Archive for April, 2010

Capital 1. Part 8: So-Called Primitive Accumulation

Part 8: ‘So-Called Primitive Accumulation’

This part is generally very historical in nature(except for the final section on the ‘Modern Theory of Colonisation’); continuing nicely on from the later part of the preceding chapter. Marx highlights the savagery involved in creating the necessary conditions for capitalism; in which the state played a significant role. It is interesting to note that the title ‘so-called primitive accumulation’, rather than just primitive accumulation, is a jibe at Adam Smith; who used the concept without a materialist historical analysis. Continue reading ‘Capital 1. Part 8: So-Called Primitive Accumulation’


Capital I. Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

In this chapter Marx introduces the key notion of the composition of capital. This again is a form of the dual character of labour within capitalism: the composition of a capital is both material and social. The material composition of a capital is its technical composition. The social composition of a capital is its value composition. Any capital is always both. Marx calls the value reflection of capital’s the technical composition its organic composition. Continue reading ‘Capital I. Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’

Part 7: Chap 24: Parts 3,4 & 5

Part 3: Division of surplus-value into capital revenue. The abstinence theory.

This part of the chapter explores capital’s voracious need to expand, to reproduce itself on an ever-increasing scale. Marx passes from references to Judeo-Christian writing on usury, to the works of key classical economists: Ricardo, Malthus and Senior, focusing on the roles they saw capitalists playing in determining the function of surplus-value (either in capital or revenue).

“One part of the surplus value is consumed by the capitalist as revenue, the other part is employed as capital, i.e. it is accumulated” (738). In this part, Marx establishes these two aspects as part of the same process. Continue reading ‘Part 7: Chap 24: Parts 3,4 & 5’

Part 5, chapters 17 and 18

Chapters 17 & 18 :

17 Changes of Magnitude in the  Price of Labour-Power and in Surplus Value

As has already been demonstrated in previous chapters of Capital, there are three circumstances that determine the relative magnitudes of the price of labour-power and of surplus-value. These are: “(1) the length of the working day, or the extensive magnitude of labour, (2) the normal intensity of labour, or its intensive magnitude, whereby a given quantity of labour is expended in a given time, and (3) the productivity of labour, whereby the same quantity of labour yields, in a given time, a greater or smaller quantity of the product, depending on the degree of development attained by the conditions of production” (p655). Proceeding from the assumptions that commodities are sold at their value, and that the price of labour-power occasionally rises above its value, but never sinks below it, Marx outlines the most prominent combinations of the above conditions and their effect upon the magnitudes of the price of labour-power and surplus-value. Continue reading ‘Part 5, chapters 17 and 18’

Capital 1, Part 5: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus Value. Chapters: 16, 17 & 18

In Part 5 Marx articulates in greater detail the characteristics of productive labour under capitalism, developing further the relationships between productive labour, the production of absolute and relative surplus value, and the conditions of formal and real subsumption. The general understanding of the labour process articulated earlier in the book here gives way to the more detailed analysis of the conditions of the capitalist process of production. Continue reading ‘Capital 1, Part 5: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus Value. Chapters: 16, 17 & 18’

Reading Capital in Sydney records reading notes on Marx's Capital I, II and III, and other bits and pieces.

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