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Department of Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods

Re-reading Marx - New Perspectives after the Critical Edition

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Regina Roth, Berlin Brandeburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities - New perspectives opened by the publication of the original manuscripts of Capital vol. III

New perspectives opened by the publication of
the original manuscripts of Capital vol. III


Regina Roth
Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Jaegerstrasse 22/23
D-10117 Berlin
e-mail: roth@bbaw.de

Abstract

The manuscripts of Karl Marx for Capital vol. III recently have been edited for the first time in the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA), together with the printed versions prepared by Friedrich Engels. Text and apparatus presented in the respective volumes of the MEGA offer new information on the state of Marx's research, on his position in contemporary debates, and on the role of Engels as political and literary executor of Marx's legacy. The manuscripts show that central questions of Marx's analysis were left open. After having written his rough draft on the third book in 1864/65, Marx considered significant changes for his further investigation. Yet, in his manuscripts from 1867/68 and 1874/75, he only addressed some points of the transition from surplus to profit, and of the motions of the rate of profit, leaving aside the role of credit and money, questions of rent, and his conclusions on classes. With regard to credit and rent, we may turn to his readings and letters to get some idea of the economic phenomena he thought worth being dealt with in greater detail, of the sources he consulted, and hence of the changes he considered for his examination. Engels started several attempts to prepare this material for publication as Capital vol. III. He gave up his initial idea to offer additions from other writings of Marx or from important sources Marx had used. Instead, he selected parts from different versions, deleted some passages, added others, and tried different ways to rearrange Marx's text. Thus he gave the first interpretation of what Marx might have aimed at in the fragmentary parts of his manuscripts, for instance, in his collections of material on credit and fictitious capital.