[OPE-L:8331] Re: Editions of Capital

From: jmilios@hol.gr
Date: Mon Jan 13 2003 - 23:23:49 EST


Chris, you ask:

"Very importantly Marx completely ignored Engels request for historical
illustration in his development of the value form. Two questions i) does
not this support the 'systematic' reading of the argument? ii) why did not
Marx explain to Engels why he ignored the request for history?"

I understand your first question as rhetorical, and I agree with you. The 
second question raises the big issue of the differences between Marx's and 
Engels' approach. Anyway, Marx compendiously explained his position to Engels. 
I quote from their aforementioned correspondence:

Engels writes to Marx on June 16, 1867: "Your philistine really is not 
accustomed to this kind of abstract thinking and will certainly not torment 
himself for the sake of the form of value. At most, you could provide rather 
more extensive historical evidence for the conclusions you have here reached 
dialectically, you could, so to speak, apply the test of history, although you 
have already said what was absolutely necessary in that respect; but you have 
so much material that you can surely still write quite a good excursus on it, 
which will by historical means demonstrate to the philistine the need for the 
development of money and the process by which this takes place".

On June 22, 1867, Marx answers to Engels: "It is not only the philistines that 
I have in mind here, but young people, etc., who are thirsting for knowledge. 
Anyway, the issue is crucial for the whole book. Messieurs Economists have 
hitherto overlooked the very simple fact that the form: 20 yards of linen 
fabric = 1 coat is only the base of 20 yards of linen = 2, and thus that the 
simplest form of a commodity, in which its value is not yet expressed in its 
relation to all other commodities but only as something differentiated from its 
own natural form, embodies the whole secret of the money form and thereby, in 
nuce, of all bourgeois forms of the product of labour".

John


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