1960s >> 1967 >> no-757-september-1967

What to read

Besides Capital there are various other books and pamphlets that the student of Marxian economics might find useful. Marx himself summarised his views in simple language in an address he gave in 1865 to the First International. This was later published as the pamphlet Value, Price and Profit. The first five chapters deal with views that are no longer widely held if held at all, but from the sixth chapter onwards Marx explains his theory of value and exploitation. Engels, too, wrote a useful review of Capital for a German paper in 1868.


Karl Kautsky, who did so much to popularise Marxism, tackled economics in his work The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx, which went through many German editions. This sticks closely to the form of the first volume of Capital but also incorporates material from the other volumes which were published after Marx’s death. Another German Social Democrat, Julian Borchardt, in The People’s Marx, wrote what translators call “an abridged popular edition of the three volumes of ‘Capital‘ ” which, despite the limitations of such abridgements, is worth looking at.


Perhaps the best original (rather than popularising) work in Marxian economic theory is Louis Boudin’s The Theoretical System of Karl Marx, written in the first decade of this century. This book is no simpler than Capital but it does deal very well with the various criticisms that sprung up after the deaths of Marx and Engels. The best pamphlet is without doubt John Keracher’s Economics for Beginners, published in America in the thirties.


Some of these works will probably not be available at local libraries but they are all in our library at head office.


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The pages of Capital reproduced on the cover are from the edition published by George Allen & Unwin, translated by Moore and Aveling.