Capital, Volume I

Class & Discussion with Capital Studies Group

Karl Marx’s Capital remains the fundamental text for understanding how capitalism works. By unraveling the commoditized forms of our interactions with nature and each other, it provides tools to understand capitalism’s astounding innovativeness and productivity, intertwined with growing inequality and misery, alienation, stunting of human potential, and ecological destruction all over the globe. In this way, Capital offers the reader a methodology for doing our own analysis of current developments.

The Capital Studies Group has been meeting on Saturdays for nearly two years. We are a diverse group of students, activists and teachers who are now dedicating themselves to a chronological reading of all three volumes of Marx’s Capital.

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The Political Economy of Money and Finance

Presented by the Capital Studies Organizing Task Force
10 sessions

There has been much talk in recent years about the “financialization” of capitalism and the increasingly dominant and totally destructive role of money and finance. But what exactly is “financialization” and is this something truly new for capitalism or simply the latest manifestation of a phenomenon and process that has earlier historical roots and is basic and fundamental to the way that capitalism functions? And, what is the role of money and finance in 21st century capitalism?

To understand “financialization” and the pronounced instability of the world economy since the 1970s, this reading group will undertake a close reading (over 10 weeks) of Costas Lapavitsas and Makoto Itoh’s book Political Economy of Money and Finance. The book attempts to offer a systematic theoretical examination of money and finance by re-examining the classical foundations of political economy and the creator of money and assessing all of the important theoretical schools since then, including Marxist, Keynesian, post-Keynesian and monetarist thinkers.

Lapavitsas and Itoh argue that monetary and financial instability has roots in capitalist production and trade, as well as in the defects of the mechanisms of money and finance. Thus, no mix of policies can fully establish monetary and financial harmony, though different policies can significantly ameliorate or worsen instability. To sustain its central claim, the book also re-examines the historical and logical origin of money, the creation of interest bearing capital, the spontaneous emergence of the capitalist credit system, the process of capitalist crisis, and the nature and function of the central banks. In addition, by presenting insights from Japanese political economy largely ignored in Anglo-Saxon economics, the authors contribute to a radical political economy based on a thorough historical analysis of capitalism.

The Capital Studies Organizing Task Force are workers and allies who gather frequently to study the three volumes of Marx’s Capital, in order to be concrete in our analysis of capital and to better inform the class struggles against capitalists and their collaborators.

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The Grundrisse, The Chapter on Capital

Saturday sessions on essential works of Marx
Reading and discussion sessions with Sam Salour and others
This group will meet on Saturdays until June 17

“Forces of production and social relations — two different sides of the development of the social individual — appear to capital as mere means, and are merely means for it to produce on its limited foundation. In fact, however, they are the material conditions to blow this foundation sky-high…” —Karl Marx, The Grundrisse

Perhaps the most curious and least understood aspect of Marx’s work is his method of analysis. Marx viewed all his economic laws as tendencies and it is hard to deny that those tendencies are becoming more and more the realities of today’s capitalism. However, to understand our society we need to do more than reading and accepting his concepts, we must critically analyze them and look for the way of thinking that produced them. It is with this goal in my mind that we should embark on a journey through the long and complex sentences of The German Ideology and the Grundrisse. These works are perhaps the best representation of the process of thinking that found its culmination in Capital and we will be engaging with it during our study. Without a doubt, this will be a long and arduous process but we should always keep in mind that “there is no royal road to science and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits. Starting April 1 we will read from The Chapter on Capital from the Penguin edition of Marx’s Grundrisse. These three-hour sessions will have a 30 minute break at 12:30

No one turned away for inability to pay. $10 per session suggested fee.

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Money and Totality

MONEY AND TOTALITY:
A Macro-Monetary Interpretation of Marx’s Logic In Capital and the End of the “Transformation Problem”

a book discussion with author Fred Moseley
at Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Correcting a longstanding misinterpretation, Moseley argues that there is no ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s economic theory. This ambitious book presents a comprehensive new ‘macro-monetary’ interpretation of Marx’s logical method in Capital which emphasizes two points: (1) Marx’s theory is primarily a macroeconomic theory of the total surplus-value produced in the economy as a whole; and (2) Marx’s theory is a monetary theory and the circuit of money capital, M-C-M, is its logical framework.

“The complete form of the process is therefore M-C-M’, where M =M + ∆M, i.e. the original sum advanced plus an increment. This increment or excess over the original value I call ‘surplus-value’.”
—Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1

“The capitalists, like hostile brothers, divide among themselves the loot of other people’s labor, so that on an average one receives the same amount of unpaid labor as another.”
—Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus-Value, Volume 2

Fred Moseley is Professor of Economics at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of The Falling Rate of Profit in the Postwar United States Economy and editor of Marx’s Logical Method: A Reappraisal, New Investigations of Marx’s Method, Heterodox Economic Theories: True or False?, and Marx’s Theory of Money: Modern Reappraisals.

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