1) Transformation of Money into Capital

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

1) Transformation of Money into Capital[edit source]

a) M—C—M. The Most General Form of Capital[edit source]

[I-1]

Let us look first at the form M—C—M : the exchange of money for the commodity, i.e. buying in order to exchange the commodity for money again, i.e. in order to sell. We have already noted[1] that in the form of circulation C — M — C the extremes C and C are qualitatively distinct, even though they are equal in magnitude of value, hence in this form a real exchange of materials takes place (different use values are exchanged for each other), therefore the result C — C — the exchange of commodity for commodity, in fact the exchange of use values for one another — has an obvious purpose. In the form M — C — M in contrast (buying in order to sell) the two extremes M and Af are qualitatively the same , namely they are money. Indeed, if I exchange M (money) for C (commodity), in order to exchange the commodity (C) in turn for M (money), i.e. if I buy in order to sell, the result will be that I have exchanged money for money. In actual fact the circulation M — C — M (buying in order to sell) falls into the following acts: first, M — C, the exchange of money for the commodity, purchase; second, C — M, the exchange of the commodity for money, sale; and the unity of the two acts, or the passage through both stages, M — C — M, the exchange of money for the commodity in order to exchange the commodity for money, buying in order to sell. The result of the process, however, is M — M, the exchange of money for money. If I buy cotton for 100 thalers and sell the cotton again for a hundred thalers, I have at the end of the process 100 thalers just as I had at the beginning; the whole movement consists in my expending

100 thalers by the purchase and then taking in 100 thalers again by the sale. The result is thus M—M: I have in fact exchanged 100 thalers for 100 thalers. Such an operation appears to be without purpose, however, and therefore absurd.[2] At the end of the process, as at the beginning, I have money, which is qualitatively the same commodity and quantitatively the same magnitude of value. Money is the starting-point and the finishingpoint of the process (of the movement). The same person gives out the money as purchaser to receive it back as seller. The point from which the money departs in this movement is the point to which it returns. Because the extremes M, M, are qualitatively the same in M—C—M, the process of buying in order to sell, this process can only receive a content and a purpose if they differ quantitatively. If I buy cotton for 100 thalers and sell the same cotton for 110 thalers, I have in fact exchanged 100 thalers for 110 thalers, i.e. I have bought 110 thalers for 100. Thus the form of circulation [1-2] M—C—M, buying in order to sell, receives a content as a result of the fact that the extremes M, M, although qualitatively the same—money—are quantitatively different, since the second M represents a higher magnitude of value, a greater sum of value, than the first. The commodity is bought so as to be sold dearer; in other words, it is bought cheaper than it is sold. Let us look first at the form M—C—M (buying in order to sell) and compare it with the circulation form C—M—C (selling in order to buy) which we examined earlier.[1] First of all, the circulation M—C—M, like the circulation C—M—C, splits up into two distinct acts of exchange, of which it is the unity: namely M—C, the exchange of money for the commodity, or purchase— in this act of exchange a buyer confronts a seller—and secondly C—M, sale, the exchange of the commodity for money—in this act, as in the first, two persons, the buyer and the seller, confront each other. The buyer buys from the one and sells to the other. The buyer, with whom the movement originates, is involved in both acts. First he buys and then he sells. Or his money goes through both stages. It appears as starting-point in the first stage and result in the second. The two persons with whom he exchanges, in contrast, each perform only one act of exchange. The one with whom the buyer makes his first exchange sells the commodity. The other person, with whom he makes the last exchange, buys the commodity. Therefore the commodity sold by the one and the money with which the other buys it do not pass through the two opposed phases of circulation; each rather completes just a single act. Neither of these one-sided acts of sale and purchase performed by these two persons presents us with a new phenomenon. What is new is the whole process which the buyer, who is also its originator, passes through. Let us therefore look instead at the whole movement passed through by the buyer who sells again, or by the money with which he started the operation.

M—C—M. The starting-point is money, the converted form of the commodity, in which it is always exchangeable, in which the labour contained in it has the form of general social labour, i.e. in which it is exchange value become independent The starting-point of this form of circulation, this movement, is therefore itself already a product of the circulation of commodities, i.e. it comes from circulation, for only in and through circulation does the commodity obtain the form of money, only in this way is it changed into money or does it develop its exchange value, the particular independent forms which present themselves as various formal determinations of money. Secondly, the value emerging in this way from circulation and assuming an independent existence in the form of money enters again into circulation, becomes a commodity, but returns again from the commodity form to its monetary form, having at the same time increased its magnitude. The money which passes through this movement is capital, i.e. value become independent in money and passing through this process is the form in which capital initially presents itself or appears.

We can translate the form M—C—M: value become independent in money (if we employ the word value without defining it more closely, it must always be understood as exchange value[3]), hence value emerging from circulation, enters again into circulation, maintains itself in it and returns from it multiplied (returns as a greater magnitude of value). In so far as money constantly describes this circuit afresh, it is value emerging from circulation, entering into it again, perpetuating (maintaining) itself in circulation and multiplied in it.

[1-3] In the first stage of the process money becomes a commodity, in the second stage the commodity again becomes money. The extreme from which the process starts, money—itself already a form of the commodity arisen from circulation, in which it has taken on independence in its determination as exchange value—is at once the point of departure and the point of return. Value is thus preserved in the process it passes through and at the conclusion of the process returns again to its independent form. At the same time, however, the result of the movement, whilst changing nothing in this form (of value), namely its being money, is that the magnitude of the value has grown. The value is thus not only preserved as value, but grows as well, multiplies, increases its magnitude in this movement.

“Capital ... permanent, self-multiplying value” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes etc., Vol. 1, p. 89).

In M—C—M exchange value appears just as much the prerequisite as the result of circulation.

Value (money) resulting from circulation as adequate exchange value (money), taking on an independent form, but entering again into circulation, preserving and multiplying (increasing) itself in and through it, is capital

In M—C—M exchange value becomes the content and the end in itself of circulation. In selling in order to buy the purpose is use value; in buying to sell it is value itself.

Two points must be stressed here. Firstly, M—C—M is value-in-process, exchange value as a process that takes its course through various acts of exchange or stages of circulation, and at the same time dominates over them. Secondly: In this process value is not only preserved, it increases its magnitude, it is multiplied, increases itself, i.e. it creates in this movement a surplus value. It is thus not only self-preserving but self- valorising value, value that posits value.

Firstly: Let us initially look at M—C—M from the point of view of its form, disregarding the fact that the second M is a value of greater magnitude than the first M The value exists first as money, then as commodity, then again as money. It is preserved in the alternation of these forms and returns out of them to its original form again. It passes through changes of form in which it is, however, preserved, and it therefore appears as the subject of these changes. The alternation of these forms therefore appears as its own process, or, in other words, value as it presents itself here is value-in-process, the subject of a process. Money and the commodity each appear only as particular forms of existence of the value which is preserved in passing over from one to the other and always returns to itself as money, in the form in which it has become independent. Money and commodity thus appear as the forms of existence of value-in-process or capital. Hence the interpretations of capital. On the one hand, the one above, given by Sismondi. Capital is self-preserving value.

“It is not matter which makes capital, but the value of that matter” (J. B. Say, Traité d’économie politique etc., 3rd ed., Vol. 2, Paris, 1817, p. 429).[4]

On the other hand, when it is conceived not as the whole movement but in each of its forms of existence—the forms in which it exists each time—: capital is money, capital is commodity.

“CAPITAL IS COMMODITIES” (J. Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 182.1; [p.] 74).


“CURRENCY EMPLOYED TO PRODUCTIVE PURPOSES IS CAPITAL” (McLeod, The Theory and Practice of Banking etc., Vol. I, London, 1855, Ch. I).[5]

In the form of circulation C—M—C the commodity passes through two metamorphoses, the result of which is that it remains behind as a use value. It is the commodity—as unity of use value and exchange value, or as use value, with the exchange value of the commodity figuring as a mere form, an evanescent form— which passes through this process. But in M—C—M money and the commodity appear only as different forms of existence of exchange value, which is seen on the one occasion in its general form as money, and on the other in its particular form as the commodity, at the same time figuring as the dominant and self-asserting element in both forms. [1-4] Money is in itself the form of existence of exchange value become independent, but the commodity too appears here only as the repository of exchange value’s material embodiment.

[1-16][6] It can easily be understood that if there exist classes which do not take part in the production of commodities, and yet possess commodities or money, which is only a form of the commodity, they have a share in the commodities without exchange, through a title gained either by law or force, not to be discussed any further at this point. The commodity owner or producer—for the moment we can only understand the commodity owner as a commodity producer—must give up to those classes a portion of his commodities or of the money he receives for their sale. By virtue of this money, for which they have given no equivalent, they would then be consumers, buyers, without ever having been sellers. These buyers, however, can only be explained as participants in the commodities of the seller (co-owners), a position they have reached through a process inexplicable here.[7] If therefore they buy commodities, they merely give back to the commodity owners and producers a portion of those commodities in exchange for other commodities, commodities they received from the latter without exchange.

It is entirely explicable that if all the producers of commodities sell them at more than their value they will receive from these buyers more than they gave them, but they will only get back more of a sum of value which belonged to the commodity producers in the first place. If someone steals 100 thalers from me and I sell him a commodity worth only 90 thalers for 100 thalers, I make a profit of 10 thalers from him. This is a method of taking away from this buyer, who is a consumer without being a producer, by way of trade a part of the sum of value of 100 thalers that originally belonged to me. If he takes 100 thalers a year from me and I sell him commodities valued at 90 thalers similarly for 100 every year, I admittedly gain 10 thalers a year from him, but only because I lose 100 thalers a year to him. If his taking away of 100 thalers is an institution, the trading that follows is a means of cancelling out this institution in part, here to the extent of Vio- However, no surplus value arises in this way and the extent to which this buyer can be defrauded by me, i.e. the number of transactions in which I can sell him 90 thalers’ worth of commodities for 100, depends precisely on the number of times he takes 100 thalers from me without giving any equivalent whatever. It is therefore not a transaction through which capital, value preserving and increasing itself in circulation, can be explained, still less the surplus value of capital. Not only Torrens, but Malthus himself makes leaps of this kind, and is reproached for it with moral indignation by the Ricardians.[8] Thus Malthus thinks—and correctly under the given conditions—that the income of the mere CONSUMERS, mere buyers, must be increased so that the producers can make a profit from them, so as to encourage production.

* “The zeal for ‘encouraging consumption’, as supposed necessary for trade in general, springs from the real usefulness of it with regard to the venders of a particular trade” * ([p.] 60). * “ ‘What we want are people who buy our goods’... But they have nothing in the world to give you for your goods, but what you gave them first. No property can originate in their hands; it must have come from yours. Landlords, placemen, stockholders, servants, be they what they may, their whole means of buying your goods was once your means, and you gave it up to them” * (fpp. 61-]62. * “The object of selling your goods is to make a certain amount of money; it never can answer to part with that amount of money for nothing, to another person, that he may bring it back to you, and buy your goods with it: you might as well have just burnt your goods at once, and you would have been in the same situation” * ([p.] 63) (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand and the Necessity of Consumption, Lately [1-17] Advocated by Mr. Malthus etc., London, 1821).

* “Mr. Malthus sometimes talks as if there were two distinct funds, capital and revenue, supply and demand, production and consumption, which must take care to keep pace with each other, and neither outrun the other. As if, besides the whole mass of commodities produced, there was required another mass, fallen from Heaven, I suppose, to purchase them with.... The fund for consumption, such as he requires, can only be had at the expense of production”* (I.e., [pp.] 49, 50). * “When a man is in want of demand, does Mr. Malthus recommend him to pay some other person to take off his goods?” * ([p.] 55).

[1-4] In the form of circulation C—M—C, viewed as the total metamorphosis of the commodity, the value admittedly exists as well, first as the price of the commodity, then in money as the realised price, and finally in the price of the commodity again (or, in general, in its exchange value); but it only puts in a transitory appearance here. The commodity exchanged by means of the money becomes a use value; the exchange value disappears, as the irrelevant form of the commodity, and it drops out of circulation altogether.

In simple commodity circulation—C—M—C—money always appears in all its forms as merely the result of circulation.[1] In M—C—M it appears, to an equal extent, as starting-point and as result of circulation, so that exchange value is not, as in the first form of circulation, the merely transitory form of commodity circulation—the form of the commodity itself taking shape within the exchange of commodities and in turn vanishing—but on the contrary the purpose, the content and the propulsive heart of circulation.

The starting-point of this circulation is money, exchange value become independent. Historically the formation of capital also proceeds everywhere from monetary wealth, and the first conception of capital is that it is money, but money that passes through certain processes.

The form of circulation M—C—M, or money-in-process, self-valorising value, takes as its starting-point money, the product of the simple circulation C—M—C. It therefore presupposes not just the circulation of commodities but a circulation of commodities which has already developed all the forms of money. The formation of capital is therefore only possible where the circulation of commodities—the exchange of products as commodities and the establishment of exchange value’s independence in money and the latter’s various forms—has already developed. In order to pass through the process in which it appears as starting-point and result, exchange value must have already attained its independent, abstract shape in money.

The first act of the form M—C—M, namely M—C, or purchase, is the last act of the form C—M—C, namely M—C once again. In the last act, however, the commodity is bought, money is converted into a commodity, so that the latter may be consumed as a use value. The money is expended. By contrast, in M—C as the first stage of M—C—M, the money is converted into a commodity, exchanged for a commodity, only so that the commodity may be converted back into money, so that the money may be recovered, retrieved from circulation again by means of the commodity. The money therefore appears only to have been given out so that it may return, only thrown into circulation so that it may be withdrawn again through the commodity. Hence it is only advanced,

  • “When a thing is bought, in order to be sold again, the sum employed is called money advanced; when it is bought not to be sold, it may be said to be expended”* (James Steuart, Works etc., ed. by General Sir James Steuart, his son etc., Vol. I, London, 1805,[9] [p.] 274).[10]

If we look at the form C—M—C, in its first act, C—M, the commodity appears as a mere materialisation of exchange value (hence a mere means of exchange) for the seller. Its use value is not as such use value for himself—the seller—but for a third factor, the buyer. He therefore sells it, converts it into money, in order with that money to buy a commodity which is a use value for himself. The price of the commodity he buys has value for him only in so far as it determines the quantity—the quantity of use values—he obtains for his money. In purchase therefore the exchange value of the commodity appears here only as a transitory form of the commodity, and similarly the independence of this exchange value in money only puts in a transitory appearance. In M—C—M, on the other hand, [1-5] where the purchase forms not the second but rather the first act of circulation or the processes of exchange, the commodity into which the money is converted is equally no more than a materialisation of exchange value for the buyer, just a disguised form of money, so to speak. Here both M and C appear merely as specific forms, modes of existence of exchange value, between which it alternates; money as the general, the commodity as a particular form of exchange value. The exchange value is not lost in the transition from one mode of existence to the other; it merely changes its form and hence always returns to itself in its general form. It appears as dominating over its two modes of existence, money and the commodity, and precisely for that reason it appears as the subject of the process, in which it presents itself now as the one and now as the other, hence either as money-in-process or as value-in-process. Secondly. As we have already noted, M—C—M would, however, be a movement without content if the extremes M, M, which are qualitatively the same, were not quantitatively different. The process would be without content if a certain sum of value were cast into circulation as money, so that the same sum of value could be withdrawn again from circulation in the form of money, thus leaving everything as it was before, at the starting-point of the movement, as a result of two acts of exchange in opposite directions. The characteristic feature of the process is rather that the extremes M, M, although qualitatively the same, are quantitatively different, quantitative distinction being altogether the only thing exchange value as such—and in money it exists as such—is capable of by its nature. As a result of the two acts of buying and selling, the conversion of money into a commodity and the reconversion of the commodity into money, at the end of the movement more money, a larger sum of money, hence an enhanced value, emerges from circulation: more money than the amount cast into circulation at the beginning.

If, for example, the money was originally, at the start of the movement, 100 thalers, it is 110 at the end. The value has therefore not only maintained itself but has in the course of circulation posited a new value, or surplus value, as we shall call it. Value has produced value. Or value appears to us here for the first time as self-valorising. Hence value as it appears in the movement M—C—M is value coming out of circulation, entering it, maintaining itself in it, and valorising itself, positing surplus value. As such it is capital.

In hoarding, which one might recall here, value does not valorise itself.[1] The commodity is converted into money, sold, and in this shape withdrawn from circulation, laid aside. The same magnitude of value as existed previously in the form of the commodity now exists in the form of money. The commodity has not increased its magnitude of value; it has simply taken on the general form of exchange value, the money form. This was a purely qualitative change, not a quantitative one.

In the present case, however, the commodity is already presupposed in the form of money as the starting-point of the process. It gives up this form temporarily in order to reassume it at the end as an increased magnitude of value. Money as hoard, in contrast, remains fixed in its form as exchange value become independent, and, far from being valorised, is withdrawn from circulation. Its power of acting as exchange value is retained in petto[11] for the future, but suspended for the present. Not only does the magnitude of its value remain unaltered, it loses its function, its quality, of exchange value—as long as it remains a hoard— since it does not function as money, whether means of purchase or means of payment. Apart from this it has no direct use value as money, and has therefore also lost the use value it possessed as a commodity. It can only win this use value back [1-6] by acting again as money, being thrown into circulation and thereby giving up its character as the presence of exchange value. The only thing that takes place in hoarding is that the commodity is given the form of money, the adequate form of exchange value, by the sale of the commodity at its price. In place of valorisation—i.e. an increase of the original value—there occurs no utilisation at all of the money fixed as a hoard; it possesses only a potential value, in actuality it is valueless. Thus this relation of self-valorising value or capital has nothing in common with hoarding, except that both of them are concerned with exchange value, with the hoarder, however, employing an illusory method of increasing it.

In C—M—C, selling in order to buy, in which use value and therefore the satisfaction of needs is the ultimate purpose, there is nothing in the form itself that direcdy requires its repetition once the process has taken place. The commodity is exchanged by means of money for another commodity, which now drops out of circulation as a use value. With this the movement has come to an end. In M—C—M, by contrast, the very form of the movement implies that no end is at hand: the end of the movement already contains the principle and the driving force of its resumption. For since money, abstract wealth, exchange value is the starting-point of the movement and its multiplication is the purpose; since the result and the starting-point are qualitatively the same, being a sum of money or value, whose quantitative limit appears at the end as much as at the beginning of the process as a barrier to its general concept—for the more the quantity of exchange value or money is increased the more it corresponds to its concept— (money as such can be exchanged for all wealth, all commodities, but the degree to which it is exchangeable depends on its own mass or magnitude of value)—self-valorisation remains as much a necessary activity for the money which emerges from the process as for the money which started it off—consequently the principle of the movement’s resumption is already given with the movement’s end. Moreover, it emerges at the end as what it was at the beginning, namely the prerequisite of the same movement in the same form. This is what this movement has in common with hoarding: the absolute drive for enrichment, the drive to gain possession of wealth in its general form.

//At this point it will be necessary to go in detail into Aristotle’s discussion, Republic I, 1, ch. 9.[12]//

It is the money owner (or commodity owner, for money is after all only the converted shape of the commodity) who makes his money, or the value he possesses in the form of money, pass through the process M—C—M This movement is the content of his activity and he therefore appears only as the personification of capital defined in this way, as the capitalist. His person (or rather his pocket) is the starting-point of M, and it is the point of return. He is the conscious vehicle of this process. Just as the result of the process is the preservation and increase of value, the selfvalorisation of value, what forms the content of the movement appears in him as a conscious purpose. To increase the amount of value he possesses appears thus as his sole purpose. His purpose is the ever-growing appropriation of wealth in its general form, exchange value, and only in so far as it appears as his sole driving motive is he a capitalist or a conscious subject of the movement M—C—M Never use value, only exchange value must therefore be regarded as his direct purpose. The need he satisfies is for enrichment as such. It goes without saying, incidentally, that he continuously increases his control over real wealth, over the world of use values. For whatever the productivity of labour, at a given stage of production a higher exchange value is always represented by a larger mass of use values than a smaller.[13] [1-6]


[I-14][14] In order to develop the concept of capital we must begin to not with labour but with value, or, more precisely, with the exchange value already developed in the movement of circulation. It is just as impossible to pass directly from labour to capital from the different races of men directly to the banker, or from nature to the steam-engine.

As soon as money is posited as exchange value which not merely makes itself independent of circulation (as in hoarding) but maintains itself inside it, it is no longer money, for money as such does not extend beyond the negative determination; it is capital. Hence money is also the first form in which exchange value proceeds to the character of capital, and historically it is the first form in which capital appears, being as a result historically confused with capital itself. For capital, circulation appears not only, as with money, as a movement in which exchange value vanishes, but also as a movement in which it is preserved and is itself the alternation of the two determinations of money and commodity. In simple circulation, in contrast, exchange value is not realised as such. It is always realised only in the moment of its disappearance. If the commodity becomes money and the money again becomes commodity, the exchange value determination of the commodity disappears, for it only served to obtain a quantity of the second commodity corresponding to the first commodity, the second commodity to the corresponding amount, whereupon the latter commodity as a use value is swallowed up in consumption. The commodity becomes indifferent towards this form and ceases to be more than the direct object of need. If the commodity is exchanged for money, the form of exchange value, money, persists only as long as it stays outside exchange, puts itself in a negative relation to circulation. The imperishability money strove for by taking up a negative stance towards circulation is achieved by capital, in that the latter preserves itself precisely by self-abandonment to circulation. [I-14]

b) Difficulties Arising from the Nature of Value, etc.[edit source]

[I-7] The first examined the form of capital in which it is directly presented or appears for observation. It can, however, be easily shown that the form M—C—M, value re-entering circulation, preserving and valorising itself within it, seems utterly incompatible with the nature of money, the commodity, value and circulation itself.

Circulation, in which the commodity is now represented as commodity, now as money, involves a change of form for the commodity; the manner in which its exchange value is represented changes but the exchange value itself remains unaltered. The magnitude of its value does not change, it is not affected by this change of form. If we take a commodity, a ton of iron for example, its exchange value, the labour time contained in it, is expressed (represented) in its price, say £3. If it is now sold, it is converted into £3, into the quantity of money indicated by its price, money which contains an identical amount of labour time. Now it exists no longer as a commodity but as money, as independent exchange value. The magnitude of value remains unaltered, being the same in the one form as in the other. Only the form in which the same exchange value exists has altered. The change in the form of the commodity which constitutes circulation, buying and selling, has in itself nothing to do with the magnitude of the commodity’s value: this magnitude is rather pre-posited to circulation as a given factor. The money form is merely another form of the commodity itself, in which no change takes place in its exchange value except that it now appears in its independent form.

But in the circulation C—M—C (selling in order to buy) there is a simple confrontation of commodity owners, one of whom possesses the commodity in its original shape, the other in its converted shape as money. Like the circulation C—M—C, the circulation M—C—M contains the two acts of sale and purchase and no more. The one starts with a sale and ends with a purchase; the other starts with a purchase and ends with a sale. Each of the acts of exchange needs only to be considered for itself in order to see that the sequence of these acts cannot change their nature in any way. In the first act, M—C, what we have called capital exists only as money; in the second act, C—M, it exists only as a commodity. In both acts, therefore, it can only have the effect of money and commodity. In the first it confronts the other commodity owner as the buyer, the money owner, in the second as seller, commodity owner. If we assume that through some inexplicable circumstance the buyers have the opportunity of buying cheaper, i.e. buying the commodity at less than its value and selling it at its value or at more than its value, our man is admittedly a buyer in the first act (M—C) and would therefore buy the commodity at less than its value, but in the second act (C—M) he is a seller and another commodity owner confronts him as buyer; the latter would in turn have the privilege of purchasing the commodity from him at less than its value. What he gained with one hand would be lost with the other. If, on the other hand, one assumes that he sells the commodity at more than its value, this being a privilege enjoyed by the seller, then in the first act, before he himself acquired the commodity in order to sell it later, someone else confronted him as the seller and sold him his commodity too dear. If they all sell their commodities e.g. 10% too dear, i.e. at 10% over their value — and we have here only commodity owners confronting each other, whether they possess their commodities in the commodity or the money form; in fact they will possess them alternately in one form and then the other — then it will be exactly the same as if they sold them to each other at their real value. Similarly if they all buy the commodities at, for example, 10% under their value.

It is clear, in so far as one considers the simple use value of the commodities, that both parties can gain by the exchange. [I-8] In this sense it can be said that “exchange is a transaction in which both sides only gain” (Destutt de Tracy, Élémens d'idéologie. Traité de la volonté et de ses effets (forms part IV and V), Paris, 1826, p. 68. It says there:

“Exchange is an admirable transaction in which the two contracting parties always gain, both of them”).

To the extent that the whole circulation is only a mediating movement to exchange one commodity for another, each person alienates the commodity he does not need as a use value and appropriates the commodity he does need as a use value. They both gain from this process, therefore, and they only enter into it because they both gain. Yet another point: A, who sells iron and buys grain, possibly produces more iron over a given labour time than the grain farmer B could produce in the same time, and B for his part produces more grain in the same labour time than A could produce. By means of the exchange, therefore, whether mediated through money or not, A receives more grain for the same exchange value, and B more iron, than they would if the exchange had not taken place. In so far as it is a matter of the use values iron and grain, then, both sides gain by the exchange. Similarly, if we regard each of the two acts of circulation, buying and selling, in isolation, and limit our consideration to use value, both parties gain. The seller, who converts his commodity into money, gains because he now has it for the first time in a generally exchangeable form, and only thus does it become general means of exchange for him. The buyer, who converts his money back into a commodity, gains because he has taken it out of this form which is required for circulation, but is otherwise useless, and turned it into a use value for himself. There is not the slightest difficulty in understanding, therefore, that both sides gain by the exchange, in so far as it is a question of use value.

It is entirely different with exchange value. Here the reverse is the case: “Where there is equality there is no gain”

(Galiani, Della moneta, Custodi. Autore etc, Parte Moderna, Vol. IV, [p.] 244... “Dove è eguaglità, non è lucro”).

It is clear that if A and B exchange equivalents, quantities of exchange value or objectified labour time of equal magnitude, whether in the form of money or of commodities, they both bring back from the exchange the same exchange value as they threw into it. If A sells his commodity at its value, he now possesses in the form of money the same quantity of objectified labour time (or a draft on the same quantity, which is for him in practice the same) as he previously possessed in the form of the commodity, i.e. the same exchange value. The same thing holds good, but inversely, for B, who has bought the commodity with his money. He now possesses in the form of the commodity the same exchange value as he previously possessed in the form of money. The sum of the two exchange values remains the same, as also the exchange value possessed by each of them. It is impossible that A should buy the commodity from B under its value and thus receive back in the commodity a higher exchange value than he gave B in money, while B simultaneously sells the commodity above its [value] and thus receives from A in the money form more exchange value than he gave him in the commodity form.

(“A cannot obtain from B more corn for the same quantity of cloth, at the same time that B obtains from A more cloth for the same quantity of corn”) (A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measures, and Causes of Value etc, London, 1825, [p. 65]).

(The anonymous author is Bailey.)

That commodities are exchanged in accordance with their value, or, with regard to the particular form of exchange which occurs in the circulation process, are sold and bought, means nothing more than that equivalents, equal magnitudes of value, are exchanged, replace each other, i.e. commodities are exchanged in proportion as their use values contain equal magnitudes of worked-up labour time, are quanta of labour of equal size.

It is of course possible that one person may lose what the other gains, with the result that the two exchangers are exchanging non-equivalents. Hence one person will draw from the exchange a higher exchange value than he threw in, and indeed precisely in the proportion in which the other person draws a lower exchange value from the exchange than he threw into it. Let us suppose that the value of 100 lbs of cotton is 100 shillings. If A now sells 150 pounds of cotton at 100 shillings to B, B has won 50 shillings, but only because A has lost 50 shillings.

[I-9] If 150 lbs of cotton with a price of 150s. (the price is here only its value expressed, measured, in money) are sold at 100s., the sum of the two values is 250s. after the sale as well as before. Hence the total sum of value present in circulation has not increased, has not valorised itself, has posited no surplus value. It has, rather, remained unaltered. All that has taken place within the exchange or by means of the sale is a change in the distribution of the value pre-posited to it, which existed before it and independently of it. 50s. have passed from one side to the other. It is therefore clear that the fraud which has occurred on one side or the other, whether committed by the buyer or by the seller, does not increase the sum of exchange values present in circulation (whether they exist in the commodity or the money form) but only alters (changes) their distribution among the various commodity owners. Let us assume in the above example that A sells 150 lbs of cotton with a value of 150s. to B for 100s., and B sells it at 150s. to C. In this way B gains 50s., or it appears that his value of 100s. has posited a value of 150. But in fact the same amount is present after the transaction as before it: 100s. in A’s possession, 150s. in B’s, commodities to the value of 150s. in C’s. Summa summarum [grand total]: 400s. Originally there were present: commodities to the value of 150s. in A’s possession, 100s. in B’s, 150s. in C’s. Summa summarum: 400s. No further change has taken place except the change in the distribution of the 400s. between A, B and C. 50s. have travelled from A’s pocket to B’s, and A has become poorer precisely to the extent that B has been enriched. What applies to one sale and one purchase applies equally to the sum total of all sales and purchases, in short to the whole of the circulation of commodities taking place between the whole of the owners of commodities within any period of time. If one commodity owner, or a number of them, take advantage of the rest and thereby draw a surplus value from circulation, its quantity can be exactly measured by the reduction in the value drawn from circulation by the other commodity owners. Some of them extract more value from circulation than they threw in because, and to the extent that, the others extract less value, suffer a deduction from, a lessening in, the value they originally laid out. The sum total of existing values is not thereby altered, only their distribution.

“The exchange of two equal values neither increases nor diminishes the amount of the values available in society. Nor does the exchange of two unequal values ... change anything in the sum of social values, although it adds to the wealth of one person what it removes from the wealth of another” U. B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, 3rd ed., Vol. 2, Paris, 1817, pp. 443-44).

If we take all the capitalists of a country and the sum total of purchases and sales between them in the course of a year, for example, one capitalist may admittedly defraud the other and hence draw from circulation more value than he threw in, but this operation would not increase by one iota the sum total of the circulating value of the capital. In other words: the class of capitalists taken as a whole cannot enrich itself as a class, it cannot increase its total capital, or produce a surplus value, by one capitalist’s gaining what another loses. The class as a whole cannot defraud itself. The sum total of capital in circulation cannot be increased by changes in the distribution of its individual components between its owners. Operations of this kind, therefore, however large a number of them one may imagine, will not produce any increase in the sum total of value, any new or surplus value, or any gain on top of the total capital in circulation. To say that equivalents are exchanged is in fact to say nothing more than that commodities are exchanged at their exchange value, that they are bought and sold and bought at their exchange value.

“In fact the exchange value of one commodity expressed in the use value of another commodity represents equivalence” (I-15) [Contribution to Critique of Political Economy, Marx 1859]

Where exchange has developed into the form of circulation, however, the exchange value of the commodity is expressed, by means of the price, in money (the material of the commodity which serves as the measure of values and hence as money). Its price is its exchange value expressed in money. Therefore, the fact that it is sold in return for an equivalent in money means nothing more than that it is sold at its price, i.e. its value. Similarly, in the case of a purchase, the money buys the commodity at its price, i.e. here the identical sum of money. [I-10] The prerequisite that commodities are exchanged for their equivalents is the same as that they are exchanged at their value, bought and sold at their value.

Two things follow from this.

Firstly. If the commodities are bought and sold at their value, equivalents are exchanged. The value cast by each hand into circulation returns back from circulation into the same hand. It is therefore not increased, it is not affected at all by the act of exchange. Capital, i.e. value which valorises itself in and through circulation, i.e. increasing value, value which posits a surplus value, would thereby be impossible if the commodities were bought and sold at their value.

Secondly. If, however, the commodities are not sold or bought at their value, this is only possible — and, altogether, non-equivalents .can only be exchanged — if one side takes advantage of the other, i.e. if one person receives through the exchange exactly as much more than the value he laid out as the other receives less than the value he laid out. But the sum total of the values exchanged is not thereby altered and no new value has therefore arisen through the exchange. A possesses 100 lbs of cotton to the value of 100s. B buys it for 50s. B has gained 50s., because A has lost 50s. The total sum of values before the exchange was 150s. It is the same after the exchange. But B owned 1/3 of this sum before the exchange, and afterwards he owns 2/3 . A in contrast owned 2/3 before the exchange and only owns 1/3 afterwards. All that has happened, therefore, is a change in the distribution of the sum of values, 150s. The sum itself has remained unchanged.

According to this, capital, self-valorising value, would once again be impossible as a general form of wealth, as in the first case, since an increase of value on the one side would imply a corresponding reduction of value on the other, hence the value as such would not rise. In circulation, one value would only increase because the other value declined, hence was not even maintained.

It is therefore clear that exchange as such, whether in the form of direct barter or in the form of circulation, leaves the values cast into it unchanged, adds no value.

“Exchange confers no value at all upon products” (F. Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Boston, 1843, [p.] 169).

Even so, one still meets with the nonsensical assertion, even from renowned modern economists, that surplus value as such derives from things being sold dearer than their purchase price. Thus, e.g., Mr. Torrens:

“Effectual demand consists in the power and inclination, on the part of the consumers, to give for commodities, either by immediate or circuitous barter, some greater portion of all the ingredients of capital than their production costs” (Torrens, An Essay on the Production of Wealth etc, London, 1821, p. 349).

Here we merely have seller and buyer before us. The question whether the commodity owner (the seller) has produced the commodity by himself, and whether the other, the buyer (whose money, however, must also have originated from the sale of commodities, is only their converted form) wants to buy the commodity for consumption, to buy it as a consumer, does not alter the relation in any way. The seller always represents use value. The [economists'] phrase, reduced to its essential content, and with its incidental accoutrement stripped off, means nothing more than this, that all buyers buy their commodities at more than their value, hence the seller in general sells his commodity at more than its value, and the buyer always buys at less than the value of his money. To bring in the producer and the consumer does not alter things in the least; for they do not confront each other in the act of exchange as consumer and producer but as seller and buyer. Yet where the individuals exchange solely as commodity owners each of them must be both producer and consumer, and each can only be the one in so far as he is the other. Each would lose as buyer what he gains as seller. On the one hand, then, if a surplus value, as we still can call every form of gain here, is to emerge from the exchange, it must already have been present before the exchange, as a result of some act which is, however, invisible, not perceptible, in the formula M—C—M.

“Profit (this is a special form of surplus value), in the usual condition of the market, is not made by exchanging. Had it not existed before, neither could it after that transaction” (G. Ramsay, An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, Edinburgh, London] 1836, p. 184).

Ramsay says in the same place:

“The idea of profits being paid by the consumers, is, assuredly, very absurd. Who are the consumers?” etc. (p. 183).

There are only commodity owners facing each other, each of whom is just as much a consumer as a producer; and each of them can only he the one to the extent that he is the other. But if one thinks, anticipating, of classes which consume without [I-11] producing, even so their wealth can only consist of a share of the commodities of the producers, and one cannot explain the increase in value by saying that classes which are given values for nothing are defrauded when an exchange is made in return for those values. (See Malthus) The surplus value or the self-valorisation of value cannot arise from exchange, from circulation. On the other hand, value which as such creates value can only be a product of exchange, of circulation, for only in exchange can it function as exchange value. In itself, isolated, it would be a hoard and as such it no more valorises itself than it serves as a use value. Or if, e.g., one were to say: the money owner buys the commodity, but he works on it, applies it productively, and in that way adds value to it, and then in turn sells it, the surplus value would have arisen entirely and exclusively from his labour. Value as such would not have functioned, would not have valorised itself. He does not obtain more value because he has value: the increase of value comes instead from the addition of labour.

In any case, if capital is a specific form of wealth, a potentiality of value, it must be developed on the basis that equivalents are exchanged, i.e. that the commodities are sold at their value, i.e. in proportion to the labour time contained in them. This seems impossible, however. If equivalents are exchanged for each other in M—C—M, both in the act M—C and in the act C—M, how can more money emerge from the process than went into it?

The investigation of the origins of surplus value has therefore formed the most important problem of political economy from the Physiocrats to the present day. It is in fact the question of how money (or the commodity, as money is only the converted form of the commodity), a sum of values in general, becomes transformed into capital, how capital originates.

The apparent contradictions which lie in the problem — in the conditions of the task — led Franklin to the following utterance:

“There are only 3 ways of increasing the riches of a state: the first is by war: that is robbery; the second is by commerce: this is cheating; and the third is by agriculture: this is the only honest way” ([The] Works of B. Franklin, Vol. II, ed. Sparks, [p. 373,] — Positions to be examined concerning National Wealth”).

Here one can already see why two forms of capital [merchant’s capital and usurer’s capital] that correspond most closely to the ordinary conception of capital and are, in fact, historically the oldest forms of existence of capital — capital in two functions, for its appearance as a particular sort of capital depends on whether it functions in one form or the other — do not come into consideration here at all, for we are dealing with capital as such, but must rather be developed later as derived, secondary forms of capital. The movement M—C—M is shown most clearly in merchant’s capital proper. It was therefore realised at an early stage that its purpose is to increase the value or the money cast into circulation, and that the form in which this is achieved is through buying in order to sell again.

“All the orders of merchants have in common that they buy in order to re-sell” (Reflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses, (appeared in 1766) in Oeuvres de Turgot, ed. by Eugène Daire, Vol. 1, Paris, 1844, p. 43).

On the other hand, surplus value appears here to originate purely in circulation, in that the merchant sells dearer than he buys, whether by buying cheaper than he sells (buying the commodity at less than its value and selling it at or above its value) or by buying the commodity at its value but selling it above its value. He buys the commodity from one person, sells it to another, representing money to the one and the commodity to the other; and when he begins the movement all over again, he sells also in order to buy, but the commodity as such is never his goal, the latter movement serving him only — as [I-12] a mediation for the first. He alternately represents the different sides (phases) of circulation towards the buyer and the seller, and the whole of his movement falls within circulation, or rather, he appears as its vehicle, as the representative of money, just as in simple commodity circulation the, whole movement seems to proceed from the medium of circulation, from money as medium of circulation. He appears only as the intermediary of the different phases the commodity has to pass through in circulation and he therefore mediates only between available extremes, available sellers and buyers, who represent available commodities and available money. Since no other process is added here to the circulation process, the surplus value (profit) the merchant makes by alternately selling and buying — for all his operations can be reduced to sales and purchases — the increase in the money or value brought by him into circulation seems to be explained purely by his taking advantage of the parties with whom he is alternately concerned; the explanation appears to lie in the exchange of non-equivalents, whereby he always draws out of circulation a greater value than he puts into it. His gain — the surplus value created for him by the value he has brought into the exchange — thus appears to stem exclusively from circulation and hence only to be made up of the losses of the people trading with him. Merchant wealth can in fact originate purely in this manner, and the wealth of the trading peoples which conduct a carrying trade between industrially less developed nations originated to a large extent in this manner. Merchant’s capital can act between nations standing at very diverse stages of production and of the economic structure of society in general. It can therefore act between nations where the capitalist mode of production does not occur, hence long before capital is developed in its main forms. But if the gain made by the merchant, or the self-valorisation of the merchant’s wealth, is not merely to be explained by his taking advantage of the commodity owners; if, therefore, it is to be more than just a different distribution of previously existing sums of value, it must evidently be derived only from prerequisites which do not appear in its movement, in its specific function, and its gain, its self-valorisation, appears as a purely derivative, secondary form, the origin of which must be sought elsewhere. Indeed, if its specific form is viewed independently, for itself, commerce must appear, in Franklin’s words, as mere cheating, and if equivalents are exchanged, or commodities are sold and bought at their exchange value, it must appear altogether impossible.

“Under the rule of invariable equivalents commerce would be impossible” (G. Opdyke, A Treatise on Political Economy, New York, 1851, [p.] 67).

(Hence Engels, in his Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy — see Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbücher, Paris, 1844 — sought in similar fashion to explain the difference between exchange value and price by saying that commerce was impossible as long as commodities were exchanged at their value.)

Another form of capital, similarly age-old, is money lent out at interest, interest-bearing money capital, from which popular opinion has taken its concept of capital. Here we do not see the movement M—C—M, the exchange of money for the commodity followed by the exchange of the commodity for more money. All we see is the result of the movement M—M: money is exchanged for more money. It returns to its starting-point, but augmented. If it was originally 100 thalers, it is now 110. The money, the value represented by the 100 thalers, has preserved and valorised itself, i.e. it has posited a surplus value of 10 thalers. We find interest-bearing money, money that posits money, formally therefore capital, in almost all countries and epochs of history, however primitive the mode of production of the society and however undeveloped its economic structure. One side of capital comes still closer here to the [popular] conception than was the case with merchant’s wealth. [I-13] (The kefalaion of the Greeks is our capital in its etymological formation as well.) Namely the fact that value as such valorises itself, posits surplus value, because it (enters into circulation) already exists previously as value, independent value (money), and that, in general, value is only posited, and the [original] value is only preserved and multiplied, because value — value as value — was pre-posited, because it functions as self-valorising. It is sufficient to remark here (we shall return to this on another occasion):

Firstly: If money is lent out as capital in the modern sense of the word, it is already assumed that money — a sum of value — is in itself capital; i.e. that the person to whom the money is lent can or will apply it as productive capital, as self-valorising value, and will have to pay a portion of the surplus value thereby created to the person who has lent him the money as capital. Here, then, interest-bearing money capital is manifestly not only a derived form of capital, capital in a particular function, but capital is assumed to be already fully developed, so that now a sum of value — whether in the money or the commodity forM—Can he lent as capital, not as money and commodity, i.e. capital itself can be thrown into circulation as a commodity sui generis [of a special kind]. Here capital is already presupposed in finished form as a power of money or the commodity, of value in general, so that it can be thrown into circulation as this potentiated value. Interest-bearing money capital in this sense therefore already assumes the development of capital. The capital-relation must already be complete before it can appear in this specific form. The self-valorising nature of value is here already presupposed as rooted in it, so that a sum of value could be sold as self-valorising value, disposed of to a third person on certain conditions. Similarly, interest appears then merely as a particular form and branch of surplus value, just as the latter divides altogether later on into different forms, which constitute different kinds of revenue, such as profit, rent, interest. All questions about the magnitude of the interest, etc., therefore appear as questions of the distribution of the available surplus value between different sorts of capitalist. The existence of surplus value as such is presupposed here.

In order that money or commodities, a sum of value in general, may be lent as capital, capital is already so far presupposed as a specific potentiated form of value that, just as money and commodities are presupposed as material elements over against capital in general, the capital form of value is here presupposed as the identical inherent quality of money and commodities, so that money or commodities can be made over as capital to a third person, since commodities or money are not developed as capital during circulation but can instead be cast into circulation as finished capital, as capital in itself, as a particular commodity, which also has its own particular form of alienation.

On the basis of capitalist production itself, therefore, interest-bearing capital appears as a derived, secondary form.

Secondly. Interest-bearing money appears as the first form of interest-bearing capital, just as money in general appears as the starting-point of capital formation, since value first becomes independent in money, hence the increase of money initially appears as an increase in value in itself, and in money the standard is available for the measurement of, first, the value of all commodities, but then the self-valorisation of value. Money can now be lent out to productive purposes, hence formally as capital, although capital has not yet taken control of production, there is no capitalist production yet, hence no capital exists yet in the strict sense of the word, whether because production takes place on the basis of slavery, or the surplus product belongs to the landlord (as in Asia and in feudal times), or craft industry or peasant economy and the like is the rule. This form of capital is therefore just as independent of the development of the stages of production as merchant’s wealth (the only presupposition being that the circulation of commodities has proceeded far enough to create money), and hence appears historically before the development of capitalist production, on the basis of which it is only a secondary form. Like merchant’s wealth it only needs to be formally capital, capital in a function in which it can exist before it has taken control of production; the latter capital alone is the basis of an historical mode of social production of its own.

[I-14] Thirdly. Money can be borrowed (just like commodities) for buying, not for productive employment, but for consumption, to expend it. In this case no surplus value is formed, there is merely a change in distribution, a displacement of the available values.

Fourthly. Money can be borrowed for payment. Money can be borrowed as a means of payment. If this is done to cover debts arising out of consumption, it is the same case as 3, the only difference being that there money is borrowed to buy use values, here to pay for use values which have been consumed.

But the payment may be required as an act of the circulation process of capital. Discount The examination of this case belongs in the doctrine of credit.

After this digression back to the subject.

In developing capital it is important to keep in mind that the sole prerequisite — the sole material we start out from — is commodity circulation and money circulation, commodities and money, and that individuals only confront each other as commodity owners. The second prerequisite is that the change of form the commodity undergoes in circulation is only formal, i.e. that in all forms the value remains unchanged, that although the commodity exists at one time as a use value and next time as money, there is no alteration in the magnitude of its value, that the commodities are therefore bought and sold at their value, in proportion to the labour time contained in them: in other words, that equivalents alone are exchanged.

Of course, if one looks at the form C—M—C, one finds that here too the value is preserved. It exists first in the form of the commodity, then in that of money, then in that of the commodity again. E.g. if a ton of iron is sold at a price of £3, the same £3 then exist as money, and after that as wheat at a price of £3. The magnitude of the value, £3, has therefore been preserved in this process, but the grain, as a use value, now drops out of circulation into consumption and with this the value is annihilated. Even though the value is preserved in this case as long as the commodity stays in circulation, this appears a purely formal matter. [15]

γ) Exchange with Labour. Labour Process. Valorisation Process[edit source]

[I-15] In the process M—C—M the value (a given sum of value) should be maintained and increased while it enters into circulation, i.e. alternately takes on the forms of commodity and money. Circulation should not be a mere change of form but should raise the magnitude of value, should add to the value already present a new value, or surplus value. As capital the value should be, as it were, raised to the second power, potentiated.

The exchange value of the commodity is the quantity of equal social labour objectified in its use value, or the quantity of labour which has been embodied, worked up in it. The magnitude of this quantity is measured by time: the labour time that is required to produce the use value, and is therefore objectified in it.

Money is distinguished from the commodity solely by the form in which this objectified labour is expressed. In money, the objectified labour is expressed as social labour (in general), which is therefore directly exchangeable with all other commodities in proportion as they contain the same amount of labour. In the commodity, the exchange value it contains, or the labour objectified in it, is only expressed in its price, i.e. in an equation with money; it is only expressed notionally in gold (the material of money and the measure of values). Both forms, however, are forms of the same magnitude of value and, viewed in terms of their substance, forms of the same quantity of objectified labour, thus they are objectified labour in general. (As we have seen, money can be replaced in internal circulation both as means of purchase and of payment by tokens of value, tokens of itself. This in no way alters the essence of the matter, as the token represents the same value, the same labour time, as is contained in the money.)

In the movement M — C — M, and in the concept of capital in general, money is the starting-point. This means nothing more than that the starting-point is the independent form assumed by the value contained in the commodity, or by the labour contained in it: the form in which labour time is present as labour time in general, regardless of the use value in which it was originally embodied. Value, both in the form of money and of the commodity, is an objectified quantity of labour. If money is converted into a commodity, or a commodity into money, the value changes only its form, not its substance, which consists in its being objectified labour, nor its magnitude, whereby it is a definite quantity of objectified labour. All commodities therefore differ only formally from money; money is only a particular form of existence taken on by commodities in and for circulation. As objectified labour they are the same thing, value. The change of form, the fact that this value is present now as money, now as commodity, ought on our assumption to be irrelevant to capital, or it is a prerequisite — assuming that capital in each of these forms is self-maintaining value — without which money, and value in general, does not become capital at all. In general, it should only be a matter of the same content changing its form.

The sole antithesis to objectified labour is non-objectified, living labour. The one is present in space, the other in time, the one is in the past, the other in the present, the one is already embodied in a use value, the other, as human activity-in-process, is currently engaged in the process of self-objectification, the one is value, the other is value-creating. If a given value is exchanged for the value-creating activity, if objectified labour is exchanged for living labour, in short if money is exchanged for labour, the possibility seems to be available that by means of this process of exchange the existing value can be preserved or increased. Let us therefore assume that the money-owner buys labour, hence the seller sells not a commodity but labour. This relation cannot be explained on the basis of the relation of the circulation of commodities, considered previously, where the only parties confronting each other are [I-16] the owners of commodities. [20] For the moment we shall not inquire here into the conditions for this relation, and simply assume it as a fact. Our money-owner’s sole aim in buying labour is to increase the value he possesses. The particular kind of labour he purchases is therefore a matter of indifference to him. All that is necessary is that it should be useful labour, producing a particular use value, hence a specific kind of labour, e.g. the labour of a linen-weaver. We do not as yet know anything about the value of this labour; nor do we know how the value of labour in general is determined.

[I-17] It is therefore clear that the magnitude of the value of a given quantity of labour cannot be changed, let alone increased, by the mere fact of its existing first in the form of money, the commodity in which the value of all other commodities is measured, and then in any other use value; in other words, by its existing first in the form of money and then in the form of the commodity. It is impossible to conceive how a given sum of value, a definite quantity of objectified labour, should even be preserved as such via a metamorphosis of this kind. When it is in the form of money, the value of the commodity — or the commodity itself, in so far as it is exchange value, a definite quantity of objectified labour, — exists in its immutable form. The money form is precisely the form in which the value of the commodity is maintained, conserved as value or as a definite quantity of objectified labour. If I transform money into a commodity, I transform value from a form in which it is preserved into a form in which it is not preserved; and in the movement of buying in order to sell, value would first be transformed from its immutable form into a form in which it does not preserve itself, so that it could then be re-transformed into money again, the immutable form. This transformation may or may not be successful in circulation. But the result would be that I possessed the sum of value, the objectified labour in its immutable form, as a definite sum of money, both before and after the process. This is an entirely useless operation, indeed it runs counter to my purpose. If, however, I keep hold of the money as such, it is a hoard, it has a use value again, and it is preserved as an exchange value only because it does not act as such. It is preserved, as it were, as petrified exchange value, by staying out of circulation, relating to it negatively. On the other hand, in the commodity form the value perishes with the use value in which it is contained, since use value is a transitory thing and as such would be dissolved simply by the metabolic process of nature. And if it is really utilised as a use value, i.e. consumed, the exchange value contained in the use value perishes along with it.

An increase in value means nothing other than an increase in objectified labour; but it is only through living labour that objectified labour can be preserved or increased.

[I-18] Value, the objectified labour which exists in the form of money, could grow only by exchange with a commodity whose use value itself consisted in the ability to increase exchange value, whose consumption would be equivalent to the creation of value or the objectification of labour. (No commodity has any direct use value at all for the value which is to be valorised, except in so far as its use itself constitutes the creation of value; in so far as it is useful for increasing value.) But such use value is only possessed by living labour capacity. Value, money, can therefore only be transformed into capital through exchange with living labour capacity. Its transformation into capital requires that it be exchanged, on the one hand, for labour capacity and, on the other, for the material conditions prerequisite to the objectification of labour capacity.

Here the basis is the circulation of commodities, in which absolutely no dependency relations between the participants in exchange are presupposed apart from those given by the process of circulation itself; the exchangers are distinguished solely as buyers and sellers.[20] Accordingly, money can only buy labour capacity to the extent that the latter is itself offered for sale as a commodity, sold by its owner, the living possessor of labour capacity. The condition for this is first of all that the possessor of labour capacity should have the disposition of his own labour capacity, that he should be able to dispose of it as a commodity. For this to be possible, he must be its proprietor. Otherwise he could not sell it as a commodity. But a second condition, already contained in the first, is that he himself must bring his labour capacity as a commodity to the market, and sell it, because he no longer has labour to sell in the form of another commodity, another use value composed of objectified labour (labour existing outside his subjectivity). Instead, the sole commodity he has to offer, to sell, is precisely his living labour capacity, present in his own living corporeity.[21] (Capacity is here absolutely not to be conceived as fortuna, fortune, but as potency, dynamis.

Instead of selling a commodity in which his labour is objectified, he must be compelled to sell his own labour capacity, that commodity which is specifically distinct from all other commodities, whether they exist in the commodity form or the money form. A prerequisite for this is the absence of the objective conditions for the realisation of his labour capacity, the conditions for the objectification of his labour; these must have been lost to him, becoming instead subject to an alien will, as a world of wealth, of objective wealth confronting him in circulation as the property of the commodity owners, as alien property. Later on we shall be able to be more precise about the kind of conditions required for the realisation of his labour capacity, i.e. the objective conditions for labour, labour in processu, conceived as activity realising itself in a use value.

If then the condition for the transformation of money into capital is its exchange with living labour capacity, or the purchase of living labour capacity from its proprietor, money can, in general, be transformed into capital, or the money owner turn into a capitalist, only to the extent that the free worker is available on the commodity market, within circulation; free, that is, in so far as he, on the one hand, has at his disposal his own labour capacity as a commodity, and, on the other hand, has no other commodity at his disposal, is free, completely rid of, all the objective conditions for the realisation of his labour capacity; and therefore, as a mere subject, a mere personification of his own labour capacity, is a worker in the same sense as the money owner is a capitalist as subject and repository of objectified labour, of value sticking fast to itself.

This free worker, however, is evidently himself the product, the result, of a prior historical development, the summation of many economic transformations; and his existence presupposes the fall of other social relations of production and a definite development of the productive forces of social labour. The same is therefore also true of the exchange between the money owner and the owner of labour capacity, between capital and labour, between capitalist and worker. The definite historical conditions [I-19] associated with the relation presupposed here will emerge of themselves from the later analysis of that relation.[22] In any case, capitalist production proceeds from the presupposition that free workers, i.e. sellers who have nothing but their own labour capacity to sell, will be found available within the sphere of circulation, on the market. Thus the formation of the capital-relation demonstrates from the outset that it can only enter the picture at a definite historical stage of the economic development of society — of the social relations of production and the productive forces. The capital-relation appears straight away as a historically determined economic relation, a relation that belongs to a definite historical period of economic development, of social production. [21]

We started out from the way the commodity appears on the surface of bourgeois society, as the simplest economic relation, the element of bourgeois wealth. The analysis of the commodity showed that definite historical conditions were wrapped up in its existence, too. For example, if the products are only produced by the producers as use values, the use value does not become a commodity. This presupposes that the relations among the members of society are historically determined. If we had pursued the question further, asking under what circumstances the products are generally produced as commodities, or under what conditions the product in its existence as commodity appears as the universal and necessary form of all products, it would have turned out that this only takes place on the basis of one particular historical mode of production, the capitalist one. But this way of looking at things would not have been relevant to the analysis of the commodity as such, for in that analysis we were only concerned with the products, the use values, to the extent that they appeared in the commodity form, and not with the question of the socio-economic basis for the appearance of every product as a commodity. We were proceeding instead from the fact that the commodity is found to be present in bourgeois production as such a universal elementary form of wealth .20 The production and therefore the circulation of commodities can, however, take place between different communities or between different organs of the same community, even though the major part of what is produced may be produced as use values, for the producers’ own direct personal requirements, and therefore may never take on the commodity form. The circulation of money, for its part, and hence the development of the different elementary functions and forms of money, presupposes nothing more than commodity circulation itself, and crudely developed commodity circulation at that.[23] Of course, this is also a historical prerequisite, but owing to the nature of the commodity it may be fulfilled at very different stages of the social production process. A closer analysis of the individual forms of money, e.g. the development of money as a hoard and of money as means of payment, pointed to very different historical stages of the social production process. These are historical differences, arising out of the sheer form of these different functions of money [24]; but the mere existence of money in the form of a hoard or of means of payment was shown to be in equal degree a feature of every halfway developed stage of commodity circulation. Money is therefore not restricted to a particular period of production, being as characteristic of pre-bourgeois stages of the production process as of bourgeois production. Capital, however, steps forth from the outset as a relation which can only be the result of a definite historical process and the basis of a definite epoch in the social mode of production.

Let us now look at labour capacity itself in its antithesis to the commodity, which confronts it in the form of money, or in its antithesis to objectified labour, to value, which is personified in the money owner or capitalist and in this person has become a will in its own right, being-for-itself,[25] a conscious end in itself.

Labour capacity appears on the one hand as absolute poverty, in that the whole world of material wealth as well as its general form, exchange value, confronts it as alien commodity and alien money, whereas it is itself merely the possibility of labour, available and confined within the living body of the worker [subject], a possibility which is, however, utterly separated from all the objective conditions of its realisation, hence from its own reality, denuded of them, and existing independently over against them. To the extent that all the objective conditions for labour to come to life, for its actual process, for really setting it in motion — all the conditions for its objectification — mediate between the capacity for labour and actual labour, they can all be described as means of labour. In order that labour capacity may as an independent factor come to meet the [I-20] objectified labour represented by the owners of money and commodities, that it may confront the value personified by the capitalist, it must be denuded of its own means of labour and step forth in its independent shape as the worker who is obliged to offer his labour capacity as such for sale as a commodity. Since actual labour is the appropriation of nature for the satisfaction of human needs,[26] the activity through which the metabolism between man and nature is mediated, to denude labour capacity of the means of labour, the objective conditions for the appropriation of nature through labour, is to denude it, also, of the means of life, for as we saw earlier, the use value of commodities can quite generally be characterised as the means of life. Labour capacity denuded of the means of labour and the means of life is therefore absolute poverty as such, and the worker, as the mere personification of the labour capacity, has his needs in actuality, whereas the activity of satisfying them is only possessed by him as a non-objective capacity (a possibility) confined within his own subjectivity. As such, conceptually speaking, he is a pauper, he is the personification and repository of this capacity which exists for itself, in isolation from its objectivity.

On the other hand, since material wealth, the world of use values, exclusively consists of natural materials modified by labour, hence appropriated solely through labour, and the social form of this wealth, exchange value, is nothing but a particular social form of the objectified labour contained in the use values; and since the use value, the real use of labour capacity is labour itself, i.e. the activity which mediates use values and creates exchange value, it follows that labour capacity is, just as much, the general possibility of material wealth and the sole source of wealth in the particular social form wealth has as exchange value. Value as objectified labour is after all only the objectified activity of labour capacity. Hence, if in dealing with the capital-relation one starts from the presupposition that objectified labour is preserved and increased, that value is preserved and increased, by the fact that the owners of money or commodities continuously find available in circulation a section of the population who are mere personifications of labour capacity, mere workers, and therefore sell their labour capacity as a commodity, continuously offering it on the market, then the paradox which seems to be the starting-point of modern political economy stems from the nature of the case.[27] While on the one hand political economy proclaims labour to be the source of wealth, in both its material substance and its social form, as regards both use values and exchange values, on the other hand it proclaims, just as much, the necessity for the worker to be in absolute poverty, a poverty which means nothing else than that his labour capacity is the sole remaining commodity he can sell, that he confronts objective, real wealth as mere labour capacity. This contradiction is present in the fact that, whether value appears in the form of the commodity or of money, it confronts labour capacity as such as a special kind of commodity.

A further antithesis is this: in contrast to money (or value in general) as objectified labour, labour capacity appears as a capacity of the living subject; the former is past labour, labour already performed, the latter is future labour, whose existence can only be the living activity, the currently present activity of the living subject itself.[28]

Just as on the side of the capitalist there stands value as such, which has its social, universally valid, general existence as objectified labour in money, and for which every particular form of existence, existence in the use value of every particular commodity, only means a particular and in itself indifferent embodiment, value as such being wealth in the abstract, so he is confronted, in the shape of the worker as the mere personification of labour capacity, by labour as such, the general possibility of wealth, value-creating activity (as a capacity) in general. Whatever the particular kind of actual labour the capitalist may wish to buy, this particular kind of labour capacity only retains its validity to the extent that its use value is the objectification of labour in general, hence value-creating activity in general. The capitalist, who represents value as such, is confronted by the worker, as labour capacity pure and simple, as worker in general, so that the antithesis between [I-21] self-valorising value, self-valorising objectified labour, and living value-creating labour capacity forms the point and the actual content of the relation. They confront each other as capital and labour, as capitalist and worker. This abstract opposition can be found for example in industry under the guild system, where the relation between master and journeyman is of an entirely different nature.[29] //This point, and probably the whole of this passage, should be put in first in the section “Capital and Wage Labour”. [30]//

Value of Labour Capacity. Minimum Salary Or Average Wage of Labour[edit source]

Labour capacity is specifically distinguished as use value from the use values of all other commodities. Firstly, because it exists as a mere ability in the living body of the seller, the worker; and secondly (this is something that imprints on it an entirely characteristic difference from all other use values) because its use value — its actual realisation as a use value, i.e. its consumption — is labour itself, hence the substance of exchange value; because it is the creative substance of exchange value itself. Its actual using-up, its consumption, posits exchange value. Its specific use value is that it creates exchange value.

As a commodity, however, labour capacity itself possesses an exchange value. The question is, how to determine this value? In so far as a commodity is considered from the point of view of exchange value, it is always viewed as a result of the productive activity that is required for the creation of its use value. Its exchange value is equal to the quantity of labour used in working on it, objectified in it, and the measure of this is labour time itself. As exchange value, commodities are distinguished from each other only quantitatively, but from the point of view of its substance each commodity is a certain quantity of average social labour, of necessary labour time, which is required to produce, and therefore also to reproduce, this particular use value under the given general conditions of production. Hence the value of labour capacity, like that of every other use value, is equal to the quantity of labour worked up in it, the labour time required to produce labour capacity (under the given general conditions of production). Labour capacity exists only as an ability of the living body of the worker. Once labour capacity is presupposed as given, its production comes down to reproduction, preservation, as does the production of every living thing. The value of labour capacity can therefore be resolved at the outset into the value of the means of subsistence needed to maintain it, i.e. to maintain the worker’s life as a worker, so that having worked today he will be able to repeat the same process under the same conditions the next day.

Secondly: Before the worker has developed his labour capacity, before he is able to work, he must live. Thus if capital is continuously to find sellers of their own labour capacity available on the market, within circulation — and this is a prerequisite for money to develop into capital, for the capital-relation to occur — It is necessary, the worker being mortal, that he should receive, apart from his own means of subsistence, enough of the means of subsistence to perpetuate the race of workers, to increase their number, or at the very least to maintain it at its given level, so that the labour capacities withdrawn from the market through unsuitability or death are replaced by fresh ones. In other words, he must receive adequate means of subsistence to nourish children until they themselves can live as workers. In order to develop a particular labour capacity, in order to modify his general nature in such a way that he is capable of performing a particular kind of labour, the worker requires practice or training: an education which must itself be paid for, and is more or less expensive according to the particular kind of productive labour he is learning to do. This therefore also forms a part of the cost of production of labour capacity. Important as the latter consideration becomes when it is a matter [I-22] of analysing the differing values of individual branches of labour, here it is irrelevant, for we are only concerned with the general relationship between capital and labour, and therefore have in view ordinary, average labour, seeing all labour as only a multiple of this average labour, the training costs of which are infinitesimally small. In any case, the training costs — the outgoings required to develop the nature of the worker so that he has expertise and dexterity in a particular branch of labour — are always included in the means of subsistence the worker requires to convert his children, his replacements, in turn into labour capacities. These costs form part of the means of subsistence required for the worker to reproduce himself as a worker.

The value of labour capacity can therefore be resolved into the values of the means of subsistence required for the worker to maintain himself as a worker, to live as a worker, and to procreate. These values for their part can be resolved into the particular amount of labour time needed, the quantity of labour expended, in order to create means of subsistence or the use values necessary for the maintenance and propagation of labour capacity.

The means of subsistence needed for the maintenance or reproduction of labour capacity can all be reduced to commodities, which possess more or less value as the productive power of labour varies, i.e. according to whether they require a shorter or longer labour time for their production, so that the same use values contain more or less objectified labour time. The value of the means of subsistence required for the maintenance of labour capacity therefore varies, but it is always precisely measured by the quantity of labour necessary to produce the means of subsistence needed for the maintenance and reproduction of labour capacity, or to maintain or reproduce labour capacity itself. The magnitude of the labour time required for this purpose is subject to variation, but a definite portion of labour time — larger or smaller — is always available, and must be devoted to the reproduction of labour capacity. The living existence of this capacity itself is to be regarded as the objectification of that labour time.

Naturally, the means of subsistence needed by the worker to live as a worker differ from one country to another and from one level of civilisation to another. Natural needs themselves, e.g. the need for nourishment, clothing, housing, heating, are greater or smaller according to climatic differences. Similarly, since the extent of the so-called primary requirements for life and the manner of their satisfaction depend to a large degree on the level of civilisation of the society, are themselves the product of history, the necessary means of subsistence in one country or epoch include things not included in another. The range of these necessary means of subsistence is, however, given in a particular country and a particular period.

Even the level of the value of labour rises or falls when one compares different epochs of the bourgeois period in the same country. Finally, the market price of labour capacity at one time rises above and at another falls below the level of its value. This applies to labour capacity as to all other commodities, and is a matter of indifference here, where we are proceeding from the presupposition that commodities are exchanged as equivalents or realise their value in circulation. (This value of commodities in general, just like the value of labour capacity, is represented in reality as their average price, arrived at by the mutual compensation of the alternately falling and rising market prices, with the result that the value of the commodities is realised, made manifest, in these fluctuations of the market price itself.[31]) The problem of these movements in the level of the workers’ needs, as also that of the rise and fall of the market price of labour capacity above or below this level, do not belong here, where the general capital-relation is to be developed, but in the doctrine of the wages of labour. It will be seen in the further course of this investigation that whether one assumes the level of workers’ needs to be higher or lower is completely irrelevant to the end result. The only thing of importance is that it should be viewed as given, determinate. All questions relating to it as not a given but a variable magnitude belong to the investigation of [I-23] wage labour in particular and do not touch its general relationship to capital. Incidentally, every capitalist who for example sets up a factory and establishes his business necessarily regards wages as given in the place where and the time when he sets himself up in business.

//“Diminish the cost of subsistence of men, by diminishing the natural price of the food and clothing, by which life is sustained, and wages will ultimately fall, notwithstanding that the demand for labourers may very greatly increase” (Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy, 3rd ed., London, 1821, p. 460). //

//“The natural price of labour is that price which is necessary to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution. The power of the labourer to support himself and his family does not depend on the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but on the quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences which that money can purchase. The natural price of labour, therefore, depends on the price of the food, necessaries, and conveniences.... With a rise in the price of food and necessaries, the natural price of labour will rise; with a fall in their price, it will fall — (Ricardo, l.c., p. 86).//

// The English peck (a measure of corn) = 1/4 bushel. There are 8 bushels to 1 quarter. The standard bushel contains 2,218 and 1/5 cubic inches. and measures 19 1/2 inches in diameter, and 8 1/4 inches deep. Malthus says:

“From a comparative review of corn prices and wages from the reign of Edward III onwards we may draw the inference that during the course of 500 years, the earnings of a day’s labour in this country have been more frequently below than above a peck of wheat; that 1 peck of wheat may be considered as something like a middle point, or a point rather above the middle, about which the corn wages of labour, varying according to the demand and supply, have oscillated” (Malthus, Principles of Political Economy etc., 2nd ed., London, 1836, [pp. 240,] 254).//

If a lower-grade commodity is put in the place of a higher and more valuable one, which formed the Worker’s main means of subsistence, e.g. if corn, wheat, replaces meat, or potatoes are put in the place of wheat and rye, the level of the value of labour capacity naturally falls, because the level of its needs has been pushed down. In our investigation, however, we shall everywhere assume that the amount and quality of the means of subsistence, and therefore also the extent of needs, at a given level of civilisation ‘ is never pushed down, because this investigation of the rise and fall of the level itself (particularly its artificial lowering) does not alter anything in the consideration of the general relationship.

Among the Scots, for example, there are many families that live for whole months on oat meal and barley meal, mixed with only water and salt, instead of on wheat and rye, “and that very comfortably”, says Eden in his The State of the Poor etc., Vol. I, London, 1797, b. II, Ch. II.

That curious philanthropist and ennobled Yankee, Count Rumford, exerted his limited brainpower at the end of the last century in the artificial creation of a low average. His Essays a are a fine cookery book with recipes of all kinds of the cheapest possible grub for replacing the present expensive normal food with surrogates for the workers. The cheapest meal which can be prepared, according to this “philosopher”, is a soup of barley, Indian corn, pepper, salt, vinegar, sweet herbs and 4 herrings in 8 gallons of water. In the work cited above Eden heartily recommends this pretty pig-swill to workhouse overseers. 5 lbs of barley, 5 lbs of Indian corn, 3d. worth of herring, 1d. salt, 1d. vinegar, 2d. pepper and herbs, in all 20 3/4d., provide a soup for 64 people, and given the average price of corn it should be possible to reduce the cost per portion to ‘/4d.

// “The mere workman, who has only his arms and his industry, has nothing unless he succeeds in selling his labour to others.... In every kind of work it cannot fail to happen, and as a matter of fact it does happen, that the wages of the workman are limited to what is necessary to procure him his subsistence” (Turgot, Reflexions sur la formation et la distribution des richesses. (appeared first in 1766) in Oeuvres de Turgot,[34] ed. by Eugène Daire, Vol. I, Paris, 1844, [p.] 10).//

[I-26] //[35] It is possible, on the one hand, to bring down the level of the value of labour capacity by reducing the value of the means of subsistence or the way needs are satisfied, through replacing better by cheaper and inferior provisions, or in general through reducing the scope, the volume of provisions. But in view of the fact that the nourishment of women and children enters into the determination of the level, the average level, it is also possible, on the other hand, to push down this level by forcing them to work. Children are already made use of for work during the time when they should be developing. But we are leaving this case out of consideration, like all other cases affecting the level of the value of labour.[36] We are therefore giving capital a fair chance by assuming precisely its greatest abominations to be non-existent. // //The level can equally be lowered by reducing the period of apprenticeship or its cost as near to zero as possible through simplification of work.//

//The following passage from the Whig sycophant Macaulay can be adduced here, in reference to the early exploitation of children as workers. It is characteristic of the kind of history-writing, and the kind of attitude in the economic sphere too, which, while not being laudator temporis acti, limits its audacity to the retrospective, transferring it into the passive. Concerning child labour in factories, similar things in the 17th century. But the passage dealing with the historical process or the machine, etc., is better [suited for it].[37] See Factory Reports, 1856.// [I-26]

[I-24] It was naturally of the highest importance for grasping the capital-relation to determine the value of labour capacity, since the capital-relation rests on the sale of that capacity. What had above all to be established was the way in which the value of this commodity is determined, for the essential feature of the relation is that labour capacity is offered as a commodity; but as a commodity the determination of its exchange value is the decisive factor. Since the exchange value of labour capacity is determined by the values or the prices of the means of subsistence, the use values necessary for labour capacity’s preservation and reproduction, the Physiocrats were able to form on the whole a correct conception of its value however little they grasped the nature of value in general. Hence this wage of labour, which is determined by the average necessities of life, plays an important role with these people, who established the first rational conceptions of capital in general.

//In his anonymously published work A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measures, and Causes of Value etc., London, 1825, directed against Ricardo’s theory of value altogether, Bailey remarks as follows on the former’s determination of the value of labour capacity:

  • "Mr. Ricardo, ingeniously enough, avoids a difficulty, which, on a first view, threatens to encumber his doctrine, that value depends on the quantity of labour employed in production. If this principle is rigidly adhered to, it follows that the value of labour depends on the quantity of labour employed in producing it — which is evidently absurd. By a dexterous turn, therefore, Mr. Ricardo makes the value of labour depend on the quantity of labour required to produce wages; or, to give him the benefit of his own language, he maintains that the value of labour is to be estimated by the quantity of labour required to produce wages; by which he means the quantity of labour required to produce the money or commodities given to the labourer. This is similar to saving, that the value of cloth is to be estimated, not by the quantity of labour bestowed upon its production, but by the quantity of labour bestowed on the production of the silver for which the cloth is exchanged” * ([pp.] 50-51).[38]

The only thing right about this polemic is that Ricardo has the capitalist use his money to buy labour directly, instead of disposition over labour capacity. Labour as such is not directly a commodity, for this is necessarily objectified labour, worked up in a use value. Ricardo does not distinguish between labour capacity as the commodity the worker sells, use value, which has a definite exchange value, and labour, which is merely the use of this capacity in actu. He is therefore incapable, leaving aside the contradiction picked out by Bailey — that living labour cannot be estimated by the quantity of labour employed in its production — of demonstrating how surplus value can emerge, namely the inequality between the quantity of labour the capitalist gives to the worker as a wage and the quantity of living labour the capitalist buys for this amount of objectified labour. For the rest Bailey’s remark is silly. The price of cloth does indeed consist also of the price of the cotton yarn consumed in it, just as the price of labour capacity consists of the means of subsistence that enter into it through the metabolic process. Incidentally, the reproduction of living, organic things does not depend on the labour directly applied to them, the labour worked up in them, but on the means of subsistence they consume — and this is the way of reproducing them. Bailey could also have seen this in the determination of animals’ value; even in the case of machines, in so far as coal, oil and other matières instrumentales consumed by them enter into their cost. To the extent that labour is not restricted merely to the maintaining of life, the need being rather for a special kind of labour which directly modifies labour capacity itself, develops it in such a way that it can practise a particular skill, this too enters into the value of labour — as is the case with more complex labour — and here it is directly incorporated in the worker, is labour expended to produce him. Otherwise Bailey’s joke only has the upshot that the labour applied to the reproduction of the organic body is applied to its means of subsistence, not directly to the body itself, since the appropriation of these means of subsistence through consumption is not work but rather enjoyment.//

[I-25] The necessities of life are renewed daily. If we take for example the mass of necessities of life that are required during a year for the worker to be able to live as a worker and maintain himself as a labour capacity, and the exchange value of this sum — i.e. the quantity of labour time that is worked up, objectified, contained in these means of subsistence — the total quantity of the means of subsistence the worker requires on the average in a day, taking one day with another, and the value of the same needed to live the whole year through, represent the value of his labour capacity on each day, or the quantity of the means of subsistence required on one day so that this labour capacity may continue to exist, be reproduced, as living labour capacity.

Some of the means of subsistence are consumed more quickly, others more slowly. For example, the use values that serve daily as sustenance are also consumed daily, and the same is true of the use values that serve for heating, soap (cleanliness) and lighting. Other necessary means of subsistence, in contrast, such as clothes or housing, are worn out more slowly, although they are used and needed every day. Some means of subsistence must be bought afresh every day, renewed (replaced) every day, others, like for example clothes, need replacing or renewing only at longer intervals although they have to be used every day. This is because they continue to serve as use values for longer periods of time and only become worn out, unserviceable, at the end of these periods.

If the total amount of the means of subsistence the worker must consume every day in order to live as a worker = A, in 365 days it = 365A. In contrast to this, if the total amount of all the other means of subsistence he needs, which only need replacing, i.e. buying anew, three times a year, = B, he would only need 3B in the whole year. Taking them together, therefore, he would need 365A+3B in a year; and every day (365A+3B)/365 . This would be the average amount of the means of subsistence he needed every day, and the value of this amount would be the daily value of his labour capacity, i.e. the value required day by day, counting one day as equivalent to another, to buy the means of subsistence necessary for the maintenance of his labour capacity.

(If one counts the year as 365 days it will contain 52 Sundays, leaving 313 working days; one can therefore take an average of 310 working days.) If now the value of (365A+3B)/365 = 1 thaler, the daily value of his labour capacity would = l thaler. He must earn this amount every day in order to be able to live through the year day by day, and nothing in this is altered by the fact that the use value of certain commodities is not renewed every day. The annual total of his necessities of life is therefore given; then we take their value or price; then we take the daily average, i.e. we divide the total by 365, and we thus obtain the value of the worker’s average necessities of life or the average daily value of his labour capacity. (The price of 365A+3B = 365 thalers, hence the price of his daily necessities of life (365A+3B)/365 = 365/365 = 1 thaler.)

Exchange of Money with Labour Capacity[edit source]

Labour capacity has a specific character and is therefore a specific commodity — just as money was both a commodity in general and a specific commodity, though with money its specific character was produced by the way all commodities related to any commodity which happened to be chosen as the exclusive commodity, whereas here it is produced by the nature of the commodity’s use value — but despite this it is like every other commodity 1) a use value, a particular object whose use satisfies particular needs, and 2) it has an exchange value, i.e. a definite quantity of labour has been used up, objectified, in it as object, as use value. As objectification of labour time in general it is value. The magnitude of its value is determined by the quantity of labour used up in it. This value, expressed in money, is the price of labour capacity. As we are proceeding here from the presupposition [I-26] that all commodities are sold according to their value, price is in general distinguished from value only by the fact that it is the value estimated or measured or expressed in the material of money. The commodity is therefore sold at its value when it is sold at its price. Similarly, one should understand under the price of labour capacity nothing but its value expressed in money. The value of labour capacity for a day or a week is therefore paid when the price of the means of subsistence required for the maintenance of labour capacity during a day or a week is paid. This price or value, however, is not just determined by the means of subsistence entirely consumed by labour capacity each day, but equally by the means of subsistence it makes use of each day, such as clothes, for example, but does not entirely use up each day thereby necessitating their constant renewal; they therefore need to be renewed or replaced only over a certain period of time. Even if all objects relating to clothing were only used up once within one year (vessels for eating and drinking, e.g., do not need to be replaced so quickly as clothing, because they do not wear out so rapidly, and this applies still more to furniture, beds, tables, chairs, etc.), the value of these articles of clothing would still be consumed during the whole year for the maintenance of labour capacity, and the worker would have to be able to replace them after the end of the year. He would therefore have to receive every day on an average an amount such that after deduction of the daily expenditure for daily consumption enough was left over to replace worn-out clothing by new after the year had run its course; hence a daily requirement of, if not the such and such portion of a coat, at least one day’s aliquot part of the value of a coat. The maintenance of labour capacity, if it is to be continuous, which is a prerequisite with the capital-relation, is not determined only by the price of the means of subsistence consumed in a day and therefore to be renewed, replaced on the next day: there must also be added the daily average of the price of the means of subsistence which need replacing over a longer period of time but must be used every day. It amounts to a difference in payment. A use value like a coat, for example, must be bought as a whole and used up as a whole. It is paid for by holding in reserve every day 1/x of the price of labour.

Since labour capacity is available only as an ability, an aptitude, a power enclosed in the living body of the worker, its maintenance means nothing other than the maintenance of the worker himself at the level of strength, health, vitality in general, which is needed for the exercise of his labour capacity.

[I-27] We must therefore state the following:

The commodity the worker offers for sale on the market in the sphere of circulation, the commodity he has to sell, is his own labour capacity, which, like every other commodity, has an objective existence so far as it is a use value, even if it is here only an ability, a power in the living body of the individual himself (it is hardly necessary to mention here that the head belongs to the body as well as the hand). Its functioning as a use value, however, the consumption of this commodity, its use as a use value, consists in labour itself, just like wheat, which only really functions as a use value when it is used up in the nutrition process, when it takes effect as an alimentary substance.

The use value of this commodity, like that of every other commodity, is only realised in the process of its consumption, hence only after it has passed from the hand of the seller into that of the buyer, but it has nothing to do with the process of sale itself except that it is a motive for the buyer. This use value, which exists as labour capacity before it is consumed, has in addition an exchange value, which, as in the case of every other commodity, is equal to the quantity of labour contained in it and therefore required for its reproduction; and as we have seen it is exactly measured by the labour time required to create the means of subsistence necessary for the maintenance of the worker. Time is the measure for life itself, just as e.g. weight is the measure for metals; hence the labour time required on an average to keep the worker alive for one day would be the daily value of his labour capacity, by virtue of which it is reproduced from one day to the next, or, what is the same thing here, preserved under the same conditions. As we have already said, the range of these conditions is not prescribed by simple natural need but by natural need historically modified at a certain level of civilisation.

This value of labour capacity expressed in money is its price, and we presuppose that it is paid, since we in general assume that equivalents are exchanged or that commodities are sold at their value. This price of labour is called the wage. The wage which corresponds to the value of labour capacity is its average price, as we have explained it b; it is the average wage, which is also called the minimum wage or salary, whereby we understand by minimum not the extreme limit of physical necessity but the average daily wage over e.g. one year, in which are balanced out the prices of labour capacity during that time, which now stand above their value, and now fall below it.

It lies in the nature of this particular commodity, labour capacity, that its real use value only really passes from one hand to the other, from the hand of the seller to that of the buyer, after it has been consumed. The real use of labour capacity is labour. But it is sold as a capacity, a mere possibility before the labour has been performed, as a mere power, whose real manifestation only takes place after its alienation to the buyer. Since here the formal alienation [by sale] of the use value and its actual handing over are not simultaneous occurrences, the money of the buyer in this exchange mostly functions as means of payment. Labour capacity is paid for daily, weekly, etc., but not at the moment when it is bought, rather after it has really been consumed in a day, a week, etc. In all countries where the capital-relation is developed the worker’s labour capacity is only paid for after it has functioned as such. In this connection it can be said that everywhere the worker gives credit to the capitalist, by the day or by the week; this is due to the special nature of the commodity he is selling. The worker hands over to him the use of the commodity he sells, and only receives its exchange value or price after it has been consumed. //In times of crisis, and even with isolated bankruptcies, it is then revealed that this credit given by the workers is no mere phrase, since they do not get paid.// Nevertheless this does not initially alter the exchange process. The price is laid down by contract, hence the value of labour capacity is estimated in money, although it is only realised, paid, later. The determination of price is therefore related to the value of labour capacity, not the value of the product which accrues to the buyer of labour capacity as a result of its consumption, its actual utilisation. Nor is it related to the value of labour, which is not a commodity as such.

[I-28] We now know in fact what is paid to the worker by the owner of money who wants to transform his money into capital, and therefore buys labour capacity: he in fact pays him e.g. the daily value of his labour capacity, a price or daily wage corresponding to its daily value, in that he pays him a sum of money = the value of the means of subsistence necessary to the daily maintenance of labour capacity; a sum of money which represents exactly as much labour time as is required for the production of these means of subsistence, i.e. for the daily reproduction of labour capacity.

We do not yet know what the buyer receives for his part. It is bound up with the specific nature of this commodity, labour capacity, and with the specific purpose of its purchase by the buyer — namely that he may prove himself as representative of self-valorising value — that the operations occurring after the sale are of a specific nature and must therefore be considered separately. In addition — and this is the essential point — the specific use value of the commodity and its realisation as use value concern the economic relationship, the determinate economic form itself, and are therefore relevant to our analysis. It can be pointed out here in passing that use value originally appears as a matter of indifference, as any material prerequisite one cares to choose. In the analysis of the commodity the real use value of the individual commodities is completely irrelevant, [39] and the same therefore holds for the specific character of the commodities altogether. What is alone important here is the general distinction between use value and exchange value, out of which money develops, etc. (See above.[40]) // What the worker has in fact sold to the money owner is the disposition over his labour capacity, and the latter has to employ it in accordance with its nature, its specific character. Within what limits, will be seen later. // [I-28].

The Labour Process[edit source]

[I-A] [41] In considering the exchange between capital and labour we have to distinguish two things:

1) The sale of labour capacity. This is a simple sale and purchase, a simple relation of circulation, like any other sale and purchase. In investigating this relation the employment or consumption of the commodity purchased is irrelevant.

The harmonisers seek to reduce the relation of capital and labour to this first act, because here buyer and seller meet each other only as commodity owners, and the specific and distinctive character of the transaction is not apparent.[42]

2) The consumption of the commodity obtained in this exchange by capital (of labour capacity), the using up of its use value, forms here a specific economic relation; whereas with the simple sale and purchase of commodities the use value of the commodity, just like the realisation of this use value, consumption, is irrelevant to the economic relation itself.

In the exchange between capital and labour the first act is an exchange (purchase or sale), comes entirely within the sphere of simple circulation. The exchangers only confront each other as buyer and seller. The second act is a process qualitatively distinct from the exchange. It is an essentially different category. [I-A]

[I-28] After the owner of money has bought labour capacity — made the exchange for labour capacity (the purchase is complete once the two sides have reached an agreement, even if payment takes place later) — he applies it as use value, consumes it. But the realisation, the actual use, of labour capacity, is living labour itself. The consumption process of this specific commodity sold by the worker therefore coincides with, or rather is, the labour process itself. Since labour is the activity of the worker himself, the realisation of his own labour capacity, he enters into this process as a labouring person, a worker, and for the buyer he has in this process no other existence than that of labour capacity in action. It is therefore not a person, but active labour capacity personified in the worker, that is working. It is characteristic that in England the name for workers, hands, is derived from the main organ with which their labour capacity performs its function, namely their own hands.

Real labour is purposeful activity aimed at the creation of a use value, at the appropriation of natural material in a manner which corresponds to particular needs.[43] Whether the muscles or the nerves suffer greater wear through this activity is in this connection irrelevant, as is the degree of idealisation the materials of nature have already undergone.[44]

All real labour is particular labour, the exercise of a particular branch of labour distinct from the others. Just as one commodity is distinguished from another by its specific use value, so a specific kind of activity, of labour, is embodied in it. Since the conversion of money into capital or the formation of capital presupposes a developed circulation of commodities, it presupposes a developed division of labour, a division of labour understood here in the manner in which it is manifest (appears) in the multiplicity of commodities in circulation, hence as a division of the totality, of the whole of social labour, into manifold modes of labour, hence a totality of specific modes of labour.[45] The labour performed by the worker will therefore belong exclusively to a specific branch of labour, just as his labour capacity is itself specific. The particular content or purpose, and therefore the particular mode of labour, concern us here just as little as the particular material or use value of the commodity concerns us when we analyse the commodity.[39] Which specific branch of labour the worker works in is irrelevant, although of course the purchaser can only buy labour of a specific kind. The sole point to be kept in view here is the specificity of labour where it appears as a real process. It will be seen below that this indifference towards the specific content of labour is not only an abstraction made by us; it is also made by capital, and it belongs to its essential [I-29] character.[46] //Just as the investigation of the use values of commodities as such belongs in commercial knowledge, so the investigation of the labour process in its reality belongs in technology.[47] //

In looking at the labour process we are only interested in the entirely general moments into which it falls and which belong to it as labour process. These general moments must emerge from the nature of labour itself. Before the worker had sold the disposition over his labour capacity, he could not set the latter in motion as labour, could not realise it, because it was separated from the objective conditions of its activity. This separation is overcome in the actual labour process. Labour capacity now functions, because in accordance with its nature it appropriates its objective conditions. It comes into action because it enters into contact, into process, into association with the objective factors without which it cannot realise itself. These factors can be described in entirely general terms as means of labour. But the means of labour themselves fall necessarily into an object which is worked on, and which we want to call the material of labour, and the actual means of labour, an object which human labour, activity, interposes as a means between itself and the material of labour, and which serves in this way as a conductor of human activity. (This object does not need to be an instrument, it can be e.g. a chemical process.)[48]

A precise analysis will always reveal that all labour involves the employment of a material of labour and a means of labour. It is possible that the material of labour, the object to be appropriated by means of labour for a specific need, is available in nature without the assistance of human labour: the fish caught in water for example, or the wood felled in the primeval forest, or the ore brought up out of the pit. In such a case only the means of labour itself is a product of previous human labour. This characterises everything that can be called extractive industry; it only applies to agriculture to the extent that, say, virgin soil is being cultivated. Here, however, the seed is both means and material of labour, just as everything organic is both at once, the animal in stock-breeding for example. In contrast to this, it can only occur at the most primitive stages of economic development, hence only in conditions where the formation of the capital-relation does not come into question, that the instrument of labour is available in nature without further mediation. It is apparent of itself, and follows from the nature of the case, that the development of human labour capacity is displayed in particular in the development of the means of labour or instrument of production. It displays, namely, the degree to which man has heightened the impact of his direct labour on the natural world through the interposition for his working purposes of a nature already ordered, regulated and subjected to his will as a conductor.

The means of labour, in contrast to the material of labour, comprise not only the instruments of production, from the simplest tool or container up to the most highly developed system of machinery, but also the objective conditions without which the labour process cannot occur at all, e.g. the house in which the work is done or the field on which sowing takes place, etc. These do not enter directly into the labour process, but they are conditions without which it cannot occur, and therefore necessary means of labour. They appear as conditions for the occurrence of the whole process, not as factors enclosed within the process. The means of labour equally include substances consumed in order to make use of the means of labour as such, like oil, coal, etc., or chemical substances used to call forth a certain modification In the material of labour, as e.g. chlorine for bleaching, etc. There is no point in going into details here.

With the exception of the production of raw materials the material of labour will always have itself already passed through a previous labour process. What appears as material of labour and hence raw material in one branch of labour appears as result in another. The great majority even of things regarded as products of nature, e.g. plants and animals, are the result, in the form in which they are now utilised by human beings and produced anew, of a previous transformation effected by means of human labour over many generations under human control, during which their form and substance have changed. As we have already noted, the means of labour in one labour process is the result of labour in another.

[I-30] Hence in order to consume labour capacity it is not sufficient for the money owner to buy labour capacity //temporary disposition over it//; he must also ‘buy the means’ of labour, a bigger or smaller quantity of them: the material of labour and the means of labour. We shall come back to this afterwards. Here we only need to remark that for the money owner who has bought labour capacity to be able to proceed to its consumption, i.e. to the actual labour process, he must, with another part of his money, have bought the objective conditions of labour, which roll round within circulation as commodities. Only in combination with them can labour capacity make the transition to the actual labour process.

The money owner also buys commodities, but commodities whose use values are to be consumed by living labour, consumed as factors in the labour process: in part as use values which are to constitute the material of labour, and hence the element of a higher use value; and in part as means of labour, which serve as a conductor for the operation of labour on the material of labour. To consume commodities — here initially the use values of commodities — In this way in the labour process is to consume them productively, namely to consume them only as the means or object through and in which labour creates a higher use value. It is the industrial consumption of commodities (use values).[49] So much for the money owner, who transforms his money into capital by making the exchange with labour capacity.

Within the actual labour process itself commodities are only available as use values, not exchange values; for they confront real living labour only as its conditions, as means for its realisation, as factors determined by the nature of labour itself, which it requires for its realisation in a particular use value. The linen weaver, for example, is related in the act of weaving to the material of his labour, the linen yarn, only as material of this particular activity, weaving, only as an element in the fabrication of the product, linen. He is not related to it in so far as it has an exchange value, is the result of previous labour, but as a thing in front of him, whose properties he utilises for its rearrangement. In the same way, the fact that the loom is a commodity, the repository of exchange value, is of no concern at all here, it only matters as the means of the weaver’s labour. Only as such is it used and consumed in the labour process. The material of labour and the means of labour, although they are themselves commodities and therefore use values which possess an exchange value, confront actual labour only as moments, as factors of its process. This being so, it is obvious that in this process they do not confront labour as capital either. Actual labour appropriates the instrument as its means and the material as the material of its activity. It is the process of appropriation of these objects as of the animated body, the organs of labour itself. Here the material appears as the inorganic nature of labour, and the means of labour as the organ of the appropriating activity itself.50]

When we speak here of “higher” use values, this should not be understood in a moral sense; we do not even mean that the new use value necessarily occupies a higher rank in the system of needs. Grain distilled into schnapps is a lower use value than schnapps. Every use value that is preposited as an element in the formation of a new one is a lower use value vis-à-vis this new one, because it forms its elementary prerequisite, and the more labour processes have been undergone by the elements out of which a use value has been freshly formed, i.e. the more mediate its existence, the higher that use value is.[51]

The labour process is therefore a process in which the worker performs a particular purposive activity, a movement which is both the exertion of his labour capacity, his mental and physical powers, and their expenditure and using-up. Through it he gives the material of labour a new shape, in which the movement is materialised. This applies whether the change of form is chemical or mechanical, whether it proceeds of itself, through the control of physiological processes, or merely consists in the removal of the object to a distance (alteration of its spatial location), or only involves separating it from the body of the earth. Whilst labour materialises itself in this manner in the object of labour, it forms it and uses up, consumes the means of labour as its organ.[52] The labour goes over from the form of activity to the form of being, the form of the object. As alteration of the object it alters its own shape. The form-giving activity consumes the object and itself; it forms the object and materialises itself; it consumes itself in its subjective form as activity and consumes the objective character of the object, i.e. it abolishes the object’s indifference towards the purpose of the labour. Finally, the labour consumes the means of labour, which likewise made the transition during the process from mere possibility to actuality, by becoming the real conductor of labour, but thereby also got used up, in the form [I-31] in which it had been at rest, through the mechanical or chemical process it had entered.

All 3 moments of the process, whose subject is labour and whose factors are the material on which and the means of labour with which it operates, come together in a neutral result — the product. In the product labour has combined with the material of labour through the agency of the means of labour. The product, the neutral result in which the labour process ends, is a new use value. A use value in general appears as a product of the labour process. This use value may now either have attained the final form in which it can serve as means of subsistence for individual consumption, or, even in this form, it can again become a factor in a new labour process, as e.g. corn may be consumed not by human beings but by horses, may serve for the production of horses; or it can serve as an element for a higher, more complex use value; or the use value is a finished means of labour which is to serve as such in a fresh labour process; or, finally, the use value is an unfinished, a semi-manufactured product, which has to enter again as material of labour into a longer or shorter series of further labour processes, distinct from the labour process from which it has emerged as product, and also pass through a series of material changes. But with respect to the labour process from which it has emerged as product, it appears as a finished, conclusive result, as a new use value whose fabrication formed the content of the labour process and the immanent purpose of labour’s activity; formed the expenditure of the labour capacity, its consumption.

Therefore in the labour process the products of previous labour processes are employed, consumed by labour, in order to manufacture new products of higher, i.e. more mediated, use value. Within the limits of the particular labour process itself, in which the objective factors of labour only appear as the objective conditions of their realisation, this determination of use values, that they are themselves already products, is entirely irrelevant. It does however demonstrate the mutual material dependence of the different social modes of labour and the way they supplement each other to form a totality of social modes of labour.

To the extent that past labour is considered in its material aspect, i.e. to the extent that in looking at a use value which serves as means or material of labour in a labour process the circumstance is kept in mind that this use value is itself already a combination of natural material and labour, the past concrete labour objectified in use values serves as a means to the realisation of fresh labour, or, and this is the same thing, the formation of fresh use values. But one should certainly keep in mind the sense in which this is the case in the actual labour process. For example, loom and cotton yarn serve in weaving only in the qualities they possess for this process as material and means of weaving, only through the physical qualities they possess for this particular labour process. Cotton, wood and iron have taken on the forms in which they perform these services in the labour process, the one as yarn, the others as the loom. The fact that they have acquired this particular employment of their use value through the agency of previous labour, that they themselves already represent a combination of labour and natural material, is, as such, a circumstance which — just like the circumstance that wheat performs the particular services, finds the particular employment of its use value we see in the nourishment process — is irrelevant for this particular labour process as such, since they serve in a particular manner as use values, acquire a specific useful application. The process could not however, take place if cotton, iron and wood had not acquired the shape and therefore the specifically applicable qualities they possess as yarn and loom as a result of an earlier, past labour process.

Looked at purely materially, from the point of view of the actual labour process itself, a definite past labour process therefore appears as a preliminary stage and a condition for the entry into action of the new labour process. But then this labour process itself becomes merely a condition for the manufacture of a particular use value, even viewed from the standpoint of use value. In the consumption of a use value in general the labour contained in it is irrelevant and the use value only functions as use value, in other words it satisfies certain needs according to its qualities in the process of consumption, hence only the qualities it possesses as this object and the services it renders as this object are of interest; equally, in the labour process, which is itself only a definite, specific process of the consumption of use values, a particular, specific manner of using them up, what matters is only the qualities the products of earlier labour have for this process, not their existence as the materialisation of past labour. The qualities acquired by any natural material through earlier labour are now its own physical qualities, with which it functions or serves. The fact that these qualities are mediated by earlier labour, this mediation itself, is cancelled out, extinguished, in the product.

[I-32] What was the specific mode, the driving purpose, the activity of labour, now appears in its result, in the alteration in the object brought about by labour in the product, as an object with particular new qualities which it has for use, for the satisfaction of needs. If we are reminded in the labour process itself that the material and means of labour are the product of earlier labour. this only happens in so far as they fail to develop the necessary qualities, e.g. a saw that does not saw, a knife that does not cut, etc. This recalls to us the imperfection of the labour which has provided a factor for the labour process currently under way. Where products of earlier labour processes enter into a new labour process as factors, as material or means, it is only the quality of the past labour that interests us. We want to know whether its product really possesses the useful qualities it claims to have, whether the work was good or bad. It is labour in its material effect and reality that interests us here. For the rest, where the means and the material of labour serve as such use values in the actual labour process and possess the appropriate qualities — though whether they possess these qualities as use values at a higher or lower level, whether they serve their purpose more or less perfectly, depends on the past labour whose products they are — it is entirely irrelevant that they are the products of previous labour. If they fell ready-made from the sky they would perform the same service. If they interest us as products, i.e. as the results of past labour, it is only as the results of specific labour. We are interested in the quality of this specific labour, on which depends the quality of the results as use values, the degree to which they really serve [as] use values for this specific consumption process. Similarly, in a given labour process the labour is only of interest to the extent that it functions as this particular purposive activity; but the particular material content, and the degree to which the product is good or bad, to which it really possesses, acquires, the use value it ought to acquire in the labour process, depends on the higher or lower quality of the labour, on its thoroughness and suitability to the purpose.[53]

On the other hand, products which are destined to enter as use values into a fresh labour process, hence are either means of labour or unfinished products, i.e. products which need further treatment in order to become real use values, to serve for individual or productive consumption; products which are therefore either means or materials of labour for a further labour process, are realised as such only by entering into contact with living labour, which overcomes their dead objectivity, consumes them, transforms them from use values which only exist potentially into real and effective use values by consuming and utilising them as the objective factors of its own living movement. A machine that does not serve in the labour process is useless, dead wood and iron. Apart from this it falls victim to consumption by elemental forces, to the universal metabolism [of nature]. Iron rusts, wood rots. Yarn that is not woven or knitted, etc., is only wasted cotton, cotton unfitted for the other useful applications it possessed in its state as cotton, as raw material.

Since every use value can be made use of in various ways, every thing having various qualities in which it can serve to satisfy needs, it loses these qualities by acquiring use value in a particular direction through an earlier labour process, acquiring qualities with which it can only be useful in a particular subsequent labour process; hence products which can only serve as means and material of labour not only lose their quality as products which they acquired through the earlier labour, their quality as these particular use values, but also the raw material of which they consist is spoiled, pointlessly squandered, and along with the useful form it acquired as a result of labour previously carried out it falls victim to the dissolving action of natural forces. In the labour process the products of an earlier labour process, the material and means of labour, are as it were awakened from the dead. They only become real use values by entering as factors into the labour process, only in that process do they act as use values and only through it are they withdrawn from the dissolving action of the universal metabolic process so as to re-appear in the product as a new formation.

The labour process also destroys the machine, but as a machine. It lives and acts as a machine, for it to be consumed is the same thing as to be effective, and in the changed form of the material its movement is realised, fixed, as the quality of a new object. Similarly, it is only in the labour process itself that the material of labour develops the useful qualities it possesses as such. The process of its consumption is a process of refashioning, alteration, from which it emerges as a use value of a higher order.[51]

[I-33] Hence if existing products, the results of earlier labour, mediate the realisation of living labour as its objective conditions, living labour, for its part, mediates the realisation of these products as use values, as products, and preserves them, withdraws them from the universal metabolism of nature, by breathing life into them as the elements of a “new formation”.

In so far as actual labour creates use values, is appropriation of the natural world for human needs, whether these needs are needs of production or individual consumption, it is the universal condition for the metabolic interaction between nature and man, and as such a natural condition of human life it is independent of, equally common to, all particular social forms of human life.[43] The same is true of the labour process in its general forms; it is after all nothing but living labour, split up into its specific elements, whose unity is the labour process itself, the impact of labour on the material of labour working through the means of labour. The labour process itself appears in its general form, hence still in no specific economic determinateness. This form does not express any particular historical (social) relation of production entered into by human beings in the production of their social life; it is rather the general form, and the general elements, into which labour must be uniformly divided in all social modes of production in order to function as labour.

The form of the labour process which has been examined here is only its abstract form, a form divorced from all particular historical characteristics and fitting equally well with every kind of labour process, irrespective of the social relations human beings may enter into with each other in its course. just as little as one can tell from the taste of wheat whether it has been produced by a Russian serf or a French peasant, equally little can one tell from the labour process in its general forms, the general forms of this labour process, whether it is happening under the whip of the slave-driver or the eye of the industrial capitalist, or indeed whether the process is that of a savage dispatching wild beasts with his bow.[54]

With his money, the money owner has in part bought disposition over labour capacity, in part material and means of labour, so that he can use up, consume, this labour capacity as such, i.e. have it operate as actual labour, in short, so that he can have the worker really work. The universal determinants of this labour, which it has in common with every other manner of working, are not altered by the fact that it is done here for the money owner or appears here as the process of his consumption of labour capacity. He has subsumed the labour process under his dominion, appropriated it, but thereby left its general nature unchanged. To what extent the character of the labour process is itself changed by its subsumption under capital is a question which has nothing to do with the general form of the labour process and will be discussed later on.[55]

The wheat I eat, whether I have bought it or produced it myself, functions in either case in the nourishment process according to its own natural characteristics. Similarly, it does not change anything in the labour process in its general form, i.e. it changes nothing in the conceptual moments of work in general, whether I work for myself with my own material and instrument of labour, or I work for the money owner, to whom I have temporarily sold my labour capacity. The consumption of this labour capacity, i.e. its actual operation as labour power, actual labour, which in itself is a process wherein an activity enters into certain relations with objects, remains the same as before and moves within the same general forms. The labour process or actual work implies precisely that the separation in which the worker found himself before the sale of his labour capacity from the objective conditions which alone permit him to activate his labour capacity, to work — that this separation has been overcome, that he now enters into the natural relation as worker to the objective conditions of his labour, that he enters into the labour process. Hence in considering the general moments of this process I am only considering the general moments of actual labour in general.

(The practical application of this is namely that the apologists of capital confuse or identify it with a moment of the simple labour process as such, maintaining that a product intended for the production of another product is capital, that raw material is capital or that the tool of labour, the instrument of production is capital, that therefore capital is — whatever the relations of distribution and forms of social production — a factor of the labour process as such, a factor of production. It will be better to deal with this point when once the valorisation process has been treated.[56] For money to be transformed into capital (productive capital), it must be transformed into material of labour, instrument of labour and labour capacity, all of them products of past labour, use values provided through the agency of labour and employed for new production. Viewed from its material side capital thus appears now — in so far as it exists as use value — [I-34] as existing, present in the form of products which serve for new production, raw material, tools (but also as labour). The converse, however, by no means follows: these things are not as such capital. They only become capital given certain social pre-conditions. Otherwise it could just as well be said that labour is in and for itself capital, hence the usefulness of labour could be used to demonstrate to the worker the usefulness of capital, since in the labour process the labour belongs to the capitalist just as much as the tool does.)

The moments of the labour process, considered in relation to labour itself, have been specified as material of labour, means of labour and labour itself. If these moments are considered with regard to the purpose of the whole process, the product to be manufactured, they can be described as material of production, means of production and productive labour (perhaps not this last expression).[57]

The product is the result of the labour process. But products appear just as much as its prerequisite, with which it does not end but from whose existence it starts out as a condition. Not only is the labour capacity itself a product; the means of subsistence the worker receives as money from the money owner for the sale of his labour capacity are already finished products for individual consumption. Likewise, his material and means of labour, one or the other, or both, are already products. Products are therefore presupposed to production; products both for individual and for productive consumption. Nature itself is originally the store-house in which the human being, equally presupposed as a natural product, finds available for consumption finished natural products, as well as finding available in part, in the very organs of his own body, the first instruments of production for the appropriation of these products. The means of labour, the means of production, appears as the first product produced by the human being; and the first forms of. this product, stones, etc., are also found present in nature by him.[58]

As we have said, the labour process as such has nothing to do with the act of purchasing the labour capacity on the part of the capitalist. He has bought the labour capacity. Now he must employ it as use value. The use value of labour is work itself, the labour process. We therefore ask what this process consists in, in its general moments, i.e. independently of the future capitalist, in the same way as if we were to say: he buys wheat and now wants to use it as a means of nourishment. In what does the process of nourishment by cereals consist, or rather, what are the general moments of the nourishment process as such?

The Valorisation Process[edit source]

In so far as the result of the labour process is still viewed in relation to the process itself, as the crystallised labour process, whose different factors have come together in a static object, a combination of subjective activity and its material content, this result is the product. But this product viewed for itself, in the independence in which it appears as a result of the labour process, is a particular use value. The material of labour has acquired the form, the particular qualities, whose manufacture was the purpose of the entire labour process and which as the driving objective determined the specific way the labour itself was carried on. This product is a use value in so far as it is now present as the result, with the labour process lying behind it as past, as the history of its origin. What money has acquired by its exchange with the labour capacity, or what the money owner has acquired by the consumption of the labour capacity he has bought — this consumption being however by the nature of the labour capacity an industrial, productive consumption or a labour process is a use value. This use value belongs to him; he has bought it by giving an equivalent for it, namely he has bought the material of labour and the means of labour. But the labour itself likewise belonged to him, for owing to his purchase of the labour capacity — hence before any actual work was done — the use value of this commodity belongs to him, and this is labour itself. The product belongs to him just as much as if he had consumed his own labour capacity, i.e. himself worked on the raw material. The whole labour process only takes place after he has provided himself with all its elements on the basis of commodity exchange and in accordance with its laws, namely by purchasing these elements at their price, which is their value expressed, estimated, in money. To the extent that his money has been converted into the elements of the labour process and the whole labour process itself appears merely as the consumption of the labour capacity bought by the money, the labour process itself appears as a transformation that money passes through by being exchanged not for an available use value but for a process which is its own process. The labour process is as it were incorporated in it, subsumed under it.

Yet, the purpose of the exchange of money for the labour capacity was by no means use value; it was the transformation of money into capital. Value, become independent in money, was to maintain, increase itself in this exchange, assume a self-sufficient character, and the money owner was to become a capitalist precisely by representing value dominant over circulation and asserting itself [I-35] as subject within it. What was at stake here was exchange value, not use value. Value asserts itself as exchange value only if the use value created in the labour process, the product of actual labour, is itself a repository of exchange value, i.e. a commodity. For the money that was being turned into capital, therefore, it was a matter of the production of a commodity, not a mere use value. The use value was important only in so far as it was a necessary condition, a material substratum of exchange value. What was involved, in fact, was the production of exchange value, its preservation and its increase. It will now be necessary, therefore, to calculate the exchange value obtained in the product, in the new use value. (It is a matter of the valorisation of value. Hence not only a labour process but a valorisation process.)

Just one more preliminary remark before we proceed to this calculation. All the prerequisites of the labour process, all the things that went into it, were not just use values but commodities, use values with a price expressing their exchange value. Commodities were present in advance as elements of this process, and must emerge from it again. Nothing of this is shown when we look at the simple labour process as material production. The labour process therefore constitutes only one side, the material side of the production process. As the commodity is itself from one aspect use value, from another exchange value, so naturally must the commodity in actu in the process of its origin, be a two-sided process: [on the one hand] its production as use value, as product of useful labour, on the other hand its production as exchange value, and these two processes must only appear as two different forms of the same process, exactly as the commodity is a unity of use value and exchange value. The commodity, from which we proceeded as something already given, is viewed here in the process of its becoming. The production process is not the process of the production of use value, but of the commodity, hence of the unity of use value and exchange value. Even so, this would not yet make the mode of production into a capitalist one. All that is required so far is that the product, the use value, be destined not for personal consumption but for alienation, for sale. Capitalist production, however, requires not only that the commodities thrown into the labour process should be valorised, should acquire a new value by the addition of labour — industrial consumption is nothing but the addition of new labour — but also that the values thrown into industrial consumption — for the use values thrown into it all had value to the extent that they were commodities — should valorise themselves as values, should produce new value owing to the fact that they were values. If it was just a matter of the first requirement we should not have passed beyond the simple commodity.

We assume that the elements of the labour process are not use values to be found in the possession of the money owner himself, but were originally acquired as commodities by purchase and that this forms the prerequisite of the entire labour process. We have seen that it is not necessary for every kind of industry that in addition to the means of labour the material of labour as well should be a commodity, i.e. a product already mediated by labour, that it should be exchange value — a commodity — as objectified labour. Here, however, we proceed from the presupposition that all elements of the process are bought, as is the case in manufacturing. We take the phenomenon in the form in which it appears most completely. This does not detract from the correctness of the analysis, since one only has to set one factor = 0 for other cases. Thus in fishing the material of labour is not itself a product, hence does not circulate beforehand like a commodity, and so one factor of the labour process, namely the material of labour, if considered as exchange value, as a commodity, can be set = 0.

It is however an essential presupposition that the money owner should buy more than just the labour capacity. In other words, not only must money be exchanged for the labour capacity, but equally for the other objective conditions of the labour process, material of labour and means of labour; and under these headings there may lie a great multiplicity of things, of commodities, depending on whether the labour process is of a simpler or a more complex nature. To begin with, this presupposition is methodologically necessary at the stage of development presently being considered. We have to see how money is transformed into capital. But every money owner who wants to transform his money into industrial capital goes through this process every day. He must buy the material and the means of labour in order to be able to consume alien labour. — Necessary for real insight into the nature of the capital-relation. The latter proceeds from the circulation of commodities as its basis.[20] It implies the supersession of the mode of production in which personal consumption is the main purpose of production, and in which only the surplus is sold as a commodity. It is the more completely developed the more the elements that concern it are themselves commodities, hence can only be appropriated through purchase. The more production itself acquires its elements from circulation — i.e. as commodities — so that they enter into it as exchange values already, the more is this production capitalist production. If we here theoretically presuppose the existence of circulation before the formation of capital, and therefore proceed from money, this is also the course followed by history.[59] [I-36] Capital develops out of monetary wealth, and the formation of capital presupposes that commercial relations, formed at a stage of production that precedes it, are already highly developed. Money and the commodity are the presuppositions from which we must proceed in considering the bourgeois economy. Further consideration of capital will demonstrate that it is in fact capitalist production alone whose surface presents the commodity as the elementary form of wealth.[60]

One therefore sees the absurdity of the custom introduced by J. B. Say with his French schematism, but not followed by any of the classical economists. Because he was on the whole merely a vulgariser of Adam Smith, all he could do was provide a pretty or uniform arrangement for material he had by no means assimilated. He examines first production, then exchange, then distribution, and finally consumption, also sometimes distributing these four rubrics somewhat differently.61] The specific mode of production we are to consider presupposes from the outset as one of its forms a particular mode of exchange, and produces a particular mode of distribution and a particular mode of consumption, in so far as consideration of the latter falls within the sphere of political economy at all. (This must be returned to later.)[62]

So, Now ad rem. [to the matter at hand]

The exchange value of the product (of the use value) that emerged from the labour process consists of the total amount of labour time materialised in it, of the total quantity of labour worked up, objectified, in it. [Quesnay, etc., base their proof of the unproductiveness of all labour save agricultural labour on this addition.][64] It therefore consists firstly of the value of the raw material contained in the product, or the labour time required to produce this, the material of labour. Let us assume it to be 100 working days. This value is however already expressed in the price at which the material of labour was bought, say, e.g. a price of 100 thalers. The value of this part of the product enters into it already determined as price. Secondly, as regards the means of labour, tools, etc., the tool will not necessarily be completely worn out; it can continue to function as a means of labour in fresh labour processes. Hence only that part of the tool can enter into the calculation that has been used up, since it alone has entered into the product. Later on the method of calculating the wear and tear on the means of labour will be shown more precisely,[63] but at this point we shall assume that the whole of it is worn out in the one labour process. This assumption makes the less difference to the case in that actually the tool only enters the calculation in so far as it is consumed in the labour process, hence is transferred to the product; hence only the worn out means of labour enters the calculation. This is equally purchased. Hence the labour time contained in it, say of 16 working days, is expressed in its price of 16 thalers.

Before we now go further we ought to discuss here how the value of the material and means of labour is preserved in the labour process, so that it re-appears as a finished, presupposed constituent of the value of the product, or, what is the same thing, how the material and means of labour are consumed, altered in the labour process, either altered or completely destroyed (as with the means of labour), but their value is not destroyed, reappearing instead in the product as a constituent, a presupposed constituent of its value.

//Capital has been regarded from its material side as a simple production process, a labour process. But, from the side of its formal determination, this process is a process of self-valorisation. Self-valorisation includes preservation of the preposited value as well as its multiplication. Labour is purposeful activity and from the material side it is therefore presupposed that the labour has employed its means to the appropriate purpose in the production process so as to give the material of labour the intended new use value.//

//Since the labour process is a process of the consumption of labour capacity by the capitalist — for the labour belongs to the capitalist — he has, in the labour process, consumed his material and means of labour by labour, and has consumed the labour itself by his material, etc.// [65]

[I-37] For the labour process as such, or in the labour process as such, effective labour capacity, the real worker, is concerned with the material and means of labour only as the objective prerequisites of the creative unrest that is labour itself, in fact only as the objective means to the realisation of labour. They are this through their objective qualities alone, through the qualities they possess as material and means of this particular labour. Where they are themselves products of earlier labour, this fact is extinguished in their capacity as things. The table that serves me for writing upon has its own form and its own characteristics; these appeared previously in the form-giving quality or specificity of the joiner’s labour. In using the table as a means for further labour I have to do with it to the extent that it serves as a use value, has a particular useful application as a table. The fact that the material out of which it consists has acquired this form through earlier labour, the labour of the joiner, has disappeared, is extinguished in its existence as an object. It serves as a table in the labour process, quite regardless of the labour that turned it into a table.

In exchange value, in contrast, what matters is the quantity of labour materialised in this particular use value, or the quantity of labour time required to produce it. In this labour its own quality, the quality of being, for example, a joiner’s labour, is extinguished, for it is reduced to a definite quantity of equal, general, undifferentiated, social, abstract labour.[66] The material specificity of the labour, hence of the use value in which it has been fixed, is thereby extinguished, vanished, irrelevant. It is presupposed that it was useful labour, that is, labour which resulted in a use value. The nature of this use value, hence the particular nature of the labour’s usefulness, is extinguished in the existence of the commodity as exchange value, for as exchange value it is an equivalent, expressible in every other use value, hence in every other form of useful labour which constitutes a quantity of social labour of the same magnitude. In respect of value therefore — i.e. considered as quantities of objectified labour time — the material of labour and the worn out means of labour can always be regarded as if they were moments of the same labour process, so that what is required to manufacture the product, the new use value, is 1) the labour time objectified in the material of labour, and 2) the labour time materialised in the means of labour. The material of labour is admittedly different in its original form, although it also re-appears in substance in the new use value. The means of labour has disappeared entirely, although it re-appears in the form of the new use value as effect, result. The particular material specificity, usefulness, of the acts of labour that were present in the material and means of labour, is just as extinguished as the use values in which they resulted have themselves vanished or changed. But as exchange values, and even before they entered this new labour process, they were merely a materialisation of labour in general, they were nothing but a quantity of labour time as such, absorbed in an object. For this labour time the particular character of the actual work being done, as well as the particular nature of the use value in which it was realised, was a matter of indifference.

After the new labour process the relationship is exactly the same as it was before. The quantity of labour time necessary e.g. to produce the cotton and the spindle is a quantity of labour time necessary to manufacture the yarn, in so far as cotton and spindle are used up in the yarn. That this quantity of labour time now appears as yarn is entirely irrelevant, since it continues to appear in a use value for whose manufacture it is necessary. If I for example exchange cotton and spindle to the value of 100 thalers for a quantity of yarn which is equally worth 100 thalers, in this case too the labour time contained in the cotton and spindle exists as labour time contained in the yarn. The fact that in their actual material transformation into yarn the cotton and the spindle also undergo changes in their material, with the one acquiring another form and the other entirely perishing in its material form, makes no difference, because this concerns them only as use values, hence in a shape towards which they are, as exchange values, essentially indifferent. Since as exchange values they are only a particular quantity of materialised social labour time, hence equal magnitudes, equivalents, for every other use value which represents a quantity of materialised social labour time of the same magnitude, it makes no difference to them that they appear now as the factors of a new use value. The sole conditions are these, that they should 1) appear as labour time necessary for the creation of the new use value, and 2) really result in another use value — hence in use value [I-38] in general.

They are labour time necessary for the creation of the new use value because the use values in which they were originally crystallised were factors necessary for the new labour process. Secondly, however, according to our condition, the use values, as they existed before the labour process — as cotton and spindle — have in fact resulted through the new labour process in a new use value, the product, the yarn.

(That only such quantities of the material and means of labour should enter into the new product as are necessary for its creation, hence that no more labour time should be used than is necessary in these definite quantities; in other words that neither material nor means of production should be squandered, is a condition which has to do not with the material and means of labour as such but with the suitability and productivity of the new labour which uses them up in the labour process as its material and means; it is therefore a point that has to be considered in dealing with this labour itself. Here, however, the assumption is that the means and the material of labour only enter into the new process in quantities in which they are really required as such for the realisation of the new labour, are really objective conditions of the new labour process.)

Two results therefore.

Firstly: The labour time required for the manufacture of the material and means of labour used up in the product is labour time required for the manufacture of the product. In so far as exchange value is considered, the labour time materialised in the material and means of labour can be regarded as if the latter were moments of the same labour process. All the labour time contained in the product belongs to the past; hence it is materialised labour. The labour time which perished in the material and means of labour passed away earlier; it belongs to an earlier period than the labour time functioning directly in the last labour process. But this changes nothing. They merely constitute earlier periods during which [part of] the labour time contained in the product was worked up, as against the part which represents the labour entering into it directly. The values of the material and means of labour therefore appear again in the product as constituents of its value. This value is presupposed, since the labour time contained in the material and means of labour was expressed in their prices in its general form, as social labour; these are the prices at which the money owner bought them as commodities before he began the labour process. The use values in which they consisted have perished but they themselves have remained unaltered and remain unaltered in the new use value. The only change that has taken place is that they appear as mere constituents, factors of his value, as factors of a new value. To the extent that the commodity is exchange value at all, the particular use value, the particular material determinateness in which it exists is after all only a particular mode of its manifestation; it is in fact a universal equivalent and can therefore exchange this incarnation for any other. Through circulation and first of all through being transformed into money it is indeed capable of giving itself the substance of every other use value.

Secondly: The values of the means of labour and the material of labour are therefore preserved in the value of the product, enter as factors into the value of the product. But they only re-appear in it because the real alteration the use values have received in them did not affect their substance at all, but only the forms of use value in which they existed before, as after, the process; and the particular form of use value in which the value of the product exists, or indeed the specific usefulness of the labour, which is reduced in that value to abstract labour, does not, in the nature of things, affect the essential character of value at all.

However, it is a conditio sine qua non for the re-appearance of the value of the material and means of labour in the product that the labour process really proceed to its end, to the product, that it really result in the product. If, therefore, it is a matter of use values whose production extends over a long period, one sees what an essential moment the continuity of the labour process is for the valorisation process in general, even so far as merely the preservation of existing use values is concerned. //This however implies, according to our presupposition, that the labour process proceeds on the basis of the appropriation of labour capacity by purchase on the part of money, by the continuous transformation of money into capital. The assumption is therefore that the working class is constantly in existence. This constancy is itself first created by capital. At earlier stages of production too an earlier working class may be present sporadically, not however as [I-39] a universal prerequisite of production. The case of colonies (see Wakefield,[61] come back to this later) shows how this relation is itself a product of capitalist production.//

As far as the preservation of the values of the material and means of labour is concerned — assuming therefore that the labour process eventuates in a product — this is simply attained by the fact that these use values are consumed as such by living labour in the labour process, that they figure as actual moments of the labour process, but only by their contact with, and incorporation into, living labour as the conditions of its purposeful activity. Living labour only adds value in the labour process to the value preposited in the material and means of labour to the extent that it is itself a new quantity of labour as such; it does not do so as actual, useful labour, not as viewed from the angle of its material determinateness. The yarn only has greater value than the sum of the values of the cotton and the spindle consumed in it because a new quantity of labour has been added in the labour process, in order to convert those use values into the new use value, yarn; the reason, therefore, is that the yarn now contains an extra, newly added quantity of labour over and above the quantity contained in the cotton and the spindle. But the exchange values of the cotton and the spindle are preserved simply by the fact that the actual labour, spinning, converts them into the new use value, yarn, hence consumes them to the purpose, makes them vital factors of its own process. The values entering the labour process are therefore preserved simply by the quality of the living labour, the nature of its expression. Those dead objects, in which the preposited values are present as their use values, are now really seized upon as use values by this new useful labour, spinning, and made into moments of new labour. They are preserved as values by entering as use values into the labour process, i.e. by playing their conceptually determined roles of material and means of labour towards actual useful labour.

Let us stay with our example. Cotton and spindle are used up as use values because they enter as material and means into the particular labour of spinning; because they are placed in the actual spinning process, one as the object, the other as the organ of this living purposeful activity. They are therefore preserved as values by being preserved as use values for labour. In general, they are preserved as exchange values because they are consumed as use values by labour. But the labour which consumes them in this way as use values is actual labour, labour considered in its material determinateness, this particular useful labour which is related exclusively to these specific use values as material and means of labour, related to them as such in its living manifestation. It is this particular useful labour, spinning, which preserves the use values cotton and spindle as exchange values, and therefore lets them re-appear as an exchange-value component in the product, in the use value yarn, because in the actual process it relates to them as its material and its means, as the organs of its realisation, because it breathes life into them as its own organs and makes them function as such. And thus the values of all commodities which in line with the nature of their use values do not enter into direct individual consumption, but are destined for new production, are only preserved in this way, that as material and means of labour, which they are only potentially, they become really the material and means of labour, and are utilised as such by the particular labour they are as such able to serve. They are only preserved as exchange values by being consumed as use values by living labour in accordance with their conceptual determination. They are, however only use values of this kind — material and means of labour — for actual, definite and specific labour. I can only use up cotton and spindle as use values in the act of spinning, not in the acts of milling or boot-making. — In general, all commodities are only use values potentially. They only become real use values by being actually used, consumed, and their consumption in this case is the specifically determined labour itself, the specific labour process.

[I-40] The material and means of labour are therefore only preserved as exchange values by being consumed in the labour process as use values, i.e. when living labour relates to them actu as to its use values, lets them play the role of its material and means, in its living unrest both posits and supersedes them as means and material. But in so far as it does that, labour is actual labour, a specific purposeful activity, labour as it appears in the labour process, materially determined, as a specific kind of useful labour. It is, however, not labour in this specific determinateness which adds — or it is not in this specific determinateness that labour adds — new exchange value to the product, or to the objects — use values — which enter into the labour process.

Spinning, for example. Spinning preserves in yarn the values of the cotton and spindle consumed in it, because this process really uses up cotton and spindle in spinning, consumes them as material and means for the production of a new use value, the yarn, or lets cotton and spindle really function in the spinning process as material and means of this specific living labour, spinning. If, however, the spinning raises the value of the product, yarn, or adds new value to the values already present beforehand in the yarn, which simply re-appear, the values of the spindle and the cotton, this only occurs to the extent that new labour time is added to the labour time contained in the cotton and the spindle by spinning.

Firstly, in accordance with its substance, spinning creates value, not as this concrete, specific, materially determined labour of spinning, but as labour in general, abstract, equal, social labour. Therefore, it does not create value to the extent that it is objectified as spun yarn, but to the extent that it is a materialisation of social labour in general, i.e. is objectified in a universal equivalent.

Secondly, the magnitude of the value added depends exclusively on the quantity of labour added, on the labour time that is added. If, as a result of some invention, the spinner were able to convert into yarn a particular quantity of cotton, using a given number of spindles, in half a day’s labour instead of a whole day, only half the value would have been added to the yarn compared with the first case. But the entire value of the cotton and the spindles would have been preserved in the product, yarn, in one case as much as the other, whether a day or half a day or an hour of labour time Is required to convert the cotton into yarn. These values are preserved by the very fact that cotton is converted into yarn, that cotton and spindles have become the material and means of spinning, have entered into the spinning process. The labour time required by this process is here entirely irrelevant.

Let us assume that the spinner adds to the cotton only as much labour time as is necessary to produce his own wages, hence as much labour time as the capitalist expended in the price of the spinner’s labour. In this case the value of the product would be exactly equal to the value of the capital advanced; namely equal to the price of the material + the price of the means of labour + the price of labour. No more labour time would be contained in the product than was present in the sum of money, before it was transformed into the elements of the production process. No new value would have been added, but after as before the value of the cotton and spindle would be contained in the yarn. Spinning adds value to cotton in so far as it is reduced to equal social labour in general, reduced to this abstract form of labour, and the amount of value it adds depends not on its content as spinning but on its duration. The spinner therefore does not need two periods of labour, one to preserve the value of cotton and spindle, the other to add new value to them It is rather that while he spins the cotton, makes it into an objectification of new labour time, adds new value to it, he is at the same time preserving the value cotton and the worn out spindle had before they entered the labour process. Merely by adding new value, new labour time, he preserves the old values, the labour time that was already contained in the material and means of labour. It is as spinning, however, that spinning preserves them; not as labour in general and not as labour time, but in its material determinateness, through its quality as this specific, living, actual labour, which in the labour process, as living activity with a definite purpose, snatches the use values cotton and spindle out of their indifferent objectivity, not abandoning them as indifferent objects to nature’s metabolism, but making them into real moments of the labour process.

But whatever the specific character of particular, actual labour may be, what every variety of this labour has in common with every other is that by its process — through the contact, the living interaction it enters into with its objective conditions — it makes them play the roles of means and material of labour appropriate to their nature and purpose, transforms them into conceptually determined moments of the labour process itself and thus preserves them as exchange values by using them up as real use values. [I-41] It is therefore through its quality as living labour, which converts the products available in the labour process into the material and means of its own activity, its own realisation, that it preserves the exchange values of these products and use values in the new product and use values. It preserves their value because it consumes them as use values. But it only consumes them as use values because, as this specific labour, it awakens them from the dead and makes them into its material and means of labour. In so far as it creates exchange value labour is only a definite social form of labour, actual labour reduced to a definite social formula, and in this form labour time is the sole measure of the magnitude of value.

Because the preservation of the values of the material and means of labour is so to speak the natural gift of living, actual labour, and hence the old values are preserved in the same process as increases value — since new value cannot be added without the preservation of the old values, because this effect stems from the essential nature of labour as use value, as useful activity, originates from the use value of labour itself — so the preservation of these values costs nothing either to the worker or to the capitalist. The latter therefore receives the preservation of the preposited values in the new product gratis.

Although his purpose is not the preservation but the increase of the preposited value, this free gift by labour shows its decisive importance e.g. in industrial crises, during which the actual labour process is interrupted. The machine becomes rusty, the material spoils. They lose their exchange values: these are not preserved, because they are not entering as use values into the labour process, they are not coming into contact with living labour; their values are not being preserved because they are not being increased. They can only be increased, new labour time can only be added to the old, to the extent that a start is made again with the actual labour process.

Hence values are preserved in the labour process by labour as actual living labour, whereas new value is added to the values by labour only as abstract social labour, labour time.

The actual labour process appears as productive consumption. The latter can now be defined more closely in the sense that the preposited values of the products are preserved in the labour process by these products being used up, consumed, as use values — material and means of labour — and converted into real use values for the formation of a new use value.

//But the values of the material and means of labour only re-appear in the product of the labour process to the extent that they were preposited to the latter as values, i.e. were values before they entered into the process. Their value is equal to the social labour time materialised in them; it is equal to the labour time necessary to produce them under given general social conditions of production. If later on more or less labour time were to be required to manufacture these particular use values, owing to some alteration in the productivity of the labour of which they are the products, their value would have risen in the first case and fallen in the second; for the labour time contained in their value only determines it to the extent that it is general, social, and necessary labour time. Hence although they entered the labour process with a definite value, they may come out of it with a value that is larger or smaller, because the labour time society needs for their production has undergone a general change, a revolution has occurred in their production costs, i.e. in the magnitude of the labour time necessary for their — manufacture. In this case more or less labour time than previously would be required to reproduce them, to manufacture a new sample of the same kind. But this change in the value of the material and means of labour involves absolutely no alteration in the circumstance that in the labour process into which they enter as material and means they are always preposited as given values, values of a given magnitude. For in this process itself they only emerge as values in so far as they entered as values. A change in their value never results from this labour process itself but rather from the conditions of the labour process of which they are or were the products and to which they therefore are not preposited as products. If their general conditions of production have changed, this reacts back upon them. They are an objectification of more or less labour time, of more or less value than they were originally; but only because a greater or smaller amount of labour time is now required than originally for their production. The reaction is due to the fact that as values they are a materialisation of social labour time but the labour time contained in them only counts to the extent that it is reduced to general [I-42] social labour time, raised to the power of equal social labour time. These changes in their value, however, always arise from changes in the productivity of the labour of which they are the products, and have nothing to do with the labour processes into which they enter as finished products with a given value. If this value changes before the new product of which they are the elements is finished they nevertheless relate to it as independent, given values preposited to it. Their change of value stems from alterations in their own conditions of production, which occur outside and independently of the labour process into which they enter as material and means; not as a result of an operation occurring within the labour process. For it they are always values of a given, preposited magnitude, even though owing to external agencies, acting outside the labour process, they are now preposited as of greater or smaller magnitude than was originally the case.//

We saw that just as the product is the result of the labour process so are its products prerequisites for the same process'; but now it must equally be said that if the commodity, i.e. a unity of use value and exchange value, is the result of the labour process, commodities are just as much its prerequisites. The products only emerge from the valorisation process as commodities because they have entered it as commodities, products with a definite exchange value. The difference is this: the products are changed as use values so that a new use value can be formed. Their exchange values are not affected by this change in the material, and they therefore re-appear unchanged in the new product. If use value is the product of the labour process, exchange value must be regarded as the product of the valorisation process, and thus the commodity, the unity of exchange value and use value, must be regarded as the product of both processes, which are merely two forms of the same process. If one wished to disregard the fact that commodities are preposited to production as its elements, the only matter of concern in the production process would be the use of products for the formation of new products; and this can, indeed, occur in states of society in which the product has not developed into the commodity, still less the commodity into capital.[68]

We now know two components of the value of the product: 1) the value of the material consumed in it; 2) the value of the means of production consumed in it. If these are equal respectively to A and B, the value of the product will initially consist of the sum of the values of A and B, or P (the product). P = A + B + x With x we denote the as yet undetermined portion of value that has been added to the material A by labour in the labour process. Therefore, we now come to consider this third component.

We know what price or value the money owner has paid for disposition over labour capacity or the temporary purchase of labour capacity, but we do not yet know what equivalent he receives in return for this. — We proceed, furthermore, from the assumption that the labour performed by the worker is ordinary average labour, labour of the quality or rather the qualitylessness in which it forms the substance of exchange value.[69] We shall see in the course of our investigation that the power of the labour, the question whether it is more or less potentiated simple labour, is a matter of complete indifference for the relation to be developed here. We proceed therefore from the assumption that whatever the particular material determinateness of the labour, whatever specific branch of labour it belongs to, whatever particular use value it produces, it is only the expression, the activity of average labour capacity, so that whether this manifests itself in spinning or weaving, etc., or farming, concerns only its use value, the manner of its application. It does not concern what it cost to produce the labour capacity itself, hence not its own exchange value. It will also be seen that differences in the wage paid for different working days, higher or lower, the unequal distribution of wages between the different branches of labour, do not affect the general relation between capital and wage labour.[32]

What the money owner gets back from the purchase of labour capacity can only become manifest in the actual labour process. The value added by labour in the labour process to the already existing value of the material is exactly equal to its duration. It is naturally presupposed that over a definite period of time, e.g. one day, precisely as much labour is employed on the product of this day as is necessary to produce it at the given general productive level of labour (under the given general conditions of production).[70] That is, it is presupposed that the labour time employed for the manufacture of the product is necessary labour time, the labour time required to give a certain quantity of material the form of the new use value. If, under the general conditions of production we have presupposed, 6 lbs of cotton can be converted into twist in the course of 1 day of 12 hours, only a day in which 6 lbs of cotton is converted into twist is regarded as a working day of 12 hours. On the one hand, therefore, necessary labour time is presupposed; on the other hand, it is presupposed that the particular labour performed in the labour process is ordinary average labour, whatever specific form it may have as spinning, weaving, digging, etc. (and the same is true of the labour employed in the production of the precious metals[71]). It follows, accordingly, that the quantity of value or the quantity of objectified general [I-43] labour time which this labour adds to the existing value is exactly equal to its own duration. This, under the given assumptions, simply means that precisely as much labour is objectified as the time taken for the process during which the labour is objectifying itself.

Let us say that 6 lbs of cotton can be spun into twist, say 5 lbs of twist, in a day of 12 hours. During the labour process the labour is continuously passing from the form of unrest and motion into the objective form. 2 (5 lbs = 80 ounces.) (Over 12 hours this would make exactly 6 2/3 ounces an hour.) The spinning constantly results in yarn. If one hour is required to turn 8 ounces of cotton into yarn, say 6 2/3 ounces of yarn, 12 hours would be required to turn 6 lbs of cotton into 5 lbs of yarn. What interests us here, however, is not that one hour of spinning turns 8 ounces of cotton into yarn and 12 hours 6 lbs, but that in the first case 1 hour of labour is added to the value of the cotton, and in the second 12 hours. In other words, we are only interested in the product from this point of view to the extent that it is the materialisation of new labour time and this naturally depends on the labour time itself. We are interested only in the quantity of labour absorbed in the product. Here we do not look at spinning as spinning, we do not look at it in so far as it gives the cotton a definite form, a new use value, but only in so far as it is labour in general, labour time and its materialisation, which is present in the yarn, the materialisation of general labour time as such. It is entirely irrelevant whether the same labour time is employed in the form of any other particular labour or to produce any other particular exchange value.

Originally, it is true, we were able to measure labour capacity with money, because it was itself already objectified labour, and the capitalist could therefore buy it; but were unable to measure labour itself directly, for as bare activity it escaped our standard of measurement. Now, however, in the measure to which, in the labour process, labour capacity proceeds to its real manifestation, to labour, the latter is realised, appears itself in the product as objectified labour time. The possibility is now available for comparing what the capitalist gives in wages with what he gets back in exchange for wages through the consumption of labour capacity. At the end of a certain measure of labour time, e.g. hours, a certain quantity of labour time has been objectified in a use value, say twist, and now exists as the latter’s exchange value.

Let us assume that the labour time realised in the spinner’s labour capacity amounts to 10 hours. We are speaking here only of the labour time realised daily in his labour capacity. In the price the money owner has paid the labour time required to produce or reproduce the labour capacity of the spinner every day is already expressed in average labour. We assume on the other hand that his own labour is the same quality of labour, i.e. the same average labour, as forms the substance of value, and in which his own labour capacity is evaluated.

Let us therefore assume initially that the spinner works 10 hours for the money owner or gives him, has sold him, 10 hours’ disposition over his labour capacity. This 10-hour disposition over the spinner’s labour capacity is consumed by the money owner in the labour process. This means, in other words, simply that he has the spinner spin for 10 hours, has him work in general, since here the particular form in which he has him do this is irrelevant. The spinner has therefore added to the value of the cotton through the agency of the means of labour 10 hours of labour in the shape of the spun thread, the yarn. If, therefore, the value of the product, the spun thread, the yarn, disregarding the newly added labour, was equal to A + B, it now = A + B + 10 hours of labour. The capitalist pays for these 10 hours of labour with 10d. Let us call these 10d. C. The product of the yarn now = A + B + C, i.e. it equals the labour time contained in the cotton, in the spindles (to the extent that they have been consumed) and finally in the newly added labour time.

Let the sum of A + B + C be = D. D is then equal to the sum of money the money owner laid out in material of labour, means of labour, and labour capacity before he began the labour process. That is to say, the value of the product — the yarn — is equal to the value of the elements of which the yarn consists, i.e. = the value of the material of labour and the means of labour (which is entirely consumed in the product on our assumption)+the value of the newly added labour, which has combined with the other two in the labour process to form yarn. Therefore 100 thalers of cotton, 16 thalers of instrument, and 16 thalers of labour capacity = 132 thalers. In this case the values advanced would admittedly have been preserved, but not increased. The only alteration that would have taken place before the money was transformed into capital [I-44] would have been a purely formal one. This value was originally = 132 thalers, a definite quantity of objectified labour time. The same unity re-appears in the product, as 132 thalers. The magnitude of value is the same, but this is now the sum of the value components 100, 16 and 16, i.e. the values of the factors into which the money originally advanced is divided in the labour process, and each of which has been purchased separately by that money.

In itself this result is not in the least absurd. If I buy yarn for 132 thalers, merely by converting money into yarn — i.e. by way of simple circulation — I pay for the material, means and labour contained in the yarn in order to acquire this particular use value and consume it in one way or the other. If the money owner has a house built in order to live in it, he pays an equivalent for the house. In short, when he goes through the circulation C — M — C, he in fact does nothing other than this. The money with which he buys is equal to the value of the commodity originally in his possession. The new commodity he buys is equal to the money in which the value of the commodity originally possessed by him has acquired an independent shape as exchange value.

Yet the purpose of the capitalist in transforming money into the commodity is not the commodity’s use value but the increase of the money or value laid out in the commodity — the self-valorisation of value. He does not buy for his own consumption but in order to draw out of circulation a higher exchange value than he originally threw into it.

If he were to re-sell the yarn, which is worth A + B + C, at, say, A + B + C + x, we should come back to the same contradiction. He would not sell his commodity as an equivalent, but above its equivalent. In circulation, however, no surplus value, no value over and above the equivalent, can arise unless one of the parties to the exchange receives a value below its equivalent.

The transformation of money into the elements of the labour process — or the actual consumption of the labour capacity that has been purchased, which is the same thing — would therefore be completely purposeless under the assumption that the money owner sets the worker to work for the same period of labour time as that he has paid him as an equivalent for his labour capacity. Whether he buys yarn for 132 thalers, so as to re-sell the yarn at 132 thalers, or converts the 132 thalers into 100 thalers of cotton, 16 thalers of spindles, etc., and 16 thalers of objectified labour, i.e. the consumption of labour capacity for the period of labour time contained in 16 thalers, so as to sell the 132 thalers’ worth of yarn thus produced at 132 thalers once again, the process is entirely the same from the point of view of its result, except that the tautological outcome of the process would have been arrived at by a more roundabout route in one case than in the other.

A surplus value, i.e. a value which forms an excess over the values that originally entered the labour process, can evidently only originate in that process if the money owner has bought disposition over the employment of labour capacity during a longer period than the amount of labour time required by the labour capacity for its own reproduction, i.e. than the labour time which is incorporated in the labour capacity itself, forms its own value and as such is expressed in its price. Let us apply this to the case mentioned above. If the cotton and the spindle belonged to the spinner himself, he would have to add 10 hours of labour to them in order to live, i.e. in order to reproduce himself as a spinner for the next day. If he were now to set a worker to work for 11 hours instead of 10, a surplus value of 1 hour would be produced, because the labour objectified in the labour process would contain an hour more of labour time than is necessary to reproduce the labour capacity itself, i.e. to keep alive the worker as worker, the spinner day in day out as spinner. Every portion of time worked by the spinner in the labour process over and above the 10 hours, [I-45] all surplus labour in excess of the quantity of labour incorporated in his own labour capacity, would form a surplus value, because it would be surplus labour,’ hence more spun thread, more labour objectified as yarn.

If the worker must work for 10 hours in order to live for the whole day, which consists of 24 hours (in which are naturally included the hours during which he must as an organism rest from labour, sleep, etc., is unable to work), he can work over the whole day for 12, 14 hours, although he only needs 10 out of these 12, 14 hours for the reproduction of himself as a worker, as living labour capacity.

If we now assume that this process corresponds to the general law of commodity exchange, that equal quantities of labour time are alone being exchanged, i.e. that the exchange value of the commodity is equal to the quantity of any other use value that expresses the same exchange value, i.e. the same quantity of objectified labour, the general form of capital — M — C — M will have lost its absurdity and acquired content. Since the commodity, here the yarn, for whose elements the money owner exchanged his money before the labour process, would have received an addition to the original quantity of objectified labour, in the shape of the product of the labour process, the new use value, the yarn, the product would possess a greater value than the sum of the values preposited in its elements. If it was originally = 132 thalers, it would now be = 143, if instead of 16 thalers (1 thaler = 1 day of labour) x more days of labour were contained in it. The value would now be = 100+16+16+11, and if the capitalist re-sold the product of the labour process, the yarn, at its value, he would gain 11 thalers from the 132 thalers. The original value would have been not only preserved but increased.

One must ask whether this process does not contradict the law originally presupposed, that commodities are exchanged as equivalents, i.e. at their exchange values; the law, therefore, that governs the exchange of commodities ?

It does not, for two reasons. Firstly, because money finds this specific object, living labour capacity, on the market, in circulation, as a commodity. Secondly, owing to the specific nature of this commodity. Its peculiar character consists namely in the fact that, whereas its exchange value, like that of all other commodities = the labour time incorporated in its own actual existence, in its existence as labour capacity, i.e. = the labour time necessary to keep alive this living labour capacity as such, or, what is the same thing, to keep the worker alive as a worker, — its use value is labour itself, i.e. precisely the substance which posits exchange value, the particular fluid activity which fixes itself as exchange value and creates it.[72] With commodities, however, only their exchange value is paid for. One does not pay for oil’s quality of being oil on top of paying for the labour contained in it, any more than one pays for the drinking of wine in addition to the labour contained in it, or for the enjoyment when paying for the drinking. Similarly therefore with labour capacity: what is paid for is its own exchange value, the labour time contained in it itself. But since its use value is in turn labour itself, the substance that creates exchange value, it in no way contradicts the law of the exchange of commodities that the actual consumption of labour capacity, its actual use as a use value, posits more labour, manifests itself in more objectified labour, than is present within it itself as exchange value.

The sole condition required for this relationship to come into existence is that [I-46] labour capacity itself should step forth as a commodity to meet money, or value in general. But this confrontation is conditioned by a definite historical process which narrows down the worker to pure labour capacity; this is the same as saying that this process confronts labour capacity with the conditions of its realisation, hence confronts actual labour with its objective elements, as alien powers, separated from it, as commodities in the possession of other keepers of commodities.[21] Under this historical presupposition labour capacity is a commodity, and under the presupposition that it is a commodity it by no means contradicts the law of the exchange of commodities, it much rather corresponds to it, that the labour time objectified in labour capacity or its exchange value does not determine its use value. The latter, however, is in turn itself labour. Hence in the actual consumption of this use value, i.e. in and through the labour process, the money owner can receive back more objectified labour time than he paid out for the exchange value of the labour capacity. So that although he has paid an equivalent for this specific commodity he receives back as a consequence of its specific nature — that its use value itself posits exchange value, is the creative substance of exchange value — a greater value by its use than he had advanced by its purchase, in which he paid for its exchange value alone, in line with the law of the exchange of commodities.

Therefore, presupposing a relationship in which labour capacity exists as mere labour capacity, hence as a commodity, and in which it is accordingly confronted by money as the form of all objective wealth, the money owner, being only concerned with value as such, will only purchase labour capacity on condition that he acquires disposition over it for a longer period, or that the worker binds himself to work for him during the labour process for a longer period, than the labour time the worker would have to put in in order to keep himself alive as a worker, as living labour capacity, if he himself owned the material and means of labour. This difference between the labour time which measures the exchange value of labour capacity itself and the labour time during which it is used as use value, is the labour time worked by labour capacity beyond the labour time contained in its own exchange value, hence beyond the value it cost originally. As such it is surplus labour — surplus value.

If the money owner makes this exchange of money with living labour capacity and with the objective conditions for the consumption of this labour capacity — i.e. with the material and means of labour corresponding to its particular material determinateness — he thereby transforms money into capital, i.e. into self-preserving and self-augmenting, self-valorising value. At no time does he contravene the law of simple circulation, of the exchange of commodities, whereby equivalents are exchanged or the commodities — on the average — are sold at their exchange values, i.e. exchange values of equal magnitude, whatever use values they may exist in, replace each other as equal magnitudes. At the same time he fulfils the formula M — C — M, i.e. the exchange of money for the commodity so as to exchange the commodity for more money, and accordingly does not contravene the law of equivalence, acting instead entirely in line with it.

Firstly: Say, a normal working day = 1 thaler, is expressed in the quantity of silver denominated by a thaler. The money owner expends 100 thalers for raw material; 16 thalers for instrument; and 16 thalers for the 16 labour capacities which he employs and whose exchange value = 16 thalers. Thus he advances 132 thalers, which re-appear in the product (result) of the labour process, [I-47] i.e. in the consumption of the labour capacity he has bought, the labour process, productive consumption. But the commodity he has bought at its exchange value of 15 days of labour provides as a use value, say, 30 days of labour, a day of 6 hours provides 12 hours, objectifies itself in 12 hours of labour; i.e. it posits as a use value twice as great a value as it possesses as exchange value. But the use value of a commodity is independent of its exchange value and has nothing to do with the price at which it is sold — this is determined by the amount of labour time objectified in it. The product therefore = A + B + C + 15 hours of labour time. It is thus greater by 15 hours of labour time than the value preposited to the labour process. If A was = 100, B = 16, C = 16, the product = 143, i.e. 11 thalers’ more value than the capital advanced. If he re-sells this commodity at its value, he gains 11 thalers, although the law of the exchange of commodities was not infringed at any moment of the whole operation, the commodities having on the contrary been exchanged at every moment at their exchange values and therefore as equivalents.

Simple as this process is, it has so far been very little understood. The economists have never been able to reconcile surplus value with the law of equivalence they themselves have postulated. The socialists have always held onto this contradiction and harped on it, instead of understanding the specific nature of this commodity, labour capacity, whose use value is itself the activity which creates exchange value.[73]

Through this process, therefore, the exchange of money with labour capacity and the subsequent consumption of the latter, money is transformed into capital. The economists call this the transformation of money into productive capital, on the one hand in reference to other forms of capital, in which this basic process admittedly exists as a prerequisite but is extinguished in the form; and on the other hand in reference to the fact that money, in so far as it is confronted with labour capacity as a commodity, is the possibility of this transformation into capital, therefore is in itself capital, even if it is only through this process itself that it is transformed into actual capital. It has however the possibility of being transformed into capital.

It is clear that if surplus labour is to be realised, more of the material of labour is needed; more of the instrument of labour only in exceptional cases. If in 10 hours 10a pounds of cotton can be converted into twist, 10a + 2a will be converted in 12 hours. In this case, therefore, more cotton is needed or it must be assumed from the outset that the capitalist buys an adequate quantity of cotton to absorb the surplus labour. But it is also possible, for example, that the same material can only be worked up into a half-finished state in half a day and completely finished in a whole day. Even so, in this case too, more labour has been consumed in the material and if the process as to continue from day to day, to be a continuous production process, more of the material of labour would still be required than if the worker only replaced by his work in the labour process the labour time objectified in his own wages. Whether more of the means of labour is required and to what extent — and the means of labour is not limited to what are actually tools — depends on the technological nature of the particular labour, hence on the nature of the means consumed by it.

In every case more new labour must have been absorbed into the material of labour at the end of the labour process, and therefore objectified, than the amount of labour time objectified in the worker’s wage. Let us simply stick to the example of the manufacturer. This surplus absorption of labour manifests itself as the working up of more material or the working up of the same material to a higher level than could be attained with less labour time.

[I-48] If we compare the valorisation process with the labour process, the distinction is strikingly apparent between actual labour, which produces use value, and the form of this labour which appears as the element of exchange value, as the activity that creates exchange value.

It is apparent that the particular kind of labour being performed, its material determinateness, does not affect its relation to capital, which is the only issue here. But we started out from the assumption that the labour of the worker was common average labour. Yet the casus is not altered if it is assumed that his labour has a higher specific gravity, is potentiated average labour.[60] Simple labour or average labour, the labour of the spinner, the miller, the tiller or the engineer, what the capitalist acquires objectified in the labour process, appropriates for himself through it, is the particular labour of the worker, spinning, milling, tilling the fields, building machines. The surplus value he produces always consists in the surplus quantity of labour, of labour time, during which the worker spins, mills, tills the fields, builds machines for longer than is necessary to produce his own wage. It therefore always consists in a surplus quantity of his own labour, which the capitalist receives for nothing, whatever the character of that labour may be, whether simple or potentiated. The relation, for example, in which potentiated labour stands to average social labour alters nothing in the relation of this potentiated labour to itself, it does not change the fact that an hour of it creates only half as much value as two hours, or that it is realised in proportion to its duration. Hence so far as the relation between labour and surplus labour — or labour which creates surplus value — comes into consideration, it is always a matter of the same kind of labour, and here the following is correct, although it would not be correct in reference to exchange value positing labour as such:

  • “When reference is made to labour as a measure of value, it necessarily implies labour of one particular kind and a given duration; the proportion which the other kinds bear to it being easily ascertained by the respective remuneration given to each"* ([J. Cazenove,] Outlines of Political Economy, London, 1832, [pp.] 22-23).

The product obtained by the capitalist in this way is a particular use value, whose value is equal to the value of the material, the means of labour, and the quantity of labour added ( = the quantity of labour contained in the wage + the surplus labour, which is not paid for) = A+B+S+S". Hence, if he sells the commodity at its value, he gains exactly as much as the amount of surplus labour. He does not gain through selling the new commodity at over its value but because he sells it at its value, converts the whole of its value into money. He thereby receives payment of a part of the value, a part of the labour contained in the product, which he has not bought and which has cost him nothing. The part of the value of his product which he has not paid for and sells constitutes his gain. In circulation, therefore, he merely realises the surplus value he has received in the labour process. This does not arise from circulation itself, it does not spring from his selling his commodity at more than its value.

//The value of the material and means of labour consumed in the labour process — the labour time objectified in them — reappears in the product, the new use value. It is preserved, but it cannot be said in the proper sense of the word that it is reproduced; for it is not affected by the change of form that has taken place in the use value, the fact that it now exists in a different use value from previously. If a day’s labour is objectified in a use value, this objectification, the quantity of labour fixed in the use value, is not altered by the fact that e.g. the 12th hour of labour only enters into its composition 11 hours after the first hour of labour. Thus the labour time contained in the material and means of labour can be regarded as if it had only entered into the product at an earlier stage of the production process necessary for the manufacture of the whole product, hence of all its elements.

As against this, the situation is otherwise with labour capacity, in so far as it enters the valorisation process. It replaces the value contained in itself and therefore paid for itself or the objectified labour time paid for in its price, in the wage, by adding an equal quantity of new living labour to the material of labour. It therefore reproduces the value present in itself in advance of the labour process, quite apart from the fact that it also adds a surplus, surplus labour, over and above this quantity. The value of the material and means of labour only re-appears in the product because the material and means of labour possess this value before the labour process and independently [I-49] of it. But the value, and more than the value, of the labour capacity re-appears in the product because it is replaced, hence reproduced, by a greater quantity of new living labour in the labour process (even so, in this distinction the surplus quantity is at first irrelevant).//

Unity of the Labour Process and the Valorisation Process. (The Capitalist Production Process)[edit source]

The actual production process, which occurs as soon as money has been transformed into capital by being exchanged for living labour capacity and ditto for the objective conditions for the realisation of this capacity — the material and means of labour — this production process is a unity of the labour process and the valorisation process, just as its result, the commodity, is a unity of use value and exchange value.

The production process of capital, looked at from its material side, the production of use values, is, first of all, a labour process in general, and as such it displays the general factors which pertain to this process as such under the most varied forms of social production. These factors are determined, namely, by the nature of labour as labour. Historically, in fact, at the start of its formation, we see capital take under its control (subsume under itself) not only the labour process in general but the specific actual labour processes as it finds them available in the existing technology, and in the form in which they have developed on the basis of non-capitalist relations of production. It finds in existence the actual production process — the particular mode of production — and at the beginning it only subsumes it formally, without making any changes in its specific technological character. Only in the course of its development does capital not only formally subsume the labour process but transform it, give the very mode of production a new shape and thus first create the mode of production peculiar to it.[55] But whatever its changed shape may be, as a labour process in general, i.e. as a labour process viewed in abstraction from its historical determinateness, it always contains the general moments of the labour process as such.

This formal subsumption of the labour process, the assumption of control over it by capital, consists in the worker’s subjection as worker to the supervision and therefore to the command of capital or the capitalist. Capital becomes command over labour, not in the sense of Adam Smith’s statement that wealth is absolutely command over labour, but in the sense that the worker as worker comes under the command of the capitalist. For as soon as he has sold his labour capacity for a definite period of time to the capitalist in return for a wage he must enter into the labour process as a worker, as one of the factors with which capital works.

If the actual labour process is the productive consumption of the use values that enter into it through labour, hence through the activity of the worker himself, it is also just as much the consumption of labour capacity by capital or the capitalist.[74] He employs the worker’s labour capacity by having him work. All the factors of the labour process, the material of labour, the means of labour and living labour itself, as the activity, the consumption, of the labour capacity he has bought, belong to him; so the whole labour process belongs to him just as much as if he himself were working with his own material and his own means of labour. But since labour is at the same time the expression of the worker’s own life, the manifestation of his own personal skill and capacity — a manifestation which depends on his will and is simultaneously an expression of his will — the capitalist supervises the worker, controls the functioning of labour capacity as an action belonging to him. He will make sure that the material of labour is used for the right purpose: consumed as material of labour. If any material is wasted, it does not enter into the labour process, is not consumed as material of labour. The same is true of the means of labour, when, e.g. the worker wears out their material substance in a manner other than that prescribed by the labour process itself. Lastly, the capitalist will make sure that the worker really works, works the whole time required, and expends necessary labour time only, i.e. does the normal quantity of work over a given time. In all these aspects, the labour process and thereby labour and the worker himself come under the control of capital, under its command. I call this the formal subsumption of the labour process under capital.[75]

In the whole of the following investigation the labour the capitalist himself may perhaps perform is never reckoned among the components of the product’s value. If it consists of simple labour, it has nothing to do with the relation as such, and the capitalist [I-50] is not operating as capitalist, as mere personification, capital incarnate. If, however, it is a form of labour that arises from the peculiar functions of capital as such, hence from the capitalist mode of production as such, we shall subject it later on to a more specific and precise examination as “labour of superintendence”.[76]

This formal subsumption of the labour process under capital, or the command of the capitalist over the worker, has nothing in common with, e.g., the relation that prevailed in the guild industry of the Middle Ages between the master and the journeymen and apprentices.[29] It emerges instead, purely and simply, from the fact that productive consumption, or the production process, is at the same time a process of the consumption of labour capacity by capital, that the content and determining purpose of this consumption is nothing but the preservation and increase of the value of capital, and that this preservation and increase can only be attained by the most effective, most exact organisation of the actual labour process, which depends on the will, the hard work, etc., of the worker, and which is therefore taken under the control and supervision of the capitalist will.

//One more remark with reference to the production process: Money, in order to be transformed into capital, must be transformed into the factors of the labour process — i.e. into commodities which can figure as use values in the labour process; hence it must be transformed into means of consumption for labour capacity — i.e. the worker’s means of subsistence — or into the material and means of labour. All commodities, therefore, or all products, which cannot be employed in this manner or are not destined to be thus employed, belong to the consumption fund of society, but not to capital (here we understand under capital the objects wherein capital exists). Nevertheless, as long as these products remain commodities, they are themselves a mode of existence of capital. If capitalist production is presupposed, capital produces all products without exception, and it is entirely irrelevant whether these products are destined for productive consumption or are unable to enter into it, unable therefore to become the body of capital again. But they then remain capital as long as they remain commodities, i.e. are present in circulation. As soon as they are definitively sold, they cease to be capital in this sense. To the extent that capital is not at the stage of the labour process, it must absolutely be on hand in the form of commodity or money (if only perhaps a mere claim on money, etc.). But they cannot enter into the labour process or the production process as use values. //

In the same measure as the worker is active as a worker, i.e. externalises his labour capacity, he alienates it, since it has already been alienated by sale as a self-externalising capacity to the money owner before the labour process begins. As labour realises itself — on the one hand, as the form of raw material (as use value and product) and, on the other hand, as exchange value, objectified social labour in general — it is transformed into capital.

In general, to say that capital is a product, employed as a means for new production, is, as already remarked above, to misconstrue the capital-relation as covering the objective conditions of every labour process.[56] On the other hand, the same confusion may arise — and is even to be found in part in Ricardo himself[77] — when capital is described as accumulated labour employed for the production of more accumulated labour. The expression is ambiguous, since one needs to understand no more by accumulated labour than products which are employed for the production of new use values. But the expression can also be understood in the sense that the product (as exchange value) is, in general, nothing but a definite quantity of objectified labour, expended in order to make this quantity grow — hence the process of self-valorisation. Although the second process presupposes the first, the first process, in contrast, does not necessarily imply the second.

To the extent that the objective conditions of labour, the material and means of labour, serve directly in the labour process, they are employed by the worker. But it is not labour which employs capital, it is capital which employs labour.[78] It is this specific position taken up by value in general towards labour capacity, by objectified, past labour towards living, present labour, by the conditions of labour towards labour itself, which forms the specific nature of capital. We shall go into this in somewhat more detail at the end of this section I. 1) (Transformation of Money into Capital). Here it suffices to say, for the moment, that in the production process — in so far as this is a valorisation process and hence a process of the self-valorisation of the preposited value or money-value (i.e. objectified general social labour), past labour, [I-51] preserves and increases itself, posits surplus-value, through exchange, through the relative appropriation of living labour, an exchange mediated by the purchase of labour capacity. It thus appears as value-in-process, and preserving and maintaining itself in the process. It thus appears as a self — the incarnation of this self is the capitalist — the selfhood of value. Labour (living) appears only as the means, the agency through which capital (value) reproduces and increases itself.

  • “Labour is the agency by which capital is made productive of wages, profit, or revenue” * (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes etc., 3rd ed., London, 1835, p. 161).

(In the abstract economic section of his book Wade has some original points for his time, e.g. on commercial crises, etc. The whole of the historical part is, in contrast, a striking example of the shameless plagiarism that predominates among the English economists. It is in fact copied almost word for word from Sir F. Morton Eden, The State of the Poor etc., 3 vols, London, 1797 .)[79]

Value, objectified labour, acquires this relation to living labour only to the extent that it is confronted by labour capacity as such, i.e. to the extent that, conversely, the objective conditions of labour — and hence the conditions for the realisation of labour capacity — confront labour capacity itself in separation and independence, under the control of an alien will. Hence although the means and material of labour are not as such capital, they themselves appear as capital because their independence, their existence as entities in their own right vis-à-vis the worker and therefore labour itself, is rooted in their being. Just as gold and silver appear as money, and are, notionally, directly connected with the social relation of production of which they are the vehicles.[80]

Within capitalist production, the relationship between the labour process and the valorisation process is that the latter appears as the purpose, the former only as the means. The former is therefore stopped when the latter is no longer possible or not yet possible. On the other hand, it is revealed in times of so-called speculative fashions, of crises of speculation (shares and so forth), that the labour process (actual material production) is only a burdensome requirement, and the capitalist nations are seized by a universal mania for attaining the goal (the valorisation process) without using the means (the labour process). The labour process as such could only provide its own purpose if the capitalist were concerned with the use value of the product. He is, however, only concerned with alienating it by sale as a commodity, converting it back into money, and, since it was money originally, with the increase of this sum of money. In this sense it can be said:

“The value makes the product” (Say, Cours complet, p. 510),[81]

(This is in fact true for all production of commodities. On the other hand, it is also correct that only capitalist production is commodity production to the broadest extent, i.e. production for the individual’s own use entirely disappears and the elements of production, even in agriculture, are to a greater and greater degree already commodities when they enter the production process.[60])

Here, in dealing with the transformation of money into capital, we only need to point generally to the form in which money appears (since we shall be returning to this in dealing with circulation[82]). In any case this has already been done for the most part, in 1. 1) a) (The Most General Form of Capital).

A further remark needs to be made with regard to the valorisation process: It is not merely value, but a sum of value, that is preposited to it. A value of a definite magnitude, a point which will be developed still further later on. It must (even as capitalist in nuce) at least be capable of buying 1 worker and the material and instrument needed for him. In short, the sum of value is here determined from’ the outset by the exchange values of the commodities which enter directly into the labour process.

We therefore call the whole thing the capitalist production process on the basis of capital. It is not a question of producing a product but a commodity — a product destined to be sold. And it is not a question of simply producing commodities in order by selling them to gain possession in this way of the use values available in circulation, but of producing commodities in order to preserve and increase the preposited value.

[I-52] //If the labour process is viewed entirely abstractly, it can be said that originally only two factors come into play — man and nature. (Labour and the natural material of labour.) His first tools are his own limbs, and even these he must first appropriate for himself. Only with the first product that is employed for new production — even if it is just a stone thrown at an animal to kill it — does the labour process proper begin.[83] One of the first tools appropriated by man is the animal (domesticated animal). (See on this point the passage in Turgot.[84]) To this extent, from the point of view of labour, Franklin is right to define man as “a tool-making animal” or “engineer”.[85] The earth and labour would then be the original factors of production; the products destined for labour, produced material of labour, means of labour, means of subsistence, would only be derivative factors.

“The earth is necessary; capital is useful. And labour with the earth produces capital” (Colins, L'économie politique. Source des révolutions et des utopies prétendues socialistes, Vol. III, Paris, 1857, [p.] 288).a

//Colins believes that this achievement of independence by value, see VII-153, 154,[86] which is contained in the concept of capital, was invented by the economists.// The above-mentioned ambiguity is also present in James Mill.

  • "All capital"* //here capital in the merely material sense// *"consists really in commodities.... The first capital must have been the result of pure labour. The first commodities could not he made by any commodities existing before them” (James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, [,p.] 72).

However, this separation of production into the factors man, as vehicle of labour, and earth (actually nature) as object of labour, is also totally abstract. For man does not originally confront nature as a worker but as a proprietor, and it is not man as a solitary individual but man as member of a tribe, a clan, a family, etc., as soon as one can at all speak of man leading a human existence.[87]

// In the same Mill:

  • “Labour and Capital ... the one, immediate labour ... the other, hoarded labour, that which has been the result of former labour” * (l.c., [p.] 75). //

if, on the one hand, capital is reduced in the labour process to its merely material mode of existence — if it is separated into its factors — in order in general to smuggle it in as a necessary element of all production, 16 it is, on the other hand, also conceded that capital is of a purely notional nature, because it is value (Say, Sismondi, etc. ). If it is said that Capital is a product as opposed to a commodity (Proudhon, Wayland, etc.) or that it is the instrument of labour and the material of labour, or that it also consists of the products the worker receives, etc., it is forgotten that in the labour process labour has already been incorporated into capital and belongs to it just as much as the means and material of labour.

  • "When the labourers receive wages for their labour ... the capitalist is the owner, not of the capital only” * (in this material sense), * “but of the labour also. If what is paid as wages is included, as it commonly is, in the term capital, it is absurd to talk of labour separately from capital. The word capital, as thus employed, includes labour and capital both"* (James Mill, l.c., [pp.] 70, 71).

Just as it is convenient for the apologists of capital to confuse it with the use value in which it exists, and to call use value as such capital, in order to present capital as an eternal factor of production, as a relation independent of all social forms, immanent in every labour process, hence immanent in the labour process in general, so equally does it happen that it suits Messieurs the economists when reasoning away some of the phenomena which belong peculiarly to the capitalist mode of production to forget the essential feature of capital, namely that it is value positing itself as value, hence not only self-preserving but at the same time self-multiplying value. This is convenient e.g. for proving the impossibility of overproduction.[88] The capitalist is here conceived as someone who is only concerned with the consumption of certain products (their appropriation by means of the sale of his commodity), not with the increase of the preposited value, purchasing power as such, abstract wealth as such.

Through the transformation of money into capital (effected by the exchange of money with labour) the general formula for capital, M — C — M, has now acquired a content. Money is the independent existence of exchange value. Viewed from the angle of its quality, it is the material representative of abstract wealth, the material existence of abstract wealth. But, the degree [I-53] to which it is this, the extent to which it corresponds to its concept, depends on its own quantity or mass. In the increase of money corresponds to the increase of value as such — this increase is an end in itself. To make money by means of money is the purpose of the capitalist production process — the increase of wealth in its general form, of the quantity of objectified social labour which is, as this labour, expressed in money. Whether the existing values figure merely as money of account in the ledger, or in whatever other form, as tokens of value, etc., is initially a matter of indifference. Money appears here only as the form of independent value which capital assumes at its starting-point as also at its point of return, but constantly abandons again. A more detailed treatment of this belongs in II) The Circulation Process of Capital.[82]

Capital is here money-in-process, for which its forms as, money and commodity are themselves merely alternating forms. It is continuously estimated in money of account — and is only valid as this money’s material existence, even as long as it exists as a commodity; and no sooner does it assume the form of money than it must, in order to valorise itself, abandon that form again. To say the capitalist is concerned with money is to say nothing but that he is concerned purely with exchange value, with the increase of exchange value, with abstract enrichment. But this is solely expressed as such in money.

“The great object of the monied capitalist, in fact, is to add to the nominal amount of his fortune. It is that if expressed pecuniarily this year by £20,000 for example, it should be expressed pecuniarily next year by £24,000. To advance his capital, as estimated in money, is the only way in which he can advance his interest as a merchant. The importance of this object to him is not affected by fluctuations in the currency or by a change in the real value of money. For instance, he may have advanced his fortune, by the business of one year, from £20,000 to £24,000; and vet, from a decline in the value of money, he may not have increased his command over the comforts, etc. Still it was as much his interest [to have engaged in the business], as if money had not fallen; for else, his monied fortune would have remained stationery, and his real wealth would have declined in the proportion of 24 1 o 20.... commodities are, therefore, not the terminating object of the trading capitalist, save in the spending of his revenue, and when he purchases for the sake of consumption. In the outlay of his capital, and when he purchases for the sake of production, money is his terminating object” (Thomas Chalmers, On Political Economy in Connexion with the Moral State and Moral Prospects of Society, 2nd ed., London, 1832, [pp.] 165-66).

//Another point in relation to the formula M — C — M. Value as capital, self-valorising value, is value raised to a second power. Not only does it have an independent expression, as in money, but it compares itself with itself (or is compared by the capitalist), measures itself at one period (the magnitude of value in which it was preposited to the production process) against itself in another period, namely after its return from circulation — after the commodity has been sold and re-converted into money. Value therefore appears as the same subject in two different periods, and indeed this is its own movement, the movement that characterises capital. Only in this movement does value appear as capital. See in opposition to this “A Critical Dissertation on the Nature, Measures, and Causes of Value; Chiefly in Reference to the Writings of Mr. Ricardo and His Followers. By the Author of Essays on the Formation and Publication of Opinions.” //S. Balley,// London, 1825.// Bailey’s main argument against the whole determination of value by labour time is this: Value is only the relation according to which different commodities are exchanged. Value is only a relation between 2 commodities.

  • Value* is nothing * “intrinsic or absolute” * (l.c., p. 23). * “It is impossible to designate. or express the value of a commodity, except by a quantity of some other commodity” * (l.c., [p.] 26). * “Instead of regarding value as a relation between 2 objects, they” * (the Ricardians) (and Ricardo himself) * “consider it as a positive result produced by a definite quantity of labour” * (l.c., [p.] 30). * “Because the values of A and B, according to their doctrine, are to each other as the quantities of producing labour, or ... are determined by the quantities of producing labour, they appear to have concluded, that the value of A alone, without reference to anything else, is as the quantity of its producing labour. There is no meaning certainly in the last proposition”; * (pp. 31-32). They speak of * “value as a sort of general and independent property” * (l.c., [p.] 35). * “The value of a commodity must be its value in something” * (l.c.)

As objectification of social labour the commodity is expressed as something relative. For [If the] [MS damaged here] labour contained [in A] is equated to all others, this is only as a particular form of existence of social labour. In this, however, the individual is already not viewed in isolation, but if Bailey wishes it, his labour is posited relatively and the commodity is itself posited as the form of existence of this relative thing.

[II-54] The same Bailey says (l.c., p. 72):

  • “Value is a relation between contemporary commodities, because such only admit of being exchanged for each other; and if we compare the value of a commodity at one time with its value at another, it is only a comparison of the relation in which it stood at these different times to some other commodity.” *

He says this as an argument against “comparing commodities at different periods” as if for example in the turnover of capital the capitalist had not continuously to compare the value of one period to the value of another period. [38]

// It could now be asked, what is the relationship in which capital’s monetary expression stands to capital itself. Once money exists in the form of money, the constituent elements for which it is exchanged in its transformation into productive capital confront it as commodities. Here, therefore, the laws developed in the metamorphosis of the commodity or in the simple turnover of money are valid. If tokens of value circulate, whether they serve as means of circulation or means of payment, they merely represent the value of the commodities estimated in money or they directly represent money, which is equal in quantity to the amounts of money expressed in the prices of the commodities. As such they have no value. They are therefore not yet capital in the sense that the latter Is objectified labour. They represent instead in full the price of the capital, as they previously represented that of the commodity. If real money circulates, this is itself objectified labour — capital — (because commodity).

If we divide the total sum of money turning over by the number of times it turns over, we get the quantity of money really engaged in the process of turning over, and this is a constituent element of the capital, fixed or circulating according to the view one wishes to take of it. I can buy commodities for 120 thalers with the same 6 thalers if they turn over 20 times in a day: they represent the value of 120 thalers in the course of a day. But the 6 thalers themselves must be added to this. So the whole amount of capital turning over in the course of the day = 126 thalers.

If a capital = 100 thalers, and it buys commodities with those 100 thalers, then the same 100 thalers now represent a 2nd capital of 100 thalers and so on. If they turn over 6 times in the day, they have successively represented a capital of 600 thalers. How much or how little capital they represent on a given day therefore depends on their velocity of turnover = the speed of the commodity’s metamorphosis, which appears here as the metamorphosis of capital, alternately assuming and abandoning its forms of money and commodity. If the money functions as means of payment, 600 thalers of money can pay for any amount of capital, since its negative and positive charges cancel out, leaving a balance of 600 thalers.

Whereas originally, in the simple circulation of commodities, money appears as a point of transition, the metamorphosis of the commodity, the commodity transformed into money appears as the point of departure and conclusion of the movement of capital, and the commodity appears as metamorphosis of capital, as a mere point of transition.

The only distinguishing marks of money in so far as it appears as a form of capital — as real money, not as money of account — are these: 1) It returns to its point of departure, and in increased quantity. Money expended for consumption does not return to its point of departure; capital — money advanced for the purpose of production — returns in increased quantity to its point of departure. 2) Money which has been expended remains in circulation, from which it withdraws the commodity; capital throws back into circulation more commodities than it withdrew and it therefore also constantly withdraws anew from circulation the money it has expended. The more rapid this cyclic movement, i.e. the more rapid the circulation or metamorphosis of capital, the more rapid the turnover of money, and since this movement of capital is many-sided, the more does money serve as means of payment and the more do debts and assets balance each other.//

Capital transformed into money in the way we have described becomes productive capital in so far as it has subsumed the production process, functions as buyer and employer of labour. Only where capital has subjected production itself to its control, hence where the capitalist produces, does capital exist as the dominant, specific form of a period of production. Formally speaking, it may already have emerged previously in other functions, and it appears in these functions in its own period too. But then these are only derivative and secondary forms of capital, such as commercial and interest-bearing capital, etc.[15] So when we speak of productive capital, the whole of this relation is to be understood, not as if one of the forms of use value in which it appears in the labour process were in itself productive, with the machine or the material of labour producing value, etc.[89]

From the valorisation process, whose result is the value advanced and a surplus, a surplus value (in the labour process itself capital appears as a real use value; i.e. as real consumption, for only in consumption is [II-55] use value realised as use value, this process of the consumption of capital itself forms an economic relation, has a definite economic form and is not indifferent, falling outside the form, as in the concept of the mere commodity[39]; these use values of which capital consists are conceptually determined by the activity of labour capacity, which consumes them) it follows that the actual specific product of capital, so far as it produces as capital, is surplus value itself and that in production by capital the specific product of labour, so far as capital incorporates labour, is not this or that product but capital. The labour process itself appears only as the means of the valorisation process, just as, in general, use value appears here as only the repository of exchange value.

The 2 Components into which the Transformation of Money into Capital is Divided[edit source]

[II-A][90] What the worker sells is disposition over his labour capacity — temporally limited disposition over it. The piece-work system of payment does, admittedly, introduce the semblance that the worker obtains a definite share in the product. But this is only another form of measuring labour time. Instead of saying: you will work for 12 hours, it is said: you will receive such and such an amount per piece, i.e. we measure the number of hours by the product, as the size of the AVERAGE product of an hour has been established by experience. The worker who cannot supply this minimum is dismissed. (See Ure.[91])

In accordance with the general relation of purchase and sale, the exchange value of the worker’s commodity cannot be determined by the way in which the purchaser uses the commodity; it is determined solely by the quantity of objectified labour contained in the commodity itself; here, therefore, by the quantity of labour it costs to produce the worker himself, for the commodity he offers exists only as an ability, a capacity, and has no existence outside his bodily form, his person. The labour time necessary both to maintain him physically and to modify him to develop this special capacity is the labour time necessary to produce the worker as such.

In this exchange the worker in fact only receives money as coin, i.e. merely a transitory form of the means of subsistence for which he exchanges it. Means of subsistence, not wealth, are for him the purpose of the exchange.

Labour capacity has been called the capital of the worker in so far as it is the fund he does not consume by an isolated exchange, but is able to repeat the exchange again and again for the duration of his life as a worker. On this argument everything that formed a fund for repeated processes by the same subject would be capital; e.g. the eye would be the capital of sight. Phrases.[92] The fact that, as long as he is capable of working, labour is always a source of exchange for the worker, and not exchange absolutely but exchange with capital, is inherent in the definition of the concept, according to which he only sells the temporary disposition over his labour capacity, hence can always begin the same act of exchange anew once he has half satisfied his hunger and slept half long enough, taken in the appropriate quantity of substances to be able to reproduce afresh the manifestation of his life.

Instead of wondering at this and presenting to the worker the fact that he lives at all, hence is able to repeat certain life processes every day, as a great service rendered by capital, the whitewashing sycophants of bourgeois political economy should rather have fixed their attention on the fact that after constantly repeated labour he always has only his living, direct labour itself to exchange. The repetition itself is, in fact, merely an apparent one. What he exchanges for capital (even if it is represented in relation to him by different, successive capitalists) is his entire labour capacity, which he expends over 30 years, say. It is paid for in doses, just as he sells it in doses. This changes absolutely nothing in the essence of the matter, and in no way justifies the conclusion that, because the worker must sleep for a certain number of hours before he is capable of repeating his labour and his exchange with capital, labour forms his capital. Hence what in fact is here conceived as his capital is the limit to his labour, its interruption, the fact that he is not a perpetuum mobile. The struggle for the normal working day proves that the capitalist would like nothing better than for the worker to squander his dosages of vital force, as far as possible, without interruption. [II-A]

[II-55] The whole movement that money performs to be converted into capital therefore falls into two distinct processes: the first is an act of simple circulation, purchase on one side, sale on the other; the second is the consumption of the purchased article by the buyer, an act which lies outside circulation, takes place behind its back. The consumption of the purchased article, in consequence of the latter’s specific nature, here itself constitutes an economic relation.[39] In this consumption process the buyer and the seller enter into a new relation with each other, which is at the same time a relation of production.

The two acts may be entirely separate in time; and whether the sale is realised straight away or first concluded nominally and subsequently realised, it must always, at least nominally, as a stipulation made between buyer and seller, precede as a specific act the second act. the process of consumption of the purchased commodities — although their stipulated price is not paid until later.

The first act fully corresponds to the laws of commodity circulation, to which it belongs. Equivalents are exchanged for equivalents. The money owner pays out on the one hand the value of the material and means of labour, on the other hand the value of the labour capacity. In this purchase he therefore gives in money exactly as much objectified labour as he withdraws from circulation in the form of commodities — labour capacity, material of labour and means of labour. If this first act did not correspond to the laws of the exchange of commodities, it could not appear at all as the act of a mode of production whose foundation is namely that the most elementary relationship individuals enter with each other is that of commodity owners.[20] A different foundation of production would have to be assumed in order to explain it. But, inversely, it is precisely the mode of production whose product always has the elementary form of the commodity, and not that of use value, which is based on capital, on the exchange of money for labour capacity.

The second act displays a phenomenon which in its result and its conditions is not only entirely alien to the laws of simple circulation but even appears to be at odds with it. In the first place, the social position of the seller and the buyer changes in the production process itself. The buyer takes command of the seller, to the extent that the latter himself enters into the buyer’s consumption process with his person as a worker. There comes into being, outside the simple exchange process, a relation of domination and servitude, which is however distinguished from all other historical relations of this kind by the fact that it only follows from the specific nature of the commodity which is being sold by the seller; by the fact, therefore, that this relation only arises here from purchase and sale, from the position of both parties as commodity owners, therefore in itself once again includes political, etc., relationships. The buyer becomes the chief, lord (master), the seller becomes his worker (man, hand). In the same way as the relation of buyer and seller, as soon as it is inverted to become the relation of creditor ‘and debtor, alters the social position of both parties — but there it is only a temporary change. Here it is permanent.[93]

But if one considers the result itself, it completely contradicts the laws of simple circulation, and this becomes even more striking when, as is usually the case, payment is only made after the labour has been delivered, the purchase being therefore in fact realised only at the end of the production process. For now labour capacity no longer confronts the buyer as such. It has become objectified in the commodity, say for example 12 hours of labour time, or 1 day’s labour. The buyer therefore receives a value of 12 hours of labour. But he only pays for a value of say 10 hours of labour. Here equivalents would not really be exchanged for each other; but in fact no exchange is taking place at all now. One could only say: even assuming — and this is a favourite phrase — assuming that Act I has not taken place in the manner described but [II-56] instead the buyer pays not for the labour capacity but rather for the labour itself that has been provided. It can only be imagined. The product is now ready, but its value only exists in the form of its price. It must first be realised as money. If, then, the capitalist immediately realises for the worker his part of the product in money, it is in order that the worker should be content with a lesser equivalent in money than he has given up in the commodity. From a general point of view this is absurd. For it adds up to the assertion that the seller must always be satisfied with a lesser equivalent in money than he provides in the commodity. Once the buyer transforms his money into a commodity, buys, the value only continues to exist in the commodity he buys as price; it no longer exists as realised value, as money. He receives no compensation for the fact that his commodity has lost the form of exchange value, of money. On the other hand, he has gained by the transaction, in that it now exists in the form of the commodity.

But, it is further argued, if I buy a commodity for my own consumption, that is something different; I am interested in its use value. There, it is only a matter of transforming exchange value into means of subsistence. In contrast to this, if I buy a commodity in order to re-sell it, I evidently suffer an initial loss when I exchange my money for it. For I am only concerned with exchange value and by the act of purchase my money loses the form of money. The exchange value exists now only as price, as an equation with money which has yet to be realised. But the intention with which I buy a commodity has nothing to do with its value. The phenomenon that in buying in order to sell a surplus value emerges would here be derived from the intention of the buyer that this surplus value should emerge, which is obviously absurd. When I sell a commodity I am completely indifferent to the use the buyer intends to make of it, as also to the misuse. Let us assume that the commodity owner has insufficient money to buy labour, but enough to buy the material and means of labour. The sellers of the material and means of labour would laugh him to scorn if he were to say: the material and means of labour are incomplete products; one is so in the nature of things, the other, likewise, only forms a constituent element of a later product and has no value except in so far as it enters into that product. Let us say that in fact the material of labour costs 100 thalers, the means of labour 20, and the labour I add to them, measured In money, is equal to 30 thalers. The value of the product would then be 150 thalers, and as soon as I am done with my work I have a commodity of 150 thalers, which, however, must first be sold in order to exist in the form of exchange value, as 150 thalers. I have given 100 thalers to the seller of the material, and 20 thalers to the seller of the means of labour; these form constituent elements of my commodity’s value; they form 80% of its price. This 80% of my as yet unsold commodity — which I must first turn back into money — has been realised in money by the sellers of the raw material and the means of labour in that they sold them to me, before the product was finished, and furthermore before it was sold. I am therefore making them an advance by the mere act of buying, and they ought accordingly to sell me their commodities at less than their value. The case is just the same.

In both cases I have a commodity of 150 thalers in my hands, but it must first be sold, realised in money. In the first case I have myself added the value of the labour, but I have paid in advance the value of the material and means of labour, not only before the product has been sold, but before it is finished. In the second case the worker has added the value and I have paid him before the sale of the commodity. So one would always arrive at the absurd conclusion that the buyer as such has the privilege of buying cheaper, whereby he would lose just as much in his capacity of seller as he would have gained as buyer. At the end of the day for example the worker has added a day’s labour to the product and I possess this labour of his in objectified form, as exchange value; I only pay him for this when I give back to him the same exchange value in money. The form of use value in which the value exists changes the magnitude of value just as little as it is changed by existing in the form of the commodity rather than that of money, as realised rather than non-realised value.

What creeps into this conception is the recollection of cash discount. If I have commodities ready, and either have money advanced on them — without selling them (or only making a conditional sale) — or draw out money on a bond of payment for a commodity which is already sold but for which payment first falls due later — for which I therefore have received in payment a bond, a bill of exchange or the like, only to be realised later — in both of these cases I pay discount. I pay for having received money without selling the commodity, or for having received money before the commodity is payable, before the sale is actually realised; in one or the other form I borrow money, and I pay for this. I give up part [II-57] of the price of the commodity, yielding it to the person who advances me money for the commodity as yet unsold or the commodity whose price is not yet payable. Here, therefore, I am paying for the metamorphosis of the commodities.

But if I am the buyer of labour — once it has been objectified in the product — this relation does not fill the bill, to begin with. For whether money is advanced [on unsold commodities] or the payment bond is discounted, in both cases the advancer of the money is not the buyer of the commodity but a third person who interposes himself between buyer and seller. But in our case the capitalist confronts the worker who has provided him with the commodity — a definite amount of labour time objectified in a particular use value — as buyer, and he pays when he has already received the equivalent in the commodity. Secondly, this whole relation between the industrial capitalist and the capitalist advancing money at interest presumes that the capital-relation already exists. It is assumed that money-value in general — possesses as such the quality of valorising itself within a definite period of time, the ability to create a certain surplus value, and payment is made for its use on this assumption. Here, therefore, a derived form of capital is being presupposed in order to explain its original form — a particular form in order to explain its general form.[94]

In any case, the upshot of the whole thing is always this: The worker cannot wait until the product is sold. In other words, he does not have a commodity to sell, only his own labour. If he had commodities to sell, this would imply that in order to exist as a seller of commodities — since he does not live off the product and the commodity is not a use value for himself — he would always have to have in stock in the form of money as much of the commodities as he needs to live, to buy provisions, until his new commodity is finished and sold. Once again we have the same presupposition as in the first act, namely that the worker is faced, as mere labour capacity, with the objective conditions of labour, which include both his means of subsistence — the means to living while he works — and the conditions for the realisation of his labour itself.[21] Under the pretext of reasoning out of existence the first relation on which everything depends, and which is decisive, it is thus re-established.

Another form is just as idiotic: By receiving his wages, the worker has already received his share of the product or the value of the product, hence he has no further demands to make. Capitalist and worker are associés, a joint proprietors of the product or its value, but one partner has his share paid to him by the other and thereby loses his right to the value resulting from the sale of the product and the profit realised therein. Arising from this we have to distinguish between two fallacies, If the worker had received an equivalent for the labour added by him to the raw material, he would in fact have no further claim. He would have received his share payment at its full value. This would of course show why he has nothing further to do with either the commodity or its value, but it by no means shows why he receives an equivalent in money which is smaller than he provided in the labour objectified in the product.

Thus in the above example the seller of raw material at 100 thalers and the seller of the means of labour at 20, which were bought from them by the producer of the new commodity, have no claim to the new commodity and its value of 150 thalers. It does not, however, follow from this that the one received only 80 thalers instead of 100 and the other only 10 instead of 20. It only proves that if the worker has received his equivalent before the sale of the commodities — he has, however, sold his commodity — he has nothing further to demand. But it does not prove that he has to sell his commodity at less than the equivalent. Now of course a second illusion creeps in. The capitalist now sells the commodity at a profit. The worker, who has already obtained his equivalent, has already waived his claim to the profit which arises from this subsequent operation. Here then we once again have the old illusion that profit — surplus value — arises from circulation and therefore that the commodity is sold over its value and the buyer is defrauded. The worker would have no share in this fraud carried out by one capitalist on another; but the profit of the one capitalist would be equal to the LOSS of the other, and thus no surplus value would exist in and for itself, for capital as a whole.

There are of course particular forms of wage labour in which it appears as if the worker sold not his labour capacity but his labour itself, already objectified in the commodities. In the piece wage for example. However, this is [II-58] only another form of measuring labour time and supervising labour (of only paying for necessary labour). If I know, for example, that average labour can deliver 24 units of some article in 12 hours, then 2 units would be equivalent to 1 hour of labour. If the worker receives payment for 10 of the 12 hours he works, hence if he works 2 hours of surplus time, this is the same as if in every hour he provided 1/6 of an hour of surplus labour (labour for nothing). (10 minutes, hence 120 minutes over the whole day = 2 hours.)

Assuming that 12 hours of labour, evaluated in money, = 6s., then 1 hour = 6/12s. = 1/2 s. = 6d. The 24 units therefore = 6s., or a single unit = 1/4s. = 3d. It is all the same whether the worker adds 2 hours to 10 or 4 units to 20. Each unit of 3d. = 1/2 hour of labour of 3d. The worker, however, receives not 3d. but 2 1/2d. And if he delivers 24 units, he receives 48d. + 12d. = 60d. = 5s., while the capitalist sells the commodity at 6s. It is therefore only another way of measuring labour time (and equally of supervising the quality of the labour). These different forms of wage labour have nothing to do with the general relationship. It is in any case obvious that the same question arises with piece wages: where does the surplus value come from? It is clear that the piece is not completely paid for; that more labour is absorbed in the piece than is paid for in money.

Hence the whole phenomenon can only be explained (all other ways of explaining it ultimately return to presupposing its existence) by the fact that the worker does not sell his labour as a commodity — and it is a commodity as soon as it is objectified, in whatever use value, hence always as a result of the labour process, hence mostly before the labour has been paid for — but his labour capacity, before it has been set to work and realised itself as labour.

The result — that the preposited value, or the sum of money the buyer cast into circulation, has not only been reproduced but valorised itself, grown in a definite proportion, that a surplus value has been added to the value — this result is only realised in the direct production process, for only here does labour capacity become actual labour, only here is labour objectified in a commodity. The result is that the buyer gets back more objectified labour in the form of the commodity than he advanced in the form of money. This surplus value — this surplus of objectified labour time — arose first during the labour process itself; later the buyer throws it back into circulation by selling the new commodity.

But this second act, in which surplus value really arises and capital in fact becomes productive capital, can only occur as a result of the first act and is only a consequence of the specific use value of the commodity, which is in the first act exchanged for money at its value. The first act, however, only takes place under certain historical conditions.[21] The worker must be free, in order to be able to dispose of his labour capacity as his property, he must therefore be neither slave, nor serf, nor bondsman. Equally, he must on the other hand have forfeited the conditions for the realisation of his labour capacity. He must therefore be neither a peasant farming for his own needs nor a craftsman; he must have altogether ceased to be an owner of property. It is assumed that he works as a non-proprietor and that the conditions of his labour confront him as alien property. Thus these conditions also imply that the earth confronts him as alien property; that he is excluded from the use of nature and its products. This is the point at which landed property appears as a necessary prerequisite for wage labour and therefore for capital. But in any case this does not have to be borne in mind any further in considering capital as such, since the form of landed property corresponding to the capitalist form of production is itself a historical product of the capitalist mode of production.[95] There therefore lies hidden in the existence of labour capacity offered as a commodity by the worker himself a whole range of historical conditions which alone permit labour to become wage labour, hence money to become capital.

Here, of course, it is a matter of production’s resting in general on this basis; wage labour and its employment by capital should not occur as sporadic phenomena on the surface of the society, but should constitute the [II-59] dominant relation.

For labour to be wage labour, for the worker to work as a non-proprietor, for him to sell not commodities but disposition over his own labour capacity — to sell his labour capacity itself in the sole manner in which it can be sold — the conditions for the realisation of his labour must confront him as alienated conditions, as alien powers, conditions under the sway of an alien will, as alien property. Objectified labour, value as such, confronts him as an entity in its own right, as capital, the vehicle of which is the capitalist — hence it also confronts him as the capitalist.

What the worker buys is a result, a definite value; the quantity of labour time equal to the quantity contained in his own labour capacity, hence an amount of money necessary to keep him alive qua worker. For what he buys is money, hence merely another form for the exchange value he himself already possesses as labour capacity, and in the same quantity.

What the capitalist buys, in contrast, and what the worker sells, is the use value of labour capacity, i.e. labour itself, the power which creates and enhances value. This value-creating and value-enhancing power therefore belongs not to the worker but to capital. By incorporating into itself this power, capital comes alive and begins to work “as if its body were by love possessed”. Living labour thus becomes a means whereby objectified labour is preserved and increased. To the extent that the worker creates wealth, living labour becomes a power of capital; similarly, all development of the productive forces of labour is development of the productive forces of capital. What the worker himself sells — and this is always replaced with an equivalent — is labour capacity itself, a definite value, whose magnitude may oscillate between wider or narrower limits, but which is always reducible conceptually to a definite amount of the means of subsistence required for the maintenance of labour capacity as such, i.e. so that the worker may continue to live as a worker. Objectified, past labour thereby becomes the sovereign of living, present labour. The relation of subject and object is inverted. If already in the presupposition the objective conditions for the realisation of the worker’s labour capacity and therefore for actual labour appear to the worker as alien, independent powers, which relate to living labour rather as the conditions of their own preservation and increase — the tool, the material [of labour] and the means of subsistence only giving themselves up to labour in order to absorb more of it — this inversion is still more pronounced in the result. The objective conditions of labour are themselves the products of labour and to the extent that they are viewed from the angle of exchange value they are nothing but labour time in objective form.

In both directions, therefore, the objective conditions of labour are the result of labour itself, they are its own objectification, and it is its own objectification, labour itself as its result, that confronts labour as an alien power, as an independent power; while labour confronts the latter again and again in the same objectlessness, as mere labour capacity.[96]

If the worker needs to work only for half a day in order to live for a whole day, i.e. in order to produce the means of subsistence necessary for his daily maintenance as a worker, the exchange value of his daily labour capacity = half a day’s labour. The use value of this capacity, on the other hand, consists not in the labour time needed to preserve and produce, or reproduce, that capacity itself, but in the labour time it can itself work. Its use value therefore consists for example in a day’s labour, whereas its exchange value is only half a day’s labour. The capitalist buys it at its exchange value, at the labour time required to preserve it; what he receives, in contrast, is the labour time during which it can itself work; hence in the above case a whole day, if he has paid for a half. The size of his profit depends on the length of the period of time for which the worker places his labour capacity at his disposal. But in all circumstances the relation consists in this, that the worker puts it at his disposal for longer than the amount of labour time necessary for his own reproduction. The capitalist only buys it because it has this use value.

Capital and wage labour only express two factors of the same relation. Money cannot become capital without being exchanged for labour capacity as a commodity sold by the worker himself; therefore without finding this specific commodity available on the market. On the other hand, labour can only appear as wage labour once the specific conditions of its realisation, its own objective conditions, confront it as powers in their own right, alien property, value — being-for-itself[25] and holding fast to [II-60] itself, in short as capital. Hence if capital from its material side — or in terms of the use values in which it exists — can only consist of the objective conditions of labour itself, the means of subsistence and means of production (the latter in part material of labour, in part means of labour), from its formal side these objective conditions must confront labour as alienated, as independent powers, as value — objectified labour — which relates to living labour as the mere means of its own preservation and increase.

Wage labour — or the wage system — (the wage as the price of labour) is therefore a necessary social form of labour for capitalist production, just as capital, potentiated value, is a necessary social form the objective conditions of labour must have for labour to be wage labour. One thus sees what a deep understanding of this social relation of production is possessed by e.g. a Bastiat, who says the form of the wage system is not to blame for the evils the socialists complain of. //More on this subject later.// The fellow thinks that if the workers had enough money to live until the sale of the commodity, they would be able to share with the capitalists on more favourable terms. That is, in other words, if they were not wage labourers, if they could sell the product of their labour instead of their labour capacity. The fact that they cannot do this makes them precisely wage labourers and their buyers capitalists. Thus the essential form of the relation is regarded by Mr. Bastiat as an accidental circumstance.[97]

There are a few more questions attached to this, which will be looked at immediately. First, though, one more remark. We have seen that by adding new labour in the labour process — and this is the only labour he sells to the capitalist — the worker preserves the value of the labour objectified in the material of labour and the means of labour. And indeed he does this for nothing. It happens in virtue of the living quality of labour as labour, not that a fresh quantity of labour would be required for this.

//Where e.g. the instrument of labour has to be improved, etc., requires new labour for its maintenance, it is the same thing as if a new tool or an aliquot part of a new means of labour were to be bought by the capitalist and thrown into the labour process. //

The capitalist receives this for nothing. Just as the worker advances his labour to him, in that it is only paid for after it is objectified (This is a point to be made against those who speak of the price of labour’s being advanced.[98] The labour is paid for after it has been provided. The product as such does not concern the worker. The commodity he sells has already passed into the possession of the capitalist before it is paid for.)

But yet a further result comes to pass owing to the whole transaction, and the capitalist also gets this for nothing. After the end of a labour process of, for example, one day the worker has turned the money he receives from the capitalist into means of subsistence and has thereby preserved, reproduced his labour capacity, so that the same exchange between capital and labour capacity can begin again afresh.

[II-61] “The material undergoes changes.... The instruments, or machinery, employed ... undergo changes. The several instruments, in the course of production, are gradually destroyed or consumed.... The various kinds of food, clothing, and shelter, necessary for the existence and comfort of the human being, are also changed. They are consumed, from [II-62] time to time, and their value reappears, in that new vigor imparted to his body and mind, which forms a fresh capital, to be employed again in the work of production” (F. Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Boston, 1843, [p:] 32). [II-62][99]

But this is a condition for the valorisation of capital, for its further existence in general, which allows it to be a continuous relation of production. This reproduction of labour capacity as such means the reproduction of the sole condition under which commodities can be transformed into capital. The worker’s consumption of his wage is productive for the capitalist not only because the latter receives in return labour, and a greater quantity of labour than is represented by the wage, but also because it reproduces for him the condition [for capital’s further existence], labour capacity. Hence the result of the capitalist process of production is not just commodities and surplus value; it is the reproduction of this relation itself (its reproduction on an ever growing scale, as will be seen later).[100]

In so far as labour is objectified in the production process, it is objectified as capital, as not-labour, and in so far as capital yields itself up in the exchange to the worker, it only turns into the means of reproducing his labour capacity. At the end of the process, therefore, its original conditions, its original factors and their original [mutual] relation, are again in place. The relation of capital and wage labour is therefore reproduced by this mode of production just as much as commodities and surplus value are produced. All that emerges at the end of the process is what entered at the start: on the one hand objectified labour as capital, on the other hand objectless labour as mere labour capacity, so that the same exchange is constantly repeated afresh. In colonies, where the domination of capital — or the basis of capitalist production — is not yet sufficiently developed, so that the worker receives more than [II-61] is required for the reproduction of his labour capacity and very soon becomes a peasant farming independently, etc., the original relation is not constantly reproduced; hence great lamentations by the capitalists and attempts to introduce the relation of capital and wage labour artificially (Wakefield [67]).

Linked with this reproduction of the total relationship — with the fact that by and large the wage labourer only emerges from the process to find himself in the same position in which he entered it — is the importance for the workers of the nature of the original conditions under which they reproduce their labour capacity and of the average wage or the limits within which they have traditionally to live in order to live as workers. This is more or less obliterated in the course of capitalist production, but it takes a long time. What means of subsistence are needed to maintain the worker — i.e. what kind of means of subsistence and in what quantity in general they are considered necessary — on this see Thornton. But this is a striking demonstration that wages are made up of means of subsistence alone, and that the worker continues to result merely as labour capacity. The difference lies only in the more or the less of a thing that counts as the measure of his requirements. He always works only for consumption; the difference is only in whether his consumption costs ( = production costs) are larger or smaller.

Wage labour is therefore a necessary condition for the formation of capital and it remains the constant, necessary prerequisite for capitalist production. Therefore although the first act, the exchange of money for labour capacity or the sale of labour capacity, does not enter as such into the direct production process (labour process), it does enter into the production of the whole relation. Without it, money does not become capital, labour does not become wage labour and therefore the whole labour process is not brought under the control of capital, either, not subsumed under it; hence the production of surplus value in the manner defined earlier does not take place either. This question of whether this first act belongs to the production process of capital — is the actual subject of discussion in the dispute between the economists as to whether the part of capital laid out in wages — or, what is the same thing, the means of subsistence for which the worker exchanges his wage — does constitute a part of capital. (See Rossi, Mill, Ramsay.)[101]

The question: are wages productive is in fact the same misunderstanding as the question: is capital productive?

In the latter case capital is understood to mean nothing other than the use values of the commodities in which it exists (the physical objects which comprise capital), not the formal determination, the definite social relation of production of which the commodities are the vehicles. In the former case the emphasis is on the fact that the wage as such does not enter into the direct labour process.

It is not the price of a machine which is productive but the machine itself, to the extent that it functions as a use value in the labour process. When the value of the machine reappears in the value of the product, the price of the machine in the price of the commodity, this only occurs because it has a price. This price produces nothing; it does not preserve, still less does it increase itself. From one aspect wages are a deduction from the productivity of labour; for surplus labour is limited by the labour time the worker requires for his own reproduction, preservation. Hence the surplus value is limited. From another aspect they are productive, in so far as they produce labour capacity itself, which is the source of valorisation altogether and the basis of the whole relation.

The portion of capital expended in wages, i.e. the price of labour capacity, does not enter directly into the labour process, although it does indeed in part, since the worker has to consume means of subsistence several times a day in order to continue with his work. Nevertheless, this consumption process falls outside the actual labour process. (Like coal, oil, etc., in the case of the machine, perhaps?[102]) As matière instrumentale of labour capacity? The preposited values only enter into the valorisation process at all to the extent that they are available. With the wage it is different, for this is reproduced; replaced by fresh labour. In any case, if wages themselves — split up into means of subsistence — are regarded merely as the coal and oil needed to keep the machine of labour in motion, they only enter into the labour process as use values to the extent to which t hey are consumed by the worker as means of subsistence and they are productive to the extent to which they keep him in motion as a working machine. But they do this in so far as they are means of subsistence, not because these means of subsistence [II-62] have a price. The price of these means of subsistence, however, the wage, does not come in here, for the worker must reproduce it. With the consumption of the means of subsistence the value contained in them is annihilated. He replaces this value with a fresh quantity of labour. It is therefore this labour which is productive, not its price.

//We have seen that the value contained in the material and means of labour is simply preserved by their being used up as material and means of labour, hence by their becoming factors of new labour, hence by the addition of new labour to them.

Let us now assume [that this is done] in order to carry on a production process on a particular scale — and this scale is itself determined, for only necessary labour time is to be employed, hence only as much labour time as is necessary at the given social stage of development of the productive forces. This given stage of development is however expressed in a certain quantity of machinery, etc., a certain quantity of products required for fresh production. Hence do not weave with a handloom when the powerloom is predominant, etc. In other words, in order that only necessary labour time be applied, labour must be placed in conditions which correspond to the mode of production. These conditions are themselves expressed as a certain quantity of machinery, etc., in short as means of labour which are prerequisites for ensuring that only as much labour time be employed for the manufacture of the product as is necessary at the given stage of development. Thus to spin yarn at least a minimum size of factory is needed, a steam engine with so and so much horsepower, mules with so and so many spindles, etc. Hence in order to preserve the value contained in these conditions of production — and spinning with machines in turn implies that a definite quantity of cotton must be consumed every day — it is necessary not only to add fresh labour but to add a certain quantity of that labour, so that the quantity of material determined by the stage of production itself should be used up as material, and that the particular time during which the machine must be in motion (must be utilised every day as instrument) should really be available as the machine’s period of utilisation.

If I have a machine which is constructed in such a way as to require the spinning of 600 lbs of cotton a day, and if 1 working day is needed to spin 6 lbs, 100 working days must be absorbed by these means of production, so as to preserve the value of the machinery. It is not that the fresh labour is in any way employed in the preservation of this value; all it does is add new value, while the old value re-appears unchanged in the product. But the old value is only preserved by the addition of new value. To re-appear in the product it must proceed as far as the product. Hence if 600 lbs of cotton must be spun so that the machinery is used as machinery, this 600 lbs must be transformed into product, i.e. there must be added to it the quantity of labour time which is necessary to transform it into product. In the product itself the value of the 600 lbs of cotton and the aliquot part of the machine that has been worn out simply reappears; the freshly added labour changes nothing in this, but it increases the value of the product. One part of it replaces the price of the wage (of labour capacity); another creates surplus value. If, however, the whole of this labour had not been added, the value of the raw material and the machinery would not have been preserved either. This part of the labour, in which the worker reproduces only the value of his own labour capacity, hence only adds this afresh, therefore preserves only the part of the value of material and instrument which has absorbed this quantity of labour. The other part of the labour, which creates the surplus value, preserves a further component of the value of the material and the machinery.

Let us assume that the raw material (the 600 lbs) costs 600d. = 50s. = £2 10s. The worn out machinery = £1, but the 12 hours of labour add £1 10s. (replacement of wage, and surplus value), so that the total price of the commodity = £5. Assuming the wage amounts to £1, 10s. expresses the surplus labour. Value preserved in the commodity = £2 10s., or half of it [of the £5]. The total product of the working day (one may imagine that this is a working day×100, i.e. a working day of 100 workers, since each one works for 12 hours) = £5. This makes 8 1/3s. per hour, or 8s. 4d. In one hour, therefore, 4s. 2d. of raw material and machinery is replaced and 4s. 2d. is added in labour (necessary and surplus labour).

The product of 6 hours of labour is [II-63] = 50s. = £2 10s.; preserved in this are raw material and machinery to the value of £1 5s. But in order to use machines so productively, 12 hours must be worked, hence as much raw material must be consumed as 12 hours of labour will absorb. The capitalist can therefore view the matter like this: in the first 6 hours alone the price of the raw material is replaced, amounting to precisely £2 10s. (50s.), the value of the product of 6 hours of labour. 6 hours of labour can only preserve, through the labour thereby added, the value of the material needed for 6 hours of labour. But the capitalist makes his calculations as if the first 6 hours had merely preserved the value of the cotton and machinery, because he must use his machine as a machine, let 12 hours be worked, hence also consume 600 lbs of cotton, in order to extract a definite surplus value. On our assumption, however, the value of the cotton was £1 10s. = 30s., 3/10 of the whole.[103]

To simplify matters — since the figures are here a matter of indifference — let us assume that £2 worth of cotton (hence 80 lbs, each lb. costing 6d.) is spun in 12 hours of labour; that £2 worth of machinery is used up in 12 hours of labour; and finally that £2 of value is added by fresh labour, of which £1 for wages, £1 for surplus value, surplus labour. £2 (40s.) for 12 hours would come to 3 1/3s. per hour (3s. 4d.), expressing the value of an hour of labour in money; similarly 3 1/3s. worth of cotton is used up each hour, on our assumption 6 2/3 lbs; lastly 3 1/3s. worth of machinery is worn out each hour. The value of the commodities finished each hour = 10s. But of this 10s. 6 2/3s. (6s. 8d.) or 66 2/3 % is merely preposited value, which only re-appears in the commodity because 3 1/3s. of machinery and 6 2 /3 lbs of cotton are required to absorb 1 hour of labour; because they have entered into the labour process as material and machinery — as material and machinery in these proportions — hence the exchange value contained in this quantity [of material and machinery] has gone over to the new commodity, the twist for example.

The value of the yarn produced in 4 hours = 40s. or £2, of which in turn 1/3 (namely 13 1/3s.) is newly added labour, and 2/3 or 26 2/3s. is merely the preservation of the value contained in the worked up material and the machinery. And indeed this is only preserved because the new value of 13 1/3s. is added to the material, i.e. 4 hours of labour are absorbed in it; or this is the quantity of material and machinery needed by the 4 hours of spinning labour for its realisation. In these 4 hours no value has been created apart from the 4 hours of labour which, objectified, = 13 1/3s. But the value of the commodity, or of the product of these 4 hours, 2/3 of which is preposited value preserved, = £2 (or 40s.), is exactly equal to the value of the cotton which needs to be spun (consumed) in 12 hours of labour by the spinning process. If, therefore, the manufacturer sells the product of the first 4 hours, he has thereby replaced the value of the cotton which he requires over the 12 hours, or which he requires so as to absorb 12 hours of labour time. But why? Because on our assumption the value of the cotton that enters into the product of 12 hours = 1/3 of the value of the total product. In 1/3 of the labour time he consumes only 1/3 of the cotton and therefore only preserves the value of this one third. If he adds another 2/3 of labour, he thereby consumes 2/3 more cotton and in 12 hours he has preserved in the product the total value of the cotton, because all 80 lbs of cotton have really entered into the product, into the labour process. Now, if he were to sell the product of 4 hours of labour, whose value = 1/3 of the total product, which is also the part of the value of the total product formed by the cotton, he might imagine that he had reproduced the value of the cotton in these first 4 hours, that it had been reproduced in 4 hours of labour. In actual fact, however, only 1/3 of the cotton enters these 4 hours, hence only 1/3 of its value. He assumes that the cotton consumed in the 12 hours was reproduced in the 4 hours. But the calculation only works because he included in the cotton ‘/3 for the instrument and 1/3 for labour (objectified), which together form 2/3 of the price of the product of the 4 hours. They = 26 2/3s., and in price therefore = 53 1/3 lbs of cotton. If he were only to work for 4 hours, he would only have in his commodity ‘/3 of the value of the total product of 12 hours. Since the cotton forms 1/3 of the value of the total product, he can reckon that in the product of 4 hours he brings forth the value of the cotton needed for 12 hours of labour.

[II-64] If he works for a further 4 hours, this again = 1/3 of the value of the total product, and since the machinery = 1/3 of the latter, he can imagine that in the 2nd third of the labour time he has replaced the value of the machinery needed for 12 hours. Indeed, if he sells the product of this 2nd third, or of these other 4 hours, the value of the machinery used up in 12 hours has been replaced. On this calculation the product of the last 4 hours contains neither raw material nor machinery, whose value it would include, but simply labour. Newly created value, therefore, so that 2 hours = the reproduced wage (£l) and 2 hours are surplus value, surplus labour (also £l). In reality, the labour added in the last 4 hours only adds 4 hours of value, hence 13 1/3s. But it is presupposed that the value of the raw material and means [of labour], which enter to 662 /3% into the product of these 4 hours, merely replaces the labour added. The value added by labour in the 12 hours is thus conceived as if it were added by labour in 4 hours. The whole calculation comes out because it is presupposed that 1/3 of the labour time not only creates itself but also the value of the 2 2/3 of the preposited values contained in the labour’s product. [This should read: “...but also the value of the preposited values, contained in the labour’s product to the amount of 2/3 of that product” — Ed.]

If it is assumed in this way that the product of a whole third part of the labour time — is merely the value added by labour — although this value is only 1/3 — the result is naturally the same as if over 3×4 hours the real third part were calculated on labour and the 2 2/3 on the preposited values. This calculation may be quite practical for the capitalist, but it entirely distorts the real relationship and leads to the greatest absurdity, if it is supposed to have theoretical validity. The preposited value of raw material and machinery alone forms 66 2/3 % of the new commodity, whilst the added labour only forms 33 1/3%. The 66 2/3% represents 24 hours of objectified labour time; how ridiculous therefore the requirement that the 12 hours of new labour should objectify not only itself but in addition a further 24 hours, hence 36 hours altogether.

The point, then, is this:

The price of the product of 4 hours of labour, i.e. of a third of the total working day of 12 hours, = 1/3 of the price of the total product. According to our assumption, the price of the cotton forms 1/3 of the price of the total product. Hence the price of the product of 4 hours of labour, of 1/3 of the total working day, = the price of the cotton that enters into the total product, or is spun in 12 hours of labour. The manufacturer therefore says that the first 4 hours of labour replace only the price of the cotton that is consumed during the 12 hours of labour. But in fact the price of the product of the first 4 hours of labour = 1/3 of the value added in the labour process, i.e. 13 %s. labour (in our example), 13 1/3s. cotton, and 13 1/3s. machinery, the last two components only re-appearing in the price of the product because they have been consumed by the four hours’ labour in their shape as use values, hence re-appear in a new use value, and have therefore preserved their old exchange value.

What is added in the 4 hours to the 26 2/3s. of cotton and machinery (which possessed this value before they entered into the labour process, and only re-appear in the value of the new product because they have entered into the new product through the agency of the four-hour spinning process) is nothing other than 13 1/3s., i.e. the newly added labour. (The quantity of newly added labour time.) If we therefore deduct the 4 hours from the price of the product, the 26 2/3s. advanced from the 40s., only 13 1/3s. remains as value really created in the process, the four hours of labour expressed in money. If now 2/3 of the price of the product, namely the one third or 13 1/3s. which represents the machinery, and the other third or 13 1/3s. which represents the labour, is evaluated in cotton, there emerges the price of the cotton that is consumed in the 12 hours.

In other words: In 4 hours of labour time only 4 hours of labour time is in fact added to the values previously present. But these values appear again — the values of the quantities of cotton and machinery — because they have absorbed this 4 hours of labour time or because as factors in the spinning they have become constituents of the yarn. The price of the cotton which re-appears in the value of the product of 4 hours of labour therefore = only the value of the quantity of cotton which has really entered as material into this 4-hour labour process, has been consumed; hence it = 13 1/3s., according to the [original] assumption. But the price of the total product of 4 hours of labour = the price of the cotton consumed in 12 hours, because the product of 4 hours of labour time = % of the total product of 12 hours, and the price of the cotton constitutes 1/3 of the price of the total product of 12 hours.

[II-65] What is true of 12 hours of labour is true of one hour. The proportion between 4 hours and 12 hours is the same as between 1/3 hour and 1 hour. Hence in order to simplify the whole example even more let us reduce it to 1 hour. On the given assumption the value of the product of 1 hour = 10s., of which 3 1/3s. is cotton (6 2/3 lbs of cotton), 3 1/3 machinery, and 3 1/3 labour time. If an hour of labour time is added, the value of the whole product = 10s. or 3 hours of labour time, because the values of the material consumed and the machinery consumed, which re-appear in the new product, the yarn, = 6 2/3s., which = 2 hours of labour on our assumption. The manner in which the values of the cotton and the spindle re-appear in the value of the yarn and the manner in which the freshly added labour enters into it are now to be distinguished.

Firstly: The value of the whole product = 3 hours of labour time, or 10s. Of this, 2 hours were labour time contained in the cotton and spindle and in existence prior to the labour process, i. e. they were values of cotton and spindle before these entered into the labour process. They therefore simply re-appear, are merely r, reserved, in the value of the total product, of which they form 2/3. The excess of the value of the new product over the values of its material constituents is only = 1/3, = 3 1/3s. This is the sole new value created in this labour process. The old values, which existed independently of it, have merely been preserved.

But, secondly: How have they been preserved? Through being applied by living labour as material and means, through being consumed by it as factors in the formation of a new use value, that of yarn. The labour has only preserved their exchange value because it related to them as use values, i. c. consumed them as the elements in the formation of a new use value, of yarn. The exchange values of the cotton and the spindle therefore re-appear in the exchange value of the yarn, not because labour in general, abstract labour, pure labour time — labour as it forms the element of exchange value — has been added to them, but this particular, real labour, spinning, useful labour which is realised in a particular use value, in yarn, and which as this specific purposeful activity consumes cotton and spindle as its use values, utilises them as its factors, making them, through its own purposeful activity, into the formative elements of yarn.

If the spinner — therefore the labour of spinning — were able to convert 6 2/3 lbs of cotton into yarn in half an hour instead of 1 hour with a more ingenious machine, which nevertheless had the same value relation, the value of the product would = 3 1/3s. (for cotton)+3 1/3s. (for machine)+1 2/3s. of labour, since half an hour of labour time would be expressed in 1 2/3s. on our assumption. The value of the product would therefore = 8 1/3s., in which the value of the cotton and the machinery would re-appear entirely, as in the first case, although the labour time added to them would amount to 50% less than in the first case. They would re-appear entirely, because no more than half an hour of spinning was required to convert them into yarn. Hence they re-appear entirely because they entered entirely into the product of half an hour’s spinning, into the new use value, yarn. The labour, so far as it preserves them as exchange values, does so only to the extent that it is real labour, a specific purposeful activity aimed at producing a particular use value. It does this as spinning, not as abstract social labour time which is indifferent to its content. Only as spinning does the labour preserve here the values of cotton and spindle in the product, the yarn.

On the other hand, in this process in which it preserves the exchange values of cotton and spindle the labour, spinning, relates to them not as exchange values, but as use values, elements of this particular labour, spinning. If by using certain machinery the spinner can convert 6 1/3 lbs of cotton into yarn, it is for this process quite irrelevant whether the lb. of cotton costs 6d. or 6s., for he consumes it in the spinning process as cotton, as the material of spinning. There must be as much of this material as is required to absorb 1 hour of spinning labour. The price of the material has nothing to do with this. The same applies to the machinery. If the same machinery cost only half the price and performed the same service, this would not affect the spinning process in any way. The sole condition for the spinner is that he should possess material (cotton) and spindle (machinery) to the extent, in such quanta, as are required for spinning over the course of an hour. The values or prices of cotton and spindle do not concern the spinning process as such. They are the result of the labour time objectified in themselves. They therefore only re-appear in the product to the extent that they were preposited to it as given values, and they re-appear only because the commodities cotton and spindle are required as use values, in their material determinateness, for the spinning of yarn, because they enter as factors into the spinning process.

On the other hand, however, spinning adds to the value of cotton and spindle a new value not to the extent that it is this particular labour of spinning but only because it is labour in general, and the labour time of the spinner is general labour time, for which it is a matter of indifference whatever [II-66] use value it is objectified in and whatever specific useful character, specific purpose it has, or whatever the specific kind or mode of existence of the labour as whose time (measure) it is present. An hour of spinning labour is here equated with an hour of labour time as such (whether this = one hour or several has no bearing on the matter). This hour of objectified labour time adds to the combination of cotton and spindle 3'1/3s., for example, because this sum objectifies the same labour time in money.

If the 5 lbs of yarn (6 lbs of spun cotton)[104] could be produced in half an hour instead of a whole hour, the same use value would be preserved at the end of half an hour as, in the other case at the end of the whole hour. The same quantity of use value of the same quality, 5 lbs of yarn of a given quality. The labour, to the extent that it is concrete labour, spinning, activity directed at producing a use value, would have achieved in the half hour as much as previously in the whole hour, it would have created the same use value. As spinning it achieves the same in both cases, although the duration of the spinning is twice as long in one case as in the other. To the extent that labour itself is use value, i.e. purposeful activity directed at producing a use value, the necessary time required, the time labour must last, to produce this use value is completely irrelevant; whether labour needs 1 hour or 1/2 hour to spin 5 lbs of yarn. On the contrary. The less time it needs to produce the same use value, the more productive and useful it is. But the value it adds, the value it creates, is measured purely by the labour’s duration. In 1 hour, the labour of spinning adds twice as great a value as in 1/2, and in 2 hours twice as great a value as in one, etc. The value it adds is measured by the labour’s own duration and, as value, the product is nothing but the materialisation of a definite amount of labour time in general. It is not the product of this specific labour of spinning, or spinning only comes into consideration to the extent that it is labour in general and its duration is labour time in general. The values of cotton and spindle are preserved because the labour of spinning converts them into yarn, hence because they are employed as the material and means of this specific mode of labour; the value of the 6 lbs of cotton is only increased because it has absorbed 1 hour of labour time; in the product, yarn, 1 hour more of labour time is objectified than was contained in the value elements cotton and spindle.

However, labour time can only be added to existing products or, in general, to existing material of labour to the extent that it is the time of a specific labour, which relates to the material and means of labour as to its own material and means; hence 1 hour of labour time can only be added to the cotton and the spindle in that an hour of spinning labour is added to them. The fact that their values are preserved derives merely from the specific character of the labour, from its material determinateness, from its being spinning, precisely the particular labour for which cotton and spindle serve as the means for the production of yarn; and further, from its being living labour in general, purposeful activity. The fact that value is added to them derives merely from spinning labour’s being labour in general, abstract social labour in general, and from the hour of spinning labour being equivalent to an hour of social labour in general, an hour of social labour time. Hence the values of the material and means of labour are preserved and re-appear as value components in the total value of the product merely through the process of valorisation — which is in fact merely an abstract expression for actual labour — through the process of adding new labour time — since this must be added in a particular useful and purposeful form. But the work is not done twice, once to add value, the next time to preserve the existing values; instead, since the labour time can only be added in the form of useful labour, specific labour, like spinning, it automatically preserves the values of material and means [of labour] by adding new value to them, i.e. by adding labour time.

It is now clear, furthermore, that the quantity of existing values preserved by the new labour stands in a definite relation to the quantity of value the new labour adds to them, or that the quantity of already objectified labour that is preserved stands in a definite relation to the quantity of new labour time that is added, is objectified for the first time; that, in a word, a definite relation occurs between the direct labour process and the valorisation process.

If the labour time necessary to spin 6 lbs of cotton, using up x amount of machinery, is 1 hour under given general conditions of production, only 6 lbs of cotton can be converted into yarn in the one hour and only x amount of machinery can be used up, hence only 5 lbs of yarn can be produced; so that for every hour of labour by which the value of the yarn is higher than the value of the cotton and x spindles there would be 2 hours of labour (of objectified labour time), 6 lbs of cotton and x spindles (3 1/3s. preserved in the yarn. Cotton can only be valorised (i.e. obtain a surplus value) by 1 hour of labour, 3 1/3s., in so far as 6 lbs of cotton and x amount of machinery is used up; on the other hand, these can only be used up, and therefore their values can only re-appear in the yarn, if 1 hour of labour time is added. Thus if the value of 72 lbs [104] of cotton is to re-appear in the product [II-67] as a value component of the yarn, 12 hours of labour must be added. A definite quantity of material only absorbs a definite quantity of labour time. Its value is only preserved in proportion as it absorbs the latter (with a given productivity of labour). Therefore the value of the 72 lbs of cotton cannot be preserved unless it is all spun into yarn. But this requires a labour time of 12 hours, on our assumption.

If the productivity of labour — i.e. the quantity of use value it can provide in a definite time — is given, the quantity of given values it preserves depends purely on its own duration; or the amount of value of material [and] means [of labour] that is preserved depends purely on the labour time that is added, hence on the measure in which new value is created. The preservation of values falls and rises in direct proportion to the fall or rise in the addition of value. If on the other hand the material and means of labour are given, their preservation as values depends purely on the productivity of the labour added, on whether this labour needs more or less time to convert them into a new use value. Here, therefore, the preservation of the given values stands in an inverse relation to the addition of value, i.e. if the labour is more productive, they require less labour time to be preserved; and vice versa.

//But now a peculiar circumstance comes into the picture, through the division of labour, and still more through machinery.

Labour time as the element, substance, of value is necessary labour time; hence labour time required under given general social conditions of production. If for example 1 hour is the labour time necessary for the conversion of 6 lbs of cotton into yarn, it is the duration of a labour of spinning which needs certain conditions for its realisation: e.g. a mule with so and so many spindles, a steam engine with such and such horse-power, etc. The whole of this apparatus would be necessary to convert 6 lbs of cotton into yarn over a period of 1 hour. But this case belongs to a later discussion.//

Now back to our example. 6 lbs of cotton spun in one hour. Value of the cotton = 3 1/3s., value of the spindle, etc., used up = 3 1/3s., value of the labour added = 3 1/3s. Therefore value of the product = 10s. The given values = 2 hours of labour, as the cotton and the spindle are each equal to 1 hour of labour. The price of the total product at the end of the hour = the sum of prices; = 10s.; or 3 hours of objectified labour time, of which 2 hours, the hours accounted for by the cotton and the spindle, merely re-appear in the product, and 1 hour alone represents the creation of new value or added labour. The price of each of the factors forms 1/3 of the total price of the product of 1 hour of labour. Hence the price of the product of 1/3 of an hour of labour = the price of 1/3 of the total product, hence = the price of the labour, or cotton, or machinery, contained in the total product, as each of these 3 elements of the total product constitutes 1/3 of its price. Therefore, if 1/3 of an hour’s work is done, the product = 2 lbs of yarn of a value of 3 1/3s., with which I could buy cotton to the amount of 6 lbs. Or the price of the product of ‘/3 of an hour = the price of the cotton consumed in a whole hour of labour. The price of the 2nd third = the price of the machinery used up. The price of the product, e.g. 1/3 of an hour = the price of the whole of the labour added (both the part which constitutes an equivalent for the wage and the part which constitutes surplus value or profit).

The manufacturer can therefore calculate as follows: I work 1/3 of an hour to pay the price of the cotton, 1/3 of an hour to replace the price of the machinery worn out, and 1/3 of an hour of which ‘/r, replaces wages, 1/6 forms the surplus value. Correct as this calculation is in practice, it is completely absurd if it is meant to explain the real formation of value (valorisation process) and therefore the relation between necessary and surplus labour. In particular the preposterous notion creeps in here that 1/3 of an hour of labour creates or replaces the value of the cotton that has been used, 1/3 replaces the value of the worn out machinery, while 1/3 forms the newly added labour or the newly created value, which is the common fund for wages and profit. It is in fact only a trivial method of expressing the relation in which the given values of cotton and means of labour re-appear in the product of the whole of the labour time (the hour’s labour), or the relation in which given values, objectified labour, are preserved in the labour process by the addition of an hour of labour time.

If I say: the price of the product of 1/3 of an hour of labour = the price of the cotton spun in a whole hour of labour, let us say = the price of 6 lbs of cotton, 3 1/3s., I know that the product of 1 hour of labour = 3 times the product of 1/3 of an hour of labour. If, then, the price of the product of 1/3 of an hour of labour = the price of the cotton which is spun in 1/3, or 1 hour of labour, this only means that the price of the cotton = 1/3 of the price of the total product, that 6 lbs of cotton enter into the total product, hence its value re-appears and this value forms 1/3 of the value of the total product. Ditto with the value of the machinery. Ditto with the labour.

If I therefore say that the price of the product of 2/3 of the time that labour is [II-68] in general carried on, i. e. for example the price of the product of 2 2/3 of the hour of labour = the price of the material and the price of the machinery which is worked up in 3 /3 or 1 hour of labour, this is only another way of expressing the fact that the prices of the material and means of labour enter to an extent of 2 A into the price of the total product of the hour, hence the hour of labour added is only 1/3 of the whole value objectified in the product. The fact that the price of the product of a part of the hour, 1/3, or 2 2/3, etc., is equal to the price of the raw material, the machinery, etc., definitely does not mean, therefore, that the price of the raw material, the machinery, is produced or even reproduced in the proper sense of the word in the course of 1/3 or 2/3, etc., of an hour; it means rather that the price of these partial products, or these products of aliquot parts of labour time = the price of the raw material, etc., which re-appears, is preserved, in the total product.

The absurdness of the other conception is best seen if one looks at the final third, which represents the price of the labour added, the quantity of value added, or the quantity of new objectified labour. The price of the product of this last third is on our assumption equal to 1 1/9s. of cotton, = ‘/3 of an hour of labour; + 1 1/9s. of machinery = 1/3 of an hour of labour; +1/3 of an hour of labour, which is, however, newly added. The sum total therefore = 3/3 of an hour of labour, or 1 hour of labour. This price is therefore, in fact, the monetary expression of the whole of the labour time added to the raw material. But according to the confused notion mentioned earlier 1/3 of an hour of labour would be represented by 3 1/3s., i.e. by the product of 3 3/3 of an hour of labour. Similarly in the first third, where the price of the product of 1/3 of an hour of labour = the price of the cotton. This price consists of the price of 2 lbs of cotton at 1 1/9s. (1/3 of an hour of labour), the price of the machinery at 1 1/9s. (1/3 of an hour of labour) and 1/3 of what really is newly added labour, the labour time, indeed, that was required to convert 2 lbs of cotton into yarn. The sum total therefore = 1 hour of labour, = 3 1/3s. But this is also the price of the cotton that is required in 3/3 of an hour of labour. In fact, therefore, the value of 2/3 of an hour of labour ( = 2 2/9s.) is only preserved in this first third, as in every subsequent third, of an hour of labour because x amount of cotton has been spun, and hence the value of the cotton and the machinery used up re-appears. Only the 1/3 of newly objectified labour has been added to this as new value.

But in this way it does look as if the manufacturer is right in saying that the first 4 hours of labour (or 1/3 of an hour of labour) only replace the price of the cotton he needs in 12 hours of labour, the second 4 hours of labour only replace the price of the machinery he uses up in 12 hours of labour, and the last 4 hours of labour alone form the new value, one part of which replaces the wages and the other constitutes the surplus value he gets as the result of the whole production process. He thereby forgets, however, that he is assuming that the product of the last 4 hours objectifies only newly added labour time, hence 12 hours of labour, namely the 4 hours of labour in the material, the 4 hours of labour in the machinery used up, and finally the 4 hours of labour that have really been newly added; and he obtains the result that the price of the total product consists of 36 hours of labour, 24 of which merely represent the value the cotton and the machinery had before they were worked up into yarn, while 12 hours of labour, 1/3 of the total price, represent the newly added labour, the new value, which is exactly equal to the newly added labour. //

// The fact that the worker, placed face to face with money, offers his labour capacity for sale as a commodity implies [21]:

1) That the conditions of labour, the objective conditions of labour, confront him as alien powers, alienated conditions. Alien property. This also implies, among other things, the earth as landed property, it implies that the earth confronts him as alien property. Mere labour capacity.

2) That he is related as a person both to the conditions of labour, which have been alienated from him, and to his own labour capacity; that he therefore disposes of the latter as proprietor and does not himself belong among the objective conditions of labour, i. e. is not himself possessed by others as an instrument of labour. Free worker.

3) That the objective conditions of his labour themselves confront him as merely objectified labour, i. e. as value, as money and commodities; as objectified labour which only exchanges with living labour to preserve and increase itself, to valorise itself, to turn into more money, and for which the worker exchanges his labour capacity in order to gain possession of a part of it, to the extent that it consists of his own means of subsistence. Hence in this relation the objective conditions of labour appear only as value, which has become more independent; holds onto itself and aims only at increasing itself.

The whole content of the relation, and the mode of appearance of the conditions of the worker’s labour alienated from labour, are therefore [II-69] present in their pure economic form, without any political, religious or other trimmings. It is a pure money-relation. Capitalist and worker. Objectified labour and living labour capacity. Not master and servant, priest and layman, feudal lord and vassal, master craftsman and journeyman, etc. In all states of society the class that rules (or the classes) is always the one that has possession of the objective conditions of labour, and the repositories of those conditions, in so far as they do work, do so not as workers but as proprietors, and the serving class is always the one that is either itself, as labour capacity, a possession of the proprietors (slavery), or disposes only over its labour capacity (even if, as e. g. in India. Egypt, etc., it possesses land, the proprietor of which is however the king, or a caste, etc.). But all these forms are distinguished from capital by this relation being veiled in them, by appearing as a relation of masters to servants, of free men to slaves, of demigods to ordinary mortals, etc., and existing in the consciousness of both sides as a relation of this kind. In capital alone are all political, religious and other ideal trimmings stripped from this relation. It is reduced — in the consciousness of both sides — to a relation of mere purchase and sale. The conditions of labour confront labour nakedly as such, and they confront it as objectified labour, value, money, which knows itself as mere form of labour and only exchanges with labour in order to preserve and increase itself as objectified labour. The relation therefore emerges in its purity as a mere relation of production — a purely economic relation. And where relations of domination develop again on this basis, it is known that they proceed purely from the relation in which the buyer, the representative of the conditions of labour, confronts the seller, the owner of labour capacity. //[93]

Let us therefore now return to the question of the wage system.

We have seen that in the labour process — hence in the production process, to the extent that it is production of a use value, realisation of labour as purposeful activity — the values of the material and means of labour simply do not exist for labour itself. They exist only as objective conditions for the realisation of labour, as objective factors of labour, and as such they are consumed by it. However, the fact that the exchange values of the material and means of labour do not enter into the labour process as such signifies, in other words, simply that they do not enter into it as commodities. The machine serves as a machine, cotton as cotton, and neither of them because they represent a definite quantity of social labour. Rather, as materialisation of this social labour their use value is extinguished in them, they are money. There are in fact labour processes in which the material costs nothing, e. g. fish in the sea, coal in the mine.

But it would be wrong to conclude from this that their character as a commodity has absolutely nothing to do with the production process; for this process produces not only use value, but exchange value, not only product, but commodity; or its product is no mere use value, but a use value with a definite exchange value, and the latter is in part determined by the exchange values which the material and means of labour themselves possess as commodities. They enter into the production process as commodities ; otherwise they could not emerge from it as commodities. If one were to say, therefore, that the values of the material and means of labour had nothing to do with the production process, their quality as commodities had nothing to do with it, because they figure in the labour process not as commodities, but simply as use values, this would be the same thing as saying that it was irrelevant for the production process that it is not only a labour process, but at the same time a valorisation process; and this in turn amounts to saying that the production process takes place for personal consumption.[68] Which contradicts the presupposition. But with respect to the pure valorisation process too, their values are not productive for they merely re-appear in the product, are merely preserved.

Now let us consider the wage, or price of labour capacity. The price of labour capacity or the wage is not productive, i. e. if it is understood by “productive” that it must enter as an element into the labour process as such. It is the worker himself — the human being bringing his labour capacity into action — who produces use value, purposefully employs the material and means of labour, not the price at which he has sold his labour capacity. Or, when he enters into the labour process, he enters as the activation, the energy of his labour capacity — as labour. Now it can be said [II-70] that the wage comes down to the means of subsistence necessary for the worker to live as a worker, for his self-preservation as living labour capacity, in short, for the maintenance of his life during the work. The means of subsistence which keep the worker in motion as a worker enter into the labour process just as much as the coal and oil, etc., which are consumed by the machine.[102] The worker’s costs of maintenance during the work are just as much a moment of the labour process as are the matières instrumentales consumed by the machine, etc. Even so, here too — in the case of the machine — the coal, oil, etc., in short the matières instrumentales, enter into the labour process as use values alone. Their prices have nothing to do with the matter. Is this also true of the price of the worker’s means of subsistence, his wage?

Here the question only has importance in the following way:

Are the means of subsistence the worker consumes — and which therefore form his cost of maintenance as a worker — to be viewed as if capital itself consumes them as a moment of its production process (in the way that it consumes the matières instrumentales)? This is of course the case in practice. Nevertheless the first act always remains an act of exchange.

The point at issue among the economists is this: Do the means of subsistence the worker consumes, which are represented by the price of his labour, the wage of labour, constitute a part of capital, just as much as the means of labour?[101] (Material and means of labour.) The means of labour are, d'abord, also means of subsistence, as it is assumed that the individuals only confront each other as commodity owners, whether in the form of buyers or sellers 20 ; hence he who lacks the means of labour has no commodity to exchange (assuming also that production for one’s own consumption is out of the question; assuming that the product being considered is, in general, a commodity) and therefore no means of subsistence to get in return. On the other hand, the direct means of subsistence are equally means of labour; for in order to work he must live, and in order to live he must consume such and such an amount of the means of subsistence every day.

Labour capacity, which confronts the material conditions of its realisation, its own reality, as mere labour capacity, deprived of the object, therefore stands in the same position towards the means of subsistence or the means of labour, or both of them confront it uniformly as capital. Capital is admittedly money, the independent existence of exchange value, objectified general social labour. But this is only its form. Once it has to realise itself as capital — i. e. as self-preserving and self-increasing value — it must transform itself into the conditions of labour; in other words, these conditions form its material existence, they are the real use values within which it exists as exchange value. But the chief condition for the labour process is the worker himself. What is essential, therefore, is the component of capital which buys labour capacity. If there were no means of subsistence on the market, it would be pointless for capital to pay the worker in money. The money is only a promissory note the worker receives on a definite quantity of the means of subsistence available on the market. The capitalist therefore has these dynamei and they form a component part of his power. Moreover, even if there were no capitalist production, the costs of maintenance (originally provided by nature free of charge[58]) would continue to be just as necessary conditions of the labour process as the material and means of labour. All the objective moments, however, which labour needs at all for its realisation, appear as alienated from it, as standing on the side of capital, the means of subsistence no less than the means of labour.[80]

Rossi,[105] etc., want to say, or say in fact (whether they want to or not) nothing more, actually, than that wage labour as such is not a necessary condition of the labour process. They only forget that the same would then be true of capital.

//We must go into this further (in the additions) in countering Say’s nonsense about the same capital — but here he means value — which is doubly consumed, productively for the capitalist, unproductively for the worker. //

//Property in the instrument of labour is characteristic of guild industry, or the medieval form of labour.[106]//

The social mode of production in which the production process is subsumed under capital, or which rests on the relation of capital and wage labour, and indeed in such a way that it is the determining, dominant mode of production, we call capitalist production.

The worker goes through the form of circulation C — M — C. He sells in order to buy. He exchanges his labour capacity for money, in order to swap the money for commodities — to the extent that they are use values, means of subsistence. The purpose is individual consumption. In line with the nature of simple circulation, he can proceed at most to the formation of a hoard, through thrift and extraordinary industry; he cannot create wealth. The capitalist, in contrast, goes through M — C — M. He buys in order to sell. The purpose of this [II-71] movement is exchange value, i.e. enrichment.

By wage labour we understand exclusively free labour which is exchanged for capital, is converted into capital and valorises capital. All so-called services are excluded from this. Whatever their character otherwise, money is expended for them; it is not advanced. With them, money is always exchange value as evanescent form, a means of getting hold of a use value. There is as little connection between the services the capitalist consumes as a private person — outside the process of the production of commodities — and productive consumption, i.e. productive from the capitalist point of view, as there is between the purchase of commodities in order to consume them (not to consume them through labour) and productive consumption. No matter how useful, etc., they are. Their content is here completely irrelevant. Of course, the services themselves are differently valued — in so far as they are estimated in economic terms — on the basis of capitalist production from under other relations of production. But an investigation of this only becomes possible once the fundamental factors of capitalist production have themselves been made clear.[107]

With all services, whether they themselves directly create commodities, e.g. the tailor who sews a pair of trousers for me; or not, e.g. the soldier who protects me, similarly the judge, etc., or the musician whose music-making I buy to provide me with aesthetic enjoyment, or the doctor I buy to set a leg back into position, it is always a matter of the material content of the labour, its usefulness, while the circumstance that it is labour is quite irrelevant to me. With wage labour, which creates capital, the content is in fact irrelevant. The particular mode of labour only counts for me in so far as it is social labour as such and therefore the substance of exchange value; money. The above-mentioned workers, performers of services, from prostitute to pope, are therefore never employed in the direct production process. //As for the rest, it would be better to put closer consideration of “productive labour” into the section “Capital and Labour”.[108]// With the purchase of one kind of labour I make money, with that of the other I spend money. The one enriches, the other impoverishes. It is possible that the latter may itself be one of the conditions for making money, as policemen, judges, soldiers, executioners. But as such a condition it is always merely an “aggravating circumstance” and has nothing to do with the direct process.

We started out from circulation in order to come to capitalist production. This is also the course of events historically, and the development of capitalist production therefore already presupposes in every country the development of trade on another, earlier production basis. //We shall have to speak of this in more detail.[109] //

What we have to consider more closely in the following is the development of surplus value. In doing so we shall see that as the production of surplus value becomes the actual purpose of production or as production becomes capitalist production, the originally merely formal subsumption of the labour process under capital, of living labour under objectified, of present labour under past, considerably modifies the manner in which the labour process is itself carried on: hence the capital-relation — where it emerges in a developed form — implies a particular mode of production and development of the productive forces.[55]

//With services too I admittedly consume the labour capacity of the person performing the service; but not because the use value of the labour capacity is labour, rather because his labour has a particular use value.// [107]

Additions[edit source]

It says in An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand and the Necessity of Consumption, Lately Advocated by Mr. Malthus etc., London, 1821, in reference to Say’s comments in his letters to Malthus, Paris — Londres, 1820 (p. 36):

“These affected ways of talking constitute, in great part, what M. Say calls his doctrine ..... ‘If all these propositions appear paradoxical to you, look at the things they express, and I venture to believe that they will then appear very, simple and very rational.’ Doubtless, and, at the same time, they will very probably appear, by the same process, not at all original or important. ‘Without this analysis 1 defy you to explain the whole of the facts; to explain for example how the same [II-72] capital is consumed twice: productively by, a manufacturer and unproductively by his worker.’ It seems to be agreed ‘in most parts of Europe’, to call a fantastical mode of expression a fact” (l.c., p. 110, Note XI).

The joke is that exchange, in the particular case, purchase, is called by Say consumption of money, which is sold.

If the capitalist buys labour for 100 thalers, Say thinks these 100 thalers have been consumed twice, productively by the capitalist, unproductively by the worker. If the capitalist exchanges 100 thalers for labour capacity, he has not consumed the 100 thalers, either productively or unproductively, although he has expended them for a “productive” purpose. He has done nothing but convert them from the money form to the commodity form, and it is this commodity — labour capacity — which he has bought with the money, that he productively consumes. He could also consume it unproductively if he employed the workers to provide him with use values for his own consumption, i.e. if he used them to perform services. The money first becomes capital precisely through this exchange with labour capacity: it is not consumed as capital but rather produced, preserved, confirmed.

The worker on the other hand does not consume capital; the money in his hand has just ceased to be capital, and for him it is only means of circulation. (And at the same time, of course, like every means of circulation for which a commodity is exchanged, it is the existence of his commodity in the form of exchange value, which here is and must be, however, only an evanescent form given up in exchange for the means of subsistence.) Labour capacity, in so far as it is consumed, is converted into capital; the capitalist’s money, in so far as it is consumed by the worker, is converted into means of subsistence for him and ceases to be capital or a component of capital (dynamei) once it is transferred from the hand of the capitalist to that of the worker.

But what actually underlies Say’s nonsense is this: He believes that the same value (with him capital is nothing but a sum of values[110]) is consumed twice, once by the capitalist, the second time by the worker. He forgets that here two commodities with the same value are being exchanged, not 1 value but 2 values are involved; money on the one hand, the commodity (labour capacity) on the other. What the worker consumes unproductively (i.e. without thereby creating wealth for himself) is his own labour capacity (not the money of the capitalist); what the capitalist consumes productively is not his money but the labour capacity of the worker. On both sides the consumption process is mediated through exchange.

In every purchase or sale where the purpose of the buyer is individual consumption of the commodity and the purpose of the seller is production, the same value would according to Say be consumed twice, productively by the seller, who converts his commodity into money (exchange value), and unproductively by the buyer, who dissolves his money into transient enjoyments. However, there are 2 commodities and 2 values involved here. Say’s phrase would have a meaning only in the sense in which he does not mean it. Namely that the capitalist productively consumes the same value twice: first by his productive consumption of labour capacity and second by the unproductive consumption of his money by the worker, the result of which is the reproduction of labour capacity, hence the reproduction of the relation on which the functioning of capital as capital depends. Hence Malthus rightly hits on the last point. //Malthus’s point is this: in so far as his consumption is, in general, a condition for his working, hence for his producing for the capitalist. //

  • “He — (the workman) “is a productive consumer to the person who employs him and to the state but not strictly speaking to himself"* (Malthus, Definitions in Political Economy, ed. John Cazenove, London, 1853, p. 30).

Ramsay declares that the part of capital which is converted into the wage is not a necessary part of capital, but only forms part of it accidentally owing to the “deplorable” poverty of the workers. By fixed capital he understands namely the material and means of labour. By circulating capital the worker’s means of subsistence. He then says:

* “Circulating Capital consists only of subsistence and other necessaries advanced to the workmen, previous to the completion of the produce of their labour"* (George Ramsay, An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, Edinburgh, 1836, [p.] 23),

  • “Fixed capital alone, not circulating, is properly speaking a source of national wealth” * (l.c.).

* “Were we to suppose the labourers not to be paid until the completion of the product, there would be no occasion whatever [II-73] for circulating capital."*

(What does that mean except that an objective condition of labour — the means of subsistence — will not assume the form of capital? This already contains the admission that these objective conditions of production are, as such, not capital, but only become capital as the expression of a particular social relation of production.) (The means of subsistence will not cease to be means of subsistence; just as little would they cease to be a necessary condition of production; but they would cease to be — capital.)

Production would be just as great. This proves that * circulating capital[111] is not an immediate agent in production, not even essential to it at all, but merely a convenience rendered necessary by the deplorable poverty of the mass of the people"* (l.c., [p.] 24).

I.e., in other words: Wage labour is not an absolute, but rather a historical form of labour. It is not necessary for production that the worker’s means of subsistence should confront him in an alienated form as capital. But the same is true of the other elements of capital and of capital in general. Conversely. If this one part of capital did not assume the form of capital, the other would not either, for the whole relation whereby money becomes capital, or the conditions of labour confront labour as an independent power, would not come into existence. What constitutes the essential form of capital therefore appears to him as “merely a convenience rendered necessary by the deplorable poverty of the mass of the people” [p. 24]. The means of subsistence become capital by being “advanced to the workmen” [p. 23]. The wider sense of Ramsay’s remarks emerges still more clearly in the proposition:

  • "The fixed capital — (material and means of labour)* “alone constitutes an element of cost of production in a national point of view"* (1.c., [p.] 26).

For the capitalist the wage, i.e. the price he pays for labour capacity, is a cost of production — money advanced, advanced to make more money, money that is a mere means to make money. If the worker were not a worker but a working proprietor, the means of subsistence he consumes before the product is finished would not appear to him as costs of production in this sense, since the whole production process would appear to him inversely only as a means to create his means of subsistence. Ramsay, on the other hand, thinks that the material and means of labour, products which must be employed, consumed, in order to create new products, are necessary conditions of the production process and must always enter into it, not only from the capitalist’s standpoint but from the nation’s — i.e., with him, from the point of view of production for society and not for particular classes of society. So here capital means nothing to him but the objective conditions of the labour process as such, and, expressing absolutely no social relation, is merely another name for the objects that are required in every production process, whatever social form it may have; capital is accordingly only a thing, technologically determined. The precise feature that makes it capital is thereby extinguished.[56] Ramsay might just as well have said: it is merely a “convenience” that the means of production appear as value in its own right, as independent powers over against labour. If they were the social property of the workers, there would be no opportunity there for “fixed capital”. And production would remain just the same as before.[112]

//The valorisation process is in reality nothing but the labour process in a particular social form — or a particular social form of the labour process. It is not, as it were, two distinct real processes, but the same process, viewed at one time in terms of its content, at the other time according to its form. Despite this, we have already seen that in the valorisation process the relation of the different factors of the labour process takes on new determinations. One further aspect should be brought out here (which will be important later on in dealing with circulation, the determination of fixed capital, etc.). The means of production, e.g. the tool, machinery, factory building, etc., is employed as a whole in the labour process; but, with the exception of the so-called matières instrumentales, it is only exceptionally consumed (all at once) in the same (single, unique) labour process. It serves in repeated processes of the same kind. But it only enters into the [II-74] valorisation process — or, what is the same thing, it only re-appears as an element in the value of the product — in so far as it is used up in the labour process.[113]//

Similar to Ramsay is Rossi. First, in leçon XXVII, he gives a general definition of capital .

“Capital is that portion of the wealth produced which is destined for reproduction” (p. 364).

However this only applies to capital in so far as it is use value — applies to its material content, not to its form. No wonder, then, that the same Rossi proclaims the component of capital explicable solely from its form — the approvisionnement [means of subsistence, provisions], the part that is exchanged for labour capacity — to be no necessary component of capital, in fact not to be part of capital’s concept at all. Thus he says, on the one hand, that capital is a necessary agent of production, and, on the other hand, that wage labour is not a necessary agent of production or relation of production. Actually he understands by capital only “instrument of production”. [105] According to him one could, it is true, distinguish between capital-instrument and capital-matière, but actually the political economists are wrong to call raw materials capital; for

“Is it” (the raw material) “really an instrument of production there? Is it not rather an object which is acted upon by the instrument of production?” (leçons. etc., p. 367).

Later on he says:

Instrument of production, that is to say a material which operates on itself, which is at once object and subject, thing acted upon and agent” (l.c., p. 372).

He also calls capital simply “moyen de production [means of production] on p. 372. In reference to Rossi’s polemic against the idea that approvisionnement forms a part of capital, we must distinguish two things; or. he confuses two things.

Firstly he views wage labour in general — the capitalist’s advancing of the wage — as not a necessary form of production; or wage labour as not a necessary form of labour; thereby forgetting only that capital is not a necessary form (i.e. not an absolute, rather merely a particular historical form) of the conditions of labour or production. In other words: the labour process can take place without being subsumed under capital; this particular social form is not a necessary prerequisite for it; the production process as such is not a necessarily capitalist production process. But here he again makes the mistake of viewing the purchase of labour capacity by capital as not essential for wage labour but as something accidental. For production the conditions of production are required; but not capital, i.e. not the relation which emerges from the appropriation of the conditions of production by a specific class and the existence of labour capacity as a commodity. His stupidity consists in recognising wage labour (or also the independent form of capital) and seeking to argue out of existence the relation of wage labour to capital, which constitutes the former. To say that capital is not a necessary form of social production is merely to say that wage labour is only a transitory historical form of social labour.

Not only does the rise of capitalist production presuppose a historical process of the separation of the workers from the conditions of labour; capitalist production reproduces this relation on an ever increasing scale and gives it a sharper character.[100] This is already evident in considering the general concept of capital, and becomes still clearer later on in the context of competition, which essentially effects this separation (concentration, etc.).[114] In the actual production process the objects of which capital consists do not confront the worker as capital but as the material and means of labour. He is of course conscious that they are alien property, etc., capital. But the same thing is true of his sold labour, which belongs not to him but to the capitalist.

[II-75] Secondly, however, one further point creeps into the Rossian polemic. (The first point was: exchange of money for labour capacity. Rossi is right in so far as he declares that this operation is not necessary for production as such. He is wrong in so far as he views this relation, without which capitalist production would not exist at all, as an inessential, accidental moment of the latter.)

Namely this: we have seen: First the worker sells his labour capacity, i.e. temporary disposition over it. This includes his bartering it for the means of subsistence that are necessary to preserve him as a worker at all, and more specifically his possession of the means of subsistence “during the work of production” [p. 370]. This is a prerequisite for his entry as a worker into the production process, and for his activation, realisation, of his labour capacity during that process. As we have seen, Rossi understands by capital nothing but the means of production (matière, instrument) required for the manufacture of a new product. The question is: Do the worker’s means of subsistence belong there, like, e.g., the coal, oil, etc., consumed by the machine or the fodder eaten by the cattle? In short the matières instrumentales.[102] Do the worker’s means of subsistence belong to this category as well? With the slave there is no question but that his means of subsistence are to be counted among the matières instrumentales; he is a mere instrument of production, hence what he consumes is a mere matière instrumentale. (As we have already remarked, this confirms the point that the price of labour (the wage) does not enter into the labour process proper any more than the prices of the material and means of labour do; although all three, even if in different ways, enter into the valorisation process. ) To answer the question it is necessary to subdivide it into two questions:

Firstly: To consider the labour process as such, independently of capital; since the people who raise the question here call the moments of the labour process as such capital.[56] Secondly: To ask how far this is modified once the labour process is subsumed under capital.

Firstly, then: If we consider the labour process as such, its objective conditions are the material of labour and the means of labour, they are simply objective conditions of labour itself, as the purposeful activity of a human being directed at producing a use value. The worker relates to them as subject. To be sure, he is presupposed as worker, to allow his labour capacity to function, and the provisions necessary for his subsistence, for the development of labour capacity, are therefore also presupposed. But they do not enter as such into the labour process.

He enters the process as a working proprietor. However, if the different moments of the labour process are viewed with regard to its result, the product, the relation is altered. With regard to the product all 3 moments appear as moments of its mediation, hence as means of production. The material of production, the instrument of production, and productive activity itself, are all means for the manufacture of the product, hence means of production. Here the means of maintaining the machine (oil, coal, etc.), entirely leaving aside their price, form part of the means of production, but so equally do the means of maintaining the worker during the production process itself.[102] For all that, the working proprietor will continue to regard the product as such only as a means of subsistence, not his means of subsistence as prerequisites for the manufacture of the product. However, the way of looking at things does not alter the state of affairs one whit. The proportion of the means of subsistence he must consume as worker, without which his labour capacity cannot function as such at all, is just as indispensable for the production process as the coal and oil consumed by the machine. In that sense the consumption fund of society forms part of its means of production (this disappears again on further consideration, in so far as the whole production process itself appears as simply the reproduction process of society or of the social human being), and the worker’s consumption is not economically distinguished within these limits from the consumption of the working horse or the machine.

Thus the part of capital that pays labour capacity or forms the wage enters into the actual production process in so far as the means of subsistence the worker consumes are directly consumed, and have to be consumed, in the production process itself. But the part of the capital given out in this way which does not enter directly into the production process also forms a part of the capital before it is exchanged for labour capacity, and for the formation of the capital-relation this is a necessary prerequisite.

[II-76] The capitalist has paid for labour capacity. The major part of the means of subsistence the workers have thus obtained is expended during the labour process itself, and necessarily so. If the workers were slaves, the capitalist would have to advance this part to them as simple matières instrumentales. Here the worker does this for him. For him the worker is a mere agent of production, and the means of subsistence he consumes are the coal and oil necessary to keep this agent of production in motion. This is how the capitalist sees it, and he acts accordingly. If an ox or a machine is a cheaper agent of production, the worker is replaced by one or the other. The opinion is economically incorrect in so far as it is of the essence of wage labour that the 2 processes are distinguished, namely 1) the exchange of money for labour capacity; 2) the consumption process of this labour capacity — the labour process (production process).

Let us now look in some detail at Rossi’s criticisms, without coming back to the case considered last (under 2).

With regard to this Rossi makes the following statement:

“Those who only regard economic science from the point of view of the entrepreneur, and who only consider the net and exchangeable product that each entrepreneur can obtain, such people must in fact see no difference between a man, an ox and a steam-engine: in their eyes there is only one question worthy of serious attention, and that is the question of the cost price, the question of knowing how much it costs the entrepreneur to obtain what he requires from the steam, the ox, the worker” (Rossi, De la méthode en économie politique etc., in Économie politique. Recueil de monographies etc. Année 1844, Vol. I, Brussels, 1844, p. 83).

It does appear, then, that the point of view of the entrepreneur, i.e. of the capitalist, is in any case an essential moment in considering capitalist production. But that belongs to the relation of capital and labour.

Our essential concern, however, in considering Mr. Rossi is the way he on the one hand admits that wage labour, hence also capitalist production, is not a necessary (absolute) form of labour and production; but then repudiates this admission, being altogether miles away from any historical understanding.

Rossi’s first objection is this:

“If the worker lives from his income, if he lives from the remuneration of his labour, how can the same thing appear twice in the phenomenon of production, in the calculation of productive forces, once as the remuneration of labour and a second time as capital?” (leçons, p. 369).

Here one must remark at the outset: This means, expressed in general terms, that the wage appears twice, once as relation of production, once as relation of distribution. Rossi holds this to be incorrect, and he is right as against the political economists in so far as they view the two different forms in which the same thing appears as two mutually independent relations which have nothing to do with each other. We shall return to this subject and demonstrate in general that the relation of production is a relation of distribution and vice versa.[62] But, in addition to this, the wage can enter into the phenomenon of production, i.e. constitute a relation of production, without entering into the calculation of productive forces, namely if Mr. Rossi understands by productive force not the development of the productive forces in so far as it is conditioned by the relation of production, but nothing other than the moments that belong to the labour process in general or the production process in general, as such, disregarding all particular social forms. On the other hand: The means of subsistence form a component of capital as long as they have not yet been exchanged for labour capacity. This exchange would not, however, take place unless they formed a component of capital before it happened. If they are exchanged, they cease to be capital and become income. Indeed it is not the wage but only labour capacity that enters into the direct production process itself. If I have produced grain, it forms a part of my capital until I have sold it. It forms the income of a consumer. (At least it can do so, if it is employed in individual consumption, not in production.) But in fact the means of subsistence [II-77] continue to be a productive force of capital even after the worker has received it as income and consumed it as income, for the reproduction of the worker is the reproduction of the principal productive force of capital.

“One says the remuneration of the worker is capital, because the capitalist advances it to him. if only there were families of workers who had sufficient to subsist for a year, wages would not exist. The worker could say to the capitalist: you advance the capital for the common project, I will bring the labour to it; the product will be shared among us in certain proportions. As soon as the product has been realised, each of us will take his share. Then there would be no advance for the workers. Even if work were at a standstill, they would still consume. What they would consume belongs to the consumption fund, not to capital. Therefore: the advances for the workers are not necessary. Therefore wages are not a constituent element of production. They are only of an accidental nature, a form arising from our social condition. Capital, land, labour, on the other hand, are necessary for production. Secondly: The word wages is employed in a double sense. One says that wages are a capital, but what do they represent? Labour. He who says wages says labour and vice versa. Hence, if the wages advanced constituted a part of capital, one would have to speak only of 2 instruments of production: capital and land” (l.c., p[p. 369-]370).[115]

In the same way as Rossi says: if the worker possessed the means of subsistence for a year, the capitalist would not need to advance them to him, he could just as well continue: if the worker possessed the material and means of labour for a year, he would not need the interposition of the capitalist for these conditions of labour. Thus the circumstance that “material of labour and means of labour” appear as capital is “nota constituent element of production”. “They are only of an accidental nature, a form arising from our social condition”, which makes them into this. They would still belong to the “production fund”, by no means to capital. Capital would not exist at all. If the particular form which makes labour into wage labour is a social accident, a particular historico-social form of labour, the same can be said of the form which makes the objective conditions of labour into capital or the conditions of production into capital. And it is the same social accident that makes labour into wage labour and the conditions of production into capital. Indeed, if the workers had in their possession even this one condition of production — a year’s means of subsistence — their labour would not be wage labour, and they would have possession of all the conditions of production. They would only need to sell a part of these surplus means of subsistence in order to buy in return the means of production (material and instrument) and produce commodities themselves. What Mr. Rossi is trying to get clear about here, without entirely succeeding, is that a particular social form of production, although it may be a historical necessity, is not on that account an absolute necessity, and therefore cannot be described as an eternal, unalterable condition of production. The admission we shall accept, but not its incorrect application.

So, in order to produce it is not absolutely necessary for labour to be wage labour and therefore, among other things, for the means of subsistence to have confronted the worker originally as a component of capital. But Rossi continues: “Capital, land, labour by contrast are necessary for production.” If he had said: “Land (material of labour, working space and in the first instance means of subsistence); means of labour (instruments, etc.); and labour by contrast are necessary for production”, but “rent, capital and wage labour” are not necessarily required, the proposition would have been correct. But his way of speaking strips away from labour and land the particular social form in which they may appear in the bourgeois economy — their forms as wage labour and landed property, and allows the means of labour in contrast to retain their economic character as capital. He [II-78] conceives them not only as material conditions of production but in their particular social form of capital and therefore arrives at the absurd conclusion that capital is possible without the appropriation of the soil and without wage labour.

Further: If the wage advanced forms part of capital, says Rossi, there are only 2 instruments of production, land and capital, and not 3, as the political economists all assume, land, capital and labour. In reality, here it is a question of the simple moments of the labour process as such, and in this there figure only the material of labour (land), the means of labour (which Rossi incorrectly calls capital) and labour. But definitely not capital. Yet in so far as the whole labour process is subsumed under capital, and the 3 elements which appear in it are appropriated by the capitalist, all 3 elements, material, means, labour, appear as material elements of capital; they have been subsumed under a particular social relation, which has absolutely nothing to do with the labour process considered abstractly — i.e. in so far as it is equally common to all social forms of the labour process. It remains characteristic of Rossi that he regards the relation between the personified product of labour and living labour capacity, a relation which forms the quintessence of the relation of capital and wage labour, as an inessential form, a mere accident of capitalist production itself. (See the wretched Bastiat.[97] With Rossi there is at least an inkling that capital and wage labour are not eternal social forms of production.)

We have now already had the argument twice from Rossi that if the wage forms a part of capital (originally), the same thing appears twice. First as a relation of production and second as a relation of distribution. Secondly: that in that case one should not enumerate 3 factors of production (material, means, labour) in the labour process, but only 2, namely material (which he calls here land) and means of labour, which he calls here capital.

“What occurs between the entrepreneur and the worker? If all products were started in the morning and finished in the evening, and if there were always buyers present on the market, ready to buy the commodities offered, there would be properly speaking no wage. It is not so. Months, years are required to realise a product.... The worker, who possesses only his arm cannot wait for the completion (the end) of the project. He says to the entrepreneur, capitalist, farmer, manufacturer what he could say to a third party, a bystander. He could propose to him (the third party) that he buy his claim on the product. He could say to him: I contribute to the production of so-and-so many lengths of cloth, will you buy the remuneration to which I am entitled? Assuming that the third person, the bystander, accepts the proposal and pays the agreed price, can one say that the money expended by the bystander forms a part of the capital of the entrepreneur? That his contract with the worker is one of the phenomena of production? No, he has made a good or bad speculation, which adds nothing to public wealth and takes nothing away from it. That is wages. The worker proposes to the manufacturer what he could have proposed to a third party. The entrepreneur goes along with this arrangement in so far as it may facilitate production. But this is nothing but a second operation, an operation of a quite different nature grafted on to a productive operation. It is not a fact indispensable to production. It could disappear if labour were organised differently. Even today there are spheres of production in which it has no place. Wages are therefore a form of the distribution of wealth, not an element of production. The part of the fund which the entrepreneur devotes to the payment of wages does not constitute a part of capital, any more than the sums of money a manufacturer might employ to discount bills of exchange, or to speculate on the stock-exchange. It is a distinct operation, which undoubtedly may promote the course of production but which cannot be called a direct instrument of production” (I.e., p. 370).

[II-79] Here the point emerges clearly. A relation of production (however the social relation between individuals within production as a whole is viewed) is “not a direct instrument of production”. The relation of capital and wage labour, whereby the exchange of labour capacity for money is conditioned, is not a “direct instrument of production”. Thus the value of the commodity is not a “direct instrument of production”, although the essence of the production process changes according to whether it is only a question of the production of products as such or of the production of commodities. The “value” of the machine, its existence as fixed capital, etc., is not a “direct instrument of production”. A machine would also be productive in a society where there were no commodities at all, no exchange value. The question is by no means whether this “relation of production could disappear in another organisation of labour”; it is rather to investigate the significance of this relation in the capitalist organisation of labour. Rossi concedes that there would be “properly speaking no wage” under such conditions (p. 370). And he will permit me to cease describing as a wage what is “not properly a wage”. He only forgets that there would then be no longer any “capital proper” either.

“Since everyone could wait for the products of one’s labour, the present form of the wage could disappear. There would be partnership between the workers and the capitalists, just as today there is partnership between the capitalists properly so called and the capitalists who are simultaneously workers” (p. 371).

Rossi is not clear about what would become of the present form of production in these circumstances. To be sure, he may treat this as completely irrelevant if he views production as a purely technological process, disregarding the social forms of production, and if, on the other hand, he understands by capital nothing but a product used for the fabrication of new products. He has at least in his favour his pronouncement that the form of the wage is not a “fact indispensable to production”.

“To conceive the power of labour, while ignoring the workers’ means of subsistence during the work of production, is to conceive an imagined being. He who says labour or the power of labour says worker and means of subsistence, worker and wage ... The same element re-appears under the name of capital; as if the same thing could simultaneously form part of two distinct instruments of production” (l.c., pp. 370, 371).

Pure labour capacity is indeed “a phantom”. But this phantom exists. Hence when the worker ceases to be able to sell his labour capacity, he starves. And capitalist production is based on the reduction of the labour capacity to such a phantom.

Sismondi is therefore correct to say:

Labour capacity ... is nothing if it is not sold” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes etc., Vol. 1, p. 114).

What is stupid about Rossi is his attempt to present “wage labour” as “inessential” for capitalist production.

He could also say of the machine: It is the machine that constitutes part of capital, not its value. The value of the machine, he could say, is paid to the machine manufacturer, and perhaps consumed by him as income. The value of the machine, therefore, ought not to figure twice in the production process, the first time as the takings of the machine manufacturer, the other time as capital or a constituent of the capital of the cotton spinner, etc.

Incidentally, it is characteristic that Rossi says wages, i.e. wage labour, would be superfluous if the workers were rich, while Mr. John Stuart Mill says they would be superfluous if labour were to be had for nothing:

Wages have no productive power; they are the price of a productive power. Wages do not contribute, apart from labour, to the production of commodities //should be: to the production of products, use values//, no more than the price of machines contributes along with the machines themselves. If labour could be had without purchase, wages might be dispensed with” (John Stuart Mill, Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, London, 1844, p[p. 90-]91).

[II-80] Where the purely general form of capital as self-preserving and self-valorising value is being considered, it is declared to be something immaterial, and therefore, from the point of view of the political economist, a mere idea; for he knows of nothing but either tangible objects or ideas — relations do not exist for him. As value, capital is indifferent towards its particular material forms of existence, the use values of which it consists. These material elements do not make capital into capital.

Capital is always immaterial by nature, since it is not matter which makes capital, but the value of that matter, value which has nothing corporeal about it — (Say, Traité d'économie politique, 3rd ed., Vol. 2, Paris, 1817, p. 429).

Or, Sismondi:

“Capital is a commercial idea” (Sismondi, LX, Études etc., Vol. 2, p. 273).[116]

While all capitals are values, the values as such are still not capital. And so the political economists take flight once again back to the material shape of capital within the labour process. In so far as the labour process itself appears as the production process of capital and is subsumed under capital, and according to whether some specific aspect of the labour process is fixed upon (as we have seen, the labour process as such by no means presupposes capital but is a feature of all modes of production), it can be said that capital becomes a product, or is a means of production, a raw material, an instrument of labour.[56] Thus Ramsay says that raw material and means of labour form capital a Rossi says that only the instrument is actually capital. The elements of the labour process are viewed here outside any specific economic determinateness. (It will become evident later that also within the labour process this 7 extinction of the determinateness of form is only a semblance.” ) The labour process (production process of capital), reduced to its simple form, does not appear as production process of capital, but as production process in the absolute sense, and capital appears here in distinction from labour solely in its material determinateness of raw material and instrument of labour. (But here too labour is in fact capital’s own existence, is embodied in it.) The political economists fix on this side, which is not only an arbitrary abstraction, but one which itself vanishes in the process, in order to present capital as a necessary element of all production.[118] Of course, they only do this by arbitrarily fixing on a single aspect.

  • “Labour and capital ... the one, immediate labour ... the other, hoarded labour, that which has been the result of former labour” (James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, [p.] 75).

Accumulated labour ... immediate labour” (R. Torrens, An Essay on the Production of Wealth etc., London, 1821, Ch. 1).[119]

Ricardo, Principles, p. 89: “Capital is that part of the wealth of a country which is employed in production, and consists of food, clothing, tools, raw materials machinery, etc., necessary to give effect to labour.”

Capital... is but a particular species of wealth, namely that which is destined, not to the immediate supplying of our wants, but to the obtaining of other articles of utility” (Torrens, l.c., p. 5).

“In the first stone which the savage flings at the wild animal he pursues, in the first stick that he seizes to strike down the fruit which hangs above his reach, we see the appropriation of one article for the purpose of aiding in the acquisition of another, and this discover the origin of capital” (Torrens, 1.c., pp. 70-71).

Capital “All articles possessing exchangeable value”. The accumulated results of past labour (H. C. Carey, Principles of Political Economy, Part I, Philadelphia, 1837, p. 294).

“When a fund is devoted to material production, it takes the name of capital(H. Storch, Cours d'économie politique, ed. Say, Vol. I, Paris, 1823, [p.] 207).

“Wealth is only capital in so far as it serves for production” (l.c., p. 219).

“The elements of the national capital are: 1) improvements of the soil; 2) buildings; 3) tools or instruments of the trade; 4) means of subsistence; 5) materials; 6) completed work” (l.c., pp. 229 sq.).

[II-81] “Every productive force which is neither land nor labour is capital. It comprises all the forces, either completely or partially produced, that are applied to reproduction” (Rossi, l.c., p. 271).

“There is no difference between capital and any other part of wealth: a thing only becomes capital by the use that is made of it, that is to say, when it is employed in a productive operation, as raw material, as instrument, or as means of subsistence” (Cherbuliez, Richesse ou pauvreté 1841, p. 18).

But in capitalist production it is by no means just a matter of producing a product or even a commodity; what is aimed at is a greater value than was thrown into production. Hence these definitions:

Capital is the part of wealth which is employed in production and generally for the purpose of obtaining profit (Th. Chalmers, On Political Economy etc., London, 1832, 2nd ed., [p.] 75).

It is above all Malthus who has introduced this element into the definition of capital. (Sismondi’s definition is more precise; since profit is already a more developed form of surplus value.')

  • Capital. That portion of the stock” (i.e. accumulated wealth) “of a country which is kept or employed with a view to profit in the production and distribution of wealth"* (T. R. Malthus, Definitions in Political Economy, New Ed. etc. by John Cazenove, London, 1853, [p.] 10).
  • Antecedent labour (capital) ... present labour” * (E. G. Wakefield’s commentary to A. Smith, Wealth of Nations, Vol. 1, London, 1835, note to p[p. 230-]31).

Thus we have 1) capital is money; capital is commodity; if the first form in which it emerges is being considered; 2) accumulated (antecedent) labour as opposed to immediate, present labour, where it is being considered in contrast to living labour, and value simultaneously as its substance; 3) means of labour, material of labour, in general products used to form new products, where the labour process, the material production process, is being considered . Means of subsistence, where the component of capital which is exchanged for labour capacity is being considered, according to its use value.

In so far as the whole labour process (direct production process) comes together in the product as its result, capital now exists as product. This is, however, simply its presence as use value, except that now the latter is available as the result of the labour process or production process — the process capital has passed through. If this is taken as fixed, and it is forgotten that the labour process is at the same time a process of valorisation, hence its result is not only use value (product) but at the same time exchange value, a unity of use value and exchange value ( = the commodity), the absurd notion may arise that capital has been transformed into a simple product, and will only become capital again by being sold, by becoming a commodity. The same absurd notion can be put forward from another point of view. In the labour process itself it is irrelevant (the fact disappears) that the material and means of labour are already products, hence commodities (since on our assumption every product is a commodity). Hence the commodity, and the product itself, only counts here to the extent that it is a use value, e.g. raw material. It can therefore be said that what was previously capital has now been converted into raw material; this is a form of expressing the fact that what was the result of one production process is the raw material (the prerequisite) of the other (or the instrument of labour). Proudhon, for example, argues in this manner:

“What causes the sudden transformation of the notion of product into that of capital? it is the idea of value. This means that the product, in order to become capital, must have passed through an authentic valuation, must have been bought or sold, its price discussed and fixed by a kind of legal convention.” E.g. “hides, coming from the butcher’s shop, are the product of the butcher. Have these hides been bought by a tanner? At once he adds either them or their value to his working capital. By the work of the tanner this capital becomes a product again” (Gratuité du crédit [pp. 178-80]) (see XVI, 29 etc.).[120]

[II-82] Mr. Proudhon altogether has a penchant for appropriating elementary notions, combining them with an incorrect metaphysical apparatus and reproducing this for the public. Does he perhaps believe that the leather does not figure as a value in the butcher’s ledger before leaving the butcher’s shop? In reality all he is saying is that the commodity = capital, which is wrong, since though every capital exists as commodity or money, this does not yet make commodity or money as such into capital. What is needed is precisely to develop how the “notion” of capital develops out of the “notion” of money and commodity. He sees the labour process, but not the valorisation process; it is a result of the latter that the product of the overall production process is not only a use value, but a use value with a definite exchange value, i.e. a commodity. Whether this commodity is sold above or below its value, its passage through a legal convention gives it no new determination of form, it does not make the product into a commodity, still less does it make the commodity into capital. The production process of capital is here fixed upon one-sidedly as a labour process, with its result use value. Capital is viewed as a thing; a thing pure and simple. Equally stupidly — and this is characteristic of the way in which declamatory socialism regards society in relation to economic determinations — Proudhon says:

For society, the difference between capital and product does not exist. This difference is entirely subjective, and related to individuals” [p. 250].

He calls the specific social form subjective and he calls the subjective abstraction society. The product as such is a feature of every mode of labour, whatever its specific social form may be. The product only becomes capital to the extent that it expresses a particular, historically determined, social relation of production. Mr. Proudhon’s contemplation from the standpoint of society means overlooking, abstracting from, precisely the differences which express the particular social relation or the determinateness of the economic form. As if someone were to say: Looking from the point of view of society there are no slaves and citizens, both are human beings. They are much rather this outside society. To be a slave, to be a citizen, are particular modes of the social existence of human beings a and b. Human being a is as such not a slave. He is a slave in and through the society he belongs to. To be a slave, to be a citizen, are social determinations, relations between human beings a and b. What Proudhon says here about capital and product means for him that from the point of view of society there is no difference between capitalists and workers; a difference which exists precisely from the social standpoint alone."’ It is characteristic of him to conceal his inability to proceed from the category (notion) commodity to the category capital beneath a high-sounding phrase. Incidentally, one finds other political economists talking the same nonsense about the transformation of the product into capital — in fact this is only a special application of the general narrow-minded conception of capital as a thing — but there it is presented less pretentiously.[56] E.g. Francis Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Tenth Thousand, Boston, 1843, p. 25.

  • "The material which ... we obtain for the purpose of combining it with our own industry, and forming it into a product, is called capital; and, after the labour has been exerted, and the value created, it is called a product. Thus, the same article may be product to one, and capital to another. Leather is the product of the currier, and the capital of the shoemaker.” *

[II-83] With Mr. J. B. Say nothing would surprise us. He tells us for example:

“Work on the land, that of animals and machines, is also a value, because a price is set upon it and it is bought."[122]

He does so after he has told us that “value” is “what a thing is worth — , and “price” is the “value of a thing expressed [in money]. Then he declares the wage to be “le loyer d'une faculté industrielle” — the rent of labour capacity — and continues, as a sign that he does not understand his own expression, “or, strictly speaking, the purchasing price of a productive labour service'’.[123]

Here labour is taken merely as it appears in the labour process: as an activity aimed at producing a use value. In this sense services productifs are also performed in the labour process by raw material, by the land, using this expression in a general way, and by the means of production (capital). The labour process is precisely the activity of their use value. Once all the elements of production have been reduced in this way to mere factors of the use values involved in the labour process, profit and rent then appear as the prices of the services productifs of land and products, just as the wage appears as the price of the services productifs of labour. The specific forms of exchange value are always explained here by reference to use value, although they are entirely independent of it.

//The whole of the Mercantile System is based on the notion that surplus value arises simply from circulation, i.e. from the altered distribution of already existing values.//

//The extent to which the concept of capital implies not only the preservation and reproduction of value but its valorisation, i.e. the multiplication of value, the positing of surplus value, can be seen from, among other examples (as we shall see later, this is most strikingly evident in the case of the Physiocrats), the earlier Italian political economists, who applied the term reproduction of value only to this production of surplus value. For example Verri:

The value reproduced is that part of the price of an agricultural or industrial product which exceeds the original value of the material and the outlay on consumption incurred while it is being produced. In agriculture the seed and the consumption of the peasant must be deducted: equally in manufacture one must deduct the raw material and the worker’s consumption; and so every year a reproduced value is created, to the amount of the part that remains” (P. Verri, Meditazioni sulla economia politica, Custodi, Parte Moderna, Vol. XV, [pp.] 26-27). [124] //

// The same P. Verri (although a Mercantilist) admits that if commodities are sold at their value or their average price (prezzo comune) it is unimportant who is the buyer and who the seller; or, in other words, that the surplus value cannot originate from the difference between buyer and seller. He says: We must regard it as irrelevant whether someone is buyer or seller in the act of exchange.

“The average price is that in which the buyer can become seller and the seller buyer without perceptible loss or gain. If for example the average price of silk is a gigliato per pound, 1 say that a person who possesses 100 pounds of silk is just as rich as he who possesses 100 gigliati, since the first can easily have 100 gigliati by handing over the silk, and similarly the second can have 100 pounds of silk by handing over 100 gigliati.... The average price is that at which none of the contracting parties becomes poorer” (l.c., [pp.] 34, 35).a//

[II-84] Only that which preserves and increases capital has use value for capital as such. Labour, therefore, or labour capacity. (Labour is after all only a function, realisation, activity of labour capacity.) //The conditions for the realisation of labour are eo ipso included, since capital cannot employ, consume labour capacity without them. // Labour is therefore not a use value for capital. It is the use value of the latter.

  • “The immediate market for capital, or field for capital, may be said to be labour” * (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand and the Necessity of Consumption, Lately Advocated by Mr. Malthus, London, 1821, [p.] 20).

// On the exchange of capital with labour capacity:

Wages are nothing more than the market price of labour, and when the labourer has received them, he has received the full value of the commodity he has disposed of. Beyond this he can have no claim” (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd ed., London, 1835, p. 177).//

// Productive consumption.

  • “Productive consumption, where the consumption of a commodity is a part of the process of production.... In these instances there is no consumption of value, the same value existing in a new form” * (S. P. Newman, Elements of Political Economy, Andover and New York, 1835, [p.] 296).//

(“Capital is consumed just as much as the consumption fund; but in being consumed it is reproduced. A capital is a quantity of wealth destined for industrial consumption, that is for reproduction” (H. Storch, Cours d'économie politique, ed. Say, Vol. 1, Paris, 1823, p. 209)).c

It is labour capacity, not labour, which is exchanged for capital in the buying process:

  • “If you call labour a commodity, it is not like a commodity which is first produced in order to exchange, and then brought to market where it must exchange with other commodities according to the respective quantities of each which there may be in the market at the time; labour is created at the moment it is brought to market; nay it is brought to market before it is created” * (Observations on Certain Verbal Disputes in Political Economy etc., London, 1821, [pp.] 75-76).

Viewed as a whole, the production process of capital is divided into 2 sections: 1) exchange of capital for labour capacity, which includes as a corollary the exchange of certain components of capital existing as money (value) for the objective conditions of labour, in so far as they themselves are commodities (hence also products of previous labour). This first act includes the conversion of a part of the existing capital into the worker’s means of subsistence, hence simultaneously into the means of the preservation and reproduction of labour capacity. // In that a part of these means of subsistence has been consumed during the labour process itself, in order to produce labour, the means of subsistence the worker consumes can be counted (as maintenance costs) among the objective conditions of labour into which capital is divided in the production process just as much as can the raw material and the means of production. Or they can be regarded as a moment in reproductive consumption. Or, finally, they can be regarded just as much as means of production of the product, rather like the coal and oil the machine consumes during the production process. 102 // 2) In the actual labour process labour is converted into capital. I.e. it becomes objectified labour (objective labour) — and indeed objectified labour which confronts living labour capacity independently, as the property of the capitalist, the economic existence of the capitalist. On this conversion of labour into capital:

They” (the workers) “exchange their labour for grain” //i.e means of subsistence in general//. “This becomes income for them” //consumption fund// “...while their labour has become capital for their master” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes, Vol. 1, p. 90).

“He” (the worker) “required the means of subsistence to live, the boss required labour to make a profit” (Sismondi, l.c., p. 91).a

The workers who, giving their labour for the exchange, convert it into capital” (Sismondi, l.c., p. 105).

“Whatever advantages a rapid growth of wealth may provide for the wage workers, it does not heal the causes of their misery.... They remain deprived of any right to capital, consequently obliged. to sell their labour and to renounce any pretensions to the products of that labour” (Cherbuliez, Richesse ou pauvreté, p. 68).

// “In the social order, wealth has acquired the characteristic of reproducing itself by means of alien labour, without any assistance from its owner. Wealth, like labour and through labour, yields an annual fruit, which can be destroyed every year without making the rich man poorer thereby. The fruit is the income which arises from capital” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes, Vol. 1, p. 82).//

[II-85] //The different forms of income (leaving aside wages), such as profit, interest, rent, etc. (taxes too), are only the different elements into which surplus value divides, is distributed among different classes. For the moment we shall simply examine them in their general form, surplus value. Of course, whatever subdivision it may subsequently undergo changes nothing, either in its quantity or its quality. Moreover, it is also well known that the industrial capitalist is the person in the middle, who pays interest, rent, etc.

“Labour is the source of wealth; wealth is its product; income, as a part of wealth, must emerge from this common origin; it is customary to derive 3 kinds of income, rent, profit, wages, from 3 different sources, land, accumulated capital and labour. These 3 subdivisions of income are only 3 different ways of participating in the fruits of human labour” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes, Vol. 1, p. 85).//

//"The products are appropriated before they are converted into capital; this conversion does not release them from appropriation” (Cherbuliez, [Richesse ou pauvreté,] p. 54).//

//"In selling his labour for a definite amount of approvisionnement the worker completely renounces any right to the other parts of capital. The allocation of these products remains the same as before; it is in no way modified by the above-mentioned contract” (l.c., p. 58).//

In this conversion of labour into capital lies, in fact, the whole secret of the capital-relation.

If one looks at capitalist production as a whole, the conclusion is: We should not regard the commodity alone (still less the mere use value of the commodity, the product) as the actual product of this process; not just the surplus value either, although it is a result that is kept in view as the purpose of the whole process, and characterises it. It is not just this single thing that is produced the commodity, a commodity greater in value than the capital originally advanced — but also capital and wage labour; or, the relation is reproduced and perpetuated. This will in any case be shown in more detail after the production process has been further discussed.[125]

Both the surplus value and the wage appear here in a form we have not yet met, namely the form of income, hence a distribution form, on the one hand, and therefore a particular mode of the consumption fund, on the other. But since this determination is still superfluous (although it will become necessary once we get to I,4, primitive accumulation [126]), we shall only investigate the characteristics of this form when we have examined the production process of capital more closely. Here the wage appears to us as a production form because it is as wage system the prerequisite for capitalist production; just as we have included surplus value and its creation in the concept of capital as a relation of production. Only in the second instance must it be demonstrated how these relations of production appear simultaneously as relations of distribution[62] (in this context we must also throw more light on the stupidity of considering labour capacity to he the capital of the worker[92]) . This is necessitated in part by the need to show what nonsense it is to regard bourgeois relations of production and of distribution as different in kind. Thus J. St. Mill and many other political economists conceive the relations of production as natural, eternal laws, but regard relations of distribution as artificial, of historical origin, and subject to the control, etc., of human society.’ On the other hand, the description of surplus value e.g. as income (hence the category of income in general) is a formula for simplification, as e.g. in examining the accumulation of capital.[127]

The questions of what labour is productive, whether wages or capital are productive, and the use of the formulation “income” for wages and surplus value, are to be dealt with at the end of the examination of relative surplus value (or also in part in the relation of wage labour and capital?). (Similarly the worker as C — M — C, the capitalist as M — C — M, saving and hoarding by the former, etc.[128])

// Additions from my Notebook. [129] As use value, labour exists only for capital, and is the use value of capital itself, i.e. the mediating activity through which it valorises itself. Therefore labour does not exist as a use value for the worker, it is not a force productive of wealth for him, in the sense of a means or activity of enrichment. A use value for [II-86] capital, labour is a mere exchange value for the worker, an available exchange value. It is posited as such in the act of exchange with capital, through its sale for money. The use value of a thing does not concern the seller as such, only its buyer. The labour (capacity) which the worker sells as a use value to capital is for the worker his exchange value, which he wishes to realise, but which is already determined (like the prices of commodities in general) before this act of exchange, and presupposed to it as a condition. The exchange value of labour capacity, the realisation of which occurs in the process of the exchange with capital, is therefore presupposed, determined in advance, and only undergoes formal modification (through conversion into money). It is not determined by the use value of labour. For the worker himself labour only has use value in so far as it is exchange value, not in so far as it produces exchange value. For capital it only has exchange value in so far as it is use value. It is a use value, as distinct from its exchange value, not for the worker himself, but only for capital. The worker therefore exchanges labour as a simple, previously determined exchange value, determined by a past process — he exchanges labour as itself objectified labour, only in so far as this is a definite quantity of labour; hence only in so far as its equivalent is already measured, given. Capital obtains it through exchange as living labour, as the general productive force of wealth; activity which increases wealth. It is clear, therefore, that the worker cannot enrich himself through this exchange, since in exchange for the available value magnitude of his labour capacity he surrenders its creative power like Esau his birthright for a mess of pottage. Rather, he has to impoverish himself, because the creative power of his labour becomes established as the power of capital, as an alien power confronting him. He divests himself of labour as the force productive of wealth; capital appropriates it, as such. The separation of labour from property in the product of labour, of labour from wealth, is thus posited in this very act of exchange. What appears paradoxical as result is already implied by the presupposition itself. Thus the productivity of the worker’s labour comes to confront him as an alien power; as indeed does his labour in general, in so far as it is actual labour, not a capacity but motion. Capital, inversely, valorises itself through the appropriation of alien labour. At least, the possibility of valorisation is thereby posited, as a result of the exchange between capital and labour. The relation is first realised in the act of production itself (where capital really consumes the alien labour). Just as labour capacity, as a presupposed exchange value, is exchanged for an equivalent in money, so the latter is again exchanged for an equivalent in commodities, which are consumed. In this process of exchange, labour is not productive; it becomes so only for capital. It can take out of circulation only what it has thrown in, a predetermined quantity of commodities, which are as little its own product as they are its own value. //Thus all advances of civilisation, in other words every increase in the productive forces of society — the productive forces of labour itself — enrich not the worker, but the capitalist. Hence they only magnify the power ruling over labour, only increase the productive power of capital — the objective power over labour.// The transformation of labour into capital is in itself the result of the act of exchange between capital and labour. This transformation is posited only in the production process itself. //

//With Say and his associates the instrument, etc., has a claim to remuneration owing to the service productif it performs, and this remuneration is handed over to the owner of the instrument. The independence of the instrument of labour, its social determination, i.e. its determination as capital, is presupposed in this way so as to substantiate the claims of the capitalist. //

// *"Profit is not made by exchanging. Had it not existed before, neither could it after that transaction"* (Ramsay, Le., p. 184).//

//"Every space of land is the raw material of agriculture” (P. Verri, l.c., [p.] 218).//

[II-87] //Engels gave me this example [130]: 10,000 spindles at 1 lb. per week = 10,000 lbs = £550 of yarn = 1 lb. of yarn for 1 1/10s.

Raw material =10,000 lbs of yarn.
Waste 15% = 1,500 =11,500.
at 7d. a lb. = 11,500£336.Profit 60.
10,000 spindles at £1 per spindle cost£10,000
Annual wear and tear 12 1/2% =£1,250
Hence per week24
Coal, oil, etc4084 (5 5/6 of 490)
Wear and tear on the steam engine20
Wages 70; price of lb. of yarn 11/10s.; hence price of the 10,000 lbs £550
£490
£ 60
490.(Wages are 1/7 of 490.)

Therefore raw material 490/336 = 68 4/7%. Wages. 14 2/7%.

Machinery, etc., 17 1/7%. Therefore raw material and machinery = 85 5/7; wages 14 2/7. Wages 1/7 (70), raw material and machinery 6/7 (420). Hence 1/7 wages , 6/7 machinery and raw material. Out of this 6/7, 4/7 comes under raw material +4 /5 of 1/7. 1/7 and 1/5 of 1/7 come under machinery. Thus raw material accounts for somewhat less than 5/7, machinery for somewhat over 1/7, and workers for 1/7.//

This comment from The Manchester Guardian, September 18, 1861, Money article [131]:

  • “In reference to coarse spinning we have received the following statement from a gentleman of high standing:
Sept. 17, 1860Per lbMarginCost of Spinning per lb.
His cotton cost6 1/4d.4d3d.
His 16’s warps sold for10 1/4d.
Profit 1d.per lb.
Sept. 17, 1861
His cotton costs9d.2d3 1/2d.
For his 16’s warps to ask11d.
Loss 1 1/2d.per lb.” *

From the first example it follows that the value of lb. warps is 10 1/4d. (1860), of which 1d. is profit. His outlay is 9 1/4d. 1d. on this comes to 10 30/37%. But if we subtract the raw material (6 1/4) there remain 4d.; of which 3d. must be deducted for cost of spinning. Even if we assume that wages here amount to one half of this, which is wrong, we arrive at a surplus value of 1d. on 1 1/2d. Hence 3:2, or 66 2 /3%. 66 2 /3% is exactly = 2 /3 of the unit. [II-88] Expressing this in hours, the worker works 2 hours for his master for every 3 hours he works for himself. Thus for each hour ... 2 /3 of an hour. Hence if he works for 10 hours altogether, 6 hours belong to him, and 4 (12/3) to his master. (3:2 = 6:4) If he gives 4 hours out of 10 to his master, he gives 4/10 of an hour out of 1 hour = 24 minutes. In 1 hour he works 36 minutes for himself (36:24 = 3:2) // for 36 × 2 = 72 and 24 × 3 = 72//.

We have seen in the labour process that all its factors can be characterised with reference to the result — the product — as means of production. If, in contrast to this, one looks at the value of the different factors required for the manufacture of the product — the values advanced for its manufacture (values expended) — they are called the production costs of the product. The production costs therefore come down to the sum of labour time required for the manufacture of the product (whether this is the labour time contained in the material and means of labour, or the labour time newly added in the labour process) — the total labour time objectified, worked up, in the product. The formula production costs is for us a mere name initially; it adds nothing new to the definitions already arrived at. The value of the product = the sum of the values of the material, the means [of labour] and the labour added to the material through the agency of the means of labour. The proposition is purely analytic. It is in reality only another way of saying that the value of the commodity is determined by the quantity of the labour time objectified in it. Only later on in this investigation shall we find an opportunity to discuss the formula of the production costs. (Namely in dealing with capital and profit; there an antinomy enters because on the one hand the value of the product = the production costs, i.e. the value advanced for the manufacture of the product, while on the other hand (this is of the nature of profit) the value of the product, in that it includes the surplus value, is greater than the value of the production costs. This results from the fact that the production costs for the capitalist are only the sum of the values he has advanced; hence the value of the product = the value of the capital advanced. On the other hand, the real production cost of the product = the sum of the labour time contained in that product. But the sum of the labour time contained in it is greater than the sum of the labour time advanced or paid for by the capitalist. And this surplus value of the product over and above the value paid for or advanced by the capitalist forms, precisely, the surplus value; in our definition the absolute magnitude of which the profit consists. [132])

[II-89] [133] On the Division of Labour.

Thomas Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy etc., London, 1827.

“Invention and knowledge necessarily precedes the division of labour. Savages learned to make Bows and Arrows, to catch animals and fish, to cultivate the ground and weave cloth, before some of them dedicated themselves exclusively to making these instruments, to hunting, fishing, agriculture and weaving the art of working in metals, leather or wood, was unquestionably known to a certain extent, before there were smiths, shoemakers and carpenters. In very modern times, steam engines and spinning mules were invented, before some men made it their chief or only business to manufacture mules and steam engines” ([pp.] 79-80).

“Important inventions are the result of the necessity to labour and of the natural increase of population. If for example the spontaneous fruits are exhausted, man becomes a fisherman, etc.” ([p.] 85).

“Necessity is the mother of invention; and the continual existence of necessity can only be explained by the continual increase of people. E.g. the rise in the price of cattle is caused by an increase of people and by an increase in their manufacturing or other produce. The rise in the price of cattle leads to cultivating food for them, augmenting manure and occasioning that increased quantity of produce, which in this country amounts to nearly 1/3 of the whole” ([pp.] 86-87).

“No one doubts that rapid communication between the different parts of the country contributed both to the increase of knowledge and wealth.... numbers of minds are instantly set to work even by a hint; and every discovery is instantly appreciated, and almost as instantaneously improved. The chances of improvement are great in proportion as the persons are multiplied whose attention is devoted to any particular subject. An increase in the number of persons produces the same effect as communication; for the latter only operates by bringing numbers to think on the same subject” ([pp.] 93-94).

Causes of the division of labour.

“D'abord division of labour between the sexes in the family. Then differences of age. Then peculiarities of constitution. The difference of sex, of age, of bodily and mental power, or difference of organisation, is the chief source of division of labour, and it is continually extended in the progress of society by the different tastes, dispositions, and talents of individuals, and their different aptitudes for different employments” ([pp.] 111 et seq.).

“Apart from the different aptitudes in those who work there are different aptitudes and capacities in the natural instruments they work with. Diversities of soil, climate, and situation, and peculiarities in the spontaneous productions of the earth, and of the minerals contained in its bowels, adapt certain spots to certain arts ... territorial division of labour” ([pp.] 127 et seq.).

Limits to the division of labour.

1) “Extent of market... The commodity produced by one labourer ... constitutes in reality and ultimately the market for the commodities produced by other labourers, and they and their productions are mutually the market for one another ... the extent of the market must mean the number of labourers and their productive power; and rather the former than the latter.... as the number of labourers increases, the productive power of society augments in the compound ratio of that increase, multiplied by the effects of the division of labour and the increase of knowledge.... improved methods of conveyance, like rail-roads, steam-vessels, canals, all means of facilitating intercourse between distant countries, have, as far as division of labour is concerned, the same effects as an actual increase in the number of people, they being more labourers into communication with each other, and more produce to be exchanged” ([pp.] 115 et seq.).

Second limit. The nature of different employments.

As science advances, this apparent limit disappears. In particular, machinery moves it farther away. The application of steam engines to working powerlooms enables one man to perform the operations of several; or to weave as much cloth as 3 or 4 persons can weave by the handloom. This is a complication of employments ... but then there follows in turn a subsequent simplification ... hence a perpetual renewal of occasions for the farther division of labour” ([pp.] 127 et seq.).

[II-90] Surplus Labour.

Owing to the cupidity of the capitalists, etc., there is a constant tendency to extend the numbers of working hours, and thus by augmenting the supply of labour, to lessen its remuneration.... the increase of fixed capital tends to the same result. For where so great a value is lodged in machinery, buildings, etc., the manufacturer is strongly tempted not to let so much stock lie idle and, therefore, will employ no workmen who will not engage to remain for many hours during the day. Hence also the horrors of night labour practised in some establishments, one set of men arriving as others depart” (G. Ramsay, An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, Edinburgh, [London,] 1836, [p.] 102).

In the case of absolute surplus value, the capital laid out in labour, the variable capital, retains the same magnitude of value while the value of the total product grows; but it grows on account of the increase in the portion of the value of the product which represents the reproduction of the variable capital. In this case (this relates not to the surplus value as such but to it as profit) there is, apart from this, a necessary growth in the part of the constant capital which constitutes raw materials and matières instrumentales. It should not be assumed, except to a very slight degree, that the outlay (the real wastage, even if it is written off in advance) on machinery, buildings, etc., increases thereby.

In the case of relative surplus value the portion of the value of the product in which the variable capital is reproduced remains the same; but its distribution changes. A larger part represents surplus labour and a smaller necessary labour. In this case the given variable capital is diminished by the amount of the reduction in wages. The constant capital remains the same, except as far as raw material and matières instrumentales are concerned. A part of the capital, previously laid out in wages, is set free, and can be converted into machinery, etc. We have investigated the changes in constant capital elsewhere (in dealing with profit).[134] This can therefore be left out here, and our consideration confined to the changes in variable capital. Let the old capital be = c (constant capital) +£1,000. Let this £1,000 represent the variable capital. Say the weekly wages of 1,000 men. Now two situations can be distinguished. The variable capital falls because of falls in the necessaries produced in other branches of industry (e.g. corn, meat, boots, etc.). In this case c remains unchanged, and the number of workers employed, the total amount of labour, remains the same. No change has occurred in the conditions of production. Let us assume that owing to falls in the necessaries the variable capital is reduced (i.e. its value is reduced) by 1/10; it therefore falls from 1,000 to 900. Assume the surplus value was £500, hence = half the variable capital. Then £1,500 would represent the total value of the labour of 1,000 men (since their working day remains the same on our assumption, its magnitude is not altered) no matter how these £1,500 may be divided between capital and labour.

In this case the old capital was:

1) c+ 1,000 (v)+500 (surplus value). Hence surplus labour = 1/3 of the working day.

The new capital would be: 2) c + 900 [v] + 600. Hence surplus labour = 2/5 of the working day. The surplus labour would have risen from 5/15 to 6/15; the working day = 12 hours, thus 1/3 = 4 hours and 2/5 = 4 4/5 hours of labour. Assume that after an interval the variable capital (wages) again fell by 1/10 as a result of the cheapening of means of subsistence which were not produced in this sphere. 1/10 of 900 = 90. The variable capital would fall to 810. We should therefore have:

New capital: 3) c + 810 (v) + 690 (surplus). Therefore the surplus labour = 21/50 of the working day, or 3/50 more than previously. A capital of 100 is set free in the first case, of 90 in the second; together = £190. This release of capital is also a form of accumulation; it is at once the release of money capital, in the form in which we shall find it again when we consider profit.

c + v + s is the product. v + s is a constant magnitude. If now under the given circumstances wages fall, the formula will be c + (v — x) + (s + x).

[II-91] If, in contrast, the relative surplus labour is a result of the cheapening of the article itself, therefore of a change in the productive conditions of the article, e.g. the introduction of machinery, let us assume that 1/2 of the variable capital of 1,000 is converted into machinery. There remains a variable capital of 500, or the labour of 500 men instead of 1,000. The value of their labour = 750, since the value of the 1,000 was £1,500. According to this, then, we should have:

Old capital. c + 1,000 (v) + 500 (s).

New capital. (c + 500), or c + v/2, which we shall call c’,

c'+500 (v)+250.

But since it is presumed that the surplus value grows in consequence of the introduction of machinery, the variable capital declines, by say 1/10. We can now either assume that the 500 work up as much (raw material) as before or that they are working up more. For the sake of simplification we shall assume that they work up only as much. 1/10 of 500 = 400. Therefore:

Old capital. c + 1,000 (v) + 500 (s) = (c + 1,000 (v) +v/2).

New capital. (c + 500), = c'+ 400 (v) + 350 (S) = (c'(c + 1/2 v) + 400 (v) + 7/8v).

£100 would be set free thereby. But this would only occur if no addition of at least that proportion were needed to the supply of raw materials and matières instrumentales. Only in this case can money capital which was previously expended in the form of wages be released by the introduction of machinery.

In the case of absolute surplus value the matières brutes [raw materials] and matières instrumentales must grow in the same proportion as the absolute amount of labour grows.

Old capital. c+1,000 (v)+500 (s). s here = 1/3 of the working day of 1,000 working days. If the working day = 12 hours, s = 4 hours. Assume now that s grows from 500 to 600, hence by 1/5. Since here the value of 12 hours X 1,000 = £1,500, a value of £100 represents 800 hours of labour for the 1,000 men, or 4/5 of an hour of surplus labour for 4 each man. The amount of material, etc., 1 man can work up in 4/5 of an hour depends on how much he can work up in 1 hour, since the working conditions remain the same. We shall denote this by x Thus:

New capital: (c + x, or c') + 1,000 (v) + 500 (s) + 100 (s'). Here there is an increase in the capital laid out and a double increase in the product: due to the increase in the capital laid out and due to the increase in the surplus value.

The determination of value itself remains the essential matter — the foundation — hence the basis is that the value is determined, regardless of the level of the productivity of labour, by the necessary labour time 10; hence it is, for example, always expressed in the same sum of money, if money is assumed to be of constant value.

By the Urbarium [land survey] of Maria Theresia, [135] which abolished serfdom proper in Hungary, the peasants owed the landlords, in return for the sessions they received // lands on each estate, allotted to the maintenance of the serfs, 35-40 English acres each//, unpaid labour of 104 days per annum, not to mention a series of lesser obligations, [the handing over of] fowls, eggs, etc., [II-92] the spinning of 6 lbs of wool or hemp, provided by the landlord, and besides all this a further 1/10 of all their products to be paid to the church, and 1/2 (??) to the landlord. In the year 1771 the landlords still constituted 1/2, of a population of 8 millions in Hungary, and there were only 30,921 artisans: these are the kind of facts which give the doctrine of the Physiocrats its historical backing. [64]

15 men are killed every week in the English coal mines on an average.[136] In the course of the 10 years concluding with 1861 about 10,000 people were killed. Mostly by the sordid avarice of the owners of the coal mines. This * generally to be remarked. The capitalistic production is — to a certain degree, when we abstract from the whole process of circulation and the immense complications of commercial and monetary transactions resulting from the basis, the value in exchange — most economical of realised labour, labour realised in commodities. It is a greater spendthrift than any other mode of production of man, of living labour, spendthrift not only of flesh and blood and muscles, but of brains and nerves. It is, in fact, only at the greatest waste of individual development that the development of general men is secured in those epochs of history which prelude to a socialist constitution of mankind.*

“Should this torture then torment us

Since it brings us greater pleasure?

Were not through the rule of Timur

Souls devoured without measure? “

[Goethe]

We have to distinguish between more parts in the value of the product than in the value of the capital advanced. The latter = c + v. The former = c + a. (The part of the product which expresses the newly added labour.,) But a = v + s, = the = the value of the variable capital + the surplus value. If concentration of the means of production in the hands of relatively few people — as compared to the mass of the labouring multitude — is in general the condition and prerequisite of capitalist production, because, without it, the means of production would not separate themselves from the producers, and the latter would, therefore, not be converted into wages labourers — this concentration is also a technological condition for the development of the capitalist mode of production and, with it, of the productive power of society. It is in short a material condition for production on a large scale. [II-93] Labour in common is developed through concentration — association, division of labour, the employment of machinery, science and the forces of nature. But there is still another point connected with it, Which must be considered under the rate of profit,[137] but not yet in the analysis of surplus value The concentration of workers and of the means of labour in a small area, etc., involves economy of power, the common use by many people of means such as buildings, etc., heating, etc., the cost of which does not increase in proportion to the numbers they serve; lastly labour too, economy on the overhead costs of production. This is particularly, clear in the case of agriculture.

“With the progress of civilisation all, and perhaps more than all the capital and labour which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated for the more complete tillage of 100” (R. Jones, An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth etc., Part 1. On Rent, London, 1831, p[p. 190-] 91).

“The cost of getting 24 bushels from 1 acre is less than was the cost of getting 24 from 2; the concentrated space

//this concentration of space is also important in manufacture. Yet the employment of a shared motor, etc., is still more important here. In agriculture, although space, is concentrated relatively to the amount of capital and labour employed, it is an enlarged sphere of production, as compared to the sphere of production formerly occupied or worked upon by one single, independent agent of production. The sphere is absolutely greater. Hence the possibility of employing horses, etc. //

“in which the operations of husbandry are carried on, must give some advantages and save some expense, the fencing, draining, seed, harvest work, etc., less when confined to one acre, etc.” (l.c., [p.] 199).

Ten Hours’ Bill and overworking.

  • “Though the health of a population is so important a part of the national capital, we are afraid it must be said that the class of employers of labour have not been the most forward to guard and cherish this treasure. ‘The men of the West Riding — * (quotes The Times from the Report of the Registrar General for October 186 1 a) * — became the clothiers of mankind, and so intent Were they on this work, that the health of the workpeople was sacrificed, and the race in a few generations must have degenerated. But a reaction set in. Lord Shaftesbury’s Bill limited the hours of children’s labour, etc.’ The consideration of the health of the operatives"* (adds The Times) * “was forced upon the millowners by society.”*

In the larger tailoring shops in London a given piece of work, e.g. on trousers, a coat, etc., is called “an hour'’, “a half hour”. (The “hour” = 6d.) How much the average product of an hour comes to is naturally determined by practice. If new fashions or particular improvements and methods of mending emerge, a contest arises between employer and workmen over whether a particular piece of work = l hour, etc., until here too experience has decided the question. Similarly in many London furniture workshops, etc.

(It goes without saying that, apart from certain arrangements for apprenticeship, etc., only those workers are taken on who possess the average skill and can deliver during the day the average amount of product. At times when business is bad, where there is no continuity of labour, this latter circumstance is naturally a matter of indifference to the employer.)

[III-95a/A] As one of the main advantages of the Factory Acts:

  • “A still greater boon is the distinction at last made clear between the worker’s own time and his master’s. The worker knows now when that which he sells is ended, and when his own begins; and, by possessing sure foreknowledge of this, is enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own purposes” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year Ending 31st October 1859. Report of Mr. Robert Baker, p. 52).[138]

For the worker himself, labour capacity only has use value in so far as it produces exchange value, not in so far as it produces exchange values.[139] As use value labour exists only for capital, and it is the use value of capital itself, i.e. it is the mediating activity through which capital is increased. Capital is autonomous exchange value as process, as valorisation process.

The separation of property from labour appears as a necessary law of the exchange between capital and labour. As not-capital, not-objectified labour labour capacity appears: 1) Negatively. Not-raw material, not-instrument of labour, not-product, not-means of subsistence, not-money: labour separated from all the means of labour and life, from the whole of its objectivity, as a mere possibility. This complete denudation, this possibility of labour devoid of all objectivity. Labour capacity as absolute poverty, i.e. the complete exclusion of objective wealth. The objectivity possessed by labour capacity is only the bodily existence of the worker himself, his own objectivity.

2) Positively. Not-objectified labour, the unobjective, subjective existence of labour itself. Labour not as object but as activity, as living source of value. In contrast to capital, which is the reality of general wealth, it is the general possibility of the same, asserting itself in action. As object, on the one hand, labour is absolute poverty; as subject and activity, [on the other,] it is the general possibility of wealth. This is labour, such as it is presupposed by capital as antithesis, as the objective existence of capital, and such as for its part it in turn presupposes capital.

What the capitalist pays the worker, as with the buyer of any other commodity, is the exchange value of his commodity, which is therefore determined in advance of this exchange process; what the capitalist receives is the use value of the labour capacity — labour itself, the enriching activity of which therefore belongs to him and not to the worker. Hence the worker is not enriched by this process; he rather creates wealth as a power alien to him and ruling over him.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 K. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Part One.— Ed.
  2. This is quite correct. Nevertheless the form does occur (and the purpose is irrelevant here). For example, a purchaser may not be in a position to sell the commodity dearer than he bought it. He may be compelled to sell it cheaper than he bought it. In both cases the result of the operation contradicts its purpose. Even so, this does not prevent it from having the form M—C—M, in common with the operation which does correspond to its purpose.
  3. In the economic manuscript of 1857-58, Marx had pointed out that "exchange value expresses the social form of value", but he still used these concepts interchangeably. Only starting with the second edition of Volume I of Capital in 1872 did he begin to differentiate clearly between them.
  4. Marx quotes in French.— Ed.
  5. Marx summarised the following passage from MacLeod: “When currency is employed in this method, that is when it is employed in producing articles which are themselves intended to be subservient to the production of other articles, it is usually called CAPITAL, and the use of the word Capital is also extended to apply to the article itself so produced to act as an agent in the production of others” (H. D. MacLeod, The Theory and Practice of Banking, Vol. I, London, 1855, p. 55).
  6. Part of the text from pages 16 and 17 of the manuscript has been transferred here in accordance with Marx's note: "Addition to I 1) a, p. 4, line 2."
  7. See this volume, pp. 190-91.— Ed.
  8. Commenting on Malthus’ views (pp. XIII — 758-759) in his manuscript of 1861-63, Marx quotes Malthus’ Definitions in Political Economy and Torrens’ Essay on the Production of Wealth. On pp. XIV — 777-778 of the manuscript Marx deals once more with Ricardo’s followers’ critique of Malthus’ concept of “the mere consumers”
  9. This work by James Steuart was first published in 1767. In his Excerpt Notebook VII, Marx copied out passages from the six-volume edition of this work published in London in 1805. When writing his synopsis, Marx mistakenly put 1801 as the year of publication. This error occurred again in the manuscript of 1861-63 and in all four editions of Volume I of Capital.
  10. J. Steuart, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy. In: J. Steuart, The Works, Political, Metaphysical, and Chronological.—Ed.
  11. Literally: "in the breast". In a figurative sense: "in a secret place", "in a concealed form", "in reserve".— Ed.
  12. As part of his economic studies in the summer of 1858, Marx wrote a synopsis of Aristotle’s Republic, noting, among other things, that the latter drew a distinction between economics and chrematistics. Both the extant part of the original version of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and the published version emphasise that Aristotle counterposed the two forms of circulation: C—M—C and M—C—M. In Part II, Ch. IV of Volume I of Capital Marx dealt in more detail with Aristotle’s views on the subject.
  13. Marx described the nature of the general connection between the productivity of labour and value — the inverse ratio between the labour time contained in the commodity and the productivity of labour—in Part One of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.
  14. Marx indicated that the section below was to be an addition to a)
  15. K. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Part One (MECW, Vol. 29, p. 324). See also MECW, Vol. 30, p. 20.— Ed.