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Marx's InfernoThe Political Theory of Capital$
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William Clare Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180816

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180816.001.0001

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Cocytus: Treachery and the Necessity of Expropriation

Cocytus: Treachery and the Necessity of Expropriation

(p.187) Chapter 6 Cocytus: Treachery and the Necessity of Expropriation
Marx's Inferno

William Clare Roberts

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines part eight of Capital, where Karl Marx highlights the treachery involved in “primitive accumulation.” Marx's narrative that the history of capitalism's creation is a history of treachery finds its most fitting illustrations in the depths of Dante's Hell, where Cocytus, the frozen wasteland at the bottom of the world, entombs the treacherous in ice. In the final three chapters of Capital, Marx shows how the modern state has come to be dependent upon capital accumulation, and, thus, the primary agent of primitive accumulation. The chapter first reconstructs Marx's account of the origins of the modern proletariat and of the capitalist class in order to harmonize his views on primitive accumulation with his understanding of capitalist exploitation. It then considers Marx's argument against separatism and petty production, and more specifically his contention that the working class can exit capitalism only through a confrontation with the necessity of expropriation.

Keywords:   capitalism, Capital, Karl Marx, treachery, primitive accumulation, capital accumulation, capitalist exploitation, separatism, working class, expropriation

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