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Karl Marx, or at least the current of thought for which he was a spokesman and exegete, whether people realize it or not, has had an enormous influence in the way that they themselves perceive and understand the world, whether untutored beyond the street or credentialed at the level of a PhD.

That largely positive and progressive influence is not always apparent, and in the West, especially in the United States, Marx and the ideas he disseminated have been so deliberately and intensively maligned over the years by the ruling establishment that public opinion now reflexively condemns them out of hand without giving them a hearing.  Many who have heard the name of Karl Marx hold him – or at least his purported world view – responsible for most if not all of the political, economic, and social horrors of the Twentieth Century, but they do so without ever having read anything that he himself has written beyond at most a few quotes taken out of context and gerrymandered for effect.

That is unfortunate because Marx was a man rich in ideas, encyclopedic in the breadth of his knowledge, and penetrating in insight.  He was also a very good writer and therefore remains even to this day eminently accessible, easily comprehensible, despite all academic declamations to the contrary. To ignore his work is to ignore the roots of much that is today common intellectual coin and to misapprehend much about our current social, economic, and political reality, an object of understanding about which, as it happens, the powers that be would rather the majority remained confused or, even better, completely ignorant.  You may think that you know everything you need to know about Karl Marx and his way of thinking – having been duly forewarned by the caretakers and gate keepers of the purity and sanctity of our public opinions and loyalties – but perhaps you do not.

Yes, Marx may be dated in some ways, but if he is, then most of the cultural and technocratic presuppositions on which the so-called industrial or developed nations rely for their day to day operations are also out of date, because more than one hundred years ago, these selfsame ‘modern’ and ‘up-to-date’ assumptions about how the economy and society both is and ought best to be arranged were subjected to a comprehensive inventory, analysis, and critique by ‘the old man.’  If you don’t read Marx yourself, you will never know what in fact you did not know, and most probably only what someone else wanted you to think you knew about the ‘whole Marxism thing,’ ‘Marxism’ being in its orthodoxy a ‘thing’ that Marx himself actually swore off.

Now and again, therefore, in the hope of dispelling some misconceptions, I will, as I already have, post or refer you to things that ‘the old man’ himself penned.  Because I think he’s very much worth the read, his spirit still being very much with and of the times.

So . . . today’s recommendation is (and for no other reason than I happen to be reading it):

Source: Marxist Internet Archive

[Just follow the links]

Works of Karl Marx 1847

Wage Labour and Capital

Delivered: December 1847;
Source: Wage Labour and Capital, the original 1891 pamphlet;
Edited/Translated: Frederick Engels;
First Published (in German): Neue Rheinische Zeitung, April 5-8 and 11, 1849;
Online Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999;
Transcription/Markup: Zodiac and Brian Baggins;
Proofed: and corrected by Alek Blain, 2006.

Table of Contents:



What are wages?

By what is the price of a commodity determined?

By what are wages determined?

The nature and growth of capital

Relation of wage-labor to capital

The general law that determines the rise and fall of wages and profit

The interests of capital and wage-labor are diametrically opposed

Effect of capitalist competition on the capitalist class, middle class and working class


Study Guide
1847 Index | 1840s Index | Marx-Engels Archive