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How could one give a star rating to Das Kapital It stands, with Marx s canon, as one of the most influential books in history, perhaps rivaling only some religious texts With three stars, I think I will have reached a compromise which will offend everyone.Das Kapital is Marx s attempt to codify and transmit his collected observations on the state of capitalism This is a far cry from the soaring rhetoric of the Manifesto its aim is to be both a systematic critique of capitalism as well as an empirical description of its methods.Marx s precepts are often transmitted and sloganized, if frequently misunderstood His writing is imperious and droll, cluttered with arithmatic formulas, but there are many ideas to be squeezed out of it Some have survived in modern discourse, and some are discredited Here are a very few Commodities are the cells in the biological sense of a capitalist society They have a use value and exchange value , roughly analogous in purpose to value and price in neoclassicism Labor is what gives a commodity product value Politics and economics are the major factors in the development of human history Capitalism can take root once people become objects, when traditional taboos against money and interest are broken, and a social capital is formed social communication among capitalists which creates a new social order The structural contradictions of capitalist economies bourgeoisie v proletariat, means of production, and so forth Economic crises booms, busts are rooted within the very nature of capitalist production.He recognizes the astonishing power and productivity that capital and capitalism have created with new industrial productivity methods But he also fears it How destructive it can be to those people and perhaps now, resources which will be consumed to feed its system of eternal unending growth The first volume is an astonishing endeavor in this regard it is systematic, almost lyrical for an economics textbook Marx cites theology and classical poetry and philosophy He writes vicious attacks on his predecessors physiocrats, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, John Say However, Marx died before his masterwork could be fully completed It was left to his long time companion, Friedrich Engels, to dredge up from the morass of notes a fitting conclusion to the text Volume II is a complete slog, a disorganized rambling mess I confess that I skipped over some sections and fell asleep multiple times while reading it Volume III, however, regains lost luster it contains a bevy of thoughts on the usage of Interest Rates, on Mercantilism, on a Commercial Class, on Interest Rates Capital Gains , and, as if Marx knew the end was coming, a final summary of his thoughts over the past thousands of pages What use are these to us in the 21st century No doubt some of these ideas are mitigated or altered by other theorists and economists Some have been openly embraced by the orthodox order, some are outside of it Keynesianism and Neoclassicism grapple squarely both with him as much as they do the old Smithian order and the Austrian school It is fair to give him credit for asking a few questions which few others had the foresight to ask, although his answers are the most open to doubt.The history of the 20th century is littered with the corpses of new social orders, reactions and counter reactions to capital Fascism, communism even a forcible attempt to engineer a neo liberal total free market state in Chile, starting on 9 11 1973 All of them have ended with brutish totalitarianism, a regression, a master slave state which seems repugnant to us who live in the capitalist world now Marx was deliberately vague in his non propagandistic works, because of the uncertainty of the future forms of socialism of what form his new world in the stage of human development would take Perhaps he might not have recognized totalitarianism in any form as socialism Perhaps now in this time of depression, it is easy to be anti capitalist, anti consumerist I tend to lean that way myself The endless cycle of growth is unappealing, dangerous, all consuming But what alternatives do we have on a global scale A local one A sort of watery social democrat Keynesianism A technocratic state A green one Post scarcity Trans humanism Full on Corporatism Market socialism Authoritarian democracy Some combination of all of these It is easy to cast him out as a historical failure But with each occurrence of recession, he staggers out of the grave free market advocates dig for him Capitalism has been characterized as rotten and on the verge of collapse since the 16th century and there were fiscal and monetary crises then, sometimes twice a decade It is an unstable system, but somehow very good at what it does It remains to Marx and others like him to formulate alternatives, although the process of experimentation and change remain unthinkable to many If one must read the thing itself, Volume I and the final section of Volume III are those most important choose from the rest what you will. Das Kapital, Karl Marx s seminal work, is the book that above all others formed the twentieth century From Kapital sprung the economic and political systems that at one time dominated half the earth and for nearly a century kept the world on the brink of war Even today,than one billion Chinese citizens live under a regime that proclaims fealty to Marxist ideology Yet this important tome has been passed over by many readers frustrated by Marx s difficult style and his preoccupation with nineteenth century events of little relevance to today s reader.Here Serge Levitsky presents a revised version of Kapital, abridged to emphasize the political and philosophical core of Marx s work while trimming away much that is now unimportant Pointing out Marx s many erroneous predictions about the development of capitalism, Levitsky s introduction nevertheless argues for Kapital s relevance as a prime example of a philosophy of economic determinism that subordinates the problems of human freedom and human dignity to the issues of who should own the means of production and how wealth should be distributed Here then is a fresh and highly readable version of a work whose ideas provided inspiration for communist regimes ideological war against capitalism, a struggle that helped to shape the world today. Das Kapital Kritik der politischen konomie Der Produktionsprozess des Kapitals, Karl Marx Capital, Volume I Das Kapital , 1867, Capital, Volume II posthumously published by Engels , 1885, Capital, Volume III posthumously published by Engels , 1894.Capital Volume I The Process of Production of Capital German Das Kapital Erster Band Buch I Der Produktionsprocess des Kapitals is an 1867 economics book by German philosopher Karl Marx In Volume I, the only part of Marx s multi volume Capital Critique of Political Economy to be published during his lifetime, Marx critiques capitalism chiefly from the standpoint of its production processes After Marx s death, Friedrich Engels compiled and expanded his friend s notes into volumes II 1885 and III 1894 1972 1352 1392 1393 1396 19 .. Had Marx avoided moral judgments in this tome, had he stuck only to symptoms of capitalism s maladies, this book might still be read in the West today Instead, Marx and his labor theory of value are considered discredited by economics departments and worthy of little than synopses and essays about the work Das Kapital is still cited by many and read by none and this is probably because Marx s moral remedy led to greater woes than capitalism did.This book is also too long by about 2 3 I would recommend reading it the following way Review the title and first two pages of each chapter If you grasp what Marx is after, move along to the next chapter otherwise, keep reading until you do have a grasp on it Marx will repeat himself tirelessly and occasionally leaven things with mathematical formulae that are entirely unnecessary for a contemporary reader If you re reading Das Kapital for its economics insights, you may skip large parts of the book s second half If you are reading it for a condemnation of the moral failures of free market capitalism, you may skip large parts of the book s first half and most of the first halves of each chapter.Is this book still timely in some of its observations Absolutely Is it worth the 40 or so hours it takes to read cover to cover Probably not.Here are the book s two greatest insights, I believe 1 The farther money moves from human labor, the dangerous it becomes.2 At every moment capitalism reduces the value of every existing commodity and subsequently the value of every skill set required to provide it.The overarching insight that Marx had about capitalism, the one we re contending with right now, is that it eventually cannibalizes itself.Trouble is, Marx insisted on putting faces on the system He insisted on chronicling the immorality of some English capitalists of the 1860s In so doing, he failed to predict today s United States of America Everybody is a participant, an exploiter and an exploited, and all are ruined by the system Today s corporate officer works 100 hours week Today s lower middle class laborer works 40 hours week One envies the other s wealth One envies the other s time Neither is fulfilled or content Both realize capitalism s constant revolution and reinvention will render them obsolete at least once in their lives.Capitalism s fundamental instability is incompatible with human contentment.But the acceleration of capitalism s cycles is not something Marx explicitly predicted Make no mistake, though Were Marx able to stand in the middle of today s Manhattan and behold the meltdown of a commissions based economy in which trillions of dollars are made by electronically moving capital from one place to another, he would say, What took so long IntroductionNote on the TextSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Karl MarxPreface to the First German EditionAfterword to the Second German Edition Capital Abridged Marx s Selected FootnotesExplanatory NotesSubject IndexName Index In France and in England the bourgeoisie had conquered political power Thenceforth, the class struggle, practically as well as theoretically, took on and outspoken and threatening forms Karl Marx, London,January 24, 1873 he meant stimulate Marxism applied failed Still, The Economist finds virtue in the ideology am glad there was one called Mises, to counter Marx Marx didn t use the word capitalism But, communism failed.PS a propos China s case Still, some forget History there are those who still believe the marxist theory is one of the most perceptive critiques cover and a cartoon inside the latest issue of Philosophy Now pleased me greatly Right, Marx needs to be questioned. Karl Marx s Capital can be read as a work of economics, sociology and history He addresses a myriad of topics, but is most generally trying to present a systematic account of the nature, development, and future of the capitalist system There is a strong economic focus to this work, and Marx addresses the nature of commodities, wages and the worker capitalist relationship, among other things Much of this work tries to show the ways in which workers are exploited by the capitalist mode of production He also provides a history of past exploitations Marx argues that the capitalist system is ultimately unstable, because it cannot endlessly sustain profits Thus, it provides a technical background to some of his generally accessible works, like The Communist Manifesto.This study guide focuses on one component of Capital, Marx s schema of how the capitalist system functions Marx argues that commodities have both a use value and an exchange value, and that their exchange value is rooted in how much labor power went into them While traditionally people bought commodities in order to use them, capitalists use commodities differently Their final goal is increased profit Therefore, they put out money and buy commodities, in order to sell those commodities for a profit The cycle then repeats itself The reason why the capitalists are able to make a profit is that they only need to pay workers their value how much it takes to keep them functional , but the workers produce than that amount in a day Thus, the workers are exploited The capitalists are able to do this because they have power, and control the means of production Further, the workers character is negatively affected by the system They don t own the products of their labor, and the repetitive work they have to do makes them little than machines.Marx presents several definitions that will be important throughout his work, so it is very important to be clear on their meanings A use value corresponds to the usefulness of an object, and is internal to that object For example, a hammer is a use value because of its contributions to building Its use value comes from its usefulness In contrast, a hammer s exchange value comes from its value relative to other objects For example, a hammer might be worth two screwdrivers An object doesn t have an exchange value in itself, but only in its relationship with other objects.However, the fact that the hammer and screwdriver can be exchanged at all suggests that there must be something common between them, some means of comparison Marx says that this is the object s value Value means the amount of labor it takes to make the commodities This labor theory of value is very important to Marx s theory It implies that the price of commodities comes from how much labor was put into them One implication of this is that objects with natural use value, such as forests and other natural resources, do not have value because no labor went into them One problematic question, then, is how such natural resources can have exchange value people do spend money on them without benefiting from labor It is also important to consider how Marx s conception of the roots of exchange value differs from modern economic theory In modern theory, something s exchange value is rooted in people s subjective preferences While the amount of labor required would be linked to the supply curve of a commodity, its exchange value is also determined by the demand curve Marx focuses exclusively on labor.This book also gives a general sense of Marx s approach in Capital.Here he dissects one aspect of the modern capitalist system and presents a schema for understanding why it functions as it does Later Marx will analyze things like the role of money and the capitalist While this book makes many historical and sociological arguments, it is largely a book of economic theory and its implications.One thing to consider when thinking about Marx s characterization of capitalism is where this capitalistic ethic came from Marx says that capitalists have an endless need for money, and that the system of capitalism requires and perpetuates this attitude Even if this is true, however, it does not explain how capitalism developed in the first place What made people view M as an end in itself Where does this thirst for profit come from Marx s description does not spend a lot of time explaining how people could have come to develop these ideas This limitation is a potential theoretical difficulty.Marx spends a lot of time discussing the ways in which capitalism is rooted in social institutions Capitalism is not natural, but rather depends upon social structures, such as property laws One social factor that is very important for Marx s theory is that the workers don t own the means of production Because of this, they must sell their labor to others It is precisely because workers do own their own labor that they are able to give up all claims to it, by selling it as property As a result, they don t own the commodities they produce somebody else owns their labor and the products of that labor The result is that workers become alienated from their labor they do not control or own what they create In Marx s framework, labor power is a commodity in the market Its value is determined in the same way as for other commodities, and it is used by capitalists as another commodity in the production process.Marx s labor theory of value becomes very important when looking at the commodity of labor power A hammer s value comes from the amount of labor put into it What, then, is labor power s value Marx applies the definition of value its value is the amount of labor needed to produce and sustain labor power Or simply, it is the amount of labor needed to keep the laborer alive and functioning at his capacity Let s say that a worker needs 100 week to survive and function The value of his labor power is, therefore, 100 week as well A worker s price his wage must be at least 100 week in order for the worker to be paid at value This concept will be very important in later chapters, when Marx will try to show that it is possible to exploit labor.Marx s labor theory of value again makes an appearance, as he tries to explain a seeming paradox A capitalist purchases all of the inputs needed to make a commodity labor power, raw materials, etc at their value He also sells the end product at its value If this is the case, where does the surplus value come from If there s no surplus value, then capitalism cannot exist, because there would be no profit Marx s answer comes from the unique character of labor power Labor power s use value what it can create is not the same thing as its exchange value what is needed to sustain the worker A worker sells himself at his value, but he produces than this value In this way, the capitalist gains surplus value This is significant, because it explains how exploitation can occur as the result of a series of freely made trades The worker could complain that he is not being paid for the value of what he produces However, the capitalist can reply that the worker is being paid his value Once the worker is paid for a day s work, the capitalist has the right to use him for a day Justice is part of the overall mode of production of the times, and as a result, this exchange can be considered just Why do the workers put up with such exploitation Couldn t they demand higher wages, that match the value their labor power produces Marx s answer is that the workers don t have the capacity to work without the capitalists they require factories and other means of production The workers are selling an abstract capacity to labor, and because of this, the capitalist is able to exploit them by only paying labor power s value Consider whether you think Marx s characterization of the labor market is fair Does labor have the ability to fight exploitation and set wages closer to the value of what they produce Think of this both historically and theoretically.An important theme in Marx s work is class tension According to Marx, all of history has been defined by class conflict Modern times are no different in this regard, and are defined by tension between the capitalist and the worker Marx describes one source of this tension in this chapter, as he mentions again the asymmetry between the use value and exchange value of labor power already discussed in Chapter 7 In this class conflict, the capitalists are the stronger class This allows them to exert force and define what workers will be paid However, the fact that they are the stronger class does not simply give capitalists bargaining power Rather, social institutions such as property laws are defined to support the capitalists needs The mode of production reflects the economic system of capitalism It will continue to do so, and continue to favor the capitalists, until it self destructs.It is important to realize that the capitalists cannot behave differently there will always be tension between them and the workers The very essence of a capitalist is his desire to gain surplus value The only way to do so is to exploit workers by failing to pay workers for the full value of what they produce In order to survive, the capitalist must exploit Thus, the tension between workers and capitalists is structural The capitalist system requires exploitation Measures to ease workers hardships, such as a minimum wage or welfare are simply band aids they cannot change what a capitalist is. The first third has some interesting ideas about the workings of capitalism The last two thirds seem like a bizarre reading punishment you would be inflicted with inside a Soviet Gulag Volume one is well written and explains most major Marxian ideas The next two thirds is elaboration beating a dead horse The whole argument hinges on the idea of labor value of commodities And the surplus labor being the source of a Capitalists profit Getting as much profit as possible in this reading is a matter of paying labor as little as possible while pocketing the money that the commodity labor produces in market exchange This profit which comes from surplus labor value will concentrate over time in fewer and fewer hands and the conditions of workers will get worse and worse In addition, the whole thing is unstable as accumulated capital concentrates and the people produce it get and miserable The productivity gains of the economy seem to have been siphoned off at the top for the past forty or so years so this kind of analysis by Marx is making sense much now than during the cold war when ostensible commies actually had power in Russia and China I think Capitalism does behave in many ways like Marx describes when there is no countervailing opposition from labor or trade unions I don t think its repeated crisis means that things shook out the way Marx envisions but I will say when there is no countervailing opposition things seem to flow the way Marx describes.Note 2 10 2019 I found out why volume one the first third of Capital is readable while the rest of the book is such a hard slog It turns out Marx wrote the first volume on his own Turns out he is a pretty good writer The other two thirds was put together from Marx s notes by Engels after Marx s Death Engels was putting together work from disparate places and that is why it is so hard to get through Engels cut and pasted Marx s notes for the later volumes of Capital and it shows If Marx had been able to put together these notes in a proper way it may have been a better work at the end. Did not agree with everything Marx saidbut there is no doubt that this book has changed the world.