Reading Capital Politically
As social movements waned in the late 70s, the study of Marx seemed to take on a life of its own. Structuralist, post-structuralist, deconstructed Marxes bloomed in journals and seminar rooms across the US and Europe. These Marxes and their interpreters struggled to interpret the world, and sometimes to interpret Marx himself, losing sight at times of his dictum that the challenge is not to interpret the world but to change it. In 1979, Harry Cleaver tossed an incendiary device called Reading Capital Politically into those seminar rooms. Through a close reading of the first chapter, he shows that Das Kapital was written for the workers, not for academics, and that we need to expand our idea of workers to include housewives, students, the unemployed, and other non-waged workers. Reading Capital Politically provides a theoretical and historical bridge between struggles in Europe in the 60s and 70s and, particularly, the Autonomia of Italy to the Zapatistas of the 90s. His introduction provides a brilliant and succinct overview of working class struggles in the century since Capital was published. Cleaver adds a new preface to the AK Press/Anti-Thesis edition.
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