The poverty of philosophy
The present work was -produced in the winter of 1846-47, at a time when Marx had cleared up for himself the basic features of his new historical and economic outlook. Proudhon's Sjsteme des Contradictions economiqu.es ou Philosophic de la Misere, which had just appeared, gave him the opportunity to develop these basic features in opposing them to the views of a man who. from then on, was to occupy the chief place among living French Socialists.
From the time when the two of them in Paris had often spent whole nights in discussing economic questions, their paths had more and more diverged; Proudhon s book proved that there was already an unbridgeable gulf between them.
To ignore it was at that time impossible, and so Marx by this ans\ver of his put on record the irreparable rupture. Marx s conclusive judgment on Proudhon is to be found in the article, given as an appendix to this preface, which appeared in the Berlin Sozialdcmokrat ", Nov. 16, 17, and 18, in 1865." It was the only article that Marx wrote for that paper; Herr von Schweitzer s attempts, which soon afterward became evident, to guide it along feudal and government lines compelled us to announce publicly the end of our collaboration after only a few weeks.
For Germany, the present work has just at this moment a significance which Marx himself never foresaw. How could he have known that, in trouncing Proudhon, he was hitting Rod- Bertus. the idol of the place hunters of today, whose very name was then unknown to him?
This is not the place to deal with the relation of Marx to Rodertus; an opportunity for that is sure to occur to me very soon. * The superior figures in the text refer to the explanatory notes. Ed. ** See page 164 of the present volume. Ed. 1
Here it is sufficient to note that when Rodbertus accuses Marx of having "plundered" him and of having "freely used in his Capital without quoting him" his work Zur Erkenntnis, etc., he permits himself a slander which is only explicable by the spleen of misunderstood genius and by his remarkable ignorance of things taking place outside Prussia, and especially of socialist and economic literature. Neither these charges nor the above-mentioned work of Rodbertus ever came to Marx s sight; all he knew of Rodbertus was the three Soziale Briefe [Social Letters] and even these certainly not before 1858 or 1859. There is more basis for Rodbertus's assertion in these letters that he had already discovered "Proudhon s constituted value" before Proudhon, but here again, it is true he erroneously flatters himself with being the first discoverer. In any case, he is for this reason covered by the criticism in the present work, and this compels me to deal briefly with his "fundamental" small work:
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