RADICAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: Capitalism and Socialism from a Marxist Humanist Perspective by Howard Sherman

RADICAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: Capitalism and Socialism from a Marxist Humanist Perspective

Email this review


With an infinitude of scholastic subdivisions, Sherman's political economy accumulates cliches about Marxism and the American scene along with interpretations of economic development in the non-capitalist world. Though Sherman frequently and prominently declares himself a Marxist, Marxian economics is largely traded for a classical marginal utility theory, and the book parlays such elementary misconceptions as the claim that ""Marx states that the value of any commodity is determined by the amount of labor embodied in it,"" a notion emphatically denied by Marx, who wrote in the first line of his Critique of the Gotha Program, ""Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values."" Sherman's ""radical"" economics explicitly equates left-Keynesianism with Marxism, offering a Keynesian underconsumption-overinvestment theory of capitalist crisis, and sees ""no observable trend to worse depressions since the 1930's."" Protestations against waste, pollution, and ""monopoly-caused"" inflation are not accompanied by socialist solutions. An analysis of the capitalist state mixes C. Wright Mills, Paul Sweezy, and William Domhoff with a good deal lost in the transposition. Capitalism's legacy is racism, sexism, and alienation, but this is not to say that Sherman's concept of alienation resembles Marx's. A ten-page history of socialism from Marx to Mao becomes a springboard for questions of the input-output ""balance"" of growth, wage equalization, centralization versus decentralization, Libermanism, democracy, work incentives, the law of values, etc., under socialism. Sherman is too obscure to be billed as a ""leading spokesman of the New Left."" Instead the book will be taken as a turgid, academic rewrite of Baran and Sweezy's Monopoly Capital (1968), with little value as either exegesis or innovation.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1972
Publisher: Basic Books