An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital
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An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital

For over a century, Karl Marx's critique of capitalism has been a crucial resource for social movements. Now, recent economic crises have made it imperative for us to comprehend and actualize Marx's ideas. But without a knowledge of Karl Marx's life as he lived it, neither Marx nor his works can be fully understood. There are more than twenty-five comprehensive biographies of Marx, but none of them consider his life and work in equal, corresponding measure.

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The global economic crisis and recession that began in had at least one unexpected outcome: a surge in sales of Karl Marx's Capital. Although. Although mainstream economists and commentators once dismissed Marx's work as outmoded and flawed, some are begrudgingly.

This biography, planned for three volumes, aims to include what most biographies have reduced to mere background: the contemporary conflicts, struggles, and disputes that engaged Marx at the time of his writings, alongside his complex relationships with a varied assortment of friends and opponents. For most, the process of studying Capital is facilitated with the use of a clear and succinct introduction to the three volumes. Over the years, many introductions to Capital have been produced. On one hand, Marx explains the laws of motion of particular forms of social labor modes of production , while viewing the transition from one form to another as historically contingent outcome of class conflict.

On the other, Marx provides a critique transcendence of existing theories of history and capitalism, and a materialist explanation for the fetishized appearance of relations among people capitalists and wage-workers as relationships between things commodities, money, profits, interest, rent, etc.

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Because capitalist reality is a dual reality, possessing both a mystifying and non-mystifying side, which are bound together in a concrete unity, any theory which reflects this reality must likewise be a unity of opposites. Marx abandoned his original plan of for six volumes taking up capital, landed property, wage-labor, the state, foreign trade and the world market for the three or four extant volumes on the production of capital, circulation of capital and the structure of the process as a whole and the history of economic theory — Theories of Surplus-Value. For Heinrich and many in his tradition, Capital is a fragmented, inconsistent and flawed work whose basic categories — in particular the theory of value — cannot be used for the purpose of empirical, quantitative analysis.

His discussion of Value, Labor, Money in Chapter 3 is among the most lucid and accessible discussions of what I have always found to be the most impenetrable parts of Capital — Part I of the first volume on Commodities and Money. Because both capital and labor are reproduced through market competition — through the operation of the law of value — there is a formal separation of the political and economic under capitalism.

The defense of property implies that those who possess no relevant property beyond their labor-power must sell their labor-power.

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital

He was banished, by both republican and absolutist governments, from the original context of his practical activity, and thus removed in good time from the narrow, backward conditions of Germany, and projected into the historical mainstream which was to be the setting for his real achievements. But he treated the concept critically, and applied it, with a realism quite untypical of the classical political economists, to the actually given and changing reality around him. Or does the movement of one or the other predominate? Info The libcom library contains nearly 20, articles. Is that not called slavery, when one exploits a human being like an animal, even when he would otherwise be free to die of hunger? This also explains the abstraction of the first three chapters: they are essentially Marx defining his terminology and the way he is going to use his concepts for the rest of the work, just like one might find in a university textbook or a scientific article today.

To be able to appropriate their means of subsistence, they must submit to capital. This makes the capitalist process of production possible and reproduces in turn the class relations that are its preconditions. This increasing capitalization of production — the rising organic composition of capital — leads to a tendency for the rate of profit to fall, as living labor-power is the sole source of surplus-values and profits.

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

The tendency of the rate of profit to fall, although mitigated by counter-tendencies, leads inevitably to economic crises. Heinrich rejects this argument, attempting to logically demonstrate that various counter-tendencies, in particular the cheapening of capital goods, make the fall in the rate of profit only possible, rather than necessary.

While it may be logically possible for counter-tendencies like the cheapening of capital-goods to permanently counteract the falling rate of profit, there is no necessity for that to occur practically. Is the pace of these two counter-posed movements, growth in mass and decline in value, equal so that they paralyse each other?

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Or does the movement of one or the other predominate? Heinrich ignores the rich empirical work of Marxist economists, in particular that of Anwar Shaikh, in translating bourgeois national income accounts data into Marxian value categories. When the falling rate of profit leads to stagnation in the mass of profit — the total surplus-value produced — capitalist accumulation slows and long periods of economic stagnation begin.

Intro to Theory of Values - Chapter 1

Its clarity, rigor and commitments to value theory and the critique of fetishized capitalist social relations make this vastly superior to most other companion volumes to Capital. The view point I made is that The Marxist system gives a wealthier, more full, more exhaustive perspective of pop culture and life all in all, and cleans up the shroud of mystery in understanding human and social improvement while the reaction demonstrates by Heinrich is primary misconception of the law — his conviction that it is intended to foresee what should definitely happen as opposed to demonstrate what does happen — is the wellspring of his charge that it is unproven.

Basically, it is a theoretical critique of capitalist production in its totality.


Central to the theory is the dialectical method. Fundamentally the logic obtained is dialectical, dynamic, in time, engaged in self-interrogation and not formal or static or empiricist, historicist, etc. But the main category, universality is a part or underlying the historical process, e. The work is a superb example illustrating a real historical longue duree.

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And Hegel is quintessential to Marx for developing the categorical structure but time-dependent, for his critique. Capitalist production depends on many such averages, irrespective of theories. Yet these averages are real and embedded.

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Capitalist production is anarchistic to the core. Just want to quickly address what Charlie said about the relationship between NML and empirical analysis.

The value-form analysis that Marx conducts in Chapter One is precisely to work out the necessity of money as an independent manifestation of value. Value as a social relationship can only be quantified by means of money.

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It is only the existence of goods as commodities produced for exchange that endows them with the status of objects of value and hence as receptacles of abstract labor. This amount varies according to the more or less complicated character of the labour-power.