CAPITAL is Marx’s most important work. It is also a work that brings out with the greatest clarity and concreteness the method and standpoint of historical materialism, applying the method systematically to understand the laws of motion of capitalism as a mode of production. There is a great deal that one can learn from reading Capital. First, it teaches us that, to understand a society and its dynamics, one needs to look at it in historical perspective.
There are those, opponents of Marxism, who say: Marx had come to the conclusion that the revolution can be carried out only in the most highly developed countries whereas revolutions have actually occurred only in countries economically less developed than the most advanced Western countries. Consequently, Marx’s theory of proletarian revolution, they say, is wrong.
WHILE working for the implementation of the general task of building proletarian political parties on the basis of the internationalist ideas of Marxism, Marx and Engels at the same time stressed the importance of taking into account the distinctive features of the development of each country, the difficulties and obstacles that confront the working class movement in its progress.
THE final version of the political programme of the First International and the decisive settling of accounts with the Bakuninist anarchists came at the Congress of the International at The Hague in September 1872. Marx had been busy with the preparation of the Congress since the beginning of the year.
His appearance stirred great interest among the Congress delegates. He was also the leading personality in the bourgeois Press, and not least in the reports of police agents who had been sent to Holland to keep watch on the Congress.
AFTER the fall of the Paris Commune, the Governments of the European countries organized police repression on the International’s sections and members. In France membership in the International was regarded as a criminal offence. The Governments of Germany, Russia and Austria were discussing joint measures against the organization.
Never since the defeat of the 1848-49 revolution had a campaign of slander reached such intensity in the bourgeois press, which resorted to every kind of falsification and misrepresentation of facts.
ON July 19, 1870, war broke out between France and Prussia. The ruling classes of both countries had long been secretly preparing for it. Marx had long foreseen that the adventurer Napoleon III and the Prussian Junker Bismarck, who was bent on unifying Germany “by blood and iron”, would embark on policies leading to an armed conflict.
MARX wrote Capital especially for the working class, for the struggle of the workers. With special emphasis on the history of English capitalism, he made clear the manner in which not only the material means of production are being constantly created and reproduced anew in the course of English capitalist production, but the conditions for exploitation as well. With the piling up, the accumulation of, capital, its power is extended over an ever-increasing number of wage-workers.
IN 1844, in his first work devoted to providing a economic and philosophical basis for Communism, the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Marx had written, “man is the highest creature for man, and it is therefore necessary to overthrow all conditions in which man is a debased, an enslaved, an abandoned, disdained creature”.
MARX’S study of political economy began long before his arrival in England. In 1842, when his political activity as a Correspondent and then Editor of Rheinische Zeitung began, he was immediately confronted with questions of political economy. In 1843 he reached the conclusion that “the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy.”