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On Wed, 5 Apr 2000, Fred B. Moseley wrote:
> A few comments on the recent discussion.
> I agree with Jerry in 2697 we need to distinguish between different levels
> of understanding Marx. As I have said before, I think it is possible to
> understand a lot about Marx's theory without reading Hegel. But I also
> nonetheless think that Marx's theory is based in part on Hegel's logic
> (such aspects as totality, necessary connections, essence-appearance,
> inversion, mediation, subject, posit the presuppositions,
> etc.). Therefore, a higher level of understanding (a more complete
> understanding) of Marx's logic requires some understanding of Hegel's
A pro-Hegelian position obviously must say this to avoid contradiction,
particularly when Marx himself didn't do it for us.
> In other words, our students do not need to study Hegel in order to
> understand a lot of Marx's theory. But we ourselves, as scholars, must
> study Hegel in order understand Marx's theory more thoroughly.
> There is simply no way to avoid this.
I'm pretty sure there are many on this list who have not followed your
suggestion. Furthermore, there are antecedents to EVERY science and life
for all of us is short. This is connected to my prior posting. I do not
know that Luxemburg undertook a serious study of Hegel and, if I am not
mistaken, Lenin was pretty late in doing so. Did Gramsci study Hegel
Actually, Fred (and please don't take this personally) but there is a
nasty element involved here -- the element is "if you don't read Hegel I'm
not going to give you full Marxist credentials", which is a form of
attempting to dominate discussion, to FORCE a reading of Hegel. We DON'T
need this kind of practice.
> Of course, there are many things that we "must" do, and studying Hegel may
> not be at the top of the list. But it certainly should be on the list,
> and I think close to the top.
same reply as above.
> So, Paul, what exactly are you arguing? Are you arguing only that one can
> obtain a decent understanding of Marx's theory without understanding
> Hegel? If so, I agree.
> Or, are you also arguing that Marx's logical method does not depend in any
> significant way on Hegel's logic? In which case, I would strongly
> disagree. You seem to be suggesting the second point as well when you
> argue that "Marx distanced himself from Hegel later in his life." Paul,
> could you please tell us IN WHAT SPECIFIC ASPECTS did Marx distance
> himself from Hegel later in his life? What specific aspects of Hegel's
> method did Marx first accept and then later reject as he "distanced
> himself"? How did this "distancing himself" alter the logical structure
> of his economic theory after the Grundrisse?
You are asking a VERY big question. And your implicit presumption is that
if I cannot give you a satisfactory response in an internet interchange
(and of course I cannot as the question is too complicated), then whatever
my understanding of Marx is should be "downgraded". If I were to cite
Althusser I'd also accomplish little vis-a-via the pro-Hegel position
unless I were to do an extensive discussion of Althusser's position and
the manner in which his position to some extent shifted over time. I
could do that, but the end result would not be different for those who are
wedded to the importance of Hegel.
Without yet receiving a copy of Sieber, I will use Marx as a good enough
authority that a non-Hegelian reading of Marx is quite good enough and, as
far as I am concerned, I will treat with respect both those who come from
a Hegelian reading and those who come from a non-Hegelian reading and not
try to impose a reading of Marx. Maybe 20 years from now I'll be ready
with a serious critique of the influence of Hegel on the left. (To avoid
leaving this too open, I will note that Althusser thought Hegel's
influence disasterous for left politics -- sorry, I don't have the exact
quote in front of me -- and we have surely had enough disasters).
> 2. One very important piece of evidence that has not yet been mentioned
> is the Manuscript of 1861-63. This manuscript begins with a second draft
> of Volume 1 of Capital (Parts 2-6). This draft has only recently been
> published - in German in the early 1980 and in English in the late 1980s
> (Marx-Engels Collected, Vol. 30) (unfortunately, it has not yet published
> in Spanish).
> This draft is extremely important as an intermediate draft between the
> Grundrisse and the published versions of Volume 1. It is much clearer and
> better organized than the Grundrisse and very close in organization to the
> final published versions. And the continuing strong influence of Hegel is
> clear throughout the manuscript, similar to the Grundrisse. Therefore, if
> one wants to argue that Marx had an "epistemological break" with Hegel,
> it has to come after 1861. This draft (which was presumably unknown to
> Althusser) conclusively proves that Althusser was wrong - there was not
> such an "epistemological break" with Hegel in 1857-58.
There we go with a "conclusively proves". I don't even use that language
when discussing Marx and Sieber. My initial posting had a "?" at the end
and I meant it. I then made statements referring to Marx distancing
himself from his Hegelian conditioning as he grew older, but I have not
tried to characterize Marx as "anti-Hegelian" (although I leave open
whether it would have been better if he had so become).
> But I also don't see how such an "epistemological break" could have
> occurred between 1861 and 1867. The logical structure of the final
> published versions of Capital is essentially the same as in the 1861
> draft. There does not seem to be any change of logical method. There is
> absolutely no discussion of a change of his logical method. The only
> difference is that the language has been "popularized" - at the suggestion
> of Engels, Kugelmann, etc.
Apart from Part I and to some extent Part II of his published *Volume 1*
and don't find a Hegelian influence. There does seem to be a correlation
between those who discuss, over and over again, issues within Part I, and
a pro-Hegelian interpretation, but this is not always the case (e.g., Ajit
Sinha is a counter-example).
> 3. I agree with Paul that Marx's comments on Sieber express approval of
> Sieber's interpretation of Capital (or at least parts of it, and
> apparently significant parts). Marx said in his Postface: "what ASTONISHES
> a Western European when he reads this solid piece of work is the author's
> consistent and firm grasp of the purely theoretical position." Such
> praise from Marx is exceedingly rare. And it is praise with respect to
> the "theoretical position" of Sieber. (I wonder what Marx meant by
> "theoretical position"? Did he mean issues of logical method? Would the
> German help here)
I agree completely.
> Therefore, Sieber's book could be very important and illuminating about
> Marx's logical method. It would be great if we had a translation of this
> book and could try to understand such key questions as: What exactly does
> Sieber say about Marx's theory as a "necessary sequel" to Smith and
> Ricardo? What does he say are their similarities and their differences
> (e.g. with respect to their theories of money)? Does he discuss the
> "deductive" method explicitly? What does he mean by the
> "deductive" method?
I'm trying to get the 1871 edition. Fred, from the Prefaces you had
translated, do you know if the 1885 edition represents significant
> So, any ideas about how to have this book translated and published
> (actually both editions)? I think it is a gem waiting to be discovered.
I've a few ideas, but I'd like to see the Russian first and talk with
something who can read Russian and who is willing to at least get an idea
what is going on. In the final analysis, an publisher will want to know
the famous market!
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