Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Jacques Gouverneur

Jacques Gouverneur has put introductory texts about Marxist economics on the web with free access. I'm told that his older book Contemporary Capitalism and Marxist Economics (English edition 1983) is pretty goods (thanks to Pete Green here).

Dear Reader, I take pleasure in letting you know that my latest textbook in Marxist economics (2005) is available, both as an electronic edition and in the form of a printed book. This textbook is the culmination – and also the end point – of long experience in university research and teaching (some 35 years), combined with equally long experience in extra-university training activities.

Access to the text
The book is available on the website <> in three languages (French, Spanish and English) and, for each language, in two sizes : on the one hand, an "A4" or "quarto" size (267 pages in English) under the simple title "UNDERSTANDING THE ECONOMY. The hidden face of economic phenomena" ; on the other hand, an "A5" size (389 pages) with the explicit title "THE FOUNDATIONS OF CAPITALIST ECONOMY. An introduction to the Marxist economic analysis of contemporary capitalism". Except for the foreword, some passages of the introduction and the bibliography (included in the "A5" size only), the two texts are practically identical. But I know that some people prefer an inconspicuous presentation (moreover with less pages), and others an explicit one ; in all three languages, every one can have what seems more suitable.

Each of the six versions of the textbook can be downloaded free of charge from the website in question. The useful URLs for the English versions are as follows :

- "UNDERSTANDING THE ECONOMY. The hidden face of economic phenomena" (A4 size, 267 p.) :

- "THE FOUNDATIONS OF CAPITALIST ECONOMY. An introduction to the Marxist economic analysis of contemporary capitalism" (A5 size, 389 p.) :

Each of the six versions can be reproduced and published freely, with no royalties to pay (author's royalties or others), but of course without right of exclusivity.

Texts in the A5 size are also available in the form of printed books. These are published by Contradictions for the French version, by Diffusion Universitaire Ciaco for the Spanish and English versions. In all three languages, therefore, those interested have the choice : either order the book (through the same website referred to) or reproduce it on their own.

Contents and interest of the book
As a product of long experience in both university teaching and extra-university training activities, the book provides a step by step, clear and rigorous exposition of Marxist economic theory. It shows its relevance for analysing the deep tendencies of contemporary capitalism in a coherent way : extension of market production, globalization of the economy, concentration of economic power, race for competitiveness, the invasion of advertising, growth of subcontracting, increasing inequalities, attacks on the environment, prolongation of the structural crisis and unemployment, etc.

Each chapter is complemented with a summary, as well as a selection of "theoretical" and "practical" exercises : the former are aimed at checking the assimilation of the material, while the latter enable readers to establish links between theory and present-day realities, whatever the moment and country.

Thanks to its outstanding pedagogical qualities, the book constitutes a first-class textbook for students and teachers, as well as for any interested reader, even without previous knowledge.

At the same time, the book should draw the consideration of specialists. On the one hand, it adopts and develops a definitely classical Marxist perspective on most topics. For instance, it emphasizes the contradictory aspects of reality, which are mentioned or underlined on numerous occasions : this is the case, in particular, of the contradictory aspects of wages and public expenditure and the contradictory effects of neo-liberal policies. Similarly, it underlines the basic influence of both productivity ("development of productive forces") and power relations ("class struggle" or conflicts between "class fractions") : both are simultaneously taken into consideration, especially to account for the relative prices of commodities and the stages in growth and crisis after the Second World War .

Yet, within the Marxist paradigm, the book adopts (and justifies in appendices) a number of non-conventional points of view. These particularly concern the concepts of value, commodity and productive labour, as well as the relations between wage and value of labour-power. The non-conventional viewpoints adopted on these topics combine the advantages of precision and simplicity : on the one hand, they make the theoretical approach more rigorous and coherent ; yet, while justified on purely theoretical grounds, they present the additional advantages of making the theory simpler and allowing a much easier quantification of various key-concepts.
While focusing on the sector of capitalist enterprises, the book also examines all the other forms of production (enterprises relying on self-employment, public enterprises, non-market public services, voluntary organizations, households) : it shows their specific characteristics and examines their contradictory relationships with the capitalist sector. In so doing, it does not restrict itself to analysing an abstract system but contemplates the actual diversity of a concrete society.

You will find more details on the contents of the book at either of the two URLs mentioned above. The item "download a free extract" gives access to an eight-page document called "presentation of J.Gouverneur's latest textbook". Pages 2 and 3 of the document in question mention a series of interesting features, both pedagogical and theoretical.

Requesting your co-operation
To conclude, I would like to ask you to personally contribute to circulating my original and multiform offer :
- for one thing, I invite you to forward this trilingual letter to all persons who you think might be interested ;
- furthermore, if you have a personal website, or have access to an institutional website, I suggest you create a link with the URLs mentioned above (and possibly with those mentioned in the letters in French and Spanish).

Many thanks for your co-operation!
Yours very sincerely,
Jacques Gouverneur


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