Capital Volume II

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Capital, Volume II: The Process of Circulation of Capital is the second of three volumes of Das Kapital. It was prepared by Friedrich Engels from notes left by Karl Marx and published in 1885. It gives a technical description of how capital circulates, as well as going over the origin of economic crises.


Volume II is divided into three parts:[1]

  1. The Metamorphoses of Capital and Their Circuits
  2. The Turnover of Capital
  3. The Reproduction and Circulation of the Aggregate Social Capital

This book goes over the main forces that account for the behaviors of markets, namely how value and surplus-value are realized. Rather than focusing on laborers and industrialists as in Volume I, Volume II rather deals with money owners and money lenders, wholesale merchants, traders, and entrepreneurs/capitalists. Moreover, workers appear in Volume II essentially as buyers of consumer goods and therefore as sellers of commodity labor power, rather than producers of value and surplus value, although this latter quality established in Volume I remains the solid foundation on which the whole of the unfolding analysis is based.

Marx wrote in a letter sent to Engels on 30 April 1868:

In Book 1 [...] we content ourselves with the assumption that if in the self-expansion process £100 becomes £110, the latter will find already in existence in the market the elements into which it will change once more. But now we investigate the conditions under which these elements are found at hand, namely the social intertwining of the different capitals, of the component parts of capital and of revenue (= s)

This intertwining, conceived as a movement of commodities and of money, enabled Marx to work out at least the essential elements, if not the definitive form of a coherent theory of the trade cycle, based upon the inevitability of periodic disequilibrium between supply and demand under the capitalist mode of production.[2] Part 3 is the point of departure for the topic of capital accumulation which was given its Marxist treatment later in detail by Rosa Luxemburg, among others.

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]

  • Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich, ed. (1885). "Capital Volume II". Full text at Marxists Internet Archive.
  • Harvey, David (January 2012). "Reading Marx's Capital". Harvey's video lectures on Volume II chapter by chapter.

See also[edit]


  1. Engels, Friedrich (1967). Capital, Volume II. International Publishers Co, Inc.. ISBN 0-7178-0483-6. 
  2. Ernest Mandel, Intro to Volume II of Capital, 1978