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I initially wrote this as a reply to Jake off my previous post about capital being “diseased”. I’m trying to apply some of the ideas I’ve been picking up from reading Harry Cleaver’s Reading Capital Politically. I’m also trying to put them together with the more philosophical readings of Marx (which Cleaver would probably reject). But I thought the ideas in my reply were important and controversial enough to reproduce them in their own post.

I don’t think the capital social relation is idiotic or stupid exactly. (Though I do think it is counterintuitive and destructive.) It has a rationality to it, and understanding capitalism is equivalent to understanding that rationality. But to my mind there has been no comprehension of the essence of the capital social relation that was more fundamental than that provided by Karl Marx in Volume 1 of Capital. And what Marx shows there is that the rationality of capital is inherently contradictory. This contradiction is more often than not understood as the inevitability of “crisis” in capitalism. It is less often understood as the inevitability of resistance to capitalism by the working class.

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