Yesterday Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell hit the headlines after being asked by Andrew Marr whether he was a Marxist. Given the non-revolutionary and reformist nature of the Labour Party, and indeed its leadership, the question seemed somewhat daft, but was clearly another smear attempt from the establishment.
However, regardless of McDonnell’s own personal political conviction, during the interview he raised the importance of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (or Capital as we know it). Even the BBC wrote a relatively ‘balanced’ article about it:
Written in the middle of the 19th Century by German philosopher and economist Karl Marx, Das Kapital is essentially an explanation of how the capitalist system will destroy itself.
Marx had already set out his ideas on class struggle – how the workers of the world would seize power from the ruling elites – in the Communist Manifesto and other writings.
Das Kapital is an attempt to give these ideas a grounding in verifiable fact and scientific analysis.
It is not an easy read. The product of 30 years of work, and Marx’s study of the condition of workers in English factories at the height of the industrial revolution, it is part history, part economics and part sociology.
Here at Marxist World we agree the task of reading Capital can seem quite daunting, but we also believe it is necessary in order to better conceptualise and understand the otherwise quite complex capitalist world we live in. It is not simply an ancient text that is no longer relevant. Quite the contrary. It is an essential building block for all thinking revolutionaries inside and outside the Labour Party, and we believe it deserves to be treated seriously.
That’s why we have produced our own abridged edition of Capital and more recently a study guide to support individuals or groups getting to grips with it. You can buy these in our shop and we post worldwide. We also have a limited special offer where you can buy both our abridged Capital and study guide for a reduced price!
In addition, we also run a regular Capital reading group in London which is open to the public. If you’d like more information on Marx’s Capital or would like Marxist World to support a Capital reading group near you, please get in touch!