Marxist Land Economics

  • Graham Hallett


In recent years Marxism has gained a substantial following in Western Universities, and several books on urban economics have been pub lished which are Marxist in approach. Moreover, much of the discussion of urban problems by ‘community groups’ and journalists uses im plicitly Marxist concepts. One must begin any examination of Marxist urban economics with Marx himself.


Marginal Productivity Central Business District Land Price Mainstream Economic Marxist Theory 
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Select Bibliography

  1. T. A. Broadbent, Planning and Profit in the Urban Economy, Methuen, 1977Google Scholar
  2. Manuel Castells, The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach Edward Arnold, 1977Google Scholar
  3. David Harvey, Social Justice and the City Edward Arnold, 1973Google Scholar
  4. Karl Marx, Capital Vol III, ( Page references are to the 1909 Chicago edition )Google Scholar
  5. Karl Marx and F. Engels, The Communist ManifestoGoogle Scholar
  6. A more populist type of Marxist analysis is to be found in Profits against Houses and Gilding the Ghetto 1976, Community Development Project, The Home Office, London.Google Scholar


  1. 1.
    Engels, editing Marx some years later, added a percipient comment which implicitly contradicts Marx’s (and Mill’s) agricultural prognosis: ‘Fortunately all prairie lands have not been taken under cultivation. There are enough of them left to ruin all the great landlords of Europe and the small ones into the bargain’. (pp. 842–3)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nearly all the docking facilities of our port cities are in the hands of the great land leviathans in consequence of the same process of usurpation’ (p. 728). The subsequent decline of these docks illustrates that even real property is subject to ‘waves of creative destruction’.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    V. Kirichento, National Wealth of the USSR, Moscow, 1964, p. 46.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The following contributions are available in translation: F. von Wieser. ‘The Theory of Urban Ground Rent’ in Essays in European Economic Thought ed. L. Sommer, Princeton, USA, 1960.Google Scholar
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  6. H. von Stackleberg. The Theory of the Market Economy London, 1952.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    quoted in Wilczynski op. cit. p. 544.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    In one not very clear sentence, Hurd does admittedly talk about ‘exchange value’ differing from intrinsic value (p. 2). But the context makes quite clear that he is referring to the fact that properties with the same net rent at present may have different values because expected future changes justify different capitalisation rates. ‘Where a locality is advancing in value, capitalisation rates are low, where stationary they are normal, and where declining they run very high’ (p. 1) He stresses that ‘estimated future prospects form the mastering factor of all exchange values.... To be reckoned with under the head of future prospects are not only local changes of utility, but the rate of growth of the city as a whole, the prosperity or depression of the surrounding section and the success or failure of the industries directly supporting it’ (p. 2). This still relevant comment on property yields makes it clear that Hurd’s passing distinction between ‘intrinsic value’ and ‘exchange value’ has no ‘classical’ connotations, and could be phrased quite differently.Google Scholar
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    Hallett (1977) p. 115–6.Google Scholar
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    Leo Grebler. Housing Market Behaviour in a Declining Area New York 1953. Vernon and Hoover, and Frieden op. cit. see pp. 123, 220.Google Scholar
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    There are, in practice, many other considerations. ‘It is fairly easy to make up a composite check list to see whether relocation is really worth considering: 1. Is there a substantial rent review on the horizon? 2. Does the property tie up capital that could be better employed elsewhere? 3. Is the business in an unnecessarily expensive area, looking at both rent and rates? 4. Are the buildings really suited for business today, or has the business merely grown used to fitting into existing space? 5. Do staff have transport problems? 6. Can you afford, or get the right staff in the present location? In the phraseology of the women’s magazines, if your score is high it’s time to think about divorcing your building.’ John Brennan, ‘Arguments for relocation’ Property IV, Financial Times July 3 1978.Google Scholar
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    The New Class London, 1966.Google Scholar
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    Economics as a Science New York, 1970.Google Scholar
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    Capitalism and the Permissive Society Macmillan, 1973.Google Scholar
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    The whole concept of nations being ‘underdeveloped’ (or ‘less developed’ or ‘developing’), not to mention ‘overdeveloped’, is problematical and even questionable, as any good text book on development economics stresses (e.g. C. P. Kindleberger and B. Herrick Development Economics New York 1977 Chap. 1). Britain may well be ‘overdeveloped’ in the sense that, because of its 19th century history, it has developed a taste for a standard of livingGoogle Scholar
  18. which its present industrial performance cannot support. It could equally well be argued that, having adopted policies similar in some respects to those of the less successful countries of the Third World, Britain has begun to show signs of ‘under-development’. It might be better to abandon ‘catch-all’ concepts on ‘state of development’ and concentrate on a comparative international analysis of specific policies and institutions.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    M. Lipton, Why Poor People Stay Poor Temple Smith 1976, p. 319ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Graham Hallett 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Hallett
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeCardiffUK

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