Karl Marx's Capital, abridged by Otto Ruhle


A critique of political economy

By Karl Marx

An abridgement by Otto Ruhle


The class struggle on the field of ideas conditions the class struggle as a whole. Bourgeois ideas help the bourgeoisie keep control of the working class. For example: the idea that capitalism is permanent, normal, in accord with basic human nature, works against consideration of possible or desirable alternative ways of organising our social and economic life. The idea that there can be such a thing as "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work" makes the employer-worker relationship seem to be at root a just one. The idea that socialism is an unrealisable ideal, impractical and utopian, works on people's minds in favour of making the best of capitalism.

In Capital Karl Marx subjected capitalism to rigorous scientific analysis and cut the ground from under the key ideas on which the vast and labyrinthe edifices of bourgeois self-justification and self-exoneration have been erected. He showed how capitalism works; how its organic processes work towards more and more centralisation and socialisation of the capitalist economy; how these organic processes build the prerequisites of socialism and thus move capitalism, one of a number of socio-economic formations in history, on towards its natural end, the "expropriation of the expropriators" - the expropriation of the capitalists by the working class. Marx showed how exploitation occurs within the wage labour-capital relationship. Marx thus laid the scientific foundations of an all-round, conscious working class challenge to capitalism.

Capitalism has changed enormously since Marx published Volume 1 of Capital in 1867 - the fundamental processes of capitalism, which Karl Marx uncovered and anatomised, have not changed at all. Today, the labour movement needs to rearm itself politically and ideologically. We must go back to Marx - back to the fundamental critique of root-capitalism - if socialism is to renew itself in the post-Stalinist world. This abridgement of Volume 1 of Capital is by Otto Rühle, in collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The fundamentals of Marx's analysis are here presented in Marx's own words, stripped of outdated examples and contemporary polemics.


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Part 1: Commodities and Money

Chapter One: Commodities

Section 1: The two factors of a commodity: use value and value

Section 2: The two-fold character of the labour embodied in commodities

Section 3: The form of value or exchange value

Section 4: The fetishism of commodities and the secret thereof

Chapter Two: Exchange

Chapter Three: Money, or the Circulation of Commodities

Part 2: The Transformation of Money into Capital

Chapter Four: The General Formula for Capital

Part 3: The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value

Chapter Five: The Labour-Process and the Process Of Producing Surplus-Value

Chapter Six: Constant Capital and Variable Capital

Chapter Seven: The Rate of Surplus Value

Chapter Eight: The Working Day

Section 1: The limits of the working day

Section 2: Greed for surplus labour

Section 3: Centuries of struggle

Section 4: Child labour

Chapter Nine: Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value

Part 4: Production of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter Ten: The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter Eleven: Co-operation

Chapter Twelve: Division of Labour and Manufacture

Chapter Thirteen: Machinery and Modern Industry

Part 5: The Production of Absolute and of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter Fourteen: Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter Fifteen Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-Power and in Surplus-Value

Chapter Sixteen: Various Formulae for the Rate of Surplus-Value

Part 6: Wages

Chapter Seventeen: The Transformation of the Value (and respectively the Price) of Labour-Power into Wages

Chapter Eighteen: Time-Wages

Chapter Nineteen: Piece-Wages

Chapter Twenty: National Differences of Wages

Part 7: The Accumulation of Capital

Chapter Twenty-one: Simple Reproduction

Chapter Twenty-two: Conversion of Surplus-Value into Capital

Chapter Twenty-Three: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

Part 8: So-called Primitive Accumulation

Chapter Twenty-Four: The So-called Primitive Accumulation


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