Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868
Written: London, 6 March, 1868;
Published: Gesamtausgabe, International Publishers, 1942;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.
There is something touching about Thünen. A Mecklenburg junker (true, with a German training in thinking) who treats his estate at Tellow as the land, and Mecklenburg-Schwerin as the town, and who, proceeding from these premises, with the help of observation, the differential calculus, practical accounting, etc., constructs for himself the Ricardian theory of rent. It is at once worthy of respect and at the same time ridiculous.
I can now understand the curiously embarrassed tone of Herr Dühring's criticism. He is ordinarily a most bumptious, cheeky boy, who sets up as a revolutionary in political economy. He has done two things. He has published, firstly, (proceeding from Carey) a Critical Foundation of Political Economy (about 500 pages) and, secondly, a new Natural Dialectic (against the Hegelian). My book has buried him from both sides. He gave it notice because of his hatred for Roscher, etc. For the rest, half intentionally, and half from lack of insight, he commits deceptions. He knows very well that my method of development is not Hegelian, since I am a materialist and Hegel is an idealist. Hegel's dialectic is the basic form of all dialectic, but only after it has been stripped of its mystical form, and it is precisely this which distinguishes my method. As for Ricardo, it really hurt Herr Dühring that in my treatment of Ricardo the weak points in him, which Carey and a hundred others before him pointed out, do not even exist. Consequently he attempts, in mauvaise foi [bad faith], to burden me with all Ricardo's limitations. But never mind. I must be grateful to the man, since he is the first expert who has said anything at all.
In the second volume (which will certainly never appear if my health does not improve) property in land will be one of the subjects dealt with, competition only in so far as it is required for the treatment of the other themes.
During my illness (which I hope will soon cease altogether) I was unable to write, but I got down an enormous amount of "stuff," statistical and otherwise, which in itself would have been enough to make people sick who are not used to that sort of fodder and do not possess stomachs accustomed to digesting it rapidly.
My circumstances are very harassing, as I have been unable to do any additional work which would bring in money, and yet certain' appearances must be maintained for the children's sake. If I did not have these two damned volumes to produce (and in addition to look for an English publisher) which can be done only in London, I would go to Geneva, where I could live very well with the means at my disposal.
*Thünen, Johann Heinrich Von (1783-1850). German economist. He deduced differential ground rent by presupposing a town surrounded by a series of circles of different kinds of agricultural cultivation whose respective distance from the town was determined by the amount of human labour they required (e.g., vegetable cultivation nearer, cattle-raising further off). In his book, Der isolierte Staat (The Isolated Slate) he raised the question of the nature of capitalist exploitation.