Marx-Engels Subject Archive


Marx and Engels
on Political Economy

Early Works

Marx: 1841 - 1849


Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, Engels, 1843 (68k)

“Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.”

Comments on James Mill, Marx, 1844 (62k)

“Our mutual value is for us the value of our mutual objects. Hence for us man himself is mutually of no value.”

Economic & Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx, 1844 (354k)

“Political Economy regards the proletarian ... like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle. ...
(1) What is the meaning, in the development of mankind, of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labor?
(2) What mistakes are made by the piecemeal reformers, who either want to raise wages and thereby improve the situation of the working class, or — like Proudhon — see equality of wages as the goal of social revolution? .”

Study Guide

Notes on Ricardo, Marx, 1845

“The disproportion ... springs from the multiplicity of capitals, their division and mutually hostile action.”

The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx, 1847 (332k)

“Economists explain how production takes place in the above-mentioned relations, but what they do not explain is how these relations themselves are produced, that is, the historical movement which gave them birth. M. Proudhon, taking these relations for principles, categories, abstract thoughts, has merely to put into order these thoughts, which are to be found alphabetically arranged at the end of every treatise on political economy. The economists' material is the active, energetic life of man; M. Proudhon's material is the dogmas of the economists.”

Wage Labour & Capital, Marx, 1847 (129k)

“We shall seek to portray this as simply and popularly as possible, and shall not presuppose a knowledge of even the most elementary notions of political economy. We wish to be understood by the workers.”

Study Guide

On the Question of Free Trade, Marx, 1848 (73k)

“The Repeal of the Corn Laws in England is the greatest triumph of free trade in the 19th century.”

Reflections on Money, Marx, March 1851

Economic Works.

Marx: 1857 - 1865


The Grundrisse, Marx, 1857 (2130kb)

“The economists of the seventeenth century, e.g., always begin with the living whole, with population, nation, state, several states, etc.; but they always conclude by discovering through analysis a small number of determinant, abstract, general relations such as division of labour, money, value, etc. As soon as these individual moments had been more or less firmly established and abstracted, there began the economic systems, which ascended from the simple relations, such as labour, division of labour, need, exchange value, to the level of the state, exchange between nations and the world market. The latter is obviously the scientifically correct method. The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and conception. Along the first path the full conception was evaporated to yield an abstract determination; along the second, the abstract determinations lead towards a reproduction of the concrete by way of thought.”

Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, Marx, c. 1858

Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations is pp. 471 - 514 of the Grundrisse.

Second Draft of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx, 1858

Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx, 1857

Originally intended as a general introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx decided against it for the much shorter (and more often quoted) Preface, but is included in the A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy as an appendix.

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx, 1859 (547k)

“In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter Into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

The Production Process of Capital, Marx, 1861-3

“There will be about 30 sheets of print. It is a sequel to Part I, but will appear on its own under the title Capital, with A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy as merely the subtitle. In fact, all it comprises is what was to make the third chapter of the first part, namely ‘Capital in General’.” [Marx to Kugelmann, 28th Dec 1868]

Theories of Surplus Value, Marx, 1861 (188k)

“All economists share the error of examining surplus-value not as such, in its pure form, but in the particular forms of profit and rent.”

Results of the Direct Production Process, Marx, c. 1864

Results of the Direct Production Process was a draft for chapter six of Capital.

“functions which were surrounded with a halo, ... professionals, such as physicians and barristers ... are on the one hand converted directly into wage labour ... they become subject ... to the laws that regulate the price of wage labour.”

Value, Price and Profit, Marx, 1865 (126k)

“This false appearance distinguishes wages labour from other historical forms of labour. On the basis of the wages system even the unpaid labour seems to be paid labour. With the slave, on the contrary, even that part of his labour which is paid appears to be unpaid. Of course, in order to work the slave must live, and one part of his working day goes to replace the value of his own maintenance. But since no bargain is struck between him and his master, and no acts of selling and buying are going on between the two parties, all his labour seems to be given away for nothing.”

Study Guide


Marx: 1867 -


Capital, Volume I, Marx, 1867 (2260kb)

“The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as "an immense accumulation of commodities," its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.”

Study Guide

Volumes II & III of Capital were compiled from Marx's notes by Engels, after Marx's death.

Capital, Volume II (1340kb)

“Every individual capital forms, however, but an individualised fraction, a fraction endowed with individual life, as it were, of the aggregate social capital, just as every individual capitalist is but an individual element of the capitalist class.”

Study Guide

Capital, Volume III (2390kb)

“Since the mass of the employed living labour is continually on the decline as compared to the mass of materialised labour set in motion by it, i.e., to the productively consumed means of production, it follows that the portion of living labour, unpaid and congealed in surplus-value, must also be continually on the decrease compared to the amount of value represented by the invested total capital. Since the ratio of the mass of surplus-value to the value of the invested total capital forms the rate of profit, this rate must constantly fall.”

Study Guide

Marginal Notes on Wagner's Politischer Oekonomie (Bilingual)


——Letters on Capital——


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