Das Kapital

by Karl Marx

Hardcover, 1969



Call number

CG 5344 K17



Kröner, A (1969), Edition: 6., Aufl., 755 pages


Few writers have had a more demonstrable impact on the development of the modern world than has Karl Marx (1818-1883). Born in Trier into a middle-class Jewish family in 1818, by the time of his death in London in 1883, Marx claimed a growing international reputation. Of central importance then and later was his book DAS KAPITAL, or, as it is known to English readers, simply CAPITAL. Volume One of CAPITAL was published in Paris in 1867. This was the only volume published during Marx's lifetime and the only to have come directly from his pen. Volume Two, published in 1884, was based on notes Marx left, but written by his friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). Readers from the nineteenth century to the present have been captivated by the unmistakable power and urgency of this classic of world literature. Marx's critique of the capitalist system is rife with big themes: his theory of 'surplus value', his discussion of the exploitation of the working class, and his forecast of class conflict on a grand scale. Marx wrote with purpose. As he famously put it, 'Philosophers have previously tried to explain the world, our task is to change it.' With an Introduction by Mark G. Spencer, Brock University, Ontario, Canada. This edition includes both Volumes One and Two. AUTHOR: Karl Heinrich Marx was born into a middle class family in Germany on 5 May 1818 and was the son of a successful lawyer. He would go on to become the most influential socialist thinker of the nineteenth century, and although he did not live to see his ideas carried out in his own lifetime his writings formed the basis for modern communism.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member a2theharris
Most of this book is dedicated to footnotes. For nearly every point he makes, he studiously supports it with extensive footnotes that almost require footnotes themselves. If you are having difficulty seeing the "logic" of his connections then you are not spending enough time with the footnotes.
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That is how he reveals his logic. You can disagree with his conclusions, but that's not the same thing as being "illogical". Personally, I think his central thesis is quite logical. Capitalism requires a person to sell his labor for less than the value of the product of his labor, otherwise the capitalistic enterprise cannot make a profit. Then he fills the gaps with his version of class struggle solidifying the inherent unfair relationship between employee and employer as the profit motive becomes so paramount. Illogical? No. It's a classic analysis of conflict of interest. Controversial? Of course.

This book is extensive, but it's easier to understand if you think of it as a model of capitalism at his time in history rather than some declaration of eternal truth. Karl Marx himself knew that this book was not capable of seeing the full expanse of capitalism. That's why he intended on writing three more volumes. His best friend and patron, Fredrich Engels had two more published based on Marx's notes and research since he died too early to make the other volumes happen.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
I am stunned to learn that this... this "rigid scientific investigation" is the foundational idea that so dramatically affected recent world history. Marx makes a series of illogical leaps to build his theory of labor and capital, while claiming to follow the same scientific process used in
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chemistry and physics. As is frequently done in economic writing, he begins with one argument: "For simplicity's sake we shall henceforth account every kind of labour to be unskilled, simple labour; by this we do no more than save ourselves the trouble of making the reduction."

But he never comes back to show how the real-world violation of that assumption affects the relative market for each class of labor. He does a moderately successful job of showing the economics of "value add" but then creates another logical gap in the process of allowing free market exchange for each laborer's portion. (To summarize the argument, someone gets more for something and it clearly isn't the laborer.) It was interesting to see the reference to Robinson Crusoe (a frequent event in economics.) The closest he comes to that dangerous border of reality is his admission that compulsory labor is less productive. That is the point where an enterprising student could ask "because of lack of incentive?" In his own chapter on "contradictions" he himself makes a critical mathematical error in showing who gets the surplus value from exchange. Again, a whole argument is built on this to show the disparity that faces the worker. He bases the low living wage provided to workers as being similar to the ancient societies that bought from provinces with money taxed from them. In "The Labour Process" he references that the "way to Hell is paved with good intentions." He also quotes Benjamin Franklin. Summary: Due to monopoly power, the capitalist benefits from labor's surplus value without contributing anything to the process. Asserted but not proven.
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LibraryThing member Borg-mx5
An incredibly dense read, but so much is said about communism, so much propaganda has been heard. Here is the basic for the now defunct social and economic theory. Some of his ideas still live.
LibraryThing member scottcholstad
There are actually some pretty good, interesting and challenging ideas in what is arguably one of the most important works in history, yet it is far from perfect and there seem to be quite a few flaws, gaps, judgment calls, perhaps an over-emphasis on idealism while neglecting reality or
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pragmatism, which is what I always felt was its primary weakness. Still, simply to understand why the world changed so radically prior to 1900 through the present, this is the basic place to begin...
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Original publication date



3520064065 / 9783520064066
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