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.
Many of us have less time to study it because, as Marx predicted, we have to work longer hours— and often more than one job—in order to survive. Fortunately, even a basic familiarity with the key concepts of the first Volume of Capital offers many tools for understanding capitalism’s dynamics.
CAPITAL is the indispensable sourcebook on Marx’s method for analyzing the economy, politics and struggles. Many of us have less time to study it because, as Marx predicted, we have to work longer hours— and often more than one job—in order to survive. Fortunately, even a basic familiarity with the key concepts of Volume I offers many tools for understanding capitalism’s dynamics.
In this course we will be concerned with some of the main ideas of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, focusing on the materialist understanding of history, and the theory of surplus value.
A 9 Session Class and Discussion with Juliet Ucelli
Thursdays, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Over the past 40 years, many of us have needed to work longer and longer hours—and often more than one job—in order to survive. This longer working day has also become more intense and saps more of our energy. These trends, which Marx predicted and analyzed in Capital, also make it harder for workers and activists to read Capital all the way through. Therefore, we are trying a new approach and highlighting the main sections and concepts of Volume I in a 10-week course.
Key topics that we will cover include: use-value, value and commodity fetishism; the labor process, the working day and surplus value; competition, innovation, productivity growth and the concentration of capital; the sources of ecological destruction; capital’s need for unemployed people and a reserve army of labor; and the bloody origins of capitalism and white supremacy in expropriation and enslavement.
The course will provide a basic grounding for participants to pursue further study on their own or collectively. We’ll refer to new resources such as on-line and visual aids and current articles that illustrate capitalism’s developmental tendencies, which Marx calls its laws of motion.
Juliet Ucelli has taught Capital at the New York Marxist School and labor economics for labor unions, as well as adult basic education and GED preparation. Currently a high school social worker, she has written on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, the politics of inner city public schooling and other topics. Her “Introduction to Capital, Volume I” can be accessed at http://thecommonsbrooklyn.org/intensive-readings-2014.