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The Marxist bible: In his economic masterwork, Karl Marx details capital accumulation and the exploitation of the proletariat.

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  • Innovative


Karl Marx’s technical masterpiece painstakingly, and often dramatically, roots out the causes of social and economic inequality. Unlike The Communist Manifesto, which he wrote with Friedrich Engels, this classic text is not a call to revolution but rather a comprehensive and systematic analysis and “critique of political economy,” according to its original subtitle. Marx spent 15 years working on just the first volume of his complex masterwork. In it he details the “surplus value” that workers create for those who own the “means of production,” and how exploitative capitalists sell their goods not to purchase other goods, but to increase their own wealth. “Money making money,” or the capital accumulation process, lies at the heart of Marx’s critique of capitalism. getAbstract recommends his seminal work to those who wish to understand the origins of this important, disruptive work of political and economic philosophy.


Goods and Their Value

Goods form the basis of wealth in capitalist societies. Goods are commodities that satisfy human needs, either directly – such as the food that nourishes you or the clothing that keeps you warm – or indirectly, such as the machinery and materials that produce the food or clothing. Each type of good carries two kinds of value:

  1. “Use value” – This measures a product’s utility. Use value is an inherent part of the individual item and cannot be separated from it. The use value is independent of the amount of work that went into making the commodity. For example, a buyer purchasing a ton of steel doesn’t care how much effort went into producing the metal.
  2. “Exchange value” – This shows the value ratio between two particular products. For example, a specific quantity of wheat can be exchanged for a precise amount of silk. The exchange value of an item incorporates the amount of work that went into creating that item.

All products possess a common factor: the labor necessary for their creation. Labor attaches value to an item and also derives its value from that item. The work and time necessary...

About the Author

Karl Marx, born in Trier, Germany, in 1818, studied law, philosophy and history, and worked as an editor for a liberal newspaper. Censored for his views, he moved to France and met the son of a factory owner, Friedrich Engels, with whom he wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1847. In 1849, Marx went into exile to London, where he began an intensive study that resulted in his masterpiece of political economics, Capital. The first volume was published in 1867; the second and third volumes were published after he died in England in 1883.

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