[OPE-L:8176] Re: Marx's Notes on Wagner available on MIA

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Sun Dec 15 2002 - 06:56:48 EST

Cologne 15-Dec-2002

re: [OPE-L:8173]

gerald_a_levy schrieb   Sat, 14 Dec 2002 10:14:39 -050:

> Re Hans's [8172]:
> > I just uploaded a bilingual version of Marx's "Notes on
> > Adolph Wagner" to the MIA.  I understand that this is his
> > last economic manuscript which has some interesting
> > methodological remarks.  The URL is
> > http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881/01/wagner.htm
> Thanks for doing this.  Of all the writings of Marx on political economy,
> the "Marginal Notes on Wagner" (MNW) has been the hardest for students and
> scholars to obtain.  Making this available on the Internet is consequently
> an  important service.
> I also think that the layout of the current version,  including the joint
> publication side-by-side of the German original and the English translation
> from the M/E _Collected Works_ , is much to be preferred to the Spring,
> 1972 publication of another translation in the  journal _Theoretical
> Practice_.    Furthermore, the MIA (and _CW_) publication has the merit
> of *not* being introduced by a lengthy essay (by Athar Hussain) since such
> an introduction puts forward an interpretation of the work rather than lets
> the reader study the primary source itself free of a interpretation and
> critique of the work.
> > The MIA wants me to add a paragraph about the importance of
> > this manuscript.  Does anyone have any suggestions what to say?
> MAXILIEN RUBEL  and MARGARET  MANALE have a credible
> summary (subject to the following questions below***) in
>  _MARX WITHOUT MYTH_ (Harper & Row,  1975, p. 320):
> "Sometime between late 1879 and the end of 1880 Marx began a critique
> and refutation of passages in Adolf Wagner's _Lehrbuch der politischen
> Oekonomie_ [Textbook of Political Economy (2nd ed. 1879)] which
> attributed to Marx a 'socialist system' and falsely construed his value
> theory.  Marx made some twenty-odd pages of notes and commentary, but
> left the work unfinished.  Wagner failed, for example, to differentiate
> between the theories of Marx and Ricardo, the latter having dealt with
> labour 'only as a *measure of value*' and therefore established no
> connection between value theory and the 'essence of money', as had Marx.
> Ricardo had, moreover, confounded value and production costs, whereas
> Marx had emphasized, as early as the 1859 *Zur Kritik*, that '*values* and
> *production* prices (which simply express the costs of production in
> money terms) *do not* coincide' (MEW 19: 359).  Stating that commodities
> as values have a 'double nature',  Marx rejected the argument that certain
> goods have a social use value for the commodity as a whole: 'WHERE THE
> OF EVERY OTHER COMMODITY['] (MEW, 19:370) (emphasis, i.e.
> capitalization added, JL). 'Value', according to Marx, represents only the
> 'social character of labour' and is produced through the 'expenditure
> of "social" labour power' (MEW 19: 375).  Wagner also attributed to Marx
> the view that surplus value created by the worker was 'unjustly'
> appropriated  by the capitalist.  On the contrary, Marx replied, ' ... at a
> certain point the production of commodities necessarily becomes "capitalist"
> commodity production and, according to the law of value which governs the
> production system, THE 'SURPLUS VALUE'  IS DUE NOT TO THE
> added again, JL).
> Questions on Rubel/Manale summary:
> --------------------------------------
> *** (1):   Is the quote that begins 'Where the state is a capitalist
> producer  ....'   an accurate rendering of the German original and
> does it  appear in the above words in the _CW_ translation?
> I ask this since I couldn't find it in the MIA version.

Here's the German:

"Wo der Staat selbst kapitalistischer Produzent, wie bei Exploitation von Minen,
Waldungen, etc., ist sein Produkt 'Ware' und besitzt daher den spezifischen
Charakter jeder andren Ware." (MEW19:370)

"Charakter" does not seem to be quite "nature" (= essence).

> ***(2):  What is the rendering of the last quote about how the s "is due
> not to the working man but to the capitalist" in the original German
> and in the _CW_ translation?   This quote, it seems to me, has
> relevance for some recent writings by Chris, and comments by Nicky
> on OPE-L.

The quote in question is not on MEW19:375. I found it on MEW19:382:

"Dunkelmann schiebt mir unter, dass 'der von den Arbeitern _allein_ produzierte
_Mehrwert_ den kapitalistischen Unternehmern _ungebuehrlicher_ Weise verbleibe'
(N. 3 p.114). Nun sage ich das direkte Gegenteil; naemlich, dass die
Warenproduktion notwendig auf einem gewissen Punkt zur 'kapitalistischen'
Warenproduktion wird, und dass nach dem sie beherrschenden _Wertgesetz_ der
'Mehrwert' dem Kapitalisten gebuehrt und nicht dem Arbeiter." (MEW19:382
emphases in the original).

The problematic words here are "ungebuehrlich" and "gebuehren". "ungebuehrlich"
usually means "improper", "unseemly" etc. "gebuehren" means "to be due to", "to
deserve", "to be owing to".

Thus, in rough, literal translation, Wagner attributes to Marx that

"'the surplus-value produced _solely_ by the workers remains
_undeservedly_/_improperly_ in the capitalist enterprises' (N. 3 p.114). But I
say the complete opposite, namely, that at a certain point, commodity production
necessarily becomes 'capitalist' commodity production and that, according to the
_law of value_ that rules it, the 'surplus-value' is properly owed to the
capitalist and not to the worker."

The translation provided in the summary seems off the mark.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_-_-_- artefact@webcom.com
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

> Comment on method:
> ---------------------
> I, of course, agree with Hans that that there are interesting -- and
> important -- methodological comments in the MNW.    What strikes me as
> particularly interesting are Marx's comments on the commodity which he
> remarks is the "concretum", the "subject", and the "concrete form of the
> product of labor".   Contrary to some interpretations (e.g. by Althusser)
> this strikes  me as *perfectly consistent* with  the methodological comments
> that  Marx made in the 1857-58 Economic Manuscripts (i.e. in the
> "Introduction"  to  the _Grundrisse_).   So, in re-reading his
> methodological comments in the MNW, I am struck by the consistency
> between the  perspectives advanced in the MNW and the 57-58 Manuscripts
> which leads me to question again Althusser's assertion of an
> 'epistemological  break' that he claimed was apparent in the MNW -- I see
> no 'epistemological break' here. Perhaps others on the list (Paul Z?)
> disagree; do others -- however -- agree?
> In solidarity, Jerry

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