Labour as a Source of Value and Capital Formation: Ibn Khaldun, Ricardo, and Marx – A Comparison
12 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017
Date Written: 2007
Exclusive writings on the contribution of Ibn Khaldun to economics in the English language have not been many, the references to his work also remain scanty and far between. Even in what little is available mostly authors talk about his views on professions, markets and the cloud he castes on merchants. The present paper avoids treading the familiar tracks. It sees close similarities between the views of Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406), David Ricardo (1772 – 1823) and Karl Marx (1818 -I823) in regarding labour as the measure of value and source of capital formation in the course of economics maturing to an academic discipline. The three agree directly or indirectly that labour creates economic surplus that it does not get. Even so, the policy implications each derives from this conclusion are interestingly much different. Ibn Khaldun did not -- indeed imbued with Islamic faith he could not – think of workers’ predicament becoming a source of social turmoil. Ricardo implicitly saw labour exploitation in a free enterprise system of organizing production but himself being a great capitalist he could not swallow the pill and once tended to regard cost of production – wages plus profit – as the measure of value. Marx regarded exploitation of labour as the intrinsic vice of capitalism that revolution alone could obliterate.
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