[OPE-L:2691] Re: Proof from Marx that Hegel is NOT required [Reply to Fred]

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 09:47:43 EDT

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"Fred B. Moseley" <fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu> said, on 04/03/00 at 12:41 AM:

>But, Paul, I don't think your argument is valid. I would agree that it
>is possible to have a "firm grasp" of Marx's theory, including his
>logical method, without an understanding of Hegel and dialectics.
>Indeed, I immodestly think that I myself have a pretty good understanding
>of Marx's method and I have not studied Hegel (much to my regret).

Fred, I am glad we can agree that Marx without Hegel is possible.

>However, I also think Marx's method is based on Hegel, at least to some
>extent, and that anyone (myself included) would have a better
>understanding Marx's theory and his method if one had studied Hegel. The
>fact that Sieber understood well Marx's theory (or at least some aspects
>of it) and that Sieber may have had little first-hand knowledge of Hegel
>does not mean that Marx's method is not based in part on Hegel. To come
>to a conclusion about the importance of Hegel to Marx requires a lot more
>work - both to understand Marx's method and to understand Hegel's method
>and the relation between the two.

My position is that Marx increasingly distances himself from Hegel as he
grows older. Post-*Grundrisse* (unpublished and not intended for
publication), a pro-Hegelian interpretation doesn't have many hooks left
to hang on to. Of course, if one simply likes Hegel and dialectics, then
one will use the few hooks left, ...

>I agree with Jerry that Marx's comment on Sieber in the Notes on Wagner
>certainly do not suggest that Sieber's book is in some sense a substitute
>for Capital. As Jerry points out, Marx simply says that Wagner could
>have understood better the differences between Marx and Ricardo by
>reading Sieber's book (the similarities and differences Marx and Ricardo
>seems to be a main theme of the book).

Marx doesn't express himself as you describe. He expresses himself as
follows: "Mr. Wagner could have familiarized himself with the difference
between me and Ricardo both from *Capital* and from *Sieber's work* (if he
knew Russian)". In other words, either *Capital* OR *Sieber's work*.
They are treated in parallel and thus my reference to "substitute".

> The particular difference that
>Marx is discussing in this passage is the all-important subject of
>money: "Ricardo concerned himself with labor only as the measure of the
>quantity of value and for that reason found no connection between his
>theory of value and the nature of money." This does not suggest that
>Sieber's book is a substitute for Marx's Capital.

I read your quoted sentence as a subset of the PRIOR general reference to
*Capital* or *Sieber's work*.

>By the way, Marx's comment here also brings to light I think a key aspect
>of Marx's method which is similar to Hegel - the explanation of the
>NECESSARY CONNECTIONS between different aspects of reality. This aspect
>of Marx's method is emphasized by Nicky. In this passage, the necessary
>connection is between the substance of value - abstract labor -
>and the form of appearance of value - money (i.e. the "necessity of

My reaction to Nicky is relevant here.

>With regard to Marx's Afterword, Paul acknowledges that it has long been
>interpreted to provided evidence of the importance of Hegel's dialectic
>to Marx's method. For example, after an extensive quotation from a
>review of Capital, Marx said approvingly "what else is (the reviewer)
>depicting but the dialectical method?" Marx also remarked two paragraphs
>later that he has "openly avowed myself the student of that mighty
>thinker (Hegel)," and stated that "Hegel was the first to demonstrate the
>general laws of motion of the dialectic". And of course this Postface
>ends with the famous line that the next crisis will "drum dialectics"
>into the heads of the bourgeoisie.

>Paul, how do you interpret these passages? Why are Marx's comments on
>Sieber a "smoking gun" and not these other passages? You say that you
>want to consider only the new evidence. But doesn't the new evidence
>(which itself is not convincing) have the be considered along with the
>other evidence?

What I said was: "I have just completed some digging and can offer the
following as 'proof', or as close to proof as one can get without a
smoking gun...". That is, I do NOT think we have a "smoking gun"
situation here. I would rather hold off on analyzing the remainder of the
'Afterword' which has been used so often by the pro-Hegelians.

>So, I would agree that Sieber's book appears to be very important and to
>provide important evidence with respect to Marx's method. But Marx's few
>comments on Sieber and the fact that Sieber may not have known much about
>Hegel certainly does not "prove" that Hegel was not important to Marx.
>Hopefully, we can get Sieber's book translated and examine the evidence
>in greater detail. For example, what exactly does Sieber say about
>Marx's theory as a "necessary sequel" to Smith and Ricardo? What does
>he say are the similarities and the differences?


>One of the front-pieces of Sieber's book that I had translated was a list
>of his publications (two pages). On this list appears an 1879 article
>entitled "Dialectics in its Application to Science" ! So it appears that
>Sieber himself must have thought that dialectics was important and
>learned some more about it after the first edition of his book. This new
>understanding would presumably have led Sieber to discuss dialectics in
>the second edition of his book in 1885. So it will be very interesting
>indeed to see what is in this second edition! And how it may differ from
>the first edition, which Marx read and was commenting on in his Postface.

Answered earlier today that this is precisely Sieber's translation
(nothing more) of *Anti-Duhring* where, in the foreword, he [Sieber]
states lack of knowledge of Hegel and dialectics. See also Plekhanov,
*The Develoment of the Monist View*, pp. 799-803.

>I look forward very much to the continuation of this discussion.

I also.


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