Marx-Engels Correspondence 1867
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 407;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
I have received no further corrected proofs [of the first volume of Capital] since the 2 last that I sent you. I am exceedingly vexed with Meissner. He has obviously held back what Wigand has sent him in order to send everything at once — and save 4d. postage!
The same Meissner wrote me last week that he is printing a certain part of my preface specially (and he has indeed made the right choice) to send to the German newspapers. I wrote asking him to send me copies of it at once. I reckoned that you would translate the thing into English (I shall then give it to The Bee-Hive, which is taken by Mill, Beesly, Harrison, etc.), and Lafargue with Laura’s help into French for the Courrier franšais, finally I wanted to send one copy to my correspondent in America. To save the 4d., Meissner has sent nothing. He will be sending it all together. But a great deal of time is lost in the process!
The best points in my book are: 1. (this is fundamental to all understanding of the facts) the two-fold character of labour according to whether it is expressed in use-value or exchange-value, which is brought out in the very First Chapter; 2. the treatment of surplus-value regardless of its particular forms as profit, interest, ground rent, etc. This will be made clear in the second volume especially. The treatment of the particular forms in classical political economy, where they are for ever being jumbled up together with the general form, is an olla potrida.
Please enter your desiderata, critical remarks, queries, etc., on the corrected proofs. This is very important for me, as I am reckoning on a 2nd edition sooner or later. As regards Chapter IV, it was a hard job finding things themselves i.e., their interconnection. But with that once behind me, along came one Blue Book after another just as I was composing the final version and I was delighted to find my theoretical conclusions fully confirmed by the facts. Finally, it was written to the accompaniment of carbuncles and daily dunning by creditors!
For the conclusion to the 2nd book (Process of Circulation), which I am writing now, I am again obliged to seek your advice on one point, as I did many years ago.
Fixed capital only has to be replaced in natura after, say, 10 years. In the meantime, its value returns partially and gradatim, as the goods that it has produced are sold. This progressive return of the fixed capital is only required for its replacement (aside from repairs and the like) when it becomes defunct in its material form, e.g., as a machine. Prior to that, however, these successive returns are in the capitalist’s possession.
Many years ago I wrote to you that it seemed to me that in this manner an accumulation fund was being built up, since in the intervening period the capitalist was of course using the returned money, before replacing the capital fixe with it. You disagreed with this somewhat superficially in a letter. I later found that MacCulloch describes this sinking fund as an accumulation fund. Being convinced that no idea of MacCulloch’s could ever be right, I let the matter drop. His apologetic purpose here has already been refuted by the Malthusians, but they, too, admit the fact.
Now, as a manufacturer, you must know what you do with the returns on capital fixe before the time it has to be replaced in natura. And you must answer this point for me (without theorising, in purely practical terms).
(Salut to Mrs Lizzy!)
The children are still at Royan, near Bordeaux.