The quote is from the Manifesto of the Communist Party:

No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

I understand what this quote means, but I do not understand the way it is worded. Marx uses "no sooner" with "so far", "at an end", and "that" before he gets to using "than", which seems to be the familiar construct. Can someone help untangle this one for me?

  • 1
    Can you give full source? – Jacinto May 5 '16 at 19:26
  • Yes there are various errors in the sentence. My guess is that there is a typographical problem. If you remove the words so far and that he receives his wages in cash it makes perfect grammatical sense. It seems as if two different sentences have got jumbled together. – WS2 May 5 '16 at 19:47
  • The source is the Communist Manifesto, by Marx and Engels. – user66965 May 5 '16 at 19:49
  • @surlawda I have a copy on my bookshelf. Can you point to the exact location, please? Presumably it is in the first section Bourgeois and Proletarians? Mine is the Penguin Classics 2002 edition with introduction by Gareth Stedman Jones. Don't suppose you are using the same one are you? If so you could just give me the page number. – WS2 May 5 '16 at 19:59
  • @WS2 I have the Norton Critical Edition, but I don't have it with me, and I can't say exactly how this sentence appears in there, or what page it's on, but it is in the first chapter, "Bourgeois and Proletarians." At the moment I am looking at an online edition. The quote as it appears in this question can be found at marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/…. The simpler translation appears at armstrongeconomics.com/research/economic-thought/by-author/… – user66965 May 5 '16 at 20:14

There are several editions of the Manifesto, and several translations. An easier reading of this sentence is often given as

No sooner has the labourer received his wages in cash, for the moment escaping exploitation by the manufacturer, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie- the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

In your version, somewhat more convoluted, the "so far" refers to the exploitation of the laborer up to the point that he receives his wages: with this paycheck, the exploitation that the laborer has been subjected to "so far" has come to "an end." Thenceforth, the laborer will be exploited by other elements of bourgeoisie--i.e., the landlord, etc., will set out to take that laborer's money away. It might be said this way:

The moment a worker gets his wages, and escapes the exploitation he has suffered thus far at the hands of his boss, he will begin to be exploited by his landlord, etc.

  • As I'm not a German speaker I can't help much. Perhaps underlying the problem is some convenient German idiom which doesn't exist in English. But your quoted translation above is certainly more intelligible. – WS2 May 5 '16 at 20:50
  • "...receives his wages in cash" is an important part of the quote: a worker receiving his pay in kind or in truck is open to exploitation. But no sooner does the labourer (thanks to the Truck Acts and similar legislation) avoid this by getting paid in cash... – Tim Lymington Oct 24 '17 at 16:21

Don't forget this document was originally written in German. From your quoted translation, I suspect that it wasn't written in Hoch Deutsch. I'd take the answers above and not worry about the garbled translation you cite.

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