Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics)

Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics) - Karl Marx I have to admit I didn’t come to this work unbiased. My best childhood friend was a “red diaper baby” and her family struck me as much more fanatical than any Christian (or Muslim) Fundamentalist. I also got my fill of Marxist ideology from my college professors. But exactly because I do think this ideology has done tremendous harm is exactly the reason not to ignore Marx--hate him or admire him--his ideas have had a profound impact in the culture, history and politics of the last 150 years. But there’s another problem. Whatever I think of the ideas within it, “The Communist Manifesto” is a lively rip-roaring rabble rousing read (and short). Das Kapital on the other hand, is impenetrable, turgid, truly painful reading. And it’s no pamphlet. It’s long. Mind you, I don't mean that in and of itself is a refutation of Marx's claims. Human Action, the magnum opus of Ludwig Von Mises, the economist arguably most revered by free market advocates, is easily as impenetrable and painful to read. Sometimes it's just the case that some subjects (such as the Theory of Relativity) are inherently difficult and not to be understood without a lot of work. Even the book that recommended Das Kapital as an important work had this to say about it: The most important critique of capitalist society ever written--but enormously difficult. Marx’s categories, grounded in classical political economy and German philosophy, often prove elusive for the general reader. A reading of the work by Mandel [The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx] may be a more realistic way to approach Marx Ernest Mandel is “a leading French Marxist.” I chose instead a former Marxist and free market advocate, Thomas Sowell. His book Marxism is lucid and cogent. After giving it a read I tried Marx again. He’s in the public domain and it’s possible to find free English translations online as well as free ebooks for download of the first volume. I tried this one. And you know what? It doesn’t seem to matter from what source I get my Marxism--my professors, on the street, from Sowell or the real thing. It still strikes me as noxious crap. Really Marx? The value of a commodity is the labor put into it? Not supply and demand? So if it is more labor intensive to make a product it’s inherently more valuable? And the labor of managers, entrepreneurs, inventors and those who finance an enterprise doesn’t count? So a worker should make enough to buy back the product. So the wages are fine if you can buy back a paperclip if that’s what you make? But they’re unfair if you can’t buy the private jet or emerald necklace you’re helping to make? Really, life is too short to keep reading this to the end.