Das Kapital: come on...you know you read it in like 12th grade!

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enemy_of_capital
Das Kapital: come on...you know you read it in like 12th grade!

 

enemy_of_capital

Das Kapital: come on...you know you read it in like 12th grade! I love the book and its still glaringly relevant today even to the avowedly reformist, and even the finance capitalist are reading it in this day of crisis, who here has read it and what if any of it is relevant. to start I think it was astute of Marx to point out the Labour theory of value which the Keynesian career politicos seem to have forgotten. remember that old slogan? "profit is the theft of the worker's wages!"

George Victor

A few of us tried a "group approach" to it one summer on the banks of the Otonabee River(outside of the classroom), but got only halfway through Vol. 1.

Loved the opening lines regarding what work should look like.

Still think that the labour theory of value is the most pertinent in a world whose minerals, forests and oceans are disappearing at about the rate of asset accumulation by Homo sapiens.

But your tendency to blame Keynesians for the loss of the theory is a bit late from the gate...look to the old classics - even the saintly Veblen (and one of his students, Stephen Leacock) for an earlier avoidance of the concept. Labour was really getting restive, back then. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

enemy_of_capital

Oh shit, man. finish the fuckin' book believe me its long its cumbersome but its worth it. I personally have read all three volumes but I would say I've only mastered the first and much of the second. the third volume is where things get messy with much in the way of philosophy which throws one right off when one has spent the better part of a year and a half reading and analyzing 200 year old economic data and theory.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Only Germans and dilettantes refer to it as "Das Kapital". The rest of us call it Capital.

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by enemy_of_capital:
[b] I personally have read all three volumes...[/b]

"Three" volumes?

What's "Theories of Surplus Value"?

Chopped liver?

enemy_of_capital

quote:


"Three" volumes?

What's "Theories of Surplus Value"?

Chopped liver?


I told you it was heavy but if you can hold your nose its well worth it, if not hit the library for a condensed version, a little easier on the old brain bucket.

to answer your question though it is a theory that suggests that a worker produces a mathmatical profit for the owner of a company/capitalist in a given shift/work period. This is the basis for exploitation for Marxists as we feel that this encompasses a unpaid/stolen portion of our rightful wage (100%) of the fruits of our labour. Thats it in an extreamly small and brutalized knutshell.

I agree the third volume is great but it is a hell of a mindfucker when contrasted with 1 and 2. also I point out that this may be because Engels edited this alone after Marx's all to early departure.

enemy_of_capital

I did miss that. wow can you tell im at work? sorry guys. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img] that said yuck read my post...Im a friggin geek.

Unionist

Enemy_of_capital, sorry for kidding around, I'm just a bit of a kidder by nature. I read all this stuff when I was your age, and I thought I had gone to heaven. I didn't find any of it easy, but I had this feeling that I mustn't miss a word. It was like reading Darwin or (some) Shakespeare. Maybe I'll go back after all these years and have another look. Life takes over, makes you "busy", and is very unforgiving. All of a sudden, you're old, even though you still feel young.

Fidel

Marx's Law of Value(LoV) is a broad concept covering labour theory of value, I believe. And I think one of the most interesting aspects of it is that capitalists need to make a profit in order for there to be so-called equillibrium in capitalist markets. Marx and other economic philosophers recognized that equillibrium rarely exists in capitalist markets.

In my view, this is why a cold war was fought, not because capitalism is inherently superior to a state planned economy in general. Capitalists realize that theoretically, capitalist enterprises cannot compete with nationalised state industries if those industries are allowed to operate at cost, or even below cost as a cutthroat competitive practice. Monopoly capitalists have that advantage over smaller fish in same sector industries whereby they oftentimes sell their products at below cost in waging war against and swallowing competition whole, and resulting in the eventual elimination of same-sector market competition - the very thing that is supposed to provide advantage to consumers in a capitalism market economy.

enemy_of_capital

no worries. I know what your saying to man, I got a baby on the way and I work the good ol 9 to 9 (no word of a lie). seriously though Im pushing it mostly because progressives are so quick to dismiss Marx and Engels these days and they really are a treasure trove for the labour movement.

Fidel

Marx is still covered in college and university studies of economics. At that level, people are encouraged to decide for themselves. One Canadian in particular, William Krehm, talks about the "Stalinization" of finance and economic theory in Canadian universities and federal politics since the 1980's or so.

enemy_of_capital

Thats interesting and good to hear but I still like the idea of working class people of all persuaisions reading and studying it together fo a fully unbiased understanding. That said I would take that course if money were available.

Fidel
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Check this out: [url=http://davidharvey.org/]Reading Marx's Capital.[/url]

George Victor

quote:


seriously though Im pushing it mostly because progressives are so quick to dismiss Marx and Engels these days and they really are a treasure trove for the labour movement.


They are a treasure trove for us all, friend.

enemy_of_capital

honestly if you want indepth analysis I would check these out after reading the material youve all shared.

[url=http://www.marxists.org]www.marxists.org[/url] (literally everything that either is marxist or thinks it is)

or

[url=http://www.marxist.com]www.marxist.com[/url]

both are obvious but provide the best material unaltered and the second is a more biased Trotskyist site I belong to that practices entryism in the second international parties.

enemy_of_capital

sort of sort of not on topic but some relevat "news" from Germany:

Das Kapital - a best seller!
By In Defence of Marxism
Friday, 17 October 2008
Two decades after the Berlin Wall fell, Karl Marx is back in fashion in Eastern Germany. Thanks to the global crisis of capitalism, Das Kapital, has become a best-seller for the academic publisher, Karl-Dietz-Verlag. This indicates a big change in attitude as a result of the experience of the joys of "market economics".

Unemployment in the former Communist East is 14 per cent, double Western levels, and wages are significantly lower. Millions of jobs were lost after reunification. A recent survey found 52 per cent of Estern Germans believe the free market economy is "unsuitable" and 43 per cent said they wanted socialism rather than capitalism.

"Everyone thought there would never again be any demand for Das Kapital," the managing director of Karl-Dietz-Verlag, Joern Schue-trumpf said. He has sold 1,500 copies so far this year, triple the number sold in all of 2007 and a 100-fold increase since 1990. "Even bankers and managers are now reading Das Kapital to try to understand what they've been doing to us," he added.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by enemy_of_capital:
[b]Das Kapital: come on...you know you read it in like 12th grade![/b]

We did?

What the heck school did YOU go to, anyhow? [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] We read Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, and Shakespeare.

lagatta

I must have been about 17 when I read most (but not all) of Capital, like enemy and unionist. Nothing to do with school - "Capital study groups" were very popular on the left back then, and it was common for kids as young as 13 to get involved in the "movement" against the Vietnam War, then imperialism etc in general.

I was riveted, but probably couldn't explain much of what I was reading. Have re-read some (and indeed, passages from tome 3 due to the ecosocialist stuff), but have to confess that I haven't read the entire opus through, in any language.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://links.org.au/node/686]Free download: Marxist Economics -- A handbook of basic definitions[/url]

This 42-page handbook, published in 1998, is now available free in .pdf format.

From the Table of Contents:

1. Commodities — 5
2. Use-value — 6
3. Value — 6
4. Concrete labour and abstract labour — 6
5. Simple labour and complex labour — 8
6. Socially necessary labour — 8
7. Exchange — the form of value — general equivalent — money — the law of value — 9
8. General formula of capital — 11
9. Surplus value and exchange — 12
10. Labour-power and its value — 13
11. But what is this newly created value? — 13
12. The production of surplus-value — 14
13. Capital as a social relation — 15
14. Constant capital and variable capital — 16
15. Absolute surplus-value — relative surplus-value — extra surplus-value — 17
16. The wage — 19
17. Production and reproduction — 19
18. Simple capitalist reproduction — 20
19. Expanded capitalist reproduction — capital accumulation — 22
20. The organic composition of capital, the concentration and centralisation of capital — 23
21. Industrial reserve army — 24
22. Relative pauperisation — 25
23. Fundamental contradiction of the capitalist mode of production — 25
24. The cycle of capital — 26
25. Capital turnover — 28
26. Fixed capital and circulating capital — 28
27. Annual rate of surplus-value and methods for the acceleration of capital turnover — 30
28. Capitalist production costs and profit — 32
29. Rate of profit — 32
30. Formation of the average rate of profit and transformation of the value of the commodities into a production price — 33
31. Tendential decline in the rate of profit — 36
32. Commercial capital — banking capital — 37
33. Periodic crises of overproduction — 39

enemy_of_capital

This is a great resource I also suggest the "People's Marx" by Karl Kautsky as a lead up to reading the first volume. Another good one I find is to read the lengthy introductions written by Marx and/or (depending on edition) Engels before diving into the meat.

Jacob Richter

Most people can't get past Volume I. Even if I haven't read Das Kapital in its entirety, I have read key parts to deem Volumes II and III to be more interesting than Volume I.

A better substitute for Volume I would be [i]The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx[/i] by Karl Kautsky.

Nevertheless, in Das Kapital CLASS is defined NOT by relation to MOP (contrary to the common perception), but to surplus value.

[ 20 October 2008: Message edited by: Jacob Richter ]

Erik Redburn

quote:


Originally posted by George Victor:
[b]
But your tendency to blame Keynesians for the loss of the theory is a bit late from the gate...look to the old classics - even the saintly Veblen (and one of his students, Stephen Leacock) for an earlier avoidance of the concept. Labour was really getting restive, back then. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

Keynes' was probably wrong re economic growth, but his singular success permanently demonstrated that Marx was even further off the mark. Nothing happening now can reverse that.

janfromthebruce

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]

We did?

What the heck school did YOU go to, anyhow? [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] We read Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, and Shakespeare.[/b]


I don't remember the books I read. I'm sure I read some. My mom was an ex-teacher, I'm sure she was disappointed, so for every Christmas she gave me a book. I eventually started to read them. Classics of the time.

Jacob Richter

quote:


Originally posted by Erik Redburn:
[b]

Keynes' was probably wrong re economic growth, but his singular success permanently demonstrated that Marx was even further off the mark. Nothing happening now can reverse that.[/b]


Keynes wasn't really successful with his economic theory. It was reliant on dominant powers exploiting the underdeveloped world and, in its pure form, was best suited for Nazi Germany.

Besides, all this current crisis, inexplicable by the Big Media except when resorting to "banker greed," can ONLY be explained at a structural level from a "Marxian" viewpoint (overaccumulation of capital, falling rates of profit, and especially the transformation of this capitalist crisis into the impending conflict between capitalist states resulting from bank nationalizations). [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 21 October 2008: Message edited by: Jacob Richter ]

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[url=http://www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1967/intromet/index.htm]An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory[/url]

Vancouver Socialist Forum is holding a series of three educational discussions, each of which will cover one of the three chapters of this work. I would recommend this work as an excellent introductory text on Marxist economics.

Jacob Richter

I hope the manga comic gets translated to English.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=We">http://rabble.ca/columnists/we-all-need-be-marxian-critics-now][=me... all need to be Marxian critics now[/][/url], says Duncan Cameron.

KenS

didnt see this before.

The thread was entertaining back in october, if someone wants to do more of that.

 Capital was a truly brilliant attempt.

I was at Marx's grave in Highgate the second day of the coup against Gorbachev. There was nothing outwardy different for that- hanging out at Marx's grave is [or was] always interesting.

robbie_dee

Maybe it would be more accessible with a catchy melody.

[url=http://www.macaudailytimesnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie... Daily Times: China to unleash "Marx the Musical"[/url]

Quote:

High-kicking Chinese Marxists are set to bring communism's most famous tract to life – as a musical.

An all-singing, all-dancing stage version of Das Kapital is being produced in Shanghai to show how the thinking of Karl Marx is as relevant in today's economic crisis as when his book was first published in 1867, producers said Monday.

"The entertainment and theatrical elements will help ordinary people better understand why the financial crisis is happening," said Zhang Jun, a Fudan University economics professor, who is an advisor on the production.

He said his role is to ensure Marx's ideas are accurately represented in the stage spectacular.

"I've given an introductory briefing to the crew. They are still working on the script," Zhang added.

"The director, He Nian, will incorporate modern elements in the show to make it easily connect to people's lives and feelings."

The musical will revolve around a group of office workers who discover their boss is exploiting them and each responds differently, the China Daily newspaper reported.

"We will bring [Marx's] economic theories to life in a trendy, interesting and educational play, which will be fun to watch," the paper quoted He as saying.

The show is still in the development stage and would likely debut in the middle of next year at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, the centre's general manager Yang Shaolin said.

Yang said the idea was inspired by the popularity of a Japanese manga comic book adaptation of "Das Kapital" published in December.

"That's part of the reason why we are confident a theoretical masterpiece can be transformed into something easy-to-understand," Yang said.

Although Marx was austere, the show might adopt a style and panache comparable to Broadway or Las Vegas, he said.

"We will not rule out any kind of performing style as long as it entertains our audience and helps them better understand the book," Yang said.

scott scott's picture

enemy_of_capital wrote:
Thats interesting and good to hear but I still like the idea of working class people of all persuaisions reading and studying it together fo a fully unbiased understanding. That said I would take that course if money were available.

I agree. The material is pretty dense so prior reading then discussion is definitely called for. My group didn't get much past the first half of Volume 1 (a common stumbling block apparently). My recommendation - go easy on the wine. Wink Ms. scott and I used to have "I married a monster from a Marxist study group" buttons. Laughing

__________________________________

One struggle, many fronts.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

enemy_of_capital wrote:

the third volume is where things get messy with much in the way of philosophy which throws one right off when one has spent the better part of a year and a half reading and analyzing 200 year old economic data and theory.

Hardly anybody ever reads the third volume. Yet this is the primary source of Marx's thinking on ecology, and forms much of the basis for the modern movement for ecosocialism.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

enemy_of_capital wrote:

to answer your question though it is a theory that suggests that a worker produces a mathmatical profit for the owner of a company/capitalist in a given shift/work period. This is the basis for exploitation for Marxists as we feel that this encompasses a unpaid/stolen portion of our rightful wage (100%) of the fruits of our labour. Thats it in an extreamly small and brutalized knutshell.

I think you missed the point of unionist's rhetorical question, which is that there is a "Fourth" volume of Capital called [url=http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1863/theories-surplus-value/i... of Surplus Value[/url].

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[Edited to delete link to related thread that is now permanently consigned to babble cut-out limbo] Yell

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www.rdwolff.com/content/marxian-economics]Marxian Economics[/url]
An Intensive Introduction (Audio Series - four 2-hour lectures) Free online!
by Richard Wolff

Published on July 28, 2009

This course provides a working foundation in the core concepts of Marxian economic theory - necessary and surplus labor, labor power, surplus value, exploitation, capital accumulation, distributions of the surplus, capitalist crises, and the differences between capitalist and other class structures. In addition, these core concepts will be systematically used to understand current social problems (including political and cultural as well as economic problems). The goal is to enable students to apply Marxian economics in their own efforts to analyze society and to strategize politically today.

 

Mike Stirner

Marxian economics is an oxymoron.

Its only good in so far as critique as well as wanting to create a completely new way of existing. When it comes to policy on the other hand Marxists tend to be disasters.

When it comes to the former I look to people like Charles Fourier, Max Stirner, the situationists international ect for inspiration. When I think of the latter in terms of a practical appropraition of modern dynamics I tend to see things like the communist manifesto as a bad idea. I would at least look into people like Proudohn someone who was not as radical in critique but at least has a working model.

500_Apples

I'm reading it right now, I'm very early in on like page 200 of Volume 1.

I'm finding it a boring and difficult read. He keeps repeating himself over and over again. Like if he says buying is different from selling, he'll have a few pages about that, and then he'll have a few pages arguing that selling is different from buying.What for? I don't know.

The old English is also very difficult. It took me a logn time to get by the "use-value" and "exchange-value" terminology. Exchange value just means market value, and use-value means intrinsic value. I was also never good with Shakespeare.

Jacob Richter

It's an easy read once you get past the first three chapters.  The chapter on the working day implies a political demand the workers need to raise, even today.

Yes, exchange value is market value, but use-value is NOT intrinsic value.  It is in fact more akin to the marginalist concept of utility.

Quote:
Marxian economics is an oxymoron.

Its only good in so far as critique as well as wanting to create a completely new way of existing.

Another liberal who only understands Marx as a crisis economist tries to derail this thread.

B9sus4 B9sus4's picture

Well, well.. here I am loving this thread.. especially Jacob's last remark.. and I look up and see this whole thing has been a dead issue since October 2009!!

I R Shocked!Surprised

However, just for fun, I shall report that the Prof. David Harvey link provided by Mr. Spector is still good and in fact there is on that site a wonderful video of a discussion between Prof Harvey and Alexander Cockburn from Counterpunch..

http://davidharvey.org/

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The David Harvey videos are good I understand (haven't seen them all myself). However, mention should at least be made of one of the best summaries of Marxist Political Economy in English. I mean Paul Sweezy's The Theory of Capitalist Development. You can still get it from the Monthly Review Press in the US. Sweezy's other famous book, Monopoly Capital, is worth mentioning as well.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

I do have a copy that I've had for all too many years...decades???   Must confess that I've only read a chapter or two...the rest of the time been using them as doorstops.  I rescued them from someone else who probably never got around to reading them.

To tell you the truth...if anyone wants them...and is in the Toronto area...send me a PM.

They're paperback editions from International Publisher's third printing...1970!   But are in a thick cardboard case.