Karl Marx, Capital: Summary, Key Idea, Reader Reviews

The summary of Marx’s “Capital” is important for anyone who studies economics and political history. This is the main work of a German scientist, which contains a critical assessment of capitalism. The work was written in 1867, it used the dialectical-materialistic approach, including to important social historical processes. This article will present the main ideas presented in this work, as well as reader reviews.

History of creation

Book Capital

The summary of Marx’s “Capital” will be interesting to everyone who studies Russian history. After all, it was on this work that the policy of the Bolsheviks, who built communism in the country for most of the 20th century, was built.

The first volume of this work, entitled The Process of Capital Production, was released in 1867. The circulation was relatively large for those times - about one thousand copies. In fact, it was a continuation of the work "To criticize the political economy", which was published eight years earlier.

Already after the death of Karl Marx, his comrade-in-arms Friedrich Engels collected the following two volumes from draft and finished fragments. In 1885, the Process of Circulation of Capital was published, and in 1894, the Process of Capitalist Production, taken as a whole.

Only death in 1895 prevented him from preparing for publication the final fourth volume, which was to be called Theories of Surplus Value. As a result, it was released only by 1910 by Karl Kautsky.

At first, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin tried to translate the book into Russian. However, he was not able to overcome a large number of complex economic terms. The next attempt was made by a member of the First International German Lopatin, but was forced to interrupt his work by taking part in an unsuccessful action to release Chernyshevsky from prison. Narodnik and publicist Nikolai Danielson finished the work they began. The book first saw the light of day in Russian in 1872. Its circulation amounted to three thousand copies.

a brief description of

Karl Marx

Before you find out the summary of Marx’s “Capital” by volume, we note that this is a work that describes the economic foundations of the life of capitalist society. The author reveals in detail the key laws and concepts by which it exists. The work originally consisted of three volumes, in each of which as much as possible one theme was revealed - the essence of capital, the features of its formation and its role in public life and the economy. A summary of the chapters of "Capital" by Karl Marx gives the most detailed and comprehensive picture of this work.

Marx’s work is based on a principle based on the concept of surplus value and commodity, the concept of the subsequent circulation of accumulated money. It also touches on the division of acquired surplus value between the working class and capitalists, the relationship between classes. Marx noted that the conflict existing in society was the result of injustice in this distribution. As a result, it becomes one of the main factors provoking progress.

What is the work about?

Karl Marx Capital

A brief summary of the chapters of the "Capital" of Marx will allow you to quickly recall the main provisions of this work before an exam or a test. The author begins by considering capitalist society as a mass of goods, each of which has its own consumer value. This price is set by the owner. In addition, we can talk about the exchange value determined by the market in which this product is traded. This type of value is based on the costs used to produce the goods.

The summary of Karl Marx’s Capital book allows you to get acquainted with the main ideas presented by the author in a short time. In an economic treatise, he notes that each product has a specific owner, which must necessarily be recognized by other owners as its owner. Proof that the product is a product can be obtained in the process of its exchange. At the same time, a monetary equivalent is assigned to each.

Goods - money - goods

Ultimately, the formula looks like this. In fact, this means that the value of the goods sold is comparable to the value of the purchased, provided that the exchange will take place on equal terms.

However, the existing equivalence does not at all mean a balance between sale and purchase, but only means that the price that was assigned to one of the goods is correlated with the other goods at exchange value. In this situation, money plays the role of a kind of intermediary.

Worker role in this process

Summary of Capital

In telling a brief summary of Marx’s “Capital”, special attention should be paid to the concept of labor, which is also a commodity inherently with a certain value. The owner of a certain product hires workers for its production, including the payment of their labor at the exchange value of the product itself. As a result, surplus value is added up due to the difference between the value of the declared labor force and the proceeds from the exchange of goods.

In this situation, we need to talk about the product of underpaid labor among workers. In this situation, the owner, receiving specific money, reduces the cost of labor as much as possible in order to appropriate the difference specifically to himself. This causes a situation in which there are obvious signs of exploitation of the working class. Marx comes to such conclusions on the basis that the owner buys labor at a cost that, as a result, turns out to be significantly lower than the value of the product itself. Thus, the surplus value obtained by him is used to increase production capacities or to hire new labor.

What is capital?

Summary of Capital

Marx pays considerable attention to this issue in his work. In the summary of "Capital" it is also necessary to carefully disassemble it. According to the German economist, capital is money that brings surplus value. Moreover, the turnover of capital over time has a direct impact on the creation of surplus value.

As a cycle, the circuit includes production that goes into commodity form and the sale of specific products, and then it transforms into a specific monetary form. This is the basis of the existing idea of ​​industrial capital, which circulates on the exchange market of goods. A capital turnover that has been going on for at least one year brings a significant increase in surplus value, especially if we draw analogies with a one-time exchange transaction.

Surplus value

On the basis of this concept, not only profit is formed, but also interest and rent. As a result, due to the existence of underpaid labor, the owner of the goods makes certain payments. Its ultimate goal is to reduce labor costs so that enrichment is maximized. In such a situation, it should be borne in mind that the minimum wage level for workers provokes a decrease in their standard of living. Because of this, a decrease in demand for this product is formed.

In this situation, the worker is not able to purchase the specific product being created. This factor leads to a crisis that affects the economic conditions of society as a whole, since a decrease in demand for a particular product leads to a cessation of production of goods when demand for it is too low. If there is an increase in surplus value, then this also limits the demand for a particular product, leads to a decrease in final profit and a reduction in labor.

Speculation and mediation

Criticism of Marx

It is these two concepts that come to the fore in this situation. The summary of Marx’s Capital introduces you to the conclusions drawn by the scientist. The German economist concludes that credit is becoming the main tool under these conditions. The interest on loans is paid on the basis of surplus value. In such circumstances, the opposite situation is likely, in which price reduction and overflowing markets begin. This greatly complicates the process of exchanging goods, as well as the return of the amounts thus borrowed. It ends with monetary crises and bankruptcy.

As a result, a conflict occurs between workers and specific owners. The owner seeks to get the maximum benefit, and the worker seeks a salary that will be as high as possible or at least equivalent to the contribution he has made. Moreover, he has official claims on the goods produced by him as an object of his labor.

The basis for the revolution

This debate is relevant almost always, and at some points in the development of society leads to the brewing of a revolutionary situation. As a result of such a revolution, the working class can achieve an increase in the value of its own strength. Marx emphasized that such a conflict is considered the engine of socio-economic relations throughout the world. The author believed that, ideally, he should lead to changes in the state system, which would benefit the whole society. This was Marx's theory of capital.

Some emphasize that the work of the German economist is relevant today, as it remains a universal textbook for economists. It details the principles of capital turnover and its formation.

Negative ratings

Capital Book Reviews

Modern experts ambiguously evaluate the work of the German economist. Marx’s critics of Capital note that he’s practically unable to convince anyone of his justice. Immediately after the release of the third volume, the author was criticized that the ideas expressed in it diverged from thoughts that can be found in the very first volume.

In modern society, the skepticism of "Capital" intensified after the ideas set forth in it did not lead to the construction of a workable economy in the USSR.


In reviews of Marx's Capital, modern readers most often criticize the work of the German economist and philosopher. In his reasonings and statements, a large number of errors and inaccuracies are discovered.

Moreover, they have to admit that for many countries, including ours, Capital has become the defining work in building statehood. The ideas expressed in it became the main one for the ideological struggle, which in many respects shaped the world in which we all exist today.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/A11486/

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