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Marx: A Very Short Introduction

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,043 ratings  ·  212 reviews
In Marx: A Very Short Introdution, Peter Singer identifies the central vision that unifies Marx's thought, enabling us to grasp Marx's views as a whole. He sees him as a philosopher primarily concerned with human freedom, rather than as an economist or a social scientist. In plain English, he explains alienation, historical materialism, the economic theory of Capital, and ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published 2001 by Oxford University Press (first published 1980)
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Michael Mazza Yes, there is a Past Masters series with Marx being one that was published in 1980.

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Marx: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #28), Peter Singer

From 1818 to 1883, Marx was the founder of material commentary on history, and the prime of class warfare, Marx's influence on economics, philosophy, and all branches of social and political thought was undoubtedly very profound. From Singer's point of view, Marx's main concern was human freedom. The eye looks for a communist society that has to transform human nature.

عنوانها: مارکس؛ اندیشه مارکس؛ مارکس - درآمدی بسیار کو
Riku Sayuj

Singer looks at Marx, the Philosopher, and relegates Marx, the Economist to the background. This allows Singer to put aside all the 'refuted' aspects of Marx and focus on the key and relevant ideas. Singer discusses alienation and historical materialism in some detail and tracks their evolution in Marx's thought, but the most interesting segment is when he tries to pin down marx's own conceptions of what a communist utopia should be like. Turns out Marx was extremely pragmatic about it and let s
Sabyasachi mitra
Jan 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is rather a misleading guide to Marx. The author's opinion is not only heavily loaded against Marxist school of Economics but also misguide the reader on the truthfulness of several important assertion of Marx on the basic contradiction of Capitalism .

The Author claims that the rate of profit has not fallen , as was predicted by Marx, and wage rate in Advanced Capitalist countries has rather gone northwards. Only after the great recession has struck us do we find that the this assertion is
Hrishabh Chaudhary
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
A book about Marx and Marxism, more about Marx than Marxism. OK, OK, you got that from the title, I just wanted to underscore the point that the book is a cross between a short biography and an introduction to Marxism, which I think is the winning-point for this book; it doesn’t bore you with awful lot personal life details or overwhelm you with too much political and economic stuff. Rather it starts with a brief account of Marx’s life and impact of his ideas, and goes on to trace genesis of Mar ...more
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a very good introduction to Marx and Marxism, but very short, as the title says. I thought his explanation of Hegel was really clear and I will read Singer's short introduction to Hegel as well, as I never understood it before and Singer, as always, writes very easy to understand.

My main criticism is that I found Singer's arguments against Marx at the end of the book very lacking and a bit too harsh.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great book. A lucid introduction to Marx. Easy to read and well structured.

Here are my reading notes.

# To Remember

- A lot of Marx's rhetoric comes from Hegel (a dialectic leading to historical progress)
- Marx was mostly wrong on his economic predictions
- He is to be treated as a philosopher more than an economist if we are to get value out of his thought
- For him, the really real was the economic powers that shape our societies

# Concepts

## Surplus Value

In classical economics, the capitalist hi
Dec 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a highly readable introduction to Marx written by a philosopher who generally writes highly readable philosophical tracts.

As others have noted Singer too easily dismisses Marx contribution to economic theory. Classical economists appalling lack of success as "scientists" have once again been aired out in our most recent "crisis of capitalism." On the other hand, critics of classical economics such as Steve Keen, whose economic models accurately predicted the financial crisis, acknowledg
Jun 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Way too convoluted for an introduction; also, the author is arguing with Marx rather than explaining his philosophy. What a miss.
Vance Dubberly
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I guess I was expecting an introduction to Marxism, this is definitely no such book. The author spends almost as much time on his own opinions of Marxism as he does on Marx's philosophy. The book is a short crappy biography of Karl Marx that touches on his ideas only long enough to dismiss them as out of date and irrelevant. I expect better from this series. This book will give neither the curious reader, the anti-Marxist or pro-Marxist anything to chew on. Don't waste your time.
Sumit Ghosh
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
Peter Singer does it again!!

This is the second book from the Very Short Introduction series by Peter Singer I read, the first one was on Hegel, and both of them live up to the challenge of summarizing these giants without losing the essence of their ideas. It's a very short book, you can complete it in one sitting, so highly recommended for anyone and everyone.
Quentin Crisp
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was pretty good, except that Singer's treatment of Hegel seemed to me superficial and wrong-headed. Anyway, of the Very Short Introduction series that I've read so far, this is the one most like a satisfying work in its own right.
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
A good Bio, but not much else... i dout that who made this book ever understod any thing about marxism
Rishab Katoch
Peter singer briefly covers Marx's life before moving onto his ideas. Here the book covers the impact of Hegelian system on young Marx which ultimately results in his developing his ideas of alienation of labour and historical materialism. The author's assessment of Marx is particularly interesting, wherein he claims Marx's theories to be unscientific and stresses his importance as a philosopher rather than an economist.

"Marx saw that capitalism is a wasteful, irrational system, a system which
Pooya Khandel
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: فلسفه
Short introduction, but a good representation of Marx's ideas in summary. I found it useful to find a general understanding of Marx's philosophical thesis based on alienation and his theory of history. The only point to mention, however, is that the critics on Marx's predictions could be more compelling if numbers and statistics were provided.
Todd Wright
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
A Very Short Summary- Marx was a philosopher not an economist. So far, Marx has been wrong in most of his predictions. Marx is still very influential.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My second book from this author. The first was about Hegel. Very good. Since this philosopher is the 'base' for Marx, so I have started from him. And indeed I was not mistaken.

I have highlighted some passages, due to the fact that I found them important:

1) “Engels put it in his graveside speech: ‘mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.’ But if politics, science, art, and religion, once they come into existence,
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-history
Marx is a name that gets bandied around too much. People are vilified for being a marxist while others proudly proclaim their Marxism. For a long time I've had the feeling that the majority of people on either side of the political fence just toss the name around and know nothing of what Marxism is. I know that I read the Communist Manifesto in College - Far enough back that I remember little of it. When I saw this volume in the B&N bargain section I thought it would be a good opportunity to lea ...more
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
The author of this introduction focuses mainly on the philosophical side of karl marx and his important contribution to the idea of freedom and his enduring criticism of the capitalist society.what Marx gave us is a much richer idea of freedom than the superficial liberal view of it.This introduction will show the readers the beauty of many of Marx's writings.
But the author is wrong in dismissing Marx's contribution to economics too easily.In fact many of Marx's predictions have actually turned
chantel nouseforaname
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: random, leisure-reads
A great, albeit VERY short, as blatantly stated, introduction into Karl Marx. I've read about Marx, studied Marxism a little bit in uni, but real talk all the studying at that point really it went in one ear and right out the other, shame to say it. I know a bit about his views surrounding capitalism and what it means in the context of society, re: building up other people's shit and staying poor.. but I really really really wanted to know more. The meaty bits. Kinda stupid for me to start with ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Delivers on its promise and gives an accessible overview of Marxism and the man behind it. Singer respects Marxism when viewed as a philosophical critique of capitalism, but criticizes Marxism in its attempts to scientifically explain economics and historical trends.

As he says of Marx the philosopher:

“As a philosopher, Marx’s work endures. It has altered our understanding of our own nature, and deepened our grasp of what it is to be free.”

And as he says of Marx the scientist:

“More than a centu
N. N.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is lucidly written and makes a single good criticism clearly: Marx did not do nearly enough planning for what a post-revolution society should look like. If this book was entitled "Singer on Marx," I would give it more stars. But it doesn't really work as an introduction, it doesn't give reliable summaries of various topics relating to Marxism, and it doesn't serve as a good beginning for further investigations. Introductions should, I think, be sympathetic or at least neutral. This bo ...more
Philipda Luangprasert
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
I read an official translation in Thai. The language is quite difficult. The content is quite old as it was written decades ago. But it provides a good short critique about what Marx wrote, summarizing original lengthy century-old books.
Mats Sypriansen
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Singer, of course, is as always mostly a pompous troll, but there was some insight to be gleaned here and there.
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not short at all; felt quite comprehensive to my small brain. Very illuminating.
Nov 13, 2019 added it
I discovered Peter Singer while watching Astra Taylor’s documentary “Examined Life”. Seeing Singer alongside people I greatly admired, like Cornel West and Judith Butler, maybe added some aura to his cold logical Australian persona. Not too long after this, I went through a Peter Singer phase while an international development student in grad school. There was something compelling about the seemingly pragmatic utilitarianism of Singer that made me feel something could be done about poverty right ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book that would have been had Bertrand Russell sat down to derive the proof for communism from first principles. In terms of ratio of total no. of words in book : total no. of words in highlights, this book must be as close to 1:1 as I might get. The density of thought-provoking ideas here is stunning, and I took my time with this book, gazing off into space after every paragraph, something I'd assumed a failing attention span had rendered impossible by now.

The common theme of infanticide tr
General Kutuzov
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Appropriately critical
Mar 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
Singer is summarily dismissive of the accuracy of Marx's predictions, but we now can see that certain predictions like the tendency of unskilled wages to decline to subsistence was only *avoided* for so long by the power of unions. It's okay as an intro to Marx's ideas, but the commentary is uncharitable.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Singer's lucid writing allows him to pack quite a bit into this rather short book, in which he presents key points from Marx's works with precision and clarity. I think this would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for an introduction to Marx's thought. For me, it was a good and quick refresher on some central concepts and vocabulary in Marx that had slipped since my Soc class first year of undergrad.

An interesting point to note: at the book's end, in addition to commenting on the unfortu
Mohit Dhanjani
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I just read the second edition of this book which was published in 2018.
I now have more questions (which is a positive outcome), especially in the part of Hegel and his influence on Karl Marx.

Even though relevant, but I felt that last chapter did not add much value. It also seemed disconnected from Marx, though it was relevant considering globalization and spread of capitalism in other countries.

My rating remains the same. A must read.

--Review of First edition--

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Peter Singer is sometimes called "the world’s most influential living philosopher" although he thinks that if that is true, it doesn't say much for all the other living philosophers around today. He has also been called the father (or grandfather?) of the modern animal rights movement, even though he doesn't base his philosophical views on rights, either for humans or for animals.

In 2005 Time mag

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“Marx saw that capitalism is a wasteful, irrational system, a system which controls us when we should be controlling it. That insight is still valid; but we can now see that the construction of a free and equal society is a more difficult task than Marx realized.” 6 likes
“While it is absurd to blame Marx for something he did not foresee and certainly would have condemned if he had foreseen it, the distanced between Marx's predicted communist society and the form taken by 'communism' in the twentieth century may in the end be traceable to Marx's misconception of the flexibility of human nature.” 4 likes
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