Vitaly Vygodsky

The Story of a Great Discovery

Written: 1965
First Published: Istorii a odnogo velikogo otkrytii a K Marksa: k sozdanii u "Kapitala", Moskva, Mysl, 1965
Source: The Story of a Great Discovery - How Karl Marx wrote "Capital", Verlag Die Wirtschaft , 1973
Translated: Christopher Salt
Transcription/Markup: Steve Palmer
Copyleft: Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2009 . Creative Commons Non-Commercial license.


How "Capital" was created

Is it necessary to know the background to "Capital"? The main stages. Why is the period from 1850 to 1863 so interesting ? Marx's creative laboratory.

Standpoint for observing bourgeois society

The theoretical luggage with which Marx arrived in London in August 1849. " The Poverty of Philosophy" and " Wage-Labour and Capital" - the nucleus of his economic theory and the point of departure for further research. The theory of value and surplus-value of the classic bourgeois economists and their fundamental shortcomings. Marx's application of the materialist conception of history to political economy. 'Why the study of the subject-matter had to begin again "right from the start".

A Mont Blanc of facts

Marx's economic studies. Investigation of crises. The Notebooks. "... one is received not-with compliments but with economic categories". First results of the economic investigations. "Basically, there has been no progress in this science since A. Smith and D. Ricardo". The presuppositions for revolutionary transformation in political economy. The "Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie". Critique of •Proudhonism. "Communism must rid itself above all of this 'false brother'".

The "economic cell-form" of bourgeois society

Why the "Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy" begins with the "Chapter on Money". On the track of value. The 'degradation' of money by the Proudhonists. The concept of necessary labour. Value and price. The divisibility of a commodity and its two factors. The two-fold character of labour in bourgeois society. In search of the "economic cell-form". The material content and social form of each and every economic phenomenon.

How "he caught the surplus-value robbers red-handed"

"By the way, things are developing nicely." From value to surplus-value. The analysis of exchange between labour and capital. Labour-power as a commodity. The mechanism of capitalist exploitation. The theory of surplus-value. What Marx really did discover.

Why the second volume of "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy" was not published

A few words about the first volume. The result of fifteen years' research. "... these parts still contain nothing about capital". The revolutionizing of science. The manuscript of 1861/63. Work on the second part, January 1862: everything from the beginning again. A new stage in the investigations. The "inner" categories and their metamorphosed forms. The necessity for the completion of the theory of surplus-value. The theory of profit in " Grundrisse". The theory of average profit and, of production-price in the manuscript of 1861/63. A statement by Engels.

From value to price of production

Market-value and its law of motion. The "false social value". The discovery of production-price. Two kinds of competition and the twofold movement of the equalization of prices. The method of scientific abstraction in Marx's investigations.

The completion of the theory of surplus-value

What did Marx have to prove? Rent as an illustration of the difference between value and price of production. The theory of capitalist monopoly. Monopoly-price and the theory of value. The breaking of monopoly in capitalist agriculture. Examples of scientific abstraction in the theory of rent.

How "Capital" took shape

An artistic whole. Logical and historical aspects. "Theories of Surplus-Value " - the beginning of the real work on " Capital ". " The second part ... will appear independently under the title Capital ...". From six to four books. "Confidentially, I indeed began 'Capital' in exactly the opposite sequence ...". The theoretical and the historical part of "Capital".

Marx's economic theory and the working class

The political economy of the working class. The dissemination of economic theory in the ranks of the working class. "Value, Price and Profit": from political economy to economic policy. Comparison with the 1840's: "Wage-Labour and Capital" and "Manifesto of the Communist Party", "Once the interconnection is grasped". Justification of the struggle of the workers for higher wages and a shorter working day. Analysis of the value of labour-power. "Down with the wage system!" Scientific critique of Proudhonism.

At the centre of the historic events of his time

Forty years of work on "Capital". " I laugh at the so-called 'practical' men with their wisdom." The topicality of "Capital". "Capital" and present-day capitalism. The prospects of a new economic social formation. Marx's views of communist political economy.