Interpreting Marx from an Energy Perspective

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Noel CHELLAN, UKZN, South Africa
The 2008 financial crisis has come to be known as the Great Crisis. Just when the world thought that with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Marxism would die and be buried, the Great Crisis of the first decade of the 21st century, has triggered a renewed interest in Marxism. With the capitalist economy taking repeated beatings since 2007–mainstream economic science–is also under critical scrutiny for the unpredictable manner in which it has thus far analysed the global capitalist system. The invisible hand and self-interest thesis of Adam Smith and his adherents, are proving to be unworthy of their 250 year ideological grip on humankind and the natural environment. The 500 year old capitalist system itself is showing signs of ware and tare, and so are its sciences that have thus far attempted to analyse it, if not uphold it. With the growing acknowledgement of energy as a central entity in all of aspects of life, disciplines such as economics are giving rise to interdisciplinary sciences such as econophysics. I will look at Marx’s seminal work Capital, A Critique of Political Economy from an energy perspective. By combining the thoughts of this great thinker with those of the scholars on energy, I seek to enhance the scientific thought of Marx, by using energy as a conceptual and analytical tool. By looking at Marx’s thoughts from an energy perspective, I intend to provide a fresh look at the physical workings of the capitalist economy. Hence concepts such as labour-power, commodity, money, time, etc. will be viewed through the energy lens. The relevance of the laws of energy will also be applied to the following examples of Marx’s thought: commodities and exchange, capital and labour-power, the labour process and the production of surplus-value, the division of labour, machinery and modern industry, etc.