Friday, July 31, 2020

Indispensable guide (2010)

Book Review from the July 2010 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Companion to Marx’s Capital. David Harvey, Verso, 2010, £10.99

Most people who try to read Marx’s Capital give up before the end of the third chapter. This is a shame because, as David Harvey points out in this companion volume, Capital is a rich, multi-dimensional and “astonishingly good” book, despite the undeniable difficulties. Indeed, it would hardly be going too far to suggest – as the author of a previous introductory guide to Capital, Anthony Brewer, did – that reading Capital is “indispensable” to anyone who wants to understand the modern world.

 Harvey’s Companion is the book form of his excellent series of lectures teaching Capital Volume 1, which you can watch online for free or for a donation at His aim in both the lectures and the book is to get you to read Capital all the way through, and in Marx’s own terms. He succeeds brilliantly, getting the balance about right between a close focus on Marx’s text, and his own commentary to help explain it, and situate it in the modern world.

 If you follow the lectures online by watching one per week, then reading the prescribed chapters during the week, you can have volume 1 of Capital, the absolutely supreme book in the socialist canon, under your belt in just 13 weeks. This schedule is challenging but doable. If you don’t have internet access, Harvey’s book will do just as well, though obviously you’ll have more reading to do. Highly recommended.
Stuart Watkins

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