The foundation for political economy is the concept of each person's tastes or preferences, i.e., desire. In neoclassical economics, preferences are assumed to be essentially predetermined genetically for each individual-oh, all right, perhaps bent a bit in utero by the mother's choices and even warped a small amount shortly after birth by the "nuclear family."l It is these preferences that lie at the base of the celebrated First and Second Efficiency Theorems of economic theory, which provide the key logic underlying intellectual defenses of market-based systems for social guidance and control. These theorems hold that capitalism allocates tasks and consumptions to each
person in such a way that it is impossible to rearrange them in any way that would make some people happier and no one less happy (this is known as the market's "pareto efficiency"}.2 Marxism, in contrast, takes individual preferences as wholly socially constructed by the social relations of production. In this view, the social structure of capital-versus-Iabor determines all noteworthy variations in human desires.