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«Part II: The Transformation of Money in Capital Ch. 4: The General Formula for Capital Ch. 5: Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital Ch. 6: ...»

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Since past labour always disguises itself as capital, i.e, since the passive of the labour of A, B, C, etc., takes the form of the active of the non-labourer X, bourgeois and political economists are full of praises of the services of dead and gone labour, which, according to the Scotch genius MacCulloch, ought to receive a special remuneration in the shape of interest, profit, etc. [48] The powerful and ever-increasing assistance given by past labour to the living labour-process under the form of means of production is, therefore, attributed to that form of past labour in which it is alienated, as unpaid labour, from the worker himself, i.e, to its capitalistic form. The practical agents of capitalistic production and their pettifogging ideologists are as unable to think of the means of production as separate from the antagonistic social mask they wear to-day, as a slave-owner to think of the worker himself as distinct from his character as a slave.

With a given degree of exploitation of labour-power, the mass of the surplus-value produced is determined by the number of workers simultaneously exploited; and this corresponds, although in varying proportions, with the magnitude of the capital. The more, therefore, capital increases by means of successive accumulations, the more does the sum of the value increase that is divided into consumption-fund and accumulation-fund. The capitalist can, therefore, live a more jolly life, and at the same time show more "abstinence." And, finally, all the springs of production act with greater elasticity, the more its scale extends with the mass of the capital advanced.


It has been shown in the course of this inquiry that capital is not a fixed magnitude, but is a part of social wealth, elastic and constantly fluctuating with the division of fresh surplus-value into revenue and additional capital. It has been seen further that, even with a given magnitude of functioning capital, the labour-power, the science, and the land (by which are to be understood, economically, all conditions of labour furnished by Nature independently of man), embodied in it, form elastic powers of capital, allowing it, within certain limits, a field of action independent of its own magnitude. In this inquiry we have neglected all effects of the process of circulation, effects which may produce very different degrees of efficiency in the same mass of capital. And as we pre-supposed the limits set by capitalist production, that is to say, pre-supposed the process of social production in a form developed by purely spontaneous growth, we neglected any more rational combination, directly and systematically practicable with the means of production, and the mass of labour-power at present disposable. Classical economy always loved to conceive social capital as a fixed magnitude of a fixed degree of efficiency. But this prejudice was first established as a dogma by the arch-Philistine, Jeremy Bentham, that insipid, pedantic, leather-tongued oracle of the ordinary bourgeois intelligence of the 19th century. [49] Bentham is among philosophers what Martin Tupper is among poets. Both could only have been manufactured in England. [50] In the light of his dogma the commonest phenomena of the process of production, as, e.g., its sudden expansions and contractions, nay, even accumulation itself, become perfectly inconceivable. [51] The dogma was used by Bentham himself, as well as by Malthus, James Mill, MacCulloch, etc., for an apologetic purpose, and especially in order to represent one part of capital, namely, variable capital, or that part convertible into labour-power, as a fixed magnitude. The material of variable capital, i.e, the mass of the means of subsistence it represents for the labourer, or the so-called labour-fund, was fabled as a separate part of social wealth, fixed by natural laws and unchangeable. To set in motion the part of social wealth which is to function as constant capital, or, to express it in a material form, as means of production, a definite mass of living labour is required.

This mass is given technologically. But neither is the number of labourers required to render fluid this mass of labour-power given (it changes with the degree of exploitation of the individual labour-power), nor is the price of this labour-power given, but only its minimum limit, which is moreover very variable. The facts that lie at the bottom of this dogma are these: on the one hand, the labourer has no right to interfere in the division of social wealth into means of enjoyment for the non-labourer and means of production.

[52] On the other hand, only in favourable and exceptional cases, has he the power to enlarge the so-called labour-fund at the expense of the "revenue" of the wealthy.

What silly tautology results from the attempt to represent the capitalistic limits of the labour-fund as its natural and social limits may be seen, e.g., in Professor Fawcett. [53] "The circulating capital of a country," he says, "is its wage-fund. Hence, if we desire to calculate the average money wages received by each labourer, we have simply to divide the amount of this capital by the number of the labouring population." [54] That is to say, we first add together the individual wages actually paid, and then we affirm that the sum thus obtained, forms the total value of the "labour-fund" determined and vouchsafed to us by God and Nature. Lastly, we divide the sum thus obtained by the number of labourers to find out again how much may come to each on the average. An uncommonly knowing dodge this. It did not prevent Mr. Fawcett saying in the same breath: "The aggregate wealth which is annually saved in England, is divided into two portions; one portion is employed as capital to maintain our industry, and the other portion is exported to foreign countries... Only a portion, and perhaps, not a large portion of the wealth which is annually saved in this country, is invested in our own industry. [55] The greater part of the yearly accruing surplus-product, embezzled, because abstracted without return of an equivalent, from the English labourer, is thus used as capital, not in England, but in foreign countries. But with the additional capital thus exported, a part of the labour-fund" invented by God and Bentham is also exported. [56]


[1] "Accumulation of capital; the employment of a portion of revenue as capital."

(Malthus: "Definitions, &c.," ed. Cazenove, p. 11.) "Conversion of revenue into capital," (Malthus: "Princ. of Pol. Econ " 2nd Ed., Lond.. 1836, p. 320.) [2] We here take no account of export trade, by means of which a nation can change articles of luxury either into means of production or means of subsistence, and vice versà.

In order to examine the object of our investigation in its integrity, free from all disturbing subsidiary circumstances, we must treat the whole world as one nation, and assume that capitalist production is everywhere established and has possessed itself of every branch of industry.

[3] Sismondi's analysis of accumulation suffers from the great defect, that he contents himself, to too great an extent, with the phrase "conversion of revenue into capital," without fathoming the material conditions of this operation.

[4] "Le travail primitif auquelson capital a dii sa naissance." Sismondi, l. c., ed. Paris, t.

I., p. 109.

[5] "Labour creates capital before capital employs labour." E. G. Wakefield, "England and America," Lond., 1833, Vol. II, p. 110.

[6] The property of the capitalist in the product of the tabour of others "is a strict consequence of the law of appropriation, the fundamental principle of which was, on the contrary, the exclusive title of every labourer to the product of his own labour."

(Cherbuliez, "Richesse ou Pauvreti," Paris, 1841, p. 58, where, however, the dialectical reversal is not properly developed.) [7] NOTE: The following passage (to p. 551 "laws of capitalist appropriation.") has been added to the English text in conformity with the 4th German edition.

[8] We may well, therefore, feel astonished at the cleverness Of Proudhon, who would abolish capitalistic property by enforcing the eternal laws of property that are based on commodity production!

[9] "Capital, viz., accumulated wealth employed with a view to profit." (Malthus, l. c.) "Capital... consists of wealth saved from revenue, and used with a view to profit." (R.

Jones: "An Introductory Lecture on Polit. Econ.," Lond., 1833, p. 16.) [10] "The possessors of surplus-produce or capital." ("The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties. A Letter to Lord John Russell." Lond., 1821.) [11] "Capital, with compound interest on every portion of capital saved, is so all engrossing that all the wealth in the world from which income is derived, has long ago become the interest on capital." (London, Economist, 19th July, 1851.) [12] "No political economist of the present day can by saving mean.mere hoarding: and beyond this contracted and insufficient proceeding, no use of the term in reference to the national wealth can well be imagined,. but that which must arise from a different application of what is saved, founded upon a real distinction between the different kinds of labour maintained by it." (Malthus, l. c., pp. 38, 39.) [13] Thus for instance, Balzac, who so thoroughly studied every shade of avarice, represents the old usurer Gobseck as in his second childhood when he begins to heap up a hoard of commodities.

[14] "Accumulation of stocks... upon-exchange... over-production." (Th. Corbet. l. c., p.

104.) [15] In this sense Necker speaks of the "objets de faste et de somptuosit6," of which "le temps a grossi I'accuinulation," and which "les lois de propriàtà ont rassemblàs dans une seule classe de la sociàtà." (Oeuvres de M. Necker, Paris and Lausanne, 1789, t. ii., p.

291.) [16] Ricardo, 1. C-, P- 163, note.

[17] In spite of his "Logic," John St. Mill never detects even such faulty analysis as this when made by his predecessors, an analysis which, even from the bourgeois standpoint of the science, cries out for rectification. In every case he registers with the dogmatism of a disciple, the confusion of his master's thoughts. So here: "The capital itself in the longrun becomes entirely wages, and when replaced by the sale of produce becomes wages again."

[18] In his description of the process of reproduction, and of accumulation, Adam Smith, in many ways, not only made no advance, but even lost considerable ground, compared with his predecessors, especially by the Physiocrats. Connected with the illusion mentioned in the text, is the really wonderful dogma, left by him as an inheritance to Political Economy, the dogma, that the price of commodities is made up of wages, profit (interest) and rent, i.e., of wages and surplus-value. Starting from this basis, Storch naively confesses, "II est impossible de ràsoudre le prix n6cessaire dans ses àlàments les plus simples." (Storch, l. c., Petersb. Edit., 1815, t. ii., p. 141, note.) A fine science of economy this, which declares it impossible to resolve the price of a commodity into its simplest elements! This point will be further investigated in the seventh part of Book iii.

[19] The reader will notice, that the word revenue is used in a double sense: first, to designate surplus-value so far as it is the fruit periodically yielded by capital; secondly, to designate the part of that fruit which is periodically consumed by the capitalist, or added to the fund that supplies his private consumption. I have retained this double meaning because it harmonises with the language of the English and French economists.

[20] Taking the usurer, that old-fashioned but ever renewed specimen of the capitalist for his text, Luther shows very aptly that the love of power is an element in the desire to get rich. "The heathen were able, by the light of reason, to conclude that a usurer is a double-dyed thief and murderer. We Christians, however, hold them in such honour, that we fairly worship them for the sake of their money.... Whoever eats up, robs, and steals the nourishment of another, that man commits as great a murder (so far as in him lies) as he who starves a man or utterly undoes him. Such does a usurer, and sits the while safe on his stool, when he ought rather to be hanging on the gallows, and be eaten by as many ravens as he has stolen guilders, if only there were so much flesh on him, that so many ravens could stick their beaks in and share it. Meanwhile, we hang the small thieves....

Little thieves are put in the stocks, great thieves go flaunting in gold and silk.... Therefore is there, on this earth, no greater enemy of man (after the devil) than a gripe-money, and usurer, for he wants to be God over all men.Turks, soldiers, and tyrants are also bad men, yet must they let the people live, and Confess that they are bad, and enemies, and do, nay, must, now and then show pity to some. But a usurer and money-glutton, such a one would iiave the whole world perish of hunger and thirst, misery and want, so far as in him lies, so that he may have all to himself, and every one may receive from him as from a God, and be his serf for ever. To wear fine cloaks, golden chains, Tings, to wipe his mouth, to be deemed and taken for a worthy, pious man.... Usury is a great huge monster, like a werewolf, wbo lays waste all, more than any Cacus, Gerion or Antus. And yet decks himself out, and would be thought pious, so that people may not see where the oxen have gone, that he drags backwards into his den. But Hercules shall hear the cry of the oxen and of his prisoners, and shall seek Cacus even in cliffs and among rocks, and shall set the oxen loose again from the villain. For Cacus means the villain that is a pious usurer, and steals, robs, eats everything. And will not own that he has done it, and thinks no one will find him out, because the oxen, drawn backwards into his den, make it seem, from their foot-prints, that they have been let out. So the usurer would deceive the world, as though he were of use and gave the world oxen,- which he, however, rends, and eats all alone... And since we break on the wheel, and behead highwaymen, murderers and housebreakers, how much more ought we to break on the wheel and kill.... hunt down, curse and behead all usurers." (Martin Luther, l. c.) [21] See Goethe's "Faust."

[22] Dr. Aikin: "Description of the Country from 30 to 40 miles round Manchester."

Lond., 1795, p. 182, sq.

[23] A. Smith, l. c., bk. iii., ch. iii.

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