Introduction to Research by Professor Hiroshi Onishi, Faculty of Economics, Keio University
Envisioning the Post-Capitalist Economy
Professor Hiroshi Onishi of Keio University's Faculty of Economics is working to break new ground in in mathematical Marxian economics.
Marxian economics can be split broadly into two fields: the theory of surplus value, which studies the problem of exploitation under capitalism, and historical materialism, which studies capitalism as a transient social system in the context of human history.
Professor Onishi's work in this area entails the mathematical modeling of changes in social systems from feudalism to capitalism, and then on to post-capitalist society.
Q. A precondition of our work is a clear understanding of historical social change from feudalism to capitalism.
Why did we need the capitalist system after the Industrial Revolution? Why did capitalism work well? And yet workers were unable to fully enjoy this system and actually lost bargaining power with respect to capitalists. Unfortunately, this was indeed a necessary condition for economic development under capitalism. That's why it developed, and this mechanism can be modeled as a form of a simultaneous equation system. That's the work I do.
Before the industrial revolution, the most important task of societies was to enhance the skills of craftsmen in order to improve productivity. But after the industrial revolution, the quality and quantity of machines took precedence, and the human labor under the machines was reduced to unskilled labor, replaceable at any time.
Q. Capital stock is not growing at all in Japan now, and the situation is the same across all developed countries, including the United States. But this is not a failure, it is an inevitable result of economic success. In other words, it suggests that the curtain is closing on capitalism in which capital accumulation is society’s primary task. And that we are now moving into the next form of society in which human labor, rather than the machines, has again become crucial to the production system. In a society where creativity and ideas have become much important, only humans can provide them.
If a social system values such new factors, we would need to invest in humanity itself instead of investing in capital. Capital loses its importance, and the new factors other than capital become key. This is a crucial difference from a capitalist society. That's why I think we can talk about a post-capitalist society. We don't have time to go over the details here, but it can be examined in terms of the mathematical models I mentioned. That's my view.
In the post-capitalist era, a society that values knowledge emerges.
And Professor Onishi says that modeling such a future society is an important task in modern Marxist economics. Research along these lines promises to open up new ground in Marxian economics.
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