Capital as a Critique of the Present

Winter 2010

(Note: The tape begins a few minutes after the first session began in an introductory discussion of contemporary problems. Participants are discussing the issue of whether we have a big or small state.)

This one-day seminar uses Marx's Capital as a basis for understanding our present circumstances. We'll focus on some key passages that illuminate the underlying social relations between labor and commodities, the forces that drive the accumulation of capital, the specific principles that inhere in a relative surplus population, the inner logic of finance and fictitious capital, and the politics of a society of producers which is the basis for the socialism that is an internal and oppositional feature of capital's own drive for surplus.

This conceptual vocabulary from Marx will be applied to questions of what labor means today, of what forms of surplus wealth and interdependence we can detect, and what political prospects issue from the ruins of the financial crisis. Our aim will be to find ways of reading Capital with contemporary questions to recognize predicaments and elaborate the value of our own political work.

Randy Martin is author of On Your Marx: Rethinking Socialism and the Left and Financialization of Daily Life. He is chair of the Department of Art & Public Policy at New York University.

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