The Agrarian Question in Marx

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by Utsa Patnaik, Karl Marx, Karl Kautsky,Vladimir Lenin

Modern economic writings do not possess a correct theory of rent arising specifically from ownership of landed property. This conceptual famine has seriously affected the analysis of agriculture in developing economies, where agriculture employs two-thirds of the work force, and where three-fifths of the land is owned by less than a tenth of the landowners. It also hampers us in understanding the agrarian crisis that is engulfing many countries of the Third World.

The selection of readings put together in this volume is in three parts. The first part deals with Marx’s writings on pre-capitalist relationships, and that aspect of the primitive accumulation of capital which relates to the formation of a property less labour force. The second part is devoted to the Marxist theory of rent, in particular to understanding the crucial distinction made by Marx between what he termed ‘absolute ground rent’, and Ricardo’s concept, which he termed ‘differential rent’. The third part relates to the process of capitalist development in agriculture and the formation of a class of capitalist producers. The editor’s erudite and lucid Introduction lays out the terrain of the argument and makes Marx’s theory of rent more accessible and comprehensible to the lay reader.