Friday, August 18, 2006


Finding Marx's text, and some other useful texts.

This short article by Murray Kane sketches some ideas from the Grundrisse relevant to today, and especially to the problems of the labour movement in recent decades: Marx's Grundrisse and capitalism today.
A longer version of the article can be found in the book The Point of Change, edited by Carole Ferrier and Rebecca Pelan (Australian Studies Centre, University of Queensland, 1998).

The whole text of the Grundrisse itself is available online at the Marx-Engels Internet Archive, so you can easily print off selected passages from the Web.
The English translation of the Grundrisse (published by Penguin) is still in print. The cheapest way to get it is secondhand, for example from Abebooks; but it costs only $20-odd new online from Bookworm or Angus and Robertson.

For those who find the whole book too daunting, a useful resource is a small book of selections from Grundrisse produced in 1973 by David McLellan. It's out of print, I think, but readily and cheaply available secondhand, for example at Abebooks.

There isn't, as far as I know, anything written as an easy introduction to the Grundrisse, of the same sort as the various introductions to Capital. Maybe from this reading group we'll be able to produce notes which will do the job.
The major book discussing the Grundrisse is Roman Rosdolsky's massive work The Making of Marx's Capital (also available online from Dymocks; there are currently no copies available secondhand on Abebooks Australia, but you can easily get a copy cheap from Abebooks international, as long as you're prepared to pay the international postage.
However, Rosdolsky's book is not an introduction, but a big work of theory in its own right, with long discussions of how the Grundrisse relates to Capital; how later Marxists, Rosa Luxemburg for example, have taken up issues indicated in the Grundrisse; and how the Grundrisse helps to answer the criticisms of Marx's theory by such writers as Joan Robinson.
The other well-known book discussing the Grundrisse is Antonio Negri's Marx after Marx. But Negri, whatever the value or otherwise of his ideas, is certainly more obscure than Marx himself: his book is neither designed as, nor suitable as, an introduction.

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