Value criticism

Value criticism (in German Wertkritik) is a social theory which draws its foundation from the Marxian tradition and criticizes the contemporary mode of production. Value criticism was developed partly by critical readings of the traditions of the Frankfurt School and critical theory. Prominent adherents of value criticism include Robert Kurz, Moishe Postone and Jean-Marie Vincent.

Aspects of value criticismEdit

Value criticism takes crucial aspects of Marx's critiques of commodity fetishism, commodities and value, while criticizing Marx's theory of class struggle and historical materialism. As a result, proponents of Value Criticism feel that the working class is not necessarily a revolutionary subject. Instead, it is pointed out that labor has to be understood as a historic specific entity and that criticizing capitalism implies not only criticizing the distribution process in capitalism, but also the capitalistic production process and the productive powers. From this, they conclude that all actually existing "socialisms" thus far have been in essence forms of state-led capitalism (nachholenden Modernisierung), where production still followed capitalistic principles. This interpretation, which rejects the traditional Marxist-Leninist point of view, is defended in the early text from 1999: Manifesto Against Labour.[1]

Feminist turn of the theoryEdit

In addition to value criticism, a new branch appeared by the widow of Robert Kurz, Roswitha Scholz. The so-called critique of value-dissociation [2] (in German called "Wertabspaltungskritik") includes not only precise descriptions of the "abstract and fetishized character of modern domination",[3] but also seeks to explain why irrational attitudes are delegated to women, while men are counted as relatively rational actors in the capitalistic society.


Publishers of value criticism in Germany are the Krisis group and Exit!, to both of which Robert Kurz made crucial contributions. Much value critical literature has still to be translated into English. Elmar Flatschart from the University of Vienna is also publishing in English for the Exit! group. Moishe Postone and his work "Time, Labor and Social Domination" is often cited by value critics.

See alsoEdit


  • Marxism and the Critique of Value - Neil Larsen, Mathias Nilges, Josh Robinson, and Nicholas Brow
  1. ^ "Manifesto against Labour". Krisis. 1999-12-31. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  2. ^[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ "Marx and "Wertkritik" : Platypus". 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2014-02-05.