Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home
Free to Lose

Free to Lose

An Introduction to Marxist Economic Philosophy

John E. Roemer

ISBN 9780674318762

Publication date: 01/01/1988

Attacking the usefulness of such central Marxian concepts as the labor theory of value and surplus value, John Roemer reconstructs Marxian economic philosophy from the concepts of exploitation and class, showing that exploitation can be derived from a system of property relations. He then looks at the causes of the unequal distribution of wealth, including robbery and plunder, willingness to take risks, differential rates of time preference, luck, and entrepreneurship. He further examines the evolution of property systems—slave, feudal, capitalist, socialist—from the perspective of the theory of historical materialism, and ends by analyzing the properties of a social system in which ownership of productive assets in the external world is public, while ownership of internal productive assets—skills and talents—is private.


  • Free to Lose uses neoclassical economic models to assess both Marx’s concept of exploitation and his endorsement of socialism. From within this framework, Roemer makes a valuable, often brilliant, contribution to Marxist economic theory.

    —Debra Satz, Economics and Philosophy


  • John E. Roemer is Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale University.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press

From this author