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A Companion to Marx's Capital – The Last Word Bks
David Harvey Paperback 02 Mar English. Includes delivery to Finland. Check for new and used marketplace copies. For nearly forty years, David Harvey has written and lectured on Capital , becoming one of the world's most foremost Marx scholars. Based on his recent lectures, this current volume aims to bring this depth of learning to a broader audience, guiding first-time readers through a fascinating and deeply rewarding text.
A Companion to Marx's Capital offers fresh, original and sometimes critical interpretations of a book that changed the course of history and, as Harvey intimates, may do so again. David Harvey's video lecture course can be found here: davidharvey. Verso Books is the largest independent, radical publishing house in the English-speaking world, publishing one hundred books a year.
Skip Navigation and go to main content Bestsellers Books. But a business owner's orientation and the orientation of an entire capitalist economy is different. The money process is oriented like this: Money to Product to more Money. For the ownership, workers' labor and the product that comes from the labor of the workers is just the means to an end to produce more money.
But here's the problem. A fundamental law of capitalist economies is that the initial money invested must always grow. So every year, or in most cases every quarter, there must be more money flowing through the business than there was previously. But in actuality, growth isn't infinite. For an owner, after the market is glutted with his or her product, when everything is at overcapacity, there have to be new creative ways to make money.
And all of those are used all the time. Here are some of those creative ways. One creative way to allow for artificial growth is to cut workers' salaries or to lay them off. You do that, you don't have to pay them, and then your company makes more money. Another is that if you're an owner of a business and you have to compete with others who produce similar products, then you reduce your prices of your products to have a competitive advantage.
But at some point, you just can't get the prices any lower and make a profit. So you produce the product at lower than the price that you can make money at, and then you borrow from big banks huge sums of money to offset the loss in the weakening of your product until you find some new way to increase your profits again, innovate your product, produce other products, and so on.
Most of the large companies have in fact glutted the market with their products and are underselling their products and not making a profit. But they declare the amount of money borrowed as profit. This is all artificial growth. Eventually, there's distrust in the market and then the owner has to pay back the loans but can't.
Then a financial collapse occurs. And if enough companies are all operating in this way, then there could be a national or international crisis. Look for another one soon. This is Harvey's explanation of the relevance of Capital, Volume I. It shows that when a capitalist economy is running according to the basic law of growing money, since it can't actually grow indefinitely, it creates artificial means to do so. Then when the economy collapses, we all suffer. And in our own time, our governments subsidize the failure of these major companies and we have to pay for that failure in taxes.
Strange setup. Jul 07, Carlo rated it it was amazing. Harvey moves the reader along, pointing out complexities of interpretation but not bogging down when he differs from other writers. Harvey's goal is to read Marx with you, not to make a case for a perspective. Post time to understand the world, time to change the world. Time is now, begin here. Aug 05, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: to , american-history , to , asian-history , politics , coldwar , european-history , intellectual-history , economics , owned-books.
Marx's Capital starts with foundational and elementary concepts, what is a commodity, What is the exchange value of a commodity, What is use-value of a commodity, How is money used to exchange commodities, How is labor exchanged for money and commodities. From these simple questions, we get an idea like the surplus value of labor. I work a certain amount of hours the number of hours that go into making a commodity for an employer. The employer if his business is working right will sell that Marx's Capital starts with foundational and elementary concepts, what is a commodity, What is the exchange value of a commodity, What is use-value of a commodity, How is money used to exchange commodities, How is labor exchanged for money and commodities.
The employer if his business is working right will sell that commodity for a price higher than the cost of me making it. So some of the hours I am paid for my labor my employer will break even. The hours I work above and beyond this break, even the amount of pay is surplus-value and the profit of my employer. There is a conflict even in this simple formulation I don't like having to give too much surplus labor my employer would love to have more surplus labor that he can take from me because that adds to his profit.
From these beginnings, a whole edifice is created of Marxian economics.
It seems to hold up well at both the micro and macro level. Marx in his work was studying Capitalism in his work. And he showed that it has a lot of problems baked into its system and that it blows up in crises from time to time and would ultimately be untenable.
I agree it is built for crises but what comes after remains to be seen. View all 4 comments. Feb 17, Quentin rated it it was amazing. You should read Marx's Capital--it's easier, funnier, and smarter than you think it will be, and you can gloss over some of the hard parts the first time through and still get the jist. Harvey's companion is another route to go--its based on his youtube-able lecture series, and it works hard to explain some of Marx's more arcane arguments, point out areas where he's unclear or incorrect, and tells you which parts you can skim if you just want to understand the arguments.
Harvey's tone is convers You should read Marx's Capital--it's easier, funnier, and smarter than you think it will be, and you can gloss over some of the hard parts the first time through and still get the jist. Harvey's tone is conversational, and he gives pretty fair time to some of the vociferous debates in Marxist theory. Shelves: marx-and-friends. A great recapitulation of the first volume of Capital for modern readers, written by a professor who taught the book for thirty years and who has his own intriguing ideas to add.
May 16, tom bomp rated it really liked it Shelves: economics , non-fiction , politics , marxist.
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Very useful book to help demystify some of the stuff in Capital Volume 1. I disagree with quite a bit of what he says when he goes beyond Capital particularly the focus on neoliberalism but he connects it to Marx's work and seeing someone explicitly draw from it and developing it is useful. Most helpful early on - at parts it's limited to reiterating what Marx has said; understandable because the first couple of parts are definitely the toughest so it's not too big a deal.
I do think he someti Very useful book to help demystify some of the stuff in Capital Volume 1. I do think he sometimes misses chances to argue a bit further. The main example is the labour theory of value - Marx didn't feel the need to justify it because it was commonly accepted at the time and Harvey only spends about a page I think doing so. Given that it's such an important part of what follows, it would have been nice to have a bit more time spent on it.
Overall though, very handy guide and I recommend it as a guide to your own understanding and interpretation. Couple of things: David Harvey recommends the Penguin edition, which is probably the best available, if you're planning on following along, and it's the one he quotes from with page numbers. However, the Penguin version comes with an appendix which is another chapter Marx wrote but didn't publish yet Harvey doesn't mention it at all.
It's no big deal, but it would have been nice just to say "I'm not covering the appendix" somewhere Nov 19, Steve rated it it was amazing. David Harvey says early in the book that his understanding of Marx's "Capital" has developed over the course of many years of teaching the book. He has taught it to economists, philosophers, English students, and even a group of Derrideans, who insisted on checking translations and examining Marx's language so much that the group barely got past the first chapter.
I found myself learning more and David Harvey says early in the book that his understanding of Marx's "Capital" has developed over the course of many years of teaching the book. I found myself learning more and more about the text from working through it with people from different disciplines. As a good introduction to "Capital" should, Harvey's "Companion" deftly goes through some of Marx's more difficult arguments.
Harvey has trod this path many times, and he is aware not only of where the path goes, but also of where readers are likely to stumble, and he is quick to lend a helping hand with short digressions into Marx's methodology, including one longer one on what it means that Marx is trying to think "dialectically. But that the "Companion" contains a basic outline of Marx's opus is not its most impressive feature.
What is most impressive, and what will make the book of value not only to those just beginning to study Marx but also, perhaps, to more seasoned scholars, is Harvey's attention to the nitty-gritty of Marx's text. There are some passages every book on "Capital" should point out -- for instance, the beginning of the "Fetishism of Commodities" section -- and this Harvey does.
Harvey goes beyond this and brings up passages that are easily missed: Harvey's attention to Marx's footnotes is extremely helpful. At times Harvey will only draw the reader's attention to a footnotes; at times he will show how Marx makes a key argument or answers a particular counter-argument in a footnote, and a considerable discussion of the footnote will ensue.
Table of Contents
About 30 pages of the "Companion" contain some level of discussion of Marx's footnotes. In addition, Harvey pays attention to the place of gender in Marx's text, emphasizing both where Marx is strong and where Marx is weak on the issue. Harvey's keen eye for the presence of gendered metaphors is much appreciated. Harvey also devotes considerable space elaborating some of Marx's ideas regarding the relationship between human society and nature -- a furtive area of Marx's thought that has only recently begun to be explored.
And significantly, Harvey even notes the congruence between the work of Michel Foucault and the Marxist project, suggesting that Foucault be read as detailing the development of disciplinary apparatuses and ways of thought regarding mental illness, sexuality, etc. In other words, he makes Foucualt out to be a Marxist. Too many have made the mistake of reading these two thinkers as being fundamentally opposed. Marx's "Capital" is one of the, if not the, most relevant books for today.
Harvey knows this, and he is at pains to show how "Capital" is very much a book for the present. We locked "Capital" up in the basement because we didn't want to hear what it had to say to us. It was too traumatic. But the trauma of present catastrophes risks being greater than the traumatic truth "Capital" can help us to see. This is why it's time to grow up, go into the basement, and unlock "Capital. That is, it's time, as Harvey says, to read "Capital," and to read it on Marx's terms.
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Harvey can help us do this. Nov 08, Domhnall rated it it was amazing Shelves: economics. This book offers a "close reading" page by page guide to volume I of Marx's Capital. I not only followed both books in tandem but also listened to Harvey's 13 lectures on Youtube, which are very close to this text but not identical. In the end it has been a rich experience and well worth the investment of time and effort.
It would have been preferable to have used the same edition of Capital, by Penquin Classics, since Harvey relies on page references and these are entirely different to the edit This book offers a "close reading" page by page guide to volume I of Marx's Capital. It would have been preferable to have used the same edition of Capital, by Penquin Classics, since Harvey relies on page references and these are entirely different to the edition I used.
Mine also had a different translation. As it happens, I was able to keep track anyway, because I was following both books in tandem, but anything to make cross reference easier would be worthwhile. Harvey not only explains Marx's meaning but also engages with it in active ways, providing more contemporary examples, commenting on disputes, explaining why he often disagrees with specific aspects of Marx's argument in the light of later history, suggesting ways in which Marx's ideas might be revised or extended. Most often though, Harvey defends Marx against all sorts of lines of attack, and demonstrates his continuing relevance and validity.
Something Harvey does especially well is to demonstrate the dialectical method used by Marx to build his explanation of free market capitalism. Indeed, for this his YouTube lectures are possibly more effective than his book, maybe because of the way he draws out the chains of reasoning on a large whiteboard as he speaks.
It is not at all what I had expected and seems incredibly well justified once it is explained. Eventually, Harvey is able to depict the main arguments of Capital I in a great mindmap which is surprisingly memorable and very clearly structured. For all the seeming complexity and the sheer scale of the argument, Marx never loses sight of this skeleton plan.
However, Marx does not always make it easy to spot the links in his chain and without Harvey's intervention they would often have passed me by. These really are excellent lectures and it is a wonder that they have been preserved and made so easily available. The book is not self contained or dogmatic. It is filled with insights, speculation and openings that can lead in all sorts of directions. It is a book, in other words, to be engaged with, not just to be passively read.
View 2 comments. This book is absolutely brilliant. Written in a crystal clear way, with deep insights into Karl Marx ' text, all the while letting the reader interpret Marx on his own terms. Not only does the author clarify, the sometimes, entangled arguments made by Marx, but also offers some relatable examples in contemporary times. All the while ur This book is absolutely brilliant. All the while urging the reader to form their own opinions.
I gave this book five stars, while I gave Capital only 4. The reason, of course, is Harvey's superior clarity in argumentation. Feb 08, Ross Torres rated it it was amazing. David Harvey is my dude. His analysis of capitalism is rock hard and i luv it. Seriously he's an amazing person and really provides an in-depth reading to a very important text -Capital- which is not only important for its conclusions about the functioning of capitalistic society but also important for its his methodology and critical attitude.
A Companion to Marx's Capital
I don't see any reason not to read this book immediately if you haven't already,. Aug 01, Yonis Gure rated it it was amazing. If one switches from Marx to Harvey, Marx to Harvey, until both books are finished, then I think that person will develop a deeper appreciation for Harvey's brilliant pedagogical approach at explicating Marx's Capital. Why can't I have a professor like him? Jul 01, Paul rated it it was amazing. Extremely useful book. I'd tried and failed on numerous occasions to complete Capital until I read this gem.
Readable, clear and engaging. There is an accompanying you tube series of lectures. Harvey is a very impressive thinker and teacher. So, Marx's Capital is a book that I think doesn't, in all honesty, require a secondary source to read alongside. If you told an undergraduate student to read it on their own they probably could have.
However, there are certain points when Harvey helps us understand the project Marx is undertaking. First, a bit of the cons is that Harvey is not a Marxist philosopher, nor a Marxist economist, he is a Marxist geographer. It seems relatively weird to me that he focuses so much on the idea of dialecti So, Marx's Capital is a book that I think doesn't, in all honesty, require a secondary source to read alongside. It seems relatively weird to me that he focuses so much on the idea of dialectics and contradiction, which are Hegelian themes, in this book.
Marx comments more directly on Hegel in other texts, such as the German Ideology--and while he does mention sometimes the idea of inversion, it doesn't play a hugely important role in his critique, I feel. But even then, Harvey's mention of dialectics is not a very nuanced notion as well, and it seems rather forceful to include it here. However, that being said, Harvey draws on a huge amount of expertise in research in this area.
Since most of us, I assume, do not have the time to go through and read all the political economists, whether that be Mill, Smith or Senior that Marx mentions, we have Harvey to tell us what exact viewpoints Marx is criticising. On top of that, Harvey works fascinatingly well in contextualising Marx's ideas into modern times to help us understand the importance of his critique.
A section that I particularly actually enjoyed was the very last part before the reflections , where Harvey brings out Luxemburg in talking about how, for them, capitalist primitive accumulation is still happening all around the world. Once again, contextualising how his critique may be of significant importance to us even in modern society. Overall a highly helpful book for the readers of Marx. Harvey provides invaluable assistance in reading Capital Vol. It defeats the point to summarize his views in a review. And he graciously lets us glom on to his results.
His close reading reveals the layers and connections that you know are there, but hard to see. Some con Harvey provides invaluable assistance in reading Capital Vol. I had wanted to see a static systemic structure when I read Capital Vol. His writing is accessible, his interpretations are measured and his teaching is simply awesomesauce. Aug 27, sean rated it really liked it Shelves: Jul 04, Sami Eerola rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , human-rights , history , read-in , communism-and-anarchism.
Great book that makes Marx theories on Capitalism easy to understand. But Harvey do not stop there, he opens the historical references and re-contextualize the concepts to today's world, showing that Marx is today more right than he was in the last century. But Harvey also criticizes Marx in some points and shows how some of his bad ideas where inspiration for some of the great problems that the Soviet Union and other real world communist state had.
So this is not just a unbiased communist propag Great book that makes Marx theories on Capitalism easy to understand. So this is not just a unbiased communist propaganda, but a actual academic tool boks to understand one of the most influential Western thinkers. As a companion text, this book is phenomonal. The issue with rating it is that, if you have watched the youtube series he put out, it's literally the exact same thing. There might be some minor variations between what he says and the words in this book, and I don't think this is literally a transcription.