Das Kapital: A Critique of Political Economy

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Regnery Publishing, Mar 27, 2012 - Political Science - 356 pages
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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, more 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.
 

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User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

Contents

CHAPTER ICommodities
1
Section 3The Form ofValue or Exchange Value
12
Section 4The Fetishism of Commodities
37
CHAPTER IIExchange
47
CHAPTER IIIMoney or the Circulation
55
Section 2The Medium of Circulation
62
Section 3Money
81
CHAPTER IVThe General Formula for Capital
95
CHAPTER XIVDivision of Labor and Manufacture
183
CHAPTER XVMachinery and Modern Industry
193
Section 4The Factory
202
Section 6The Theory of Compensation
204
Wages
211
CHAPTER XXTimeWages
219
CHAPTER XXIPieceWages
225
PART VII
231

CHAPTER VIThe Buying and Selling of LaborPower
105
CHAPTER VIIThe Labor Process
115
CHAPTER VIIIConstant Capital and Variable Capital
133
CHAPTER IXThe Rate of SurplusValue
141
CHAPTER XThe Working Day
147
CHAPTER XIRate and Mass of SurplusValue
155
CHAPTER XIIThe Concept of Relative SurplusValue
165
CHAPTER XIIICooperation
173
CHAPTER XXIVConversion of SurplusValue
243
Section 3Separation of SurplusValue into Capital
253
CHAPTER XXVThe General Law
263
Section 3Progressive Production of a Relative SurplusPopulation
274
Section 4Different Forms of the Relative SurplusPopulation
281
CHAPTER XXVIThe Secret of Primitive Accumulation
289
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About the author (2012)

Karl Heinrich Marx, one of the fathers of communism, was born on May 5, 1818 in Trier, Germany. He was educated at a variety of German colleges, including the University of Jena. He was an editor of socialist periodicals and a key figure in the Working Man's Association. Marx co-wrote his best-known work, "The Communist Manifesto" (1848), with his friend, Friedrich Engels. Marx's most important work, however, may be "Das Kapital" (1867), an analysis of the economics of capitalism. He died on March 14, 1883 in London, England.

Friedrich Engels is perhaps best remembered as the confidant, colleague, and benefactor of Karl Marx. Engels was born into a Calvinist family on November 28, 1820. The family owned fabric mills in the Rhineland and had business interests in Manchester, England, Engels joined the family business at age 16; he never had a formal university education. Despite his family's industrial background, Engels was sympathetic to the poverty of the working masses. At age 18 he published an attack on industrial poverty, and later joined the Hegelian movement that so influenced Marx and bothered conservative Prussian authorities. Engels first met Marx in 1842, while Marx was editor of a radical newspaper in Cologne. However, they did not establish their lifelong friendship until they met again in Paris two years later. Engels published several works related to economics, the first of which, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy (1844), attempted to reconcile Hegelian philosophy with the principles of political economy. His second book, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), was a damning description and condemnation of the poverty generated by the Industrial Revolution. Engels also co-authored three major works with Marx, the most important being the Communist Manifesto (1948). Engels also wrote several historical works, which are more important to historians than to economists. These include The Peasant War in Germany (1850), Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (1851), and The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884). In general, these works are more descriptive than theoretical, and they closely parallel Marx's views on industrialization and class struggle. In addition to being a friend of Marx, Engels was his prime benefactor for a number of years. During their early years in London, beginning in 1849, the Marx family was nearly destitute, and it was only through the generosity of Engels that they prevailed. Engels was also responsible for the publication of Marx's Das Kapital. Before his death, Marx was only able to complete the first volume of this work, and so Engels edited and arranged for the publication of the last two volumes after Marx's death. Engels was an engaging and thoughtful writer. It was perhaps his great fortune and misfortune that he was connected so closely to Marx. On the one hand, he was responsible for bringing much of Marx's work to fruition in his role as benefactor and editor. On the other hand, the shadow of Marx eclipsed some of the exposure that Engels's own ideas and contributions might have had. Engels died of throat cancer in London, 1895. Following cremation at Woking Crematorium, his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, near Eastbourne as he had requested.

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