[OPE-L:4274] re: Marx's unpublished writings

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 08:40:48 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

Mike L wrote in [OPE-L:4269]:

> [...] 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.

Engels may have had a political (or ideological) rationale for making V3
appear as "complete" as possible.

Let's remember that after V1 was published, Marx's work came under attack
from many directions. Engels, it appears, wanted to make _Capital_ seem
more complete in order to claim, as he did in many places, that the
publication of V3 would answer so many questions and put the bourgeois
critics in their place.

For instance, in the "Preface" to Volume 2, Engels wrote re V3:

"As far as I can judge at this moment, it [the preparation of V3 for
publication, JL], will chiefly involve only technical difficulties,
with the exception of a few, though very important sections'
(Penguin ed., p. 87).

Later, he defended Marx against others (chiefly Rodbertus) and added:

"The brilliant investigations of this Volume 2, and its entirely new
results in areas that up to now have been almost untroden, are simply
premises for the material of Volume 3, in which the FINAL RESULTS
of Marx's presentation of the process of social reproduction on the
capitalist basis are developed. When this Volume 3 appears, little
more will be heard of an economist named Rodbertus." (Ibid, p. 102,
emphasis added).

The above was written in May, 1884 -- almost 10 years before the
publication of V3.

So, having already said both privately and publicly, how the publication
of V3 would silence Marx's critics, he had much at stake -- politically
and personally -- in making V3 appear to be complete. Perhaps this helps
explain some of the above.

Also, it should be remembered, that following the publication of V1, and
especially following the death of Marx, Social Democrats were eagerly
awaiting the publication of the remaining sections of _Capital_. This was
especially the case since the anticipation of the "transformation problem"
was already suggested by bourgeois critics. Thus, the publication of V3 in
"complete" form was seen as an important political task in terms of
defending the "scientific socialist" perspective from bourgeois and other

In solidarity, Jerry