Are Keynes and Marx Compatible? Pt 2

John Bellamy Foster’s Case for Keynes

I explained in last month’s reply that John Maynard Keynes is the leading economist of non-Marxist progressives. Marxists themselves are sharply divided on the nature and usefulness of Keynes’s work and its relationship to Marxism.

As a rule, Marxists who support the Grossman-Mattick school or other schools that blame capitalist crises on the periodic inability of the capitalists to produce sufficient surplus value to maintain capitalist prosperity are quite hostile to Keynes’s work. According to these schools, the only way out of a capitalist crisis within the limits of the capitalist system is to increase the rate of surplus value―the rate of exploitation of the workers―and thus restore an “adequate” rate of profit for the capitalists.

Any attempts by a government inspired by Keynes’s theories to restore the purchasing power of the people during a capitalist crisis only makes it more difficult for the capitalists to restore an adequate production of surplus value. Therefore, the “not enough production of surplus value” schools of Marxist crisis theory hold that Keynesian policies only make a capitalist crisis worse. By spreading dangerous reformist illusions about the possibility of improving the condition of the working class and its allies within the capitalist system, these schools of Marxists claim the “Keynesian Marxist” tendencies such as the Monthly Review School build support for opportunist reformist tendencies within the workers’ movement.

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