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Marx and Engels, The German Ideology

  • C. J. Arthur

Extract

The texts before us are relatively early works. They predate the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848. Their importance lies in this: that here historical materialism is outlined and defended for the first time. This new philosophy is elaborated in the course of Marx and Engels' effort to settle accounts with previous German philosophy—and, perhaps, with philosophy as such. The new outlook is developed, therefore, in the context of polemic against Hegel and Feuerbach, precisely the thinkers that they most admired earlier in fact.

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1 Marx, K. and Engels, F., The German Ideology, 2nd edn, Arthur, C. J. (ed.) (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1974). This also contains Marx's Theses on Feuerbach and his 1857 Introduction to a Critique of Political Economy. Page numbers in the text below refer to this volume. Note the following errata: page 7 line 2, read ‘dialectic’; page 7 note 1, read ‘mystification’; page 7 one line from bottom, insert ‘2’; page 94 last line, delete last comma.

2 Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick, Selected Works, 3 vols, Vol. One (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969), 502504.

3 Selected Works, Vol. One, 113.

4 Selected Works, Vol. One, 504.

5 Marx, Karl, Capital, Vol. One (London: Penguin Books, 1976), 175176.

6 The Essence of Christianity [1841], trans. Evans, Marian (George Eliot) (reissued New York, 1957), 5. ‘Contemplation’ here=‘Beschauung’.

7 The Fiery Brook, selected writings of Feuerbach, Ludwig, trans. Hanfi, Zawar (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1972), 56.

8 Mill, J. S., A System of Logic [1843] (London: Longmans, 1965), Book 6, ‘On the Logic of the Moral Sciences’, Ch. VII, 573.

10 ‘We presuppose labour in a form in which it is an exclusively human characteristic … what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is that the architect builds the cell in his mind before he constructs it in wax. … Man not only effects a change of form on the material of nature; he also realizes his own purpose in those materials’ (Capital, Vol. One, 283284).

11 Capital, Vol. One, 477.

12 Fourier, C., Oeuvres completes Tome VI (Paris, 19661968), 68.

13 Marx's Grundrisse, trans. Nicolaus, M. (London: Penguin Books, 1973), 704706.

14 See Capital, Vol. Three (London: Penguin Books, 1981), 958959.

15 Selected Works, Vol. One, 395.

16 Capital, Vol. One, 91. The necessity inheres in ‘the economic law of motion of modern society’ (92). This is misquoted, in a very significant way, by Popper, Karl, in his Poverty of Historicism (London: Routledge, 1961) as ‘the economic law of motion of human society’ (p. 49). (My emphases.)

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