Capital and community:
the results of the immediate process of production and the economic work of Marx
by: Jacques Camatte
Translation: David Brown
Published: In French as Capital et Gemeinwesen (Paris: Spartacus, 1976). This translation published by Unpopular books, London 1988. Note: some quotations here differ from those used in Brown's translation, as the translations available at seemed preferable on individual parts.
Transcription, markup & minor editing: Rob Lucas, 2006
Public domain: This work is completely free.
Chapter 3: The different periods of the capitalist form

(a) Formal subsumption of labour under capital
(b) Real subsumption of labour under capital
- Note on the subject of formal domination and real domination (1972)

“A presupposition of wage-labour, and one of the historic preconditions for capital, is free labour and the exchange of this free labour for money, in order to reproduce and valorize the money, to be consumed by money as a use-value not for consumption (Genuss), but as a use-value for money. (Here Marx defines very concisely the labour process and valorization process, with the latter prevailing over the former, as we have also seen in the Results ed.) Another presupposition is the separation of free labour from the objective conditions of its realization- from the means of labour and the material for labour. Thus, above all, release of the worker from the soil as his natural workshop- hence dissolution of small, free landed property as well as of communal (gemeinschaftlichen) landownership resting on the oriental commune (Kommune).” (Grundrisse p. 471)

It is therefore a question of examining how these forms of property (or rather these forms of appropriating the product) came to dissolve and how the various social relations were destroyed, allowing for the appearance of capital. This is what Marx analyses in the chapter of the Grundrisse called ‘Forms preceding capitalist production’. He considers these transformations for the following modes of production:

1. Primitive communism

2. Forms derived from it:

- ancient
- Germanic
- Asiatic [1]

3. Feudalism

4. Capitalism

Now we must see how capital fully realizes the production of the free worker and how it dominates him.

Before going any further, we should observe that, if the phenomenon of autonomization (an essential condition for the birth of capital) is highlighted in the analysis of value, the phenomenon of expropriation predominates in the study of the separation of the worker from his community and his own conditions of labour. Later on the two combined, integrated and became the motor of capital. Therefore in the following pages we shall try to point out the twin movement of expropriation and autonomization, through which the life of capital expresses itself and inside which capital reaches its final development. This movement is the same one as expressed in the fundamental contradiction: valorization - devalorization, which, as we have seen, shows itself from the very birth of capital, from its first appearances, because it is inherent in it.

Marx continued this work of periodization in the Results by describing the two phases of the social development of capital, and by showing how the contradiction indicated above developed until it concealed all the others and became the fundamental contradiction.

A. The formal subsumption of labour under capital

Marx analysed how the capitalist mode of production emerged already within the old feudal mode; how at first it remained imprisoned within it, and how later it imposed itself on its adversary by subsuming the immediate process of production under itself. This moment (transition) was indicated in Capital Volume I Part 3:

“The production process, considered as the unity of the labour process and the value creating process, is the process of production of commodities; considered as the unity of the labour process and the valorization process, it is the capitalist process of production, or the capitalist form of the production of commodities.” (Capital I p. 304) [2]

But this is defined categorically in the Results:

“The labour process becomes the instrument of the valorization process, the process of the self-valorization of capital- the manufacture of surplus-value. The labour process is subsumed under capital (it is its own process) and the capitalist intervenes in the process as its director, manager. For him it also represents the direct exploitation process of the labour of others. This I call the formal subsumption of labour under capital. It is the general form of every capitalist process of production; and at the same time, however, it can be found as a particular form alongside the specifically capitalist mode of production in its developed form, because although the latter entails the former, the converse does not necessarily obtain. (...)”

“The process of production has become the process of capital itself. It is a process involving the factors of the labour process into which the capitalist money has been converted and which proceeds under his direction with the sole purpose of using money to make more money.” (Results pp. 1019-20)

This formal subsumption is linked to the production of absolute surplus-value. Basically capitalism has subsumed the worker and makes him work on its behalf.

“Originally, when we examined the passage of value into capital, the labour process was simply included within capital...” (Grundrisse p. 691)

The capitalist cannot obtain a greater value without prolonging the working day. He has not yet overthrown the very basis of society. He has only substituted himself for another exploiter. Formal domination, therefore, is characterized essentially by the following: capitalism is distinguished from other modes of production because it is not based simply on appropriation of surplus-value, but on its creation.

Marx explains in detail how quantitative changes in various sectors of social life provoke qualitative changes; but the basis still remains commodity production.

B. Real subsumption of labour under capital

1) General characteristics

“The general feature of formal subsumption remains, i.e. the direct subordination of the labour process irrespective of the state of its technological development, to capital. But on this foundation there now arises a technologically and otherwise specific mode of production - capitalist mode of production - which transforms the real nature of the labour process and its actual conditions. Only when that happens do we witness the real subsumption of labour under capital. (Results p. 1034)

This new subsumption presupposes that “a complete (and constantly continued and repeated) revolution takes place in the mode of production, in the productivity of the workers and in the relation between workers and capitalists.” (ibid. p. 1035)

It is based on the production of a surplus-value which is no longer absolute, but relative;

“If the production of absolute surplus-value was the material expression of the formal subsumption of labour under capital, then the production of relative surplus-value may be viewed as the real subsumption of labour under capital.” (...)

“At any rate, if we consider the two forms of surplus-value, absolute and relative, separately, we shall see that absolute surplus-value always precedes relative. To these two forms of surplus-value there correspond two separate forms of the subsumption of labour under capital, or two distinct forms of capitalist production. And here too one form always precedes the other, although the second form, the more highly developed one, can provide the foundations for the introduction of the first in new branches of industry.” (ibid. p. 1025)

This was dealt with, although in a different manner, in Capital Volume I Part Five:

“The production of absolute surplus-value turns exclusively on the length of the working day, whereas the production of relative surplus-value completely revolutionizes the technical processes of labour and the groupings into which society is divided”

“It therefore requires a specifically capitalist mode of production...” (Capital I p. 645)

This section immediately follows the one on relative surplus-value. Marx undertook a synthesis of everything that he had already developed on the subject of surplus-value in all the social forms in which it had appeared, and then, as we have already noted, indicated the periods of formal and real subsumption under capital (without however naming them) and also the passage from one to the other. Finally he showed the 'Changes of magnitude in the Price of Labour Power and in Surplus-Value' (which explains the title of the Part 'The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value'). It was a question of knowing how surplus-value appeared in the period of the real subsumptlon of labour under capital. Marx gave three cases. The first: variation of production due to labour productivity; this is the one arising with real domination of capital, the other two "operating" especially within formal domination. Thus it is probable that the Results if it had been published, would have been included in this Part Five of Capital all the more so as Marx deals with productive and unproductive labour in this part, which are also studied at length in the Results. The connection between the two subjects is completely logical, since capital is no longer interested in just any labour, but only that which produces surplus-value. Another argument in favour of this hypothesis is that the subject of the next Part is 'Wages'.

Marx analysed next the connection between the two moments, later studied in depth in Parts Four and Five of Volume I, as we have mentioned. He pointed out the immanent tendency of capital:

“‘Production for production’s sake’ - production as an end in itself - does indeed come onto the scene with the formal subsumption of labour under capital. It makes its appearance as soon as the immediate purpose of production is to produce as much and as many surplus-value as possible, as soon as the exchange-value of the product becomes the deciding factor. But this inherent tendency of the capital relation does not become adequately realized - it does not become indispensable, and that also means technologically indispensable - until the specific capitalist mode of production and hence the real subsumption of labour under capital has developed.” (ibid. p. 1037)

From this derive:

a) Definition of capitalism

This integrates the two preceding definitions linked to production and circulation as particular moments of capitalist development:

"On the one hand, there is the negative or contradictory character; production in contradiction, and indifference to the producers. The real producer as a mere means of production, material wealth as an end in itself. And so the growth of this reified wealth is brought about in contradiction to and at the expense of, the individual human being (menschlichen Individuums). (ibid. p. 1037)

b) The law of capitalism -

"Productivity of labour in general = the maximum product with the minimum of work..." (ibid., p. 1037)

"Through this process, the quantum of labour necessary for the production of a given object is indeed reduced to a minimum, but only in order to valorize a maximum of labour in the maximum number of such objects." (Grundrisse p. 701)

c) Field of application of the law

"...instead of the scale of production being controlled by existing needs, the quantity of products made is determined by the constantly increasing scale of production dictated by the mode of production itself." (Results pp. 1037-8)

d) Purpose

"Its aim is that the individual product should contain as much unpaid labour as possible and this is achieved only by producing for the sake of production." (ibid. p. 1038)

"The pressure to reduce the cost price to its minimum becomes the strongest lever for raising the social productivity of labour..." (Capital III p. 1021)[3]

e) Modifications to the law of value

"This becomes manifest, on the one hand, as a law, since the capitalist who produces on too small a scale puts more than the socially necessary quantum of labour into his products. That is to say, it becomes manifest as an adequate embodiment of the law of value which develops fully only on the foundation of the capitalist mode of production." (Results p. 1038)

Here Marx indicates the moment when there is still formal subsumption. Later, capital dominates the law of value and exploits it to its own advantage.

"But, on the other hand it becomes manifest as the desire of the individual capitalist who, in his wish to render the law ineffectual and turn it to his own advantage reduces the individual value of his product to a point where it falls below its socially determined value." (ibid. p. 1038)

Again there is devalorization, which has already been mentioned. Here it results from the antagonism between social capital, capital in general, and capitals in particular. The dynamic of value in process, of self-valorizing value, has its negative aspect of devalorization. It is the entire mechanism explained in Capital Volume III, to which we have refered, in the transformation of value into production price. Here too there is included, although still potentially, the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit. In any case, before going on to the analysis of these consequences, we must return to the characteristics of the real subsumption of labour under capital and the implied consequences.

2) Fixed capital and real domination of capital

The labour process was, like the valorization process, very important in the period of the formal domination. Capital dominated the proletariat, and its domination was that of variable capital. Capital wanted to use the maximum number of workers to obtain the maximum amount of surplus-value. Also, the old conception of man as the goal of production had not yet been completely supplanted by that of capitalism; the old idea still coloured the theories of the first economists of capital, such as Adam Smith. It was a time when man, though no longer the goal of production, still remained a determining element in it. Also, because it was in this period that the proletariat constituted the numerically largest stratum of the population (e.g. England in the early 1800s).

But in the period of real domination, the essential element becomes fixed capital

"It is in the production of fixed capital that capital... posits itself as an end in itself. (Grundrisse p. 710)

"The means of production become no more than leeches drawing off as large a quantum of living labour as they can." (Results p. 988)[4]

"...this ability of objectified labour (i.e. labour as the creator of value- ed.) to transform itself into capital i.e. to transform the means of production into means of controlling and exploiting living labour, appears as something utterly appropriate to them inseparable from them..." (ibid. pp. 988-9)

This becomes possible through:

"the use of science, this general product of social development, in the immediate process of production. (ibid. p. 1024)

Capitalism appears as the exploiter of all human generations, past and present, seeking moreover to guarantee the exploitation of generations yet to come.

Marx analysed the phenomenon in more detail in the Grundrisse:

"The increase of the productive force of labour and the greatest possible negation of necessary labour is the necessary tendency of capital, as we have seen. The transformation of means of labour into machinery is the realization of this tendency. In machinery, objectified labour materially confronts living labour as a ruling power and as an active subsumption of the latter under itself, not only by appropriating it, but in the real production process itself; the relation of capital as value that appropriates valorizing activity (verwertende Tatigkeit - a definition of labour power identical to that in the Urtext - ed.) is, in fixed capital existing as machinery, posited at the same time as the relation of the use-value of capital to the use-value of labour capacity; further, the value objectified in the machinery appears as a presupposition against which the valorizing power of the individual labour capacity is an infinitesimal, vanishing magnitude..." (Grundrisse pp. 693-24.)

This devalorization is expressed in the inessential aspect that man's activity in the production process tends to assume.

"To the degree that labour time - the mere quantum of labour - is posited by capital as the sole determinant element, to that degree does immediate labour and its quantity disappear as the determinant principle of production - of the creation of use-values -" (Grundrisse p. 700)

A little further on:

"Labour no longer appears to be included so much within the labour process; rather, the human being comes to relate more as a watchman and regulator to the production process itself." (ibid. p. 705)


"The worker appears as superfluous to the extent that his action is not conditioned by capital's requirements." (ibid. p. 695)

"(Immediate labour) is reduced, both quantitatively, to a smaller proportion, and qualitatively, as an, of course, indispensable, but subordinate moment compared to general scientific labour, technological application of the natural sciences on the one hand, and to the general productive force arising from the social combination (Gliederung) in total production on the other - a combination which appears as a natural fruit of social labour (although it is a historical product). Capital thus works towards its own dissolution as the form dominating production." (ibid. p. 700)

Devalorization thus stands in relation not only to the socialization of production, but also to the socialization of man himself; large-scale industry produces the collective worker which is the basis of the social man of tomorrow. This is the meaning of Capital Volume I Parts Four and Five.

The process of the destruction of the human being by the exploitation of the proletariat has its positive side in the dissolution of capitalism, and thus can be the point of departure for communism. We can complete the analysis of the subsumption of the worker under fixed capital with some more citations from the Grundrisse.

"...the entire production process-appears as not subsumed under the immediate skilfulness of the worker, but rather as the technological application of science." (ibid. p. 699)

"The accumulation of knowledge and of skill, of the general productive forces of the social brain, is thus absorbed into capital, as opposed to labour, and hence appears as an attribute of capital, and more specifically of fixed capital in so far as it enters into the production process as a means of production proper." (ibid. p. 694)

The use-value of capital (objectified labour) supplants the use-value of living labour. It destroys in parallel the basis of individual production.

"In direct exchange, individual immediate labour appears as realized in a particular product or part of the product, and its communal, social character - its character as objectification of general labour and satisfaction of the general need - as posited through exchange alone. In the production process of large-scale industry, by contrast, just as the conquest of the forces of nature by the social intellect is the precondition of the productive power of the means of labour as developed into the automatic process, on one hand, so, on the other, is the labour of the individual in its direct presence posited as suspended i.e. as social labour. Thus the other basis for this mode of production falls away." (Grundrisse p. 709)

After subjugating all production, capital also subjugates the means of circulation:

"...the production of cheap means of communication and transport is a condition for production based on capital, and promoted by it for that reason." (ibid. p. 524)

"The separation of public works from the state and their migration into the domain of the works undertaken by capital itself, indicates the degree to which the real community has constituted itself in the form of capital." (ibid. p. 531)

But does not this community (Gemeinwesen) inhibit the movement of valorization, or, in other words, has not capital itself created an obstacle to its own development as self-valorizing value? And is this not a contradiction between socialization of production and privatization of the appropriation of surplus-value, between the result of development and its basis? Capital resolves these problems in its own way, destroying, as we have seen, what has been socialized.

3) Circulating capital and real domination of capital

Circulating capital too assumes a new function in the period of real subsumption of labour under capital:

"...thus does it now appear as a quality of circulating capital to maintain labour in one branch of production by means of co-existing labour in another." (ibid. p. 700)

"In the minor circulation (i.e. in the course of the exchange M = C (v), the buying of labour power - ed.), capital advances to the worker the wages which the latter exchanges for products necessary for his consumption. The money he obtains has this power only because others are working alongside him at the same time and capital can give him claims on alien labour, in the form of money, only because it has appropriated his own labour. This exchange of one's own labour with the labour of others appears here not as mediated and determined by the simultaneous existence of the labour of others, but rather by the advance which capital makes. That the worker can effect the organic exchange (Stoffwechsel)[5] necessary for his consumption during production appears as due to an attribute on the part of circulating capital which is paid to the worker, and of the circulating capital generally. It appears not as an organic exchange between the simultaneous labour powers, but as the organic exchange of capital; thus, that circulating capital exists." (ibid. p. 700)

This function was fulfilled by labour during the period of formal domination:

"But when considering circulation and the reproduction process, we have seen that it is only possible to reproduce the commodity after it is finished and converted into money, because simultaneously all its elements have been produced and reproduced by means of co-existing labour." (TSV III p. 278)

Here Marx took up a point that Hodgskin made in a polemic with Ricardo: he wanted to make it clear how it was that labour produces all wealth:

"What emerges from one sphere of production as the product enters another as a condition of production, and in this way goes through many successive phases until it receives its last finish as use-value. Here previous labour appears continually as the condition for existing labour." (ibid.)

"There exists not only a cycle comprising various phases, but all the phases of the commodity are simultaneously produced in the various spheres and branches of production. If the same peasant just plants flax, then spins it, then weaves it, these operations are performed in succession, but not simultaneously as the mode of production based on the division of labour within society presupposes."

"No matter what phase of the production process of an individual commodity is considered, the antecedent labour only acquires significance as a result of the living labour which it provides with the necessary conditions of production." (ibid. p. 279)

But, if it is true that labour creates all wealth, it is no less true that capital, as it appropriates surplus-value, seems to be endowed with this ability. This occurs in the phase of real domination, in which everything appears as capital. Marx therefore ceased to use the term co-existing labour and used co-existing capital instead.

"Thus all powers of labour are transposed into powers of capital; the productive power of labour into fixed capital (posited as external to labour and as existing independently of it (reified (sachlich))); and, in circulating capital, the fact that the worker himself has created the conditions for the repetition of his labour, and that the exchange of this, his labour, is mediated by the co-existing labour of others, appears in such a way that capital gives him an advance and posits the simultaneity of the branches of labour, (These last two aspects actually belong to accumulation.) Capital in the form of circulating capital posits itself as mediator between the different workers." (Grundrisse p. 701)

The continuity of capital, the possibility of its reproduction, lies in co-existing labour; but, given wage-labour, it appears as a property of capital in its form of circulating capital.

Now everything has become capital. The real subject of production, human labour, is masked. This will have repercussions inside the process of production of capital. In it:

"The labour time employed in the production of fixed capital relates to that employed in the production of circulating capital, within the production process of capital itself, as does surplus labour time to necessary labour time. To the degree that production aimed at the satisfaction of immediate need becomes more productive, a greater part of production can be directed towards the need of production itself, or the production of means of production." (ibid. p. 709)

At this point we have the total subsumption of labour under capital;

"Where capital rules (just as where there is slavery and bondage or serfdom of any kind), the worker's absolute labour time is posited for him as condition of being allowed to work the necessary labour time, i.e. of being allowed to realize the labour time necessary for the maintenance of his labour capacity in use-values for himself." (ibid. p. 533)

4) Commodities - Products of capital

"Originally we regarded the individual commodity as the result and direct product of a determined quantum of labour. Now that the commodity appears as the product of capitalist production, there is a formal change in this respect." (TSV II p. 2614)

The determination of value through the labour time required to produce or, more exactly, to reproduce, a commodity is no longer sufficient at this point. Now we must introduce two new elements: paid labour time linked to necessary labour time, and unpaid labour time tied to surplus-value.

"The commodity as the product of capital can be said to contain one part paid, another part unpaid labour." (Results p. 954)

This must be specified by saying:

"A portion of this objectified labour (aside from constant capital for which an equivalent has been paid) is exchanged for the equivalent of the worker's wages; another portion is appropriated by the capitalist without any equivalent being paid." (ibid.)

So there is non-equivalence and the law of value cannot function! This is the great difficulty that the classical economists were unable to overcome:

"Ricardo does not actually explain how the exchange of commodities according to the law of value (according to the labour time embodied in the commodities) gives rise to the unequal exchange between capital and living labour..." (TSV III p. i.)

Marx clearly poses the source of this difficulty:

"Now, wage-labour, however, is a commodity. It is even the basis on which the production of products as commodities takes place. The law of value is not applicable to it. Capitalist production therefore is not governed at all by this law." (TSV II p. 397)

That was the conclusion of the economists, but Marx resolved the problem by demonstrating, as we have seen, that the exchange takes place between objectified capital-labour and labour-power; the latter, in the course of its productive consumption, generating a quantum of value greater than that with which it is exchanged. The entire development of capitalism consists of the search to extract an ever greater quantum of value from living labour; thus, to say that commodities produced by capital contain ever more unpaid labour corresponds to the following thesis: capital dominates labour-power to an ever greater extent and exploits it ever more intensively, without ever contradicting the law of value. The value of labour power has to fall to a minimum for this to happen (another aspect of devalorization), in such a way that, for a determined period of its utilization, the surplus-value extracted is as great as possible.

Another characteristic of the commodity as the product of capital is that

"the individual commodity does not appear materially as a part of the total product of capital, but as an aliquot part of the total produced by it." (Results p. 954)[6]

Marx then indicates the tendency of capital regarding the production of commodities: -

"Apart from certain extraneous factors irrelevant for our present purposes, the tendency and the result of the capitalist mode of production is steadily to increase the productivity of labour. (Which is a consequence of the law indicated above - ed.) Hence it also increases the mass of the means of production converted into products by the use of the same quantity of additional labour. This additional labour is then distributed progressively over a greater mass of products, thus reducing the price of each individual commodity, and commodity prices in general." (ibid. pp. 959-60)

"...more goods are produced containing a greater proportion of unpaid labour." (ibid. p. 962)[7]

A final characteristic of the commodity, directly linked to devalorization:

"The individual commodity viewed as the product of capital, the actual elementary component of the reproduced and valorized capital, differs then from the individual commodity with which we began regarded as the presupposition of the constitution of capital, as the commodity considered as autonomous also in that - except for so far considered in the points of price determination if the commodity is sold at its price, the value of the capital invested in its production may not be realized, and the surplus-value created by that capital even less so." (ibid. p. 966)

Here too the Results anticipates the content of Capital Volume III: the transformation of value into production price, and the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. Thus it is really a synthesis of Marx's entire work, at the same time providing a unifying thread, essential for the study of the forms of value in the capitalist system.

5) Capital and the domination of the law of value: Autonomization of capital

Firstly one must note that the commodity as product of capital presupposes a change in the form of production. In particular, the commodity in simple commodity production was the goal of production, the real product of production. However, in capitalism this is no longer the case and the commodity is only apparently the product of production. The real product is surplus-value. But to affirm this is to deny that capital really dominates the conditions of production, production itself. Really, it would be the same as emphasizing the action of man, of the proletariat, which really did produce the surplus-value. As we have seen, when capital attains total domination, it appears as though it creates the excess of value itself. This is why the transformation of surplus-value into profit, and the rate of surplus-value into the rate of profit, derives directly from capital's domination: one is indissolubly linked with the other. This is why Marx, in the Grundrisse writes of interest-bearing capital when analysing the transformation of surplus-value into profit.

Thus we must see how capitalism subsumes the law of value, so as to extract the greatest possible value from labour, in order to resolve the apparent contradiction mentioned in the previous citation. For the problem, we must remember, is always situated on the level of value.

"Whatever may be the ways in which the prices of different commodities are first established or fixed in relation to one another, the law of value governs their movement." (Capital III p. 277)

"All changes in the price of production of commodities can be ultimately reduced to a change in value." (ibid. p. 308)

Besides, the whole life of capital - value in process - consists in overcoming the revolutions of value:

"Since we are firstly dealing here with the forms of movement, we have not considered the revolutions that the capital value may suffer in its circulatory process; it is clear however that despite all revolutions in value capitalist production can exist and continue to exist only so long as the capital value is valorized, i.e. describes its circuit as value that has become independent, and therefore so long as the revolutions in value are somehow or other mastered and balanced out." (Capital II p. 185)

The contradiction thus unfolds in the development of capital value.

For capital to manifest itself according to its being, it must always be value in process, which has a corollary that it must not be fixed in any way, in any of its determinations. On the contrary, it must assume and then abandon all the forms successively to realize the valorization of the value advanced. This can be expressed in other terms as exchange-value that has reached autonomy. We saw the first phase of this development in the Urtext. In the Results Marx states that this autonomy is a characteristic of the capitalist mode of production. In Capital Volume II, and above all in Volume III, he also explains how capital makes itself autonomous. This implies the domination of the process which, historically, generated it, in fact is analogous to that of gold:

"The movement through which this process has been mediated vanishes in its own result, leaving no trace behind. Without any initiative on their part, the commodities find their own value-configuration ready to hand in the commodity-bodies (Warenkörper) existing outside, but also alongside them. These physical objects, gold and silver, immediately on appearance from the bowels of the earth, become the direct incarnation of all human labour. Hence the magic of money." (Capital I p. 187)

But capital has a magic power too, since the economists say that it is capable of creating value. Let us look at the various stages of autonomization.

a) Transformation of surplus-value into profit and rate of surplus-value into rate of profit

What is essential to capital is to valorize, to generate an increment of value, and not necessarily to realize the whole of the surplus-value that it squeezes out of the worker. In fact, the capitalist advances a certain capital k = (c + v) , which he calls the cost of production:

"The capitalist cost of the commodity is measured by the expenditure of capital whereas the actual cost of the commodity is measured by the expenditure of labour." (Capital III p. 118)

We see that at this point capital posits itself as the dominating element, since surplus-value is not taken into account in the production cost. In other words, the valorization process prevails over the labour process.

Once k has entered into the process of production and circulation, the capitalist wants to obtain a quantity k' which is larger than k. It is evident that he would also like k' to be as large as possible, but competition has the effect that this can only be realized within certain limits. Thus capital is not viable until it is able to generate an increase - even a minimal one - so that k' is different from k; i.e. k must be transformed into k + Δk, such that k' - k = Δk. Δk is profit. Thus we find the formula that Marx used in the Results when he analysed the transformation of money into capital. A sum of money x is only capital if it can be transformed into x + Δx.

"Profit, as we are originally faced with it, is thus the same thing as surplus-value, save in a mystified form, though one that necessarily arises from the capitalist mode of production. Because no distinction between constant and variable capital can be recognized in the apparent formation of the cost price, the origin of the change in value that occurs in the course of the production process is shifted from the variable capital to the capital as a whole. Because the price of labour-power appears at one pole in the transformed form of wages, surplus-value appears at the other pole in the transformed form of profit." (Capital III p. 127)

The same happens with the rate of profit:

"The rate of surplus-value, as measured against the variable capital, is known as the rate of surplus-value; the rate of surplus-value, as measured against the total capital, is known as the rate of profit. These are two different standards for measuring the same quantity, and as a result are able to express the different relationships in which the same quantity may stand." (ibid. pp. 133-4)

From this point on:

"... capital appears as a relationship to itself, a relationship in which it is distinguished as an original sum of value, from another new value that it posits." (ibid. p. 139)

Similarly, surplus-value had to be distinguished from the advanced, value. Moreover, capital, which has taken over all branches of production - everything has become capital - needs its own system of measurement. [8] This is why we find the autonomization that will develop into the transformation of profit into average social profit.

b) Transformation of profit into average social profit.

Social capital, as a whole, gives rise to a certain profit. The rate of average social profit is given by the relation of this total profit to the totality of capital advanced. The whole of social capital thus determines the rate of profit, imposing it on all the individual capitals. Also the mass of profit is equal to the mass of surplus-value. As aliquot parts of social capital, all capitals tend to realize the average social rate of profit and thus to secure a portion of the social mass of surplus-value expropriated from the workers. But they can only do so in proportion to the surplus-value that they have really squeezed out of the proletariat. What matters is to recuperate a quantity of surplus-value larger than the one advanced: this takes place through competition between different capitals.

At this point of the argument, Marx makes an observation that situates in a new way the apparent contradiction of which we spoke regarding the law of value in capitalism:

"We have shown, therefore, that in different branches of industry unequal profit rates prevail, corresponding to the different organic composition of capitals, and, within the indicated limits, corresponding also to their different turnover times; so that at a given rate of surplus-value it is only for capitals of the same organic composition - assuming equal turnover times - that the law holds good, as a general tendency, that profits stand in direct proportion to the amount of capital, and that capitals of equal size yield equal profits in the same period of time. The above argument is true on the same basis as our whole investigation so far: that commodities are sold at their values. There is no doubt, however, that in actual fact, ignoring inessential, accidental circumstances that cancel each other out, no such variation in the average rate of profit exists between different branches of industry, and it could not exist without abolishing the entire system of capitalist production. The theory of value thus appears incompatible with the actual movement, incompatible with the actual phenomena of production, and it might seem that we must abandon all hope of understanding these phenomena." (ibid. p. 252)

Having mentioned the apparent contradiction which we mentioned, Marx goes on to show where the real difficulty lies:

"The whole difficulty arises from the fact that commodities are not exchanged simply as commodities but as the products of capitals, which claim shares in the total mass of surplus-value according to their size, equal shares for equal size." (ibid. p. 275)

As we have said, the mass of surplus-value is equal to the mass of profit. All capitals earn in proportion to their size.

At the end of this process of equalization, all surplus-value (and thus all profit) has been divided among the various capitals. For every capital, the increase of value derives from one source only the workers' labour power. Social capital divides the extorted surplus-value by means of competition:

"Competition executes the inner laws of capital; makes them into compulsory laws for the individual capital, but it does not invent them. It realizes them." (Grundrisse p. 752)

Thus capital has subsumed under itself the law of value - this was already indicated in the passage to the real domination of capital, i.e. when capital absolutely dominates the very fount of value - it mediates the individual values, and their mediated form is production price (cost of production + profit: c + v + ∏ = k').

"The changes in the labour-time required for the production of the commodities and therefore in their value, now appear in connection with the cost price, and therefore also with the price of production, as a different distribution of the same wages over more or fewer commodities, according to whether more or fewer commodities are produced in the same labour-time for the same wages. What the capitalist sees, and therefore the political economist as well, is that the part of paid labour which falls to each item of the commodity changes with the productivity of labour, and so too therefore does the value of each individual article; he does not see that this is also the case with the unpaid labour contained in each article, and the less so, as the average profit is in fact only accidently determined by the unpaid labour absorbed in his own sphere. The fact that the value of commodities is determined by the labour they contain now continues to percolate through only in this crudified and aconceptual form." (Capital III p. 272)

The movement which generated capital (the exchange between living and dead, objectified labour) is masked; as is the relation between variable and constant capital, on one hand, and the relation between variable capital and surplus-value (only the surplus-value of a capital with the average social organic composition is equal to profit), on the other. In fact it is the amount c + v = k, as production cost and advanced capital, that is the determining factor. The movement disappears in the result: the magic of capital.

One should recall on this subject the objections made by the economists, presented by Marx in the Contribution:

"In accordance with the changing conditions of demand and supply, the market price of commodities falls below or rises above their exchange-value. The exchange-value of commodities is, consequently, determined not by the labour-time contained in them, but by the relation of demand and supply. In fact this strange conclusion only raises the question of how on the basis of exchange-value (our emphasis - ed.) a market price differing from this exchange-value comes into being, or rather, how the law of value asserts itself only in its antithesis." (Contribution p. 62)

Invariance of Marxism! The solution was well known before the publication of Capital Volume III. Nevertheless, there were, and still are, halfwits who maintain that the explanation given of production prices is a concession. Marx did not make a theoretical retreat; he did not need to make concessions because everything was included in the forms of value.

The vulgar economists who made the above objection maintained in practice that the law of value no longer operated under capitalism; that the value of commodities was no longer determined by socially necessary labour time.

"It is clear, therefore, that although the cost-prices of most commodities must differ from their values, and hence the “costs of production” of these commodities must differ from the total quantity of labour contained in them, nevertheless, those costs of production and those cost-prices are not only determined by the values of the commodities and confirm the law of value instead of contradicting it, but, moreover, that the very existence of costs of production and cost-prices can be comprehended only on the basis of value and its laws, and becomes a meaningless absurdity without that premise."

"At the same time one perceives how economists who, on the one hand, observe the actual phenomena of competition and, on the other hand, do not understand the relationship between the law of value and the law of cost-price, resort to the fiction that capital, not labour, determines the value of commodities or rather that there is no such thing as value." (TSV III pp. 82-3)

The economists come to a conclusion of this sort because they base their arguments on the apparent phenomenon and its result: the autonomization of capital. But this appearance only means that capitalism dominates the law of value. If value really no longer existed, it would mean that capital had totally freed itself from its basis, from its own conditions of life: exchange between living and objectified labour, it would create products by itself and there would no longer be valorization. The exchange is masked at the level of the individual capital, but reappears bright and clear at the social level, even if the quantity of living labour tends to diminish.

The formation of an average social rate of profit is the result of the autonomization of capital. It can become autonomous only by developing its social character, as happened with exchange-value during the period of mercantile production. We saw how value, through the generalization of exchange, increasingly becomes the representative of the entire abstract labour of society (money). By thus assuming a social function, it makes itself independent of all the use-values which are at the basis of its formation, because all use-values are equivalent to money. But this movement had a limit, linked to the very nature of circulation: money negates its social character whenever it must be exchanged with a particular commodity.

For capital, circulation by means of competition allows the transformation of value into production prices. It is the means by which capital achieves autonomy with respect to the immediate process of production. It can operate in every sphere, and this provokes the levelling of the conditions of production inasmuch as, in the end, two capitals of the same size, even when they have different organic compositions, have the same rate of profit. This happens solely because capital has become social, and is no longer merely one element in society alongside landed property, for example, or handicrafts. Immediate labour time no longer determines value directly. In other words, capital is its own general equivalent. Each quantum of capital is reflected in social capital; the latter determines the amount of growth of the former. All individual capitals are relative to social capital. This is how the law of value appears in the capitalist system.

Capital dominates the law of value, and the equalization of the rates of profit becomes a presupposition of capitalist production:

"Hence capital appears as capital, as presupposed value relating to itself through the mediation of its own process as posited, produced value, and the value posited by it is called profit. (Grundrisse p. 762)

So capital exercises an absolute domination over society, and tends to become society: the final stage in the development of its social character. The opposition is no longer between capital and previous modes of production, but between a fraction of capital and capital itself, the presupposition of the production and circulation processes.

"Capital arrives at this equalization to a greater or lesser extent, according to how advanced capitalist development is in a given national society: i.e. the more the conditions in the country in question are adapted to the capitalist mode of production. As capitalist production advances, so also do its requirements become more extensive, and it subjects all the social preconditions that frame the production process to its specific character and immanent laws." (Capital III pp. 297-8)

In other words, capital becomes its own measure, just as gold was the measure of all commodity values. This, once again, expresses its autonomization and magic. This is why capital is the last mode of production based on value, for it is the form where value constitutes itself as society. Engels explains this in the 'Preface' to Capital Volume III, and Marx shows it in a clear fashion in the Grundrisse.

"The exchange of living labour for objectified labour - i.e. the positing of social labour in the form of the contradiction of capital and wage-labour is the ultimate development of the value-relation and of production resting on value." (Grundrisse p. 704)

Capital itself tends to negate value. For this to happen, the proletariat must be completely subsumed, otherwise the domination of the law of value would be meaningless.

"From what has been said so far, we can see that each individual capitalist, just like the totality of all capitalists in each particular sphere of production, participates in the exploitation of the total working class by the totality of capital, and in the level of this exploitation; not just in terms of general class sympathy, but in a direct economic sense, since, taking all other circumstances as given, including the value of the total constant capital advanced, the average rate of profit depends on the level of exploitation of labour as a whole by capital as a whole." (Capital III pp. 298-9)

Finally, in the study of the relation between the rate of surplus-value and the rate of profit, Marx explains the relation between valorization and devalorization. He gives a mathematical formula: ∏'/s' = v/k. Here v/k is the relation between the quantity of living labour employed in a production process and the mass of objectified value (advanced capital) which it can set in motion it could also be called valorization of capital: or, more exactly, potential valorization in its form at the beginning of the production process, before valorization actually takes place. Realized valorization would be s/k, i.e. the relation of surplus-value to advanced capital (rate of profit). This shows what really has been extorted by a given capital. Finally, if one analyses the question at a social level, it is clear that this valorization will be expressed by ∏/k; profit is now determined by the mechanism of competition between particular capitals.

"In fact the ratio s/k expresses the degree of valorization of the whole capital advanced; i.e. viewed in accordance with the conceptual, inner connection and the actual nature of surplus-value, it shows how the variation of the variable capital is related in magnitude to the total capital advanced. (Capital III pp. 136-7)

But, at the same time, Marx indicates the latter's devalorization because, historically, constant capital tends to grow massively compared to variable capital. So v/k tends to diminish. This causes the tendency of which we have already spoken, which is to lessen the quantity of the value advanced, above all in the form of constant capital: i.e. devalorization. If a large amount of value is fixed in the form of k, evidently ∏' diminishes (so fixation = devalorization). A fraction of k must be liberated (thus devalorized) to permit a larger valorization.

In a different form, the formula becomes: ∏ = s'. v/k

which shows that to have an increase in the rate of profit, when the advanced capital increases enormously, the rate of surplus-value must also increase considerably, i.e. the exploitation of the proletariat is always increasing. Parallel to devalorization, there is a diminution of the paid labour embodied in commodities. It is the other aspect of the devalorization we saw in the Results. This formula implies the socialization of production in the forms we previously analysed, and, finally, the tendential fall in the rate of profit, which we shall study now.

c) Law of the tendential fall of the rate of profit

Capital's domination is absolute at the historical stage where this law is manifested. We saw how it came to control fixed capital and to control the simultaneous forms (as circulating capital in its co-existing aspect).

"Thus, the specific mode of working here appears directly as becoming transfered from the worker to capital in the form of the machine, and his own labour capacity devalorized by this transposition. Hence the workers' struggle against machinery. What was the worker's activity becomes the activity of the machine." (Grundrisse p. 704.)

Capital dominates labour, the creator of exchange-value. Everything happens as though it were capital, and not labour, the causes the increase in value.

The law is formulated thus:

"Since the mass of living labour applied continuously declines in relation to the mass of objectified labour that it sets in motion, i.e. the productively consumed means of production, the part of this living labour that is unpaid and objectified in surplus-value must also stand in an ever decreasing ratio to the value of the total capital applied. But this ratio between the mass of surplus-value and the total capital applied in fact constitutes the rate of profit, which must therefore steadily fall." (Capital III p. 319)

It sums up all the contradictions of the capitalist system analysed above. It implies others, which are linked to the struggle against the tendential fall, and to the efforts made to limit its consequences: so one must now see the movement of autonomization and expropriation and "discover and present the concrete forms which grow out of the process of capital's movement considered as a whole. (ibid. p. 117) Basically, this comes down to analysing the consequences of the law of production prices, i.e. the consequences of the domination of value by capital.

6) Consequences of the law of production prices. Consequences of the domination of the law of value by capital.

a) Expropriation

On the one hand, expropriation is no longer effected at the expense of the workers; on the other hand, it no longer operates on the same elements. The worker can no longer be separated from his means of production. Expropriation, then, takes place at someone else's expense - the capitalist's.

"It is in fact this divorce between the conditions of labour on the one hand and the producers on the other that forms the concept of capital, as this arises with primitive accumulation (Volume I, Part Eight), subsequently appearing as a constant process in the accumulation and concentration of capital, before it is finally expressed here as the centralization of capitals already existing in a few hands, and the decapitalization of many (expropriation here undergoes changes). This process would entail the rapid breakdown of capitalist production, if counter-acting tendencies were not constantly at work alongside this centripetal force, in the direction of decentralization." (ibid. pp. 344-5)

"Expropriation now extends from the immediate producers to the small and medium capitalists themselves. Expropriation is the starting-point of the capitalist mode of production, whose goal is to carry it through to completion, and even in the last instance to expropriate all individuals from the means of production - which, with the development of social production, cease to be means and products of private production, and can only remain means of production in the hands of the associated producers as their social property, just as they are their social product." (ibid. p. 571)

The concentration of capital corresponds to the ever greater socialization of production. This means that capitalism generates communism just as the feudal mode of production generated capitalism. It therefore creates its own negation. Consequently, it can only guarantee its own survival by destroying this antagonism: hence decentralization, privatization and liberation of parcels of capital which are, so to speak, severed from the fixed capital by the development of the mode of production. This is again devalorization with the intention of positing a new valorization.

b) Autonomization

Capital Interest

In its purest form as money-capital, finance capital, capital presents the same double nature as the commodity: use-value and exchange-value:

"On the basis of capitalist production, money - taken here as the independent expression of a sum of value, whether this actually exists in money or in commodities - can be transformed into capital, and through this transformation is turned from a given, fixed value into a self-valorizing value capable of increasing itself. It produces profit, i.e. it enables the capitalist to extract and appropriate for himself a certain quantum of unpaid labour, surplus product and surplus-value. In this way the money receives, besides the use-value which it possesses as money, an additional use-value, namely the ability to function as capital. Its use-value here consists precisely in the profit that it produces when transformed into capital. In this capacity of potential capital, as a means to the production of profit, it becomes a commodity, but a commodity sui generis. Or what comes to the same thing, capital as capital becomes a commodity." (Capital III pp. 459-60)

If the capitalist hands over this commodity to another who uses it, the latter pays a determined sum to the former when he has finished using it, an interest over and above the commodity itself which he has to return. Interest, therefore, pays for the use of capital, representing:

"The use-value of money lent out in its capacity to function as capital and a such to produce the average profit under average conditions." (ibid. p. 474)

The use-value of this capital is shown by the fact that it allows the process of valorization. We can see the extent to which capital has become autonomous:

"The antithetical determination of material wealth - its antithesis to labour as wage-labour is already expressed in capital ownership as such, quite apart from the production process. This one moment, then, separated from the capitalist production process itself, whose constant result it is, and as whose constant result it is also its presupposition, is expressed in this way: that money, and likewise commodities, are in themselves latent, potential capital, i.e. can be sold as capital; in this form they give control of the labour of others, give a claim to the appropriation of others' labour, and are therefore self-valorizing value. It also emerges very clearly here how this relationship is the title to, and the means to the appropriation of the labour of others, and not any kind of labour that the capitalist is supposed to offer as an equivalent." (ibid. p. 477)

The limit to this autonomy can only be labour-power, in the sense that capital can never suppress its dependence on it. However, one is no longer dealing with individual labourpower (we saw how, at this stage of development, this no longer exists) but with social labour-power, i.e. the proletariat, unified by capitalism itself, even if it superficially appears to be divided among parties of various shades, and by reformist trade-unions which seek to split it, or to maintain this split as a basis of their business. This unity, constantly sought by the proletariat to destroy the autonomization of capital, must be prevented. Here again, communism is the prisoner of capitalism. When capitalism reaches its maximum development, communism is the enemy it must mystify. But let us return to the characteristics of this autonomy:

1) The apparent ability to create surplus-value:

"As the growing process is to trees, so generating money (TOKOS) appears innate in capital in its form of money-capital." (ibid. p. 517)

2) Capital is its own measure:

"It is a relation of quantities, the ratio between the principal as a given value, and itself as self-valorizing value, as a principal that has produced a surplus-value." (ibid. p. 515)[9]

Exchange-value that has attained autonomy is capital itself tending to autonomy: and it can only do so by liberating itself from the exchange with the use-value which accompanies its birth. Here autonomized capital is exchanged, or bought, only for its use-value, i.e. for its ability to enter the immediate process of production and to come out of it valorized. One could say, making an analogy with labour-power, that it is bought for its production-power.

"What in fact is sold is its use-value, whose function in this case is to produce exchange-value, to yield profit, to produce more value than it itself contains." (TSV III p. 458)

And yet [9] we know how this is possible, it is because during the process dead labour is exchanged with living labour. Thus capital evidently encounters a limit to its autonomization; it cannot liberate itself from the immediate process of production where it comes up against its antagonist, living labour. Capital is thus a production power only to the extent that it succeeds in obtaining labour-power.


Capital seems able to escape this limit (like the effects of the tendential fall of the rate of profit) only by developing the form of credit by means of share capital and fictitious capital. Credit is the most important creation of the capitalist system; it is due to credit that the autonomization of value becomes a social reality.

"This also disposes of the pointless question of whether capitalist production on its present scale would be possible without credit (even considered from this standpoint alone), i.e. with a merely metallic circulation. It would clearly not be possible. It would come up against the limits of precious metal production." (Capital II p. 420) [10]

What is the role of credit in capitalist production?

"I. Its necessary formation to bring about the equalization of the profit rate or the movement of this equalization, on which the whole of capitalist production depends.

II. The reduction of circulation costs,

III. Formation of joint-stock companies." (Capital III pp. 566-7)

'Credit offers the individual capitalist, or the person who can pass as a capitalist, an absolute command over the capital and property of others, within certain limits, and, through this, command over other people's labour. It is disposal over social capital, rather than his own, that gives him command over social labour. The actual capital that someone possesses, or is taken to possess by public opinion, now becomes simply the basis for a superstructure of credit." (Capital III p. 570)

"The credit system hence accelerates the material development of the productive forces and the creation of the world market, which it is the historical task of the capitalist mode of production to bring to a certain level of development, as material foundations for the new form of production." (ibid. p. 572)

What is this formation of fictitious capital?

"The formation of fictitious capital is known as capitalization. Any regular periodic income can be capitalized by reckoning it up, on the basis of the average rate of interest, as the sum that a capital lent out at this interest rate would yield. For example, if the annual income in question is £100 and the rate of interest 5%, then £100 is the annual interest on £2,000, and this £2,000 is taken as the capital value of the legal ownership title to this £100. For the person who buys this ownership title, the annual £100 does actually represent the conversion of the capital he has invested into interest. In this way, all connection with the actual process of capital's valorization is lost, right down to the last trace, confirming the notion that capital is automatically valorized by its own powers." (ibid. p. 597)

Here the cycle comes to an end:

"If capital originally appeared on the surface of circulation as the capital fetish, value-creating value, so it now presents itself once again in the figure of interest-bearing capital as its most estranged and peculiar form." (ibid. p. 968)

"The incomprehensible superficial form we encounter and which has therefore constituted the starting-point of our analysis, is found again as the result of the process in which the form of capital is gradually more and more estranged and rendered independent of its inner substance.

"We started with money as the converted form of the commodity. What we arrive at is money as the converted form of capital, just as we have perceived that the commodity is the precondition and the result of the production process of capital." (TSV III p. 166)

We saw that Marx explains that capital is apparently a "fluens which posits a fluxion" in the Results. That is to say that it is a quantity x which can be transformed into x + Δx. Marx made clear what is hidden under this appearance and what are the conditions for the realization of such a transformation: the labour process and the valorization process; and finally how capital's own movement creates this appearance. What is said in the Results finds its final development here. The apparent phenomenon is not an illusion, but corresponds to reality. It was vital to list the conditions necessary for the manifestation of this reality, so we can grasp the unity of Marx' s theory and its extraordinary cohesion. Various developments appear as simple digressions, but this is only because the author did not have time to finish his work, which he himself considered as a whole:

"As far as regards my work, I'll tell you clearly what there is of it. There are still three chapters to be written to finish the theoretical part (the first three volumes of Capital). Then there will be the fourth volume, the historical-literary volume, which will be relatively easy for me whatever the defects they may have, their good point is that they constitute an artistic whole, and this can only be attained with my system of not publishing them until I have them completed in front of me." (Marx to Engels, 31. 7.1865 in MEW B. 31 p. 132)

One man's lifetime was not enough to present that whole of the work. It appeared as a product of the species: already generations of Marxists have devoted themselves to developing it in its totality.

7) Eternity of capital. Destruction of values to guarantee value in process, capital

Once this autonomy has been achieved, capital aspires to eternity, to imperishability, as was discussed in the Urtext (page 938). The trinity formula: capital profit (profit of the entrepreneur plus interest), land-rent, labour-wages, is merely the vulgar expression of this autonomization. The bourgeoisie and their theoreticians were similarly led to identify their transitory form of society with society in its becoming, having before their eyes autonomized capital positing itself as absolute.

"Their social character in the capitalist production process, determined by a particular historical epoch, is an innate material character natural to them, and eternally so, as it were, as elements of the production process." (Capital III p. 964)

a) Crises

One of the tasks of production as a whole is therefore to guarantee this autonomy:

"It is the foundation of capitalist production that money confronts commodities as an autonomous form of value, or that exchange-value must obtain an autonomous form in money, and this is possible only if one particular commodity becomes the material in whose value all other commodities are measured, this thereby becoming the universal commodity, the commodity par excellence in contrast to all other commodities. (This was shown both in the Urtext and in the Contribution - ed.) This must show itself in two ways, particularly in developed capitalist countries, which replace money to a large extent either by credit operations or by credit money. In times of pressure, when credit contracts or dries up altogether, money suddenly confronts commodities absolutely as the only means of payment and the true existence of value. Hence the general devalorization of commodities and the difficulty or even impossibility of transforming them into money, i.e. into their own purely fantastic form. Secondly, however, credit money is itself only money. In so far as it absolutely represents real money to the sum of its nominal value. With the drain of gold, its convertability into money becomes problematic, i.e. its identity with actual gold. Hence we get forcible measures, putting up the rate of interest, etc. in order to guarantee the conditions of this convertibility. This can be more or less intesified by erroneous legislation based on incorrect theories of money and enforced on the nation in the interest of money-dealers such as Overstone and company. But the basis for it is provided by the basis of the mode of production itself. A devalorization of credit money (not to speak of a complete loss of its monetary character (Entgeldung) which is in any case purely imaginary) would destroy all the existing relationships. The value of commodities is thus sacrificed, in order to ensure the fantastic and autonomous of existence of this value in money. In any event, a money value is only guaranteed as long as money itself is guaranteed. This is why many millions worth of commodities have to be sacrificed for a few millions in money. This is unavoidable in capitalist production, and forms one of its particular charms," (ibid. pp. 648-9)

We saw previously that capital, to ensure its valorization, tended to limit its own geographical development, and, that only the class struggle on an international scale forced it to develop over a wider area. The fundamental element of this coercion was the proletariat, which appeared as the real limit to the autonomization of value capital. We have just seen the objective aspect to this crisis; now we can see the subjective side, that of the producers:

"It is simply the needs of the capitalist mode of production, moreover, that lead the number of wage-labourers to increase absolutely, despite this relative decline. As far as this mode of production is concerned, labour-power is superfluous the moment it is no longer necessary to occupy it for 12 to 15 hours par day. A development in the productive forces that would reduce the absolute number of workers, and actually enable the whole nation to accomplish its entire production in a shorter period of time would produce a revolution, since it would put the majority of the population out of action[11]. Here we have once again the characteristic barrier to capitalist production, and we see how this is in no way an absolute form of the development of the productive forces and the creation of wealth, but rather comes into conflict with this at a certain point in its development. One aspect of this conflict is presented by the periodic crises that arise when one or another section of the working population is made superfluous in its old employment. The barrier to capitalist production is the surplus time of the workers. The absolute spare time that the society gains is immaterial to capitalist production. The development of productivity is only important to it in so far as it increases the surplus-labour time of the working class and does not just reduce the labour-time needed for material production in general; in this way it moves in a contradiction," (Capital III pp. 372-3)

There are vain attempts to soften these limits, but during crises they assume an insurmountable character.

"...with the development of the credit system, capitalist production constantly strives to overcome this metallic barrier, which is both a material and an imaginary barrier to wealth and its movement, while time and again breaking its head on it." (ibid. p. 708)

All fictitious capital. collapses during the crisis. This shows that capitalist production has not been able to eliminate the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, or, what is the same thing, the crisis is only a cat strophic means to overcome this contradiction. It has managed to dominate the law on the basis on which it developed (the law of value), but it cannot become the master of the law that rules it. This is why the tendential fall in the rate of profit is here:

"in every respect the most important law of modern political economy, and the most essential for understanding the most difficult relations. It is the most important law from the historical standpoint. It is a law which, despite its simplicity, has never before been grasped, much less consciously articulated." (Grundrisse p. 748)

b) Wars

 The transitory nature of the capitalist mode of production, which was masked by its development in times of prosperity, and which the bourgeois economists tried to deny, singing psalms to the eternity of capital, is revealed by the crisis:

"Hence it is evident that the material productive power already present, already worked out, existing in the form of fixed capital, as scientific power, together with the population etc., in short all conditions of wealth, that the greatest conditions for the reproduction of wealth, i.e. the abundant development of the social individual - that the development of the productive forces brought about by the historical development of capital itself, when it reaches a certain point, suspends (aufhebt) the self-valorization of capital, instead of positing it. Beyond a certain point, the development of the powers of production becomes a barrier for capital; hence the capital relation a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labour. When it has reached this point, capital, i.e. wage-labour, enters into the same relationship towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system, serfdom, slavery, and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter. The last form of servitude assumed by human activity, that of wage-labour on one hand, capital on the other, is thereby cast off like a skin; and this casting off (Abhäutung) itself is the result of the mode of production corresponding to capital; the material, and mental conditions of wage labour and of capital, themselves already the negation of earlier forms of unfree social production, are themselves results of its production process. The growing incompatibility between the productive development of society and its hitherto existing relations of production expresses itself in bitter contradictions, crises, spasms. The violent destruction of capital not by relations external to it, but rather as a condition of its self-preservation (as was explained above - ed.), is the most striking form in which advice is given to it to be gone and to make room for a higher state of social production. It is not only the growth of scientific power, but the measure in which it is already posited as fixed capital, the scope and width in which it is realized and has conquered the totality of production. It is, likewise, the development of the population etc., in short, of all moments of production; in that the productive power of labour, like the application of machinery, is related to the population; whose growth in and for itself is already the presupposition as well as the result of the growth of the use-values to be reproduced and hence also to be consumed [13].

"Since this decline of profit signifies the same as the decrease of immediate labour relative to the size of the objective labour which it reproduces and newly posits, capital will attempt every means of checking the smallness of the relation of living labour to the size of the capital generally, hence also of the surplus-value, if expressed as profit [14], relative to the presupposed capital, by reducing the allotment made to necessary labour and by still more expanding the quantity of surplus-labour with regard to the whole labour employed. Hence the highest development of the productive power together with the greatest expansion of existing wealth will coincide with depreciation of capital, degradation of the labourer, and a most straitened exhaustion of his vital powers. These contradictions lead to explosions, cataclysms, crises, in which by momentaneous suspension of labour and annihilation of a great portion of capital (a description of the wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45, and the crisis of 1929 - ed.) the latter is violently reduced to the point where it can go on. These contradictions of course lead to explosions, crises, in which momentary suspension of all labour and the annihilation of a great part of the capital violently lead it back to a point where it is enabled to go on fully employing its productive powers without committing suicide. (This sentence was written by Marx in German, the previous one in English, hence the repetition-ed.) Yet these regularly recurring catastrophes lead to their repetition on a higher scale, and finally to its violent overthrow (1975 ed.). There are moments in the developed movement of capital which delay this movement other than by crises; such as e.g. the constant devalorization of a part of the existing capital; the transformation of a great part of capital into fixed capital. which does not serve as agency of direct production; unproductive waste of a great portion of capital etc." (Grundrisse pp. 749-50)

Here then is the most crying contradiction of the capitalist mode of production there can be no valorization except through destruction and waste of existing value. We have already noted this characteristic of capitalism[15], showing that while originally it lessens social waste, later, when it reaches its senile phase, it raises it to a level never before reached. Further, this waste indicates the necessity of communism, its actual existence already present inside society.

Marx explains this more concisely in Capital Volume III, Chapter 15, 'Development of the Law's Internal Contradictions':

"To express this contradiction in the most general terms, it consists in the fact that the capitalist mode of production tends towards an absolute development of the productive forces irrespective of the value and the surplus-value that this contains, and even irrespective of the social relations within which capitalist production takes place; while on the other hand its purpose is to maintain the existing capital value and to valorize it to the utmost extent possible (i.e. an ever accelerated increase in this value). In its specific character it is directed towards using the existing capital value as a means for the greatest possible valorization of this value. The methods through which it attains this end involve a decline in the profit rate, the devalorization of the existing capital and the development of the productive forces of labour at the cost of the productive forces already produced." (ibid. pp. 357-8)

Marx expresses this in the same terms as in the Urtext and in the Results; the central point is clearly the contradictions implicit in the valorization of capital, value in process. Here we shall indicate only the consequences of the movement of the autonomization of value whose final stage is capital. The contradiction between valorization and devalorization would require deep study, here we can only give the main outlines that are indispensable for our argument. The data can be traced in all the works, but it is best studied in the Grundrisse. Nevertheless, some passages in Capital clarify the final point reached by the development of value.

The true barrier to capitalist production is capital itself. It is that capital and its self-valorization appear as the starting and finishing point, as the motive and the purpose of production; production is production only for capital and not the reverse, i.e. the means of production are not simply means for a steadily expanding pattern of life for the society of the producers. The barriers within which the maintenance and valorization of the capital value has necessarily to move - and this in turn depends on the dispossession and impoverishment of the great mass of the producers - therefore come constantly into contradiction with the methods of production that capital must apply to its purpose and which set its course towards an unlimited expansion of production, to production as an end in itself, to an unrestricted development of the social productive powers of labour. The means the unrestricted development of the forces of social production - comes into persistent conflict with the restricted end, the valorization of the existing capital." (Capital III pp. 358-9)


This is the objective aspect of the autonomized phenomenon - capital. But, as we saw, its valorization can only take place if there is exchange between dead and living labour. Hence we can analyse the same phenomenon, but from the subjective point of view, the point of view that allows valorization - the proletariat.

The value of a commodity is determined by the total labour-time contained in it, both past and living. The rise in labour productivity consists precisely in the fact that the share of living labour is reduced and that of past labour increased, but in such a way that the total sum of labour contained in the commodity declines; in other words the living labour declines by more than the past labour increases. The past labour embodied in the value of a commodity - the constant portion of capital - consists partly of the wear and tear of the fixed capital and partly of the circulating constant capital that goes completely into the commodity: raw and ancillary materials." (ibid. p. 369)


This is why we can say that the real limit to capital is the proletariat. Capital seeks to free itself from the proletariat, subsuming it under its power, immeasurably developing the productivity of labour, which means the increase of the power of dead, past labour, resulting in the vertiginous fall in the amount of living labour incorporated in the production process. But the more capital grows with large-scale production, and so tries to cut the ties of dependence to the antagonist, the more it prepares for the moment of violence when its direct link, the dependence on labour, will be confirmed. This is the crisis mentioned in the above citation from the Grundrisse. Here there is a readjustment of the economy. Shares and gold, signs of property of the labour of others[16], become guarantees for the new appropriations of unpaid labour, for capital cannot emancipate itself from wage-labour, which was one of the conditions essential for its birth. But it would mean a negation of capital if, at a certain moment, the proletariat could acquire on the market the means of subsistence necessary for life without needing the mediation of money. Capital cannot free itself from this restricted base, i.e. private property, which is the appropriation of the labour, more exactly, of the unpaid labour of others. The law of the tendential fall of the rate of profit expresses the tendency of capital to overcome its own limits and, therefore, to gain full autonomy, but, at the same time, its historical limits make it a transitory mode of production. It has managed to dominate the law of value, but it cannot destroy it.

8) Eternity of capital and the autonomization of the forms derived from value

Thus we have reached the end of the historical cycle of the autonomization of exchange-value. The first stage was money (the movement was effected vis-a-vis use-value); the second was capital, where the movement was effected at the expense of exchange-value; the third is the autonomy of capital itself (value is transformed into production price); from this one passes to the fourth stage in which the products of capital, the various forms of surplus-value, appear autonomous profit, interest, rent. Capital now does nothing but presuppose these elements, which clearly shows that it has attained domination over society. Society has become capital. This transformation is accompanied by the following fundamental inversion: wage-labour (purchase and sale of labour-power) no longer appears as a precondition but, it too, as a result. Thus capital-value is expressed by the sum of its different products wages + profit + rent. It is capital's trinity formula. We have already shown it to be false, its demagogic and anti-proletarian character. Capital is value in process, but the above formula makes it into a sum of values. If one is not clear about the growth of k into k + Δk, value in process cannot be understood. But it has the useful aspect - useful for the capitalist of masking the contradictions in the production process.

The economists are only interested in interpreting:

"the assertion of their autonomy vis-a-vis each other by the various relations of production which are bound up with the different material elements of the production process." (ibid. p. 968)

They work on the level of appearances because:

"The determined shape in which the value components confront one another is presupposed because it is constantly reproduced because it is constantly presupposed." (ibid. p. 1012)

We are no longer dealing with forms of value but with forms of surplus-value. The need for social peace causes wages to be assimilated with profit and rent, which are all presented as revenue. The formula value = wages + profit + rent is a useful means of explaining a given fact, something that has already been produced, that is, the value added by labour-power during the production process. It is just this that interest the bourgeoisie and their acolytes, the economists. Next, how will this value by divided? Who has the right to appropriate the added value A = v + s? By simply showing that this is resolved automatically - wages go to workers, profits to capitalists, rent to landlords - thereby masking the fundamental relationship proletariat - capital. Further, they refuse to see that it is because capital is equal to the totality of the means of production (fixed capital) that the division is made while constantly tending to reduce wages in relation to surplus-value. The economists hide the following reality: capital has appropriated the means of production and must perpetuate itself as capital, therefore valorize to the maximum (or at least conserve its value). It the value were to disappear, so likewise would capital. The necessary material elements of the production process (c) must therefore be utilized and their value conserved. It is this value which - through the exchange with living labour (variable capital) - enabled the appearance of A, added value. Here c returns automatically to capital. This phenomenon, which does not give rise to any division, made the economists make errors:

"The basic relationship of constant and variable capital is not understood, and so neither is the nature of surplus-value and with it the entire basis of the capitalist mode of production. The value of each partial product of capital, each individual commodity, includes a portion of value constant capital, a portion of value = variable capital (which is transformed into wages for the worker) and a portion of value = surplus-value (later separated into profit and rent). How then is it possible for the worker with his wages, the capitalist with his profit, and the landowner with his rent, to buy commodities that contain not only one of these components, but all three, and how is it possible for the value sum of wages, profit and rent, i.e. the three sources of income taken together, which are to buy the commodities which are to enter into the total consumption of the recipients of these incomes, to contain a further additional value component on top of these three, i.e. constant capital? How can a value of four be bought with a value of three?" (ibid. p. 982)


Basically, for the economists c (fixed or constant capital) has no importance from this point of view. So the capitalists can use as they see fit. They treat fixed capital - socialized value as they treat the earth, they exploit it without the slightest regard to future generations. The economists are interested in this social form par excellence only to the extent that it can have some influence on the creation of added value and, above all, on surplus-value in its mystified form of profit.

For the proletariat, on the contrary, the study of the relation between fixed (or constant) capital and added value is absolutely necessary. For by understanding the movement effected between these two elements one can throw light on the life of this impersonal being, capital, and thus reveal who the dictator really is, i.e. who decides the division. Similarly, the analysis finally recentres the phenomenon around labour (demystification).

However, the economists bring c back into play to justify profit, looking at things in the following way: the capitalist advances a certain value (wages, means of production etc.); it is normal that he recovers the value, plus the increment appearing in the course of the productive cycle, the famous value added by labour. It is one of their theoretical contradictions inherent in their justification of capitalist production. Marx categorically refuted this theory in the Results, a theory now again in high fashion along with the corollary of an incomes-policy.

The trinity formula provides another proof that the present-day defenders of capital remain faithful to the method of vulgar economics in their superficial analysis of circulation. Also, thanks to this formula, they try to show that capitalist production is production for men, the problem then should simply be reduced to finding a correct division of the value added by labour among all the "operatives", in other words, to a restitution of wages, profit and rent to each participant. Hence the need:

a) to present wages as income

b) to exclude the constant fraction from value.

But, as we have seen, this appears to be trie, because c is not divided, it is capital's property. In other words, c is not an income, it is capital throughout - and this marks the point where capital posits itself as an autonomous force. So it cannot exist for men. For this reason, to mask private appropriation, the economists even go as far as to make this fundamental component of value disappear.

So, by making the true subject that controls, determines, presupposes the division disappear, it is possible to prove that capitalist production is for men. Presently this is completely realized. Fascism is generalized in all nations where capitalist production relations have developed. The state of capital is presented as guarantor of equitable division among everybody. Demands are no longer made in the name of a political ideal, but of a social one. The question of power is no longer posed, but instead a question of structures - these structures must be reformed to allow everyone to benefit from economic growth. THIS IS SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY, WHICH IS THE FITTING RESOLUTION OF FASCISM. These assertions cannot be developed in detail at this level of the analysis. For now it is enough to note that the various justifications of capitalist society that were refuted above derive from the autonomization and reification of social relations. But:

"It is crises that put an end to this apparent autonomy of the various elements into which the production process is continually dissolved and which it continually reproduces." (TSV III p. 518)


Note on the formal domination and the real domination of capital

In the note on the immediate production process of capital, we noted that, contrary to what we stated in 1966, Marx speaks of formal domination of capital and formal subsumption of labour under capital, as well as real domination and subsumption, already in Capital Volume I, Part Three, Chapter 10 'The Working Day'. But it is only in Part Five, Chapter 16, 'Absolute and Relative Surplus Value' that Marx defines the two moments. (The passage does not appear entirely in Roy's French translation of Capital.

"The prolongation of the working day beyond the point at which the worker would have produced an exact equivalent for the value of his labour-power, and the appropriation of that surplus-labour by capital - this is the process which constitutes the production of absolute surplus-value. It forms the general foundation of the capitalist system, and the starting point for the production of relative surplus-value. The latter presupposes that the working day is already divided into two parts, necessary labour and surplus labour. In order to prolong the surplus labour, the necessary labour is shortened by methods for producing the equivalent of the wage in a shorter time. The production of absolute surplus-value turns exclusively on the length of the working day, whereas the production of relative surplus-value completely revolutionizes the technical processes of labour and the groupings into which society is divided.

"It[17] therefore requires a specifically capitalist mode of production, a mode of production which, along with its methods, means and conditions, arises and develops spontaneously on the basis of the formal subsumption of labour under capital. This formal subsumption is then replaced by a real subsumption.

"It will be sufficient if we merely refer to certain hybrid forms [18], in which although surplus labour is not extorted by direct compulsion from the producer, the producer has not yet become formally subordinate to capital. In these forms, capital has not yet acquired a direct control over the labour process. Alongside the independent producers, who carry on their handicrafts or their agriculture in the inherited, traditional way, there steps the usurer or the merchant with his usurer's capital or merchant's capital, which feeds on them like a parasite. The predominance of this form of exploitation in a society excludes the capitalist mode of production, although it may form the transition to capitalism, as in the later Middle Ages, Finally, as in the case of modern 'domestic industry', certain hybrid forms are reproduced here and there against the background of large-scale industry, though their physiognomy is totally changed.

"A merely formal subsumption of labour under capital suffices for the production of absolute surplus-value. It is enough, for example, that handicraftsmen who previously worked on their own account, or as apprentices for a master, should become wage-labourers under the direct control of a capitalist. But we have seen how methods of producing relative surplus-value are, at the same time, methods of producing absolute surplus-value. Indeed the unrestricted prolongation of the working day turned out to be a very characteristic product of large-scale industry. The specifically capitalist mode of production ceases in general to be a mere means of producing relative surplus-value as soon as it has conquered an entire branch of production; this tendency is still more powerful when it has conquered all the important branches of production. It then becomes the universal, socially predominant form of the production process. It only continues to act as a special method of producing relative surplus-value in two respects first, in so far as it seizes upon industries previously only formally subordinate to capital, that is, in so far as it continues to proselytize, and second, in so far as the industries already taken over continue to be revolutionized by changes in the methods of production.

"From one standpoint the distinction between absolute and relative surplus-value appears to be illusory. Relative surplus-value is absolute, because it requires the absolute prolongation of the working day beyond the labour-time necessary for the existence of the worker himself. Absolute surplus-value is relative, because it requires a development of the productivity of labour which will allow the necessary labour time to be restricted to a portion of the working day. But if we keep in mind, the movement of surplus-value, this semblance of identity vanishes. Once the capitalist mode of production has become the established and universal mode of production, the difference between absolute and relative surplus-value makes itself felt whenever there is a question of raising the rate of surplus-value. Assuming that labourpower is paid for at its value, we are confronted with this alternative: on the one hand, if the productivity of labour and its normal degree of intensity is given, the rate of surplus-value can be raised only by prolonging the working day in absolute terms; on the other hand, if the length of the working day is given, the rate of surplus-value can be raised only by a change in the relative magnitudes of the components of the working day, i.e. necessary labour and surplus labour, and if wages are not to fall below the value of labour-power, this change presupposes a change in either the productivity or the intensity of the labour." (Capital I pp. 645-6)

The establishment of this periodization is indissolubly linked to the study of

the immediate process of production. There is real domination of capital only

when the labour process has become the labour process for capital where man is no longer a determinant element, and this can only occur after a complete overthrow of the relation between man and nature, man and tool, man and instrument of labour etc.; thus the reversal (Verkehrung) of which we spoke in the note to the previous chapter.

After this chapter, Marx deals with wage-labour - the other pole of capital. Only with wage-labour is there capital, and only by being separated from their instruments of labour can men become proletarians. Wage-labour is the form that mediates the reconstitution of the unity of the means of production and man, without which production is impossible. Wagelabour is also the means used by capital for domesticating man, as is shown in Capital Volume I Part Seven, 'The Process of Accumulation of Capital'. This is shown clearly on pages 768, 776, 785, 789 and 896, while on page 900 we find the reappearance of the concept of formal subsumption:

"The class of wage-labourers, which arose in the latter half of the fourteenth century, formed then and in the following century only a very small part of the population, well protected in its position by the independent peasant proprietors in the countryside and by the organization of guilds in the towns, Masters and artisans were not separated by any great social distance either on the land or in the towns. The subordination of labour to capital was only formal, i.e. the mode of production itself had as yet no specifically capitalist character. The variable element in capital preponderated greatly over the constant element. The demand for wage-labour therefore grew rapidly with every accumulation of capital, while the supply only followed slowly behind. A large part of the national product which was later transformed into a fund for the accumulation of capital still entered at that time into the consumption-field of the workers." (Capital I p. 900)

This paragraph follows immediately after the one cited by us in the 'Remarks' of 1970, in which Marx presents the result of the triumph of capital - the domestication of the working class (cf. the final section of this book). Hence the importance of a precise knowledge of these modes of capital's domination for the study of the development of the classes and their struggles, especially regarding the working class. This simultaneously confirms our statement that the periodization according to these two modes of domination underpins the whole of capital.

Marx also shows in this section how the state facilitated the subsumption of labour under capital, even though it was the state of a society founded on another mode of production. So at the end of Capital Volume I we note that the worker is dominated by the labour-process that has become the (technological, scientific) process of capital. In Volumes II and III, he shows how capital cannot content itself with dominating in the heart of the production process, but has to become master of the old circulation process and make it its own (e.g. the creation of credit); while that in turn imposes a change in the means of transport. The use of science requires a reorientation of education, even if this occurs rather late on. Capital can no longer content itself with the state as collaborator, it has to become a capitalist state, a capitalist enterprise. This means that capital must overthrow all social presuppositions and capitalize them all. This is what we stated in the preceding pages, emphasizing capital's real domination. We nevertheless omitted to specify that by doing so we extended Marx's range of concepts from the factory to the whole of society, basing ourselves in this matter on the whole of his work.

This implicit necessity to widen the range of the validity of the concepts of formal and real domination is resented by others, such as Dangeville. This can be seen from the sentence quoted in the note to the previous chapter, as well as in this one which comes a little before:

"That is to say that the ideological or political structures are not a simple reflection of the economy, but rather its complex prolongation in the spheres of activity (politics, military, administration, religion, education, judiciary), serving to maintain and to perpetuate bourgeois domination in all fields. It is in this sense that violence or the state is an economic agent (Engels)." (Dangeville op. cit. p. 56)

The whole movement of the accession of capital to real domination of society is skipped here because capital uses the state and "political society" as they exist on the basis of formal domination when the immediate process of production has yet to be supplanted and is masked by the circulation process. Thus there can in no way be a "reflection of the economy". It is capital which organizes all human activity in the final stage. Then it is just as absurd to speak of "complex prolongation" as of "reflection of the economy"; the state is no longer a simple economic agent. This skipping is entirely coherent with the rest of Dangeville' s analysis of the Results

"Formal domination implies (better presupposes, since then it can only occur after - ed.) the breaking of the unity between producers and means of production, that is, the expropriation of artisans and smallholders. This unity will be re-established by capital in its real production process, on its conditions and to its gain." (ibid. p. 58)

What is the real process? Does it imply, presuppose, the existence of a formal process? Just like real subsumption presupposes formal subsumption? Marx, we saw, opposed the overall process of production to the immediate process of production, the former being the unity of the latter with the circulation process. But he showed that even in the immediate process of production, e.g. in co-operation, there is a reformation of the unity, which means that it is reformed by formal domination. If things had been otherwise, how could capital have developed?

In conclusion, may we note that we, like others, translate Unterordnung as subordination and Subsumtion as subsumption. Subsumtion means rather more than just submission. Subsumieren really means "to include in something", " to subordinate", "to implicate", so it seems that Marx wanted to indicate that capital makes its own substance out of labour, that capital incorporates labour inside itself and makes it into capital. This is completely coherent with what we said on the passage of the labour process into capital's labour process i.e. that capital takes on a bodily form, incarnates itself. It can only do this by appropriating labour-power to itself, and here, as in German, "to appropriate to itself" (sich aneignen) should be taken literally, in its strongest sense. In the period of formal domination, capital does not manage to subjugate, and thus to incorporate, labour-power, which remains outside it, rebels against it to the extent of putting in danger the development of the process, since capital depends on it completely. But the introduction of machinery transforms everything. Capital becomes the master of all the activity that the proletarian performs in the factory. Capital incorporates the human brain, appropriates it to itself, with the development of cybernetics; with computing, it creates its own language, on which human language must model itself etc.. Now it is not only the proletarians - those who produce surplus-value - who are subsumed under capital, but all men, the greater part of whom is proletarianized. It is the real domination over society, a domination in which all men becomes the slaves of capital (= generalized slavery, and so convergence with the Asiatic mode of production).

Thus it is no longer merely labour, a defined and particular moment of human, activity, that is subsumed and incorporated into capital, but the whole lifeprocess of man. Capital's process of incarnation (Einverleibung) which began in the West about five centuries ago, is complete. Capital is now the common being, oppressor of man.

(March 1972)

1.The Asiatic mode of production is the result of the development of one of these forms.

2.Cf. the note at the end of this chapter.

3.It is the constant aim of capitalist production to produce a maximum of surplus-value or surplus-product with the minimum capital outlay..."(TSV II pp. 547-8)

4. "it is no longer the worker who employs the means of production, but the means of production which employ the worker." (Capital I p. 425)

5. We cannot translate Stoffwechsel as exchange (Austausch) as this implies too many purely economic determinations; Stoffwechsel implies the idea of the exchange of substance, of matter. In the text it concerns an exchange allowing the building of a being, its relation. That is why we have used the term organic exchange and the word metabolism to translate Stoffwechsel (Note of May 1972)

6.There is the same demonstration in the Theories of Surplus Value as in this chapter, and Marx concludes in the same way:

"It is no longer the labour expended on the individual peculiar * commodity, in most cases, it can no longer be calculated, and may be greater in the case of one commodity that in that of another, but a proportional part of the total labour i.e. the average of the total value (divided) by the number of products - which determines the value of the individual product and establishes it as a commodity." TSV III p. 113) (*) In English in the original- ed.

7. "The phenomenon arising from the nature of the capitalist mode of production, that the price of an individual commodity or a given portion of commodities falls with the growing productivity of labour, while the number of commodities rises; that the amount of profit on the individual commodity and the rate of profit on the sum of commodities falls, but the mass of profit on the total sum of commodities rises..." (Capital III p. 337)

8. Defining capital by profit supposes therefore that profit already dominates society. Something cannot be defined by its result.

9. There is something like a coalescence of the capital as the initial value with the valorized capital-value following the skipping (escamotage of the process of production which mediates the relation of capital to profit engendered during this process. The relation of profit to capital is internalized:

"The value of £1,000 as capital is = £1,050. In other words, capital is not a simple (einfache) quantity. (Capital III p. 515)

Now capital really exists as capital. There can still be an external ization-manifestation of this capacity to acquire an increment of capital, a Δk. This happens when capital is lent, alienated to another capitalist. Hence the title of the chapter from which we have quoted: 'Veräusserlichung der Mehrwerts und des Kapitalvërhaltnisses uberhaupt in der Form des zinstragenden Kapitals' which is the complete title that Rubel p. cit. p. 1787) gives. There is an alienability (Veräusserlichung) of the capital relation and so too of surplus-value, since it is included in the mystified form of profit in the relation of capital, and it cannot develop without externalization. Veräusserlichung also expresses an idea of externalization in movement, in its becoming. Evidently, therefore, alienability can only be realized if something where human capacities - that can be objectified in a product or in an activity are externalized, that is, leave a given sphere. The existence of two complementary meanings is again found in the word Veräusserung alienation in the economic sense which supposes a divestment (Entäusserung) for one of the protagonists of the exchange (at least momentarily as there is no counter-party) and externalization which implies leaving a "sphere", for example: the commodity leaving the sphere of the property cf an individual to enter that of another, or leaving the sphere of activity of one individual, that is the externalization of capacities. (Note of March 1972)

10. Capital only has exchange-value in view. It seems, then, there is a contradiction here. In fact it is the same during the analysis of the origin of capital. It can only be value in process if it meets its motor element: labour-power that can engender exchange-value. The latter is therefore clearly the determinant of the movement. In the case of interest-bearing capital, it is the same, in a mystified form.

11. "And credit as an essential, developed relation of production appears historically only in circulation based on capital or on wage labour. (Money itself is a form for suspending the unevenness of the times required in different branches of production, to the extent that this obstructs exchange.)" (Grundrisse p. 535)

12. This is what is now happening in the USA, in preparation for the big jolt of 1975. Since 1956 the number of workers has dropped below the number of those working in the tertiary sector.

13. It should be remembered that the Grundrisse is not a finished work, but a draft, with the different ideas expressed often merely juxtaposed and not rigorously co-ordinated. In these two sentences, Marx specifies and adds what is missing from the previous sentence where he notes the importance of scientific power and of population (cf. the beginning of the citation). Nor should one forget that all this appears concomitantly with the tendential fall in the rate of profit. (Note of May 1972)

14. This confirms what we said earlier on the relation v/k: valorization of capital.

15. Cf. il programma comunista no. 13, 1960, Bordiga analyses especially the relations between waste and the circulation process: in nos. 1 and 2 of 1962, the question is analysed in anoverall manner by seeking to "establish all the components of capitalist waste and destruction of healthy productive forces, posing our programme as the polar opposite to the mad one that assigns to the proletariat the task of competing with its enemies for the lunatic management of the multiplication of the masses of products for false needs, which are execrable and inhuman, a system which has but the one goal of increasing the production of surplus-value, that is slavery and alienation of man himself, who will live as capital, market and money." Bordiga.

16."In as much as we have so far considered the specific form of accumulation of money capital, and of money wealth in general, this reduces itself to the accumulation of proprietary claims to labour." (Capital III p. 607)

17. This is where the section missing in Roy's translation begins. The first paragraph has been included to enable a better understanding of the rest.

18. Cf. on this subject TSV I p. 389 ff. 'Productivity of capital, productive and unproductive labour'.