Studying society for the working class: Marx’s first preface to “Capital”

Derek Ford

Liberation School | July 25, 2022

“Karl Marx, painted portrait,” by thierry ehrmann. Source: Wikimedia.

Introduction

In the preface to the first edition of volume one of Capital, dated July 25, 1867, Marx introduces the book’s “ultimate aim”: “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society” [1]. Looking back 155 years later, it’s clear the book not only accomplished that aim but continues to do so today.

In a few short pages, Marx introduces the method he used to study and present his research into the dynamics of capitalism, explains the reasons why he focused on England, distinguishes between modes of production and social formations (and by doing so refutes any accusations of his theory of history as progressing linearly through successive stages), identifies the capacities he’s assuming of the reader, affirms he’s interested in critiquing the structures of capital and not the individuals within it, and explains that the main function of the book is to help our class intervene in the constantly changing capitalist system.

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The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation in Latin America and Beyond

Actuality and Pertinence

EDITED BY LORENZO FUSARO AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL – CONTRIBUTIONS BY ROSSANA CILLO; LUIS FELIPE DOCOA; ROBERTO FINESCHI; ABELARDO MARIÑA FLORES; LORENZO FUSARO; CARLOS ALBERTO DUQUE GARCÍA; SERGIO CÁMARA IZQUIERDO; MATARI PIERRE MANIGAT; LUCIA PRADELLA; WILLIAM I. ROBINSON; SIBYL ITALIA PINEDA SALAZAR AND LEINAD JOHAN ALCALÁ SANDOVAL

This edited collection engages with Marx’s General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, examining the relevance and actuality of Marx’s propositions for the analysis of contemporary capitalism in Latin America and beyond. The contributors offer an original and updated interpretation of Marx while also examining important topics in political economy. The contributors bring critical insights into scholarly debates on imperialism, exploitation, labor, and development.

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Stuart Hall

Selected Writings on Marxism

Edited, introduced and with commentary by Gregor McLennan, Duke University Press, Durham/London, 2021. 364 pp., $29.95 pb
ISBN 9781478000341

Reviewed by Christian Lotz

Marx & Philosophy Review of Books | March 31, 2022

This volume within the series Selected Writings of Stuart Hall, which Duke University Press has published over the last years, is a much needed and welcoming addition to the already existing volumes that include editions on the popular arts, media, politics, race and difference, identity and diaspora, the foundations of cultural studies, as well as on Hall’s auto-biography Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands, in which Hall describes his life and ‘diasporic self’ as ‘inserted into history’ somewhere between the Caribbean and Great Britain. The published volumes present Hall as one of the most important and brilliant left intellectuals of the last 50 years, especially as his work comprises a broad range and mixture of general cultural and societal issues, compelling interventions into politics and extremely careful abstract theoretical reflections. In addition, the series reveals the intellectual unity and development of a fascinating writer and mind who, throughout his lifetime, stayed uncannily close to the intellectual heartbeats of his time, society and historical conjunctures. Undoubtedly, this was at least in part due both to his influential editorial work for The New Left Review and to his involvement in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Hall’s position between structuralist Marxism and cultural studies, which is the focus of this volume, makes him interesting (again) for our contemporary debates, since we can learn from Hall how to avoid the pitfalls of either doing too much Marxist theorizing or doing too much cultural interpretation. In the spirit of Kant’s dictum that concepts without intuitions remain empty and intuitions without concepts remain blind, we might say that a critical theory of society without cultural studies remains empty, and cultural studies without a Marxist theory of society remains blind.

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Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis Today

Red May TV | May 28, 2022

This panel discusses and explores the new English translation of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis (Brill 2021). Originally published in Japan and in Japanese in 1953, Uno’s Theory of Crisis presents a radical reinterpretation Marx’s Capital to clarify the inevitability and periodicity of capitalist crisis. Emphasizing how the commodification of labour-power is the fundamental cause of capitalist crisis, Uno’s Theory of Crisis differs from other Marxist theories of crisis that emphasize the cause of crisis in over-production/under-consumption, or else in the tendency of the profit rate to fall. The panel features scholars of Uno’s method for political economy and discusses how his Theory of Crisis can help us to write the history of class struggle in today’s conjuncture of multiple capitalist crisis.

Ken Kawashima, Wendy Matsumura, Gavin Walker, Dr. Richard Westra

SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RFCRthZsq4

[THIS ARTICLE IS POSTED HERE FOR NON-PROFIT, NON-COMMERCIAL, EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THAT OF ITS AUTHOR(S) AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEW OF THE JOP]

Marx’s Capital Lecture 1 Historical Introduction and Overview

Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice | February 09, 2022

363 views Feb 9, 2022 The Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) is pleased to host a series of public lectures on Volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, given by the political economist and activist Andy Higginbottom. This is the first lecture of the Marx’s Capital Lecture series, held on 7th February 2022.

To sign up for CSSGJ events, please go to our website http://www.cssgj.org

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The life of a great marxist: Aijaz Ahmad (1941-2022)

Vijay Prashad

People’s Dispatch | March 10, 2022

Image via the Tricontinental Institute

Born in Muzaffarnagar, in British India, Aijaz read extensively from an early age and allowed his mind to drift out of the qasba of his childhood. His father shared some radical books with him, which helped him to understand the world outside the doab region of the Indo-Gangetic Plain and the world beyond the confines of the capitalist system. From an early age, Aijaz Ahmad began to dream of internationalism and socialism. He studied in Lahore, Pakistan, where his family had migrated after the Partition in 1947-48, but these studies took place as much in the college classrooms as they did in the cafés and in the cells of political organizations. In the cafés, Aijaz met the finest minds of Urdu literature, who schooled him in both lyric and politics; in the cells of the political parties, he encountered the depth of Marxism, a boundless view of the world that gripped him for the rest of his life. Fully immersed in the left political unrest in Pakistan, Aijaz came to the attention of the authorities, which is why he skipped the country for New York City (United States).

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THE FOOLISH OLD MAN WHO REMOVED THE MOUNTAINS

Mao Tse-tung

June 11, 1945

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

[This was Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s concluding speech at the Seventh National Congress of the Communist Party of China.]

Editor’s Note: JoP is publishing this article by Comrade Mao to commemorate his 128th birth anniversary which was on December 26, 2021

We have had a very successful congress. We have done three things. First, we have decided on the line of our Party, which is boldly to mobilize the masses and expand the people’s forces so that, under the leadership of our Party, they will defeat the Japanese aggressors, liberate the whole people and build a new-democratic China. Second, we have adapted the new Party Constitution. Third, we have elected the leading body of the Party–the Central Committee. Henceforth our task is to lead the whole membership in carrying out the Party line. Ours has been a congress of victory, a congress of unity. The delegates have made excellent comments on the three reports. Many comrades have undertaken self-criticism; with unity as the objective unity has been achieved through self-criticism. This congress is a model of unity, of self-criticism and of inner-Party democracy.

When the congress closes, many comrades will be leaving for their posts and the various war fronts. Comrades, wherever you go, you should propagate the line of the congress and, through the members of the Party, explain it to the broad masses.

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THE BANKRUPTCY OF THE IDEALIST CONCEPTION OF HISTORY

Mao Tse-tung

September 16, 1949

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Editor’s Note: JoP is publishing this article by Comrade Mao to commemorate his 128th birth anniversary which was on December 26, 2021

The Chinese should thank Acheson, spokesman of the U.S. bourgeoisie, not merely because he has explicitly confessed to the fact that the United States supplied the money and guns and Chiang Kai-shek the men to fight for the United States and slaughter the Chinese people and because he has thus given Chinese progressives evidence with which to convince the backward elements. You see, hasn’t Acheson himself confessed that the great, sanguinary war of the last few years, which cost the lives of millions of Chinese, was planned and organized by U.S. imperialism? The Chinese should thank Acheson, again not merely because he has openly declared that the United States intends to recruit the so-called “democratic individualists” in China, organize a U.S. fifth column and overthrow the People’s Government led by the Communist Party of China and has thus alerted the Chinese, especially those tinged with liberalism, who are promising each other not to be taken in by the Americans and are all on guard against the underhand intrigues of U.S. imperialism. The Chinese should thank Acheson also because he has fabricated wild tales about modern Chinese history; and his conception of history is precisely that shared by a section of the Chinese intellectuals, namely, the bourgeois idealist conception of history. Hence, a refutation of Acheson may benefit many Chinese by widening their horizon. The benefit may be even greater to those whose conception is the same, or in certain respects the same, as Acheson’s.

What are Acheson’s wild fabrications about modern Chinese history? First of all, he tries to explain the occurrence of the Chinese revolution in terms of economic and ideological conditions in China. Here he has recounted many myths.

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Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology, Capitalism

Mike Healy

University of Westminster Press, London, 2020, xi+156pp., £ 19,99
ISBN 9781-912656790

Reviewed by Thomas Klikauer

Ever since German philosopher Hegel discussed alienation and Karl Marx converted it into the sensible framework of the economics of capitalism, alienation isn’t really a new subject – many might even think all has been said. Yet, Healy’s exquisite book applies several recent frameworks of alienation to two groups of workers – IT workers and academics. His book delivers surprising insights and results. Healy has divided his book into eight short and very readable chapters starting with a conceptual chapter on “alienation”. The book’s key empirical chapters are on IT professionals.

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