Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx

Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx

On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy

Spencer J. Pack

Spencer Pack compares and contrasts Aristotle’s, Smith’s and Marx’s theoretical systems on six fundamental issues: exchange value, money, capital, character, government, and change. This book also provides insights on issues concerning the continuing development of world money, saving, managerial capitalism, corrupt governments, and various secular and religious movements for social change.

Chapter 14: Concluding Thoughts for the 21st Century (and the Third Millennium)

Spencer J. Pack

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy


The issues discussed in this study, and tackled variously by Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx over the last couple thousand years or so, are still with us. How to understand, clarify, handle exchange value, money, capital, character, government and change remain challenges in the 21st century. I daresay they will remain challenges beyond this century. These issues are not now finally ‘solved’; nor will they be in the foreseeable future. They are not going away; hence, in a sense, this book will not be closed. There is no one, putatively scientific solution to these issues. Here, however, is my brief summing up of where I think we are now, in light of the insights offered by Aristotle, Smith and Marx in their various theoretical systems, near the beginning of the 21st century, near the beginning of the third millennium. Consider the cause of exchange value, the material cause, what it is that makes things commensurate so they may be exchanged with each other in definite ratios. It is not that goods are produced by labor power, by workers, as stressed by Marx when he thought he had solved this two thousand-year-old Aristotelian question. Rather, following Sraffa’s work, it is that commodities themselves are produced in various proportions by other commodities. Commodities need to be exchanged in various ratios for the economy to reproduce itself through time. Thus, it is the mere fact that goods are produced as commodities with the goal (and the absolute need) to be exchanged which...

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