Home Page

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Vygodsky - What Was It Actually That Engels Published in the Years 1885 and 1894?

Vygodsky - What Was It Actually That Engels Published in the Years 1885 and 1894?


Vitaly Vygodsky

What Was It Actually That Engels Published
in the Years 1885 and 1894?

On the Article by Carl-Erich Vollgraf and Jürgen Jungnickel
Entitled “‘Marx in Marx’s Words’?”[1] - Excerpts

Written: 1995
First Published: 1995
Source: Scientific Commons
Translated: Stephen Naron
Transcription/Markup: Steve Palmer
Copyright: See source

Section II of MEGA will eventually reflect the history of thebirth, genesis, and publication of the economic works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, down to the latter’s death. What is essential here is that from the standpoint of the MEGA editing guidelines ,2 Marx and Engels have “equal rights.” The editing guidelines state that theMEGA is the “complete historico-critical edition of the publications, handwritten writings, and correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels,” and that it contains the edited “texts from Marx and/or Engels that have come down to us in handwritten or printed form".

The work on section II of the MEGA is now in its last phase. As of the present, ten of the fifteen planned volumes (or seventeen of twenty-five partial volumes) have been published. It would be quite possible to finish this section before the end of this millennium, that is, by the year 2000, in which case a complete, reliable, historico-critical edition of the economic writings of Marx and Engels from the years 1857 to 1894—from the rough drafts of the four books of Capital to the published volumes 1–3—would be available.

The publication of the MEGA-volume II/4.2 in 1992 within the framework of this ambitious program was an especially important event. The volume contains Marx’s rough draft of book 3 of Capital - the 1864–65 manuscript. The article by Vollgraf and Jungnickel undertakes a critical comparison of Engels’s edition of book 3 of Capital(1894) with this manuscript.

Let me state at the outset that I find this article’s approach to Engels’s 1894 edition and the way it is compared with Marx’s 1864–65 manuscript to be unhistorical.

In particular, I am astonished at the character of the critique of the 1894 edition. With no basis whatsoever, the latter is from the outset referred to as “material that in 1894 came to be known as the third volume of Capital” (p. 38 in this journal). It is my opinion that the authors have no understanding of the fundamental difference between a historical fact and its interpretation. The Engels’s edition of 1894 is a historical fact; for some reason or other, Vollgraf and Jungnickel presume the right to interpret it in a quite arbitrary manner.

Comparing Marx’s text of 1864–65 with Engels’s 1894 text, the authors state: “Engels left only a few sentences as Marx had written them” (p. 39 in this journal). To what extent, one may ask, is such a comparison at all legitimate? As the editor, Engels faced a task quite different from what the authors seem to believe; namely, to produce, on the basis of Marx’s rough drafts, in which the process of theoretical research is reflected, a text that offered an adequate exposition of the theory, the “real movement” of the economic material. In the event, it must also be borne in mind that Marx had not concluded his research, as evidenced inter alia by the rough form of his manuscript.

The authors come to a further conclusion in their comparison: they ask “whether Marx’s text from 1864–65 or Engels’s edition can be called the third volume of Capitalat all” (p. 39 in this journal). Such a conclusion seems to me questionable insofar as it simply ignores the history of the third volume of Capital. The fact is that in 1894 Engels published the result of his attempt to produce an integral, coherent text of the third volume of Capital under the title “Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, by Karl Marx. Third Volume, . . . Book III. The Process of Capital Production as a Whole. . . published by Friedrich Engels.” The editorial prior title page proposed by the authors, “Karl Marx. Economic Manuscripts of 1864–76, edited and published by Friedrich Engels as volume 3 of Capital (1894)” (p. 66 in this journal) is tantamount to a negation of the subsequent title which Engels himself chose. The cart here comes before the horse.

The authors write: The manuscript [1864–65] is the only complete draft for the third volume. Begun originally as a fair copy, it bears the manifold traces of the efforts of an author who thinks in terms of entireties to achieve an understanding of his material. While the essential themes, identified in the chapter headings, are present, the structural questions are still far from being definitively answered. The presentation is sketchy, and the treatment of central problems is unsystematic. Elaborated chapter beginnings are usually followed by digressions. Some points are briefly alluded to, although how they fit in is not directly clear; others are expanded upon although they do not belong in the third book at all. In short, the rough form of the manuscript is immediately obvious. (p. 43)

Here, as so often with the authors, right and wrong are mixed up. To be sure, the rough form of the 1864–65 manuscript is appropriately characterized. But how does it follow from this that some of the statements “do not belong in the third book”?! How do the authors know this? They casually take the place of Engels, who transformed Marx’s rough draft from 1864–65 into a complete, independent text and the research process into one of exposition, and who in this sense did indeed bring Marx’s work to completion. The analysis of this, Engels’s completion of Marx’s work, will be contained in the history of the texts of volume II/14, which (in accordance with the design of theMEGA) will be not only a critical, but also a historical-critical edition of a work by Marx and Engels.

Whatever the authors may think of Engels’s 1894 edition of the third volume ofCapital, this alters not in the least the fact that it is this edition that Engels presented and titled and not another, and that it belongs to the MEGA as it was presented and titled by Engels. On the other side of the coin, the attempt made by the authors, whether consciously or not, to assume Engels’s place as coauthor does not stand up to criticism. In their evaluation of Engels’s 1894 edition of volume 3 the authors proceed from the incorrect premise that the decisive criterion is whether or not it coincides with Marx’s rough draft of 1864–65 (see, for example, p. 39, passim). But to tell the truth, the criticism made of Engels in this regard is without foundation, and it is presumed, totally wrongly, that Engels’s method of exposition must coincide with Marx’s method of research. While the authors attack the dogma “of the unity of Marx-Engels” they on the other hand agree with its call to investigate “whether Engels’ claim to be presenting a by and large authentic Marx text would actually hold water” (p. 39); second, the “published Marx manuscript opens up the possibility for establishing precisely where Engels followed Marx’s intentions and where he did not” (p. 40).

In their comparison of the 1864–65 text with the 1894 text the authors discover differences in the titles and the paragraphing of the text (pp. 47, 48), expansions and cuts (pp. 56 and 59), insertions and omissions of parentheses (p. 52), and still other “serious mistakes” by Engels—including some already long known (p. 51). Even the unjustified “expectations” (p. 51) these interpolations might arouse in the reader are chalked up to Engels.

A systematic text comparison of this sort would only be justified as an analysis of the necessary transformation of research into exposition, provided there is a clear awareness of the difference between the two. The fact that we do not know how Marx would have decided in each case does not allow us to demand of Engels the editor that he should have reverted to the standpoint of Marx the researcher. In my view Karl Kautsky was right in his objections to Engels’s critics when he wrote: “What guarantee would the reader have that my version was truer to Marx’s train of thought than was Engels’s?” (p. 42).

The general conclusion from the methodologically often questionable criticism of Engels should, in my opinion, be that the 1894 edition would be incomplete without the 1864–65 rough draft. Both must be seen in their interrelationship, as part of the text history of the 1894 edition, taking into account the research and expository processes therein brought to light.

The foregoing reasoning concerning volume 3 of Capital also applies, I believe, to the relationship between Engels’s 1885 edition of volume 2 (MEGA vol. II/13) and the pertinent rough manuscripts of 1868–84 (MEGA vol. II/11 and II/12). An initial investigation of the manuscript has shown that the 1883–84 manuscript edited by Engels was a link between Marx’s manuscripts for book 2 and Engels’s 1885 edition of volume 2. The 1863–64 manuscript is not identical with the final text of volume 2 but has its own very complicated history as regards its birth and genesis and accordingly its own significance in the history of Capital. That is why it was published in a separate volume.

I think that the title of the MEGA-volume that will contain Engels’s edition of volume 2 of Capital should coincide wholly with the one chosen by Engels in his time: “Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. By Karl Marx. Second Volume. Book II. The Process of Circulation of Capital. Published by Friedrich Engels.”


[1]. Carl-Erich Vollgraf and Jürgen Jungnickel, “‘Marx in Marx’ Worten’ ? Zu Engels’ Edition des Hauptmanuskripts zum dritten Buch des Kapital,” MEGA Studien 2 (1994): 3–55.

Vitaly Vygodsky - The Story of a Great Discovery

Vitaly Vygodsky - The Story of a Great Discovery


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.

Vitaly Vygodsky Internet Archive

Vitaly Vygodsky Internet Archive

Vitaly Vygodsky

23 December 1928 - 8 May 1998


Based on a memorandum prepared for the Российская Экономическая Академия by Svetlana Masunina using a Биографический очерк [Biographical Sketch] written by Ludmila Vasina. Ludmila Vasina also prepared this Библиография [Bibliography] of Vygodsky's writings. Dr Vasina is a staff member of the Russian State Archive of the Social and Political History (RGASPI), Head of the MEGA-Team at RGASPI.

MIA is very grateful for Dr Vasina's help with this project.

When Vitaly Solomonovich Vygodsky graduated from high school in 1946 with a silver medal, the teacher pointed out his obvious mathematical skills and his future seemed to be in theoretical mathematics. But things turned out differently. He joined the Physics Department of Moscow State University, studied there three years, but when it came to the practical exercises in the lab, realized that physics was not his vocation. Subsequently, he used to joke that he had two left hands. Officially, he interrupted his studies due to illness, but did not return to the Physics Faculty and in 1950 joined the department of political economy at MGEI (Moscow State Economics Institute).

His scientific and political proclivities were displayed as a student. He was an active member of the FNL faculty, student member of the editorial board of a scientific journal and a union and Komsomol organizer. His first work was published in the scientific notes for students at MGEI in 1955. Vygodsky graduated with honors from the institute and successfully passed the competitive examination to become a postgraduate external student at the Economics Institute. Simultaneously, on the recommendation of Professor PK Figurnov he was employed at the Institute of Marx - Engels - Lenin - Stalin (from 1956 - the Institute of Marxism-Leninism). It is here that Vygodsky worked for more than 35 years, having gone through all steps of career - from junior to senior researcher to head of the group working on theoretical problems of Marxism.

Starting work, Vitaly immediately showed himself as a talented Marxologist. His subsequent direction of research included the genesis of the economic studies of Marx and the history of the creation of Capital. The results of this was his Ph.D. and first monograph «The place of Theories of Surplus Value in the economic legacy of Karl Marx» (1961).

A particularly important part of the work, to which he gave considerable energy, was his involvement in the international group of MEGA - the complete edition of works by Marx and Engels in their original languages. Vitaly was a great promoter of economic theory. His books, such as «The Story of a Great Discovery. How Karl Marx wrote "Capital"», «On the History of the Creation of« Capital », and many others have been translated and published in Italy, Germany, China, Mexico, Japan and many other countries. The full bibliography of works by Vygodsky includes over 180 titles.

In 1972 he became a Doctor of Economic Sciences. He was awarded the title of Honored Worker of Science. He died on 8 May 1998.

Vygodsky is of particular significance to English-speaking students of Marx as Editor of Volume 31 and Scientific Editor of Volumes 30, 32 and 34 of the English edition of Marx - Engels Collected Works.


On the Fourth Volume of Capital: on K Marx's 'Theories of Surplus-Value', О четвертом томе "Капитала". (О "Теориях прибавочной стоимости" К. Маркса.), 1958.*
The Place of 'Theories of Surplus-Value' in the Economic Legacy of Karl Marx, Место "Теорий прибавочной стоимости" в экономическом наследии Карла Маркса, 1963.*
The Story of a Great Discovery, 1965.
The Economic Substantiation of the Theory of Socialism, Экономическое обоснование теории научного коммунизма, 1975.
The Everlasting Significance of Marx's Capital, 1975.
The Economic Legacy of Karl Marx: History, Content, Methodology Экономическое наследие Карла Маркса (история, содержание, методология); 1976 (co-author: Georgij Bagaturiya)*
Marx' Work on Capital in 1863–1865. In: An Outline of the History of K. Marx's Capital, 1983 (Vygodsky was the author of a chapter in this monograph) Работа Маркса над "Капиталом" в 1863–1865 гг. In: Очерки по истории "Капитала", 1983.*
The First Versions of Capital (Vygodsky was one of the editors, author and co-author of some chapters in this monograph) Первоначальный вариант „Капитала“ (Экономические рукописи К. Маркса 1857–1859 годов), 1987.*
Marx on the Proletariat's Economic Struggle in Capitalist Countries, 1988
What Was It Actually That Engels Published in the Years 1885 and 1894?, Was hat Engels in den Jahren 1885 und 1894 eigentlich veröffentlicht? In: MEGA-Studien, 1995/1. S. 117–120.1995
Überlegungen zu einigen Dogmen der Marx-Interpretation. In: Beiträge zur Marx-Engels-Forschung. Neue Folge 1993. Marx-Engels-Forschung im historischen Spannungsfeld. Hamburg, 1993. S. 107–121.

Gramsci Prison Notebooks: Contents

Gramsci Prison Notebooks: Contents