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lancelotarnold

Marxian theory of unemployment.

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It is in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production to overwork some workers while keeping the rest as a reserve army of unemployed paupers.
— Marx, Theory of Surplus Value

Marxists share the Keynesian viewpoint of the relationship between economic demand and employment, but with the caveat that the market system's propensity to slash wages and reduce labor participation on an enterprise level causes a requisite decrease in aggregate demand in the economy as a whole, causing crises of unemployment and periods of low economic activity before the capital accumulation (investment) phase of economic growth can continue.

According to Karl Marx, unemployment is inherent within the unstable capitalist system and periodic crises of mass unemployment are to be expected. He theorized that unemployment was inevitable and even a necessary part of the capitalist system, with recovery and regrowth also part of the process. The function of the proletariat within the capitalist system is to provide a "reserve army of labour" that creates downward pressure on wages. This is accomplished by dividing the proletariat into surplus labour (employees) and under-employment (unemployed). This reserve army of labour fight among themselves for scarce jobs at lower and lower wages.

At first glance, unemployment seems inefficient since unemployed workers do not increase profits, but unemployment is profitable within the global capitalist system because unemployment lowers wages which are costs from the perspective of the owners. From this perspective low wages benefit the system by reducing economic rents. Yet, it does not benefit workers; according to Karl Marx, the workers (proletariat) work to benefit the bourgeoisie through their production of capital. Capitalist systems unfairly manipulate the market for labour by perpetuating unemployment which lowers laborers' demands for fair wages. Workers are pitted against one another at the service of increasing profits for owners. As a result of the capitalist mode of production, Marx argued that workers experienced alienation and estrangement through their economic identity.

According to Marx, the only way to permanently eliminate unemployment would be to abolish capitalism and the system of forced competition for wages and then shift to a socialist or communist economic system. For contemporary Marxists, the existence of persistent unemployment is proof of the inability of capitalism to ensure full employment.

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