The purpose of this course is to enable participants to develop a firm grip on the most important explanations of the economic system in which we live, its history, and its characteristic features. Defining “capitalism” can be a complicated and contentious enterprise. But it is not impossible. Influential thinkers of every persuasion have offered incisive accounts of it since the 19th century. And familiarity with their views is very helpful for understanding the world and effective political action in it.

All readings will be made available. All are welcome to attend. The only requirement is that every participant prepare and engage in earnest and open-minded discussion and debate. Participants who would simply like to attend and listen but cannot always finish all of the reading etc. are nevertheless more than welcome.

If you are interested in participating, please register online HERE and you will be notified when this course will begin. All readings listed will be discussed. (It is recommended to have a Google account to register. Please be sure to be logged in to your Google account before clicking on the link above, and choose “Request to join group”.)


1. Historical Introduction

  • Jürgen Kocka, Capitalism: A Short History
  • James Fulcher, Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction
  • Ellen Meiksins Wood, “Capitalism” (in Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics)

2. Karl Marx — Part I

3. Karl Marx — Part II

  • Capital, volume I [“Simple Reproduction”, chapter 23]
  • Capital, volume III [“The Trinity Formula”, chapter 48]
  • Capital, volume III [“Development of the Law’s Internal Contradictions”]

4. Thorstein Veblen — Part I

  • The Theory of Business Enterprise

5. Thorstein Veblen — Part II

  • Absentee Ownership [Excerpts]

6. John Maynard Keynes — Part I

  • “The Monetary Theory of Employment” [Excerpt]
  • “A Monetary Theory of Production”
  • “The Means to Prosperity”
  • “Can America Spend its Way to Recovery?”

7. John Maynard Keynes — Part II

  • “Poverty in Plenty”
  • “An Economic Analysis of Unemployment”
  • The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money [Excerpts, in: The Essential Keynes]

8. Joseph Schumpeter — Part I

  • “Capitalism” [Encyclopedia Britannica Article]
  • “Real Analysis and Monetary Analysis” [In: A History of Economic Analysis]
  • The Theory of Economic Development [“Credit and Capital”, chapter 3; “Entrepreneurial Profit”, chapter 4]

9. Joseph Schumpeter — Part II

  • Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy [“Part II: Can Capitalism Survive?”]

10.  Paul Baran & Paul Sweezy

  • Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic Order

11. Michael Hudson

  • “Finance Capitalism versus Industrial Capitalism- The Rentier Resurgence and Takeover”
  • “The Road to Debt Deflation, Debt Peonage, and Neofeudalism”
  • “From Marx to Goldman Sachs: The Fictions of Fictitious Capital and the Financialization of Industry”

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