Karl Marx

Why read Wage-Labour and Capital?

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Wage-Labour and Capital is online at http://bit.ly/187qEer

Karl Marx's pamphlet Wage Labour and Capital first appeared as a series of articles in Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the newspaper that Marx edited during the 1848-9 revolution that swept Germany and Europe.

The articles were based lectures that Marx had given to German workers in Brussels in 1847.

Marx's aim in the pamphlet is to set out and explain "the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes."

Why read...The Communist Manifesto

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Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were commissioned in late 1847 to draw up a manifesto by the Communist League, the first international working class organisation. The resulting pamphlet that calls on working class of all countries to unite has become an inspiration for socialists in every decade since.

It has been translated into more than a hundred languages. It is a historical materialist approach to history, a critique of capitalism and a guide to the international class struggle.

More than one and half centuries later the words of the preface to the 1872 German edition of the Manifesto remain applicable today: "However much the state of things may have altered during the last 25 years, the general principles laid down in the Manifesto are, on the whole, as correct today as ever."

Marx on the freedom of the press

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Marx was a prolific journalist - but he has been cited by different people as either a Stalinist censor or a liberal defender of the press. Mark L Thomas looks at what Marx said about press freedom

Following the Leveson report into phone hacking the pages of the Daily Telegraph, of all places, recently witnessed a spat over Karl Marx's attitude towards press freedom. The Reverend Peter Mullen declared that those MPs who advocate some form of state regulation of the press stood in the tradition of Marx, who, he tells us, "hated a free press". Rushing to Marx's defence was Brendan O'Neil, the editor of Spiked Online (a right wing libertarian website that likes to pretend its part of the left).

States and capital, the banks and the bailouts

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Right wingers usually argue that the state should get out of the way of private capital - that economic problems are caused by an overbearing state or regulation. Jack Farmer argues that the state actually serves to prop up the private sector, a role confirmed by the way that capitalism has evolved in recent years

Tories often say that they don't like the state. They say it's a drag on the economy, dampening the risk-taking creativity of the private sector.

Why workers can change the world

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Karl Marx's claim that the working class has the power to change the world is perhaps his most important contribution to socialist theory. Before Marx workers were viewed at best as victims of the system or more typically as a rabble whose existence threatened civilisation. Marx challenged these assumptions, arguing that workers' collective struggles for freedom pointed towards a potential socialist alternative to capitalism.

This vision is widely disparaged today. However, criticisms of Marx often miss their target. This is particularly true of those who reject his model of class from "common sense" or sociological perspectives which tend to equate class with social stratification - the various ways of differentiating people along lines of income, status, occupation or patterns of consumption. What, it is asked, do university-educated teachers, factory workers or low-paid shop workers have in common?

Can Marxism explain the crisis?

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Recent panic in the stock markets has led some commentators to ask whether Karl Marx might have been right after all. Bill Dunn explains some of the core ideas at the heart of Marx's understanding of capitalism and shows how they can be used to explain the system's current crisis

Worries that banks might not get the returns they expected from lending to Greece and other states have provoked a fresh round of stock market panic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has downgraded its global growth forecast for 2012 to 4 percent. By coincidence, this is exactly the same figure that in October 2008 it predicted for 2009. It had no idea, even after it had begun, that we were in for a spectacular contraction.

Eric Hobsbawm: half Marx

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Eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm's latest book champions Karl Marx as capitalism's great critic, but he argues that Marx's alternative to the system has failed. Patrick Ward looks at why it is wrong to abandon Marxism as a project for transforming the world


The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008 has a fed a renewed interest in the ideas of Karl Marx. The latest book from respected Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, How to Change the World, is a welcome addition to this resurgence.

An Enemy of Empire

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Chris Harman is impressed by a new collection of Marx's journalistic writings on India which helps demolish the myths that Marx was a supporter of 'progressive' imperialism.

"The Roman divide et impera (divide and rule) was the great rule by which Great Britain contrived to retain possession of her Indian Empire. The antagonism of various races, tribes, castes, creeds and sovereignties continued to be the vital principle of British supremacy... 200,000,000 natives being curbed by a native army of 200,000 men officered by Englishmen, and that native army in turn being kept in check by an English army numbering 40,000 only... How far that native army can be relied upon is clearly shown by its recent mutinies...

The Works are Complete

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Chris Harman enjoys Marx and Engels' last writings.

The appearance of this volume should be a cause for celebration for all English-speaking socialists. It represents the completion of a Herculean 30-year effort to translate and publish virtually everything that Marx and Engels ever wrote. Few people are going to have the time and energy to read through all or even most of the 50 volumes (those of us who got them one by one as they came out are probably privileged in this respect).

An Uncivil War

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Review of 'Marx, Tocqueville, and Race in America', August Nimtz, Lexington Books £20.95

Central to the argument in this book is Marx's famous comment in Capital, 'Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black skin it is branded.' This, Nimtz argues, underpinned Marx and Engels' approach to the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). At stake was the development of the American working class - and indeed of the European working class - not only the fate of the black slaves. Thus Nimtz shows how important race was to Marx and Engels' understanding of class - contrary to received wisdom.

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