John Maclean Internet Archive
Transcribed by the John Maclean Internet Archive

The ‘Great Contradiction’ of Marx

by John Maclean

Source: Justice 14th December 1907, p.9
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Copyleft: John Maclean Internet Archive ( 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

DEAR COMRADE,—The supposed “Great Contradiction” in the third volume of “Capital” has been the subject of discussion amongst a few of us in Scotland this last year or so—in fact, since we got possession of Bohm-Bawerk’s “Close of the Marxian System” We wisely suspended our judgment until we had a study of the third volume, or a statement by a thorough Marxian. This we have found in Boudin’s book on the theoretical system of Marx.

I always comprehended, before I was ever aware of the “Great Contradiction,” that a section of the capitalist class gained an extra surplus value at the expense of their fellow capitalists in other fields of industry. But I could not rationally explain the phenomenon in conformity with our theory of value until I apprehended the significance of Marx’s term “Price of Production.”

The Revisionists seem to have found in the “Great Contradiction” an excuse for the desertion of the Marxian position, to assume one that savours of capitalism in its subtlest form. I cannot comprehend their change of attitude, because “Price of Production” can alone be explained by Marx’s theory of value.

Not only that, but it can by itself alone explain what I call the “Trust Price,” a price that diverges still more from the price coincident with value than even the “Price of Production.” I think it must be admitted that the composition of capital in trustified industries is higher, as a rule, than in competitive industries. The “Price of Production,” then, of goods produced by the trusts must be above the value-price. But as trusts are free from depressing influence of competition on the prices of their products; in fact, as trusts can dictate prices above what we might call the normal, we have to admit that “Trust, Prices” tend to accentuate what has been called the “Great Contradiction,” Should we, then, abandon Marx because appearances seem to contradict his basic theory in economics? Certainly not, because only Marxians can see clearly the phenomena above indicated and Marx alone can supply the solution to this intricate problem.