We have begun from the presuppositions of political economy. We
have accepted its terminology and its laws. We presupposed private
property; the separation of labour, capital and land, as also of
wages, profit and rent; the division of labour; competition; the
concept of exchange value, etc. (Marx 120).
The contents of the account given by the "Level of Understanding"
of social reality, once they have been released from the divisive,
inflexible boundaries of the "scientific" categories,
become the contents of the dialectical critic's reconstruction.
This reconstruction describes and analyzes the same phenomenon,
but as a process of self-development.27
At this point, the positive aspect of the dialectic, the critic
no longer confines her/his interest to the description of social
reality provided by the "Level of Understanding," but
is now in a position to utilize this description to carry out her/his
own reconstruction of this reality. This reconstruction rests on
the simple premise that everything within the coordinates of time
and space is finite, and that everything finite is changeable.28
Hence any social reality must be understood as a process of change,
as a something-in-transition, not as an inflexible, unchanging constant.
The positive aspect of the dialectical method seeks to identify
and explain the hidden dynamic that propels and shapes a particular
process of social change, from its earliest origins to its final
and most developed stage. This hidden dynamic is characterized by
the dialectical method as a process of self-development. The process
of self-development provides the integrating link between successive
stages of development and reveals, at any given stage, the inner
interconnections among the variety of simultaneous, and apparently
unconnected, external phenomena. The dialectical critic's unifying
concept of self-development thus stands in sharp contrast to the
many categories and sub-categories employed by the "Level of
Understanding" to analyze and organize the empirical data of
the external world and of historical events.
On page XXII [See Section 10.4 of the dissertation], Marx recapitulates
the results of his immanent critique carried out in the core pages
of his notebook, and states: "Political economy begins with
the fact of private property; it does not explain it" (Marx
120). Marx's examination of private property, an institution which
the Wealth of Nations leaves totally unexplained,29
is carried out in the outer sheets of his notebook. He treats it
not as an unchanging given, but as "the movement of private
property" (Marx; 115). He locates its historical origin in
feudal society (Marx 1l4-l19) and traces the transition from feudalism
to capitalism as "the real course of development" from
which "there follows the necessary victory of the capitalist,
i.e., of developed private property, over undeveloped, immature
private property, the landowner" (Marx 143). He criticizes
classical political economy for failing "to understand the
interconnexions within this movement (Marx 121). However, the inner
dynamic of this movement, the principle of self-development, is
not private property itself, but labor: labor understood not as
acquisitive activity but as "the direct relationship between
the worker (work) and production" (Marx 124, emphasis Marx's),
a relationship which is always a relationship of alienated labor
in a society in which the producers do not own and control their
own conditions of production. Private property therefore is "the
product, the necessary result, of alienated labor" (Marx 131,
emphasis Marx's). Marx sums up his achievement in this, his first
manuscript of 1844 as follows:
"We have already done much to solve the problem in so far as
we have transformed the question concerning the origin of private
property into a question about the relation between alienated labor
and the process of development of mankind. For in speaking of private
property one believes oneself to be dealing with something external
to mankind." (Marx 133, emphasis Marx's).
Although he acknowledges that the task of reconstruction is not
yet complete, he claims that
"with the aid of these two factors [i.e., private property
and alienated labour] we can evolve all the categories of political
economy, and in every category', i.e., trade, competition, capital,
money, we shall discover only a particular and developed expression
of these fundamental elements (Marx 133, emphasis Marx's)."
Thus Marx's theory of alienation in 1844 was explicitly an attempt
to reunify the content of political economy, by replacing the categories
of classical political economy with two fundamental, mutually-determining
and all-embracing concepts. By introducing the concept of alienated
labor into the study of the production-process, Marx transformed
the science of political economy into a scathing and revolutionary
critique of contemporary capitalist society, a critique that finds
its most mature expression in Marx's reconstruction of the capitalist
process of production in Capital, Vols. I to III.
How to Understand the Pagination of Marx's 1844 Notebook I
It is almost impossible to explain the pagination of Marx's notebook
without having a three-dimensional facsimile to display. The following
steps offer the quickest way of making up such a facsimile of Marx's
notebook I (the First Manuscript). These steps, however, reverse
Marx's own procedure in compiling the original notebook, insofar
as Marx wrote and numbered his pages before he sewed them into a
1. The Core-Notebook
Step 1. Take four sheets of paper, lay them on top of one another,
and fold the whole lot in two. Staple them together through the
Step 2. Turn your blank "notebook" sideways so that the
folded edge is at the top. Write I in the top left-hand corner of
the first page.
Step 3. Turn the whole pad over so that the page at the bottom of
your pad is the one you have just written I on, and the uppermost
page is now blank with the folded edge at the top. Write II in the
top left-hand corner of this page.
Step 4. Flip over this page (II) and fold it back. Turn the whole
pad over so that the page you have just folded over is uppermost
(this page will be blank, but its reverse side has II written on
it) and so that the folded edge is at the top. Write III on the
top left-hand corner of this page.
Step 5. Turn the whole pad over so that the bottom page is now III,
and the uppermost page is blank with the folded edge at the top.
Write IV in the top left-hand corner of this page.
Step 6. Flip over this page (IV) and fold it back. Turn the whole
pad over so that the bottom page and the uppermost page are both
blank (the folded edge should still be at the top). Write V in the
top left-hand corner of this page.
Step 7. Continue numbering the pages, repeating step 5 for the even
numbers and step 6 for the odd numbers. When you have written the
last even number (XVI) you will find you cannot repeat step 6. The
reverse side of XVI has already been numbered I, and all 16 pages
of the pad have been numbered.
2. The Outer Sheets
Step 8. Take five sheets of paper and repeat step I.
Step 9. Repeat step 2, but write XVII instead of I.
Step 10. Repeat step 3, but write XVIII instead of II.
Step 11. Repeat step 4, but write XIX instead of III.
Step 12. Repeat step 5 for even numbers XX through XXVI, and step
6 for odd numbers XXI through XXVII.
Now play around with each notebook and see if it is possible to
turn the pages of each in such a way that the numbers read consecutively.
3. The Notebook as a Whole
Step 13. Fit the two pads together by laying the five-page pad (the
outer sheets) flat so that the pages numbered XVII and XVIII are
uppermost, and by placing the four-pages (the core-notebook), also
opened out flat, so that the uppermost pages are the center pages
numbered X and XI, and the bottom pages lying on the outer sheets
are those numbered I and II. Staple the whole notebook together
through the center fold, and fold it in two again.
Step 14. Turn the notebook so that the folded edge is now the left-hand
side. On the outermost page which is still blank, write Notebook
Step 15. Still with the folded edge on the left, turn the page,
leave the reverse side of Notebook I blank, and write Bibliography.
You can now compare your facsimile with the diagram below.
At the end of the first procedure, and again at the end of the second
procedure, you should have been able to discover a way of turning
the pages of your core notebook and your outer sheets so that you
can read the numbers consecutively. Now that you have completed
the third procedure and produced a facsimile of Marx's notebook
I as a whole, is it still possible to turn the pages of the notebook
in such a way that the numbers read consecutively?
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The Hypertext Manuscripts of Karl Marx, Paris 1844
Copyright Gary Tedman 2001
last modified: 10/8/01 10:52:11 PM