The capital

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Title page of the first edition, 1867

The capital. Critique of Political Economy , one of Karl Marx's main works, is an analysis and critique of capitalist society with far-reaching effects in the labor movement and the history of the 20th century. Karl Marx's personal edition of “Kapitals” ( first volume ) with his handwritten notes was included in the world register of document heritage by UNESCO inJune 2013at the joint proposal of the Netherlands and Germany . The writing is kept in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam.

After decades of economic studies and various preparatory work (above all the outline of the Critique of Political Economy , On the Critique of Political Economy and the theories about surplus value ), the first volume was published in 1867: The Production Process of Capital . After Marx's death (1883), Friedrich Engels compiled two further volumes from his manuscripts. In 1885 he published Volume 2: The Circulation Process of Capital . Volume 3 followed in 1894: The Overall Process of Capitalist Production .

Creation and editorial history

Title page 2nd edition 1872
Title page 4th edition published by Engels, Hamburg 1890

The three volumes of Capital , as they exist today in MEW volumes 23 to 25 and in most of the translations, were edited and edited to varying degrees by Marx himself and above all by Engels. They appeared in partially revised editions during Marx and Engels' lifetime. Marx's personal edition of the first volume has been included in the Unesco World Document Heritage .

part 1

The first volume of the capital appeared in mid-September 1867 with the Hamburg publisher Otto Meissner in an initial edition of 1000 copies (publication of the publication in the Börsenblatt für den Deutschen Buchhandel on September 14, 1867) based on the economic manuscripts (1863-65). Between December 1871 and January 1872 he wrote additions and changes to the first volume of Capital , which contained revisions and comments on the first chapter of the first edition - above all, fundamental considerations on the theory of value. The second edition of the first volume appeared in 1872/73. There were significant changes, especially in the first chapter on goods.

Marx worked on a French edition of the first volume for five years; This translation activity stimulated him to revise parts of the material and to reconsider it. Above all, he added the section on “accumulation”. The French edition was published 1872–1875, initially in individual deliveries, then in 1875 as a book.

After Marx's death (1883), Engels published the first volume on the basis of the second edition with some of the changes to the French edition in the third edition. Further parts of the French edition were incorporated into the fourth edition (1890).

In 2017 Thomas Kuczynski brought out a new text edition based on previously unprocessed references from Marx. This applies above all to the comparison of the German with the French edition.

Volume 2 and 3

In 1885 Engels published the second volume of Capital , in which he had compiled various manuscripts of Marx that he had written in the 1860s and 1870s. The book was printed by the Reusch printing company in Leipzig, using the handwritten manuscript from Engel's secretary Oscar Eisengarten as a template for the publisher Otto Meissner .

The third volume followed in 1894, which only contained a manuscript by Marx from 1864/65 as a basis and was provided with numerous reformulations and adjustments by Engels.

Evaluation of the revisions

While in traditional Marxism the "perfecting thesis" was assumed, according to which the later versions were to be regarded as continuous improvements of the earlier ones, the " New Marx Reading " is based on a "popularization thesis", according to which the later editions usually popularizations and thus also Show simplifications to previous editions.

Content overview

Basic theses

The "Blue Volumes" of the Marx-Engels-Werke (MEW), Dietz Verlag Berlin, 1973
The capital of Karl Marx New text edition by Thomas Kuczynski VSA-Verlag (2017)

In the capital is not about "society par excellence" or " 'the' human economies", but a very special form of society and a very special form of economic activity is analyzed: The " Critique of Political Economy " - as the subtitle of the work - is for the fundamental criticism of both the capitalist mode of production in the 19th century and the established bourgeois theory of the same ( economics , especially economics ) at the time of Marx.

Marx's criticism shows that societies with a capitalist mode of production are class societies in which private ownership of the means of production increases through the use of wage labor . Wealth accumulates in the form of capital, while its producers are permanently excluded from it: according to Marx, the workers only participate in wealth insofar as the use of their labor makes their wages necessary .

Second, capital is directed against political rule, which places its power entirely at the service of capital and legally safeguards the dependence of the working class on private property.

Marx claims that these are man-made relationships. Nevertheless they worked behind the backs of the members of society, appeared to them as intrinsic material necessities; their character as 'relationships of persons' is veiled. Marx calls this a commodity fetish in analogy to religious imaginations .

Volume 1: The production process of capital

Volume 2: The circulation process of capital

Manuscript page. Second volume of the capital. First chapter
After Marx's death in 1883, Friedrich Engels completed Das Kapital with volumes 2 and 3 from his manuscripts . His interpretation is controversial.

In the first volume was the subject of how the value in individual industrial capital produces is. But this has yet to exchange - in the sphere of circulation - realized be. This results in different phases in which capital must find itself: the production and the circulation phase. In the second phase, various individual capitals relate to one another; the form of these relations is the subject of the second volume of Capital . The investigation of these relationships leads to the question of how the reproduction of society proceeds under the demand for constant accumulation of surplus value.

Volume 3: The overall process of capitalist production

Here Marx describes:

  • The transformation of surplus value into profit and the rate of surplus value into rate of profit
  • The transformation of profit into average profit
  • Law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall
  • Conversion of commodity capital and money capital into commodity trading capital and money trading capital (commercial capital)
  • Split of profit into interest and entrepreneurial profit
  • The interest-bearing capital
  • Conversion of surplus profit into basic rent
  • Revenues and their sources

In chapter 48, The Trinitarian Formula , Engels, as editor, has compiled several fragments in which Marx summarizes some of the most important aspects of all capital. I.a. briefly describes the stages of the concealment of the exploitation of the workers by capital.


Memorial plaque on the former Otto Meissner publishing house in Hamburg (2017)
Commemorative plaque for the printing of the German first edition in 1867 by Otto Wigand in Leipzig (2009)

First editions

In work or complete editions

  • in Marx-Engels-Werke (MEW) , Volume 23-25, Dietz Verlag , Berlin 1962/1963/1964. Book I after the 4th edition in 1890, Book II after the 2nd edition in 1893, Book III after the 1st edition in 1894; also as a separate edition on the same page, books I-III.
  • in Marx-Engels Complete Edition (MEGA) , second section. “Das Kapital” and preliminary work 15 volumes in 23 sub-volumes, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1976–1992, from 2003 Akademie Verlag, Berlin. The department was created in 2012 with volume 4.3. completed. MEGA digital .
  • Karl Marx: Capital. Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1, Book I: The Production Process of Capital , new text output with USB card, edited and published by Thomas Kuczynski , Hamburg 2017, VSA-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-89965-777-7 .


In June 2016, a first edition of the first volume from 1867 with a dedication to Johann Georg Eccarius with an estimate of £ 80,000 to £ 120,000 was auctioned off in London . The knockdown went to a “European collector”, as it is called by the Bonhams auctioneer - for £ 218,500, which corresponds to almost € 250,000. This specimen is now being offered for 1.5 million euros.


Introductions and edits

  • Johann Most : Capital and Labor. A popular excerpt from "Das Kapital" by Karl Marx. Second improved edition. Genossenschafts-Buchdruckerei Chemnitz, Chemnitz 1876 ( Reprint: Ed. Marx-Engels-Stiftung Wuppertal . Verlag Marxistische Blätter, Frankfurt 1985 ISBN 3-88012-729-8 )
    • Johann Most: Capital and Labor. "Capital" in a handy summary by Marx and Engels themselves revised and revised (new edition by Hans Magnus Enzensberger ). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1972 (= edition suhrkamp vol. 587)
  • Carlo Cafiero : Il Capitale di Carlo Marx. Brevemente compendiato. Libro 1. Sviluppo delle produione capitalista . Bignami, Milano 1879 [Reprint: Il Capitale di Karl Marx. Compendio di Carlo Cafiero . Presentazione di Rossano Pisano. Editori Riuniti, Roma 1996 ISBN 88-359-4092-3 )
    • Carlo Cafiero: Introduction to the "Capital" by Marx. Translated by Renate Genth. Introduced by Giacomo Marramao . Scriptor Verlag, Kronberg Ts. 1974 ISBN 3-589-00016-3 * Carlo Cafiero: Introduction to the "capital" by Marx. Translated by Renate Genth. Introduced by Giacomo Marramao . Scriptor Verlag, Kronberg Ts. 1974 ISBN 3-589-00016-3
  • Gabriel Deville : Le Capital de Karl Marx. Résumé et accompagné d'un aperçu sur le socialisme scientifique . Oriol, Paris 1883
  • Karl Kautsky : Karl Marx 'economic doctrines. Commonly presented and explained . JWH Dietz, Stuttgart 1887 digitized
  • Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis : Kapitaal en Arbeid . Liebers & C., s'Hage 1881.
    • Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis: Capital and Labor. A concise presentation of Marx's teaching. Translated by Carl Derossi . E. Krajk, Vienna 1889. Digitized
  • Karl Marx. The capital. Critique of Political Economy. Common edition , provided by Julian Borchardt . Modern book publisher, Berlin-Schöneberg 1919. (3rd edition. Laub, Berlin 1922; 5th edition, increased by a register. Laub, Berlin 1922; 7th revised edition. Laub, Berlin / Hamburg, Klemm, Leipzig 1931.) New edition 2018 by Westhafen Verlag, ISBN 978-3-942836-16-6 .
  • Marx Working Group Historians: On the Critique of Political Economy. Introduction to the "Capital", Volume I . European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1972 ISBN 3-434-45013-0 (= basis of work results)
  • Louis Althusser , Étienne Balibar : Read the capital . Hamburg: Rowohlt 1972
  • Michael Heinrich : Critique of Political Economy. An introduction . Butterfly-Verl., Stuttgart 2004. ISBN 3-89657-582-1
  • Wolfgang Fritz Haug : Lectures for an introduction to "Capital" , Argument-Verlag, Berlin, 2005. ISBN 3-88619-301-2
  • Christian Iber: Fundamentals of Marx's theory of capitalism . Parerga, Berlin 2005. ISBN 3-937262-30-X
  • Michael Heinrich: How to read Marx's "Capital"? Butterfly publishing house, Stuttgart 2009. ISBN 978-3-89657-054-3 .
  • Michael Heinrich: How to read Marx's Capital? Volume 2 . Butterfly Verlag, Stuttgart 2013. ISBN 978-3-89657-053-6 .
  • Georg Fülberth : "The capital" compact . Papyrossa, Cologne 2011. ISBN 978-3-89438-452-4 .
  • David Harvey : Read Marx Capital. A companion for advanced and beginners . VSA, Hamburg 2011. ISBN 978-3-89965-415-8 .
  • Alexander von Pechmann: "Das Kapital" by Karl Marx. A manual . Turia + Kant publishing house 2013. ISBN 978-3-85132-709-0 .
  • Wolfgang Fritz Haug : Reading "Capital" - but how? Materials . Argument Verlag, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-88619-355-4 .
  • Michael Berger: Karl Marx: "Das Kapital" . 3rd revised edition. UTB, Stuttgart 2013. ISBN 978-3-8252-4049-3 .
  • Michael Quante : Karl Marx: The Capital. Critique of Political Economy. First volume . With an introduction and a commentary ed. v. Michael Quante, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-7873-1959-6 .

Translations, dissemination

  • The Way of “Capital” - 220 editions in 43 languages . In: Karl. Marx. The capital 1867 1967 . Marxist papers . Special issue 2, Frankfurt am Main 1967, pp. 86-88.
  • Anna Vasil'evna Uroeva: "Capital" conquered the globe. For the international distribution of Marx's main work until 1895 . In: "... win our party a victory". Studies on the history of the origins and effects of "Capital" by Karl Marx. An anthology . Verlag Die Wirtschaft, Berlin 1978, pp. 180–191.
  • Alexander Malysch: “The Capital” of Marx in Lenin's homeland . In: Marx-Engels-Jahrbuch 3. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1980, pp. 25-46.
  • Anna Vasil'evna Uroeva: On the prehistory of the English translation of the first volume of "Capital" . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research, issue 14, Berlin 1983, pp. 105-109.
  • Werner Krause: On the history of the French edition of the first volume of "Capital" from 1872 to 1875 . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research, issue 20, Berlin 1986, pp. 20–33.
  • Christa Fleckenstein: A few remarks on the history of the impact of “capital” in Russia (1970s to 1990s of the 19th century) . In: Hallesche worksheets on Marx-Engels research . Issue 18, Halle 1986, pp. 4–8.
  • Waltraud Falk , Frank Zschaler: On the first English edition of the first volume of "Capital" by Karl Marx . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research, issue 23, Berlin 1987, pp. 78–81
  • Gerd Callesen: On the distribution of the first Danish edition of “Capital” . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research, issue 28, Berlin 1989, pp. 75–80.
  • Larissa Miskewitsch: The Russian edition of the "capital" by Karl Marx . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research, issue 28, Berlin 1989, pp. 115–124.
  • Rolf Hecker , Larisa Mis'kevič: Capital with dedications from Marx and Engels . In: MEGA studies 1994/1 . Edited by the International Marx-Engels Foundation, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1994 ISBN 3-320-01826-4 , pp. 107-141.
  • Rolf Hecker, Larisa Mis'kevič, Manfred Schöncke: The capital with dedications from Marx and Engels. Additions and corrections . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research. New episode 2002 . Argument, Hamburg 2003 ISBN 3-88619-689-5 , pp. 263-277.
  • Jan Hoff: Marx global. On the development of the international Marx discourse since 1965. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-05-004611-2 .

Comments, individual aspects

  • Karl Marx: Capital 1.1. Results of the 1st volume "Das Kapital", written by the author. Karl Dietz Verlag Berlin, 2009, ISBN 978-3-320-02169-6 .
  • Roman Rosdolsky : On the genesis of Marx's 'capital' . The rough draft of capital 1857–1858 , Europäische Verlagsanstalt / Europa Verlag , Frankfurt am Main / Vienna, 1968, Volume 1 ISBN 3-434-45003-3 ; Volume 2 ISBN 3-434-45004-1 ; Volume 3 ISBN 3-434-45041-6
  • Günther Busch (ed.): Consequences of a theory. Essays on “Das Kapital” by Karl Marx. 5th edition. Suhrkamp edition 226, 1972.
  • Gerhard Gamm, Andreas Hetzel, Markus Lilienthal (eds.): Karl Marx: Das Kapital. Criticism of political economy; Interpretations, Verlag Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-15-018114-3
  • Helmut Reichelt : On the logical structure of the concept of capital in Karl Marx 1970 Frankfurt am Main / Vienna (plus dissertation Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt) new: Freiburg i. Br. 2001.
  • Ernest Mandel : Origin and Development of the Economic Doctrine of Karl Marx . Reinbek near Hamburg 1983, ISBN 3-499-17656-4 .
  • Hans G. Nutzinger / Elmar Wolfstetter : The Marxian theory and its criticism. A collection of texts on the critique of political economy . 2 volumes. Frankfurt / M. - New York: Herder 1974. New edition in one volume Marburg: Metropolis, 2008, ISBN 978-3-89518-702-5 .
  • Peter Decker and Konrad Hecker: The proletariat - politically emancipated, socially disciplined, globally exploited, nationalistically depraved: the great career of the wage class is coming to its just end. GegenStandpunkt, 2002, ISBN 3-929211-05-X .
  • Jan Hoff , Alexis Petrioli, Ingo Stützle, Frieder Otto Wolf (eds.): Reread capital. Contributions to radical philosophy. Westphalian steam boat Münster 2006, ISBN 3-89691-605-X .
    • Reading sample with table of contents, introduction, epilogue and list of authors (34 pages pdf; 361 kB).
  • Helmut Reichelt : New Marx reading. On the critique of social science logic. , Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-89965-287-1 . ( Table of contents and introduction as PDF , blurb ).
  • Ansgar Knolle-Grothusen, Stephan Krüger, Dieter Wolf: Money commodities, money and currency. Basics for solving the problem of money commodities. Hamburg 2009 ISBN 978-3-88619-345-5 .
  • Dieter Wolf : The dialectical contradiction in capital. A contribution to Marx's theory of value . Hamburg, 2002, ISBN 3-87975-889-1 .
  • Dieter Wolf: On the architecture of the three volumes of Marx's capital (PDF; 78 kB).
  • Michael Heinrich: History of the origin and dissolution of Marx's "capital" , in: Werner Bonefeld, Michael Heinrich (Ed.): Capital and criticism. According to the new Marx reading , Hamburg: VSA 2011, pp. 155–193.
  • Michael Heinrich: From the 'canonical' texts to Marx's unwritten chapter , in: Rahel Jaeggi , Daniel Loick (ed.): Karl Marx - Perspektiven der Gesellschaftskritik , Berlin 2013, pp. 123–144.
  • Alexander von Pechmann : The three cycles of capital and their real differences , reflections on the 2nd volume of "Capital" by Karl Marx, Zeitschrift Z, March 2016, pp. 110–129.
  • Joachim Bischoff : The Circles of Capital. Alexander von Pechmann's interpretation of the 2nd volume of "Capital" , Zeitschrift Sozialismus, issue 6-2016, pp. 56-62.
  • Mathias Greffrath (Ed.): RE. Capital: Political Economy in the 21st Century , Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-95614-172-0 .
  • Jürgen Bönig: Karl Marx in Hamburg. The production process of "Capital" , Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-89965-751-7 .

Impact history

  • Rolf Dlubek , Hannes Skambraks: "Das Kapital" by Karl Marx in the German labor movement 1867/1878. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1967.
  • Ernst Theodor Mohl : Consequences of a Theory. Essays on Das Kapital by Karl Marx . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1967. (= edition suhrkamp 226)
  • Walter Euchner , Alfred Schmidt (ed.): Critique of the political economy today. Political Economy, History and Criticism. 100 years of capital. Lectures and discussions from the Frankfurt Colloquium in September 1967. European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main, Vienna 1968.
  • Rolf Hecker , Larisa Mis'kevič: Capital with dedications from Marx and Engels. In: MEGA studies 1994/1 . Edited by the International Marx-Engels Foundation , Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-320-01826-4 .
  • Rolf Hecker, Larisa Mis'kevič, Manfred Schöncke: The capital with dedications from Marx and Engels. Additions and corrections . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research. New episode 2002 . Argument, Hamburg 2003 ISBN 3-88619-689-5 , pp. 263-277. ISSN  0232-8577
  • Eike head ; Early polemics against "Capital". On the criticism of the main work by Karl Marx in the 19th century and comments on the materialistic view of history . PapyRossa-Verlag, Cologne 2013. ISBN 978-3-89438-513-2
  • Ingo Schmidt, Carlo Fanelli (Eds.): Reading 'Capital' Today: Marx After 150 Years , Pluto Press 2017, ISBN 978-0-7453-9973-7 .
  • Ingo Schmidt (Ed.): Das Kapital @ 150 Russian Revolution @ 100. "Das Kapital" and the revolutions against "Das Kapital" , VSA Verlag, Hamburg 2017, ISBN 978-3-89965-733-3 .
  • Dieter Janke, Jürgen Leibiger, Manfred Neuhaus (eds.): Marx '"Capital" in the 21st century. Contributions to the colloquium on May 6, 2017 in Leipzig . Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Saxony, Leipzig 2017, ISBN 978-3-947176-01-4 .
  • Rita Müller , Mario Bäumer (Ed.): The capital. Verlag der Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg, Hamburg 2017. ISBN 978-3-947178-02-5 . Exhibition catalog Museum of Work .
  • Rolf Hecker: Spring Points - Contributions to Marx Research and “Capital” Discussion, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-320-02349-2 .
  • Paula Rauhala: Redings of Capital in divided Germany: 1967 and 50 years later . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research. New episode 2018/19 . Argument Verlag, Hamburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-86754-685-0 , pp. 113–152.



Web links

Wikiquote: Capital  - Quotes
Online editions

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Writings of Karl Marx. Retrieved on April 3, 2018 (German).
  2. For the following cf. Michael Heinrich : How to read Marx's Capital? (2008), pp. 248-253; and Rolf Hecker : The origin, transmission and edition history of economic manuscripts and “Capital” . In: Altvater / Hecker / Heinrich / Schaper-Rinkel: KAPITAL.DOC - Das Kapital (Vol. 1) by Marx in diagrams with comments , pp. 219–240 ( online )
  3. ^ Writings of Karl Marx: "The Manifesto of the Communist Party" (1848) and "Das Kapital", first volume (1867)
  4. MEGA . Division II. Volume 5
  5. Eike Kopf : When did the first volume of “Kapitals” by Karl Marx actually appear? In: Contributions to Marx-Engels Research 3, Berlin 1978, pp. 81–92.
  6. MEGA Division II Volume 4.1 and Volume 4.2
  7. MEGA II / 6, pp. 1-54
  8. MEGA Division II. Volume 6, pp. 56–719.
  9. MEGA Division II. Volume 7
  10. 1883, MEGA Division II. Volume 8
  11. Marx-Engels-Werke Volume 23; MEGA Division II Volume 10
  12. Karl Marx. The capital. Critique of Political Economy, Volume I: The Production Process of Capital , new text edition with USB card, edited and edited by Thomas Kuczynski. VSA-Verlag, Hamburg 2017. ISBN 978-3-89965-777-7 .
  13. see also Georg Fülberth : What remains and what is to come , new Germany , November 12, 2019 (link for a fee)
  14. MEW 24, MEGA II / 12
  15. MEGA II / 11
  16. ^ Wolfgang Schröder: The printer of the capital: Guido Albert Reusche and his company in Leipzig . In: Contributions to Marx-Engels research . Argument Verlag, 2004, ISSN  0232-8577 , p. 185 ff .
  17. MEW 25, MEGA II / 15
  18. MEGA II / 4.2
  19. Cf. Michael Heinrich: How to read Marx's capital? (2008), p. 249.
  20. Werner Blumenberg : Karl Marx , Reinbek 1962, p. 143.
  21. Tom Strohschneider : What capital costs , Neues Deutschland from April 29, 2017
  22. Hugo Wetscherek: Still way too cheap! Why does an old book cost 1.5 million euros? A look into the market and a plea for the same . In: Rita Müller, Mario Bäumer (Ed.): The capital. Verlag der Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg, Hamburg 2017 Rita Müller , Mario Bäumer (ed.): Das Kapital. Publishing house of the Hamburg Historical Museums Foundation, Hamburg 2017, p. 130 f.
  23. ^ Facsimile edition with the handwritten notes by Karl Marx.
  24. Complete new edition. Westphalian steam boat, Münster 2015. ISBN 978-3-89691-952-6 .
  25. ^ "Engels gave a brilliant summary of Capital in an article which appeared in 1868 in the Leipzig Demokratisches Wochenblatt." Louis Althusser , Preface to Capital Volume One , 1969.