Reading Capital

I sheepishly admit that I have never read Marx’s Capital Volume I. I’m going to begin a reading group with some friends (sorry the group is closed) to read through Capital over a six month period. We’ll be reading alongside David Harvey’s class to assist us in our journey. Does anyone have any recommendations to facilitate our reading?

16 thoughts on “Reading Capital

  1. watch all breaking bad’ seasons. it may help. as long as i read bloy and greene and all those catholic writers i understood there’s a very close relationship between capital and Evil.

  2. ‘Marx’s Capital’ by Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad-Filho is a pretty good introduction to the text. It’s short, too, so it won’t be adding too much to your plate.

  3. This blog: is excellent for almost any question or clarification needed, and also makes significant advances in addressing contemporary questions related directly to Capital.

    Also, I recently read a piece by W.F. Haug in a German journal, Das Argument, that exposes some serious misconceptions Harvey has come to adopt based primarily on the fact that the Fowkes translation of Capital (the Aveling/Engels one is much worse) mistranslates and conflates several key concepts. I’m not sure of the ultimate significance of this however. I’m currently in my second reading group for Capital and keeping my eye out.

  4. I don’t think Zizek’s take en Capital in Living in the end Times is particularly interesting, and nothing more than a weak imitation of the hard marxist Kapitallogik (capital logic) of the 60’s and 70’s in Germany (Rosdolsky, Krahl, Schanz etc.) – except for the fact the he of course unwittingly reinvokes this tradition. IMO Zizek is a brilliant ‘cultural critic’-Marxist and a horrible ‘hardcore-critique-of-economy’-Marxist. That is, the commodity-fetischism-readng and not the structural-economy-reading.

    If you are already following Harvey’s class I would go for

    a) an ‘early French’ reception by reading Lire le Capital with the ex- and implicit critiques of later Rancière and Balibar on the side, e.g. The Lesson’s of Althusser and Race, nation, class. (Balibar has also written a Marx introduction), or

    b) the historical ‘real’ political reception by reading Lenin, Trotskij and Mao…

    Anyway, Enjoy!

  5. I’m reading it right now as well, and also reading through the English translations of Reading Capital (Althusser and Balibar are included in the book by Verso, and Ranciere’s contribution, as far as I know, is available in an edited collection called Ideology, Method, and Marx: Lessons from Economy and Society. I’m not entirely clear as to whether any of the translations are abridged, and I don’t have the books in front of me at the moment). Balibar’s little book called The Philosophy of Marx is also really great.

    If you aren’t already, you may want to read the companion book by Harvey. I think it’s just the book version of the course, but it’s helpful too.

    Other things I’m reading include Harry Cleaver’s Reading Capital Politically and Jason Read’s The Micro-Politics of Capital, which gets into subjectification and deals with a lot of the contemporary French and Italian literature. I’m reading a bit of the Autonomist/Workerist stuff as well, on financial capitalism.

  6. I think another useful resource is Michael Heinrich’s An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital. It often engages some of the criticism that Capital has faced and it also offers a survey of the recent debates that German scholars have had regarding Marx’s work.

  7. I found the Hirst & Hindess line helpful when reading Capital I-III as an M.A. student: Hirst & Hindess, Precapitalist Modes of Production, Hirst & Hindess, Mode of Production and Social Formation, and Culter, Hussain, Hirst, & Hindess Marx’s ‘Capital’ and Capitalism Today. Benefit to these three? Alex Callinicos didn’t like them. Aspects of Cohen’s Karl Marx’s Theory of History were also helpful, especially the grumpy comments about Althusser.

  8. Huh, I haven’t read Allen Wood’s whole book but the stuff on alienation in there is atrocious. I’ve read a handful of books that deal with capital but nothing great, you all should let me know.

  9. Road to serfdom is indeed a good counter view, in order to see just how intellectually dishonest and tedious the whole Welfare State equals Fascism vulgate really is when stretched over a whole plaquette.

  10. As mentioned above, Wood, Cohen, and Heinrich. For the economics, and a good discussion of Marx’s method, there’s Duncan Foley’s excellent “Understanding Capital”. Also in that vein are Robert Paul Wolff’s two books, “Understanding Marx” and “Moneybags Must Be So Lucky”.

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