19 July 2009

Capital, the book: All the rage

The CU will continue to aim to publish so as to be in your Inbox first thing on weekday mornings. To achieve this, it will usually be posted the evening before, or during the day on a Sunday, as today. That's the routine. This week we feature the last two sections of the CU's 24-part division of Karl Marx's Capital, Volume 1. See the link below and the “Intro” at the bottom for today's “backbone”.

As it turns out, the CU is by no means the only centre of enthusiasm for Capital Volume 1 at this time. Patrick Bond and the CCS crowd in Durban have put together a serious two-month programme that will run twice, starting next month, using videos of David Harvey's lectures on Capital. A short, recent, David Harvey seminar input can be seen on YouTube at http://davidharvey.org/2009/07/the-crisis-now/. It is deeply excellent and relevant. Please view it if you possibly can, comrades.

The details of the KZN “Capital” seminars are as follows: A pilot for 20 participants at UKZN Centre for Civil Society facilitated by Patrick Bond and Samson Zondi will run in August and September. A bigger group of 50 will run in October and November at Diakonia in central Durban, facilitated by Samson Zondi and Trevor Ngwane. Perhaps more details will appear on the CCS web site in due course. According to information received so far by e-mail, the draft programme looks something like this:

  • 14 sessions (two per week) for participants who can become trainers

  • 12h30-14h30, to include David Harvey seminar screening plus discussion

  • Taxi fare, accommodation subsidy, lunch subsidy (to be eaten during sessions)

  • Das Kapital book plus two DVDs (one with Harvey lectures, one with Brutus/Marx plus lots of other materials)

Click here for the full thirteen sessions called “Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey” which will be the basis of the above seminars.

Click on these links:

CU Backbone posting:

1867, Marx, Capital, Volume 1, 28, 29 and 30, Suppression, & Capitalist Farming (4803 words)

Note that nearly all the Marx, Engels and Lenin texts of the CU have been downloaded from Marxists Internet Archive, which is a vast store of revolutionary literature.

Intro to Chapters 28, 29 and 30 of Karl Marx's Capital, Volume 1

Marx's first concern in his description of Primitive Accumulation is to establish where the labour power came from, in the metropolitan countries where capitalism was established as a system for the first time, and where it proved itself even more profitable than the slave trade that stole people from Africa and worked them to death on plantations in North and South America, and in the Carribean islands.

This new abundance of available labour power in the metropolis, personified in citizens without property, was the consequence of deliberate dispossession. It had the immediate consequence of producing what we now call “unemployment”, which was immediately criminalised as “vagrancy”. The unemployment was an essential precondition for capitalism to arise, yet the bourgeoisie in its eternal hypocrisy, criminalised its own victims.

Chapter 28 is an easy read detailing the legal steps in the original case, that of England.

Having shown where the labour power came from, Marx at the beginning of Chapter 29 asks “whence came the capitalists originally?”. This very short chapter answers the question in the case of the capitalist farmers, who were the necessary original capitalists, and who were already a historically-existing class in England by the late 16th century.

In Chapter 30, Marx turns his attention to the question of just how yet another of the necessary pre-requisites of capitalism came into being, namely the “home market”. The very same peasants who had been thrown off the land into the towns to live in shacks had to eat, whether they were working or not, and the farms that they had left were still the only source of food. Thus was set in motion the relation of demand and supply, and also of concentration of industries into “manufactories” as opposed to the family-scale production of earlier times. These kinds of changes can still be observed as they happen, in South Africa today.


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