Reading Capital Closely
Livestream Course on Volume 1
During the 2015–16 school year, Marxist-Humanist Initiative (MHI) will sponsor a course on the first volume of Marx’s Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. The course will be taught by Andrew Kliman, author of Reclaiming Marx’s “Capital” and The Failure of Capitalist Production. If there is sufficient interest, subsequent volumes may be taught in the future.
Marx regarded Capital as a theoretical blow to the bourgeoisie from which it would never recover. We will read Capital in that spirit–that is, not only as a work that can help us understand our world, but as a theoretical critique of the political-economic thought of the bourgeoisie and of other Left tendencies (such as Proudhonism). Attention will be given to uncovering the uniqueness and specificity of Marx’s ideas and analyses––things he has to say that are not found elsewhere, and that are largely absent from discussions on the Left today––and to the critical and revolutionary character of Capital.
Against the grain of contemporary academic and popular discourse, the course will emphasize understanding the text rather than “applying” or “using” it. Careful attention will be paid to the specific question Marx poses at a particular point and the argument(s) he offers to answer it, and to the book’s overall argumentative strategy. Secondary literature will be greatly de-emphasized. The book is certainly difficult, but you can understand it, not just understand what others have said about it. What is needed is hard work, perseverance, and attention to detail. Study questions and reading suggestions will be made available ahead of time; you will be expected to have done the week’s reading prior to the class session.
Class sessions will be held weekly between September and early May, with breaks for holidays, etc., from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sundays (Eastern time in U.S.) Class members who are unable to participate at that time, or who must miss a particular session, will be able to view the Livestream video––which will not be available to the general public––and will be expected to do so prior to the next session.
Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments both during the class session and on a “bulletin board” afterward; the latter questions will be addressed at the start of the next session.
We don’t want money to be an obstacle to participation. The fee for the course will be low––just enough to cover expenses (professional recording, uploading, etc.).
Applying for the course
The Livestream videos will not be released, during the course or in the future, to the general public. Class participants must agree in writing to refrain from (1) transferring or reproducing the recordings; (2) making their own recordings; and (3) communicating to non-participants what others (including the instructor) have said or written during the class sessions or on the “bulletin board,” unless permission is granted ahead of time. Knowledge of Capital is a powerful weapon in the struggle for a new, human society, and it is important that powerful weapons be in proper hands and used responsibly.
The course is open to trustworthy people who will behave in a solidaristic manner and adhere to standard norms of scholarly dialogue (argument rooted in evidence and reasoning), and whose interest in learning Capital isn’t limited to personal edification. Given that the course will be provided at cost, we ask that applicants think of non-monetary ways they can help MHI. (Monetary donations also help MHI, of course.)
To apply for the course, please address the above concerns and write to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15.