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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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Just as the social productive power of labour that is developed by co-operation, appears to be the productive power of capital, so co-operation itself, contrasted with the process of production carried on by isolated independent labourers, or even by small employers, appears to be a specific form of the capitalist process of production. It is the first change experienced by the actual labour-process, when subjected to capital. This change takes place spontaneously. The simultaneous employment of a large number of wage-labourers, in one and the same process, which is a necessary condition of this change, also forms the starting-point of capitalist production. This point coincides with the birth of capital itself.

If then, on the one hand, the capitalist mode of production presents itself to us historically, as a necessary condition to the transformation of the labour-process into a social process, so, on the other hand, this social form of the labour-process presents itself, as a method employed by capital for the more profitable exploitation of labour, by increasing that labour's productiveness.

In the elementary form, under which we have hitherto viewed it, co-operation is a necessary concomitant of all production on a large scale, but it does not, in itself, represent a fixed form characteristic of a particular epoch in the development of the capitalist mode of production. At the most it appears to do so, and that only approximately, in the handicraft-like beginnings of manufacture, [22] and in that kind of agriculture on a large scale, which corresponds to the epoch of manufacture, and is distinguished from peasant agriculture, mainly by the number of the labourers simultaneously employed, and by the mass of the means of production concentrated for their use. Simple co-operation is always the prevailing form, in those branches of production in which capital operates on a large scale, and division of labour and machinery play but a subordinate part.

Co-operation ever constitutes the fundamental form of the capitalist mode of production, nevertheless the elementary form of co-operation continues to subsist as a particular form of capitalist production side by side with the more developed forms of that mode of production.


[1] "Unquestionably, there is a good deal of difference between the value of one man's labour and that of another from strength, dexterity, and honest application. But I am quite sure, from my best observation, that any given five men will, in their total, afford a proportion of labour equal to any other five within the periods of life I have stated; that is, that among such five men there will be one possessing all the qualifications of a good workman, one bad, and the other three middling, and approximating to the first, and the last. So that in so small a platoon as that of even five, you will find the full complement of all that five men can earn." (E. Burke, 1. c., pp. 15, 16.) Compare Quételet on the average individual.

[2] Professor Roscher claims to have discovered that one needlewoman employed by Mrs. Roscher during two days, does more work than two needlewomen employed together during one day. The learned professor should not study the capitalist process of production in the nursery, nor under circumstances where the principal personage, the capitalist, is wanting.

[3] "Concours de forces." (Destutt de Tracy, l. c., p. 80.) [4] There are numerous operations of so simple a kind as not to admit a division into parts, which cannot be performed without the co-operation of many pairs of hands. I would instance the lifting of a large tree on to a wain.., everything, in short, which cannot be done unless a great many pairs of hands help each other in the same undivided employment and at the same time." (E. G. Wakefield: "A View of the Art of Colonisation." London, 1849, p. 168.) [5] "As one man cannot, and ten men must strain to lift a ton of weight, yet 100 men can do it only by the strength of a finger of each of them." (John Betters: "Proposals for Raising a Colledge of Industry." London, 1696, p. 21.) [6] "There is also" (when the same number of men are employed by one farmer on 300 acres, instead of by ten farmers with 30 acres a piece) "an advantage in the proportion of servants, which will not so easily be understood but by practical men; for it is natural to say, as 1 is to 4, so are 3 to 12; but this will not hold good in practice; for in harvest time and many other operations which require that kind of despatch by the throwing many hands together, the work is better and more expeditiously done: f i. in harvest, 2 drivers, 2 loaders, 2 pitchers, 2 rakers, and the rest at the rick, or in the barn, will despatch double the work that the same number of hands would do if divided into different gangs on different farms." ("An Inquiry into the Connexion between the Present Price of Provisions and the Size of Farms." By a Farmer. London, 1773, pp. 7, 8.) [7] Strictly, Aristotle's definition is that man is by nature a town-citizen. This is quite as characteristic of ancient classical society as Franklin's definition of man, as a tool-making animal, is characteristic of Yankeedom.

[8] "On doit encore remarquer que cette division partielle de travail peut se faire quand même les ouvriers sont occupes d'une même besogne. Des maçons par exemple, occupés à faire passer de mains en mains des briques à un échafaudage supérieur, font tous la même besogne, et pourtant il existe parmi eux une espèce de division de travail, qui consiste en ce que chacun d'eux fait passer la brique par un espace donné, et que tous ensemble la font parvenir beaucoup plus promptement à l'endroit marque qu'ils ne le feraient si chacun d'eux portait sa brique séparément jusqu'à l'échafaudage supérieur." (F.

Skarbek: "Théorie des richesses sociales." Paris, 1839, t. I, pp. 97, 98.) [9] "Est-il question d'exécuter un travail compliqué, plusieurs choses doivent être faites simultanément. L'un en fait une pendant que l'autre en fait une autre, et tous contribuent à l'effet qu'un sent homme n'aurait pu produire. L'un rame pendant que I'autre tient le gouvernail, et qu'un troisième jette le filet on harponne le poisson, et la pêche a un succès impossible sans ce concours." (Destutt de Tracy, l. c.) [10] "The doing of it (agricultural work) at the critical juncture is of so much the greater consequence." ("An Inquiry into the Connexion between the Present Price," &c., p. 9.) "In agriculture, there is no more important factor than that of time." (Liebig: "Ueber Theorie und Praxis in der Landwirtschaft." 1856, p. 23.) [11] "The next evil is one which one would scarcely expect to find in a country which exports more labour than any other in the world, with the exception, perhaps, of China and England the impossibility of procuring a sufficient number of hands to clean the cotton. The consequence of this is that large quantities of the crop are left unpicked, while another portion is gathered from the ground when it has fallen, and is of course discoloured and partially rotted, so that for want of labour at the proper season the cultivator is actually forced to submit to the loss of a large part of that crop for which England is so anxiously looking." ("Bengal Hurkaru." Bi-Monthly Overland Summary of News, 22nd July, 1861.) [12] In the progress of culture "all, and perhaps more than all, the capital and labour which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated for the more complete tillage of 100." Although "relatively to the amount of capital and labour employed, space is concentrated, it is an enlarged sphere of production, as compared to the sphere of production formerly occupied or worked upon by one single independent agent of production." (R. Jones: "An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth," part I. On Rent.

London, 1831. p. 191.) [13] "La forza di ciascuno uomo è minima, ma la riunione delle minime forze forma una forza totale maggiore anche della somma delle forze medesime fino a che le forze per essere riunite possono diminuere il tempo ed accrescere lo spazio della loro azione." (G.

R. Carli, Note to P. Verri, l. c., t. xv., p. 196.) [14] "Profits... is the sole end of trade." (J. Vanderlint, l. c., p. 11.) [15] That Philistine paper, the Spectator, states that after the introduction of a sort of partnership between capitalist and workmen in the "Wirework Company of Manchester," "the first result was a sudden decrease in waste, the men not seeing why they should waste their own property any more than any other master's, and waste is, perhaps, next to bad debts, the greatest source of manufacturing loss." The same paper finds that the main defect in the Rochdale co-operative experiments is this: "They showed that associations of workmen could manage shops, mills, and almost all forms of industry with success, and they immediately improved the condition of the men; but then they did not leave a clear place for masters." Quelle horreur!

[16] Professor Cairnes, after stating that the superintendence of labour is a leading feature of production by slaves in the Southern States of North America, continues: "The peasant proprietor (of the North), appropriating the whole produce of his toil, needs no other stimulus to exertion. Superintendence is here completely dispensed with." (Cairnes, l. c., pp. 48, 49.) [17] Sir James Steuart, a writer altogether remarkable for his quick eye for the characteristic social distinctions between different modes of production, says: "Why do large undertakings in the manufacturing way ruin private industry, but by coming nearer to the simplicity of slaves?" ("Prin. of Pol. Econ.," London, 1767, v. I., pp. 167, 168.) [18] Auguste Comte and his school might therefore have shown that feudal lords are an eternal necessity in the same way that they have done in the case of the lords of capital.

[19] R. Jones. "Textbook of Lectures," &c., pp. 77, 78. The ancient Assyrian, Egyptian, and other collections in London, and in other European capitals, make us eye-witnesses of the modes of carrying on that co-operative labour.

[20] Linguet is improbably right, when in his "Théorie des Lois Civiles," he declares hunting to be the first form of co-operation, and man-hunting (war) one of the earliest forms of hunting.

[21] Peasant agriculture on a small scale, and the carrying on of independent handicrafts, which together form the basis of the feudal mode of production, and after the dissolution of that system, continue side by side with the capitalist mode, also form the economic foundation of the classical communities at their best, after the primitive form of ownership of land in common had disappeared, and before slavery had seized on production in earnest.

[22] "Whether the united skill, industry, and emulation of many together on the same work be not the way to advance it? And whether it had been otherwise possible for England, to have carried on her Woollen Manufacture to so great a perfection?" (Berkeley. "The Querist." London, 1751, p. 56, par. 521.) Transcribed by Hinrich Kuhls Html Markup by Stephen Baird Next: Chapter Fourteen: Division of Labour and Manufacture Capital Volume One- Index Karl Marx Capital Volume One

Part IV:

Division of Labour and Manufacture



Contents Section 1 - Two-fold Origin of Manufacture Section 2 - The Detail Labourer and his Implements Section 3 - The Two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture: Heterogeneous Manufacture, Serial Manufacture Section 4 - Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in Society Section 5 - The Capitalistic Character of Manufacture


That co-operation which is based on division of labour, assumes its typical form in manufacture, and is the prevalent characteristic form of the capitalist process of production throughout the manufacturing period properly so called. That period, roughly speaking, extends from the middle of the 16th to the last third of the 18th century.

Manufacture takes its rise in two ways:

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