PLSC 118 - Lecture 10 - Marx's Theory of Capitalism

Lecture 10 - Marx's Theory of Capitalism


Today, Professor Shapiro continues his discussion of Enlightenment theory of Karl Marx, focusing on the foundations of his theory of capitalism. The central question is, how is wealth created under capitalism at the micro level? For Marx, Adam Smith's invisible hand is not entirely benevolent. His labor theory of value stipulates that living human labor-power is the only way to create new value, and therefore capitalists who shift toward capital-intensive production cannot actually create new value. Marx also assumes wages are at the level of subsistence, and that capitalists turn a profit by exploiting the surplus labor time of workers. Professor Shapiro also explores some corollary concepts to Marx's mode of production: the class-for-itself/class-in-itself distinction, socially necessary labor time and surplus labor time, and the extent to which workers are other-referential.



Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, Capital, Vol. I, pp. 294-344
Useful summaries of the analytical logic of Capital:
Mandel's introduction to the Viking/Pelican edition of Capital, vol. I [optional]
Jalee, How Capitalism Works [optional]

Course Media





Low Bandwidth Video

mov [100MB]

High Bandwidth Video

mov [500MB]