Nate's Reviews > Capital, Volume 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production

Capital, Volume 1 by Karl Marx
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Mar 31, 08

bookshelves: philosophy-and-theory, commie-pinko

A friend of mine dissed me to another friend, said I read this book the way some people read the bible. I do think it's a super important book, historically and in helping us understand capitalism in the present. An Italian writer who I like, Antonio Negri, said that one of the best reasons to read this book is for the sense of class hatred it instills. Of course, there other sources for that, but this is a useful one.

Capital volume one is the only volume Marx finished himself. The other volumes were put together from notes and drafts after his death. This volume focuses on waged labor. Marx's basic point is that workers produce more than their paid. My friend Pat has a useful analogy about a toothpaste factory that I think is good on explaining how this is a conflict built in to capitalist society.

There's a lot more to it than that, though. In my opinion the best way to read this book if you're struggling is to read it fast in a group. Treat the group like AA - together you are kicking the habit of not reading Capital. Start with chapter 26 because the ending is gory and exciting. Then start over at chapter one. Hopefully the outrage from the ending will keep you going for the long boring slog of the first 100 pages or so. When you get to the end, hurray for you. Then go back over the stuff you didn't really understand. Hopefully that won't be the entire book. Most of the passages that were confusing the first time around will make more sense after you're read all of the book.

This is not to say Marx is perfect or gets everything exactly right. I find his political views kind of dull and his attitude toward women workers (often sounds like reproductive work isn't work and like waged women workers should be sent back home) is stupid. And Marx doesn't contribute much here in the way of organizational efforts to end capitalism. Still, this is one of the most important books or possibly the most important for understanding capitalist society. And once in a while it's kind of funny.
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