[OPE-L:2678] Re: Proof from Marx that Hegel is NOT required to understand him?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Sun Apr 02 2000 - 16:39:57 EDT

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Gerald Levy <glevy@PRATT.EDU> said, on 04/02/00 at 02:39 PM:
>After the first reference to Sieber, there is a paragraph which reads:

>"That the method employed in *Capital* has been little understood is
>shown by the various mutually contradictory conceptions that have been
>formed about it" (Penguin ed., p. 99).

>That, I would submit, is the context for the next reference to Sieber.

No. The context is the Paris *Revue Positiviste* reproachment of Marx for
his metaphysics. Sieber is quoted by Marx to ANSWER that charge.

The entire relevant text is reproduced at end of this note. The reference
to being "little understand" is AFTER the favorable comment to Sieber's
"gediegnen Buchs" and "des rein theoretischen Standpunkts" (the German: to
avoid dispute about translations -- cf., "excellent" or "very solid") and
BEFORE Marx's list of those who have not understood his method (the later
quote from Sieber knocking down one of those misunderstandings).

In any case, Jerry's objection highlights the importance for also reading
the passage on Sieber eight years later in "Marginal Notes on Wagner":
'Mr. Wagner could have familiarized himself with the difference between me
and Ricardo both from *Capital* and from *Sieber's work* (if he knew

As an addition note, Marx does NOT subject Sieber to any criticism
whatsoever anywhere (and, to the best of my examination, neither does
Plekhanov, nor Lenin, nor Luxemburg and all cite some work of his to a
limited extent). Sieber died in 1888 at age 44 after number of
publications. Also, note that Jerry has reminded us that Sieber and Marx
met in London in January 1881, and note that the "Marginal Notes on
Wagner" were written "after January 1881" (Marx-Engels Collected Works,
pp. 559 and 666, fn. 604).

Paul Z.

>Then, Marx briefly mentions some of these "various mutually contradictory
>conceptions" that have been formed about his method which show that his
>method *"has been little understood"*.

>In order of presentation:

>-- _Revue Positiviste_ charged that Marx treated economics metaphysically
> and confined himself to a critical analysis of the facts (rather than
> "writing recipes" for the "cook-shops of the future").

>-- *Sieber* claimed that Marx employed "the deductive method of the whole
> English school".

>-- Block wrote that Marx's method is analytic.

>-- German reviewers complained about Marx's "Hegelian sophistry".

>-- The "European Messenger" of St. Petersberg claimed that Marx's method
> inquiry was "severely realistic" but his method of presentation was
> "unfortunately, German-dialectical".

>Then, after quoting a lengthy review by Kaufman (who wrote the "European
>Messenger" article also), Marx writes a few paragraphs about his own
>method and its relationship to Hegel.

>Consequently, put in context, one can make the claim that Marx is saying
>that Sieber is one of many who "little understood" his method.

>In solidarity, Jerry

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

An excellent Russian translation of "Das Kapital" appeared in the spring
of 1872. The edition of 3,000 copies is already nearly exhausted. 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

That the method employed in "Das Kapital" has been little understood, is
shown by the various conceptions, contradictory one to another, that have
been formed of it.

Thus the Paris Revue Positiviste reproaches me in that, on the one hand, I
treat economics metaphysically, and on the other hand imagine!   confine
myself to the mere critical analysis of actual facts, instead of writing
receipts (Comtist ones?) for the cook-shops of the future. In answer to
the reproach in re metaphysics, Professor Sieber has it: "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 theoretic economists." M. Block   "Les Theoriciens du
Socialisme en Allemagne. Extrait du Journal des Economistes, Juillet et
Aout 1872"   makes the discovery that my method is analytic and says: "Par
cet ouvrage M. Marx se classe parmi les esprits analytiques les plus
eminents." German reviews, of course, shriek out at "Hegelian sophistics."
The European Messenger of St. Petersburg in an article dealing exclusively
with the method of "Das Kapital" (May number, 1872, pp. 427-436), finds my
method of inquiry severely realistic, but my method of presentation,
unfortunately, German- dialectical. It says: "At first sight, if the
judgment is based on the external form of the presentation of the subject,
Marx is the most ideal of ideal philosophers, always in the German, i.e.,
the bad sense of the word. But in point of fact he is infinitely more
realistic than all his forerunners in the work of economic criticism. He
can in no sense be called an idealist." I cannot answer the writer better
than by aid of a few extracts from his own criticism, which may interest
some of my readers to whom the Russian original is inaccessible.

After a quotation from the preface to my "Criticism of Political Economy,"
Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my
method, the writer goes on:

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