[OPE-L:4310] Marx, Engels, and Heinrich

David Laibma (DLaibman@brooklyn.cuny.edu)
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 15:07:16 -0800 (PST)

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Hello, OPE-L comrades.

Apologies for not getting more involved in many interesting discussions; I
have been listening in! On "Reorganizing OPE-L," I also (like Paul Z.) think
Paul C. was joking the first time around, that no one wants to "ban"
anything, that investigations in CAPITAL and investigations beyond CAPITAL
are ongoing and intertwined.

A brief comment on the Heinrich discussion. Those who have looked at his
article (in SCIENCE & SOCIETY, Winter 1996-97), may also have come across the
passage in "Editorial Perspectives" (which I had a hand in drafting, ;-) ;-))
which reads:

"We will not go into the details of Heinrich's comparison [between Vol. III
and the MEGA manuscript] here, leaving that to the reader. We will, however,
break from our usual practice of refraining from editorial judgement in this
space to record a shared opinion -- quite independent of our high appraisal
of the author's scholarship and of the project of examining newly available
texts -- that in the effort to cast suspicion on Engels and to drive a wedge
between Engels and Marx, Heinrich (and others before him) have essentially
come up with "dry holes" (to borrow a metaphor from 1996 election-year
"whitewater" discourse in the United States!). We find that the demonstrated
differences between the 1864-65 mss. and Volume III of CAPITAL are not
sufficient to cause us to reject the latter as one important and valid early
text in the Marxian tradition, or to establish a distinction in principle
between a revolutionary-critical-humanist Marx and a positivist-reductionist-
determinist Engels."

Mike Lebowitz's posts have not convinced me that this view is wrong.
Heinrich discovers, I think, two main ways in which Engels altered Marx's
mss.: 1) Insertion of structure: paragraph breaks, section heads, chapter
heads, and so forth; 2) Changing a number of tentative and open-ended
expressions into a more definitive form, giving an impression of greater
completeness. We should remember, I think, that Marx's notebooks were his
vehicle for research, his way of coming to terms with his subject. They are
works in progress, with questions laid in along the way to point to further
inquiry. Engels was charged with the task of rendering these texts into
*outwardly* viable ones, just as Marx did with the texts that became Vol. I.
I don't doubt that occasional damage was done to the dialectical
sensitivities surrounding the theory, in both Marx's and Engels' editing.
The idea that we will discover a whole new "continent" of Marx's thought if
only we return to MEGA and scrap the suspect Vols. II and III of CAPITAL is
wrong, I think, mainly for the implicit notion that we will advance Marxism
by returning to some early pristine texts for revelations, rather than
reworking the ideas ourselves. In any case, does anyone think that Marx
would have been better served if Engels has died earlier and all of the mss.
had fallen into the hands of, e.g., Bernstein or Kautsky?

In solidarity,


David Laibman