Michael Heinrich

Engels’ Edition of the Third Volume of Capital and Marx’s Original Manuscript

Source: Science & Society, Vol. 60. No. 4, Winter 1996-1997, 452-466

ABSTRACT.- In 1993, Marx’s manuscript of 1864-65, used by Engels as the basis for Volume III of Capital, became available as part of the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). It is therefore now possible to compare the original ms. with the version published by Engels. This comparison reveals that Engels made significant modifications, despite his own claim to have restricted his role to one of faithfully presenting Marx’s own work. Changes to Marx’s text include design of headings, insertion of sub-headings, and textual transpositions, omissions and insertions. The changes have real impacts on the text, especially in the area of crisis theory, the theory of credit, and the relation between capitalism and commodity production. Marx’s thinking was far more ambivalent and much less developed that it appears to be on the basis of Engels’ editing, and it is doubtful whether the materials were available to complete Capital. In any case, future study of Marx’s thought must turn to the MEGA mss. rather than to Engels’ Volume III.

IN 1894, ENGELS PUBLISHED THE THIRD VOLUME of Capital out of Marx’s literary bequest. Twenty-seven years after the first volume’s first publication, Marx’s main oeuvre was complete — at least as far as its “theoretical” part was concerned, since Marx had planned a fourth, theory-historical volume in the 1860s.[1]

The third volume has caused heavy controversies concerning Marx’s economic theory ever since it was published. The problem of transformation of values into production prices, the decline of the rate of profit, crisis theory, the analysis of the credit system — all these questions refer to parts of the third volume of Capital Soon the question was raised as to how strongly Engels intervened into Marx’s text during the editing of the manuscript (e.g., Gide and Rist, 1913, 514).

The manuscript of 1864-65, which Engels mainly used for the publication, was first published in 1992 in the Marx Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA),[2] so that now for the first time in 100 years two questions can be examined: 1) To what extent, and with what implications for content, did Engels intervene into Marx’s original manuscript during editing? and 2) how far did Marx actually get with the elaboration of the third volume of Capital.

1. Extant Knowledge of Engels’ Editing

Two years after Marx’s death, Engels had already published the second volume of Capital from Marx’s estate. In the preface to this volume, he wrote about volume III, which was still to be published:

The preparation of this Book for publication is proceeding rapidly. So far as 1 am able to judge up to now, it will present mainly technical difficulties, with the exception of a few but very important sections. (Capital, II, 5.)

Despite the expectations due to this statement that volume III would be published as fast as volume II, it was to take nine more years until it was finally finished. In the meantime, Engels had repeatedly announced the publication, mainly in letters. In view of the long period until the date of publication (and even considering Engels’ other obligations), it can be presumed that the publication of the manuscript caused him great effort and the question is, into what task was this effort invested?

In the preface to the finally published volume, Engels reported on his editing activity. He characterized Marx’s manuscript as an extremely “incomplete first draft":

The beginnings of the various parts were, as a rule, pretty carefully done and even stylistically polished. But the farther one went, the more sketchy and incomplete was the manuscript, the more excursions it contained into arising side-issues whose proper place in the argument was left for later decision, and the longer and more complex the sentences, in which thoughts were recorded in slatu nascendi. (Capital, III, 2.)

On his own editing of Marx’s text, Engels wrote:

I limited this to the essential. I tried my best to preserve the character of the first draft wherever it was sufficiently clear.... Wherever my alterations or additions exceeded the bounds of editing, or where I had to apply Marx’s factual material to independent conclusions of my own, if even as faithful as possible to the spirit of Marx, I have enclosed the entire passage in brackets and affixed my initials. (Capital, III, 3.)

This statement suggests that Engels marked all his textual interventions (except for the ones not “exceeding the bounds of editing”) as such. But in the following characterization of the individual paragraphs, he lists a large number of transpositions, additions, contractions and similar alterations, which he especially made in Part V, whereby he even dissolved a whole chapter and distributed its contents. But he thereby “succeeded in working into the text all the author’s relevant statements” (Capital, III, 6). Here he also says: “This could not, of course, be done without considerable interpolations on my part for the sake of continuity. Unless they are merely formal in nature, the interpolations are expressly indicated as belonging to me” (Capital, III, 6). This statement unmistakably says that Engels by no means indicated all the interpolations and alterations he made. The preface offers no clue regarding the extent of these alterations. It is to be assumed, however, that they were by no means minor.

The supplement to Capital written by Engels also indicates considerable changes. In the supplement, Engels wrote that he had tried to “eliminate difficulties in understanding,” and to “bring more to the fore important aspects whose significance is not strikingly enough evident in the text” (Capital, III, 890). Thus, Engels himself wanted to transmit what was important to the readers by correcting the original. A letter to Danielson on July 4, 1889 also shows the extent of the manipulations undertaken. Engels wrote:

But since this final volume is such a great and completely incontestable work, I consider it to be my duty to publish it in a form which clearly shows the overall line of argumentation clearly and plastically. This is not quite so easy due to the state of this manuscript — a first, often interrupted and incomplete sketch. (MEW, 37, 244.)

On the whole, Engels’ own characterizations of his editing activity are contradictory. On the one hand, he claims to have only made minor alterations; that he wanted to keep the text “in Marx’s own words” as far as possible (Capital, III, 889); and that he didn’t want to eliminate the text’s draft character. His editing indeed shows that this third volume was by no means “finished.” Careful editing of Marx’s manuscript can therefore be expected. On the other hand, however, there is evidence that Engels must have made a large number of textual modifications that are not indicated to the readers to clarify the “overall line of argumentation,” or what Engels presumed as such. Therefore, Engels cannot have exercised as much restraint in editing as he claimed. This contradictory characterization of his editorial treatment of Marx’s text is obviously an expression of his own contradictory intentions. On the one hand, he wanted to preserve the unfinished character of Marx’s manuscript and present an authentic text to the readers. On the other hand, however, he wanted to make the text more understandable (especially in view of the book’s political importance); the most important points were to be evident not by a commentary, but in the edition itself. These two objectives, however, exclude each other.

2. An Overview of Engels’ Textual Modifications

The comparison of the original manuscript with Engels’ edition, which has only just become possible, shows that there are modifications to the original text on practically each page that have not been indicated. Hardly one paragraph remained as Marx had written it. Engels’ modifications are not confined to “stylistical” matters. They can be classified as follows:[3]

a. Design of titles and headings, the structure of the manuscript. Even the title of the manuscript was altered by Engels: Engels turned “Gestaltungen des Gesamtprozesses” (Formations of the Process as a Whole) into “Der Gesamtprozess der kapitalistischen Produktion” (The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole). Thus an analogy to the titles of Volumes I and II is created, but at the same time a certain vagueness connected to Marx’s title is eliminated. Additionally, the question is whether the title should, if seeking connection to the earlier titles, mention “Reproduction” and not “Production."[4]

Engels also made a detailed segmentation of the text. The original manuscript was divided into only seven chapters with few or no subdivisions. Engels turned the seven chapters into seven parts with 52 chapters and a number of subparagraphs. Many of the structure incisions as well as most of the headings were created by

Engels: Marx’s text consists of 34 headings (and five construction points which are only numbered), while Engels’ edition contains 92 headings.

The arrangement of a text and the headings used obviously strongly influence the understanding of a text, especially if the text is not finished but in large part sketchy and incomplete. By putting this material together into chapters and inserting headings, this draft character is concealed. But even more important, the readers can no longer tell at what point in the manuscript “presentation” turns into “inquiry.” The difference between presentation and inquiry, however, is of central importance for Marx’s own methodical understanding.[5] To Marx, “presentation” does not just mean the more or less skillful assembly of final results. The factual correlation of the conditions presented should be expressed by the correct presentation of the categories, by “advancing from the abstract to the concrete.” To Marx, the search for an adequate presentation is an essential part of his process of inquiry. But the difference between complete and incomplete presentation is concealed by the structure imposed by Engels. Additionally, Engels tried to strengthen the coherence of the text through omissions and connecting phrases. The readers do not learn that a large part of Marx’s manuscript is open and undecided. Engels gives them a possible solution of the problems without letting them know that there is a problem: the solution given by Engels appears as a mostly complete elaboration by Marx.

b. Textual transpositions. Engels transposed a large number of pieces of Marx’s text. The transposed pieces consist of parts of a sentence, long paragraphs and the rearrangement of whole text complexes, as in the fifth chapter (Part V in Engels’ edition).

At this stage, a serious error of Engels has to be mentioned. Marx wanted to begin his seventh chapter, “Revenues (Income) and their Sources,” with “1) The Trinity Formula.” Engels believed he had found three independent fragments concerning this point, two smaller ones which he labelled I and II, and a longer one, labelled III. This last fragment also had a gap, which Engels pointed out to the readers. As Larissa Miskewitsch and Witali Wygodski (1985) managed to show after an exact analysis of the manuscript even before the MEGA volume was published, these are not three independent fragments: The fragments labelled I and II by Engels form a continuous text which exactly fills the gap in fragment III.

c. Text omissions. Engels made a number of deletions of single words or parts of sentences, and of whole paragraphs and longer text passages. Only some of these passages were repetitions; sometimes they were substantially important statements, as for example the reflections on the transition from chapter I to II (MEGA II.4.2, 282-83).

d. Text conversions. Engels changed the relevance of many text passages: footnotes were integrated into the main text, many brackets in the main text were omitted. Most of Marx’s emphases were deleted, and Engels introduced his own emphases in some places. The omission of brackets is especially problematic. It is not always clear whether the text in brackets is an addition to the current argumentation, or a remark that should not at all be inserted at this point, or whether it is a preliminary, incomplete reflection. But such differentiations disappear in Engels’ presentation. For instance, the famous passage on the poverty of the masses as the “ultimate reason for all real crisis” (Capital,, III, 484), which is often quoted as a proof for the existence of an under-consumption theory in Marx’s work, happened to be inside such a bracket and was integrated into the main text by Engels. Furthermore, Engels changed the text linguistically, but these merely “stylistical” transformations fluently became important alterations in context — for example the replacement of “mode of production” by “production” (Capital, III, 484; MEGA II.4.2, 540).

e. Insertions and textual extensions. Engels made a large number of insertions other than the ones he indicated with his initials. They concern single words or parts of a sentence or connecting phrases or explanations to the text. Even relativizations of and reservations to Marx’s text can be found. The alteration of Marx’s methodological remarks is especially critical to the understanding of the text, as we will see below.

f. Modifications of minor importance. These consist of textual condensations (Engels summarized some passages expressed in a complicated way by Marx); terminological alterations; stylistic changes (in a narrow sense, e.g., replacement of anglicisms); alteration, replacement and deletion of mathematical examples; and corrections of references and citations (and their translation).

This overview already shows that the 1894 edition was an extensive adaptation of Marx’s manuscript, and Engels did not inform the readers about the true extent of his adaptation. The fact that this adaptation affected the meaning of the original text was outlined above. This shall now be shown in more detail.

3. Interpretatory Handicaps Caused by Engels’ Edition

a. Crisis theory. Marx did not structure the third chapter of his manuscript, which deals with the “Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall.” Engels divided the corresponding part of his edition into three chapters (chapters XIII to XV); the first two chapters follow Marx’s argumentation, which is adequately elaborated in the original. Later, Marx’s chapter passes into a large mass of remarks, additions and argumentative approaches, in unelaborated and incomplete form. At this point, Marx’s presentation is no longer a systematic one. Due to Engels giving this material a problematic chapter heading (“Exposition of the Internal Contradictions of the Law”), introducing additional substructure, inserting headings and increasing the coherence of the text by deleting paragraphs and omitting brackets, the material in the original manuscript is considerably upgraded. And indeed this chapter XV — created by Engels — has often been considered a vastly complete “Crisis Theory” based on the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Even though the text published by Engels still shows that Marx did not leave a complete crisis theory, the impression is given that Marx left an essentially complete framework that had only to be filled out.

It is not even clear whether the material adapted by Engels was actually to constitute an independent paragraph. Several options were possible for later elaboration: Marx could have tried to turn this material into an independent chapter in direct relation to the presentation of the law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit; he could have tried to formulate an independent paragraph on capitalist crises, integrating further material from the sphere of the credit system, for instance; he could also have distributed the presentation of the various crisis phenomena mentioned into different chapters, avoiding an autonomous crisis theory; or perhaps he would not have wanted to use a large part of what he had written about crisis within the three volumes of Capital. For each of these options, reasons could be given; with each option crisis theory would obtain a different meaning.

Engels not only avoided showing that there is a possible range of interpretations; he also directly interfered with Marx’s text whenever it contradicted the interpretation he himself favored. For instance, Marx wrote on the overproduction of capital (which Engels calls “overaccumulation of capital” at this point): “die nähere Untersuchung darüber gehört in die Betrachtung der erscheinenden Bewegung des Capitals, wo Zinscapital etc Credit etc entwickelt [the closer analysis of this issue belongs to the study of the appearing movement of capital, where interest-bearing capital etc credit etc will be presented],” and one must agree with the editors of the MEGA volume who argue in the annotations that “erscheinende Bewegung des Capitals” (appearing movement of capital) does not belong to the matters dealt with in Capital (MEGA II.4.2, 1255). Engels, however, turned Marx’s remark into the opposite. He omitted Marx’s text and wrote instead: “its closer analysis follows later” (Capital, III, 251). In fact, some remarks on overproduction, or overaccumulation, of capital actually do follow. The fact that Marx obviously did not attach a systematic relevance to them at this point, because he thought the subject cannot be negotiated on the given level of abstraction, [6] was turned into the opposite by Engels’ textual alteration.

b. Credit theory. A similar situation arises in the fifth chapter of Marx’s original manuscript. Here at least Engels gave an idea, in the preface, of the extent of the transpositions he had made. In this chapter too, Marx’s presentation soon changed into the protocol of a research process containing a large amount of not fully accomplished reflections. By Engels’ editing, the impression is again given that the elementary problems have been solved to a vast extent and that it is merely a question of a not quite completed presentation.

While the original structure of the third chapter still remained visible after Engels’ editing, the emphasis in the fifth chapter was completely shifted. As Marx’s text shows, the topic of this chapter was to be interest-bearing capital. Marx divided this chapter into six sub-chapters. The first four points correspond to the first four chapters of Part V in the Engels edition (Chapters XXI to XXIV in Capital III). Marx titled point V “Credit. Fictitious Capital” (MEGA II.4.2, 469). Engels composed his chapters XXV to XXXV from this material. In doing this, he made many textual rearrangements, put footnotes into the text, distributed a whole chapter (“The Confusion”), introduced a fair number of transitional remarks and thus obscured the passages where Marx’s text was no longer a mature presentation but a “process of inquiry” or sometimes even just an excerpt. Thus, Marx’s point VI (“Pre-Capitalist Relationships”) corresponds to the last chapter of Part V in Engels’ edition.

The structure, which in Marx’s writings also indicates the systematic importance of the topic being treated, lists credit as the last (systematic) subpoint in the presentation of interest-bearing capital. Engels designs 11 chapters from this fifth point. Not just because of its size but also owing to the structuring of the material, the impression arises that the presentation of interest-bearing capital is just an introduction to the discussion of credit. This also prevails in the terminology: Part V is often called the “Part on credit,” even though credit is not even mentioned in the title.

In this chapter, Engels also made textual changes as soon as the original text got in the way of his own interpretation. Marx introduced the point “5) Credit. Fictitious Capital” with the following sentence: “An analysis of the credit system and of the instruments which it creates for its own use, like credit-money etc., lies beyond our plan.” (MEGA II.4.2, 469). Engels introduced the word “exhaustive” here: “An exhaustive analysis of the credit system and of the instruments which it creates for its own use (credit-money, etc.) lies beyond our plan” (Capital, III, 400).

He had made a similar alteration earlier on. In the first chapter of Marx’s manuscript, the following remark follows under the subtitle “Appreciation, Depreciation, Release and Tie-Up of Capital":

The phenomena analysed in this § require for their full development the credit system and competition on the world-market. . . . These more definitive forms of capitalist production can 1) only be presented, however, after the general nature of capital is understood, and 2) they do not come within the scope of this work and belong to its eventual continuation. (MEGA II.4.2, 178.)

Engels introduced the word “comprehensively” into the second sentence: “These more definitive forms of capitalist production can only be comprehensively presented. . .” (Capital, III, 110). Therefore, while Marx repeatedly clearly declares that the presentation of the credit system lies beyond his plan, this statement is crucially relativized in the passages cited.[7] As a consequence of these insertions, the consequent qualitative distinction between what can be treated on the level of presentation attained and what cannot, is obstructed and reduced to a mere Quantitative problem: a “comprehensive,” “exhaustive” presentation, which lies beyond the plan, is confronted with the available less comprehensive presentation. Thus Engels can include into the corpus of Capital all sorts of points mentioned by Marx — although these cannot yet be presented systematically on the level of abstraction attained. It would seem that to Engels this appeared to be an unproblematic completion. The dialectically structured presentation, which was Marx’s aim, in which the right sequence of terms and categories is crucial for the understanding of its meaning, is shifted towards a mere encyclopaedical collection by Engels’ edition.

These differentiations are not mere hair-splitting, as can be shown in the case of the credit theory. For Marx’s concept of presentation the central question is whether the inherent laws regulating credit can actually be discussed on the highly abstract level of Capital, or whether they are linked to a number of historically specific institutional factors, such as the constitution of the money and banking system, so that there cannot be a general credit theory. In Marx’s manuscript this question remains open. Engels chose to present the research material found in Marx’s manuscript on the general level, which led to the reproach against Marx that he had unduly generalized specific historic conditions of the credit system in 19th century England.

c. Commodity production and capitalist production. Engels attained a considerable influence over the interpretation of Capital as a result of his chapter “Law of Value and Rate of Profit” in the Supplement to Volume III. There he claimed the existence of simple commodity production for several millennia before the emergence of capitalist commodity production, in which commodities were exchanged according to the labor-time necessary for their production. He cites an incidental remark made by Marx to prove that this was also Marx’s opinion (“it is quite appropriate to regard the values of commodities as not only theoretically but also historically prius to the prices of production”; Capital, III, 896). It may be a question for economic historians, whether such a “simple commodity production” ever existed or not, but Engels’ conclusion from this claim is meaningful for the interpretation of Capital. the first part of the first volume of Capital is seen as presenting the laws of this (precapitalist) commodity production (Capital, Vol. III, 899). Engels thus fostered a historical reading of Capital which could already be found in Kautsky’s (1887) widespread popularization of Capital. Commodity and money as they are presented at the beginning of the first volume of Capital are thus turned into categories of precapitalist conditions and the (theoretical) problem of the transformation of values into production prizes is turned into a historical succession. However, as the Introduction of 1857 shows with the example of the term “labor,” Marx was aware of the problem that seemingly simple categories mean different things in different production relations.[8]

As Marx already explains in the first sentence of Capital, he is not analysing the commodity of a precapitalist, simple commodity production; rather he is analysing the commodity as an “elementary form” of the “wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails” (Capital, I, 43). With similar clarity, Marx states in reviewing his argument in the last chapter of his manuscript: “In the case of the simplest categories of the capitalist mode of production, in the cases of commodities and money, we have already pointed out the mystifying character . . .” (MEGA II.4.1, 848f). Engels, however, underlays this statement with his own understanding of what is presented at the beginning of Capital and turns this sentence into: “In the case of the simplest categories of the capitalist mode of production, and even of commodity-production, in the cases of commodities and money, we have already pointed out the mystifying character . (Capital, III, 826). Commodities and money are now no longer the simplest categories of the capitalist mode of production, but of commodity production.

4. Conclusions

The book published by Engels in 1894 is not a mere edition of Marx’s manuscript, but a far-reaching adaptation of the original manuscript. Only the smallest number of Engels’ interventions is made visible. The largest extent of the alterations remains hidden to the readers. The interventions themselves are not just of a formal or stylistical nature; they deceive the readers about the actual extent of elaboration, they offer solutions for problems which the manuscript left open (without clarification that these are Engels’ solutions!), and in some passages they even change the argumentation of the original text, if this obstructs Engels’ interpretations. Therefore, Engels’ edition can no longer be considered to be volume III of Marx’s Capital; it is not Marx’s text “in the full genuineness of his own presentation,” as Engels wrote in the supplement (Capital, III, 889), but a strong editing of this presentation, a preinterpreted textbook edition of Marx’s manuscript.

The fact that Engels did not undertake a textual editing fulfilling modern demands is quite understandable from the point of view of those times. Editions did not have to fulfill such high demands concerning textual loyalty as is necessary today. An editor was given much larger freedom than today, especially if he was spiritually close to the edited author. Furthermore, it was most important to Engels to publish a book which could serve as an intellectual weapon for the working class in the class struggle, which therefore was understandable and topical. And with all of the criticisms in view, we must not forget that it was an incredible achievement to publish this manuscript, of which Marx had once said in a letter to Engels that nobody at all could publish it in a readable form except for he himself (letter on February 13, 1866).

Even still, all understanding for Engels’ motives and procedure cannot alter the assessment that the text he has presented is by no means the third volume of Capital. Every future discussion of Marx’s economic theory will have to refer to Marx’s original manuscript.

But this manuscript also cannot simply be considered to be the third volume of Capital, judging from the full elaboration of the first volume. Therefore, it is indeed a “first, incomplete draft,” as Engels says in the Preface. The gaps, however, are not just of a quantitative nature. It is not just that Marx didn’t have enough time to fully accomplish an already completely sketched picture. In quite a few places, it is not even clear what the sketches should look like on the given basis. Marx was nowhere near solving all of the conceptual problems. Even the fully developed parts of his work, such as the value and money theory of the first volume, include a number of ambivalences,[9] which make it seem questionable whether it was in any way possible to complete Capital on the given basis.

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D-10551 Berlin


Gide, Charles, and Charles Rist. 1913. Geschichte der volkswirsschaftslichen Lehrmeinungen. Jena.

Heinrich, Michael. 1989. “Capital in General and the Structure of Marx’s Capital. New Insights from Marx’s ‘Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63.'” Capital & Class, 38 (summer), 63-79.

Heinrich, Michael. 1991. Die Wissenscha.ft vom Wert. Die Marxsche Kritik der politischen ökonomie zwischen wissenschaftlicher Revolution und klassischer Tradition. Hamburg: VSA.

Heinrich, Michael. 1995. “Gibt es eine Marxsche Krisentheorie? Die Entwicklung der Semantik von Krise in den verschiedenen Entwürfen zu einer Kritik der politischen ökonomie.” Pp. 130-150 in Beiträge zur Marx-Engels-Forschung Neue Folge: Engels Druckfassung versus Marx’ Manuskriple zum III. Buch des “KapitaL” Berlin: Argument-verlag.

Jungnickel, Jürgen. 1991. “Bemerkungen zu den von Engels vorgenommenen Veränderungen am Marxschen Manuskript zum dritten Band des ‘Kapitals.” Pp. 130-138 in Beiträge zur Marx-Engels-Forschung Neue Folge: Studien zum Werk von Marx und Engels. Hamburg: Argument-Verlag.

Kautsky, Karl. 1887. Karl Marx Oekonomische Lehren: Gemeinverständlich dargestellt und erläutert. Stuttgart.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. MEW. 1956-1968. Werke. Herausgegeben vom Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim Zk der SED. Berlin, GDR: Dietz Verlag.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1974. Capital. 3 vols. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1992. Ökonomische Manuskripte 1863-67, Teil II. MEGA II. Abteilung, Band 4.2. Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Miskewitsch, Larissa, and Witali Wygodski. 1985. “Über die Arbeit von Marx am II. und III. Buch des ‘Kapitals’ in den Jahren 1866 und 1867.” Pp. 198-212 in Marx-Engelsjahrbuch, 8. Berlin, GDR: Dietz Verlag.

Polanyi, Karl, Conrad M. Arensberg, and Harry W. Pearson, eds. 1957. Trade and Markets in the Early Empires: Economies in History and Theory. Glencoe.

Rosdolsky, Roman. 1977. The Making of Marx’s “Capital”. London: Pluto Press.

Vollgraf, Carl-Erich, and Jüjrgen Jungnickel. 1995. “Marx in Marx’s Worten? Zu Engels’ Edition des Hauptmanuskripts zum dritten Buch des ‘Kapitals’.” Pp. 3-55 in MEGA-Studien 1994/2. Berlin: Dietz Verlag.


1 Marx had resumed his economic studies in the 1850s in London and finally written three large drafts for A Critique of Political Economy (and not initially of Capital): 1) In 1857-58 the Grundrisse and the plan of an oeuvre of six books (capital, landed property, wage-labor; the State, foreign trade, world market) was developed. In 1859, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy was published as the first part of the first book. 2) In 1861-63 Marx wrote an extensive manuscript, which contains the Theories of surplus Value. Only during the work on this manuscript, the plan of publishing an independent work of three books, Capital, developed, and a fourth volume which was to contain the theory’s history. 3) In 1863-65 Marx wrote the manuscripts for the three books of Capital, whereas only the last chapter, “Results of the Immediate Process of Production,’ left out in the published version, is all that remained of the draft of the first book, apart from a few single pages. Marx himself published the first volume of Capital on the basis of this manuscript in 1867. The manuscript for book three, which was written in 1864-65, was used by Engels as a basis for his edition of the third volume in 1894. For the second volume of Capital which he published, he did not use the corresponding manuscript of 1864-65, but later texts. To what extent the three volumes of Capital still follow the original plan of six books is a disputed issue (cf. Rosdolsky, 1977; Heinrich, 1989).

2 Marx, 1992. The MEGA’s cover pages are sometimes pre-dated. The MEGA has been published in Berlin (GDR) since 1975. It was published by the Institutes of Marxism-Leninism in Berlin and Moscow until 1989. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, it was continued under a new, international funding body independent from political parties and is now published by the “Internationale Marx-Engels Stiftung” (IMES) based in Amsterdam. Next to two German and two Russian institutes, the International Institute of Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam also belongs to IMES, which possesses about two-thirds of Marx’s handwritten estate. The MEGA is a historical-critical edition of all writings by Marx and Engels. It is divided into four parts: Division I contains all works except for Capital and its preparations; Division II contains Capital and the preparations; Division III contains all the letters of Marx and Engels and the letters addressed to them by others; and Division IV contains excerpts. The MEGA is to consist of over 100 volumes; to date nearly 50 volumes have been published. This is already the second attempt at a complete edition of the Marx-Engels works; in the 1920s and 1930s 12 volumes of a first MEGA were published in Germany and the Soviet Union. In Germany, the victory of Fascism ended the work on the MEGA; in the Soviet Union it was crippled by Stalinism. Many editors, including David Riazanov, director of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow and first publisher of the MEGA, were condemned in show trials and killed in the 1930s.

3 A first classification (which differs from the one presented here) is to be found in Jungnickel (1991). In Vollgraf and Jungnickel (1995), this first classification is refined and illustrated with a number of examples.

4 Vollgraf and Jungnickel (1995) have pointed this out and also mention in this context that Engels often replaced “production” with “reproduction” or vice versa, the reason not always being clear.

5 Cf. the Afterword to the second German edition of Volume I of Capital (especially Capital, I, 28), and the paragraph on the method of political economy in the Introduction of 1857.

6 During the discussion of overaccumulation that follows in the text, Marx, among other things, also deals with transformations of the exploitation process in the cycle. However, Marx wanted to abstract from such cyclical movements in the presentation of the capitalist mode of production in its “ideal average” (Capital, III, 831). If an overaccumulation of capital can only be explained with cyclical phenomena, then it is precisely not part of the general laws of movement of the capitalist mode of production which are supposed to be described in Capital. A detailed evaluation of the development of Marx’s crisis theory in the three large drafts for A C7itique ofpolitical Economy (cf. note 1) and the resulting theoretical problems can he found in Heinrich, 1995.

7 A further passage, in which Marx writes that the treatment of the conjunctures of industry and credit lay beyond his scope, was edited by Engels with (this time in actual fact) just stylistical alterations, but correctly (Capital III, 831; MEGA II.4.2, 852f.)

8 The studies of Karl Polanyi et al (1957), for example, show how far-reaching these differences can be.

9 In Marx’s work we can find a superposition of two discourses: on the one hand, we have the. breach with the theoretical field of classical political economy; on the other, he remains inside this field in many aspects. The superposition of such discourses produces quite a number of problems and unresolved ambivalences (see Heinrich, 1991).