The Formation of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy:From the Studies of 1843 to the Grundrisse
Author: Marcello Musto
Despite the predictions that consigned it to eternal oblivion, Marx’s work hasreturned to the historical stage in recent years and a number of his texts havereappeared on bookshop shelves in many parts of the world. The rediscovery of Marx is based on the explanatory capacity still present in his writings. Facedwith a new and deep crisis of capitalism, many are again looking to an authorwho in the past was often wrongly associated with the Soviet Union, and whowas too hastily dismissed after 1989. This renewed political focus was preceded by a revival of historical studies of his work. After the waning of interest in the 1980s and the “conspiracy of silence” in the 1990s, new or republished editions of his work became availablealmost everywhere (except in Russia and Eastern Europe, where the disastersof “actually existing socialism” are still too recent for a Marx revival to be onthe agenda), and these have produced important and innovative results inmany of the fields in which they blossomed.
Of particular significance for an exhaustive reinterpretation is the
(MEGA2), the critical historical edition of the complete worksof Marx and Engels, which resumed serial publication in 1998.
This broughtinto print Marx’s notebooks and all his preparatory manuscripts for the secondand third volumes of
. The former include not only material from thebooks he read but also the reflections they stimulated in him; they reveal theworkshop of his critical theory, the whole trajectory of his thought, the sourceson which he drew in developing his own ideas. The publication of all the
manuscripts, and all the editorial revisions made by Engels,
will make possiblea reliable critical evaluation of Marx’s originals and the extent of Engels’s inputinto the published editions of Volumes Two and Three.My present purpose is to reconstruct the stages of Marx’s critique of politicaleconomy in the light of the philological acquisitions of MEGA2, and hence tooffer a more exhaustive account of the formation of Marx’s thought than haspreviously been offered. The great majority of researchers in this area haveconsidered only certain periods in Marx’s development, often jumping straightfrom the [
Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
to the [
](1857–58) and from there to the first volume of
(1867), or, at best,examining only two other texts:
The Poverty of Philosophy
Theories of Surplus Value