Marx’s “Capital:” Class 8 (The general law of capitalist accumulation)

Aug 25, 2020

Class description: Looking at chapter 25, where Marx synthesizes the previous sections of the book to articulate the general laws (or tendencies) of capitalist accumulation, this class looks at the different “compositions of capital,” how and why they change under different scenarios, and what this means for capitalists and workers. We look particularly at how these effect wages and the overall lives of workers as well as how capital produces a surplus laboring population (or an industrial reserve army). Regarding this last element, we pay attention to how the industrial reserve army–including the “dangerous classes”–are members of the working class with potential for resistance. We also address why the state changes the way it calculates unemployment and how this shows up today.

Reading guide for the next class (Class 9: Chapters 26-33): .doc .pdf

Reading guide for the this class (Class 8: Chapter 25): .doc .pdf

Course description: The U.S. economy is experiencing an intense economic crash. Despite what mainstream pundits say, the crash isn’t just the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this course, we’ll get at some of the root causes of the crisis by collectively studying the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Originally published in 1867, the book remains a key resource for understanding the ins and outs of capitalism. Marx wrote the book to provide a theoretical weapon for the working class and oppressed. While the book is long and some parts are quite complicated, it’s one every worker can understand through careful reading and collective discussion.

While there are valuable resources for helping work through the text, most of them are from academics who aren’t thinking about the day-to-day concerns of organizers in the struggle. So we wanted to do this collective reading from our perspective, the perspective of those committed to advancing the worldwide struggle for socialism and liberation.

Taught by educational theorist, PSL member, and Liberation School editor Derek Ford, classes are published every Tuesday. To assist you in reading, we’ll provide reading guides for each week, which we encourage you to fill out to the best of your ability.

The book is available online for free here. This is the International Publishers version, which is the original English translation of the book. The other main version is from Penguin. Either version is acceptable. The class will generally include page numbers from the online PDF, the International Publishers, and the Penguin editions.

Return to course homepage here.