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Die Agrarfrage: eine Uebersicht über die Tendenzen der modernen Landwirthschaft und die Agrarpolitik der Sozialdemokratie.

Stuttgart: J. K. W. Dietz, 1899 Stock Code: 118919
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Presentation copy from the author to the important French communist Paul Lafargue

First edition, presentation copy from the author to the important French communist Paul Lafargue, inscribed by him, "A son cher Lafargue, K. Kautsky, Berlin 3/1/99". The Marxist theorist's analysis of capitalism in agriculture is a book that Lenin declared "the most important event in present-day economic literature since the third volume of Capital".

Kautsky (1854-1938) is one of the leading figures in the history of German Social Democracy. While a student of history, philosophy, and economics at the University of Vienna he became a member of Austria's Social Democratic Party and, after a trip to England in 1881 to meet Marx and Engels, he founded the monthly socialist journal Die Neue Zeit. In addition to Marx and Engels, contributors included Eduard Bernstein, Rudolf Hilferding, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leon Trotsky. His continued close friendship with Engels led to the latter appointing him as editor of Marx's Theories of Surplus Value in 1888, by which time Kautsky was well established as a key proponent of orthodox Marxism. He was, along with Eduard Bernstein, an executor of the Marx-Engels literary archive.

Kautsky and Lafargue, Marx's son-in-law, were in close contact throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Lafargue contributed several chapters to Die Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus (1895), the Marxist survey of the history of communist and socialist ideas edited by Kautsky. They regularly corresponded, though their relationship suffered after a disagreement regarding the Millerand controversy in the French Socialist Party; as a result, Lafargue refused to continue his contributions to Die Neue Zeit and the two did not make amends until 1903 when Kautsky acceded to Lafargue's opinion on the matter.

Die Agrarfrage is "a classic oeuvre of Engels's junior collaborator who became the centrist leader of the social democratic movement in Germany and in German-speaking Austria. It at first had no influence at all on anthropology anywhere, and certainly not on folklore studies in his time, although both dealt with peasants and farmers in Europe. Yet by the 1920s and, to an extent, through Chayanov's work in Russia, its intellectual radiation gradually reached academia. After 1945 a whole generation of anthropologists dealing with peasants worldwide and in Europe, ranging from Theodore Shanin to Eric Wolf to James Scott, were inspired by it in direct and indirect ways" (Barth, p. 103).

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Octavo. Contemporary blue cloth, spine lettered in gilt, bevelled boards, green endpapers. With a manuscript envelope address leaf to "Monsieur Lafargue" trimmed and laid in. Housed in a black quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Spine rolled, corners and ends bumped, extremities rubbed with some minor wear, boards marked, hinges cracked but firm, contents browned, overall a very good copy.


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