The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1
eBook - ePub

The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1

Roman Rosdolsky

Share book
312 pages
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1

Roman Rosdolsky

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

A major work of interpretation and criticism, written over fifteen years by one of the foremost representatives of the European Marxist tradition. Rosdolsky investigates the relationship between various versions of Capital and explains the reasons for Marx's successive reworkings; he provides a textual exegesis of Marx's Grundrisse, now widely available, and reveals its methodological riches. He presents a critique of later work in the Marxist tradition on the basis of Marx's fundamental distinction between 'capital in general' and 'capital in concrete reality' The Making of Marx's Capital was first published in 1968 as Zur Enstehungsgeschichte des Marx'schen 'Kapital''.

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1 an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1 by Roman Rosdolsky in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Ciencias biológicas & Ciencias en general. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


Pluto Press
The Origins of the Rough Draft
The manuscript which this book deals with has a long prehistory. As Marx pointed out in a letter to Lassalle,1 it was the fruit of fifteen years of study, during the course of which he set about the problems of political economy from constantly renewed perspectives, and in doing so created the basis of his own system of political economy. We should therefore begin by clarifying the stages by which Marx’s work grew to maturity.
Marx’s wide-ranging critique of politics and political economy, which dates from the years between 1844 and 1846, was the first of these stages.2 Unfortunately, only fragments of this work remain. They were published in the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe as the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.3 Marx appears here primarily as a philosopher, seeking to apply his recently acquired ‘humanist’ – or more correctly ‘materialist’ – interpretation of history in the crucially important field of ‘social economy’. He therefore often simply takes over the traditional economic categories in order to demonstrate the ‘reified’ nature, alien to humanity, of both the prevailing social order, and the science of economics which reflects its development. In fact, from a properly economic standpoint, despite the genius of this work, it remains a mere sketch, a general framework which was to be filled out by the unremitting research work of the next two decades.4
The next stage may be regarded as the period of Marx’s pamphlet against Proudhon (The Poverty of Philosophy), together with the Communist Manifesto, which he wrote with Engels, and the lectures published as Wage-Labour and Capital. Here Marx already reveals himself to be a completely independent economic thinker, fully conscious both of his close relation to the classical school, and his deep opposition to it. Admittedly, in some particular areas he had not yet made a final reckoning with some of Ricardo’s ideas, which he later recognised as incorrect or one-sided; for example, in the theory of money, and the theory of ground-rent.5 He had also not yet worked out his own theory of profit. However, by 1848, ‘his theory of surplus-value, the cornerstone of his economic system, was established in its fundamentals’,6 and it only remained to work out the details of the theory, a process which we can study in detail in the Rough Draft.
Marx’s economic studies were interrupted by the revolution of 1848-49. He did not take them up again until his exile in London in the summer of 1850, and then for what were, in the main, political motives. He felt it necessary to investigate to what extent both the outbreak and the defeat of the revolution had been determined by economic factors, in keeping with the materialist conception of history which he had discovered earlier. With this aim in mind Marx studied the concrete economic history of the years 1848-50,7 using mainly the London Economist, and concluded that, ‘just as the world trade crisis of 1847 was the real mother of the February and March revolution, so too the animating force in the newly strengthened European reaction was the industrial prosperity which gradually set in again in the middle of 1848, and came to full bloom in 1849 and 1850.’ However, as early as September 1850, in response to the urgings of his ‘Party comrades’8 Marx restarted work on his ‘Economics’. This initially consisted in the making of numerous excerpts from works on political economy, which he now read in English, rather than French.9 (It is also possible that Marx’s ‘pedagogic’ activity, the lectures on political economy which he gave at home for his close friends,10 may have given him the incentive to take up his theoretical studies again.) At any rate, his work proceeded so well that by May or June of 1851 he already thought that he could start writing out the work itself.11
Unfortunately we cannot say whether he succeeded in producing a manuscript, as nothing of this nature was found in Marx’s literary estate, according to Ryazanov’s testimony.12 All that we know is that Marx negotiated with several publishers without success, and that he sent an outline of the work (now lost) to the journalist H. Ebner, a friend of Freiligrath, with this in mind.13 This does not prove that Marx actually began the final drafting of the manuscript; it is more likely that he ‘confined himself to completing an outline and preparing the material, so that he could get to grips with the drafting of the work after signing the contract’.14 However, this view is contradicted by certain references to be found in the Marx-Engels correspondence of that period. For example, on 14 August 1851 Marx tried to get his friend to help out with articles for the New York Tribune because ‘he had his hands full with the “Economics”’.15 This point appears even more clearly in a letter of 13 October of the same year. There Marx writes to Engels: ‘By the way, you must let me know what your views on Proudhon are. They interest me all the more now, as I’m occupied with the composition of the “Economics”’.16 Accordingly, Engels advised Marx to inform Löwenthal, the Frankfurt publisher who had objected to Marx’s way of arranging the work, that ‘it would be impossible to throw aside your entire plan; that you’ve already begun to draft the Kritik,17 etc.’18 Finally Marx wrote to Engels, on 13 February 1855, immediately after the collapse of all the publication plans, saying ‘I’ve contracted an eye-complaint as a result of reading through my own note-books on economics, if not to draft the thing, at least to master the material and have it ready for working through.’19 From all this one could conclude that a final preparation of a draft of the planned ‘Economics’ was at least begun. What actually happened to this manuscript, however, and why it failed to survive are questions which will probably never be answered.
As far as the content and construction of the proposed work are concerned, we are thrown back on the meagre information in Engels’s letter of 27 February, which we have already cited, and the preceding letter from Marx of 24 November 1851. Both letters show that Marx abandoned his earlier intention to include a Critique of Politics in the work,20 as he wanted to confine himself more to a ‘final settling of accounts’ with previous political economy and the systems constructed by the socialists. Accordingly, the entire work was planned to consist of three volumes. The first was to have contained the critique of traditional economic categories,21 the second, the critique of the socialists, and the third the history of economics itself.22 Had Marx begun the work with the section on the history of economic doctrines, as Löwenthal wanted, he would have had to ‘throw aside’ this very plan.23 Naturally, Marx could not approve such a change in the outline; on the other hand his financial situation was so desperate that he could not break off negotiations for this reason alone. Engels therefore advised him to agree to Löwenthal’s suggestion, if it became absolutely necessary, with the proviso that Löwenthal would have to commit himself to two volumes of the history of economic doctrines, instead of one, since in such a situation numerous ‘anticipations of the criticism’ would be inevitable. ‘After this would come the socialists as the third volume and, as the fourth – (the Critique), that is what would remain from the whole – the renowned “positive”, what you “really” want. The matter does have its problems in this form, but it has the advantage that the much sought after secret is not revealed until the end, only after the curiosity of the citizen has been pent up for three volumes, thus revealing to him that one is not dealing in patent medicines.’ In addition, ‘it would be best’, in the then prevailing political situation, ‘to begin with the most harmless section – the History’.24
Some light is thrown on the studies which Marx pursued in 1850-51, and the progress he had made as an economist since 1847, by letters in which he and Engels discuss questions of political economy – above all, the extremely interesting exchange of opinions in January 1851 on Ricardo’s theory of rent.25 Here Marx already presents his basic objections to Ricardo’s explanation of rent, which we later encounter in the Theories of Surplus-Value and in Volume III of Capital. Engels found these objections so devastating that he jokingly replied, ‘There is no doubt that your solution is the right one, and that you have acquired a new claim to the title of the economist of ground-rent. If there were any right and justice left in the world the earth’s total ground-rent should now be yours for at least a year, and even that would be the least to which you are entitled.’ He added, ‘If an article by you on ground-rent could be published in a translation in an English review it would attract enormous attention . . . This is one more reason why you should hasten to complete and publish the “Economics”.’26
Of equal importance in this context is Marx’s letter on 3 February 1851, in which he communicates his critique of ‘Currency theory’ to Engels, and where we can see how he also differs from Ricardo on the theory of money.27
Of particular interest is the detailed discussion in the correspondence over Proudhon’s book (The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century), published in 1851, as Marx produced a large pamphlet on it, which he offered to several publishers, again without success.28 Like several of his early works, the manuscript of this pamphlet has been lost. We know only that this text was, for some time, in the hands of a close acquaintance of Marx, Wilhelm Pieper, who promised to offer it to German publishers during his tour there in 1851,29 and further, that Marx wanted to publish the same text in the form of a series of articles under the title Newest Revelations of Socialism or the General Idea of Revolution in the Nineteenth Century by P.J. Proudhon. A Critique by Karl Marx, in Revolution, published by Weydemeyer in New York.30 However, a previously unpub...

Table of contents

Citation styles for The Making of Marx's Capital Volume 1
APA 6 Citation
Rosdolsky, R. (1992). The Making of Marx’s Capital Volume 1 (1st ed.). Pluto Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 1992)
Chicago Citation
Rosdolsky, Roman. (1992) 1992. The Making of Marx’s Capital Volume 1. 1st ed. Pluto Press.
Harvard Citation
Rosdolsky, R. (1992) The Making of Marx’s Capital Volume 1. 1st edn. Pluto Press. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Rosdolsky, Roman. The Making of Marx’s Capital Volume 1. 1st ed. Pluto Press, 1992. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.