The young and old Marx

Been going through Marx’s early manuscripts on political economy. Lord knows plenty has been written about the relationship between the young and old Marx. For whatever it’s worth I agree with Schmidt: you should read the young Marx from the perspective of the old Marx. For that reason, it’s not so much the estranged labor manuscript that is of interest to me, but when I find jottings, almost like epigrams, that distill the complex arguments he will later make in Capital. Today I (re)found the following that I think distill the angle on the critique of political economy and critical political economy I’m thinking through:

“Thus in a declining state of society — increasing misery of the worker; in an advancing state — misery with complications; and in a fully developed state of society — static misery.


Since, however, according to Smith, a society is not happy, of which the greater part suffers — yet even the wealthiest state of society leads to this suffering of the majority — and since the economic system (and in general a society based on private interest) leads to this wealthiest condition, it follows that the goal of the economic system is the unhappiness of society.”

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