The Marx–Engels Cyclopedia (MEC) comprises three reference works made one by interreference and interindexing:
Volume I: The Marx–Engels Chronicle. A day-to-day chronology of Marx and Engels' lives and activities.
Volume II: The Marx–Engels Register. A bibliography of Marx and Engels' individual writings.
Volume III: The Marx–Engels Glossary. A dictionary of all proper names mentioned in Volumes I and 11: persons, periodicals, parties, organizations, etc.
Each volume can be used independently. At the same time, its usefulness is enhanced by the fact that the other volumes offer additional channels of access to its contents.
For example, Volume I, the Marx–Engels Chronicle, refers under the appropriate dates of composition and publication to the individual writings, by Register number if not title. Thus it offers a chronological mode of access to the entries in the Marx–Engels Register (Volume II), which are organized there alphabetically. Contrariwise, the entries in the Register are indexed to locations in the Chronicle (Volume I). The Marx–Engels Glossary (Volume III) indexes references to a given name occurring in Volume I or II.
In short, whether you start with a title, an event, or a name, you can work your way from the known fact to other sources of information. As additional aids, there are a number of special lists, particularly in Volume II, directed to the bibliographical control of Marx and Engels' contributions to certain periodicals, notably the New York Daily Tribune.
Not included in this Cyclopedia is another kind of work: a dictionary of ideas and terms, an exposition of Marx's thought in alphabetical format. This would be a laudable enterprise, but of a different sort altogether. Rather, this Cyclopedia is dedicated to hard facts. In an area as inevitably ideological as that of Marx studies, hard facts are not less but more important: they are moorings. True, one cannot hope to eliminate all ideological reflections from such a work; but at any rate the facts are here.
The main source of the information contained in this Cyclopedia is the scientific output of the Institute of Marxism–Leninism (IML) of Moscow, together with its predecessors and its collaborating institutions. Its most important predecessor was the original Marx–Engels–Lenin Institute founded by D. Ryazanov; its present (mid–1980s) main collaborator is the IML of East Germany.
These institutes, with their publishing affiliates and associates, have over the years accomplished a prodigious work. At the same time, like all scholarly work in the world of the Communist bureaucratic-collectivist states, this job has been done under well-known political constraints, which need not concern us except to explain that the IML output must be subjected to constant checking. In addition, the material quarried from IML sources must be compared with and supplemented by information available from other sources, as far as possible.
The principal IML sources, often referred to in the volumes of this Cyclopedia, are the following four editions of Marx and Engels' work:
1. The Marx–Engels Werke (MEW), published in East Germany. As this is written, it is still the only near-complete, or the nearest-complete, edition of Marx and Engels' works—in German only. Its notes and appendices are a mine of information.
2. The so-called MEGA—customary name for the old and original Marx–Engels Gesamtausgabe of 1927–1935—is still useful for some purposes; but of course it covered only up to 1848, and it has been largely superseded even for that period.
3. The New Mega (to use our own designation) got started in 1975, and as this is written, it has gone only about a seventh of the way toward its planned volumes, which may not be completed until some time after the year 2001. Though it was given the old Gesamtausgabe name by the IML, it is really an independent project, not a continuation of the old MEGA.
4. The new English edition of Marx and Engels' Collected Works (MECW), likewise in process of publication, is little more than a quarter of the way to its final Volume 50, perhaps due also in the next century.
Smaller-scale publications have made some limited contributions as well; see the Sources and Translations (“ST”) List in Volume IIb
A definitive summing-up of the field covered by MEC is still some distance away. All we can do is give the state of information as of now—with many lacunae and a sprinkling of question-marks.
A reference work of this sort is not by nature a one-man project, and there are bound to be errors of omission and commission. Alas, in the course of the present work I have found not a few mistakes even in the Marx–Engels Werke, which is usually a reliable source of raw facts; and the New Mega apparently suffers from even more. Alert users of this Cyclopedia, I am afraid, may find some here too; and I request that these be communicated to me through the publisher, with an eye to a revised edition.
Spelling. American spelling is used throughout, except in direct quotes from British sources and in British names. Thus there was a Labor Standard in New York and a Labour Standard in London; the group that met in Manchester called itself a Labour Parliament, but Marx's article on it in the New York Daily Tribune called it the Labor Parliament; and so on.
Good English. I am a militant proponent of using contact, enthuse, and feature as verbs, of splitting infinitives at will, of using hopefully like the best English writers, and of other practices condemned by certain misguided literati. I mention this only to absolve the publisher and its editors of any responsibility for these alleged deviations.
German Spelling. When using indexes and other alphabetized lists, readers should know that in German Carl and Karl, or Conrad and Konrad, are often interchangeable, and that therefore many names appear in both forms in different places. The same applies to some place names (Carlsbad, Coblenz, etc.). I have tended to give the right of way to the K. Also, there are some cases where the common English name of a place differs from the native name (for example, Hanover/Hannover); our text uses the English form, though alternative forms are explained in the Glossary.
Alphabetization. All alphabetization in this work follows the so-called Anglo-American rules, used in library catalogs. German alphabetization, which is different in several respects, has influenced some American publications (especially translations), creating some technical confusion. The following points should be noted: (1) Alphabetization is word by word, not letter by letter—except perforce in the “List of Abbreviations.” (2) The German umlauted vowel is treated as if followed by an e: that is, ä = ae, ö = oe, ü = ue just as “Mc” or “M ” is treated as if spelled out “Mac” no matter how a given name is written. (3) An initial definite or indefinite article is ignored for alphabetizing purposes, in English as in other languages. This pertains to the English the, a, an; the German der, die, das, ein, eine etc.; the French le, la, les, l´, un, une; and so on, including the Portuguese article 0.
Manuscripts. Information given here on a number of unpublished manuscripts by Marx or Engels is necessarily tentative, and probably defective, being based on incomplete descriptions. This cannot be fully remedied until, and unless, these manuscripts are published in the New Mega. Present information often comes from excerpts published in some collection by the IML In some cases available references to some manuscripts are so fragmentary that I have preferred to include nothing at this time.
Number Interpolation. The Register, also the “ST” List (both in Volume 11), is numbered from 1 on, in alphabetical order; but provision has had to be made for revisions, requiring the insertion of new numbers into the sequence. This has already proved necessary in the course of work on this Cyclopedia, and will no doubt continue to be necessary for future revisions. For this reason I have used a flexible decimal system. For example, between 150 and 151, the first interpolated number is 150.5; a future interpolation between 150 and 150.5 may be 150.3. Thus the revised list remains in numerical order.
THE CENTER FOR SOCIALIST HISTORY
The Center for Socialist History in Berkeley, California, has assisted this project in its later stages, since the Center itself was only recently established. Its help has been invaluable, and I am happy to acknowledge it. Steve Diamond, who has been associated with me throughout the work on the Cyclopedia, is also a director of the Center.
The Center's interest in this project will postdate publication too. This Cyclopedia is published without a comprehensive subject index; still, some users may want to trace, say, Marx's views on party organization, war, anarchism, or some other theme. A “Selected Subjects Index” is planned by the Center, and possibly also other research aids. Inquiries should be directed to the Center for Socialist History Website.