The Marx Thread

A lot of people expressed interest in my Capital book club idea, so I’m making a thread to get the ball rolling. These first few posts will mainly be about logistics. As we settle on details I’ll update this first post to keep everything organized. I’m also imagining that I’ll put a regularly updated table of contents of some sort here once the discussions start to make it easier to navigate.

In case you’re reading this immediately after I start the thread, I’m going to make a second post to actually begin with the logistical questions in order to keep this organized.

I think we already settled two points in the Mortal Enemy of Videogames thread: Our recommended English translation will be the Fowkes one, and we’ll start out with Wage Labour and Capital and Value, Price and Profit.

So the two main questions now are: (1) when should we start? and, (2) what pace should we read at?

My personal thoughts are

(1) we could start reading Wage Labour and Value, Price and Profit immediately, posting our discussions and notes as we feel like it, and aim to have the first segment of Capital (the length of each segment TBD) read and ready for discussion by two weeks from now (so the weekend of June 11 - 13). The idea would be to give those ready to start immediately something to talk about with those two essays, while giving other people who need some time two weeks so that they don’t get left behind.

(2) From what I understand, the early parts of Capital are some of the most difficult, so we might want to begin with a slower pace and speed things up if we later on feel that we’re going too slow. So how does 75 - 100 pages a week (using the Penguin edition’s paging) sound to start off with?

Let me know what your thoughts are! This is my first time organizing a book club myself, so tell me if I’m doing this all wrong. I might bring up a few more questions later tonight (right now I’m typing this as quickly as I can on my phone during my lunch break.)

Excited to read this with you all!

lol when i open Value, Price and Profit on my browser helpfully suggests that i open it in Tor

I would love an excuse to do this, so count me in. I was thinking of picking up a dusty copy for myself but I'll use your translation suggestion instead.

thanks for organizing this saddleblasters

75-100 pages/week may be a bit too intensive. Can we target part/chapters instead? I haven't looked too closely at the text to see if that's more feasible.

Good idea to check the text. My initial reaction to that number of pages is to repeat Gaagaagiins's quote in the other thread about a willing spirit and weak flesh.

@yeso#31792 When I get home I’ll look at the actual book and come up with a (hopefully) better breakdown. Or someone who has access to the book right now can propose something in the meantime if they want.

you gotta factor in not only the time it will take people to read the section but also the amount of info to discuss contained in each section. if we're reading large chunks every week the discussion will become less focussed and perhaps things will be missed that might have prompted interesting discussions otherwise

I‘m not gonna have the mental bandwidth to participate, but I can recommend a few resources for those who can. First, if for whatever reason you can’t get your hands on the recommended translation, there‘s always this one freely available on This translation was also reviewed by Engels, making it effectively the canonical English translation. And if you’re looking for a reading guide to help contextualize Marx's writing, David Harvey has his lectures on Marx up on his site free to watch.

@wickedcestus#31796 Yeah, you’re completely right. And besides that we’ll likely be reminded of what we’ve just read on an almost daily basis by people’s comments on here, so there’s less of the danger of forgetting things and getting lost that sometimes comes with a slower reading pace.

how long did you think it would be until He showed up?

just thinking through this … if we‘re proceeding through the book topic by topic it would make sense to follow a syllabus from a professor who knows the text well and has already organized the book that way. but if you look at Harvey's for example he’ll sometimes collapse two or three chapters into a single class, which is way too much reading for one period.

another option would be to just do it in chunks of pages, as saddleblasters suggested. since the book is about a thousand pages, doing 40 or so pages a week or so would get us through in about six months, or about half the pace of a college class. feels like the right pace to me. the downside is some of those page breaks are going to fall square in the middle of critical sections and we'd probably want to adjust for that. also even 40 pages is a lot of reading because the letters are very small

so pros and cons to each

@tapevulture#31808 I suppose an intermediate option might be to follow a syllabus (like Harvey’s, but I might investigate a few other publicly available ones) but give double time for each group of chapters. E.g. give two weeks for what is apportioned to each class in Harvey’s syllabus. Though larger readings over longer time periods might not play well with the human tendency to procrastinate, since if you put the reading off until the “due date” you’d have twice as much to read.

(Also, to be clear, when I mentioned weekly page counts, that was just a way to gauge what pace we want to do this at — I figured we’d later on decide on more natural segments that roughly followed whatever pace we decide to go at.)

So I spent some time flipping through the prefaces and chapter 1, and also watched that first David Harvey lecture, and based on all that, here's my proposal for the first 3 weeks of actually reading Capital: For week 1 , we read the prefaces (</s>~30 pages), then we split chapter 1 roughly in half and read the two halves (</s>~25 pages each) across weeks 2 and 3.

Pros: The prefaces do seem to have a lot to talk about in them, so I think it would be ok to give them their own week. Also, from what I can see, chapter 1 is particularly difficult, so it would probably be better to take it too slow rather than too fast.

Cons: To get a roughly even split we'd have to cut section 3 of chapter 1 across the two weeks, since it makes up the meat of the chapter. This doesn't seem too bad though, since there seems to be a somewhat natural splitting point at 1.3(b).

So in summary
week(s) 0: Wage Labor + Value, Price and Profit
week 1: prefaces
week 2: chapter 1.1 - 1.3(a)
week 3: chapter 1.3(b) - end of chapter 1

I'm not sure I want to try planning farther than that until we see how well we do with the first few weeks. So what do people think? Does this (or some variation of this) seem reasonable? Or does anyone have any other ideas?

i like it a lot

once again big thanks for organizing

Seeing you guys organizing a book club to read Marx and actually attempting to tackle The Capital makes me realize how much this forum rules and how happy I am to share this space with you guys. I read this during my philosophy degree so I‘m already more familiar with marxist theory than most people, but I’ll try to follow the reading and help as much as I can, in case you guys appreciate some input from someone that has studied this from the European tradition/point of view/background.

And in that regard, this resource will only be useful to the spanish speakers of the forum, so basically @yeso, @xhekros and a couple more, but it's a great resource so I'll share it anyway.

Carlos Fernández Liria is probably the best Marx reader/commentator in Spain, and one of the greatest philosophers specialized in politics and ethics. I was lucky enough to have a full course with him on my last year in college and it's not an exaggeration to say I basically understand Marx and marxism as well as I do thanks to him. Last year he decided to open a youtube channel in which he is basically offering all the subjects he's responsible of in the Complutense University for free, and I really can't recommend it more.

His is a peculiar reading because he approaches the text from a deeply practical and materialistic angle, avoiding all references to Hegel and dialectics, and opting for an interpretation that is more in line with the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Adorno, etc.) which is, frankly, a lot more to my taste because I hate Hegel and everything related to dialectics lol

Ugh… I’ve been planning to read Capital for ages but I’m a slow af reader. Not sure I can keep up with a book club but the idea of one is cool…

that preliminary schedule sounds good. thanks for putting in all the work to organize it

reading this will teach us how to get rich $$$, right?