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.
Transcription, markup & minor editing: Rob Lucas, 2006
Public domain: This work is completely free.
Chapter 6: Capital & material community

(a) Dissolution of the community and movement of value
(b) Community and the forms of appropriation of the surplus product
(c) Gold and material community
(d) Capital and material community
- Note on the forms of value (1972)
- Note on alienation (1972)

A. Dissolution of the Community and Movement of Value

We indicated at the beginning that the two essential points of Marx's work are:

- the origin of value, its determinations and its forms

- the origin of the free worker, of the wage-labourer.

These two problems are, in fact, closely connected, since both the autonomization of exchange-value and the production of the free labourer depend equally on the destruction of the ancient community. From this derives another aspect of the marxian work: the exposition of the formation of a material community, which replaces the pre-existing community. In reality, the movement of production appeared as the expropriation of man and his atomization (production of the individual) and simultaneously as autonomization of social relations and of the products of human activity, which become an oppressive force: autonomization and reification. Then man was separated from his community, or more precisely, the latter was destroyed. Originally this was a direct, natural community, based on aristocratic purely human relations; later of a community mediated by the land, but in which personal relations still held great importance, in which use-value - thus what is useful to man - still had a leading role. In its turn, this was destroyed by the development of money. The different communities had tried to marginalize money from the social relations, inasmuch as it was alien to the same communities. Hence the anathema of the corruption of gold. With capitalism, a stage now completed by the autonomization of exchange-value, the last residues of the communities were destroyed. The Asiatic form of production, which had survived in America, Asia and in Africa, collapsed. Thus we must ask the following question: can money replace the natural community or that mediated by land; and if money does not succeed in doing this, can capital?

We can say straightaway that, from a superstructural, political point of view, this problem haunted the revolutionaries of 1789. How can men be unified who have been separated by the production process? How can the old community be replaced? They found a constitutional, institutional solution: institutions should be created, a social contract agreed. But these institutions, based on simple commod ity production and on the very weak, development of capitalism, could in reality not be the constitutive principle of those portions of humanity which were natior They wanted to treat as definitive forms which were simply transitional. Hence the mystification[1].

Before analysing the correlation between commodity production and the social relations preceding capitalism, we should indicate the general movement which we have already mentioned,

a. - Transformation of products of objects useful to man, into commodities. Originally this is episodic and contingent. Exchanges take place between communities. There is the simple form of value: x commodity A y commodity B: barter. Marx was very insistent on the fact that the first exchanges were not between individuals, for the simple reason that individuals as subjects of exchange, did not exist.

b. - Multiplication of exchanges- total or developed form of value: x commodities A  y commodities B  z commodities C. Exchanges take place inside the community, not just between communities. The division of labour develops, private property and classes appear. It is the beginning of the autonomization of exchange-value and, simultaneously, of the dissolution of barter and of the natural community.

c. - The general form of value.

A general equivalent appears:

This commodity equivalent was originally part of the indefinite series of exchanges. Now it is excluded and presented, so as to say, as independent from the others. One has a fully developed class society, e.g. ancient slave society. Later the autonomization of money begins, a general equivalent freed of all material determinations, since it is equivalent for all commodities. Subsequently one passes imperceptibly from this form to the money form or the form of coin.

d. - The different functions of money.

These are:

= measure of values

= means of circulation

= coin

These developed in ancient society, but especially in feudal society, which they finally destroyed. Then there was the period of the flourishing of mercantilism and of simple commodities during the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, when there was the passage to capitalism (land becomes a commodity) which spread over West Europe in the next century.

Social relations became increasingly autonomous during these transformations. However, this autonomization of exchange-value was difficult to realize, because the various communities tried to limit its development. Besides, such a limitation was only possible because production was still weak and, ccnsequently, because both gold and silver still remained in the margins of the movement of society. They were mostly hoarded, since there was no impelling necessity for an element of measure between different productions, nor for a means to circulate products generated by various productive activities. Therefore, as Marx underlines several times, a division of labour between peoples subsists in ancient society. Thus there are trading peoples, who function as intermediaries among the others; Phoenicians, Jews and, in medieval society, the Lombards. It was then that gold and silver were considered for their economic function; while elsewhere they were scorned, or else entrusted to the guardianship of the gods. Society was not yet in a condition to utilize the surplus product and, in the case of an excessive difference between the wealth of some and the misery of the rest, it became necessary to abolish debts and to restabilize a certain equilibrium, as happened in the period of Solon.

The development of feudalism represented a certain ebb in the autonomization. Really it is a question of the reconstitution of a community with personal relations that are important, fundamental and mediated by land A community in which the mercantile relations seemed to be completely banned, because of the autonomization of the various units composing feudal society. But then autonomization resumed in the margins of society, against men's wishes.

"From the moment when gold and silver (or any other commodity) have developed as measure of value and means of circulation (in the latter case, be it in bodily form or as a replacement symbol), they become money without the help or wish of society. Their power appears as a fate, and the consciousness of man, especially in the social conditions which drown in a deeper development of the exchange-value relation, revolts against the power that a material, a thing, obtains in relation to them, against the domination of the damned metal, which appears as pure madness." (Urtext p. 928)

B. Community and Forms of Appropriation of the Surplus Product

Thus there is generated an opposition between the movement of society and the economic movement, an opposition between the latter and forms of property, superstructural juridical reflections of economic relations [2]. It is the juridical relations that express the community of men and at the same time indicate to what extent the community is more or less undermined by the development of value. In anticipation, we can say that the latter will subordinate property relations. This implies that, at a determined moment, the link between the movement of society and the economic movement will be produced inside the form of appropriation of surplus-labour, and that later it will be the economic movement which underlies the movement of society. The two movements coincide in the act of exchange between labour-power and capital, which is simultaneously an economic and a social relation. This is the moment when a particular act of exchange determines the universal character of the social form. So exchange produces two results: the formation of money, the general equivalent that tends to autonomy; and the autonomization of a single relation. These are the two preconditions for capital; the first is valid for previous historical periods of production, the second is absolutely characteristic of capitalism.

The analysis of exchange is very important, for exchange plays a determining role in the form assumed by property. In reality, in stable societies, appropriation is property in the sense that the appropriation of surplus-value derives from the land (this is also valid for the case of slavery). With the development of production and of needs, as with the development of the division of labour, property cannot be realized in a direct manner, but only through a middle term, exchange. Property thus loses its fixity and becomes appropriation. Marx analysed this phenomenon in the Urtext[3].

We will not examine the entire historical movement. It is enough to restrict ourselves to the period of simple commodity production and capitalism. With the first, the feudal community is destroyed, even if its vestiges can linger on (it is rare to find pure forms). We are confronted by individuals separated by the labour process and who produce independently of each other, dominated by the autonomy of exchange-value:

"It is firstly in gold, certainly in the most abstract, therefore the most meaningless and inconceivable form - a form in which every mediation is suspended - that the transformation of the reciprocal social relations appear in a fixed, overwhelming social relation, subsuming the individual. And certainly the phenomenon is firmer as it comes out of the presupposition of free, arbitrary, atomistic private persons who are related in production only through reciprocal needs." (ibid. p. 928)

In fact it is in the period of simple commodity production that the bases of liberty and equality are created, since it is in this period that the law of value manifests itself in all its purity: freedom to exchange commodities, free trade, without which the commodities could not confront each other, and hence would have no possibility of realizing value in the centre of the exchange process; equality, since only commodities that contain equal quanta of labour can be equivalent. The bourgeois revolution has done nothing other than generalize these facts, since the historical mission of the bourgeoisie was to set up capitalism which, in the first instance, was simply the generalization of commodity production, and later its domination and submission to the law of value[4]. All this implies that wealth is based on labour. Thus appropriation of wealth could take place when the community could no longer mediate it;

"Firstly, the subjects of the exchange appear as the owners of commodities. Because on the basis of simple circulation, however, only one method exists through which each becomes the owner of a commodity, that is through the new equivalent, thus the ownership of the commodity appears as preceding the exchange, i.e. the ownership of the appropriated commodity not mediated by circulation, the ownership of the commodity rather must firstly enter into circulation, immediately originating from the labour of its owner and the labour as the original mode of appropriation." (ibid. p. 902)

"The emergence process of commodities thus also their original appropriation process therefore lies outside circulation. But because only if mediated by circulation, thus the person's divestment (Entäusserung) of his own equivalent, can an alien equivalent be appropriated, so his own work is necessarily presupposed as the original appropriation process, and circulation, in fact, only as reciprocal exchange of work which is incarnated in manifold commodities." (ibid. p. 902)

"Property based on the person's labour constitutes inside circulation, the basis of the appropriation of alien labour."

"And thus from its standpoint, alien commodities, thus alien labour, can only be appropriated through the divestment of the person, from his point of view, the process of appropriation of the commodity preceding circulation appears necessarily as appropriation through work. While the commodity as exchange-value is only objectified labour. ... Circulation shows only how this immediate appropriation, transformed through the mediation of a social operation the ownership of a person's work as social labour." (ibid. p. 903)

This is the basis on which bourgeois society will arise:

"The law of appropriation by his own labour is presupposed and that is no arbitrary presupposition, but leaps out of the consideration of circulation the realm of bourgeois freedom and equality based on this law opens out into circulation." (ibid. p. 904)

"If the appropriation of commodities through a person's own work is presented as the first necessity, then the second is the social process through which this product is first posited as exchange-value, then transformed as such again into use-value for individuals. After the appropriation through labour, or the objectification of labour, its externalization or the transformation of itself into the social form, appears as the next law. Circulation is the movement in which the person's own work is posited as exchange-value (money), i.e. as a social product, and the social product as personal (individual use-value, object of individual consumption)." (ibid. pp. 904-5)

Thus the total parcelization of men is arrived at, and the simultaneous socialization of their product, since the product of the individual can only be exchanged to the extent that it possesses a social character. The contradiction is all the greater in that the social aspect no longer derives from the organization of society, but from the economic movement. It is no longer the association of men, but rather their division, which leads to the socialization of their products.

"The exchanger has produced a commodity which is for commodity producers. This comprises: on the one hand, he has produced it as an independent private individual, on his own initiative, merely determined by his own needs and his own capacities, by himself and for himself, neither as a member of a natural community (Gemeinwesen) nor as an individual who immediately participates socially in production, and thus relates to his product not as his immediate source of existence. On the other hand, he has produced exchange-value a product which first becomes a product through a determined social process, a determined metamorphosis. He has thus already produced in a context, under conditions of production and relations of circulation that have become so through a historical process, but which appear to him as a natural necessity. The independendence of individual production is thus supplemented through a social dependency which finds its corresponding result in the division of labour." (ibid. pp. 905-6)

The individual has not produced as a member of a "natural community", and yet through exchange and the division of labour, his product becomes social. He owes the possibility of appropriating a product not to participation in a community, but rather to the fact that he himself has produced one too. This is the beginning of the material community created by means of production, or, more exactly, by means of its products. A community like this can no longer result from the uniting or reuniting of men, but from that of things, while at the same time it must also stabilize bonds between them. The appropriation or nonappropriation of the product, and hence of the surplus-product, must derive from membership or non-membership of the community, since it must constitute the mediating element once held by the natural community. These are matters which must be treated precisely if we want to understand the historical realization of this community.

"The private character of the exchange-value producing individual appears itself as a historical product - his isolation and selective autonomization within production conditioned by a division of labour, which in turn is freshly posed by a whole series of economic conditions, through which the individual in his own context with others and his own mode of existence on all sides, is conditioned." (ibid. p. 906)


"The individuals confront each other only as owners of exchange-values, as such beings who have mutually assumed an objective existence through the product the commodity." (ibid. p. 906)

The separation of man reaches a maximum; circulation still destroys their isolation, but in a way that their community deriving from a reunification remains external to them. Its duration depends on the duration of exchange. As soon as the series of exchanges ends thus as soon as the individual consumes or returns to production, the community too is abolished.

"(These individuals) do not have any relations between themselves from the standpoint of organic social metabolism, which develops in circulation, without this objective mediation. They exist solely as reified (sachlich) for one another, something which is finally developed solely in the money relation, where their community (Gemeinwesen) appears as an external and therefore accidental thing opposite them. The fact that the social ensemble which emerges through the clash of independent individuals, at the same time as a reified necessity and as an external bond. to them, it represents precisely their independence for which social existence and so a necessity but it is only a means appearing to individuals themselves as something external in money as something palpable.... Inasmuch as they are not subsumed in a natural community nor, on the other hand, consciously subsume as communitarian, a community under themselves, this must be by comparison with them as independent subjects, as something reified, likewise independent, external, and accidental. This is just the condition that they as private, independent persons have to stay at the same time in a social ensemble." (ibid. pp. 908-9)

A material community is required to overcome this human fragmentation. Moreover, the social complex determines the individual element:

"If the individual as private individual produces - so his position is in no a natural product but a refined result of a social process - the social character manifests itself in this, that in the content of his work, determination is by the social complex[5] and he works only as a member of it." (ibid. pp. 910-11)

Here the relation is reversed: in the old community the individual was allowed to develop, now it is the individual who exploits the new community, in order to expand.

"The division of labour thus conceived as the social reproduction of the particular individual, which is simultaneously a member of the total development of humanity, and the individual simultaneously is enabled to mediate his particular activity to enjoyment of general production, to the all-sided social enjoyment - this conception, resulting from the standpoint of simple circulation, which also confirms the freedom of individuals, is still the current one in bourgeois economics." (ibid. p. 911)

The natural community has been definitely destroyed, while the material community has an accidental existence; besides, there is a distortion between the material element and the various superstructural forms of the dissolution of the natural community; between social life, man and the movement of material wealth. And still, parallel to the historical development, the economic relations become increasingly important and autonomize themselves; the movement of exchange-value finally imposes itself on man. Now, could the economic relations replace the natural community? Or could this community be realized by gold, i.e. by autonomous exchange-value?


C. Gold and Material Community

Gold effectively tends to constitute itself as the material community: it permits the universalization of material exchanges in society, without individuals coming into contact.

"Here money appears in fact as the thing-like (dinglich) existing community (Gemeinwesen) outside them," (ibid. p. 881)

Marx makes the following remark in the Grundrisse:

"It is the elementary precondition of bourgeois society that labour should immediately produce exchange-value, thus money, and similarly that money should immediately purchase labour, and therefore the labourer, but only in so far as he alienates his activity in the exchange. Wage labour on the one hand, capital on the other, are therefore only other forms of developed exchange-value, and of money as its incarnation. Money thereby immediately and simultaneously becomes the real community, since it is the general substance for the survival of all, and at the same time the social product of all. But as we have seen, in money the community is at the same time a mere abstraction, a mere external, accidental thing for the individual, and at the same time merely a means for his satisfaction as an isolated individual. The ancient community presupposes a quite different relation to, and on the part of, the individual. The development of money in its third determination therefore smashes this community. All production is an objectification of the individual. In money (exchange-value), however, the individual is not objectified in his natural determination, but in a social determination (relation) which is, at the same time, external to him." (Grundrisse pp. 225-6)

The inability of money to found a stable community is due to the fact that, with money, exchange-value tends towards total autonomy, but without reaching it since it has not yet succeeded in subordinating the social movement. Nevertheless, the constitution of exchange-value in material community is the best guarantee of its autonomy.


D. Capital and Material Community

1) Predominance of the social element over the material element

This incapacity of money is directly linked to simple commodity production. In this, the material element predominates over the social movement; the labour process is still dominant:

"In the movement C-M-C, the material appears as the real content of the movement, the social movement only as the vanishing mediation to satisfy individual needs," (Urtext p. 925)

The search for use-value is still too determining in this historical period of production, therefore money is only a simple means. It is without doubt the general, social wealth against which individual wealth can be measured, but it is neither the goal, nor the content of the movement:

"The form C-M-C, this current of circulation in which money figures only as measure and as coin, thus appears as the mediated form of exchanging in whose basis and content nothing is changed." (ibid. p. 927)

Besides, this is a rigid form, since each element excludes the other. The particular commodity excludes money, the general commodity, which, in turn, must be replaced by another particular commodity. In fact, money can only have a negative autonomy: hoarding. Thus, as we observed in the first chapter, Marx defines the transformation of money into capital as follows:

"In capital, money has lost its rigidity and, from a tangible thing, has become a process." (ibid. p. 937)

In a parallel fashion the social element tends to dominate the material element. This is how Marx characterizes the movement M-C-M.

"In the real exchange of money for commodity, that is expressed in the form M-C-M, thus the real being (Sein) of the commodity is its use-value, and the real being (Dasein) of the use-value is its consumption, from the commodity realized as use-value must freshly emerge exchange-value itself, money and consumption of the commodity appear equally as a form of its preservation, thus of its self-valorization. Circulation appears by comparison to it as the moment of its own realization." (ibid. p. 939)

This realization requires, as we have seen, the complete subjugation of a particular use-value: labour-power. The social character of the movement reveals itself at this point. The exchange of money for labour-power determines the entire character of the capitalist mode of production. It is therefore a determined social relation, the relation capitalist-proletarian (man without reserves), that dominates the production of material wealth. Such a relation will, therefore, not be fortuitous or inessential, but rather, fundamental.

"In simple circulation, the content of the use-value was indifferent, the form economic relation fell outside. Here it is the essential economic moment of it (the form), While exchange-value is determined only by holding itself above a: in exchange, that exchanges itself with its counterposed use-value, according to its own form-determination." (ibid. p. 944)

"It is only the specific nature of exchange-value, which has been bought with money namely that of its own consumption, is the consumption of labour-capacity, production, objectifying labour time, exchange-value positing consumption - its real being as use-value is creating exchange-value - which makes the exchange between money and labour into the specific exchange M-C-M, in which the goal posited is in the exchange of exchange-value itself and the use-value bought is immediate use-value for echange-value, i.e. value positing use-value." (ibid. p. 946)

Exchange-value has subjugated the social movement. Men enter relations of production the goal of which is no longer use-value, but exchange-value. It can now establish a stable material community, i.e. no longer resulting from accidental relations.

2) Circulation and Material Community

The material community obviously, conditions the relations between circulation and production. Production is no longer simply posed alongside circulation; on the contrary, it becomes one of its moments. Commodities previously had been produced as particular values, and socialization was enabled by circulation, hence a common unity (money) was found. Now it is capital that posits them socially, and circulation is no longer as before a stage of their socialization, but rather a moment of their realization, of their metamorphosis, which, in reality, is the metamorphosis of capital itself, which is transformed from CC to CM, In fact, it is through circulation that the material community is founded - that it becomes necessary. We have seen the first moment: autonomization of money, which appeared as a theoretical process without contact with reality, so that the economic movement appeared to diverge from the social movement.

"The product becomes a commodity; the commodity becomes exchange-value; the exchange-value of the commodity is its immanent money-property; this, its moneyproperty, separates itself from it in the form of money, and achieves a general social existence separated from all particular commodities and their natural mode of existence." (Grundrisse pp. 146-7)

But this abstraction is absolutely necessary to prepare the other, practical, process: the real formation of the Gemeinwesen; in fact, above all, it is vital that the old social relations are smashed:

"The less social power the medium of exchange possesses, and at this stage it is still closely bound to the nature of the immediate product of labour and the direct needs of the partners in exchange, the greater must be the power of the community, which binds the individuals together, the patriarchal relation, the ancient community, feudalism, and the guild system." (ibid. p. 157)

However, while exchange-value is becoming a social force, it is stated that:

"In the case of the world market the connection of the individual with all, but at the same time also the independence of this connection from the individual have developed to such a high level that the formation of the world market already at the same time contains the conditions for going beyond it. Comparison in the place of real communality[6] and generality." (ibid. p. 161)

It is the period of the generalization and mercantile production: the golden age of the law of value and of the concepts of liberty and equality, hence of democracy (politics). Democracy is comparison par excellence However, its standard is abstract man, while the real content of man - labour-power - enters into the economic movement.

This last during the period of formal domination of capital, in which variable capital is the fundamental element. It is not yet a question of structuring a new Gemeinwesen, but:

"...certainly this reified relation is preferable to the lack of any connection, or to the merely local connection resting on blood ties, or on primeval, natural or master-servant relations. Equally certain is that individuals cannot gain mastery over their own social interconnections before they have created them." (ibid. pp. 161-2)


"The strangeness[7] and independence in which it (i.e. the connection - ed.) exists vis-à-vis them, only shows that they are still occupied in the creation of conditions of their social life rather than having begun it on the basis of these conditions." (ibid. p. 162)

Before they can be transformed, the social relations must, in a certain sense, achieve their full development. The becoming, therefore, will be the universalization of the alienation of individuals and of social relations, so that in the end:

"These reified dependency relations also appear, in antithesis to those of personal dependence (the reified dependency relation is nothing more than social relations which have become independent and now enter into opposition to the seemingly independent individuals; i.e. the reciprocal relations of production separated from and autonomous of individuals) in such a way that individuals are now ruled by abstractions whereas earlier they depended on one another." (ibid. p. 164)

But let us return to circulation proper. It is precisely during its study that Marx shows how the material body of the community is erected. It has been seen that a notable difference between money and capital resides precisely in their differing behaviour regarding circulation. The former is abandoned and lost there, the latter is preserved and multiplies.

"The circulation of money, like that of commodities, begins at an infinity of different points, and to an infinity of different points it returns. Departure from a single centre to the different points on the periphery and the return from all the points on the periphery to a single centre do not take place in the circulatory process at the stage here being examined, i.e. its immediate stage; they belong, rather, in a circulatory system' mediated by a banking system. '.. Circulation proper, nevertheless, begins only where gold and silver cease to be commodities." (ibid. p. 186)[8]

In other words, in the period of simple circulation of commodities, the movement of value is dispersed throughout the whole social body where it is able to penetrate. Evidently its lack of structure and mediation means that it can be interrupted, fragmented and so inhibited. With capital, the movement of value results in the formation of a centralized structure; there is a movement away from a central point towards the periphery, and a return movement. Circulation is mediated by the banking system. This implies that capital generates organs that regulate and control its life, its vital process, parallel to its progression. The process can neither be separated from social life, nor can it be simply superimposed on it; it must control it to ensure its own eternity, since it derives from a fundamental relation: wage-labour, i.e. the exchange with living labour. The history of capital clearly shows this progression, from the primitive associations to the great jointstock companies, which imply the existence of banks that centralize the life of capital, stock-exchanges, where various capital-values meet each other. Finally, finance capital realizes the most advanced concentration and therefore construction of the unity. Economic institutes appear along with finance capital, which concern themselves with the analysis of the market, plans for recovery and development etc.. This indicates that this impersonal being has ended up by creating organs which lay the basis for a certain consciousness of fundamental problems. Here is fully realized what Marx glimpsed in the Grundrisse at a given stage of his study of capital:

"...there opened up for us the prospect, which cannot be sharply defined yet at this point, of a specific relation of capital to the communal general conditions of social production as distinct from the conditions of a particular capital and its particular production process." (ibid. p. 533)

The theoretical process of exchange now has a content, it is no longer formed, because it is exchange of capital; although in different forms, in every pointmovement of the exchange, capital always appears: money capital (MC), commodity-capital (CC), productive capital (PC). It is a real metabolism of capital (cf. Grundrisse) Exchange no longer results in the domination of an extraneous element, which is negatively posed against the movement in the sense that it is lost in it, while it is abandoned, there (i.e. the formation of money), but results rather in the growth of the advanced value, i.e. of capital.

3) Fixed Capital and Material Community

But this can only take place because capital has created its own base, replacing the bases of previous societies; fixed capital. This can either be value that has ceased to circulate and is in a sense deposited, because the weight of the use-value is too great for the exchange-value (just like a particle becomes sediment, and is thus deposited from the moment when its weight becomes effective, when no other force is capable of hindering it), or value that circulates very slowly. In the first case, it is the whole productive infrastructure erected over the centuries; in the second, the machines which enable the increase of the productivity of labour. In any case, it is the socialization effected by capital, as we had occasion to see in the course of the study of fixed capital during the period of real domination. Marx observes that:

"...this fixed capital being man himself." (ibid. p. 712)

This is exactly the moment when capital is constituted into community. The fundamental exchange no longer appears as an exchange between living and objectified labour, but is a nutritive exchange (Grundrisse) between circulating capital, which includes labour power, and fixed capital. Thus the economists can now theorize that an equilibrium between these two elements is required to avoid the crisis. Such a theory can only interpret the need for links between the centre and the periphery, between the surface and the interior of the material community; because this is how capital now poses itself.

"However, capital does indeed exist from the outset as One or Unity as opposed to the workers as Many. And it thus appears as the concentration of workers as distinct from that of work, as a unity falling outside them. In this respect, concentration is contained in the concept of capital - the concentration of many living labour capacities for one purpose; a concentration which does not in any way need to have been established in production, or penetrated production, at the origin. Centralizing effect of capital on labour capacities, or positing of itself as the existence of the independent and external unity of these many." (ibid. p. 590)

The entire movement can now be summarized as follows. During simple commodity production, exchange was the means of expropriating values. During capitalism, circulation enables the appropriation of a particular commodity, and the appropriation of value presupposes its consumption. But this consumption can only be realized productively (there are links between the social movement - the free worker - the movement of value exchange - production and consumption), hence the necessity of the immediate production process. As labour-power, man must become a commodity, so that there is not just appropriation, but also creation of surplus-value. Besides, the appropriation can no longer be direct, but indirect and mediated by the production process, the subordination of which was at first unnecessary, while now it is the primordial condition for the genesis of value. This is also why the act of exchange, the social relation, acquires a profound materiality, or, reciprocally, why the social form dominates the material aspect.

The Results allowed the clarification of the very nature of capital, its labour process and its valorization process. The latter becomes the essential element and the very nature of capital, i.e. it tries to free itself from the labour process, so as to be nothing other than valorization: autonomization of capital. As this is realized, capital appears:

" externalized., autonomized social power..." (Capital III p. 373)

Capital has grown at the expense of human labour, not just that of proletarians, but also of past workers. Now it is an animated monster[9]. Through the social movement, capital has seized for itself all the materiality of man, who is now nothing but a subject for exploitation, a determined labour time:

"Time is everything, man is nothing; he is, at the most, time's carcase." (The Poverty of Philosophy in MECW 6 p. 127)

Thus capital has become the material community of man. There is no longer any distortion between the social and the economic movements as the latter has completely subordinated the former. We saw how, in the preceding forms, the various communities tried to limit the development of exchange-value, because it undermined their foundations. In capitalism, on the contrary, it is precisely the movement of value which assures the domination of the community. This means that is has become master of the state, men's alienated community, or, if one prefers, attempts to conciliate antagonisms to such a degree that the state no longer appears as the power of a class, since it no longer needs to assure its own domination; even the ruling class is dominated. By now, capital only needs slaves.

"In bourgeois society, the worker e.g. stands there purely without objectivity subjectively; but the thing which stands opposite him has now become the true community, which he tries to make a meal of, and which makes a meal of him." (Grundrisse p. 496)

4) Capital, Community and Politics

How could such a community be built, if not starting from the essential element of capitalist society: the relation between objectified labour (capital) and living labour (the proletariat), because this constitutes the meeting-point of the two movements: the autonomization of value and the expropriation of men, a point of convergence which could only be realized at the moment when man becomes commodity (hence a value which can no longer constitute an obstacle to the movement of value itself), and enters the production process not as an essential operative, who dominates this process, but as an object which itself enters the movement. And in fact, as we saw earlier on, in the first instance, capital can be defined by this relation, but that this fixes its reality. One must say that, on the contrary, capital is value in process. This social relation has lost its rigidity, it is in motion, and its arrival-point is the constitution of capital into community. This is realized through a deepening of the domination of dead over living labour. Social relations are totally reified at this stage; the final inversion is when social relations are posed as constituting the material community.

Further, this explains the eulogies heaped by the capitalists and their epigones upon labour. The capitalist period sees the glorification of labour, a labour which is entirely for capital. It is the recognition of the reality which is hidden under the mystifying veil: labour time is the creator of value. Finally, in the various theories off the association of capital and labour, there lies the expression of the necessary conciliation between the opposed poles of society, in order that it can be perpetuated. These theories are all based on Carey' s tour de force which we mentioned in the chapter 'Mystification of Capital'; presenting antagonistic forms as forms of association.

Really such theories only translate this fact: a social relation has become a process; i.e. value that valorizes, and founds the community in which men are slaves. However, this slavery must be made tolerable, being presented not for what it is, but as a necessary and beneficial association with the monsteroppressor, which obviously is never presented as such. During the analysis of productive and unproductive labour, we established this result at which capitalist development arrives, and we showed how society is made hierarchical by capital: industrial feudalism. From this, however, there follows a very important consequence: the subjugation of politics by the development of capital. In fact, politics is the art of organizing men, but does not capital organize them, since it fixes them in determined situations?

It seems that capitalism now realizes what Marx called vulgar communism, except for the equality of wages:

"The community is only a community of labour, and equality of wages paid out by communal capital - by the community as the universal capitalist. Both sides of the relationship are raised to an imagined universality - labour as the category in which every person is placed, and capital as the aknowledged universality and power of the community." (MECW 3 p. 295)

This is why this question is clearly linked to that of the community. As with so many other problems, it is considered throughout Marx's vast work.

We have already indicated the link that Marx establishes between the law of value and democracy. Commodity production could only be developed with the generalization of the ideas of equality and liberty. Capitalism itself originally made democracy triumph:

"The sphere of circulation or commodity exchange, within 'whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. It is the exclusive realm of Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, 'let us say of labour-power, are determined only by their own free will. They contract as free persons who are equal before the law. Their contract is the final result in which their joint will finds a common legal expression. Equality, because each enters into relation with the other, as with a simple owner of commodities, and they exchange equivalent for equivalent. Property, because each disposes only of what is his own. And Bentham, because each looks only to his own advantage. The only force bringing them together and putting them into relation with each other is the selfishness, the gain and the private interest of each. Each pays heed to himself only, and no one worries about the others. And precisely for that reason, either in accordance with the preestablished harmony of things, or under the auspices of an omniscient providence, they all work together to their mutual advantage, for the common weal, and in the common interest." (Capital I p. 280)

But, as we previously explained, capital tends to dominate the law of value, and hence the proletarians (as soon as one passes into the sphere of production, 'where capital now penetrates, the proletarian can only expect "a tanning"). How does democracy present itself now?

"There is here therefore an antinomy, of right against right, both symmetrically stamped with the law of commodity exchange. Between equal rights, force decides. Hence, in the history of capitalist production, the establishment of a norm for the working day presents itself as a stuggle over the limits of that day, a struggle between the collective capitalists, i.e. the capitalist class, and collective workers, i.e. the working class." (ibid. p. 344)

The history of capitalism is the history of the constitution of these two powers; capital, which founds its community, and provides itself with a superstructure of power: the capitalist state; and the proletariat, which constitutes itself founding a community 'which is grafted onto communism, imprisoned by capitalism. Marx makes this evident, and indicates what democracy becomes:

"But when the transaction (the labour contract - ed.) was concluded, it was discovered that he was 'no free agent', that the period of time for which he is free to sell his labour power is the period of time for which he is forced to sell it, that in fact the vampire will not let go 'while their remains a single muscle, sinew, or drop of blood to be exploited'. For 'protection' against the serpent of their agonies, the workers have to put their heads together and, as a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful social barrier by which they can be presented from selling themselves and their families into slavery and death by voluntary contract with capital. In the place of the pompous catalogue of the 'inalienable rights of man' there steps the modest Magna Carta of the legally limited working day, which at last makes clear 'when the time which the worker sells is ended, and when his own begins'. Quantum mutatus ab illo" (ibid. pp. 415-6)

What interests us here is the formation of capitalist power[11]. The citation above shows the inadequacy of political democracy as regards the real movement. In fact, it is founded on the illusory sovereignty of man as an isolated individual, supposedly capable of dominating social relations, while it is precisely the latter which are becoming determinant. This develops during the period of the real domination of capital, during the transformation of the law of value into the law of production prices. It is therefore necessary that capital itself organizes men, or, what is the same thing, that the organization imposed on production is generalized over society as a whole: basically it is the generalization of the despotism of the factory. To understand this phenomenon, one must bear in mind the whole historical movement. It has been seen that the economic movement, up until capital, tends to divide and separate men; capital, on the contrary, unifies them so as to put them under its domination. This means that politics was necessary for centuries to reunite what had been fragmented, or better, to limit the effects of the economic movement. With the domination of capital, politics no longer assumes the same role. It must become the expression of this domination. In other words, after this double movement - autonomization of value and separation of man from his community - the political movement increasingly sought a content and the economic movement a form. With the appearance of wage-labour, and thus of capital, the form acquires a content, man becomes a commodity. Still, capital can only tolerate this situation transitorily: it will create its own form. This is realized with fascism, which is the generalization of the despotism of the factory over the whole of society.

This assertion needs to be more precise. At the dawn of capitalist production, capital is just one fact in society alongside others, for example, landed property and artisans' production. Capital must fight these in order to assert itself. It is the moment when it tolerates political democracy, since it is required during the conquest of the state. There is the establishment of a kind of antagonistic division of labour. Capital regiments men inside determined relations which subject them to a certain mode of production; the state tries to govern the same individuals in the name of principles which are mostly in contradiction with socio-economic reality, as they have been inherited from previous forms.

Such a distortion cannot last. The concept of political democracy led to posing the necessity of a people's constitution to promulgate laws and to rule society, and the delegated executive power to make them effective. But who really constituted the people? Or, if the people truely were the authors of their own constitution, could not social evolution have produced, at a certain point, a contradiction between the constitution of the state of the people? Hegel resolves this problem by asserting that the people are necessarily the very principle of the constitution[12]. Marx declared, here Hegel is a sophist. In fact, reality is completely different. Who constitutes the people - this conglomerate of classes if not, as we have seen, capital? So it is no longer a question of the people, but of the proletariat, the middle classes etc.. But if capital is the true constitutive being, it is still and always capital that must animate the constitution. The old dualism is absorbed in the domination of capital. This is fascism. Capital has definitely conquered the state, and with it, the political movement assumes a form which is determined by the economic context. The true unities recognized as effective are no longer individuals, but companies, with their democratic duality bosses-workers, or capital-labour. Capital wants to emphasize by this an aspect of co-operation in order to negate the class struggle. Basically, fascism can be defined as a political form which manages a society that negates communism, while at the very moment engendering it. It is the political power of capital. Therefore, it cannot destroy the dualism of which we have spoken, but on the contrary, it materializes and constitutes it. It is not - as it is taken to be - the destruction of democracy, but rather its fulfillment in the form of social democracy. Finally, it is the means suited to conciliate the antagonism between social capital and particular capital.

The proletariat stands against capital which completes its domination by constituting itself into a material community. The proletariat's power is created by capital itself. Capital is the cause of its growth and unification, and it is also capital that creates the objective base of the new social form: communism. Thus the party appears as the new human community, the superstructure of power of the new social form, which must be liberated from the domination of capital[13]. Therefore the party is the end of politics. The only question that is posed is the social question: but this society requires a political act to be liberated: seizure of power by the proletariat, as the beginning of the dictatorship of the proletariat and thus of communism[14].



Note on the forms of value

Contrary to what we asserted in 1966 (cf. p. ii), for Marx, the problem was not that of historically expounding the forms of value, but simply of expounding them. This assertion was too historicist. In Capital Volume I Part One, there is an analysis starting from the commodity - apparent phenomenon which lies on the surface of bourgeois society - which brings to light the commodity and, in a certain sense, produces the concept of value. Now every real concept contains within it a process, and so it is the process of value that Marx expounds and develops, abstracting it from the already produced concept. Hence the forms like a Russian doll: the money form is included in the total or developed value form, and the latter in the simple or accidental form[15] which we have intentionally presented in the reverse order to Marx's. It is absolutely evident that, to expand the forms of value, there is no need to recall history. Marx used Hegel's Science of Logic. In the analysis of exchange-value, in chapter two, on the contrary, history is in operation. The forms of value are still explained, however, as one says today, in a diachronic order. Every being produces, includes in itself, its own diachrony. We will not deal with this problem here in an exhaustive fashion, but still to grasp better our way of conceiving of the development of the value form, which is identical to Marx's, we can cite this passage from the Grundrisse:

"On the other hand, much more important for us is that our method indicates the points where historical investigation must enter in, or where bourgeois economy as a merely historical form of the production process points beyond itself to earlier historical modes of production. In order to develop the laws of bourgeois economy, therefore, it is not necessary to write the real history of the relations of production. (Grundrisse p. 460)

Regarding the previous chapter, we wish it to be carefully noted that we are in no way expounding a succession of modes of production, which cannot be based solely on the historical becoming of value. We only wish to specify the historical moments in which certain forms of value could be effective, and how the communities resisted or succumbed to its movement, until value was constituted into the material community in the form of capital.

The chapter on 'The Commodity' in Capital Volume I especially section 3 is of primordial importance for understanding the work of Marx in its entirety. Only Althusserian stupidity can proclaim that there is no need whatsoever to read it. But we shall return to these problems later.

(note of March 1972)

Note on alienation

The developments of the two previous chapters are sufficient to demonstrate what we wished to demonstrate at the time. Nevertheless, given the inflation of the meaning and meaninglessness experienced by the concept of alienation, and all the concepts linked to it, we must make some additions.

The question of alienation can only be treated exhaustively if linked with the question of the Gemeinwesen. We shall limit ourselves to some observations that will allow us to make certain terms more precise, and to justify our translations.

There is no alienation except when the human being has been separated from his natural Gemeinwesen; from the time that there are individuals and classes that autonomize themselves. In fact, the concept of alienation implies the process, at once historical and contemporary, or, if you like, diachronic and synchronic, through which the human being (being for itself) becomes another being, who is not or who is no longer present as Gemeinwesen. Since if he were able to be, the alteration effected would not be incompatible with his Gemeinwesen and so the alienation would be blocked. This means that the Gemeinwesen no longer exists in an immediate way, but is represented; the individual, moreover, no longer has a total activity, but a particular one. He behaves, for example, as a worker.

More precisely, the existence of alienation, a concept marked by a value judgement (the other being is one fallen, mutilated, abused with respect to the initial being) necessarily means that a break-down has occured in the mechanisms of constant re-insertion of the being into his own community, to avoid losing him. Thus this can only be produced with the beginning of a movement over which men will have no control, which will autonomize itself and dominate them, despite the fact that is was born in their midst, despite the fact that it is the product of their own activity - the movement of exchange-value.

Starting from this, we can establish the relations between the various moments of alienation, moments which have frequently been presented independently. The movement of autonomization (Verselbständigung))[16]of the product generated by human activity, and the social relations that result from it, is linked to the movement of separation-split. Further, alienation also proceeds together with the dispossession-expropriation (Enteignung), while the externalization (veräusserung) of capacities in the course of the manifestation (Ausserung) of the human being is in reality deprivation (Entäusserung) Simultaneously, there is an estrangement (Entfremdung) due to the fact that the products became foreign to the producers, and the latter foreign to their own community. The consequent movement is an inversion-reversal (Verkehrung) which means that things become subjects (Versubjektivierung) and subjects become things (Versachlichung) which constitutes mystification, whose result is fetishism of the commodity or of capital which makes things assume the properties-qualities of men[17].

So at the beginning there are beings who dominate things; at the end things become beings. This is the total movement, which arose over the millenia, of the movement of alienation. Nonetheless, this is only a negative aspect of the phenomenon: the total loss of man. There is a positive aspect, the growth of the productive forces which, at a certain level, create the "possibility" of an emancipated being, or of another social form - communism; just as at the beginning of the movement of alienation, the positive side was the production of the individual.

Thus the becoming of the phenomenon is not posited in a simplistic manner, following a single determination. This differentiates Marx's position on alienation from the positions of the theologists or of certain philosophers, who only conceive of a regressive development, a loss, which makes it necessary, at a given point, for God to intervene with his redemption to restore the being. Marx's position is equally clearly differentiated from the theory of the enlightenment, operative especially among the French philosophers of the eighteenth century, according to whom the becoming of man is an indefinite progress (in the final analysis, skipping the question).

Another difference results from the fact that the possible can only become reality through a revolution. Only the active intervention of men can block the movement of alienation. Also the existence of this possible, for about fifty years, leads one to think that the development of men also has another road to its realization; their destruction, and also leads one to try to see how the autonoinization of capital, its constitution into material community etc., inhibits the realization of the possible, i.e. hinders the arrival of communism.

The presuppositions of alienation pose another problem: how did the community and its individual members appear? They must certainly have contained elements onto which the process of alienation could graft itself. Marx observes that man is a sentient activity, that he has a nature external to himself and that he is at once individual and Gemeinwesen (individual immersed in it, not detached, initially not autonomized, since the historical movement in the West is his production). To satisfy his needs fully, man develops an activity which allows hin to appropriate external nature. Marx also defines property as originally being a mode of behaviour. It is the splitting of the community which will enable the autonomization of the various elements (above all, the formation of private property), and men, either as Gemeinwesen, or as individuals, will no longer be in a position to dominate their life process. Human activity will be increasingly divided, and this proceeds together with the division of labour, increasing with it. Men become workers (and non-workers), separated by their work, etc..

Even if we are all agreed that Marx has a coherent discourse about human alienation, many maintain that he is mistaken when he applies the same concepts to commodities. Now, when Marx analyses commodities - at the beginning of the Contribution and at the beginning of Capital he does not do so by abstracting them from their supports, men. The latter are no longer the subjects touched by alienation, but instead commodities are touched, otherwise the inversion of which we have spoken would have no reality. The phenomenon which we have described for men is repeated for commodities, but integrating the former, who are, as it were the "superseded" of the movement.

Marx notes:

"Things are in and for themselves external to men and therefore externalizable (veräusserlich). (Capital I p. 182)

Here there is the clear appearance of the relation between exterior (ausser) and externalization (veräusserung) which can also be translated by alienation in the strict sense of the word. It is a question of yielding to another, but one can observe that he who yields is deprived, and he who receives is enriched. Thus there is a different becoming. If there is an exchange between equivalents, there is finally a levelling of losses and gains, but there is also a qualitative change that remains. In any case, we return to our assertion: men are dominated by commodities. As far as regards the latter, the movement which crystallizes the potentialities of the individual no longer exists, but instead the movement which distances and places the products outside the sphere in which they were produced, outside the sphere of the man who has worked. It is because the commodities are exterior to him that someone else can take possession of them. Again we return to the process of separation.

The movement of the alienation of the commodity is possible because of its double nature: use-value and exchange-value. These two determinations are separated and then recomposed. in their unity during the exchange process. This is what Marx explains in Capital Volume I, Chapter two, 'The Process of Exchange'.

All commodities immediately lose their character of use-values, are deprived of it (Entäusserung) and this is transfered to the general equivalent, which acquires a universal use-value, through which commodities assert their own exchange character as the exchangeability-continuum. But this movement is a double one, because the commodities also lose (are deprived of) their possibility of being equivalent, and this determination is fixed in the excluded commodity, which becomes the universal commodity, the general equivalent. In the first case, the particularities are cancelled; in the second, they reappear in the same way in which the use-value, at the beginning of the exchange, was negated to reappear at the end:

"Hence commodities must be realized as values before they can be realized as use-values." (Capital I p. i)

Henceforth, their alienability (Veräusserlichkeit) is completely asserted. This is to say that, with the realization of the possibility of leaving the sphere in which they were produced, and to be transfered into another, there is alienabilization (Veräusserlichung) or, they very act of rendering alienable. Thus there is certainly a relation between the process of separation and that of alienabilization, in the same way in which the theory of the break in Marx led Althusser to produce his alienation and insanity.

This phenomenon continues during the genesis of money. Marx states in particular:

"The price form therefore implies the alienability of commodities against money and the necessity for this alienation." (Capita.] I p. 198)

It is useless to reproduce the whole demonstration; it suffices to indicate the essentials. The result of the exchange process of commodities is the formation of something different: money, which clearly is in continuity with the commodities, although counterposed to them. Further, money will tend to replace the simple world of commodities (commodities as totality) and become, starting from its determination as universal currency, the material community which also tends to replace the community of men, because it must be the representation of the movements of men as beings, and representation of the movements of their autonomized products, commodities. Commodities must acknowledge each other as value so that there can be the uninterrupted movement of value, i.e. so that value is not lost. it must be able to recognize itself. in a community-continuum. Commodities must then be mirrored in some way, in their common being, money.

We saw that it was impossible for gold to realize a stable material community. We shall not insist on this point, but instead indicate another result of the movement analysed above: fetishism, to which we shall return . propos the fetishism of capital.

Capital enables the formation of the material community. The movement of value is no longer blocked, because capital is the value-substance which has become subject. The concept. of alienation, with the concepts which it implies, ought no longer to be operative at the levelof capital. But those who assert this have not understood, among other things, the development of capital as material community and its anthropomorphosis.

We must firstly take into account the new determinations linked to capital understood as value in process, before rapidly analysing the relations between capital and alienation. Capital is valorized in the immediate process of production. But from the moment when it leaves this sphere, the possibility of devalorization appears, which is manifested in the fact that capital assumes a materiality, becomes commodity-capital. In other terms, this expresses the alienation deriving from objectification, as Hegel would. have it. Objectified capital negates itself. But, as we have seen, it is a temporary negation, since it abandons this form to return to that of money, which is its adequate form, and to rediscover an existence conforming to its concept, so that it will be able to effect its realization from c to c + Δc, on condition that nothing obstructs its entering another production process. However, devalorization occurs in another way: capital loses its substance, is devalorized, during the circulation movement and during the passage from -one process to another, It overcomes this loss by becoming the reified (sachlich) autonoinized form. Hence it has become other, since it was originally substance-object with its adequate form of representation in money.

The unusual moment of this becoming is when it takes the form of interest be bearing capital, the moment when, like the commodity, it assumes a double character of use-value and exchange-value; thus it becomes alienable (it is its alienabilization = Veräusserlichung). This is so because it is a particular capital which must pass from one sphere to the other. All that was said about men, then about commodities, is again valid. Alienation will be real to the extent that the particular capital is unable to recognize itself, rediscover itself in capital as the total community. Besides, the community does not exist in an immediately unitary manner, and the movements of different capitals, along with the devalorization process, loss of value substance[18] , risk disaggregating it. The formation of fictitious capital allows these different forms of existence to be held together; it becomes their common representation. We can state once more that this is clearly alienation. Here an indefinite movement commences. Capital lauches into increasing fictitiousness to avoid becoming other, its negation, and the basis of the phenomenon progressively tends to disappear since, as Marx said, it becomes the aconceptual form which has lost all mediating process. Mystification is the movement of the disappearance of mediations. At the extreme, it is possible for a hiatus to appear between capital in the form of the socialized thing, in the form of value, and fictitious capital; therefore it would no long-' er be possible to accomplish the process, which would be the real "crisis" of capital, the symptoms of which are making themselves felt.

The becoming of capital only exacerbates all the previous alienating characteristics of men. The process of separation, one of the conditions of alienation having become its result, is again aggravated. Man is first separated from his community, then from his means of production and his portion of activity, work is taken away (he is expropriated of his reality); later this involves his life outside the sphere of production. One should also recall that, at this level, appropriation no longer takes place through an intermediate element, work, because it bears on the labour of others. Hence the externalization process is reinforced:

"Hence the rule of the capitalist over the worker is the rule of things over man, of dead labour over the living, of the product over the producer, here in fact the commodities that become instruments of rule over the workers (but merely as the instruments of the rule of capital itself), are simply results of the process of production, its products. In material production, in the real social life process, because this is the process of production, there is the same relation which religion represents in the ideological field, the inversion of subject and object and vice versa. Viewed historically, this inversion appears as the essential transitional point to obtain at the cost of the majority the creation of wealth as such, i.e. the relentless productive forces of social labour which alone can form the material base of a free human society. This antagonistic stage cannot be avoided more than it is possible for man to avoid the stage in which his spiritual energies are given to a religious definition as powers independent of him. It is the estrangement process (Entfremdungsprozess of his own work." (Results p. 990)

The proletarian (what man has become) can no longer recognize himself in a human community, since it no longer exists, or rather, it has been absorbed by the finished capital fetish, since fetishism is exactly the attribution of human qualities to a thing. This is due to the fact that he is no longer only dominated by the result of his activity, but also by the condition of accomplishing it, the means of production which have become capital. Thanks to this, capital can pump out of proletarianized men all their power and capacities. Men who have become pure spirits can rediscover themselves in the capital form without content. We can see by this the extent to which it is precisely the mediations, god, money, capital, that distance men from each other and unite them in a community other, because the mediations pose as immediate-facts: tangible, intangible beings.

We must briefly examine how men struggle against alienation better to perceive what alienation is. Immediately we must remember that, inside primitive communities, there is only the possibility of an alienation, of a becoming other, which would be a mutilation, because the community manages to maintain its cohesion and permanence by means of many mechanisms. For that matter, it is important to remark that myth in these societies allows thinking and domination of the discontinuity as well as the continuity. Originally myths tended to maintain the permanence of the leap from nature to human nature (from nature to culture, as some say), it is the permanence of a discontinuity; besides, myths dominate all that can alter the individual during his own becoming, because myth is a paradigm of life; and in this sense appears as a constraint or, at the extreme, poses as the true subject or substance of which man is only the accident. The material base of this is due to the fact that the community either tries to its utmost to annihilate the effects of any event which could be the starting-point of its decomposition, or integrates and assimilates these effects (really in the biological sense of the term), so what was foreign, other, becomes body of the Gemeinwesen. This power of assimilation, of endurance, of primitive communities can still be seen in India, where, for example, all the religions have generally been absorbed by the old cults of primitive communism. None of them has really emerged as the victor over these old representations throughout the sub-continent. These societies tend to dominate their history, leading to theories on the cyclical nature of time which were produced to explain their mode of being.

We believe that myth is the representation of the Gemeinwesen and the individual being of the community rediscovers himself in this representation (which is more or less immediate), thus effectively welding him to the community.

More precisely, we would say that man as a sensible activity and with a nature outside himself (this is clear immediately with nutrition, food is outside man) needs to appropriate external elements so as to accomplish his life cycle. Originally the individual being did so as a member of his community, and it is more correct to say that that it is the community which reproduces itself and, by so doing, reproduces all its members. But representation is born from this separation and sensitivity. It can be said that, in this historical epoch, individual man depends on nature, but that, thanks to his community, this dependence cannot be transformed into alienation.

The possibility of rediscovery, of recognizing oneself, is lost when the communities are destroyed, and hence the necessity to reform it in other forms: religion[19], state, literature, art. In a very schematic manner, one can say that men used all the resources of their activity to hinder the results of alienation. Men were already on the field of alienation, so that the autonomization of their activities tended to be opposed to those which subjugated them, leading to a redoubled alienation. This means that it is absurd, to envisage a particular alienation, or to seek for the material base of alienation: it is the result of a total process.

Men envisaged dominating the movement of alienation even on the material level, on the field of economic and social relations. But each time the effects were felt even more strongly 3 the end,. If men gave up to the movement of exchange and profited from the riches they could recuperate, assuming that separation also means reuniting, but from that recognized the necessity to submit themselves to the movement they wished to block, in order to gain these riches. They could tend towards the same objective by launching out into hoarding: an attempt to dominate gold as the community, as the general representation. Henceforth, as Marx remarked, all the feelings and aspirations (more than just their activity) are mobilized to attain this goal. Man deludes himself with hoarding into thinking that he imprisons the social power and the mirror of things. Finally, man can purely and simply refuse all the productions of the world in order to avoid, through total renunciation, the cursedness of money. This simultaneously leads to refusal of all enjoyment, to founder in generalized asceticism, as alienating as the unbridled enjoyment of Don Giovanni, for example. Besides, such men are only possible on the basis of a society still not dominated by capital.

With the development of the capitalist mode of production, the representations which tended to place themselves outside the material domain, the domain of socio-economic relations, themselves dominated by the movement of value, are seized upon by capital. Capital realizes philosophy and art, as well as religion, as Marx shows in particular in the Theories Surplus Value Part Three (p. 448).

The moment when this absorption is possible occurs with the development of credit:

"In credit, the man himself, instead of metal or paper, has become the mediator of exchange, not however, as a man, but as the mode of existence of capital and interest. (...)-With the credit relationship, it is not the case that money is abolished (aufgehoben) in man, but that man himself is turned into money, or money is incorporated in him." (Comments on James Mill Elements de l'Economie politique in MECW 3 p. 215)

Man is totally lost, and when he thinks that he can rediscover himself in the antagonistic representations of capital, he is still further absorbed by his enemy, who has become the mirror of all representations and who also has become myth. The capitalization of what seemed by its nature to be irreducible to such a transformation, implies the formation and generalization of fictitious capital. This acts as the mediation unifying all the moments of capital and, as an assimilation process, of appropriating everything external, foreign, to it. This is why the real domination of capital is simultaneously like a "beyond" of capital (it has gone beyond its limits).

The proletarians set up unions and parties in which they could. rediscover a certain community outside capital. Now it is capital that organizes men and all organizations become gangs-rackets directly subordinated to capital. This is delinquency and madness at its extreme. Both are the final moments of speculation inherent in capital. Besides, madness is linked to the fact that man is completely alienated, has become other, can only be at present becoming mad, in the purely medical sense of the term. Madness has fled in front of the reality of capital. Man emprisoned in his being other can therefore neither rediscover, nor return to the original being. Madness is a kind of reabsorption of becoming.

The movements of splitting-separation and of autonomization are now at their peak. The split which took place on the outside ( separation from the means of production) becomes internal. Proletarians who reject work-activity (even if they still do it) lead a double life and tend to schizophrenia. They are stripped of their activity, which is restored to them in the form of representations; the movement of alienation no longer bears on the being or the having, but on appearing: their life is organized for them, and thus they increasingly tend to perceive of themselves as being thrown into non-life. Again schizophrenia develops on the basis of the break (Spaltung) which man cannot dominate; the elements separated by it tend to autonomize themselves and seek to pose as the real being.

Besides, there is no longer any possible identification in given men, since capital has destroyed the human community, leading to the conflict of different generations: young people see in their relatives the alienated people they refuse to become; they feel in them the reification and the mechanization, hence the aspect of the revolt of life, of universal revolt of young people who take up every struggle against capital as a totality, hence also the revolt of nature through men as such against the despotism of capital. This leads to increasingly irrational (in relation to the norms of this society) aspects that this revolt adopts. Perhaps it is only in an act of "madness", that humanity will be able to liberate itself. In any case, madness is only a problem when capital has arrived, as can be seen by reading History of Madness in the Classical Age by Foucault; the troubles of representation can be well translated as the confusion of words and things!

However, despite becoming fictitious, capital only manages to master its anthropomorphosis with difficulty. It has become man to dominate man. Thus it is forced in a contradictory manner to reintroduce something that it had expelled: human desire. Again there is a type of irrationality; it is the becoming of capital. Marx shows where interest-bearing capital is irrational, 'nevertheless it is generalized. Thus it is not only the rational in capital that becomes effective, but also the irrational.

So there is therefore no human reference, rational or irrational, everything has been embodied by capital, hence 'the deep disarray of our epoch. However, that does not hinder the ever present manifestation of the emergence of communism (it is also an important element of the irrational) and proletarians can find a lever for their struggle against capital in. the perception of this. It is also possible to draw strength form analysing how this situation was reached. Here the historical study intervenes. For Marx, history is not a deus ex machina, but is important to understand movements which are abolished in the production of money and capital, for example, and have created their own magic. The study of history enables one to dissolve the mystification and, thereby, to allow for the reemergence of the real authorsactors, the men defined each time by the mode of production in which they lived. Presently, the study of the formation of the real domination of capital over society lays bare the reality of the proletarians and their struggle against capital and work, against the ideologies which are the ideal functions of the capital fetish, because abstracting from the history of men, they are ideas reduced to the state of fetishes (so structuralism is the theorization of the fetish conceived of as reality, of non-history, of its disappearance; the structure is what can explain everything by itself; it is a neutral thing, innocent, tangible-intangible; it is the congealed alienation of men correlating to the eternal ization of capital).

Thus, by correctly placing every concept, we could refute the reduction of Marx's theory to a simple economism of seeking the economic basis of alienation, as well as the ideological-idea l reduction (the former being material ideology) which wants to make alienation into process concerning the spirit alone or which would be consubstantial to man.

In communism, humanity[20] dominates its production and reproduction as well as its history; there will be becoming and becoming other, but no longer alienation. Social men, who will simultaneously be Gemeinwesen (which will be the human being) will find at the end, in the results, of their process of global activity the presuppositions of the process to come; they rediscover themselves, then, as Gemeinwesen and individualities, in their multiple activities, and they will integrate their objectifications and external izations; there will no longer be an inhibition to their human becoming. They will recognize themselves in the transparency of their relations, activities and products. Their Gemeinwesen (human being) will be their own mediation.

(May 1972)


1. This mystification of the French revolutionaries by the historical movement is dealt with by Marx in his philosophic works, the Urtext and in the 'Isolated Fragments' of the Results. Cf. also the study on the French workers' movement. (This study, begun in 1959, remained incomplete. Only the first part was finished and published in Invariance Serie I, no. 10. We should note that the ruling class was as mystified during the coming of fascism. Fascism presented itself as an ar man, the operator of a social transrormation to take men beyond capitalism; likewise, it originally rose up against capitalism as a worldwide phenomenon. In fact it permitted the perfect realization of the real domination of capital and was one of the essential elements for the generalization of it on a world scale.) (Note of May 1972)

2. Cf. the Grundrisse and the unfinished text of Bordiga Proprieta e capital on this question. (Proprieta e capitale appeared in Prometeo serie I, nos. 1013, serie II nos. 1-4 (1948-52)).

The essential elements of this work are:

a) the analysis of the evolution of southern Italy, which Bordiga did not characterize by the continuation of precapitalist forms of production and by a return to feudalism; for him the Nezzogiorno is an area in which capitalism has long since developed, and is in fact the area, as Engels too observed, where it first developed.

b) Monopoly is not a recent phenomenon in the life of the capitalist mode of production: "Capitalism is a class monopoly, and all the capital accumulated is accumulated increasingly as the endowment of a ruling class, and not that of given individuals and firms."

c) the modern tendency of the enterprise without property: "The modern state really does, not have a direct economic activity at all, but always delegates it through contracts and concessions to capitalist groups."

d) It is not a question of the partial subordination of capital to the state, but of an ulterior subordination of the state to capital.

e) " national bourgeois classes no longer exist, but a world bourgeoisie . ... There are national states of a world capitalist class."

Besides, there can also be a capitalist mode of production without a capitalist class. This problem was dealt with especially a propos the economic and social evolution of the USSR (this theme was later the centre of other studies by Bordiga

f) indication of the fundamental characteristics of communism. Note of March 1972)

3. It should also be noted that in Marx appropriation (Aneignung) is quite similar to what others call assimilation, i.e. in a certain way the movement which transforms the exterior thing into a thing for the subject, which implies possession (Besitz) not property (Eigentum) (Note of May 1972)

4. Note the difference: in capitalism, the comparison of commodities is a way of realizing a profit, once the surplus-value has been extorted from the proletariat.

5. Zusammenhang, which we previously translated as relation, also means linkage, connection etc., and must be included in a collection of relations of dependence between beings. Ensemble social or complexe social used to translate it in the Editions Sociales edition seems valid, (Note of May 1972)

6. Gemeinschaftlichkeit implies the idea of the possibility of forming the community (Gemeinschaft) (Note of May 1972)

7. Fremdartigkeit literally means alien (Fremd = alien) by nature, hence bizarrerie, different nature, heterogeneity etc. (cf. the dictionary!) Marx wished to say that the ensemble of relations form something external to individuals, that this ensemble is alien to them, there is something of a hiatus between the individualsand those relations. Externality is a state, we distinguish it from estrangement (=Entfremdung) which most translate as alienation. (Note of May 1972)

8.This is a fundamental remark, renewed by Marx in his study: "The circulation of money began at an infinite number of points and returned to an infinite number of points. The point of return was in no way posited as the point of departure. In the circulation of capital, the point of departure is posited as the terminal point and the terminal point as the point of departure." (Grundrisse p. 516)

9.This aspect of capital was studied with the help of extracts from the Grundrisse published in il programma comunista no. 20, 1957. (French translation in Invariance Série I, no3, pp. 82-110)

10. "Although on the basis of capitalist production the social character of their production confronts the mass of immediate producers in the form of a strict governing authority, and the social mechanism of the labour process has received here a completely hierarchical articulation - though this authority accrues to its bearers only as the personification of the conditions of labour vis-à-vis labour itself, not to them as political or theocratic rulers as in earlier forms of production - the most complete anarchy reigns among the bearers of this authority, the capitalists themselves, who confront one another simply as owners of commodities, and within this anarchy the social interconnection of production prevails over individual caprice only as an overwhelming natural law." (Capital III p. 1021)

11. Regarding what forms the proletarian power, Marx always insisted on the organization of the class as the only real force against capital. The class organizes by constituting itself as a party. (Cf. Address and Provisional Rules of the International Working Men's Association (1864) and Considerations on the Programme of the French Workers Party (1880) for example.)

12. "That the constitution which was the product of a bygone consciousness can become a heavy fetter on an advanced consciousness, etc. etc., these are surely trivial truths. What would really follow would be simply the demand for a constitution which contains within itself the designation and the principle to advance along with consciousness, to advance as actual men advance, this is only possible when 'man' has become the principle of the constitution. Hegel here is Sophist. (Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law, in MECW 3 p. 19) "If the constitution is not merely to suffer change; if, therefore , this illusory appearance is not finally to be violently shattered; if man is to do consciously what otherwise he is forced to do without consciousness by the nature of the thing, it becomes necessary that the movement of the constitution, that progress be made the principle of the constitution and that therefore the real bearer of the constitution, the people, be made the principle of the constitution. Progress itself is then the constitution." (ibid. p. 57)

Now this is, in a different form, the illusion of indefinite progress which is the basic principle of the present-day constitution!

13. Marx insisted several times on the fact that capitalism engenders communism. This exposition would be over-lengthened by showing this in detail with the facts of recent capitalist development. The two citations below are enough to confirm our statement:

"On the other hand, if we did not find concealed in society as it is the material conditions of production and the corresponding relations of exchange prerequisite for a classless society, then all attempts to explode it would be quixotic." (Grundrisse p. 159)

"Concerning the fundamental ideas about the thing I believe that I am not incorrect when I detect an apparent omission in the considerations expounded in your preface, that is, the failure to prove that the material conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat are generated spontaneously through the movement of capitalist production." (Marx to Cafiero 29.7.1879. in MEW B. 34 p. 384)

14. It may seem that our preceding analysis has somewhat omitted the state. That would be, however, to be restricted to the surface of phenomena, because we have shown the place of the state in the total process of social life, dominated by capital, at the end of the chapter 'Productive and Unproductive Labour' • Also it is implicit in the whole work on the Results that the state becomes a capitalist enterprise. However, this calls for complementary specifications, which we shall give later. We did not do so at the time because we wished to take up the whole of the work of Marx and Engels on the state. Regarding the latter, it seems that his theory of the state as presented in the Anti-Dühring is valid only for the formal domination of capital over society; "The modern state, whatever its form, is an essentially capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal collective capitalist." (Anti-Dühring, London n.d., p. 313) Engels only provides evidence on the concentration process of such a kind that he conceived somehow of a unitary capitalist society dominated by the capitalist state. But the community of capital is an antagonistic one. On the one-hand, there is the material community which replaces old communities; on the other hand, different quanta of capital, each of which tends to pose as the community. The state too is a quantum of capital which, like all the others, wishes to be the community. The community's becoming is favoured by the installation of a despotism of capital over society and because the state is the essential mediation for the realization of fictitious capital: it materializes the 'fiction' of capital and so renders perennial its domination. What is wrong in Engels's position is that he autonomizes the state too much. (Note of May 1972)

15. "The whole mystery of the value form lies hidden in this simple value form." (Capital I p. 139)

16. Rubel translates the sentence "So wächst die Macht des Kapitals die im Kapitalisten personifizierte Verselbständigung der gesellschaftlichen Produktions bedingungen gegenüber den wirklichen Produzenten." (MEW B. 25 p. 2714.) in this way:

"Ainsi grandit la puissance du capital c'est a dire l' alienation personifiée dans le capitaliste des conditions social es de la production vis-a-vis des producteurs réels." (Thus the power of capital grows, that is the alienation personified in the cap italist of the social conditions of production vis-a-vis the real producers.) (Oeuvres; Economie II p. 1044), and notes on page 1769 that "Verselbständigung means separation as well as alienation." He should have said which presupposes the separation of capital vis-à-vis the production process which engendered it, and implies the alienation of the producer or of capital, since the latter can become other. That means that if there is autonomization, there is a possibility of becoming other, so an alienation - beforehand, the producers were united with their conditions of production, capital separates them - of such a kind that we would prefer to translate the sentence as: "Thus as the power of capital grows vis-à-vis the effective producers - so does the autonomization (verselbständigung personified by the capitalist - of the social conditions of production." Autonomization is a fundamental mediating moment of the externalization and reification, and so too of effective alienation. What follows in Marx confirms our suggestion:

"Capital shows itself more and more to be a social power, with the capitalist as its functionary - a power which no longer stands in any possible relationship to what the work of one particular individual can create, but an alienated, autonomized social power, as a thing, which confronts society, and as the power which the capitalist has through this thing." (Capital III p. 373)

17. "But this relationship of reciprocal isolation and foreigness does not exist for the members of the natural Gemeinwesen whether it takes the form of the patriarchal family, an ancient Indian commune, or an Inca state." (Capital I p. 182). This foreigness implied by the appearance of the commodity, which is at once use-value and exchange-value, is the point of departure of alienation. We should note here that the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts and Capital are complementary.

18. Let us also recall what was previously said, that the socialization, which is the goal of the total process of production, is a negation even of capital. This becoming other has constantly to be negated if capital is to continue to develop.

19. Religion, as the word suggests, links beings; It only appears when the activity of men has been fragmented, like their community was fragmented. It readopts the rituals, magic and myths of previous societies. Before there was no religion. Religious sects also manifest the will to establish a previous community, and they are mainly clandestine and secret. The state, on the other hand, favours a religion that can bind together the different classes in society. Hence the special relation between the state and this religion, and the various heresies, which are more adequate representations for the oppressed classes. The class struggle thus is manifested also as a religious struggle between the established religions and the heresies.

If one accept as correct the etymology for the word religion given by E. Benveniste, who states that religion "is linked to retie, recall, readopt a new choice, return to an earlier synthesis to recompose it" (Le vocubulaire des institutions indo-europeennes, Ed., de Minuit, t. 2, p. 266), this does not stand in opposition to what we have said. However, over time, religion has really meant: tie the faithful to their god and, this too, link the faithful to each other.

20. Evidently the pitfalls of language cannot be avoided. The terminology of our exposition is marked by a very old moment of human alienation: that of the subjugation of women. But once the reader knows that we are completely convinced of the need for their liberation and that not to make them into men, but so that they can flourish according to their own determinations which have always been inhibited, he can mentally correct what is compartmental in our exposition due to this fact. The emancipated species will produce a new language where men and women will be able to say, understand, perceive and recognize each other in the fullness of their finally realized liberation.