Episode 109: Value and Labor Relations in Capitalism and Socialism, Part 1

Is the “law of value” specifically capitalistic, or does it also operate in socialism? What is the import of Marx’s claim that labor in capitalism is only indirectly social, but that it will be directly social in socialist society? If you’re a worker, what does that mean for you? To address these and related questions, Theresa Henry interviews Andrew about the notorious 1943 article in which the Russian Stalinists revised their previous doctrines. They also discuss Raya Dunayevskaya’s commentary on the article, responses from pro-Stalinist economists Paul Baran, Oskar Lange, and Leo Rogin, and Dunayevskaya’s rejoinder. In Part 1, Theresa and Andrew discuss what the Russians revised; the direct role that Stalin played; the debate between Dunayevskaya and the pro-Stalinist economists; and the significance of the revisions—for Soviet society and theory, and their continuing significance today. (Part 2, which will air in an ep. in the near future, focuses on why the law of value is specifically capitalist, differences between Marx’s and the Stalinists’ conceptions of directly vs. indirectly social labor, the article’s claim that “distribution according to labor” prevailed in the USSR, and the harm caused when no effort is made to resolve theoretical and interpretive disputes.)

The following texts are referred to in Part 1: the Russian article, Dunayevskaya’s initial comment and rejoinder, comments by Baran, Lange, and Rogin, minutes of Stalin’s January 1941 meeting with economists, Marx’s comment that workers in cooperatives under capitalism are “their own capitalist,” and Andrew’s discussion of Silvia Federici’s revisions of the concepts of commodity and value.

Plus current-events segment: the Iowa Republican caucus results and what lies ahead. In the discussion—between Andrew and new, regular RFH co-host Gabriel Donnelly—Jonathan V. Last’s recent piece on Trump voters’ authoritarianism is cited.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Gabriel Donnelly and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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January 26, 2024


  1. Not entirely relevant, but I’m wondering what happened to Brenden Cooney. I’ve been curious about this for a while, since he hasn’t been on the show for the last few episodes. But now I see that there’s a new co-host. Did he leave MHI?

    • My understanding is that, given Brendan’s other obligations, he no longer had the time to put into producing the podcast that it requires. For security reasons, MHI does not disclose the membership status of individuals associated with it.

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