25 January 2010

How Marx Sums Up Capital, Volume 1

Marx’s “Capital”, Volume 1, Chapter 32

Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation

This week’s session will be as follows: 

  • Date: 27 January 2010 (Wednesday)
  • Time: 17h00 sharp to 18h30 sharp
  • Venue: Lecture Hall G05, University of Johannesburg, 37 Nind Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg (former Technikon Witwatersrand). Vehicle access is from the slip road to the left of the bridge on Siemert Road.
  • Topic: Selected chapters from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” (downloadable in MS-Word format

During this week we are covering the second of the ten parts of the Generic Course called “Basics”. The main text is the one with extracts from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” that was posted last week.

In support of “The Prince” we now go straight to the short Chapter 32 from Karl Marx’s “Capital”, Volume 1 – the second last chapter in the book. It is a broad-brush summary of Volume 1. At this stage it may prove a difficult read for some, but it will be valuable in any case, as a preliminary impression of what is to come as these studies progress.

The chapter is only about 1000 words long. It is the same length as a newspaper “feature” article. It is one of several passages in the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin that compress world history into a single sweep, in this case from the time of slaves and serfs, through the stages of the development of capitalism, to the anticipated proletarian revolution.

Other such passages in the “classics” include Chapter 9 of “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” by Frederick Engels, which will be posted tomorrow, and the first few pages of “The Communist Manifesto”, by Marx and Engels, which is the main text in the next part of this “Basics” course.

The Basics course is partly an attempt to answer the frequently-expressed desire for a “simple” explanation of the politics of the working class and of the intellectual partisans of the working class.

In attempting this task, texts have been chosen that exemplify the various original authors’ own attempts to respond to, and to satisfy, the manifest popular craving for a brief and easily-absorbed overall explanation of how politics works.


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