STUDY GUIDE

Marx’s Capital, Volume I

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Freedom Socialist Party 2015 Trotsky School 
Course Outline and Readings

BLOCK ONE: Economic life and the life of thought

Political Economy (first of two sessions)

Required

Recommended

Political economy (second of two sessions)

Required

  • Karl Marx, first 13 paragraphs of “Afterword to the Second German edition,” Capital Vol. 1 www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/p3.htm
  • “The End of Political Economy,” Ernest Mandel, pp. 729-730 of Marxist Economic Theory Volume 2.[Handout]

Recommended

Marx’s precursors

Required

Recommended

Supplementary

  • George Novack, “The Marxist Revolution in Logic” in An Introduction to the Logic of Marxism
  • Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, by Engels. Available as a booklet and in Marx & Engels — Basic Writings on Politics & Philosophy  [Library] www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/

Dialectical materialism (first of two sessions)

Required for first session:

  • From Lenin’s Foreign Languages Press book Karl Marx (aka The Teachings of Karl Marx from International Publishers, Little Lenin Library, with a couple additional chapters), the first two sections of “The Marxist Doctrine” www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/granat/ch02.htm
  • Novack’s Logic of Marxism, Lecture V, “The Dialectical Method: I”
  • “Logic for Beginners,” edited by Clara Fraser after the 1984 Trotsky School [Handout]

Recommended

  • Blake, excerpt from Chapter 41, “Dialectical and Historical Materialism”: “Dialectical Materialism” and “Economic Illustrations of Dialectical Materialism” babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=inu.30000063839751;view=1up;seq=646
  • Novack, Logic of Marxism: first three paragraphs of Preface; Lecture One up to Point 3; Chapters 6 through 8
  • Novack, from Origins of Materialism, “The Real Basis of Materialism.” [Handout] [Bookstore]

Supplementary

Dialectical materialism (second of two sessions)

Required

Recommended

Supplementary

  • Novack, “Leon Trotsky’s Views on Dialectical Materialism,” in Polemics in Marxist Philosophy, pp. 357-384 [Library]
  • Trotsky’s The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution, “Completing the Program and Putting It to Work” [Library] www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/tp/tpdiscuss.htm
  • One-page handout: “Key Methods of Logic, and Philosophical Starting Points”
  • Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Chapter 7, “The Backbone of Night,” starting with “For thousands of years” to end
  • From Margaret Alic’s Hypatia’s Heritage: “From the Alexandrians to the Arabs” [Library]
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson on reason and faith www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy5yWdVHv3o

Historical materialism

Required

Recommended

Supplementary

** *** **

BLOCK TWO:  Commodities and the labor law of value (Capital, vol. I, section I)

Marx’s method in Capital

Required

  • First paragraph of Capital www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm – S1
  • Mandel’s introduction to the Penguin Classics Capital, first five paragraphs of Point 1, “The Purpose of Capital.” [Handout]
  • “Preface to the First German Edition,” Capital
  • “Afterword to the Second German Edition,” paragraph 14 to end, Capital
  • “Preface to the French Edition,” Capital
  • “Preface to the Third German Edition,” Capital

Recommended

  • “Preface to the Fourth German Edition,” Capital

Capital, Section One

Paragraphs 2-4: Use-value

Required

  • From David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital: Chapter One, Section One, first five paragraphs
  • From Blake: Chapter 6, Commodities and Value, first two paragraphs

Recommended

  • From David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital: Preface and Introduction
  • Blake: Preface

Paragraphs 5-9: Exchange-value

Required

Recommended

  • Blake, “Wealth Is Not Related to Goods” through “The Generality of Exchange Value”

Supplementary

  • Mandel, An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory: “Commodities, Use-Value and Exchange-Value” www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1967/intromet/ch01.htm
  • Blake, from Chapter 40, “Sources of Marxian Economic Theory” — from “The Physiocrats” through “Theory of Interest by Fructification”

Paragraphs 10-12: Abstract human labor and value

Required

Recommended

Supplementary

Paragraphs 13-15: Socially necessary labor time

Required

  • Harvey, paragraphs 12 through 17
  • Marx’s A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, paragraphs six through 18

Recommended

  • Blake: “The Magnitude of Value” through “How Capitalism Realizes Value”
  • Trotsky, “The Living Thoughts of Karl Marx” — “The Law of Labor Value”
  • Mandel, An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory: “Author’s Note to the Second Edition: On Socially Necessary Labor” [Library] www.marxists.org/archive/mandel/1967/intromet/ch01.htm
  • From Marx’s “Value, Price and Profit:” paragraph nine through 14 of “Value and Labor”

www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1865/value-price-profit/ch02.htm

Paragraphs 16-17: Productivity, and synthesis of Section 1

Required

  • Harvey: paragraph 18 up to “Section 2: The Dual Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities”
  • Blake, “The Theory of Labor-Time” through “Law of Quantity of Value”

Recommended

Supplementary

  • From Marx’s “Value, Price and Profit”: paragraph 15 through 19 of “Value and Labor”
  • Marx’s Critique, paragraphs 19 through 29

Review Section One

Recommended

  • Mandel’s introduction to Capital: The plan of Volume I. Handout.

BLOCK THREE: What else is Volume I about?

Two-fold nature of the labor embodied in commodities

Required

  • Section 2 of Part I of Capital

Recommended

  • Blake: “Value a Transient Category” through the end of Chapter 6
  • Harvey: [Marx] Section 2: The Dual Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities (pages 27-30)

Supplementary

The forms of value, money, and gold

Required

  • Harvey, [Marx’s] Section 3: The Value Form, or Exchange-Value (read this before Capital Section 3) (pages 30-37)
  • Capital, Chapter 1, Section 3: from beginning up to Point 2, “The relative form of value”; from Point 3, “Transition from the general form of value to the money-form” to the end of Section 3

Recommended

  • Capital, all of Section 3
  • Harvey: [Marx’s] Chapter 2: The Process of Exchange; and [Harvey’s] Chapter Two, “Money” (pages 47-83)
  • Blake, Chapter 7, “The Forms of Value”

Supplementary

  • Engels on Marx’s Capital, Chapter 1: “Commodities and Money” (Commodities as Such; The Process of Commodity Exchange; and Money, or the Circulation of Commodities) www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/1868-syn/ch01.htm
  • Capital, Chapters II and III
  • Blake, Chapter 10, “Money, or the Circulation of Commodities”
  • Novack, Logic of Marxism, Lecture 8, “The Categories of Dialectical Logic”

The fetishism of commodities

Required

  • Capital, Chapter 1, Section 4: “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof”
  • Harvey, [Marx] Section 4: The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret (pages 38-47)

Recommended

  • Blake: Chapter 8, Why Karl Marx’s Theories Are So Complex; and from Chapter 41 (Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism), “Note: The Role of Antagonisms and Fetiches”

Supplementary

The transformation of money into capital

Required

  • Blake, Chapter 11, “Capital”
  • Capital, Part II, Chapter 6, The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power

Recommended

  • Harvey: Capital, Part II (pages 85-107)
  • Capital, the rest of Part II (The Transformation of Money into Capital)

Supplementary

Absolute surplus-value

Required

  • Capital, Part III, Chapter 7, Section 2: The Production of Surplus-Value

Recommended

  • Clara Fraser, “More Socialism for Skeptics,” in both Socialism for Skeptics and in Revolution, She Wrote [Library] 
  • Blake, Chapter 13, Absolute Surplus-Value
  • Harvey: from [Harvey] Chapter 4 (“The Labor Process and the Production of Surplus-Value”) up to [Marx’s] Chapters 8 & 9 (pages 109-127)
  • Trotsky, The Living Thoughts of Karl Marx: “Inequality and Exploitation” [Library]

Supplementary

  • Capital, Part III, Chapter 7, Section 1: The Labour-Process or the Production of Use-Values
  • Engels, On Marx’s Capital, in Part I: Review Number 3, “Karl Marx on Capital”
  • Mandel’s An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory, “The Origin and Nature of Surplus-Value”
  • ISO, “What do we mean by exploitation?” socialistworker.org/2011/09/28/what-do-we-mean-exploitation

Constant capital and variable capital

Required

  • Capital, Part III, Chapter 8, Constant Capital and Variable Capital

Recommended

  • Harvey: from [Harvey] Chapter 4 (“The Labor Process and the Production of Surplus-Value”), the beginning of his section on Marx’s Chapters 8 & 9, up to “This leads into Chapter 9” (pages 127-130)
  • Blake, Chapter 14, Constant and Variable Capital

Supplementary

  • Mandel, An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory, “The Growth in the Organic Composition of Capital,” in Part II (Capital and Capitalism)
  • Harvey, “ A Commentary on the Value Composition of Capital,” Chapter 10, pages 263-267
  • Blake, Chapter 26, The Tendency of the Rate of Profits to Decline

Relative surplus-value; automation

Required

  • Capital, Part IV, Chapter 12, The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value

Recommended

Supplementary

Wages and degree of exploitation

Required

Recommended

  • Capital, Part VI, Chapter XIX, The transformation of the Value (And Respectively the Price) of Labour-Power into Wages
  • Blake, Chapter 22: Wages, the Price of Labour-Power
  • Engels, On Marx’s Capital, in Part I: Review Number 1, “Marx’s Capital,” and Review Number 2, “Karl Marx, Das Kapital
  • Freedom Socialist article

Supplementary

Accumulation of capital

Required

  • Capital, from Part VIII, The So-Called Primitive Accumulation: Chapter 26, The Secret of Primitive Accumulation; Chapter 31, Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist; and Chapter 32, Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation

Recommended

  • Blake, Chapter 23, The Accumulation of Capital, up to “The Separation of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue”
  • Capital, Part VII, The Accumulation of Capital: opening paragraphs; Chapter 23, Simple Reproduction; and Chapter 24, Section 1, Capitalist Production on a Progressively Increasing Scale, etc.
  • Blake, Chapter 3: Origin of the Capitalist System

Supplementary

  • Mandel, An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory, from Part 2: Origins of the Capitalist Mode of Production; and Origins and Definition of the Modern Proletariat
  • Harvey, Chapter 11, The Secret of Primitive Accumulation
  • Harvey, Chapter 10, Capitalist Accumulation
  • Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital: Chapter 32, Militarism as a Province of Accumulation www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ch32.htm

** *** **

BLOCK FOUR:  Economic and Philosophic Perspectives Since Marx

Key Economic Theories of the 20th and 21st centuries

Required

  • Karl Marx, The German Ideology (from Part I, Feuerbach. Section B, “The Illusion of the Epoch): “Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas”  [Library] www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm
  • Richard D. Wolff & Stephen A. Resnick, Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian — Chapter 1, “Three Different Theories,” pp. 1-33 (optional 33-49). [Handout]

Recommended

Crisis

Required

Recommended

The role of the union bureaucracy as the transmitter of ruling-class ideology

Required

Recommended

Is inequality inevitable?

Required

Recommended

Afternoon session

Schemes for capitalist salvation

Required

Recommended

Left perspectives on achieving economic justice

Required

Recommended

Supplementary

Critical Appraisal of Economic Analyses—Student Presentations

Required:  Choose an article from recent Left or bourgeois media to summarize and critique. See Susan for suggestions if needed.

The philosophic front in the class war

Required

  • Woo and Williams, “The Philosophic Front of the Class Struggle:  Deconstructing the Chaos of Fuzzy Thinking,” page 1 to the top of page 7.  [Handout]
  • “Post-modernism is the new black”: www.economist.com/node/8401159

Recommended

Marxist Philosophy after Marx

Recommended

  • George Novack, “In Defense of Engels,” pp.  111-151. in Polemics in Marxist Philosophy, pp. 153-189.  [scanned document will be emailed]
  • On Mao’s Contradictions

Supplementary

The FSP’s contributions to Marxist Theory

Required

 

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