Georg Lukacs
History & Class Consciousness

III: The Standpoint of the Proletariat


It could easily appear at this point that the whole process is nothing more than the ‘inevitable’ consequence of concentrating masses of workers in large factories, of mechanising and standardising the processes of work and levelling down the standard of living. It is therefore of vital importance to see the truth concealed behind this deceptively one-sided picture. There is no doubt that the factors mentioned above are the indispensable precondition for the emergence of the proletariat as a class. Without them the proletariat would never have become a class and if they had not been continually intensified – by the natural workings of capitalism – it would never have developed into the decisive factor in human history.

Despite this it can be claimed without self-contradiction that we are not concerned here with an unmediated relation. What is unmediated is the fact that, in the words of the Communist Manifesto, “these labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce.” And the fact that this commodity is able to become aware of its existence as a commodity does not suffice to eliminate the problem. For the unmediated consciousness of the commodity is, in conformity with the simple form in which it manifests itself, precisely an awareness of abstract isolation and of the merely abstract relationship – external to consciousness – to those factors that create it socially. I do not wish to enter here into a discussion of the conflict between the (immediate) interests of the individual and the (mediated) interests of the class that have been arrived at through experience and knowledge; nor shall I discuss the conflict between immediate and momentary interests as opposed to general long-term interests.

It is self-evident that immediacy must be abandoned at this point. If the attempt is made to attribute an immediate form of existence to class consciousness, it is not possible to avoid lapsing into mythology: the result will be a mysterious species-consciousness (as enigmatic as the ‘spirits of the nations’ in Hegel) whose relation to and impact upon the individual consciousness is wholly incomprehensible. It is then made even more incomprehensible by a mechanical and naturalistic psychology and finally appears as a demiurge governing historical movement.[33]

On the other hand, the growing class consciousness that has been brought into being through the awareness of a common situation and common interests is by no means confined to the working class. The unique element in its situation is that its surpassing of immediacy represents an aspiration towards society in its totality regardless of whether this aspiration remains conscious or whether it remains unconscious for the moment. This is the reason why its logic does not permit it to remain stationary at a relatively higher stage of immediacy but forces it to persevere in an uninterrupted movement towards this totality, i.e. to persist in the dialectical process by which immediacies are constantly annulled and transcended. Marx recognised this aspect of proletarian class consciousness very early on. In his comments on the revolt of the Silesian weavers he lays emphasis on its “conscious and theoretical character.”[34] He sees in the ‘Song of the Weavers’ a “bold battle cry which does not even mention the hearth, factory or district but in which the proletariat immediately proclaims its opposition to private property in a forceful, sharp, ruthless and violent manner.” Their action revealed their “superior nature” for “whereas every other movement turned initially only against the industrialist, the visible enemy, this one attacked also the hidden enemy, namely the banker.”

We would fail to do justice to the theoretical significance of this view if we were to see in the attitude that Marx – rightly or wrongly – attributes to the Silesian weavers nothing more than their ability to see further than their noses and to give weight to considerations whether spatial or conceptual that were rather more remote. For this is something that can be said in varying degrees of almost every class in history. What is crucial is how to interpret the connection between these remoter factors and the structure of the objects immediately relevant to action. We must understand the importance of this remoteness for the consciousness of those initiating the action and for its relation to the existing state of affairs. And it is here that the differences between the standpoints of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat are thrown sharply into relief.

In bourgeois thought these remoter factors are simply incorporated into the rational calculation. They are conceived of as being similar to the factors that are within easy reach and which can be rationalised and quantified. The view that things as they appear can be accounted for by ‘natural laws’ of society is, according to Marx, both the highpoint and the ‘insuperable barrier’ of bourgeois thought. The notion of the laws of society undergoes changes in the course of history and this is due to the fact that it originally represented the principle of the overthrow of (feudal) reality. Later on, while preserving the same structure, it became the principle for conserving (bourgeois) reality. However, even the initial revolutionary movement was unconscious from a social point of view.

For the proletariat, however, this ability to go beyond the immediate in search of the ‘remoter’ factors means the transformation of the objective nature of the objects of action. At first sight it appears as if the more immediate objects are no less subject to this transformation than the remote ones. It soon becomes apparent, however, that in their case the transformation is even more visible and striking. For the change lies on the one hand in the practical interaction of the awakening consciousness and the objects from which it is born and of which it is the consciousness. And on the other hand, the change means that the objects that are viewed here as aspects of the development of society, i.e. of the dialectical totality, become fluid: they become parts of a process. And as the innermost kernel of this movement is praxis, its point of departure is of necessity that of action; it holds the immediate objects of action firmly and decisively in its grip so as to bring about their total, structural transformation and thus the movement of the whole gets under way.

The category of totality begins to have an effect long before the whole multiplicity of objects can be illuminated by it. It operates by ensuring that actions which seem to confine themselves to particular objects, in both content and consciousness, yet preserve an aspiration towards the totality, that is to say: action is directed objectively towards a transformation of totality. We pointed out earlier in the context of a purely methodological discussion, that the various aspects and elements of the dialectical method contain the structure of the whole; we see the same thing here in a more concrete form, a form more closely orientated towards action. As history is essentially dialectical, this view of the way reality changes can be confirmed at every decisive moment of transition. Long before men become conscious of the decline of a particular economic system and the social and juridical forms associated with it, its contradictions are fully revealed in the objects of its day-to-day actions.

When, for example, the theory and practice of tragedy from Aristotle to the age of Corneille, regard family conflicts as providing the most fruitful subject-matter for tragedy, we glimpse lying behind this view – ignoring its technical merits such as concentration – the feeling that the great changes in society are being revealed here with a sensuous, practical vividness. This enables their contours to be drawn clearly whereas it is subjectively and objectively impossible to grasp their essence, to understand their origins and their place in the whole process. Thus an Aeschylus[35] or a Shakespeare draw pictures of family life that provide us with such penetrating and authentic portraits of the social upheavals of their age that it is only now, with the aid of historical materialism, that it has become at all possible for theory to do justice to these artistic insights.

The place in society and hence the viewpoint of the proletariat goes further than the example just cited in one vital qualitative way. The uniqueness of capitalism is to be seen precisely in its abolition of all ‘natural barriers’ and its transformation of all relations between human beings into purely social relations.[36] Bourgeois thought, however, remains enmeshed in fetishistic categories and in consequence the products of human relations become ossified, with the result that such thought trails behind objective developments. The abstract, rational categories of reflection which constitute the objectively immediate expression of this – the first – socialisation of the whole of human society, appear in the eyes of the bourgeoisie as something ultimate and indestructible. (For this reason bourgeois thought remains always in an unmediated relation to such categories.) The proletariat, however, stands at the focal point of this socialising process. On the one hand, this transformation of labour into a commodity removes every ‘human’ element from the immediate existence of the proletariat, on the other hand the same development progressively eliminates everything ‘organic’, every direct link with nature from the forms of society so that socialised man can stand revealed in an objectivity remote from or even opposed to humanity. It is just in this objectification, in this rationalisation and reification of all social forms that we see clearly for the first time how society is constructed from the relations of men with each other.

But we can see this only if we also remember that these human interrelations are, in Engels’ words, “bound to objects” and that they “appear as objects,” only if we do not forget for a single moment that these human interrelations are not direct relations between one man and the next. They are instead typical relations mediated by the objective laws of the process of production in such a way that these ‘laws’ necessarily become the forms in which human relations are directly manifested.

From this it follows, firstly, that man, who is the foundation and the core of all reified relations, can only be discovered by abolishing the immediacy of those relations. It is always necessary, therefore, to begin from this immediacy and from these reified laws. Secondly, these manifestations are by no means merely modes of thought, they are the forms in which contemporary bourgeois society is objectified. Their abolition, if it is to be a true abolition, cannot simply be the result of thought alone, it must also amount to their practical abolition as the actual forms of social life. Every kind of knowledge that aspires to remain pure knowledge is doomed to end up granting recognition to these forms once again. Thirdly, this praxis cannot be divorced from knowledge. A praxis which envisages a genuine transformation of these forms can only start to be effective if it intends to think out the process immanent in these forms to its logical conclusion, to become conscious of it and to make it conscious. “Dialectics,” Hegel says, “is this immanent process of transcendence, in the course of which the one-sidedness and the limitation of the determinants of the understanding shows itself to be what it really is, namely their negation.”[37]

The great advance over Hegel made by the scientific standpoint of the proletariat as embodied in Marxism lay in its refusal to see in the categories of reflection a ‘permanent’ stage of human knowledge and in its insistence that they were the necessary mould both of thought and of life in bourgeois society, in the reification of thought and life. With this came the discovery of dialectics in history itself. Hence dialectics is not imported into history from outside, nor is it interpreted in the light of history (as often occurs in Hegel), but is derived from history made conscious as its logical manifestation at this particular point in its development.

Fourthly, it is the proletariat that embodies this process of consciousness. Since its consciousness appears as the immanent product of the historical dialectic, it likewise appears to be dialectical. That is to say, this consciousness is nothing but the expression of historical necessity. The proletariat “has no ideals to realise.” When its consciousness is put into practice it can only breathe life into the things which the dialectics of history have forced to a crisis; it can never ‘in practice’ ignore the course of history, forcing on it what are no more than its own desires or knowledge. For it is itself nothing but the contradictions of history that have become conscious. On the other hand, however, a dialectical necessity is far from being the same thing as a mechanical, causal necessity. Marx goes on to say, following the passage already quoted: The working class “has only to liberate (my italics) the elements of the new society that have already grown within the womb of the disintegrating society of the bourgeoisie.”

In addition to the mere contradiction – the automatic product of capitalism – a new element is required: the consciousness of the proletariat must become deed. But as the mere contradiction is raised to a consciously dialectical contradiction, as the act of becoming conscious turns into a point of transition in practice, we see once more in greater concreteness the character of proletarian dialectics as we have often described it: namely, since consciousness here is not the knowledge of an opposed object but is the self-consciousness of the object the act of consciousness overthrows the objective form of its object.

Only with this consciousness do we see the emergence of that profound irrationality that lurks behind the particular rationalistic disciplines of bourgeois society. This irrationality appears normally as an eruption, a cataclysm, and for that very reason it fails to alter the form and the arrangement of the objects on the surface. This situation, too, can be seen most easily in the simple events of everyday. The problem of labour-time has already been mentioned but only from the standpoint of the worker, where it was seen as the moment at which his consciousness emerges as the consciousness of the commodity (i.e. of the substantive core of bourgeois society). The instant that this consciousness arises and goes beyond what is immediately given we find in concentrated form the basic issue of the class struggle: the problem of force. For this is the point where the ‘eternal laws’ of capitalist economics fail and become dialectical and are thus compelled to yield up the decisions regarding the fate of history to the conscious actions of men. Marx elaborates this thought as follows: “We see then, that, apart from extremely elastic bounds, the nature of the exchange of commodities itself imposes no limit to the working day, no limit to surplus-labour. The capitalist maintains his right as a purchaser when he tries to make the working day as long as possible, and to make, whenever possible, two working days out of one. On the other hand the peculiar nature of the commodity sold implies a limit to its consumption by the purchaser, and the labourer maintains his right as seller when he wishes to reduce the working day to one of definite normal duration. There is here, therefore, an antinomy, right against right, both equally bearing the seal of the law of exchanges. Between equal rights force decides. Hence it is that in the history of capitalist production, the determination of what is a working day, presents itself as the result of a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i.e. the class of capitalists, and collective labour, i.e. the working class.”[38]

But here, too, we must emphasise that force, which appears here concretely as the point at which capitalist rationalism becomes irrational, at which its laws fail to function, means something quite different for the bourgeoisie and for the proletariat. For the former, force is simply the continuation of its daily reality: it is true that it is no novelty but at the same time and for that very reason it is not able to resolve any single one of the contradictions the bourgeoisie has created itself. For the latter, on the other hand, its use, its efficacy, its potentiality and its intensity depend upon the degree to which the immediacy of the given has been overcome. No doubt, the fact that it is possible to go beyond the given, the fact that this consciousness is so great and so profound is itself a product of history. But what is historically possible cannot be achieved simply by a straightforward progression of the immediately given (with its ‘laws’), but only by a consciousness of the whole of society acquired through manifold mediations, and by a clear aspiration to realise the dialectical tendencies of history. And the series of mediations may not conclude with unmediated contemplation: it must direct itself to the qualitatively new factors arising from the dialectical contradictions: it must be a movement of mediations advancing from the present to the future.[39]

This in turn presupposes that the rigidly reified existence of the objects of the social process will dissolve into mere illusion, that the dialectic, which is self-contradictory, a logical absurdity as long as there is talk of the change of one ‘thing’ into another ‘thing’ (or of one thing-like concept into another), should test itself on every object. That is to say, its premise is that things should be shown to be aspects of processes. With this we reach the limits of the dialectics of the Ancients, the point at which they diverge from materialist and historical dialectics. (Hegel, too, marks the point of transition, i.e. he, too, combines elements of both views in a not fully clarified manner.) The dialectics of the Eleatic philosophers certainly lay bare the contradictions underlying movement but the moving object is left unaffected. Whether the arrow is flying or at rest its objective nature as an arrow, as a thing remains untouched amidst the dialectical turmoil. It may be the case, as Heraclitus says, that one cannot step into the same river twice; but as the eternal flux is and does not become, i.e. does not bring forth anything qualitatively new, it is only a becoming when compared with the rigid existence of the individual objects. As a theory of totality eternal becoming turns out to be a theory of eternal being; behind the flowing river stands revealed an unchanging essence, even though it may express itself in the incessant transformations of the individual objects.[40]

Opposed to this is the Marxian dialectical process where the objective forms of the objects are themselves transformed into a process, a flux. Its revolutionary character appears quite clearly in the simple process of the reproduction of capital. The simple “repetition or continuity imbues the process with quite novel characteristics or rather causes the disappearance of some apparent characteristics which it possessed as an isolated discontinuous process.” For “quite apart from all accumulation, the mere continuity of the process of production, in other words simple reproduction, sooner or later, and of necessity, converts every capital into accumulated capital, or capitalised surplus-value. Even if that capital was originally acquired by the personal labour of its employer, it sooner or later becomes value appropriated without an equivalent, the unpaid labour of others materialised either in money or in some other object.”[41]

Thus the knowledge that social facts are not objects but relations between men is intensified to the point where facts are wholly dissolved into processes. But if their Being appears as a Becoming this should not be construed as an abstract universal flux sweeping past, it is no vacuous durée réelle but the unbroken production and reproduction of those relations that, when torn from their context and distorted by abstract mental categories, can appear to bourgeois thinkers as things. Only at this point does the consciousness of the proletariat elevate itself to the self-consciousness of society in its historical development. By becoming aware of the commodity relationship the proletariat can only become conscious of itself as the object of the economic process. For the commodity is produced and even the worker in his quality as commodity, as an immediate producer is at best a mechanical driving wheel in the machine. But if the reification of capital is dissolved into an unbroken process of its production and reproduction, it is possible for the proletariat to discover that it is itself the subject of this process even though it is in chains and is for the time being unconscious of the fact. As soon, therefore, as the readymade, immediate reality is abandoned the question arises: “Does a worker in a cotton factory produce merely cotton textiles? No, he produces capital. He produces values which serve afresh to command his labour and by means of it to create new values.”[42]


This throws an entirely new light on the problem of reality. If, in Hegel’s terms, Becoming now appears as the truth of Being, and process as the truth about things, then this means that the developing tendencies of history constitute a higher reality than the empirical ‘facts’. It is doubtless true that in capitalist society the past dominates the present – as indeed we have shown elsewhere.[43] But this only means that there is an antagonistic process that is not guided by a consciousness but is instead driven forward by its own immanent, blind dynamic and that this process stands revealed in all its immediate manifestations as the rule of the past over the present, the rule of capital over labour. It follows that any thinker who bases his thought on such ideas will be trapped in the frozen forms of the various stages. He will nevertheless stand helpless when confronted by the enigmatic forces thrown up by the course of events, and the actions open to him will never be adequate to deal with this challenge.

This image of a frozen reality that nevertheless is caught up in an unremitting, ghostly movement at once becomes meaningful when this reality is dissolved into the process of which man is the driving force. This can be seen only from the standpoint of the proletariat because the meaning of these tendencies is the abolition of capitalism and so for the bourgeoisie to become conscious of them would be tantamount to suicide. Moreover, the ‘laws’ of the reified reality of capitalism in which the bourgeoisie is compelled to live are only able to prevail over the heads of those who seem to be its active embodiments and agents. The average profit rate is the paradigm of this situation. Its relation to individual capitalists whose actions are determined by this unknown and unknowable force shows all the symptoms of Hegel’s ‘ruse of reason’. The fact that these individual ‘passions’, despite which these tendencies prevail, assume the form of the most careful, far-sighted and exact calculations does not affect this conclusion in the least; on the contrary, it reinforces it still further. For the fact that there exists the illusion of a rationalism perfected in every detail – dictated by class interests and hence subjectively based – makes it even more evident that this rationalism is unable to grasp the meaning of the overall process as it really is. Moreover, the situation is not attenuated by the fact that we are not confronted here by a unique event, a catastrophe, but by the unbroken production and reproduction of the same relation whose elements are converted into empirical facts and incorporated in reified form in the web of rational calculation. It only shows the strength of the dialectical antagonism controlling the phenomena of capitalist society.

The conversion of social-democratic ideas into bourgeois ones can always be seen at its clearest in the jettisoning of the dialectical method. As early as the Bernstein Debate it was clear that the opportunists had to take their stand ‘firmly on the facts’ so as to be able to ignore the general trends[44] or else to reduce them to the status of a subjective, ethical imperative. In like fashion the manifold misunderstandings in the debate on accumulation should be seen as part of the same phenomenon. Rosa Luxemburg was a genuine dialectician and so she realised that it was not possible for a purely capitalist society to exist as a tendency of history, as a tendency which inevitably determines the actions of men – unbeknown to them – long before it had itself become ‘fact’. Thus the economic impossibility of accumulation in a purely capitalist society does not show itself by the ‘cessation’ of capitalism once the last non-capitalist has been expropriated, but by actions that force upon the capitalist class the awareness that this (empirically still remote) state of affairs is on its way: actions such as feverish colonialisation, disputes about territories providing raw materials or markets, imperialism and world war. For dialectical trends do not constitute an infinite progression that gradually nears its goal in a series of quantitative stages. They are rather expressed in terms of an unbroken qualitative revolution in the structure of society (the composition of the classes, their relative strengths, etc.) The ruling class of the moment attempts to meet the challenge of these changes in the only way open to it, and on matters of detail it does appear to meet with some success. But in reality the blind and unconscious measures that seem to it to be so necessary simply hasten the course of events that destroy it.

The difference between ‘fact’ and tendency has been brought out on innumerable occasions by Marx and placed in the foreground of his studies. After all, the basic thought underlying his magnum opus, the retranslation of economic objects from things back into processes, into the changing relations between men, rests on just this idea. But from this it follows further that the question of theoretical priority, the location within the system (i.e. whether original or derivative) of the particular forms of the economic structure of society depends on their distance from this retranslation. Upon this is based the prior importance of industrial capital over merchant capital, money-dealing capital, etc. And this priority is expressed historically by the fact that these derivative forms of capital, that do not themselves determine the production process, are only capable of performing the negative function of dissolving the original forms of production. However, the question of “whither this process of dissolution will lead, in other words, what new mode of production will replace the old, does not depend on commerce, but on the character of the old mode of production itself”[45]

On the other hand, merely from the point of view of theory it would appear that the ‘laws governing these forms are in fact only determined by the ‘contingent’ empirical movements of supply and demand and that they are not the expression of any universal social trend. As Marx points out in a discussion of interest: “Competition does not, in this case, determine the deviations from the rule. There is rather no law of division except that enforced by competition.”[46]

In this theory of reality which allots a higher place to the prevailing trends of the total development than to the facts of the empirical world, the antithesis we stressed when considering the particular questions raised by Marxism (the antithesis between movement and final goal, evolution and revolution, etc.) acquires its authentic, concrete and scientific shape. For only this analysis permits us to investigate the concept of the ‘fact’ in a truly concrete manner, i.e. in the social context in which it has its origin and its existence. The direction to be taken by such an investigation has been outlined elsewhere,[47] although only with reference to the relation between the ‘facts’ and the concrete totality to which they belong and in which they become ‘real’.

But now it becomes quite clear that the social development and its intellectual reflex that was led to form ‘facts’ from a reality that had been undivided (originally, in its autochthonous state) did indeed make it possible to subject nature to the will of man. At the same time, however, they served to conceal the socio-historical grounding of these facts in relations between men “so as to raise strange, phantom powers against them.” [48] For the ossifying quality of reified thought with its tendency to oust the process is exemplified even more clearly in the ‘facts’ than in the ‘laws’ that would order them. In the latter it is still possible to detect a trace of human activity even though it often appears in a reified and false subjectivity. But in the ‘facts’ we find the crystallisation of the essence of capitalist development into an ossified, impenetrable thing alienated from man. And the form assumed by this ossification and this alienation converts it into a foundation of reality and of philosophy that is perfectly self-evident and immune from every doubt. When confronted by the rigidity of these ‘facts’ every movement seems like a movement impinging on them, while every tendency to change them appears to be a merely subjective principle (a wish, a value judgement, an ought). Thus only when the theoretical primacy of the ‘facts’ has been broken, only when every phenomenon is recognised to be a process, will it be understood that what we are wont to call ‘facts’ consists of processes. Only then will it be understood that the facts are nothing but the parts, the aspects of the total process that have been broken off, artificially isolated and ossified. This also explains why the total process which is uncontaminated by any trace of reification and which allows the process-like essence to prevail in all its purity should represent the authentic, higher reality. Of course, it also becomes clear why in the reified thought of the bourgeoisie the ‘facts’ have to play the part of its highest fetish in both theory and practice. This petrified factuality in which everything is frozen into a ‘fixed magnitude”[49] in which the reality that just happens to exist persists in a totally senseless, unchanging way precludes any theory that could throw light on even this immediate reality.

This takes reification to its ultimate extreme: it no longer points dialectically to anything beyond itself: its dialectic is mediated only by the reification of the immediate forms of production. But with that a climax is reached in the conflict between existence in its immediacy together with the abstract categories that constitute its thought, on the one hand, and a vital societal reality on the other. For these forms (e.g. interest) appear to capitalist thinkers as the fundamental ones that determine all the others and serve as paradigms for them. And likewise, every decisive turn of events in the production process must more or less reveal that the true categorical structure of capitalism has been turned completely upside down.

Thus bourgeois thought remains fixated on these forms which it believes to be immediate and original and from there it attempts to seek an understanding of economics, blithely unaware that the only phenomenon that has been formulated is its own inability to comprehend its own social foundations. Whereas for the proletariat the way is opened to a complete penetration of the forms of reification. It achieves this by starting with what is dialectically the clearest form (the immediate relation of capital and labour). It then relates this to those forms that are more remote from the production process and so includes and comprehends them, too, in the dialectical totality.[50]

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33. Thus Marx says of Feuerbach’s use of the term ‘species’ – and all such views fail to advance beyond Feuerbach and many indeed do not go as far – that “it can be understood only as the inward dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals.” 6th Thesis on Feuerbach.

34. Nachlass II, p. 54. [Critical Notes on “The King of Prussia and Social Reform”] We are interested here solely in the methodical implications. Mehring’s question (ibid., p. 30) about the extent to which Marx overestimated the consciousness of the Weavers’ Uprising does not concern us here. Methodologically he has provided a perfect description of the development of revolutionary class consciousness in the proletariat and his later views (in the Manifesto, Eighteenth Brumaire, etc.) about the difference between bourgeois and proletarian revolutions are wholly in line with this.

35. We have in mind here Bachofen’s analysis of the Orestia and of its significance for the history of social development. The fact that Bachofen’s ideological timidity prevented him from going further than the correct interpretation of the drama is additional proof of the rightness of the views set out here.

36. On this point cf. Marx’s analysis of the industrial reserve army and surplus-population. Capital I, pp. 628 et seq.

37. Encyclopädie, § 15.

38. Capital I, pp. 234-5. Cf. also Wages, Price and Profit, S.W. I, pp. 401-2.

39. Cf. what is said on the ‘post festum’ nature of the consciousness of the bourgeoisie in the essays “The Changing Function of Historical Materialism” and “What is Orthodox Marxism?”

40. A detailed examination of this question is not possible here although this distinction would enable us to differentiate clearly between the ancient and the modern world, because Heraclitus’ self-annulling conception of the object bears the closest resemblance to the reified structure of modern thought. This alone would clearly reveal the limitation of the thought of the Ancients, viz. their inability to grasp dialectically their own societal existence in the present and hence also in history, as a limitation of classical society. In various other contexts, but always in a way that leads to the same methodological goal, Marx has made the same point about Aristotle’s ‘economics’. Hegel’s and Lassalle’s overestimation of the modernity of Heraclitus’ dialectics has symptomatic importance for their own. This only means, however, that this limitation of the thought of the ‘Ancients’ (the ultimately uncritical attitude towards the historical conditioning of the formations from which thought arises) remains decisive for them, too, and then emerges in the contemplative and speculative character of their thought, as opposed to a material and practical one.

41. Capital I, pp. 570, 572-3. Here too, as we have already emphasised, the change from quantity to quality is seen to be a characteristic of every single moment. The quantified moments only remain quantitative when regarded separately. Seen as aspects of a process they appear as qualitative changes in the economic structure of capital.

42. Wage Labour and Capital S.W. I, p. 86.

43. Cf. “The Changing Function of Historical Materialism.” On fact and reality see the essay “What is Orthodox Marxism?”

44. Cf. the dispute about the disappearance or increase of the medium-sized firms in Rosa Luxemburg, Soziale Reform oder Revolution, pp. 11 et seq.

45. Capital III, p. 326.

46. Ibid., pp. 349-50. The rate of interest is thus “given as a fixed magnitude, like the price of commodities on the market” and the general profit rate is expressly contrasted with it as an opposing tendency. Ibid., p. 359. We see here the fundamental issue dividing us from bourgeois thought.

47. Cf. the essay “What is Orthodox Marxism?”

48. Origin of the Family, S.W. II, p. 92.

49. Cf. Marx’s comments on Bentham, Capital I, pp. 609-10.

50. A fine elucidation of the different stages can be found in Capital III, pp. 806 et seq.