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.

Introducing Critical Theory

Hegel's Dialectic: Five Hermeneutical Studies

From the culture industry to the society of the spectacle: Critical theory and the situationist international, in No Social Science without Critical Theory (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Volume 25)

Negations: Essays in Critical Theory

God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse















its appearance at an early date’ in Western history, it was not always the dominant form, since early modern trade relations often existed only in highly supervised pockets, usually limited to certain ethnic groups (‘trading nations’), such as the Jews or Armenians, who were allowed to move between regions because they lacked their own nation-state. Today, however, we live in a world where it seems as if commodities belong to a nation of their own, a global market place complete with its own

won in lesser-developed regions as backward regions can overleap more developed ones. Marx uses the example of the United States. As long as slavery existed, the presence of cheap labour kept down the wages of free labourers. Once slavery was abolished, American workers were suddenly able to gain an eight-hour working day, a right that English labourers had been unable to achieve. Marx does not explicitly comment on why this might have happened, but implicitly we can understand that the

Shapiro 02 chap 04 99 99 15/1/08 11:06:21 two weavers. If workers are brought together, ‘the value of a part of the constant capital falls’ (442), meaning that the capitalist’s operating cost for each individual worker decreases, since less money needs to be invested in the fixed capital costs of building and maintaining multiple worksites and less material and time is lost in transporting goods into, out of, and between different locations. Remember the equation, C = (c + v) + s. If the

disturbing effects on human life, even beyond the immediate realm of labourers. Within capitalism, commodities appear like monsters, as Marx explains, because they seem to be supernaturally more powerful than humans, partially as a result of the dehumanizing work conditions that capitalism always creates. Throughout Capital, Marx uses the language of Gothic horror – vampires, werewolves, dripping blood – to describe capitalism’s human costs. Even within Capital’s first words, Marx inscribes his

provides life-sustaining light, water, and unplanted, food-bearing meadows and forests. Yet because no human labour went into providing these useful objects, they have no labourcreated ‘value’. (Today we might argue that because our ecology is subjected to human labour, such as when water becomes purified, nature does indeed have a labour-inflected value. But for the purposes of his argument, Marx adopts the more basic claim here that nature provides certain of its resources freely.)

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