Marx’s Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

by Progress Publishers

1. The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 is the first work in which Marx tried to systematically elaborate problems of political economy from the standpoint of his maturing dialectical-materialist and communist views and also to synthesise the results of his critical review of prevailing philosophic and economic theories. Apparently, Marx began to write it in order to clarify the problems for himself. But in the process of working on it he conceived the idea of publishing a work analysing the economic system of bourgeois society in his time and its ideological trends. Towards the end of his stay in Paris, on February 1, 1845, Marx signed a contract with Carl Leske, a Darmstadt publisher, concerning the publication of his work entitled A Critique of Politics and of Political Economy. It was to be based on his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and perhaps also on his earlier manuscript Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. This plan did not materialise in the 1840s because Marx was busy writing other works and, to some extent, because the contract with the publisher was cancelled in September 1846, the latter being afraid to have transactions with such a revolutionary-minded author. However, in the early 1850s Marx returned to the idea of writing a book on economics. Thus, the manuscripts of 1844 are connected with the conception of a plan which led many years later to the writing of Capital.

The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts is an unfinished work and in part a rough draft. A considerable part of the text has not been preserved. What remains comprises three manuscripts, each of which has its own pagination (in Roman figures). The first manuscript contains 27 pages, of which pages I-XII and XVII-XXVII are divided by two vertical lines into three columns supplied with headings written in beforehand: “Wages of Labour,” “Profit of Capital” (this section has also subheadings supplied by the author) and “Rent of Land.” It is difficult to tell the order in which Marx filled these columns. All the three columns on p. VII contain the text relating to the section “Wages of Labour.” Pages XIII to XVI are divided into two columns and contain texts of the sections “Wages of Labour” (pp. XIII-XV), “Profit of Capital” (pp. XIII-XVI) and “Rent of Land” (p. XVI). On pages XVII to XXI, only the column headed “Rent of Land” is filled in. From page XXII to page XXVII, on which the first manuscript breaks off, Marx wrote across the three columns disregarding the headings. The text of these pages is published as a separate section entitled by the editors according to its content “Estranged Labour.”

Of the second manuscript only the last four pages have survived (pp. XL-XLIII).

The third manuscript contains 41 pages (not counting blank ones) divided into two columns and numbered by Marx himself from I to XLIII (in doing so he omitted two numbers, XXII and XXV). Like the extant part of the second manuscript, the third manuscript has no author’s headings; the text has been arranged and supplied with the headings by the editors.

Sometimes Marx departed from the subject-matter and interrupted his elucidation of one question to analyse another. Pages XXXIX-XL contain the Preface to the whole work which is given before the text of the first manuscript. The text of the section dealing with the critical analysis of Hegel’s dialectic, to which Marx referred in the Preface as the concluding chapter and which was scattered on various pages, is arranged in one section and put at the end in accordance with Marx’s indications.

In order to give the reader a better visual idea of the structure of the work, the text reproduces in vertical lines the Roman numbers of the sheets of the manuscripts, and the Arabic numbers of the columns in the first manuscript. The notes indicate where the text has been rearranged. Passages crossed out by Marx with a vertical line are enclosed in pointed brackets; separate words or phrases crossed out by the author are given in footnotes only when they supplement the text. The general title and the headings of the various parts of the manuscripts enclosed in square brackets are supplied by the editors on the basis of the author’s formulations. In some places the text has been broken up into paragraphs by the editors. Quotations from the French sources cited by Marx in French or in his own translation into German, are given in English in both cases and the French texts as quoted by Marx are given in the footnotes. Here and elsewhere Marx’s rendering of the quotations or free translation is given in small type but without quotation marks. Emphasis in quotations, belonging, as a rule, to Marx, as well as that of the quoted authors, is indicated everywhere by italics.

The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 was first published by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Moscow in the language of the original: Marx/Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Abt. 1, Bd. 3, 1932.

In English this work was first published in 1959 by the Foreign Languages Publishing House (now Progress Publishers), Moscow, translated by Martin Milligan.

2. This refers to Bruno Bauer’s reviews of books, articles and pamphlets on the Jewish question, including Marx’s article on the subject in the Deutsch-Französche Jahrbücher, which were published in the monthly Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (issue No. 1, December 1843, and issue No. IV, March 1844) under the title “Von den neuesten Schriften über die Judenfrage.” Most of the expressions quoted are taken from these reviews. The expressions “utopian phrase” and “compact mass” can he found in Bruno Bauer’s unsigned article, “Was ist jetzt der Gegenstand der Kritik?,” published in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, issue No. VIII, July 1844. A detailed critical appraisal of this monthly was later on given by Marx and Engels in the book Die heilige Familie, oder Kritik der kritischen Kritik (see this edition, Vol. 4, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism).

3. Marx apparently refers to Weitling’s works: Die Menschheit, wie sie ist und wie sie sein sollte, 1838, and Garantien der Harmonic und Freiheit, Vivis, 1842.

Moses Hess published three articles in the collection Ein-und-zwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz (Twenty-One Sheets from Switzerland), Erster Teil (Zürich und Winterthur, 1843), issued by Georg Herwegh. These articles, entitled “Sozialismus und Kommunismus,” “Philosophie der Tatand “Die Eine und die ganze Freiheit,” were published anonymously. The first two of them had a note - “Written by the author of ’Europäische Triarchie’.”

4. The term “element” in the Hegelian philosophy means a vital element of thought. It is used to stress that thought is a process, and that therefore elements in a system of thought are also phases in a movement. The term “feeling” (Empfindung) denotes relatively low forms of mental life in which no distinction is made between the subjective and objective.

5. Shortly after writing this Preface Marx fulfilled his intention in The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism, written in collaboration with Engels (see Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Vol. 4).

6. The expression “common humanity” (in the manuscript in French, “simple humanity”) was borrowed by Marx from the first volume (Chapter VIII) of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which he used in Garnier’s French translation (Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations, Paris, 1802, t. I, p. 138). All the subsequent references were given by Marx to this publication, the synopsis of which is contained in his Paris Notebooks with excerpts on political economy. This edition is reproduced on the MIA and Marx’s citations are linked to the text.

7. Marx uses the German term “Nationalökonomie” to denote both the economic system in the sense of science or theory, and the economic system itself.

8. Loudon’s work was a translation into French of an English manuscript apparently never published in the original. The author did publish in English a short pamphlet - The Equilibrium of Population and Sustenance Demonstrated, Leamington, 1836.

9. Unlike the quotations from a number of other French writers such as Constantin Pecqueur and Eugéne Buret, which Marx gives in French in this work, the excerpts from J. B. Say’s book are given in his German translation.

10. From this page of the manuscript quotations from Adam Smith’s book (in the French translation), which Marx cited so far sometimes in French and sometimes in German, are, as a rule, given in German. In this book the corresponding pages of the English edition are substituted for the French by the editors and Marx’s references are given in square brackets (see Note 6).

11. The text published in small type here and below is not an exact quotation from Smith but a summary of the corresponding passages from his work. Such passages are subsequently given in small type but without quotation marks.

12. The preceding page (VII) of the first manuscript does not contain any text relating to the sections “Profit of Capital” and “Rent of Land” (see Note 1).

13. The whole paragraph, including the quotation from Ricardo’s book in the French translation by Francisco Solano Constancio: Des principes de l’economie politique, et de 1’impôt, 2-e éd., Paris, 1835, T. II, pp. 194-95 (see the corresponding English edition On the Principles of Political Economy, and Taxation, London, 1817), and from Sismondi’s Nouveaux principes d’économie politique..., Paris, 1819, T. II., p. 331, is an excerpt from Eugéne Buret’s book De la misère des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France.... Paris, 1840, T. I, pp. 6-7, note.

14. The allusion is to the following passage: “In a perfectly fair lottery, those who draw the prizes ought to gain all that is lost by those who draw the blanks. In a profession where twenty fail for one that succeeds, that one ought to gain all that should have been gained by the unsuccessful twenty.” (Smith, Wealth of Nations, Vol. 1, Bk. 1, p. 94.)

15. See Note 12.

16. The Corn Laws - a series of laws in England (the first of which dated back to the 15th century) which imposed high duties on imported corn with the aim of maintaining high prices on it on the home market. In the first third of the 19th century several laws were passed (in 1815, 1822 and so on) changing the conditions of corn imports, and in 1828 a sliding scale was introduced, which raised import duties on corn while lowering prices on the home market and, on the contrary, lowered import duties while raising prices.

In 1838 the Manchester factory owners Cobden and Bright founded the Anti-Corn Law League, which widely exploited the popular discontent at rising corn prices. While agitating for the abolition of the corn duties and demanding complete freedom of trade, the League strove to weaken the economic and political positions of the landed aristocracy and to lower workers’ wages.

The struggle between the industrial bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy over the Corn Laws ended in their repeal in 1846.

17. Pages XIII to XV are divided into two columns and not three like the other pages of the first manuscript; they contain no text relating to the section “Rent of Land.” On page XVI, which also has two columns, this text is in the first column, while on the following pages it is in the second.

18. Marx, still using Hegel’s terminology and his approach to the unity of the opposites, counterposes the term “Verwirklichung” (realisation) to “Entwirklichung” (loss of realisation).

19. In this manuscript Marx frequently uses two similar German terms, “Entäusserung” and “Entfremdung,” to express the notion of “alienation.” In the present edition the former is generally translated as “alienation,” the latter as “estrangement,” because in the later economic works (Theories of Surplus-Value) Marx himself used the word “alienation” as the English equivalent of the term “Entäusserung.”

20. The term “species-being” (Gattungswesen) is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach’s philosophy where it is applied to man and mankind as a whole.

21. Apparently Marx refers to Proudhon’s book Qu’est-ce que la propri’eté?, Paris, 1841.

22. This passage shows that Marx here uses the category of wages in a broad sense, as an expression of antagonistic relations between the classes of capitalists and of wage-workers. Under “the wages” he understands “the wage-labour,” the capitalist system as such. This idea was apparently elaborated in detail in that part of the manuscript which is now extant.

23. This apparently refers to the conversion of individuals into members of civil society which is considered as the sphere of property, of material relations that determine all other relations. In this case Marx refers to the material relations of society based on private property and the antagonism of different classes.

24. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 deprived poor people considered able to work (including children) of any public relief except a place in the workhouse, where they were compelled to work.

25. In the manuscript “sein für sich selbst,” which is an expression of Hegel’s term “für sich’ (for itself) as opposed to “an sich” (in itself). In the Hegelian philosophy the former means roughly explicit, conscious or defined in contrast to “an sich,” a synonym for immature, implicit or unconscious.

26. This refers to Revolutions de France et de Brabant, par Camille Desmoulins. Second Trimestre, contenant mars, avril et mai, Paris, l’an 1ier, 1790, N. 16, p. 139 sq.; N. 23, p. 425 sqq.; N. 26, p. 580 sqq.

27. This refers to Georg Ludwig Wilhelm Funke, Die aus der unbeschrdnklen Theilbarkeit des Grundeigenthums hervorgehenden Nachtheile, Hamburg und Gotha, 1839, p. 56, in which there is a reference to Heinrich Leo, Studien und Skizzen zu einer Vaturlehre des Slaates, Halle, 1833, p. 102.

28. The third manuscript is a thick notebook the last few pages of which are blank. The pages are divided into two columns by a vertical line, not for the purpose of dividing the text according to the headings but for purely technical reasons. The text of the first three sections comprises pp. I-XI, XIV-XXI, XXXIV-XXXVIII and was written as a supplement to the missing pages of the second manuscript. Pages XI-XIII, XVII, XVIII, XXIII, XXIV, XXVI, XXXIV contain the text of the concluding chapter dealing with the criticism of Hegel’s dialectic (on some pages it is written alongside the text of other sections). In some places the manuscript contains the author’s remarks testifying to his intention to unite into a single whole various passages of this section separated from each other by the text of other sections. Pages XXIX-XL comprise the draft Preface. Finally, the text on the last pages (XLI-XLIII) is a self-contained essay on the power of money in bourgeois society.

29. The manuscript has “als für sich seiende Tätigkeit.” For the meaning of the terms “für sich” and “an sich” in Hegel’s philosophy see Note 25.

30. Marx refers to the rise of the primitive, crude equalitarian tendencies among the representatives of utopian communism at the early stages of its development. Among the medieval religious communistic communities, in particular, there was current a notion of the common possession of women as a feature of the future society depicted in the spirit of consumer communism ideals. In 1534-35 the German Anabaptists, who seized power in Münster, tried to introduce polygamy in accordance with this view. Tommaso Campanella, the author of Civitas Solis (early 17th century), rejected monogamy in his ideal society. The primitive communistic communities were also characterised by asceticism and a hostile attitude to science and works of art. Some of these primitive equalitarian features, the negative attitude to the arts in particular, were inherited by the communist trends of the first half of the 19th century, for example, by the members of the French secret societies of the 1830s and 1840s (“worker-egalitarians,” “humanitarians,” and so on) comprising the followers of Babeuf (for a characterisation of these see Engels, “Progress of Social Reform on the Continent” (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 3, pp. 396-97)).

31. This note is given by Marx on page V of the manuscript where it is separated by a horizontal line from the main text, but according to its meaning it refers to this sentence.

32. This part of the manuscript shows clearly the peculiarity of the terminology used by Marx in his works. At the time he had not worked out terms adequately expressing the conceptions of scientific communism he was then evolving and was still under the influence of Feuerbach in that respect. Hence the difference in the use of words in his early and subsequent, mature writings. In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 the word “socialism” is used to denote the stage of society at which it has carried out a revolutionary transformation, abolished private property, class antagonisms, alienation and so on. In the same sense Marx used the expression “communism equals humanism.” At that time he understood the term “communism as such” not as the final goal of revolutionary transformation but as the process of this transformation, development leading up to that goal, a lower stage of the process.

33. This expression apparently refers to the theory of the English geologist Sir Charles Lyell who, in his three-volume work The Principles of Geology (1830-33), proved the evolution of the earth’s crust and refuted the popular theory of cataclysms. Lyell used the term “historical geology” for his theory. The term “geognosy” was introduced by the 18th-century German scientist Abraham Werner, a specialist in mineralogy, and it was used also by Alexander Humboldt.

34. This statement is interpreted differently by researchers. Many of them maintain that Marx here meant crude equalitarian communism, such as that propounded by Babeuf and his followers. While recognising the historic role of that communism, he thought it impossible to ignore its weak points. It seems more justifiable, however, to interpret this passage proceeding from the peculiarity of terms used in the manuscript (see Note 32). Marx here used the term “communism” to mean not the higher phase of classless society (which he at the time denoted as “socialism” or “communism equalling humanism”) but movement (in various forms, including primitive forms of equalitarian communism at the early stage) directed at its achievement, a revolutionary transformation process of transition to it. Marx emphasised that this process should not be considered as an end in itself, but that it is a necessary, though a transitional, stage in attaining the future social system, which will be characterised by new features distinct from those proper to this stage.

35. Page XI (in part) and pages XII and XIII are taken up by a text relating to the concluding chapter (see Note 28).

36. The greater part of this page as well as part of the preceding page (XVII) comprises a text relating to the concluding chapter (see Note 28).

37. Apparently Marx refers to a formula of the German philosopher Fichte, an adherent of subjective idealism.

38. The preceding pages starting from p. XXI, which is partly taken up by a text relating to this section, contain the text of the concluding chapter.

39. In some of his early writings Marx already uses the term “bürgerliche Gesellschaft” to mean two things: (1) in a broader sense, the economic system of society regardless of the historical stage of its development, the sum total of material relations which determine political institutions and ideology, and (2) in the narrow sense, the material relations of bourgeois society (later on, that society as a whole), of capitalism. Hence, the term has been translated according to its concrete meaning in the context as “civil society” in the first case and “bourgeois society” in the second.

40. The two previous pages of the manuscript contain the draft Preface to the whole work, which is published on pages 17-20.

41. Ontology – in some philosophic systems a theory about being, about the nature of things.

42. Originally the section on the Hegelian dialectic was apparently conceived by Marx as a philosophical digression in the section of the third manuscript which is published under the heading “Private Property and Communism” and was written together with other sections as an addition to separate pages of the second manuscript (see pp. 93-108 of this book). Therefore Marx marked the beginning of this section (p. XI in the manuscript) as point 6, considering it to be the continuation of the five points of the preceding section. He marked as point 7 the beginning of the following section, headed “Human Requirements and Division of Labour Under the Rule of Private Property,” on page XIV of the manuscript. However, when dealing with this subject on subsequent pages of his manuscript, Marx decided to collect the whole material into a separate, concluding chapter and mentioned this in his draft Preface. The chapter, like a number of other sections of the manuscript, was not finished. While writing it, Marx made special excerpts from the last chapter (“Absolute Knowledge”) of Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes, which are in the same notebook as the third manuscript (these excerpts are not reproduced in this edition).

43. The reference is not quite accurate. On page 193 of the work mentioned, Bruno Bauer polemises not against the anti-Hegelian Herr Gruppe but against the Right Hegelian Marheineke.

44. Marx here refers to Feurbach’s critical observations on Hegel in §§ 29-30 of his Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft.

This note is given at the bottom of page XIII of the third manuscript without any indication what it refers to. The asterisk after the sentence to which it seems to refer is given by the editors.

45. Here on page XVII of the third manuscript (part of which comprises a text relating to the section “Human Requirements and Division of Labour Under the Rule of Private Property”) Marx gave the note: “see p. XIII,” which proves that this text is the continuation of the section dealing with the critical analysis of the Hegelian dialectic begun on pp. XI-XII.

46. At the end of page XVIII of the third manuscript there is a note by Marx: “continued on p. XXII.” However number XXII was omitted by Marx in paging. The text of the given chapter is continued on the page marked by the author as XXIII, which is also confirmed by his remark on it: “see p. XVIII.”

47. Marx apparently refers here not only to the identity of Hegel’s views on labour and some other categories of political economy with those of the English classical economists but also to his profound knowledge of economic writings. In lectures he delivered at Jena University in 1803-04 Hegel cited Adam Smith’s work. In his Philosophie des Rechts (§ 189) he mentions Smith, Say and Ricardo and notes the rapid development of economic thought.

48. Hegel uses the term “thinghood” (Dingheit) in his work Phänomenologie des Geistes to denote an abstract, universal, mediating link in the process of cognition; “thinghood” reveals the generality of the specific properties of individual things. The synonym for it is “pure essence” (das reine Wesen).

49. These eight points of the “surmounting of the object of consciousness,” expressed “in all its aspects,” are copied nearly word for word from §§ 1 and 3 of the last chapter (“Absolute Knowledge”) of Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes.

50. Number XXV was omitted by Marx in paging the third manuscript.

51. Marx refers to § 30 of Feuerbach’s Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft, which says: “Hegel is a thinker who surpasses himself in thinking.”

52. This enumeration gives the major categories of Hegel’s Encyclopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften in the order in which they are examined by Hegel. Similarly, the categories reproduced by Marx above (on p. 149), from “civil law” to “world history,” are given in the order in which they appear in Hegel’s Philosophie des Rechts.