A Textbook issued by the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R




Capitalist Simple Co-operation

Capitalism at first subjects production to itself just as it finds it, i.e., with the backward technique of handicraft and small-peasant economy; and only later, at a higher level of its own development, does it refashion production on new economic and technical foundations. Capitalist production begins when the means of production are concentrated in private hands while the workers, deprived of means of production, are obliged to sell their labour power as a commodity. In handicraft production and in peasant crafts fairly large workshops are formed, belonging to capitalists. The capitalists extend the scale of production without at first changing either the instruments or the methods of work used by the petty producers. This primary stage in the development of capitalist production is called capitalist simple co-operation. Capitalist simple co-operation is that form of social labour under which the capitalist exploits a more or less considerable number of wage-workers who are all employed simultaneously and all of whom carry out the same kind of work. Capitalist simple co-operation arises on the basis of the break-up of petty commodity production. The first capitalist enterprises were founded by merchant-engrossers1 and money-lenders, or by master craftsmen and artisans who had become wealthy. Those who worked in these enterprises were ruined craftsmen and journeymen, who no longer had the possibility of becoming independent master craftsmen, together with the rural poor. Capitalist simple co-operation has certain advantages over petty commodity production. The bringing together of many workers in one enterprise makes for economy in means of production. To build, to heat and to light one workshop containing twenty persons costs less than to build and maintain ten workshops with two workers in each. Expenses for tools, store-rooms and transport of material and of the finished product are also reduced. The results of the labour of an isolated craftsman depend to a considerable extent on his individual characteristics-strength, dexterity, skill, etc. In conditions of primitive technique differences between workers in these respects are very great. Merely for this reason alone the situation of a petty producer is extremely precarious. Commodity producers who expend in producing one and the same kind of commodity more labour than is required in average conditions of production are inevitably ruined. When many workers are together in a workshop individual differences between them tend to be evened out. The work of particular workers diverges in one direction or the other from the average social labour, but the joint work of many simultaneously-employed workers corresponds more or less to the average socially-necessary labour. For this reason, the production and sale of commodities by capitalist workshops become more regular and stable. Under simple co-operation an economy of labour is achieved and the productivity of labour grows. Let us take as an example the shifting of bricks by hand carried out by a chain of workers. Each separate worker accomplishes in this case one and the same movement, but his actions form part of one common operation. As a result the work goes much quicker than when each man separately shifts bricks. Ten men working together produce in the course of a working day more than the same ten men working separately, or than one man in the course of ten working days of the same length. Co-operation enables work to be carried out simultaneously over a large area, for example, in the draining of marshes, the building of dams, canals and railways and also makes it possible to expend a considerable mass of labour in a small space, for example, in the construction of buildings or in the cultivation of crops which require a great deal of labour. Co-operation is of great importance in those branches of production where certain jobs must be carried out in a short time, for instance, harvesting, sheep-shearing, etc. The simultaneous employment of a large number of workers enables such jobs to be completed in a reduced time and thereby prevents the incurring of great losses. Thus, co-operation gave a new social productive force to labour. The mere simple bringing together of the forces of separate workers led to an increase in the productivity of labour. This enabled the owners of the first capitalist workshops to produce commodities more cheaply and to compete successfully with the petty producers. The results of the new social productivity force of labour were appropriated without compensation by the capitalists and served to enrich them. The Period of Capitalist Manufacture

The development of simple capitalist co-operation led to the rise of manufacture. Manufacture is capitalist co-operation based on division of labour and handicraft technique. Manufacture as a form of capitalist production prevailed in Western Europe approximately from the middle of the sixteenth century to the last third of the eighteenth century. Manufacture arose in two different ways. The first way was the bringing together by a capitalist in one workshop of craftsmen of different skills. In this way there arose, for example, a coach manufactory, which brought together within its walls craftsmen who had previously been independent: coachmakers, harnessmakers, uphofsterers, locksmiths, coppersmiths, turners, braidmakers, glaziers, painters, polishers, etc. In the manufactory the production of a coach was divided into a large number of different, mutually-complementary operations, each of which was carried out by a particular worker. As a result of this the previous nature of the craftsmen’s work underwent a change. For instance, a worker employed as a locksmith now carried out over a long period only certain definite operations connected with the production of a coach, and gradually ceased to be the locksmith who formerly had made a finished product all by himself. The second way was the bringing together by a capitalist in a single workshop of craftsmen all of one skill. Formerly each of these craftsmen had independently carried out all the operations required to produce a given commodity. The capitalist broke down the process of production in his workshop into a series of separate operations, each of which was assigned to’ a worker who specialised in it. Thus arose, for example, the manufacture of needles. In a needle manufactory needles were passed through the hands of seventy-two or more workers: one drew the wire, another straightened it, a third cut it, a fourth sharpened the ends, and so on. The division of labour in manufacture means the division of labour within an enterprise for the production of one and the same commodity, as distinguished from the division of labour in society between different enterprises for the production of different commodities. Division of labour within a manufactory presupposes concentration of the means of production in the hands of a capitalist, who is at the same time the owner of the commodities produced. The wage-worker, unlike the petty commodity producer, does not produce the commodity independently; only the common product of the labour of many workers is transformed into a commodity. The division of labour within society presupposes the splitting up of the means of production among commodity producers who are separate from and independent of each other. The products of their labour, for instance, the labour of a joiner, a tanner, a cobbler and tiller of the soil, appear as commodities, and the link between the independent commodity producers is effected by means of the market.. A worker who carries out in a manufactory a particular operation for the production of a commodity, is a detail-worker. Constantly repeating one and the same simple operation, he expends in it less time and energy than does the craftsman who performs by turns a whole series of different operations. At the same time, along with this specialisation, labour becomes more intensive. Formerly the worker spent a certain amount of time in passing from one operation to another, and in changing his tools. In a manufactory this waste of working time was reduced. Gradually specialisation came to affect not only the workers but also the instruments of production; they became more and more closely adapted to that detail operation for which they were designed. All this led to a further increase in the productivity of labour.

The production of needles furnishes a clear example. In the eighteenth century a small manufactory, employing ten workers, by means of division of labour produced in one day 48,000 needles, i.e., 4,800 needles were produced per worker. Yet without division of labour one worker could not have produced even twenty needles a day. Specialisation of labour in the manufactory, associated with continual repetition of one and the same uncomplicated set of movements maimed the worker physically and spiritually. Workers appeared with curvature of the spine, with hollow chests, etc. Thus, the growth of the productivity of labour in manufactories was achieved at the expense of crippling the worker. Manufacture “converts the worker into a crippled monstrosity, by forcing his detail dexterity at the expense of a world of productive capabilities and instincts". (Marx, Capital, Kerr edition, vol. I, p. 396.) Workers in manufacture were subjected to savage exploitation. Their working day reached 18 hours or more; their wages were extremely low, and the overwhelming mass of manufactory-workers lived in want; the new, capitalist labour-discipline was introduced by the most ruthless measures of compulsion and coercion. The division of labour in manufacture, wrote Marx, “creates new conditions for the lordship of capital over labour. If, therefore on the one hand, it presents itself historically as a progress and as a necessary phase in the economic development of society, on the other hand, it is a refined and civilised method of exploitation." (Marx, Capital, Kerr edition, Vol. I, p. 400.) In slave-owning and feudal societies two forms of capital exist-merchant and usurers’ capital. The rise of capitalist production signified the appearance of industrial capital. Industrial capital is capital invested in the production of commodities. One of the typical peculiarities of the manufacture period of capitalism is a close and inseparable connection between merchant and industrial capital. The owner of a manufactory was almost always an engrosser as well. He resold raw materials to small commodity producers, distributed material to their houses for them to work up, or else bought particular parts of articles from small commodity producers, or bought finished articles from them for resale later. This sale of raw material to arid purchase of products from small commodity producers became interwoven with debt-enslavement, which worsened the position of the small commodity producer to a tremendous degree, leading to prolongation of his working day and lowering of the earnings he received. Capitalist Domestic Industry

In the period of capitalist manufacture the distribution of work to be done at home developed on an extremely wide scale. Capitalist domestic industry means the working-up at home, on piece-rates, of material received from an entrepreneur. This form of exploitation was encountered sporadically even under simple co-operation. It is found also in the period of large-scale machine industry; but it is typical above all of manufacture. Capitalist domestic industry here figures as an appendage to manufacture. In manufacture the division of labour breaks down the production of each commodity into a series of distinct operations. Often the engrossermanufactory- owner found it profitable to set up a comparatively small workshop, where only the assembly or the ultimate finishing of the commodity was carried out. All the preparatory operations were performed by handicraftsmen and artisans who worked at home but were completely dependent on the capitalist. Frequently the artisans, scattered in different villages, had dealings not with the owner of the assembly workshop but with middlemen or foremen, who exploited them additionally. The artisans and handicraftsmen working at home received from the capitalist payment which was considerably less than that given to workers employed in the capitalist’s workshop. Masses of peasants whose need for money obliged them to seek extra work on the side were drawn into handicraft. In order to earn a small sum of money, the peasant exhausted himself and forced all his family to work as well. An excessively long working day, unhealthy working conditions, the most ruthless exploitation-such were the distinguishing features of capitalist’ domestic industry.

These features were found in the numerous handicraft industries of Tsarist Russia. Engrossers who became in practice the bosses of handicraft industry in a given village or district extensively introduced division of labour among the craftsmen. For example, in the Zavyalovs’ establishment at Pavlovo (where more than 100 workers were employed in the assembly workshop in the 1860’s) an ordinary penknife passed through the hands of eight of nine craftsmen. On it worked a smith, a blade-maker, a handle-maker, a temperer, a polisher, a finisher, a leveller and a stamper. Yet a substantial section of the detail-workers were employed not in the capitalist’s workshop but in their own houses. A similar picture was shown by the carriage-making industry, feltmaking, a number of woodworking handicrafts, shoemaking, button-making, etc. Numerous examples of savage exploitation of handicraftsmen are given by V.I. Lenin in his work The Development of Capitalism in Russia. Thus, in Moscow Province at the beginning of the 1880’s, in unreeling cotton thread, and in knitting and other industries employing women, 37,500 women workers were engaged. Children began to work at the age of five or six. The average daily wage was thirteen kopeks; the working day lasted up to eighteen hours. Role of Manufacture in History

Manufacture was the transitional form between the petty production of artisans and craftsmen and large-scale capitalist machine industry. A manufactory was akin to handicraft in that its basis remained hand technique, and to a capitalist factory in that it meant large-scale production based on exploitation of wage-workers. The division of labour in manufacture was a notable step forward in the development of the productive forces of society. But manufacture, based on hand labour, was not in a position to supplant petty production. Typical of the manufacturing period of capitalism’s development was a small number of relatively large-scale establishments alongside a considerable number of small ones. While a certain share of the commodities were produced in manufactories, the overwhelming mass of them were provided as before by craftsmen and artisans, who were dependent in varying degrees upon capitalist engrossers, putters-out and manufacturers. Thus, manufacture could not lay hold of the whole field of social production. It was a kind of superstructure; the basis remained as before, petty production with its primitive technique. The role played by manufacture in history was that it prepared the conditions necessary for the passage to machine production. In relation to this, three circumstances were of especial importance. First, manufacture, bringing the division of labour to a high level, simplified many working operations. They were reduced to such simple movements that it became possible to replace the worker’s hands by machines. Second, the development of manufacture led to specialisation of the working tools, to their becoming considerably improved, as a result of which an advance from hand-operated tools to machines became possible. Third, manufacture prepared cadres of skilled workers for large-scale machine industry, thanks to their prolonged specialisation in the carrying out of particular operations.

Petty commodity production, capitalist simple co-operation and manufacture, with its appendage, capitalist domestic industry, are widespread at the present day in economically under-developed countries such as India, Turkey, Persia, etc. Disintegration of the Peasantry. Transition from Labour- Service Economy to Capitalist Economy

In the manufacturing period of the development of capitalism industry became more and more separated from agriculture. The growth in the social division of labour led to not only industrial products but also agricultural products being transformed into commodities. Specialisation of districts by crops and branches took place in agriculture. Districts where commercial agriculture was carried on made their appearance: flax-cultivation, sugar-beet production, cotton-growing, tobacco-growing, dairying, cheese-making, etc. On this basis exchange developed not merely between industry and agriculture but also between different branches of agriculture. The further commodity production penetrated into agriculture, the fiercer became the competition between the tillers of the soil. The peasants fell into greater and greater dependence upon the market. Spontaneous fluctuation of prices on the market intensified and made more acute the inequality of property among the peasants. Spare money accumulated in the hands of the upper handful of well-to-do in the countryside. This money served them as a means to enslave and exploit the poorer peasants, becoming transformed into capital. One of the ways in which this enslavement was effected was the purchasing for trivial sums of the products of the peasants’ labour. Gradually the ruin of the peasantry attained such a level that many of them were forced completely to abandon their holdings and resort to selling their labour-power. Thus, with the development of the social division of labour and with the growth of commodity production, a process of differentiation of the peasantry took place; capitalist relations were formed in the countryside, new social types of rural population, the classes of capitalist society, came into being-a rural bourgeoisie and an agricultural proletariat. The rural bourgeoisie (or kulaks) carry on commodity production on the basis of employing hired labour, exploiting the permanent rural labourers and (still more) the day-labourers and other temporary workers whom they take on for seasonal field work. They concentrate in their possession a considerable share of the land (including leased land), draught animals and agricultural produce. They also own enterprises for the working-up of raw material, mills, threshing-machines, pedigree stock, etc. They usually also function as the village moneylenders and shopkeepers. All this serves as a means of exploiting the poor and a considerable section of the middle peasantry. The agricultural proletariat is the mass of labourers, deprived of means of production and exploited by the landlords and rural bourgeoisie. The basic source of livelihood of the agricultural proletarian is the sale of his labourpower. The typical agricultural proletarian is a hired worker with an allotment. The tiny scale of the farming which he carries on on his patch of land, and his lack of draught animals and implements, inevitably compel a peasant of this kind to sell his labour-power. Very close to the agricultural proletariat are the rural poor. The poor peasant has a small plot of land and a small number of cattle. The grain which such a peasant can grow is not sufficient for his needs. The money which he needs for food and clothing, to run his holding and pay his taxes, he is obliged to earn. to a substantial extent by working for wages. A peasant like this has already half-ceased to be his own master and is a rural semi-proletarian. The standard of living of the poor peasant, as of the rural proletarian, is extremely low and is inferior to that of the industrial worker. The development of capitalism in agriculture leads to a continual growth in the ranks of the rural proletariat and poor peasantry. An intermediate position between the rural bourgeoisie and the poor peasants is occupied by the middle peasantry. The middle peasantry carry on agriculture on the basis of their own means of production and their personal labour. Only under favourable conditions does the labour of the middle peasant on his holding guarantee the livelihood of his family. Hence the instability of the middle peasant’s situation. “In its social relationships this group oscillates between the higher group towards which it gravitates and into which only a fortunate minority succeeds in entering, and the lower group into which the whole process of evolution is forcing it." (Lenin, “Development of Capitalism in Russia", Selected Works, 12-vol. edition, vol. I, p. 235.) A process of ruining and “erosion" of the middle peasantry goes on. Capitalist relations in the agriculture of bourgeois countries are interwoven with survivals of serfdom. The bourgeoisie when it came to power did not, in the majority of countries, abolish large-scale feudal landownership. The landowners’ estates gradually adapted themselves to capitalism. The peasantry, freed from servile dependence but deprived of a substantial part of the land, suffocated from land hunger. It was obliged to lease land from the landlords on extortionate terms.

In Russia, for example, after the reform of 1861, the most widespread form of exploitation of the peasants by the landlords was work-payment, by which the peasant was obliged, either in return for the lease of land or to repay a loan contracted on extortionate terms, to work on the landlord’s farm, using his own means of production-draught animals and primitive implements. The disintegration of the peasantry undermined the foundations of the landlords’ economy, which was carried on by means of work-payment, exploiting an economically dependent peasantry, and was based on backward technique. The well-to-do peasant was in a position to rent land for money and so did not need to accept extortionate terms of lease which obliged him to perform work-payment. The poor peasant was also unsuitable for the workpayment system, but for a different reason: lacking means of production, he was transformed into a wage-worker. The landlord could use for work-payment mainly the middle peasantry. But the development of commodity economy and commercial agriculture, by ruining the middle peasantry, undermined the workpayment system of economy. The landlords extended their employment of hired labour; which was more productive than the labour of dependent peasants; the importance of the capitalist system of economy grew while that of the work-payment system declined. Work payment, however, as a direct survival of week-work was, preserved for a long time alongside the capitalist system of economy. Formation of a Home Market for Capitalist Industry

With the development of capitalism in industry and agriculture there took place the formation of a home market. Already in the period of manufacture a number of new branches of industrial production arose. One after another various forms of industrial processing of agricultural raw material were separated off from agriculture. With the growth of industry the demand for agricultural products continually grew. In connection with this a widening of the market took place. Districts which specialised in the production, e.g., of cotton, flax or sugar-beet, or in stock-raising, had a demand for grain. Agriculture increased its demand for various products of industry. The home market for capitalist industry is formed by the very development of capitalism, by the disintegration of the petty commodity producers. “The divorcement of the direct producer from the means of production, i.e., his expropriation, which signifies the transition from simple commodity production to capitalist production (and which is the necessary condition for this transition), creates the home market." (Lenin, “Development of Capitalism in Russia", Selected Works, 12-vol. edition, vol. I, p. 223.) The process of formation of the home market bore a two-fold character. On the one hand, the bourgeoisie of town and country presented a demand for means of production: improved implements of labour, machines, raw materials, etc., needed to extend the existing capitalist enterprises and build new ones. The bourgeoisie’s demand for consumer goods increased. On the other hand, the increase in the numbers of the industrial and agricultural proletariat, inseparably connected with’ the disintegration of the peasantry, was accompanied by an increase in the demand for commodities serving as means of subsistence for the workers. Manufacture, based as it was on primitive technique and hand labour, was not in a position to satisfy the growing demand for industrial commodities. The economic necessity arose to pass over to large-scale machine production. BRIEF CONCLUSIONS

(1) Capitalist simple co-operation is a form of production based on exploitation by a particular capitalist of a more or less substantial number of simultaneously-employed wageworkers who all carry out work of the same kind. Capitalist simple co-operation secured economy in means of production, created a new social productive force of labour, reduced the expenditure of labour per unit of production. The results of the growth in the productive power of social labour were appropriated by the capitalists without compensation.

(2) Manufacture is large-scale capitalist production based on hand technique and division of labour among wage-workers. The division of labour under manufacture considerably enhanced the productivity of labour, while at the same time mutilating. the wage-worker by dooming him to an extremely one-sided development. Manufacture created the necessary prerequisites for the transition to large-scale machine industry.

(3) The development of commodity production leads to disintegration of the peasantry. A small upper section of countryfolk pass into the ranks of the bourgeoisie, while a substantial section of the peasantry pass into the ranks of the proletariat-urban and rural; the poor grow in numbers; the broad intermediate stratum of middle peasants falls into ruin. The disintegration of the peasantry undermines the foundations of the work-payment system. The landlords increasingly pass over from labour-service economy to capitalist economy.

(4) The home market is formed by the very development of capitalism. Extension of the home market signifies an increase in the demand for means of production and for means of subsistence. Manufacture, based on backward technique and hand labour, was not in a position to satisfy the demand for industrially produced commodities presented by the growing market. The need arose to pass on to machine industry.


1. This word first appeared in England to describe traders who bought up corn or other commodities from their producers to resell elsewhere: the term occurs in the fourteenth century (they were also called “badgers", “forestallers" or “regraters" in the fifteenth century).But already in 1555 an Act of Parliament complained of “rich and wealthy clothiers" because of their “ingrossing of looms". These “clothiers" had begun in the fifteenth century by selling yarn to the weavers who worked at home in their cottages, and then buying back the cloth. Later the “clothiers" extended their operations at both ends. They bought the raw wool, sold it to the spinners (also working at home.), and bought it back from them to resell to weavers as before. Then they paid dyers, fullers, etc., to work on the cloth. Finally, the “clothiers" began to assemble the weavers under one roof. See below, p. 96ff. Editor, English edition.