This is a very nice, tightly argued, interesting and thought-provoking book and a prime quality intellectual endeavour. Labor and value is likely to attract attention and stir debates. It is a rigorous piece of academic work but it is of interest to a much wider readership, also thanks to an exceptionally clear and engaging style. It is a strong contribution in economic theory – and in particular, in Marxian and more generally heterodox economics – but it has a refreshing interdisciplinary approach which will be of interest for scholars in other disciplines too, including moral and political philosophy, sociology and political science. Even those who disagree with the answers provided will find the questions raised of primary importance and the arguments subtle and original.
Queen Mary, University of London
Screpanti is right: workers are not golden-egg-laying geese, whose productivity remains constant wherever you put them. Rather, what enables the capitalist to extract surplus value from the worker is that productivity is endogenously determined, such that the capitalist can increase the duration and intensity of work to levels that will avail her of surplus value. So abstract labour is not a natural or monadic substance that will tend to manifest itself under any set of commodity-producing arrangements, but a relational property coextensive with the subordination of labour to capital. This makes the wage "the price of freedom, a payment for obedience, and not the value of a commodity”. Screpanti’s book contains a lucid elaboration of Marx’s theory of subsumption, to go along with a novel critical synthesis of Marx’s theory of value. Screpanti’s exegetical views are also right: a neglected but central aspect of Marx’s critique of political economy has to do with the diverse ways in which capital comes to control, and therefore dominate, the labour of others.
Nicholas Vrousalis, Erasmus University Rotterdam
"Review of Ernesto Screpanti’s Labour and Value: Rethinking Marx’s Theory of Exploitation". Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics (1876-9098), vol. 13, no. 1, 2020. doi:10.23941/ejpe.v13i1.472