Marx-Engels Correspondence 1867

Marx To Victor Schily
In Paris


Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 487;
First published: in Marx and Engels, Works, First Russian Edition, 1934.


London, 30 November 1867

Dear Schily,

I wrote to Meissner as soon as I received your letter and asked him to send you a copy of the book [Volume One of Capital] for Reclus. I believe Reclus to be just the man to undertake the French translation, with German co-operation. In a translation, I would indicate certain changes to be made in several parts and, at the same time, reserve the right to carry out the final revision myself.

What should be done, in the first instance, and as quickly as possible, is to bring out passages from the book in the Courrier franšais. I do not see why Hess should need to involve any third person for this. He would best do it by himself. I also think that the topic he had in mind on English factory legislation is the most suitable as an introduction. However, even that cannot be treated without a few introductory words about the theory of value, as Proudhon has sown total confusion in people’s minds on that subject. They believe that a commodity is sold for its value if it is sold for its prix de revient [prime cost] = price of the means of production which have been consumed in it, + wages (or price of the labour added to the means of production). They do not see that the unpaid labour which is contained in the commodity constitutes just as fundamental an element of value as the labour which has been paid for, and that this element of value now takes the form of profit, etc. They have no idea what wages are. Without an understanding of the nature of value, arguments about the working day, etc., in short, the factory laws, have no basis. A few words of introduction on this subject are thus called for.

My publisher is satisfied with sales in Germany. The liberal and vulgar-economist gang is, of course, seeking to harm it as much as they can by their tried and tested method of conspiration de silence. But this time they will not succeed.

I am here enclosing 1 copy of Liebknecht for you. You will see from the back page that he is bringing out a little weekly paper of his own in the coming weeks. I am to request contributions from you from Paris. (His address: 11 Braustrasse, Mr Miller.) I have given him a dressing-down for the phrase about the ‘social question’ (in the supplement) and ditto drew his attention to the fact that he should avoid uncritical stand of the South Germans in his polemic against Bismarck. What should already have perplexed him is the fact that Jakobus Venedey has become his admirer.

For all that Liebknecht’s bold stand in the Reichstag has done good.

The whole family send you their warmest greetings.

Your
A. Williams

The movement is on the march here!