[OPE-L:4278] [FRED] Volume 3 of Capital

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 4 Mar 1997 04:09:29 -0800 (PST)

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Mike Lebowitz comes back with a bang. Good to hear from you, Mike.

Mike has raised some very interesting and important questions about Volume 3
of Capital. I want to try to respond to these questions, probably in
several posts, due to time constraints.

The first issue is HOW DIFFERENT is Engel's version of Volume 3 from Marx's
own manuscript. I have not yet read Heinrich's article (I hope to find it
in the UNAM library tomorrow), but Mike emphasizes that Heinrich argues that
there are "substantially important" differences between the two texts.

I am in general no defender of Engels, and I know that there are significant
differences between the two texts. For example, Alejandro Ramos discovered
the important "missing paragraph" in Chapter 9 of Volume 3, discussed here
on OPEL a few months ago. But this particular difference seems to be due
more to carelessness or oversight, rather than intention. The rest of
Chapter 9 of Engels's version appears to be pretty much as Marx's manuscript
(thanks to Alejandro for sending me a copy of the recently published MEGA
edition of Part 2 of Marx's manuscript). (It is also interesting to note
that the subject of this missing paragraph was the COST PRICE of
commodities, the very concept that Mike asked about in closing. I will
return to this very interesting question of Marx's concept "cost price" in a
later post.) We should clearly examine and compare the two texts carefully
in order to understand better the differences and their significance.

However, what I wish to emphasize here is that, whatever differences in
detail there are between the two texts, what Engels did NOT change was the
OVERALL STRUCTURE of Volume 3. The overall structure - the order of the
seven parts and the chapters within each part - of Engel's Volume 3 is
exactly as in Marx's manuscript, or as Marx himself indicated they should be

Nor is this structure of Volume 3 "incomplete and tentative," as Mike
suggests that Heinrich suggests. Marx became clear about the logical
structure of Volume 3 while working on the 1861-63 manuscript. This
manuscript is mainly an initial exploration of the main themes of Volume 3 -
prices of production, rent, interest, mercantile profit, etc. Toward the
end of this manuscript (in January 1863), Marx digressed and wrote his first
overall outline of Volume 3 (Marx-Engels Collected Works, International
Publishers, Vol. 33, pp. 346-47). (This outline is included in Kautsky's
version of Theories of Surplus-Value as an appendix to Volume 1 (pp.
414-15), which is completely out of place compared to Marx's own manuscript;
another example of misleading editorship). Having gained this clarity, Marx
then went on to write his main manuscript of Volume 3 soon thereafter, in

For lack of time, I will not retype this outline just referred to, but ask
listmembers to please refer to TSV. This outline, although Marx's first
outline of Volume 3, is very close to the final structure of Marx's
manuscript. The main differences are:

1. The "history" of the theories of prices of production, rent, etc. are
included along with the development of Marx's own theory, following a
procedure begun back in the Critique of Political Economy, but which Marx
did not followin his 1864-65 manuscript.

2. Rent comes after prices of production and before interest and merchant
profit. This is because of the way Marx developed his theory of prices of
production and rent in the 1861-63 manuscript. While working on Rodbertus'
and Ricardo's theory of rent (TSV. vol. 2), Marx understood more clearly the
connection between rent and prices of production.

3. Interest and merchant profit are not yet divided into two parts.

4. Although (1) clearly refers to what we know as Part 1 of Capital, the
concept of "cost price" (here again!) is not explicitly mentioned.

Marx clearly refined and developed this structure somewhat while writing the
1864-65 manuscript, but, aside from the location of rent, the order of the
parts remained the same. Thus it appears that the overall structure of
Marx's 1864-65 manuscript was a fairly finished product and was followed
faithfully by Engels.

This structure of Volume 3 follows from Marx's the fact that the main
subject of Volume 3 is the DISTRIBUTION OF SURPLUS-VALUE into individual
parts, first into individual branches of production (Part 2) and then the
further division of surplus-value into industrial profit, merchant profit,
interest, and rent (Parts 4, 5, and 6). Part 1 on cost price and the rate
of profit is a necessary preliminary to Part 2 on prices of production and
the equalization of profit rates. Part 7 is a kind of summary of the entire
volume, the main point of which is that, once surplus-value is divided into
these individual parts, these parts themselves appear to the agents of
production (and in general to economists) as separate and independent
sources of value. The analysis of the distribution of surplus-value in
Volume 3 is based on the fundamental methodological premise that the total
amount of surplus-value is determined prior to its division into individual
parts. In other words, the total amount of surplus-value has already been
determined by the analysis of capital in general in Volume 1.

Therefore, Mike's concluding suggestion is much too drastic - that Marx's
text is so unfinished and Engel's version is so misleading that we should
ignore these two texts and contruct our own Volume 3 "on the basis of our
understanding of Marx's methodology." Although this effort would no doubt
be interesting, I think it would be a mistake, at least in terms of the
development of Marx's theory, to ignore Marx's own fairly finished
construction of Volume 3 based on his own methodology (the determination of
the total amount of surplus-value prior to its division into individual
parts and the explanation of the surface forms of appearance of

I look forward to further discussion and will return in a subsequent post to
the fascinating subject of Marx's concept of "cost price".


P.S. I have written two papers recently on Volume 3 and Marx's theory of
the distribution of surplus-value, which I would be happy to send anyone.
The two papers are:

"The Development of Marx's Theory of the Distribution of Surplus-value"
with emphasis on the 1861-63 manuscript
forthcoming soon in Moseley and M. Campbell (eds.), New Investigations
of Marx's Method, Humanities Press.

"Hostile Brothers: Marx's Theory of the Distribution of Surplus-value in
Volume 3 of Capital."