Knowledge, Class, and Economics: Marxism without Guarantees surveys the "Amherst School" of non-determinist Marxist political economy, 40 years on: its core concepts, intellectual origins, diverse pathways, and enduring tensions. The volume’s 30 original essays reflect the range of perspectives and projects that comprise the Amherst School—the interdisciplinary community of scholars that has enriched and extended, while never ceasing to interrogate and recast, the anti-economistic Marxism first formulated in the mid-1970s by Stephen Resnick, Richard Wolff, and their economics Ph.D. students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The title captures the defining ideas of the Amherst School: an open-system framework that presupposes the complexity and contingency of social-historical events and the parallel "overdetermination" of the relationship between subjects and objects of inquiry, along with a novel conception of class as a process of performing, appropriating, and distributing surplus labor. In a collection of 30 original essays, chapters confront readers with the core concepts of overdetermination and class in the context of economic theory, postcolonial theory, cultural studies, continental philosophy, economic geography, economic anthropology, psychoanalysis, and literary theory/studies.

Though Resnick and Wolff’s writings serve as a focal point for this collection, their works are ultimately decentered—contested, historicized, reformulated. The topics explored will be of interest to proponents and critics of the post-structuralist/postmodern turn in Marxian theory and to students of economics as social theory across the disciplines (economics, geography, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, political theory, philosophy, and literary studies, among others).

chapter |16 pages


Marxism without guarantees

part I|24 pages

Knowledge, class, and economics

chapter 1|24 pages

A conversation with Rick Wolff

part II|77 pages

Economics without guarantees

chapter 2|18 pages

Strangers in a strange land

A Marxian critique of economics

chapter 3|14 pages

Marxian economics without teleology

The big new life of class

chapter 6|19 pages

Catallactic Marxism

Marx, Hayek, and the market

part III|49 pages

Labor, value, and class

chapter 7|24 pages

Class and overdetermination

Value theory and the core of Resnick and Wolff’s Marxism

chapter 9|13 pages

Rethinking labor

Surplus, class, and justice

part IV|42 pages

Heretical materialism

chapter 10|7 pages

The last instance

Resnick and Wolff at the point of heresy

chapter 11|16 pages

Aleatory Marxism

Resnick, Wolff, and the revivification of Althusser

chapter 12|19 pages


Tracing connections and consequences

part V|52 pages

Appraising the postmodern turn

chapter 13|15 pages

Marxism’s double task

Deconstructing and reconstructing postmodernism

chapter 14|17 pages


The ethical moment

chapter 15|14 pages

The cost of anti-essentialism

chapter 16|6 pages

Marxism and postmodernism

Our goal is to learn from one another

part VI|96 pages

Postcolonial Marx

chapter 17|25 pages

Global Marx?

chapter 19|22 pages

Draining the “blood energy”

Destruction of independent production and creation of migrant workers in post-reform China

chapter 20|17 pages

Problematizing the global economy

Financialization and the “feudalization” of capital

chapter 21|13 pages

Reproduction of noncapital

A Marxian perspective on the informal economy in India

part VII|32 pages

Capitalism and class analysis

chapter 22|15 pages

Management ideologies and the class structure of capitalist enterprises

Shareholderism vs. stakeholderism at Scott Paper Company

chapter 23|17 pages

Lewis L. Lorwin’s “Five-Year Plan for the World”

A subsumed class response to the crises of the 1930s

part VIII|29 pages

Communism without guarantees

chapter 24|14 pages

Bad communisms

chapter 25|15 pages

Hope without guarantees

Overdeterminist anti-capitalism amidst neoliberal precarity

part IX|81 pages

Knowledge and class in everyday life

chapter 26|17 pages

The work of sex

chapter 27|12 pages

Homelessness as violence

Bad people, bad policy, or overdetermined social processes?

chapter 29|19 pages

A long shadow and undiscovered country

Notes on the class analysis of education

chapter 30|17 pages

Ecological challenges

A Marxist response