Today I finished Michael Heinrich’s new book on the three volumes of Capital. I’m probly gonna write more notes later. The book’s in the other room somewhere and I can’t be bothered to go get it, plus I figure it does me well to write from memory for various reasons before launching into the note-taking and specifics. (And as with that Jameson book, I can’t find my copy of the Heinrich book except this time I lost it before I read it, so I had to get it out of the library. It will suck if this whole losing my books thing gets more frequent.) I dunno if I’ll revise this post or write a follow up post. Anyway, the book: it’s good. It’s very good. I recommend it. (I’d be interested in hearing what people who’ve not read Capital make of it, for whom it really is an introduction.)

What I like – the prose is pretty clear. It covers a lot of ground succinctly. Contentwise, I liked – his criticisms of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, his rejection of the idea of an irresolvable final crisis of capitalism, his point that there’s no single crisis theory in Marx’s writing, his point that crises are productive/system-conserving for capitalism, and the point that class consciousness let alone revolutionary class consciousness doesn’t emerge automatically out of struggle or working class experience of life under capitalism. I think the best parts of the book are the section on class, class struggle, and determinism, the chapter on crisis, and the chapter on the state. I’ll come back to those in detail with book in hand. Oh, and the category ‘worldview marxism’. That’s illuminating. More on this too.

What I didn’t like –
Fetishism. I just don’t care. It’s overblown and an over-reading of an aside in Marx, that gets spun out into a far too comprehensive social theory, and I think it probably rests on some questionable (and largely unargued for) assumptions in the philosophy of mind and in epistemology. Heinrich is in good company here, and in bad, because this stuff is hella common among marxists. (Knock it off, marxists!) My friend Ryan had a good point that Heinrich seems to overstate the relative neutrality of the capitalist state in its treatment of people under its rule (I’m gonna try to remember this when I take notes on that chapter). Heinrich also seems ambiguous to me politically when it comes to the state. If I remember right, I couldn’t tell if he was saying “taking state power isn’t enough” or if he was rejecting that goal, or something else. Whatever it was, I took him to be arguing (I believe this is in the short bit about communism and society beyond capitalism and the state) that the state shouldn’t be viewed as too central in our understanding of moving beyond capitalism, but exactly how far he was downgrading the state wasn’t clear.

More later, eventually, I gotta sleep now, but just to reiterate: very good book and I recommend it.

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