Social Scientist. v 8, no. 87 (Oct 1979) p. 49.


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Two Theoretical Notes on Marx^s Capital

AS is well known, the first section of Capital (volume I) is basically a rewriting of Karl Marx's Critique of Political Economy, first published in 1859. Marx had long bsen intellectually involved in criticizing the bourgeois economic theorists both at polemical and theoretical levels. He, however, gave a more systematic theoretical basis to his earlier propositions and analyses of capitalism particularly after the failure of the revolution of 1848. As a result, he expanded his Critique of Political Economy and gave his earlier ideas and concepts a much more systematic and theoretical treatment which appeared in the form of Capital.

In Capital, Marx did not merely mean to criticize or correct certain inaccuracies or points of detail in an existing discipline, nor even to fill the gaps or blanks in pursuing further an already initiated movement of exploration. Rather, as the subtitle indicates, by a critique of political economy Marx meant to confront it with a new problematic and a new subject, that is, "to question-the very object of political economy." In doing so he came up with new concepts of value and use-value; abstract labour and concrete labour; and the surplus value. In short, Capital provided the theoretical framework to get at the roots of capitalism which was not discovered by any of the economists until Marx's time. In other words, he became the first theorist to show the real relationship between capital and labour, the logic of capitalist system of production and reproduction, and above all, analytically explain that labour advances value to the capitalist and not vice-versa, and in return the worker gets in wages a part of the (surplus) value that he creates.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, economists had tended to look at the capitalist system as given. They tried to construct models of capitalism, assuming private property, profit, and more or less a free market, and discussed the functioning of this model



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