A Reader's Guide to Marx's Capital, London: Bookmarks Publications, 2017; 196 pp.: ISBN 978-1-910885-48-2, 9.99 [pounds sterling] (pbk)
Among the galaxy of literature on Marx's classic Capital, Joseph Choonara's book A Reader's Guide to Marx's Capital stands apart. The endeavour in the book is to support those readers who are grappling with Marx's Capital. This is executed by delving into every chapter of Capital and presenting it in a short explanatory fashion. The book covers the first volume of Marx's Capital, although the author also occasionally links certain recurring themes with the remaining volumes.
The author begins by explaining the enthusiasm generated by Marx's account of how capitalism works in reality. Marx's critical commentaries on the works of classical British political economy, the methodology Marx applied, and the reasons behind the delay of the completion of Capital. More than half of the book delineates Marx's excavation of the secrets of capitalism: the commodity, fetishism of the commodity, labour power and the nitty-gritties of value in the capitalist mode of production. In the process, it explains how Marx ruthlessly censured Pierre-Joseph Prodhon, who advocated a juridical rationale regarding the exchange of commodities between free producers, but overlooked the process of exploitation ingrained in the capitalist system (p. 42). Then, the author shows how Marx depicts the inverse purpose of commodity exchange in capitalism. While people outside of capitalism would exchange commodities for consumption, using money (C-M-C), under capitalism, commodities are bought and sold for profit (M-C-M') (p. 55). Labour power is compelled to be sold by the labourer, and once it is sold producers are detached from the final products. This is the source of surplus value that Marx describes as the portion of the working day that is unpaid, itself creating a process of reification. On the evils of capitalism, the author outlines how capitalism severely destroys workers, the environment and agriculture (pp. 128-129). The exploitation of workers, moreover, is concealed (p. 139). Besides the constant reproduction of capital, capitalism maintains a reserve army of workers that facilitates the accumulation of capital. The book's last section deals with the historical emergence of capitalism, documenting the forceful seizure of people's land and the emergence of large scale capitalist farming, along with the expansion of...