[OPE-L:3750] RE: artistic whole revisited

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 20:34:59 -0800 (PST)

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A reply to Jerry's ope-l 3743:

"Andrew K wrote in [OPE-L:3729]:

(a) Marx stated clearly that he prepared Vol. I for publication only after
the whole of _Capital_ had been worked out conceptually.

(1) Where did Marx state the above "clearly"?

(2) If the whole of _Capital_ was worked out conceptually at the time of the
publication of V1, why didn't Marx finish the rest of the manuscripts and
prepare them for publication?"

Answer to (1): letter to Engels, 31 July, 1865. For my part, I consider the
following from that letter to be definitive:

"there is still the 4th book ...to be written, which will, comparatively
speaking, be the easiest part for me, since *all* the problems *have been
resolved* in the first 3 books .... But I cannot make bring myself to send
anything off until I have *the whole thing* in front of me. ... my writings
... are an artistic whole, and this can only be achieved through my practice
of *never* having things printed until I have them in front of me IN THEIR

The last phrase,


was emphasized by Marx himself.

Answer to (2): Probably because he had more important things to do. He spent
a lot of his last decade on things other than political economy, such as
anthropology and geology. Remember that, according to this letter, ALL the
problems HAD BEEN RESOLVED, IMHO (in Marx's humble opinion), and Marx
evidently thought his time would be better spent by investigating new
questions that hadn't been resolved, such as the revolutionary potential of
peoples from noncapitalist lands, than preparing manuscripts for publication
which dealt with questions he had already resolved. He trusted that Engels
would be able to make something of these manuscripts after his (Marx's) death.
(He also wanted to see what the crisis of the '70s would produce.)

The key point is that VOLUME I CONTAINS THE WHOLE. Since the work was written
in REVERSE order, it follows that, according to Marx's thinking, nothing that
was not discussed explicitly in Vol. I contradicted the results of that
Volume, but only elaborated on them further. If one doubts this, then please
explain why he refused to publish Vol. I until he had the whole thing in front

Since I spent several months arguing with Jerry over whether 24 hours of the
workday "entirely appropriated by capital" means that Marx was assuming v = 0,
and since his subject line indicates that he knows this letter very well, I
have no illusion that he will accept that Marx stated that the whole of
_Capital_ was worked out conceptually before he consented to have Vol. I

Still, it is possible for Marx to state something clearly without all readers
understanding clearly what he meant or, even if they understand it, accepting
its meaning. Many "Marxists" do have and have had material and/or ideological
interests in portraying _Capital_ as something that Marx considered
theoretically incomplete.

Andrew Kliman