Fay contd/..

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 notebook.

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 center fold.

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 I.

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