[OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Fri Jul 21 2006 - 18:09:28 EDT

I think it is useful to read Nicolaus's own "Note on the Translation", pp.
65-66. He says "The translation aims at a tight fit to the original,
including the roughness of grammar". Thus, his translation of this difficult
text is mostly rather "literal".

This method has its advantages, but you could also "read between the lines"
a bit more than Nicolaus does and thus elucidate, in translating, more
precisely and clearly what Marx tried to convey, taking into account the
total context in which he says it. Once a translation has been made, it is
usually easy to improve it (e.g. the Pelican translation of Capital is
superior to previous ones), and personally, if I would do that (which I am
not about to), I would try to make the Grundrisse text more readable using
the information we now have about the totality of his project, and add an
analytical index. Plus, obviously, 33 years later a better introduction is
possible, elucidating the method and approach Marx adopted, and why he
adopted it, and why the text is still relevant and significant today (though
Nicolaus also makes many good points).

One specific problem with Nicolaus's "literal" translation is that he makes
some mistakes in interpreting Marx's concepts, in my opinion (cf. Sweezy and
Mandel's comments about this). One good example is the concept of
"Kapitalverwertung". This tends to be translated as the "realisation of
capital" or the "self-expansion of capital" where it should really be
translated as the "valorisation of capital", which is a specific concept.
I've tried to sketch that meaning simply here:

Marx of course also penned some other preparatory "economic" manuscripts
that should - I often think - really be included with the Grundrisse texts.
These include the later  "Zur Politischen Okonomie" of 1861-63 published by
Dietz in 1976-1982 (the Grundrisse was drafted in 1857-58) and the
"Resultate" (1864). Ben Fowkes's translation of the manuscript on "The
Production Process of Capital" (1864) is  available here:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1861/economic/ch11.htm .

If you were to do a Grundrisse project again, to understand how capital
functions these days, no doubt you would have to take an approach in some
ways similar, i.e. you would take the given concepts in the modern
literature and accounting standards, and critically re-examine/synthesize
them and their interconnection, taking into account the various attempts
that already exist, in order to understand better their social meaning and
implications. But this is obviously a very time-consuming process and, like
Marx's Grundrisse labour, a rather thankless task (well maybe people might
thank you for it a hundred years later, by which time you're dead for many
years). It would possibly be more a collective project of people who don't
like the economic dogma's of the age and somehow can fund themselves to do


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