How to Read Marx's Capital (How to Read Theory)

How to Read Marx's Capital (How to Read Theory)

Stephen Shapiro

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0745325610

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Capital Volume I is essential reading on many undergraduate courses, but the structure and style of the book can be confusing for students, leading them to abandon the text. This book is a clear guide to reading Marx's classic text, which explains the reasoning behind the book's structure and provides help with the more technical aspects that non-economists may find taxing.

Students are urged to think for themselves and engage with Marx's powerful methods of argument and explanation. Shapiro shows that Capital is key to understanding critical theory and cultural production.

This highly focused book will prove invaluable to students of politics, cultural studies and literary theory.




















the quick disappearance of commodities from the sphere of circulation, and their equally quick replacement by fresh commodities’ (217). The importance of speed means that ultimately there is no reason why we need to have gold as money (as coins). Money could as easily be paper notes, which are faster and easier to transport, thus facilitating Commodities and Money Shapiro 01 chap 01 51 51 15/1/08 11:06:33 exchange. If money can be dematerialized from metal to paper, there is also no reason

workers, capitalists could simply pay workers less, but this, too, has limits, since wages cannot ideally fall beneath the level that would sustain life. The price of a labourer can only fall if the commodities he requires for his (and his family’s) sustenance and rejuvenation also become cheaper. But why would capitalists make commodities less expensive, if their primary goal is to increase the profit made through the sale of commodities? Marx provides two answers. Firstly, the constant

103 103 15/1/08 11:06:21 of the commodity, which seems to create value by itself. Increasingly, we understand why Marx wanted to begin with discussing commodities rather than how labourers are exploited: he wants to show how what we see in the market place is related to the experience of those in the sphere of production, even if this experience is obscured by capitalist interests. Keeping the need for historical specificity in mind, Marx says that the act of bringing large masses of workers

because these institutions looked to employ landless workers, who desperately needed to exchange their labour-power for wages, in order to purchase the goods and housing needed for survival. Given that the first anticapitalist-inspired violence came from the yeoman farmers and rural labourers who were driven from the lands, the initial class struggles were between large and (increasingly dispossessed) small farmers, rather than between industrial capital and an urbanized proletariat. At that

about zirconium substitutes) if they require less work to produce. This may suggest that our aesthetic appreciation is a feature of human productivity rather than of any ‘natural beauty’. We now know that the substance of value is labour and the measure of its magnitude is labour-time. Yet if these are our working definitions, what really differentiates use-value from exchange-value? Surely both require labour? To overcome this problem, Marx argues that we still need to define the form through

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