[OPE-L:4255] FW: Uncovering Marx's Unpublished Writings

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 06:03:33 -0800 (PST)

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I'm forwarding the following article in the hope that others will find it of
interest. The author, Kevin Anderson, told me that he would be glad if it
were forwarded to other lists that may find it of interest.

Andrew Kliman

From: anderson kevin
Sent: Monday, February 24, 1997 2:22 PM
To: andrew kliman
Subject: Uncovering Marx's Unpublished Writings

Uncovering Marx's Yet Unpublished Writings

By Kevin Anderson, author of *Lenin, Hegel, and Western

When Lawrence Krader published his historic transcription
of Marx's *Ethnological Notebooks* 25 years ago, a new window
was opened into Marx's thought. What in published form had
become 250 pages of notes by Marx on Lewis Henry Morgan and
other anthropologists compiled in his last years, 1880-81, showed
us as never before a Marx concerned as much with gender relations
and non-Western societies such as India, pre-Columbian Mexico,
and the Australian aborigines, as well as ancient Ireland, as he was
with the emancipation of the industrial proletariat.
To this day there are a significant number of writings by
Marx on these and other issues which have never been published in
any language. Why this is still the case in 1997, 114 years after
Marx's death, is the subject of this essay, in which I will also take
up plans now in progress in Europe to publish many of these
writings for the first time.
The problem really begins with Engels and continues
today. While Engels labored long and hard to edit and publish what
he considered to be a definitive edition of Vol. I of *Capital* in
1890, and brought out Vols. II and III of that work in 1885 and
1894 by carefully editing and arranging Marx's draft manuscripts,
Engels did not plan or even propose the publication of the whole of
Marx's writings. Under the post-Engels Second International, little
more was done.

The First MEGA: New Vistas After 1917
It took the Russian Revolution of 1917 to break the
impasse. With the encouragement of Lenin, the great Marx scholar,
David Riazanov, and his colleagues began the first Marx-Engels
*Gesamtausgabe* (Complete Works - hereafter MEGA1) in the
Soviet Union in the early 1920s.
Since the anti-Bolshevik Second International still owned
the manuscripts and letters of Marx and Engels, the newly
established Frankfurt School's director, Carl Gruenberg, who had
relations with both Communists and Socialists, became the go-
Riazanov established a far-reaching plan for MEGA1, part
of which was actually published during the years 1928-35. He
divided MEGA1 into three series, each of which was to contain
writings in the original language in which Marx or Engels had
written them, usually German, English, or French [ftn 1] as well as
a rigorous scholarly apparatus of footnotes and prefaces:
Series I. Philosophical, Economic, Historical, and Political
Works. MEGA1 eventually published eight volumes of this series
covering the years up to 1850, including most notably the 1844
*Humanist Essays* and the *German Ideology*, neither of which
had been published by Engels or the Second International.
Riazanov had first published a Russian translation of the *Humanist
Essays* in 1927.
Series II. *Capital* and other economic manuscripts. This
series was to include all editions of Vol. I of *Capital* as Marx
wrote them or Engels edited them, from the first German edition of
1867, to the last which Marx prepared for the printer, the 1872-75
French edition, to Engels' "definitive" fourth German edition of
1890. It was also to include Vols. II and III as edited by Engels,
the original manuscripts for those volumes, plus other texts such as
the *Grundrisse* and *Theories of Surplus Value*. None of this
series of MEGA1 was published, although the *Grundrisse*
eventually appeared as a separate volume in 1939-41.
Series III. Letters from and to Marx and Engels. Only
four volumes were actually published, covering all known letters of
Marx and Engels to each other from 1844 to 1883, but not letters to
or from third parties.

Marx's Excerpt Notebooks Left Out
For all his commitment to publishing the whole of Marx,
even Riazanov rejected the idea of publishing one type of writing by
Marx, his excerpt notebooks, such as the *Ethnological
Notebooks* in which Marx had copied extracts from, summarized,
and commented on many of the various texts he had studied
throughout his life.
In a 1923 report on his plans for MEGA1 to Moscow's
Socialist Academy, a report which was also published in Germany
the following year by Frankfurt School Director Gruenberg,
Riazanov referred to a fourth or "final group" of Marx's writings,
"the notebooks," which he indicated would be of use mainly to
Marx biographers. He mentioned in particular "three thick
notebooks on the economic crisis of 1857... a chronological survey
of world history up to the middle of the seventeenth century" as
well as "some mathematical notebooks." He made an exception for
the latter, which was apparently slated for publication.
But, in a surprising outburst of condescension, this usually
rigorous Marx editor added: "If in 1881-82 he lost his ability for
intensive, independent intellectual creation, he nevertheless never
lost the ability for research. Sometimes, in reconsidering these
Notebooks, the question arises: Why did he waste so much time on
this systematic, fundamental summary, or expend so much labor as
he spent as late as the year 1881, on one basic book on geology,
summarizing it chapter by chapter. In the 63rd year of his life --
that is inexcusable pedantry. Here is another example: he received,
in 1878, a copy of Morgan's work. On 98 pages of his very
miniscule handwriting (you should know that a single page of his is
the equivalent of a minimum of 2.2 pages of print) he makes a
detailed summary of Morgan. In such manner does the old Marx
work." This attitude helps explain why Marx's notebooks were not
slated to appear in MEGA1. [ftn 2]
By the late 1920s, Riazanov, this century's greatest Marx
archivist and editor, began to feel the heavy hand of Stalin's
regime. In 1931, Stalin had him arrested and deported to a forced
labor camp, where he was executed in 1938. MEGA1 ceased to
appear in 1935, it too having become a victim of Stalinism.
Publication of Marx's mathematical manuscripts, already edited by
the young German mathematician Julius Gumbel (who had been
recommended by Einstein) and even set in proofs by 1927, did not
appear until 1968. [ftn 3]

The Marx-Engels *Collected Works*
Riazanov also developed a plan for a somewhat more
popularized *Collected Works* of Marx and Engels, which was
eventually published in Russian during the years 1928-46. This
edition became the basis for the German Marx-Engels *Werke*
(1956-68) as well as other single language editions such as the
English language Marx-Engels *Collected Works* (hereafter
MECW), which has been appearing since 1975. Taking the
MECW as our example, we find that this edition also has three
I. Vols. 1-27 include Marx's and Engels' published and
unpublished books, articles, and manuscripts. These have all
II. Vols. 28-35 are Marx's major economic writings, all of
which except Vols. II and III of *Capital* have appeared.
III. Vols. 38-49 are the letters of Marx and Engels. All but
Vols. 48 and 49, letters of Engels after 1885, have appeared.
Like all Stalinist editions, MECW has serious omissions as
well as other problems. The prefaces and explanatory notes are
often dogmatic and sometimes misleading. Divergences between
Marx and Engels are covered over. Their sharp attacks on the
Russian Empire's territorial ambitions, and their strong support for
anti-Russian freedom fighters such as the Poles and the Chechens
are sometimes concealed, or even ascribed to errors by Marx or
But the biggest problem with MECW and similar editions
is that they are not a MEGA. For example, we do not get to see the
whole of Marx's *Capital*, Vol. I, especially the 60 pages left out
by Engels (see below), or the process by which Marx changed and
developed it through its various editions.

Rubel's Marx *Oeuvres*
During the long years from the 1930s to 1989 when
Stalinist Russia and East Germany exercised a near monopoly over
publishing Marx's collected writings, in no small part because of
the stinginess of academia and the labor bureaucracy in the West,
French Marxologist Maximilien Rubel's independent editions,
chronologies, and biographies of Marx offered a libertarian
alternative, albeit on a smaller scale.
In 1952, Rubel co-authored an attack on the Marx-Engels-
Lenin Institute in Moscow for its "silence" regarding "the fate of
Riazanov and his enterprise," adding that Stalin "could not tolerate
the publication in its entirety of an oeuvre that stigmatized his
despotism via the merciless struggle waged by Marx and Engels
against police states: those of Louis Napoleon, of Prussia, of
tsarism." [ftn 4]
A decade later, Rubel began to issue his Marx *Oeuvres*.
>From 1963 to 1994, four volumes, each containing about 1500
pages of Marx and 500 pages of Rubel's scholarly prefaces and
footnotes have appeared. Unlike in Stalinist editions, differences
between Marx and Engels are noted, especially with regard to
However Rubel's commentary is often marred by a virulent
anti-Hegelianism. In addition, as a Marx editor, Rubel too was
opposed to publishing the excerpt notebooks. Just before his death
in 1996 he gave a revealing response to an interviewer's question
on whether we could expect to see any important new material from
Marx in the coming years: "Frankly, I do not believe so. Riazanov
only wanted to publish forty volumes quite simply because he
thought it useless to publish the whole of the excerpt notebooks
(more than two hundred!). These Notebooks are no more than
simple copies, often without personal observations, of what he was
reading. For Marx was an obsessive reader." [ftn 5]

The Second MEGA
In 1975, a second MEGA (hereafter MEGA2) was begun
from Moscow and East Berlin. In pure Stalinist style, the editors
made no reference to the pioneering work of Riazanov, their
illustrious martyred predecessor. As with MECW and other similar
editions, the prefaces and notes had a dogmatic character, although
the actual editing of Marx's texts was quite meticulous.
After the collapse of Communism in 1989-91, MEGA2's
funding disappeared, but today, after a struggle, it is receiving new
funding from German and Dutch foundations. While the funding is
much more limited than before 1989, and the edition has been
slightly scaled back, editorial control has now passed to a varied
group of mainly Western Marx scholars.
MEGA2 includes four series, the fourth one being Marx's
and Engels' excerpt notebooks [ftn 6]:
Series I. Works, Articles, and Drafts. Of 32 volumes
now planned, 15 have appeared. Especially notable in this series is
Vol. I/2, which includes Marx's 1844 *Humanist Essays*. Here,
for the first time, two versions of these manuscripts are published,
the one as established by MEGA1 with which we are familiar, and a
new version, rougher in form but closer to the original.
Interestingly, in the first 10 pages of the new version, Marx on the
same pages is writing three essays at once, in separate vertical
columns. Later on, we can see that what we know today as the
"Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic" was composed in at least two
parts, with the part on Feuerbach separated from the text in which
Marx extols "the dialectic of negativity as the moving and creating
principle" of Hegel's *Phenomenology* (p. 292).
Series II. Marx's Major Economic Writings. Of 15
volumes now planned, 10 have been published. What has already
been published includes all the editions of Vol. I of *Capital* which
either Marx or Engels prepared for publication. Especially
important here is Vol. II/10, a reprint of Engels'' 1890 fourth
German edition, but with an important addition, an appendix which
gathers together 60 pages of text, much of it very significant, from
Marx's 1872-75 French edition of Vol. I. This material was not
included by Engels in Vol. I, and has yet to appear in standard
German or English editions of Vol. I. [ftn 7]
Series III. Correspondence. Of 35 volumes now planned,
8 volumes covering years through 1857 have been published.
Since MEGA2 includes letters to Marx, there are some interesting
items, one of which bears on the epigraph from Aeschylus'
*Prometheus Bound* with which Marx began his 1841 doctoral
dissertation on Epicurus and Democritus:
Better to be a servant of this rock
Than to be a faithful boy of father Zeus (MECW 1, p. 31)
Having apparently read the dissertation, Marx's friend the Left
Hegelian Bruno Bauer, who was already a university lecturer,
wrote advising him:
"You must under no circumstances include those lines from
Aeschylus in your dissertation, and above all nothing which goes
beyond the bounds of philosophical development" (letter of April
12, 1841). Bauer was evidently worried that Marx would never get
a university position if he included those now famous lines on
Prometheus. Unfortunately Marx's response has not been
preserved, but those lines were, as we know, kept in the thesis.
Series IV. Excerpt Notebooks. Of 32 volumes now
planned, 7 have been published. Here what is most exciting are the
notebooks which have never appeared in print. Although Marx's
*Notes on Bakunin's "Statehood and Anarchy"*, and the *Notes
on Adolph Wagner* are in MECW, and the *Ethnological
Notebooks*, the *Notes on Indian History, 664-1858*, and the
*Mathematical Manuscripts* have been published separately, many
new discoveries await us here.
While the actual contents of the new material in Series IV
can today be studied in the archives only by those who can
overcome the obstacle of Marx's very difficult handwriting, a look
at the topics of the excerpt notebooks, most of which will hopefully
be published in the coming years, reveals the following: (1)notes in
1853 and 1880-81 on Java, (2)1852 notes on the history of women
and gender relations, (3)many notes from the 1870s and 1880s on
agriculture in Russia plus some on prairie farming in the U.S.,
(4)notes on Ireland from the 1860s, (5)notes on agriculture in
Roman and Carolingian times, (6)a massive chronology of world
history. Once these materials are published in the original language
(Marx's later notebooks are often a combination of English and
German), they can be translated into English and other languages in
more accessible editions.
Vol. IV/6 containing Marx's 900-page 1846-47 notebooks
on the worldwide history of agriculture and trade from the earliest
times to the present has already been published, and we will
reportedly also soon see in print Vol. IV/3 with his notebooks from
For the first time since the 1920s, a major edition of
Marx's work is being published under auspices other than those of
Stalinism. Raya Dunayevskaya once referred to the "incredible
time, energy, and vigilance" which the Russian state-capitalist
regime expended to "imprison Marx within the bounds" of its
ideology. [ftn. 8] That period is now over, although as Marx wrote
in the *Eighteenth Brumaire*, "the tradition of all the dead
generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living"
(MECW 11, p. 103).

1. Some background in English on this is provided by Hal Draper
in an appendix to his *Marx-Engels Register* (Schocken, 1985),
and a much fuller account is given by Maximilien Rubel in the
"Avertissement" (Preface) to his edition of Marx's *Oeuvres.
Politique. I* (Paris: Gallimard, 1994).
2. Most of these citations from Riazanov's report can be found in
Raya Dunayevskaya, *Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and
Marx's Philosophy of Revolution* (Humanities Press, 1982), pp.
177-78. For the full report in German, see Riazanov's "Neueste
Mitteilungen ueber den literarischen Nachlass von Karl Marx und
Friedrich Engels," *Archiv fuer die Geschichte des Sozialismus
und der Arbeiterbewegung*, Vol. 11 (1924), pp. 385-400. Raya
was to my knowledge the first person to publicize and critique
Riazanov's attitude toward the excerpt notebooks. As she pointed
out, in his edition of the *Ethnological Notebooks*, even Krader
had held back from mentioning Riazanov's dismissive attitude to
the excerpt notebooks.
3. In Stalinist style, that 1968 edition did not even mention Gumbel
- see Annette Vogt, "Emil Julius Gumbel (1891-1966): der erste
Herausgeber der mathematischen Manuscripte von Karl Marx,"
*MEGA-Studien* No. 2 (1995), pp. 26-41. See also R.
Brokmeyer, F. Dmitryev, and R. Dunayevskaya, *The Fetish of
High Tech and Marx's Unknown Mathematical Manuscripts*
(Chicago: News & Letters, 1985).
4. Rubel and Bracke-Desrousseaux, "L'Occident doit a Marx et a
Engels une edition monumentale de leurs oeuvres," *La Revue
socialiste*, No. 59, July 1952, pp. 13-114.
5. *Le Monde des Livres*, Sept. 29, 1995, p. viii.
6. For a good summary of the present state of MEGA2, see Jacques
Grandjonc and Juergen Rojahn, "Aus der MEGA-Arbeit. Der
revidierte Plan der Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe," *MEGA-
Studien* No. 2 (1995), pp. 62-89. *MEGA-Studien* (c/o IISG,
Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam), established in 1994, is an
international multi-lingual journal of discussion and debate on the
history and future of MEGA. Another forum for debate and
information on MEGA is the yearly *Beitrage fuer Marx-Engels-
Forschung* (c/o Rolf Hecker, Ribbecker Str. 3, 10315 Berlin).
7. For a discussion of Vol. II/10, see my "On the Relevance of
Marx's *Capital*: Why Is the Full Text as He Wrote It
Unavailable?", *News & Letters*, October 1992.
8. Dunayevskaya, *Marxism and Freedom. From 1776 until
Today* (Bookman, 1958), p. 63.
The above article first appeared in *News & Letters*, Vol. 42:1
(Jan.-Feb. 1997). Reprinting is permitted gratis if the source is
fully credited.

Comments, including for publication, may be sent to:
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Comments may also be made directly to:
Kevin Anderson
Department of Sociology
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115 USA
email: kanderson@niu.edu