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El capital 3: El Proceso Global de la Producción Capitalista

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El capital (en alemán: Das Kapital), de Karl Marx es, como reza su subtítulo, un tratado de crítica de la economía política; al mismo tiempo, puede leerse como un estudio sobre la especificidad histórica de la sociedad moderna. En la medida en que Marx considera que la esfera económica, el capital, domina y condiciona el funcionamiento de la sociedad moderna, la crítica de El capital (en alemán: Das Kapital), de Karl Marx es, como reza su subtítulo, un tratado de crítica de la economía política; al mismo tiempo, puede leerse como un estudio sobre la especificidad histórica de la sociedad moderna. En la medida en que Marx considera que la esfera económica, el capital, domina y condiciona el funcionamiento de la sociedad moderna, la crítica de la economía política, es decir, del saber sobre esa esfera, se torna el punto de partida fundamental para comprender qué es esa sociedad moderna y cómo funciona a través de las relaciones de dominación entre las clases, de un lado los proletarios y de otra los burgueses.

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El capital (en alemán: Das Kapital), de Karl Marx es, como reza su subtítulo, un tratado de crítica de la economía política; al mismo tiempo, puede leerse como un estudio sobre la especificidad histórica de la sociedad moderna. En la medida en que Marx considera que la esfera económica, el capital, domina y condiciona el funcionamiento de la sociedad moderna, la crítica de El capital (en alemán: Das Kapital), de Karl Marx es, como reza su subtítulo, un tratado de crítica de la economía política; al mismo tiempo, puede leerse como un estudio sobre la especificidad histórica de la sociedad moderna. En la medida en que Marx considera que la esfera económica, el capital, domina y condiciona el funcionamiento de la sociedad moderna, la crítica de la economía política, es decir, del saber sobre esa esfera, se torna el punto de partida fundamental para comprender qué es esa sociedad moderna y cómo funciona a través de las relaciones de dominación entre las clases, de un lado los proletarios y de otra los burgueses.

30 review for El capital 3: El Proceso Global de la Producción Capitalista

  1. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Source: http://carcanholo.nuevaradio.org/?p=54 The reasoning developed by Marx in the latter part of the book is much more linear than it seems at first sight. His whole speech is about the contradictory effects that manifests the increase in labor productivity in capitalist conditions. To increase the added value, capital must increase labor productivity: indeed, the latter - to determine a reduction of working time incorporated into each product and thus a decrease in the value of each commodit Source: http://carcanholo.nuevaradio.org/?p=54 The reasoning developed by Marx in the latter part of the book is much more linear than it seems at first sight. His whole speech is about the contradictory effects that manifests the increase in labor productivity in capitalist conditions. To increase the added value, capital must increase labor productivity: indeed, the latter - to determine a reduction of working time incorporated into each product and thus a decrease in the value of each commodity (the magnitude of the value of a commodity, Marx says, varies in inverse proportion to the productive power of labor effected in it) - also determines the reduction of labor time necessary to produce the worker's livelihood, that is, reduce the amount of working hours in the workforce reproduces itself to instead increase the working time further that the worker gives to capital, that is, the added value.On the other hand, how to increase labor productivity capital must constantly revolutionizing the technical basis of production, introducing new, more expensive machines, the same cause that increases labor productivity also increases the "organic composition" of capital, that is the ratio of the portion of the capital that is spent in the purchase of machinery and raw materials, "constant capital" and his other hand, the "variable capital", the wage fund, by contrast, is intended for procurement of power work. By virtue of the first aspect, the increase in labor productivity is synonymous with increased "rate of surplus value" or exploitation rate, expression with which Marx understands the relationship between the added value produced and the variable component of the advanced capital or the relationship between the added value and the necessary work. By virtue of the second aspect, that is, the increased "organic composition" of capital, we have, on the contrary, a drop of "profit rate", ie a fall of relationship in which added value to is related not only to the variable component but with all the capital invested. The law, therefore, is one, but has two sides: in the sense that, as Marx explains, "the rate of profit does not fall because labor becomes unproductive but because it becomes productive. Both things, the increase in the rate of surplus value and the fall in profit rates are only special ways in which is expressed in capitalism, a growing productivity of labor." It is evident the importance of this law within the framework of Marx's analysis. The rate of profit is the driving force of capitalist production; in capitalism only produces what can be produced at a profit, and in that this is obtainable profit. Therefore, this driving force tends to weaken, it means that the fate of the entire system is sealed. In short, the law is more than one of the many laws set out throughout the Capital as it sums up the whole vision that Marx had capitalism. Indeed, for him, the contradiction inherent in the development of labor productivity in capitalist conditions is culminating expression of the contradictory nature of the whole system "the development of the productive forces of social labor is the task and the historical legitimation of capital," but "precisely with that it unconsciously creates the material conditions of a higher form of production." In other words, to develop, capitalism needs increasing productivity at work: the increase of the latter is the means by which increases the added value and therefore develops accumulation. On the other hand, if this increase in productivity is through capital life, the fact that translates into an increase in the organic composition converts it while an insurmountable limit to the valorization of the same capital. The reason life becomes a reason of death. Or as Marx says, "the means - unconditional development of the social productive forces - comes into constant conflict with the limited objective, the enhancement of existing capital", so concludes, "If the capitalist mode of production is the historic surroundings to develop the productive power supplies and create the world market that corresponds to it, is both the constant conflict between this its historical mission and the social relations of production corresponding to such mode of production. " In conclusion there are two forces acting on the profit rate: the rate of surplus value and the organic composition of capital. The development of labor productivity increases both simultaneously. But how in the long run, the second force exceeds the first, the cause that drives the falling rate of profit must ultimately prevail, according to Marx, on increasing the rate of surplus value that unlike and of itself, tends to contain this fall or cancel it directly under certain conditions. This is broadly in the sense of speech. And now, including for the purposes of better understanding, let us cast a glance at the latest critical literature on the argument. The main objection to all the critics describe, may be stated as follows: to describe in Chapter XIII falling rate of profit that is due to the increasing organic composition of capital, Marx - it is stated - assumes that the rate of added value does not increase, but that remains constant. The procedure results illegitimate. Indeed, to increase labor productivity is necessary to increase the organic composition of capital, ie introduce new and more expensive machines, it is also true that seeks to add to labor productivity because it increases the rate of surplus value. While the two phenomena (increase in organic composition and increasing the rate of surplus value) are the two opposite effects, but inseparable, the increased productivity of labor, Marx - it is said - makes the mistake of separating them, building chapter that is the law as such only on the basis of the first end, and relegating the other (i.e., increasing the rate of capital gain) at Chapter 14, dedicated to the opposing tendencies. This procedure arbitrary results. Indeed, to deal separately with the two processes Marx can consider increasing the organic composition, with the consequent fall in the profit rate as a key trend, and the increase in the rate of surplus value (that reduces or cancels this fall) as a cause antagonistic but secondary to the first. Marx's error was that to consider increasing the organic composition assumed that the rate of surplus value remained constant, even when just considered the increase as an exception or a cause especially antagonistic, but always subordinate to the former trend. In fact, not only the rate of value simultaneously increases with the organic composition, but, as the labor productivity increase does not limit the rate can theoretically build up to such an extent that dominates and prevails stably on another trend . And continues on and on

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Whew. This one was great!! I think it's probably at least as important and interesting as Volume 1 honestly. This is where we see Marx develop the implications of critique of bourgeois political economy that was introduced in Volume 1 as they develop in the actual economy. This is where Marx starts talking about credit, debt, finance, transportation, and even military aid (for like a paragraph lol) while showing how the course of the historical development of capitalist economy obscures the rela Whew. This one was great!! I think it's probably at least as important and interesting as Volume 1 honestly. This is where we see Marx develop the implications of critique of bourgeois political economy that was introduced in Volume 1 as they develop in the actual economy. This is where Marx starts talking about credit, debt, finance, transportation, and even military aid (for like a paragraph lol) while showing how the course of the historical development of capitalist economy obscures the relationships that underpin it. How, for example, it appears to the individual capitalist that labor appears as a constituent part of revenue as opposed to the fundamental source of value. A lot of the analysis here is still extremely helpful in understanding how capitalism works today even though all of the analysis of currency assumes a metal base for the currency (It wasn't immediately easy for me to tell exactly which parts of the analysis, if any, run into trouble due to modern currency not having a metallic base, though admittedly I haven't done a lot of research on the topic myself). As with Volume 1 (and to a rather lesser extent Volume 2) there is also a lot of historical interest here. Lots of quotations of interviews with senior bankers are analyzed and you can really see Marx doing some hefty Critique of Ideology. Good stuff IMO. Anyway, definitely super important and helpful to read. Check it out yall!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Capital, Volume 1: Mastered. Vol. 2: MAstered. Vol. 3: Mastered. Vol. 4: Heres when they start trying to trick you Vol. 5: This ones hard

  4. 5 out of 5

    C

    Capital Volume III completes Marx’s unrivaled trifecta. Upon completing Vol I-III of Capital, one underground rumor is shown to be true, and another is not. First the correct rumor: the reader will arise from his study reborn into an invulnerable phoenix! Now for the incorrect rumor: with outstretched wings, your flight will not be too close to the sun, as Icarus found out, for Marxian phoenix wings are not made of feathers and wax, but knowledge, sweat, and blood! Marx remarked of Capital Vol I Capital Volume III completes Marx’s unrivaled trifecta. Upon completing Vol I-III of Capital, one underground rumor is shown to be true, and another is not. First the correct rumor: the reader will arise from his study reborn into an invulnerable phoenix! Now for the incorrect rumor: with outstretched wings, your flight will not be too close to the sun, as Icarus found out, for Marxian phoenix wings are not made of feathers and wax, but knowledge, sweat, and blood! Marx remarked of Capital Vol I, that “there is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits,” what he did not inform the reader is that those who climb all three luminous summits will cease need to climb at all! Soaring above the (theoretical) world is now readily at their disposal! In Volume III all the questions, literally all of them, that the reader is left with in regards to Vol I are answered. One might wonder upon completing Vol I, why places that employ no labor (e.g., laundry mats), or places that employ less labor – which is the source of surplus value - than others in the same industry, are able to derive such larger profits. One might also wonder what the role of monopoly or inter-corporate collusion will do to prices. And again, one may wonder further what role supply and demand have upon price and value, since it’s ignored in Vol I, yet it is intuitively obviously it must play some role. Marx addresses all of these questions and more (e.g., the answer to the meaning of life, whether or not chocolate is better than strawberry, and the final digit in π (pi)!) Seriously though, despite the hyperbole, Marx does address numerous questions which the reader is left with after completing Vol I. Some of the primary discussions emphasized in Vol III deal with the transformation problem, and also the share of profits across common industries. The reader learns in Vol I that unnecessary labor is the source of profit/surplus value, and because it is unnecessary it’s clearly exploitation. This means that the more people work in accords with socially necessary labor time, the more the capitalist can generate a profit. But in a globalized economy, or even within a nation, it’s clear that some places employ more workers than others, and the profits between these competing firms do not mesh with Marx’s theory in Vol I. Of course people also rarely take the time to see how Marx addressed this issue in Vol III. Marx points out those industrial investments are made by the capitalist class as a whole, so we cannot analyze anyone sectors surplus in relation to their constant and variable capital (S/C+V) and expect for the numbers to all align. Instead we have to look at the S/C+V in relation to that entire sector of the economy, and that will give us the rate of profit in general. Since investments are made by the capitalist class as a whole and consumption is therefore done on this wider basis. But this leads each industry to try to cut down on cost, reducing their work force, and trying to increase productivity and exhaust or invest in newer and more efficient constant capital. Thus the race to the top by each firm is in fact the race to the bottom for the capitalist class overall! This leads to Marx’s theory of crisis, which is frequently misread, maligned, or completely ignored and brushed aside. Although Marx referred to the theory as the law of the tendency of the fall in the rate of profit, which leads readers to believe that there is a law in the interworkings of capitalism that mandates the rate of profit to fall constantly, he also offered six counteracting tendencies to the rate of profit. These six counteracting tendencies are increasing the rate of exploitation, depressing wages, cheapening the elements of constant capital, relative over population, foreign trade, and the increase of stock capital. So for all those people who point to any one year, or series of years in capitalism and claim “look Marx was wrong, profits haven’t fallen,” they best check the previously mentioned six tendencies. As Michael Roberts, among others, have pointed out, the year before any crisis, it does turn out that there is a rise in the organic composition (C and V) of capital (i.e., more C than V), which does in fact prove Marx’s point overall. The other intriguing element of Vol III is the discussion of credit, finance, securities, banks, etc. It’s quite overwhelming the degree to which Marx’s predictions in Vol III have come true in regards to the modern finance industry and financial capital in general. Every day we hear things like Wall Street is making record profits, and the price and amount of securities have never been higher! Yet we see that Wall Street is sitting on their money and failing to invest it in anything productive. How can we call this profit then, if profit is derived from exploited labor? In fact this is fictitious capital, or potential money capital, which presently sits idle. For those who say Wall Street is making record profits, they are fetishizing finance, and failing to get at the essence of the capitalist system. Marx also deals with merchants’ capital in this book, and the role of exploitation in regards to the employees of merchants’ capital (e.g., wal mart or publix employees). Are they exploited? They seem underpaid, yet they do not engage in productive labor. In fact they are exploited in a sense. As Marx points out, merchants in buying up products en masse get it at less than its produced value, and they derive a profit by selling the products at their actual value. But the merchants don’t actually do a lot of work. The Walton family certainly doesn’t do a whole lot of work for their income. It is the employees of merchants’ capital (the truck drivers, the shelf stockers, the cashiers) that help these merchants realize the value difference between their purchase of bulk commodities, and their sale. And yet they are not compensated for the overall difference, ergo they are exploited too. In sum, I’ve hardly covered the primary details laid out in Vol III. And Capital Vol III is every bit as important now, if not more so, than it was when Engel’s published it toward the end of the 19th century. It is also every bit as important as Vol I. One cannot understand capitalism off the first volume alone. It’s not exaggeration to say that in order to understand, fully, the capitalist world we live in today, and in order to understand how to overcome, one must read Marx’s trilogy. It is not easy task, but the phoenix wings are totally worth the belabored process.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Patterson

    I don't have access to my whole book collection right now, so I don't have the external sources I'd like to cite to articulate my view. Just gimme 2 weeks....

  6. 4 out of 5

    Xander

    Karl Marx originally had the plan, in 1865, to write Das Kapital. Volume 1 he could finish, but he still had three volumes worth of notes left. The rest of his life he was too busy - atleast, between the moments when he was busy living like a bourgeous - stoking up controversy and organising international communism to finish his magnum opus. Then, the man passed away in 1883, after his daughter had died some months earlier. After this event, his life-long friend Friedrich Engels started to get t Karl Marx originally had the plan, in 1865, to write Das Kapital. Volume 1 he could finish, but he still had three volumes worth of notes left. The rest of his life he was too busy - atleast, between the moments when he was busy living like a bourgeous - stoking up controversy and organising international communism to finish his magnum opus. Then, the man passed away in 1883, after his daughter had died some months earlier. After this event, his life-long friend Friedrich Engels started to get the manuscripts for the remaining volumes of Das Kapital ready for publishing. But there is of course the problem that Marx once was busy collecting materials for the remaining volumes and had written full chapters, but also long trains of thoughts - to be worked out at a later date. Anyaway, the end result is that Engels had to either publish the work in its manuscriptural form - which would have been a disaster (terribly unreadable) -, or else he would have to polish the existing chapters and supplement the unfinished ones with his own ideas and present it as a whole. He chose the last option. The problem? Volume 2 is as dry as anything you can imagine - and then some. It's almost unreadable for modern day readers and it could have used an editor with an eye for conciseness and accessibility of texts. But so could Das Kapital Volume 1 - which is as inaccessible and unreadable as Volume 2, but was written and published by Marx himself in a complete form. The real problems start with Volume 3. Engels writes in the (long) preface that he tried to supplement and polish certain parts of the book more than three times, after which he gave up and decided to write down his own words, based on Marx's ideas. Many chapters that he simply edited somewhat are terribly unfocused and contain much repetitive and/or redundant materials. In short: Das Kapital Volume 3 is just a terribly bad book. It is extremely long (1100 pages plain text); it is not one whole but rather a collection of loose chapters and parts; much material is presented in terribly convoluted form; and it simply is written in a way that makes the book a pain to read (and keep reading). The problem is, the material in the book is interesting. And the book itself has a definite place in Marx's criticism of political economy. In Volume 1 he looked at the essence of capitalism: the process of production. How is value created? Whence does it arise? And what are the consequences of this mode of production? Then, in Volume 2, Marx leaves the ground and soars high up in the sky, looking down on capitalism as a continuous system of which production is only one part. According to Marx, capital is value in motion: money is exchanged for commodities; commodities are used, along with labour, in the process of production; the commodities are then sold again on the market with profit; the bigger value is then re-invested; and so the cycle continues. The faster value moves, the more value is created; turnover rates are an essential ingredient of capitalism, hence the important place of transport, communications, money (in the form of credit), reducing fixed and replacing it with circulating capital - anything that speeds up or smoothens the process helps. With Volume 3, Marx planned to show how capitalism worked out in the real world. Now we know how and by whom value is created, and how the movement of value is essential, we need to look at the more detailed picture. After the commodities are produced, the capitalist tries to sells his goods on the market and make a profit. But what is profit? Is it surplus value? Is it something different? And what does the rate of profit have to do with the surplus value? And what are the effects of the latter connection? These sorts of questions were meant to be answered in Volume 3. And for a big part they are. The first four parts (about 45% of the book) are really breath-taking. They are truly hard to digest, but if one has paid attention in Volume 1 and 2 to what Marx was saying, the new material clicks into place rather easily. It's just that Marx has a terrible way of presenting his materials, and that Engels hasn't really done anything about it. The main ideas: 1. Profit is surplus value as it shows its face to the capitalist and the market. The capitalist sees his commodity being sold for a certain price, and consequently thinks the market determines the price and value of the commodity. If pushed, he looks at his production processes and sees the cost price - the constant and variable capital that went into the materials, including labour, to produce the commodity -, deducts this amount from the product price and sees the profit. Marx shows how profit is nothing but surplus value and how this form of appearance hides the generator of value: exploitation of labour. It's labour that generates surplus value, not the market. The rate of profit in this sense is nothing but the proportion of surplus value to the total capital expended to generate this surplus value. And here the difference shows itself: the rate of surplus value is the proportion of surplus value to just variable capital (i.e. labour) expended to generate this surplus value. With this distinction, Marx has a tool with which to look at the market from a whole new perspective. 2. Up to now, Marx looks as the profit and profit rate of an individual capital. But of course individual capital is part of the entire system of capitalism. Individual capital expended on production of a commodity is part of the total capital expended on all commodities. And it's the same with the rate of surplus value, the profit, and the profit rate. But now, when we look at the rate of profit from the perspective of the social production (i.e. marcoeconomics), we see something happening. Within a certain branche of production, all the individual rates of profits (just like anything else) goes into the sum total of all rate of profits. This total is then, on the market, redistributed over all the individual capitals - just like the market value and the market price are in essence nothing but the average values and average prices of all the commodities on the markets. And here capitalism shows it's true face: competition. An individual capital can be more or less than the average. Just like an individual profit can be more or less than the average profit. And the average rate of profit is the rate of profit as an aggregation of all the individual rates of profits. It is this factor that's leading in capitalism, not the individual rate of profit. The laws of capitalism make all capitalists pawns in its game, just like it makes every labourer a pawn. The individual capitalist just plays along, but in reality is, ultimately, nothing but a temporary robot. For the capitalist, who looks at the market from his own, money-making perspective, all that exists are market prices and market values, and he tries to cut down on the cost price of his own commodities, while trying to sell his commodities dearer than his competitors. Political economics - Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and their followers - look at the market to determine value, while Marx looks at the essence of value - labour - and sees the market, with all it's fluctuations, as the logical consequence of this capitalist mode of production. 3. The average rate of profit is the death knell of capitalism. When looked at from the perspective of social production, the rate of profit is the inherent contradiction that runs down the whole system. Why? Because the rate of profit is nothing but the proportion of surplus value to total capital expended on generating this surplus value. But this total capital is composed of constant capital - land, buildings, machinery, raw materials, ancillary materials, etc. - and variable capital - wages paied. Since variable capital, wages, generate surplus value, it follows that the higher the ratio of variable to constant capital, the higher the rate of surlus value and the higher the rate of profit. But what happens in capitalism? Capital accumulates. Bigger capitals can pay more wages and generate more surplus value. Bigger capitals also offer economy of scale and the adaptation of innovation and technology. In short: bigger capitals are more productive. Capitalists are forced, by the laws of capitalism, to perpetually increase labour productivity - producing ever more by ever fewer hands. In other words: capitalism thrives on development, always increasing the component of constant capital and always decreasing the component variable capital. The value generating element - labour - is perpetually becoming less and less a part of the total capital spend on the total surplus value. Investing in constant capital is also much more expensive than wages. This, all combined, means that the amount of total capital is comprising more and more - highly expensive - constant capital, leading to lower and lower proportion of surplus value to the total capital spend on it. And what was the rate of profit? Right, surplus value to total capital. So capitalism eats itself. What this 'law of the tendency of the fall in profit' basically says is that capitalism forces capitalists to spend steadily more on capital, forcing down the rates of profit - even when the new machinery puts more people to work (increasing variable capital and hence total capital slightly), and even when this leads to more surplus value, the rate of profit will go down. The consequences of this? You need more and more money to generate profit. And since capital is nothing but value in motion, capital that stops moving evaporates. Capital thus gets concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people, since the concentration of capital is what keeps the profits - harder to make by the day - coming in. More and more smaller capitalists are thus reduced to the rabble: the fall of the rate of profit creates overpopulations of labourers, presses down wages, all the while producing cheaper and cheaper goods (since the labour factor, and hence surplus value, and hence product value, decreases). Capital accumulates, and this 'law of accumulation' is nothing but saying that ever-increasing capital is needed to keep the production processes running, 'the law of the tendency of the fall in profit rate'. In short: both laws are one and the same! And this process of accumulation or the fall in profit rates will, according to Marx, speed up ever faster. The only way that profits can be made is through crises. But the longer capital continues to accumulate and profit rates continue to drop, more and bigger crises are needed to keep the system running. 4. And then the most interesting part of the book is over. Marx tells us in part 4 how merchant capital and money capital (i.e. credit) is used as oil in the capitalist system of production. Merchants don't generate any surplus value, although the exploit labour all the same: they don't add any value to the products but only sell them dearer than they were bought for. (No wonder Engels called merchants 'parasitical sycophants' in his own works.) The same with money lenders. Capitalism is characterized by time lags. No matter how far up the production chain you look, ultimately, all the raw materials that are used in production are products of nature. And nature knows boundaries. It takes time for sheep to grow wool and for potatoes to become eatable. This means that supply follows demand; market prices start to rise, leading to over-investments; then, when, over time, supply grows, and demand declines, an overabundance of goods floods the market and capitalists go bankrupt. Crises are inherent consequences of capitalism - this is capitalism for you. Money credit can be used to keep the machine going, so to speak, buffering the effects of time delayed issues. You can borrow money and start investing already, just like you can buy now and pay later. Money smoothens the circulation of capital and hence keeps value in motion. But like the merchants, creditors are, ultimately, parasites - not adding value to anything and living of interests. After this, Das Kapital Volume 3 goes on for more than 500 pages. The problem is, part 5 (almost 300 pages of this) was so terrible that Engels tried reworking it three times - spending a year on this - and ultimately decided to rearrange all the original materials and stuffing it up on his own account where necessary. This makes for terrible reading (just like Part 4 already suffers from some of these ills). The first half of the book clearly looks at the division of profit and wages; the rest of the book (parts 4-7) is occupied with the division of profit: interest on profit, interest on loans, rent, taxes, etc. Due to the poor structure and text I decided to leave it at that. I have ploughed through Volumes 1 and 2, and made it halfway across Volume 3 - I am now familiar with the main ideas of Marx. And I am truly happy that I decided to spend some days off last couple of weeks to read more of Marx and Engels. They were important historical figures and one understands history, as well as current times, better when one has read the original works. My final verdict is this. The works of Marx should be put into two categories. His political works, guided by both his agenda of spreading communism all over the world and his opposition to classes and groups of people. These works are toxic, aggressive and provocative. But then there is his critical analysis of political economy, Das Kapital Volumes 1-3 (and, maybe, 4) deal specifically with an exhaustive and all-encompassing analysis of the capitalist mode of production that he saw first conquering Great Britain, and slowly the world. Marx's economic studies are brilliant in their originality, sharpness of critque and their tracing out of all the minute details. I can honestly mention no economist who comes close this. But at the same time, Marx studied economics philosophically, while modern day economics is much more empirical: it studies economic trends and facts as they actually are. What one can learn from Marx is to try to look at the same object from a different perspective, and suddenly discover a plethora of new, intriguing things. And much of his ideas are still valuable today. In that sence, Marx was right in many of his general conclusions and observations, although it isn't really fanciful to say this nowadays. To name just one: his analysis of and critique on merchants capital is spot on. Ultimately, Ikea, Nike and Walmart are nothing but parasitical money-grabbers. Apple literally sucks up surplus value from its exploited labourers - it doesn't do anything but make others objectify its ideas and designs. H&M does nothing but squeeze out everything they can from Asian women working in sweatshops; it doesn't generate any value - all it does it put its logo on it, distribute the clothing all over the world, and sell it much dearer than it is bought for. IKEA's purchasing manager is doing exactly what Marx tells us he does: look at product prices, deduct his own cost price from it, and try to sell it as dear as possible on the market- not realising whence the value comes from. So from that point of view, Marx is very recommendable to read. The problem is the 2500+ pages (of plain text) one has to wrestle through. Highly problematic - Marx (or Engels) should have just cut down his works to their bare essence. And maybe re-write the abstract parts. Would have been much better...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Of the three volumes of Capital, this is my favorite. Volume 1 is a necessary foundation; volume 2 involves thinking through the abstractions of the ideas of v. 1; but volume 3 in its unfinished state involves the hints, dead-ends, and musings about the present and future that enlivens some of Marx's earlier work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia Liv

    Complex.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I have little doubt that I will soon be ashamed at having given Volume III only three stars. Once I read David Harvey’s second Companion to Marx’s Capital, I’m sure the insights provided through close and careful study reveal layers beyond what a simple first-time read-through provides. But this was my first read of Marx’s three volume magnum opus and what I took away is what laid on the surface. Marx spends Volume III dispelling past myths. Specifically, he focuses on an economic mystical trinit I have little doubt that I will soon be ashamed at having given Volume III only three stars. Once I read David Harvey’s second Companion to Marx’s Capital, I’m sure the insights provided through close and careful study reveal layers beyond what a simple first-time read-through provides. But this was my first read of Marx’s three volume magnum opus and what I took away is what laid on the surface. Marx spends Volume III dispelling past myths. Specifically, he focuses on an economic mystical trinity: Capital-profit (or better still capital-interest), land-ground-rent, labour-wages, this economic trinity as the connection between the components of value and wealth in general and its source, completes the mystification of the capitalist mode of production, the reification of social relations, and the immediate coalescence of the material relations of production with their historical and social specificity: the bewitched, distorted and upside-down world haunted by Monsieur le Capital and Madame la Terre, who are at the same time social characters and mere things. Pg. 968-69.. On each of these topics, he reacts to the flaws he sees in his predecessors and contemporaries. Much of the book sketches his responses to established views of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jean-Baptiste Say and, for whom he saves his most biting and snarky responses, Lord Overstone. Though Volume III is most referenced when talking about his chapters on rate of profit and his thoughts on the inverse relationship between technological innovation and profit, I actually found Marx’s chapters on rent the most compelling. Not the tedious charting he does regarding rent differentials, but simply in his more mundane thoughts on capitalizing land. By the time Marx arrives at the end of his book, and summarizes his notion of the “trinity”, the idea that we have commoditized everything hits home: Capital, land, labour! But capital is not a thing, it is a definite social relation of production pertaining to a particular historical social formation, which simply takes the form of a thing and gives this thing a specific social character. Capital is not the sum of the material and produced means of production. Capital is the means of production as transformed into capital, these being no more capital in themselves than gold or silver are money. It is the means of production monopolized by a particular section of society, the products and conditions of activity of labour-power, which are rendered autonomous vis-à-vis this living labour-power and are personified in capital through this antithesis… And now to take land, inorganic nature as such, rudis indigestaque moles ('a rude and motley mass') in its primeval wilderness. Value is labour. So surplus-value cannot be earth. The land’s absolute fertility does nothing but let a certain quantum of labour give a certain product, conditioned by the natural; fertility of the land. Pgs.953-954. By reducing all things to an expression of “labour-value”, Marx convincingly shows the demons inside capitalism. However, it seems as if Marx would rather appropriate those demons to the labourer’s benefit than exorcise them. Anyway, I’m sure Harvey will add to my appreciation of Marx’s second and third volumes, just like Harvey’s first Companion greatly improved my appreciation for Volume 1. Marx is repetitious, unclear and difficult. No doubt. But his writing has greatly changed the way I look at capitalism and how we, as a society, value.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Anderson

    Whew! I made it! Worked my way through all three volumes of Capital, something I thought I'd never do. But it was worth the effort. Like Capital Vol. II, Vol. III was unfinished at the time of Marx's death and was pulled together from his manuscripts and notebooks by Friedrich Engels. It therefore suffers some of the same flaws as Vol.II. However, most of the material, with the exception of the section on Landed Property and Ground Rent, is much less abstract than Vol. II and easier to grasp. The Whew! I made it! Worked my way through all three volumes of Capital, something I thought I'd never do. But it was worth the effort. Like Capital Vol. II, Vol. III was unfinished at the time of Marx's death and was pulled together from his manuscripts and notebooks by Friedrich Engels. It therefore suffers some of the same flaws as Vol.II. However, most of the material, with the exception of the section on Landed Property and Ground Rent, is much less abstract than Vol. II and easier to grasp. The middle section on Commercial and Finance Capital and the Credit System seems to me the strongest. However, I also read it in conjunction with David Harvey's video lectures for Vol. II, so it may simply be that he aided my comprehension of the material. Next is the opening section on the General Rate of Profit and the Law of the Tendential Fall in the Rate of Profit. This section has generated the most debate and controversy, even in Marxian circles, though to be fair, even Marx recognized some of the many countervailing factors to this tendency. Suffice it say that a crisis theory of capitalism that places the falling rate of profit at the center would be flawed. The part on Landed Property and Ground Rent is the most difficult but seems more strong, though it seems to me less valid in relation to the development modern capitalist agriculture than it did then (this was Marx's main focus); Marx also says little about the different question of house rents, prices and mortgages. I think I would like to see what some other left thinkers have to say on these issues and how they relate to Marx. To begin, I think I will start with David Harvey's global overview of and elaboration upon Marx's work, The Limits to Capital.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hart

    I'm ranking this 5 starts, not necessarily because it deserves it, but rather as a reward to myself for having finished it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eugene Kernes

    In this volume of Capital, Marx adds rate of profit, credit, competition, and rent to the repertoire of economic understanding. Capital becomes distributed between spheres of production due to competition. Competition acts like a gravitational force on profit, trying to equalize the rate of profit. Competition takes into account demand and supply, but demand and supply are rarely equal. The divergences between demand and supply explain why market price and value are not equal. The so-called law In this volume of Capital, Marx adds rate of profit, credit, competition, and rent to the repertoire of economic understanding. Capital becomes distributed between spheres of production due to competition. Competition acts like a gravitational force on profit, trying to equalize the rate of profit. Competition takes into account demand and supply, but demand and supply are rarely equal. The divergences between demand and supply explain why market price and value are not equal. The so-called law to the rate of profit to fall is actually a tendency. The ‘law’ has counterforces which increase the rate of profit. Marx himself calls it tendency while citing it as a law. It would be no different to make claim of a rate of profit to rise with counterforces. Rate of profit cycles, depending of the use of capital. Values alter the use of various capital, shifting the rate of profit. The authors bias creates contradictions and enormous confusion in economics. Many economists who follow Marx are mostly anti-capital, but Marx points out that some profit generated by capitalist goes to investments and other important sources which add social value but some profit is purely circular which does not add value. Rather than surplus value being exploitation, it depends on the surplus value’s exploitation. Another contradiction is that in Capital volume 1, it was profit that equaled surplus value, but in this volume, Marx makes the point that profit and rent equal surplus value. This book should only be read by those dedicated to reading, original sources, or economics. The reading is not the easiest and very laborious. The author says a lot of words, but only a little bit of meaning. Most of the book is explanations upon explanation of a few ideas for which it is easy to get lost in. The first quarter of the book is close to a recitation of the Capital volume 1.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This book is such a hash. One cannot entirely blame Marx for it, since he wisely never published it in his lifetime. But it jumps around, seldom hangs together, is filled with error and poor logic. The clear prose of the Manifesto is left behind in many passages, although the sections on interest rate are revealing at least for Marx's innate disdain and hostility to markets driven by supply and demand. He also should be credited with the breadth of his ambition--for he tries to explain all of ca This book is such a hash. One cannot entirely blame Marx for it, since he wisely never published it in his lifetime. But it jumps around, seldom hangs together, is filled with error and poor logic. The clear prose of the Manifesto is left behind in many passages, although the sections on interest rate are revealing at least for Marx's innate disdain and hostility to markets driven by supply and demand. He also should be credited with the breadth of his ambition--for he tries to explain all of capitalism, from soup to nuts, and while he largely fails of his goal, the attempt was a noble one. But he fails to find a way to resolve the contradictions that he had set up in Vol I, and failed to fulfill the promise of proving the doom of capitalism. If all value is derived in the market from surplus labor, and the rate of profit that resulted was doomed to decline to zero, AND workers pay was also destined to fall to subsistence levels, capitalism was doomed. But Marx, in this volume, tries to come up with mechanisms that would support those ideas, and never comes close to succeeding.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv Chopra

    This book, like the first two, is not an easy book to read. I do not know if this book is meant to be required reading in colleges of history and economics, but it should be. It is hard to imagine anyone else (apart from people like Adam Smith) who have such an immense influence on the decades that succeeded them. It is also hard to find anyone else who would be so misunderstood. I am, at this point of writing, yet to read The Communist Manifesto, and I will. However, this book is not at all a p This book, like the first two, is not an easy book to read. I do not know if this book is meant to be required reading in colleges of history and economics, but it should be. It is hard to imagine anyone else (apart from people like Adam Smith) who have such an immense influence on the decades that succeeded them. It is also hard to find anyone else who would be so misunderstood. I am, at this point of writing, yet to read The Communist Manifesto, and I will. However, this book is not at all a polemical exercise, as it is an exercise in analysis. Brilliant, and difficult. Yet, for a serious student of history, economics, and politics, Marx is a must study. And, I emphasise - a must study and not just a must read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rowland Pasaribu

    Commodities, Exchange and Capital A commodity is an object, external to ourselves, which by its properties in some way satisfies human wants. The utility of a thing constitutes its use-value. Use-values of commodities form the substance of all wealth, and also become the material repositories of exchange-value. The magnitude of the value of any article is determined by the labour-time socially necessary for its production. So the value of a commodity would remain constant if the labour-time requi Commodities, Exchange and Capital A commodity is an object, external to ourselves, which by its properties in some way satisfies human wants. The utility of a thing constitutes its use-value. Use-values of commodities form the substance of all wealth, and also become the material repositories of exchange-value. The magnitude of the value of any article is determined by the labour-time socially necessary for its production. So the value of a commodity would remain constant if the labour-time required for its production also remained constant. But the latter varies with every variation in the productiveness of labour. An article may have use-value, and yet be without value, if its utility is not due to labour, as in the case of air, or virgin soil, or natural meadows. If a thing be useless, so is the labour contained in it, for, as the labour does not count as such, it therefore creates no value. A coat is worth twice as much as ten yards of linen, because the linen contains only half as much labour as the coat. All labour is the expenditure of human labour-power in a special form and with a definite aim, and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, it produces use-values. Everyone knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities have a value form common to them all, and presenting a marked contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use-values. I mean their money form. Every owner of a commodity wishes to part with it in exchange for other commodities, but only those whose use-value satisfies some want of his. To the owner of a commodity, every other commodity is, in regard to his own, a particular equivalent. Consequently his own commodity is the universal equivalent for all others. But, since this applies to every owner, there is, in fact, no commodity acting as a universal equivalent. It was soon seen that a particular commodity would not become the universal equivalent except by a social act. The social action, therefore, has set apart the particular commodity in which all values are represented, and the bodily form of this commodity has become the form of the socially recognised universal equivalent—money. The first chief function of money is to supply commodities with the material for the expression of their values. It thus serves as a universal measure of value, and only by virtue of this function does gold, the commodity par excellence, become money. But money itself has no price. As the measure of value and the standard of price, money has two distinct functions to perform. It is the measure of value inasmuch as it is the socially recognised incarnation, of human labour; it is the standard of price inasmuch as it is a fixed weight of metal. As the measure of value it serves to convert the values of all the various commodities into prices or imaginary quantities of gold. As the standard of price it measures those quantities of gold. The word pound was the money-name given to an actual pound weight of silver. When, as a measure of value, gold superseded silver, the word pound became, as a money-name, differentiated from the same word as a weight-name. The prices, or quantities of gold, into which the values of commodities are ideally changed are now expressed in the names of coins, or in the legally valid names of the subdivisions of the gold standard. Hence, instead of saying, "A quarter of wheat is worth an ounce of gold," the English would say, "It is worth £3 17s. 10½d." In this fashion commodities express by their prices how much they are worth, and money serves as money of account whenever it is a question of fixing the value of an article in its money-form. When Anarcharsis was asked for what purpose the Greeks used money, he replied, "For reckoning." Every labourer in adding new labour also adds new value. In what way? Evidently, only by labouring productively in a particular way: the spinner by his spinning, the weaver by his weaving, the smith by his forging. Each use-value disappears, only to reappear under a new form in some new use-value. By virtue of its general character, as being expenditure of human labour-power in the abstract, spinning adds a new value to the values of cotton and spindle. On the other hand, by virtue of its special character, as being a concrete, useful process, the same labour of spinning both transfers the values of the means of production to the product and preserves them in the product. Hence at one and the same time there is produced a twofold result. By the simple addition of a certain quantity of labour, new value is added, and by the quality of this added labour the original values of the means of production are preserved in the product. That part of capital which is represented by means of production, by the raw material, auxiliary material, and the instruments of labour, does not, in the process of production, undergo any quantitative alteration of value. I therefore call it the constant part of capital, or, more briefly, constant capital. On the other hand, that part of capital represented by labour-power does, in the process of production, undergo an alteration of value. It both reproduces the equivalent of its own value, and also produces an excess, a surplus value, which may itself vary. This part of capital is continually being transformed from a constant into a variable magnitude. I therefore call it the variable part of capital, or, shortly, variable capital.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill&Ted

    Like another user, my rating of this as five stars reflects my satisfaction with my having completed reading capital. It is mind-boggling to me that someone could have produced as much work. I will soon begin the Grundrisse, and then I may call it quits on Marx; I'm not sure. Whew. I skimmed some of the stuff on rents.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Moataz Iraqui

    The ultimate reason for all real crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Dense, Provides some historical backing to its claims

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    In this, the third volume of Marx's writings on capitalist production, the theorist spends the bulk of his time describing the ways that revenues and profits are derived from surplus value and the exploitation of workers. One of his major areas of emphasis here is the nature of the average rate of profit across a society, which is really an exploration of market forces and how they normalize returns. This book is not as technical as Volume II, but there are still a lot of details and formulas to In this, the third volume of Marx's writings on capitalist production, the theorist spends the bulk of his time describing the ways that revenues and profits are derived from surplus value and the exploitation of workers. One of his major areas of emphasis here is the nature of the average rate of profit across a society, which is really an exploration of market forces and how they normalize returns. This book is not as technical as Volume II, but there are still a lot of details and formulas to swim through. Marx also has a lot to say here about the conversion of profits into capital, either through increasing the held means of production (e.g. technology, factories, etc.) or through the ownership of land (cf. the sections on ground rent). Marx shows how ownership of land (or other property) leads to a class of people who receive money for doing nothing and he clearly feels that this outcome is unacceptable and immoral. He offers significant food for thought. Even today, can we say that people who inherent large amounts of property, stocks or other assets and live off the interest really contribute to society? Capitalists would say that they do, provided the capital is made available for other investment. Marx, I think, would argue that ownership of an asset you did not create or cultivate yourself is not appropriate and essentially robs livelihood from the workers who helped develop the original asset. There is not much more to say about this trilogy than what I have written before about the first two volumes. If you liked those two, you'll probably like this one, despite the fact that it is unfinished (Engels cobbled together some sections from Marx's notes). If you can't stomach Marx's critique of capitalism, even as a prophetic counterpoint to the excesses of our current global system, you will find this book tedious and annoying. Personally, I think looking at opposing views is a good idea, and that everyone should be willing to have their ideas challenged. So I would argue that no matter where you fall on the ideological spectrum, if you care about theories of political economy, you should be familiar with what Marx actually said (and not just what others have said about him). This is an important series of books for any serious student of economics.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I finally finished all Karl Marx had penned in the Capital series! The book is unfinished, in an extremely tempting way. Seriously, there was a line that was just started, and so it feels like SOMEONE ought to continue on that thought process... but Engels is long gone and he didn't really touch it, besides adding a few notes here and there. I don't know who is right. I am not economically savvy enough right now. It may continue to smoulder on University Library shelves. I found interesting ties I finally finished all Karl Marx had penned in the Capital series! The book is unfinished, in an extremely tempting way. Seriously, there was a line that was just started, and so it feels like SOMEONE ought to continue on that thought process... but Engels is long gone and he didn't really touch it, besides adding a few notes here and there. I don't know who is right. I am not economically savvy enough right now. It may continue to smoulder on University Library shelves. I found interesting ties to other economic texts and a "fun" introduction to communist philosophy, so I assert reading all three volumes was not a waste of time. I've read Marx is not Marxist. He is just a random sociologist. Tomorrow I'm taking all of the Communism books I had back, since I assume the ABC of Communism will be a quick finish, besides having tea or otherwise hanging out with AMY, the best current philosopher I know. (Luke gets second place, maybe Janelle third, but she is a history person, not a philosopher.) I feel like A. can help me tie off mental loose ends and save a painful friendship of mine. Or... that friendship is evolving in a peculiar way not far from mine with Kiki or with Kirill or with the blog flamers. I'm thankful I read all of Capital, despite strong protestation. It made me realise why books are burnt. Book-burning is symbolic - consider Fahrenheit 411. I propose books are not burnt for warmth (kindling and firewood are better, which is why I HATE the idea of the Kindle ebook reader), but in protestation of the words written in them, consider Malcolm X. Why did this inspire such ire worldwide? How is the pen stronger than the sword?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben Kearvell

    When the capitalist has exploited labour to the utmost - when he cannot extract a greater rate of surplus value from labour, via machines and whatnot, the rate of surplus value vis-à-vis the mass of profit declines. The more capital he puts in (to production), the more he takes out (profit). But there’s only so much he can do here to get more for less. He might as well lend out money at interest and let that money ‘capitalise’ itself. Credit expands capitalism. It buys and helps sell faster. It When the capitalist has exploited labour to the utmost - when he cannot extract a greater rate of surplus value from labour, via machines and whatnot, the rate of surplus value vis-à-vis the mass of profit declines. The more capital he puts in (to production), the more he takes out (profit). But there’s only so much he can do here to get more for less. He might as well lend out money at interest and let that money ‘capitalise’ itself. Credit expands capitalism. It buys and helps sell faster. It also creates a ‘virtual economy’, i.e. capitalists borrow money against goods they have not yet sold (for example). Plus, there’s more credit afoot than actual cash, because goods can be bought (by the capitalist) via promissory notes issued by banks, and on credit. Basically, the capitalist now works for the bank. When a bunch of capitalists default on their loans (too much to sell/market prices decline/ cost of raw materials goes up/bad harvests/some other calamity) the dominoes start falling. Interest rates rise. There’s a long line of promissory notes, credit debt, and a demand for cash that cannot be met. Bad circulation. Unemployment. Morgan Freeman addresses his fellow Americans. ...I forgot to mention mercantilism, ground rents and social stratification. Forgive me. I just finished 2,700 pages of this stuff; now I would like to think about something else.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter Harrison

    This book is unfinished. It does not have the polished grandeur of the first volume. But despite that it holds some magnificent insight. I read the middle section in tandem with the second volume of David Harvey's Companion to Marx's Capital. The sections he covers on financial capital are excellent and genuinely speak to the modern world of speculative investor bubbles. Without Harvey for company I found the first section demonstrating the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and the final s This book is unfinished. It does not have the polished grandeur of the first volume. But despite that it holds some magnificent insight. I read the middle section in tandem with the second volume of David Harvey's Companion to Marx's Capital. The sections he covers on financial capital are excellent and genuinely speak to the modern world of speculative investor bubbles. Without Harvey for company I found the first section demonstrating the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and the final section on ground rent less convincing. In each case I thought the case interesting but not made. The volume closes out with a superb section integrating some of this thinking into the wider structure of Marx's thinking. Chapters 48 onwards are worth reading in their own right. This is not a coherent expansion of Marx's thought, and those who have question the influence of Engels may well have a point. But this is still very much worth the read, especially the sections on finance capital, and particularly when read with David Harvey by your side.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Calysto du Masque

    A must-read for anyone interested in true egalitarianism. A must-read for anyone who has ever been disgusted by the centuries-long fallout of Adam Smith's ode to greed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Finished the preface yesterday by Engels yesterday. He's pretty much Marx's "hype man." Looking forward to getting into the actual text today. This looks much more promising the V. 2.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    Read at least first volume to understand how the world really works.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Williford

    Actually my favorite of the three but that is probably because Engels has more of a hand in it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dietcokedick

    oh come on man, you kidding me???

  28. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Shemyal Nisar

    well this book is a bit hard to read unless you are really interested in what is going to say.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Darren Weekes

    I got as far as chapter 3. I couldn't cope with any more. Not even for speed reading practice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mobin

    no review available

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