Economics and Philosophy

Essays

Roemer's “General” Theory of Exploitation Is a Special Case: The Limits of Walrasian Marxism

James Devinea1 and Gary Dymskia2

a1 Loyola Marymount University

a2 University of California, Riverside

In a series of recent writings, John Roemer (1982a, 1982b, 1985, 1988) has made a provocative claim: exploitation and class are merely second-order concepts within Marxian theory, because both phenomena derive directly from differential ownership of productive assets (DOPA); indeed, exploitation remains a consistent index of economic injustice only if a “property relations” conception of exploitation replaces the common “labor-value” view. In sum, property relations, not the labor exchange, the labor proces, labor values, or even capitalist accumlation should be the central concern of Marxian theory.