lead to the anticipation of a revolution to be accomplished by the proletariat. Opposed to this, capital is considered as an "automatic subject", which exists in a sham as well in a real form.

On the other hand, the authors of the Neue Marx-Lektüre in contrast to the academically dominant neo-classic economy maintain the relevance of the approach of Marx. Especially they insist that the micro-economic approaches of the neoclassic theory of economy can't explain the constitution, maintenance and dynamics of the economic value-relations, and only can exhibit insufficient theoretical means when it comes to macro-economic constructs such as e.g. the gross national income. On the contrary, they point out that Marx, although unable to answer these questions, nevertheless provides a higher degree of reflection and awareness of the problems, which has to be recovered in a critical manner for the contemporary discussion.

Main works

  • Helmut Reichelt, Zur logischen Struktur des Kapitalbegriffs bei Karl Marx [On the logical structure of the concept of capital according to Marx]. Dissertation of 10 July 1968, Faculty of Economics and Social Science, Universität Frankfurt am Main, 1968, p. 265; fourth revised edition, with a preface by Iring Fetscher, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1973 (Politische Ökonomie); Freiburg im Breisgau: Ça Ira, 2001, ISBN 3-924627-76-2.
  • Michael Heinrich, Kritik der politischen Ökonomie - Eine Einführung [Critique of political economy - an introduction], Schmetterling Verlag, 3rd edition 2005; Die Wissenschaft vom Wert [The economics of value] (dissertation) VSA-Verlag, 1991; second, revised edition: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2003
  • Hans-Georg Backhaus: Dialektik der Wertform. Untersuchungen zur Marxschen Ökonomiekritik [Dialectic of value: investigations of Marxist economic criticism], Freiburg im Breisgau 1997, ISBN 3-924627-52-5.
  • Helmut Reichelt, Neue Marx-Lektüre. Zur Kritik sozialwissenschaftlicher Logik [New reading of Marx: On critique of social-scientific logic], Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89965-287-1.

See also




External links

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