"Das Kapital" Explains And Analyzes Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" Reccomends Book To Future Students Of My Economics Class

1173 words - 5 pages

Capital or "Das Kapital", in it's original German form, continues to be one of the most important contributions to economics in history. Although Karl Marx wrote it in 1867, it is still just as relevant in our present time as it was 185 years ago. Too often Marx's writings are quickly discarded as simple communist propaganda and ignored by today's mainstream intellectual society. Capital is nothing of the sort. It is in fact an in depth description of the capitalist system and the way it works. Marx thoroughly explains the basic fundamentals of capitalism and uses these ideas to critique it. He points out the system's faults and explains why they exist. Karl Marx is one of the most controversial historical figures ever but whether you are "for" or "against" his radical ideas, this book can be of significant value to you.Capital begins with the basics, the foundation that the capitalist system is built upon. In Part I Marx describes commodities, exchange, and the circulation of money and commodities. A commodity is essentially something that is bought or sold. This includes everything from corn to a worker's labor, which is sold to his employer in exchange for wages. It is explained that every commodity has an equal value, which can be matched with any other commodity. For example, 20 yards of linen is equal to a single coat or 2 tons of iron is equal to 4 ounces of gold. The value of a commodity is determined by three factors; use-value, exchange value, and labor power. Labor power is the skill and time a worker uses to produce a commodity. Labor manifests itself in whatever is produced. The use value is simply what the commodity is worth to the people it is being sold to. For example, the single coat is far more useful than a single yard of linen, which is why the coat must be matched with 20 yards of linen. Exchange value is the value of a commodity in the market, which is determined by such things as scarcity. For instance, gold is scarce and therefore a rather valuable commodity. Marx then describes money. Money is in itself a universal commodity that has been used to represent the value of all commodities. A silver coin may be printed to represent a set value. But the worth of the actual metal itself is constantly changing as a commodity would. There is an enormous difference in how money and commodities are used by the capitalist and the proletarian. The proletarian sells his labor for money so that he can purchase commodities such as food and shelter in order to maintain his way of life. This social class does not purchase commodities as a means of making more money as the capitalist does. Therefore the proletarian's only means of financial advancement is to set aside some of his wages and save money but most workers can only set aside so much as to provide for emergency situations. The capitalist purchases labor (a commodity) with money to produce another commodity, which he can sell for more money.At this point in Capital Karl Marx...

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