Capital, Marx’s epic work, describes in detail the capitalist system and how it functions, but is notoriously difficult to read. Cafiero’s Compendium is a gateway to understanding the contents of Marx’s Capital.
This is the story of the failure of Marxism. Noone understands Marx, and his Capital, turned into an icon, makes no sense to most of its readers who almost always give up on it. Book after book attempts resolve the issues, in vain or not. The left, if not Marxists needs to move on and refound their subject without the Marx texts. It is extremely easy to state the principles of socialist society, and the issues of capitalism are also quite easy to state in clear and short accounts. So how did it happen that a subject so simple became an esoteric doctrine controlled by a new elite (that in fact doesn’t understand Capital either)? In part it is the novelty of a new canon that drives thought to false complexity. Fair enough, but then simplify. Regrettably, another factor is clear: Marx was a dominating authoritarian who turned his work into a kind of cult doctrine under rigid control. To the see point, consider the movie on Karl Marx and the revealing moment when he attacks Weitling out of the blue and destroys his participation even as Weitling’s working-class sentiments are attacked in the name of Marx muttering about theory. The sad reality is that Marx didn’t trust the working class and wanted to dominate a movement with elite materials. The movie may be factually misleading but I doubt it and the basic point is clear: Marxism needs to be retired and recast in the simplest form it can manage for those who might not even be literate. It could have more complex versions in parallel but theory is not needed there. Forget theory. Theories of history or economics don’t exist in scientific form, and if that is true, it is highly unlikely that Marx could have changed the basic reality.. It is the pretense that Marx claimed to have exposed, only to substitute his own arcana. Take any economics textbook and see if you could make a science from that. Impossible, yet easy to fool yourself that the mass of descriptive recipes with some numeration is scientific. I have examined many texts on economics, and noted the way almost every branch of higher mathematics has been used to try and found economics. I even found one text using QM’s Hilbert space theory. (I actually find that interesting, but still a bit nutty). The same is true of the Marx corpus. It is all unnecessary. History requires only a set of chronologies with descriptive accounts of its economic histories, AND lest one forget overall accounts of, yes, its politics, and also its ethical and aesthetic aspects. Etc…Marxism ended up in a botch because few understood it in the manner of Marx.
I venture that Marx was one of those who Schopenhauer, who detested Hegel, pointed to as totally confused by that philosopher. Fair or not, the issues of Hegel are actually better on one point that Marx’s reductionist pseudo-science: Hegel saw that history shows the emergence of freedom and that this factor is metaphysically vexed as it stands next to ‘science’ which can deal with the issue. Marx ended up with a crypto-teleological history based on forms of production. A very shaky way to do historical theory, doomed to not really work, and Marx struggled for years to produce his theory and clearly failed, ending his life in a kind of limbo of unfinished work, the empty spaces in the volumes of Capital.
We urgently need a new leftist paradigm beyond the Marx swamp. It is impossible to make the Marxist system work. A far simpler framework is easy to arrive at and could produce a movement ready for the coming crisis, and aware of what they are doing.