Capital, Volume 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production (1867) Karl Marx 

325785Like many people I could have taken this on many years ago but was put off by 1. size 2. difficulty of ch. 1-3 and 3. already knew about M-C-M’, use value, exchange value, surplus value, rate of exploitation, constant capital, variable capital, socially necessary labor time, all of that. And the fun stuff commodity fetishism , “A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.” The whole point of volume 1 (Jameson, 2013) turns on the mystery that “political economy” (Smith, Ricardo, Say) chose not to take up- “How does anyone make money out of a fair exchange?” In production, not in exchange, the surplus value is created.  Difficulty of Chapters 1-3 abruptly eases for most of the remaining 30 chapters. Important take away for me is the consideration of the vast scope of his preparation and its status as literature. 1850-1867 exiled to the Reading Room of the British Museum. He read all right! “Index of Authorities Quoted” runs 18 pages. Appian, Aristotle, Bacon, Beccaria, Bentham, Blanqui, Brougham, Burke…. Fourier, Franklin, Goethe, Hegel, Hobbes, homer, Horace, Hume, Huxley,.. Lassalle, Locke, Lucretius, Luther… Olmsted, Ovid, Owen, Plato, Plutarch, Price, Proudhon…. Say, Shakespeare, Sismondi, Smith, Sophocles, Spinoza, Thucydides. Guess what read this book and you learn a lot! Should have read it years ago! Now we see many are picking it up post 2008– The Return of “The Critique of Political Economy” and ” ruthless criticism of all that exists.”  I read in conjunction with David Harvey’s Reading Capital Companion. Very helpful and important in its own right.

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