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Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol 1

(Capital #1)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  9,008 ratings  ·  557 reviews
'Let us finally imagine, for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common'

One of the most notorious works of modern times, as well as one of the most influential, Capital is an incisive critique of private property and the social relations it generates. Living in exile in England, where this work was largely written, Marx drew o
Kindle Edition, 1141 pages
Published February 5th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published September 14th 1867)
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Sivart Read alongside David Harvey's guide or open online class. Make it through the 3rd chapter on money and you'll be good. Chapter 3 is difficult, accept …moreRead alongside David Harvey's guide or open online class. Make it through the 3rd chapter on money and you'll be good. Chapter 3 is difficult, accept that and you'll make it the rest of the way.(less)
Serhan Celebi I'm reading this alongside David Harvey's "A Companion to Marx Capital". It enables a lot better understanding of Capital. I employ the method of read…moreI'm reading this alongside David Harvey's "A Companion to Marx Capital". It enables a lot better understanding of Capital. I employ the method of reading a few chapters from Marx and then switching back to David Harvey. This is quite helpful; I highly recommend. David Harvey himself recommends this method as well.

Regarding your other question about easiness. I'm around page 400 and the chapter "Working Day" is quite plain and somehow dull as Marx leverages parliamentary reports on the conditions of the worker in the 19th century Britain. To my understanding, Marx lays out the most important concepts in the first chapters, that's why they are quite difficult as they are more like high level philosophical texts. I'm curious to see if he will get back to the previous concepts though, which are quite interesting from my own point of view.(less)

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Louis Althusser wrote a preface to a French translation of Capital and in it he gives lots of advice on how to read this book – I recommend you read this book according to that advice, even if I didn’t quite do that myself. A big part of that advice is to not read in the order that Marx wrote. You see, the first few chapters on the commodity are seriously hard going. Much harder going than just about anything else in the book. In fact, Althusser was pretty well just following Marx’s on advice th ...more
Always Pouting
I remember seeing a review on here for this book from a guy who said he bought two copies of this book, one for himself and one for his girlfriend and that he didn't have a girlfriend anymore. I'm bringing this up because actually my boyfriend got me this book, as one of my birthday gifts none the less, and I have to say for the first three hundred pages it felt like I could really empathize with the other man's girlfriend.

This was really really annoying to read I'm going to be honest. I person
Mar 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
Do you know how many pages this is? 1152. And worth every leaf on the tree. A must read for anyone willing or wanting to wax grand about capitalism.

Picture it: My first semester in graduate school. Day two. My professor goes over the syllabus, week one: Das Kapital (Marx)/ chps. 1 - 15, 22, 27 etc. I cry for three days lamenting the decision to pursue higher education. Then I read that shit and my little world changes.
Roy Lotz
Marx was a man badly in need of an editor. For all of the financial, amiable, and intellectual support provided by Engels, one wishes that Engels had only he had been more ruthless is cutting the fat from his partner's work. This would have been easy enough at the time, but by now Marx’s writing has acquired a sacred aura.

The main meat of this bloated tome is all in the first few hundred pages. Marx actually lays out his ideas in a very pleasing and pithy manner. I wish the rest of the book wa
Capital, at least the first volume anyway, is not the most significant elucidation of a politico-economic critique of the past millennia. It is not because many governments have been supported by pillars of so-called Marxism, or because by some miracle this book has been actually adopted by the working class, or because it's the longest and clearest that anyone would make such a claim, because, in all those aspects, Capital cannot by objective measure be posited to be as such. Capital is not a b ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
I had long avoided reading Das Kapital because I thought it would be too mathematically advanced for me. Taking courses with the Marxist philosopher and mathematician, David Schweickart, induced me to make the effort since his assignments and my own readings of Marx had already become pretty extensive and the avoidance of his most important text seemed silly. So, on my own now, I began carrying the tome about in my backpack, reading most of it at Jim's Deli across Sheridan Road from the Lake Sho ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hot_joints
I have to say, this joint is bangin'. I find it useful when I'm in the club. P.S. Check out the total or expanded form of value. It's defective! ...more
Graham Latham
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chelsea Szendi
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
Vampires, monsters, fetishes! Stick with Marx through the saga of the coat and the M-C-M' and the rewards are so rich. When he guides you from the realm of exchange into the realm of production, I dare you not to feel like you are involved in cracking an incredible mystery. Because you are. ...more
Carlos Martinez
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, marxism
Well that was a journey. Finally reached the end after two months of trudging through 10-15 pages a day. I'll write a proper review once I've finished going through my notes, but the thought I'll leave here for now is: read Capital! It's not impossible. A few chapters are tough going, and you should just go slowly (and accept that it's fine if you don't quite understand a few ideas - come back to them next time). But the core concepts are so insightful and profound, and the writing is powerful, ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: E V E R Y O N E
Oh boy, this review is dated. In the interest of encouraging people to share their thoughts about Capital, and put words to paper generally, I'll leave this review up. Once I've gotten through it a second time though, I'm tidying all this up.

(view spoiler)
How do you criticize a classic? Better than a classic, a pillar of modern capitalism.
Because make no mistake, Marx is by turns a sociologist, historian, philosopher ... and a classical economist. It does not question the foundations of classical theories. He adds his vision, his critique of the workings of society and the exploitation of man by man, but we are at the very heart of the classical theory.
Capital reads like Zola for the most part. Lifestyle and consumption habits are described with
Fug o' Slavia
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"First you get the primitive accumulation then you get the Linen, Then you get the Coats, Then you get the Capital, Then you Get the Labour, Then you get The Surplus Value, then you get the mechanization, then you get more Surplus Value" - Tony Montana ...more
Amit Mishra
The book is an excoriation of capitalism based on a vast accumulation of data. In it, he prophesied with scientific authority a class struggle terminating in a proletarian victory and the establishment of a collectivist society. Though often inaccurate historically and feeble stylistically, it has become a kind of bible for communists. It is ironical that Marx, who sought scientific justification for his theories, should have stimulated his followers a pseudo-mystical veneration.
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this book for way too long. However, it has been a worthwhile experience, revealing the provenance of many leftist values that I may have had sympathy for, but admittedly did not fully understand because I lacked an understanding of origin. Not saying I'm a doctrinaire Marxist now, but that is exactly the whole point of reading Marx at this juncture in the state of leftist social theory/politics... To read it from an non-dogmatic perspective. I think if you do this, Marx has ...more
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time I've read this book, and I'm confident there will be a fourth, fifth, and even sixth reading. This is the quintessential text for explaining how capitalism is predicated upon the rapacious exploitation of the working class.

Although the review written below contains many errors, and was written during a state of extreme inebriation, I feel no compulsion to edit it.

Fair warning, I’m writing this hung over.

The first time I read this, I gave the book 4
Karlo Mikhail
Best way to start the year is finally reading the full text of Capital Vol.1. Previously read only bits and pieces of Marx's magnus opus eclectically (notably the first chapter on commodities, the second part on the transformation of money into capital, the chapters on the labor process and the rate of surplus value, and the last part on primitive accumulation). A great work that not only lays bare the workings of capitalism but also presents a forceful argument for the overthrow of such an expl ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to be honest the only reason this book rates is because we have godfathers like David Harvey to illuminate it for us. remember the footnote where he makes fun of Malthus for being a virgin? real mature, KARL. also you'll have to look elsewhere if you're looking for evidence of his toxic friendship with Freddy E., fyi! ...more
Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at. This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-values, is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser."

You could probably fill a library with insightful reviews, responses, commentary, and reflections on Marx's Capital, and many of the reviews on this site do add colour to the illustrious picture. However, since
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
The conqueror will occupy your lands and then sell your resources back to you on credit and tell you all the time it’s a good deal for you. Marx said that multiple times in this book and that’s a metaphor he used to describe the fate of the working person (labor) when at the mercy of capital.

Exploitation and alienation are features not bugs in the absence of a government for the people. The plight of the working class in Europe for the most part was pitiful and hopeless during the time of this
Nandakishore Varma
I have not read this book, but am familiar with the gist of it. Until recently, even though I share Marx's aversion of Big Capital in the hands of a Few Individuals, I had not appreciated the real impact.

Every product has two values: the intrinsic value of the product, created by the poor labourer, and the exchange value, which the capitalist sells it for: usually much higher than the intrinsic value. The capitalist pockets the difference, and grows fat like a leech on the life-blood of the poor
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Somehow my review and rating have disappeared - which is pretty strange. I read this in (I believe) 2018 and decided afterwards to delve into the other two volumes (with the help of an online course).

From what I remember I was impressed by the personal stories and details, apart from the first couple of theoretical chapters. I'm not a Marxist but I can appreciate Marx' economic and philosophical analyses of his time and I even feel some sympathy for his political ambitions. As a non-Marxist I ha
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Review pending (likely three or four years...) - so for now I'll leave a quote from the poet Keston Sutherland, one which I've been crudely misremembering and echoing for a while now.

'The truth of Capital makes life harder to live. Reading the critique and grasping its truth and its necessity mean being turned against the world.'
Oct 24, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Political Economy
This is the most important book for economist
Sean Sullivan
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I think one of the great misconceptions about Capital is that it is dry and difficult. Many people seem to think that reading it would be a chore. Not true. I think if you were to read it on your own or in a study group, you’d find it funny, engaging and not all that hard. It assumes perhaps a small amount of understanding of classical political economy (Malthus, Smith, Ricardo, etc) but not much. I’d say if you’re going to read it, read it in a group, because some of the ideas need to be worked
Cassandra Kay Silva
I made the absolute horror of a mistake of listening to this on audio! Once I started I just couldn't put it down (due partly to the amazing nature of the book, and partly to my own neuroses).

The reasons not to listen to this on audio:
1. Too many citations to juggle easily on the audio format!
2. Multiple readers is irritating (no thank you librovox)
3. You will hear the words cotton, capital, trade, exchange, sterling, and Loco Cito so many times on the audio book that you will be saying them
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
you will never see 20 yards of linen or one coat the same way again
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, having read this didn’t change anything for me except maybe bragging rights. You don’t have to read Capital to know what’s wrong; like Big Bill Haywood said, if you’ve got the marks of capital all over your body. At times the books is tedious, confusing, dense but it’s also powerful, illuminating and beautiful.
“This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just re-pasting my old review, which I wrote a long time ago, coming down off mushrooms and a case of beer....

Fair warning, I'm writing this hung over.

The first time I read this, I gave the book 4 stars, knowing it was a 5 star work, but with 4 star writing. I was wrong. Oh-so wrong. Marx's writing merely reflects his dialectical and masterly way of contemplating, and few of us can dare to grow wings and fly up to such lofty heights of his genius and acumen! Read, reflect
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning, God (the first commodity) created the heavens (exchange-value) and the earth (use-value). And so begins the materialist Bible, Das Kapital, which, if its abstract theoretical model is to be believed, and I think the case is much stronger for than against, it is the most important book of the industrial, i.e. our, epoch. The two greatest intellectual merits of this work are the discoveries of socially necessary labor-time and the precise nature of surplus value, that is, that it ...more
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Karl Marx, Ph.D. (University of Jena, 1841) was a social scientist who was a key contributor to the development of Communist theory.

Marx was born in Trier, a city then in the Kingdom of Prussia's Province of the Lower Rhine. His father, born Jewish, converted to Protestantism shortly before Karl's birth in response to a prohibition newly introduced into the Rhineland by the Prussian Kingdom on Jew

Other books in the series

Capital (3 books)
  • Capital, Vol. 2: The Process of Circulation of Capital
  • Capital, Vol. 3: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole

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