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The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844: and the Communist Manifesto (Great Books in Philosophy) [Paperback]

Karl Marx , Friedrich Engels , Martin Milligan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 1988 Great Books in Philosophy
Communism as a political movement attained global importance after the Bolsheviks toppled the Russian Czar in 1917. After that time the works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, especially the influential Communist Manifesto (1848), enjoyed an international audience. The world was to learn a new political vocabulary peppered with "socialism," "capitalism," "the working class," "the bourgeoisie," "labor theory of value," "alienation," "economic determinism," "dialectical materialism," and "historical materialism." Marx's economic analysis of history has been a powerful legacy, the effects of which continue to be felt world-wide.

Serving as the foundation for Marx's indictment of capitalism is his extraordinary work titled Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, written in 1844 but published nearly a century later. Here Marx offers his theory of human nature and an analysis of emerging capitalism's degenerative impact on man's sense of self and his creative potential. What is man's true nature? How did capitalism gain such a foothold on Western society? What is alienation and how does it threaten to undermine the proletariat?

These and other vital questions are addressed as the youthful Marx sets forth his first detailed assessment of the human condition.

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The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844: and the Communist Manifesto (Great Books in Philosophy) + Capital: Volumes One and Two (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 Mar 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087975446X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879754464
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.9 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 812,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two classic arguments against capitalism 31 Jan 2004
By ldxar1
Format:Paperback
This volume combines two texts from early in Marx's writing career: the 1844 Manuscripts, his first written work, and the 1848 Communist Manifesto, which for many scholars marks the turning-point into Marx's "mature" work.
The Manuscripts were written when Marx was still an adherent of the "Young Hegelian" philosophical school he was to repudiate in The German Ideology, and the text is awash with technical and philosophical terminology. There is some controversy over whether or not Marx's later work (such as Capital) represents a continuation of the theses developed here. Readers of a "postmodern" disposition will no doubt be irritated by the Manuscripts' blatant essentialism, and Marx's almost subjectivist philosophising in the Manuscripts is an embarassment to those (supporters and opponents alike) who want to pigeonhole him as a gross economic determinist. The Manuscripts were central to the emergence of "Western Marxism" in the twentieth century and were a point of departure for many who aspired to develop a humanist Marxism in opposition to the anti-human, productivist dogmas of the Stalinist and post-Stalinist leaders of the USSR. The concept of "species-being" has also gained some recent interest from scholars wishing to incorporate Marx into an ecological political agenda.
Perhaps the most important contribution of the Manuscripts is the idea of alienation or "estrangement", contained most especially in the section entitled "Estranged Labour" but also running through the text as a more general theme. Marx's basic thesis is that it is the agency of workers in creating and altering physical objects which is the motor-force behind social life and which expresses the essence of human beings.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx's true theory 21 July 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Karl Marx. His ideas have been interpreted and reinterpreted time and time again. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Luxembourg, Debs, and countless others have used him, some of them more faithfully than others. Most people see Marx as the older Capital Marx. Yet these manuscripts show his true spirit, his devotion to mankind, and why democracy cannot be accomplished without communism. Marx here convincingly shows why capitalism alienates man from man and why equality cannot be accomplished under it. These texts are easily ten times more important than Capital. You can see the youth in this book, the yearning for a better society, and a man with the ideas to do so. If you are opposed to communism, read this book before making any more denouncements. If you believe, this book will show you that Marx was truly for mankind, that he had very little to do with the so-called communist countries today. Also included are a work by Engels attacking the other forms of socialism, all of which are undemocratic socialism-from-above. Finally, the Communist Manifesto is included, for those who want to see a concise outline of what communism is really about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Philosophical Marx 29 April 2011
By Antonis
Format:Paperback
While Marx's later works (Grundrisse, Capital etc) have a solid focus on the scientific interpretation and analysis of history, society and political economy, one gets the feeling that this is quite absent in such early works like the Manuscripts of 1844. Marx is clearly taking a philosophical approach in his discussions in the Manuscripts, and while it is true that the effects of his philosophy are still evident in his later works, in the Manuscripts the difference between the so called young and mature Marx, is quite clear. Of course, that is not to say that the views of the young Marx oppose that of the mature - rather, there is a shift of focus from philosophy to science between the two. In a sense, one can be seen to complete the other.

The Manuscripts of 1844 are a text that is still relevant and influential in the social sciences. Major ideas are examined here, such as the theory of alienation, and an early construction of the later economic theories of Marx. As a philosophical and anthropological key text, the Manuscripts are a valuable source for intellectual curiosity and theoretical analysis. However, one has to consider that they are not an easy read, since they are unfinished and incomplete. Large parts of the Manuscripts are quotations from the works of major economic thinkers of the time, making the text a difficult read. I would advice it for anyone interested, but consider its difficulty before attempting to read it.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marx's true theory 21 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Karl Marx. His ideas have been interpreted and reinterpreted time and time again. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Luxembourg, Debs, and countless others have used him, some of them more faithfully than others. Most people see Marx as the older Capital Marx. Yet these manuscripts show his true spirit, his devotion to mankind, and why democracy cannot be accomplished without communism. Marx here convincingly shows why capitalism alienates man from man and why equality cannot be accomplished under it. These texts are easily ten times more important than Capital. You can see the youth in this book, the yearning for a better society, and a man with the ideas to do so. If you are opposed to communism, read this book before making any more denouncements. If you believe, this book will show you that Marx was truly for mankind, that he had very little to do with the so-called communist countries today. Also included are a work by Engels attacking the other forms of socialism, all of which are undemocratic socialism-from-above. Finally, the Communist Manifesto is included, for those who want to see a concise outline of what communism is really about
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blueprint for Economic Democracy 10 Oct 2005
By James Greene - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Many people have sounded the Death Knell of Marx with the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the 80's and 90's. Many who have been interested in Marx read 'The Communist Manifesto' an admitedly dated work and never go beyond it. It must be remembered the Manifesto was a simplified form of practical ideas printed to drive the working class to action.

Marx was a student of Hegel, a notoriously difficult and deep philosopher to understand, but it shaped Marx to a degree that few understand. Marx was more than an economic philoshpher, he was an astute observer of psychology, sociology and anthropology. All of his philosophy shines in clarity in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.

Of all of Marx's works we see most the thesis and theory devised from his understanding of the human condition through historical analysis. This work is the most accessable, easily understood work by this great thinker. If you have the desire to truly understand a major influence for the framework of many socialized democracies of modern Europe, the drives for nationhood and equality that rocked Europe in revolt in 1848 or desire to truly understand the whole theory of Marx this small book is an absolute must.

Marx was a both a materialist and process theorist in philosophical terms. His later socio-econmic works were a sort of working blueprint based upon the historical, psyhcological, sociolgoical, economic and anthropologic theories laid down in this work.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer for understanding today's global economic mess 23 May 2009
By not a natural - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Social theorists, Marxists among them, often make a sharp distinction between Marx's early work, especially the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, and everything that came after The German Ideology. In this view, the early Marx was a social philosopher who had not yet promulgated a method or constructed a coherent conceptual framework, while his later work, especially the first volume of Capital, escaped the soft amorphousness of social philosophy and gave us rigorous social and economic science through application of historical materialism. There may be merit to this distinction, but I think that, at best, it is vastly overdrawn.

Either explicitly or by unmistakable implication, the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts give us nearly all the basic and most compelling ideas that provide the foundation for Marx's later work. The objectively determined antagonism between capital and labor is explained with clarity and force. The fact that capital and labor constitute classes in a macro-level sense, rather than through reference to characteristics of individuals or status groups seems undeniable. The structural determination of behavior takes the focus off ostensibly rapacious capitalists and laboring class victims, making notions like "good guys," "bad guys," and even free will seem obsolete and beside the point. Determinism is the watchword.

Perhaps the most insightful and interesting observation in the Manuscripts is Marx's conclusion that the more workers produce the stronger the hand of capital. The more productive the worker the more he undercuts his position with respect to capital. Technological innovations, for example, make workers more productive, but they also reduce the demand for labor and reduce labor costs.

When Marx wrote the Economic and Philosophical manuscripts he had not yet made the distinction between labor and labor power, and the commoditization of labor was less clear. Furthermore, he had not yet augmented use value and exchange value with his own notion of value, measurable units which could be objectively quantified in terms of labor power. The distinction between labor and labor power, however, seems obvious even if unstated in the Manuscripts, and Marx's elaborated account of value has always seemed to generate confusion, raising all sorts of measurement problems which seem unlikely to be solved. Thorstein Veblen, generally sympathetic toward Marx's work, dismissed the labor theory of value as unduly metaphysical; probably as good a characterization as any.

To his credit, toward the end of the Manuscripts, Marx engages in an hypothetical discussion of something he calls "primitive communism." This is a world fraught with envy and resentment, the product of a premature effort to produce a genuinely communist society. This illustration was used to emphasize Marx's admission that he did not know what form a genuinely communist or socialist society would take. Instead, this was something that would have to emerge historically.

At the risk of gross over-simplification, I'll offer a Marxist explanation of the economic mess we share today: too many laboring people make too little money and are forced to rely on credit offered by the capitalist class. When borrowers are completely tapped out, unable to pay what they've borrowed, the system collapses. Fundamentally, this is not because loans were unduly risky, but because most people had so little that risky loans were essential to maintaining the bare rudiments of a lower-middle class life style.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Marxism 12 May 2002
By Costas Foren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With the crumbling of the Berlin Wall--symbolizing for many the end of the relevance of Marx's political theory--and the veering toward a "third way" (read, neo-liberal way) in various Western European countries by formerly avowed socialist parties, Marxism, and its brand of socialism, is now universally assumed to be an historical artifact, and maybe neither a very interesting nor productive one at that.
"The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844" offers a point of rebuttal to those neo-liberals and their quick-handed assumptions that the totality of Marx's theory can be gleaned from The Communist Manifesto, a work written with the intention of motivating political action.
The "Manuscripts" is an essential read for those seeking Marx's revlevancy in the 21st century.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Philosophical Marx 29 April 2011
By Antonis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While Marx's later works (Grundrisse, Capital etc) have a solid focus on the scientific interpretation and analysis of history, society and political economy, one gets the feeling that this is quite absent in such early works like the Manuscripts of 1844. Marx is clearly taking a philosophical approach in his discussions in the Manuscripts, and while it is true that the effects of his philosophy are still evident in his later works, in the Manuscripts the difference between the so called young and mature Marx, is quite clear. Of course, that is not to say that the views of the young Marx oppose that of the mature - rather, there is a shift of focus from philosophy to science between the two. In a sense, one can be seen to complete the other.

The Manuscripts of 1844 are a text that is still relevant and influential in the social sciences. Major ideas are examined here, such as the theory of alienation, and an early construction of the later economic theories of Marx. As a philosophical and anthropological key text, the Manuscripts are a valuable source for intellectual curiosity and theoretical analysis. However, one has to consider that they are not an easy read, since they are unfinished and incomplete. Large parts of the Manuscripts are quotations from the works of major economic thinkers of the time, making the text a difficult read. I would advice it for anyone interested, but consider its difficulty before attempting to read it.
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