Marx’s Capital Illustrated is a summary of one of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. It’s an argument for workers revolution, a true to life explanation about our current living conditions under capitalism. It explains how we got here and where we are. David Smith also offers some predictions to where we’re heading based on this analysis in the epilogue. The fact that it’s a graphic novel doesn’t hurt either lol. Phil Evans is funny. That kind of easy access to a big idea like this one is so important.
I think what’s most helpful to see is that none of this is natural or necessary and can be changed if the exploited all banned together. They way people got trained into this system, however, is pretty unsettling and offers insight into why we don’t revolt. Cuz people used to think selling things for profit was greedy. Most people were growing food and trading things as needed. But if that person’s farm gets pillaged and stolen from him (and more and more farms are stolen until all the land is owned by a few people), now that person is forced to work for wages. All they have to their name is their ability to work. That pressure of need is what keeps us working quietly for the most part every day.
And thus begins two patterns for two groups–proletariats (the working class) who sells a commodity (their labor) for money. Then they use that money to buy more commodities like food and stuff. Capitalists (the bourgeoisie), on the other hand, start with money and turn it into commodities. They buy stuff so they can sell it, and they turn that money into more commodities. A lot of their wealth comes from profit, interest, and rent, all of which are completely made up. Profit is placing more value on an item than they bought it for, interest is playing more value on their monetary investment than exists, and rent is charging people to live somewhere even though it’s stolen land.
The super commodity, then, is money, and the super super commodity is labor. You sit there and work 8 hours thinking you just earned your paycheck at the end of the week, but they made enough to keep you around after you being there like 4 hours (sometimes less). And that leads to the problem with wage labor as a concept. If we ask for more money, they’ll hire someone who’ll do it for less and/or they’ll cut corners other ways. They’ll employ people in other countries, start a trade war, then send poor people from here over there to fight and kill each other. This is all tightly linked to colonialism and imperialism–traveling to other places to steal land and resources and workers. It gets replicated again and again.
And that it’s never enough is maybe the most disturbing part. Capitalists want more more more. They will never willingly give up their wealth. That’s why Marx argues that the working class as a group needs to organize and revolt. Wage labor should be abolished in place of socialism, where people share instead of compete. Producing for use, not profit. No bosses. But the problem right now, and for a while, is that people think this is just regular life and just how it is. Sharing this information and making more Marxists is a worthwhile effort and is something Marx was originally trying to do. Awaken the masses, disrupt reality, and change the world.
Best line: “Exploitation can only be effectively resisted by the united efforts of the exploited.”