Die Industrie

The title of the most famous book published in the 19th century is in fact a misnomer.  Das Kapital should really be Die Industrie.  It is true that in Volume One, Chapter 1, Karl Marx begins with a discussion of money as having originated not as capital but simply as a means of exchange.  Money, he says, becomes capital only when it is made a standard of exchange—a definition that does not, of course, imply an industrial economy.  Yet virtually the whole of Das Kapital analyses the political economy of industrial capitalism, a subject the title fails to indicate.  Nobody thinks that Marx, not having been an idiot, understood that capitalism and industrialism are one and the same thing: Otherwise, he could not have predicted the collapse of capitalism and the victory of the proletariat without foretelling as well a return to an agrarian or a pastoral world.  Similarly, no one has ever been sufficiently ignorant consciously to conflate these institutions.  Yet, unconsciously or perhaps only carelessly, the thing is done all the time.  I vividly recall the riots at Columbia University in 1968, when the campus was festooned with colorful banners demanding an end to capitalism—and imperialism, and racism.  Not a word was said (or spray-painted) about the industrial system that had made the families of most of these students rich, or at...

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