[OPE-L:2670] Re: Proof from Marx that Hegel is NOT required to understand him?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Sat Apr 01 2000 - 20:55:41 EST

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First, the passages I quote seem LESS supportive of a break between
Ricardo and Marx than I myself have argued. I don't quickly change
interpretation. Nevertheless, I want to confront the EXACT evidence. And
the exact evidence here will not be fully clear until we can lay our hands
on Sieber's work and read it (in Russian, if so required).

Second, I wonder why so few of us seem to have noted Marx's comments on
Sieber, which should be down our alley.

Third, there is a lot a stake here.

After this preface, let me turn to Jerry's reaction:

Gerald Levy <glevy@PRATT.EDU> said, on 04/01/00 at 06:23 PM:
>>Re Paul Z's [OPE-L:2668]:
>> a. Marx thought the Russian economist N. Sieber "excellent" and a
>> SUBSTITUTE for reading *Capital*.

My greater interest here is the SUBSTITUTION referred to in "Marginal
Notes on Wagner" which you skip over, Jerry. Marx's sentence reads: "'Mr.
Wagner could have familiarized himself with the difference between me and
Ricardo both from *Capital* and from *Sieber's work* (if he knew

REPEAT: Sieber's 1871 book is a SUBSTITUTE for *Capital*, according to
Marx. It is in black and white. ("Excellent" is a secondary issue.)

>> 'As early as 1871, N. Sieber, Professor of Political Economy in the
>> University of Kiev, in his work 'David Ricardo's Theory of Value and of
>> Capital', referred to my theory of value, of money and of capital, as in
>> its fundamentals a necessary sequel to the teaching of Smith and Ricardo.
>> That which astonishes the Western European in the reading of this
>> excellent work, is the author's consistent and firm grasp of the purely
>> theoretical position. (Marx, *Capital, Volume 1*, Progress,

>The Penguin edition (p. 99) refers to "this solid piece of work" rather
>than this "excellent work". Less praise there, don't you think?

The note at the end here provides the relevant German text. Those
familiar enough with German can offer their own rendition, if thought
critically important.

>well, furthermore, that Sieber, according to Marx, views _Capital_ as "a
>necessary sequel to the teaching of Smith and Ricardo". Yet, Marx I think
>clearly believed that _Capital_ was more than a "sequel" to classical
>political economy.

This particular sentence of Marx quoting Sieber is the LEAST instructive
of the three, as far as I am concerned -- the most important is the 1881
one on Wagner, the second most important is the statement at the
beginning. But this opinion of mine is NOT the point, and frankly neither
is Jerry's opinion. Both of our opinions come from a PRIOR interpretation
of Marx and that is what I want to step away from.

So, what explanation can we offer why Marx favorably quotes someone else
who says his work is "a necessary sequel to the teaching of Smith and
Ricardo". I can think to three possibilities: i) "Sequel" should not be
read as more than "following upon", with little epistemological
significance (Marx certainly spent an enormous energy on Smith and
Ricardo). ii) Sequel or no sequel is of secondary importance FOR MARX to
the main issue of having readers work through his theory -- so he quotes
but doesn't correct. iii) "Sequel" is not a good translation of Sieber's
Russian (which I don't have).

>Note also that the next reference to Sieber, a quotation, is: "In so far
>as it deals with actual theory, the method of Marx is the deductive
>method of the whole English school, a school whose failings and virtues
>are common to the best theoretical economists". Marx quoted this in
>response to the charge that he was treating economics metaphysically (by
>_Revue Positiviste_). Note, again, how Sieber makes Marx out to be a
>classical economist. Do you really think that Marx is saying here that he
>agrees that he is employing the same method in _Capital_ as that employed
>by the whole English school? I don't think so. I think he was simply
>quoting Sieber favorably because Sieber had reviewed _Capital_ favorably.

See above, up to the last sentence. Jerry's last sentence seems like a
low opinion of Marx's integrity -- Marx no more than returning a favor, or
selling out the importance of Hegel to get Russian armor. Mehring's
biography, on the contrary, says of Marx that "he was so indifferent to
praise or blame".

>Furthermore, I don't think that the rest of the "Preface to the Second
>Edition" supports your interpretation of the relationship of the Hegelian
>method to Marx's method. But that's another story, isn't it?

Yes, another story, and one that has been gone over with various
interpretations. I would like to discuss NEW evidence.

Thanks, Jerry, for your historical note to Marx and Sieber personally
meeting in 1881.

Paul Z.

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

German text:


Bereits 1871 hatte Herr N. Sieber, Professor der politischen Ökonomie an
der Universität zu Kiew, in seiner Schrift : "D. Ricardos Theorie des
Werts und des Kapitals etc." meine Theorie des Werts, des Geldes und des
Kapitals in ihren Grundzügen als notwendige Fortbildung der
Smith-Richardoschen Lehre nachgewiesen. Was den Westeuropäer beim Lesen
seines gediegnen Buchs überrascht, ist das konsequente Festhalten des rein
theoretischen Standpunkts.

Die im "Kapital" angewandte Methode ist wenig verstanden worden, wie schon
die einander widersprechenden Auffassungen derselben beweisen.

So wirft mir die Pariser "Revue Positiviste" vor, einerseits, ich behandle
die Ökonomie metaphysisch, andrerseits - man rate! -, ich beschränke mich
auf bloß kritische Zergliederung des Gegebnen, statt Rezepte
(comtistische?) für die Garküche der Zukunft zu verschreiben. Gegen den
Vorwurf der Metaphysik bemerkt Prof. Sieber:

"Soweit es sich um die eigentliche Theorie handelt, ist die Methode von
Marx die deduktive Methode der ganzen englischen Schule, deren Mängel und
Vorzüge den besten theoretischen Ökonomisteün gemein sind."


Herr Wagner h  tte sowohl aus dem "Kapital", wie aus Siebers Schrift (wenn
er russisch wüsste) die Differenz zwischen mir und Ricardo kennenlernen
[können], der sich in der Tat mit der Arbeit nur als Mass der Wertgrösse
beschäftigte und deswegen keinen Zusammenhang zwischen seiner Werttheorie
und dem Wesen des Geldes fand.

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