Marginal Notes on Adolph Wagner's Lehrbuch der politischer Oekonomie, Second Edition, Volume I, 1879

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written January 1881


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Manuscript completed after January 1881
First published, in Russian, in the Marx-Engels Archives, Book V, Moscow, Leningrad, 1930

Note from MECW vol. 24 :

The book which prompted Marx's notes was the second edition of Adolph Wagner's Allgemeine oder theoretische Volkswirtschaftslehre, erster Theil: Grundlegung, published in Leipzig and Heidelberg in 1879 as the first volume of Lehrbuch der politischen Oekonomie by Adolph Wagner and Erwin Nasse. It has been possible to date these notes by Marx's mention in his manuscript (see Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 24, p. 550) of Rudolph Meyer's Briefe und Socialpolitische Aufsaetze von Dr. Rodbertus-Jagetzow which appeared in Berlin after January 1881. In English, this work was first published in: K. Marx, Texts on Method. Translated and edited by Carver, Oxford, 1975, pp. 179-219.

1. Mr. Wagner's conception, the “socio-legal conception” (p. 2).[1] Thereby finds himself “in accord with Rodbertus, Lange and Schäffle[2](p. 2). For the “main points of the foundation” he refers to Rodbertus and Schäffle. Mr. Wagner says even of piracy as “unlawful acquisition” by entire peoples that it is only robbery if “a true jus gentium[3] is presumed to obtain” (p. 18, Note 3).

His research is primarily devoted to the “conditions of economic life in a community” and he “determines from them the sphere of the economic freedom of the individual” (p. 2).

“The ‘instinct to satisfy one's needs’” … “does not function, and is not meant to function, as a pure force of nature but, like every human instinct, it is subject to the guidance of reason and conscience. Every act resulting from it is therefore an answerable one, and is always governed by a moral judgement, though this is admittedly” (!) “itself liable to historical change” (p. 9).

As for “Labour” (p. 9, § 2), Mr. Wagner does not distinguish between the concrete character of each kind of labour and the expenditure of labour power common to all these concrete types of labour (pp. 9, 10).

“Even the mere management of wealth for the purpose of procuring revenue always necessitates activities which belong to the concept of labour, and likewise the employment of the income thus acquired for the satisfaction of needs” (p. 10, Note 6).

According to Wagner the historicolegal are the “social categories” (Note 6, p. 13).

“In particular natural monopolies of location have the effect, especially in urban” (!natural monopoly of the location in the City of London!) “conditions, then under the influence of the climate for the agricultural production of entire countries, further, natural monopolies of the specific fertility of the land, e.g. with especially good vineyards, and indeed even between different peoples, e.g. in the sale of tropical products to countries of the temperate zone.” //“One example are the export duties on products of a kind of natural monopoly, which are imposed in some countries (Southern Europe, tropical countries) on the safe assumption that they will be passed on to the foreign consumers” (Note 11, p. 15). In deducing export duties in the Southern countries from this, Mr. Wagner shows that he knows nothing of the “history” of these duties//[4] “that goods at least partially free in nature become purely economic ones, sold as a matter of business to the highest bidder” (p. 15).

The sphere of regular exchange (sale) of goods is their market (p. 21).

Among economic goods: “Relations to persons and things (res incorporales), whose material completeness is based on an abstraction: a) from absolutely free commerce: the cases of customers, firms, etc., when advantageous relations with other people, which have been formed through human activity, may be granted and acquired for payment; b) due to certain legal limitations of commerce: exclusive manufacturing rights, real equities, privileges, monopolies, patents, etc.” (pp. 22, 23).

Mr. Wagner subsumes “services” under “economic goods” (p. 23, Note 2 and p. 28). His real motive in doing so is his desire to portray Privy Councillor Wagner as a “productive worker”; for, he says

“the answer is prejudicial to an assessment of all of those classes which professionally perform personal services, such as servants, the members of the liberal professions, and hence also of the state. Only if services are reckoned in with economic goods, are the aforesaid classes productive in the economic sense” (p. 24).

The following is highly characteristic of the way of thinking of Wagner and company:

Rau had observed: it depends on the “definition of wealth and also of economic goods” whether “services also belong to them or not.”[5] Where upon Wagner states: “such a definition” of “wealth” must be “undertaken which includes services among economic goods” (p. 28).

The decisive reason” is, however, “that the means of satisfaction cannot possibly consist solely of material goods, because needs are not only related to the latter, but also to personal services (in particular those of the state, such as legal protection, etc.)” (p. 28).

Wealth:

1. purely economic … “the supply of economic goods available at a given time as the real stock for the satisfaction of needs” is “wealth as such,” “parts of the total or people's or national wealth.”

2. “As an historico-legal concept … the stock of economic goods in the possession or Property of an entity", “possession of wealth” (p. 32). The latter is an historico-legal relative concept of property. Property conveys only certain powers of disposal and certain powers of exclusion vis-à-vis others. The extent of these powers varies” //i.e. historically// (p. 34). “All wealth in the second sense is individual wealth, the wealth of a physical or a legal entity” (l.c.).

Public wealth,

“in particular the wealth of compulsory communal economies, thus especially the wealth of states, regions and communities. This wealth is designated for public use (such as roads, rivers, etc.) and ownership thereof is assigned to the state etc., as the legal representative of the public (nation, local population, etc.) or it is actual state and communal wealth, namely, administrative wealth, which also goes to make possible the fulfilment of public services, or finance wealth, employed by the state to acquire revenues as the means for the fulfilment of its services” (p. 35).

Capital, capitale, is a translation of κεφλειον, signifying the claim in respect of a sum of money, as opposed to the interest (τκο). In the Middle Ages there emerged capitale, caput pecuniae for the main thing, the essential, the original (p. 37). In German the word Hauptgeld was used (p. 37).

Capital, source of earnings, stock of goods bearing interest: a supply of mobile means of acquisition.” As opposed to: “stock for use: a quantity of mobile consumable wares put together in any respect at all” (p. 38, Note 2).

Circulating and standing capital (p. 38, 2(a) and 2(b)).

Value. According to Mr. Wagner, Marx's theory of value is the cornerstone of his socialist system” (p. 45). Since I have never established a “socialist system,” this is a fantasy of Wagner, Schäffle e tutti quanti.[6]

Further: according to which Marx

“finds the common social substance of exchange-value, the only value he is here concerned with, in labour, the magnitude of exchange-value in the socially necessary labour time,” etc. [p. 45].

Nowhere do I speak of “the common social substance of exchange-value”; I rather say that exchange-values (exchange-value, without at least two of them, does not exist) represent something common to them, which “is quite independent of their use-values” //i.e. here their natural form//, namely “value.” This is what I write: “Therefore, the common substance that manifests itself in the exchange-relation of exchange-value of commodities, is their value. The progress of our investigation will lead us back to exchange-value as the necessary mode of expression or form of appearance of value. For the present, however, we have to consider the nature of value independently of this, its form” (p. 13).[7]

Thus I do not say “the common social substance of exchange-value” is “labour", and as I deal with the form of value, i.e. the development of exchange-value, at some length in a separate section, it would be curious if I were to reduce this “form” to a common social substance,” labour. Mr. Wagner also forgets that for me neither “value” nor “exchange-value” are subjects, but the commodity.

Further:

“This” (Marxian) “theory is, however, not so much a general theory of value as a theory of cost related to Ricardo.” (loc. cit.).

Mr. Wagner could have familiarised himself with the difference between me and Ricardo both from Capital and from Sieber's work[8] (if he knew Russian). Ricardo did indeed concern himself with labour solely as a measure of the magnitude of value, and was therefore unable to find any link between his theory of value and the nature of money.

When Mr. Wagner says that it is not a “general theory of value,” he is quite right in his own sense, since he means by a general theory of value the hairsplitting over the word “value,” which enables him to adhere to the traditional German professorial confusion between “use-value” and “value,” since both have the word “value” in common. But when he goes on to say that it is a “theory of cost,” then either it amounts to a tautology: commodities, as values, only represent something social, labour, and as far as the magnitude of value of a commodity is determined, according to me, by the quantity of the labour-time contained, etc., in it, in other words the normal amount of labour which the production of an article costs, etc.; and Mr. Wagner proves the contrary by declaring that this, etc., theory of value is not the “general” one, because it does not correspond with Mr. Wagner's view of the “general theory of value.” Or else he says something incorrect: Ricardo (following Smith) lumps value and production costs together; I have already expressly pointed out in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy as well as in the notes in Capital[9] that values and production prices (which merely express in money the costs of production) do not coincide. Why not? That I have not told Mr. Wagner.

Furthermore, I “proceed arbitrarily” when I

“attribute these costs solely to what is termed labour output in the narrowest sense of the term. That always presupposes proof which is hitherto lacking, namely that the production process is possible entirely without the mediation of the activity of private capitalists in amassing and employing capital” (p. 45).

Quite the reverse: instead of foisting such future proofs on me, Mr. Wagner first ought to have proved that a social production process, not to mention the production process in general, did not exist in the very numerous communities which existed before the appearance of Private capitalists (the Old Indian community, the South Slav family community, etc.). Besides, Wagner could only say: the exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class, in short, the character of capitalist production as depicted by Marx, is correct, but he is mistaken in regarding this economy as transitory, while Aristotle, on the contrary, was mistaken in not regarding the slave economy as transitory.

“As long as such proof has not been furnished” //in other words, as long as the capitalist economy exists//, “Then Profit on capital is also in fact //the clubfoot or ass's ear reveals itself here// “a ‘constitutive’ element of value, not as in the socialist view, simply a subtraction from, or ‘robbery’ of, the worker” (pp. 45, 46).

What a “subtraction from the worker” is, subtraction of his skin, etc., is not evident. At any rate, in my presentation even, “profit on capital” is in actual fact not “a subtraction from, or robbery of, the worker.” On the contrary, I depict the capitalist as the necessary functionary of capitalist production and demonstrate at great length that he not only “subtracts” or “robs” but enforces the production of surplus value, thus first helping to create what is to be subtracted; what is more, I demonstrate in detail that even if only equivalents were exchanged in the exchange of commodities, the capitalist—as soon as he pays the worker the real value of his labour-power—would have every right, i.e. such right as corresponds to this mode of production, to surplus-value. But all this does not make “profit on capital” the “constitutive” element of value but only proves that the value which is not “constituted” by the labour of the capitalist contains a portion which he can appropriate “legally,” i.e. without infringing the law corresponding to the exchange of commodities.

“That theory is unduly preoccupied with this single value-determining element” //1. Tautology. The theory is false because Wagner has a “general theory of value” which does not agree with it; his “value” is thus determined by “use-value,” as is actually proved by the professorial salary; 2. Mr. Wagner substitutes for value the “marketprice” at a given time, or the commodity-price diverging from it, which is something very different from value//, “[it considers] the costs, not the other, usefulness, utility, the demand element” //i.e. it does not lump together “value” and use-value, which is, after all, such a desirable thing for a born Confusius[10] like Wagner//.

“Not only does it not correspond to the formation of exchange-value in present-day commerce

//he means price formation, which does not affect the determination of value in any way: moreover, the formation of exchange-value certainly does take place in presentday commerce, as any speculator, adulterater of goods, etc., knows, and this has nothing in common with value formation, but has a keen eye for formed values; what is more, in, e.g., the determination of the value of labour power I proceed from the assumption that it is really paid at its full value, which is in fact not the case. Mr. Schäffle is of the opinion in Capitalismus, etc., that that is “magnanimous” or some such thing. He simply means a scientifically necessary procedure//,

“but neither, as Schäffle excellently and indeed conclusively” (!) “demonstrates in the Quintessenz and especially in the Socialer Körper,[11] does it correspond to conditions as they are bound to take shape in the Marxian hypothetical social state.”

//I.e., the social state, which Mr. Schäffle was courteous enough to “shape” for me, is transformed into “the Marxian” (not the “social state” foisted on to Marx in Schäffle's hypothesis).//

“This may be strikingly demonstrated with the example of grain and such like, whose exchange-value would—owing to the influence of fluctuating harvests when demand is fairly constant—of necessity have to be regulated in some other way than simply according to costs even in a system of ‘social taxes’” [p. 45].

//So many words, so much nonsense. First, I have nowhere spoken of “social taxes,” and in my investigation of value I have dealt with bourgeois relations, not with the application of this theory of value to a “social state” not even constructed by me but by Mr. Schäffle for me. Second, if the price of grain rises after a bad harvest, then its value rises, for one thing, because a given amount of labour is contained in a smaller product; for another thing, its selling price rises by much more still. What has this to do with my theory of value? The more the grain is sold over its value, the more other commodities, whether in their natural form or in money form, will be sold under their value by exactly the same amount, even if their own money price does not fall. The total value remains the same, even if the expression of this total value in its entirety were to increase in money, in other words, if the sum total of “exchange-value” according to Mr. Wagner were to rise. This is the case if we assume that the drop in price of the total of the other commodities does not cover the over-value price (excess price) of the grain. But in this case, the exchange-value of money has fallen pro tanto[12] beneath its value; the total value of all commodities does not only remain the same, but even remains the same expressed in money, if money is included among the commodities. Further: the rise in price of grain beyond the increase in its value determined by the bad harvest will in any case be smaller in the “social state” than it is with present-day profiteering in grain. But then the “social state” will organise production from the outset in such a way that the annual supply of grain is only minimally dependent on changes in the weather. The volume of production including supply and consumption will be rationally regulated. Finally, supposing Schäffle's fantasies about it come true, what is the “social tax” meant to prove for or against my theory of value? Just as little as the coercive measures taken during a food shortage on a ship or in a fortress or during the French Revolution, etc., which pay no regard to value; and how terrible for the “social state” to infringe the laws of value of the “capitalist (bourgeois) state,” hence, too, the theory of value! Nothing but infantile rot!//

The same Wagner graciously quotes from Rau:

“In order to avoid misunderstandings, it is necessary to establish what is meant by value pure and simple, and it is in conformity with German usage to choose use-value for this purpose”[13] (p. 46).

Derivation of the concept of value (p. 46 ff.)

It is from the value-concept that use-value and exchange-value are supposed to be derived d'abord[14] by Mr. Wagner, not as with me from a concretum, the commodity, and it is interesting to follow this scholasticism in its latest Grundlegung.[15]

“It is a natural striving of man to arrive at a clear awareness and understanding of the relationship which inner and outer goods bear to his needs. This is done through the appreciation (valuation) by which value is attributed to goods or things of the outside world and this value is measured” (p. 46), and he says, p. 12: “All means of satisfying one's needs are called goods.”

Thus, if in the first sentence we replace the word “goods” with its Wagnerian conceptual content, then the first sentence of the passage quoted becomes:

“It is a natural striving of ‘man’ to arrive at a clear awareness and understanding of the relationship which ‘the inner and outer means of satisfying his needs’ bear to his needs.” We may simplify this sentence somewhat by dropping “the inner means,” etc., as Mr. Wagner happens to do immediately in the very next sentence by means of the word “or.”

Man”? If the category “man” is meant here, then he has “no” needs at all; if man in isolated juxtaposition with nature, then each individual must be considered a nongregarious animal; if a man already existing in some kind of society—and this is what Mr. Wagner implies, since his “man” does have a language, even though he lacks a university education—then as a starting-point the specific character of this social man must be presented, i.e. the specific character of the community in which he lives, since in that case production, i.e. the process by which he makes his living, already has some kind of social character.

But for a professorial schoolmaster the relations between men and nature are a priori not practical, that is, relations rooted in action, but theoretical, and two relations of this kind are packed up together in the first sentence.

First: as the “outer means of satisfying his needs” or outer goods become transformed into “things of the outside world” in the next sentence, the first interlocked relation assumes the following form: man finds himself in relation to the things of the outside world as means of satisfying his needs. But men do not by any means begin by “finding themselves in this theoretical relationship to the things of the outside world.” They begin, like every animal, by eating, drinking, etc., that is not by “finding themselves” in a relationship, but actively behaving, availing themselves of certain things of the outside world by action, and thus satisfying their needs. (They start, then, with production.) By the repetition of this process the capacity of these things to “satisfy their needs” becomes imprinted on their brains; men, like animals, also learn “theoretically” to distinguish the outer things which serve to satisfy their needs from all other. At a certain stage of evolution, after their needs, and the activities by which they are satisfied, have, in the meanwhile, increased and further developed, they will linguistically christen entire classes of these things which they distinguished by experience from the rest of the outside world. This is bound to occur, as in the production process—i.e. the process of appropriating these things—they are continually engaged in active contact amongst themselves and with these things, and will soon also have to struggle against others for these things. But this linguistic label purely and simply expresses as a concept what repeated activity has turned into an experience, namely that certain outer things serve to satisfy the needs of human beings already living in certain social context //this being an essential prerequisite on account of the language//. Human beings only give a special (generic) name to these things because they already know that they serve to satisfy their needs, because they seek to acquire them by more or less frequently repeated activity, and therefore also to keep them in their possession; they call them “goods” or something else which expresses the fact that they use these things in practice, that these things are useful to them, and they give the thing this character of utility as if it possessed it, although it would hardly occur to a sheep that one of its “useful” qualities is that it can be eaten by human beings.

Thus: human beings actually started by appropriating certain things of the outside world as means of satisfying their own needs, etc. etc.; later they reached a point where they also denoted them linguistically as what they are for them in their practical experience, namely as means of satisfying their needs, as things which “satisfy” them. Now, if one terms the fact that human beings not only treat such things practically, as means of satisfying their needs, but also denote them in their thoughts and then linguistically as things which “satisfy” their needs, and hence themselves //as long as the need of man is not satisfied he is at variance with his needs and thus with himself//; if one terms this, “according to German linguistic usage,” “attributing value” to them, then one has proved that the general concept “value” stems from the behaviour of human beings towards the things found in the outside world which satisfy their needs, and consequently that this is the generic concept of “value,” and that all other kinds of value, such as the chemical value [valency][16] of the elements, are no more than variations of it.

Deleted in the manuscript:[17] “In the case of Mr. Wagner, however, this ‘deduction’ becomes even more splendid, since he deals with ‘man’ not with ‘men’. This very simple deduction is expressed by Mr. Wagner like this: “It is a emph{natural} striving of man” (read: of the German economics professor), “the relationship” whereby things of the outside world are not only means of satisfying human needs, but are acknowledged linguistically as such, and therefore also serve …”

It is “the natural striving” of a German economics professor to derive the economic category “value” from a “concept,” and this he achieves by simply renaming what is vulgo[18] called “use-value” in political economy as “value” pure and simple, “according to German linguistic usage.” And as soon as “value” pure and simple has been found, it serves in turn to deriveuse-value” from “value pure and simple.” To do this, one merely has to re-place the “use” fragment, which one dropped earlier, in front of “value” pure and simple.

In fact it is Rau (see p. 88[19]) who tells us plainly that it “is necessary” (for the German professorial schoolmasters) “to lay down what is meant by value pure and simple,” naively adding: “and it is in accordance with German linguistic usage to select use-value to this end.” //In chemistry the chemical valency of an element is the number at which one of its atoms is able to combine with the atoms of other elements. But the combining weight of the atoms is also called “equivalency,” the equal value of different elements, etc., etc. Therefore one must first define the concept “value pure and simple,” etc., etc.//

If man relates to things as “means of satisfying his needs,” then he relates to them as “goods,” according to Wagner. He grants them the attribute of being “goods”; the content of this operation is in no way altered by the fact that Mr. Wagner renames this “attributing value.” His own lazy consciousness immediately arrives at “an understanding” in the following sentence:

“This is done through the appreciation (valuation) by which value is attributed to goods or things of the outside world and this value is measured” [p. 46].

We shall waste no words on the fact that Mr. Wagner derives value from valuation (he himself adds “valuation” in brackets after the word appreciation in order to arrive “at a clear awareness and understanding” of the matter). “Man” has the “natural striving” to do this, to “appreciate” goods as “values,” and thus permits Mr. Wagner to derive the promised achievement of the “concept of value in general.” Not for nothing does Wagner smuggle in with the word “goods” the phrase “or the things of the outside world.” His starting point was that man “relates” to the “things of the outside world,” which are means of satisfying his needs, as to “goods.” So he appreciates these things by the very fact that he relates to them as “goods.” And we have already had an earlier “paraphrase” for this appreciation, to the effect that, e.g.:

“As a needy being, man is in constant contact with the outside world surrounding him and acknowledges that therein lie many of the conditions for his life and well-being” (p. 8).

This, however, means no more than that he “appreciates the things of the outside world” insofar as they satisfy his “needy being,” being means of satisfying his needs and therefore, as we have already heard, relates to them as “goods.”

Now it is possible, particularly if one feels the “natural” professorial “striving” to derive the concept of value in general, to do this: to give “the things of the outside world” the attribute of “goods” and dub it “attributing value” to them. One might also have said: Since man relates to the things of the outside world which satisfy his needs as to “goods,” he “prizes” them, thus attributing “price” to them, and thus the derivation of the concept “price pure and simple” by “man's” own methods is supplied ready cut to the German professor. Everything that the professor is unable to do himself, he makes “man” do; but this man is himself nothing more than the professorial man who claims to have understood the world once he has arranged it under abstract headings. But in so far as “attributing value” to the things of the outside world is simply another way of phrasing the expression of giving them the attribute of “goods,” this is far from being the same, as Wagner wishes to make out, as attributing “value” to the “goods” themselves as a designation distinct from their “being goods.” It is simply substituting the word “value” for the word “goods.” //As we have seen, the word “price” could also be substituted. Even the word “treasure” could be substituted; since “man” labels certain “things of the outside world” “goods,” he “treasures” them, and therefore relates to them as to a “treasure.” Thus it can be seen how the three economic categories value, price and treasure could be conjured up by Mr. Wagner at a stroke out of “man's natural striving” to provide the professor with his bone-headed system of concepts (fancies).// But Mr. Wagner has the dim instinct to step out of his labyrinth of tautology and worm his way into a “further something” or a “something further.” Hence the phrase: “by which value is attributed to goods or things of the outside world, etc.” Since the labelling of “things of the outside world” as goods, i.e., the distinguishing and fixing of these (in the mind) as means of satisfying human needs, is also dubbed by Mr. Wagner “attributing value to things,” he can no more call this attributing value to “the goods” themselves than he could talk about attributing value to the “value” of the things of the outside world. But the salto mortale is performed with the words “attributing value to goods or the things of the outside world.” Wagner should have said: the dubbing of certain things of the outside world “goods” may also be called “attributing value” to these things and this is the Wagnerian derivation of the “concept of value” pure and simple or in general. The content is not altered by this change of linguistic expression. It is still only the distinguishing or fixing in the mind of the things of the outside world which are means of satisfying human needs; in fact, simply the perception and acknowledgement of certain things of the outside world as means of satisfying the needs of “man” (who as such, however, is actually suffering from a “need of concepts”).

But Mr. Wagner wishes to make us, or himself, believe that instead of giving two names to the same content he has progressed from the designation “goods” to a further developed designation “value,” distinct from the first, and he does this simply by substituting the word “goods” for “things of the outside world,” a process which is further “obscured” by the fact that he rather substitutes the “things of the outside world” for “the goods.” His own confusion thus achieves the certain effect of confusing his readers. He might also have reversed this splendid “derivation” as follows. By differentiating the things of the outside world, which are means of satisfying his needs, as such means of satisfaction, from the other things of the outside world, and therefore according them special distinction, he pays tribute to them, attributes value to them, or gives them the attribute of “value.” This can also be expressed by saying that he grants them the attribute of “goods” as a characteristic, or respects or values them as “goods.” Thereby the concept “goods” is attributed to the “valuesor to the things of the outside world. And thus the concept of “goods” in general is “derived” from the concept of “value.” All derivations of this kind are simply concerned with diverting attention from a problem which one is not capable of solving.

But in the same breath Mr. Wagner proceeds in all haste from the “value” of goods to the “measurement” of this value.

The content would remain exactly the same if the word “value” had not been smuggled in at all. It might be said: By dubbing certain things of the outside world which, etc., as “goods,” man will eventually come to compare these “goods” with one another, and according to the hierarchy of his needs will arrange them in a certain order, i.e. if one likes to call it so, “measure” them. Wagner may not speak at all of the development of the real measure of these goods here, i.e. of the development of their measure of quantity, as this would remind the reader too sharply how little what is otherwise meant by “measure of value” is dealt with here.

//That the distinguishing of (reference to) things of the outside world which are means of satisfying human needs as “goods” may be dubbed “attributing value to these things”—this Wagner was able to prove not only by means of “German linguistic usage,” as Rau did, but also: there is the Latin word dignitas = dignity, merit, rank, etc., which when applied to things also means “value”; dignitas is derived from dignus, and this from dic, point out, show, auszeichnen, zeigen; dignus thus means “ pointed out”; hence, too, digitus, the finger with which one points out a thing, refers to it; Greek δεικ-νυμι, δακ-τυλο (finger); Gothic: ga-tecta (dico); German: zeigen; and we could arrive at a lot more “derivations” bearing in mind that δεκνυμι (or δεικνω) (to make visible, to bring to light, to refer to) has the same basic stem as δχομαι—that is δεκ (to hold out, to take).//

What a lot of banality, tautological confusion, hairsplitting and underhand manoeuvring Mr. Wagner manages to pack into not quite 7 lines.

No wonder that after this feat, the obscure man (vir obscurus) continues with great self-assurance:

“The much disputed concept of value, still obscured by many investigations frequently of merely apparent depth, resolves itself” (indeed) //rather “involves” itself// “if, as has been done hitherto” //namely by Wagner//, “we take the needs and the economic nature of man as our starting-point and on arriving at the concept of goods—tie it up with the concept of value” (p. 46).

Here we have the concept juggling, whose supposed development according to the vir obscurus boils down to “tying up,” and to a certain extent “tying on.”

Further derivation of the concept of value:

Subjective and objective value. Subjective and, in the most general sense, the value of goods=importance which “is attributed to the goods on account of their usefulness … not a quality of the things in themselves, even if it objectively presupposes the usefulness of a thing” //thus presupposing “objective” value//. In the objective sense one also understands by “value” and “values” the value-possessing goods, in which (!) good and value, goods and values become essentially “identical concepts” (pp. 46, 47).

After taking what is usually termed “use-value” and dubbing it “value in general” and then the “concept of value“ pure and simple, Wagner can surely not fail to recall that the “value” “derived” (!) “in this way” (well, well!) is “use-value.” After dubbing “use-value” the “concept of value” in general, or “value pure and simple,” he discovers, on second thought, that he has simply been drivelling on about “use-value,” and has thus “derived” it, drivelling and deriving now being for him “essentially” identical mental operations. But at this juncture we discover how subjective the hitherto “objective” confusion of ideas of the aforesaid Mr. Wagner really is. For he reveals a secret to us. Rodbertus had written a letter to him which may be read in the Tübingen Zeitschrift[20] of 1878, in which he, Rodbertus, expounds why there is “only one kind of value”: use-value.

“I” (Wagner) “have come to support this view, the importance of which I have already emphasised in the first edition” [p. 48].

Of what Rodbertus says, Wagner says:

“This is quite correct and necessitates an alteration of the usual illogical ‘division’ of ‘value’ into use-value and exchange-value, which I had still undertaken in § 3 [in Wagner § 35] of the first edition” (p. 48, Note 4).

and the same Wagner places me (p. 49, Note) amongst those according to whom “use-value” should be entirely “removed” “from the science.”

All this is “drivel.” De prime abord,[21] I do not proceed from “concepts,” hence neither from the “concept of value,” and am therefore in no way concerned to “divide” it. What I proceed from is the simplest social form in which the product of labour presents itself in contemporary society, and this is the “commodity.” This I analyse, initially in the form in which it appears. Here I find that on the one hand in its natural form it is a thing for use, alias a use-value; on the other hand, a bearer of exchange-value, and from this point of view it is itself an “exchange-value.” Further analysis of the latter shows me that exchange-value is merely a “form of appearance,” an independent way of presenting the value contained in the commodity, and then I start on the analysis of the latter. I therefore state explicitly, p. 36, 2nd ed.[22]: “When, at the beginning of this chapter, we said, in common parlance, that a commodity is both a use-value and an exchange-value, we were, precisely speaking, wrong. A commodity is a use-value or object of utility, and a ‘value’. It manifests itself as this twofold thing which it is, as soon as its value assumes an independent form of appearance distinct from its natural form—the form of exchange-value,” etc. Thus I do not divide value into use-value and exchange-value as opposites into which the abstraction “value” splits up, but the concrete social form of the product of labour, the “commodity,” is on the one hand, use-value and on the other, “value,” not exchange value, since the mere form of appearance is not its own content.

Second: only a vir obscurus who has not understood a word of Capital can conclude: Because Marx in a note in the first edition of Capital [23]rejects all the German professorial twaddle about “use-value” in general, and refers readers who want to know something about real use-values to “manuals dealing with merchandise”—for this reason use-value plays no part in his work. Naturally it does not play the part of its opposite, of “value,” which has nothing in common with it, except that “value” occurs in the term “use-value.” He might just as well have said that “exchange-value” is discarded by me because it is only the form of appearance of value, and not “value” itself, since for me the “value” of a commodity is neither its use-value nor its exchange value.

When one comes to analyse the “commodity”—the simplest concrete element of economics—one must exclude all relations which have nothing to do with the particular object of the analysis. Therefore I have said in a few lines what there is to say about the commodity in so far as it is a use-value, but on the other hand I have emphasised the characteristic form in which use-value—the product of labour—appears here, that is: “A thing can be useful, and the product of human labour, without being a commodity. Whoever [directly] satisfies his needs with the produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use-values but not commodities. In order to produce commodities, he must not only produce use-values, but use-values for others, social use-values” (p. 15).[24] //This the root of Rodbertus' “social use-value.”// Consequently use-value—as the use-value of a “commodity” itself possesses a specific historical character. In primitive communities in which, e.g., means of livelihood are produced communally and distributed amongst the members of the community, the common product directly satisfies the vital needs of each community member, of each producer; the social character of the product, of the use-value, here lies in its (common) communal character. //Mr. Rodbertus on the other hand transforms the “social use-value” of the commodity into “social use-value” pure and simple, and is hence talking nonsense.//

As may be seen from the above, it would be sheer nonsense, in an analysis of the commodity—since it presents itself on the one hand as a use-value or goods, on the other hand as value”—to “tie up” at this juncture all sorts of banal reflexions about use-values or goods which do not enter into the world of commodities, such as “state goods,” “communal goods,” etc. as Wagner and the German professor in general does, or about goods like “health,” etc. Where the state is itself a capitalist producer, as in the exploitation of mines, forests, etc., its product is a “commodity” and hence possesses the specific character of every other commodity.

On the other hand the vir obscurus has overlooked the fact that even in my analysis of the commodity I do not come to a halt with its dual way of presenting itself, but immediately proceed to show that in this duality of the commodity there presents itself the dual character of the labour whose product it is: of useful labour, i.e. the concrete modes of the labours which create use-values, and of abstract labour, of labour as expenditure of labour power, regardless of the “useful” way in which it is expended (on which the presentation of the production process later depends); that in the development of the value form of the commodity, in the final instance its money form, and thus of money, the value of a commodity presents itself in the use-value of the other commodity, i.e. in its natural form; that surplus-value itself is derived from a “specific” use-value of labour power belonging to it exclusively, etc., etc., that, in other words, for me use-value plays an important part quite different from its part in economics hitherto, but note bene it still only comes under consideration when such a consideration stems from the analysis with regard to economic formations, not from arguing hither and thither about the concepts or words “use-value” and “value.”

For this reason when analysing the commodity I do not immediately drag in definitions of “capital,” not even when dealing with the “use-value” of the commodity. Such definitions are bound to be sheer nonsense as long as we have advanced no further than the analysis of the elements of the commodity.

What annoys (shocks) Mr. Wagner about my presentation, though, is that I will not do him the favour of complying with the patriotic German professorial “striving” for confusing use-value with value. Although German society is very much post festum, it has nevertheless gradually emerged from the feudal subsistence economy, or at least its predominance, into capitalist society, but the professors are still standing with one foot in the old muck—naturally enough. From being the serfs of landowners they have turned into the serfs of the state, vulgo the government. Therefore our vir obscurus too, who has not even noticed that my analytic method, which does not proceed from man but from a given economic period of society, has nothing in common with the German-professorial association-of-concepts method (“words are excellent for fighting with, with words a system may be built”[25]), therefore he says:

“In harmony with the view of Rodbertus and also of Schäffle I place the use-value character of all value in the fore, and emphasise the assessment of use-value all the more, since the assessment of exchange-value is simply not applicable to many of the most important economic goods,”

{Was zwingt ihn zu Ausreden? also als Staatsdiener fühlt er sich verpflichtet, Gebrauchswert und Wert zu konfundieren!},

neither to the state and its services, nor to other social economic relations” (p. 49, Note).

//This reminds one of the old chemists before the science of chemistry: as cooking butter, which is simply called butter in everyday life (according to the Nordic custom), has a soft consistency, they called chloride, butter of zinc, butter of antimony, etc. Butter juices, thus, to use the words of the vir obscurus, “firmly adhering to the butter character of all chlorides, zinc and antimony compounds.”// The whole rigmarole boils down to this: Because certain goods, especially the state (goods!) and its “services” //Particularly the services of its professors of political economy// are not “commodities,” the opposing characteristics contained in the “commodities” themselves //which also appear explicitly in the commodity form of the product of labour// must therefore be confused with one another! In the case of Wagner and Co. it is anyway hard to maintain that they have more to gain if their “services” are determined according to their “use-value,” according to their tangible “content” [Gehalt], rather than according to their “salary” [Gehalt] (through a “social tax,” as Wagner expresses it [p. 45], i.e. are “assessed” according to their payment.[26]

//The only thing which clearly lies at the bottom of the German stupidity is the fact that linguistically the words value [Wert] or worth [Würde] were first applied to the useful things themselves, which existed for a long time, even as “products of labour,” before becoming commodities. But this has as little to do with the scientific determination of the “value” of the commodity as the fact that the word salt was first used by the ancients for cooking salt, and consequently sugar, etc. also figure as varieties of salt from Pliny onwards (indeed, all colourless solids soluble in water and with a peculiar taste), and therefore the chemical category “salt” includes sugar, etc.//

//As the commodity is bought by the purchaser not because it has value but because it is a “use-value,” and is used for definite purposes, it goes without saying that 1. use-values are “assessed,” i.e. their quality is investigated (just as their quantity is weighed, measured, etc.); 2. if different sorts of commodities can be substituted for one another for the same use, one or the other will be given preference, etc., etc.//

In Gothic there is only one word for Wert and Würde: vairths, τιμη, //τιμαω, assess, i.e. evaluate; to determine the price or value, to rate; metaphorically: to appreciate, esteem, honour, distinguish. Τιμη—assessment, hence: determination of value or price, evaluation, valuation. Then: estimation, also, value, price itself (Herodotus, Plato), αι τιμα—expenses in Demosthenes. Then: estimation, honour, respect, place of honour, honorary post, etc., Rost's Greek-German Dictionary.[27]//

Value, price (Schulze, Glossar[28]) Gothic: vairths, adj., ξιο, καν

Old Norse: verdhr, worthy, verdh, value, price; Anglo-Saxon: veordh, vurdh; English: worth, adj. and noun, value and dignity

Middle High German: wert, genitive werdes, adj. dignus and likewise pfennincwert, gen. Werdes, value, worth, splendour; aestimatio, commodity of definite value, e.g. pfenwert, Pennyworth; -werde: meritum, aestimatio, dignitas, precious character” (Ziemann: Middle High German Dictionary[29]).

Wert and Würde [value and worth] are thus closely related in both etymology and meaning. What conceals the fact is the inorganic (incorrect) inflexion of Wert which has become customary in Modern High German: Werth, Werthes instead of Werdes, since Gothic th corresponds to High German d, not th = t, and this is indeed still the case in Middle High German (wert, gen. Werdes, loc. cit.). According to the rule in Middle High German, d at the end of a word became t, giving wert instead of werd, but genitive Werdes.

But all this has as much or as little to do with the economic category “value” as with the chemical valency of the chemical elements (atomicity) or with the chemical equivalents or equal values (combining weights of the chemical elements).

Furthermore it should be noted that—even in this linguistic connection—if it follows automatically, as if by the nature of the thing, from the original identity of Würde and Wert that this word also referred to things, products of labour in their natural form—it was later directly applied unchanged to prices, i.e. value in its developed value-form, i.e. exchange-value, which has so little to do with the matter that the same word continued to be used for worth in general, for honorary offices, etc. Thus, linguistically speaking, there is no distinction here between use-value and value.

Let us now turn to the authority quoted by the vir obscurus, to Rodbertus //whose essay may be scrutinised in the Tübinger Zeitschrift//. The passage by Rodbertus cited by the vir obscurus is as follows:

From the text on page 48:

“There is only one kind of value, and that is use-value. This is either individual use-value or social use-value. The former stands in a relation to the individual and his needs, quite regardless of any social organisation.”

//This is sheer nonsense (cf. Capital, p. 171[30]) where, however, it says that the labour-process, as a useful activity for the production of use-values, etc., is “equally common to all its” (human life's) “forms of society” and “is independent of each of them.”// //First, it is not the word “use-value” which stands in relation to the individual, but concrete use-values, and which of these “stand in a relation” to him (for these people everything always “stands"; everything is a question of “standing”[31]) is entirely dependent on the level of the social production process, therefore also corresponding to “a social organisation.” But if Rodbertus only wishes to make the trivial statement that use-value which really stands in relation to an individual as an object of utility, relates to him as an individual use-value for him—then this is either a trivial tautology or it is incorrect, since not to mention such things as rice, maize, wheat or meat //which does not stand in any relation to a Hindu as food//, an individual's need for the title of Professor or Privy Councillor or an order is possible only in quite a definite “social Organisation”//.

“The second is use-value, which a social organism consisting of many individual organisms (or individuals) has” (p. 48, text).

Lovely German! Is it the “use-value” of the “social organism” which is meant here, or is it a use-value in the possession of a “social organism” (as e.g. land in primitive communities), or is it the definite “social” form of use-value in a social organism, as e.g. in places where commodity production predominates, the use-value which a producer supplies must be a “use-value for others” and in this sense a “social use-value"? This is nothing but hot air and will lead us nowhere.

And so on to the second proposition of Wagner's Faust[32]:

“Exchange-Value is simply the historical mantle and appendage of the social use-value from a particular period of history. By taking an exchange-value as the logical opposite of use-value, one is placing an historical concept in logical contrast to a logical concept, which is logically not admissible” (p. 48, Note 4). “That is quite correct!” crows Wagner ibidem.

Who is the “one” who is committing this? That Rodbertus means me, we may take for granted, since according to R. Meyer, his famulus, he has written a “big, fat manuscript” against Capital[33]. Who is placing things in logical contrast? Mr. Rodbertus, for whom “use-value” and “exchange-value” are both by nature mere “concepts.” In fact in every price-list every individual sort of commodity undergoes this illogical process, distinguishing itself from the others as goods, use-value, as cotton, yarn, iron, grain, etc., and representing “goods” qualitatively different from the others toto coelo,[34] but simultaneously representing its price as qualitatively the same but quantitavely different of the same essence. It presents itself in its natural form for him who uses it, and in value-form, which is quite different from it and “common” to all other commodities, i.e. as exchange-value. The only “logical” contrast here is in Rodbertus and the German professorial schoolmasters related to him who proceed from the “concept” of value, not from the “social thing,” the commodity,” who get this concept to split up into itself (duplicate itself), and then argue about which of these two phantoms of the mind is the real Jacob![35]

But what lurks in the gloomy background to these high-flown phrases is simply the immortal discovery that in all circumstances man must eat, drink, etc. //one cannot even continue: “clothe himself, or have a knife and fork or bed and dwelling,” as this is not the case in all circumstances//; in short, that in all circumstances he must find external things already available in nature to satisfy his needs and appropriate them or fashion them out of what nature provides; in this actual procedure of his he thus always relates practically to certain external things as “use-values,” i.e. he always treats them as objects for his use; hence according to Rodbertus use-value is a “logical” concept; thus, since man must also breathe, “breathing” is a “logical” concept, but not a “physiological” one at all. The entire shallowness of Rodbertus, however, emerges in his contrast between “logical” and “historical” concepts! He grasps “value” (the economic value, in contrast to the use-value of the commodity) only in its form of appearance, in exchange-value, and since this only occurs when at least some part of the products of labour, the objects of utility, function as “commodities” this not, however, happening from the outset, but only at a certain period of social development, in other words, at a definite stage of historical development, then exchange-value is a “historical” concept. Now if Rodbertus—and I will point out later why he did not see it—had gone on to analyse the exchange-value of commodities—for it only exists where commodity occurs in the plural, different sorts of commodities, then he would have found “value” behind this form of appearance. If he had further gone on to investigate value, he would have further found that here the thing, the “use-value,” amounts to a mere concretisation of human labour, as the expenditure of equal human labour-power, and therefore this content is presented as the concrete character of the thing, as a character appertaining essentially to the thing itself, although this objectivity does not appear in its natural form //which, however, necessitates a special form of value//. He would have found, then, that the “value” of the commodity merely expresses in a historically developed form something which also exists in all other historical forms of society, albeit in a different form, namely the social character of labour, insofar as it exists as expenditure of “social” labour-power. If, then, “the value” of the commodity is merely a particular historical form of something which exists in all forms of society, the same must be true of the “social use-value,” as it characterises the “use-value” of the commodity. Mr. Rodbertus has the measure of the magnitude of value from Ricardo; but he himself has neither examined nor grasped the substance of value any more than Ricardo did; e.g. the “communal” character of the [labour process] in the primitive community as the common organism of the labour-powers belonging together, and hence that of their labour, i.e. the expenditure of these powers.

Further treatment of Wagner's twaddle on this issue superfluous.

Measure of the magnitude of value. Mr. Wagner incorporates me here, but finds to his regret that I have “eliminated” the “labour involved in capital formation” (p. 58, Note 7.)

“In commerce regulated by social organs, the determination of tariff values or tariff prices must be carried out with due consideration to this cost-element” //his term for the quantum of labour expended in production, etc.//, “as used to happen in principle in the case of the former state and trade tariffs, and would again have to take effect under any new tariff system” //read “socialist”!//. “However, in free commerce the costs are not the sole basis for determining exchange-values and prices, and cannot be in any conceivable social situation. For regardless of costs, there must always occur fluctuations in use-value and need, whose influence on exchange-value and prices (both contract and tariff prices) then modifies the influence of costs, and is bound to do so,” etc. (pp. 58, 59). “The” //i.e. this!// “astute correction of the socialist doctrine of value … we owe to Schäffle” (!) who says in Soz. Körper,[36] III, p. 278: “No matter what kind of social influence over needs and production exists, there is no avoiding the fact that all needs always remain in equilibrium qualitatively and quantitatively with production. But if this is so, the social cost-value quotients cannot simultaneously be considered proportionally as social use-value quotients” (p. 59, Note 9).

That this merely amounts to the triviality of market-prices rising and falling above or below value and to the assumption that the theory of value developed by him for bourgeois society is predominant in the “Marxian social state” is shown by Wagner's phrase:

“They” (prices) “will occasionally deviate from them” [costs] to a lesser or greater extent, rising for goods whose use-value has become greater and falling for those whose use-value has become smaller. Only in the long run will costs continually assert themselves as the decisive regulator” etc. (p. 59).

Law. As for the fantasies of the vir obscurus about the economically creative influence of the law, one phrase will suffice, although he is forever dragging out the absurd point of view which it exemplifies:

“Individual enterprise has at its head, as the organ of its technical and economic activity …, a person as a legal and economic subject. Furthermore, this person is no purely economic entity but at the same time dependent on the arrangement of the law. For the latter determines who is to count as a person, and consequently who can stand at the head of a business,” etc. (p. 65).

Communications and transport (pp. 75–76), p. 80 (Note).

From p. 82: where the “exchange in the (natural) constituents of the mass of goods” //of an economy, alias dubbed “exchange of goods” by Wagner, is declared to be Schäffle's “social exchange of matter”—at least, one case of it; but I also used the word in the “natural” process of production for the exchange of matter between man and nature// has been borrowed from me, where exchange of matter first occurs in the analysis of C-M-C[37] and interruptions in the exchange of form, later also termed interruptions in the exchange of matter.

What Mr. Wagner goes on to say about the “inner exchange” of the goods in one branch of production (in his case an “individual enterprise”), partly with reference to their “use-value,” partly with reference to their “value,” is also discussed by me in the analysis of the first phase of C-M-C, namely C-M, in the example of the linenweaver (Capital, pp. 85, 86/87), where I conclude by saying: “Our owners of commodities therefore find out that the same division of labour that turns them into independent private producers, [also] makes the social process of production and their relations within that process independent of them themselves, and that the seeming mutual independence of the individuals from one another is supplemented by a system of all-round material dependence” (Capital, p. 87)[38].

Contracts for the commercial acquisition of goods. Here the vir obscurus places mine and his on their heads. For him the law is first, and then comes commerce; in reality it is the other way round: first there is commerce, and then a legal system develops out of it. In the analysis of the circulation of commodities I have demonstrated that in developed bartering the participants tacitly acknowledge one another as equal persons and owners of the respective goods to be exchanged by them; they already do that while offering their goods to each other and agreeing to trade with each other. This actual relation, which only arises through and in the exchange, is later given legal form in the contract, etc. but this form neither creates its content, the exchange, nor the relationship between the persons inherent in it, but vice versa. Wagner, on the other hand:

This acquisition” //of goods through commerce// “necessarily presupposes a definite legal system, on whose basis” (!) “commerce takes place,” etc. (p. 84).

Credit Instead of giving the development of money as a means of payment, Wagner immediately turns the process of circulation, insofar as it occurs in such a form that the two equivalents do not confront each other as C-M at the same time, into a “credit transaction” (p. 85 ff.), which is “tied up” with the fact that this is frequently linked with the payment of “interest"; it also serves to “inspire confidence” and thus to depict “confidence” as a basis for “credit.”

About Puchta's[39] etc., juridical conception of “wealth,” according to which debts, too, belong to it as negative components (p. 86, Note 8).

Credit is “consumptive credit” or “productive credit” (p. 86). The former[40] predominating chiefly on a lower level of culture, the latter[41] on a “higher.”

As for the causes of debt //causes of pauperism: fluctuations in the harvest, war service, slave competition// in Ancient Rome (Jhering, 3rd ed., p. 234, II, 2. Geist des römischen Rechts).[42]

According to Mr. Wagner, “consumptive credit” prevails on the “lower level” among “lower, distressed” and “higher, extravagant” classes. In fact, in England and America “consumptive credit” is generally prevalent with the development of the deposit-bank system!

“In particular … productive credit proves to be an economic factor of the economy based on private ownership of land and movable capital and allowing free competition. It is tied up with the possession of wealth, not with wealth as a purely economic category,” and is therefore only a “historico-legal category” “ (p. 87).

Dependence of individual enterprise and wealth on the effects of the outside world, especially the influence of the state of the economy.

1. Changes in use-value: improve in some cases with the passage of time, being the condition for certain processes in nature (wine, cigars, violins, etc.).

Deteriorate in the great majority of cases … dissolve into their material constituents, coincidences of every kind.” Corresponds to “change” in exchange-value in the same direction, “increase in value” or “decrease in value” (pp. 96, 97). Vid. concerning the house-rent agreement in Berlin (p. 97, Note 2).

2. Changes in human knowledge of the properties of the goods: thereby “increasing wealth” in a positive case. //Use of coal for the smelting of iron in England around 1620, when the decline in forests was already threatening the existence of the ironworks; chemical discoveries, such as that of iodine (utilisation of iodine-bearing salt springs). Phosphorite as a fertiliser, anthracite as a heating agent. Substances for gas-lighting, photography. Discovery of dyes and medicines. Gutta-percha, rubber. Vegetable ivory (from Phytelephas macrocarpa[43]). Creosote. Paraffin-wax candles. The use of asphalt, of pine-needles (pine-needle wool), of the gases in the blast-furnace, coal-tar for the preparation of aniline, woollen rags, sawdust, etc., etc.//. In negative cases, a decrease in utility and therefore in value (as following the discovery of trichinae in pork, poisons in dyes, plants, etc.) (pp. 97, 98). Discovery of mining products in the earth, of new useful properties of these products, discovery of a new application for them increases fortune of the landowner (p. 98).

3. Economic situation.

Influence of all of the external “conditions,” which “essentially determine the production of goods for commerce, demand and sale” … hence their “exchange-value,” also that of “the individual finished goods” … “entirely or mainly independently” of the “economic subject,” “or proprietors” (p. 98). The economic situation becomes a “crucial factor” in the “system of free competition” (p. 99). Thus someone—“by means of the Principle of private property” gains “what he has not earned,” and so someone else incurs a “forfeit,” “economically unwarranted losses.”

Concerning speculation (Note 10, p. 101). Housing prices (p. 102, Note 11). Coal and iron industry (p. 102, Note 12). Innumerable changes in technology reduce the value of industrial products as the instruments of production (pp. 102, 103).

In “an economy progressing in population and prosperity, the favourable chances … preponderate, albeit with occasional temporary and local setbacks and fluctuations, in the case of landed property, especially in the case of urban (city) property” (p. 102).

“Thus the economic situation directs profits into the hands of the landed proprietor” (p. 103). “These, like most other profits on value due to the state of the economy … are simply nothing but “gambling winnings,” to which correspond “gambling losses” (p. 103).

Ditto about “Grain Trade” (p. 103, Note 15).

It must thus be “openly acknowledged: … the economic situation of the individual or family” is “essentially another product of the economic situation” and this “necessarily undermines the significance of personal economic responsibility” (pp. [104,] 105).

If, therefore, “the present organisation of the economy and the legal basis for it” (!) “hence private ownership of … land and capital” etc. is “for them mainly an immutable institution,” then, after a good deal of prattle, there are no means “of combatting … the causes” //of the ensuing evils, such as stagnation in sales, crises, the dismissal of workers, wage-cuts, etc.//, “hence not of the evil itself,” whereas Mr. Wagner imagines he is combatting the “symptoms,” the “consequences of the evil” by meeting “profits arising from the state of the economy” with “taxes”—the “losses,” “economically unwarranted,” the product of the state of the economy, by a “rational … system of insurance” (p. 105).

This, says the obscure man, is the result of considering the present mode of production and its “legal basis” as “immutable"; but his research, going more deeply than socialism, will get to grips with the “issue itself.” Nous verrons,[44] won't we?

Chief individual elements affecting the state of the economy.

1. Fluctuations in the harvest yields of staple foods under the influence of the weather and political conditions, such as disruptions in cultivation due to war. Producers and consumers affected by it (p. 106). //On grain merchants: Tooke, History of Prices[45]; for Greece: Böckh, Staatshaushalt der Athener, I, 1, § 15; for Rome: Jhering, Geist, p. 238.[46] Increased mortality among the lower strata of the population nowadays with every slight rise in prices, “certainly a proof how little the average wage of the mass of the working classes exceeds the amount absolutely essential for life” (p. 106, Note 19). “Improvements in means of communication” //“at the same time,” he adds in Note 20, “the most important condition for a speculative grain trade able to level out prices”//, changes in cultivation methods //“crop rotation economy,” by means of “the cultivation of various products which are favoured or handicapped differently by varying weather conditions”//; “hence smaller fluctuations in grain prices within shorter periods of time compared with “the Middle Ages and antiquity.” But fluctuations still very great even now (see Note 22, p. 107; facts ibid.).

2. Changes in technology. New production methods. Bessemer steel in place of iron, etc., p. 107 (cf. Note 23). Introduction of machines instead of manual labour.

3. Changes in the means of communication and transport, influencing the spatial movement of men and goods. Thereby in particular

… the value of land and the articles of low specific value affected; whole branches of production compelled to make a difficult transition to other working methods (p. 107).

//In addition Note 24, ib. The increase in land value in the vicinity of good communications, on account of the better sales of products made there; the facilitation of population concentration in towns, hence enormous rise in value of urban land and land-value in the vicinity of such places. Transport made easier from areas with hitherto low prices for grain and other agricultural and forestry raw materials, mining products to areas with higher prices; the result being a deterioration of the economic situation for all elements of the population with a more stable income in the former[47] areas, and on the other hand the favouring of the producers and particularly the landowners in the same places. The easier transport (import!) of grain and other substances of low specific value has the reverse effect. Favours the consumers but prejudicial to the producers in the country of origin; necessitating a transition to other kinds of production, as in England from grain cultivation to stockraising in the forties, as a result of the competition from cheap East European corn in Germany. Difficult situation for German farmers (first) owing to the climate, then owing to the recent large wage increases, which they are not able to add on to the products as easily as the industrialists, and so on.//

4. Changes in taste! Fashions, etc., often occurring rapidly in a short space of time.

5. Political changes in the sphere of national and international commerce (war, revolution, etc.); insofar as confidence and lack of confidence [become] more and more important with increasing division of labour, the extension of international etc., commerce, the role of the credit factor, the monstrous dimensions of modern warfare, etc. (p. 108).

6. Changes in agricultural, business and trade policy (example: Reform of the British Corn Laws).

7. Changes in the geographic distribution and overall economic situation of the whole population, such as migration from the country into the towns (pp. 108, 109).

8. Changes in the social and economic situation of individual strata of the population, such as through granting the freedom of coalition, etc. (p. 109). //The French 5 milliards,[48] Note 29, ib.//

Costs in the individual enterprise. In the “value” producing “labour,” in which all costs resolve themselves, “labour” in the proper broad sense, in particular, must also be included, whereby it “embraces everything which is necessary by way of purposeful human activities for the creation of revenues,” hence particularly “the intellectual labour of the leader and the activity whereby capital is created and employed,” “therefore” the “capital gain” financing this activity also belongs to the “constitutive elements of costs.” “This view stands in contradiction to the socialist theory of value and costs and critique of capital” (p. 111).

The obscure man falsely attributes to me the view that “the surplus-value produced by the workers alone remains, in an unwarranted manner, in the hands of the capitalist entrepreneurs” (Note 3, p. 114). In fact I say the exact opposite: that the production of commodities must necessarily become “capitalist” production of commodities at a certain point, and that according to the law of value governing it, the “surplus-value” rightfully belongs to the capitalist and not the worker. Instead of engaging in such sophistry, the academic socialist character of the vir obscurus proves itself with the following banality, that the

“Uncompromising opponents of the socialists” “overlook the numerous actual cases of exploitative relations in which net profits are not properly” (!) “distributed, and the individual enterprise production costs of the companies are reduced far too much to the detriment of the workers (including the lenders of capital) and to the advantage of the employers” (l.c.).

National income in England and France (p. 120, χ–φ).

The annual gross income of a nation:

1. Sum total of goods newly produced that year. Domestic raw materials being included entirely according to their value; the articles manufactured out of these and out of foreign materials //to avoid a double assessment of raw products// at the amount of increase in value attained by manufacturing labour; raw materials and semimanufactured goods sold and transported in trade, at the amount of the increase in value effected thereby.

2. Import of money and commodities from abroad in the form of interest from the claims of the country arising from credit business, or from capital investments by home nationals abroad.

3. Freightage actually paid to domestic shipping companies by means of the import of foreign goods during the course of foreign trade and transit-trade.

4. Cash or commodities imported from abroad in the form of remittances to aliens staying in the country.

5. The import of nonrepayable gifts, such as permanent tributes to the country from abroad, or continuing immigration and consequent regular immigration wealth.

6. Value surplus from the import of commodities and money resulting from international[49] trade //but then deduct, 2. export abroad//.

7. Sum value of revenue from useful wealth (as from dwellinghouses, etc.) (pp. 121, 122).

For the net income deduct, among other things, the “export of goods in payment for the freightage of foreign shipping companies” (p. 123). //The matter is not so simple: the price of production (domestic) + freight = selling price. If the country exports its own commodities in its own ships, then the foreign country pays the freight charges, if the market price prevailing there, etc.//

“Besides permanent tributes, regular payments to foreign subjects abroad (bribes and retainers, as paid by Persia to Greeks, payments to foreign scholars under Louis XIV, St. Peter's Money[50]) must be taken into account” (p. 123, Note 9).

Why not the subsidies which the German princes regularly used to receive from France and England?

Vid. the naive sorts of income components of private individuals consisting of “services performed by state and church” (p. 125, Note 14).

Individual and national assessment of value.

The destruction of a part of a stock of goods in order to sell the rest at a higher price is called by Cournot, Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses, 1838, “une véritable creation de richesse dans le sens commercial du mot”[51] (p. 127, Note 3).

Cf. as regards the decline of private individuals' consumption supplies, or, as Wagner terms it, of their “ useful capital” in our cultural period, in Berlin in particular, p. 128, Note 5, p. 129, Notes 8 and 10; in addition, too little money or working capital proper in the production enterprise itself, p. 130 and ibid., Note 11.

Comparatively greater importance of foreign trade nowadays, p. 131, Note 13, p. 132, Note 3.

  1. Here and below Marx gave in brackets pages of Adolph Wagner's book.
  2. Marx is probably referring to the following works: Rodbertus-Jagetzow, Zur Erkenntniss unsrer Staatswirtschaftlichen Zustände (Erstes Heft: Fünf Theoreme, Neubrandenburg and Friedland, 1842), Soziale Briefe an Kirchmann (Nos. 1-3, Berlin, 1850-51), Zur Erklärung und Abhülfe der heutigen Creditnoth des Grundbesitzes. I. Die Ursachen der Noth. II. Zur Abhülfe (Jena, 1869); Fr. A. Lange, John Stuart Mills Ansichten über die sozialen Frage... (Duisburg, 1865), Die Arbeiterfrage... (3rd ed., Winterthur, 1875); A. Schäffle, Bau und Leben des socialen Körpers (Vols. 1-4, Tübingen, 1875-78).
  3. International law.
  4. Square brackets encountered in Marx's actual manuscript have been replaced with two oblique lines.
  5. K. H. Rau, Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre, 5th ed., Heidelberg, 1847, p. 63.
  6. And all such people.
  7. K. Marx, Das Kapital, Bd. I, Hamburg, 1872, p. 13. See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Part 1, Chapter I, Section 1: “The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use-Value and Value (the Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value)” (MECW, Vol. 35).
  8. Reference in Russian.
  9. See MECW, Vol. 29 and Marx's Capital Vol. I, Part II, Chapter V and Part III, Chapter IX, Section 1: “The Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power” (MECW, Vol. 35.
  10. A pun on Confucius and confusion.
  11. A. E. Fr. Schäffle, Bau und Leben des socialen Köpers.
  12. Accordingly.
  13. K. H. Rau, Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre, I. Abt., Leipzig and Heidelberg, 1868, p. 88.
  14. First of all.
  15. Grundlegung (Foundation)—the title of Part One of Wagner's work.
  16. A play on Wert meaning “value” and also “valency.”
  17. In MECW, this paragraph is in a footnote.
  18. Commonly.
  19. The page reference is to Rau's Grundsätze der Volkswirthschaftslehre.
  20. A. Wagner, “Einiges von und über Rodbertus-Jagetzow,” Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft, Vol. XXXIV, Tübingen, pp. 199–237.
  21. To begin with.
  22. K. Marx, Das Kapital, Bd. I, Hamburg, 1872. See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 3, Point 4: “The Elementary Form of Value Considered as a Whole” (MECW, Vol. 35).
  23. The note mentioned by Marx is to be found in his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (see MECW, Vol. 29, p. 270).
  24. K. Marx, Das Kapital, Bd. I, Hamburg, 1872. See K. Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Part I, Chapter 1, Section 1: “The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use-Value and Value (the Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value)” (MECW, Vol. 35).
  25. W. Goethe, Faust, Erster Theil, “Studierzimmer.”
  26. German Gehalt means both content and salary.
  27. V. Ch. Fr. Rost, Deutsch-Griechisches Wörterbuch, Zweite Abteilung, M–Z, Göttingen, 1829, p. 359.
  28. E. Schulze, Gottlisches Glossar, Magdeburg, 1847, p. 411.
  29. A. Ziemann, Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch zum Handgebrauch, Quedlinburg and Leipzig, 1838, pp. 634–35.
  30. K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Part III, Chapter VII, Section 1: “The Labour-Process or the Production of Use-Values” (see MECW, Vol. 35).
  31. A play on words: “steht”—stands and “ständisch”—of, or related to, the social estates.
  32. I.e. Rodbertus.
  33. R. Meyer, Briefe und Socialpolitische Aufsaetze von Dr. Rodbertus-Jagetzow, Berlin [1881], Vol. I, p. 42.
  34. In every respect.
  35. Genesis 25:26.
  36. A. E. Fr. Schäffle, Bau und Leben des socialen Köpers.
  37. Commodity–money–commodity
  38. K. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Part I, Chapter III, Section 2: “The Medium of Circulation” (see MECW, Vol. 35).
  39. F. G. Puchta, Pandekten, Leipzig, 1877, §§ 34 and 219.
  40. In the manuscript: “latter.”
  41. In the manuscript: “former.”
  42. Rudolph von Jhering, Geist des römischen Rechts auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung, Leipzig, 1874, pp. 234–59
  43. Vegetable ivory (Phytelephas)—species of an anomalous genus of palms from tropical South America. The seed or nuts, as they are usually called when fully ripe and hard, are used by the American Indians for making small ornamental articles and toys. They are imported into Britain in considerable quantities, frequently under the name of corozo nuts.
  44. We'll see
  45. Th. Tooke and W. Newmarch, A History of Prices, and of the State of the Circulation, during the Nine Years 1848–1856, Vol. V, London, 1857, Part I: “On the Prices of Corn from 1847 to 1856.”
  46. Rudolph von Jhering, Geist des römischen Rechts auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung.
  47. In the manuscript: “latter.”
  48. The reference is to the change in the social and economic position of Germany as a result of the 5,000 million francs it received from France after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71.
  49. Marx has mistakenly written “domestic” for “international.”
  50. St. Peter's Money (St. Peter's Penny or Pence)—annual contributions from Catholics to the Papacy (originally, a silver penny from each family on the feast day of St. Peter). It continues to be an important source of revenue for the Pope's curia.
  51. “A true creation of wealth in the commercial sense of the word.”