Karl Marx: Is He Still Worth Reading?
Love him or loathe him, a fair consideration has to admit that Karl Marx is one of history’s most influential thinkers. A silly notion held by many supposedly knowledgeable people is that the collapse of communism relegated Marx’s writings to the dustbin of history. The problem with this line of reasoning is that the thousands of pages written by Marx contain almost nothing about the functioning of socialism or communism. Instead, he focused his attention on understanding the structure, functioning and “laws of motion” of capitalism. His analysis led him to predict, among many other things, that a small minority would own and control an outsized proportion of societal wealth, that corporations would tend to grow larger and fewer in number, and that recessions would repeatedly create situations in which people and instruments of production sit idle while, simultaneously, human needs and wants remain unmet. By carefully studying one of Marx’s more important texts, Capital Volume I, and comparing what we read there to what we find in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, we will discover whether Marx has useful things to say about the economic system he actually studied and in which we all still live. If you find he does not, unlike many commentators on Marx, your findings will be based on what he actually wrote.
Course taught by
Jerry D. Gray