The Story of a Great Discovery, Vygodsky, 1965

Chapter 9

The political economy of the working class. The dissemination of economic theory in the ranks of the working class. "Value, Price and Profit": from political economy to economic policy. Comparison with the 1840's: "Wage-Labour and Capital" and "Manifesto of the Communist Party", "Once the interconnection is grasped". Justification of the struggle of the workers for higher wages and a shorter working day. Analysis of the value of labour-power. "Down with the wage system!" Scientific critique of Proudhonism.

Marx's economic theory and the working class

The enormous significance and the full content of Marx's work can only be grasped when it is remembered that Marx was no mere book-scholar but first and foremost a revolutionary. He created his economic theory not for a select group of specialists but directly for the working class. "The appreciation which 'Das Kapital' rapidly gained in wide circles of the German working-class is the best reward of my labours"[1] wrote Marx in the Afterword to the second edition of the first volume of "Capital". And if he spent many years in the Library of the British Museum or, bent over his desk, analyzed the subtleties of past political economists, then he did so because he knew that the working-class needed his work. "Although I am devoting a great deal of time to the preparation for the Geneva Congress (this was the first congress of the 1st International in September 1866-V. V.)", Marx wrote to Kugelmann, "I cannot and do not want to go there, since no such prolonged interruption of my work is possible. I think that this work which I am doing is of far greater importance to the working class than anything that I, personally, could do at a Congress quelconque (of any sort)."[2]

In the sphere of economic theory. Marx elaborated the political economy of the working-class. "It is the political economy of the working class, reduced to its scientific expression",[3] to quote Engels's words about "Capital". Marx is "the man to whom the whole working-class of Europe and America owes more than to anyone else ..."[4] "As long as there have been capitalists

and workers in the world, no book has been published which is of such importance for the workers as this one."[5] With these words, Engels characterized the significance of "Capital" for the working-class movement.

Above all, with his economic theory, Marx supplied the scientific foundation for the international working-class movement, "the scientific base" for "the socialist efforts" of the proletariat which up till then had been lacking.[6] Marx exposed the mechanism of capitalist exploitation and thus showed "that the entire capital of our bankers, merchants, industrialists and big landowners is nothing but the accumulated and unpaid labour of the working-class!"[7] In this review of the first volume of "Capital" from which these lines are taken, Engels recalls that the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung", which he and Marx had published, had demanded in 1849 in the name of the Silesian peasants that a thousand million talers which the great landed proprietors had illegally appropriated when serfdom and feudal services were abolished should be returned to these peasants. The series of articles printed in this connection by their friend and fellow-militant W. Wolff, was also called "Schlesische Milliarde" (`Silesian Thousand Million').

"What are a thousand million", wrote Engels, "in comparison with this colossal reclamation which is now being made in the name of the entire working-class-for this is how it must certainly be understood! If the entire accumulated capital of the possessing classes is nothing but ' unpaid labour', it seems to follow directly from this that labour will be paid later, i.e., that the entire capital in question will be transferred to labour."[8] Engels wrote in a review of "Capital" that "... who has eyes to see sees here clearly enough the demand for a social revolution ".[9]

One of the most important things to be realized from the study of Marx's economic theory is that the capitalist mode of production is progressive in comparison with pre-capitalist forms. Only this form of society could accumulate that wealth and ensure that development of the productive forces which established the basic condition for the transition to socialism in which members of society can develop their abilities to the full. In this, there is, an essential difference between Marx's theory and the utopian views of pre-Marxist socialism, between his ideas and the petty bourgeois theories of that time. Engels notes that "As compared with the ordinary socialists, it is to be recognized as the merit of Marx that he also demonstrates an advance just where the extremely one-sided development of present conditions is accompanied by directly discouraging consequences. As everywhere in the description of the extremes of wealth and poverty resulting from the factory system in general. etc.[10] In the Instructions for Delegates of the Provisional Central Council at the 1st Congress of the Working Men's International Association, Marx writes the following about child labour in capitalism: "We consider the tendency of modern industry to make children and juvenile persons of both sexes co-operate in the great work of social production, as a progressive, sound and legitimate tendency, although under capital it was distorted into an abomination."[11]

When capitalism has fulfilled its historical mission and socialized all aspects of labour, it becomes as Marx also shows, an obstacle for the progress of society. It thus compels the working-class to take power into its own hands and, in the interests of the whole of society, to abolish the form of appropriation of wealth which prevails in capitalism. Marx comes to this conclusion after discovering the economic law of motion of capitalist society.

In contrast to the pseudo-socialists Lassalle and Proudhon, Marx provided an all-round substantiation of the thesis that the socialist revolution is necessary for the complete liberation of the working-class. Other measures, if they do not attack the monopoly of the capitalist class, the owners of the means of production, cannot liberate the working-class from wage slavery. This does not mean at that Marx contested the usefulness of such actions. He only considered that they are of secondary importance when it is a question of the liberation of the working-class from capitalist exploitation. Here is a characteristic example of this.

Marx analyzes the co-operative movement in capitalism and states that "We acknowledge the co-operative Movement as one of the transforming forces in the present society based upon class antagonism. Its great merit is to show practically, that the present pauperising, and despotic system of the subordination of labour to capital can be superseded by the republican and beneficial system of the association of free and equal producers . . . We recommend to the working men to embark in co-operative production rather than in co-operative stores. The latter touch but the surface of the present economical system, the former attacks its groundwork."[12] In the third volume of "Capital", and in "Theories of Surplus-Value", Marx repeatedly speaks of the co-operative factories of the workers in England.[13] who thus showed that the capitalist as such had ceased to be a necessary figure in the production-process. In the "Inaugural Address of the Working Men's International Association", Marx assesses the co-operative movement, and especially cooperative factories, as a "... victory of the political economy of labour over the political economy of property ... The value of these great social experiments cannot be over-rated. By deed, instead of by argument, they have shown that production on a large scale, and in accord with the behests of modern science, may be carried on without the existence of a class of masters employing a. class of hands; that to bear fruit, the means of labour need not be monopolised as a means of dominion over, and of extortion against, the labouring man himself; and that, like slave labour, like serf labour, hired labour is but a transitory and inferior form, destined to disappear before associated labour plying its toil with a willing hand, a ready mind and a joyous heart."[14]

The co-operative factories of the workers in England confirm the important conclusion which followed from Marx's economic theory that important basic conditions for the communist mode of production evolve precisely in the very heart of capitalism. In the co-operative factories, "social production controlled by social foresight ''[15] had proved, already in capitalism, its advantages over the capitalist economic system. "... social production controlled by social foresight" is how Marx defines in the Inaugural Address the political economy of the working-class by which he means the economy of the future, communist society. Nevertheless, Marx warns the workers "that, however excellent in principle and however useful in practice, co-operative labour, if kept within the narrow circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly lighten the burden of their miseries."[16] Only when the working-class has seized political power can it develop co-operative labour on an all-national scale, i.e., really liberate the working classes. "To convert social production into one large and harmonious system of free and co-operative labour, general social changes are wanted, changes of the general conditions of society, never to be realised save by the transfer of the organised forces of society, viz: the State power, from capitalists and landlords to the producers themselves."[17]

In his reviews of "Capital", Engels expressed the hope that the Social Democratic deputies would turn this work into their "theoretical Bible" and make it "the armoury ... from which they take their best arguments".[18]

With regard to the discussion about to be held at that time in the North German Reichstag on trade and factory regulations, Engels wrote that "We expect none of the deputies elected by German working men to go to the discussion of this law without first fully familiarizing himself with Marx's book ... Under these conditions, four or five representatives of the proletariat are a power when they know how to use their position, when above all they know what it is all about, which is what the people do not know. And, for this, Marx's book provides them with all the material ready for use."[19]

Marx took a great deal of trouble to popularize his economic theory in the ranks of the working-class and he demanded this from his fellow-militants, too. Concerning Wilhelm Liebknecht, he wrote "that it is in fact his duty to direct attention to my book at meetings of workers. If he does not, the Lassalleans will take charge of the affair, and in the wrong way."[20]

In June 1865, at two sessions of the Central Council of the First International, Marx held a lecture on "Value, Price and Profit" in which he described the foundations of his theory of surplus-value. He informed Engels that "... in the second part, in extremely compressed but relatively popular form, the thing contains much new material which anticipates my book ".[21] Marx's efforts to communicate his scientific discoveries primarily to a working-class audience is the best evidence that with his economic theory he had created the political economy of the working-class. As he wrote to the metal-worker Carl Klings, "... you can be sure that in me the working-class will always find a true protagonist."[22] For the whole of his life, Marx proved how justified these words were.

1865 does not fall within the scope of this book since it deals with the period up to 1863, However, in this chapter an exception is made, especially for Marx's book "Value, Price and Profit" in which he uses his theoretical principles to solve specific questions of the working-class movement. The analysis of this work, the evidence of how Marx proceeded from theory to practice, concludes those chapters in the present book which examine how Marx elaborated his theoretical theses.

The manner in which Marx presents his economic theory in "Value, Price and Profit" differs considerably from that in which he wrote "Wage-Labour and Capital" in 1847. This is only to be expected since between 1847 and 1865 Marx had worked out the theories of value and surplus-value, the theory of average profit and price of production and the theory of land-rent, in short, his entire economic theory. And now we have before us a work in which the general principles of political economy are used to solve the practical problems of the working-class.

Marx gave his lecture on value, price and profit for a quite specific reason. John Weston, a member of the General Council and a carpenter by trade, was endeavouring to prove to the General Council that it was useless for the workers to try and achieve an increase in the general wage-level since this, so he believed, would lead to a general rise in prices. From this, Weston drew the conclusion that trade unions were ' harmful '. The refutation of the views of Weston was made even more urgent by the fact that they were expressed at a time when the working-class in general was demanding an increase in wages. Furthermore, the Proudhonists and Lassalleans shared the opinion of Weston. Lassalle's thesis of "the iron law of wages" resulted in a negative relationship with the trade unions and with the economic straggle of the working-class in general. An answer to it had to be given and Marx used all of the main theses of his economic theory to give a convincing answer.

He proved that the views referred to above implied the same thing as the assertion of the vulgar economists that value was determined by costs of production.

Ricardo likewise determined value by the costs of production but, by this term understood the labour-time which is necessary for the production of a commodity. However, the formula which states that the value of a commodity is determined by its production-costs also allows of the denial of the theory of labour-value in general.

The vulgar economists took advantage of this and by production-costs understood that which the production of the commodity costs the capitalist, i.e., the value of the invested capital (c + v).

Surplus-value (profit) then appears as an addition to value; as "profit on alienation". The value of a commodity is then determined by the "value of the labour", i.e., by the wage. Other vulgar economists, such as Say, for instance, understood by production-costs the sum of the "services" which capital, earth and labour contribute to production. They determined the magnitude of these costs by the relation between supply and demand. The fact that Ricardo and the vulgar economists had different views on production-costs led to "a mass of later fellows post Ricardum (after Ricardo), such as Say himself, being able to assume that the cost of production was the final regulator of prices without having the slightest idea of the determination of value by labour-time and even directly denying this while others assert it''.[23]

It must be stated that Marx, in "Wage-Labour and Capital", subscribed to Ricardo's interpretation of the formula which states that the value of a commodity is determined by the costs of production; "We have just seen how the fluctuations of supply and demand always bring the price of a commodity back to its price of production."[24] Marx then established the relationship of production-costs with value: "The determination of price by cost of production is tantamount to the determination of price by the labour-time required to the production of a commodity, for the cost of production consists, first of raw materials and wear and tear of tools, etc., i.e., of industrial products whose production has cost a certain number of work-days which therefore represent a certain amount of labour-time, and, secondly, of direct labour, which is also measured by its duration."[25]

There is no doubt that Marx in 1847 could not have criticized Weston so convincingly and thoroughly as in 1865, since for this, in the theory of value and surplus-value, he had to go beyond Ricardo.

Now, in "Value, Price and Profit", Marx points out the vicious circle in which Weston is caught up by following the vulgar economists, who determined the value of a commodity by the value of labour, and emphasizes that here "we ... arrive at no conclusion at all."[26]

Marx had already solved this problem in his theory of value and surplus-value. This is why he now gives a concise and wonderfully clear description of his economic theory. He breaks the vicious circle and also explains the contradictions which follow from the fact that the nature of things and the form in which they appear do not coincide. Marx shows that profit, although it appears on the surface of the phenomena as an addition to the value, can only be comprehended when it is assumed that commodities are sold at their value. Marx also discovered another contradiction which is the other side of the coin of that just mentioned. Although the wage does actually appear as the value of labour on the surface of bourgeois society, it is nevertheless in reality only the value of the labour-power, which is obviously less than the value of the labour or, more accurately, than the value of the product which the labour produces.

Concerning this, Marx says that "This seems paradox and contrary to everyday observation. It is also paradox .that the earth moves round the sun, and that water consists of two highly inflammable gases. Scientific truth is always paradox, if judged by everyday experience, which catches only the delusive appearance of things. "[27]

There is no intention here of giving a detailed examination of how Marx presents the theory of value and surplus-value. in "Value, Price and Profit". Our main interest here centres on the practical conclusions that Marx draws from his theory. First of all, however, the comparison of this work with Wage-Labour and Capital" has to be continued. For this, the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" will also be consulted and it will be demonstrated that without a scientific political economy there can be no correct political economy of the working-class. But in the 1840's Marx had not yet created a scientific political economy. In the "Manifesto of the Communist Party", he was still speaking of the selling of labour and, like Ricardo, determined the price of all commodities, i.e., of labour as well, by their costs of production.[28] It has already been noted that this formula was ambiguous and enabled the theory of value to be interpreted in their own way by the vulgar economists. It was precisely this aspect which was seized upon by petty bourgeois socialists of the Proudhon type. Marx subsequently wrote that Proudhon in the theory of value "has completely confused people. They believe that a commodity is sold at its value when it is sold at its prix de revient = price of the means of production used for it + the wage of the labour. They do not see that the unpaid labour contained in the commodity is just as important a value-forming element as that which is paid. . ."[29]

In "Wage-Labour and Capital", he gives an example to explain the mechanism of capitalist exploitation, the source of profit. "For one shilling a labourer works all day long in the fields of a farmer, as a result of which the farmer secures a return of two shillings. The farmer not only receives the replaced value which he has given to the day-labourer; he has doubled it ... For the one shilling he has bought the labour-power of the day-labourer, which creates products of the soil of twice the value, and out of the shilling makes two."[30] It is not difficult to understand here that the mechanism of capitalist exploitation is not explained on the basis of the law of value.

When the labourer sells his labour to the capitalist, it is incomprehensible why he receives for it only half the value which is produced by it. This is an obvious violation of the law of value, the law of equivalent exchange. At a later date, Marx was only able to explain this contradiction by distinguishing between labour and labour-power. This is because the key to the problem is that the value of the labour, i.e., the value of the product of this labour, is greater than the value of the labour-power. In "Value, Price and Profit", Marx quotes a similar example and states that "The value of the labouring power is determined by the quantity of labour necessary to maintain or reproduce it, but the use of that labouring power is only limited by the active energies and physical strength of the labourer... As he has sold his labouring power to the capitalist, the whole value or produce created by him belongs to the capitalist ..."[31] Marx succeeded in solving this particularly important problem by distinguishing between use-value and the value of labour-power as a commodity.

Marx analyzes the value of labour-power and points out that it is not the same in all of the various branches of production. From this, he immediately draws the practical conclusion that "The cry for an equality of wages rests, therefore, upon a mistake, is an insane wish never to be fulfilled . , . What you think just or equitable is out of the question. The question is: what is necessary and unavoidable with a given system of production ?"[32] This shows in remarkably clear words how Marx elaborated the scientific economic policy of the working-class, in the struggle with the capitalist class, on the basis of a scientific political economy. Furthermore, the analysis of labour-power as a commodity leads to the conclusion that the value of this commodity on the surface of bourgeois society necessarily appears as the value of the actual labour. This is explained by the fact that the worker receives his wage after he has done his work and also that he actually allows the capitalist to take his work. This is why the unpaid labour appears as paid labour although the capitalist in reality only pays for a part of the labour of the worker. This is how Marx exposes one of the most deceptive (or, as he said, "irrational") categories of the capitalist mode of production : wages. For the working-class and the working-class movement, this was of enormous significance. "Once the interconnection is grasped", wrote Marx, "all theoretical, belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions collapses before their collapse in .practice."[33] And this is why Marx also took such great pains to explain this interconnection to the workers. We. wish to be understood by the workers ",[34] he wrote in "Wage-Labour and Capital" and he noted with pride that "... workers ... understand my book and find their way about in it …"[35]

But "to grasp the interconnection" was of no less importance when it was a question of determining the correct economic policy of the working-class. This is clearly shown in the question of the struggle of trade unions for higher wages and a legal limitation of the length of the working day. Let us See how Marx solves this cardinal problem 4 the working-class movement in "Value, Price and Profit" and compare this with his treatment of it, in "Wage-Labour and Capital" and in the "Manifesto of the Communist Party".

Above all, Marx shows why it is also important from the practical point of view to define the category of surplus-value in its pure form. Naturally, the whole of the surplus-value does not flow as industrial profit into the pocket of the industrial capitalist. He must share it with the loan-capitalist" and the landowner. But, for the working-class, this is of minor importance:" It is the employing capitalist who immediately extracts from the labourer this surplus-value, whatever part of it. he may ultimately be able to keep for himself. Upon this relation, therefore, between the employing capitalist and the wage labourer the whole wages system and the whole present system of production hinge."[36]

Marx also draws attention to the difference between profit-rate and rate of surplus-value. In "Value, Price and Profit", he also calls the rate of surplus-value the profit-rate. Here he is speaking of two expressions for profit-rate and stresses that only the relation of profit to that part of the capital which is advanced for in wages indicates the actual degree of exploitation of labour, the real relation between paid and. unpaid labour. "A general rise of wages. would. Therefore result in a fall of the general rate of profit, but not affect values ".[37] (`rate of profit' Means `rate of surplus-value' here-V. V.) This is the first important conclusion that Marx draws on this question from the theory of surplus-value.

In "Wage-Labour and Capital", Marx still speaks-like Ricardo-of the inverse proportionality between wages and profit : "Profit rises in the same degree in which wages fall; it falls in the same degree in which wages rise."[38]

Marx now takes this thesis a great deal further. An inverse relationship of this kind exists between wages and surplus-value. Since the law of the tendency of the profit-rate to fall applies here, the profit-rate can become less although wages do not rise and, consequently, although the rate of surplus-value does not become less. (Conversely, with the development of capitalism and. with the rise in labour productivity, there is a tendency for the rate of surplus-profit to increase.) "The profit-rate falls ... not because labour is exploited less but (because he is exploited) more ..."[39]

In "Value, Price and Profit", Marx investigates the principal attempts of the workers to raise wages or stop them from falling.

When food becomes more expensive or the value of money becomes less, the value of labour-power increases and the worker must fight for a rise in wages. If the value of labour-power falls, he must oppose the reduction of wages since "... he would only try to get some share in the increased productive powers of his own labour, and to maintain his former relative position in the social scale."[40]

Finally, Marx concerns himself with the length of the working day. He describes the constant tendency of capital to increase the working day and to increase the intensity of labour. From, this he draws the following conclusion : "In their attempts at reducing the working day to its former rational dimensions, or, where they cannot enforce a legal fixation of a normal working day, at checking overwork by a rise of wages, a rise not only in proportion to the surplus time exacted, but in a greater proportion, working men fulfil only a duty to themselves and their race. They only set limits to the tyrannical usurpations of capital."[41] When the worker opposes the tendency of capital to increase the intensity of labour "... by struggling for a rise of wages corresponding to the rising intensity of labour, the working man only resists the depreciation of his labour and the deterioration of his race."[42]

It must be said that in the 1840's Marx and Engels did not assess the struggle of the trade unions for higher wages and a shorter working day in this light. It is true that even at this time Marx recognized the trade unions as a. means of uniting the working-class but he assumed that the "costs which they cause working men are mostly greater than the increase in wages which they want to achieve. In the long run, they cannot resist, the laws of competition."[43] While Marx and Engels denied the economic importance for this period of the strike actions of the working-class, they still regarded the political significance of this struggle for the 1840's as being extremely important in preparation for the overthrow of the whole of the old society.

It was at this time that Engels opposed the struggle of the working-class for the ten-hour day and spoke out against strike action in general. Referring to the Act passed in 1847 by Parliament, which limited the working day to ten hours for juveniles and women, he wrote in 1850 that "The Ten-Hour Bill was in principle and as a concluding measure quite definitely a false step, an unpolitical and even reactionary measure which incorporates the germ of its own destruction."[44] When, at the end of December 1851, English engineering workers began a strike, demanding the abolition of overtime work and better working conditions, Engels assumed that this strike would delay the spread of the economic crisis and thus the outbreak of the revolution. This is why he called it "stupid ".[45]

That Marx and Engels took up this position resulted directly from their views on economics at that time. In "Wage-Labour and Capital", Marx described wages as the value or price of labour and wrote that "Now, the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general, naturally regulate wages, or the price of labour-power. The price of labour-power will be determined by the cost of its production, by the labour-time necessary for production of this commodity: labour-power ... Thus the cost of production of simple labour-power amounts to the costs of existence and propagation of the worker. The price of this cost of existence and propagation constitutes wages. The wages thus determined are called the minimum of wages."[46] In the "Manifesto of the Communist Party", Marx and Engels likewise remarked that the average price of wage labour is the minimum wage.[47] It must be said that the theory of the minimum of wages is a purely bourgeois approach to the problem which dates back to the Physiocrats. Marx subsequently wrote that "The minimum of the salary forms ... the axis of physiocratic doctrine". The Physiocrats went wrong in "that they regarded this minimum as an unvarying magnitude which, with them, is determined entirely by Nature, not by the stage of historical development, which is itself a magnitude subject to movements ..."[48]

In "Value, Price and Profit", Marx took a different view of this important problem. Here, too, he first of all determines the value of labour-power by the quantum of labour which is needed to produce the food which the worker needs to maintain himself and for the reproduction of labour-power. Later, however, he says that "there are some peculiar features which distinguish the value of the labouring power, from the values of all other commodities. The value of the labouring power is formed by two elements-the one merely physical, the other historical or social."[49] The value of the food needed is only the lowest limit of labour-power. The value of labour-power is also determined by the "traditional standard of life"[50] which has become established in the particular country in question. What is the maximum of the value of labour-power ? It is just as impossible to determine this as it is to determine the minimum rate of surplus-value. The capitalist always strives for a maximum profit, i.e., he endeavours to reduce wages to the physical minimum and to extend the working day to the physical maximum. Fixation of the actual level of wages and the actual length of the working day "... is only settled by the continuous struggle between capital and labour ... The matter resolves itself into a question of the respective strength of the combatants."[51]

It should be pointed out that Marx assessed the struggle of the workers for higher wages in 1853 in an article published in the "New York Tribune" differently than he did in the 1840's. "There is a sort of philanthropes and even socialists who believe that strikes damage the interests of the ' worker himself' and who claim that their main task is to find a method to secure constant average wages." Marx based his arguments on the cyclical development of capitalism, which" makes all such average wages impossible " and which causes "the sequence of the rise and fall in wages and the resulting never-ending conflicts between capitalists and workers."[52]

It is indeed true that the problem is formulated in different terms from the words used in the 1840's but it was only when Marx had distinguished between labour and labour-power that he was in a position to make a thorough analysis of labour-power, this commodity which is fundamentally different from all other commodities. Marx noted that "The entire world of 'commodities' can be divided into two great parts. Firstly, labour capacity-secondly, the commodities differing from labour capacity itself."[53] Only after an analysis of labour-power as a commodity was it possible to comprehend the relation between labour and capital, not as a physical relation between "accumulated " and, "direct" labour which is how the bourgeois economists viewed it, but as a specifically social relation, i.e., as a class relation, which cannot be understood apart from the class-struggle between workers and capitalists. From Marx's theory it follows that the struggle of the working-class for higher wages and shorter hours is directly dictated by economic necessity and results directly from the general tendency of capital to force wages down to the physical minimum. (It is in this direction that the law of capitalist accumulation operates.) Should "the working class ... renounce their resistance against the encroachments of capital they would be degraded to one uniform mass of broken wretches past salvation."[54]

It is consequently not at all astonishing that Marx and Engels should have assessed the Ten Hours' Bill, which was passed by Parliament on 5th June 1847, quite differently in the 1860's from the 1840's. "The immense physical, moral and intellectual benefits hence accruing to factory operatives, half-yearly chronicled in the reports of the inspectors of factories, are now acknowledged on all sides", wrote Marx in the Inaugural Address. "Hence the Ten Hours' Bill was not only a great practical success ; it was the victory of a principle, it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class."[55]

Marx continued with this approach when in 1866 he raised the demand for legal enactment of an eight-hour working day. In the Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional Central Council to the 1st Congress of the Working Men's International Association, he wrote that "A preliminary condition, without which all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must prove abortive, is the limitation of the working day. We propose 8 hours work as the legal limit of the working day."[56] This demand became one of the principal slogans in the struggle of the working-class throughout the world.

It is also quite understandable why Marx in the 1860's had such an exceptionally high regard for the activities of trade unions: "If the Trades' Unions are required for guerrilla fights between capital and labour, they are still more important as organised agencies for superseding the very system of wages labour and rule by capital."[57]

Marx regarded the daily struggle of the working-class for the improvement in their economic position as an important aspect but not the principal direction of struggle against the capitalists: He stressed that the working-class in this everyday struggle are only ".. fighting with effects, but not With the causes of those effects ... They ought to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon them, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economic reconstruction of society."[58] This is the scientific reason why the conservative slogan "A fair day's pay for a fair day's work" must be replaced by the revolutionary slogan "Down with the wages system ! "[59]

A detailed description has been given here of how Marx criticized Proudhonism and how significant this critique has been for the working-class movement. However, it was only when Marx had formulated his own theory of economics that he was able to complete this critique.

This is why it was only at the end of the 1850's that he drew up a scientific critique of the idea of an interest-free credit that Proudhon had had already at the beginning of the 1850's. By the end of this decade, Marx was able to show why this idea was unworkable in practice and that it was because of this that Proudhon had not understood the necessity for the existence of money in capitalist society.

Mark later wrote that "Proudhon's discovery of `credit gratuit' (interest-free credit) and of the people's bank (`banque du peuple') based on it were his last economic 'deeds'. In my book ' A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy' ... the proof will be found that the theoretical foundation of his view stems from a misunderstanding of the first elements of bourgeois political economy', namely, the relation of commodities to money ..."[60] Marx understood very well indeed the significance of his economic theory for the struggle against various pseudo-socialist influences on the working-class. Marx concerned himself with the translation of the first volume of "Capital" into French and explained why it was essential for confrontation with Proudhon: "I consider it of the very greatest importance to emancipate the French from the false views in which Proudhon with his idealized petty-bourgeois standpoint has buried them. At the recent Congress in Geneva and in the relations which, as a member of the General Council of the working Men's International Association, I have with the Paris branch, one is constantly confronted with the vilest consequences of Proudhonism."[61]

Many similar documents could also be quoted, but this is scarcely necessary. "Minds are always connected by invisible threads with the body of the people", wrote Marx.[62] His theory of economics expresses the basic interests of the working-class, reveals the objective tendencies of social development and-no longer merely by invisible threads-is inseparably associated with the international working-class movement and this has brought rich rewards.


[1] K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I Aftcrword. to the 2nd German edition. 1. c.. p.13.

[2] K. Marx, letter to Kugelmann of 23 August 1866, in: K. Marx, Letters to Dr. Kngelmann, 1.c. pp. 37-38.

[3] F. Engels, Karl Marx, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p. 365.

[4] F. Engels, Preface to the "Manifesto of the Communist Party ", Foreign Languages Publishing Horse, Moscow (year unknown), p.15,

[5] F. Engels, review of the first volume of "Capital" for the "Demokratisches Wochenblatt", in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p.235.

[6] F. Eng,els, review of the first volume of "Capital" for the "ElberfeIder Zeitung", in: K. Marx/ F. Engels. 1,Verke, Bd. 16, p. 215.

[7] Ibid., p. 214.

[8] Ibid.

[9] F. Engels. review of ,the first volume of "Capital " for the "Dusseldorfer Zeitung ", in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p. 216.

[10] F. Engels, review of the first volume of "Capital" for the "Beobachter". in: K. Marx/ F, Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p. 227.

[11] K. Marx, Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional Central Council. in: "The International Courier ", 20 February and 13 May 1867, Nos. 6, 7, 8. 9 et 10.

[12] Ibid.

[13] C.f. K. Marx, Das Kapital, Bd. III. in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke. Bd. 25. Dietz Verlag. Berlin 1964, op.. 400, 556; cf. K. Marx., Theorien uber den Mehrwert,Teil, 1. pp. 351, 494, 502.

[14] K. Marx, Inaugural Address of the Working Men's International association, in: Karl Marx, Selected Works, Vol, 2, Lawrence Wishart, London 1945, p. 439.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., p. 440.

[17] K, Marx, Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional Central Council, in: "The International Courier ", 20 February and 13 May 1867, Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9 et 10.

[18] F. Engels, review of the first volume of "Capital" for the "Rheinische Zeitung", in K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p. 210.

[19] E. Engels, review of the first volume of "Capital" for the "Demokratisches Wochenblatt", in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke. Bd. 16. p. 240.

[20] K. Marx, letter to Kugebnann. of 30 November 1867, in: K. Marx, Letters to Dr. Kugelmann, l. c., p. 54.

[21] K. Marx, letter to Engels of 24 June 1865, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 31, p. 123.

[22] K. Marx, letter to Klings of 4 October 1861, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 31, p. 418.

[23] K. Marx, Theorien uber den Mehrwert, 2. Teil, c., p. 207.

[24] K. Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital, Martin Lawrence Ltd., London 1932, p. 24.

[25] Ibid.,. p 25.

[26] K. Marx, Wages, Price and Profit, in: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1970, p. 200. (Translator's note: the original German title of Lohn, Preis and Profit is sometimes translated as "Value, Price and Profit (e. g., as in the book of the same name published by George Allen & Unwin of London in 1938); quotations from the latter publication also appear in the present book.)

[27] Ibid., p. 206-7.

[28] Cf. K. Marx/F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow (year not stated).

[29] K. Marx, letter to Schily of 30 November 1867, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 31, p. 573.

[30] K. Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital, I. c., p. 31.

[31] K. Marx, Value, Price and Profit, London 1938, George Allen & Unwire, pp. 59-61.

[32] Ibid., p. 57/58.

[33] K. Marx, letter to Kugelmann of 11 July 1868, in: Marx/Engels, Selected Correspondence, l. c., p. 252.

[34] K. Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital, l. c., p. 16_

[35] K. Marx. letter to Kugelmann of July 1565, in: Marx/Engels, Selected Correspondence, l. c., p. 252.

[36] K. Marx, Value, Price and Profit, 1. c., p. 67/68.

[37] Ibid., p. 73.

[38] K. Marx, Wage-Labour and Capital, 1. c., p. 37.

[39] K. Marx, Theorien uber den Mehrwert, 1. c., p. 436.

[40] 40 K. Marx, Value, Price and Profit, 1. c., p. 73.

[41] Ibid., p. 80.

[42] Ibid., p. 82.

[43] K. Marx, Arbeitslohn, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 6, p. 554.

[44] F. Engels, Die Zehnstundenfrage, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 7, p. 228.

[45] F. Engels, letter to Marx of 2 March 1852, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 28, p. 35.

[46] K. Marx. Wage-Labour and Capital, 1. c., 26/27.

[47] Cf. K. Marx/F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow (year not stated).

[48] K. Marx, Theorien uber den Mehrwert, 1. Teil, c,, p11

[49] K. Marx, Value, Price and Profit, 1. c.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] K. Marx, Die russische Politik gegenuber der Turkei - Die Arbeiterbewegung in England, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 9, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1960, p. 170.

[53] K. Marx, Theorien uber den Mehrwert, 5. Teil, 1. c., p. 130.

[54] K. Marx, Value, Price and Profit, l. c., p. 92.

[55] K. Marx, Inaugural Address. of the Working Men's International Association, 1.c. p439.

[56] K. Marx, Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional Central Council, 1. c.

[57] Ibid.

[58] K. Marx, value, Price and Profit, 1. c., p. 93.

[59] Cf. ibid.

[60] K. Marx, On P. J. Proudhon, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 16, p. 30.

[61] K. Marx, letter to Buchner of 1 May 1867, in: K. Marx/F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 31, p. 544.

[62] K. Marx, letter to Meyer of 21 January 1871, in: Marx/Engels, Selected Correspondence; l. c., p. 310.