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A Guide to Marx's 'Capital' Vols IIII

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A comprehensive and user-friendly guide to all three volumes of Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’, with advice on further reading and points for further discussion.


This book provides a comprehensive guide to all three volumes of Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’, with advice on further reading and points for further discussion. Recognizing the contemporary relevance of ‘Capital’ in the midst of the current financial crisis, Kenneth Smith has produced an essential guide to Marx’s ideas, particularly on the subject of the circulation of money-capital. This guide uniquely presents the three volumes of ‘Capital’ in a different order of reading to that in which they were published, placing them instead in the order that Marx himself sometimes recommended as a more user-friendly way of reading. Dr Smith also argues that for most of the twentieth century, the full development of the capitalist mode of production (CMP) has been undermined by the existence of a non-capitalist ‘third world’, which has caused the CMP to take on the form of what Marx called a highly developed mercantile system, rather than one characterized by an uninterrupted circuit of industrial capital of the kind he expected would develop. While the guide can be read as a book in its own right, it also contains detailed references to Volumes I–III so that students, seminars and discussion groups can easily make connections between Smith’s explanations and the relevant parts of ‘Capital’.


Introduction; Reading ‘Capital’; A Note on Marx’s Method; A Note on Social Class; A Note on the English Translations of ‘Capital’; PART I: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAPITALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION: 1. Absolute and Relative Surplus Value in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 10 and 12; 2. Cooperation and the Division of Labour in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 13–14; 3. Machinery and Modern Industry in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 15; 4. Primitive Accumulation in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Part VIII, Ch. 26–33; PART II: THE CAPITALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION: 5. Simple Reproduction in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 7, 11 and 23; 6. Extended Reproduction in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 24; 7. Simple Reproduction in ‘Capital’, Vol. II, Sections 1–8; 8. Extended Reproduction in ‘Capital’, Vol. II, Ch. 21, Section 3; 9. The Precipitation of Fixed Capital in ‘Capital’, Vol. II, Ch. 21, Sections 1–2; Ch. 20, Section 11; PART III: THE UNDERDEVELOPMENT OF THE CAPITALIST MODE OF PRODUCTION: 10. Mercantilism and the Circuit of Industrial Capital in ‘Capital’, Vol. II, Part I, Ch. 1–4; 11. Credit and the Dissolution of the CMP in ‘Capital’, Vol. III, Ch. 27; 12. Rudolf Hilferding and ‘Finance Capital’: ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2; 13. Marx on Development and Underdevelopment in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 5; 14. The Tendency of the Rate of Profi t to Fall in ‘Capital’, Vol. III, Parts I–III, Ch. 1–15, but especially Ch. 14–15; PART IV: THE VALUE THEORY OF LABOUR: 15. The Rate of Profi t and the Rate of Surplus Value in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 9, Section 3, and Vol. III, Parts I and III; 16. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour by Capital in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 9, Section 1; Ch. 6–7; 17. The Labour Theory of Value and the Value Theory of Labour in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 1, Sections 1–3; 18. The Reifi cation of Commodity Fetishism in ‘Capital’, Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, and Vol. III, Ch. 24; Conclusion; Appendix: On Social Classes; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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Published 15 November 2012
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EAN13 9780857285775
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A Guide to Marx’sCapitalVols I–III
A Guide to Marx’sCapitalVols I–III
Kenneth Smith
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2012 by ANTHEM PRESS 7576 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
Copyright © Kenneth Smith 2012
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
Cover design by Omid Asghari
Cover image © 2012 City of London, London Metropolitan Archives
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library CataloguinginPublication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data Smith, Kenneth (Kenneth Ronald) A guide to Marx’s Capital, vols. IIII / Kenneth Smith. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 9780857285065 (hbk. : alk. paper) – ISBN 9780857285560 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Marx, Karl, 18181883. Kapital. I. Title. HB501.M37S55 2012 335.4’1–dc23 2012031996
ISBN13: 978 0 85728 506 5 (Hbk) ISBN10: 0 85728 506 8 (Hbk)
ISBN13: 978 0 85728 556 0 (Pbk) ISBN10: 0 85728 556 4 (Pbk)
This title is also available as an eBook.
In a few days I shall be 50. As that Prussian lieutenant said to you: ‘20 years of service and still lieutenant’, I can say: half a century on my shoulders, and still a pauper. How right my mother was: ‘If only Karell hadmadeetc.’capital instead of
(Marx to Engels, 30 April 1868; emphasis added)
This book is dedicated to my mother, Mrs Alice Smith (née Flynn)
C
O
N
TEN
TS
Introduction  ReadingCapital  A Note on Marx’s Method  A Note on Social Class  A Note on the English Translations ofCapital
Part I: The Development of the Capitalist Mode of Production 1. Absolute and Relative Surplus Value inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 10 and 12
2.
3. 4.
Cooperation and the Division of Vol. I, Ch. 13–14
Labour inCapital,
Machinery and Modern Industry inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 15
Primitive Accumulation inCapital, Vol. I, Part VIII, Ch. 26–33
Part II: The Capitalist Mode of Production 5. Simple Reproduction inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 7, 11 and 23 6. Extended Reproduction inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 24 7. Simple Reproduction inCapital, Vol. II, Sections 1–8 8. Extended Reproduction inCapital, Vol. II, Ch. 21, Section 3
9.
The Precipitation of Fixed Capital inCapital, Vol. II, Ch. 21, Sections 1–2; Ch. 20, Section 11
1 1 8 12 12
15
18
23 27
31
37 43 50 55
60
69
viii
A GUIDE TO MARX’SCAPITAL
Part III: The Underdevelopment of the Capitalist Mode of Production 10. Mercantilism and the Circuit of Industrial Capital in Capital, Vol. II, Part I, Ch. 1–4
11.
12.
13.
14.
Credit and the Dissolution of Vol. III, Ch. 27
the CMP inCapital,
Rudolf Hilferding and ‘Finance Capital’:Capital, Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 2
Marx on Development and Underdevelopment in Capital, Vol. I, Ch. 25, Section 5
The Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall inCapital, Vol. III, Parts I–III, Ch. 1–15, but especially Ch. 14–15
Part IV: The Value Theory of Labour 15. The Rate of Profit and the Rate of Surplus Value in Capital, Vol. I, Ch. 9, Section 3, and Vol. III, Parts I and III 16. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour by Capital in Capital, Vol. I, Ch. 9, Section 1; Ch. 6–7
17. The Labour Theory of Value and the Value Theory of Labour inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 1, Sections 1–3 18. The Reification of Commodity Fetishism inCapital, Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, and Vol. III, Ch. 24 Conclusion Appendix: On Social Classes
NotesBibliographyIndex
81
86
91
97
104
111
121
125
133
142
156 171 179
192 196 198
ReadingCapital
INTRODUCTION
Marxists as divergent as Louis Althusser and Karl Korsch have recommended reading Volume I of Marx’sCapitalin a different order to that in which it is 1 published. Korsch (Three Essays on Marxism) suggests beginning withCapital, Vol. I, Part III, Chapter 7, on ‘the labourprocess and the process of producing surplus value’ and then moving on more or less to the rest of Volume I; only then does he suggest the reader return to Parts I and II. Althusser (Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays) suggests leaving aside Parts I and V, and reading first Parts II, III, IV, VI, VII and VIII, only then returning again to start at the beginning. Even Marx himself suggested a more comprehensible order of 2 reading. In a letter dated 30 November 1867, addressed to his good friend Dr Ludwig Kugelmann, shortly after the publication of the first German edition ofCapital, Vol. I, Marx advises Kugelmann that he might tell his ‘good wife’ that the chapters ‘Working Day’ (Vol. I, Part III), ‘Cooperation’, ‘The Division of Labour and Machinery’ (Part IV) and ‘Primitive Accumulation’ (Part VI) were the most immediately readable – although he warns Kugelmann that it would still probably be necessary for him to explain to his wife some of the more ‘incomprehensible terminology’ in these sections (MECW,1987, 42:490). While Marx gives slightly different advice to another woman, a Mrs 3 Wollmann, in a letter dated 19 March 1877; in which he advises her to start with the last section of the French edition ofCapital(the last but one in the English translation), ‘The Process of Accumulation of Capital’. All of these suggestions seem to have been made with much the same intention; namely, to avoid the conceptually difficult Parts I and II of Vol. I, on the subject of commodities and money, including Marx’s initial discussion of the general form of value and the section on commodity fetishism. However, this perfectly understandable intention leads to the peculiar result, in Korsch’s case, of beginningCapital with the sections on the labour process and the process of producing surplus valuewithouthaving looked at Marx’s first preliminary discussion of value and the buying and selling of labourpower itself. While in Althusser’s case, we find the even more peculiar suggestion that
2
A GUIDE TO MARX’SCAPITAL
we should begin our reading ofCapitalwith the rather dull and uninteresting sections on the various formulae for the circuit of money capital. Even Marx’s own suggestions raise the interesting question why he chose to publish Vol. I beginning with the conceptually difficult Parts I and II if evenhethought it might be better to start with the more descriptive historical material in Part III? In his letter to Mrs Wollman Marx gives some explanation of this. ‘In the scientific exposition the arrangement is prescribed for the author, although some other arrangement might often be more convenient and more appropriate for the reader’ (MECW,1991, 45:212). This implies that the matter was out of his hands, but of course this is not the case. Although I agree with Althusser and Korsch in wishing to avoid for the moment the conceptually difficult Part I ofCapital, Vol. I, I do not agree that Part II, or even the first half of Part III, makes a suitable beginning for reading Capital. In what follows, I therefore adopt the procedure recommended by Marx himself in his letter to Kugelmann, and begin with the discussion of the lengthening of the working day and the distinction that Marx makes between 4 absolute and relative surplus value. It is here, however, that my discussion ofCapitaldeparts dramatically from what has gone before in books which claim to provide a guide to reading Marx’s Capital, but which in point of fact are nearly always restricted to discussions 5 ofCapitalwe areI believe that it is imperative at this point, if , Vol. I alone. to gain a proper understanding of Marx’s argument, to look at what Marx has to say on the subject of the accumulation of capital inCapital, Vol. II, and especially on the subject of merchant’s capital, inCapital, Vols II and III,beforewe go back and gain a proper understanding of Marx’s discussion of capitalist accumulation in Vol. I. The reader who is new toCapitalmight well be surprised to learn that Marx did not publish eitherCapital, Vol. II orCapital, Vol. III during his own life time. 6 Marx originally intended to publishCapital, Vols II and III as a single volume, almost certainly of about the same length as the present Vol. I and therefore with much of the material included in the present Vols II and III left out. What we now callCapital, Vols II and III were edited by Marx’s good friend Frederick Engels more or less as he found this material in Marx’s notebooks, and were not published in their present form until after Marx’s death in 1883: Vol. II appearing first in 1885 and Vol. III not until 1894, the year before Engels died. JustwhyMarx failed to publish this material during his own lifetime is likely to remain an enduring problem for Marxist scholarship, but is perhaps of little interest to anyone else. His health is usually given as one of the main reasons – never well, his health declined significantly during the later years of his life, during which time he spent much of his time convalescing at the seaside. This might well explain why he did little or no work onCapitalfrom about 1880 onward, but it