Grundrisse: Notebook III – The Chapter on Capital


29 November – c. mid-December 1857

The Chapter on Capital (continuation)

(Labour power as capital!) – Wages not productive

[1] … processes of the same subject; thus e.g. the substance of the eye, the capital of vision etc. Such belletristic phrases, which relate everything to everything else by means of some analogy, may even appear profound the first time they are expressed, all the more so if they identify the most disparate things. Repeated, however, and then repeated with outright complacency as statements of scientific value, they are purely and simply ridiculous. Good only for belletristic sophomores and empty chatterboxes who defile all the sciences with their liquorice-sweet filth. The fact that labour is a constant new source of exchange for the worker as long as he is capable of working – meaning not exchange in general, but exchange with capital – is inherent in the nature of the concept itself, namely that he only sells a temporary disposition over his labouring capacity, [2] hence can always begin the exchange anew as soon as he has taken in the quantity of substances required in order to reproduce the externalization of his life [Lebensäusserung]. Instead of aiming their amazement in this direction – and considering the worker to owe a debt to capital for the fact that he is alive at all, and can repeat certain life processes every day as soon as he has eaten and slept enough – these whitewashing sycophants of bourgeois economics should rather have fixed their attention on the fact that, after constantly repeated labour, he always has only his living, direct labour itself to exchange. The repetition itself is in fact only apparent. What he exchanges for capital is his entire labouring capacity, which he spends, say, in 20 years. Instead of paying him for it in a lump sum, capital pays him in small doses, as he places it at capital’s disposal, say weekly. This alters absolutely nothing in the nature of the thing and gives no grounds whatsoever for concluding that – because the worker has to sleep 10–12 hours before he becomes capable of repeating his labour and his exchange with capital – labour forms his capital. [3] What this argument in fact conceives as capital is the limit, the interruption of his labour, since he is not a perpetuum mobile. The struggle for the ten hours’ bill etc. proves that the capitalist likes nothing better than for him to squander his dosages of vital force as much as possible, without interruption. We now come to the second process, which forms the relation between capital and labour after this exchange. We want to add here only that the economists themselves express the above statement by saying that wages are not productive. For them, of course, to be productive means to be productive of wealth. Now, since wages are the product of the exchange between worker and capital – and the only product posited in this act itself – they therefore admit that the worker produces no wealth in this exchange, neither for the capitalist, because for the latter the payment of money for a use value – and this payment forms the only function of capital in this relation – is a sacrifice of wealth, not creation of the same, which is why he tries to pay the smallest amount possible; nor for the worker, because it brings him only subsistence, the satisfaction of individual needs, more or less – never the general form of wealth, never wealth. Nor can it do so, since the content of the commodity which he sells rises in no way above the general laws of circulation: [his aim is] to obtain for the value which he throws into circulation its equivalent, through the coin, in another use value, which he consumes. Such an operation, of course, can never bring wealth, but has to bring back him who undertakes it exactly to the point at which he began. This does not exclude, as we saw, but rather includes, the fact that the sphere of his immediate gratifications is capable of a certain contraction or expansion. On the other side, if the capitalist – who is not yet posited as capitalist at all in this exchange, but only as money – were to repeat this act again and again, his money would soon be eaten up by the worker, who would have wasted it in a series of other gratifications, mended trousers, polished boots – in short, services received. In any case, the repetition of this operation would be precisely limited by the circumference of his moneybag. They would no more enrich him than does the expenditure of money for other use values for his beloved person, which, as is well known, do not – pay him, but cost him.

The exchange between capital and labour belongs within simple circulation, does not enrich the worker. – Separation of labour and property the precondition of this exchange. – Labour as object absolute poverty, labour as subject general possibility of wealth. – Labour without particular specificity confronts capital

It may seem peculiar, in this relation between labour and capital, and already in this first relation of exchange between the two, that the worker here buys the exchange value and the capitalist the use value, in that labour confronts capital not as a use value, but as the use value pure and simple, but that the capitalist should obtain wealth, and the worker merely a use value which ends with consumption. <In so far as this concerns the capitalist, to be developed only with the second process.> This appears as a dialectic which produces precisely the opposite of what was to be expected. However, regarded more precisely, it becomes clear that the worker who exchanges his commodity goes through the form C–M–M–C in the exchange process. If the point of departure in circulation is the commodity, use value, as the principle of exchange, then we necessarily arrive back at the commodity, since money appears only as coin and, as medium of exchange, is only a vanishing mediation; while the commodity as such, after having described its circle, is consumed as the direct object of need. On the other hand, capital represents M–C–C–M, the antithetical moment.

Separation of property from labour appears as the necessary law of this exchange between capital and labour. Labour posited as not-capital as such is: (1) not-objectified labour [nicht-vergegenständlichte Arbeit], conceived negatively (itself still objective; the not-objective itself in objective form). As such it is not-raw-material, not-instrument of labour, not-raw-product: labour separated from all means and objects of labour, from its entire objectivity. This living labour, existing as an abstraction from these moments of its actual reality (also, not-value); this complete denudation, purely subjective existence of labour, stripped of all objectivity. Labour as absolute poverty: poverty not as shortage, but as total exclusion of objective wealth. Or also as the existing not-value, and hence purely objective use value, existing without mediation, this objectivity can only be an objectivity not separated from the person: only an objectivity coinciding with his immediate bodily existence. Since the objectivity is purely immediate, it is just as much direct not-objectivity. In other words, not an objectivity which falls outside the immediate presence [Dasein] of the individual himself. (2) Not-objectified labour, not-value, conceived positively, or as a negativity in relation to itself, is the not-objectified, hence non-objective, i.e. subjective existence of labour itself. Labour not as an object, but as activity; not as itself value, but as the living source of value. [Namely, it is] general wealth (in contrast to capital in which it exists objectively, as reality) as the general possibility of the same, which proves itself as such in action. Thus, it is not at all contradictory, or, rather, the in-every-way mutually contradictory statements that labour is absolute poverty as object, on one side, and is, on the other side, the general possibility of wealth as subject and as activity, are reciprocally determined and follow from the essence of labour, such as it is presupposed by capital as its contradiction and as its contradictory being, and such as it, in turn, presupposes capital.

The last point to which attention is still to be drawn in the relation of labour to capital is this, that as the use value which confronts money posited as capital, labour is not this or another labour, but labour pure and simple, abstract labour; absolutely indifferent to its particular specificity [Bestimmtheit], but capable of all specificities. Of course, the particularity of labour must correspond to the particular substance of which a given capital consists; but since capital as such is indifferent to every particularity of its substance, and exists not only as the totality of the same but also as the abstraction from all its particularities, the labour which confronts it likewise subjectively has the same totality and abstraction in itself. For example, in guild and craft labour, where capital itself still has a limited form, and is still entirely immersed in a particular substance, hence is not yet capital as such, labour, too, appears as still immersed in its particular specificity: not in the totality and abstraction of labour as such, in which it confronts capital. That is to say that labour is of course in each single case a specific labour, but capital can come into relation with every specific labour; it confronts the totality of all labours δυνάμει, [4] and the particular one it confronts at a given time is an accidental matter. On the other side, the worker himself is absolutely indifferent to the specificity of his labour; it has no interest for him as such, but only in as much as it is in fact labour and, as such, a use value for capital. It is therefore his economic character that he is the carrier of labour as such – i.e. of labour as use value for capital; he is a worker, in opposition to the capitalist. This is not the character of the craftsmen and guild-members etc., whose economic character lies precisely in the specificity of their labour and in their relation to a specific master, etc. This economic relation – the character which capitalist and worker have as the extremes of a single relation of production – therefore develops more purely and adequately in proportion as labour loses all the characteristics of art; as its particular skill becomes something more and more abstract and irrelevant, and as it becomes more and more a purely abstract activity, a purely mechanical activity, hence indifferent to its particular form; a merely formal activity, or, what is the same, a merely material [stofflich] activity, activity pure and simple, regardless of its form. Here it can be seen once again that the particular specificity of the relation of production, of the category – here, capital and labour – becomes real only with the development of a particular material mode of production and of a particular stage in the development of the industrial productive forces. (This point in general to be particularly developed in connection with this relation, later; since it is here already posited in the relation itself, while, in the case of the abstract concepts, exchange value, circulation, money, it still lies more in our subjective reflection.)

Labour process absorbed into capital. (Capital and capitalist)

(2) We now come to the second side of the process. The exchange between capital or capitalist and the worker is now finished, in so far as we are dealing with the process of exchange as such. We now proceed to the relation of capital to labour as capital’s use value. Labour is not only the use value which confronts capital, but, rather, it is the use value of capital itself. As the not-being of values in so far as they are objectified, labour is their being in so far as they are not-objectified; it is their ideal being; the possibility of values, and, as activity, the positing of value. As against capital, labour is the merely abstract form, the mere possibility of value-positing activity, which exists only as a capacity, as a resource in the bodiliness of the worker. But when it is made into a real activity through contact with capital – it cannot do this by itself, since it is without object – then it becomes a really value-positing, productive activity. In relation with capital, this activity can in general consist only of the reproduction of itself – of the preservation and increase of itself as the real and effective value, not of the merely intended value, as with money as such. Through the exchange with the worker, capital has appropriated labour itself; labour has become one of its moments, which now acts as a fructifying vitality upon its merely existent and hence dead objectivity. Capital is money (exchange value posited for itself), but no longer is it money as existing in a particular substance and hence excluded from other substances of exchange value and existing alongside them, but rather money as obtaining its ideal character from all substances, from the exchange values of every form and mode of objectified labour. Now, in so far as capital, money existing in all particular forms of objectified labour, enters into the process with not-objectified, but rather living labour, labour existing as process and as action, it is initially this qualitative difference of the substance in which it exists from the form in which it now also exists as labour. It is the process of this differentiation and of its suspension, in which capital itself becomes a process. Labour is the yeast thrown into it, which starts it fermenting. On the one side, the objectivity in which it exists has to be worked on, i.e. consumed by labour; on the other side, the mere subjectivity of labour as a mere form has to be suspended, and labour has to be objectified in the material of capital. The relation of capital, in its content, to labour, of objectified labour to living labour – in this relation, where capital appears as passive towards labour, it is its passive being, as a particular substance, which enters into relation with the forming activity of labour – can, in general, be nothing more than the relation of labour to its objectivity, its material – which is to be analysed already in the first chapter, which has to precede exchange value and treat of production in general – and in connection with labour as activity, the material, the objectified labour, has only two relations, that of the raw material, i.e. of the formless matter, the mere material for the form-positing, purposive activity of labour, and that of the instrument of labour, the objective means which subjective activity inserts between itself as an object, as its conductor. The concept of the product, which the economists introduce here, does not yet belong here at all as an aspect distinct from raw material and instrument of labour. It appears as result, not as presupposition of the process between the passive content of capital and labour as activity. As a presupposition, the product is not a distinct relation of the object to labour; distinct from raw material and instrument of labour, since raw material and instrument of labour, as substance of values, are themselves already objectified labour, products. The substance of value is not at all the particular natural substance, but rather objectified labour. This latter itself appears again in connection with living labour as raw material and instrument of labour. As regards the pure act of production in itself, it may seem that the instrument of labour and the raw material are found freely in nature, so that they need merely to be appropriated, i.e. made into the object and means of labour, which is not itself a labour process. Thus, in contrast to them, the product appears as something qualitatively different, and is a product not only as a result of labour with an instrument on a material, but rather as the first objectification of labour alongside them. But, as components of capital, raw material and instrument of labour are themselves already objectified labour, hence product. This does not yet exhaust the relation. For, e.g. in the kind of production in which no exchange value, no capital at all exists, the product of labour can become the means and the object of new labour. For example, in agricultural production purely for use value. The hunter’s bow, the fisherman’s net, in short the simplest conditions, already presuppose a product which ceases to count as product and becomes raw material or more specifically instrument of production, for this [is] actually the first specific form in which the product appears as the means of reproduction. This link therefore by no means exhausts the relation in which raw material and instrument of labour appear as moments of capital itself. The economists, incidentally, introduce the product as third element of the substance of capital in another connection entirely, as well. This is the product in so far as its character is to step outside both the process of production and circulation, and to become immediate object of individual consumption; approvisionnement, as Cherbuliez calls it. [5] That is, the products presupposed so that the worker lives as a worker and is capable of living during production, before a new product is created. That the capitalist possesses this capacity is posited in the fact that every element of capital is money, and, as such, can be transformed from its general form of wealth into the material of wealth, object of consumption. The economists’ approvisionnement thus applies only to the workers; i.e. it is money expressed in the form of articles of consumption, use values, which they obtain from the capitalist in the act of exchange between the two of them. But this belongs within the first act. The extent to which this first relates to the second is not yet the question here. The only diremption posited by the process of production itself is the original diremption, that posited by the difference between objective labour and living labour itself, i.e. that between raw material and instrument of labour. It is quite consistent of the economists to confuse these two aspects with each other, because they must bring the two moments in the relation between capital and labour into confusion and cannot allow themselves to grasp their specific difference.

Thus: the raw material is consumed by being changed, formed by labour, and the instrument of labour is consumed by being used up in this process, worn out. On the other hand, labour also is consumed by being employed, set into motion, and a certain amount of the worker’s muscular force etc. is thus expended, so that he exhausts himself. But labour is not only consumed, but also at the same time fixed, converted from the form of activity into the form of the object; materialized; as a modification of the object, it modifies its own form and changes from activity to being. The end of the process is the product, in which the raw material appears as bound up with labour, and in which the instrument of labour has, likewise, transposed itself from a mere possibility into a reality, by having become a real conductor of labour, but thereby also having been consumed in its static form through its mechanical or chemical relation to the material of labour. All three moments of the process, the material, the instrument, and labour, coincide in the neutral result – the product. The moments of the process of production which have been consumed to form the product are simultaneously reproduced in it. The whole process therefore appears as productive consumption, i.e. as consumption which terminates neither in a void, nor in the mere subjectification of the objective, but which is, rather, again posited as an object. This consumption is not simply a consumption of the material, but rather consumption of consumption itself; in the suspension of the material it is the suspension of this suspension and hence the positing of the same. [6] This form-giving activity consumes the object and consumes itself, but it consumes the given form of the object only in order to posit it in a new objective form, and it consumes itself only in its subjective form as activity. It consumes the objective character of the object – the indifference towards the form – and the subjective character of activity; forms the one, materializes the other. But as product, the result of the production process is use value.

If we now regard the result so far obtained, we find:

Firstly: The appropriation, absorption of labour by capital – money, i.e. the act of buying the capacity of disposing over the worker, here appears only as a means to bring this process about, not as one of its moments – brings capital into ferment, and makes it into a process, process of production, in whose totality it relates to itself not only as objectified by living labour, but also, because objectified, [as] mere object of labour.

Secondly: Within simple circulation, the substance of the commodity and of money was itself indifferent to the formal character, i.e. to the extent that commodity and money remained moments of circulation. As for the substance of the commodity, it fell outside the economic relation as an object of consumption (of need); money, in so far as its form achieved independence, was still related to circulation, but only negatively, and was only this negative relation. Fixed for itself, it similarly became extinguished in dead materiality, and ceased to be money. Both commodity and money were expressions of exchange value, and differed only as general and particular exchange value. This difference itself was again merely a nominal one, since not only were the two roles switched in real circulation, but also, if we consider each of them by itself, money itself was a particular commodity, and the commodity as price was itself general money. The difference was only formal. Each of them was posited in the one role only in so far as and because it was not posited in the other. Now however, in the process of production, capital distinguishes itself as form from itself as substance. It is both aspects at once, and at the same time the relation of both to one another. But:

Thirdly: It still only appeared as this relation in itself. The relation is not posited yet, or it is posited initially only in the character of one of its two moments, the material moment, which divides internally into material (raw material and instrument) and form (labour), and which, as a relation between both of them, as a real process, is itself only a material relation again – a relation of the two material elements which form the content of capital as distinct from its formal relation as capital. If we now consider the aspect of capital in which it originally appears in distinction from labour, then it is merely a passive presence in the process, a merely objective being, in which the formal character which makes it capital – i.e. a social relation existing as being-for-itself [für sich seiendes] – is completely extinguished. It enters the process only as content – as objectified labour in general; but the fact that it is objectified labour is completely irrelevant to labour – and the relation of labour to it forms the process; it enters into the process, is worked on, rather, only as object, not as objectified labour. Cotton which becomes cotton yarn, or cotton yarn which becomes cloth, or cloth which becomes the material for printing and dyeing, exist for labour only as available cotton, yarn, cloth. They themselves do not enter into any process as products of labour, as objectified labour, but only as material existences with certain natural properties. How these were posited in them makes no difference to the relation of living labour towards them; they exist for it only in so far as they exist as distinct from it, i.e. as material for labour. This [is the case], in so far as the point of departure is capital in its objective form, presupposed to labour. On another side, in so far as labour itself has become one of capital’s objective elements through the exchange with the worker, labour’s distinction from the objective elements of capital is itself a merely objective one; the latter in the form of rest, the former in the form of activity. The relation is the material relation between one of capital’s elements and the other; but not its own relation to both. It therefore appears on one side as a merely passive object, in which all formal character is extinguished; it appears on the other side only as a simple production process into which capital as such, as distinct from its substance, does not enter. It does not even appear in the substance appropriate to itself – as objectified labour, for this is the substance of exchange value – but rather only in the natural form-of-being [Daseinsform] of this substance, in which all relation to exchange value, to objectified labour, and to labour itself as the use value of capital – and hence all relation to capital itself – is extinguished. Regarded from this side, the process of capital coincides with the simple process of production as such, in which its character as capital is quite as extinguished in the form of the process, as money was extinguished as money in the form of value. To the extent to which we have examined the process so far, capital in its being-for-itself, i.e. the capitalist, does not enter at all. It is not the capitalist who is consumed by labour as raw material and instrument of labour. And it is not the capitalist who does this consuming but rather labour. Thus the process of the production of capital does not appear as the process of the production of capital, but as the process of production in general, and capital’s distinction from labour appears only in the material character of raw material and instrument of labour. It is this aspect – which is not only an arbitrary abstraction, but rather an abstraction which takes place within the process itself – on which the economists seize in order to represent capital as a necessary element of every production process. Of course, they do this only by forgetting to pay attention to its conduct as capital during this process.

This is the occasion to draw attention to a moment which here, for the first time, not only arises from the standpoint of the observer, but is posited in the economic relation itself. In the first act, in the exchange between capital and labour, labour as such, existing for itself, necessarily appeared as the worker. Similarly here in the second process: capital as such is posited as a value existing for itself, as egotistic value, so to speak (something to which money could only aspire). But capital in its being-for-itself is the capitalist. Of course, socialists sometimes say, we need capital, but not the capitalist. [7] Then capital appears as a pure thing, not as a relation of production which, reflected in itself, is precisely the capitalist. I may well separate capital from a given individual capitalist, and it can be transferred to another. But, in losing capital, he loses the quality of being a capitalist. Thus capital is indeed separable from an individual capitalist, but not from the capitalist, who, as such, confronts the worker. Thus also the individual worker can cease to be the being-for-itself [Fürsichsein] of labour; he may inherit or steal money etc. But then he ceases to be a worker. As a worker he is nothing more than labour in its being-for-itself. (This to be further developed later.) [8]

Production process as content of capital. Productive and unproductive labour (productive labour – that which produces capital). – The worker relates to his labour as exchange value, the capitalist as use value etc. – He divests himself [entäussert sich] of labour as the wealth-producing power. (Capital appropriates it as such.) Transformation of labour into capital etc. Sismondi, Cherbuliez, Say, Ricardo, Proudhon etc.

Nothing can emerge at the end of the process which did not appear as a presupposition and precondition at the beginning. But, on the other hand, everything also has to come out. Thus, if at the end of the process of production, which was begun with the presuppositions of capital, capital appears to have vanished as a formal relation, then this can have taken place only because the invisible threads which draw it through the process have been overlooked. Let us therefore consider this side.

The first result, then, is this:

(α) Capital becomes the process of production through the incorporation of labour into capital; initially, however, it becomes the material process of production; the process of production in general, so that the process of the production of capital is not distinct from the material process of production as such. Its formal character is completely extinguished. Because capital has exchanged a part of its objective being for labour, its objective being is itself internally divided into object and labour; the connection between them forms the production process, or, more precisely, the labour process. With that, the labour process posited prior to value, as point of departure – which, owing to its abstractness, its pure materiality, is common to all forms of production – here reappears again within capital, as a process which proceeds within its substance and forms its content.

(It will be seen that even within the production process itself this extinguishing of the formal character is merely a semblance.) [9]

In so far as capital is value, but appears as a process initially in the form of the simple production process, the production process posited in no particular economic form, but rather, the production process pure and simple, to that extent – depending on which particular aspect of the simple production process (which, as such, as we saw, by no means presupposes capital, but is common to all modes of production) is fixed on – it can be said that capital becomes product, or that it is instrument of labour or raw material for labour. Further, if it is conceived in one of the aspects which confronts labour as material or as mere means, then it is correct to say that capital is not productive, * because it is then regarded merely as the object, the material which confronts labour; as merely passive. The correct thing, however, is that it appears not as one of these aspects, nor as a difference within one of these aspects, nor as mere result (product), but rather as the simple production process itself; that this latter now appears as the self-propelling content of capital.

* What is productive labour and what is not, a point very much disputed back and forth since Adam Smith made this distinction, [10] has to emerge from the dissection of the various aspects of capital itself. Productive labour is only that which produces capital. Is it not crazy, asks e.g. (or at least something similar) Mr Senior, that the piano maker is a productive worker, but not the piano player, although obviously the piano would be absurd without the piano player? [11] But this is exactly the case. The piano maker reproduces capital; the pianist only exchanges his labour for revenue. But doesn’t the pianist produce music and satisfy our musical ear, does he not even to a certain extent produce the latter? He does indeed: his labour produces something; but that does not make it productive labour in the economic sense; no more than the labour of the madman who produces delusions is productive. Labour becomes productive only by producing its own opposite. Other economists therefore allow the so-called unproductive worker to be productive indirectly. For example, the pianist stimulates production; partly by giving a more decisive, lively tone to our individuality, and also in the ordinary sense of awakening a new need for the satisfaction of which additional energy becomes expended in direct material production. This already admits that only such labour is productive as produces capital; hence that labour which does not do this, regardless of how useful it may be – it may just as well be harmful – is not productive for capitalization, is hence unproductive labour. Other economists say that the difference between productive and unproductive applies not to production but to consumption. Quite the contrary. The producer of tobacco is productive, although the consumption of tobacco is unproductive. Production for unproductive consumption is quite as productive as that for productive consumption; always assuming that it produces or reproduces capital. ‘Productive labourer he that directly augments his master’s wealth,’ Malthus therefore says, quite correctly (IX,40); [12] correct at least in one aspect. The expression is too abstract, since in this formulation it holds also for the slave. The master’s wealth, in relation to the worker, is the form of wealth itself in its relation to labour, namely capital. Productive labourer he that directly augments capital.

(β) Now to look at the side of the form-character, such as it preserves and modifies itself in the production process.

As use value, labour exists only for capital, and is itself the use value of capital, i.e. the mediating activity by means of which it realizes [verwertet] itself. Capital, as that which reproduces and increases its value, is autonomous exchange value (money), as a process, as the process of realization. Therefore, labour does not exist as a use value for the worker; for him it is therefore not a power productive of wealth, [and] not a means or the activity of gaining wealth. He brings it as a use value into the exchange with capital, which then confronts him not as capital but rather as money. In relation to the worker, it is capital as capital only in the consumption of labour, which initially falls outside this exchange and is independent of it. A use value for capital, labour is a mere exchange value for the worker; available exchange value. It is posited as such in the act of exchange with capital, through its sale for money. The use value of a thing does not concern its seller as such, but only its buyer. The property of saltpetre, that it can be used to make gunpowder, does not determine the price of saltpetre; rather, this price is determined by the cost of production of saltpetre, by the amount of labour objectified in it. The value of use values which enter circulation as prices is not the product of circulation, although it realizes itself only in circulation; rather, it is presupposed to it, and is realized only through exchange for money. Similarly, the labour which the worker sells as a use value to capital is, for the worker, his exchange value, which he wants to realize, but which is already determined prior to this act of exchange and presupposed to it as a condition, and is determined like the value of every other commodity by supply and demand; or, in general, which is our only concern here, by the cost of production, the amount of objectified labour, by means of which the labouring capacity of the worker has been produced and which he therefore obtains for it, as its equivalent. The exchange value of labour, the realization of which takes place in the process of exchange with the capitalist, is therefore presupposed, predetermined, and only undergoes the formal modification which every only ideally posited price takes on when it is realized. It is not determined by the use value of labour. It has a use value for the worker himself only in so far as it is exchange value, not in so far as it produces exchange values. It has exchange value for capital only in so far as it is use value. It is a use value, as distinct from exchange value, not for the worker himself, but only for capital. The worker therefore sells labour as a simple, predetermined exchange value, determined by a previous process – he sells labour itself as objectified labour; i.e. he sells labour only in so far as it already objectifies a definite amount of labour, hence in so far as its equivalent is already measured, given; capital buys it as living labour, as the general productive force of wealth; activity which increases wealth. It is clear, therefore, that the worker cannot become rich in this exchange, since, in exchange for his labour capacity as a fixed, available magnitude, he surrenders its creative power, like Esau his birthright for a mess of pottage. Rather, he necessarily impoverishes himself, as we shall see further on, because the creative power of his labour establishes itself as the power of capital, as an alien power confronting him. He divests himself [entäussert sich] of labour as the force productive of wealth; capital appropriates it, as such. The separation between labour and property in the product of labour, between labour and wealth, is thus posited in this act of exchange itself. What appears paradoxical as result is already contained in the presupposition. The economists have expressed this more or less empirically. Thus the productivity of his labour, his labour in general, in so far as it is not a capacity but a motion, real labour, comes to confront the worker as an alien power; capital, inversely, realizes itself through the appropriation of alien labour. (At least the possibility of realization is thereby posited; as result of the exchange between labour and capital. The relation is realized only in the act of production itself, where capital really consumes the alien labour.) Just as labour, as a presupposed exchange value, is exchanged for an equivalent in money, so the latter is again exchanged for an equivalent in commodities, which are consumed. In this process of exchange, labour is not productive; it becomes so only for capital; it can take out of circulation only what it has thrown into it, a predetermined amount of commodities, which is as little its own product as it is its own value. Sismondi says that the workers exchange their labour for grain, which they consume, while their labour ‘has become capital for its master’. (Sismondi, VI.) [13] ‘Giving their labour in exchange, the workers transform it into capital.’ (id., VIII.) [14] By selling his labour to the capitalist, the worker obtains a right only to the price of labour, not to the product of his labour, nor to the value which his labour has added to it. (Cherbuliez XXVIII.) ‘Sale of labour = renunciation of all fruits of labour.’ (loc.cit.) [15] Thus all the progress of civilization, or in other words every increase in the powers of social production [gesellschaftliche Produktivkräfte], if you like, in the productive powers of labour itself – such as results from science, inventions, division and combination of labour, improved means of communication, creation of the world market, machinery etc. – enriches not the worker but rather capital; hence it only magnifies again the power dominating over labour; increases only the productive power of capital. Since capital is the antithesis of the worker, this merely increases the objective power standing over labour. The transformation of labour (as living, purposive activity) into capital is, in itself, the result of the exchange between capital and labour, in so far as it gives the capitalist the title of ownership to the product of labour (and command over the same). This transformation is posited only in the production process itself. Thus, the question whether capital is productive or not is absurd. Labour itself is productive only if absorbed into capital, where capital forms the basis of production, and where the capitalist is therefore in command of production. The productivity of labour becomes the productive force of capital just as the general exchange value of commodities fixes itself in money. Labour, such as it exists for itself in the worker in opposition to capital, that is, labour in its immediate being, separated from capital, is not productive. Nor does it ever become productive as an activity of the worker so long as it merely enters the simple, only formally transforming process of circulation. Therefore, those who demonstrate that the productive force ascribed to capital is a displacement, a transposition of the productive force of labour, [16] forget precisely that capital itself is essentially this displacement, this transposition, and that wage labour as such presupposes capital, so that, from its standpoint as well, capital is this transubstantiation; the necessary process of positing its own powers as alien to the worker. Therefore, the demand that wage labour be continued but capital suspended is self-contradictory, self-dissolving. Others say, even economists, e.g. Ricardo, Sismondi etc., that only labour is productive, not capital. [17] But then they do not conceive [18] capital in its specific character as form, as a relation of production reflected into itself, but think only about its material substance, raw material etc. But these material elements do not make capital into capital. Then, however, they recall that capital is also in another respect a value, that is, something immaterial, something indifferent to its material consistency. Thus, Say: ‘Capital is always an immaterial essence, because it is not material which makes capital, but the value of this material, a value which has nothing corporeal about it.’ (Say, 21.) [19] Or: Sismondi: ‘Capital is a commercial idea.’ (Sismondi, LX.) [20] But then they recall that capital is a different economic quality as well, other than value, since otherwise it would not be possible to speak of capital as distinct from value at all, and, if all capitals were value, all values as such would still not be capital. Then they take refuge again in its material form within the production process, e.g. when Ricardo explains that capital is ‘accumulated labour employed in the production of new labour’, [21] i.e. merely as instrument of labour or material for labour. In this sense Say even speaks of the ‘productive service of capital’, [22] on which remuneration is supposed to be based, as if the instrument of labour as such were entitled to thanks from the worker, and as if it were not precisely because of him that it is posited as instrument of labour, as productive. This presupposes the autonomy of the instrument of labour, i.e. of its social character, i.e. its character as capital, in order to derive the privileges of capital from it. Proudhon’s phrase ‘le capital vaut, le travail produit[23] means absolutely nothing more than: capital is value, and, since nothing further is here said about capital other than that it is value, that value is value (the subject of the judgement is here only another name for the predicate); [24] and labour produces, is productive labour, i.e. labour is labour, since it is precisely nothing apart from ‘produire’. [25] It must be obvious that these identical judgements do not contain any particularly deep wisdom, and that above all, they cannot express a relation in which value and labour enter into connection, in which they connect and divide in relation to one another, and where they do not lie side by side in mutual indifference. Already the fact that it is labour which confronts capital as subject, i.e. the worker only in his character as labour, and not he himself, should open the eyes. This alone, disregarding capital, already contains a relation, a relation of the worker to his own activity, which is by no means the ‘natural’ one, but which itself already contains a specific economic character.

To the extent that we are considering it here, as a relation distinct from that of value and money, capital is capital in general, i.e. the incarnation of the qualities which distinguish value as capital from value as pure value or as money. Value, money, circulation etc., prices etc. are presupposed, as is labour etc. But we are still concerned neither with a particular form of capital, nor with an individual capital as distinct from other individual capitals etc. We are present at the process of its becoming. This dialectical process of its becoming is only the ideal expression of the real movement through which capital comes into being. The later relations are to be regarded as developments coming out of this germ. But it is necessary to establish the specific form in which it is posited at a certain point. Otherwise confusion arises.

Realization process [Verwertungsprozess]. – (Costs of production.) – (Surplus value not explicable by exchange. Ramsay. Ricardo.) Capitalist cannot live from his wage etc. (Faux frais de production.) [26]Mere self-preservation, non-multiplication of value contradicts the essence of capital

Hitherto, capital has been regarded from its material side as a simple production process. But, from the side of its formal specificity this process is a process of self-realization. Self-realization includes preservation of the prior value, as well as its multiplication.

Value enters as subject. Labour is purposeful activity, and the material side therefore presupposes that the instrument of labour has really been used as means to an end in the production process, and that the raw material has obtained a higher use value as product than it had before, whether this is due to chemical alteration or mechanical modification. However, this side alone, as impinging merely on the use value, still belongs in the simple production process. It is not the point here – this is, rather, understood, presupposed – that a higher use value has been created (this in itself is very relative; when grain is transformed into spirits, the higher use value is itself already posited in respect of circulation); no higher use value has yet been created for the individual, the producer. This, in any case, is accidental, and does not affect the relation as such; rather, a higher use value for others. The point is, [rather,] that a higher exchange value be created. In the case of simple circulation, the process ended for the individual commodity by its being consumed as use value. With that, it left circulation; lost its exchange value, its economic form-character [Formbestimmung] in general. Capital has consumed its material with labour and its labour with material; it has consumed itself as use value, but only as use value for itself, as capital. Its consumption as use value therefore in this case falls within circulation itself, or rather it itself posits the beginning of circulation or its end, as one prefers. The consumption of the use value itself here falls within the economic process, because the use value here is itself determined by exchange value. In no moment of the production process does capital cease to be capital or value to be value, and, as such, exchange value. Nothing is more ridiculous than to say, as does Mr Proudhon, that capital changes from a product into an exchange value by means of the act of exchange, i.e. by re-entering simple circulation. [27] We would then be thrown back to the beginning, to direct barter even, where we observe the origin of exchange value out of the product. Already its presupposition as self-preserving exchange value comprises the possibility that capital can and does re-enter into circulation as a commodity at the end of the production process, after its consumption as use value. However, in so far as the product now again becomes commodity, and as commodity, exchange value, and obtains a price and is realized as such in money, to that extent it is a simple commodity, exchange value as such, and, as such, its fate within circulation may be to be realized in money, or it may equally be that it does not realize itself in money; i.e. that its exchange value becomes money or not. Thus its exchange value has become much more problematic – before, it was posited ideally – than the fact that it came into existence. What is more, its being really posited as a higher exchange value in circulation cannot originate out of circulation itself, in which, in its simple character, only equivalents are exchanged. Therefore, if it comes out of circulation as a higher exchange value, it must have entered into it as such.

Capital as a form consists not of objects of labour and labour, but rather of values, and, still more precisely, of prices. The fact that its value-elements have various substances in common during the production process does not affect their character as values; they are not changed thereby. If, out of the form of unrest – of the process – at the end of the process, they again condense themselves into a resting, objective form, in the product, then this, too, is merely a change of the material [Stoffwechsel] in relation to value, and does not alter the latter. [28] True, the substances as such have been destroyed, but they have not been made into nothing, but rather into a substance with another form. Earlier, they appeared as elemental, indifferent preconditions of the product. Now they are the product. The value of the product can therefore only = the sum of the values which were materialized in the specific material elements of the process, i.e. raw material, instrument of labour (including the merely instrumental commodities), and labour itself. The raw material has been entirely used up, labour has been entirely used up, the instrument has been only partly used up, hence continues to possess a part of the value of the capital in its specific mode of existence as present prior to the process. This part therefore does not come under view here at all, since it has suffered no modification. The different modes in which the values existed were a pure semblance; value itself formed the constantly self-identical essence within their disappearance. Regarded as a value, the product has in this respect not become product, but rather remained identical, unchanged value, which merely exists in a different mode, which is, however, irrelevant to it and which can be exchanged for money. The value of the product is = to the value of the raw material + the value of the part of the instrument of labour which has been destroyed, i.e. transferred to the product, and which is suspended in its original form, + the value of labour. Or, the price of the product is equal to these costs of production, i.e. = to the sum of the prices of the commodities consumed in the production process. That means, in other words, nothing more than that the production process in its material aspect has been irrelevant to value; that value therefore has remained identical with itself and has merely taken on another mode of existence, become materialized in another substance and form. (The form of the substance is irrelevant to the economic form, to value as such.) If capital was originally = to 100 thalers, then afterwards, as before, it remains equal to 100 thalers, although the 100 thalers existed in the production price as 50 thalers of cotton, 40 thalers of wages + 10 thalers of spinning machine, and now exist as cotton yarn to the price of 100 thalers. This reproduction of the 100 thalers is a simple retention of self-equivalence [Sichselbstgleichbleiben], except that it is mediated through the material production process. The latter must therefore proceed to the product, for otherwise cotton loses its value, instrument of labour used up for nothing, wages paid in vain. The only stipulation for the self-preservation of value is that the production process really be a total process, i.e. continue to the point where a product exists. The completeness [Totalität] of the production process, i.e. the fact that it proceeds to the product, is here in fact the precondition of the self-preservation, the self-equivalent retention of value; but this is already contained in the first precondition, that capital really becomes use value, a real production process; is therefore presupposed at this point. On the other hand, the production process is a production process for capital only to the extent that it preserves itself in this process as value, i.e. as product. The statement that the necessary price = the sum of the prices of the costs of production is therefore purely analytical. It is the presupposition of the production of capital itself. First capital is posited as 100 thalers, as simple value; then it is posited in this process as a sum of prices of specific value-elements of itself, elements specified by the price of production itself. The price of capital, its value expressed in money, = the price of its product. That means the value of capital as the result of the production process is the same as it was as the presupposition of the process. However, during the process it does not retain the simplicity it had at the beginning, and which it takes on once again at the end, as the result; rather, it decomposes into the initially quite irrelevant quantitative elements of value of labour (wage), value of the instrument of labour, and value of the raw material. No further relation has been posited, other than that the simple value decomposes quantitatively to form the price of production, as a number of values which recombine in their simplicity in the product, but which exists now as a sum. But the sum is = to the original unity. Otherwise, as regards value, and apart from the quantitative subdivision, there is not the least difference in the relation between the distinct amounts of value. The original capital was 100 thalers; the product is 100 thalers, but now 100 thalers as the sum of 50 + 40 + 10 thalers. I could just as well have regarded the original 100 thalers as a sum of 50 + 40 + 10 thalers, but equally as a sum of 60 + 30 + 10 thalers, etc. The fact that they now appear as the sum of specific amounts of units is posited because each of the different material elements into which capital decomposed in the production process represents a part of its value, but a specific part.

It will be seen later that these amounts into which the original unity is decomposed themselves have certain relations with one another, but this does not concern us here yet. In so far as any movement in the value itself is posited during the production process, it is the purely formal one which consists of the following simple act: that value exists first as a unity, a specific amount of units, which are themselves regarded as a unity, a whole: capital in the amount of 100 thalers; secondly, that this unity is divided during the production process into 50 thalers, 40 thalers and 10 thalers, a division which is essential to the extent that material, instrument and labour are required in specific quantities, but which here appears, in regard to the 100 thalers themselves, merely as an irrelevant decomposition of the same unity into different amounts; finally, that the 100 thalers reappear as a sum in the product. The only process, as regards value, [is] that it sometimes appears as a whole, unity; then as a division of this unity into certain amounts; finally, as sum. The 100 thalers which appear at the end as a sum are just as much a sum and in fact exactly the same sum as that which appeared at the outset as a unity. The character of being a sum, of being added up, arose only out of the subdivision which took place in the act of production; but does not exist in the product as such. The statement thus says nothing more than that the price of the product = the price of the costs of production, or that the value of capital = the value of the product, that the value of the capital has preserved itself in the act of production, and now appears as a sum. With this mere identity of capital, or, reproduction of its value throughout the production process, we would have come no further than we were at the beginning. What was there at the outset as presupposition is now there as result, and in unchanged form. It is clear that it is not in fact this to which the economists refer when they speak of the determination of price by the cost of production. Otherwise, a value greater than that originally present could never be created; no greater exchange value, although perhaps a greater use value, which is quite beside the point here. We are dealing with the use value of capital as such, not with the use of value of a commodity.

When one says that the cost of production or the necessary price of a commodity is = to 110, then one is calculating in the following way: Original capital = 100 (e.g. raw material = 50; labour = 40; instrument = 10) + 5% interest + 5% profit. Thus the production cost = 110, not = 100; the production cost is thus greater than the cost of production. Now, it is no help at all to flee from exchange value to the use value of the commodity, as some economists love to do. Whether the use value is greater or lesser is not, as such, determined by the exchange value. Commodities often fall beneath their prices of production, although they indisputably have obtained a higher use value than they had in the period prior to production. It is equally useless to seek refuge in circulation. I produce at 100, but I sell at 110. ‘Profit is not made by exchanging. Had it not existed before, neither could it after that transaction.’ (Ramsay, IX, 88.) [29] This signifies the attempt to explain the augmentation of value with the aid of simple circulation, despite the fact that the latter expressly posits value as an equivalent only. It is clear even empirically that if everyone sold for 10% too much, this is the same as if they all sold at the cost of production. The surplus value [Mehrwert] would then be purely nominal, artificial, a convention, an empty phrase. And, since money is itself a commodity, a product, it also would be sold for 10% too much, i.e. the seller who received 110 thalers would in fact receive only 100. (Consult Ricardo on foreign trade, which he conceives as simple circulation, and says, therefore: ‘foreign trade can never increase the amount of exchange value in a country’. (Ricardo, 39, 40.) [30] The grounds he cites for this conclusion are absolutely the same as those which ‘prove’ that exchange as such, simple circulation, i.e. commerce in general, in so far as it is conceived as such, can never increase exchange values, never create exchange value.) The statement that the price = the cost of production would otherwise have to read, also: the price of a commodity is always greater than its cost of production. In addition to the simple division and re-addition, the production process also adds the formal element to value, namely that its elements now appear as production costs, i.e. precisely that the elements of the production process are not preserved in their material character, but rather as values, while the mode of existence which these had before the production process is consumed.

It is clear, on another side, that if the act of production is merely the reproduction of the value of capital, then it would have undergone a merely material but not an economic change, and such a simple preservation of its value contradicts its concept [Begriff]. True, it would not remain outside circulation, as in the case of autonomous money, but would, rather, take on the form of different commodities; however, it would do so for nothing; this would be a purposeless process, since it would ultimately represent only the same sum of money, and would only have run the risk of suffering some damage in the act of production – [moreover, it is a process] which can fail, and in which money surrenders its immortal form. Well then. The production process is now at an end. The product, too, is realized in money again, and has again taken on the original form of the 100 thalers. But the capitalist has to eat and drink, too; he cannot live from this change into the form of money. Thus, a part of the 100 thalers would have to be exchanged not as capital, but as coin for commodities as use values, and be consumed in this form. The 100 thalers would have become 90, and since he always ultimately reproduces capital in the form of money, more precisely, in the quantity of money with which he began production, at the end the 100 thalers would be eaten up and the capital would have disappeared. But the capitalist is paid for the labour of throwing the 100 thalers into the production process as capital, instead of eating them up. But with what is he to be paid? And does not his labour appear as absolutely useless, since capital includes the wage; so that the workers could live from the simple reproduction of the cost of production, which the capitalist cannot do? He would thus appear among the faux frais de production. [31] But, whatever his merits may be, reproduction would be possible without him, since, in the production process, the workers only transfer the value which they take out, hence have no need for the entire relation of capital in order to begin it always anew; and secondly, there would then be no fund out of which to pay him what he deserves, since the price of the commodity = the cost of production. But, if his labour were defined as a particular labour alongside and apart from that of the workers, e.g. that of the labour of superintendence etc., [32] then he would, like them, receive a certain wage, would thus fall into the same category as they, and would by no means relate to labour as a capitalist; and he would never get rich, but receive merely an exchange value which he would have to consume via circulation. The existence of capital vis-à-vis labour requires that capital in its being-for-itself, the capitalist, should exist and be able to live as not-worker. It is equally clear, on the other side, that capital, even as conventionally defined, would not retain its value if it could retain nothing but its value. The risks of production have to be compensated. Capital has to preserve itself through the fluctuations of prices. The constantly ongoing devaluation of capital, resulting from the increase in the force of production, has to be compensated, etc. The economists therefore state flatly that if no gain, no profit were to be made, everyone would eat up his money instead of throwing it into production and employing it as capital. In short, if this not-realization [Nichtverwerten], i.e. the non-multiplication of the value of capital, is presupposed, then what is presupposed is that capital is not a real element of production, that it is not a specific relation of production; then a condition is presupposed in which the production costs do not have the form of capital and where capital is not posited as the condition of production.

It is easy to understand how labour can increase use value; the difficulty is, how it can create exchange values greater than those with which it began.

Suppose that the exchange value which capital pays the worker were an exact equivalent for the value which labour creates in the production process. In that case, an increase in the exchange value of the product would be impossible. Everything which labour as such had brought into the production process, in addition to the already present value of the raw material and of the instrument of labour, would have been paid to the worker. In so far as the value of the product is a surplus over and above the value of raw material and instrument, that value would go to the worker; except that the capitalist would pay him this value in his wages, and that the worker pays it back to the capitalist in the product.

Capital enters the cost of production as capital. Interest-bearing capital. Proudhon

<Interest on borrowed capital makes tangible the truth that what is meant by the cost of production – even by economists who make this assertion – is not the sum of values which enter into production. For the industrial capitalist, interest is among his direct expenses, his real costs of production. But interest itself already presupposes that capital emerges from production as surplus value, since interest is itself only one form of this surplus value. Therefore, since, from the standpoint of the borrower, interest already enters into his direct production costs, it is apparent that capital enters as such into the cost of production, but that capital as such is not the mere addition of its value-components. – As interest, capital itself appears again in the character of a commodity, but a commodity specifically distinct from all other commodities; capital as such – not as a mere sum of exchange values – enters into circulation and becomes a commodity. Here, the character of the commodity is itself present as an economic, specific determinant, not irrelevant as in simple circulation, nor directly related to labour as its opposite, as its use value, as with industrial capital; [but, rather,] capital as it exists in its further aspects, after emerging from circulation and production. The commodity as capital; or capital as commodity, is therefore not exchanged for an equivalent in circulation; by entering into circulation, it obtains its being-for-itself; it obtains its original relation to its owner, even when it passes into the possession of another. It is therefore merely loaned. For its owner, its use value as such is its realization [Verwertung]; money as money, not as medium of circulation; its use value as capital. The demand raised by Mr Proudhon, that capital should not be loaned out and should bear no interest, but should be sold like a commodity for its equivalent, [33] amounts at bottom to no more than the demand that exchange value should never become capital, but always remain simple exchange value; that capital should not exist as capital. This demand, combined with the other, that wage labour should remain the general basis of production, reveals a happy confusion with regard to the simplest economic concepts. Hence the miserable role he plays in the polemic with Bastiat, about which, later. His chatter about considerations of fairness and right only amounts to this, that he wants to use the relation of property or of law corresponding to simple exchange as the measuring-rod for the relation of property and law at a higher stage of exchange value. Which is why Bastiat himself, unconsciously, stresses those moments of simple circulation which drive in the direction of capital. – Capital itself as commodity is money as capital or capital as money.>

<The third moment to be developed in the formation of the concept of capital is original accumulation [ursprüngliche Akkumulation] as against labour, hence the still objectless labour vis-à-vis accumulation. The first moment took its point of departure from value, as it arose out of and presupposed circulation. This was the simple concept of capital; money on the direct path to becoming capital; the second moment proceeded from capital as the presupposition and result of production; the third moment posits capital as a specific unity of circulation and production. (Relation between capital and labour, capitalist and worker itself [posited] as a result of the production process.) A distinction is to be drawn between the accumulation of capitals, which presupposes capitals, the relation of capital as present [daseiend], which also presupposes its relations to labour, prices (fixed capital and circulating capital), interest and profit. [34] But in order to come into being, capital presupposes a certain accumulation; which is already contained in the independent antithesis between objectified and living labour; in the independent survival of this antithesis. This accumulation, necessary for capital to come into being, which is therefore already included in its concept as presupposition – as a moment – is to be distinguished essentially from the accumulation of capital which has already become capital, where there must already be capitals.>

<We have already seen so far that capital presupposes: (1) the production process in general, such as is common to all social conditions, that is, without historic character, human, if you like; (2) circulation which is already a specific historic product in each of its moments, and even more so in its totality; (3) capital as a specific unity of the two. Now, the extent to which the production process in general comes to be modified historically as soon as it becomes merely an element of capital has to be found out in the course of developing it; just as the simple conception of the specific characteristics of capital must yield its general historic presuppositions.>

<Everything else is empty chatter. Only at the end, and as a result of the whole development, can it become clear which aspects belong in the first section, ‘Production in General’, and which into the first section of the second section, ‘Exchange Value in General’. We already saw, for example, that the distinction between use value and exchange value belongs within economics itself, and that use value does not lie dead as a simple presupposition, which is what Ricardo makes it do. [35] The chapter on production objectively ends with the product as result; that on circulation begins with the commodity, which is itself again a use value and an exchange value (hence, also, distinct from both, a value), circulation as the unity of both – which is, however, merely formal and hence collapses into the commodity as mere object of consumption, extra-economic, and exchange value as independent money.>

Surplus value. Surplus labour time. – Bastiat on wages. Value of labour. How determined? – Self-realization is self-preservation of capital. Capitalist may not live merely from his labour etc. Conditions for the self-realization of capital. Surplus labour time etc. – To the extent that capital is productive (as creator of surplus labour etc.), this only historic-transitory. – The free blacks in Jamaica. – Wealth which has gained autonomy requires slave labour or wage labour (forced labour in both cases)

The surplus value which capital has at the end of the production process – a surplus value which, as a higher price of the product, is realized only in circulation, but, like all prices, is realized in it by already being ideally presupposed to it, determined before they enter into it – signifies, expressed in accord with the general concept of exchange value, that the labour time objectified in the product – or amount of labour (expressed passively, the magnitude of labour appears as an amount of space; but expressed in motion, it is measurable only in time) – is greater than that which was present in the original components of capital. This in turn is possible only if the labour objectified in the price of labour is smaller than the living labour time purchased with it. The labour time objectified in capital appears, as we have seen, [36] as a sum consisting of three parts: (a) the labour time objectified in the raw material; (b) the labour time objectified in the instrument of labour; (c) the labour time objectified in the price of labour. Now, parts (a) and (b) remain unchanged as components of capital; while they may change their form, their modes of material existence, in the process, they remain unchanged as values. Only in (c) does capital exchange one thing for something qualitatively different; a given amount of objectified labour for an amount of living labour. If living labour reproduced only the labour time objectified in the labour price, this also would be merely formal, and, as regards value, the only change which would have taken place would have been that from one mode to another mode of the existence of the same value, just as, in regard to the value of the material of labour and the instrument, only a change of its mode of material existence has taken place. If the capitalist has paid the worker a price = one working day, and the worker’s working day adds only one working day to the raw material and the instrument, then the capitalist would merely have exchanged exchange value in one form for exchange value in another. He would not have acted as capital. At the same time, the worker would not have remained within the simple exchange process; he would in fact have obtained the product of his labour in payment, except that the capitalist would have done him the favour of paying him the price of the product in advance of its realization [Realisation]. The capitalist would have advanced him credit, and free of charge at that, pour le roi de Prusse. [37] Voilà tout. No matter that for the worker the exchange between capital and labour, whose result is the price of labour, is a simple exchange; as far as the capitalist is concerned, it has to be a not-exchange. He has to obtain more value than he gives. Looked at from the capitalists’ side, the exchange must be only apparent; i.e. must belong to an economic category other than exchange, or capital as capital and labour as labour in opposition to it would be impossible. They would be exchanged for one another only as identical exchange values existing in different material modes. – Thus the economists take refuge in this simple process in order to construct a legitimation, an apology for capital by explaining it with the aid of the very process which makes its existence impossible. In order to demonstrate it, they demonstrate it away. You pay me for my labour, you exchange it for its product and deduct from my pay the value of the raw material and instrument which you have furnished. That means we are partners who bring different elements into the process of production and exchange according to their values. Thus the product is transformed into money, and the money is divided in such a way that you, the capitalist, obtain the price of your raw material and your instrument, while I, the worker, obtain the price which my labour added to them. The benefit for you is that you now possess raw material and instrument in a form in which they are capable of being consumed (circulated); for me, that my labour has realized itself [sich verwertet]. Of course, you would soon be in the situation of having eaten up all your capital in the form of money, whereas I, as worker, would enter into the possession of both.

What the worker exchanges with capital is his labour itself (the capacity of disposing over it); he divests himself of it [entäussert sie]. What he obtains as price is the value of this divestiture [Entäusserung]. He exchanges value-positing activity for a predetermined value, regardless of the result of his activity. * Now how is its value determined? By the objectified labour contained in his commodity. This commodity exists in his vitality. In order to maintain this from one day to the next – we are not yet dealing with the working class, i.e. the replacement for wear and tear so that it can maintain itself as a class, since the worker here confronts capital as a worker, i.e. as a presupposed perennial subject [Subjekt], and not yet as a mortal individual of the working species – he has to consume a certain quantity of food, to replace his used-up blood etc. He receives no more than an equivalent. Thus tomorrow, after the completed exchange – and only after he has formally completed the exchange does he execute it in the process of production – his labouring capacity exists in the same mode as before: he has received an exact equivalent, because the price which he has obtained leaves him in possession of the same exchange value he had before. Capital has paid him the amount of objectified labour contained in his vital forces. Capital has consumed it, and because it did not exist as a thing, but as the capacity of a living being, the worker can, owing to the specific nature of his commodity – the specific nature of the life process – resume the exchange anew. Since we are dealing here not with any particularly qualified labour but with labour in general, simple labour, we are here not yet concerned with the fact that there is more labour objectified in his immediate existence than is contained in his mere vitality – i.e. the labour time necessary to pay for the products necessary to maintain his vitality – namely the values he has consumed in order to produce a specific labouring capacity, a special skill – and the value of these shows itself in the costs necessary to produce a similar labouring skill.

* One of Mr Bastiat’s tremendous profundities is that wage labour is an inessential, only formal form, a form of association, which, as such, has nothing to do with the economic relation of labour and capital. If, he says, the workers were rich enough to be able to await the completion and sale of the product, then wages, wage labour, would not hinder them from making as advantageous a contract with their capitalist as their capitalist makes with another capitalist. Thus the evil lies not in the wage form, but in conditions independent of it. That these conditions are themselves the wage condition naturally does not occur to him. If the workers were capitalists at the same time, then indeed they would relate to non-working capital not as working workers, but as working capitalists – i.e. not in the form of wage-labourers. That is why wages and profit are essentially the same for him as profit and interest. This he calls the harmony of economic relations, namely that only seemingly economic relations exist, but in fact, in essence, there exists only one relation, that of simple exchange. The essential forms therefore appear to him as lacking content, i.e. not as real forms. [38]

If one day’s work were necessary in order to keep one worker alive for one day, then capital would not exist, because the working day would then exchange for its own product, so that capital could not realize itself and hence could not maintain itself as capital. The self-preservation of capital is its self-realization. If capital also had to work in order to live, then it would not maintain itself as capital but as labour. Property in raw materials and instruments of labour would be merely nominal; economically they would belong to the worker as much as to the capitalist, since they would create value for the capitalist only in so far as he himself were a worker. He would relate to them therefore not as capital, but as simple material and means of labour, like the worker himself does in the production process. If, however, only half a working day is necessary in order to keep one worker alive one whole day, then the surplus value of the product is self-evident, because the capitalist has paid the price of only half a working day but has obtained a whole day objectified in the product; thus has exchanged nothing for the second half of the work day. The only thing which can make him into a capitalist is not exchange, but rather a process through which he obtains objectified labour time, i.e. value, without exchange. Half the working day costs capital nothing; it thus obtains a value for which it has given no equivalent. And the multiplication of values can take place only if a value in excess of the equivalent has been obtained, hence created.

Surplus value in general is value in excess of the equivalent. The equivalent, by definition, is only the identity of value with itself. Hence surplus value can never sprout out of the equivalent; nor can it do so originally out of circulation; it has to arise from the production process of capital itself. The matter can also be expressed in this way: if the worker needs only half a working day in order to live a whole day, then, in order to keep alive as a worker, he needs to work only half a day. The second half of the labour day is forced labour; surplus-labour. What appears as surplus value on capital’s side appears identically on the worker’s side as surplus labour in excess of his requirements as worker, hence in excess of his immediate requirements for keeping himself alive. The great historic quality of capital is to create this surplus labour, superfluous labour from the standpoint of mere use value, mere subsistence; and its historic destiny [Bestimmung] is fulfilled as soon as, on one side, there has been such a development of needs that surplus labour above and beyond necessity has itself become a general need arising out of individual needs themselves – and, on the other side, when the severe discipline of capital, acting on succeeding generations [Geschlechter], has developed general industriousness as the general property of the new species [Geschlecht] – and, finally, when the development of the productive powers of labour, which capital incessantly whips onward with its unlimited mania for wealth, and of the sole conditions in which this mania can be realized, have flourished to the stage where the possession and preservation of general wealth require a lesser labour time of society as a whole, and where the labouring society relates scientifically to the process of its progressive reproduction, its reproduction in a constantly greater abundance; hence where labour in which a human being does what a thing could do has ceased. Accordingly, capital and labour relate to each other here like money and commodity; the former is the general form of wealth, the other only the substance destined for immediate consumption. Capital’s ceaseless striving towards the general form of wealth drives labour beyond the limits of its natural paltriness [Naturbedürftigkeit], and thus creates the material elements for the development of the rich individuality which is as all-sided in its production as in its consumption, and whose labour also therefore appears no longer as labour, but as the full development of activity itself, in which natural necessity in its direct form has disappeared; because a historically created need has taken the place of the natural one. This is why capital is productive; i.e. an essential relation for the development of the social productive forces. It ceases to exist as such only where the development of these productive forces themselves encounters its barrier in capital itself.

The Times of November 1857 contains an utterly delightful cry of outrage on the part of a West-Indian plantation owner. This advocate analyses with great moral indignation – as a plea for the re-introduction of Negro slavery – how the Quashees (the free blacks of Jamaica) content themselves with producing only what is strictly necessary for their own consumption, and, alongside this ‘use value’, regard loafing (indulgence and idleness) as the real luxury good; how they do not care a damn for the sugar and the fixed capital invested in the plantations, but rather observe the planters’ impending bankruptcy with an ironic grin of malicious pleasure, and even exploit their acquired Christianity as an embellishment for this mood of malicious glee and indolence. [39] They have ceased to be slaves, but not in order to become wage labourers, but, instead, self-sustaining peasants working for their own consumption. As far as they are concerned, capital does not exist as capital, because autonomous wealth as such can exist only either on the basis of direct forced labour, slavery, or indirect forced labour, wage labour. Wealth confronts direct forced labour not as capital, but rather as relation of domination [Herrschaftsverhältnis]; thus, the relation of domination is the only thing which is reproduced on this basis, for which wealth itself has value only as gratification, not as wealth itself, and which can therefore never create general industriousness. (We shall return to this relation of slavery and wage labour.) [40]

Surplus value. Ricardo. Physiocrats. A. Smith. Ricardo

The difficulty of grasping the creation of value shows itself (1) in those modern English economists who accuse Ricardo of not having understood the surplus, the surplus value (see Malthus on value, who at least tries to proceed scientifically), [41] whereas, among all the economists, Ricardo alone understood it, as is demonstrated by his polemic against A. Smith’s confusion of the determination of value by wages and by the labour time objectified in the commodity. The newcomers are just plain simpletons. However, Ricardo himself often gets into confusion, because, although he well understands that the creation of surplus value is the presupposition of capital, he often goes astray in conceiving the multiplication of values on any basis other than the investment of additional objectified labour time in the same product, in other words, on any basis other than when production becomes more difficult. Hence the absolute antithesis in his thinking between value and wealth. Hence the one-sidedness of his theory of ground rent; his erroneous theory of international trade, which is supposed to produce only use value (which he calls wealth), not exchange value. [42] The only avenue for the increase of values as such, apart from the growing difficulty of production (theory of rent), remains population growth (the natural increase among workers resulting from the growth of capital), although he himself never plainly summarized this relation. The basic mistake, that he never investigates where actually the distinction between the determination of value by wages and that by objectified labour comes from. Money and exchange itself (circulation) therefore appear only as purely formal elements in his economics; and although, according to him, economics is concerned only with exchange value, profit etc. appears there only as a percentage share of the product, which happens just as much on the basis of slavery. He never investigated the form of the mediation.

(2) The Physiocrats. Here the difficulty of grasping capital, the self-realization of value, hence the surplus value created by capital in the act of production, presents itself in tangible form, and this was necessarily so among the fathers of modern economics, just as was the case with the creation of surplus value in Ricardo, which he conceives in the form of rent, during the final classical conclusion of this economics. It is at bottom the question of the concept of capital and of wage labour, and therefore the fundamental question which presents itself at the threshold of the system of modern society. The Monetary System had understood the autonomy of value only in the form in which it arose from simple circulation – money; it therefore made this abstract form of wealth into the exclusive object [Objekt] of nations which were just then entering into the period in which the gaining of wealth as such appeared as the aim of society itself. Then came the Mercantile System, an epoch where industrial capital and hence wage labour arose in manufactures, and developed in antithesis to and at the expense of non-industrial wealth, of feudal landed property. [The Mercantilists] already have faint notions of money as capital, but actually again only in the form of money, of the circulation of mercantile capital, of capital which transforms itself into money. Industrial capital has value for them, even the highest value – as a means, not as wealth itself in its productive process – because it creates mercantile capital and the latter, via circulation, becomes money. Labour in manufactures – i.e. at bottom industrial labour, but agricultural labour was and appeared to them, in antithesis, as chiefly productive of use values; raw products, processed, are more valuable, because in a clearer form, likewise more suitable for circulation, commerce; creating more money for the mercantile form (in this regard the historic view of wealth of non-agricultural peoples such as Holland, for example, in antithesis to that of the agricultural, feudal; agriculture did not appear at all in industrial form, but in feudal, hence as source of feudal, not of bourgeois wealth). Thus one form of wage labour, the industrial, and one form of capital, the industrial, were recognized as sources of wealth, but only in so far as they produced money. Exchange value itself therefore not yet conceived in the form of capital. Now the Physiocrats. They distinguish between capital and money, and conceive it in its general form as autonomous exchange value which preserves and increases itself in and through production. They also therefore examine the relation for itself, not merely as a moment of simple circulation, but rather as its presupposition which constantly rises out of it to become its presupposition again. They are therefore the fathers of modern economics. They also understand that the creation of surplus value by wage labour is the self-realization [Selbstverwertung], i.e. the realization [Verwirklichung] of capital. But how does labour act as a means to produce a surplus value out of capital, i.e. already-present value? Here they let the form drop altogether and only look at the simple production process. Hence only that labour can be productive which takes place in the kind of field where the natural force of the instrument of labour tangibly permits the labourer to produce more value than he consumes. Surplus value therefore does not arise from labour as such, but rather from the natural forces which labour uses and conducts – agriculture. This is therefore the only productive labour, for they have come so far that [they consider that] only labour which creates surplus value is productive (that surplus value has to express itself in a material product is a crude view which still occurs in A. Smith. [43] Actors are productive workers, not in so far as they produce a play, but in so far as they increase their employer’s wealth. But what sort of labour takes place, hence in what form labour materializes itself, is absolutely irrelevant for this relation. It is not irrelevant, again, from later points of view); but this surplus value surreptitiously transforms itself into a quantity of use value coming out of production, larger than that which is consumed in it. This multiplication of use values, the excess of the product above that which has to serve as a means for new production – of which a part can therefore be consumed unproductively – appears tangibly only in the relation between the natural seed and its product. Only a part of the harvest has to be directly returned to the soil as seed; products found in nature, the elements air, water, earth, light, and added substances such as fertilizer, then recreate the seed again in multiplied quantity as grain etc. In short, human labour has only to conduct the chemical processes (in agriculture), and in part also to promote them mechanically, or promote the reproduction of life itself (cattle-raising) in order to obtain the surplus, i.e. to transform the identical natural substances from a useless into a valuable form. An over-abundance of agricultural products (grain, cattle, raw materials) is therefore the true form of general wealth. From the economic viewpoint, therefore, rent is the only form of wealth. Thus it is that the first prophets of capital conceive only the not-capitalists, the feudal landed proprietors, as the representatives of bourgeois wealth. The consequence, the levy of all taxes on rent, is then, however, entirely to the advantage of bourgeois capital. The bourgeois glorify feudalism in theory – many a feudal figure, like the elder Mirabeau [44] has been duped by this – only in order to ruin it in actual practice. All other values merely represent raw material + labour; labour itself represents grain or other products of the soil, which labour consumes; hence the factory worker etc. adds no more to the raw material than he consumes in raw materials. Therefore, his labour as well as his employer create no additional wealth – wealth being the surplus above the commodities consumed in production – but merely give it forms more pleasant and useful for consumption. At that time the utilization of natural energy in industry had not developed, nor the division of labour etc. which increases the natural force of labour itself. This was the case, however, in A. Smith’s time. With him, therefore, labour in principle the source of value, likewise of wealth, but actually labour too posits surplus value only in so far as in the division of labour the surplus appears as just as much a gift of nature, a natural force of society, as the soil with the Physiocrats. Hence the weight A. Smith lays on the division of labour. Capital, on the other hand, appears to him – because, although he defines labour as productive of value, he conceives it as use value, as productivity for-itself [für sich seiend], as human natural force in general (this distinguishes him from the Physiocrats), but not as wage labour, not in its specific character as form in antithesis to capital – not as that which contains wage labour as its internal contradiction from its origin, but rather in the form in which it emerges from circulation, as money, and is therefore created out of circulation, by saving. Thus capital does not originally realize itself – precisely because the appropriation of alien labour [fremde Arbeit] is not itself included in its concept. Capital appears only afterwards, after already having been presupposed as capital – a vicious circle – as command over alien labour. Thus, according to A. Smith, labour should actually have its own product for wages, wages should be = to the product, hence labour should not be wage labour and capital not capital. Therefore, in order to introduce profit and rent as original elements of the cost of production, i.e. in order to get a surplus value out of the capitalist production process, he presupposes them, in the clumsiest fashion. The capitalist does not want to give the use of his capital for nothing; the landowner, similarly, does not want to give land and soil over to production for nothing. They want something in return. This is the way in which they are introduced, with their demands, as historical facts, but not explained. Wages are actually the only economically justifiable, because necessary, element of production costs. Profit and rent are only deductions from wages, arbitrarily wrested by force in the historical process by capital and landed property, and justified by law, not economically. But on the other side, since he [Adam Smith] then confronts labour with the means and materials of production in the form of landed property and capital, as independent entities, he has essentially posited labour as wage labour. Therefore contradictions. Hence his vacillation in the determination of value; the placing of profit and ground rent on the same level; erroneous views about the influence of wages on prices etc. Now Ricardo (see 1). [45] With him, however, wage labour and capital are again conceived as a natural, not as a historically specific social form [Gesellschaftsform] for the creation of wealth as use value; i.e. their form as such, precisely because it is natural, is irrelevant, and is not conceived in its specific relation to the form of wealth, just as wealth itself, in its exchange-value form, appears as a merely formal mediation of its material composition; thus the specific character of bourgeois wealth is not grasped – precisely because it appears there as the adequate form of wealth as such, and thus, although exchange value is the point of departure, the specific economic forms of exchange themselves play no role at all in his economics. Instead, he always speaks about distribution of the general product of labour and of the soil among the three classes, as if the form of wealth based on exchange value were concerned only with use value, and as if exchange value were merely a ceremonial form, which vanishes in Ricardo just as money as medium of circulation vanishes in exchange. Therefore, in order to bring out the true laws of economics, he likes to refer to this relation of money as a merely formal one. Hence also his weakness in the doctrine of money proper.

The exact development of the concept of capital [is] necessary, since it [is] the fundamental concept of modern economics, just as capital itself, whose abstract, reflected image [is] its concept [dessen abstraktes Gegenbild sein Begriff], [is] the foundation of bourgeois society. The sharp formulation of the basic presuppositions of the relation must bring out all the contradictions of bourgeois production, as well as the boundary where it drives beyond itself.

<It is important to note that wealth as such, i.e. bourgeois wealth, is always expressed to the highest power as exchange value, where it is posited as mediator, as the mediation of the extremes of exchange value and use value themselves. This intermediary situation [Mitte] always appears as the economic relation in its completeness, because it comprises the opposed poles, and ultimately always appears as a one-sidedly higher power vis-à-vis the extremes themselves; because the movement, or the relation, which originally appears as mediatory between the extremes necessarily develops dialectically to where it appears as mediation with itself, as the subject [Subjekt] for whom the extremes are merely its moments, whose autonomous presupposition it suspends in order to posit itself, through their suspension, as that which alone is autonomous. Thus, in the religious sphere, Christ, the mediator between God and humanity – a mere instrument of circulation between the two – becomes their unity, God-man, and, as such, becomes more important than God; the saints more important than Christ; the popes more important than the saints. Where it is posited as middle link, exchange value is always the total economic expression, itself one-sided against the extremes; e.g. money in simple circulation; capital itself as mediator between production and circulation. Within capital itself, one form of it in turn takes up the position of use value against the other as exchange value. Thus e.g. does industrial capital appear as producer as against the merchant, who appears as circulation. Thus the former represents the material [stofflich], the latter the formal side, i.e. wealth as wealth. At the same time, mercantile capital is itself in turn the mediator between production (industrial capital) and circulation (the consuming public) or between exchange value and use value, where both sides are posited alternately, production as money and circulation as use value (consuming public) or the former as use value (product) and the latter as exchange value (money). Similarly within commerce itself: the wholesaler as mediator between manufacturer and retailer, or between manufacturer and agriculturalist, or between different manufacturers; he is the same mediator at a higher level. And in turn, in the same way, the commodity brokers as against the wholesalers. Then the banker as against the industrialists and merchants; the joint-stock company as against simple production; the financier as mediator between the state and bourgeois society, on the highest level. Wealth as such presents itself more distinctly and broadly the further it is removed from direct production and is itself mediated between poles, each of which, considered for itself, is already posited as economic form. Money becomes an end rather than a means; and the higher form of mediation, as capital, everywhere posits the lower as itself, in turn, labour, as merely a source of surplus value. For example, the bill-broker, banker etc. as against the manufacturers and farmers, which are posited in relation to him in the role of labour (of use value); while he posits himself toward them as capital, extraction of surplus value; the wildest form of this, the financier.>

Capital is direct unity of product and money or, better, of production and circulation. Thus it itself is again something immediate, and its development consists of positing and suspending itself as this unity – which is posited as a specific and therefore simple relation. The unity at first appears in capital as something simple.

<Ricardo’s reasoning is simply this: products are exchanged for one another – hence capital for capital – according to the amounts of objectified labour contained in them. A day’s work is always exchanged for a day’s work. This is presupposition. Exchange itself can therefore be entirely left out. The product – capital posited as product – is exchange value in itself, to which exchange merely adds form; formal form with him. The only question is now in what proportions this product is divided up and distributed. Whether these proportions are regarded as specific quotas of the presupposed exchange value, or of its content, material wealth, [is] the same thing. Moreover, since exchange as such is merely circulation – money as circulation – it is better to abstract from it altogether, and to examine only the proportions of material wealth which have been distributed within the production process or because of it to the various factors. In the exchange form, all value etc. is merely nominal; it is real only in the form of the proportion. Exchange as a whole, to the extent that it creates no greater material variety, is nominal. Since a full day’s work is always exchanged for a full day’s work, the sum of values remains the same – the growth in the forces of production affects only the content of wealth, not its form. An increase of values can arise, therefore, only out of an increasing difficulty in production – and this can take place only where the forces of nature no longer afford an equal service to equal quantities of human labour, i.e. where the fertility of the natural elements decreases – in agriculture. The decline of profits is therefore caused by rent. [46] Firstly the false presupposition that a full day’s work is always worked in all social conditions; etc. etc. (see above [47]).>