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Theories of Surplus Value (German: Theorien über den Mehrwert) is a draft manuscript written by Karl Marx between January 1862 and July 1863.[1] It is mainly concerned with the West European theorizing about Mehrwert (added value or surplus value) from about 1750, critically examining the ideas of British, French and German political economists about wealth creation and the profitability of industries.[2] At issue are the source, forms and determinants of the magnitude of surplus-value[3] and Marx tries to explain how after failing to solve basic contradictions in its labour theories of value the classical school of political economy eventually broke up, leaving only "vulgar political economy" which no longer tried to provide a consistent, integral theory of capitalism, but instead offered only an eclectic amalgam of theories which seemed pragmatically useful or which justified the rationality of the market economy.[4][5]

Background

Theories of Surplus Value was part of the large Economic Manuscripts of 1861–1863, entitled by Marx A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and written as the immediate sequel to the first part of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy published in 1859. The total 1861–1863 manuscript consists of 23 notebooks (the pages numbered consecutively from 1 to 1472) running to some 200 printed sheets in length. It is the first systematically worked out draft of all four volumes of Capital, although still only rough and incomplete. Theories of Surplus Value forms the longest (about 110 printed sheets) and most fully elaborated part of this huge manuscript, and it is the first and only draft of the fourth, concluding volume of Capital. As distinguished from the three theoretical volumes of Das Kapital, Marx called this volume the historical, historico-critical, or historico-literary part of his work.[6]

Karl Marx as he appeared in the 1860s

Marx began to write Theories of Surplus Value within the framework of the original plan of his Critique of Political Economy as he had projected in 1858–1862. On the basis of what Marx says about the structure of his work in his introduction to the first part of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, in his letters of 1858–1862 and in the 1861–1863 manuscript itself, this plan titled Plan for the Critique of Political Economy can be presented in the following schematic form as projected by Marx in 1858–1862:

  1. Capital:
    1. Introduction: Commodity and Money
    2. Capital in general:
      1. The production process of capital:
        1. Transformation of money into capital
        2. Absolute surplus-value
        3. Relative surplus-value
        4. The combination of both
        5. Theories of surplus-value
      2. The circulation process of capital
      3. The unity of the two, or capital and profit
    3. The competition of capitals
    4. Credit
    5. Share capital
  2. Landed property
  3. Wage-labour
  4. The state
  5. Foreign trade
  6. The world-market

Theories of Surplus Value was originally conceived by Marx only as a historical excursion in the section of his theoretical study of "capital in general". This was to conclude the section on the process of production of capital. This ambitious plan proved to be more than Marx could undertake as he was effectively burned out before he had completed the study of capital. Even the publication of Theories of Surplus Value did not make all of Marx's writing on political economy available to the public and this task was only fulfilled decades later with the publication of the Grundrisse, the Results of the Immediate Production Process and various other manuscripts.

Publication history

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy published in 1859. The total 1861–1863 manuscript consists of 23 notebooks (the pages numbered consecutively from 1 to 1472) running to some 200 printed sheets in length. It is the first systematically worked out draft of all four volumes of Capital, although still only rough and incomplete. Theories of Surplus Value forms the longest (about 110 printed sheets) and most fully elaborated part of this huge manuscript, and it is the first and only draft of the fourth, concluding volume of Capital. As distinguished from the three theoretical volumes of Das Kapital, Marx called this volume the historical, historico-critical, or historico-literary part of his work.[6]

Karl Marx as he appeared in the 1860s

Marx began to write Theories of Surplus Value within the framework of the original plan of his Critique of Political Economy as he had projected in 1858–1862. On the basis of what Marx says about the structure of his work in his introduction to the first part of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, in his letters of 1858–1862 and in the 1861–1863 manuscript itself, this plan titled Plan for the Critique of Political Economy can be presented in the following schematic form as projected by Marx in 1858–1862:

  1. Capital:
    1. Introduction: Commodity and Money
    2. Capital in general:
      1. The production process of capital:
        1. Transfor

          Marx began to write Theories of Surplus Value within the framework of the original plan of his Critique of Political Economy as he had projected in 1858–1862. On the basis of what Marx says about the structure of his work in his introduction to the first part of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, in his letters of 1858–1862 and in the 1861–1863 manuscript itself, this plan titled Plan for the Critique of Political Economy can be presented in the following schematic form as projected by Marx in 1858–1862:

          1. Capital:
            1. Introduction: Commodity and Money
            2. Capital in general:
              1. The production process of capital:
                1. Transformation of money into capital
                2. Absolute surplus-value
                3. Relative surplus-value
                4. The combination of both
                5. Theories of surplus-value
              2. The circulation process of capital
              3. The unity of the two, or capital and profit
            3. The competition of capitals
            4. Credit
            5. Share capital
          2. Landed property
          3. Wage-labour
          4. The state
          5. Foreign trade
          6. The world-market

          Theories of Surplus Value was originally conceived by Marx only as a historical e

          Theories of Surplus Value was originally conceived by Marx only as a historical excursion in the section of his theoretical study of "capital in general". This was to conclude the section on the process of production of capital. This ambitious plan proved to be more than Marx could undertake as he was effectively burned out before he had completed the study of capital. Even the publication of Theories of Surplus Value did not make all of Marx's writing on political economy available to the public and this task was only fulfilled decades later with the publication of the Grundrisse, the Results of the Immediate Production Process and various other manuscripts.

          Publication history

          Volume II of Das Kapital and in several letters during the following ten years, Friedrich Engels had indicated his intention to publish the manuscript of Theories of Surplus Value, which was to form Volume IV. However, although he succeeded in publishing the second and third volume of Das Kapital, Engels was unable to publish the Theories before he died in 1895.

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