M. Blecher (Politics)
4 SS, W-INT
Full Course -- 4 Credits
Fall Semester FYSP 094-01 TR 1:30-2:45
FYSP 094 is, simply put, a close reading of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. This breathtaking classic not just of economic analysis but also of political economy, sociology, history and literature, is worth reading at any time for what it can teach us both substantively and also about the dialectical method. And since Das Kapital is, among much else, a theory of the crisis tendencies of capitalism, it is all the more potentially pertinent at a time when existing economic models and theories have failed. In this course we will read all thirty-three chapters methodically, paying attention to the structure of the argument as well as the argument itself. In so doing we will learn what the dialectical method is and how, in its focus on the tensions and oppositions in structures, it differs from the standard rationalist approach that focuses more narrowly on causes and effects. Of course, we will also learn what Marx had to say about commodities, value, money, labor, "exploitation", and mystification (the process by which the capitalist system systematically obscures its inner forms and relationships). FYSP 094 will involve three different learning formats. We will read each chapter carefully. We will also take advantage of an extraordinary resource: the online lectures by Prof. David Harvey, the distinguished scholar who has been offering this course for four decades (http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital) and who has now put videos of it into the public domain. In class we will discuss the book and the lectures, dividing our time between getting a grasp of the arguments and exploring how useful they may be, and what their implications might be, for our time.