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Marx in Paris: Manuscripts and notebooks of 1844


I. Introduction

The [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844][1] are one of Marx’s best-known works all around the world. Yet, although they are so often discussed and are so important for overall interpretations of their author’s thought, little attention has been paid to the philological problems that they present.

This fact, together with the theorical and political disputes that began with publication of the first edition in 1932, has helped to fuel a misinterpretation of what many commentators regard as the most significant text of Marx’s youth.

After a brief description of the intellectual climate at the time of Marx’s stay in the French capital (§ II) and of the economic studies that he began there (§ III), this article examines the close connection between the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844] and the parallel notebooks of excerpts that Marx compiled from the writings of political economists (§ IV) as well as the greater philosophical and political maturity that he achieved in this major period of his development (§ V-VI). Finally, a table reconstructs the chronological order of the manuscripts and notebooks of excerpts that Marx composed in Paris between the autumn of 1843 and January 1845.

II. Paris: capital of the new world

Paris is a ‘monstrous miracle, an astounding assemblage of movements, machines and ideas, the city of a thousand different romances, the world’s thinking-box’ (Balzac, 1972, 33). This is how Balzac described in one of his tales the effect of the metropolis on those who did not know it thoroughly.

During the years before the 1848 revolution, the city was inhabited by artisans and workers in constant political agitation. From its colonies of exiles, revolutionaries, writers and artists and the general social ferment, it had acquired an intensity found in few other epochs. Men and women with the most varied intellectual gifts were publishing books, journals and newspapers, writing poetry, speaking at meetings, and discussing endlessly in cafés, in the street and on public benches. Their close proximity meant that they exercised a continual influence on one another (cf. Berlin 1963, 81f.).

Bakunin, having decided to cross the Rhine, suddenly found himself ‘amid those new elements which have not yet been born in Germany … [in a climate where] political ideas circulate among all strata of society’ (Bakunin, 1982, 482). Von Stein wrote that ‘life in the populace itself was beginning to create new associations and to conceive of new revolutions’ (von Stein 1848, 509). Ruge was of the view that ‘in Paris we shall live our victories and our defeats’ (Ruge 1975, 59). In short, it was the place to be at that particular moment in history.

For Balzac ‘the streets of Paris have human qualities and such a physiognomy as leaves us with impressions against which we can put up no resistance’ (Balzac 1972, 31). Many of these impressions also struck Karl Marx, who at the age of twenty-five had moved there in October 1843; they profoundly marked his intellectual evolution, which matured decisively during his time in Paris.

Following the journalistic experience on the Rheinische Zeitung, Marx’s abandonment of the conceptual horizon of the Hegelian rational state and an associated democratic radicalism meant that he had arrived in the French capital with a certain theoretical disponibilité. But this was now shaken by the tangible vision of the proletariat. The uncertainty generated by the problematic atmosphere of the times, which saw the rapid consolidation of a new social-economic reality, was dissipated once he made contact, both theoretically and experientially, with the Parisian working class and its living and working conditions.

The discovery of the proletariat and, through it, of revolution; the new commitment to communism, still unclearly defined and semi-utopian; the critique of Hegel’s speculative philosophy and the Hegelian Left; the first outline of the materialist conception of history and the beginnings of his critique of political economy: these were the set of fundamental themes that Marx would develop during this period.

The following notes, which deliberately forego a critical interpretation of Marx’s famous early text, the so-called [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] written during his stay in Paris, mainly focus on philological issues regarding it.

III. Settling on political economy

When he had been working with the Rheinische Zeitung, Marx had already grappled with particular economic questions, but always from a legal or political viewpoint. Subsequently, in the ideas he developed at Kreuznach in 1843 – the source for [Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right], in which civil society is conceived as the real foundation of the political state – he had formulated for the first time the importance of the economic factor in social relations. But it was only in Paris that Marx made a start on a ‘conscientious critical study of political economy’ (Marx 1975d, 231), having received a crucial impetus from contradictions in law and politics that could not be solved within their own sphere and from the inability of either to furnish solutions to social problems. Engels’sOutlines of a Critique of Political Economy’ (one of his two articles to appear in the first and only volume of the Deutsch-französische Jahrbücher) also made a decisive impact on Marx at this time. From that point his studies, hitherto mainly philosophical, political and historical, turned to the new discipline that would become the fulcrum of his scientific concerns and mark out a new horizon he would never abandon (cf. Rubel, 1968, liv-lv).

Under the influence of Moses Hess’s Essence of Money and his transposition of the concept of alienation from a speculative to a social-economic plane, Marx first concentrated on a critique of the economic mediation of money as an obstacle to the realization of the human essence. In a polemic against Bruno Bauer’s ‘On the Jewish Question’, he considered the Jewish question to be a social problem that represented the philosophical and social-historical presupposition of capitalist civilization as a whole. The Jew was the metaphor and the historical vanguard for the relations it produced, a worldly figure that became synonymous with capitalism tout court (cf. Tuchscheerer 1968, 56).

Immediately afterwards Marx began massive reading in a new field of study, and his critical comments, as a few illustrations will demonstrate, punctuate the manuscripts and notebooks of excerpts and notes that he compiled, as usual, from the reading material. The guiding thread of his work was the need to unveil and oppose the greatest mystification of political economy: the idea that its categories were valid at all times and in all places. Marx was deeply affected by this blindness and lack of historical sense on the part of the economists, who thereby tried to conceal and justify the inhumanity of the economic conditions of their time by presenting them as a fact of nature. In a comment on a text by Say, he noted that ‘private property is a fact whose constitution does not concern political economy yet which is its foundation. … The whole of political economy is therefore based on a fact devoid of necessity’ (Marx 1981, 316). Similar observations recur in the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts], where Marx emphasizes that ‘political economy starts with the fact of private property; it does not explain it to us’. ‘The economist assumes in the form of a fact, of an event, what he is supposed to deduce’ (Marx 1975d, 270-1).

Political economy, then, takes the regime of private property, the associated mode of production and the corresponding economic categories as immutable for all eternity. The man of bourgeois society appears as if he were natural man. In short, ‘when one speaks of private property, one thinks of dealing with something external to man’ (Marx 1975d, 281). Marx’s rejection of this ontological switch could not have been clearer.

His deep and wide study of history had given him a first key to read the temporal evolution of social structures, and he had also taken over what he regarded as Proudhon’s best insights, including his critique of the idea of private property as a natural right (Proudhon 1890, 44f.). With these supports, Marx was able to achieve the central cognitive grasp of the provisional character of history. The bourgeois economists presented laws of the capitalist mode of production as eternal laws of human society. Marx, by contrast, made his exclusive and distinctive object of study the specific relations of his time, ‘the ruptured world of industry’ (Marx 1975d, 292); he underlined its transitoriness as one stage produced by history, and set out to investigate the contradictions that capitalism generates which are leading to its supersession.

This different way of understanding social relations had important consequences, chief of which were undoubtedly those concerning the concept of alienated labour. Unlike the economists, or Hegel himself, for whom it was a natural and immutable condition of society, Marx set out on the path that would lead him to reject the anthropological dimension of alienation in favour of a conception that rooted it historically in a certain structure of production and social relations: man’s estrangement amid the conditions of industrial labour.

The notes accompanying Marx’s excerpts from James Mill highlight how ‘political economy defines the estranged form of social intercourse [ die entfremdete Form des geselligen Verkehrs] as the essential and original form corresponding to man’s nature’. Far from being a constant condition of objectification, of the worker’s production, alienated labour is for Marx the expression of the social character of labour within the limits of the present division of labour, which turns man into ‘a machine tool … and transforms him into a spiritual and physical monster’ (Marx 1975c, 217, 220).

In the individual’s working activity is affirmed his specificity, the activation of a need peculiar to himself. But ‘this realization of labour appears as a derealization [Entwirklichung] for the worker’ (Marx 1975d, 272). Labour could be human affirmation, free creative activity, but, ‘presupposing private property, my individuality is alienated to such a degree that this activity is indeed hateful to me, a torment, and rather a semblance of an activity. Hence, too, it is only a forced activity [erzwungene Thätigkeit] and one imposed on me only through an external fortuitous need’ (Marx 1975c, 228).

Marx reached these conclusions by collecting the forceful theories of economic science, criticizing their constitutive elements and inverting their results. This involved him in the most intense and unremitting effort. The Parisian Marx is ravenous for reading material and devotes day and night to it. He is a man filled with enthusiasms and projects, who draws up work plans so huge that he could never have seen them through, and who studies every document relevant to the object of investigation; he is absorbed in the lightning advance of his knowledge and the shifting interests that for a time carry him towards new horizons, further resolutions and still more areas of research.[2]

On the Left Bank of the Seine he planned the draft of a critique of Hegel’s philosophy of law, embarked on studies of the French Revolution in order to write a history of the Convention, and mooted a critique of existing socialist and communist doctrines. Then he threw himself like a madman into political economy, which suddenly took priority over the task of finally clearing the terrain in Germany of the transcendental criticism of Bauer et al., but he interrupted this to write his first finished work: The holy Family. Then another hundred projects: if there was a critique to be done, it passed through his head and through his pen. Yet the most prolific young man in the Hegelian Left had still published less than many of the others. The incompleteness that would characterize all his work was already present in the labours of his year in Paris. There was something incredible about his meticulousness, as he refused to write a sentence unless he could prove it in ten different ways.[3] Marx’s belief that his information was insufficient and his judgments immature prevented him from publishing a large part of the work on which he embarked; it therefore remained in the form of outlines and fragments. His notes are thus extremely precious. They allow us to gauge the scope of his research, contain some reflections of his own, and should be considered an integral part of his oeuvre. This is also true of the Parisian period, when his manuscripts and reading notes testify to the close and indissoluble link between what he wrote and the comments he made on the work of others. [4]

IV. Manuscripts and notebooks of excerpts: the papers of 1844

Despite the incomplete and fragmentary character of the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] of 1844, nearly all readings of them have either ignored or treated as unimportant the philological problems they present (cf. Rojahn 1983, 20). They were first published in their entirety only in 1932 – in two separate editions, moreover. In the collection put together by the Social Democrat scholars Landshut and Mayer, entitledDer historische Materialismus, they appeared under the title ‘Nationalökonomie und Philosophie’ (Marx 1932a, 283-375), while in the Marx Engels Gesamtausgabe they are ‘Ökonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte aus dem Jahre 1844’ (Marx 1932b, 29-172). Not only the name but also the content varies between the two, and there are major differences in the order of the sections. The Lanshut-Mayer edition, teeming with errors because of poor deciphering of the original manuscript, failed to include the first group of papers, the so-called First Manuscript, and misattributed directly to Marx a fourth manuscript that was actually a resumé of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Nevertheless,too little consideration has been paid to the fact that the editors of the first MEGA too, in choosing their name for the manuscripts, in placing the preface at the beginning – when in reality it is part of the third manuscript – and in organizing the whole set of papers in the way they did, made one think that Marx’s intention had always been to write a critique of political economy and that everything had originally been divided into chapters (cf. Rojahn 2002, 33).

It was further wrongly assumed that Marx wrote these texts only after he had read and compiled excerpts from the works of political economy, [5] whereas in reality the process of composition alternated among different groups of manuscripts, and the corresponding excerpts were spaced out through the whole of his Parisian period, from the articles for the Deutsch-französische Jahrbücher to The Holy Family.

Despite these evident problems of form, despite confusion following the publication of different versions and, above all, the knowledge that much of the second manuscript (the most important but scattered one) was missing from the set, none of the critical interpreters or compilers of new editions undertook a re-examination of the originals. Yet this was especially necessary for the text that weighed so heavily in debates among the various interpretations of Marx.

Written between May and August, the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] are not a work that develops in a systematic or prearranged manner. All the attributions to it of a settled direction – both those that detect the full completeness of Marx’s thought and those that see a definite conception opposed to his scientific maturity[6] – are refuted by a careful philological examination. Not homogeneous or even closely interconnected between their parts, the manuscripts are an evident expression of a position in movement. Scrutiny of the nine notebooks that have come down to us, with more than 200 pages of excerpts and comments, shows us Marx’s way of assimilating and using the reading material that fuelled them.

The Paris notebooks record the traces of Marx’s encounter with political economy and the formative process of his earliest elaborations of economic theory. A comparison of them with his writings of the period, published or unpublished, decisively demonstrates the importance of his reading for the development of his ideas. A list of excerpts from political economists alone would include texts by Say, Schüz, List, Osiander, Smith, Skarbek, Ricardo, James Mill, MacCulloch, Prevost, Destutt de Tracy, Buret, de Boisguillebert, Law and Lauderdale.[7] In the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] and Marx’s articles and correspondence of the time, one also finds references to Proudhon, Schulz, Pecquer, Loudon, Sismondi, Ganihl, Chevalier, Malthus, de Pompery and Bentham.

Marx made his first excerpts from Say’s Traité d’économie politique, transcribing whole sections as he acquired his knowledge of the fundamentals of economics. The only note was added later, on the right side of the sheet in question, which was the place he usually kept for this purpose. His subsequent compilation from Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations served a similar goal of familiarizing him with basic economic concepts. In fact, although these are the most extensive excerpts, they contain virtually no comments. Yet Marx’s thought stands out clearly from his montage of passages and, as it often happened elsewhere, from his way of setting alongside one another the divergent theses of several economists. The picture changes, however, in the case of Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, where the first observations of his own make their appearance, especially in relation to the concepts of value and price that were still conceived as perfectly identical. This equation of commodity value and price is located in Marx’s initial conception, which conferred reality only on the exchange-value produced by competition and consigned natural price to the realm of abstraction as a pure chimera. As these studies advanced, his critical notes were no longer sporadic but punctuated his summaries and expanded with his knowledge as he moved from author to author. There were individual sentences, then longer remarks, and finally – apropos of James Mill’s Elements of Political Economy – a sustained critical comment on the mediation of money as representing the complete domination of things over human beings; here the relationship between excerpts and Marx’s own text is completely reversed, so that it is the former that are spaced out through the latter.

To underline once more the importance of the excerpts, it should be pointed out just how useful these notes were to him both when he made them and subsequently. In 1844 some of them were published in Vorwärts!, the bi-weekly of German émigrés in Paris, as a contribution to the intellectual education of its readers (see Grandjonc, 1974, 61-2). Above all, given that Marx was in the habit of re-reading his notes at a distance of time, he was able to use these exhaustive materials in the [Grundrisse], as well as in the economic manuscripts of 1861-3, better known as Theories of Surplus-Value, and the first volume of Capital.

To conclude: Marx developed his ideas both in the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] and in the notebooks of excerpts from his reading. The manuscripts are filled with quotations, the first being almost a straightforward collection, and the notebooks of compilations, though largely centred on the texts he was reading at the time, are accompanied with his comments. The contents of both, the formal division of the sheets into columns, the pagination and the time of their composition confirm that the [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] are not a work that stands by itself but part of Marx’s critical production, which then consisted of excerpts from texts he was studying, critical reflections on that material, and drafts that he put on paper, either in one go or in a more thought-out form. To separate these manuscripts from the rest, to extrapolate them from their context, may therefore lead to errors of interpretation.

Only these notes taken as a whole, together with a historical reconstruction of how they ripened in Marx’s mind, really show the itinerary and the complexity of his thought during the highly intense year of work in Paris (cf. Rojahn, 2002, 45).

V. Critique of philosophy and critique of politics

The setting in which Marx’s ideas developed, and the influence they exercised at a theoretical and practical level, merit a last brief remark. Those were times of profound economic and social transformation, and especially of a huge increase in the numbers of the proletariat. With his discovery of the proletariat Marx was able to break up into class terms the Hegelian concept of civil society. He also gained an awareness that the proletariat was a new class, different from ‘the poor’, since its poverty derived from its conditions of work. The task was to demonstrate one of the main contradictions of bourgeois society: ‘The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size’ (Marx 1975d, 271-2).

The revolt of the Silesian weavers in June 1844 afforded Marx a last opportunity to develop his thinking. In the ‘Critical Marginal Notes on the Article “The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian”’, published in Vorwärts!, he used a critique of Ruge, and of a previous article of his that had seen the revolt as lacking in political spirit, to take his distance from Hegel’s conception that made the state the only representative of the general interest and relegated any movement of civil society to the private sphere of partial interests (cf. Löwy, 2003, 29-30). For Marx, on the contrary, ‘a social revolution is found to have the point of view of the whole’ (Marx 1975c, 205), and under the stimulus of the Silesian events, with their considerable and explicitly revolutionary character, he underlined the gross error of those who sought the root of social ills ‘not in the essential nature of the state but in a definite state form’ (Marx 1975c, 197).

More generally, Marx considered that those who advocated the reform of society (the objective of socialist doctrines at the time), wage equality and a reorganization of work within the capitalist system were still prisoners of the assumptions they combated (Proudhon) or, above all, did not understand the true relationship between private property and alienated labour. For, ‘though private property appears to be the reason, the cause of alienated labour [ entäusserten Arbeit], it is rather its consequence’; ‘private property is the product, the result, the necessary consequence of alienated labour’ (Marx 1975d, 279). In opposition to the theories of the socialists, Marx proposed a radical transformation of the economic system – a project for which it is ‘capital which is to be annulled “as such” ’ (Marx 1975d, 294).

The closer Marx felt socialist doctrines to be to his own thought, the more strongly he felt the need for clarity and the more sharply he was critical of them. The working out of his own conception led him into constant comparisons between the ideas around him and the results of his ongoing studies. The speed with which he was maturing made this a necessity. The same fate lay in store for the Hegelian Left. Indeed, his judgements of its main exponents were the most severe, since they also represented self-criticism of his own past. The Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, the monthly edited by Bruno Bauer, peremptorily declared from its pages: ‘The critic refrains from involving himself in the sufferings or joys of society … he dissects majestically in solitude’ (Bauer 1844, 32). For Marx, by contrast, ‘criticism is no passion of the head, … it is not a lancet, it is a weapon. Its object is its enemy, which it wants not to refute but to exterminate. … Criticism appears no longer as an end in itself, but only as a means’ (Marx 1975a, 177). Against the solipsism of ‘critical criticism’,[8] which started from an abstract conviction that to recognize estrangement was already to overcome it, Marx had clearly realized that ‘material force must be overthrown by material force’, and that social being could be changed only by means of human practice. To discover and become conscious of man’s alienated condition meant at the same time to work for its actual elimination. Between philosophy closed in speculative isolation, which produces only sterile battles of concepts, and the criticism of philosophy, which is ‘criticism in hand-to-hand combat’ (Marx 1975a, 182 and 178), there was a difference that could scarcely be greater. It was the gulf separating the quest for free self-consciousness from the quest for free labour.

VI. Conclusions

Marx’s thought underwent a decisive evolution during his year in Paris. He was now certain that the transformation of the world was a practical question, ‘which philosophy could not solve precisely because it conceived this problem as merely a theoretical one’ (Marx 1975d, 302). He bid farewell forever to philosophy that had not reached this awareness and achieved its necessary conversion into philosophy of praxis. From now on, his own analysis took its starting-point not from the category of alienated labour but from the reality of the workers’ wretched existence. His conclusions were not speculative but directed towards revolutionary action (cf. Mandel 1971, 210).

His conception of politics itself changed profoundly. Without adopting any of the narrow socialist or communist doctrines of the time, indeed while taking his distance from them, he achieved a full awareness that economic relations weave the connecting web of society and that ‘religion, family, state, law, morality, science, art, etc. are only particular modes of production, and fall under its general law’ (Marx 1975d, 302). The state has here lost the primary position it had in Hegel’s political philosophy; absorbed into society, it is conceived as a sphere determined by, rather than determining, relations among human beings. According to Marx, ‘only political superstition still imagines today that civil life must be held together by the state, whereas in reality, on the contrary, the state is held together by civil life’ (Marx and Engels, 1975, 121).

Marx’s conceptual framework also changes fundamentally with regard to the revolutionary subject. From an initial reference to ‘suffering humanity’ (Marx 1982, 479), he moves to a specific identification of the proletariat, considering it first as an abstract concept based on dialectical antitheses – the ‘passive element’ (Marx 1975a, 183) of theory –, then, after his first social-economic analysis, as the active element in its own liberation, the only class endowed with revolutionary potential in the capitalist social order.

So, a somewhat vague critique of the political mediation of the state and the economic mediation of money, conceived as obstacles to the realization of a Feuerbachian common human essence, gives way to the critique of a historical relation in which material production begins to appear as the basis for any analysis and transformation of the present: ‘the whole of human servitude [menschliche Knechtschaft] is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and all relations of servitude are but modifications and consequences of this relation’ (Marx 1975d, 280). What Marx proposes is no longer a generic demand for emancipation but a radical transformation of the real process of production.

As he came to these conclusions, Marx was planning various other investigations. After The Holy Family he continued with the studies and excerpts of political economy, outlined a critique of Stirner, drew up a sketch for a work on the state, wrote a series of notes on Hegel, and prepared to draft a critique of the German economist Friedrich List that he went on to complete shortly afterwards. He was unstoppable. Engels begged him to launch his material for the public, because ‘it’s high time, heaven knows!’ (Marx and Engels, 1982, E – Marx Beginning of October 1844, 6). [9] And, before Marx was expelled from Paris,[10] he signed a contract with the Leske publishing house for a two-volume work to be entitled ‘Critique of Politics and Political Economy’. It was necessary to wait fifteen years, however, until 1859, for the first part of his work, the Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, to see the light of day.

The [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] and the books of excerpts and notes convey the direction he took in the first steps of this enterprise. His writings are filled with theoretical elements derived from predecessors and contemporaries. None of the outlines or works from this period can be classified under a single discipline: there are no texts that are purely philosophical, essentially economic or solely political. What emerges from them is not a new system, a homogeneous whole, but a critical theory.

The Marx of 1844 has the capacity to combine experiences of Parisian proletarians with studies of the French Revolution, readings of Adam Smith with the insights of Proudhon, the Silesian weavers’ revolt with a critique of Hegel’s conception of the state, and Buret’s analyses of poverty with communism. He is a Marx who knows how to gather these different fields of knowledge and experience and, by weaving them together, to give birth to a revolutionary theory.

His ideas, and particularly the economic observations that began to develop during his stay in Paris, were not the fruit of a sudden fulmination but the result of a process. The Marxist-Leninist hagiography that held sway for so long used to attribute an impossible immediacy and an instrumental final goal to Marx’s thought, thereby presenting a distorted and highly impoverished account of his path to knowledge. The aim should instead be to reconstruct the genesis, the intellectual debts and the theoretical achievements of Marx’s labours, and to highlight the complexity and richness of a work that still speaks to any critical theory of the present.

Appendix: Chronological table of notebooks containing Marx’s excerpts and manuscripts during his time in Paris





Late 1843 to early 1844

R. Levasseur, Mémoires


The excerpts are contained in pages divided into two columns.

Late 1843 to early 1844

J. B. Say, Traité d’économie politique

B 19

Large-format notebook consisting of pages with excerpts in two columns: on the left from Say’s Traité, on the right (drafted after the composition of B 24) from Skarbek and Say’s Cours complet.

Late 1843 to early 1844

C. W. C. Schüz, Grundsätze der National-Ökonomie

B 24

Large-format notebook with pages in two columns.

Late1843 to early 1844

F. List, Das nationale System der politischen Ökonomie

B 24

Late 1843 to early 1844

H. F. Osiander, Enttäuschung des Publikums über die Interessen des Handels, der Industrie und der Landwirtschaft

B 24

Late1843 to early1844

H. F. Osiander, Über den Handelsverkehr der Völker

B 24

Spring 1844

F. Skarbek, Théorie des richesses sociales

B 19

Spring 1844

J. B. Say, Cours complet d’ économie politique pratique

B 19

May-June 1844

A. Smith, Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations

B 20

Small-format notebook with normal paging.

Late May to June 1844 1844

K. Marx, Arbeitslohn; Gewinn des Capitals; Grundrente; [Entfremdete Arbeit und Privateigentum]

A 7

Large-format notebook with pages in three and two columns. The material consists of quotations from Say, Smith,Die Bewegung der Production by Schulz, Théorie nouvelle d’économie sociale et politique by Pecqueur, Solution du problème de la population et de la substance by Loudon and Buret.

June-July 1844

J. R. MacCulloch, Discours sur l’origine, les progrès, les objets particuliers, et l’importance de l’économie politique

B 21

Small-format notebook with pages in two columns. Exception is page 11, which contains a prospectus of Engels’s article.

June-July 1844

G. Prévost, Reflections du traducteur sur le système de Ricardo

B 21

June-July 1844

F. Engels, Umrisse zu einer Kritik der National-ökonomie

B 21

June-July 1844

A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, Elémens d’Idéologie

B 21

At latest July1844

K. Marx, [Das Verhältnis des Privateigentums]

A 8

Text written on large-format sheets in two columns.

Between July & August 1844

G. W. F., Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes

A 9 (He-gel)

Sheet later put together with A 9.

August 1844

K. Marx, [Privateigentum und Arbeit]; [Privateigentum und Kommunismus];[Kritik der Hegelschen Dialektik und Philosophie überhaupt]; [Privateigentum und Bedürfnisse]; [Zusätze]; [Teilung der Arbeit]; [Vorrede]; [Geld].

A 9

Large-format notebook consisting of quotations from Das entdeckte Christentum by Bauer, from Smith, Destutt de Tracy, Skarbek, J. Mill, Goethe’s Faust, Shakespeare’s Timon von Athen, plus various articles by Bauer from the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. There are also indirect references to: Engels, Say, Ricardo, Quesnay, Proudhon, Cabet, Villegardelle, Owen, Hess, Lauderdale, Malthus, Chevalier, Strauss, Feuerbach, Hegel and Weitling.

September 1844

D. Ricardo, Des principes de l’économie politique et de l’impôt

B 23

Large-format notebook with pages in two or rarely three columns. First two pages, with excerpts from Senofonte, are not divided into columns.

September 1844

J. Mill, Elémens d’économie politique

B 23

Summer 1844 to January 1845

E. Buret, De la misère des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France

B 25

Small-format notebook with normal paging.

Mid-September 1844 to January 1845

P. de Boisguillebert, Le détail de la France

B 26

Large-format notebook with excerpts from Boisguillebert. Normal paging, except for a few pages in two columns.

Mid-September 1844 to January 1845

P. de Boisguillebert, Dissertation sur la nature des richesses, de l’argent et des tributs

B 26

Mid-September 1844 to January 1845

P. de Boisguillebert, Traité de la nature, culture, commerce et intérêt des grains

B 26

Mid-September 1844 to January 1845

J. Law, Considération sur le numéraire et le commerce

B 26

Mid-September 1844 to January 1845

J. Lauderdale, Recherches sur la nature et l’origine de la richesse pubblique

B 22

Large-format notebook with pages in two columns[11]




















































































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Bakunin, Michail. 1982. Ein Briefwechsel von 1843, MEGA², vol. I/2, Berlin: Dietz.

Balzac, Honoré de. 1972. The History of the Thirteen. Ferragus, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Bauer, Bruno (ed.). 1844. Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, vol. 6, Charlottenburg: Verlag von Egbert Bauer.

Berlin, Isaiah. 1963. Karl Marx, 3rd edn., London: Oxford University Press.

Enzensberger, Hans Magnus (ed.). 1973. Gespräche mit Marx und Engels, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp.

Grandjonc, Jacques. 1974. Marx et les communistes allemands à Paris 1844, Paris: Maspero.

Löwy, Michael. 2003. The Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx, Boston: Brill, 2003.

Mandel, Ernest. 1971. The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx, London: New Left Books.

Marx, Karl. 1932a. Der historische Materialismus. Die Frühschriften. ed. by Siegfried Landshut and Jacob Peter Mayer, Leipzig: Alfred Kröner.

Marx, Karl. 1932b. Ökonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte aus dem Jahre 1844, MEGA I/3, Berlin: Marx-Engels-Verlag.

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[1] In this essay the titles of Marx’s incomplete manuscripts, published in various editions, have been placed between square brackets.

[2] See the first-hand testimony of Arnold Ruge: ‘He reads a lot, works with uncommon intensity … but does not see anything through to the end, always leaves things halfway to plunge headlong into an endless sea of books’; he works ‘until it almost makes him ill, not going to bed night after night until three or four’. (A. Ruge to L. Feuerbach, 15 May 1844, quoted and translated from Enzensberger, 1973, pp. 23-4.) ‘If Marx does not kill himself with his intemperance, pride and quite desperate work, and if communist extravagance does not annul in him any sensitivity to the simplicity and nobility of form , something should be expected to come of his endless reading and even his dialectic without a conscience. … He always wants to write about the things he has just finished reading, but then he always starts reading and taking notes again. Sooner or later, however, I think he will succeed in completing a very long and abstruse work, in which he will pour forth all the material he has heaped together’ (A. Ruge to M. Duncker, 29 August 1844, in ibid., p. 28).

[3] See Paul Lafargue’s report of what Engels said about Autumn 1844: ‘Engels and Marx got into the habit of working together. Engels, who was himself extremely precise, lost patience more than once with Marx’s meticulous attitude and refusal to write a sentence if he was unable to prove it in ten different ways’ (quoted and translated from Enzensberger, 1973, p. 29.

[4] On this complex relationship, see Ryazanov 1929, p. xix, which for the first time pointed out how difficult it is to establish a precise boundary between the simple books of excerpts and the notebooks that should be considered true preparatory work.

[5] David McLellan, for example, is guilty of this error in McLellan 1972, pp. 210-11.

[6] Although they in no way exhaust the never-ending debate on Marx’s text, the reader is referred to two of the most important works that advance these respective positions. Landshut and Mayer were the first to read it as ‘in a sense Marx’s central work … the nodal point in his entire conceptual development’, which ‘in nuce already points ahead to Capital’ (Marx 1932a, pp. xiii and v.); while the second approach is present in Althusser’s famous thesis of an ‘epistemological break’ (Althusser, 1969, pp. 33f.)

[7] During this period Marx still read the British economists in French translation.

[8] Marx used the epithet in The Holy Family to designate and deride Bruno Bauer and other Young Hegelians working with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.

[9] Cf. Engels to Marx, 20 January 1845: ‘Do try and finish your political economy book, even if there’s much in it that you yourself are still dissatisfied with, it doesn’t really matter; minds are ripe and we must strike while the iron is hot’ (Marx and Engels, 1982, E—Marx 20/1/1845, p. 17).

[10] On pressure from the Prussian government, the French authorities issued an expulsion order against various people around Vorwärts! Marx was forced to leave Paris on 1 February 1845.

[11] The chronology includes all the study notebooks that Marx wrote during his stay in Paris from 1843 to 1845. As the exact date of composition of the notebooks is often uncertain, it has in many cases been necessary to indicate the presumed time span, with the chronological order determined by the initial point in the time span. Moreover, Marx did not compile the notebooks one after another, but in writing sometimes alternated between them (e.g., B 19 and B 24). For this reason, it has been preferable to arrange the material on the basis of the different parts of the notebooks. The notebooks containing the so-called [Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts] of 1844 (A 7, A 8 and A 9) directly indicate Marx as the author and include in square brackets the section headings not chosen by him but allocated to the text by later editors. Finally, when the fourth column (Features of Notebooks) does not specify the titles of author’s works quoted by Marx, these always correspond to the ones already mentioned in the second column (Content of Notebooks). With the exception of MH, which is held at Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii (RGASPI) in Moscow, under the heading ‘RGASPI f1, op. 1, d. 124’, all the notebooks from this period are kept at the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG) in Amsterdam, under the heading indicated in the third column (Nachlaß) of the table.