I am  currently making my way through Capital in independent reading course on Marx I am auditing this semester. I will blog more about the key concepts of use-value, exchange-value, surplus-value and how these relate to Marx’s epistemological notions of totality, his use of dialectics and the underlying normative basis of his critique of political economy at some future point.

Right now I just want to provide an quote where Marx unveils the historical nature of the length of the working day. Here he is a social historian;

“In the history of capitalist production, the establishment of a norm for the working day presents itself as a struggle over the limits of that day, a struggle between collective capital, i.e. the class of capitalists, and collective labor, i.e. the working class.”

But I also want to show that he is also a literary author of some merit, when he displays the action of the capitalist in an almost tragic light. Like the worker the capitalist is turned into an object and dehumanized by the operation of the capitalist system, like Nosefaratu he is a gothic and souless object who lives off of others;

“The capitalist has his own views of the working day. As a capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital…Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.”

I hope these two examples display that Capital is a rich diverse text and hint why Francis Wheen argues it should be read as a gothic novel, with Marx as the greatest satirist since Jonathan Swift.

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