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.


Work on the Results of the Immediate Process of Production was begun in 1964 and completed in 1966. It was only published in 1968 in Invariance Série I no. 2. Until 1966 we were members of the International Communist Party. The introduction of the above work appeared in an Italian translation in il programma comunista no. 19, 1966. This explains the references to a work of the party[1]. However, we thought (just like Bordiga) that the real, effective, party would only appear in the distant future. What was essential for us was not the contingent organization which wishes to pose as formal party, but the party in its larger historical meaning. All the same, we diverged from Bordiga who accorded too much importance to the ICP, and fostered illusions in its capacity for practical intervention. This explains why we have not thought it necessary to make changes in the body of the text.

One of our aims in writing this work was to synthesize Bordiga's works on the critique of political economy and to integrate them into the whole theory. Hence the numerous references to his works, even if they were cited anonymously at the time. Most of the texts which served as a basis for reflection on our research have been translated and published in Invariance some others in Le Fil du Temps[2], most importantly the text on the agrarian question.

Another aim was to put forward facts on the question of the Gemeinwesen (community) which was already dealt with in Origine et fonction de la forme parti[3] in 1961, and in the study of the French workers' movement in 1964 (published in Invariance Serie I no, 10, 1971), which constituted a point of divergence between ourselves and the majority of the members of the ICP. We were also already deeply convinced that the works of Marxists on the recent development of the capitalist mode of production were insufficient and superficial, particularly those of Lenin, and even more so the few remarks to which Trotsky's contribution on the subject boils down. We straight away had to readopt Marx's theoretical activity regarding the economy.

Some translations of Marx's work and some studies on his economic writings have appeared since Invariance Série I no. 2 was published. We must briefly indicate them so as better to situate our own work.

Firstly, it should be noted that the Results, which appeared in German and in Russian in 1933, passed unnoticed at that time. A really widespread diffusion had to await 1969 when it appeared as Resultate des unmittelbaren Produktions-prozesses (Archiv Sozialistischer Literatur 17, Verlag Neue Kritik Frankfurt). Since then it has been amply cited in various reviews (cf. in particular Sozialistische Politik no 8, 1970).

In Italy there was firstly the production of a resumé of it in il programma comunista nos. 5-6, 1966, in which Bordiga indicates in conclusion what he considers as being most important:

"The importance of this unpublished version of Marx's text, as we have tried to show, is that he already developed the theory of the value added by labour in production, in a manner coherent with with the revolutionary programme and directly opposed to the degenerate modern and opportunist form of the politics of revenue, and this a century ago.

"Even after a century, Marx is ever more present-day." (Rapporto sugli argomenti trattati nel Capitolo VI inedito di Carlo Marx in il programma comunista no. 6 1966, p. 3)

A full translation was later published by La Nuova Italia in 1969, entitled Il Capitale libro I, capitolo VI inedito. The translation is by Bruno Maffi, who also wrote an introduction which shows how far one can translate a text without understanding it.

In France, besides the translation of the Italian resumé published in Programme Communiste no. 35, there was also an incomplete translation in 1967, by M. Rubel Resultats du proces immediat de la production in Cahiers de l'ISEA., Section marxologie.

The translation of the Grundrisse appeared in 1968 under the title Fondements de la critique de 1' economie politique, Ed. Anthropos. We noted and criticized the absurdity stated by the translator in his preface that the law of value would be destroyed by capital (cf. Invariance Série I, no 3 pp. 111-115). We also remarked how far he had used Bordiga's works on the critique of political economy in writing his notes.

A complete French translation of the Results appeared in 1971. We have already noted in the preceding pages and made some critical remarks on the translator's presentation by Dangeville. Let us say that what is best in it is from Bordiga. The table on pages 30-31 was first published in il programma comunista no. 6 1966, then in Programme Comuniste no. 35 p. 70. What is worst is the reduction of Marx's work to a Leninist catechism which is recited with ostentation in all of Dangeville' s works. This attains hypertelic cretinism in the collection Le Syndicalisme (Petite Collection Naspero - 69, 1972) where, full of magical verve, Dangeville delivers a discourse on the eternity of capital, naturally not as it appears at the pole of valorization, but as it manifests itself at the pole of labour. A few citations will suffice to 'illuminate' everybody:

"thus the trade union question continues to pose itself after the conquest of power." (t.1 p. 62)

This does not prevent him from recognizing that there can be

"integration of the unions in the capitalist state institutions." (t. 2 p. 192)

"The slogan of the general and massive reduction of the working day is also inseparable from the struggle against the union leaders who subordinate the interest of the workers to those of national production, democracy and legality. It thus also implies the seizure of the union leadership by the revolutionary Marxist party, which links all its demands, even immediate ones, to the objective of the violent destruction of the state and the capitalist form of production. If the capitalist system cannot satisfy these demands, one must quite simply change it for socialism, that is, to pose clearly and vigorously the question of revolution." (ibid. p. 98)

Thus the revolution becomes "quite simply" the solution to the union question; it appears "quite simply" as a chastisement inflicted on capitalism for its poor management. It is the compendium of the Lenino-Trotskyist gibberish.

Such aberrations come from the fact that Dangeville, like all his kind, do not think of the real domination of capital and the communist revolution on the basis of this moment in the life of capital. Marx was entirely correct, in the last century, to pose as practical tasks the generalization of the condition of the proletariat, the growth of the productive forces, the shortening of the working day etc.. Not only did he propose it to the proletarians, but, concerning the shortening of the working day, he wished the state itself would apply it, by means of coercion as much for the capitalists as for the proletarians. There was a double aim: unifying the proletarian class, since the working day would be the same for everyone, and forcing capital to develop. This attitude of Marx is what we call, following Bordiga, his revolutionary reformism, which defines a moment of his work, but which no longer has any relation to the situation today.

At the end of 1968, M. Rubel published tome II of the works of Marx on economics, which he also presented as Economie because Rubel thinks that Marx's aim was to write such a work. But if it is true that the economic work of Marx is not limited to Capital it is an abuse to say that Marx wished to write an Economics. This interpretation also exceeds to a great degree in censuring because its author discards large sections of certain works under the pretext of avoiding repetitions when constituting Economie. This led him, for example, to publish only a few fragments of the Results and the Grundrisse. Now it is untrue that the repetitions were without any importance in reaching a deeper understanding of Marx's thought. The same method led Rubel to condense Capital Volumes II and III into one, which in no way provides a superior version to the one that Engels produced.

Rubel is right to criticize Engels:

"One can therefore, say that Engels did both too much and too little for Volume II as for Volume III of Capital too much in giving it the appearance of a finished work, too little in discarding his choice of manuscripts, the full publication of which has revealed important aspects of the scientific enterprise of Marx, and also simultaneously better helps us understand why it remained unfinished."

However, he ought to have followed his own conclusions from his critique and published all the manuscripts of Volumes II and III.

In the Economie we have at the very most a juxtaposition of texts, but not a work as the title may make one think. The introduction does not efface this impression because: 1. there is a global interpretation of Marx's thought which we do not want to discuss here: ethics; 2. this is a deep understanding of Marx's theory and of his research. This method of understanding is clearly revealed in a chapter of the introduction "Une legende: le changement du plan de l'economie" ('A legend: the changing of the plan of Economics'). Rubel wishes to show that Capital is only a part of Economics. However, it is undeniable that Marx modified his plan even if he dealt with the same questions as before. The first plan is in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts. It was from then on that he increased his study of capital such that in the 1860s, after all the work that resulted in the Grundrisse he recognized that the becoming of capital was to constitute its itself as totality, as a being, that all the old presuppositions are progressively replaced by it. Henceforth it was meaningless to give separate expositions of capital, wages, landed property, the state, foreign trade, the world market. Instead Marx produced Capital where one finds the same elements. The work's title became Capital the old title became the sub-title Critique of Political Economy. The latter is merely a formal statement to establish a continuity between the work published in 1859 and that in 1867. In fact, for Marx, the becoming of that science is inseparable from that of capital. Originally, during the irruption of capital onto the social stage, political economy was revolutionary; but later became, in the form of vulgar economy, an acritical apologia for capital; later there was university economics, the form in which it survives up to the present. Since capital became fictitious capital, political economy became more and more a fiction, on the one hand, and management science on the other. In parallel, the integrated opponents, the socialists, became managers.

What Rubel underlines very infrequently is that Capital is the description of communism, the positive negation of capital and political economy. This was, on the contrary, a fundamental statement of the Italian communist left (Bordiga), whose truth would emerge in all its fullness if we were to have available all the unpublished manuscripts held in Moscow.

To end our discussion of this edition of the works of Marx, we should say that Rubel restitutes many censured pages in his notes, which makes even more difficult the understanding of the chain of demonstrations. He has, on the other hand, the merit of showing the complete stupidity of those who, on right and left (Trotskyists above all), talk of socialism in the USSR. Rubel's commentaries have a certain relationship with Marx's theory, which is not the case with Mandel's works which are characterized by a pronounced cretinism (cf. especially his Marxist Economic Theory).

There is another category of authors who consider that they are complementing Marx's theory, modifying it or correcting it, but who, in every case, claim to start from a fact valid for the analysis of contemporary society. We are thinking of Bettelheim, Emmanuel, Palloix, Baran, Sweezy etc.. Our opinion is that they, in fact, have no relation to this theory, an integral part of communism. We note them only in so far as they are an expression of the real domination of capital which needs materialist theorizations to mask its immateriality and fictitiousness. Also, Marxism, once absorbed into the world of capitalist representation, reduced to an ideology, is transformed, thanks to them, into scholastic gibberish useful to win over the university. Here is an example of this university, capitalized Marxism:

"What characterizes the Marxist approach to the theory of value are the "locuses" (lieux) of abstraction where the different components of value loom up: production process in itself (exchange-value), circulation process in itself (use-value), the total process of capitalist production (production-price)." (Palloix L'economie mondiale capitaliste p. 52)

The ease with which these locuses are exposed leads one to think that these locuses are public conveniences (lieux d'aisance) awash with the Althusserian spirit, but where any "looking in" (voir) is forbidden.

Let us finally note an interesting text first published in 1968 in Frankfurt: Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des marxschen Kapital by Roman Rosdolsky (English translation The making Marx's 'Capital', Pluto Press, 1977). Its detailed analysis is impossible here. Let us say that its author defends a Marx who is not dressed up as a Trotskyist, Stalinist, post-Stalinist etc., that he shows a fine comprehension of the various fundamental concepts. Although not getting to the point of stating what we believe is fundamental: capital is value in process, becoming man. (March 1972)


So as better to understand the impact of the two preceding studies[4], it is important to indicate the point of arrival of our studies on the subject of the development of capitalism, research undertaken simultaneously so as to deepen the economic work of Marx. This point of arrival was partly shown in Transition in Invariance Série I no. 8[5]. It is best to add some remarks.

Capital integrates the proletariat through a double movement:

1) it capitalizes the proletarian -i.e. it creates in him the following behaviour: he considers himself as a capital thus must bear fruit, work has to be an activity with a view to a profit, and nothing else. This phenomenon occurs simultaneously with the anthropomorphosis of capital: capital becomes man. Hence its domination becomes not only natural:

"The advance of capitalist production develops a working class which by education, tradition and habit looks upon the requirements of that mode of production as self-evident natural laws. The organization of the capitalist process of production, once it is fully developed, breaks down all resistence. The constant generation of a relative surplus population keeps the law of supply and demand, and therefore wages, within narrow limits which correspond to capital's valorization requirements. The silent compulsion of economic relations sets the seal on the domination of the capitalist over the worker." (Capital I p. 899)

but also human, and through this last generalization of its being, it seems to disappear. When this happens, capital becomes the apologist for what was its main enemy - labour which produces surplus-value (hence profit).

During the epoch of formal domination, productive labour in the form of the worker existed partly as the essential determination of the life of capital, partly as its possible negation; the ambiguity was present in the very being of the workers (cf. Grundrisse)

To the extent that capital affirms itself as a total being, it succeeds in resolving this ambiguity, thus creating an internal division in the proletariat itself which is split into two parts which appear immediately as heterogeneous. On the one hand, an ever more important part of the remains of productive labour is raised to the rank of stable subject of the valorization process, specified as "qualified" activity at levels which are hierarchically different, but united as "intellectual powers" of the autonomized value; expropriation divestment, on the other hand, there is the radical expulsion of those proletarians from the production centre whose activity has an apparently insignificant result from the aspect of overall valorization, thus they constitute something "unskilled" and interchangeable. The remains of the "classical being" of the proletariat thus becomes separated and counterposed, and the "quantity of surplus-value created" ceases to determine the degree of externalization vis-à-vis capital.

On the overall social level, this work of splitting and destruction is completed by the ejection of a growing mass of the proletariat, which is "potentially productive", from the production process properly speaking, in harmony with the irresistible tendency for capital to reduce the ratio of labour producing surplus-value to the whole labour needed for its life (all this also explains the tremendous defeat of the proletariat during the passage from formal to real domination of capital in 1914-45).

So what some stupidly define as the "subproletariat" is only the absolute proletariat, the product of the final and insurmountable contradiction of value in process, that between valorization and devalorization. Their struggle is the first affirmation of communism as an immediate need.

In the USA, where the process is now complete, the split between the "productive" workers as capital's subject and the proletariat expropriated and estranged in and by production is immediately visible, given that it is manifested in racial and national factors, which is also the last manifestation of a process that began with the nonconstitution as class of the American proletariat after the Civil War.

The exaltation of the worker thus becomes the apology of capital and the violent anger against the proletarians who refuse, in growing numbers, the law of labour.

2) the generalization of wage-labour (labour necessary for capital), even if it is nonproductive, but serves the realization of capital (formation of the new middle classes) or as activity tending to protect, to maintain the production process of capital. There is a proletarianization process (formation of those without reserves), while the number of proletarians falls. Put another way, today there is a class of wage-labourers in which the proletariat, in its old sense, has become a minority. The entire world is ruled by labour "reduced to pure abstraction" (Grundrisse), and, according to the official ideology, he who does not work is not a man. Works content is unimportant. It appears as a means of oppression and repression with the goal of conserving contemporary society, i.e. assuring the process of capital. It has to surround the whole field of "consciousness" so as to give birth in everyone the motivation to acquire which throws the individual into the vicious cycle and infamy of work (earning money) to live, living to work (to earn money).

So now the society of capital dominates in the name of labour and not in the name of value. Paradoxically this is the achievement of the demand of the Ricardian socialists, of Proudhon and all those who wanted the victory of labour (IWW, various councillists, the whole Trotskyists and Leninist pathology). This was not Marx's goal, whatever M. Rubel may think: "The end of the first book is the conclusion of the whole of the Economy where Marx did not hide the "subjective tendency": the victory of labour over capital ." For Marx, it could only be the victory of man. Labour here means, in the historical moment one was thinking about it, that of the revolution, wage-labour, the other side of capital. One can only speak of the victory of the proletarians to the extent that one simultaneously affirms that they will not realize it as proletarians, but in negating themselves, in posing man.

Now we are taking part, in a mystified form, in the domination of the proletariat as class. Mystification, because it is the immediate being of the proletariat which dominates and allows capital to continue; "adding a new value to an old, labour conserves and eternalizes capital" (Grundrisse). For Marx, this domination could only be that of the mediate being, i.e. the class for itself, the class which tends to dominate the socio-economic process so as to facilitate the communist development of it.

It is due to fascism that capital realized its accession to real domination, where it dominates under the aspect of labour. Fascism was the necessary movement for capital to destroy the power of the proletariat, the being capital needs to accomplish its vital process, hence the exaltation of the proletariat and the glorification of work by the fascists (labour liberates was written above the gate to Auschwitz). That is why the language of fascism has become generalized while fascism itself is a thing of the past

The result of the total movement is the production of a universal class, a numerous proletariat, proletariat is the sense of the totality of men who have no reserves (old proletariat + new middle classes). It is a universal class as it forms the largest part of the population and 'because it cannot demand in a particular way, but only in a human way. It is the universal class Marx mentioned in The German Ideology. Capital does everything to prevent the unification of this class by tending to oppose the workers in work to those unemployed, foreign workers (real proletarians) to the integrated metropolitan proletarians (in both cases using racism), the new middle classes to the workers, finally preventing the students, who do not form a class, from playing a role as liaison between the new middle classes and the proletarians.

On the other hand, it is not a question of proclaiming a united front of all workers, because that would lead to drowning the small minority already formed by all of those who are really contestants, formed of those who are outside the production process and who implicitly pose communism, in the mass of those who, for the moment, do not have an immediate interest in the communist revolution. It is only through a clash of these two elements that the latter will be able to move onto the field of struggle of the former; and this move will be aided by a crisis of capital which will accentuate this struggle. The consciousness of the revolutionary phase will be produced during this clash.

The refusal of work, of wage labour, the means of oppression, the mode of capitalization of men and the eternalization of capital, is the fundamental element in the unification of the universal class. It is no longer the case of reconstituting the old proletarian class, as to do so would be to wish to check what Marx considered to be the great task of the nineteenth century: the destruction of the proletariat. In this sense, Lafargue's Right to be Lazy, as the refusal of the right to work, is the first, essential moment in the demand of a liberated human activity, operating from the start as the appropriation of the products of all past human activity.

During the period of the formal domination of capital, the revolution appeared inside society: the struggle of labour against capital; now it is manifested and takes place increasingly outside. The near totality of men rising against the totality of capitalist society, the struggle simultaneously against capital and labour, two aspects of the same reality: i.e. the proletariat must struggle against its own domination so as to be able to destroy itself as class and to destroy capital and classes.

Once victory is assured worldwide, the universal class which is really constituted (formation of the party according to Marx) during a huge process preceding the revolution in the struggle against capital, and which is psychologically transformed and has transformed society, will disappear, because it becomes humanity. There are no groups outside it. Communism then develops freely. Lower socialism no longer exists, and the phase of the dictatorship of the proletariat is reduced to the struggle to destroy capitalist society, the power of capital.

(December 1970)


1. Hence also the presence of a large number of inadequate terms since eliminated, such as doctrine, senile capitalism, historical materialism, dialectical materialism etc.,

2. c/o Jacques Angot, B.P. 24, Paris 19°.

3. English translation from David Brown, BM 381, London WC1N 3XX

4. The following text was to have been the postface to the Italian translation of Invariance Série I nos. 2 & 6. It appeared as Nota aggiuntiva a Transizione in Apocalisse e rivoluzione (Ban, 1973) with some additions on the characteristics of the proletariat during formal and real domination of capital.

5. In English in Origin and Function of the Party Form pp. 37-42.