As a summer project for myself I have started reading Karl Marx’s Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume One. I picked up the Penguin Classics edition translated by Ben Fowkes. I’ve long been intimidated by the thick text and the reputation of being an incredibly complex read, but since leaving the throes of liberalism these past couple of years and finding clarity in Marxist ideologies I’ve also felt a responsibility to read and understand the book. Recently, I was lucky enough to see David Harvey speak at a leftist forum and during one of the panels he mentioned of his book A Companion To Marx’s Capital and I knew that this could be my opportunity finally conquer Marx’s magnum opus.
So far I’m still finding my way through chapter one, and given Professor Harvey’s description it is no easy task, but I’m having a much easier time of it than I thought I would. This has me thinking that most people see the size of the book and the inability to scan, rather than read, its pages and thus assign it such a level of difficulty.
However, it’s already helping me better understand myself and where I fall in the social divisions of labor. As a web-developer by trade, I had a hard time understanding where my work fit in on this grand scheme, but the opening pages of Capital illuminated the ideas of the commodity and the use-value, exchange-value, and value that composes it. This idea, coupled with Hardt and Negri’s description of immaterial production in Multitude has really been something of a “eureka” moment for me.
If you haven’t already read Capital or want to better understand it, I thoroughly recommend Professor Harvey’s book. Though I predict that what would have taken a long time to read is now lengthened by reading Harvey’s book simultaneously, I sure don’t mind so far.