ABSTRACT

In the current conjuncture, classical political economy (CPE) (with emphasis on the works of Adam Smith and David Ricardo) has again begun to find a place in syllabi after more than three decades of wilful neglect. The same syllabi also often (though not always) retain a section on Marx in which Marx is read as one of the classical political economists. In this chapter, we argue that Marx’s theorization of capitalism marked a sharp departure from CPE rather than continuity. Our formulation is that CPE in the tradition of Smith and Ricardo was based on a utopian view of capitalism as a market system. Our contention here is that Marx’s utopia, in sharp contrast to that of CPE, was one in which the power of capital and that of the capitalist nation-state would have to be dissolved to create a society of associated producers. This is quite distinct from the market utopia of capitalism that CPE was premised on. This is the central argument of the chapter.