Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey (Free Online Course)

David Har­vey, an impor­tant social the­o­rist and geo­g­ra­ph­er, has got the right idea. Take what you know. Teach it in the class­room. Cap­ture it on video. Then dis­trib­ute it to the world. Keep it sim­ple, but just do it.

Har­vey is now mak­ing avail­able 26 hours of lec­tures, dur­ing which he gives a close read­ing of Karl Marx’s Das Kap­i­tal (1867). This work, often con­sid­ered to be Marx’s mas­ter­piece, is where he elab­o­rat­ed a cri­tique of cap­i­tal­ism and laid the ground­work for an ide­ol­o­gy that took the 20th cen­tu­ry by storm. Har­vey is no stranger to this text. He has taught this class for over 40 years now, both in uni­ver­si­ties (Johns Hop­kins and CUNY) and in the com­mu­ni­ty as well.

The first lec­ture, pre­ced­ed by an intro­duc­to­ry inter­view last­ing rough­ly six min­utes, appears above. The rest of the lec­tures can be accessed via Har­vey’s web site, YouTube, and iTunes. Also, we have placed the course in our col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es, which keeps on grow­ing. Find it under the Eco­nom­ics sec­tion.

UPDATE:  David Har­vey is look­ing for vol­un­teers to trans­late his lec­tures into 36 lan­guages. If you want to help you, you can get start­ed here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Cri­sis of Cap­i­tal­ism Ani­mat­ed (with David Har­vey)

Hayek v. Keynes Rap

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Comments (18)
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  • Hanoch says:

    I have found that the best way to learn about Karl Marx is to speak with the for­mer cit­i­zens of the Sovi­et Union who were for­tu­nate enough to get out alive. You will know all you will ever need to about Mr. Marx.

    • emmettgrogan says:

      Lies and igno­rance con­sume this absurd and untrue state­ment.

    • Cee Bee says:

      Wow. The igno­rance of this state­ment is over­whelm­ing. Karl Marx did not rec­om­mend Sovi­et style com­mu­nism — his empha­sis was on the­o­riz­ing the tra­jec­to­ry, dilem­mas, and con­flicts of cap­i­tal­ism. You know not of which you speak.

  • Preville says:

    @Hanoch-Don’t you agree that it’s time to have an open dis­cus­sion about alter­na­tives to and sig­nif­i­cant mod­i­fi­ca­tions of cap­i­tal­ism? That it’s time for an expan­sion of basic knowl­edge about pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics? I agree with you that a polit­i­cal and soci­o­log­i­cal his­to­ry of the USSR would add to the dis­cus­sion, but do you real­ly believe that anec­dote is suf­fi­cient?

  • Hanoch says:

    @Preville. To answer your ques­tions: 1. No, why would I? Free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism has been the great­est source of wealth cre­ation for the great­est num­ber of peo­ple, hands down. 2. Yes. Per­haps if peo­ple were more edu­cat­ed, they would under­stand # 1 (and not being wed­ded to failed and destruc­tive ide­ol­o­gy would also help). 3. Yes. And if that exam­ple were not suf­fi­cient, observe any coun­try that oper­ates along Mr. Marx’s prin­ci­ples and see how they com­pare in wealth cre­ation to those that oper­ate under the prin­ci­ples of free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism.

  • Robert says:

    Isn’t it fun­ny how the bare­ly work­ing col­lege pro­fes­sors love the Marx­ist ide­ol­o­gy? While they are cer­tain­ly free to preach their screed in an open forum, I have a prob­lem with them being paid to indoc­tri­nate their stu­dents with the same mes­sage. As @Hanoch said above ” show me one place where it works” and don’t use Chi­na as an exam­ple. Chi­na’s rise is due to cap­i­tal­ist prac­tices not Marx­ist ide­ol­o­gy!

    • Cee Bee says:

      ide­ol­o­gy? this course is about the dynam­ics of cap­i­tal­ism and Marx’s think­ing. one can not pos­si­bly weigh in author­i­ta­tive­ly on late 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry his­to­ry or social and eco­nom­ic thought with­out under­stand­ing the influ­ence of Karl Marx.nnnwhat is ACTUALLY fun­ny is how so many peo­ple lam­bast col­lege pro­fes­sors and Marx’s work but have absolute­ly NO idea what they are talk­ing about. oh wait. that’s not fun­ny. it’s pathet­ic. it’s sad. not to men­tion short-sight­ed and dan­ger­ous.

  • think again says:

    I feel bad for peo­ple like this sad Hanoch char­ac­ter who is the very car­i­ca­ture one sees all over the inter­net from across the world with such a pathet­i­cal­ly nar­row, and, yet, com­i­cal­ly dis­tort­ed, view of “Mr. Marx”. It’s even more dis­ap­point­ing to see such sil­ly peo­ple on such a love­ly site as this.

  • MJ says:

    1. We should remem­ber that Karl Marx stat­ed that he was­n’t a Marx­ist.

    2. The course deals with dynam­ics of cap­i­tal­ism, not indoc­tri­na­tion into some sort of Stal­in­ist thought.

    3. Yes cap­i­tal­ism can gen­er­ate the great­est wealth, but it also cre­ates the great­est inequal­i­ty. It also is the worst sys­tem for wealth dis­tri­b­u­tion.

    4. Rather than ide­o­log­i­cal tit-for-tat, let’s real­ize that we’re talk­ing about free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism (which has nev­er exist­ed any­where in pure form) ver­sus high­er degrees of State-reg­u­la­tion of the econ­o­my. Even the US reg­u­lates its econ­o­my, but oth­er coun­tries have the State play­ing a larg­er role.

    5. Those coun­tries where “com­mu­nism failed” did not exist in a vac­u­um. They could not per­pet­u­ate the sys­tem in part due to the exact oppo­site rea­son that the US IS ABLE to main­tain its polit­i­cal eco­nom­ic sys­tem. Region­al and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions.

  • Michael says:

    I sup­port Hanoch. Fuck this shit.

  • jonfernquest says:

    For those who have no pri­or sym­pa­thies with Marx or Marx­ism the best way to gain an appre­ci­a­tion for David Har­vey’s schol­ar­ship is to lis­ten to his lec­ture:

    The Neolib­er­al City on the New York City fis­cal cri­sis of the 1970s avail­able on YouTube. :)

  • Ellis says:

    I am always dis­ap­point­ed when I read online com­ments. I have enjoyed open cul­ture because they present an array of ideas and infor­ma­tion. If we are going to under­stand eco­nom­ics, I think Marx is as impor­tant to under­stand as Adam Smith. How can we under­stand where we are if we don’t under­stand where we came from?

  • Marx the­o­ries are actu­al­ly very inter­est­ing. He was one of the great­est cheer­lead­ers for Cap­i­tal­ism, but also one of its hard­est crit­ics. Crit­i­cisms:

    1.) Alien­ation. Per­form­ing repet­i­tive, mind-numb­ing tasks allows the effi­cient cre­ation of prod­ucts. How­ev­er, this also means work­ers feel no val­ue in what they cre­ate and no pride in their work.

    Lis­ten to any­one com­plain about their job, you’ll get a quick sense of what he was talk­ing about.

    2.) Preda­to­ry Cap­i­tal­ism. Iron­i­cal­ly, those cheer­lead­ing for free mar­kets fail to real­ize that “Free Mar­kets” often rely upon UnFree Coun­tries to do all their dirty work for them. Chi­na lock­ing chil­dren into 14 hour work­days, killing tens of thou­sands of them, Ango­la oil, blood dia­monds, sup­port­ing Egypt­ian and Sau­di Ara­bi­an dic­ta­tor­ships, etc.

    Marx had a rea­son why this occurred, as cap­i­tal­ists looked for the low­est labor costs and access to resources, they would either delib­er­ate­ly cre­ate bad economies and dic­ta­tor­ships, (quick, name all the dic­ta­tor­ships installed by Britain and Amer­i­ca: Nicaragua, India, Argenti­na, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sau­di Ara­bia, Viet­nam, Egypt, and on and on and on and on and on.….)

    3.) Class-ism. Class-ism in Amer­i­ca usu­al­ly plays out as racism against immi­grants, (cheap labor influx­es), or against minori­ties already exist­ing, (grrr… those blood-suck­ing wel­fare queens!), and Marx had answers, right or wrong, about why this is.

    Rich peo­ple go to the best schools, seg­re­gate them­selves into gat­ed com­mu­ni­ties, and mid­dle-class spends its time aping the rich peo­ple and pre­tend­ing that one day, they too will be rich.

    What Marx missed in his analy­sis is the amount of gov­ern­ment inter­ven­tion that allows aris­toc­ra­cies to per­pet­u­ate, such as agri­cul­tur­al sub­si­dies, restric­tion of com­pe­ti­tion to for­eign mar­kets, (no sug­ar from Brazil to keep corn prices high), restric­tion of labor (Mex­i­cans bad!!!), spe­cial “tax expen­di­tures”, the fastest grow­ing expense of most nations, etc.

    So he cer­tain­ly got a lot wrong here, but he under­stood that any rich class will cre­ate a sep­a­rate set of laws for itself which do not apply to the low­er class­es. Or can we all snort coke like Char­lie Sheen and pop drugs like Rush Lim­baugh and walk the streets free men?

  • Todd Elkins says:

    Hey Dan. I got here from the OWS Face­book page.

  • Gabriel38 says:

    Cap­i­tal­ism is dead. It’s just a mat­ter of time before it collapses…so unless you like the idea of prop­ping up a thiev­ing, crim­i­nal and near­ly use­less bank­ing aris­toc­ra­cy for the next 30yrs, while los­ing all the wealth cre­at­ed by hard-work­ing peo­ple and destroy­ing the envi­ron­ment at the same time, then I sug­gest you start con­sid­er­ing alter­na­tive eco­nom­ic sys­tems. Per­haps Marx is not your favorite per­son, but he knew that the aver­age work­ing per­son is get­ting screwed by Cap­i­tal­ism, not empow­ered by it. That fact has­n’t changed since Marx wrote his book, and with the weak­en­ing of unions, tax cuts for the wealthy, and aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures by gov­ern­ments through­out Europe, the poor and work­ing class are get­ting screwed more than ever.

  • ryan meier says:

    There’s plen­ty of prob­lems with cap­i­tal­ism but Har­vey ain’t the guy to go to with answers; he’s a rather vicious Lenin­ist. There’s a online talk he gives on Youtube where he glee­ful­ly talks about Evo Morales “defeat­ing the oli­garchs” by mak­ing them eat canned food. And var­i­ous oth­er para­noid, insane sound­ing state­ments.

    Far as I can tell what we have now–a mixed econ­o­my that is admit­ted­ly flawed and has some oppres­sion built in–is still far and away bet­ter than com­mu­nism (or fas­cism, or theoc­ra­cy, or trib­al­ism, etc etc).

  • Noel Brown says:

    It’s a good time to be tak­ing an inter­est in a broad spec­trum of Eco­nom­ic the­o­ries. Marx includ­ed, his cri­tique of Cap­i­tal­ism stands up today pret­ty good. Neo-lib­er­als are a rapid bunch of ide­o­logues.

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