Marx-Engels Correspondence 1862
Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 435;
First published: in Die Neue Zeit, 1901-02.
A while ago, Freiligrath showed me a letter he had received from you. I would have written sooner had not a series of accidents that befell my family rendered me incapable of writing for some time.
I was delighted to see from your letter how warm an interest is taken by you and your friends in my critique of political economy. The second part has now at last been finished, i.e. save for the fair copy and the final polishing before it goes to press. There will be about 30 sheets of print. It is a sequel to Part I [Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy], but will appear on its own under the title Capital, with A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy as merely the subtitle. In fact, all it comprises is what was to make the third chapter of the first part, namely ‘Capital in General’. Hence it includes neither the competition between capitals nor the credit system. What Englishmen call ‘The Principles of Political Economy’ is contained in this volume. It is the quintessence (together with the first part), and the development of the sequel (with the exception, perhaps, of the relationship between the various forms of state and the various economic structures of society) could easily be pursued by others on the basis thus provided.
The reasons for the long delay are as follows. In the first place, a great deal of my time in 1860 was taken up with the Vogt rumpus, since I had a lot of research to do on material which was in itself of little interest, besides engaging in lawsuits, etc. In 1861, I lost my chief source of income, the New-York Tribune, as a result of the American Civil War. My contributions to that paper have remained in abeyance up till the present. Thus, I have been, and still am, forced to undertake a large amount of hackwork to prevent myself and my family from actually being relegated to the streets. I had even decided to become a ‘practical man’ and had intended to enter a railway officer at the beginning of next year. Luckily — or perhaps I should say unluckily? — I did not get the post because of my bad handwriting. So, you will see that I had little time left and few quiet moments for theoretical work. It seems probable that the same circumstances will delay my finishing the book for the printers for longer than I should have wished.
As regards publishers, on no account shall I give the second volume to Mr Duncker. He was sent the manuscript for Part I in December 1858, and it came out in July or August 1859. There is some, but not a very promising, prospect of Brockhaus publishing the thing. The conspiration de silence with which I am honoured by the German literary rabble as soon as the latter finds out that the thing can’t be dismissed with insults is, quite apart from the tendency of my works, unfavourable from the point of view of sales. As soon as I have a fair copy of the manuscript (upon which I shall make a start in January 1863), I shall bring it to Germany myself, it being easier to deal with publishers on a personal basis.
There is every prospect that, as soon as the German edition appears, arrangements will be made in Paris for a French version. I have absolutely no time to put it into French myself, particularly since I am going either to write the sequel in German, i.e. to conclude the presentation of capital, competition and credit, or condense the first two books for English consumption into one work. I do not think we can count on its having any effect in Germany until it has been given the seal of approval abroad. In the first part, the method of presentation was certainly far from popular. This was due partly to the abstract nature of the subject, the limited space at my disposal, and the aim of the work. The present part is easier to understand because it deals with more concrete conditions. Scientific attempts to revolutionise a science can never be really popular. But, once the scientific foundations are laid, popularisation is easy. Again, should times become more turbulent, one might be able to select the colours and nuances demanded by a popular presentation of these particular subjects. On the other hand, I had certainly expected that, if only for the sake of appearances, German specialists would not have ignored my work so completely. Besides, I had the far from gratifying experience of seeing party friends in Germany, who had long interested themselves in this branch of knowledge and sent me gushing encomia on Part I in private, not lift, a finger towards getting a critique or even a list of the contents into such journals as were accessible to them. If these be party tactics, then I must confess that they are an impenetrable mystery to me.
I should be most grateful if you could write to me occasionally about the situation at home. We are obviously heading for revolution — something I have never once doubted since 1850. The first act will include a by no means gratifying rehash of the stupidities of ’48-’49. However, that’s how world history runs its course, and one has to take it as one finds it.
With best wishes for the New Year,