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

By Michael Heinrich

Alex Locascio (trans.)

The international monetary predicament and recession that all started in 2008 had at the very least one unforeseen final result: a surge in revenues of Karl Marx's Capital. even if mainstream economists and commentators as soon as pushed aside Marx's paintings as outdated and mistaken, a few are begrudgingly acknowledging an research that sees capitalism as inherently risky. and naturally, there are these, like Michael Heinrich, who've obvious the worth of Marx all alongside, and are in a distinct place to give an explanation for the intricacies of Marx's thought.
Heinrich's sleek interpretation of Capital is now to be had to English-speaking readers for the 1st time. It has undergone 9 variants in Germany, is the normal paintings for Marxist examine teams, and is used broadly in German universities. the writer systematically covers all 3 volumes of Capital and explains all of the uncomplicated points of Marx's critique of capitalism in a fashion that's transparent and concise. He presents heritage details at the highbrow and political milieu during which Marx labored, and appears at the most important matters past the scope of Capital, equivalent to category fight, the connection among capital and the country, accusations of ancient determinism, and Marx's knowing of communism. Uniquely, Heinrich emphasizes the financial personality of Marx's paintings, as well as the conventional emphasis at the hard work thought of price, this highlighting the relevance of Capital to the age of monetary explosions and implosions.

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Marx himself pointed out its fundamental significance: I was the first to point out and to examine critically this twofold nature of the labour contained in commodities. As this point is crucial to an understanding of political economy, it requires further elucidation. (Capital, 1:132) What does this mean? If the commodity has a twofold character, as use value and value, then commodity-producing labor must also have a twofold character: it is labor that not only produces a use value, but also value.

Intrinsically, it is not a question of the higher or lower degree of development of the social antagonisms that spring from the natural laws of capitalist pro- TH E OB J ECT O F C R I T I Q U E 31 duction. It is a question of these laws themselves, of these tendencies winning their way through and working themselves with iron necessity. (Capital, 1:90–91) Here Marx explicitly states that he is concerned neither with the history of capitalism nor with a specific historical phase of capitalism, but rather with a “theoretical” analysis of capitalism: examined are the essential determinants of capitalism, those elements which must remain the same regardless of all historical variations so that we may speak of “capitalism” as such.

Or, to raise the question more generally, how do history and theoretical depiction relate to each other within the critique of political economy? A further question concerns the relationship between Marx’s depiction of the capitalist mode of production and bourgeois economic theory: Is Marx presenting merely just another theory of the mode of operation of capitalism? Does the “critique” in the critique of political economy consist solely of previously existing theories being proven wrong in certain places so that Marx may present a better theory?

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