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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compact, comprehensive, concise
Osborne's contribution to the Granta 'How to Read' series is an excellent example of how brief theoretical introductions need not be (though sadly so often are) superficial, partial or patronising, and can instead be illuminating, intellectually sophisticated and genuinely informative.
Although a mere 120 pages, Osborne manages to cover an enormous variety of...
Published on 7 Oct 2005 by ninapower

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not an introductory text-badly explained
This is not a book to introduce someone to Marx.It could more accurately be called 'How to read Marx if you're a middle class philosophy student who has some knowledge of Marx and Hegel'.I found his explanations of concepts like fetishism,ideology,universality etc to be inadequate for someone who wasn't familiar with German enlightemment philosophy.I also found that...
Published on 25 Nov 2011 by Dausubel


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compact, comprehensive, concise, 7 Oct 2005
This review is from: How to Read Marx (Paperback)
Osborne's contribution to the Granta 'How to Read' series is an excellent example of how brief theoretical introductions need not be (though sadly so often are) superficial, partial or patronising, and can instead be illuminating, intellectually sophisticated and genuinely informative.
Although a mere 120 pages, Osborne manages to cover an enormous variety of material, including some conceptually incredibly difficult ideas: commodity fetishism, the labour theory of value, the Asiatic mode of production, the rhetorical status of The Communist Manifesto, original accumulation, the breadth and aim of Marx's critique of political economy, etc.
The extracts selected to represent the myriad facets of Marx's career, and his complex relationship to philosophy, politics, and economics are delicately chosen, ranging from Marx's 1839 PhD to Capital, to Marx's controversial writings on India. The willingness to explore rather than to skim over some of the more problematic aspects of Marx's work (such as whether or not he is committed to a form of historical determinism, as his detractors so often opine) demonstrates not only the high regard Osborne has for his reader, but also his (rare) capacity to describe and critically assess a problem without downplaying its potentially intractable nature.
As a companion piece to Balibar's 'The Philosophy of Marx' (which shares Osborne's contention that with the spread of capitalism across the globe that 'Marx's writings have become more, not less relevant to the present'), 'How to Read Marx' works extremely well - and the reader, with a little patient work, will be well on his or her way to grasping the intellectual and political concepts and insights that make Marx such an indispensable thinker.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not an introductory text-badly explained, 25 Nov 2011
This review is from: How to Read Marx (Paperback)
This is not a book to introduce someone to Marx.It could more accurately be called 'How to read Marx if you're a middle class philosophy student who has some knowledge of Marx and Hegel'.I found his explanations of concepts like fetishism,ideology,universality etc to be inadequate for someone who wasn't familiar with German enlightemment philosophy.I also found that Osborne writes in a 'high brow' exclusory manner i.e. if I were to give this book to an average working person, I dont believe they would be able to understand that much of it.This is so despite it being quite possible for Osborne to explain his material in a manner which would be comprehensible to ordinary workers and retain his level of complexity.In the end one has to ask who is in the gallery he is playing to-not ordinary non academic workers that's for sure.Alas this is not unusual amongst so called Marx academics.They are often more interested in receiving a positive review from peers than producing a work comprehensible to ordinary workers.The rule seems to be dont make your work easier than you have to if you want to be seen as 'complex'.
I was disappointed that Osborne's knowledge of Marx didn't stretch very far into Marx's Capital.Reading this book you would be hard put to believe that Marx gave the most fundamental and complete explanation for the reoccuring economic crisis that have been a defining feature of the capitalist mode of production for the last 300 years.Although he discusses Marx's theory of value in relation to commodities as well as giving a passing description of concepts like surplus value, constant and variable capital,he doesn't bother to mention the tendency for the rate of profit to fall and Marx's explanations regarding over production and undder consumption as being inherent in a mode of production based on the competitive accumulation of capital via the extraction of surplus value,nor does he examine Marx's main arguments about the capitalist mode of production holding back the development of the productive forces of mankind.
Osborne relates Marx's concept of socially necessary labour time to the existential time of the worker and this to Marx's ideas about exploitation.This is an interesting avenue but Osborne doesn't provide enough detail on this idea.
Osborne requires the reader to have some background knowledge of Marx's works and much of this book is a commentary on these works.Unfortunately commentary and explanation are not the same.In the end if you have some background reading knowledge of Marx, Osborne's show of intellectual elegance,complexity and subtleness isn't going to add very much to it.Although I'm against burning books I often think that some books should have been flung back in the face of their authors;and this is one of them.
Osborne's Marx conjurs up the image of the erudite philisophical theoretician that members of the academic world often aspire to.I believe that Marx,whilst erudite and immersed in a background of European philosophy,would find ths image of him incomplete and distorted.Marx wrote and rewrote capital many times to make it as comprehensible to workers as he possibly could.He did this because he wanted his main life's work to be read by workers and not to be kept mainly within the exclusive domain of academia.
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How To Read Marx
How To Read Marx by Peter Osborne
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