The booksellers all over the world report the recent increase of sellings of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital/Capital. Apparently it is the young people who are looking for that treatise on political economy – trying to understand the current economical crisis.
So what is there is that 2000 page work, which is being second widely spread book after the Bible?
Though Marx is very concerned with the social aspects of commerce, his book is not an ethical treatise, but an attempt to explain the objective “laws of motion” of the capitalist system as a whole, its origins and future. He aims to reveal the causes and dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, competition, the banking and credit system, the tendency of the rate of profit to decline, land-rents and many other things.
Marx believed the political economists could study the scientific laws of capitalism in an “objective” way, because the expansion of markets had in reality objectified most economic relations: the cash nexus stripped away all previous religious and political illusions (only to replace them, however, with another kind of illusion—commodity fetishism). Marx also says that he viewed “the economic formation of society as a process of natural history”. The growth of commerce happened as a process which no individuals could control or direct, creating an enormously complex web of social interconnections globally. Thus a “society” was formed “economically” before people actually began to consciously master the enormous productive capacity and interconnections they had created, in order to put it collectively to the best use.
In fact, Marx was one of the first sociologists and the first one to calssify the human history into peasantry, feudalism and capitalism. The Russian October Revolution in 1917 was only one of the outcomes of Marx’s work. I find it fascinating how Marx could explain and predict so clearly the nature of capitalism:
The capitalism is capable of tremendous growth because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies and capital equipment. Marx considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly improved the means of production. But Marx argued that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor. Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors of the economy would collapse. Marx thought that during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.
Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the enrichment and empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the proletariat. He believed that were the proletariat to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, and a system of production less vulnerable to periodic crises.
The only thing where I disagree with Marx, is in his thought that peaceful negotiation of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive well-organized violent revolution would be required, because the ruling class would not give up power without struggle. I personally believe that at the certain point of human evolution people will naturally realise the necessity of the higher form of its development like socialism or communism (or what ever you may call that new form). I strongly believe that the human race is very much capable of regeneration and wise development, because evolving is the basic of its nature.