Author’s Prefaces and Chapter 1 “Commodities”
February 19, 2018
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We start on our journey through Marx’s magnum opus “Capital,” where he seeks “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society.”
Our approach will be multi-leveled. In addition to being the greatest political theorist of the nineteenth century, Marx is also the greatest satirist since Swift. In his student years, Marx was infatuated with Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy” and its wildly digressive Style. Like “Tristram Shandy,” “Das Kapital” is full of paradoxes and hypotheses, abstruse explanations and whimsical tomfoolery, fractured narratives and curious oddities. Perhaps the perfect canvas for the logic of Capitalism?
So, in addition to reading this work as a masterpiece of political theory (er, I mean science), we will also find ourselves wondering “ïs this a Gothic novel? – Victorian drama? Greek Tragedy? Black farce?” And, as an added bonus, we will take occasional sidesteps with selections from Althusser’s “Reading Capital” to add a Structuralist lens to the mix.
For our first meeting, we will read and discuss the Author’s Prefaces and Chapter 1 “Commodities” (about 60pp). Our approach will be slow to assist our unpacking the multiple levels of this work of art.
“At first Marx critiqued religion philosophically, then he critiqued religion and philosophy politically, and at last he critiqued religion, philosophy, politics, and all other ideologies, economically.” – Karl Lowith