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Capital : A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics) (Volume 2) Paperback – March 1, 1993

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About the Author

Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany and studied in Bonn and Berlin. Influenced by Hegel, he later reacted against idealist philosophy and began to develop his own theory of historical materialism. He related the state of society to its economic foundations and mode of production, and recommended armed revolution on the part of the proletariat. Together with Engels, who he met in Paris, he wrote the Manifesto of the Communist Party. He lived in England as a refugee until his death in 1888, after participating in an unsuccessful revolution in Germany. Ernst Mandel was a member of the Belgian TUV from 1954 to 1963 and was chosen for the annual Alfred Marshall Lectures by Cambridge University in 1978. He died in 1995 and the Guardian described him as 'one of the most creative and independent-minded revolutionary Marxist thinkers of the post-war world.'
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445695
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gabe Serafini on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hate how some of the other people reviewing the volumes of Das Kapital fail to see that at least in this book, Marx wasn't advocating anything. It was his analysis of the fundamental features of capitalism. This book deals with the cell of capitalism: the commodity. This book is simply Marx's analysis of how the labor in the production of commodities becomes the commodity itself (commodity fetishism). He identifies the three circuits of capital required to produce commodities in a capitalist society: money capital, productive capital, and commodity capital. The third chapter I found to be very interesting because in this chapter Marx identifies two forms of consumption, these being productive consumption and personal consumption. This created the circular flow of money to becoming either money capital or productive capital. Highly recommended for anyone looking to understand how societies function and how capitalism really works.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By CB on August 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Capital I, this is not. Although, it's difficult being tough on this book, as Marx never finished it, and it's mostly a compilation of manuscripts in the order Engels thought most prudent. Overall, Vol II lacks the literary, political, and polemical flare of Vol I. Therefore, it's not as engaging as Vol I. But, there are still pockets of ingenuity, like Vol I, found within it. Although the book is 300 pages less than Vol I, it takes longer to read, and the algebra is frequent, repetitive, and seemingly unnecessary at times. But, Ernest Mandel in the introduction (which, like most Mandel's writing, is laudable), forewarns the reader that he/she must read Vol II to fully understand Vol III. But, the translator warns the reader that Vol II has little bits of oasis, in between lots of arid desert. Reading this book then proves difficult, as we need the oasis to grasp Vol III, but trekking through the arid desert, as I just did, leaves one seeing mirages, and gasping for a drink. I may have even killed a man along the way, but that's another story....

In Vol I, Marx left us with his famous formula M-C-M'. The Capitalist, as Capital personified, enters the world as M (money), buys a commodity, and sells it dearer (M'). We find out in Vol I, that for overall economic growth, this commodity must be labor power. In Vol II Marx expands upon the circulation of capital, and gives us a better definition of what Capital is. The Forumla now expands to:

MP
/
M-C......P....C'-M'
\
LP
(amazon will not let me properly show this formula, so pretend the slashes connecting MP and LP to M are really connecting LP and MP to C).

The capitalist shows up with money, buys means of production and labor power, then the act of production occurs (P), and the "....
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Guy Denutte on February 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
The most important point made in this volume is : "The production process appears simply as an unavoidable middle term, a necessary evil for the purpose of money-making." In his time, Marx could not have foreseen how this reality would transform our world beyond all imagination, once the current phase of mass consumption on a global scale was reached. Most objects capitalism offer today are objects with little usefulness, but are so thoroughly pushed by publicity and social conformism that they seem to fulfill vital necessities of life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
The first volume of Marx's Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Modern Library Giant G-26 was published in 1867. Volume II remained unfinished at his death in 1888, and his benefactor and collaborator, Frederick Engels, edited it and published it posthumously in 1893. (Engels begins his Preface by noting, "It was no easy task to put the second book of 'Capital' in shape for publication...")

Subtitled, "The Process of Circulation of Capital," the book contains more purely abstract reasoning, mathematical calculations (although Engels notes that Marx "did not get the knack of handling figures, particularly commercial arithmetic"; pg. 284), etc., and is much less "lively" than the first volume was.

Marx asserts that "Whatever his pay, as a wage-labourer he works part of his time for nothing. He may receive daily the value of the product of eight working-hours, yet functions ten." (Pg. 132) He says that the working day consists of two parts: necessary labour, and surplus-labour. (Pg. 426) He rejects an argument about the cost and demand for luxuries, because "The entire objection is a bugbear set up by the capitalists and their economic sycophants." (Pg. 341)

He rejects as "absurd" that question of whether capitalist production in its present volume would be possible without the credit system; but he adds, significantly, "one must not entertain any fantastic illusions on the productive power of the credit system, so far as it supplies or sets in motion money-capital." (Pg. 346)

He strongly criticizes Adam Smith's "ridiculous blunder" that exchange value consists of wages, profits, and rent. (Pg. 372)

Not one of Marx's "essential reading" texts, this book is nevertheless important for someone studying Marx's economic theories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jack Guevara on December 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading "Das Kapital Volume I", I had to continue reading this awesome analysis! To begin, this is NOT a read based on dogmatic views of communism like Marx's Communist Manifesto. The Capital Volumes are actually based on a more scientific basis regarding the inter workings of a capitalist economy. In this volume, Marx describes a detailed analysis of the buyer and seller and how they are to be found (within the marketplace). Unlike Capital I, this book is much shorter and easier to follow. But be warned, the terminology is quite old, so I HIGHLY suggest taking time while reading.

If one is looking to understand true Marxism, then please read the whole Capital series. I found it easier to read the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith before tackling these volumes. It will provide an easier roadmap and critique of capitalism before venturing into other realms of communist theory. Overall, five stars!
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