Capital and community:
the results of the immediate process of production and the economic work of Marx
by: Jacques Camatte
Translation: David Brown
Published: In French as Capital et Gemeinwesen (Paris: Spartacus, 1976). This translation published by Unpopular books, London 1988.
Transcription, markup & minor editing: Rob Lucas, 2006
Public domain: This work is completely free.
Preface to the French edition: Capital & gemeinwesen


This was to have been the title to the Italian translation of the following texts: The Unpublished Sixth Chapter of 'Capital' and the Economic Work of Marx (1964-6), with the additional notes of 1972; Theses on Capitalism (T); A Propos Capital (1971); About the Revolution (1972). The publishers, Dedalo, thought otherwise, and they appeared instead under the title il Capitale totale (1976).

Even if it is true that Marx researched into the becoming of capital as totality, that in no way exhausts the study that he made of capital. One cannot leave out all that concerns the opposition between total capital and particular capitals and the fact that, even when it has reached totality, capital can only live by particularizing itself, by differentiating itself into a large number of capital-quanta. The fact that capital is erected as a material community allows capital to avoid losing itself in all the various processes. This community flourishes on the dead and the reified. But, with the movement of anthropomorphosis, capital becoming man, its community poses as Gemeinwesen. Thus men are snared by the being they themselves produced. This again requires the opposition-statement "The human being is the true Gemeinwesen (community) of man" (Marx) proclaimed in Origin and Function of the Party Form (1961), in the leaflet on the May '68 movement, and in Proletariat and Gemeinwesen (1968)[1].

Marx considered the proletariat as being the class that was able to allow the setting-up of the true Gemeinwesen hence the profoundly human dimension of the proletarian revolution: a revolution in the name of humanity. He also provided many indications on capital's becoming Gemeinwesen. This is what we took-up again by trying to push the analysis to the limit, with respect to the recent development of capital. The study was undertaken well before 1961 and was published in Invariance Serie II nos. 2-6[2] as well as in the text below.

Even if Marx's work is not now operational, I consider, however, what he wrote on the human community remains fundamental. We are always confronted with the realization of capital as Gemeinwesen and the possibility of the true Gemeinwesen of man: the human being. But instead of conceiving of them as antagonists, which would imply that the latter has to oppose the former, we state that the human community is only realizable if men and women abandon the world of capital.

The material community has become the community for men to the extent that capital is representation. It is not only the socio-economic substrate of their life, it is also their ideality. Men and women must break with this representation. This, will allow them to undertake a different dynamic. Besides, if there are cracks in the base, that is, inside the material community, they will all the more easily be able to question and reject the representation of capital. The break with capital can neither be only passive-determined, nor totally voluntary. That is why it is still necessary to deepen the mode of being of capital so as to be able to escape it and to study in what may really consist the "human being", the "true Gemeinwesen" of men and women.

May 1976


1. Origin and Function of the Party Form is available in English from David Brown, BM 381, London WC1N 3XX. The other two texts were republished in Invariance Serie III, no. 5-6 pp. 43-6 & 52-3.

2. The majority of these texts have been published in English as follows:

About the Revolution and About the Organization (cf. pp. 1 -1 below) from no. 2; The Wandering of Humanity and Decline of the Capitalist Mode of Production or Decline of Humanity? (Black and Red, P,O. Box 95, Detroit, Michigan, 48202, USA) and Against Domestication (Falling Sky Books, 97 Victoria Street North, Kitchener Ontario, Canada N2H 5C1) from no. 3; Community and Communism in Russia (see addr address in fn. 1 above) from no. 4; This World We Must Leave (from no. 5) and Statements and Citations (from no. 3) (see address in fn. 1 above)