In April, a number of Akron DSA comrades attended our first Socialist Night School! We are following the curriculum developed by Central Brooklyn DSA, so our first session centered on readings about Historical Materialism. We had a great meeting full of lively discussion!
For the second session of the Night School, we will focus on the Development of Capitalism. We will be looking at three texts: an excerpt from Robert Heilbronner and William Milberg’s The Making of Economic Society, an excerpt from David Harvey’s Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, and an excerpt from Karl Marx’s “Wage Labor and Capital” from Robert C. Tucker’s The Marx-Engels Reader, Second Edition.
Check the comments below for the readings. You’ll find some questions below to consider as you go through the readings. Don’t be worried if it seems heavy – we will work through it together! We will begin discussion at 6:00pm at the Goodyear Branch Library, in the Community Room. Feel free to arrive at 5:30 if you have questions or want to learn more about DSA! Don’t be afraid to arrive after we’ve started, either! Refreshments will be provided.
You may download/view a pdf of the excerpt from The Making of Economic Society here; the excerpt from Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism here; and the excerpt from “Wage Labor and Capital” here.
Here are some discussion questions to consider as you read. These will be the basis of our discussion on Tuesday!
- What, according to Marx, determines how much workers get paid in wages? What about the price of the goods they produce? Where do profits come from? And what does all this suggest about how workers’ time is being used while on the job?
- Drawing upon the readings, what is a commodity? What is capital?
- What is the difference between use value and exchange value? What, according to Harvey, is the contradiction between the two? How do the two concepts relate to neoliberalism as Harvey defines it? And, why is this important for socialists?
- According to Heilbroner and Milberg, what are the major differences between pre-capitalist and capitalist society? Why might an awareness of these differences be useful for those advocating for socialism?
- What are the conditions that gave rise to the proletariat and capitalist class in Heilbroner and Milberg’s account?