Karl Marx and the Close of His System

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Karl Marx and the Close of His System
Böhm-Bawerk - Karl Marx and the close of his system, 1949 - 5832246 IT-ICCU-TO0-0319327 0005 h.tif
Cover of the 1949 edition
Author Eugen Böhm von Bawerk
Original title Zum Abschluss des Marxschen Systems
Country Germany
Language German
Subject Karl Marx
  • 1896 (in German)
  • 1898 (in English)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 224 (Orion reprint edition)
ISBN 978-1466347687

Karl Marx and the Close of His System (German: Zum Abschluss des Marxschen Systems) is a critique of Karl Marx's economic theories by the Austrian economist Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, published in English translation in 1898.[1]


Böhm von Bawerk's work first appeared in 1896, in Staatswissenschaftliche Arbeitern: Festgaben für Karl Knies, a collection of essays in honor of the German economist Karl Knies. It was published as a separate work later in 1896, and appeared in Russian translation in 1897 and in English translation in 1898.[1]


Bawerk provides a critique of Marx's Capital.[2] Examining Marx's theory of labour value, he argues that the basic error in Marx's system resulted from a self-contradiction of Marx's law of value, namely how the rate of profit and the prices of production of the third volume of Marx's Capital contradict Marx's theory of value in the first volume. He maintains that since the law of value is not directly controlling in capitalist production, the theory of value must be abandoned.[3] Bawerk also attacks Marx for downplaying the influence of supply and demand in determining permanent price, and for deliberate ambiguity with such concepts.

Scholarly reception[edit]

Karl Marx and the Close of His System has been seen as one of the most important discussions of Marx's economic theories, along with Rudolf Hilferding's Böhm-Bawerk's Criticism of Marx, a defense of Marx against Bawerk.[4] Bawerk's work is the "classical" critique of Capital.[2] Most subsequent critiques of Marxist economics have repeated Bawerk's arguments.[3] Marxist economist Ernest Mandel identifies Karl Marx and the Close of His System as part of a literature, beginning with German social democrat Eduard Bernstein, that criticizes the dialectical method Marx borrowed from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as "useless", "metaphysical", or "mystifying." He faults Böhm-Bawerk and the other critics for what he regards as their "positivist narrowness".[5]

The Marxist economist Paul Sweezy rejects Bawerk's view that the theory of value must be abandoned. However, he considers Karl Marx and the Close of His System to be the best statement of the argument that the fact that the law of value is not directly controlling in capitalist production requires the rejection of the theory of value.[3]



  1. ^ a b Sweezy 1984. p. vi.
  2. ^ a b McLellan 1995. p. 439.
  3. ^ a b c Sweezy 1968. p. 70.
  4. ^ Sweezy 1984. p. v.
  5. ^ Mandel 1990. p. 22.


  • Mandel, Ernest; Marx, Karl (1990). Capital Volume I. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-140-44568-4. 
  • McLellan, David (1995). Karl Marx: A Biography. London: Papermac. ISBN 0-333-63947-2. 
  • Sweezy, Paul M.; Böhm-Bawerk, Eugen von; Hilferding, Rudolf (1984). Karl Marx and the Close of His System & Böhm-Bawerk's Criticism of Marx. New York: Orion Editions. ISBN 0-87991-250-2. 
  • Sweezy, Paul M. (1968). The Theory of Capitalist Development. New York: Monthly Review Press.