Benedetto Croce

Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx

CHAPTER IV: Recent Interpretations of the Marxian Theory of Value and Controversies Concerning them


I have always discussed frankly the views expressed in the writings of my eminent friend Professor Antonio Labriola. I am therefore glad that he has taken the same liberty with me, and has subjected to a vigorous criticism (in the French edition of his book on Socialismo e la filosofia), (1) my interpretation of the Marxian theory of value. (2) Labriola has been impelled to this also from a wish to prevent my opinions from appearing, 'to the reader's eyes,' as a supplement, approved by him, of his own personal ones. And though I do not think that 'to the reader's eyes (I will however add intelligent readers), this would be possible, since, I have always carefully indicated the points, and they are neither few nor unimportant, where we disagree: yet being convinced that clearness is never superfluous, I welcome his intention to make it still plainer that I am not he, and that he thinks with his mind whilst I think with mine.

Labriola rejects entirely the method adopted by me, which he describes variously as scholastic, metaphysical, metaphorical, abstract, formal logic. When I take pains to point out the differences between homo oeconomicus and man, moral or immoral, between personal interest and egoism, (3) he shrugs his shoulders, he does not refuse a certain indulgence to this traditional scholasticism, and compares me to the man in the street who speaks of the rising or setting of the sun, or of shining light and warm heat. When I firmly maintain the theoretical necessity for a general economics in addition to the heterogeneous considerations of sociological economics, he taxes me with creating, in addition to all the visible and tangible animals, an animal as such. And he charges me, moreover, with wishing to attack history, comparative philology and physiology in order to substitute for all these the plain Logic of Port Royal, so that instead of studying examples of epigenesis which have actually occurred, such as the transitions from invertebrates to vertebrates,from primitive communism to private property in land, from Differentiated roots to the systematic differentiation of nouns and verbs in the Ariosemitic group, it might suffice to register these facts in concepts passing from the more general to the more particular, in the series A a1 a2 a3 etc.

But I hardly know how to defend myself seriously from such accusations, because it obliges me to repeat what is too obvious, i.e., that to make concepts does not mean to create entities; that to employ metaphors (and language is all metaphor), does not mean to believe mythology; that to construct experiences in thought, and scientific abstractions, does not mean to substitute either one or the other for concrete reality; that to make use, when needful, of formal logic, does not mean to ignore fact,growth, history. When Marx expounds historical facts I know no way of approaching him except that of historical criticism, and when he defines concepts and formulates laws, I can only proceed to recognise the content of his concepts, and to test the correctness of his inferences and deductions. Thus I have followed this second method in studying his theory of value. If Labriola knows another and better one, let him state it. But what could this other one possibly be? Real logic? In that case let us boldly re-establish Hegel, it will be the lesser evil, at least we shall understand one another. Or a still worse alternative, what monstrous empirical-dialectic or evolutionist method may it be, which confuses together and abuses two distinct procedures, and lends itself so readily to the lovers of prophecy? Or is it merely a question of new phraseology by which we shall go on humbly working, more or less well, with the old methods, whilst detesting the old words? Or again, is this dislike for formal logic nothing but a convenient pretext for dispensing with any vindication of the concepts which are employed?

Marx has stated his concept of value; has expounded a process of transformation of value into price; has reconstructed the nature of profit as surplus value. For me the whole problem of Marxian criticism is confined within these limits: – Is Marx's conception substantially erroneous (entirely, owing to false premises, and partially, owing to false deductions)? or, is Marx's conception substantially correct, but has it been subsumed under a category to which it does not belong, and has search been made in it for what it cannot supply, whilst what it actually offers has been ignored? Having come to this second conclusion I have asked myself: Under what conditions and assumptions is Marx's theory thinkable? And this question I have tried to answer in my essay.

What Marx wished to do, or mistakenly thought himself to be doing is, I think, of interest to criticism up to a certain point; although the history of science shows that thinkers have not always had the clearest and plainest knowledge of the whole of their thought; and that it is one thing to discover a truth, and another to define and classify the discovery when made. It may be allowed that he who confuses ideological with historical research thus best reproduces Marx's spirit; but in this case the work will be an artistic recasting or a psychological reproduction, not a criticism; and will gather up with the sound also the unsound portion of Marx's thought.

To go into details. Labriola tries to prove the emptiness or vagueness of some of my definitions and the falsity of some of my reasoning. 1 having asserted that capitalist economics is a special case of general economics, Labriola remarks, 'en passant,' that it is nevertheless the only case which has given rise to a theory and to divisions of schools; and I acknowledge that I do not understand the point of this remark, although it is said to be made 'en passant.' Both Marx and Engels lamented that the ancient and medieval economic systems had not been studied in the same way as the modern. Thus there are conceivable at least three economic theories, ancient, medieval and modern, and is it not lawful to construct a general economics; i.e. to study in isolation that common element which causes these three groups of facts to be all three denoted by a common name? Labriola then asks what this general and extra-historical economics can consist of, and whether it can never be of service to the conjectural psychology of primitive man: he jests after the manner of Engels, who in truth has sometimes Joked too much during a discussion on serious matters. Is it incredible that I too should jest? But I do not think there is occasion to do so! He wonders at my insatiability, because having accepted the hedonistic theories, I wish to accept Marx's theories too: as though my entire proof was not intended to make it plain that the antithesis between these theories exists only in imagination; and that Marx's theory is not an economic system entirely opposed to other systems ('quelque chose de tout-à-fait opposé' are Labriola's own words), but a special and partial inquiry; and as though by hedonism I meant all the personal convictions, philosophical, historical and political, of those who follow, or say that they follow, its guidance, and not indeed only what follows legitimately from its axiom. When I call the explanation of the nature of profits, offered by the hedonistic school, an economic explanation, he inquires sarcastically: 'Could it possibly be non-economic?' But my statement contains no pleonasm: the adjective economic is added to mark off the hedonistic explanation from that of Marx, which, to my thinking, is not purely economic, but historical and comparative, or sociological, if it is preferred. He wonders that I speak of a working society, and asks: 'As opposed to what?' 'Perhaps to the saints in paradise?' But I have pointed out the opposition between a hypothetical working society,i.e. such that all its goods are produced by labour,and a society, economic certainly, but not exclusively working, because it enjoys goods given by nature, as well as the products of labour. The saints in paradise form another irrelevant jest.

I called Marx's concept of surplus-value a concept of difference; and Labriola reproaches me for not being able 'to say exactly what I understand by these words.' And yet I am not in the habit of speaking or writing when I do not exactly know what I want to say; and here I believe that I have clearly expressed a thought which I had exceedingly clearly in my mind. Let us take two types of society: type A consisting of 100 persons, who, with capital held in common and equal labour, produce goods which are divided in equal proportions; type B consisting of 100 persons, 50 of whom own the land and the means of production, i.e. are capitalists, and 50 are shut out from this ownership, i.e. are proletarians and workmen; in the distribution, the former receive, in proportion to the capital which they employ, a share in the products of the labour of the latter. It is evident that in type A there is no place for surplus value. But neither in type B are you justified in giving the name surplus-value to that portion of the products which is swallowed up by the capitalists, except when you are comparing type B with type A, and are considering the former as a contrast to the latter. If type B is considered by itself, which is precisely what the pure economists do and ought to do, the product which the 50 capitalists appropriate, i.e. their profits, is a result of mutual agreement, arising out of different comparative degrees of utility. Turn in every direction and in pure economics you will find nothing more. The expropriatory character of profit can be asserted only when to the second society, we apply, almost like a chemical reagent, the standard, which, on the other hand, is characteristic of a type of society founded on human equality, a type 'which has attained the solidity of a popular conviction' (Marx). Profit 'is surplus-labour not paid for,' says Marx, and it may be so; but not paid for in reference to what? In existing society it is certainly paid for, by the price which it actually secures. It is a question then, of determining in what society it would have that price which in existing society is denied it. And then, indeed, it is a question of comparison.

The following of Labriola's assertions is not original, but is nevertheless quite gratuitous: 'Pure economics is so little extra-historical, that it has borrowed the data from real history, of which it makes two absolute postulates: the freedom of labour and the freedom of competition, pushed to their extreme by hypothesis.' If I open Pantaleoni's well-known treatise, I read in the very first paragraph of the Teoria del valore, Ferrara's fundamental theory that: 'value is above all a phenomenon of the economics of the individual or isolated person.' So little do the legal conditions of society enter into the necessary postulates of pure economics.

After which, Labriola ought not to be horrified if I have written: 'that Marx has taken his celebrated equivalence (4) "between value and labour from outside the field of pure economics. He will ask me: from whence then has he taken it? And I reply: from a special and definite type of society, in which the legal organisation and the pre-supposed conditions of fact make value correspond to the quantity of labour.

Labriola does not consider justified the comparison which I have drawn, (metaphor for metaphor), between the commodities which in Marxian economics are presented as the crystallisations of labour and the goods which in pure economics might well be called quantities of possible satisfactions for crystallised wants. 'Hitherto – he exclaims – only sorcerers have been able to believe, or to cause it to be believed, that by desires alone a part of ourselves might be glutinised into any goods whatsoever.' But what does glutinise mean? To obtain the commodity a costs us x labour of a given kind this is Marx's congealed labour. Pure economics, using a more general formula, states that it costs us that body of wants which we must leave unsatisfied: this is the form of congealment which pure economics might supply. There is no question, in the one case, of an objective reality, as Labriola seems to think, or in the other of an imagined sorcery; but in both cases it is a matter of the literary use of imaginative expressions to denote mental attitudes and elaborations. In this connection Labriola, as if to limit their range, says that Marx, as an author, belonged to the seventeenth century. May I be allowed, as a humble student of literature, and the author of several investigations into the character and origin of seventeenth century style, (5) to protest. Seventeenth century style consists in ingenuity, i.e. in putting cold intellectuality into an aesthetic form; hence the forced comparison, the lengthy metaphor, the play on words and the equivocations. But Marx, on the contrary, misuses poetic expressions, which give the content of his thought with unrestrained vigour. We find in him just the opposite of seventeenth century style: not a lack of connection between the form and the thought, but such a violent embrace of the former by the latter that the unlucky form sometimes runs the risk of being left suffocated. (6)

The reader will be tired of these replies to a negative criticism; but negative criticism is nevertheless all that Labriola offers us. What is his interpretation of Marx's thought? Or which does he accept, out of those offered? Here Labriola is silent. It is true that on another occasion I believed that I discerned in his statement that 'labour-value is the typical premiss in Marx, without which all the rest would be unthinkable,' an agreement with my thesis. But I see now that I must have been deceived, and that the words must have another meaning; which, however, warned by the unlucky attempt already made, I shall not attempt further to specify. In the meantime Sombart has built castles in the air; Sorel has made hasty or premature elaborations; the present writer has not understood (see p. 224). Are we then faced by a mystery? Our friend, Labriola, relates (p. 50) a story of Hegel who is said to have declared that one only of his pupils had understood him. (The anecdote, I may add, is recounted by Heinrich Heine in a much wittier manner). (7) Is the same thing to be repeated with regard to Marx's theory of value?

In truth, though without wishing to deny the difficulty of Marx's thought and of the form in which he expresses it, I think that the mystery may be at length cleared up. And I say this, not only on account of my inward conviction of the truth of my own interpretation, but also on account of the agreement in which I find myself with several critics, who, almost at the same moment, and by independent methods, have arrived at results nearly similar to my own.

'Or, se im mostra la mia carte il vero,
Non e lontano a discoprirsi it porto....' (8)

A similar tendency shows itself in what has been written on the subject by Sombart, in 1894, by Engels in 1895, by myself in 1896, by Sorel in 1897, by myself more at length in 1897, and again by Sorel in June of last year (1898). (9) Certainly truth and falsehood cannot be decided by external signs, the intellect being the only judge of them, and a judge who allows scope for infinite appeals. But nevertheless it is natural that under the circumstances pointed out above, a feeling of hope and confidence must arise that the discussion is about to be closed, that the problem is at length ripe for solution.


I think it opportune, however, to return to those elaborations of Sorel, which Labriola summarily judges with such severity, in order to make some remarks about them, not in refutation but in support, and to explain a certain point where there may seem to be disagreement between us, which perhaps has no reason to exist.

But here I may be allowed to make a remark. Labriola is also waging war with Sorel: his book Discorrendo, etc., arising out of a series of friendly letters to Sorel, which I undertook to edit in Italy is published in French with an appendix directed against me, and a preface directed against Sorel The ground of the quarrel is especially in connection with the so-called crisis in Marxism.

Now if the crisis in Marxism be understood as the assertion of the need for a revision and correction of the scientific ideas, of the historical beliefs, of the material of observed facts, which are current in Marxian literature, well and good: in such a crisis I too believe. If it means also a change in the programmes and practical methods, I neither agree nor disagree, having never concerned myself with the subject in dispute. If the danger is really existent the apprehension of which seems to obsess and disturb Labriola, that a crisis in Marxism of whatever kind; or the commencement of it, may be neutralised by those to whose interest it is to lead astray and scatter the labour movement, then provideant consules. But whether there be crisis or no crisis, whether purely scientific or also practical, whether apprehensions are well-founded or imagined and exaggerated, all these things have no connection with the questions raised by me, which relate to the erroneousness of this or that theoretical or historical statement of Marxism, and the way in which this or that must be understood in order to be regarded as true. This is my standpoint and on this ground alone I admit discussion. I may be mistaken, but this must be proved to me. But if, on the contrary, the only answer vouchsafed to me is that the crisis in Marxism results from the international reaction, of which ingenious critics are taking advantage, I shall be left it is true, somewhat bewildered; but I shall not on this account be convinced that the theory of value is true, in the burlesque sense, for example, in which it is expounded by Stern in his well-known propagandist booklet.

Sorel at first supposes, (10) wittily enough, that Marx had built up different economic spheres, the first of which (that of labour-value) is the simplest; the second, including the phenomenon of an average rate of profit, and the creation of cost of production, is more complex, and the third, in which is observed the effect of rent of land, is still more complex. In passing from the simple to the more complex sphere, we should find again the laws of the preceding one, modified by the new data introduced, which would have given rise to new phenomena.

In his second article he abandons this interpretation, being convinced that Marx's ideal construction does not aim at supplying a complete explanation of the phenomena of economics by means of the increasing complexity of his combinations. And, in my opinion, he did well to abandon it; not only for the excellent reason stated by him, that Marx's inquiry does not include an entire system of economics, but also because the process suggested by him does not explain why Marx, in analysing the economic phenomena of the second or third sphere, ever used concepts whose place was only in the first one. It does not explain what I have called the elliptical comparison, and herein lies the difficulty of Marx's work, or rather of the literary statement of his thought. If the correspondence between labour and value is only realized in the simplified society of the first sphere, why insist on translating the phenomena of the second into terms of the first? Why give the name transformation of surplus value to what makes its appearance as the natural economic result of capital which must have (from its very nature as capital) a profit? Does Marx offer an explanation connecting ground and consequence, or does he not rather draw a parallel between two different phenomena, by which the diversities illuminating the origins of society are set in relief?

But Sorel now advances to precisely this conclusion, borrowing a happy phrase from his first article: that Marx's work is not intended to explain by means of laws analogous to physical laws, but only to throw partial and indirect light on economic reality.

The method which Marx employs in his inquiry, says Sorel, is a metaphysical instrument; he makes a metaphysics of economics. This expression may be satisfactory or not, according to the different meanings given to the word metaphysics; but the idea is accurate end true. Marx builds an ideal construction which helps him to explain the conditions of labour in capitalist society.

What are the limits of Marx's ideal construction, and in what do his hypotheses consist? I have said that the concept of labour-value is true for an ideal society, whose only goods consist in the products of labour, and in which there are no class distinctions. Sorel does not think it necessary to eliminate as I have done, the divisions of classes. But, since he writes: 'Marx, like Ricardo, conceived a mechanical society, perfectly automatic, in which competition is always at its maximum efficiency, and exchanges are effected by means of universal information; and he supposed that the various sociological conditions are measurable in intensity, and that the numbers resulting can be connected by mathematical formula; hence in such a society, utility, demand, and commerce in commodities arc results of the divisions of classes; value will not in consequence be a function of this condition, although it is truly a function of the conditions of production; utility, demand, can only appear in the forms of the function, in the parameters referring to the social divisions.' Since he, I repeat, does not in his hypothesis, make labour-value dependent on the division of classes, it seems to me that this is practically to leave out the fact of the division. And it is perhaps clearer to omit it explicitly.

We should have then: (1) a working economic society without differences of classes, law of labour-value; (2) Social divisions of classes, origin of profit, which, but only in comparison with the preceding, type and in so far as the concepts of the former are carried over into the latter, may be defined as surplus-value; (3) Technical distinction between the different industries requiring different combinations of capital (different proportions of fixed and floating capital). Origin of the average rate of profits, which In relation to the preceding type, may be regarded as a change in, and equalisation of, surplus-values; (4) Appropriation of the land by part of a social class. Pure rent; (5) Qualitative differences in land. Differential rent. Which rents, pure and differential, present themselves, but only in comparison with the preceding types, as cut off from the amounts of surplus-value and of profits. Sorel agrees with me that the concept of labour-value, obtained in the manner described, is not only not a law in the same sense as a physical law, but is also not a law in the ethical sense, i.e. one that could be understood as a rule of what ought to exist. It is a law, he says, in an entirely Marxian sense. This I too tried to express when I wrote in my essay: 'It is a law in Marx's conception, but not in economic reality. It is clear that we may conceive the divergencies in relation to a standard as the rebellion of reality in opposition to that standard, to which we have given the dignity of law.'

It seems to me that the jurist Professor Stammler in his book Wirthschaft and Recht nach der materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung, (11) has also made the mistake of interpreting Marx's concept as an ideal law. He is absolutely correct when, in rejecting Kautsky's comparison between the concept of labour-value and the law of gravity – which takes effect fully on a vacuum – whilst the resistance made by air leads to special results, he maintains that this has nothing analogous to a physical law. For him, on the other hand, Marx's law is justified (at least formally) as an attempt at investigation into what in the judgment of economists, granted the capitalist organisation of society, may be objectively accurate. Subjective judgments may differ, but that does not affect what ought to be an objective criterion, to divide the true from the false. But can an objective criterion ever be found within the sphere of economics? Anyone who has rightly understood the principle of hedonistic economics must answer no. And if Stammler brings forward such an idea, it is because in his work he expressly intends to deny the originality of economic material and the independence of economics as a science. (12)

Sorel believes that Marx's method has rendered all the assistance of which it is capable, and cannot aid the study, which it is needful to make, of modern economic conditions. If I am not mistaken he means that the hopes of the Marxians in regard to the fruitfulness of Marx's method are futile, and that the pages which he has written in the history of economics are practically all that can be produced by it. A good part of the third volume, in which Marx shows himself a simple classical economist, and the miserable and scanty output of Marxian economic writings subsequent to Marx, would suggest that Stammler's opinion is justified by the facts.

But, whilst Sorel's book seems to me welcome in the endeavour to understand and define the score of Marx's economic inquiries, I cannot form the same judgment of another attempt made to reform the basis of Marx's system by rejecting his method, and a part of his results. I refer to a recent book by Dr Antonio Graziadei, (13) which has been much discussed during these last months. Graziadei's object is to examine profits independently of the theory of value: a course already indicated by Professor Loria, and the fallacy of which ought to be clearly evident at a glance, without its being necessary to wait for proof from the results of the attempt. A system of economics from which value is omitted, is like logic without the concept, ethics without duty, aesthetics without expression. It is economics... cut off from its proper sphere. But let us see for a moment how Graziadei manages the working out of his idea.

In the first place he tries to prove that in Marx's own work the theory of profits is in itself independent of that of value. Profits he says, consist in surplus-value, i.e. in the difference between total labour and necessary labour. Hence it can be made to originate in surplus-value without starting from the form value itself. But he himself destroys the argument when further on (p. 10) he objects that if labour is not productive labour it does not give rise to profits. Precisely for that reason we answer in order to be in a position to speak of labour which is productive, Marx must start from value, and precisely for that reason, in Marx's thought, the theory of profits and the theory of value are inseparably connected.

As to the construction, on his own account, of a theory of profits which is independent of that of value, Graziadei accomplishes this in a very curious way: viz. by carefully avoiding the words value and labour, and by speaking instead only of product. Profits, according to him, do not arise out of surplus-labour or surplus-value, but out of surplus-product; hence we can, and ought, in theory, to start from the concept of product and not concern ourselves with value, which is a superficial growth of the final stage of the market.

Surplus product! But surplus-product, in so far as it is an economic surplus-product, is value. Certainly, the capitalist who pays wages in kind, and in getting back again the goods advanced by him, also appropriates the other part of the product (surplus-product), can, instead of taking this to market, consume it himself directly (as in Graziadei's hypothesis). But this does not alter the matter at all, because the fact that the product is not taken to market does not mean that it has no value in exchange: since it is true that the capitalist has obtained it by means of an exchange between himself and the labourer; which means that he has always assessed its value in some manner.

And here we are again at the theory of value. from which we have vainly attempted to escape, Moreover, since Graziadei is essentially concerned with the economics of labour, here we are again at Marx's exact concept of labour value. Tamen usque recumt! (14)

Graziadei's book includes also some corrections of Marx's special theories on profits and wages. But I may be allowed to remark that the corrections to be called such ought to refer to the governing principles. New facts do not weaken a theory firmly established on fundamentals; and it is natural that, with a change in the actual conditions, a new casuistry will arise which Marx could not discuss. Whatever forecasts he may have made in his long career as author and politician, which the event has proved fallacious – I do not believe he ever pretended:

'Sguaiato Giosue..
Fermare it sole.' (15)

April, 1899.


1. Socialisms et philosophie by ANTONIO LABRIOLA. Paris, Giard et Briere, 1899, see pp. 207-224. Postscript to the French edition.

2. See chap. III.

3. Like an impenitent sinner I shall come back to this distinction, which is essential for the solid foundation of the principles of economics, and the evil effects of whose neglect are apparent in the discourses of economists.

4. I write equivalance because Marx writes thus, and because for the present question this other is quite irrelevant: viz. whether the relation of value can be expressed in the mathematical form of a relation of equivalence. But, for my part, and I follow the hedonists in this; I deny entirely that the relation of value is a relation of equivalence. The proof of this has already been supplied by others, and there is no occasion to repeat it.

5. See CROCE Giambattista Basile e il' Cunto de li Cunti,' Naples, 1891; Ricerche ispano-italiane, series I, last paragraph, (Atti dell'Acc. Pontan; vol. xxviii, 1898); Ipredicatori italiani delseietnto e il gusto spagnaolo, Naples, Pierro, 1899; I trattatisti italiani Gel 'conerttismo' e Baltasar Grarian (Atti dell'Acc. Pontan; vol. XXIX. 1899).

6. LABRIOLA – who reproduces Marx's style very well here and there in his own – writes in his essay on 'Das Kommanistische Manifest,' 2nd Ed., p. 79. 'The Manifesto... does not shed tears over nothing. The tears of things have already risen on their feet of themselves, like a spontaneously vengeful force.' The tears which rise on their feet may make the hair rise on the head of a man of moderate taste; but the expression, although violently imaginative, is not in seventeenth century style.

7. 'Als Hegel auf dem Todbette lag, sagte er: – Nur einer hat much verstanden! Aber gleich darauf fugte er verdriesslich hinzu. Und der hat mich auch nichtverstanden!' (Heine. Zar Geschichte der Religion and Philosophie in Deutschland. Bk. III).

8. 'Now, if my map shows me true, we are not far from the sight of our haven....' (Ariosto, Orlando Furioso.)

9. SOMBART, in the Archiv fur soziale Gesetzgelung and Statism, vol. VII., 1894, pp. 555-594; ENGELS in Neue Zeit xiv., vol. i., 4-11, 37-44; CROCE, Le teorie storiche del prof Loria; SOREL in the Journal des economistes, no. for May 15th, 1897; CROCE, Per la interpretazione e la critica di alcuni concerti del marxism, see in this volume chap. III; SOREL, Nuovi contributi alla Doria marxistica del valore, in the Giornale degli economisti, June 1898.

10. In the article referred to, in the Journal des Economistes.

11. See pp. 266-8, 658-9.

12. See chap. II.

13. La prodozione capitalistica, Turin, Bocca, 1899.

14. Graziadei will allow me to point out to him that it is not the first time that he has made discoveries that turn out to be equivocal. Some years ago when carrying on a controversy, in the review Critica sociale, on the theory of the origin of profits in Marx's system, Graziadei (vol. IV., n. 22, With Nov. 1894, p. 348) wrote: 'We can very readily imagine a society, in which profits exist, not indeed with surplus-labour, but with no labour. If, in fact, for all the labour now accomplished by man was substituted the work of machines, these latter, with a relatively small quantity of commodities would produce an enormously greater quantity. Now, given a capitalist organization of society, this technical phenomenon would afford a basis for a social phenomenon, viz.: that the ruling class being able to enjoy by itself alone the difference between the product and the consumption of the machine, would see at their disposal an excess of products over the consumption of the laborers, i.e., a surplus-product, much larger than when the feeble muscular force of man still co-operated in production.' But here Graziadei neglects to explain how labourers could ever exist, and profits of labour, in a hypothetical society, based on non-labour, and in which all the laborer actually done by man would be done by machines. What would the labourers be doing there? The work of Sisyphus or the Danaides? In his hypothesis the proletariat would either be maintained by the charity of the ruling class, or would end by rapidly disappearing, destroyed by starvation. For if he supposed that the machines would produce automatically a superfluity of goods for the whole of that society, then he was simply constructing by hypothesis a land of Cocaigne.

15. 'As follower of Joshua.... to stop the sun.'