This is a free version of Capital by Karl Marx for download below in PDF. It is not just the book Volume I, that are found on other websites, nor an on-line version where you have to scroll through endless pages in your browser, rather this is Volume I, II and III in one book in a downloadable format. Further, the edition is free, based on public domain copyright. Therefore, please download my complete version of Capital by Karl Marx for free.
Das Kapital downloads in the following formats:
The books are above, it is a simple download link.
I zipped the files because of the size. All files contain all three volumes of his works and a short introduction by me. My downloads are secure and virus free. My name is Mark Biernat and I am a college Economics professor. I am providing the works of great Economics of the past because I love Economic theory and the history of Economics.
The world is a war of ideas – Schopenhauer
Karl Marx’s ideas were perceived as so dangerous that the Germans shipped him in a sealed boxcar to Russia because they were afraid of his economic theory spreading.
What were Marx’s ideas and why were they so powerful?
Although his theories are not largely recognized today as valid, there are some truths in his theory. Even in our democratic mix economies, there are some aspects of this theory that have insights into how markets operate and fail. Further, as times change his ideas may become more relevant and even more valid depending on the course of the future.
I know this sounds crazy right? However, with population growth and limited resources in a future Malthusian world scenario, stratification of wealth and Gini coefficients of income distributions skewed, Marxist ideas might have greater value in understanding human nature and the social science of economics. I believe in capitalism’s production and allocation efficiencies and I do not believe religion is an opium of the masses, however, a further examination of Marxist ideas is worth anyone study.
- Karl Marx was a classical economist and wrote in a time that echoes our times in a strange twist of irony.
For example, my family came from Eastern Europe, and before the communist revolution. At that time, most people worked their whole life, yes their whole life for one guy who lived in a big house and owned the land granted to him by some ancient government. Is that what you want from your one existence here on this planet? Yes, you could have a house and a small field but most of your wealth a productive activity when to the owner.
However, how much different is that than today? Unless you are the owner of a business, you are part of the working class. Even if you have a salary of 65k you still are working for the company, bank to pay the mortgage, insurance, medical and all the other expenses. Your boss has great leverage over you because he knows you have bills to pay. It is not exactly like you are sharing in the wealth of your productive efforts proportionally or a free man. A free person is someone who has everything paid off, savings and economic rewards are equal to productive efforts. You basically are allowed to live in a house on a tiny piece of land for working your life away.
You can see that Marxist ideas have emotional appeal as well as some theoretical truth based on the time. I and my family have always been unrepentant capitalists, as Marxist theory is not only economic but also has an anti-religious partiality. However, the economic theory alone, as articulated in Capital is a worthy read. In one sense, understanding Marx will better make you be able to defend your own capitalist ideals. At the very least it is a fascinating read of history.
The Irony of Karl Marx
Marx wrote against the exploitation of the worker by the capitalist. However, could not his ideas have some validity if you replace the ‘oppression of the capitalist’ with the ‘burden of government’ and excess taxation? Is not the oppression of today, not the entrepreneurs who create Facebook or Google, or Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who gave away his fortune to charity, but a government that keeps about half your productive efforts in a year, creates an inefficient distribution of wealth and “deadweight loss” decreasing consumer surplus and producer surplus? The feudal lord only required 1/3 of your productive time.
Marx lived from 1830 to 1883, however, if you substitute the players in his book with a modern interpretation (such a big company or government, you will find a relevant view you can relate to.
Is there a new theory for Marx?
The paradigms of ideas shift when old ideas are looked at in a new way. I recommend reading Capital because you might find something that was not looked at before. Something that is valid and meaningful that has been overlooked. These discoveries happen all the time.
If you are Marxist or leaning to the left, try to see where the theory in Das Kapital is still valid and where it is outdated.
I teach economics in a college setting. Although I personally have libertarian capitalistic views, I want the academic space I teach in to be a forum for the exchange of open ideas as no one has a monopoly on the truth. Therefore, I offer the works of Karl Marx free for download and suspend my preconceived notions.
Adam Smith contrasted with Karl Marx
While Adam Smith believed capitalism was motivated by enlightened self-interest, people create value to satiate demand. When people pursue enlightened self-interest society as a whole benefit in ways that could never be imagined or engineered. Marx has a different view.
Karl Marx’s theory was the exploitation of labor, that is to create producer surplus, from uncompensated worker effort. The owner of the production could claim surplus value because of legal protection. The ruling regime granted capitalist property rights.
What was the theory of Marx?
If we understand what Marx believed was wrong with capitalism we can create a better capitalism model.
- Alienation (Entfernung) – Marx believed the work was a fundamental source of happiness in people. However, people needed to see their work in the objects they created. Since the modern world and capitalism is focused on specialization this alienates the worker’s product from the worker. Marx believes this alienation or entfernung was the first wrong of capitalism.
- Modern work is insecure – Workers are inputs that can be replaced.
- Primitive accumulation (Ursprünglich) – Workers are unfairly compensated for the value the create. He discussed the theory of “primitive accumulation”. Marx saw profit as a thief of worker surplus. Profit is another term for the exploitation of talent and effort.
- Capitalism is unstable – Because of the boom and bust cycle which are endemic and caused by a crisis of overproduction and abundance from the efficiency of specialization. This overabundance causes unemployment as not everyone is needed. His answer was redistributing the wealth of producer surplus to worker surplus.
- Commodity fetishism (Warenfetischismus) – Capitalism puts emotional strain on capitalistic – Whether it is marriage or the internal struggles they go through. Their economic interest overrides humanistic concerns.
Marx believed a capitalist ideology was created because society is brainwashed to attribute value judgments on things that do not matter.
So is Marx correct?
He makes some points relevant to his time and important to continue to improve our time. Some ideas he had was free education, free libraries, public transportation and roads, progressive income tax. These ideas have all come to fruition and as capitalism evolves in our mixed economy more of his ideas are ironically become manifest through capitalism.
Marx is a conflict theory because one group of society is not in competition but conflict and oppression with another group in society. It sociology is one model that is not common. More common is cooperation, competition or isolation. Marx’s idea is this conflict is between the rich and the poor. Class conflict was the basis of his theory.
Marx’s goal was justice. He did not envision the totalitarian oppression of Communism, which to the Soviets was seen as a transitional state towards the path to Utopia. He wanted to create an equal society in terms of economic opportunity to actualize their lives through intellectual endeavors.
In the context of his time, Marx was writing about, a transition from feudalism to industrialization. During feudalism, people had rights to have their own animals and farm in the commons. However, with the passage of the Enclosure Acts in the 18th century in England, land ownership and use became restrictive and migration to the cities limited workers to factory work for making a means of employment.
This set up Marx’s model of workers and capitalists which is elaborated on in his theories on capitalist ideology. In the factories, factory workers were employed at substance wages and children were used as cheap labor.
The classes were the factory owners or the Bourgeoisie and the workers or the proletariat. The capitalist system is based on a system that encourages inequality. Through education of the proletariat and eventual revolution that would over thought the system, a new system where all people were treated equally. Further, the capital and businesses were community-owned, this system was called communism. It was the abolition of private property.
Marx eventually had to flee Germany and reside in London. Marx cooperated with Engels.
Marx used Hegelian logic, dialectical materialism in his theory. In another twist of irony, in one sense Marx was the first hyper consumer, as all that exists in the world was material, rather than spiritual transcendence and meaning. Therefore, his system of happiness (util maximization) was based on satiation through material equality and intellectual pursuits, not a soulful transcendence.
- Although scarcity is the fundamental problem of economics, it is not the meaning of life or the answer to the human condition, take a look around you.
Marx was incorrect on two basic points
- This labor theory of value – which stated that the value of any object is the amount of labor input into its creation is the basis of price.
Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; scarce any thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it – Adam Smith
Value is not determined by labor input or any objective measure but by supply and demand, it is subjective, whatever value people ascribe value to it.
- Free movement of labor and capital – in modern society makes working in one place or profession a choice rather than a fate. Further, there is intellectual capital which has little to no barriers to entry in contrast to the ideas of the early industrial age.
If you do not like your job quit
I personally live semi-off the grid (or at least off the matrix) by growing my own food and creating my own businesses. You are not as indentured to your job and your career as you think.
The big picture – Freedom and equality
These are seen as the two social values that are parlayed to create a society that is just. Justice as the ultimate good. They have to be balanced with both equality and freedom which are limited goods. You do not want the freedom to yell fire in a crowded movie if it was not true, or allow children to smoke. Nor do you want to make everyone so equal that it crushes the human spirit. Society as a whole should strive to maximize justice.
Marx had an inordinate emphasis on equality which brought societies which espouse his ideology to a lower social medium. Compare North Korea to South Korea. What was once West Berlin or East Berlin? Hong Kong to mainland China before China became a mixed economy. If you believe that humans are naturally good then, if you maximize freedom justice will prevail. If you believe that humans are fundamentally exploitive (rather than competitive), than Marx’s ideas might appeal to you.
I believe humans are both good and competitive, not in aggregate exploitative. In aggregate you will find exceptions, but not a rule. Understanding the difference between healthy competition and straight exploitation is something that you have to decide. I would recommend looking at the people who live next to you or you are in a relationship with. Are they fundamentally bad people or someone like yourself, someone with dreams and hopes that they are trying to actualize?
Does self-actualization go beyond the tangible goods and economic prosperity, perhaps faith and God is the center rather than material goods like Marx theorized?