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5.0 out of 5 stars The analysis of Marx in the light of a modern capitalism crisis
The reason I wanted to read the text in English was an effort to understand in depth the concepts of the marxist thought. The problem with the Greek translations is that they have been made under the guidance of the Greek communist party. As regards, their political views and limitations, in several cases, do not allow the average reader to comprehent the depth and the...
Published 6 months ago by Constantina Sdravopoulou

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Force of Logic Going Nowhere
It should be stressed for the novice to this subject, all three volumes of Capital provide a scientific explanation, as Marx put it, of how the Capitalist system works from the perspective that labor is the underlying essence of all value. If one accepts the basic assumptions made early in Chapter 1 of Capital, Volume 1--that abstract labor is the source of...
Published 15 months ago by Dean M. Jackson


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5.0 out of 5 stars The analysis of Marx in the light of a modern capitalism crisis, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
The reason I wanted to read the text in English was an effort to understand in depth the concepts of the marxist thought. The problem with the Greek translations is that they have been made under the guidance of the Greek communist party. As regards, their political views and limitations, in several cases, do not allow the average reader to comprehent the depth and the uniqueness of the thoughts of Marx, neither their universal applications. Nevertheless, the British Edition was very helpfull in order to complete the translation of the book "A companion to Marx's Capital" by David Harvey, which is full of references concerning the Pentguin Edition of The Capital
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx's visionary work, 3 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
A seminal work of Western political economy that through its three volumes sets out a gothic vision of "the whole devilish machinery" of capitalism. Marx puts economists such as Adam Smith - the hero of unreconstructed capitalist apologists - in the shade. There is a real philosophical underpinning in Marx that makes him a worthy successor to and developer of Hegel. But behind the dry economics and formulae there is a magnificent visionary drive combining science and art. Finishing Volume I, this is the only recent occasion where I wanted to read a work right through again. Attempts to rubbish Marx's achievement by equating it with the Soviet system simply show prejudice and ignorance. If anything the Soviet system merely degenerated into state capitalism and came to the same end Marx ultimately predicts for capitalism in its historic form. In a time (2012) of ever-widening social and economic divisions and the collapse of high finance, which survives only by courtesy of state bailouts - a hidden form of the nationalization that conservative apologists claim to reject - Marx's vision shines through again. This precisely reflects the ever-worsening downward spiral of crisis and collapse inherent in the flawed capitalist system and the need to evolve from the economic jungle to a planned economy managed in the interests of all, not just a greedy few countries and a greedy rich elite within them. A work for all time.
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45 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An alternative, 29 Dec 1999
This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
Karl Marx demonstrated that their is an alternative to the barbaric system of capitalism which is not utopian but actually thoroughly scientific. This great work is as relevant today as it always was.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx: Capital Volume 3 (Penguin Classics), 12 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
Penguin Classics have produced a good qualify, affordable must read, which should be read by anyone interested in "the current economic climate" -- it's all there, bearing an uncanny 19th century analysis of the same set of unresolved problems. Excellent introduction by Ernest Mandel.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Force of Logic Going Nowhere, 25 April 2013
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Dean M. Jackson (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
It should be stressed for the novice to this subject, all three volumes of Capital provide a scientific explanation, as Marx put it, of how the Capitalist system works from the perspective that labor is the underlying essence of all value. If one accepts the basic assumptions made early in Chapter 1 of Capital, Volume 1--that abstract labor is the source of value(1)--Marx's logic flows well, not only through Volume 1, but all the way through Volume 3.

If one is looking to fault Marx's economics based on the works of Capital, one will come up empty not only because Marx's logic is flawless, but as economist and former Marxist Thomas Sowell says, " ...Marx considered the idea of proving a concept to be ridiculous. Moreover, Engels had asserted...that one only proves one's ignorance of dialectics by thinking of it as a means by which things can be proved."(2)

However, there was one instance where Marx let his dialectical guard down, allowing for an empirical objection that would consign all of Marx's works for naught. Sowell himself touches upon the specific passage where Marx cornered himself, but doesn't appreciate the full ramifications of Marx's observation.

In the "The Poverty of Philosophy" (1847) Marx says, "In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The handmill [a productive force] gives you society with the feudal lord, the steam-mill [a productive force], society with the industrial capitalist."(3)

Sowell argues regarding Marx's handmill/steam-mill analogy, "If read literally, these words suggest a one-way causation and explanation of given states of being rather than of transformation. But that is clearly inconsistent both with Marx's and Engels' own treatment of history and with the dialectical conception of reciprocal interaction. These words are perhaps best read as epigrams-and of the dangers of misunderstanding inherent in that writing style."(4)

Is Sowell correct? Was Marx merely being terse with his handmill/steam-mill analogy?

While Sowell is indeed correct that Marx and Engles viewed the unfolding of history as a "dialectical conception of reciprocal interaction", that observation does not answer the question: What comes first? The machinery, or new social relations, derived from machines, that interacts with the old social relations to produce the new hybrid social relations? Marx was emphatic that machines came first, then all else followed them. In his retort to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's observation that the use of machines was a consequence of the division of labor, Marx writes:

"Thus it is slapping history in the face to want to begin by the division of labor in general, in order to get subsequently to a specific instrument of production, machinery.

Machinery is no more an economic category than the bullock that drags the plough. Machinery is merely a productive force. The modern workshop, which depends on the application of machinery, is a social production relation, an economic category."(5)

The problem with this empirical observation is that before there was a steam mill there already existed a capitalist society that not only contained the requisite capitalist mode of production that manufactured the necessary constituent parts that went into the creation of the steam mill (there were many companies involved in the problem-solving for and manufacture of components that went into a steam engine), but this pre-steam mill society also contained a capitalist labor force that made the constituent parts for the steam mill, not to mention built the steam mill itself. In other words, the steam mill presupposes an already functioning capitalist society! Marx's rebuke to Proudhon is a tautological response that also fails to recognize that a steam engine is made up of independently manufactured parts that predates the manufacture of a steam engine with those independently manufactured parts! Marx fails to mention this double inconsistency with his material "productive forces" empirical observation.

Simplified, Marx is speaking of the root cause for industrial Capitalism...the steam mill, but that beginning of industrial Capitalism only exists to the extent of (1) the division of labor that manufactured the component parts going into the steam-mill; and (2) the capital/producer goods industries that manufactured the constituent parts that went into the construction of the steam-mill.

When the first steam-mill was completed supposedly, according to Marx, 'giving' a society with industrial Capitalism, in fact there could be no 'giving' of such a society since the steam-mill when completed wasn't in operation. In fact, that which actually 'gave' a society with industrial Capitalism were those factors of production that produced the steam-mill!

Marx behaves like a child throwing a tantrum: Machines come first, then all else follows. Why? Because Marx said so, even though the historical record says otherwise!

Anyone after 1847 could have demolished Marx's materialist philosophy (which is where "productive forces" comes from) by noting the above objections to Marx's handmill/steam mill observation, thereby sparing us three volumes of Capital. In fact, someone did just that...Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and Marxists (or whoever "Marxists" really are) pretend Proudhon didn't demolish Marx.
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(see first comment for available links to titles cited)

1. Capital, Karl Marx, p.27.

2. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics, Thomas Sowell, p.109

3. The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 109 (takes into account the changes and corrections introduced by Marx into the copy presented to N. Utina in 1876).

4. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics, Thomas Sowell, p.56.

5. The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 138 (takes into account the changes and corrections introduced by Marx into the copy presented to N. Utina in 1876).
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Revised Addendum: Formulated on February 25, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

Proof that Marx's Law of Value (which posits that labor is the sole source of value, imputing that value into commodities) is in error:

If all the machines created throughout the history of man were to have been kept within the confines of the minds of their creators, that is never manufactured, would such machines be imputed with value in a Marxist sense? Yes, they should equal the POTENTIAL value of their labor.

Now, since actual labor is required for there to be potential value, and there is no actual labor to speak of, then the potential imputation of labor value into machines/commodities is zero, and therefore Marx's Law of Value is in error.

In fact, the proof affirms that imputation of a commodity's value can't be anything physical, it must be subjective...that is in the mind of the observer.
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Addendum (July 18, 2014):

The following nicely illustrates how net (new) investment (productivity increases) took place before medium of exchange, while (1) also illustrating how such net (new) investments spurred trade between separated communities; and (2) clarifying Marx's confusion as to what came first to alter social relations, (i) machines; or (ii) something else preceding machines...

Tribe A saved more by looking for food less, placing that saved time into creating a net that would increase the catch of fish. We can say that Tribe A has a greater productive edge than does Tribe B, whose members are still using sharpened sticks to catch fish--very laborious and relatively unproductive.

Now Tribe A decides, due to its higher productivity/wealth, it can afford to save more time, adding this saved time to the saved time it used for making fishing nets, and build a boat that will allow their nets to catch even more fish. Being busy building boats, Tribe A allows Tribe B to build the nets--a less productive venture than the new boat-building venture is. Tribe A's greater productivity thanks to fishing boats (and greater wealth thanks to fishing boats) allows for more children, increasing the tribe's population, allowing for a larger labor supply in the near future that will be available for procuring other innovative, labor-saving inventions.

In the modern economy the money we save is the "saved time" that Tribe A used to construct nets/boats, but since the rate of interest is being intentionally kept low by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan, there can be no new capital formation (money that's used for new long-term productive investments) in Western economies (nor Japan) for new productive ventures, because the lure for such new investments--the higher rate of return that higher, market-based, interest rates offer--is non-existent; the central bank mandated low interest rate policy won't cover the loan on the massive outlay of capital that net (new) productive projects require.

By the way, notice what comes first in the above illustration, contradicting Marx's claim that the "material productive forces" (machines) are the INITIAL venue by which societies alter their values/relationships...people had to "save time" FIRST by curtailing their quest for food.* Now in the modern economy, where money is used, FIRST comes the necessity of market-based interest rates that allows for the accumulation of capital that THEN produces the labor-saving machines! The higher the market-based interest rate, the better for capital accumulation.
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*Incredibly, Marx was unaware (or more likely, deluded himself into unawareness) of this critical sequence.
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17 of 384 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A rationalization for slavery and slaughter, 25 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 3 (Penguin Classics S.) (Paperback)
The book that spawned the deaths of over 100 million people in the 20th Century is, ironically, only a boring litany of economic fallacies. The poverty of the labor theory of value, the absurdity of economic progress without a price system, and the necessary terror that accompanies socialism are all exposed in detail in George Reisman's CAPITALISM. All of you poor proletarians with computers out to read how effortlessly a real economist dismantles your dogma.
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