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Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 5, 1992
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First, a note on what CAPITAL is not. It is not a "communist" tract, though it is a foundation for communist thought. Marx follows two main trains of thought -- the first is observational, the second diagnostic. He explains how capitalism works, and why it works that way. Disagreeable as some of his ideas may be, they cannot be brushed away by citing the examples of Stalin and Pol Pot to discredit them. Unlike the typical Communist dictator, Marx was a hard-working scholar, a clear thinker, a fundamentally honest writer. His familiarity with the whole spectrum of economic and philosophical writings that preceded him is unquestionable, and CAPITAL is probably more impressive to a reader who's read THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (Adam Smith), if nothing else.
The capitalism of Marx's time (mid-19th century) had dismal effects on the "proletariat" or working-class, and CAPITAL cannot be fully appreciated without some knowledge of how England, the most industrialized nation in the world, looked at that period of history. Charles Dickens is one writer who "exposed" the condition of the poor, in a more acceptable (though no less wordy) fashion it seems.
CAPITAL is certainly an important book and it is not the unreadable monstrosity it's reputed to be. It is repetitious, but usually the repetition includes some new twist as Marx proceeds from one aspect of his theory to the next.Read more ›
I read the entire book from cover to cover. Not an easy task. It took me more than a year with persistence! But I did it.
Socialism is not mentioned once the the actual work itself. (Of course it is mentioned in the 87 page Introduction which some of the "reviewers" might have bothered to skim through!)
What is the name of the book? Capital! Not Communism or Socialism! One who has bothered to read this long book knows that the book has nothing to do with Communism. The book was supposed to form a scientific explanation of what the Capitalist mode of production was and how it formed and its' inner workings. Marx felt that after writing the pamphlet Manifesto of 1848, he owed it to the world tho explain what Capitalism was. It is a microscopic examination of the capitalist mode of production in mid-nineteenth century England. Granted that things have changed since 1850 England, the basic core of Capitalism hasn't changed.
The man was brilliant, he obviously spent a lot of time formulating an understanding of what Capitalism is. It was an eye opener for me into what Capitalism really is. It was stimulating to see how Marx in the work slowly but surely synthesizes his successive points one by one thereby building a model of the Capitalist mode of production for one to examine.
My only complaint was that it was too long. He could have said what he had to say in 200 pages rather than 800.
There are two main criticisms of Marx that are very often leveled against Capital and against Marx's thought in general that I think are invalid and I would like to get them out of the way at the beginning of my review.
The first criticism often leveled against Marx is based on the idea that the failure of the various "socialist" states, the various economic difficulties those states faced while they existed, as well as the atrocities that were often committed in Marx's name, constitute irrefutable evidence of the falsity of Marx's main ideas. The point I would make in this regard is that the title of Marx's book is Capital and for good reason. Marx's book is about the functioning and the dynamics of an economy dominated by capital, or the private ownership of the means of production, and the social relations that are inherent to such a system. In other words, Marx's book is about capitalism not about socialism. His analysis of the dynamics of a capitalist society and economy has to be assessed on its own terms and should not be assessed based on the problems faced by, or the relative inefficiencies of, the socialist economies. In my opinion there is much in Marx's analysis of capitalism that is both valid, and often brilliant, and which does not in anyway rely for its validity on the possibility or desirability of a fully planned or state run economy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best socio-political writings of the late great Karl marx! Great book!Published 2 months ago by nancy picou
This is the version David Harvey uses for his video series. As a teaching aide, this is indispensable.Published 2 months ago by AppleFreak
While the intro was long, it gave me a great launching pad for beginning to read Marx. This is my first foray into deep Marx, so it will be awhile before I start reviewing books 2... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Theodore B. Brosius
Great product. Enjoying the book and has a good intro. Be careful with the paperback version as it's easily bent. Other than that, it's great.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer