Part 9 of 9 in series "Online courses per topic"

The previous post in our series on online courses presented 5 courses on the history and future of capitalism. In this post 6 courses on Marx, his famous book Capital, Marxian economics, and (Chinese) communism:

  1. Marxism
  2. Marxian Economics
  3. Marx and Capital: The Concept, The Book, The History
  4. Reading Marx’s Capital
  5. China and Communism
  6. Mao to Now: On Chinese Marxism

Last update

This post was last updated with a new course in May 2020.

1. Marxism

The first course in this post was taught in 2013 by prof. Raymond Geuss, University of Cambridge. He works in the general areas of political philosophy and the history of continental philosophy. The lectures from this course on Marxism have been put on YouTube.

In the first lecture Geuss explains among others that there are “at least five distinct but related kind of topics that you could reasonably and justifiably study under the topic of Marxism“:

  1. The study of the theories as developed by the historical figure Karl Marx
  2. The most “plausible rational reconstruction” of the philosophical views of Karl Marx
  3. Marx as a conceptual revolutionary, “initiating a tradition of thinking about the world in a particular kind of way
  4. The “cumulative, continuous [intellectual] tradition” of Marxism with a variety of influences and lines of thought
  5. Marxism as “inherently intended to be applied project” that had real-world implications

In this course Geuss stays the closest to the second approach of Marxism, but he divides two reconstructions: ‘the early views of Marx’ and ‘the late views of Marx’.

2. Marxian Economics

The course Marxian Economics is also an offline course at the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, for which the lectures have been put on YouTube. The department prides itself in giving courses that “are a unique blend of heterodox and mainstream economic theory.” The 2018 edition by prof. Deepankar Basu of this particular course on Marxian economics consists of 16 lectures varying in length from 18 to 56 minutes. According to his first slide, this is a course on Marxist political economy, which will build a “conceptual framework to understand capitalism from a Marxist perspective“.

There is also a 2011 edition by prof. Steven Resnick, which consists of more but shorter lectures (57 lectures of at most 15 minutes, to be precise). Topics include class exploitation, a brief history on Marx, Richard Rorty and overdetermination, using Hegelian logic to understand Marxian analysis, Marx’s theory of class, understanding inflation and the business cycle, capitalist competition, international competition, colonialism, and monopoly capitalism.

The website Exploring Economics concludes that this is a course at beginner level.

3. Marx and Capital: The Concept, the Book, the History

The course Marx and Capital: The Concept, The Book, The History is, like the previous course, a lecture series in political economy. The website Exploring Economics considers this to be a course at advanced level. It consists of 6 lectures of 1 to 1,5 hours each:

Marx, Capital and the Maddness of Economic Reason

  1. Capital as value in motion
  2. Value and anti-value
  3. Value and its monetary expression
  4. The space and time of value
  5. Use values: the production of wants, needs and desires
  6. Bad infinity and the maddness of economic reason

The teacher is David Harvey, a professor of anthropology and geography and a well-known Marxian scholar. The lectures were given from September through December, 2016 at The Graduate Center, City University of New York and sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics. The lectures were the inspiration for the book: Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason published by Oxford University Press (US) and Profile Books (UK) in 2017.

4. Reading Marx’s Capital

The course Reading Marx’s Capital is a close reading of the text of Karl Marx’s Capital Volume I in 12 video lectures by, again, professor David Harvey. Each lecture discusses one or more chapters in Marx’s seminal work. The course was recorded at The People’s Forum in New York City in 2019.

If you wonder if this course is right for you: take a look at the reviews for Harvey’s book A Companion to Marx’s Capital – The Complete Edition (2018). One of the reviewers writes:

“The intention is not to mediate ‘what Marx really said’, but rather to draw out Marx’s style and line of argument in light of our present capitalist milieu. […] Harvey draws a parallel between Marx’s own immanent critique of classical liberalism and Harvey’s own critique of today’s neoliberal ideological apologists. […] In a world in which virtually nobody has read Capital itself, the book presents Marx at his most thrilling, brilliant, and relevant – as a critical analyst of capitalism”

5. China and Communism

The short description of the course China and Communism:

“How did the Communists conquer China? What role does culture play? What are the successes and failures of the Chinese Communist Party after seizing power in 1949? What constitutes liberation? This course will help you answer these important questions as you explore the profound cultural, intellectual, political and economic changes of this period. You’ll learn how Communist China fits in with a larger socialist world order and how historical interpretations of this period reinforce or challenge the official narrative in China today.”

You will learn:

  • “How the rise of the Chinese Communist Party came about.
  • What changed under the People’s Republic under Mao Zedong.
  • What China’s reopening and reform in the 1970s meant for the country.
  • About the cultural, intellectual, political, economic changes in this period.”

The course is taught on the EdX platform by a Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and a Professor of China Studies from Harvard University.

6. Mao to Now: On Chinese Marxism

The fundamental questions asked in the course Mao to Now are the following:

  1. “Is China socialist or capitalist today, or is it perhaps both at one and the same time?”
  2. “Is there such a thing as Chinese socialist democracy, and, if so, what is it?”
  3. “Does China have its own theory of human rights, drawn from the long Chinese tradition and Marxism?”
  4. “If the Chinese state is a form that has not been seen before, then what is it?”

You will among others learn

  • how Mao Zedong is understood today in China“,
  • what a Chinese socialist state might be” and
  • the meaning of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’.

The course is taught on the EdX platform by the University of Newcastle (Australia).

Series "Online courses per topic":

Do you feel like you have enough knowledge to contribute to debates in the area of the ethics of markets, economics and business? If not, this series of blog posts introduces ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) that you can take from anywhere in the world.

Articles in this series:
  1. PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS and ECONOMICS – Six Foundational Online Courses
  3. BUSINESS ETHICS – Five Online Courses
  5. HOW MARKETS WORK – Five Online Economics Courses
  6. FINANCE, MONEY and BANKING – Six Online Courses
  8. MARX, MARXISM & COMMUNISM – Six Online Courses
  9. GLOBALIZATION & FREE TRADE – Six Online Courses