Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Reading Capital

Rough Theory


February 22, 2011

Talk: “The Higher Realms of Nonsense: Unpacking Capital’s ‘Greatest Difficulty’”

By Nicole Pepperell, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Time: Tuesday 6-8 pm

Place: The New School, Room 529, 80 Fifth Ave., NYC


“The Higher Realms of Nonsense: Unpacking Capital’s ‘Greatest Difficulty’”

Marx argues that the reproduction of capital also necessarily reproduces the possibility for a more emancipatory form of social life. But how does this happen? And how can we use an analysis of the reproduction of capital, to develop an analysis of emancipatory potential?

In this paper, I explore some of the reasons these questions have proven unexpectedly difficult to answer. Concentrating on the opening chapters of Capital, I analyse how Marx understands capitalism as a complex, unintentional system – one that generates an accidental order that political economists mistake for evidence of Reason operating in history. Marx positions the political economic theorisation of capitalism as a kind of intelligent design – and mocks it mercilessly, structuring the opening chapters of Capital as a burlesque parody of common forms of political economic theory. Where these chapters are read “straight”, interpreters assume that Marx endorses the very positions he sets out to criticise, and either read him as wildly contradictory, or miss his own theoretical claims outright. By highlighting the parodic character of Marx’s text – and repositioning political economy as the butt of Marx’s convoluted joke – it becomes easier to see Marx’s answer to the serious question of how the reproduction of capital could also generate emancipatory possibilities.


Nicole Pepperell is Program Director of Social Science (Psychology) and Lecturer of Social Theory in the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia. She publishes the blog An introduction to her work on Marx, Disassembling Capital, will soon be published as part of the Historical Materialism books series. This talk is presented as a prelude to the forthcoming Historical Materialism conference at the New School (May 6-8th 2011).

Facebook RSVP:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

MySpace Profile:

The Ockress:

Rikowski Point:

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at:


Karl Marx


King’s College London Reading Capital Society

October 14th 2010
– – –
– – –
1) John Weeks Recording:

Around 70-80 people came to King’s last Monday evening for John Weeks’ very interesting talk on ‘Capital, Exploitation and Economic Crises’. For those who weren’t able to come, there is a recording of the talk

A copy of John’s PowerPoint presentation will also be available soon on

– – –

2) Volume II of Capital:

The Reading Group continues this year with Volume II of Marx’s Capital. Although, as Engels pointed out, Volume II does not contain ‘much material for agitation’, in describing the process by which the total social capital is reproduced and circulated, it occupies a crucial place in Marx’s analysis of the capitalist mode of production. Volume II, centred around the market-place, explains not how value and surplus-value are produced, but how they are realised.

For our first session, Nicholas Beech, a PhD student from UCL, will be presenting a short introduction followed by a discussion on Ernest Mandel’s Introduction to the Penguin edition of Volume II.

Monday 25th October

Strand Building, Room tbc
King’s College London

N.B. We will be reading the Introduction to Vol.II by Ernest Mandel for this meeting.

Facebook event at:!/event.php?eid=116271315100098

– – –

3) Reading Marx:

A number of people have expressed an interest in attending one-off sessions around shorter works by Marx, such the Communist Manifesto, the Paris Manuscripts, etc. If you would like to take part in such sessions please contact us on usual email address
Also if you would like to be put in touch with others interested in reading Volume I of Capital likewise please email.

– – –

KCL Reading Capital

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Karl Marx - 1872

Karl Marx - 1872



King’s College London Reading Capital Society

October 20th 2009

– – –

– – –

Thanks to all who attended our re-launch meeting with Ben Fine (apologies for those who had to sit on the floor and stand by the door!). There is an mp3 of the meeting ( for download along with older sessions on the blog. It’s a big file, but worth the wait!

We hope that everyone found the meeting interesting and will consider reading Capital with us. Details of our first meeting are below:

’Commodities & Values’

The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’.

Marx begins Capital by looking at the elementary building block of capitalism, the commodity.

Marx identifies in the commodity a dual aspect, use-value and exchange value. One gives the commodity its usefulness for the consumer, the other commensurability with other commodities.

– – –

Chris Harman, editor of International Socialism Journal (, introduces a discussion on:

‘Commodities & Values’
Tuesday 27th October 2009
Room 2.42 F-WB
Waterloo Campus
King’s College London

N.B. We will be reading the first 3 sections of Chapter 1 in preparation.

All welcome!

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: