Short Essay on Marx’s Theory of Surplus Value

The theory of surplus value is one of the significant contributions of Karl Marx to political science. It is discussed in his monument work “Das Capital” which showed the opaque side of capitalism and is ample testimony of worker’s exploitation in capitalist society.

His theory is based upon the labour theory of value as Sabine remarks “the theory of surplus value was professedly an extension of the labour theory of value already stated by Ricardo and the classical economists”.

According to Marx, of the four elements of production viz., land, labour, capital and organization; only labour is the source of value. Every commodity was exchange value represented by price. However, workers get much less than what he produces.

Das Kapital

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Much of it is appropriated by the capi­talist. This difference between the exchange value of the manufactured commodity and the price paid to the worker for his labour is called surplus value.

Under the socialist system the value of labour would be paid to the worker. Moreover, Marx emphasizes that “He who does not work, neither shall eat”.


1. Marx neglects the efficacy of capital and entrepreneurship skill in production process.

2. Marx is interested in egalitarian principles than growth.

3. Even his socialist Utopia has failed to remedy the disease that he thought to diagnose very correctly.

4. His remedy through revolution is questionable. For, there may be more adequate peaceful methods to deal with exploitation.

Despite limitations, Marxist conception of surplus value is noteworthy for highlighting the intricate and complex exploitative character of capitalist system of production. Perhaps this led to revision and rethinking within the liberal paradigm the positive, welfare state was nothing out of a plea to remedy the ill plight of weak and poor sections.