Inequality and Democratic Egalitarianism

‘Marx’s Economy and Beyond’ and Other Essays

Editors: Mark Harvey and Norman Geras

This book arose out of a friendship between a political philosopher and an economic sociologist, and their recognition of an urgent political need to address the extreme inequalities of wealth and power in contemporary societies.

The book provides a new analysis of what generates inequalities in rights to income, property and public goods in contemporary societies. It claims to move beyond Marx, both in its analysis of inequality and exploitation, and in its concept of just distribution. In order to do so, it critiques Marx’s foundational Labour Theory of Value and its closed-circuit conception of the economy. It points to the major historical transformations that create educational and knowledge inequalities, inequalities in rights to public goods that combine with those to private wealth. In two historical chapters, it argues that industrial capitalism introduced new forms of coerced labour in the metropolis alongside a huge expansion of slavery and indentured labour in the New World, with forms of bonded labour lasting well into the twentieth century. Only political struggles, rather than any economic logic of capitalism, achieved less punitive forms of employment. It is argued that these were only steps along a long road to challenge asymmetries of economic power and to realise just distribution of the wealth created in society.

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