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.
Publishers preface


This text has been around for six years in photocopy form. Unfortunately only a few copies have been produced and we feel it deserves to be more widely read. It is a heavy read as it deals with complex arguments in some of Marx's writings. It particularly relates to the "Grundrisse" and "The Immediate Process of Production" both of which have only been available since the seventies. These texts show how shallow the outlook of the Marxists of the Second and Third International, and their acolytes, are. However we have no desire to try and drag Marx out of the mire of leftism, a task which certain communist have attached importance to. From our own studies of Marx, it can clearly be seen that he had many weaknesses (eg: Euro-centrism, German chauvanism). In other words he was human, all too human. We regard the search for a pure Marx, and the pure interpretation of Marx to be a fools errand formulated by those who seek a new Moses with tablets of proletarian truth which merely need to be unearthed and scrubbed clean before being presented to the class. Such fetishisation of a historical figure can only obscure the fact that communism is a product of the class struggle, not of an individuals mind. Marx made a substantial contribution to the communist movement, but he did not invent it. We reject the notion that Marxism is some how essential to the communist movement. However Marx's contribution is an irreversible historical fact. His contribution was made in the material context of his time with all its limitations. We equally dismiss anti-Marxism as being equally perverse as Marxism. Both avoid centring the question of communism on the proletariat.

Attentative readers will notice a substantial variation of viewpoint between the main text (written in the mid-sixties), and the notes added in 1972. Those familiar with the writings of Camatte will be aware of his shift during that period (particularly influenced by the events of May 1968). In particular, Camatte came to deny the central role of class. This we cannot go along with. While it is undeniable that the formation of political classes have gone through substantial changes as capital has developed, we cannot agree that they have been dissolved by the tyranny of capital. Earlier formulations of class have been male-centred and euro-centred, neglecting the reproduction of class through such institutions as the family and the resultant structuring of gender relations. Likewise, the development of capital outside Europe has been quite different from a simple "civilisation of the savages", a perspective often put forward in european workers movement of the last century. It is necessary to dump all the theories of "progress", such that Europe provides the model through which the rest of the world must pass. Through both indifference and ignorance, the communist movement in Europe has shown a tendency to put aside any understanding of the historical development in other geographic zones. Capital has shown a remarkable flexibility when it comes to dealing with a wide variety of social and economic relations. To simply term these as pre-capitalist is confusing. Likewise to fit notions of european feudalism or classic slavery around them does little good. However what Capital sets out to do is to extract the commodity form from other social relations and integrate them into its world system. But this does not happen without effect Capital as a whole, and by the same measure the nature of class formation. Whilst rejecting classic notions of class, we feel it is important to understand how class has been transformed, rather than to abandon class analysis.

RICHARD ESSEX, September 1988