As Karl Korsch remarked: “The investigation Marx undertakes in the first volume of Capital is only formally limited to the productive process of capitalism. In actual fact, in his treatment of this aspect, Marx grasps and portrays the totality of the capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that emerges from it”.
Otto Rühle was the second, after Karl Liebknecht, of the German Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary deputies to rebel after August 1914 against the long-sacred party discipline which had at first made them vote for war credits in World War One. He was a member of the Spartacus League led by Rosa Luxemburg, and then of the early German Communist Party.
Later, exiled in Mexico after the Nazi seizure of power, he had friendly relations with Leon Trotsky despite many political differences. He served on the Dewey Commission which investigated the Moscow Trial charges against Trotsky.
His abridged version of Capital, paring it down to the essential theoretical arguments, putting aside current factual material, illustrations, polemics, was published in 1939. In a foreword, Trotsky wrote: "The abridgement of the first volume of Capital – the foundation of Marx’s entire system of economics – was made by Mr. Otto Rühle with great care and with profound understanding of his task".
To this day the abridgement remains the best lead-in to Capital for readers daunted by the bulk of the whole book.