Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"There Is No Royal Road to Science"

Karl Marx
1872 PREFACE TO THE FRENCH EDITION of Capital Volume One

To the citizen Maurice Lachâtre

Dear Citizen,

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of “Das Kapital” as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

Believe me, dear citizen, Your devoted,
Karl Marx
London, March 18, 1872

1 comment:

Erick Berrios said...

Although this may not relate to Marx personally, this text actually reminded me a lot of someone who Marx did influence, Lenin. The reason I say this is because I took a political theory class where Lenin was on of the discussed theorists. Lenin was a student of Marxism, but he did have his criticisms. One of those was the need for a "Vanguard Party"- a group of highly motivated, well educated, most class conscious sections of the proletariat, to lead the rest to a new world order under communism. Although this text is not about Lenin, you can really see the connection between the two theorists in this piece. Marx also argues for a "Vanguard" class of sorts by denying Lachatre the chance to publish "Das Kapital" as a serial. He feels the French audience is not yet "smart enough" to be able to understand the work as a serial. This obvious elitism on the part of Marx who seems to only want to see works read by France's intellectual elite.