Böhm-Bawerk Explains Why Marxist “Exploitation” Is Nonsense
Few contributors in the field of economics have done more to educate the masses about the intellectual failures of Karl Marx than Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. Most famous for his academic writings on interest rates, the Austrian economist was also known to aggressively debate against the scholastic thinkers of the Old Left. In fact, Böhm-Bawerk was a key figure in establishing the ongoing ideological war between Marxian economists and the Austrian school. This is most apparent in his brief but highly polemical book Karl Marx and the Close of His System. In this title, many individuals, especially young students of the free market, will find the most effective and succinct criticism of Marx: the simple fact that surplus value is not necessarily equal to profit.
To understand why this argument is so shattering to the Marxist narrative, one has to consider the significance of surplus value as an economic principle according to Marxists.
Exploitation: The Basis of All Marxism
The concept of exploitation—the belief that there is an undeniable relationship between labor input and surplus value such that monetary theft occurs between the wage laborer and the capitalist—is the foundation of Marxian critique. Marx writes in volume 1 of Das Kapital:
A…useful article, therefore, has value only because abstract human labour is objectified or materialized in it….What exclusively determines the magnitude of the value of any article is therefore the amount of
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