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Raya Dunayevskaya


You are invited to attend a series of open discussions on…

Exploding the Myths of Capitalism

First & Third Wednesdays, March & April

6:30-9.00 pm

@ChicagoPublic Library,  Harold Washington L ibrary Center, 400 South State St.Chicago IL, Room 3N-6

Progressive change in the United States is severely hampered owing both to the failure of the left to project an alternative to capitalism and to the myths projected by the right regarding the nature of capitalism. On the other hand, Karl Marx projected an alternative socioeconomic system that comes into view in his writings in significant part in and through exploding the myths about capitalism. This series of five classes will explore the myths of capitalism through discussions of selected writings of Marx, and others.

Readings are available online or from U.S.M.H.  Online readings are available from U.S.M.H in pdf format for e-readers etc.

Sponsored by the U.S. Marxist-Humanists


Phone: 773-561-3454


Schedule andReadings

March 7th:  Myth #1: Capitalism is the Economic System most in Accord with Human Nature         

Contradictory concepts of human nature abound in the culture of capitalism. Human nature is said to be fundamentally greedy and selfish, or, contrariwise, cast in an image of perfection, or both. These concepts are used to justify social and economic policies that promote and protect capitalism, but this can only work if their historical origin in capitalism itself is obscured. This class will explore the concepts of human nature extant in capitalist societies and counterpose them to concepts drawn from the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The myth that capitalism is reflective of human nature will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:


Erich Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man, pp. 24-43, “The Nature of Man”

Karl Marx, Grundrisse, “Introduction,” pp. 84-110

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 13: Of the Natural Conditions of Mankind as concerning their Felicity and Misery  and Chapter 17:  Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of Commonwealth

Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach


Leading the discussion: Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, author, Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity


March 21st:  Myth #2: Democracy is Compatible with Capitalism

The rhetoric of the candidates for the Republican nomination for president of theUS, as well as their opponents in the Democratic Party, makes it unequivocally clear that for them, and probably for the majority of Americans, capitalism is entirely conflated with ‘democracy.’ That is, the notion of the ‘free market,’ value production, and the drive to accumulate capital for its own sake have been superimposed on the meaning of democracy as a political system as if to say that only the economic system known as capitalism can facilitate democracy. This myth will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:


Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto.

Karl Marx, “Address to the Communist League of March, 1850.”

Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter VI, The Paris Commune Deepens the content of Capital, pp. 92-102.

Raya Dunayevskaya, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution: Marx’s Theory of Permanent Revolution.” 1843-83, pp. 158-163.


Leading the discussion: Anton Evelynov, student activist


April 4th: Myth #3: State Forms of ‘Socialism’ are Fundamentally Different from Capitalism

Proponents of capitalism, as well as many post-Marx Marxists, have attempted to identify “socialism” or “communism” with state control of the economy and a centralized state. However, theSoviet Unionas well as “Communist China” and the European welfare state represent not so much a departure from capitalism as a realization of it. This class will explore whether there is an alternative to either reducing a new society to state control of the economy, on one hand, or refraining from the need to seize state power as part of a revolutionary transformation, on the other. The myths regarding state forms of capitalism will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:


Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter IV, “Worker, Intellectual, and the State,” pp. 69-77.

Raya Dunayevskaya, State Capitalism and Marx’s Humanism “Lenin vs Bukharin” pp. 10-18.

“Build It Now”: An Interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

John Holloway, Change the World without Seizing State Power, Chapter 2, “Beyond the State?” pp. 11-18.


Leading the discussion: Ali Reza, Iranian activist and member of Iranian Left Alliance Abroad.


April 18th: Myth #4: There is No Alternative to Capitalism

Proponents of capitalism as well as many critics of it have maintained that it is impossible to overcome such phenomena as commodity production, exchange value, alienated labor, and the existence of classes. This stance has within it all of the myths of capitalism, i.e., that capitalism reflects and honors ‘human nature’; that it is a form of democratic practice; and that it prevents the development of state control of the economy. It has also been claimed by many on the left that any effort to spell out the content of a new, post-capitalist society is at best useless and at worst harmful. The myth that there is no alternative to capitalism will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:


Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program .

Raya Dunayevskaya, The Power of Negativity, “Presentation on the Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy,” pp. 3-14.


Leading the discussion: Peter Hudis, author of Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism


Wednesday May 2nd

May Day Celebration and discussion


U.S. Marxist Humanists would like to invite all participants in this class to continue the discussion in honor of May Day in a convivial setting, with food and drink. Venue to be announced



‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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Karl Marx


Announcing a new series on
Marx’s Capital for Today:  A Reading of Volume One of Capital

Second & Fourth Mondays
June, July & August
6:30-9.00 pm
@ Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State St. Chicago IL
Room 3N-6

Join us for a re-examination of Marx’s analysis of the logic of capital in light of today’s economic and social crises. The focus will be Volume One of Marx’s Capital, in which Marx developed some of his most creative philosophic conceptions. The suggested readings from Marx will be supplemented by selections from Marxism and Freedom, by Raya Dunayevskaya, founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.

Capital is online at

Marxism and Freedom is available from U.S. Marxist-Humanists.

Sponsored by the U.S. Marxist-Humanists
Phone: 773-561-3454
eg/2011/labor donated

Schedule and Readings

June 13th   — The Commodity Form and the Dual Character of Labor

Marx called his analysis of the dual character of labor at the start of Capital his “unique contribution” to the critique of political economy. This meeting will discuss the difference between concrete labor and abstract labor and how it defines the nature of the social relations of modern capitalism.

Suggested readings:
Capital, chapter 1, sections 1 and 2 (pp. 125-137)
Marxism and Freedom, chapter 5 (pp. 81-91)

Leading the discussion: Peter Hudis, General Editor, The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg


June 27th — The Forms of Value and the Function of Money

The discussion of the forms of value in section 3 of chapter 1 of Capital, which is the subject of this meeting, is of pivotal importance in disclosing capitalism’s drive to commodify human relations as well as the function of money in the modern world.

Suggesting reading:
Capital, chapter 1, section 3 (pp. 138-163).
Leading the discussion: Anton Evelynov, student activist


July 11th — The Adventures of Commodity Fetishism

The section on “The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret” has been widely considered the philosophic core of Capital, in which Marx both pinpoints the reason for capitalism’s persistence and points to its possible transcendence. This meeting will focus on this famous section in light of ongoing debates in radical theory.

Suggesting readings:
Capital, chapter 1, section 4 (pp. 163-177)
Marxism and Freedom, chapter 6 (pp. 92-102).

Leading the discussion: Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, author, Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity


July 25th — What is Capital? Why is it the Defining Feature of Modern Society?

Part 2 of Capital, “The Transformation of Money into Capital,” which is the subject of this meeting, discloses the peculiar nature of capital as a social form and how it becomes the universal medium of  social relations in capitalist society.

Suggested readings:
Capital, chapters 4-6, (pp. 247-282)
Marxism and Freedom, chapter 7, section 1 (pp. 103-111).

Leading the discussion: Miguel A. Rodriguez, student at Loyola University; and Ali Reza, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Iran


August 8th — The Domination of “Dead” over “Living Labor”

The subject of this meeting is Marx’s discussion of the relation between the labor process and the valorization process, on the one hand, and constant capital and variable capital, on the other. This relation discloses the law of motion inherent in all forms of capitalism—whether in its “free market” or statist variants.

Suggested readings:
Capital, chapters 7-8, (pp. 283-319)
Marxism and Freedom, chapter 7, section 2 (pp. 112-119).

Leading the discussion: J Turk, U. S. Marxist-Humanists


August 22nd — The Working Day and the Quest for a New Society

Why have automated and computerized forms of labor, which at one time were heralded as leading to a dramatic shortening of the working day, led instead to an increase in the amount of time that many spend at work? To what extent do efforts to shorten the working day and transform conditions of labor point to a possible alternative to the capitalist mode of production? We will explore Marx’s discussion of these issues in the section of Capital on “The Working Day.”

Suggested Readings:
Capital, chapter 10, (pp. 340-416)
Marxism and Freedom, chapter 7, section 3 (pp. 120-125).

Leading the discussion: Eileen Grace, Hobgoblin Collective




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