Draft of an Article on Friedrich List’s book: Das Nationale System der Politischen Oekonomie

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Author(s) Karl Marx
Written March 1845


MIA-bannière.gif
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 4, p. 265
First published: in Russian in Voprosy Istorii K.P.S.S.No. 12, 1971.

Note from MECW vol. 4, 1975 :

This work-a draft of an article against the German economist Friedrich List-was recently discovered among Marx’s manuscripts which remained for a long time in the keeping of the grandchildren of his eldest daughter, Jenny Longuet. Marx and Engels had reacted critically to List’s book (published in 1841) as early as February 1844 in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (see MECW, Vol. 3, 178, 421). Later they concluded that a full-scale criticism should be published of his views as typifying the attitudes of the German bourgeoisie-its striving for complete freedom of action to exploit the German workers without prejudice to the privileges of the nobility and its support of the feudal-monarchical political system while seeking to force the government to protect bourgeois interests against foreign competition. In a letter to Marx on November 19, 1844, Engels mentioned that he intended writing a pamphlet on List, and in another letter, on March 17, 1845, he greatly approved of Marx’s own plans to publish in the journal Rheinische Jahrbücher zur gesellschaftlichen Reform, projected by Püttmann, a critical analysis of List’s views. In his pamphlet Engels proposed to expand the critical remarks on List’s practical suggestions (introduction of a protective system) which he had made in the second of his “Speeches in Elberfeld” (see pp. 258-62 of this volume). However, Engels did not write that pamphlet.

Neither did Marx’s article on List appear in print. The extant drafts of the manuscript, abounding in abbreviations, erasures, corrections and insertions, are incomplete. The first sheet, apparently containing the author’s title of she article and of the first chapter, is missing. Sheets 10-21 and 22 have also not been found. The extant part consists of large-size sheets numbered by Marx himself. Of these, numbers 2-5, containing four pages of text each, and sheet 6, containing text on the first three pages, belong to the first chapter. Following them is a small fragment on a separate unnumbered sheet. The second chapter, with the author’s title, has reached us more complete and comprises sheets 7-9, containing four pages each. Of the third chapter only sheet 22 (two fragments filling two pages) and sheet 24 (four pages of text) are extant. The fourth chapter has the author’s title and fills one unnumbered sheet (four pages).

In his manuscript Marx analyses and quotes the first volume of List’s book according to the 1841 edition — Friedrich List, Das nationals System der politischen Oekonomie. Erster Band. Der internationale Handel, die Handelspolitik und der deutsche Zollverein, Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1841. At the beginning of 1845 Marx made numerous excerpts from this edition which he used in his work. He quotes French sources in his own German translation, with the exception of one excerpt, from a work by Louis Say, which he purposely quotes in French to show List’s deliberately inaccurate way of quoting. The emphasis in the quotations belongs for the most part to Marx.

In publishing the work in this edition, obvious slips of the pep in the manuscript have been corrected, editorial insertions have been made (in square brackets) where meaning might otherwise be obscure and some passages have been divided into paragraphs additional to those given by the author. Where the author’s titles to chapters are missing, titles (in square brackets) have been supplied by the editors. The numbers of the sheets in the manuscript are given in Arab figures in square brackets. Words and phrases crossed out in the manuscript are not reproduced, although some of them have been taken into account in deciphering illegible passages. In the second chapter a number of paragraphs were crossed out by the author with a vertical line. Marx usually did that when he was using the crossed out passage in another place or in another variant of the work. Since the pages of the manuscript to which these passages could have been transferred are missing, the passages crossed out are reproduced in the context in question in angle brackets.

I. General Characterisation of List[edit source]

... [2] that awareness of the death of the bourgeoisie has already penetrated the consciousness even of the German bourgeois, so the German bourgeois is naive enough himself to admit this “sad fact”.

“For this reason also it is so sad that the evils which in our day accompany industry are advanced as a reason for rejecting industry itself. There exist far greater evils than a social estate [Stand] of proletarians: an empty exchequer — national impotence — national slavery — national death” (p. lxvii).

It is truly sadder that the proletariat already exists and already advances claims, and already inspires fear, before the German bourgeois has yet achieved the development of industry. As far as the proletarian himself is concerned, he will certainly find his social situation [Stand] a happy one when the ruling bourgeoisie has a full exchequer and national might. Herr List only speaks about what is sadder for the bourgeois. And we admit that for him it is very sad that he wants to establish the domination of industry precisely at the unsuitable moment when the slavery of the majority resulting from this domination has become a generally known fact. The German bourgeois is the knight of the rueful countenance, who wanted to introduce knight-errantry just when the police and money had come to the fore.

3. A great inconvenience (obstacle) affecting the German bourgeois in his striving for industrial wealth is his idealism professed hitherto. How is it that this nation. of the “spirit” suddenly comes to find the supreme blessings of mankind in calico, knitting yarn, the self-acting mule, in a mass of factory slaves, in the materialism of machinery, in the full money-bags of Messrs. the factory-owners? The empty, shallow, sentimental idealism of the German bourgeois, beneath which lies hidden (is concealed) the pettiest, dirtiest and most cowardly shopkeeper’s spirit (soul), has arrived ‘at the epoch when this bourgeois is inevitably compelled to divulge his secret. But again he divulges it in a truly German, high-flown manner. He divulges it with an idealistic-Christian sense of shame. He disavows wealth while striving for it. He clothes spiritless materialism in an idealistic disguise and only then ventures to pursue it.

The whole theoretical part of List’s system is nothing but a [There are three illegible words in the manuscript here, apparently meaning “fallen in front of him"] disguising of the industrial materialism of frank political economy in idealistic phrases. Everywhere he allows the thing to remain in existence but idealises the expression of it. We shall trace this in detail. It is just this empty idealistic phraseology that enables him to ignore the real barriers standing in the way of his pious wishes and to indulge in the most absurd fantasies (what would have become of the English and French bourgeoisie if it had first to ask a high-ranking nobility, an esteemed bureaucracy and the ancient ruling dynasties for permission to give “industry” the “force of law"?).

The German bourgeois is religious even when he is an industrialist. He shrinks from speaking about the nasty exchange values which he covets and speaks about productive forces [von produktivkräften]; he shrinks from speaking about competition and speaks of a national confederation of national productive forces; he shrinks from speaking of his private interest and speaks about the national interest. When one looks at the frank, classic cynicism with which the English and French bourgeoisie, as represented by its first — at least at the beginning of its domination — scientific spokesmen of political economy, elevated wealth into a god and ruthlessly sacrificed everything else to it, to this Moloch, in science as well, and when, on the other hand, one looks at the idealising, phrase-mongering, bombastic manner of Herr List, who in the midst of political economy despises the wealth of “righteous men” and knows loftier aims, one is bound to find it “also sad” that the present day is no longer a day for wealth.

Herr List always speaks in Molossus metre . He continually shows off in a clumsy and verbose rhetoric, the troubled waters of which always drive him in the end on to a sandbank, and the essence of which consists of constant repetitions about protective tariffs and true German ["teutsche"] factories. He is continually sensuously super-sensuous.

The German idealising philistine who wants to become wealthy must, of course, first create for himself a new theory of wealth, one which makes wealth worthy of his striving for it. The bourgeois in France and England see the approach of the storm which will destroy in practice the real life of what has hitherto been called wealth, but the German bourgeois, who has not yet arrived at this inferior wealth, tries to give a new, “spiritualistic” interpretation of it. He creates for himself an “idealising” political economy, which has nothing in common with profane French and English political economy, in order to justify to himself and the world that he, too, wants to become wealthy. The German bourgeois begins his creation of wealth with the creation of a highflown hypocritically idealising political economy.

4. How Herr List interprets history and what attitude he adopts towards Smith and his school.

Humble as is Herr List’s attitude to the nobility, the ancient ruling dynasties and the bureaucracy, he is to the same degree ,audacious” in opposing French and English political economy, of which Smith is the protagonist, and which has cynically betrayed the secret of “wealth” and made impossible all illusions about its nature, tendency and movement. Herr List lumps them all together by calling them “the School”. For since the German -bourgeois is concerned with protective tariffs, the whole development of political economy since Smith has, of course, no meaning for him, because all its most outstanding representatives presuppose the present-day bourgeois society of competition and free trade.

The German philistine here reveals his “national” character in many ways.

1) In the whole of political economy, he sees only systems concocted in academic study rooms. That the development of a science such as political economy is connected with the real movement of society, or is only its theoretical [3] expression, Herr List, of course, does not suspect. A German theoretician.

2) Since his own work (theory) conceals a secret aim, he suspects secret aims everywhere.

Being a true German philistine, Herr List, instead of studying real history, looks for the secret, bad aims of individuals, and, owing to his cunning, he is very well able to discover them (puzzle them out). He makes great discoveries, such as that Adam Smit wanted to deceive the world by his theory, and that the whole world let itself be deceived by him until the great Herr List woke it from its dream, rather in the way that a certain Düsseldorf Counsellor of justice made out that Roman history had been invented by medieval monks in order to justify the domination of Rome.

But just as the German bourgeois knows no better way of opposing his enemy than by casting a moral slur on him, casting aspersions on his frame of mind, and seeking bad motives for his actions, in short, by bringing him into bad repute and making him personally an object of suspicion, so Herr List also casts aspersions on the English and French economists, and retails gossip about them. And just as the German philistine does not disdain the pettiest profit-making and swindling in trade, so Herr List does not disdain to juggle with words from the quotations he gives in order to make them profitable. He does not disdain to stick the trade-mark of his rival on to his own bad products, in order to bring his rival’s products into disrepute by falsifying them, or even to invent downright lies about his competitor in order to discredit him.

We shall give a few samples of Herr List’s mode of procedure.

It is well known that the German priests believed they could inflict no more deadly blow on the Enlightenment than by telling us the stupid anecdote and lie that on his death-bed Voltaire had renounced his views. Herr List, too, takes us to Adam Smith’s death-bed and informs us that it turned out that Smith had not been sincere in his teaching. However, listen to Herr List himself and his further verdict on Smith. We put alongside List’s words the source of his wisdom.

List: [National System of Political Economy, Vol. I: International Trade, Trade Policy and the German Customs Union. Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1841]

“I recalled from the biography by Dugald Stewart how this great mind [Adam Smith] could not die in peace before all his manuscripts had been burned, by which I wanted to make it understood how serious is the suspicion that these papers contained proofs against his sincerity” (p. LViii). “I showed that the English Ministers [...] made use of his theory in order to throw dust into the eyes of other nations for the benefit of England” (loc. cit.). “As regards its relation to national and international conditions, Adam Smith’s theory is a mere continuation of the physiocratic system. Like the latter, it ignores the nature of the nations [...] and presupposes eternal peace and universal union as already in existence” (p. 475).

Ferrier, F.L.A., Du gouvernement considéré dans ses rapports avec le commerce, Paris, 1805:

“Is it possible that Smith was sincere in heaping up so many false arguments in favour of free trade?... Smith had as his secret aim to spread in Europe principles the adoption of which he knew very well would give his country the world market” (pp. 385, 386). “One is even justified in assuming that Smith did not always propound one and the same doctrine; and how otherwise is one to explain the torment he suffered on his death-bed because of the fear that the manuscripts of his lectures would survive him” (p. 386). He [Ferrier] loc. cit. (p. 388) reproaches Smith for having been a commissaire des douanes. [Customs officer] “Smith almost always argued like the economists” (physiocrats), “without taking into account the divergence between the interests of the different nations, and on the assumption of a situation where there would be only one society in the world” (p. 381). “Let us set aside all these projects of union” (p. 15).

(Monsieur Ferrier was an inspecteur des douanes [Customs inspector] under Napoleon and loved his profession.)

J.-B. Say’s political economy is interpreted by Herr List as an unsuccessful speculation. We shall give below in full his categorical verdict on the life of Say. But before doing so, one more example of the way in which List copies from other authors and in copying falsifies them in order to hit at his opponents.

List:

Say and McCulloch seem not to have seen or read more than the title of this book” (that of Antonio Serra from Naples); “both loftily throw it aside with the remark: it treats only of money, and the title by itself proves that the author laboured under the delusion that the precious metals were the sole objects of wealth. If they had read on further,” etc. (p. 456).

Count Pecchio, History of Political Economy in Italy, etc. Paris, 1830:

“Foreigners tried to rob Serra of the merit of having been the first founder of the principles of this science” (political economy). “What I have just said cannot be applied at all to Monsieur Say, who while always reproaching Serra for having regarded only the materials of gold and silver as wealth, nevertheless allowed him the glory of having been the first to make known the productive power of industry.... My reproach is addressed to Mr. McCulloch.... If Mr. McCulloch had read a little more than the title (of Serra’s book]”, etc. (pp. 76, 77).

One sees how Herr List deliberately falsifies Pecchio, from whom he copies, in order to discredit Monsieur Say. No less false is the biographical information given about Say.

Herr List says about him:

“First a merchant, then a factory-owner, then an unsuccessful politician, Say took up political economy, as people take up some new enterprise when the old one no longer succeeds.... Hatred of the Continental System, which ruined his factory, and of the originator of this system, who drove him out of the Tribunate, caused him to come out in support of absolute freedom of trade” (pp. 488, 489).

So Say supported the system of free trade because his factory was ruined by the Continental System! But what if he had written his Traité d'économie politique [1803] before he owned a factory? Say became a supporter of the system of free trade because Napoleon drove him out of the Tribunate! But what if he had written his book while he was a tribune? What if Say, who according to Herr List was an unsuccessful businessman who saw in literature only a branch of business, had from his early youth played a part in the French literary world?

Where did Herr List obtain his new information? From the Historical Note on the Life and Works of J.-B. Say by Charles Comte, which was published as an introduction to Say’s Cours complet d'économie politique. What does this note tell us? It contains the opposite of all List’s statements. Listen:

“J.-B. Say was intended by his father, who was a merchant, [4] to engage in trade. However, his inclination drew him to literature. In 1789 he published a pamphlet in behalf of freedom of the press. From the outset of the revolution he contributed to the newspaper Courrier de Provence, published by Mirabeau. He also worked in the office of the Minister Clavière. His penchant ‘for the moral and political sciences’, as also his father’s bankruptcy, caused him to give up trade completely and to make scientific activity his sole occupation. In 1794 he became editor-in-chief of the Décade philosophique, litéraire et politique. In 1799 Napoleon appointed him a member of the Tribunate. The spare time left him from his function as tribune he used to work on his Traité politique, which he published in 1803. He was dismissed from the Tribunate because he belonged to the few who dared to be in opposition. He was offered a lucrative post in the finance department, but he refused although chargé de six enfants et n'ayant presque point de fortune [burdened with six children and having almost no fortune].... since he would not have been able to carry out the duties of the post offered him without taking part in implementing a system which he had condemned as being disastrous for France. He preferred to start up a cotton-spinning mill, etc.”

If the slur which Herr List here casts on J.-B. Say owes its origin to falsification, this is no less the case with the praise List bestows on the brother, Louis Say. To prove that Louis Say shares the crafty [listig — meaning crafty, but could also be an adjective from “List"] view, List falsifies a passage from this author.

Herr List says on p. 484:

“In his” (Louis Say’s) ,opinion, the wealth of nations consists not in material goods and their exchange value, but in the ability continually to produce these goods.”

According to Herr List, the following are Louis Say’s own words:

The Louis Say of Herr List:

“Wealth consists not in the objects which satisfy our requirements or our tastes, but in the possibility of enjoying them annually.” (Researches into the Wealth of Nations, p. 10)

The real Louis Say:

“Although wealth consists not in the objects which satisfy our requirements or our tastes, but in income, or in the possibility of enjoying it annually.”

Thus, Say is not speaking of the ability to produce, but of the ability to enjoy, of the ability which provides the “income” (revenu) of a nation. From the disproportion between the growing productive force and the income of the nation as a whole, and of all its classes in particular, there arose precisely the theories most inimical to Herr List as, for example, those of Sismondi and Cherbuliez.

Let us now give an example of Herr List’s ignorance in his verdict on the “School”. He says about Ricardo (List on productive forces):

“In general, since Adam Smith, the School has been unfortunate in its researches into the nature of rent. Ricardo, and following him Mill. McCulloch and others, hold that rent is paid for the natural productivity inherent in plots of land. Ricardo based a whole system on this view.... Since he considered only English conditions, he was misled into the erroneous view that these English ploughed fields and meadows, for the apparently natural productivity of which such fine rent is paid at the present time, have been the very same ploughed fields and meadows at all times” (p. 360).

Ricardo says:

“If the surplus produce which land affords in the form of rent be an advantage, it is desirable that, every year, the machinery newly constructed should be less efficient than the old, as that would undoubtedly give a greater exchangeable value to the goods manufactured ... in the kingdom; and a rent would be paid to all those who possessed the most productive machinery...... Rent increases most rapidly, as the disposable land decreases in its productive powers. Wealth increases most rapidly in those countries ... where through agricultural improvements, productions can be multiplied without any increase in the proportional quantity of labour, and where consequently the progress of rent is slow.” (Ricardo, Principles of Political Economy, etc. Paris, 1835, Vol. 1, pp. 77 and 80-82.)

According to Ricardo’s theory, rent, far from being the consequence of the natural productivity inherent in the soil, is rather a consequence of the constantly increasing unproductiveness of the soil, a consequence of civilisation and the increasing population. According to Ricardo, as long as the most fertile land is still available in an unlimited amount, there is still no land rent. Hence rent is determined by the ratio of the population to the amount of available land.

Ricardo’s theory, which serves as the theoretical basis for the whole Anti-Corn Law League in England and the anti-rent movement in the free states of North America, had to be falsified by Herr List — assuming he had more than hearsay knowledge of it — if only because it proves how little the “free, mighty and wealthy bourgeois” are inclined to work “diligently” for [the increase of] “land rents” and to bring them [the landowners] honey from the hive. Ricardo’s theory of land rent is nothing but the economic expression of a life-and-death struggle of the industrial bourgeois against the landowners.

Herr List instructs us further about Ricardo as follows:

“At the present time the theory of exchange value has fallen into such impotence ... that Ricardo ... could say: ‘to determine the laws by which the yield from land is distributed between landowners, tenant-farmers and workers is the chief task of political economy"’ (p. 493).

The necessary observations on this are to be made in the appropriate place.

[5] Herr List reaches the height of infamy in his verdict on Sismondi.

List:

“He” (Sismondi) “wants, for example, the spirit of inventiveness to he curbed and bridled” (p. xxix).

Sismondi:

“My objections are not to machines, not to inventions, not to civilisation, but only to the modern organisation of society, which deprives the working man of any property other than his hands, and gives him no guarantee against competition, of which he will inevitably become a victim. Suppose that all people share equally in the product of the labour in which they have participated, then every technical invention will in all possible cases be a blessing for all of them” (Nouveaux principes d'économie politique, Paris, 1827, t. II, p. 433).

Whereas Herr List casts moral aspersions on Smith and Say he can only explain the theory of Monsieur Sismondi from the latter’s bodily defects. He says:

“Monsieur de Sismondi sees with his bodily eyes everything red as black; it seems that his spiritual sight in matters of political economy suffers from the same defect” (p. xxix).

In order to appreciate to the full the vileness of this outburst, one must know the passage from which Herr List derived his remark. Sismondi says in his Études sur 1'économie politique, where he speaks of the devastation of the Roman Campagna:

“The rich tints of the Roman Campagna ... even entirely escape our eyes, for which the red ray is non-existent” (p. 6). Brussels reprint, 1838 [Vol. II].

Sismondi explains this by saying: “the charm which attracts all other travellers to Rome” is destroyed for him and he “therefore has eyes that are all the more open to see the real, miserable condition of the inhabitants of the Campagna.”

If de Sismondi did not see the rosy tints of the sky which magically illumine the whole (factory) industry for Herr List, he did see the red cock on the gables (roofs) of these factories. We shall have an opportunity later” [to examine] List’s verdict that

“Monsieur de Sismondi’s writings on international trade and trade policy are without any value” [p. xxix].

Whereas Herr List explains Smith’s system from the latter’s personal vanity (p. 476) and the hidden English shopkeeper’s mentality, and Say’s system from a desire for revenge and as a business enterprise, in regard to Sismondi he descends so low as to explain Sismondi’s system from the defects of his bodily constitution.

[5] 4. Herr List’s Originality[edit source]

It is highly characteristic of Herr List that, despite all his boasting, he has put forward not a single proposition that had not been advanced long before him not only by the defenders’ of the prohibitive system, but even by writers of the “School” invented by Herr List — if Adam Smith is the theoretical starting-point of political economy, then its real point of departure, its real school, is “civil society” [die bürgerliche Gesellschaft], of which the different phases of development can be accurately traced in political economy. Only the illusions and idealising language (phrases) belong to Herr List. We consider it important to give detailed proof of this to the reader and must claim his attention for this tedious labour. He will derive from it the conviction that the German bourgeois comes on the scene post festum, that it is just as impossible for him to advance further the political economy exhaustively developed by the English and French as it would probably be for them to contribute anything new to the development of philosophy in Germany. The German bourgeois can only add his illusions and phrases to the French and English reality. But little possible as it is for him to give a new development to political economy, it is still more impossible for him to achieve in practice a further advance of industry, of the by now almost exhausted development on the present foundations of society.

5. We therefore restrict our criticism to the theoretical part of List’s book, and in fact only to his main discoveries.

What are the main propositions which Herr List has to prove?

Let us inquire into the aim he wants to achieve.

1) The bourgeois wants protective tariffs from the state in order to lay his hands on state power and wealth. But since [in Germany], unlike in England and France, he does not have state power at his disposal and therefore cannot arbitrarily guide it as he likes, but has to resort to requests, it is necessary for him in relation to the state, the activity (mode of action) of which he wants to control for his own benefit, to depict his demand fro m it ‘ as a concession that he makes to the state, whereas [in reality] he demands concessions from the state. Therefore, through the medium of Herr List, he [the German bourgeois] proves to the state that his theory differs from all others in that he allows the state to interfere in and control industry, in that he has the highest opinion of the economic wisdom of the state, and only asks it to give full scope for its wisdom, on condition, of course, that this wisdom is limited to providing “strong” protective tariffs. His demand that the state should act in accordance with his interests is depicted by him as recognition of the state, recognition that the state has the right to interfere in the sphere of civil society.

2) The bourgeois [Bürger] wants to become rich, to make money; but at the same time he must come to terms with the present idealism of the German public and with his own conscience. Therefore he tries to prove that he does not strive for unrighteous material goods, but for a spiritual essence, for an infinite productive force, instead of bad, finite exchange values. Of course, this spiritual essence involves the circumstance that the “citizen” ["Bürger"] takes this opportunity to fill his own pockets with worldly exchange values.

[6] Since the bourgeois now hopes to become rich mainly through “protective tariffs”, and since protective tariffs can enrich him only insofar as no longer Englishmen, but the German bourgeois himself, will exploit his fellow-countrymen, indeed exploit them even more than they were exploited from abroad, and since protective tariffs demand a sacrifice of exchange values from the consumers (chiefly from the workers who are to be superseded by machines, from. all those who draw a fixed income, such as officials, recipients of land rent, etc.), the industrial bourgeois has therefore to prove that, far from hankering after material goods, he wants nothing else but the sacrifice of exchange values, material goods, for a spiritual essence. Fundamentally, therefore, it is solely a matter of self-sacrifice, of asceticism, of Christian grandeur of the soul. It is pure accident that A makes the sacrifice, but B puts the sacrifice in his pocket. The German bourgeois is much too unselfish to think in this connection of his private gain, which accidentally proves to be linked with this sacrifice. But if it should turn out that a class whose permission the German bourgeois thinks he requires for his emancipation, cannot go along with this spiritual theory, then this theory must be abandoned and, in opposition to the School [which advocates freedom of trade], precisely the theory of exchange values be brought into play.

3) Since the whole desire of the bourgeoisie amounts, in essence, to bringing the factory system to the level of “English” prosperity and making industrialism the regulator of society, i.e., to bringing about the disorganisation of society, the bourgeois has to prove that he is only concerned for the harmonisation of all social production, and for the organisation of society. He restricts foreign trade by means of protective tariffs, while agriculture, he maintains, will rapidly attain its highest prosperity owing to manufacturing industry. The organisation of society, therefore, is summed up in the factories. They are the organisers of society, and the system of competition which they bring into being is the finest confederation of society. The organisation of society which the factory system creates is the true organisation of society.

The bourgeoisie is certainly right in conceiving in general its interests as identical interests, just as the wolf as a wolf has an identical interest with his fellow wolves, however much it is to the interest of each individual wolf that he and not another should pounce on the prey.

6. Finally, it is characteristic of Herr List’s theory, as also of the entire German bourgeoisie, that in order to defend their desires to exploit they are compelled everywhere to resort to “socialist” phrases and thus forcibly to maintain a deception that has long been refuted. We shall show in various passages that Herr List’s phrases, if the consequences are drawn from them, are communistic. We, of course, are far from accusing someone like Herr List and his German bourgeoisie of communism, but this affords us fresh proof of the internal weakness, falsity and infamous hypocrisy of the “good-natured”, “idealistic” bourgeois. It proves to us that his idealism in practice is nothing but the unscrupulous, unthinking disguise of a repulsive materialism.

Finally, it is characteristic that the German bourgeoisie begins with the lie with which the French and English bourgeoisie ends, — after reaching a position where it is compelled to apologise for itself, to offer excuses for its existence.

7. Since Herr List distinguishes the present, ostensibly cosmopolitan, political economy from his own (national-political) economy by the former being based on exchange values and the latter on productive forces, we have to start with this theory. Furthermore, since the confederation of productive forces is supposed to represent the nation in its unity, we have also to examine this theory prior to the above-mentioned distinction. These two theories form the real basis of [List’s] national economy as distinct from political economy.

It can never occur to Herr List that the real organisation of society is a soulless materialism, an individual spiritualism, individualism. It can never occur to him that the political economists have only given this social state of affairs a corresponding theoretical expression. Otherwise, he would have to direct his criticism against the present organisation of society instead of against the political economists. He accuses them of not having found any embellishing expression for a cheerless reality. Hence he wants to leave this reality everywhere just as it is and only change the expression of it. Nowhere does he criticise real society, but like a true German, he criticises the theoretical expression of this society and reproaches it for expressing the real thing and not an imaginary notion of the real thing.

The factory is transformed into a goddess, the goddess of manufacturing ‘power.

The factory-owner is the priest of this power.

[7] II. The Theory of Productive Forces and the Theory of Exchange Values[edit source]

1) (Herr List’s theory of “productive forces” is limited to the following main propositions:

a) The causes of wealth are something quite different from wealth itself; the force capable of creating wealth is infinitely more important than wealth itself [p. 201];)

(b) List is far from rejecting the theory of cosmopolitan economy; he is merely of the opinion that political economy also should be scientifically developed [p. 187];

c) What then is the cause of labour?.... what impels these minds and these arms and hands to undertake production and what gives efficacy to these efforts? What else can it be but the spirit which animates the individuals, the social system which makes their activity fruitful, the natural forces the use of which is at their disposal? [p. 205].)

(6) Smith “went astray by explaining spiritual forces from material conditions” [p. 207].)

(7) “That science which teaches how productive forces are aroused and cultivated and how they are suppressed or destroyed” (ibid.).)

8) An example [of the distinction] between two fathers of families, Christian religion, monogamy [1], etc. [pp. 208-209].

(9) “One can establish the concepts of value and capital, profit, wages, land rent, resolve them into their component parts, and speculate about what could influence their rise and fall, etc., without in so doing taking into account the political conditions of the nations” [p. 211].)

Transition.

10) Workshops and factories are the mothers and children of scientific (civic) freedom [p. 212]. [2]

11) The theory of productive and non-productive classes. The former produce exchange values, the latter produce productive forces [p. 215].

12) Foreign trade must not be judged solely from the standpoint of the theory of values [p. 216].

13) The nation must sacrifice material forces in order to acquire spiritual or social forces. Protective tariffs for raising manufacturing p er [pp. 216-217].

14) “If therefore a sacrifice of values is made owing to protective tariffs, that sacrifice is compensated by the acquisition of productive forces, and this not only ensures the nation an infinitely greater sum of material goods for the future, but also industrial independence in the event of war” [p. 217].

15) “In all these respects, however, the chief thing depends on the state of the society in which the individual takes shape, on whether crafts and sciences flourish” (p. 206).

2) Herr List is so much a prey to the economic prejudices of the old political economy — more so, as we shall see, than other economists of the “School” — that for him “material goods” and “exchange values” completely coincide. But exchange value is entirely independent of the specific nature of the “material goods”. It is independent of both the quality and the quantity of material goods. Exchange value falls when the quantity of material goods rises, although both before and afterwards these bear the same relation to human needs. Exchange value is not connected with quality. The most useful things, such as knowledge, have no exchange value. Herr List therefore ought to have understood that the conversion of material goods into exchange values is a result of the existing social system, of the society of developed private property. The abolition of exchange value is the abolition of private property and of private acquisition. Herr List, on the other hand, is so naive as to admit that by means of the theory of exchange values

“one can establish the concepts of value and capital, profit, wages, land rent, resolve them into their component parts, and speculate about what could influence their rise and fall, etc., without in so doing taking into account the political conditions of the nations” (p. 211).

Hence, without taking into account the “theory of productive forces” and the “political conditions of the nations”, all this can be “established”. What is established thereby? Reality. What is established, for example, by wages? The life of the worker. Furthermore, it is established thereby that the worker is the slave of capital, that he is a “commodity”, an exchange value, the higher or lower level of which, the rise or fall of which, depends on competition, on supply and demand; it is established thereby that his activity is not a free manifestation of his human life, that it is, rather, a huckstering sale of his forces, an alienation (sale) to capital of his one-sidedly developed abilities, in a word, that it is “labour”. One is supposed to forget this. “Labour” is the living basis of private property, it is private property as the creative source of itself. Private property is nothing but objectified labour. If it is desired to strike a mortal blow at private property, one must attack it not only as a material state of affairs, but also as activity, as labour. It is one of the greatest misapprehensions to speak of free, human, social labour, of labour without private property. “Labour” by its very nature is unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property. Hence the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of “labour” (an abolition which, of course, has become possible only as a result of labour itself, that is to say, has become possible as a result of the material activity of society and which should on no account be conceived as the replacement of one category by another).[3] An “organisation of labour”, therefore, is a contradiction. The best organisation that labour can be given is the present organisation, free competition, the dissolution of all its previous apparently “social” organisation.

Thus, if wages can be “established” according to the theory of values, if it is thereby “established” that man himself is an exchange value, that the overwhelming majority of people in the nations constitutes a commodity, which can be determined without taking “the political conditions of the nations” into account, what does all this prove but that this overwhelming majority of people in the nations does not have to take “political conditions” into account, that these are for it a sheer illusion, that a theory which in reality sinks to this sordid materialism of making the majority of people in the nations into a “commodity”, into an “exchange value”, and of subjecting this majority to the wholly material conditions of exchange value, is an infamous hypocrisy and idealistic eye-wash (embellishment), when in relation to other nations it looks down contemptuously on the bad “materialism” of .,exchange values”, and is itself ostensibly only concerned with 1. productive forces"? Furthermore, if the conditions of capital, land rent, etc., can be “established” without taking the “political conditions” of the nations into account, what does this prove but that the industrial capitalist and the recipient of land rent are guided in their actions in real life by profit, exchange values, and not by considerations about “political conditions” and “productive forces”, and that their talk about civilisation and productive forces is only an embellishment of narrow-minded egoistic tendencies?

The bourgeois says: Of course, the theory of exchange values should not be undermined within the country, the majority of the nation should remain a mere “exchange value”, a “commodity”, one which must find its own buyer, one which is not sold, but which sells itself. In relation to you proletarians, and even in our mutual relations, we regard ourselves as exchange values, here the law of universal huckstering holds good. But in relation to other nations we must interrupt the operation of this law. As a nation we cannot huckster ourselves to other nations. Since the majority of people in the nations has become subject to the laws of huckstering “without taking into account” the “political conditions of the nations”, that proposition has no other meaning than the following: We German bourgeois do not want to be exploited by the English bourgeois in the way that you German proletarians are exploited by us and that we exploit one another. We do not want to subject ourselves to the same laws of exchange value as those to which we subject you. We do not want any longer to recognise outside the country the economic laws which we recognise inside the country.

[8] What then does the German philistine want? He wants to be a bourgeois, an exploiter, inside the country, but he wants also not to be exploited outside the country. He puffs himself up into being the “nation” in relation to foreign countries and says: I do not submit to the laws of competition; that is contrary to my national dignity; as the nation I am a being superior to huckstering.

The nationality of the worker is neither French, nor English, nor German, it is labour, free slavery, self-huckstering. His government is neither French, nor English, nor German, it is capital. His native air is neither French, nor German, nor English, it is factory air. The land belonging to him is neither French, nor English, nor German, it lies a few feet below the ground. Within the country, money is the fatherland of the industrialist. Thus, the German philistine wants the laws of competition, of exchange value, of huckstering, to lose their power. at the frontier barriers of his country! He is willing to recognise the power of bourgeois society only in so far as it is in accord with his interests, the interests of his class! He does not want to fall victim to a power to which he wants to sacrifice others, and to which he sacrifices himself inside his own country! Outside the country he wants to show himself and be treated as a different being from what he is within the country and how he himself behaves within the country! He wants to leave the cause in existence and to abolish one of its effects! We shall prove to him that selling oneself out inside the country has as its necessary consequence selling out outside, that competition, which gives him his power inside the country, cannot prevent him from becoming powerless outside the country; that the state, which he subordinates to bourgeois society inside the country, cannot protect him from the action of bourgeois society outside the country.

However much the individual bourgeois fights against the others, as a class the bourgeois have a common interest, and this community of interest, which is directed against the proletariat inside the country, is directed against the bourgeois of other nations outside the country. This the bourgeois calls his nationality.

2) It is possible, of course, to regard industry from a completely different point of view than that of sordid huckstering interest, from which it is nowadays regarded not only by the individual merchant and the individual manufacturer, but also by the manufacturing nations and the trading nations. Industry can be regarded as a great workshop in which man first takes possession of his own forces and the forces of nature, objectifies himself and creates for himself the conditions for a human existence. When industry is regarded in this way, one abstracts from the circumstances in which it operates today, and in which it exists as industry; one’s standpoint is not from within the industrial epoch, but above it; industry is regarded not by what it is for man today, but by what present-day man is for human history, what he is historically; it is not its present-day existence (not industry as such) that is recognised, but rather the power which industry has without knowing or willing it and which destroys it and creates the basis for a human existence. (To hold that every nation goes through this development internally would be as absurd as the idea that every nation is bound to go through the political development of France or the philosophical development of Germany. What the nations have done as nations, they have done for human society; their whole value consists only in the fact that each single nation has accomplished for the benefit of other nations one of the main historical aspects (one of the main determinations) in the framework of which mankind has accomplished its development, and therefore after industry in England, politics in France and philosophy in Germany have been developed, they have been developed for the world, and their world-historic significance, as also that of these nations, has thereby come to an end.)

This assessment of industry is then at the same time the recognition that the hour has come for it to be done away with, or for the abolition of the material and social conditions in which mankind has had to develop its abilities as a slave. For as soon as industry is no longer regarded as a huckstering interest, but as the development of man, man, instead of huckstering interest, is made the principle and’ what in industry could develop only in contradiction with industry itself is given the basis which is in harmony with that which is to be developed.

But the wretched individual who [in his ideas] remains within the present system, who desires only to raise it to a level which it has not yet reached in his own country, and who looks with greedy envy on another nation that has reached this level — has this wretched individual the right to see in industry anything else but huckstering interest? Has he the right to say that he is concerned only for the development of man’s abilities and man’s mastery of the forces of nature? For this is just as vile as if a slave-driver were to boast that he flourished his whip over his slaves in order that the slaves should have the pleasure of exercising their muscular power. The German philistine is the slave-driver who flourishes the whip of protective tariffs in order to instil in his nation the spirit of “industrial education” [4] and teach it to exercise its muscular powers.

The Saint-Simon school has given us an instructive example of what it leads to if the productive force that industry creates unconsciously and against its will is put to the credit of present-day industry and the two are confused: industry and the forces which industry brings into being unconsciously and without its will, but which will only become human forces, man’s power, when industry is abolished. This is as much an absurdity as if the bourgeois wanted to take the credit for his industry creating the proletariat, and in the shape of the proletariat the power of a new world order. The forces of nature and the social forces which industry brings into being (conjures up), stand in the same relation to it as the proletariat. Today they are still the slaves of the bourgeois, and in them he sees nothing but the instruments (the bearers) of his dirty (selfish) lust for profit; tomorrow they will break their chains and reveal themselves as the bearers of human development which will blow him sky-high together with his industry, which assumes the dirty outer shell — which he regards as its essence — only until the human kernel has gained sufficient strength to burst this shell and appear in its own shape. Tomorrow they will burst the chains by which the bourgeois separates them from man and so distorts (transforms) them from a real social bond into fetters of society.

The Saint-Simon school glorified in dithyrambs the productive power of industry. The forces which industry calls into being it lumped together with industry itself, that is to say, with the present-day conditions of existence that industry gives to these forces. We are of course far from putting the Saint-Simonists on the same level as someone like List or the German philistine. The first step towards breaking the spell cast on industry was to abstract from the conditions, the money fetters, in which the forces of industry operate today and to examine these forces in themselves. This was the first call to the people to emancipate their industry from huckstering and to understand present-day industry as a transitional epoch. The Saint-Simonists, moreover, did not stop at this interpretation. They went further — to attack exchange value, private property, the organisation of present-day society. They put forward association in place of competition. But they were punished for their original error. Not only did the above-mentioned confusion lead them further into the illusion of seeing the dirty bourgeois as a priest, but it also caused them [9], after the first external struggles, to fall back into the old illusion (confusion) — but now hypocritically, because precisely in the course of the struggle the contradiction of the two forces which they had confused became manifest. Their glorification of industry (of the productive forces of industry) became a glorification of the bourgeoisie, and Monsieur Michel Chevalier, Monsieur Duveyrier, Monsieur Dunoyer have pilloried themselves and the bourgeoisie in the eyes of the whole of Europe — after which the rotten eggs that history throws in their faces became transformed by the magic of the bourgeoisie into golden eggs — since the first of those named above has retained the old phrases but has endowed them with the content of the present-day bourgeois regime, the second is himself engaged in huckstering on a wholesale scale and presides over the selling-out of French newspapers, while the third has become the most rabid apologist for the present state of affairs and surpasses in inhumanity (in shamelessness) all previous English and French economists. — The German bourgeois and Herr List begin where the Saint-Simon school left off — with hypocrisy, deception and phrase-mongering.

England’s industrial tyranny over the world is the domination of industry over the world. England dominates us because industry dominates us. We can free ourselves from England abroad only if we free ourselves from industry at home. We shall be able to put an end to England’s domination in the sphere of competition only if we overcome competition within our borders. England has power over us because we have made industry into a power over us.

3) That the industrial social order i’s the best world for the bourgeois, the order most suitable for developing his “abilities” as a bourgeois and the ability to exploit both people and nature — who will dispute this tautology? Who will dispute that all that is nowadays called “virtue”, individual or social virtue, is a source of profit for the bourgeois? Who will dispute that political power is a means for his enrichment, that even science and intellectual pleasures are his slaves? Who will dispute it? That for him everything is excellently [adapted ...]? That for him everything has become a means of wealth, a “productive force of wealth"?

4) Modern political economy starts out from the social system of competition. Free labour, that is to say, indirect slavery which offers itself for sale, is its principle. Its primary propositions are division of labour and the machine. And this can be given its highest development only in the factories, as modern political economy itself admits. Thus political economy today starts out from the factories as its creative principle. It presupposes presentday social conditions. Hence it does not need to expatiate on “manufacturing force”.[5]

If the “School” made no “scientific elaboration"[6] of the theory of productive forces alongside and separately from the theory of exchange values, it acted in this way because such a separation is an arbitrary abstraction, because it is impossible and cannot go beyond general phrases.

5) “The causes of wealth are something quite different from wealth itself. The force capable of creating wealth is infinitely more important than wealth itself” [List, op. cit., p. 201].

Productive force appears as an entity infinitely superior to exchange value. This force claims the position of inner essence, whereas exchange value claims that of a transient phenomenon. The force appears as infinite, exchange value as finite, the former as non-material, the latter as material — and we find all these antitheses in Herr List. Hence the supernatural world of forces takes the place of the material world of exchange values. Whereas the baseness of a nation sacrificing itself for exchange values, of people being sacrificed for things, is quite obvious, forces, on the other hand, appear to be independent spiritual essences — phantoms — and pure personifications, deities, and after all one may very well demand of the German people that it should sacrifice the bad exchange values for phantoms! An exchange value, money, always seems to be an external aim, but productive force seems to be an aim which arises from my very nature, a self-aim. Thus, what I sacrifice in the form of exchange values is something external to me; what I gain in the form of productive forces is my self-acquisition. — That is how it seems if one is satisfied with a word or, like an idealising German, does not worry about the dirty reality which lies behind this grandiloquent word.

In order to destroy the mystical radiance which transfigures .'productive force”, one has only to consult any book of statistics. There one reads about water-power, steam-power, manpower, horse-power. All these are “productive forces”. Is it a high appreciation of man for him to figure as a “force” alongside horses, steam and water?

Under the present system, if a crooked spine, twisted limbs, a one-sided development and strengthening of certain muscles, etc., make you more capable of working (more productive), then your crooked spine, your twisted limbs, your one-sided muscular movement are a productive force. If your intellectual vacuity is more productive than your abundant intellectual activity, then your intellectual vacuity is a productive force, etc., etc. If the monotony of an occupation makes you better suited for that occupation, then monotony is a productive force.

Is the bourgeois, the factory-owner, at all concerned for the worker developing all his abilities, exercising his productive capacities, fulfilling himself as a human being, and thereby at the same time fulfilling his human nature?

We will leave it to the English Pindar of the factory system, Mr. Ure, to reply to this question:

“It is, in fact, the constant aim and tendency of every improvement in machinery to supersede human labour altogether, or to diminish its cost, by substituting the industry of women and children for that of men; or that of ordinary labourers, for trained artisans” (Philosophie des manufactures, etc., Paris, 1836, t. I, p. 34). “By the infirmity of human nature it happens, that the more skilful the workman, the more self-willed and intractable he is apt to become, and, of course, the less fit a component of a mechanical system ... therefore [the main point] of the modern manufacturer is, through the union of capital and science, to reduce the task of his work-people to the exercise of vigilance and dexterity, etc.” (loc. cit., t. 1, p. 30).

Force, Productive Force, Causes[edit source]

“The causes of wealth are something quite different from wealth itself.”

But if the effect is different from the cause, must not the nature of the effect be contained already in the cause? The cause must already carry with it the determining feature that is manifested later in the effect. Herr List’s philosophy goes as far as knowing that cause and effect are “something quite different”.

["The force capable of creating wealth is infinitely more important than wealth itself."]

It is a fine recognition of man that degrades him to a “force” capable of creating wealth! The bourgeois sees in the proletarian not a human being, but a force capable of creating wealth, a force which moreover he can then compare with other productive forces — an animal, a machine — and if the comparison proves unfavourable to man, the force of which man is the bearer must give place to the force of which the bearer is an animal or a machine, although in that case man still has (enjoys) the honour of figuring as a “productive force”.

If I characterise man as an “exchange value”, this expression already implies that social conditions have transformed him into a “thing”. If I treat him as a “productive force”, I am putting in the place of the real subject a different subject, I am substituting another person for him, and he now exists only as a cause of wealth.

The whole of human society becomes merely a machine for the creation of wealth.

The cause is in no way superior to the effect. The effect is merely the openly manifested cause.

List pretends that he is everywhere interested in productive forces for their own sake, quite apart from bad exchange values.

Some light is already thrown for us on the essence of the present'-day “productive forces” by the fact that in the present state of affairs productive force consists not only in, for instance, making man’s labour more efficient or natural and social forces more effective, but just as much in making labour cheaper or more unproductive for the worker. Hence productive force is from the outset determined by exchange value. It is just as much an increase of....

[III. From Chapter Three The Problem of Land Rent][edit source]

...[22] land rent disappears. These higher grain prices — since the worker always consumes a certain amount of grain, however dear it may be, and therefore his nominal wage increases even when in reality it decreases — must be deducted from the profits of Messrs. the industrialists; Ricardo is wise enough to assume that wages cannot be depressed further. Hence, when there is a rise in the price of grain, there follows a reduction in profits and an increase in wages, without the latter increasing in reality. However, the increase in the price of grain raises the production costs of the industrialists, thereby making accumulation and competition more difficult for them, in a word, cripples the productive force of the country. Therefore the bad “exchange value”, which falls in the form of land rent into the pockets of the landowners without any advantage (to the greatest detriment) to the country’s productive force, must in one way or another be sacrificed to the general good — by free trade in grain, by shifting all taxes on to land rent, or by outright appropriation of land rent, i.e. of landed property, by the state (this conclusion has been drawn by, among others, [James] Mill, Hilditch and Cherbuliez).

Herr List, of course, did not dare to tell the German landed aristocracy of this frightening consequence of industrial productive force for landed property. Hence he berates Ricardo, who disclosed such unpleasant truths, and ascribes to him the opposite view, that of the physiocrats, according to which land rent is nothing but a proof of the natural productive force of land, and falsifies him.

List:

“In general, since Adam Smith, the School has been unfortunate in its researches into the nature of rent. Ricardo, and following him Mill, McCulloch and others, hold that rent is paid for the natural productivity inherent in plots of land. Ricardo based a whole system on this view.... Since he considered only English conditions, he was misled into the erroneous view that these English ploughed fields and meadows, for the apparently natural productivity of which such fine rent is paid at the present time, have been the very same ploughed fields and meadows at all times” (p. 360).

Ricardo:

“If the surplus produce which land affords in the form of rent he an advantage, it is desirable that, every year, the machinery newly constructed should be less efficient than the old, as that would undoubtedly give a greater exchangeable value to the goods manufactured ... in the kingdom; and a rent would be paid to all those who possessed the most productive machinery” (Des principes de l'économie politique, etc., Paris, 1835, t. I, p. 77).

“Wealth increases most rapidly in those countries ... where through agricultural improvements, productions can be multiplied without any increase in the proportional quantity of labour, and where consequently the progress of rent is only gradual” (p. 81 et seq.).

Hence, in relation to the higher nobility, Herr List does not dare to keep up his shadow play with “productive forces” . He wants to lure this nobility with. “exchange values” and therefore slanders the School of Ricardo, who neither judges land rent from the standpoint of productive force, nor judges the latter from the standpoint of the modern large-scale factory system.

Thus Herr List is doubly a liar. Nevertheless we must not do Herr List an injustice in this matter. In one large Württemberg factory (Köchlin, if we are not mistaken) the King [Wilhelm I] of Württemberg himself participates, having invested a large sum in it. In the Württemberg factories, and to a greater or lesser extent in those of Baden as well, the landed nobility plays an important role by holding shares. Here, therefore, the nobility participates monetarily in the “manufacturing force”, not as landowners but as bourgeois and manufacturers themselves, and ...

... [24] “productive forces” and the “continuity and permanence of production” of a whole generation arises — the disguised Communist List teaches this as well — and is therefore also a hereditary feature of the generation and not of Messrs. the industrialists (see, for example, Bray [7]).

In England, high land rents were ensured for the landlords only through ruining the tenant-farmers and reducing the farm labourers to the level (of real beggars) of an Irish poverty. All this in spite of the various Corn Laws, and apart from the fact that the landlords in receipt of rent were often compelled to allow the tenant-farmers a remission of one-third to one-half of the rent. Since 1815, three various Corn Laws have been passed to improve the position of the tenant-farmers and encourage them. During this period, five parliamentary, committees were appointed LU establish the existence of the distressed state of agriculture and to investigate its causes. The continual ruin of the tenant-farmers, on the one hand, in spite of the total (full) exploitation of the farm labourers and the utmost possible reduction of their wages, and, on the other hand, the frequent necessity for the landowners to forego part of the rent, are themselves proof that not even in England — in spite of all its manufacturing industry — have high land rents been produced. For, from the economic point of view, it cannot be regarded as land rent when part of the costs of production, [8] by means of agreements and other circumstances lying outside the sphere of economics, is drawn into the pocket of the landlord instead of that of the tenant-farmer. If the landowner himself cultivated his land, he would certainly take care not to enter part of the ordinary profit of working capital under the heading “land rent”.

Writers of the 16th, 17th and even the first two-thirds of the 18th century, still regarded the export of grain by England as the main source of its wealth. The old English industry-the main branch of which was the woollen industry, and the less important branches of which processed mostly materials supplied by the main branch itself — was wholly subordinated to agriculture. Its chief raw material was the product of English agriculture. As a matter of course, therefore, this industry promoted agriculture. Later, when the factory system proper developed, already in a short space of time the necessity for customs duties on corn began to be felt. But they remained nominal. The rapid growth of the population, the abundance of fertile land which had yet to be made cultivable, the inventions, at first, of course, raised also the level of agriculture. it especially profited from the war against Napoleon, which established a regular system of prohibition for it. But 1815 revealed how little the “productive force” of agriculture had really increased. A general outcry arose among landowners and tenant-farmers, and the present Corn Laws were enacted.[9] It is in the nature of modern factory industry, firstly, to estrange industry from the native soil since it processes mainly raw materials from abroad and bases itself on foreign trade. It is in the nature of this industry [secondly] to cause the population to grow in a ratio which, under the system of private property, does not correspond to the exploitation of the soil. it is furthermore in its nature, if it gives rise to Corn Laws, as it has always done in Europe up to now, to convert the peasants into the very poorest proletarians through high rents and factory methods of exploiting landed property. if, on the other hand, it succeeds in preventing the passing of Corn Laws, it puts a mass of land out of cultivation, subjects the price of grain to external contingencies, and completely alienates the country [entäussert das Land völlig] by making its most essential means of subsistence dependent on trade, which undermines landed property as an independent source of property. This last feature is the aim of the Anti-Corn-Law League in England and the anti-rent movement in North America, for land rent is the economic expression of landed property. Therefore the Tories continually draw attention to the danger of England being made dependent for its means of subsistence on, for example, Russia.

Large-scale factory industry — of course, countries like North America which have a huge amount of land still to be brought under cultivation (and protective duties by no means increase the amount of land) do not count here — certainly has a tendency to paralyse the productive force of the soil, as soon as its exploitation has reached a certain level, just as, on the other hand, the conduct of agriculture on factory lines has a tendency to oust people and to convert all the land — of course, within certain limits — into pasture, so that cattle take the place of people.

Ricardo’s theory of land rent, in a few words, amounts to the following:

Land rent adds nothing to the productivity of land. On the contrary, rising land rent is proof that the productive force of land is falling. It is in fact determined by the relation of the area of land suitable for cultivation to the number of the population and to the level of civilisation in general. The price of grain is determined by the cost of production on the least fertile land that has to be cultivated because of the needs of the population. If land of a poorer quality has to be resorted to, or if amounts of capital have to be applied with a lesser yield to the same piece of land, then the owner of the most fertile land sells his product as dearly as the peasant who has the worst. He pockets the difference between the cost of production on the best land and that on the most infertile. Thus, the less productive the land that is put into cultivation, or the less the yield from second and third amounts of capital applied to the same piece of land, in short, the more the relative productive force of the land decreases, the higher the land rent rises. The land made fruitful everywhere ....

IV. Herr List and Ferrier[edit source]

The book by Ferrier, sous-inspecteur des douanes under Napoleon, Du gouvernement considéré dans ses rapports avec le commerce, Paris, 1805, is the work from which Herr List copied. In List’s book there is not a single basic idea that has not been stated, and better stated, in Ferrier’s book.

Ferrier was one of Napoleon’s officials. He defended the Continental System. He does not speak about the system of protection but about the prohibitive system. He is far from making phrases about a union of all nations or eternal peace within the country. Nor, of course, has he any socialist phrases yet. We shall give a short extract from his book in order to throw light on this secret source of List’s wisdom. Whereas Herr List falsifies Louis Say so as to be able to present him as his ally, nowhere, on the other hand, does he quote Ferrier, whom he has copied out everywhere. He wanted to lead the reader on a false trail.

We have already quoted Ferrier’s judgment on Smith. Ferrier still adheres to the old prohibitive system, but more honestly.

State intervention. The Thrift of Nations[edit source]

“There is a thrift and an extravagance (prodigalité) of nations, but a nation is extravagant or thrifty only in its relations with other peoples” (p. 143).

“It is untrue that the most profitable use of capital for the person who owns it is necessarily also the most profitable for industry.... The interest of the capitalists, far from coinciding with the general interest, is almost always in opposition to it” (pp. 168, 169).

“There is a thrift of nations, but it is very different from Smith’s.... It consists in buying foreign products only in so far as they can be paid for by one’s own products. Sometimes it consists in completely foregoing them” (pp. [1741, 175).

Productive Forces and Exchange Value[edit source]

“The principles of the thrift of nations which Smith laid down (set) are all based on the distinction between productive and unproductive labour.... This distinction is essentially incorrect. There is no unproductive labour” (p. 141).

“He” (Garnier) “saw in silver only the value of the silver, without thinking about its property, as silver, to make circulation more active and, consequently, to multiply the products of labour” (p. 18). “Therefore, when governments seek to prevent the outflow of money ... this is not on account of its value .... but because the value that is received in exchange for it cannot have the same effect in circulation .... because it cannot cause a new creation at each transition” (pp. 22, 23). “The word ‘wealth’, as applied to money that circulates as money, must be understood from the acts of reproduction that it facilitates .... and in this sense a country enriches itself when it increases the quantity of its money, because with this increase of money all the productive forces of labour increase” (p. 71). “When it is said that a country can lay out (expend) an income of two milliards, ... what is meant is that the country has the means, with the aid of these two milliards, to support a circulation 10, 20, 30 times greater in values or, what is the same thing, that it can produce these values. It is these means of production, which the country owes to money, that are called wealth” (p. 22).

You see: Ferrier distinguishes the exchange value possessed by money from the productive force of money. Apart from the fact that in general he calls the means of production wealth, there was in any case nothing easier than to apply to all capital the distinction which he drew between the value and the productive force of money. But Ferrier goes still farther, he defends the prohibitive system, in general on the grounds that it safeguards for the nations their means of production:

“Thus prohibitions are useful whenever they make it easier for nations to acquire the means to satisfy their needs.... I compare a nation which with its money buys abroad commodities it can make itself, although of poorer quality, with a gardener who, dissatisfied with the fruit he gathers, would buy juicier fruits from his neighbours, giving them his gardening tools in exchange” (p. 288). “Foreign trade is always profitable when it endeavours to enlarge productive capital. It is unprofitable when instead of multiplying capital it demands its alienation” (pp. 395-96).

Agriculture, Manufacture, Trade[edit source]

“Should a government promote trade and factories in preference to agriculture? This question is still one of those on which governments and writers cannot agree” (p. 73).

“The progress of industry and trade is bound up with that of civilisation, the arts, the sciences, and shipping. A government, which can do almost nothing for agriculture, can do almost everything for industry. If a nation has habits or tastes capable of holding back its development, the government must use all its means to combat them” (p. 84).

“The true means of encouraging agriculture is the encouragement of manufactures” (p. 225). “Its domain” (that of industry, by which M. Ferrier means manufacturing industry) “is not limited, whether in its successes or in its means of improvement.... Far-reaching like imagination, and like imagination mobile and fruitful, its creative power has no limits other than those of the human mind itself, from which it daily receives fresh éclat” (p. 85).

“The true source of wealth for an agricultural-manufacturing nation is reproduction and labour. It must apply its capital to this end and be concerned to transport and sell its own commodities before it can engage in transporting and selling those of other nations” (p. 186). “This growth of man’s wealth is to be ascribed primarily to internal trade, which long preceded the exchange of nation with nation” (p. 145). “According to Smith himself, of two capitals, one of which is invested in home trade and the other in foreign trade, the first gives the country’s industry 24 times greater support and encouragement” (p. [1451-146).

But M. Ferrier at least understands that home trade cannot exist without foreign trade (loc. cit.).

“If some private persons import from England 50,000 pieces of velvet, they will make a great deal of money by this transaction and will be very well able to market their wares. But they reduce the home industry and put 10,000 workers out of work” (p. 170; cf. pp. 155, 156).

Like List, M. Ferrier draws attention to the difference between towns engaged in manufacture and trade and towns which only consume (p. 91), but in so doing he is at least honest enough to refer to Smith himself. He refers to the Methuen Treaty, [10] so dear to Herr List, and the subtlety of Smith’s judgment of that treaty (p. 159). We have already seen how in general his judgment of Smith coincides almost word for word with List’s. See also on carrying trade (p. 186 et passim).

The difference between Ferrier and List is that the former writes in support of an undertaking of world-historic importance — the Continental System, whereas the latter writes in support of a petty, weak-minded bourgeoisie.

The reader will admit that the whole of Herr List is contained in nuce in the extracts quoted from Ferrier. If, moreover, one adds the phrases he borrows from the development of political economy since Ferrier, then all that remains as his share is empty idealising, the productive force of which consists in words — and the clever hypocrisy of the German bourgeois striving for domination,

  1. On page 208 of his book, List illustrates his teaching on productive forces and exchange values by the example of two fathers, each of whom has five sons and owns an estate bringing 1,000 talers net annual income in excess of what he expends to support his family. One of them places his 1,000 talers in a bank at interest and forces his sons to perform hard unskilled labour; the other uses his 1,000 talers to give his sons a higher education, so that they become highly skilled agronomists or engineers. According to List, the first father shows concern for the increase of exchange values, the second for the increase of productive forces. On page 209 List speaks of the Christian religion and monogamy as “rich sources of productive force
  2. List says: “Workshops and factories are the mothers and children of civic freedom, education, the arts and sciences
  3. Below Marx makes clear that he understands “the abolition of labour” to mean the elimination of the existing forms of exploitation of labour, the enslavement and alienation of the working man, and emphasises the need to create social conditions under which industrial labour and industry would cease to be an object and instrument of oppression but would serve as a means for man to use his capacities and to master the forces of nature (see pp. 280-82 of this volume)
  4. An allusion to the expression “industrial education”, which is frequently used by List
  5. By manufacturing force (“die Manufakturkraft”) List understands the productive power of factory industry. But he often uses this expression simply in the sense of factory industry
  6. An allusion to List’s statement that his “theory of the productive forces” should be worked out scientifically (“wissenschaftlich auszubilden sei”) side by side with “the theory of exchange values” developed by the “Smith-Say school” (List, op. cit., p. 187)
  7. The reference is to List’s argument, in Chapter 24 of his book, about the importance of “continuity” and “uninterruptedness of production” in the development of factory industry, the preservation and perfection of its technical means and the production skills of the workers. In comparing these arguments with those of J. F. Bray, Marx had in mind the latter’s book, Labour’s Wrongs and Labour’s Remedy; or the Age of Might and the Age of Right, Leeds, 1839, which proved the injustice of the hereditary property of capitalists and landowners as non-productive and parasitic classes. In The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) Marx characterised Bray’s views as communist.
  8. The term costs of production (“Produktionskosten”) is used by Marx in the sense of value of the product
  9. The national Anti-Corn Law League was founded in 1838 by the Manchester manufacturers Cobden and Bright. The English Corn Laws, first adopted in the 15th century, imposed high tariffs on agricultural imports in order to maintain high prices for them on the home market. In the first third of the 19th century, 1815, 1822, and later several laws were passed changing the conditions for corn imports, and in 1828 a sliding scale was introduced which raised import tariffs on corn when prices in the home market declined and, on the other hand lowered tariffs when the home market prices rose.
    The League widely exploited the popular discontent over the raising of corn prices. In its efforts to obtain the repeal of the Corn Laws and the establishment of complete freedom of trade, it aimed at weakening the economic and political positions of the landed aristocracy and lowering the cost of living thus making possible a lowering of the workers’ wages.
    The struggle between the industrial bourgeoisie and the landed aristocracy over the Corn Laws ended in 1846 with the repeal of these laws.
  10. The Methuen Treaty was a trade treaty concluded on December 27, 1703, between England and Portugal (by Lord Methuen for the English) -allies in the War of Spanish Succession (fought by the Anglo-Austro-Dutch coalition against France and Spain). The treaty opened wide access in Portugal for English woollens, in return for which Portugal received the right to export its wines to England on privileged terms. In his book List emphasised that this treaty was unfavourable to Portugal