I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.
At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer, and I say this as someone who read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Friedrich List’s National Economy from cover to cover. And to preempt accusations of ideological hostility, I also read Friedrich Engels’ Origins of the Family – and consider him by far the better and even deeper writer (if only because it was easy to understand what he was getting at).
Marx is another matter. To read his works is to struggle through pages upon pages of laborious explications of utterly banal concepts. It is to wade through a morass of shifting definitions, seemingly authoritative but unsubstantiated statements, long-winded and often irrelevant anecdotes, and imprecise verbal descriptions that confound any attempts to construct a rigorous economic model.
One supreme irony is that Marx’s sole contribution to scientific economics was a balanced growth model of a two sector economy under capitalism. Meanwhile, the apocalyptic prognostications about falling rates of profit and mounting crises of overproduction that he is far better known for went unfulfilled.
Had there been no Russian Revolution, whose success was a historical fluke, then Marx would be regarded as a 19th century graphomaniac, and warranting just a few paragraphs in the annals of philosophy. As it was, his dreary tome was foisted on a third of the world’s population as a latter day Bible.