An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital by Michael Heinrich

By Michael Heinrich

Alex Locascio (trans.)

The international monetary problem and recession that all started in 2008 had no less than one unforeseen final result: a surge in revenues of Karl Marx's Capital. even if mainstream economists and commentators as soon as brushed aside Marx's paintings as outdated and improper, a few are begrudgingly acknowledging an research that sees capitalism as inherently volatile. and naturally, there are these, like Michael Heinrich, who've visible the worth of Marx all alongside, and are in a distinct place to provide an explanation for the intricacies of Marx's thought.
Heinrich's glossy interpretation of Capital is now on hand to English-speaking readers for the 1st time. It has passed through 9 versions in Germany, is the traditional paintings for Marxist research teams, and is used commonly in German universities. the writer systematically covers all 3 volumes of Capital and explains the entire easy elements of Marx's critique of capitalism in a manner that's transparent and concise. He offers history details at the highbrow and political milieu within which Marx labored, and appears at an important concerns past the scope of Capital, comparable to classification fight, the connection among capital and the country, accusations of historic determinism, and Marx's knowing of communism. Uniquely, Heinrich emphasizes the financial personality of Marx's paintings, as well as the normal emphasis at the exertions concept of price, this highlighting the relevance of Capital to the age of economic explosions and implosions.

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First, in a form analysis (meaning that form determinations are analyzed while disregarding the commodity owners), the general equiva- VA LU E , LAB O R , M O N EY 57 lent form (respectively, the money form) of value is developed as a necessary form of value. 2. Subsequently, the activity of commodity owners is dealt with: actual money, which must correspond to the determinants of the general equivalent form, first emerges on the basis of such activity. 3. Finally, the various functions that money assumes within “simple circulation” (meaning the circulation of commodities and money, abstracting from capital) are developed.

The magnitude of value is determined by “the quantity of the ‘value-forming substance,’ the labour, contained in the article” (Capital, 1:129). But, Marx continues, it is not the labor-time individually expended by isolated producers that creates value (a chair then produced by a slow carpenter would have more value than an identical chair produced by a speedy carpenter). Rather, it is the “socially necessary labor-time” that creates value. Socially necessary labour-time is the labour-time required to produce any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labour prevalent in that society.

If the “substantialist” understanding of Marx’s value theory were accurate, then it would be difficult to understand what is supposed to be “spectral” or “fantastic” about the objectivity of value. Let us deal with abstract labor in more detail. Abstract labor is not visible, only a particular concrete labor is visible, just as the concept of “tree” isn’t visible: I’m only capable of perceiving a concrete botanical plant. As with the term “tree,” abstract labor is an abstraction, but a completely different kind of abstraction.

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