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Economic Works of Karl Marx 1861-1864

The Process of Production of Capital, Draft Chapter 6 of Capital
Results of the Direct Production Process

<"492">[492] AD 3) The Product of Capitalist Production is not only Surplus Value, it is Capital

As we have seen[241], capital is M-C-M’, self-valorising value, value that gives birth to value.

Initially, the sum of money or of value advanced is only capital dunamei,[potentially] only capital in itself, even after it has been converted into the factors of the labour process — means of production, constant capital — and into labour capacity, into which the variable capital has been converted. This mere potentiality was even more the case before its conversion into the factors of the real production process. Only within the latter, through the real incorporation of living labour into the objective forms of existence of capital, only through the real absorption of additional labour, is this labour converted into capital; and not only this labour is converted, but the sum of value advanced is converted from possible capital, value earmarked as capital, into effective and actual capital. What took place during the process as a whole? The worker sold the right to dispose of his labour capacity in order to secure the necessary means of subsistence, for a given value, determined by the value of his labour capacity. What, therefore, is the result from his point of view? Simplement and purement [simply and purely] the reproduction of his labour capacity. So what did he give away? He gave value-preserving, value-creating and value-increasing activity, his labour. He therefore comes out of the process as he entered it, if we leave aside the wearing down of his labour power. He emerges as merely subjective labour power, which must pass through the same process again, in order to preserve itself.

Capital, in contrast, does not come out of the process as it entered it. It is in the process that it is first converted into actual capital, into self-valorising value. The total product is now the form in which capital exists as realised capital, and as such it again confronts labour as the property of the capitalist, as a power which is independent and has been created by labour itself. Hence the production process was not only its reproduction process, but its process of production as capital. Previously the conditions of production confronted the worker as capital in so far as he found them to be present over against him in independence. Now it is the product of his own labour that he finds confronting him as conditions of production that have been converted into capital. What started as a presupposition is now the result of the production process.

Saying that the production process creates capital is only another way of saying that it has created surplus value.

But the matter does not rest here. The surplus value is reconverted into additional capital, is manifested in the formation of new capital or capital of greater size. Thus capital has created capital; it has not just realised itself as capital. The accumulation process is itself an immanent moment of the capitalist production process. It includes the creation of new wage labourers who are means to the realisation and augmentation of the existing capital, whether because sections of the population not previously seized on by capitalist production, such as women and children, are now subsumed under it, or because a greater number of workers, resulting from the natural increase of the population, are subjected to it. It emerges from a closer examination that capital itself regulates this production of labour power, the production of the mass of human beings it intends to exploit, in accordance with its requirements for this exploitation. Capital therefore does not just produce capital, it produces a growing mass of workers, the material which alone enables it to function as additional capital. Hence not only does labour produce the conditions of labour on an ever increasing scale as capital, in opposition to itself; capital, for its part, produces on an ever increasing scale the productive wage labourers it requires. Labour produces its conditions of production as capital, and capital produces labour as the means of its realisation as capital, as wage labour. Capitalist production is not only the reproduction of the relation, it is its reproduction on an ever growing scale; and in the same proportion as the social productive power of labour develops, along with the capitalist mode of production, the pile of wealth confronting the worker grows, as wealth ruling over him, as capital, and the world of wealth expands vis--vis the worker as an alien and dominating world. At the opposite pole, and in the same proportion, the worker’s subjective poverty, neediness and dependency develop. The deprivation of the worker and the abundance of capital correspond with each other, they keep in step. At the same time the numbers of the working proletarian these living means for the production of capital, increase.

<"493">[493] The growth of capital and the increase of the proletariat therefore appear as associated products of the same process, even if they are polar opposites.

The relation is not only reproduced, not only produced on an ever more massive scale, it not only creates more workers for itself and constantly seizes upon branches of production previously not subjected to it, it is also reproduced under circumstances which are more and more favourable to one side, the capitalists, and more and more unfavourable to the other, the wage labourers.

This was demonstrated in our presentation of the specifically capitalist mode of production.[242]

From the point of view of the continuity of the production process, the wage is only the part of the product constantly produced by the worker which is converted into means of subsistence for him, and therefore into the means of preserving and increasing the labour capacities capital requires for its own self-valorisation, for its vital process. This preservation and increase of labour capacities, as the result of the process, therefore itself appears as nothing but the reproduction and extension of capital’s own conditions of reproduction and accumulation. (See the Yankee. ) [244]

With this there also disappears the superficial appearance the relation originally possessed, that commodity owners with equal rights met each other in circulation, on the commodity market, distinguished from each other, like all other commodity owners only by the material content of their commodities, the particular use value of the commodities they had to sell to each other. Or, this original form of the relation only remains behind as the superficial appearance of the capitalist relation that underlies it.

Two aspects need to be distinguished here, through which the reproduction of the relation itself on an ever increasing scale as a result of the capitalist production process is distinguished from the first form, as it on the one hand emerges historically and on the other hand constantly presents itself anew on the surface of developed capitalist society.

1) Firstly, with regard to the initial process which occurs within circulation, the sale and purchase of labour capacity.

The capitalist production process is not only the conversion into capital of the value or the commodities the capitalist in part brings to market and in part retains for himself within the labour process; these products converted into capital are not the capitalist’s products, they are the worker’s. The former repeatedly sells the latter a part of his product — the necessary means of subsistence — for labour, in order to preserve and increase labour capacity, the buyer himself, and he repeatedly lends him another part of his product, the objective conditions of labour, as a means for the self-valorisation of capital, as capital. While the worker thus reproduces his products as capital, the capitalist reproduces the worker as a wage labourer, and therefore as a seller of his own labour. The relation between mere commodity sellers implies that they exchange their own labour, as incorporated in different use values. The sale and purchase of labour capacity, as the constant result of the capitalist production process, implies that the worker must constantly buy back a part of his own product by selling his living, labour. With this, the superficial appearance of a simple relation between commodity owners fades away. This constant sale and purchase of labour capacity, and the constant confrontation between the worker and the commodity produced by the worker himself, as buyer of his labour capacity and as constant capital, appears only as the form mediating his subjugation to capital, the subjugation of living labour as a mere means to the preservation and increase of the objective labour which has achieved an independent position vis--vis it. This perpetuation of the relation of capital as buyer and the worker as seller of labour is a form of mediation which is immanent in this mode of production; but it is a form which is only distinct in a formal sense from other, more direct, forms of the enslavement of labour and property in labour on the part of the owner of the conditions of production. It glosses over as a mere money relation the real transaction and the perpetual dependence, which is constantly renewed through this mediation of sale and purchase. Not only are the conditions of this commerce constantly reproduced; in addition to this, what one buys with, and what the other is obliged to sell, is the result <"494">[494] of the process. The constant renewal of this relation of sale and purchase only mediates the permanence of the specific relation of dependence, giving it the deceptive semblance of a transaction, a contract, between commodity owners who have equal rights and confront each other equally freely. This initial relation now appears as itself an immanent moment of the domination, produced in capitalist production, of objective labour over living labour.

Hence both these groups are mistaken:

those who regard wage labour, the sale of labour to capital, and therefore the form of the wage system, as external to capitalist production; it is an essential form of mediation of the capitalist production relation, constantly produced anew by this relation itself; and those who find the essence of the capital-relation in this superficial relation, in this essential formality, this semblance of the capital-relation, and therefore pretend to characterise the relation by subsuming workers and capitalists together under the general relation of commodity owners, thereby engaging in apologetics and extinguishing the differentia specifica of the capital-relation.

2) For the capital-relation to occur at all, a definite historical stage and form of social production is presupposed. Means of communication and production, and needs, have first to develop within an earlier mode of production which go beyond the old relations of production and enforce their transformation into the capital-relation. But they only need to be sufficiently developed to allow the formal subsumption of labour under capital to take place. On the basis of this altered relation, however, specific changes in the mode of production develop, creating new material forces of production, on the basis of which the new mode of production first develops and therewith in fact creates new real conditions for itself. A complete economic revolution thus takes place. On the one hand it creates, for the first time, the real conditions for the domination of capital over labour, completing them, giving them an appropriate form, and on the other hand, in the productive powers of labour developed by it in opposition to the worker, in the conditions of production and relations of communication, it creates the real conditions for a new mode of production, superseding the antagonistic form of the capitalist mode of production, and thus lays the material basis for a newly shaped social life process and therewith a new social formation.

This is an essentially different conception from that of the bourgeois political economists, themselves imprisoned in capitalist preconceptions, who are admittedly able to see how production is carried on within the capital-relation, but not how this relation is itself produced, and how at the same time the material conditions for its dissolution are produced within it, thereby removing its historical justification as a necessary form of economic development, of the production of social wealth.

In contrast to this, we have seen not only how capital produces, but how it is itself produced, and how it emerges from the production process in a form essentially different from that in which it entered the process. On the one hand it transforms the mode of production; on the other hand this altered shape of the mode of production and this particular stage of the development of the material forces of production is the basis and the condition — the presupposition — of its own formation.

<"495">[495] Result of the Direct Production Process [245]

Not only do the objective conditions of the production process appear as its result; their specific social character also appears in this way. The social relations, and therefore the social position, of the agents of production towards each other — the relations of production themselves — are produced, and are the constantly renewed result of the process .[246]


73)The Colliers. The effects of this dependence of the colliers on the exploiters for their dwellings are shown whenever there is a strike. In November 1863, for example, there was a strike in Durham. The people were evicted in the severest weather, with wives and children, and their furniture, etc., was thrown into the street. What was then important above all was to find shelter during the cold nights. A large proportion of them slept in the open air; some broke into their evacuated dwellings and occupied them during the night. The next day the mine-owners had the doors and windows nailed up and barred, in order to cut off from those who had been ejected the luxury of sleeping on the bare floors of the empty cottages during the freezing nights. The people then resorted to building wooden cabins, and wigwams of turf, but these were again torn down by the owners of the fields. A large number of children died or had their health ruined during this campaign of labour against capital (Reynolds’s Newspaper, November 29, 1863 ).

75) Ricardo actually comforts the workers by saying that as a result of the increasing productive power of labour and the increase in the total capital as against the variable component of capital, the portion of surplus value consumed as income will also increase, hence an increased demand for menial servants! (Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy, and Taxation, p. 475).

76) * “Property ... is essential to preserve the common unskilled Labourer from falling into the condition of a piece of machinery, bought at the minimum market price at which it can be produced, that is at which labourers can be got to exist and propagate their species, to which he is invariably reduced sooner or later, when the interests of capital and labour are quite distinct, and are left to adjust themselves under the sole operation of the law of supply and demand” * (Samuel Laing, National Distress, London, 1844, pp. 45-46).

77) Ireland. Emigration. In so far as the real increase or reduction in the working POPULATION during the ten-year industrial cycle can exert a perceptible influence on the labour market, this could only be in England, and we take it as a model, because here the capitalist mode of production is [highly] developed, and does not, unlike on the European continent, operate largely on the basis of a peasant economy which does not correspond to it. Here we can only speak of the impact of capital’s need for valorisation on the extension or contraction of emigration. It should first be remarked that the emigration of capital, i.e. the part of the annual income which is invested abroad as capital, particularly in the colonies and in the United States of America, is far larger in proportion to the annual fund for accumulation than the number of emigrants in proportion to the annual increase in population. Some. of these emigrants are in fact merely following capital abroad. Furthermore, the emigration from England, if we consider its main component, the agricultural one, consists for the most part not of workers but of tenant farmers’ sons, etc. This has so far been more than replaced by immigration from Ireland. The periods of stagnation and crisis, when the pressure to emigrate is at its strongest, are the same periods as those during which more excess capital is sent abroad, and the periods of declining emigration are the same as those of declining emigration of superfluous capital. The absolute proportion between capital employed in the country and labour power is therefore little affected by the fluctuations of emigration. If emigration from England were to take on serious dimensions, in relation to the annual increase of the population, it would lose its position on the world market. The Irish emigration since 1848 has given the lie to all the expectations and prophecies of the. Malthusians. First of all, they had declared an emigration exceeding the increase of population to be an impossibility. The Irish solved that problem despite their poverty. Those who have emigrated send back every year most of the resources needed to finance the emigration of those left behind. Secondly, however, the same gentlemen had made the prophecy that the famine which swept away one million people, and the subsequent exodus,[247] would have the same effect in Ireland as the black death [248] had had in England in the mid-14th century. Precisely the opposite has occurred. Production has fallen more quickly than the population, and the decline in the means of employing the agricultural workers has been quicker too, although their wages are no higher today, taking into account the changes in the price of the means of subsistence, than in 1847. The population has fallen in 15 years from 8 million to approximately 4 1/2 million. To be sure, cattle production has increased to a certain extent, and Lord Dufferin, who wants to convert Ireland into a mere sheep pasture, is quite right to say that the population is still far too high. In the meantime, the Irish have taken not only their bones but themselves to America, and the cry “exoriare aliquis ultor[rise some avenger] resounds threateningly on the other side of the Atlantic.

If we look at the last two years, 1864 and 1865, we find the following figures for the main crops:


(The official Agricultural Statistics, Ireland, Dublin, 1866, p. 4).

This does not prevent individual persons from ‘enriching themselves during the rapid ruin of the country as a whole. Thus e.g.

The number of people who had an annual income of from 900 to 1,000 in 1864 was 59, and in 1865: 66. The number with an annual income between 1,000 and 2,000 was 315 in 1864 and 342 in 1865. (Verte.)

INCOMES between3,000-4,000:4650

And: 3 people each of whom had 87,606 in 1864, and 3 people each of whom had 91,509 in 1863 (Income and Property Tax Return, August 7, 1866).

Lord Dufferin, who is himself one of these “supernumeraries”, notes correctly that Ireland still has far too many inhabitants.

79) Thus e.g. the talk of shifting present burdens onto future generations by means of government debts. A can give B, who lends him commodities either in reality or in appearance, a promissory note on future products, just as indeed there exist poets and musicians of the future. But A and B together never consume an atom of the future product. Every epoch pays for its own wars. A worker, on the other hand, can expend the labour of the three following years in a single year.

“In pretending to stave off the expenses of the present hour to a future day, in pretending that you can burthen posterity to supply the wants of the existing generation” * the absurd statement is made * “that you can consume what does not yet exist, that you can feed on provisions before their seeds have been sown in the earth... All the wisdom of our statesmen will have ended in a great transfer of property from one class of persons to another, in creating an enormous fund for the rewards of jobs and peculation” * (Percy Ravenstone, M. A., Thoughts on the Funding System, and Its Effects, London, 1824, pp. 8-9).

Although the formation of capital and the capitalist mode of production rest essentially on both the ending of the feudal mode of production and the expropriation of the peasants, handicraftsmen, and in general on the ending of the mode of production which rests on the private property of the direct producer in his conditions of production; although the capitalist mode of production, once it is introduced, develops in the same proportion as that form of private property is done away with, along with the mode of production founded on it, hence to the degree that those direct producers are expropriated in the name of the concentration of capital (centralisation); although that process of expropriation which is later repeated systematically in the clearing of estates, in part introduces; as an act of violence, the capitalist mode of production, both the theory of the capitalist mode of production (political economy, the philosophy of law, etc.) and the capitalist himself in his conception of the matter like to confuse the capitalist’s form of property and appropriation, which rests on the appropriation of alien labour in its progress and, essentially, on the expropriation of the direct producer, with the above-mentioned mode of production which on the contrary presupposes the private property of the direct producer in his conditions of production — a presupposition under which the capitalist mode of production in agriculture and manufacture, etc., would be impossible — and therefore also like to present every attack on the capitalist form of appropriation as an attack on the other kind of property, the property that has been worked for, indeed an attack on all property. Of course they always experience great difficulty in presenting the expropriation of the mass of working people from their property as the vital condition for property which rests on labour. [By the way, private property of that form always implies at least slavery for the members of the family, who are used and exploited to the full by the head of the family.] The general legal conception, from Locke to Ricardo, is therefore that of petty-bourgeois property, while the relations of production they actually describe belong to the capitalist mode of production. What makes this possible is the relation of buyer and seller, which remains the same formally in both forms. With all these writers one finds the following duality:

1) economically they oppose private property resting on labour, and show the advantages of the expropriation of the mass [of workers] and the capitalist mode of production;

2) but ideologically and legally the ideology of private property resting on labour is transferred without further ado to property resting on the expropriation of the direct producer.

“It was under Frederick II that subjects” (peasants) “were first granted hereditary tenure and property rights in most of the provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia. And this Ordinance helped to end a misfortune suffered by the country people which was threatening to depopulate the countryside. For it was precisely in the last” (18th) “century that the landowners, once they had started to concern themselves with raising the yield of their estates, began to find it advantageous to drive out some of their subjects and add the peasants’ fields to their own demesnes. The people who had been driven out fell victim to poverty, being homeless; moreover, those who remained on the land were now subjected to completely intolerable burdens, since they were now expected by the landowners to cultivate the previous peasants’ fields as well, the owners of which would otherwise have facilitated through their labour the cultivation of the demesne too. This ‘expropriation of the peasants’ was especially severe in the eastern part of Germany. When Frederick II conquered Silesia, many thousand peasant farms there were without any farmers; the cottages lay in ruins, and the fields were in the hands of the landowners. All the confiscated lands had to be redistributed, placed in the hands of farm managers, provided with cattle and implements, and granted to peasants in hereditary and private ownership. The same abuses on the island of Rgen were still causing uprisings of the rural inhabitants when Moritz Arndt was a young man; soldiers were sent, the rebels were imprisoned, and the peasants sought revenge, ambushing and murdering individual members of the nobility. In Electoral Saxony too, the same abuses were a source of disturbances as late as 1790” (G. Freytag Neue Bilder aus dem Leben des deutschen Volkes, Leipzig, 1862, pp. 38-391).

This is a clear demonstration of what the noble sentiments of feudalism really amounted to!