[OPE-L:4269] re: Marx's unpublished writings

Michael_A._Lebowit (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 16:00:52 -0800 (PST)

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Many thanks to Andrew for forwarding Kevin Anderson's note on Marx's
unpublished works and to Jerry for adding David Smith's response. I found
them both very interesting--- so much so that they provide an occasion for
breaking my long period of silence. (To be fair, there have been other such
occasions but the factors that have kept me in the lurking and
filing mode for so long seem for now to be on hold.) The information about
the forthcoming publication of the excerpt notebooks is quite exciting and
should help to clarify many of the questions yet outstanding about Marx's
theory--- especially the 3 notebooks on the economic crisis of 1857 (if
these are to be included). Are any listmembers among the new editors of
MEGA2, and if so can we get any previews of what is to come?
Kevin notes in passing that the Soviet editors covered up divergences
between Marx and Engels (which I think is certainly true). This is a point
relevant to David Smith's comment about the significant differences between
Marx's reading of Morgan and Engel's Origins of the State. But, it also
calls to mind Michael Heinrich's recent article in Science & Society (Winter
1996-7) on Engel's edition of Vol III and Marx's original manuscript. In
that article, Heinrich argues that Engels made significant changes
to Marx's original text (now available in the new MEGA), that "hardly one
paragraph remained as Marx had written it", that there were "substantially
important" omissions, and that incomplete and tentative formulations by Marx
were edited such as to appear as definitive elaborations ("The readers do
not learn that a large part of Marx's manuscript is open and undecided.").
In particular. Heinrich argues that there are problems in the areas, eg, of
crisis theory in Vol. III (where Engels "directly interfered with Marx's
text whenever it contradicted the interpretation he himself favored") and
credit theory.
In short, the central point raised by Heinrich's reading of the two
manuscripts side- by-side is that we've been mistaken about the integrity of
Volume III, that "Engel's edition can no longer be considered to be Volume
III of Marx's Capital." Ie., Marx's Vol. III is one of his unpublished
works, and Engels' version has lower status than works unpublished in
Marx's lifetime like the Grundrisse, 1861-3 Mss, etc--- precisely because
it has been altered in significant ways not revealed by Engels.
All this seems quite relevant to OPE-L insofar so much discussion here
has taken place on the terrain of Volume III. If Marx's own manuscript is so
incomplete and tentative (as Heinrich suggests), then maybe arguments based
upon the more self-assured and complete Engels artifact should be
reconsidered; maybe, indeed, we should--- on the basis of our understanding
of Marx's methodology-- engage in the thought-experiment of constructing a
Volume III (without reference to the available version).
I confess that this last project would intrigue me because I have never
quite grasped why the starting point of Vol. III is cost-price. Does anyone
have an answer?

in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax (with warning): (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island (250) 333-8810