Das Kapital by Karl Marx – Summary and Analysis

Das Kapital was the most important work of Karl Marx which included the criticism of political economy.

karl marx wrote das kapital book



A commodity is  an object, a thing which is responsible to satisfy human wants, it has its usefulness, and this usefulness creates a use value of that particular material commodity which is expressed qualitatively (that is two commodities differ from each other on the basis of quality). Commodities also have an exchange value which is always expressed quantitatively which means that two commodities differ from each other on the basis of quantity and the value they hold.

So it is the Exchange value which expresses the value of the commodity. A commodity, has use value only because it is created by labour power or human labour in order to gain it’s utility. The value of commodity and the labour time required for the production of commodity is directly related to each other.

Capital: Critique of Political Economy: Book by Karl Marx

Capital: Critique of Political Economy Book by Karl Marx

Karl Marx was the first person to point out the two fold nature of labour which is incorporated in commodities. According to Karl Marx, there are variations in commodities and their values , so does their labour, different kinds of labour produce different kinds of commodities which are different from each other , hence Marx termed this as division of labour. Two Commodities are different from each other in terms of their value , also in quantitative terms, but The same individual  puts in effort of doing two different forms of labour and is capable of producing two different products and performing two forms of labour which are different qualitatively. This is called productive activity, where there is expenditure of human labour power, and labour is capable of working in multiplicity modes. The two fold character of labour accounts for 1)character of human labour power which creates value of commodities, 2) character of human labour power which is concrete , useful,productive and creates use value of commodities. To express the value of commodity, there are two forms, Relative form and Equivalent form.  The Relative (relativity) form can only be expressed in the presence of other commodity that is the magnitude difference and relation between two commodities. The Equivalent form can be expressed when two commodities of the same kind or type, but of different magnitude are made equal or equivalent , so that they can be exchanged from each other.

Commodity, as a whole emerges as a very basic thing, which is capable of satisfying human wants and is responsible of mere use value but apart from the use value there appears a mystical character   of commodities, which therefore, is hidden in the labour power which is responsible for the production of a commodity. Labour power consists of the use of human brain, activities, muscles, nerves etc. In this regard one works for another that is labour works in the production of a commodity which in return is used by another men, according to Karl Marx this can be regarded as Social form. Karl Marx gave this the term FETISHISM, where the products or commodities are a result of human labour and it is not easy to separate the products and labour from each other. Labour also possess a two-fold character where, on one hand it has attributes of social human organism working on a commodity to satisfy human wants and on the other hand he is a worker, working and satisfying various wants of the producer. There is also a division of labour in the activities of workers.

CH-2 EXCHANGE       

A commodity is incomplete without its owner, owners are simply guardians of the commodity they possess. For owners, commodities has no use –value whereas they have use- value for non owners. Every owner wishes to exchange his commodity with other commodities which have the same value and the commodity which is different from his commodity. It is merely a social and private transaction. For the exchange of commodities, there has to be some universal criteria, because all commodities differ from each other in weight, value, etc. So, Money acts as an intermediate form in exchange of commodities.


Money acts as a universal measure of value, it acts as an intermediate form in exchange of commodities. It has a magnitude value which has the same denomination which is equal qualitatively and can be compared qualitatively. Money has two different functions that is first, it is the measure of value that is ,it can convert value of many commodities into prices. Second, is the standard of price that it is the ideal form and has a particular relevance to fixed weight of metal ( according to Karl Marx money is directly linked to metal Gold). Earlier money was demonstrated by gold coins ( that in ROME).

PART 2  TRANSFORMATION OF MONEY INTO CAPITAL                                                                                              


Capital is generated by the circulation of commodities. The first form of capital is money. In order to understand the transformation of money into capital, we understand it by  the form  money-commodity-money, which again has two phases that is first, money-commodity, it is explained by a purchase, money is required to purchase a commodity. In the second phase, commodity-money, it is considered as a sale where commodity is sold and the money is acquired, usually in the second phase the money which is acquired is more or has increment/ surplus value which in turn is regarded as Capital, and that who acquired the Capital is known as Capitalist. Circulation through money-commodity-money is considered the aim of capitalists also to gain more and more profit. Capitalists buy a commodity in order to sell and to acquire more profit and accumulate capital.


The general formula of capital is contradicted as there are many buyers and sellers in the market, and mere sale and purchase of the commodity will differ on various grounds. It is also impossible to produce capital on the basis of money-commodity-money circulation, there should be another law stating the circulation of capital.

Ch-6 BUYING AND SELLING OF LABOUR POWER                                                                                                 

Labour power is considered as a commodity when the owner or possessor of the labour is ready to sell his labour power to the person who is purchasing. Labour power has value and is determined by labour time. Labour time is the time taken in the production process. In order to have skilled and hardworking labour, usually a training or special education is given to labour force. Some of the daily need items such as food , fuel are provided on the daily basis , others such as clothing , furniture is provided in longer intervals of time, and is constituted as a part of average income. Labour power gets its share later, after a fixed amount of work is extracted from them.



Labour-power is an activity which is conducted by a force usually known as labourer. Labourer is under the control of capitalist, and produce a commodity or an article which is of use-value and which is set by the capitalist .Thus Labour-process includes , the activity required by labour in the production of commodity, the kind of products , instruments that is machines etc. Subject of labour or the kind of products are the raw materials which in most cases extracted from nature in order to produce a commodity. Productive consumption, is a consumption where labour uses and incorporates his activity , raw material , instruments hence consumes them in order to produce a commodity. Productive consumption is different from individual consumption as the individual is consumer and consumes the end and the final product.

It is the aim of Capitalist, to create a commodity through labour process, which has use-value, Value and exchange- value, apart from these also a Surplus-value. Surplus value is the continuation in the process of producing value.


During the Labour process, the capital which was in the form of money includes labour power, raw material ,means of production, subjects and instruments of labour which have the same value and will not change over a period of time  is considered as constant capital  whereas, the capital under the labour-process go through an alteration of value that is ,it reproduces an equivalent and also a surplus –value, this magnitude value is considered as variable capital.

Ch-9 THE RATE OF SURPLUS-VALUE                                                                                                                                               

The rate of the surplus value is created when there is an increase in the relative magnitude value of  variable capital. The product which is produced and represents the surplus value is known as the surplus-produce. Surplus –produce is determined by the end part of the production or the final product with includes necessary labour. Hence, the main focus of the capitalist is to produce extra profit or the surplus value, he does so by calculating the magnitude value of the surplus –produce. A working day includes the total of necessary labour, the surplus labour and the time taken to produce surplus value.

Ch-10 THE WORKING DAY                                                                                                                                        

A working day is not fixed for all, it varies as it includes time taken to produce surplus- value. The capitalist is different from the labourer and his own perception and thought, which is only in creation of value and surplus-value. There is always a greed for the capitalists to produce more surplus-value, which ends up with the struggles between the capitalists and the labourers.There was a relay system created where the two sets of workers worked for day and night shift. There was a need to create this relay system because the process of production was stretched out to 24hours and also on Sundays. The groups of labourers include men, women, adults, children of all ages. This was mostly practiced in Great Britain in industries. So , a working day is full 24 hours working where only few hours are given for personal activity. This system deteriorates the condition of labour physically , mentally , emotionally and socially. Later, several acts and laws were passed to improve the conditions and working hours of the labourers.

Ch-11 RATE AND MASS OF SURPLUS –VALUE                                                                                                                  

The rate of the surplus value is calculated by the labour power invested in the production of commodity. Variable capital is directly related to the mass of value and surplus value, the greater the variable capital,the greater will be the mass of value and surplus-value.

CH-12 THE CONCEPT OF RELATIVE SURPLUS –VALUE                                                                                          

There are two kinds of surplus value, Absolute surplus-value and Relative surplus-value. When surplus-value is produced by the extension of the working day, when there is addition in the working hours of labour, it is known as Absolute surplus value, whereas when surplus-value is produced by the subtraction of the labour time and working  hours of labour in a working day  it is known as Relative surplus labour. Relative surplus value is also directly proportional to the production.

CH-13 CO-OPERATION                                                                                                                                               

When a force of labour works together for the capitalist, whether employed for the same or different operation in the production process, this is known as co-operation or co-operating with each other. There are certain different functions of labourers ,working together under the control of capitalist becomes cooperative. The control by the capitalist also refers to the exploitation of labourers by extracting from them more working hours in order to reach a high level of surplus value.

CH-14 DIVISION OF LABOUR AND MANUFACTURE                                                                                                  

The co-operation and working together of labours in a unity also known as division of labour and is regarded as a form of manufacture. Manufacture takes place in two ways:

1) when under the control of the capitalist, one artificer is appointed and through this artificer, all the complete article must pass.

2) second, it is the opposite of the first one, when under the control of a single capitalist, Many artificers are appointed and a each labour has to report to a particular artificer, in order to main division of labour and co-operation at work place.

There is a difference between division of labour in manufacture and division of labour in society. Division of labour in society deals with the economic aspect which brings together various commodity producers in a competition against each other.


Machinery came into being by increasing the produce of surplus-value. Machinery has three different parts, first, motor mechanism, which puts the entire thing in motion with full force for example steam engine. Second, transmitting mechanism which includes transmitting wheels , ropes, pullies etc, which are responsible in dividing and splitting the motion of power into several other machines. Third, the working machine is a tool which is used by the work force in the daily production. The concept of machinery came into being in 18th century during the Industrial Revolution. Various machines or Machinery were the very characteristic of the modern industry. Women and Children too were employed in the industries by capitalists to run the machines, which led to the exploitation of the masses.

There was also material wear and tear of the machines, which led by first, over-use and second, by no use at all. When machines were first introduced, new methods of production were also taken up to increase productivity and surplus-value.

Karl Marx describes the factory, a place where all the machine are situated and also describes the exploitation of the work man force, as how machines are using individuals rather than individuals are using them. He also describes as how from childhood onwards they are taught to work at machines, how the movements takes place etc. The special skill of each individual in the production of the commodity vanishes and everybody is required to do the same task which is more like a everyday mental and physical torture.



In the production process, there is a combination of collective labour and means of production , in order to gain surplus- value. Collective labour is also a form of co-operation among the labour, where the work is shared amongst the people. The ultimate goal of the capitalist is to produce surplus-value which is not possible without the labour force. The production of absolute surplus value depends upon the length of the working day (necessary labour plus surplus labour) whereas, the production of relative surplus value depends upon the technical nature of labour  and society. Absolute surplus-value and Relative surplus –value go hand in hand as the difference between them has a very thin imaginary line.


Labour power has a certain value which results in everyday average labour and is considered as constant magnitude. There are changes in the value of the quantity. There are also two factors which are accountable for the value of labour-power, first, expenses of the labour-power and second, natural diversity that is different between men and women children and adults etc. The length of the working day and the normal intensity of labour are considered as constant magnitude whereas the productiveness of labour is considered as a variable magnitude and all three are considered as the circumstances of the relative magnitude of surplus-value and the price of labour-power.


PART 6 WAGES                                                                                                                                                                 


Wages are considered as a certain amount or quantity of money which is paid to labour in return to the quantity of labour-power which is produced by them. It is also known as value of labour and is often called by the expression natural price, when the prices move upwards or downwards it is considered as market price. Prices are determined by the change in the relations between demand and supply.

Ch-20  TIME-WAGES                               

The total amount of money which is paid accounts for the nominal wages, but labour often receives it in daily and weekly labour and it is calculated according to the length of the day. The daily and weekly wages remain same but the price of labour oscillates.

Ch-21 PIECE-WAGES                                                                                                                                                  

Piece wages are wages which are converted by time, it is mostly similar to time wages. In piece wages, the working time is calculated with the quantity of products produced, thus every day’s wages vary of the individual labour.

Ch-22 NATIONAL DIFFERENCES OF LABOUR                                                                                          

Every country has its average intensity of labour, which varies differently for different countries. The average of different countries are taken together and a scale is formed, it is also known as the average unit of universal labour.


 Capital is accumulated by conversion of money into means of production, labour-power, surplus-value etc and when the final commodity is ready to be sold, the money acquired will thus be converted into capital, again and again, this circular movement forms the circulation of capital.


In society, the production process is of the continuous process, on the other hand, it is also a process of reproduction. The amount of wages received by the labourer is the product of his own labour when the labour is converting the means of production into the final product, a portion of the previous labour is turned into money by the capitalist and the capitalist thus, pays the labourer his continuous labour of previous work. In capitalist production, the labourer is separated from the subjective labour-power which is incorporated in the product. An alien power which is exploiting him to produce the product of his (capitalist) profit. The relationship between the capitalist and the labourer is that of buyer and seller where the capitalist is a buyer and buying the labour-force and the labourers as seller, selling their hard work to the capitalist and produces the commodity which in turn reproduces the capitalist relation.

CH-24 CONVERSION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO CAPITAL                                                                                        

The surplus-value is ultimately the product or commodity when sold it is converted into money. Money in its ideal form is also capital. Thus, surplus –value  is converted into capital and the cycle of conversion takes place one after another

CH-25 THE GENERAL LAW OF CAPITAL ACCUMULATION.                                                                                 

There are two compositions of labour, first value composition, which is value divided by constant and variable capital, second is the technical composition consists of material which is the relation between the means of production and labour involved.


Primitive accumulation is a process to separate the producer from the means of production. It is known as primitive because it is historical and it dated back to feudal exploitation, and later capital exploitation. The then producers and now labourers were exploited, also the expropriation of the agricultural labourers was another historic stage of the beginning of exploitation.

The critique of political economy is well addressed through the capitalist mode of production where on one side capitalist dominates the other that is the wage labourer. The working class (labourer) is exploited from the prehistoric times from that the feudal system which led to the exploitation of people by expropriation. As one stage leads to another, so as the exploitation of agricultural land shifts from the exploitation of the wage-labourers, where the capitalists from the surplus-value  gains more profit and gets richer. Hence, the capitalists dominate the labourer just to acquire surplus-value, which is the ultimate Goal



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