Capital tends to negate value, that is, of the base on which it has erected itself; to the negation of classes; it drowns the proletariat - producer of surplus-value - in the mass of those who realize it; it tends to autonomy and to make people, believe, during its domination, that its production has the goal of man himself (theory of needs). It is total mystification, in which man the slave who produces and consumes is presented as master; but this is because, in reality, the real master, capital, cannot liberate itself and make itself totally autonomous with respect to labour-power. Hence crises. During them, capital strikes at its restricted base and thus makes the reality rebound, that has been mystified: only the proletariat produces surplus-value. Then it can again rediscover its revolutionary force, and., directed by the party of the class, which has long since known how to decipher the vicissitudes of the life process of capital, take to the offensive: destruction of capitalism, expropriation of the expropriators.., the communist revolution. But communism cannot be achieved from one day to the next. We should therefore indicate the phases between captialism and communism.
The transition from one to the other cannot be represented by a formula, as in the case of capital, because the transformation supposes the destruction of a formula: communism being realized while the human species is unified and exploits the planet. Any formula would be a formula in its becoming, a contradiction in terms.
i. General Characteristics of the Transition between the Two Forms of Production
In the course of the immediately post-revolutionary phase (the dictatorship of the proletariat), communism cannot be developed freely because the proletariat must still struggle against the capitalist reaction. It will have to fight longer or shorter wars. Still, starting from this moment, communism can the more easily manifest itself the more there is a geo-social zone in which capitalism is highly developed. Thus it is clear that in the USA capitalism already realizes a certain number of measures which would have had to have been effected by' the dictatorship of the proletariat in an epoch in which capitalist development was scarcely initiated. On the other hand, in the zones in which it has involved only a part of the country (e.g. India), in which capitalist forms are yet to be realized, the measures of the dictatorship of the proletariat will be different, even if they tend towards the same end. Besides, whichever geo-social zone is consider, a greater or smaller acceleration of the process may take place depending on the international situation. A rapid victory over the capitals reaction will allow the shortening of the transitional phase, with the huge aid of elements from the more advanced countries. Communism is a world-wide, not a national phenomenon.
Communism is the negation not only of capitalism, but also of all the class societies which preceed it. Thus the movement which has received the impulse of the class party, and is freed from the encumbrances of present-day society, is the inversion of what the human community has experienced after leaving primitive communism. The expropriation and atomization of men is replaced by their reunification and by the appropriation by the united human species of the products of its activity - the human species is not autonomous, but reconciled with nature - the valorization of the whole with the destruction of value. Products reacquire their character of elements necessary to man as a social being and are now at his disposition. Man is no longer a commodity - the end of human prehistory. Liberation of the greatest productive force: the species, which today is left fallow, wasted and destroyed.
The movement is grafted onto the one which operates in society, but is slowed by capital. Politics is at present a means to contain communism. Arriving there is therefore linked to two elements: it destroys the barrier to its development and is its development itself. During the dictatorship of the proletariat and lower socialism, the destructive aspect is predominant in the erosion of the old form. Politico-military activity = liberation of communism predominates during the dictatorship of the proletariat, as Trotsky explained (after other marxist theorists) in his speech on the New Economic Policy.
ii. Formal Domination of Communism
A. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat
The mystification of capital lies in the masking of all the contradictions, thus giving the impression that they have been overcome. It has been seen that capitalism tends to negate classes and communism, present within it. The period opened by the crisis and by the proletarian revolution is, on the other hand, the epoch in which the contradictions appear in their full intensity. They must be pushed to their extreme consequence, generalized and suppressed.
The proletariat seizes and destroys the capitalist state, but the state is only the superstructural expression of the material community in which capital is constituted in the last period of its historical development. This community, impersonal being, is renewed by the vital process of the valorization of value. This must be destroyed if mankind wants to be liberated from capital. In fact, the destruction of the state and the expropriation of a class would be insufficient if the mechanism we have studied up till now were left intact, which means that a sum of value x has the possibility of being transformed into x + Δx.
The seizure of power can halt the regeneration of this community and facilitate the development of communism present in society. But capital's community cannot be replaced immediately by a human community. Hence the need for a transitory organ, the proletarian state, which exercises its dictatorship. This state is directed by the communist party, the holder of the historical solution: providing a human form for society.
The proletariat therefore sets itself up as the proletarian state. The bases of society are not immediately modified, but the entire socio-economic movement which tends to communism now has a leadership which facilitates instead of inhibiting it. This is the beginning of the formal domination of communism. Formal domination, because there needs to be a complete overthrow of the bases of society before the human community can really dominate. For the time being, the community represented by the party replaces that of capital, which still has deep roots.
Excepting immediate measures linked to the armed struggle against the offensive return of the dispossessed classes, who intend to retake power and to slow the movement of society, all the others are taken in accordance with fully developed communism, which is the final goal. For the time being, communism dominates only formally, since there has been only the destruction of the most important obstacles to its development. The domination is also expressed, however, in the following inversion: while originally the socialization of production and of men was the result of capitalist development despite being continually put in doubt, now it becomes the presupposition of the new social form. It is imposed as the dominating force and the rest of the social process is modelled in its image. At the sane time, this implies that the government makes no further appeals to the old individual, the slave of the material community, but rather to the human community grasped in its becoming; the species, which evidently, at least at the beginning, can only be represented by the party.
The essential point is the destruction of the valorization process. The dictatorship of the proletariat attacks it with two closely linked measures:
a) Everyone has to work, he who does not work, does not eat; this is the generalization of the condition of the proletariat, of manual labour.
b) Shortening of the working day.
Thus the new society affirms that only the person who works is a man. Therefore work reassumes its fundamental position, and man returns to being the subject of production. Capital, on the contrary, especially in its form as fixed capital, eliminates him, making him superfluous.
The dictatorship of the proletariat has no constitution, institutions or rules to define man, contrary to the case of the bourgeois revolution. Instead it is the productive act, participation in human production, that defines man in the society, the communist revolution. Man, however, cannot be imprisoned in a definition, nor in a determined act, nor in the production process, especially when it is still not free of the limits and deformed character inherited from capitalism (communist society has barely begun its emergence and rejection of the old society). It recognizes only the worker and rejects the idler as nonhuman, inessential for its transformation.
There is, in a certain sense, the formation of a community based on work. In capitalism, man's existence was mediated by capital, now it is mediated by work. To arrive at this stage means inflicting a decisive blow on capital's community, even if the foundations are not yet destroyed, since work itself bears the stigma of the previous class society. Work must no longer have an antagonistic character, it no longer contains the opposition necessary labour - surplus labour, if we are to arrive at this result. Even if mystification has been destroyed, what appears is still, for the moment, alienated and contradictory in its process. But starting from the shortening of the working-day and the generalization of work, it is possible for labour to lose its forced, antagonistic character.
Let us return to the measure making work obligatory for everyone. This totally undermines the old order of things.
"By proclaiming the dissolution of the hitherto existing world order the proletariat merely states the secret of its own existence for it is in fact the dissolution of that world order." (Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law, Introduction in MECW 3 p. 187)
Capitalism had grasped this revolutionary aspect of the proletariat: hence the a attempt to provide it with a reserve, however minimal, and therefore to Impregnate it with the bourgeois mentality; finally it seeks its negation, as we have seen. Here, on the other hand., the situation of the proletariat reappears and. is generalized over the whole of society. This causes the dissolution of capitalism. Simultaneously there is the destruction of enormous waste daily perpetuated by capitalism of labour-power, since all this presupposes the negation of a host of activities that are useless or harmful to man.
However, this generalization still falls within the wage-labour form. It always implies the presence of an intermediary between the product and its consumers. But the basis of the phenomenon is not the same. In capitalist society, wage labour is a means to avoid restoring the whole of the product to the individual who produced it. In the transitional phase, wage labour is the result of the fact that it is not possible to destroy the market economy from one day to the next.
In capitalism, the worker considers his labour-power as an exchange-value; it allows him to earn wages by means of which he can acquire use-values. For the capitalist, on the other hand, labour-power is a use-value which is used to generate products which become increasingly inessential for man. Capitalism abandons the sphere of the satisfaction of the material needs of man; communism re-enters it. But if this implies that all human labour is therefore useful to the species it is still not possible to prevent this activity from presenting itself to the individual as an activity. for exchange (Erwertätigkeit) Still, this is the starting point for the destruction of the law of value.
After the seizure of power, the communist revolution manifests its social spirit; what counts is no longer political measures, but rather the end that they prefigure: unification of the species and abolition of the old antagonisms. The communist revolution issues and enforces a law according to which "he who does not work does not eat", thus it tends to end competition between men. The same happens when the antagonism between manual and intellectual labour is abolished; this presupposes the generalization of the former, linked to the generalization of the shortening of the working day:
"The absolute barrier to the shortening of the working day is, from this point of view, the generalization of labour," (Capital I p. 667)
Thus the mystification of capital is destroyed and labour - as the true agent of the production process - returns to the centre of the phenomenon. The destruction of mystification does not, however, automatically eliminate the mercantile character assumed by labour after the birth of capital. Besides, there is still the need to destroy another mystification linked to wage-labour. Capitalism, in fact, generalizes it. Now it is not just the proletarian, the producer of surplus-value, who is a wage-labourer, but also those who make surplus-value circulate. They do not undertake work that is productive for the human species, but only for capital. The generalization of manual labour, of labour really used for productive purposes, makes wage-labour regain a real content. It loses its mystification, and the generalization of the proletariat's condition over society in its entirety becomes a reality.
Now there is a society characterized by the work community which, still, is not yet a human society in which the emancipated species mediates the life of every individual. Labour must again become man's life giving, non-alienating, activity if there is to be no further need for any intermediary other than the human being himself. Labour must totally rid itself on the last mercantile characters imprinted on it by bourgeois society.
B. Lower socialism
"What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capita-list society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges." (Critique of the Gotha Programme in MESW 3 p. 17)
There is still only a formal domination of communism.
In lower socialism, as in capitalism, production is social, but appropriation too tends to become 'increasingly socialized. The means of production are completely socialized; the means-of circulation are controlled by the proletarian state, so that the proletariat, through the mediation of the party, tends to make the economic machine function to the workers' advantage as a whole. The first act is therefore fulfilled: the reuniting of the collective machine with the collective worker for collective production to the advantage of men in their totality.
Capital, as exchange-value that has reached total autonomy, can easily be destroyed. It already is (act of the dictatorship of the proletariat) when the goal of production is inverted: no longer production for profit, but to satisfy man's consumption. And yet, while remaining at this stage, it is evident that value sooner or later can regenerate capital. It is therefore necessary to attack the inferior forms of value, to uproot them completely, to deprive capital of any possibility whatsoever of reappearing.
The English socialists who stayed on the terrain of Ricardo, wished that the law of value would really operate, and in the proletariat's favour. Hence they suggested the "labour receipt". Marx demonstrates how utopian a "labour receipt or labour money" is in the present-day sphere of production. According to Gray:
"products are to be produced as commodities but not exchanged as commodities (Contribution p. 85)
In socialism, products are not produced as commodities and cannot be exchanged. The labour receipt can therefore assume an historical function.
1) Labour receipt and production
If one wants products to cease to be produced as commodities, one must destroy the valorization process, therefore remove the commodity character of labourpower, and this is possible:
"We know however in actual fact the preservation and thus also the reproduction of the value of products of past labour is only the result of their contact with living labour; and secondly, that the command that the products of past labour exercise over living surplus labour lasts only as long as the capital relation, the specific social relation in which past labour confronts living labour as independent and superior." (Capital III p. 524)
For man to cease to be a commodity, it is necessary that he is no longer forceto sell himself, to alienate his labour-power t'o have "the right to live". So it is necessary that the means of production are no longer controlled by a class, and not even by the state, but by society.
As we saw, all must work from the beginning of the phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that the state controls are productive spheres. It antic- / ipates what is required for consumption, thus a consumption plan is established, production is accomplished according to this, and, in turn, socially (necessary) labour time is calculated according to production. Every man must fulfill part of this:
"(Labour time's) apportionment in accordance-with a definite social plan maintains the correct proportion between the different functions of labour and the various needs. On the other hand, labour time also serves as a measure of the part taken by each individual in the common labour..," (Capital I p. 172)
The means of production are no longer instruments that pump out surplus-value, that suck up human labour to extract surplus-labour. They are used to perform a labour process required to produce a certain quantity of products which society needs.
The transformation turns on two points: labour and means of production. In fact, as we saw, labour is wage-labour because it is confronted with means of production controlled by a class. And the means of production are capital only to the extent that wage-labour exists, i.e. a labour-power whose productive consumption enables, on the one hand, the restoration of the value laid. out in means of production, but also, on the other hand, the creation of an increase - surplus-value, which, when reified, will become capital and will oppose the proletarians as a hostile power in other production processes. To destroy wage-labour means to remove the character of capital from the means of production.
Consequently, we must emphasise here the difference from wage-labour. The measure which tends to reunite the two separate phases (labour-power and the means of production) by man's definite taking over of the productive machine, abolishes the exchange between living labour and dead labour. Since they are no longer posited as antagonistic forces, but rather are reunited in a harmonious labour process, their union, which is in any case required for production to take place, no longer requires a middle term - exchange. There is the fulfillment of a funct-ion, whose basis is no longer the minimum necessary to maintain the life of the individual, but whose starting point is to assure man the life most adequate to his own nature. This labour time represents an individual contribution to the work necessary for the functioning of society. This presupposes that all labour is necessary for the species.
In other words, it seems that with the labour receipt the worker is still under the law of exchange, but, in respect to capitalism, its content is changed. The receipt is no longer the condition for working. the necessary time, instead it is a quota-part of the total social labour. Besides, the receipt simultaneously indicates the extent to which the activity of the individual man is useful, even though still only in a quantitative aspect. His participation in the social productive process is required, and this process alone is now considered, so that, although still embryonically, the possibility arises for every man to consider his own labour no longer as an activity which permits valorization, but as a use-value immediately useful to society. The barriers created by the existence of the independent individual begin to collapse, even if it takes a long time to reach its conclusion. In this stage, labour time can still be opposed to free time in the case of the individual ( a counterposing of the social to the individual aspect). It is therefore necessary to continue still further the analysis of the characteristics of labour.
Firstly, the determination of labour time is social.
"On the basis of communal (Gemeinschaftliche) production, the determination of time remains, of course, essential. The less time the society requires to produce wheat, cattle etc,, the more time it wins for other production, material or mental. Just as in the case of single individual, the multiplicity of its development, its enjoyment, and its activity depends on economization of time. Economy of time, to this all economy ultimately reduces itself. Society likewise has to distribute its time in a purposeful way, in order to achieve a production adequate to its overall needs. economy of time, along with the planned distribution of labour time among the various branches of production, remains the first economic law on the basis of communal production." (Grundrisse pp. 172-3)
Secondly, to achieve communism, one must:
a) Reduce all labour to abstract labour. Only in this way can society take account of the efforts necessary for production. Besides, capital itself tends to realize this reduction.
b) Create disposable time, again capital realizes this:
"The creation of a large quantity of disposable time apart from necessary labour time for society generally and each of its members (i.e. room for the development of the individuals' full productive forces, hence those of society also)., this creation of not-labour time appears from the standpoint of capital as of all earlier ones, as not-labour time, free time, for a few." (ibid. p. 708)
These are the two vital elements allowing the operation of the labour receipt; a measure of the activity that the man must develop to produce the elements necessary for his own life. Thanks to the development of disposable time, which is due to a great increase in the productive forces - lessening labour time and. increasing disposable time, man will be able to transform himself and to escape from the sphere of necessity by dominating it.
"Labour time as the measure of wealth posits wealth itself as founded on poverty, and disposable time existing in and because of the antithesis to surplus labour time or, the positing of the individual's entire time as labour time and his degradation therefore to mere worker, subsumption under labour." (ibid. p. 708)
In lower socialism, the contradictory nature of labour is destroyed with the generalization of disposable time and, hence, with man's emancipation from the slavery of wage-labour. Still, one must remember that it is capital itself which creates this base. Previously it was shown how the middle classes are nothing other than the living representation of this disposable time and hence the person ification of the surplus labour of the working class.
"But its (i.e. capital's - ei.) tendency always, on the one hand, to create disposable labour time on the other, to convert it into surplus labour. If it succeeds too well at the first,then it suffers from surplus production, and then necessary labour is interrupted, because no surplus labour can be valorized by capital. The more this contradiction develops, the more does it become evident that the growth of the forces of production can no longer be bound up with the appropriation of alien labour, but that the mass of workers must itself appropriate its own surplus labour. Once it has done so - and disposable time ceases to have an antithetical existence - then, on the one hand., necessary labour time will be measured by the needs of the social individual, and., on the other, the development of the power of social production will grow so rapidly that, even though production is now calculated for the wealth of all, disposable time will grow for all. The measure of wealth is no longer in any way labour time, but rather disposable time." (ibid. p. 708)
Labour must lose every antagonistic aspect to become nothing but purely human activity. It retains the first characteristic as long as it has to be measured in labour time, and this occurs necessarily as long as an activity must be imposed on men. A social activity which they consider as external, and from which they want to differentiate their own activity, which is developed in disposable time. But already, on the same basis as capitalism, the measurement of wealth by means of labour time appears as a narrow base for social development.
"As soon as labour in the immediate form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange-value (must cease to be the measure) of use-value. The surplus labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth, 'just as the non-labour of the few, for the development of the general powers of the human head. With that, production based on exchange-value breaks down, and the immediate, material process of production is strip ped of the form of penury (Notdürftigkeit) and antithesis (Gegensätzlichkeit) The free development of individualities, and hence not the reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus labour, but rather the reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them." (ibid. pp. 705-6)
In capitalism, immediate labour, the labour of the living, enters production in a decreasing proportion, while the labour of the dead enters in an increasing proportion. The latter is mediated, or social, labour; it is devalorized and can reacquire value only with the help of the former. Capital is therefore interested in living labour, because it alone is valorization, creation of surplus-value.
"If we now compare the value creating process (Wertbildungsprozess) with the valorization process (Verwertungsprozess) we see that the latter is nothing but the continuation of the former beyond a definite point. If the process is not carried beyond the point where the value paid by the capitalist for the labour-power is replaced by an exact equivalent, it is simply the value creation process; but if it is continued beyond that point, it becomes the valorization process." (Capital I p. 302)
By developing the productive forces, capital has the effect that a small portion of living labour recalls to life a large quantity of dead labour. This is its social and contradictory aspect:
"We know however in actual fact the preservation and thus also the reproduction of the value of products of past. labour is only the result of their contact with living labour; and secondly, that the command that the products of past labour exercise over living surplus labour lasts only as long as the capital relation, the specific social relation in which past labour confronts living labour as independent and superior." (Capital III p. 524)
The source of wealth is no longer immediate, but mediated by capital. In lower socialism, it is society which mediates It: the whole product of past generations is offered as a gift to the collectivity. Communism is the resurrection of dead labour. Only human activity - not only the immediate, but also the past - is recognized as necessary. First, there is destruction of mystification - formal domination of communism - then an increasingly preponderant affirmation of human activity. This is possible to the extent to which the means of production are no longer separated from the labour-powers; or when the labour process is unitary. Here again capitalism creates the base of this situation:
"In joint-stock companies, the function is separated from capital ownership so labour is also completely separated from ownership of the means of production and of surplus labour. The result of capitalist production in its highest development is a necessary point of transition towards the transformation of capital back into the property of the producers, though no longer as the private property of individual producers, but rather as their property as associated producers, as immediately social property. It is furthermore a point of transition towards the transformatiom of all functions formerly bound up with capital ownership in the reproduction process into simple functions of the associated producers, into social functions." (Capital III p. 568)
Thus there is no longer exchange between living and dead labour. Only the labour process remains, because the valorization process has disappeared
"With social production, money capital falls away. The society distributes labour-power and means of production between the various branches of industry." (Capital II p. 434)
This implies that the means of production can no longer appear in the form of fixed capital.
Destruction of fixed capital.
"Once we dispense with the capitalist form of reproduction, then the whole problem boils down to the fact that the magnitude of the part of fixed capital that becomes defunct and has therefore to be replaced in kind varies in successive years (here we are dealing simply with the fixed capital functioning in the production of means of consumption). If it is very large one year (if the mortality is above the average, just as with human beings), then in the following years it will certainly be so much the less. The mass of raw materials, semifinished goods, and ancillaries needed for the annual production of means of consumption assuming that other circumstances remain the same - does not diminish on this account; and so the total production of the means of production would have to increase in one case, and decrease in the other. This can only be remedied by perpetual relative over-production; on the one hand, a greater quantum of fixed capital is produced than is directly needed; on the other hand, and this is particularly important, a stock of raw materials etc. is produced that surpasses the immediate annual need (this is particularly true of means of subsistence). Over-production of this kind is equivalent to control by the society over the objective means of its own reproduction. Within capitalist society, however, it is an anarchic' element." (Capital II pp. 544-5)
This control is possible when exchange is suppressed, thus when the means of production are no longer fixed capital. These means of production will serve:
"...as moulders of use-value, without serving as moulders of exchange-value." (Capital I p. 312)
The subject of exchange is the company is present-day capitalist reproduction. So companies must be destroyed: communist society has no need to restore the barriers between private capitals, and so is freed from a whole range of social waste. The abolition of the division of capital among enterprises is a postulate of communism (naturally bound up with the destruction of social capital. cf. il programma comunista no. 13, 1963).
"If we were to consider a communist society in place of a capitalist one, then money capital would immediately be done away with, and so too the disguises that the transactions acquire through it. The matter would. simply be reduced to the fact that the society must reckon in advance how much labour, means of production and means of subsistence it can spend, without dislocation, on branches of industry which, like the building of railways, for instance, supply neither means of production nor means of subsistence, nor any kind of useful effect, for a long period, a year or more, though they certainly do withdraw labour, means of production and means of subsistence from the total annual product. In capitalist society, on the other hand, where any kind of social rationality asserts itself only post festum major disturbances can and must occur constantly." (Capital II p. 390)
Labour time and. value
It seems that we still have to deal with values and that labour time will always define these values. But since the purpose is no longer to increase labour time, it means that labour time no longer needs to appear under the veil of value in order to assume a social function: it affirms, its role immediately. What matters now is only its characteristic of utility. One can say that it now plays the role of measure. It measures the products of human activity and human activity in its actual movement. Marx also observes:
"Labour time cannot immediately be money (a demand which is the same, in other words, as demanding that every commodity should immediately be its own money)" (Grundrisse p. 168)
Labour time can become money only through exchange, which, by bringing commodities into mutual confrontation, makes them come to this determination of value and hence of money.
"A commodity is an exchange-value only if it is expressed in another, i.e. as a relation." (ibid. p. 205)
While the social determination is presupposed in lower socialism, in capitalism it takes effect post festum (cf. the citation above), and it is for this reason that in capitalist society labour time requires exchange to be socialized, hence its metamorphosis into value. The transformation is due to the fact that the transformation starts not from particular, but social, facts. The presupposition is social, it is the community which determines the quanta of time needed to put into movement.
"The communal character of production would make the product into a communal, general product from the outset. The exchange which originally takes place in production - which would not be an exchange of exchange-values but of activities, determined by communal needs and communal purposes - would from the outset include the participation of the individual in the communal world of products. On the basis of exchange-values, labour is posited as general only through exchange. But on this foundation it would be posited as such before exchange; i.e. the exchange of products would in no way be the medium by which the participation of the individual in general production is mediated. Mediation must, of course, take place. In the first case, which proceeds from the independent production of individuals - no. matter how much these independent productions determine and modify each other post festum through their interrelations - mediation takes place through the exchange of commodities, through exchange-value and through money; all these are expressions of one and the same relation. In the second case, the presupposition is itself mediated i.e. a communal production, communality, is presupposed as the basis of production. The labour of the individual is posited from the outset as social labour. (...) In the first case the social character of production is posited only post festum with the elevation of products to exchange-values and the exchange of these exchange-values. In the second case the social character of production is presupposed, and participation in the world of products, in consumption, is not mediated by the exchange of mutually independent labours or products of labour." (Grundrisse pp. 171-2)
So it is no longer a question of production cost, since there is no longer profit; no longer a question of value, because exchange no longer takes place, as products immediately acquire a social character as they are produced for society by the collective worker using the social productive machine. It is simply a matter of products which have to be created according to certain quantities. The consideration is the usefulness to man. But one must know what social and individual effort is needed to produce it, and labour time allows one to measure this.
With the labour receipt, therefore, labour time became time necessary for society. Now it is conterposed only to disposable time. But to make sure that this time does not harbour a double nature, that it is only opposed to something beyond itself and so the opposition does not constitute it, as with the case of the working day under capitalism which comprised the duality: necessary labour, surplus labour, we have to know how the products produced over a period, the measure of which is written on the labour receipt, are consumed.
2) Labour receipt and consumption of the products.
Consumption is social, determined by society:
"Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production themselves. The latter feature, however, is a feature of the mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the reified (sachlichen) conditions of production are in the hands of nonworkers in the form of property in capital and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal condition of production, of labour-power. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. If the reified conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one." (Critique of the Gotha Programme cit. pp 19-20)
Because only production for a definite consumption takes place, only what is necessary is produced. The world of necessity can be dominated only when production can - with a minimum of human effort - satisfy a complex of human needs that go beyond immediate ones. The labour receipt thus has another role, that of measuring the portion destined for each individual:
"in the part of the total product destined for individual consumption." (Capital I p. 172)
First of all an observation that is organically connected with what preceeds:
"Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labour employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a reified quality possessed by them, since no, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labour no longer exists in a roundabout way, but immediately* as a component part of the total labour." (Critique of the Gotha Programme p. 17) (* our emphasis - ed.)
Just as the social working day determines the working day of every individual, so that total product determines the fraction available to every person. Still, one cannot simply divide the entirety of the social product by the number of individuals, as the immediatists would like, who wish to give the worker the undiminished proceeds f labour.
"From this must now be deducted:
First cover for replacement of the means of production used up.
Secondly, additional portion for expansion of production.
Thirdly, reserve or insurance funds to provide against accidents, dislocation' caused by natural calamities etc.
These deductions from "the undiminished proceeds of labour" are an economic necessity and their magnitude is to be determined according to available mean, and forces, and partly by computation of probabilities, but they are in no way calculable by equity.
There remains the other part of the total product intended to serve as means of consumption.
Before this is divided among the individuals, there has to be deducted again from it:
First the general costs of administration not belonging directly to production.
This part will, from the outset, be very considerably restricted in comparison with present day society and diminishes in proportion as the new society develops.
Secondly, that which is intended for the common satisfaction of needs such as schools, health services etc.
From the outset this part grows considerably in comparison with present day society and it grows in proportion as the new society develops.
Thirdly, funds for those unable to work, etc., in short, for what is included under so-called official poor-relief today." (ibid, pp. 16-17)
The labour receipt thus serves as a means of repartition, it is a right to participation in consumption:
"Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society - after the deductions have been made - exactly what he.. gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labour. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labour time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such and such an amount of labour (after deducting his labour for the common funds), and with this certificate he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as costs the same amount of labour. The same quantum of labour which he has given to society in one form he receives back in another." (ibid. pp. 17-18)
Two things must be considered here: one juridical, the question of equal right, and one economic, the question of exchange.
a) Equal Right
The labour receipt still implies a mediation between the individual and society, but more determined than during the dictatorship of the proletariat. Work, not capital, is the presupposition. The labour receipt is recognition of participation in social life. It derives from a division, but this is secondary, linked to the limited character of production. It is not a having that presupposes, but an act, a manifestation. The accomplishment of this act leads to obtaining a certain number of products. Equal rights derive from equal participation.
Thus it may seem that lower socialism is only the realization of democracy. This s, in fact, how it appears. But it is a realization that in any case is only transitory; it derives from a limitation imposed by the weakness of the development of the productive forces and of the consciousness of the producers. It is a stage that must be cleared. Its disappearance is linked to the withering away of the proletarian state. But what can enforce this equal right other than the state? In fully developed communism, right no longer exists, nor the problem of division of sharing. The social democrats of all shades insist on a stage of the movement and have fixed it as a goal, when the real goal is far beyond such a narrow society.
But this egalitarian measure draws its importance not from its immediate content, but from the result that it must help attain: the destruction of competition between men, already alluded to this question in the study of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Here it has an exceptional dimension because the conditions for its realization are there. The disappearance of this competition is the the very basis of the true unification of the species, which is incompatible with democracy, which flourishes only on the division in society, given that even in its more airy form it is merely a conciliation of opposites.
Marx wrote after the above citation:
"Here obviously prevails the same principle as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labour, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals except individual means of consumption." (ibid. p. 18)
We therefore need a closer analytical view of the relation between labour
receipt and the quantity of products, not in a frozen manner, i.e. considering it as an unchangeable fact, valid in this form for a whole phase of the life of humanity, but in its becoming.
A remark is required here. Originally capitalism was characterized by the setting in motion of social relations which therefore lose their rigidity. It later fixes these relations to assure the valorization of value (capital) and its autonomization. The movement restarts in the formal domination of communism, but not to facilitate the accession to autonomy of the value, but so as to lead humanity to its total liberation.
The relation can be presented as follows:
(Quantum of labour)
Quantum of products
(Aliquot of the social quantity)
This seems to be the simple formula for value, which was manifested at the origin of the economic movement which saw the development of the value of exchange. It was accidental; here the relation will be transitory. It is best to specify this simple apparent value form. The labour receipt plays several roles in it.
But this is determined from the start by society and not after a movement of mediation, of greater or shorter length, after a series of exchanges. This is what limits any resemblance to the simple form of value.
"The first form of money corresponds to a low stage of exchange and of barter, in which money still appears more in its determination of measure than as a real instrument of exchange." (Grundrisse p. 166)
Only that here too one sees that the presupposition of socialism lies in the highest development of exchange-value, its socialization.
2) It is the equivalent
But this role is strictly limited in that, on the one hand, it is determined
by society and, on the other, there is no autonomy, because it is the relative form which is essential; the quantity of the product. There is an equivalent which develops as a nonequivalent. In fact, pari passu with the growth in production, the individual, for the same quantum of labour, will be able to receive a greater quantity of the social product - a characteristic that distinguishes the receipt from wages - until the moment when the labour receipt loses its raison d'etre though the arrival of abundance.
3) It permits a single transaction
"But these tokens are not money, they do not circulate." (Capital II p. 434)
Thus the relation we have described between the token (labour receipt) and the quantity of products to which it gains a right is only apparently the simple form of value. The token allows an "exchange", and one only. The developed form of value really is destroyed. But Marx shows that the simple form of value contains the seed of the development later of the developed form. This clearly the simple form too must be destroyed to prevent capital from reappearing. That also means that even the resemblence to the simple form of value must also disappear. Now, the token cannot be accumulated, no movement of value can originate in it. Besides as we have seen, capitalism could only appear in a society where a certain quantum of value that has become autonomous was accumulated; a quantum that can buy, can subsume labour-power to allow the realization of the valorization process, which is the process of capital.
The token is valid for a limited period and is lost at the end of this period if it is not consumed. So no monopoly power can appear in society, a power which by subjugating a certain quantity of products, could later take over the means of production and restore capitalism.
In conclusion, the relation indicates an equivalence (with the specification mentioned above), but not a reversibility and so, in this sense, it is a relative form above all. In fact, one may not write:
Quantum of products
Quantum of labour (Tokens)
It cannot be assimilated with the simple form of value which implies the polarity: relative form, equivalent form. It really indicates a qualitative relation. The quantity depends exclusively on production itself. The equivalence is thus determined, externally and not by the confrontation of two elements, like commodities in the simple form of value. It is the state which determines, imposes the quantity that the token provides as a right to take. Thus there is not an exchange but a transfer of the products by authority. The quantity will vary over the course of time until negation occurs. The last appearance of value has disappeared, the labour receipt realizes the destruction of value. Society, as Engels wrote in the Anti-Dühring, no longer accords value to products. The law of value is buried.
Socialism and the law of value
If one says that, on the contrary, the law of value will operate during lower socialism, as certain theorists do by superficially analysing phenomena, that boils down to posing democracy as a necessary form for the whole of that period. We remarked that lower socialism only apparently has a democratic content. Besides, making such a statement is to take the position of the French socialists who considered that capital vitiates the law of value, hinders its functioning, thus destroying equality and liberty. Thus, according to them, capital had to be destroyed to allow equality and liberty to function in society.
"This leads to the error of those socialists, namely the French, who wish to present socialism as the realization of bourgeois ideas, not discovered, but thrown historically into circulation by the French revolution, and struggle with the demonstration that exchange-value originally (in time) and according to its concept (in its adequate form) is a system of liberty and equality for all, but has been falsified by money, capital etc., or rather, that history so far has made failed attempts to apply them in a form corresponding to their truth, and now, with Proudhon and co., claim to discover a panacea by which the real history of these relations must replace the falsified history." (Urtext p. 916)
Our theorists do not have the same starting point, but they do fetch up in the same place.
In fact, saying that the law of value functions in socialism implies the recognition that capital falsifies it, otherwise it would not be a characteristic of this historical period. The dictatorship of the proletariat, the party, would then have the historical mission of gaining the respect for the law of value. A nice prospect! Besides, this is to demand a stage earlier than capitalism; so it is reactionary. This is what the French socialists did not understand:
"The exchange-value system, more than the money system, is in fact the system of freedom and equality. The contradictions, however, appear with greater depth, are immanent contradictions, implications of this property, freedom and equality themselves, which occasionally overturn them into their opposites. It is also a pious and stupid wish that e.g. exchange-value must not eventually develop out of the commodity form and money into the form of capital, or that exchange-value producing labour must not develop into wage-labour." (Urtext p. 916)
They did not see the new conditions created by capital. Capital, by negating the law of value, by trying to overcome it, by giving it different bases, other presuppositions, formed the very basis of its own-suppression which is verified when humanity reaches lower socialism.
Double nature of the labour receipt?
By stating that the law of value is buried, it seems that one has replied at the same time to the question: does the labour receipt have a double nature? The question is important because the possibility of producing surplus-value lay - in capitalism - in the dual nature of the working day. But if the law of value has been destroyed, and if the labour receipt measures the labour time undertaken by each individual, the receipt can by no way conceal such a duality. But would this not appear in another form? The quantity of products received thanks to the labour receipt would be the measure of necessary labour, the deductions, the surplus labour.
In fact things are as follows: all work can be considered as work necessary for the species, or, dialectically speaking, one can consider that the individual is freed from necessary labour and provides only surplus labour to society now. Society uses it and divides it.
"Surplus labour in some form must always remain, as labour beyond the extent of given needs." (Capital III p. 958)
But Marx immediately as:
"It is just that in the capitalist, as in the slave system etc., it has an antagonistic form and its obverse side is pure idleness on the part of one section of society." (ibid.)
Socialism destroys this idleness, since labour time has been generalized for everyone. That is why there cannot, be the realization of the right to be lazy, a Lafargue wished.
The opposition between necessary and surplus labour is replaced, as has alread been underlined, by the opposition between labour time and disposable time, the last antagonistic form bequeathed by capital. Socialism develops the contradictio in a total fashion so as to be able to eliminate it. It still indicates the exter to which society has not been able to satisfy in an unlimited way human needs; th extent to which man -'the consuming individual - sees himself as a particle that is more or less autonomous in the social complex; when he does not feel that his individual activity is directly social, because it is based on general activity and is a necessary element of it. The contradiction disappears when work loses ar coercive aspect.
"The capability to consume is a condition of consumption, hence its primary means, and this capability is the development of an individual potential, a force of production. The saving of labour time (is) equal to an increase of free time, i.e. the time for the full development of the individual, which in turn reacts back upon the productive power of labour as itself the greatest productive power. From the standpoint of the direct production process it car, be regarded as the production of fixed capital, the fixed capital being man himself. (In fact, it is only through the growth of fixed capital that it is possible that a small quantity of living labour allows the production of a huge quantity of products, so that it seems that it is fixed capital which produces such a huge social man; this im-the aspect. of devalorization and the of the socialization of capital.- ed.) It goes without saying, by the way, that direct labour time itself cannot remain in the abstract antithesis to free time in which it appears from the perspective of bourgeois economy. Labour cannot become play, as Fourier would like, although it remains his great contribution to have expressed the suspension not of distribution, but of the mode of production itself, in a higher form, as the ultimate object. Free time - which is both idle time and time for higher activity - has naturally transformed its possessor into a different subject, and he then enters into the direct production process as this different subject. This process then is both discipline, as regards the human being in the process of becoming and, at the sane time, practice, experimental science, materially creative and objectifying science, as regards the human being who has become, in whose head exists the accumulated knowledge of society. For both, in so far as labour requires practical use of the hands and free bodily movement, as in agriculture, at the same time exercise." (Grundrisse pp. 711-12)
Socialism pushes the contradiction between labour time and disposable time to its final limit; but with social development (with education and instruction) and because social relations are now crystal clear to men, without mystification, disposable time will itself enter into man's productive activity, which is socialization. Labour time no longer exists since no limitation exists, so no measure to be taken to control it. The spontaneous and conscious activity of men provides for all necessary works, thus also for all new productions.
"The real wealth of society and the possibility of a constant expansion of its reproduction process does not depend on the length of surplus labour but rather on its productivity and on the more or less plentiful conditions of production in which it is performed. The realm of freedom really only begins where. labour determined by necessity and external expediency ends; it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper;" (Capital III pp. 958-9)
There is always a labour process:
"Just as the savage must wrestle with nature to satisfy his needs, to maintain and reproduce his life, so must civilized man, and he must do so in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. This realm of natural necessity expands with his development, because his needs do too; but the productive forces to satisfy these expand at the same time." (ibid. p. 959)
In lower socialism, the labour process allows the satisfaction of an increasing number of human needs, and also it does not dominate man, but is dominated by him; he is no longer its slave.
"Freedom, in this sphere, can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their communal control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature. But this always remains a realm of necessity." (ibid. p. 959)
This must therefore be dominated and labour time, as a certain duration of time in the man's day, opposed to the rest of that day, must be abolished. At this moment, man is no longer the subject of time in the sense that Marx wrote:
"Time is everything, man is nothing; he is, at the most, time's carcase." (The Poverty of Philosophy in MECW 6 p. 127)
Man rediscovers his substance by losing the necessity of the measure of labour, work is no longer something external to him, but is his deep and intimate manifestation. His activities are no longer separated into more or less antagonistic fields: sciences, arts, etc., but are integrated into a single activity which is the manifestation of human nature in its becoming.
"The true realm of freedom, the development of human powers as an end in itself, begins beyond it, though it can only flourish with this realm of necessity as its basis," (Capital II p. 959)
Marx ends this magnificent passage by indicating the primordial condition for the production of this emancipatory movement; a movement we have detailed above:
"The reduction of the working day is the basic prerequisite." (ibid. p. 959)
With the reaching of this stage of flourishing, the notion of labour time has no further raison d'être, the labour receipt becomes useless and the individual, who is no longer the subject of exchange, as in the capitalist mode of production, but of a transfer, also disappears.
Thirdly, faux frais of production and social book keeping. The forms of labour.
We said that one must determine the physical quanta to be produced according to the population and its growth, and, linked with that, the determination of labour time and the labour receipt etc.. All this requires a book keeping This exists in a hypertrophic state in capitalist society. It registers the movement of value above all. The sector which previously developed: forecasting, planning, programming, has again burdened the economic apparatus. It is born on the immediate terrain of the antagonism between capital and communism. This results in the growth of the faux frais of production, such as described by Marx in Capital Volume II.
During the formal domination of communism, there will be an organization dealing mainly with forecasts of the quantities to be produced, to manufacture, and the determination of the labour time that would have to be employed for this production.
"Secondly, even after the capitalist mode of production is abolished, though social production remains, the determination of value still persists in the sense that the regulation of labour time and the distribution of social labour among various production groups becomes more essential than ever, as well as the keeping of accounts on this." (Capital III p. 991)
This work will b accomplished by a group of men who, in. the beginning, may be separate from the rest of the workers, who are really productive. They will be the unproductive workers, as in the capitalist system; this shows that we are still only dealing with the formal domination of communism. Only, given the inversion of the goal of production, their work is also necessary work for the species. They are faux frais of production without which production in the sense desired by society would be impossible. Moreover, since society no longer attributes value to products, it is not a question of faux frais What remains are the different forms of labour, because the total labour process is still fragmented and divided. It no longer constitutes a whole (the division of labour having not yet been overcome) where the activity of man develops for a moment on the intellectual level: forecast of the process, for another on the practical level: experimentation and undertaking of the work that has been forecast.
"Book-keeping, however, as the supervision and the ideal recapitulation of the process, becomes ever more necessary the more the process takes place on a social scale and loses its purely individual character; it is thus more necessary in capitalist production than in the fragmented production of hand craftsmen and peasants, more necessary in communal production than in capital ist. The costs of book-keep ing are however reduced with the concentration of production and in proportion to its increasing transformation into social book-keeping." (Capital II p. 212)
So it is precisely at this moment that the proletarian state is extinguished. There are no longer distinct social groups in society. There is a unified species that accomplishes a unified labour process which is its production and reproduction. The labour receipt and equal right are also gone.
All the forms of value are therefore buried; thus labour no longer has a deter mined form, there is no alienation. We pass on to higher socialism, communism.
Capitalism had a personal way of negating value, that of becoming its presupposition; the forms of value were then replaced by those of surplus-value. Mystification breaks down and the forms of labour manifest themselves during the phase of the formal domination of communism. This no longer needs a detour to manifest its social character. It must do so to avoid being on the terrain where value car again manifest itself, labour must no longer appear in forms which are always antagonistic forms. We have remarked that, to a certain extent, the expression of the determination of value is synonymous with the determination of the quantum of labour time. This is because we are at a turning-point in history where labour must lose its veil of value, the inverse epoch to the one during which labour acquired this veil. So it is the moment when society knows only forms of labour, when the movement of value is finished and the liberation of man begins; liberation of man because it is the liberation of his essential activity. One must consequently go back over the whole movement of history.
Human activity underwent different laws which gave it its form during the different social forms of production. Starting with a certain period, there was private property and classes developed; labour was alienated and value appeared. As we have seen, beforehand products were useful or simply did not exist. Human labour was not yet disengaged from its purely biological fu tion of activity to maintain life. So it corresponded to the satisfaction of small needs. From then on, value came to have different forms; labour time came to be the more or less adequate measure, more or less social measure; the laws which gave form to value also gave form to labour, subjugating labour. Later, all labour time is dedicated to the production of values; there is the coexistence - as Marx would have it - of necessary labour and social labour within the working day. This duality originally had no raison d'être, since the individual dedicates all his activity to the production of the life of the community, thus also his own; a separation does not take place, no division arises between work and another activity. This opposition deepens later, the commodity dominates the activity which produced it and confers a mercantile character on labour (birth of capital). At a later .stage of the latter, dead, accumulated, labour becomes the dominating power over living labour and all labour becomes abstract and social. The co-existence between the two parts of the working-day no longer exists, instead surplus labour dominates necessary labour, but:
"It is one of the civilizing aspects of capital that it extorts this surplus labour in a manner and in conditions that are more advantageous to social relations and to the creation of a new and higher formation than was the case under the earlier forms of slavery, serfdom etc.." (Capital III p. 958)
In lower socialism, the contradiction between necessary and surplus labour matures into that between labour time and disposable time, the latter is generalized and the species is liberated. Only in communism is work no longer a constraint, it is no longer subject to laws because there is no longer the question of producing values. No more value form, no more labour form. Man dominates the labour process and. therefore the laws that regulate its unfolding. Labour becomes an activity allowing exchange with nature, which adapts matter to one or other end:
"...the entire productive activity of man, through which his metabolic interchange with nature is mediated. But this is not only divested of any social form and specific character; even in its mere natural existence, independent of society, it is lifted right out of society altogether and defined as the externalization and confirmation of life equally for a man who is not yet social as for a socially determined man in one way or another." (ibid. p. 954)
No more value, man is no longer "time's carcase" . He is not oppressed by it, but dominates it. Subjectively, he again becomes the apparently immeasurable duration. Work, as Engles explains in the Dialectics of Nature transformed man. Liberated, emancipated work will provoke a later transformation of humanity, allowing it to enter fully into communist society.
The study of the formal domination of communism above is valid only for the period during which the communist revolution ought to take place on the basis of the formal domination of capital over society, and also, to a certain degree, for the transition period to real domination. But since the generalization of real domination world-wide (1945) this has been totally superseded. However, this study has the advantage of presenting how the proletariat has to destroy the law of value, how it could use the labour-receipt to do so; it therefore shows the importance of Marx's work on the forms of value. Besides, given that capital is both a process taking place in space which, once having gained autonomy, no longer seems to have any presuppositions outside itself, and a process with historical presuppositions all that this implies spatially and temporarily for the capitalist production process has to be given as evidence so as to be destroyed. The maintenance of the simple forms of value can in fact serve as supports for the regeneration of the• capitalist mode of production. From this are derived the functions of the class established as party.
What we have said on this chapter also applies to the interesting study of the Dutch communists (Group of International Communists of the Netherlands): Basic Principles of Communist Production and Distribution which was republished, in German by Rowolht Verlag in 1971, and extracts were published in French by Informations et Correspondance Ouvrier: Fondements de l' economie communiste (February, 1972). An exposition and critique of the work of the Dutch communists was done by Hennaut (who was neither a councillist nor a partisan of the Italian left) in Bilan (theoretical monthly bulletin of the left fraction of the PCI) to which Mitchell (of the Italian left) replied in a series of articles Problems of the Transition Period. We shall return later to all these contributions to the study of the passage to communism.
(Note of May 1972)
iii. The real domination of communism
The real domination of communism is the stage described by Marx as higher socialism or communism. Normally our study, which is centred on the movement of value, should end with the analysis of lower socialism, which sees the end of this movement and the beginning of the one of the reappropriation of human nature. In this society, the goal of production is man himself. All the same, we shall indicate some characteristics of communism so as to present a society no longer dominated by value.
Humanity's accession to communism supposes a pacific revolution which total ly changes the basic foundations of society and of human nature. This is achieved during the previous phase by the great development of production for man and the modification made to his nature following the destruction of forced, mercantile labour. Besides, the real domination of capital supposes a revolution in the way production is undertaken - a repeated revolution as Marx indicated - which means that capital continually tended to overthrow the bases on which it rested.
For communism to exist, the world of necessity must be dominated, because it is beyond this world that the real domain of human development lies. Then man takes his own evolution into his own hands.
The domination of the realm of freedom is realized with the parallel disappearance of the old social antagonisms:
- no more classes or state, so no more private property.
- no opposition between town and country, humanity is spread harmoniously over the earth's surface.
- disappearance of the division between manual and intellectual labour, a reflection of the class struggle. Social man uses the productive machine to create a social product.
- dissolution of the opposition between private and public life. Social man has nothing to do with politics, since there are no men to be governed. There is the administration of things. Consequently there are no further antagonisms between social man ( a human being) and the species. Humanity has rediscovered its organic unity; no more dualism between leaders and masses, which is the same as the dualism between matter and spirit.
"In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith, also the antithesis between mental and physical labour, has vanished; after labour has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all round development of the individual, and all the springs of cooperative wealth flow more abundantly - only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" (Critique of the Gotha Programme p. 19)
The narrow horizon of bourgeois right is also the democratic horizon which supposes a divided man confronted with wealth that has to be divided. Communism has nothing whatever to do with democracy. That is why is has no knowledge of the
"...strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution." (Economic and Philosophic Manscripts in MECW 3 p. 296)
To give a more precise characterization, we have transcribed three fragments of Marx's work which cast light onto three of its aspecs:
"Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have doubly affirmed himself and the other person. 1) my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual externalization of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, sensually contemplative and hence a power sublime beyond doubt 2) In your enjoyment or use of my product I would have the immediate enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man's essential nature, and having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man's essential nature. 3) I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would become recognized and felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential nature and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love. 4) In the individual expression of my life I would have immediately created your expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realized my true, human, communal being (Gemeinwesen)." (Comments on James Mill Elements d'Economie Politique in MECW 3 pp. 227-8)
2. Wealth and needs
"It will be seen how in the place of wealth and poverty of political economy come the rich human being and the rich human need. The rich human being is simultaneously the human being in need of a totality of human externalization of life - the man in whom his own realization exists as an inner necessity, as his plight (Not). Not only wealth but likewise the poverty of man - under the assumption of socialism - receives in equal measure a human and therefore social significance. Poverty is the passive bond which causes the human being to experience the need of the greatest wealth - the other human being. The domination of the objective being in me, the sensuous outburst of my life activity, is passion, which thus becomes here the activity of my being."
3. Relation between men
"Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust etc.." (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts in MECW 3 p. 304 & 326)
Communism is the true human community where the mediation is man himself. The human being is the real Gemeinwesen of man (Marx).
i. the periodization of communism
The three post-capitalist phases: dictatorship of the proletariat, lower socialism, communism, have been perceived and conceived successively by different theorists who have described a society succeeding the one divided into classes. Only, with the exception of scientific communism, their descriptions have been vitiated by a basic error, that of the egalitarian premiss. Since equality was the goal of the movement for the utopian socialists. To this we can add the incomprehension of value. Marx, in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts presents different communist positions, indicating immediately what in general characterizes communism:
"Finally, communism is the positive expression of annulled private property at first as universal private property." (MECW p. 294)
The difference between many doctrines, linked to different moments of social evolution, lies in the comment on this abolition.
"By embracing this relation as a whole communism is;
1) In its first form only a generalization and consummation of it (of this relation). As such it appears in a two fold form: on the one hand, the domination of reified property bulks so large that it wants to destroy everything which is not capable of being possessed by all as private property It wants to disregard talent, etc., in an arbitary manner. For it is the sole purpose of life and existence is immediate, physical possession The category of the worker is not done away with, but extended to all men. The relationship of private property persists as the relationship of the community to the world of things." (ibid. p. 294)
Here a measure to be realized by the dictatorship of the proletariat is indicated: "the category of the worker is not done away with, but extended to all men", with the specification that the proletariat negates itself as such by generalizing its condition of proletariat to the level of all society. Only theoretical limitations of which we have spoken make the community that they foresee merely a community of capital (cf. the chapter 'Capitäl and Material Community'). Marx adds:
"The first positive annulment of private property - crude communism - is thus merely the form of the manifestation of the phenomenon of the vileness of private property, which wants to set itself up as the positive community.
2) Communism (a) still political in nature democratic or despotic." (ibid. p. 296)
This is, for example, the communism suggested by Blanqui, the theorist of political struggle and. the dictatorship of the proletariat.
"(b) with the abolition of the state, yet still incomplete and being affected by private property, i.e. the estrangement of man. In both forms communism already is aware of being reintegration or return of man to himself, the transecendence of human self-estrangement; but since it has not yet grasped the positive essence of private property, and just as little the human nature of need, it remains captive to it and infected by it. It has, indeed, grasped its concept, but not its being." (ibid. p. 296)
Here it is basically the content of lower socialism that has been indicated. Only, as we know, the state is not just suppressed. In fact, the bourgeois state is destroyed, but the proletarian state withers away. What is essential is the hatred of the state and the necessity of its disappearance is proclaimed.
"3) Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e. human) being - a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development. This communism as fully, developed naturalism humanism, and as fully developed humanism naturalism it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man - the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution." (ibid. pp. 296-7)
Marx speaks of communism in all of these cases because the goal is the same for all of them: destruction of private property and the formation of the human community. The different theories were all approximations until the solution to the riddle. They translated a more or less developed stage of society. Men could not imagine what is real in it. Inversely, anticipations only become possible to the extent that they have a real substrate. This is why Marx adds:
"The entire movement of history, just as its (communism's) actual act of genesis - the birth act of its empirical existence - is, therefore, also for its thinking consciousness the comprehended and known process of its becoming Whereas the still immature communism seeks an historical proof for itself a proof in the realm of what already exists - among disconnected historical phenomena opposed to private property, tearing single phrases. from the historical process and focusing attention upon them as proofs of its historical pedigree." (ibid. p. 297)
In as much as the solution is only an approximation, it needed to justify itself. It is the same all things considered - for all the socialisms arising on the basis of the mystification of capital to which we have already alluded: they always need to justify themselves. They also recognize by this that, despite their great pretensions, they can only be an approximate solution of a historic question which can only be cleared up by the proletariat organized in a party which holds the key to the riddle: communism. Marx ends this passage with the remark:
"By so doing it simply makes clear that by far the greater part of this process contradicts its own claim, and that, if it has ever existed, precisely its being in the past refutes its pretension to reality. (ibid. p. 297)
It would be easy to demonstrate the validity of this movement for "Russian communism", but that is not, at the moment, our preoccupation. We merely wish to underline that it is entirely correct to group the two phases of the dictatorship of the proletariat and lower .socialism in the formal domination of communism, a larger entity which includes them.
ii. Communism and Russian society
The analysis of the relationship between Russian society and communism remarkably illustrates the preceding chapter, in particular the point dealing with the formal domination of communism. Russian society was marked by the following question: could. it leap over capitalism, could scientific communism be grafted onto primitive communism (the mir)? Marx and Engels answered this question in accordance with the historical development of the Slav area. We know that towards the ends of their lives they believed the historical opportunity to be lost: the commodity economy was already too developed (it aimed towards a powerful capitalism in some zones) for the graft to take. But capitalism itself, because of the inertia of the forms of decomposition of the mir, the contradictions of inter national capitalism, as well as the fear of the proletariat by the Russian bourgeoisie, was too developed for a jump, a leap to be made, but too underdeveloped. to generalize capitalism throughout Russian society, and then to erect communism on its basis. Hence the need for the intervention of the proletariat.
The imperialist war, the revolution and the civil war followed. Production was destroyed, the economic infrastucture dismantled, weak capitalism devastated. Then the question of leaping the capitalist form arose again under different conditions. It is the way in which it was approached and dealt with by the Bolsheviks in the years before the Stalinist counterrevolution that allows us to see the correspondence between the general theory of the proletariat, Marxism, and the particular concrete case of the Russian revolution. We shall briefly illustrate this: A. The October 1917 revolution was a double revolution, bourgeois and proletarian, communist, because it was a revolution against international capital. B. To what extent can we speak of communism given that this was a basically precapitalist area?
(a) Because of the international perspective. The Communist International was set up in 1919. Russia was the outpost of the communist revolution. The economic question could soon be settled if the revolution were to break out in Germany. See on this Lenin's parable of two chicks in the same egg.
(b) There was the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia. State power, controlled by the Bolshevik party took measures to aid the socialist becoming. They even went beyond the socioeconomic possibilities of Russian society in the early years (see Trotsky's speech on the NEP). There was a formal domination of communism.
(c) This statement is still valid for the period of the N (the retreat of communism before the offensive of world capitalism). Russian society had to engender capitalism beginning in the countryside (as was the case with all national capitalisms). There was no possibility of the beneficial grafting onto it of the German economy. But this capitalism is controlled by the proletariat through its state by the intermediary of the party. Also the International, of which the Russian party was the fundamental element, is the superstructural expression of the force and idea of the phenomenon of worldwide communism. Russia provided its base camp and fall-back positions for carrying out the assault on capital. Regenerating the Russian economy by allowing capitalism to develop was to bring a very dangerous force to bear on the international proletariat.
The Bolsheviks and the communists of the period held one of the arches of the bridge over which the great social transformation had to pass. They could only be dislodged by force. They could not think that at the end of longer or shorter struggles that there would be no final victory, thus no realization of what they then affirmed, what they had resolved to fight for: communism
From formal domination to mystification
Force dislodged the communists, but this manifested itself in a situation where it was more or less masked. Apart from in Russia, their liquidation was a arrived at through the struggle against fascism. Hence the first element of mystification. Besides, in Russia they stated that the goal remained the same: communism, only that the facts of its realization had been changed: the internal development of Russia alone would allow it to occur; communism would no longer be grafted onto Russian society, the society would not be condemned to allowing capitalism to develop, under control, but socialism would be constructed within its geographical limits, then granted to the rest of the world. The real overthrow was in the political leadership, the historical perspective, and not in the economic development, for there it was impossible for an inversion to take place: the productive forces imposed their reality. It is due to the fact that capitalism and communism have the same basis that it. was possible to operate the mystification that we have spoken about.
There is another cause, apart from this objective basis, which explains the solid implantation of this mystification. It is the fact that, at a given moment, the world, proletariat, assumed the running of the development of Russian society. The generalization of capitalism in the Slav area represented a considerable gain for it. This meant that later on official propaganda could prsent relative improvements (vis-a-vis the earlier social order) as absolute improvements (in comparison with all other modes of production, including capitalism) and their realization on an ever larger scale as favouring the movement of the emancipation of the proletariat.
The affirmation of communism after the seizure of power in Russia was fully justified, but it could only be formal, which implied the immediate non-existence of communism in Russia, as well as its potential existence in the Western countries. The counter revolution merely inverted the facts to operate the mystification. It therefore condemned itself to having to make communism a potentiality in Russia too, It made the revolution more distant, but it also had to provide it with deeper roots.
Finally, this statement was only true because the party, the arrival point of all the motor forces. of world society, clearly foresaw the entire historical course, because it tended increasingly to be the community of a social form, the birth of which had to be facilitated. There could be formal domination in as much as the formal party was the real expression of the programme. This is the best proof of its fundamental function, just as the need to detail the dialectical links which unite it with the future society.
iii. Imperialism and formal domination of communism
We can in no way deal exhaustively with the rise of imperialism and its expansion on a world scale, but we should simply ask what can the link be between it and the higher form, communism? Lenin characterized it thus in his basic work:
"But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, hen certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres." (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism in Collected Works Vol. 22 p. 265)
Imperialism is not a transitional phase, but shows how close this stage is. It was first interpreted by the social-democrats with their inevitable corollary of the evolutionist perspective. That is, according to them, this transitional society would mature imperceptibly into socialism. The second interpretation therefore negates this gradualism, but for it the fact still remains that imperialism exists from "when the features of the epoch of transition" are revealed. Lenin did not really study this question in depth. He also entitled his work 'An Essay of Popularization'. He remained on the level of apparent phenomena without grasping the real movement determining them. This movement, as we have seen, results from the deepest contradictions of capital - valoization, devalorization, fixation-circulation, socialization-privatization. But Lenin analysed them in a masterly fashion, so that the explanation offered, even if it is superficial, in the litteral sense of the term, is none the less fundamental. Its validity is striking when one considers the political consequences that he draws. In fact, one can consider his work as remaining on the surface of the phenomena because the author developed an immediate polemic for an immediate political application - the struggle against revisionism. Imperialism causes war, not peace, even though:
"That imperialism begins the era of the social revolution is also a fact, one that is obvious to us, and about which we must speak clearly." (Extraordinary 7th. Congress of the RCP (B) March 6-8, 1918 in Collected Works Vol. 27 p. 131)
Thus imperialism opens the era of social revolution, as he proclaimed in the Report on the Review of the Programme and on Changing the Name of the Party, March 8th.Tbid. pp. 126-39)
Lenin's merit was to have understood this great political implication and to have destroyed the pacifist mystification, also to have proclaimed that the Russian revolution had above all to be fought against this imperialism then personified by England, Germany and the United States. The triumph in Russia was a victory over imperialism because Russia was the weakest, but still vital, link in the chain. How did the situation appear at this moment?
"No matter what the further complications of the struggle may be, no matter what occasional zig-zags we may have to contend with (there will be very many of them - we have seen from experience what gigantic turns the history of the revolution has made, and so far it is only in our own country; matters will be much more complicated and proceed much more rapidly, the rate of development will be more furious and the turns will be more inticate when the revolution becomes a European revolution) - in order not to lose our way in these zig-zags, these sharp turns in history, in order to retain the general perspective, to be able to see the scarlet thread that joins up the entire development of capitalism and the entire road to socialism, the road we naturally imagine as straight in order to see the beginning, the continuation and the end - in real life it will never be straight, it will be incredibly involved - in order not to lose our way in these twists and turns, in order not to get lost at times when we are taking steps backward, times of retreat and temporary defeat or when history or the enemy throws us back - in order not to get lost, it is, in my opinion, important not to discard our old, basic Programme; the only theoretically correct line is to retain it. Today we have reached only the first stage of transition from capitalism to socialism here in Russia." (ibid. pp. 129-30)
Lenin thus saw the beginning of a chaotic phase which would contain detours, defeats leading to disorientation and doubt, but with the historical thread (the thread through time as we say - Sul Filo del Tempo), he assures us, one can reach the total transformation of society. He adds:
"Marxists have never forgotten that violence must inevitably accompany the collapse of capitalism in its entirety and the birth of socialist society. That violence will constitute a period of world history, a whole era of various kinds of wars, imperialist wars (the 193945 war - ed.), civil wars inside countries (Finland, Hungary, and in Germany, though not at the sane level as in Russia itself - od.), the intermingling of the two (the Spanish War, which began as a civil, class, war and ended as an imperialist war - od.) national wars liberating the nationalities oppressed by the imperialists (those beginning at the time of the Russian revolution, which miscarried before the Second World War, but which restarted and emerged victorious afterwards 1945-1962 - ed.) and by various combinations of imperialist powers that will inevitably enter into various alliances in the epoch of tremendous state-capitalist and military trusts and syndicates. This epoch, an epoch of gigantic cataclysms, of mass decisions forcibly imposed by war, of crises (1929 ed.), has begun.- that we can see clearly - and it is only the beginning." (Ibid. p. 130)
Lenin's diagnosis was completely correct: we have illustrated, his statements on purpose in brackets. The essential condition for all these events to be able to constitute as many direct paths or detours going towards socialism was the maintenance of proletarian power in Russia. This was not to be the case. But this verification implies a number of considerations which we shall simply indicate without explanations so as to provide evidence of the link between imperialism and the formal domination of communism.
1) Total victory of imperialism, which is the generalization of capitalism on a world scale, even in the zones which previously were occupied only for pillage: the colonies. Capital now ruled more in the "landlord" form and so not according to its being, i.e. according to economic mechanisms. The whole world is ready for the purely proletarian revolution, all the more so since capitalist domination has deepened in the old metropoles and the index of the purity of capitalism has risen.
2) It realizes, even if mystifying them, a number of measures that the dictatorship of the proletariat would have had to apply, such as planning, which was already necessary in Engels's time (Critique of the Erfurt Programme) the generalization of wage-labour etc., which show most clearly the proximity of the future society.
3) Imperialism has won because it was able to stop the unification of two great forces antagonistic to it: the proletariat and the movement for the emancipation of colonized peoples. 1917-1926: the proletariat was beaten before the others could join in. After the 1939_L1.5 war: the weakening of imperialism allowed the movement for emancipation to recommence (becoming the executor of the Third International, the Baku Congress, the 1920 Theses). But the proletariat did. not emerge from the defeat, the last bloody act of which was the imperialist war itself. The revolutionary movement was finally halted (1962) and integrated more and more in imperialism. The revolution could now triumph only as a purely proletarian revolution.
While drawing up the list of these magnificent struggles which all, however, seemed to have no positive outcome - we are as ever under the domination of capital - Marx's extraordinary analysis of the revolutionary phenomenon immediately springs to mind:
"The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, but only from the future. Itcannot begin with itself before it has stripped off all superstition about the past (e.g. the democratic superstition or that of progress - cd.). Earlier revolutions required recollections of pas
world history in order to dull themselves to their own content. In order to arrive at its own content, the revolution of the nineteenth century must
let the dead. bury the dead. There the words went beyond the content; here
the content goes beyond the words." (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis
Bonaparte MECW 1.1 p. 106)
This quotation expresses in other words what was contained in those of Lenin.
Following them, we can remark that. the revolutions which were finally consolida
ted as bourgeois-capitalist revolutions could only appear historically by drawing
their poetry from the future; any which is claimed by socialism affirms the
potential death of capitalism. The dead have buried the dead. Reproaching them
for this mystification would be to wish to change history, to wish to remove
from the world the power of communism which causes everything that occurs on a (
world scale to be ordered by it (the whole social movement is polarized by its
proximity); complaining of such a mystification would be to wish to resuscitate
Besides, the proletarian revolution has certainly retreated, but the counter-
revolution, by realizing all the transitional and intermediate tasks of the
revolution (the development of capitalism in Russia, China and in the former
colonies), means that the revolution is now again coming to the forefront, and,
this time, "all going-back" is made impossible by the situation.
"Bourgeois revolutions, like those of the eighteenth century, storm swiftly from success to success, their dramatic effects outdo each other, men and things seem set in sparkling brilliants, ecstasy is the everyday spirit, but they are short-lived, soon they have attained their zenith, and a long crapulent-depression seizes society before it learns soberly to assimilate the results of its storm-and-stress period. On the other hand, proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, criticize themselves constantly, interrupt themselves continually in their own course, come back to the apparently accomplished in order to begin it afresh (the retreats and detours that Lenin mentioned in 1918 - ed.), deride with unmerciful thoroughness the inadequacies, weaknesses and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their adversary only in order that he may draw new strength from the earth (the capitalist renewal of the recent years, linked to the consolidation of capitalism in Russia, the work of the proletariat - ed.) and, rise J again, more gigantic, before them, and recoil again and again from the indefinite prodigiousness of their own aims, until a situation has been created which makes all turning-back impossible, and the conditions themselves cry out:
Hic Rhodos, hic salta!" (ibid. pp. 106-7)
4) Paradoxically, this retreat is the triumph of revisionism, of the reformism of Bernstein, then of Kautsky, Bauer and co.. The crisis of 1914 caught imperialism napping - even though imperialism had directly produced it - the proletariat had a perspective: the social revolution which Lenin spoke about. What was the possible solution for capitalism? Evidently it was the destruction of proletarian power, hence the role of social-democracy, later fascism, this is its violent and military aspect. But how could society be organized when it was clearly ready to pass on to "a higher economic and social regime", when the future social form was trying desperately to emerge? The solution was offered by the immediate or later disciples of Bernstein: Bauer, Kautsky, Hilferding, for example. The last of these declared in 1927:
"What is decisive about the present period of capitalism in which we find ourselves is essentially that the era of free competition, in which capitalism was dominated purely by the rule of blind market forces, has been overcome, and we are arriving at a capitalist organization of the economy, also we are passing from the economy of the free play of forces to the organized economy. (p. 3)
"What is characteristic secondly is that, capitalist industry, with a new scientific method becoming employed with new energy, strives for it to take effect from the start so the new possibilities are turned to account in an organized manner.' (p. 3)
"Now what is very interesting to see is that, in the development of modern industrial science, methods are sought after to replace this free competition of private self-interest with scientific, planned, methods.' (p. 5)
"Capitalist organization of the economy" is correct, it is even that of the whole of society, which means fascism, which Hilferding describes exactly, despite himself.
"Organized capitalism thus means in reality the replacement on principle of the capitalist principle of free competition by the socialist principle of planned production. This planned, consciously managed economy supposes, at the highest point, the possibility of the conscious intervention of society, it cannot be otherwise than intervention through the only conscious organization empowered with the force required in society, the intervention of the state." (p. 5)
"But what is more important and new is state regulation in the field that most immediately concerns the lot of the proletariat, namely the field of the labour market. We have, thanks to the revolution, workers' unemployment insurance. This means a totally determined regulation of supply and demand in the labour market. We have today, through our collective agreements, through our arbitration tribunals, a political wages regulation and a political working day regulation. The personal lot of the worker will be determined, through the politics of the state. If we are able, with the level of employment passing two million, to maintain the real wages of the workers, then therefore we shall be able to have a guaranteed real wage for all, because the political influence of the working class has become great enough to prevent a reduction of wages by using collective agreements on wages, arbitration tribunals and wages councils. We must hammer into every worker's head that the weekly wage is a political wage, because the wage coming at the end of the week depends on the parliamentary representation of the working class, on the organization and social relations of power outside parliament. We must especially say to working class women that when you go to vote, make up your mind at the same time on bread, meat, and the size of the wage packet. This is naturally something new to the capitalist economy, it is an element of great economic, social and political importance." (pp. 6-7)
Finally, he defines in a rigorous manner the reformist way = the fascist way = the victory of social democracy.
"This means nothing other than that the problem posed for our generation is to transform this economy that is organized and directed by the capitalists into an economy directed by the democratic state, with the aid of the state and of conscious social regulation. It follows that the problem for our generation can be none other than that of socialism. If we, social democracy, have previously struggled for political rights, to set up and increase social policy, it it through economic development itself that the problem of socialism is posed."
The fascist way, as we said. We should not forget that socialism in one country emerged victorious in Russia before national socialism did in Germany. The first indicates the falling back of the revolution to national borders, the second, the impossibility of saving a country if it is not coloured with socialism. The first is the carrier of an original illusion antagonistic forms are forms of association, the second of a final illusion: socialization of production, resulting from capitalist development, could immediately secrete socialism. That is why the theorists of fascism social democracy, the political form of the capitalist material community, find themselves among the social-democrats.
Society passed through a particular moment in 1925-30, Economic and political measures (draconian control of the economy) were used by capitalism to contain the communist revolution. It was the social democrats mentioned above that undertook this tour de force Capitalism was unable on its own to achieve a consciousness of its own being and the measures it had to take to guarantee its survival. It stole the arms of the proletarian revolution only because it itself, at the highest stage of its development, secretes a transitory society in which it is sufficient to overthrow the organized power of capital by a properly prepared military action led by the class party, for the formal domination of communism to be exercized automatically. As Marx declared, the proletarian revolution "seems to throw down its adversary (in Russia in 1917) only in order that he may draw new strength from the earth (Germany in the period 1925-33, generalized in all the capitalist world with the triumph of fascism in the Second World War) and rise again, more gigantic, before them."
5) What now does imperialism represent other than this acting material community we have mentioned? It is imperialism which offers the presentiment of the future phase of the formal domination of communism. We must therefore analyse in greater detail how the real movement of value, which has constituted itself in this community, engenders the apparent movement. Lenin's analysis is always valid, but a new analysis is vital, firstly to overcome the handicap of fifty years of defeat, secondly to intervene correctly with the appropriate measures after in the economic movement. Without this analysis, the prediction of the crisis will be impossible. Also, to the extent that this impersonal being is unable to control itself, the need to research the deepest contradictions which will break this type of self-regulation, which pushes back the crisis, is vital. The crisis cannot be foreseen without an understanding of this phenomenon. Now, a party which cannot foresee is not a revolutionary party.
1. Cf. il programma comunista nos. 6-10 8 12, 1966 - a translation of Trotsky's speech by Ludovico Tarsia, with a commentary by Amadeo Bordiga. For an English translation of the speech see The New Course (London, 1972).
2. "Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period, in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. (Critique of the Gotha Programme in MESW 3 p.26)
3. Because the community of work has now been realized (another expression of the effective real domination of capital), idleness now takes on a different content, although it is merely a negative, and not a positive determination of communism, and deserves to be reexamined. (Note of May 1972)
4. One can see all the difference in the world between this community, which realizes a certain egalitarianism, since there is no other means of reaching a more developed stage, and. the community of rude communism mentioned in the previous chapter.
5. "If however wages are reduced to their general basis, i.e. that portion of the product of his labour which goes into the worker's own individual consumption; if this share is freed from its capitalist limit and expanded to the scale of production that is both permitted by the existing social productivity (i.e. the social productivity of his own labour as genuinely social labour) and required for the full development of individuality; if surplus labour and surplus product are also reduced, to the degree needed under the given conditions of production, on the one hand to form an insurance and reserve fund, on the other hand for the constant expansion of reproduction in the degree determined by social need; if, finally, both (1) the necessary labour and (2) the surplus labour are taken to include the quantum of labour that those capable of work must always perform for those members of society not yet capable, or no longer capable of working - i.e. if both wages and surplus-value are stripped of their specifically capitalist character - then nothing of these forms remain, but simply those foundations that are common to all social modes of production." (Capital III pp. 1015-16)
Let us specify that Erwertätigkeit means an activity with self-valorization in mind.
6. The French edition concludes this passage with "the generalization of manual labour." (Note of May 1972)
7. It is not the particular activity of a being that can play this role, but its totality.
8.To remove any demagogic aspect from the matter, it would be better to speak of a provisions card. On this, see Amadeo Bordiga Lezioni delle contrarivoluzion (1951).
9.This means that when the sphere of necessity has been dominated, men must rediscover themselves in their disposable time. Following the real domination of,, capital, which has undergone anthropomorosis, men must either go backwards through the cycle and reconquer an activity stripped from them, or they must create another and create themselves as men who have become men. The revolution « appears as the beginning of a huge human creation. (Note of May 1972)
10. Marx describes lower socialism in Capital and deals with the same question in the following way: "Let us finally imagine, for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common, and expending their many different forms of labourpower in full self-awareness as one social labour force. All the determinations of Robinson' s labour are repeated here, but with the difference that they are social rather than individual. All Robinson' s products were exclusively the result of his own personal labour and they were therefore immediately objects of utility for him personally. The total product of our imagined association is a social product. One part of this product serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another part is consumed by members of the association as means of subsistence. This part must therefore be divided among
them. The way this division will be made will vary with the particular kind of social production organism and the corresponding historical level of social development attained by the producers." (Capital I pp. 171-2)
11. "The representation of socialist society as the realm of equality is a onesided French idea modelled upon the old "liberty, equality, fraternity' - a concept which was justified as a stage of development in its own time and. place but which, like all the one-sidedness of the earlier socialist schools, should have been overcome by now, for it only produces confusion in people's heads and more precise modes of presentation of the matter have been found." (Engels to Bebel 18-28.3.1875 in MESC p. 276)
12. "In socialism, there are neither measures of value nor value. There are no exchanges between men. Only one exchange remains: between human society and nature." Amadeo Bordiga in il programma comunista no. 20 1957.
13. "How these socialists differ from the bourgeois apologists 'is, on the one hand, in the feeling of the contradictions of the system, on the other, in utopianism, the lack of grasp of the necessary difference between the real and ideal forms of bourgeois society, and thus the superfluous proposition to wish to undertake the ideal expression, the transfigured and reflected from reality itself as such, a photograph, as a realization of the same." (Urtext p. 916)
14. "The social relations of men, both towards their labour and the products of their labour, are here transparent in their simplicity, in production as well as in distribution." (Capital I p. 172)
15. It would. seem that this passage shows that Marx considers that the law of value could continue to play - or play even more really - a role in post-capitalist society. In fact, he uses the term determination of value for determination of labour time. The rest of the quotation also conforms to this interpretation. It could be said that, effectively, in as much as one must evaluate the quanta of labour time, one is in fact making a kind of determination of value. But, firstly this is done prior to production, not post festum; thus as we have shown the labour time no longer requires its veil of value to manifest itself socially; secondly, the French edition is much more affirmative that the German. The French translation says "the determination of value remains dominant because...". In German one reads "Bleibt ...die Wertbestimmung vorherrschend in dem sinn, das... wird." That is, the value determination will remain predominant in the sense that (as in the English edition.) There is all the same a slight nuance. Marx uses an adverbial phrase, the translator indicates a consequence.
16. "Exchange-value, which presupposes a more or less developed division of labour, depending on the level of exchange itself, presupposes that, instead of one individual (the society) doing different kinds of labour and employing his labour time in different forms, each and every individual's labour time is devoted exclusively to the necessary particular functions." (Grundrisse p. 527)
17. We wish to say by this that there is a total transformation which takes place like during a revolution, but without requiring any violence, because the foundations of this will have been eradicated in the previous phase. It will need a great many years to accomplish.
18. This magnificent passage was commented on during a general meeting of the Internationalist Communist Party, the theme of which was the description of communist society. Cf. the resumé in il programma comunista no. 21, 1958. It was republished in Bordiga Testi sul comunismo (Ed. La Vecchia Talpa - Crimi, 1972) (French edition Bordiga et la passion du communisme, Spartacus, Paris, 1974)
19. Instead in capitalist society: domination of inert matter over men (cf. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts p.???)
(What we indicated on the formal domination of communism is partly valid, here. To begin with, the periodization loses its validity today; also the rapidity of the realization of communism will be eater than was previously thought. Finally we must specify that communism is neither a mode of production, nor a society. (Note of May 1972).)
20. Erscheinung really indicates the idea of the manifestation of a phenomenon; which as such makes it appear. (Note of May 1972)
21. Cf. il programma comunista 1954-7: Russia e rivoluzione nella teoria marxista (republished by Edizioni il Formichiere, Milano, 1975) ; Dialogato coi morti (republished by il Fib del Tempo, Roma, 1977); Struttura Economica e Sociale della Russia d'oggi (republished by ed. il programma comunista, Milano, 1976); all works by Bordiga.
22. We shall have to return later to this Russian agrarian question in a detailed manner. In fact, we have fairly falsified Marx's position on the obschina and also we undervalued the importance it still held in 1917. (Note of Ma 1972)
23. This was fundamentally the position of Bordiga. (Note of May 1972)
24. "Capitalist joint-stock companies as much as co-operative factories should be viewed as transition forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associatec one, simply that in the one case the opposition is abolished in a negative way, and in the other in a positive way." (Capital III p. 572) "This social character of capital is mediated and completely realized only by the full development of the credit and banking system. (...) It thereby abolishes the private character of capital and. thus inherently bears within it, though only inherently, the abolition of capital itself. (...) the credit system will serve as a powerful lever in the course of transition from the capitalist mode of production to the mode of production of associated labour." (ibid. pp. 72-3) "The credit system ... constitutes the form of transition towards a new mode of production." (ibid. p. 572)
25. It is the economic and social movement which commands. The political movement
previously tried to force it. Now the latter gets its form from the former, lead-
ing to its decline in importance. The communist revolution is the political
revolution with a social soul.
26. Die Aufgaben der Sozialdemocratie in der Republik Hilferding auf den Partei zu Kiel, Mai 1927 (SPD, Berlin).
27. Potere Operaio was to reinvent this formula with a slightly different content but with the same praise of politics. (note of May 1972)
28. Hilferding also described how the proletariat will become the ruling class in a mystified form: "(The political economy of the working class) means ever increasingly to submit capitalist society to the growing influence of the working class, the political principle of the working class ever increasingly to win the state to be used as the means for directing and dominating the economy for the general interest." "(Bravo!") (p. 8)