The Automatic Fetish

The Automatic Fetish:The Law of Value in Marx's Capital

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Why the neglected third volume of Capital holds the key to Marx's theory of value

The Automatic Fetish traces Marx’s analysis of capital, step by step, through the material compiled posthumously as the third volume of Capital. Identifying the critique of value as the central through line of the entire work, Beverley Best elaborates a theory of movement through which the capital machine generates social forms of appearance as the inversion of its inner operating mechanisms. Neither a return to basics nor a new-fangled reconstruction, The Automatic Fetish eschews novelty to show once again that Marx rewards careful study.

- ‘If I had to choose one book that would make the case for the relevance of Marx’s critique of political economy to the humanities, this might very well be it’ Colleen Lye, co-editor of After Marx
- ‘The contribution of The Automatic Fetish is hard to exaggerate’ Nicholas Brown, author of Autonomy
- ‘Will make a significant contribution to the wider field of materialist theory’ Joshua Clover, author of Riot. Strike. Riot
- ‘In Best’s hands, Capital becomes not only fascinating but useful, down to its last detail. Written with clarity, focus, and urgency, Best has “unreconstructed” Marx for our times’ Richard Dienst, author of The Bonds of Debt
- ‘A groundbreaking book’ Werner Bonefeld, author of A Critical Theory of Economic Compulsion
- ‘That rare work of theory whose practical implications just sing out loud … Surely among the most useful books on Capital III ever written’ Christopher Nealon, author of The Matter of Capital
- ‘Brilliant, eloquent, and precise. Best has given us one of the most profound re-readings of Capital to have appeared in a generation and an essential source’ Neil Larsen, author of Determinations

Reviews

  • Beverley Best has reinvented Capital, Volume III.

    Fredric Jameson
  • Beverley Best's excellent analysis of Volume Three of Capital addresses a mostly neglected terrain of Marxist scholarship and achieves something very special. Her critique of the economic categories of price, rent and interest cracks their economic objectivity and lets the light in. All social life is essentially practical, including economic forms such as production prices. This is a groundbreaking book.

    Werner Bonefeld is the author of A Critical Theory of Economic Compulsion
  • The Automatic Fetish is a revelation. Following the red thread of Marx's value theory through Volume 3 of Capital, Beverly Best makes an overwhelming case that far from being a collection of arcane posthumous drafts made even more obscure by Engel's heavy hand, the third volume of Capital is a lucid culmination of the analysis Marx began in Volume 1. She shows us that Marx clearly identifies industrial profit, interest, ground rent, and wages as essentially similar expressions of the social relationship he called surplus value. She also shows us that Marx explains how we are induced, day after day, to see those phenomena as utterly separate - that is, to see them fetishistically. But conflicts over land, anti-gentrification battles, commodity bubbles, wage struggles: they all look different when they become so clearly visible as aspects of the same dynamic. The Automatic Fetish is that rare work of theory whose practical implications just sing out loud. It is surely among the most useful books on Capital III ever written.

    Christopher Nealon, The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in the American Century