Mr Stedman Jones is even critical of parts of “Capital”. In one
passage, Marx set out to answer a puzzle. Changing levels of supply and
demand explain why the price of a commodity goes up or down, but does
not explain why the equilibrium price of that commodity is what it is.
For instance, why are strawberries pricier than apples?
To solve the puzzle Marx relied on the “labour theory of value”. He
helped prove that the price of a commodity was determined by how much
labour time had gone into it—which showed how workers were exploited.
However, he “arbitrarily ruled out the relative desirability or utility
of commodities,” says Mr Stedman Jones, which would strike most people
as the obvious explanation. The author encapsulates a feeling of many
students of Marx: read the dense, theoretical chapters of “Capital”
closely, and no matter how much you try, it is hard to escape the
conclusion that there is plenty of nonsense in there.