Enigma is defined: a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation. So Harvey presents "capital" as puzzling in his title. And this is interesting because Prof. Harvey has been teaching a course on Marx's book titled Capital for I believe 40 years. He has a free resource where he has this course on-line via video here and I've viewed some of it and it's good, very thought provoking.
So here is an economic term, "capital", that someone who is very intelligent who has been teaching a course for 40 years about, still finds "puzzling". Well if he is puzzled then I am puzzled.
Another term that people seem to have trouble with is "money". And I did a post a few days ago where an Asian Muslim writer provided an eastern perspective of where that term came from. Different people have different ideas of what "money" is, where the word even came from. If you asked 6 people what "money" was, I submit you probably get 6 different answers, even from academics.
MMT thought leader Prof. L. Randall Wray in my opinion wrote the best book that describes what "Modern Money" is several years ago now, but even though has kept an academic focus on this term "money" and published a more recent paper titiled "Money" at Levy Institute that shows he is still studying "money" and still seeking to edify on the subject and advance his own understanding. Despite these efforts, I believe the overwhelming majority of people are confused about what "money" is.
So here you have two terms which would seem pretty important to the Economics Academe, and one person who has taught about the one term, "capital" for 40 years still thinks it is "puzzling" and the other term, "money", even academic experts find themselves having to revisit their definition periodically to try to nail it down, and there are still regular foundational debates about what it even is within the academe.
Ironically, here is an excerpt from Prof. Harvey's book:
"Capital is not a thing but a process in which money is perpetually sent in search of more money."???????. No wonder Prof. Harvey has to present "capital" as an enigma, he uses a term "money" that no one knows what it is not once but twice in the same sentence in which he seeks to define it.
My take: Both of these terms are garbage. Get rid of them. Stick to the law and the accounting, these are precise. It is not even worth investing any more academic time trying to work with these terms or teach about them, it's a waste of time.
We would probably do well to erase them from our minds and the economic lexicon as they are nebulous, imprecise, subjective, un-edifying terms that confuse and obfuscate more than edify. We should instead use terms that actually are well defined and precise. I'm going to try to do this going forward but I anticipate it will be challenging as I have used both of these terms for all my many years.