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Monday, 13 April 2020

Capital. A Critique of Political Economy (Karl Marx)


Many of the recent cataclysmic events can be blamed on Capitalism. While we're looking for something different, it would be a good idea to consider Marx's Das Kapital again.

                                                  VOLUME 1: PDF


Das Kapital, (German: Capital) one of the major works of the 19th-century economist and philosopher Karl Marx (1818–83), in which he expounded his theory of the capitalist system, its dynamism, and its tendencies toward self-destruction. He described his purpose as to lay bare “the economic law of motion of modern society.” The first volume was published in Berlin in 1867; the second and third volumes, edited by his collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–95), were published posthumously in 1885 and 1894, respectively.

                Karl Marx  (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Karl Marx (1818–1883) is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world. Trained as a philosopher, Marx turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, his later writings have many points of contact with contemporary philosophical debates, especially in the philosophy of history and the social sciences, and in moral and political philosophy. Historical materialism — Marx’s theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of human productive power. Marx sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism. Marx’s economic analysis of capitalism is based on his version of the labour theory of value, and includes the analysis of capitalist profit as the extraction of surplus value from the exploited proletariat. The analysis of history and economics come together in Marx’s prediction of the inevitable economic breakdown of capitalism, to be replaced by communism. However Marx refused to speculate in detail about the nature of communism, arguing that it would arise through historical processes, and was not the realisation of a pre-determined moral ideal.


                                                    KARL MARX : Wikipedia

                                                    DAS KAPITAL: Wikipedia

Das Kapital, also called Capital. A Critique of Political Economy (GermanDas Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomiepronounced [das kapiˈtaːl kʁɪˈtiːk deːɐ poˈliːtɪʃən økonomˈiː]; 1867–1883), is a foundational theoretical text in materialist philosophyeconomics and politics by Karl Marx.[1][2][3] Marx aimed to reveal the economic patterns underpinning the capitalist mode of production in contrast to classical political economists such as Adam SmithJean-Baptiste SayDavid Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. While Marx did not live to publish the planned second and third parts, they were both completed from his notes and published after his death by his colleague Friedrich EngelsDas Kapital is the most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950.[4]

 In Das Kapital (1867), Marx proposes that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labor, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value. The owner of the means of production is able to claim the right to this surplus value because he or she is legally protected by the ruling regime through property rights and the legally established distribution of shares which are by law only to be distributed to company owners and their board members. The historical section shows how these rights were acquired in the first place chiefly through plunder and conquest and the activity of the merchant and "middle-man". In producing capital (produced goods), the workers continually reproduce the economic conditions by which they labour. Das Kapital proposes an explanation of the "laws of motion" of the capitalist economic system from its origins to its future by describing the dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, commercial competition, the banking system, the decline of the profit rate, land-rents, et cetera. The critique of the political economy of capitalism proposes:
  • Wage-labour is the basic "cell-form" (trade unit) of a capitalist society. Moreover, because commerce as a human activity implied no morality beyond that required to buy and sell goods and services, the growth of the market system made discrete entities of the economic, the moral and the legal spheres of human activity in society; hence, subjective moral value is separate from objective economic value. Subsequently, political economy—the just distribution of wealth and "political arithmetick" about taxes—became three discrete fields of human activity, namely economicslaw and ethics, politics and economics divorced.[citation needed]
  • "The economic formation of society [is] a process of natural history". Thus, it is possible for a political economist to objectively study the scientific laws of capitalism, given that its expansion of the market system of commerce had objectified human economic relations. The use of money (cash nexus) voided religious and political illusions about its economic value and replaced them with commodity fetishism, the belief that an object (commodity) has inherent economic value. Because societal economic formation is a historical process, no one person could control or direct it, thereby creating a global complex of social connections among capitalists.[citation needed] The economic formation (individual commerce) of a society thus precedes the human administration of an economy (organised commerce).
  • The structural contradictions of a capitalist economy (German: gegensätzliche Bewegung) describe the contradictory movement originating from the two-fold character of labour and so the class struggle between labour and capital, the wage labourer and the owner of the means of production. These capitalist economic contradictions operate "behind the backs" of the capitalists and the workers as a result of their activities and yet remain beyond their immediate perceptions as men and women and as social classes.[5]
  • The economic crises (recessiondepressionet cetera) that are rooted in the contradictory character of the economic value of the commodity (cell-unit) of a capitalist society are the conditions that propitiate proletarian revolution—which The Communist Manifesto (1848) collectively identified as a weapon forged by the capitalists which the working class "turned against the bourgeoisie itself".
  • In a capitalist economy, technological improvement and its consequent increased production augment the amount of material wealth (use value) in society while simultaneously diminishing the economic value of the same wealth, thereby diminishing the rate of profit—a paradox characteristic of economic crisis in a capitalist economy. "Poverty in the midst of plenty" consequent to over-production and under-consumption

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