From International Socialism (1st series), No.26, Autumn 1966, p.35.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Karl Marx in his Earlier Writings
Frank Cass, 35s.
This useful book, first published in 1940, has been very fortunately republished. There is no doubt that the republication is due to the revived interest in the early Marx that has been stirred up by a variety of recent English language editions of Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. While Adams’ book makes no claim to do more than tell the English reader what is contained in the earlier works of Marx, it does this task remarkably well and with thoroughness. It establishes three points of considerable importance in the understanding of Karl Marx. First, it demonstrates that there is a continuity as well as development in the writings of Marx, from the very first confrontation with Hegelianism. Those familiar with Capital will have no difficulty in seeing, after reading this volume, that the earlier considerations of Marx are neither abandoned nor greatly modified. Rather, they are expanded and deepened in a manner consistent in every respect with the foundations they establish. Second, it insists upon the significance and continuing influence for Marx of Hegel’s method and concerns. And, third, it views Marx as an apostle of freedom. Adams writes, ‘Above all it is well to remark his zeal for the freedom of the individual.’
Perhaps one final word about the relationship of this book to most other scholarly contributions to the understanding of Karl Marx. Despite its unpretentious character, this volume is a much better and infinitely more accurate introduction to the work of Karl Marx than those by more famous social-democratic and Utopian writers such as G.D.H. Cole, Sidney Hook, George Lichteim and Erich Fromm. Indeed, the relative ignorance of these authors of the meaning of the crucial early writings of Marx and their consequent insistence on severing the later Marx from the earlier work, would have been obviated if they had come to grips with Adams’s fine book. We might have been spared much of the absurd discussion of Marx’s view of ‘alienation’ which has cluttered up the philosophical, theological, and sociological literature of the past decade.
Last updated on 20.12.2007