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Friday, 1 October 2010

Sgro', La MEGA-Impresa. A proposito di un recente contributo critico sulla Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe

Giovanni Sgro'

Die dialektisch-materialistische Methode der Marxschen Kritik der politische Oekonomie. Stichworte zu einer unendlichen Geschichte


David Ryazanov 1924

The Posthumous Writings of Marx and Engels.

Source: Communist Review, February 1924;
Transcribed: by Adam Buick.
Comrade Ryasanov, after his return from Germany where he investigated the unpublished writings of Marx and Engels, delivered a lecture on the results of his work in the Socialist Academy in Moscow. From this lecture we print the following extract. – Ed.

The posthumous writings of Marx and Engels were treated with gross carelessness by those to whose care they were entrusted. The Manuscripts were scattered in Berlin, in London, and in the Archives of the German Social Democrats. The huge library left by Marx and Engels to the German Social Democratic Party has almost entirely disappeared. Bernstein and Bebel, who were the trustees of the bequest, considered themselves as the absolute owners and disposed of it at their own discretion.
Mehring was the first who, on behalf of the Party, set himself to the study of these posthumous writings. The great gaps which I found in the collection published by him seemed to render it necessary to go carefully through the manuscripts; the final reasons which induced me to do this, were the incompleteness and inaccuracy of the “German Ideology,” Engels’ reference to the manuscript in the preface to “Ludwig Feuerbach,” the pamphlets by Mehring on Marx, which appeared in 1918, and lastly, the Biography of Engels, published in 1919 by Meyer, in which some pages referring to the “German Ideology,” plainly contained discoveries.
It is for this reason that I postponed the planned publication of further volumes of the collected works of Marx and Engels (In the Russian language, Ed.) and proceeded to Berlin in order to undertake the study of the unpublished material.
My troubles began in Berlin. I had to fairly wrest the material from its possessor, Bernstein. All the documents lent out by him were photographed. The publication of several documents was made dependent on special conditions.
The most valuable and interesting among the documents found, and till now unpublished, is the MSS. of the “German Ideology,” with a criticism of German philosophy after Hegel, and of the “True Socialists.”
By a comparison of the MSS. with the Bernstein edition, it became evident that the latter contains not more than two-fifths of the MSS. As an excuse for this Bernstein stated : “The mice had nibbled away the rest.” As a matter of fact, the MSS. had not been nibbled by mice but by Bernstein when he finally went over to Revisionism. But this manuscript is only a part of the critique of “German Ideology,” and of that part which contains the critique of Stirner. The second part of the MSS. undeciphered by Bernstein, is dedicated to Feuerbach and contains a criticism of Feuerbach’s-conception of “Man.” We are endeavouring to publish this manuscript as soon as possible.
Among the notes we found a criticism of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, and outlines for a chapter of the “Communist Manifesto,” in which there is a criticism of socialist literature.
In this collection of notes we find a special work or Mathematics, a philosophical fragment, a Greek MSS. etc. Other documents contain unused material for “Capital,” Among other things is a leaflet on the Theory of Surplus Value. Marx wished to publish this material in the fourth volume of his chief work. The imperfection and deficiency of the present edition of “Capital,” is so great that, for instance, the third volume can quite rightly be called an Engels’ Variation.
The unpublished material which was found here, amounts to about six volumes.
The next group of MSS. brings us to the personal life of Marx and Engels. They reveal to us the vast learning and the extraordinarily systematic spirit and capacity for work possessed by Marx. Engels was occupied, until the death of Marx, with chemistry, physics and the natural sciences.
The subsequently discovered letters of Marx and Engels finally form a considerable treasure of Marxian literature. The letters so far published have been edited without any respect for the memory of Marx and Engels. This could be illustrated by a long list of omissions. Ninety-five per cent of Marx’s letters are already in our hands. The case has been still worse with Engel’s letters, but I was able to get many of these also from Bernstein and Kautsky.
These letters will reach the public within the next few weeks.


An Essay on Riazanov’s Founding of the Marx-Engels Institute

The Marx-Engels Institute

by "L.B."

(Translated from La Critique sociale, no.2, July 1931, pp.51-2.)

The Marx-Engels Institute was founded towards the end of the year 1920, but was only able to install itself in the building it has since occupied a year later (previously the town residence of the Dolgorukov princes [1]), situated in Moscow's Znamenka quarter, formerly the Malo-Znamenky sector, now Marx-Engels Street.
In a pamphlet published in 1929 the Institute's founder, D. Riazonov, informed us that the Central Committee of the Communist Party - following the entire preparatory work of Riazonov, about which the pamphlet was silent - had originally proposed that he organise a "Museum of Marxism". But Riazonov envisaged something greater, more important, and also more useful. He obtained its permission to create a scientific institute, a sort of "laboratory" where historian and activist alike could study "in the most favourable conditions the birth, development and spread of the theory and practice of scientific socialism", whose aim was to contribute the utmost "to the scientific propaganda of marxism".
It should be said straightaway that the Institute, while remaining strictly faithful to its aim, and without ever departing from the ideas that had caused it to be set up, soon extended the field of its researches and even, may it be said, its ambitions. Nothing, whether close or distant, that touches upon the project of liberating the people and the working class movement throughout the world and socialist thought, is alien to it.
In 1924 the Institute was included among the cultural establishments of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R., in other words recognised as a state institution, and functioning -in view of its exceptional importance - under the immediate control of the Central Executive Committee.
From 1924 onwards, after four years of existence - including years of famine and civil war - Riazonov was able to say, and not without pride, that the Marx-Engels Institute was among the foremost in the world. In fact, on the 1st January 1925 the Institute's library already possessed 15,628 selected volumes. Moreover, its archives contained numerous manuscripts of Marx and Engels, and myriads of others of the highest interest on the history and men of the First International, Saint-Simonism, Fourrierism[2], and the revolutionary and working class movement - among them the journal maintained by Lassalle in his youth[3], and some two hundred letters of the same sort to his acquaintances. Finally, it had acquired the rarest publications with which Marx and Engels had collaborated - including the Vorwärts published by Marx in Paris in 1844, and the Rheinische Zeitung of 1842-43.
To begin with the Institute drew its books from the nationalised libraries, among them that of Taniéev, containing an excellent collection of socialist authors, and a rare collection of prints from the time of the French revolution. However, this source was quickly exhausted, for even in the richest libraries of the dignitaries of the old regime and other aristocrats he was only able to find a few books that were of interest to the Institute: the previous political conditions would in no way allow those who were interested to procure foreign publications that dealt with the social questions and revolutionary movements of Europe; even some books by Renan and Michelet[4]were forbidden; socialist publications were never freely admitted into Russia.
Riazonov bought the library of Theodore Mautner (a socialist book-lover), that of Karl Grünberg (a historian of socialism), and that of M. Windelband, consisting of philosophical works. He obtained all that was necessary to complete the collections from abroad and undertook research in the archives and the great European libraries, having manuscripts and documents photographed, and even some printed matter that could not be found in libraries.
This is how the materials were photocopied relating to the work of Marx and Engels conserved in the archives of the German Social Democratic Party, the essential documents on the life and trial of Babeuf[5] in the national archives in Paris, on the revolution of 1848, the trial of Auguste Blanqui[6], the Paris Commune of 1793[7], the Commune of 1871[8], etc...
At present the Institute has collected thousands of photographs to make up the necessary documentation, as much for general resarch as for publishing. Among the publications of the Institute we should note the monumental edition of the works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in twenty-seven volumes (of which seven have appeared), the Marx-Engels Archives and the Annals of Marxism, rich in studies and documents, the Materialist Library (including the works of Holbach, Hobbes, Diderot, Feuerbach, La Mettrie, etc.), the Complete Works of G. V. Plekhanov, Russia's foremost theoretician of marxism, those of K. Kautsky, of P. Lafargue, the Marxist Library, including the best edition of The Communist Manifesto, annotated by Riazonov, the Library of the Classics of Political Economy, etc.
The Institute now has more than 400,000 volumes, including a very fine collection on the French revolution, with the works and publications of Marat, Robespierre, Anacharsis Clootz[9], and Babeuf in first editions, the very rare brochures and pamphlets of the Enragés[10], the most precious periodicals, such as the Ami du Peuple, the Père Duchesne, the Tribun du Peuple, etc.; a complete collection, also in the original editions, of the works of Robert Owen[11], including many brochures, manifestos, etc., not mentioned in the remarkable Bibliography of Robert Owen (2nd enlarged edition, 1925); a remarkable collection of the British economists; an almost complete collection of the periodicals of 1848 (over 400 titles), and most of the publications relating to the events of 1848 in the various countries; and the main publications of the working class and on the working class movement, etc.
Among recent acquisitions we might mention a file of The Times from its foundation to the war; a very rare file of the New York Tribune, including the years when Marx and Engels collaborated with it; the unique collection of M. Helfert, wholly devoted to the revolutionary movement of 1848-49 in Austria, Hungary, Italy and the slav countries, amounting to 5,000 volumes, 10,000 posters, placards, proclamations, etc., 4,500 prints and portraits, and 1,000 autograph letters; a collection of manuscripts, most of them unpublished, of Gracchus Babeuf, including his letters to his son Emil, his wife, and his writings during his trial; and a remarkable collection of posters, placards, cartoons and other documents from the time of the Commune.
Whereas a partial documentation is generally to be found in most of the important European libraries, only relating to the social movement of such and such a country (and even within these limits, often incomplete), the various collections of the Institute make up a unique centre of documentation on the working class movement in Europe.
The Institute is organised in such a way as to assist work and make it productive; it is a centre of study and of publication at one and the same time; it is divided into different sections or cabinets forming two series; a historical series, and an ideological series.
The historical series includes these sections: German (the richest), 50,000 volumes; French (almost 40,000 volumes); English; and each has its own archives.
The ideological series includes these sections: Philosophy (25,000 volumes); Socialism, where the Mautner, Grünberg and Taniéev collections are deposited; Political Economy (20,000 volumes); Sociology, Law and Politics; and archives are also attached to each cabinet.
The Institute also has a museum, where prints, stamps, portraits, and medals are exhibited - set up for instruction, not for marvelling, with the sole aim of encouraging work. It organises exhibitions methodically. An exhibition on the French revolution in 1928 aroused the liveliest interest.
To our knowledge, it was the first undertaking of its kind to be made abroad. It was an excellent illustration of the Institute's methods, its educational outlook, its researches and its wealth. It allowed schoolchildren and workers to study the forerunners of modern ideas and the pioneers of socialism, to follow the events of the revolution in the order in which they happened, to get to know a little about the men and the atmosphere, and to form an opinion of the press of the time, and how it represented the actions of the popular masses and the struggle of the classes and parties.
In the same methodical manner, and with the same scientific preoccupations, the Institute organised an important exhibition on the Commune of 1871. Unique material was arranged in four spacious rooms (including 375 authentic documents of the time, 223 periodical publications, a quantity of prints and cartoons, and two flags) on the Second Empire, the war and the siege of Paris, the origins of the Commune, its 72 days of existence, and its bloody suppression.
We should also mention a remarkable Marx-Engels exhibition, pictorially very rich in rare editions, providing authentic new information on the life and work of the founders of scientific socialism, on the origin and development of marxism, and on its distribution throughout the world.
Such, in sum, is the unprecedented work of the Marx-Engels Institute, corresponding to the new needs of our time.
L. B.


[1] Paul (1866-1927) and Peter Dolgorukov (1866-1945) were twin princes, and leaders of the Cadets. They emigrated after the revolution, but Paul returned to Russia in secret, and was captured and shot (translator's note).
[2] Claude Henri de Rouvry, Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) was an early utopian thinker; François Marie Charles Fourrier (1772-1837) was the founder of the French school of utopian socialists (translator's note).
[3] Ferdinand Lasalle (1825-1864) founded the General Association of German Workers, which united with the followers of Bebel to set up the SDP (translator's note).
[4] Joseph Ernest Renan (1823-92) was a French orientalist, whose researches called in question the truths of Christianity; the scandal created by his Life of Jesus cost him his chair at the Collège de France; Jules Michelet (1798-1874) was a historian of the French revolution, and a supporter of the Paris Commune (translator's note).
[5] François Emile 'Gracchus' Babeuf (1760-1797) was the leader of the Conspiracy of Equals in the French revolution (translator's note).
[6] Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881) advocated the seizure of power on behalf of the working class by a conspiratorial élite. His trial was a notorious miscarriage of justice: he was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1849, but even afterwards the government would not release him (translator's note).
[7] The election of the Council of the Paris Commune on 10th August 1793 sparked off the opposition to the reaction against the French revolution. It demanded 'Bread for All' (translator's note).
[8] The Paris Commune of 1871 was a brief period when the Paris workers took control of the city after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (translator's note).
[9] Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), the 'People's friend' was a leading radical during the French revolution; Maximilien Robespierre (1750-1794) was the Jacobin leader during the terror; Jean-Baptiste, called 'Anacharsis' Clootz (1755-1794) was a German atheist who wanted to spread the French revolution abroad; he was guillotined after an attack on Robespierre (translator's note).
[10] The Enragés were the followers of Varlet and Rouge, who rallied the sansculottes against the reaction during the French revolution. The newspapers named were all put out by the left during the revolution (translator's note).
[11] Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a philanthropic cotton manufacturer and utopian thinker, who originated the theory that 'conditions determine consciousness' (translator's note).

Volume della MEGA II/15. Descrizione in italiano

Altro volume di notevole interesse è il penultimo, il II/15.[1] Esso contiene l’edizione “storica” del III libro apparso 1894 a cura di Engels. Di esso meno interessante è l’introduzione di Schefold, estranea alla MEGA sia nel contenuto che nella metodologia. Molto interessante è invece l’apparato (555 pagine; il testo è di 859 pagine): un indice riporta per ogni paragrafo del testo engelsiano il riferimento al relativo manoscritto originale di Marx e ci informa se ci sia stato un eventuale passaggio attraverso i materiali redazionali di Engels che ci sono pervenuti. Le più significative aggiunte di Engels sono invece elencate in un secondo indice. Ampio spazio è dedicato al commento, ai chiarimenti, alla esplicitazione di passaggi impliciti nel testo, ecc.

[1] K. Marx, F. Engels, Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). A cura della Fondazione Internazionale Marx-Engels. Seconda sezione. Vol. 15: Il capitale. Critica dell’economia politica, Terzo volume, Hamburg 1894. A cura di R. Roth, E. Kopf e C.-E. Vollgraf. Con la collaborazione di G. Hubmann. Con un’introduzione di B. Schefold. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 2004.

Band II/15 (MEGA-website)

Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels: Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). Herausgegeben von der Internationalen Marx-Engels-Stiftung. Zweite Abteilung. Band 15: Karl Marx: Das Kapital. Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie. Dritter Band. Hrsg. von Friedrich Engels. Hamburg 1894. Bearbeitet von Regina Roth, Eike Kopf und Carl-Erich Vollgraf unter Mitwirkung von Gerald Hubmann. Mit einer Einführung von Bertram Schefold. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag 2004. XI, 860 S. Text und S. 861-1420 Apparat. – ISBN 978–3–05–003797–4.

Der fünfzigste Band der MEGA enthält die von Engels im Dezember 1894 herausgegebene Druckfassung des dritten Bandes des „Kapital". Sie bot, so Engels im Vorwort, den Abschluß des theoretischen Teils des Marxschen Hauptwerks und löste eine breite Diskussion über das Marxsche System aus. Der dritte Band des „Kapital" sorgt daher bereits seit seiner Veröffentlichung für grundsätzliche, zum Teil bis heute andauernde Kontroversen, insbesondere über Marx' Mechanismus der Transformation von Werten der Waren in Preise und über die damit verbundene Frage nach der Tragfähigkeit der Arbeitswertlehre, über die mit dem tendenziellen Fall der Profitrate verknüpfte Frage nach der Zukunft des Kapitalismus, später auch über seine Thesen zu Geld und Kredit oder zu Konkurrenz und Konzentration.
Nicht nur die Inhalte werden diskutiert, auch die Authentizität des Textes ist bis heute strittig. Denn er fußt zwar auf Marx' Manuskript von 1864/1865, veröffentlicht in Band II/4.2, ist aber das Endprodukt eines langjährigen Redaktionsprozesses. Engels bezog neben dem „Hauptmanuskript" einige weitere Manuskripte zu Einzelfragen ein, die aus dem Zeitraum zwischen 1867/1868 und 1876 stammten und demnächst in Band II/4.3 veröffentlicht werden beziehungsweise in Band II/14 bereits vorgelegt wurden. Durch die Vermittlung der Bezüge zwischen der Druckfassung und den Manuskripten von Marx in der vorliegenden Ausgabe wird es möglich zu erkunden, inwieweit Engels den Text von Marx über das in der Druckfassung von 1894 Sichtbare hinaus veränderte, wo er eigene Akzente setzte und wie stark der Antrieb war, nicht nur als literarischer, sondern auch als politischer Nachlassverwalter zu wirken unter völlig veränderten wirtschaftlichen und politischen Rahmenbedingungen. So kann sich der Leser selbst ein Bild von der Ambivalenz machen, die Engels' Redaktion prägte: Auf der einen Seite steht sein Bestreben, die Manuskripte originalgetreu wiederzugeben, also „Marx in Marx' Worten" sprechen zu lassen, auf der anderen Seite sah sich Engels aber auch dazu legitimiert, in den Text und die Anordnung der Manuskripte einzugreifen, wenn ihm dies geboten erschien.