Capital, Volume III

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Das Kapital, Volume III

Capital, Volume III, subtitled The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole, is a book prepared by Friedrich Engels from notes left by Karl Marx and published in 1894. It is in seven parts:[1]

  1. The conversion of Surplus Value into Profit and the rate of Surplus Value into the rate of Profit
  2. Conversion of Profit into Average Profit
  3. The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall
  4. Conversion of Commodity Capital and Money Capital into Commercial Capital and Money-Dealing Capital (Merchant's Capital)
  5. Division of Profit Into Interest and Profit of Enterprise, Interest Bearing Capital.
  6. Transformation of Surplus-Profit into Ground Rent.
  7. Revenues and Their Sources

The work is best known today for part 3, which in summary says that as the organic fixed capital requirements of production rise as a result of advancements in production generally, the rate of profit tends to fall. This result, which orthodox Marxists believe is a principal contradictory characteristic leading to an inevitable collapse of the capitalist order,[2] was held by Marx and Engels to, as a result of various contradictions in the capitalist mode of production, result in crises whose resolution necessitates the emergence of an entirely new mode of production as the culmination of the same historical dialectic that led to the emergence of capitalism from prior forms.[3]

Volume 3 is subtitled "The process of capitalist production as a whole" and is concerned primarily with the internal differentiation of the capitalist class. The first three parts are concerned with the division of surplus value amongst individual capitals, where it takes the form of profit. The following parts are concerned with merchants' capital, interest-bearing capital and landed capital. The last part draws the whole account together. The aim of the volume as a whole is to 'locate and describe the concrete forms which grow out of the movements of capital as a whole...The various forms of capital, as evolved in this book, thus approach step by step the form which they assume on the surface of society, in the action of different capitals on one another in competition, andin the ordinary consciousness of the agents of production themselves." (25) (Clarke).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Engels, Friedrich (1967). Capital, Volume 3. International Publishers Co, Inc. ISBN 0-7178-0490-9. 
  2. ^ "At any rate, it is but a requirement of the capitalist mode of production that the number of wage-workers should increase absolutely, in spite of its relative decrease. Labour-power becomes redundant for it as soon as it is no longer necessary to employ it for 12 to 15 hours a daily. A development of productive forces which would diminish the absolute number of labourers, i.e. enable the entire nation to accomplish its total production in a shorter time span, would cause a revolution, because it would put the bulk of the population out of the running. This is another manifestation of the specific barrier of capitalist production, showing also that capitalist production is by no means an absolute form for the development of the productive forces and for the creation of wealth, but rather that at a certain point it comes into collision with this development. This collision appears partly in its periodical crises, which arise from the circumstances that now this and now that portion of the labouring population becomes redundant under its old mode of employment. The limit of capitalist production is the excess time of the labourers. The absolute spare time gained by society does not concern it. The development of productivity concerns it only in so far as it increases the surplus labour-time of the working class, not because it decreases the labour time for material production in general. It moves thus in a contradiction. " Ch. XV Exposition of the Internal Contradictions of the Law, § IV Supplementary Remarks. p 263 Institute of Marxism Leninism, Moscow translation. The reference to hours worked per day reflects full employment norms of the 19th century.
  3. ^ "... This transformation stems from the development of the productive forces under capitalist production, and from the ways and means by which this development takes place." Ch. XV Exposition of the Internal Contradictions of the Law, § IV Supplementary Remarks. p 264 ¶ 2 Institute of Marxism Leninism, Moscow translation.

Further reading[edit]

  • Althusser, Louis and Balibar, Étienne. Reading Capital. London: Verso, 2009.
  • Louis Althusser (1969) How to Read Marx's Capital from Marxism Today, October 1969, 302-305. Originally appeared (in French) in Humanité on April 21, 1969.
  • Bottomore, Tom, ed. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
  • Fine, Ben. Marx's Capital. 5th ed. London: Pluto, 2010.
  • Harvey, David. A Companion to Marx's Capital. London: Verso, 2010.
  • Harvey, David. The Limits of Capital. London: Verso, 2006.
  • Mandel, Ernest. Marxist Economic Theory. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970.
  • Postone, Moishe. Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Shipside, Steve. Karl Marx's Das Kapital: A Modern-day Interpretation of a True Classic. Oxford: Infinite Ideas, 2009. ISBN 978-1-906821-04-3
  • Wheen, Francis. Marx's Das Kapital--A Biography. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8021-4394-6; ISBN 978-0-8021-4394-5.

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