MAY DAY and Capital Reading Group


The group will be showing images and diagrams inserted into the Text of Capital as a projected film at this gallery- Pil and Galia Kollectiv


Opens May Day

ADRESS 258 Hackney Road
London E2 7SJ 
Openning 7-9pm MAY 1st 

The show will include talks-

Benjamin Noys on saturday the 11th of May -The Aesthetics of Communization

Richard Brenner Saturday 25th May- How value is generated today and how this should inform struggles against austerity

Others to be be confirmed.

This is the start of an ongoing project to produce a work that can be shown at all sorts of venues to stimulate interest in Marx’s incredible work at this time when insight into capitalism is much needed. Images will be added to the film real which goes through the entire text though and beyond the show

Thanks to Pil and Galia for hosting this and the speakers.


Update Aug 2012- This has continued and we are in the process of working though the last few chapters. We hope to produce a booklet soon. 


Update Jan 2012- Owing to the  eviction of Bank of Ideas we will be at the Royal Festival Hall in the indoor public space on the first floor. We plan to relocate soon and will update this site if their are any changes.

We think it’s important to continue the momentum and welcome your input!

 6.00pm-Our reading focus group –



We are now reading chapters 7-9 and listening to David Harvey

Chapter 7 8 9

To start the group we recommend the introductory video by David Harvey Introduction to Capital, Marx

Our previous reading includes chapter one and two listening to

Capital, Marx Chapters 1 & 2

Capital, Marx Chapter 3 David Harvey

Chapters Four, Five and Six

Diagram-David Harvey’s schema for chapter one on the commodity
‘This is different from the Hegelian thesis antithesis and synthesis- in that the points are not synthesis’s but internalized tense contradictions that need to be expanded

We are very pleased to be linked to The People’s School in Zagreb. Who are also reading the text and have similar aims in creating a common people’s culture.

The People’s School – Zagreb.  Pucka Skola, Pucka Commonisti

Friday 10th Feb -We had a visit from Prof. Samuel Sztern Director of IENBA (Instituto Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes), Uruguay,
(Fine Art School, University of the Republic Uruguay.)
“The IENBA teaches using a pedagogical approach based on the theories
of Herbert Read, John Dewey and Ovide Decroly. Their original
curriculum was devised by the student body who took over the running
of the school in the early 1960s. After being closed by the military
in 1973, it reopened in 1995 to continue a programme of art
education focused on fostering the development of creative and
aesthetically sensible citizens.”
“Research has left the academic desk and blossomed shamelessly in everyones sensitivity”
We are hoping to link up with IENBA and are looking forward to sharing the film that Samuel showed us when it is on line. 
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4 Responses to MAY DAY and Capital Reading Group

  1. Notes from the People’s School Zagreb
    pučkaškola says:
    January 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm PUCKA – biljeske uz prvi dio prvog poglavlja na engleskom…. notes on Capital, ch1/SECTION1 uz Harveya

    The handloom weavers, as a matter of fact, continued to require the same time as before; but for all that, the product of one hour of their labour represented after the change only half an hour’s social labour, and consequently fell to one-half its former value.
    We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount p. 27

    “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labour time.”11

    Capitalist system from the point of view of production


    Use of dialectics – in preface – different concept of analysis – no causal language
    , but this Is dialectically related, an inner relation, not causative relation

    41min – opposite of Hegelian dialectics

    use dialectical method to capture fluidity and motion, impressed with fluidity and dynamics of capitalism, he sees the MOVEMENT – a dialectical movement –
    ‘intuitive’ dialectical method that everything is in process, not labour but the labour process, capital not a thing but a process, value exists only in motion

    when things stop value disappears
    if things stop capitalism stops, 3 days after 9/11 calls to motion, to use credit cards
    capitalism on the road perpetually

    positivist version that disagrees with dialectical Marxism,

    bourgeois theory, history moving, so ideas have to reconfigured

    Ch 1 around 58 min

    Appears or presents itself –

    “The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itselfas “an immense accumulation of commodities,”1 its unit being a single commodity. Our
    investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.”

    Commodity as a common denominator – something we can’t live without, we have to buy them to live. What kind of transaction is it?
    A commodity is something that meets a human want or need
    -something external to us, nature of need makes no difference – not interested in psychology, not why? Desire or need, simply buying a commodity

    USE VALUE – not the history or how, simply its use – abstracting –

    Commodity is a bearer of use value – not IS, but bears something

    Exchange processes – uncoherent exchange values, it appears to be accidental
    ( use value = a skirt or shoe, exchange values is shirt and skirts in the market). …. prices

    ‘Hence exchange value appears to be something accidental and purely
    relative, and consequently an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange value that is inseparably connected with, inherent in commodities, seems a contradiction in terms’

    everything exchangeable with something else, and on and on, a thing keeps moving to be exchanged – if so,

    a commodity can’t be dissected to find the exchangeable element, have to look at it in motion – a conmensurable – commodity the BEARER but not inside of it, it is a relation inside of it not a thing

    “This common “something” cannot be either a geometrical, a chemical, or any other natural
    property of commodities.:

    NOT THE MATERIALITY of the commodity to find its secret,

    They have in common that they are the products of human labour – what kind of labour
    Reduced to same kind of labour in the abstract??

    Residue of products of labour –

    “Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be
    produced in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the labour time necessary for the production of the one is to that necessary for the production of the other. “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labour time.”11

    EXCHANGE VALUE – is a representation of value, a representation of labour

    can you see the labour in the commodity?
    We can’t see the labour in the commodity, we get a sense of it in the price,

    The thing as representation of the process (education is about a process, not to be tested on things!) – a process is objectified in a thing, which is sold, not the process – although the thing would not exist without the process –

    quantity – hours, days – capitalist modes of production sets up a notion of temporality, how does capitalist mode of production structure time, time is money, connected to value so our measures of time take on an allure

    the value of labour valued against the whole world of labour – global even then
    steamships, railways opening up to a global economy – so value was determined in the world of commodities, the result of this is each of these units of homogenous labour power is the same as all other – a social unit of labour power
    socially necessary labour time is the lt necessary to produce and use value


    “Some people might think that if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his commodity be, because more time would be required in its production. The labour, however, that forms thesubstance of value, is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uniform labour power. The total labour power of society, which is embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities produced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour power, composed though it be of innumerable individual units. Each of these units is the same as any other, so far as it has the character of the average labour power of society, and takes effect as such; that is, so far as it requires for producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an average, no more than is socially necessary. The labour time socially necessary is that required to produce an article under the normal conditions of production, and with the average degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time.”

    How is value established? How does it get created, produced and with what consequences?

    How is the value structure determined? Got to understand what social necessity?
    Value is not fixed.value changes with productivity – power looms in England,
    Value sensitive to revolutions in technology, p 27 pdf

    “We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, or the labour time socially necessary for its production.9 Each individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be considered as an average sample of its class.10 Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be produced in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the labour time necessary for the production of the one is to that necessary for the production of the other. “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labour time.”11

    “The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, if the labour time required for its production also remained constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the
    productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined by various circumstances, amongst others, by the average amount of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the degree of its practical application, the social organisation of production, the extent and capabilities of the means of production, and by physical conditions.” – things that effect value, value subject to an array of forces. So not constant, subject to revolutionary transformations

    A thing can be a use value, without having value. This is the case whenever its utility to man is not due to labour. Such are air, virgin soil, natural meadows, &c. A thing can be useful, and the product of human labour, without being a commodity. Whoever directly satisfies his wants with the produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use values, but not commodities. In order to produce the latter, he must not only produce use values, but use values for others, social use values.”
    – nothing can be a value, if a thing is useless so is the labour contained within it – no labour no value –

    1.27 min diagram

    can’t talk about exchange value without talking about use value, or value all the concepts are related – marx’s dialectics rather than causality – a set of relations

    what determines socially necessary labour time – imperialisam, the market, slave labour….
    Marx guided by classical political economy – functioning markets with no monopoly, let’s assume this is correct and
    What is socially necessary now as opposed to in the 50s?
    Marx is using it in a specific way and time
    Socially necessary – has to take into account costs of reproduction, household, although in industrial revolution, most of global proletariat is women –


  2. The following poem is by the Moroccan poet Hassan Najmi who tells of the people that drown trying to cross the stretch of sea between Morocco and spain in make shift boats in the search for work.

    THE CAPE Hassan Najmi

    God’s air is free and plentiful. The mist is salty. We left our shirts on our treacherous shore and Spain’s sea does not accept us alive, nor accept us dead. We used to cross with flames in our hearts, having burnt the ships behind us. Now we leave them floating and cross as corpses and the sea’s sand runs away from us. Andalusia is distant: Granada’s lights are visible, but the water is heavy. We got rid of our IDs and passports and, amid the confusion, of our arms too. We were lost-
    (who will call our families in Bani Mlal to prepare proper coffins?)
    Come mother, kiss the cold forehead!
    I love the eyes bathed in tears.
    I love the mourners’ elegies.
    I love ‘ayata singing on my grave.
    I love funerals that are like weddings in deepest deserts.
    I love to dance the echo of scissors.
    I love what is not loved.
    Forgive me-
    It would be better to get rid of a stagnant life
    Were it not for this slow and salty death.
    Were it not for these whales roaming the cape like coast guards
    and this water which I’m afraid to dip my hand
    lest I find corpses.

    Hassan Najmi was one of the three of the internationally renowned poets due to appear at the 2009 Festival that were denied entry to the UK because of harsh new home office rules.

  3. The aim is to compare understandings
    CHAPTER ONE my notes (typos abolished mostly) Andrew Cooper

    Commodity-A thing to satisfy human needs. Be they the needs of the stomach or imagination doesn’t matter.

    Use Value is contained in the physical form of the commodity –its quality

    Commodities may be looked at from the point of view of quantity or quality

    Uses may be manifold as are the different forms of measurement. It is a task for history to unfold these.
    A commodity has both-


    Exchange value-e.g. 1 quarter of corn = 1cwt of iron


    Both commodities are products of Labour

    Of course labour varies but Marx takes the average time it takes to do something. What is considered or becomes the average is Socially necessary labour time.
    What this ends up becoming is in no way politically neutral (Harvey)

    Value is created by the amount of socially necessary labour time needed for each commodity. It is the congealed labour time present in the commodity that gives value. The commodity could be seen as crystallized labour.

    If the socially necessary labour time is shortened because of say, technological advance, value is also lessened because it contains less labour time. If conditions mean that more labour time is required for example, in a difficult harvest, value of the commodities produced is increased.

    The greater the labour time the greater the value.

    There are use values , those of natural resources that don’t have value in this sense. E.g. a natural unplanted forest.

    Marx was first to point this out.
    Labour as a creator of use value
    Labour as an expression of value (in amount of socially necessary labour time used to create the commodity)

    1 coat
    10 yards of linen (W)
    1 coat=2W

    Both have use value and both are the product of heterogeneous useful labour, with a definite aim -weaving and tailoring.
    Both coat and linen have different use value. It is things of different use values that are exchanged.
    DIVISION OF LABOUR-needed for commodity production. But, commodity production is not a necessary part of division of labour, Marx mentions division of labour among Indian communities. Also in a factory the labour is divided but the workers do not bring this about by exchanging their individual products themselves.
    Only products of mutually independent isolated acts of useful labour confront each other as commodities.

    People can only change and alter substances of nature- ‘Labour the father nature the mother of wealth’-William Petty

    Tailoring and weaving are both the productive expenditure of human brains , nerves, muscles, hands e.t.c

    It is simple average labour that determines value, how much socially necessary labour time will determine value-Marx “hence fourth we will view every labour power as simple labour power or general labour.”
    The values of the linen and the coat are merely congealed quantities of homogenous labour. There is half as much labour time to produce the linen as the coat hence

    Labour in reference to use value counts qualitatively
    Labour in reference to value counts quantatively

    If the time changes needed to make the coat from 2x to 1x the use value remains the same but the value decreases. Increasing the quantity of use value means more people can have coats increasing the wealth (increase in use values) in that more people can keep warm but there is a simultaneous fall in value.
    This contradictory movement arises from the double nature of labour

    Creator of uses value by particular forms of concrete labour
    Abstract amount of simple labour power gives value

    The same rise in productivity of labour and process that brings increase in fruitfulness of production of use values also brings about a reduction of value in the total amount produced.

    Commodities have use value in their physicality and posses a double form which is value. This value is not in physical form but the product of a social relation. They are an expression of an identical social substance human labour.

    a task never before attempted in bourgeois economics!

    A) The simple isolated accidental form of value.

    X commodity A=Y commodity B
    X commodity A is worth Y commodity B
    20 yards of linen = 1 coat
    Material value expressed material that is expression of value
    Active role Passive role

    The relative form of value and the equivalent are inseparable moments. Always divided into different commodities brought into relation by that expression.
    20 yards of linen=20yards of linen cannot give us the value.
    Value can only be expressed relatively in another commodity.
    The relative form presupposes another commodity confronts it in the equivalent form.
    Commodities cannot simultaneously be in relative or equivalent form of value. The Equation can be reversed but then they change places as regards relative and equivalent value form

    1 coat = 20 yards of linen
    Relative value Equivalent value form

    By equating the coat and linen we equate labour embedded in the production of the commodity
    Labour embedded = Labour embedded

    If the labour time necessary for production of linen is doubled-
    20 yards of linen = 1 coat
    20 yards of linen = 2 coats
    (the equivalent for is acting as the measure)

    If the labour time for producing the linen is halved then-
    20 yards of linen= half a coat

    The relative value of commodity A expressed in commodity B rises or falls in direct relation to the value of A if the value of B remains constant.

    If the value of B the coat changes while the value of the linen remains constant-
    Labour time for producing coat is doubled
    20 yards of linen = 1 coat
    20 yards of linen= Half a coat
    if the labour time for making the coat is halved then
    20 yards of linen = 2coats.

    If the value of commodity A remains constant its relative value as expressed in commodity B rises or falls in inverse proportion to the change in value in commodity B (i.e if B is worth more because more labour time is needed you will get less coats for linen)

    If the quantities of labour time for coats and linen change simultaneously in the same direction-
    20 yards of linen = 1 coat would stay the same.
    -the change in value would only be revealed by a third commodity whose value remained constant.

    If all commodities rose and fell simultaneously relative values would stay the same. The change in value would only be noted by the increase or decrease in commodities produced within the same labour time.

    Immaterially Objective
    You can’t find the value in an object, because it is a hieroglyph for a social relation*, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have objective effect in the real. * it is the general labour time that has been invested to create the object that is the source of value.

    We act as though something is true, as if the commodity was worth something that can be exchanged for something else. it is not like the sexual partner that appears as a horse combined with a fish that we don’t know what to do with.

    One can use the analogy of measures of weight applied to different objects but it only goes so far, because weight measure actually applies to a physical property of the objects.
    The value of the linen and the coat is a supra natural property; it is social. The body of the commodity which serves as the equivalent form always figures as embodiment of abstract human labour.

    In the commodity used as the equivalent the concrete useful labour which is used to create the commodity equivalent becomes a manifestation of its opposite –abstract labour (general labour time). This enables it to be compared to other types of labour e.g weaving in the production of linen.
    The individual labour in the equivalent form takes the form of the opposite labour in its directly social form. (abstract labour a certain amount of socially necessary labour time)

    Example given by Aristotle-
    5 beds = 1 house
    Aristotle noted that this was indistinguishable from
    5 beds = a certain amount of money

    Aristotle was unable to take this further and extract the fact that the value which can be exchanged was created by equal amounts of general human labour. Marx points out the idea of the equality of labour would be difficult to arrive at in a society founded on slavery.

    B) The total expanded form of value

    X commodity A = U commodity B or =U commodity C or = W commodity D or or = X commodity E etc.
    20 yards of linen= 1 coat or = 10lb of tea or= 40lb of coffee or =1 quart of corn or = 2 ounces of gold or = half a ton of iron etc.

    The value of the Linen is expressed in innumerable number of commodities. Commodities which have the same amount of congealed labour. It can be seen that the particular use values make no difference when considering value.

    In the first form, A) The simple isolated accidental form of value,
    20 yards of linen= 1 coat might be purely accidental.

    The defect of B) The total expanded form of value , is we would never come to an end in finding equivalents; the series of finding representations for value never comes to an end.
    As was said before the equations can be reversed in each case but then the equivalent and relative forms of value swap places.

    C) The General Form of Value.
    1 Coat
    10lb of tea
    40lb of coffee
    1 quarter of corn = 20 yards of linen
    2 ounces of gold
    Half ton of iron
    X commodity A etc.

    As in the previous forms the amount of value is distinct from us value as something physically present .
    A) Simple Form 10lb of tea = half ton of iron
    B)Expanded Form 20 yards of linen = x, y , z, ,u ad infinitum functioning as equivalent
    In the general form the equivalent relates to the whole world of commodities. The Linen becomes the universal equivalent. It represents a certain amount of labour time in general congealed in commodities.
    In the expanded form (b) the form of relative value is measured against an infinite number of commodities acting as equivalents that embody the same amount of labour time.
    In the general form one commodity forms the universal equivalent (20 yards of linen). What is creating value in all cases is the general socially necessary labour time used to create the commodities.
    The universal equivalent in this case cannot occupy the position of relative value-
    20 yards of linen=20 yards of linen.
    To express the value you would need to resort to the expanded form.
    D) The Money Form
    The transition for the general form to the money form- There is a specific commodity whose natural form is socially interwoven as the equivalent form to become the money commodity. Historically this has been gold.

    20 yards of linen
    1 coat
    10lb of tea
    40lb of coffee =2 ounces of gold
    1 quarter of corn
    Half ton of iron
    X commodity A
    Gold is the universal equivalent
    Price Form-
    20 yards of linen=2 ounces of gold
    Or if 2 ounces of gold when coined is £2
    20 yards of linen=£2
    The simple relation A=Y commodity b shows the germ of the money form is the commodity.

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