Jan 13-15 3172 Introduction and Capital chs. 1-2

The way the schedule breaks for us is less than ideal. Normally we would ease into developing a critical vocabulary slowly before using it on the history of the Japanese Empire and working through recent work. But because we are off next Monday, and so as not to take too long to get going, please do what you can to start familiarizing yourself with the new terms by Wednesday. We will use these for the next several weeks so you don’t have to get everything right away. But the sooner, the better. Chapter one will be very strange and use words that are both new, and perhaps more difficult, use more familiar words in different and very specific ways. For Wednesday, concentrate on getting as precise of definitions as you can. Especially for terms like exchange-value, use-value, value, labor, labor-power, abstract labor, concrete labor, socially abstract labor, labor-time, fetishism. There are more, but start here. Keep in mind. At its basic level Marx is taking on the widespread and basic, but surprisingly difficult, question of where does surplus (value, profit) come from in a capitalist society.

Readings for Wednesday: Marx, Capital, vol. 1, ch. 1, “The Commodity” (Penguin pp. 125-77) and ch. 2 “The Process of Exchange” (Penguin pp. 178-87).  I will refer to the Penguin edition page numbers in class but click on links for slightly different translations of these chapters available online for free.

If you have the time, though long (1 hr. 45 m), David Harvey’s lectures on these chapters on iTunesU are very helpful for getting familiar with the vocabulary. See lecture for chs. 1-2.