Neue Marx-Lektüre

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Neue Marx-Lektüre (German for "New Reading of Marx") or NML is a revival and interpretation of Karl Marx's critique of political economy, which originated during the mid-1960s in both Western and Eastern Europe and opposed both Marxist–Leninist and social democratic interpretations of Marx. Neue Marx-Lektüre covers a loose group of authors primarily from German-speaking countries who reject certain historicizing and empiricist interpretations of Marx's analysis of economic forms[clarification needed], many of which are argued to spring from Friedrich Engels role in the early Marxist workers' movement.


The school of thought is influenced especially the work of the early Soviet thinkers Evgeny Pashukanis and Isaak Illich Rubin, as well as the critical theory of Theodor Adorno. The works of Helmut Reichelt and Hans-Georg Backhaus in the 1970s and 1980s, and the writings of Michael Heinrich in the 1990s, produced at the turn of the millennium a partly academic, partly off-academic debate concerning the question of value. These authors depart in a number of respects from the traditional reading of Marx related to the workers' movement, the bourgeois state and state socialism.

The Neue Marx-Lektüre rejects

  • Pre-monetary theories of value[which?], according to which already the single concrete work creates value, and the essence of value is a direct outcome of the invested time of labour. NML instead emphasizes the social character of work creating value.[clarification needed]
  • Conceptions of the state as a manipulative instrument of a ruling class. Instead, the Staatsableitungsdebatte (state derivation debate) has an understanding of the state as a structurally necessary, but relatively separated part of capitalism.
  • Determinist theories of history which lead to the anticipation of a revolution to be accomplished by the proletariat. In opposition to this idea, capital is considered as an "automatic subject", which exists in a sham as well in a real form.

Thus, the authors of the Neue Marx-Lektüre contrast themselves from the dominant neoclassical school of economics and maintain the relevance of Marx's approach. In particular, they insist that the microeconomic approaches of the neoclassic theory of economy can't explain the constitution, maintenance and dynamics of the economic value-relations, and can only exhibit insufficient theoretical means when it comes to macro-economic constructs such as e.g. the gross national income. They claim that Marx, although unable to answer these questions, nevertheless provides a higher degree of reflection and awareness of the problems, which has to be recovered in a critical manner for the contemporary discussion.


  • Helmut Reichelt, Zur logischen Struktur des Kapitalbegriffs bei Karl Marx [On the logical structure of the concept of capital according to Marx]. Dissertation of 10 July 1968, Faculty of Economics and Social Science, Universität Frankfurt am Main, 1968, p. 265; fourth revised edition, with a preface by Iring Fetscher, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1973 (Politische Ökonomie); Freiburg im Breisgau: Ça Ira, 2001, ISBN 3-924627-76-2.
  • Heinrich, Michael (2012). An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital. Translated by Locascio, Alexander. New York: Monthly Review Press. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-58367-291-4. OCLC 812923956.; Die Wissenschaft vom Wert [The economics of value] (dissertation) VSA-Verlag, 1991; second, revised edition: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2003
  • Hans-Georg Backhaus: Dialektik der Wertform. Untersuchungen zur Marxschen Ökonomiekritik [Dialectic of value: investigations of Marxist economic criticism], Freiburg im Breisgau 1997, ISBN 3-924627-52-5.
  • Helmut Reichelt, Neue Marx-Lektüre. Zur Kritik sozialwissenschaftlicher Logik [New reading of Marx: On critique of social-scientific logic], Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89965-287-1.

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