Understanding capitalism

13Nov11
100 Mark note, 1975 (front)

An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital

by Michael Heinrich

ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-288-4

Cloth (ISBN-13: 978-1-58367-289-1)
Forthcoming in June 2012

The global economic crisis and recession that began in 2008 had at least one unexpected outcome: a surge in sales of Karl Marx’s Capital. Although mainstream economists and commentators once dismissed Marx’s work as outmoded and flawed, some are begrudgingly acknowledging an analysis that sees capitalism as inherently unstable. And of course, there are those, like Michael Heinrich, who have seen the value of Marx all along, and are in a unique position to explain the intricacies of Marx’s thought.

Heinrich’s modern interpretation of Capital is now available to English-speaking readers for the first time. It has gone through nine editions in Germany, is the standard work for Marxist study groups, and is used widely in German universities. The author systematically covers all three volumes of Capital and explains all the basic aspects of Marx’s critique of capitalism in a way that is clear and concise. He provides background information on the intellectual and political milieu in which Marx worked, and looks at crucial issues beyond the scope of Capital, such as class struggle, the relationship between capital and the state, accusations of historical determinism, and Marx’s understanding of communism. Uniquely, Heinrich emphasizes the monetary character of Marx’s work, in addition to the traditional emphasis on the labor theory of value, thus highlighting the relevance of Capital to the age of financial explosions and implosions.

In only 220 pages the author achieves a summary of the three volumes of Capital: explaining the connection between labor, commodities, and money, how surplus value arises, what capital is, the role of banks and stock exchanges, and from where crises arise. Alongside this he manages to fit in the history of Marxism, demystify the ambiguous term dialectic, and throw in a final chapter on the role of the state in capitalism, all the while refuting common mistakes about the Marxian corpus. —Stephan Kaufmann, Berliner Zeitung

Michael Heinrich teaches economics in Berlin and is managing editor of PROKLA: Journal for Critical Social Science. He is the author of The Science of Value: Marx’s Critique of Political Economy between Scientific Revolution and Classical Tradition, and editor, with Werner Bonefeld, of Capital and Critique: After the “New Reading” of Marx. Translator Alexander Locascio was previously active in the U.S. labor movement and now lives in Berlin, where he is a member of the party Die Linke and of ver.di, the German service workers union.

Detail from Cathy Wilkes’ I give you all my money, 2008

In a recent article Anselm Jappe says :(…) “The miseries of the world are not due , as in the Middle Ages to natural catastrophies, but to a sort of bewitching which separates men from their products.. that which does not function any longer is the “interface” which lays between men and what they produce: money. The crisis confronts us with the founding paradox of capitalist society. The production of goods and services is not here as a goal, but only as a mean. The sole goal is the multiplication of money, it is to invest one euro in order to extract two.

(…) One must maybe prepare ourselves for the after-money as we preparing for the after-oil.”

Anselm Jappe in Le Monde, L’argent est-il devenu obsolete? Un fetiche en voie de devalorisation, 1 November 2011

Comment: Jappe forgets that people who work produce commodities, which are then sold. They do not produce money in the first instance. It seems that Jappe makes a fetish of money. There is no shortage of money. On the other hand there is a shortage of jobs, and hence workers are out of work, and then they can’t buy the goods and services. Jappe needs to reread Marx and Postone. Maybe he has read too much Debord. in any case he failed to criticize Debord’s ghastly book Commentaries on the society of the spectacle where he fell into the conspiracy theory of history. Maybe Jappe did not want to upset people in Paris, he wanted to keep a foot in the pinko-leftist door. It did not work. Because he failed to criticize that awful stuff. Today Le Monde calls him a specialist of the works of Debord. More inflation. So what we live in are times of inflation…the end of his piece is dramatic; he calls for an ‘after money time.’ It won’t happen until the commodity and work are abolished.

Jappe resembles any pinko-leftist when he comes out with such stuff. It won’t do.

Written on the 4 of November by Michel Prigent, exclusively for Principia Dialectica,– the magazine that reaches parts other mags dare not touch…

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4 Responses to “Understanding capitalism”

  1. 1 Chappe

    PD misrepresent Jappe position. Better link only to the article in french or to translations.

  2. Thanks Chappe. My French is not good enough to see how they misrepresent him. Could you say more?


  1. 1 Miscellany « Poumista
  2. 2 Heinrich Marx (Justizrat) | Seit über 10.000 Jahren Erfahrung in Versklavung

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