Okay I know this is silly but I can’t help it. Like I said before, Colin sent me a copy of v1 of Capital in German. I noticed that the chapter numbers and sections are different for v1 of Capital in German vs in English. There are 25 chapters in the German and 31 in the English. I wrote a post on this, most of which is below, but then I thought I figured it out and now I’m not sure. It doesn’t help that all my Marx is packed in boxes except this German copy (v23 of the Marx-Engels Werke).

Capital v1 was first published in 1867 in German. The English version – the Moore and Aveling translation – was published in 1887, based on the 3rd edition of the German. Another version came out in German in 1890. The first edition of the German included this appendix. The translators of the appendix, Mike Roth and Wal Suchting, say in reference to this 1867 appendix “there is no better introduction to the much more involved exposition in the first chapter of volume I of Capital as we now have it.” In 1872 a French version of Capital v1 came out, the translation of which Marx revised. He wrote about this that

“Having once undertaken this work of revision, I was led to apply it also to the basic original text (the second German edition), to simplify some arguments, to complete others, to give additional historical or statistical material, to add critical suggestions, etc. Hence, whatever the literary defects of this French edition may be, it possesses a scientific value independent of the original and should be consulted even by readers familiar with German.”

The second German edition came out in 1873. This edition eliminated the appendix and worked it into the revised parts of the first and third chapters. Marx thought that the changes resulted in a “clearer arrangement of the book.” The particular changes he mentioned in the afterward to this edition are as follows:

“In Chapter I, Section 1, the derivation of value from an analysis of the equations by which every exchange-value is expressed has been carried out with greater scientific strictness; likewise the connexion between the substance of value and the determination of the magnitude of value by socially necessary labour-time, which was only alluded to in the first edition, is now expressly emphasised. Chapter I, Section 3 (the Form of Value), has been completely revised, a task which was made necessary by the double exposition in the first edition, if nothing else. (…) The last section of the first chapter, “The Fetishism of Commodities, etc.,” has largely been altered. Chapter III, Section I (The Measure of Value), has been carefully revised, because in the first edition this section had been treated negligently, the reader having been referred to the explanation already given in “Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie,” Berlin 1859. Chapter VII, particularly Part 2 [Eng. ed., Chapter IX, Section 2], has been re-written to a great extent.”

Marx also wrote that

“several parts of the German original stand in need of rather thorough remoulding, other parts require rather heavy stylistic editing, and still others painstaking elimination of occasional slips. But there was no time for that. For I had been informed only in the autumn of 1871, when in the midst of other urgent work, that the book was sold out and that the printing of the second edition was to begin in January of 1872.”

So even the finished editions may be considered still unfinished to some extent? Maybe, maybe not.

Engels wrote in the preface to the third German edition of v1 of Capital that

“It was Marx’s original intention to re-write a great part of the text of Volume I, to formulate many theoretical points more exactly, insert new ones and bring historical and statistical materials up to date. But his ailing condition and the urgent need to do the final editing of Volume II induced him to give up this scheme. Only the most necessary alterations were to be made, only the insertions which the French edition (“Le Capital.” Par Karl Marx. Paris, Lachâtre 1873) already contained, were to be put in.

Among the books left by Marx there was a German copy which he himself had corrected here and there and provided with references to the French edition; also a French copy in which he had indicated the exact passages to be used. These alterations and additions are confined, with few exceptions, to the last [Engl. ed.: second last] part of the book: “The Accumulation of Capital.” Here the previous text followed the original draft more closely than elsewhere, while the preceding sections had been gone over more thoroughly. ”

Anyhow, here’s what’s going on (or at least some of what’s going on) with the differences between the German and the English version. As far as I know, all the content is the same in each. Just to be clear, I’m not making an argument about content differences so much as the organization of the content. That said, the various prefaces and afterwards quoted above do seem to suggest some content differences between at least some of the different versions of the text published in different years. I’d be keen to know more about that. But anyway for now what I’m commenting on is very small, that the organization of the content is slightly different. As far as I know (and this is based on a really really quick glance) the organization is the same in the two language versions except as follows.

In the German part two is DIE VERWANDLUNG VON GELD IN KAPITAL, which consists of one chapter (with the same title as the part) with three subsections. In English part two is The Transformation of Money into Capital which consists in three different chapters, which are the three subsections in German.

Ch. 4: The General Formula for Capital
Ch. 5: Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital
Ch. 6: The Buying and Selling of Labour-Power

In the German the last part is DER AKKUMULATIONSPROZEß DES KAPITALS,
which includes the discussion of primitive accumulation as one chapter.

DER AKKUMULATIONSPROZEß DES KAPITALS
Einfache Reproduktion Verwandlung von Mehrwert in Kapital Das allgemeine Gesetz der kapitalistischen Produktion Die sogenannte ursprüngliche Akkumulation Die moderne Kolonisationstheorie

In the English it goes like this:

Part VII: The Accumulation of Capital
Ch. 23: Simple Reproduction
Ch. 24: Conversion of Surplus-Value into Capital
Ch. 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

Part VIII: Primitive Accumulation
Ch. 26: The Secret of Primitive Accumulation
Ch. 27: Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land
Ch. 28: Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated, from the End of the 15th Century. Forcing down of Wages by Acts of Parliament
Ch. 29: Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer
Ch. 30: Reaction of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. Creation of the Home-Market for Industrial Capital
Ch. 31: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist
Ch. 32: Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation
Ch. 33: The Modern Theory of Colonisation

In the German the discussion of primitive accumulation is folded into the part on the process of capital accumulation, and is one long chapter with subdivisions. In English this is its own part of the book consisting in eight chapters. The final chapter of this part, and of the book, is also its own chapter in the German, though in the German it’s a chapter in the part on the process of capital accumulation whereas it’s a chapter in the part on primitive accumulation in the English.

I know I’ve already made too much of this and I really don’t have anything in mind about the significance of this – it is, I’m sure, totally insignificant. But I like insignificant things. I’m very curious about why the two version are organized differently like this.

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