The Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy

The Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy

Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) Karl Marx, Translated by Martin Nicolaus, Foreword by Martin Nicolaus

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 912 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 42mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 7 November 1993
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140445757
  • ISBN 13: 9780140445756
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 32,733

Product description

Written during the winter of 1857-8, the "Grundrisse" was considered by Marx to be the first scientific elaboration of communist theory. A collection of seven notebooks on capital and money, it both develops the arguments outlined in the Communist Manifesto (1848) and explores the themes and theses that were to dominate his great later work "Capital". Here, for the first time, Marx set out his own version of Hegel's dialectics and developed his mature views on labour, surplus value and profit, offering many fresh insights into alienation, automation and the dangers of capitalist society. Yet while the theories in "Grundrisse" make it a vital precursor to "Capital", it also provides invaluable descriptions of Marx's wider-ranging philosophy, making it a unique insight into his beliefs and hopes for the foundation of a communist state.

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Author information

Karl Marx (1818-1883). The core of Marx's economic analysis found early expression in the Okonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte aus dem Jahre 1844 (Economic and Political Manuscripts of 1844) (1844). There, Marx argued that the conditions of modern industrial societies invariably result in the estrangement (or alienation) of workers from their own labor. In his review of a Bruno Baier book, On the Jewish Question (1844), Marx decried the lingering influence of religion over politics and proposed a revolutionary re-structuring of European society. Much later, Marx undertook a systematic explanation of his economic theories in Das Kapital (Capital) (1867-95) and Theorien uber den Mehrwert (Theory of Surplus Value) (1862).

Editorial reviews

Notwithstanding its deficiencies, this is a publishing event of magnitude for Anglo-American intellectuals. The Grundrisse, as it is always called (its full title would be Basic Principles of the Critique of Political Economy) forms a crucial and intrinsically electrifying link between Marx's early work, his 1850's economic studies, and Capital itself; the manuscripts which compose it were lost for decades, and the work was generally unavailable in the West until 1953. In English, only tiny excerpts have appeared by way of Gorz, Marcuse, Lichtheim, Fischer and Marek; Hobsbawm presented bigger slices in Precapitalist Economic Formations (1965}. McLellan's translation is not only readable but elegant. However. McLellan, perhaps the most prominent British Marxologist (a term homologous with "entomologist," not "Marxist"), fails to tell us what he has cut or why in this selection - by no means a slight selection, but far too slender to merit the Grundrisse title tout court. The excerpts are broken into very brief chapters with one-sentence prefaces and roughly analytic titles like "Capital and Labor as Productive and Unproductive," "Exchange Relationships in Feudal and Capitalist Society," "Individuals and Society," etc. The Introduction, which focuses on the biographical externalities of Marx's compositions, is inadequate. McLellan briefly and rightly suggests that as a supremely comprehensive outline draft of Capital, the Grundrisse can be viewed as Marx's "most fundamental" work, given the incompleteness of Capital; but he doesn't even try to locate these writings in the substance of Marx's theoretical development, and in a most anti-Marxian spirit he refers to the key "noneconomic" elements as "digressions," though affirming their importance. More might have been expected from the author of the interesting and useful Marx Before Marxism (1970). But all the donnishness and skimpiness cannot extinguish the historical and theoretical importance of this work (Martin Nicolaus has given the fullest English precis so far in a 1968 New Left Review article). Finally, McLellan tells us that another translator's complete English version will not be available for a few years. (Kirkus Reviews)