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General Problems - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780080135618, 9781483148434

General Problems

1st Edition

Political Economy

Author: Oskar Lange
eBook ISBN: 9781483148434
Imprint: Pergamon
Published Date: 1st January 1963
Page Count: 370
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Political Economy, Volume I: General Problems provides a systematic treatise on political economy. This book discusses the state of economic science and the course of economic development in different parts of the world. Organized into seven chapters, this volume begins with an overview of the social or political economy as the study of social laws governing the production and distribution of the material means of satisfying human needs. This text then examines the basic regularity encountered by political economy in its analysis of the social laws governing human economic activity, which is formed by the dependence of production relations on social productive forces. Other chapters consider the objective character of economic laws. This book discusses as well the concern of economic history in the development of concrete economic progress. The final chapter deals with the differences of opinions and interpretations in the development of science. Economists will find this book useful.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Polish Edition

Foreword to the English Translation

Chapter One. the Subject Matter of Political Economy. Elementary Concepts

Human needs and means of satisfying them

Production, labor

Means of production and means of consumption

Social nature of production and distribution

Productive and non-productive labor (services)

Economic relations

Production relations and social productive forces

Distribution relations and production relations

Note on The Expression “Political Economy” and Related Terms

Chapter Two. Modes of Production and Social Formations. The Materialist Interpretation of History

Dependence of production relations on social productive forces

Ownership of the means of production as basis of production relations

Modes of production

Antagonistic and non-antagonistic modes of production

Law of necessary conformity between production relations and character of productive forces

Social consciousness

Concept of social formation. Base and superstructure

Law of necessary conformity between superstructure and economic base

Conservative character of social relations and social consciousness

Dialectical processes in social development

Social development in antagonistic formations: class struggle and social revolutions

Classes and social strata

Historical materialism

Note On Some Formulations and On The Name of “The Materialist Interpretation of History”

Chapter Three. Economic Laws

General concept

Laws of causation, concomitance and functional relationship

Objective character of economic laws

Economic laws and laws of political economy

Stochastic (statistical) character of economic laws

Technical and balance laws of production

Laws of human behavior and laws of interplay of human actions

Historical scope of economic laws

Scope of technical and balance laws of production

Laws specific ta given social formation

Laws resulting from the influence of superstructure

Mode of operation of social formation

Basic economic law of a social formation

Economic laws and dialectic social processes

“Economic law of motion” of a social formation

Spontaneity in operation of economic laws

Socialism overcomes spontaneity of economic laws

Economic laws under socialism

Objective character and spontaneity of economic laws

Dialectic processes in the socialist formation

Socialist formation opens new epoch in human history

Practical significance of knowledge of economic laws

Chapter Four. The Method of Political Economy

Political economy as a theoretical discipline

Economic sciences, their subject matter and relations teach other

Applied economics, its branches

Political economy and economies of various social formations

Political economy of pre-capitalist formations

Political economy of socialism

Role of abstraction in political economy

Economic categories, laws of political economy and economic theories

Historical basis of abstraction in political economy

Abstractions in political economy and the concrete nature of economic processes

Successive concretization of abstractions of political economy

Marx’s “Capitalas” example of successive concretization

Econometrics as an instrument in concretization of laws of political economy

Verification of laws of political economy and economic theories

Practical identification of economic categories

Degree of agreement of laws and theories of political economy with the real economic process

Statistical verification

Modes of inference in political economy

Role of deduction in political economy

Axiomatization and formalization—role of mathematics in political economy

Premisses in deduction are results of induction

Reductive inference as instrument of verification

Economic policy as the practical application of political economy

Chapter Five. The Principle of Economic Rationality Political Economy and Praxiology

Economic activity and technique

Traditional character of economic activity in natural economy

Separation of gainful activity from household activity in acommodity-money economy. Change in structure of ends of economic activity

Rationality—the characteristic of gainful activity

Quantification (measurability and commensurability) of the end and means of gainful activity. Category of profit

Calculation and book-keeping in capitalist enterprises

Maximization of profit—an economic necessity for a capitalist enterprise

Principle of economic rationality as historical product of capitalist enterprise

Planning of social economy—realization of social economic rationality

Basic problems in social economic planning

The method of social economic balances

Praxiology—the science of rational activity

Branches of scientific research belonging to praxiology: operations research and the science of programming

The principles of programming

Marginal calculus

Linear programming

Methodological links between political economy and praxiology

Certain laws of political economy are conclusions deduced from praxiological principles of behavior

Study of economic laws by deduction dependent on the rationality of economic activity

The need to establish empirically the scope of the methodological knowledge applied in practice

General appraisal of the significance of praxiology in the rationalization of economic activity

Appendix: The Mathematical Foundations of Programming

Chapter Six. The Subjectivist and The Historical Trend In Political Economy

The Marxist and other trends in political economy. Their relation to classical political economy

Subject matter of political economy according to the subjectivist conception: analysis of man’s relation to goods on the basis of the economic principle

The concept of utility according to the subjectivist conception

The separation of subjectivist economic theory from the problem of social relations

The subjectivist trend and economic laws

The transformation of economic laws into praxiological principles of behavior

The role of exchange in subjectivist economic theory

Subjectivist trend implies the liquidation of political economy

Limited and historically conditioned scope of the economic principle

Is there a striving for the maximization of utility in household activity?

Factors working against the rationalization of household activity under capitalism

Final assessment of the subjectivist trend

Historical trend

The theoretical character of political economy discarded

Max Weber’s work in the light of the materialist interpretation of history

Unhistorical nature of the methodological basis of the theories of Sombart and Max Weber

Final assessment of the historical trend

Chapter Seven. The Social Conditioning and The Social Role of Economic Science

Two factors causing differences of opinion in science: internal dialectic of cognition and social

Interest, material means and freedom from prejudice — social basis of scientific development

The struggle of the bourgeoisie and lay intellectuals for the development of the natural sciences<

Factors impeding natural sciences in the last phase of capitalism

The origin and development of political economy connected with the capitalist mode of production

Change in bourgeois attitude after the appearance of class conflict between proletariat and bourgeoisie

The attitude of the bourgeoisie to political economy in the early period of capitalist development

Political economy becomes a science of the proletariat

Division of political economy into Marxist and bourgeois

Achievements and development of the Marxist trend

Bourgeoisie tends to liquidate political economy

Historical trend — an expression of compromise of the German bourgeoisie with feudal elements

Need for economic knowledge in the management of capitalist economy

Practical needs of the bourgeoisie under monopoly capitalism

Development and function of applied economic sciences and auxiliary sciences. Econometrics, social accounting, operations research, programming, cybernetics

Influence of the Great Depression on bourgeois economic thought

Keynes’ theory and theories of the business cycle

Theory of economic growth—historical circumstances of its origin

Petty bourgeois critique of capitalism

Critique of monopoly capitalism by ideologists of the petty and middle bourgeoisie

Professionalization of economic science

Petty bourgeois and national bourgeois critique of imperialism

The theory of imperfect competition

Impossibility of complete liquidation of political economy by the bourgeoisie

Full development of political economy only possible in connection with the labor movement

Social conditions and the truth of scientific cognition

Science and ideology

Conservative, progressive and reactionary ideologies Compromise ideologies

Social apperception and the mental horizon of social classes and strata

Ideologies obscuring and ideologies revealing reality—their importance for scientific cognition

Progressive ideologies as a stimulus in the development of political economy

Class conditioning of the development of political economy

Only the working class is interested in full scientific knowledge of economic laws

The working-class movements struggle to purge its ideology of all elements obscuring reality

Union with scientific socialism as the indispensable basis of the further development of economic

Index of Names

Subject Index


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© Pergamon 1963
1st January 1963
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Oskar Lange

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