Marx’s Capital

Sundays beginning September 10 at 2pm ET

Register HERE

The purpose of this study group is to gain a relatively comprehensive overview of the Marxian account of modern social dynamics and relations. It is not uncommon among leftists to regard economic theory generally or Marx’s own economic theory specifically as though it were unnecessary, less important than historical-political issues, outdated, or too ‘reductive’. Marx is admittedly a ‘critic’ of capitalism and classical political economy. But he is also ultimately committed to the idea of explanation of social phenomena on the basis of political economy. And indeed, the distinction between radical-liberal or utopian-socialist views and Marxian or materialist-socialist views is drawn in relation to the role of political economy. Hence this group focuses on Marx’s economic theory with the hope of revising some ordinary assumptions on the left.

We will meet weekly to discuss readings of Marx’s texts. The aim is to understand his theory and the broader extent of its implications for contemporary purposes. In order to facilitate discussion, members will take turns adopting the responsibility of summarizing and presenting the core of the readings under consideration in a given week’s meeting. Register for the course HERE.

All readings will be provided as PDFs. Required and recommended (not-required) readings will be marked accordingly.


Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volumes I-III. New York: Penguin, 1990, 1991, 1992.

PDF LINKS: Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3

—–, Grundrisse. New York: Penguin, 1993.

—–, The Political Writings. New York: Verso, 2019.

—–, The Manuscript of 1961-3 [Theories of Surplus Value]. In: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volumes 30-4. New York: International Publishers, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992.

—–, Wage Labor and Capital & Value, Price and Profit. New York: International Publishers, 

Part One: Introduction and the General Concept of Capital

Session 1. Introduction (notes)

Session 2. The General Concept of Capital (notes)

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The General Formula for Capital” (chapter 4, 248-57)

Part Two: Industrial Capital and the Production of Surplus Value

Session 3. The Production of Surplus Value (notes)

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “Contradictions in the General Formula” (Chapter 5, 258-69)
  • Capital, Volume I, “ The Sale and Purchase of Labor Power” (Chapter 6, 270-80)

Session 4. Industrial Capital (notes)

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The Working day” (chapter 10, 340-4)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value” (chapter 12, 430-8)
  • Capital, Volume I,  “Co-Operation” (chapter 13, 439-54)
  • Capital, Volume I, “Machinery and Large-Scale Industry” (chapter 15, 567 & 575-588)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital” (chapter 24, part 1, 725-34)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital” (chapter 24, part 3, 738-746)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation” (chapter 25, Part 1, 762-72)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation” (chapter 25, Part 2, 772-81)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation”, “The surplus population”, “industrial reserve army of the unemployed”, “involuntary unemployment” (Keynes) (chapter 25, Part 3, 781-94 & part 4, 798-99)
  • Capital, Volume II, “The Circuit of Productive Capital” (chapter 2, 144-66)

Part Three: Commercial Capital, Realization of Surplus Value, Unproductive Labor

Session 5. Commercial or Merchants’ Capital (notes)

  • Marx, Capital, Volume III, “Commercial Capital” (chapter 16, 379-93)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Commercial Profit” (chapter 17, 394-416)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Historical Material on Merchant’s Capital” (chapter 20, 440-458) 
  • Capital, Volume II, “The Circuit of Commodity Capital” (chapter 3, 167-79)

Session 6. Productive and Unproductive Labor (Notes)

Part Four: Finance Capital

Session 7. Part I

  • Capital, Volume III, “Money-Dealing Capital” (chapter 19, 431-9)
  • Marx,Capital, Volume III,“Interest-Bearing Capital” (Chapter 21, 459-79)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Division of Profit. Rate of Interest. ‘Natural’ Rate of Interest” (Chapter 22, 480-92)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Interest and Profit of Enterprise” (chapter 23, 493-514)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Interest-Bearing Capital as the Most Superficial Form of the Capital Relation” (chapter 24, 515-524)

Session 8. Part II (Notes)

  • Capital, Volume III, “The Role of Credit in Capitalist Production” (chapter 27, 566-73)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Money Capital and Real Capital I” (chapter 30, 607-25)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Money Capital and Real Capital II” (chapter 31, 626-636)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Money Capital and Real Capital III” (chapter 32, 636-52; cf. 590, 597)
  • [Optional] Thomas Marois, “Finance, finance capital and financialization” (The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics. Edward Elgar: Northampton, MA, 2012)

Part Five: Landlords, Ground Rent, and Rentiers

Session 9. Part I (Notes)

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The Commodity” (chapter 1, 170)
  • “Value Price and Profit” (IX, 43; XI, 45-8)
  • “Wage Labor and Capital” (II, 19-20)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Rate of Surplus Value” (325)
  • Capital, Volume III, “The genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent” (chapter 47, 927-8)
  • Capital, Volume III, “The Transformation of Surplus Value into Ground-Rent” (chapter 37, 751-78)

Session 10. Part II (Notes)

Part Six: Reproduction, Capital as a Totality, and Fetishism

Session 11. Reproduction

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “Simple Reproduction” (chapter 23, 711-24)
  • Capital, Volume II, “Simple Reproduction” (chapter 20, 468-97)
  • Capital, Volume II, “Accumulation and Reproduction on an Expanded Scale” (chapter 21, 565-8)
  • [Optional] Capital, Volume II, “Simple Reproduction” (chapter 20, 498-564)
  • [Optional] Capital, Volume II,  “Accumulation and Reproduction on an Expanded Scale” (chapter 21, 568-599)
  • [Optional] Michal Kalecki, “The Marxian Equations of Reproduction and Modern Economics” (Social Science Information, 7(6), 73–79)

Session 12. Capital as a Totality and Fetishism

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof” (chapter 1, 163-176)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Classes” (chapter 52, 1025-6) 
  • Capital, Volume III, “The Trinity Formula” (chapter 48, 953-70)
  • Capital, Volume III, “Relations of Distribution and Relations of Production” (chapter 51, 1017-1024)
  • “Value, Price and Profit” (chapter XI, 45-6)
  • Theories of Surplus-Value, “Revenue and Its Sources” (MECW 32, 449-541)
  • Grundrisse, “Introduction” (parts 1 and 2, 83-100)
  • [Optional] Capital, Volume II, “The Three Figures of the Circuit” (chapter 4, 180-99)

Part Seven: Realization Crises and Money Crises

Session 13. Part I

  • + Cliff Bowman“Marx’s Theory of Economic Crises”
  • Marx, Capital, Volume III, “Development of the Law’s Internal Contradictions” (chapter 15, 349-75) 
  • Capital, Volume III, “Money Capital and Real Capital I” (chapter 30, 607-25)
  • Capital, Volume II (chapter 16, 391)
  • Theories of Surplus Value (MECW 31, 179-80)
  • Capital, Volume III(chapters 13-14, 317-348)

Session 14. Part II

Part Eight: So-Called Primitive Accumulation and Political Applications

Session 15. Primitive Accumulation

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The Secret of Primitive Accumulation” (Ch. 26, 873-7)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land” (Ch. 27, 877-895)
  • Capital, Volume I, “Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated…” (Ch. 28, 896-904)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer” (Ch. 29, 905-907)
  • Capital, Volume I, “Impact of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry…” (Ch. 30, 908-13)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist” (Ch. 31, 914-926)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation” (Ch. 32, 927-30)
  • Capital, Volume I, “The Modern Theory of Colonization” (Ch. 33, 931-40)
  • Capital, Volume IIII, “Pre-Capitalist Relations” (chapter 36, 728-48)

Session 16. The Commodity

  • Marx, Capital, Volume I, “The Commodity” (Ch. 1, 125-77)

Session 17. 


Extra / Optional / Recommended / Useful Literature:

Ben Fine & Alfredo Saad-Filho, Marx’s Capital, 5th Edition. New York: Pluto Press, 2010.

David Harvey, A Companion to Marx’s Capital: The Complete Edition. New York: Verso, 2018.

—–, The Limits to Capital. New York: Verso, 2018. 

Michael Heinrich, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital. New York: 

Monthly Review Press, 2012.

Mariana Mazzucato, The Value of Everything. New York: Public Affairs, 2018, chapter 1.

Ellen Meiskins-Wood, “Capitalism”. In: The Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics. Edward

Elgar: Northampton, MA, 2012.

Karl Marx. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. New York: International 

Publishers, 1970.

Fred Moseley, Money and Totality, “Introduction” and chapter 1 (Boston: Brill, 2016)

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