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How To Read Marx Kindle Edition
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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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For my money, the best introduction to Marx will always be the Communist Manifesto, but looking at my own notes from high school, it is clear that, unless you are willing to read hundreds of pages of Marx thereafter, and return repeatedly TO the Manifesto, there probably should be an "introduction to the introduction."
The difficulties in reading Marx on on several levels: 1) those adopted from the Hegelian line of German Idealism, 2) extremely complicated and foreign-seeming economic analysis, and 3) the integration of these within a PRAXIS and also an -ism, a tradition which would be variously elaborated by later "Marxists."
Now, after the Communist Manifesto, the best place to see this at work is in Engels' "Socialism Utopian and Scientific" and Rosa Luxemburg's "Reform or Revolution." What is important in all these works is their COMMUNIST orientation--they are not merely "theoretical" introductions.
So, those recommendations aside, this introduction is superior to many on the market because of its close analysis of the Marxist TEXT. There are ten close-readings of passages from Marx's career, which solves many of the problems for the reader approaching Marx: preconceptions and the inherent difficulties of the work. Preconceptions are rendered false problems by diving straight into questions that have NO relation to bogus bourgeois ideas of, say, the Soviet Union's collapse. And the difficult passages and concepts are excellently illuminated by Peter Osborne.
Marx is his own best introduction, but since he is ALSO the most misread author in history (after Nietzsche), perhaps The Communist Manifesto should be supplemented by this superb book. I also suggest the entries in this series for Lacan and Sartre.