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«Curtains Up!» Getting Started Reading Capital With PolyluxMarx.

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Presentation on theme: "«Curtains Up!» Getting Started Reading Capital With PolyluxMarx."— Presentation transcript:

1 «Curtains Up!» Getting Started Reading Capital With PolyluxMarx

2 Why read Capital today  The object is the capitalist mode of production at «its ideal average» (Capital, Vol. III, p. 970), however: Capitalism always exists only in a concrete historical manifestation. Marx’s analysis exists at an abstract level. Because it is still relevant! Marx asks the question: What makes capitalism capitalism? However: There are different interpretations of Capital – concerning questions such as:  He does not examine a particular country (e. g. English capitalism around 1860) or a particular era (e. g. the beginnings of industrialization).  How did capitalism historically emerge and how did it develop?  How did capitalism during the 19 th century function?  How does capitalism fundamentally function ?

3 The emergence of Capital All three volumes we are familiar with were unknown to Marx! The work was uncompleted by its author. Capital was not cast from a single mould: Marx (*1818 Trier – †1883 London) created several drafts of Capital. Between 1857 and 1879, various manuscripts emerged: Marx struggled with the material, some of which he discarded, other parts of which he rewrote in an effort to state his thoughts more precisely. The first volume of Capital was published in The existing English translations are based on the fourth German edition, revised and published by Engels in The third volume is based on a manuscript that existed before the publication of the first volume. The second volume is based on manuscripts composed later (1868–1881).

4 Marx is not Marx Marx wrote over the course of his lifetime, nearly a half century. He continously developed his analysis, and the object of his analysis also changed. Only a few of his texts on economic theory were published during his lifetime. The texts published after Marx’s death were edited and revised (e. g. the second and third volumes of Capital by Friedrich Engels, Theories of Surplus- Value by Karl Kautsky) and published over several decades. The history of the reception of Marx’s work is complex and depends on various historical and political contexts, as well as the availability of specific texts.

5 «Critique of political economy» «A critique of political economy» is the subtitle of Capital. Political economy = the historical term for what we now call economics. Marx criticizes the very foundations of political economy, not just some of its theories, hypotheses, or findings. The critique of political economy is also a critique of bourgeois society and its class relations.

6 The type of analysis To prevent possible misunderstandings, let me say this. I do not by any means depict the capitalist and the landowner in rosy colours. But individuals are dealt with here only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, the bearers of particular class-relations and interests. (p. 92) An analysis of capitalism in the Marxian sense means:  First, determining the social relations that force a certain behavioural rationality onto individuals;  Not starting with individual motivations and calculations;  Understanding critically how people act as «capitalists» or as «workers». A critique of capitalism follows from this analysis, not a scolding of capitalists.

7 The structure of the three volumes The simple circulation of commodities Volume I The process of capitalist production... P... C’ M’M’ M LP MP The process of the circulation of capital Volume II The process of the circulation of capital Volume II The process of capitalist production as a whole Volume III

8 Structure of Volume I Chapters 1–3 Chapters 4–6 Chapters 7–24 Chapters 25 Chapters 26–33 Simple commodity circulation The circulation of capital C–M–CM–C–M’ The immediate process of the production, reproduction, and accumu- lation of indivi- dual capital Accumulation of the total social capital The so-called primitive accumulation Circulation Production Logical-conceptual level, class struggles, historical illustrations Historical origins of capitalism


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