Why reading Marx’s Das Kapital still matters

Mike Wayne discusses his new book Marx’s Das Kapital for beginners here.

Whether we are talking about obesity epidemics, water shortages amid torrential downpours, or environmental degradation and toxification, the hollowing out of representative democracy, the erosion of workers rights, the growing inequalities between the rich and the rest, the dismantling of the public sector and the destruction of social gains and rights built up over decades; whether we are talking about a lost generation of young people whose skills and potentialities can find no gainful employment; the reduction of education to obedience, conformity and discipline; the transformation of the media from tools of information, connection and creativity to purveyors of ignorance, sensationalism and tired clichés; whether we are talking about the economic violence of the system  or the surveillance society or the decreasing room to peacefully protest without being truncheoned, tasered or worse – all these problems and more can be traced back to the question of capital and unless we name the system within which these problems are developing, public debate, public discourse and policy agendas, are doomed to stay at the surface level, addressing symptoms at best, or making the problems worse by following the same discredited capitalist nostrums and prescriptions that are responsible for the problems in the first place.


Das Kapital (The Movie)

Didn’t want to read the book? Waited for the movie? Wait no more:

Alexander Kluge’s nine-and-a-half hour long film of Marx’s “Kapital” is not a minute too long says Helmut Merker

What is a revolutionary? The writings of Marx and Engels both use the metaphor of revolution as the “locomotive of history”. Is, then, the revolutionary a standard bearer of progress, a pace setter, a frontrunner?

None of the above, because in a world ruled by a turbo “devaluation” where only the new has market value, where commodity production spirals out of control, the “train of time” is a deadly trend. Alexander Kluge instead opts for Walter Benjamin’s idea of the revolution as mankind “pulling the emergency brake“. We must hold up the torch of reason to the problems at hand, and the true revolutionary is therefore the one who can unite future and past, merging two times, two societies, the artist who montages stories and history. And so we come to Alexander Kluge and his art.

Kluge’s monumental “News from Ideological Antiquity. Marx – Eisenstein – Das Kapital” is a 570-minute film available only on DVD which is based on the work of two other montage artists, James Joyce and Sergei Eisenstein. These two met in 1929 to discuss filming Marx’s “Kapital” which had been written 60 years beforehand. Now, eighty years on, Alexander Kluge joins the party and takes up where Eisenstein failed, because neither Hollywood’s capitalists nor Moscow’s Communists were prepared to send the necessary funds his way.

Read the rest.