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Capital (Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 562 pages|
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Without question, even for exceptionally well informed and intellectually capable readers, this book is a bear. If you invest the substantial
amount of time and prodigious effort needed to master it, you will definitely come to understand why Marxists become Marxists, and you may very well become one yourself. At the very least, you'll see the world differently, and you'll have a firmer grasp on the character of our contemporary world, not just its economic make-up, but in a socially expansive way. It's hard to imagine anyone reading the book carefully and with a modicum of understanding and coming away with the judgment that this is merely an ideologically motivated, long-winded exercise in willful self-deception and the deception of others. If you encounter someone who characterized Marx as a willfully wrong-headed ideologue, you may safely assume that you're dealing with someone who has not read Capital.
Capital Volume 1 is, in fact, a richly informative and very difficult piece of world-class research. I imagine that most readers who take its full measure will come back to it again and again. I can't imagine doing justice to Capital Volume 1 without putting forth the kind of effort that makes for the creation of a life-long connection. Marx himself claims to have sacrificed his health, happiness, and family to writing the book. This has the pathetic sound of self-pitying exaggeration. But given what I know of Marx and the necessarily prodigious demands of the kind of work he produced, I'm sure he's being dispassionately truthful.
You may be disappointed to find that Capital is much less polemical than it is rigorously analytical. That was my first response. For the long term, however, I realized the book is a keeper, and I acknowledged that I'd have to look elsewhere for a call-to-arms that is not also embedded in massive learning. It's true, of course that Marx was an active professional revolutionary, but he was also a world-class scholar with a prodigiously cultivated mind. Reading Marx makes me want to spend a year or two in the library of the British Museum, where Marx did his best scholarship.
Marx and Charles Darwin exchanged fairly frequent correspondence. Everyone knows that Darwin transformed our understanding of the world and our place in it. Much the same is true of Marx's contribution to human knowledge. It's interesting to acknowledge that social and religious conservatism were barriers to the rightful dissemination of both. That Marx maintained an ongoing relationship with others of undeniable genius, such as Darwin, bespeaks Marx's own intellectual prowess and reflects his status as a wonderfully original thinker. In his own authentic way, Marx was at least as much a brilliant scientist as Darwin. Darwin changed the way we thought about ourselves, but Marx changed the way we live.