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Full text of "Preface and introduction to A contribution to the critique of political economy"

KARL MARX 

PREFACE AND 
INTRODUCTION 

TO 

A CONTRIBUTION 

TO THE CRITIQUE OF 

POLITICAL ECONOMY 



FOREIGN LANGUAGES PRESS 
PEKING 1976 

First Edition 1976 




Prepared ©for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@cruzio.com (June 1997) 
PDF created by dudeman5 6 85 @ yahoo.com 

PUBLISHER'S NOTE 

This booklet contains Marx's Preface and Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political 
Economy, and Engels' two articles on that work by Marx. The Introduction, actually an unfinished rough 
draft, is taken from Marx's economic manuscripts of 18576-58. 

The translations of Marx's Preface and Engels' articles largely follow those on Karl Marx and Frederick 
Engels, Selected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, while the translation 
of Marx's Introduction is to some extent based on that in the appendix to Marx, A Contribution to the 
Critique of Political Economy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970. However, in comparing these 
translations with the original German in Marx and Engels Werk, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1961, Vol. 13, it was 
found necessary to make numerous corrections and revisions of the Moscow English version of the 
Introduction. 

The notes at the end of the book are largely adopted from those in the German edition, with some 
modifications, excisions and additions. 



CONTENTS 



PREFACE TO A CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRITIQUE OF 
POLITICAL ECONOMY 

INTRODUCTION TO A CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRITIQUE OF 
POLITICAL ECONOMY (From the economic manuscripts of 1857-58 ) 

I. Production, Consumption, Distribution, Exchange (Circulation) 

1. Production 

2 

- General Relation of Production to Distribution, Exchange and Consumption 



15 



a) [Production and Consumption ] 17 

b) [Production and Distribution ] 23 

c) Finally, Exchange and Circulation 29 

3. The Method of Political Economy 30 

4. Production. Means of Production and Relations of Production. Relations of 
Production and Relations of Circulation. Forms of the State and Forms of 
Consciousness in Realtion to Relations of Production and Circulation. Legal 
Relations. Family Relations 41 

APPENDIX 

KARL MARX, A CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRITIQUE OF 
POLITICAL ECONOMY by Frederick Engels 46 

I 46 

II 51 

NOTES 60 



PREFACE TO A CONTRIBUTION TO THE 
CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY * 



I examine the system of bourgeois economy in the following order: capital, 
landed property, wage-labour, the state, foreign trade, the world market. Under 
the first three headings, I examine the economic conditions of existence of the 
three great classes into which modern bourgeois society is divided; the 
interconnection of the three other headings is obvious at a glance. The first section 
of the first book, which deals with capital, consists of the following chapters: 1) 
the commodity; 2) money or simple circulation; 3) capital in general. The present 
part consists of the first two chapters. All the material lies before me in the form 
of monographs, which were written at widely separated periods not for 
publication but for self-clarification, and reworking them coherently according to 
the plan I have indicated will depend upon external circumstances. 

I am withholding a general introduction* I had drafted, since on closer 
consideration it seems to me confusing to anticipate results which still have to be 
proved, and the reader who 



* See below, pp. 8^45 -Ed. 
page 2 

really wishes to follow me will have to decide to advance from the particular to 
the general. A few brief remarks regarding the course of my own study of 
political economy may, however, be appropriate here. 

Although my special field of study was jurisprudence, I pursued it only as a 
discipline subordinate to philosophy and history. In the year 1842-43, as editor of 
the Rheinische Zeitung,m I first found myself in the embarrassing position of 
having to discuss so-called material interests. The deliberations of the Rhenish 
Landtag on thefts of timber and the division of landed property; the official 
controversy started by Herr von Schaper, then Oberpr&aumlsident of the Rhine 
Province, against the Rheinische Zeitung about the conditions of the Moselle 
peasantry, and finally the debates on free trade and protection gave me the first 
occasion to occupy myself with economic questions. On the other hand, an echo 
of French socialism and communism, slightly tinged by philosophy, became 
audible in the Rheinische Zeitung at a time when the good will "to go forward" 
greatly outweighed knowledge of the subject. I objected to this dilettantism, but at 
the same time frankly admitted in a controversy with the Allgemeine Augsburger 
Zeitungm that my previous studies did not allow me to venture any opinion on the 
content of the French tendencies. When the publishers of the Rheinische Zeitung 
laboured under the illusion that it might be possible to secure a remission of the 



death sentence passed on the paper by a more compliant policy on its part, I 
eagerly grasped the opportunity to withdraw from the public stage to the study. 

The first work I undertook to dispel the doubts assailing me was a critical 
review of the Hegelian philosophy of right, the introduction to which appeared in 
the Deutsch-Franz&oumlsische Jahrb&uumlcher issued in Paris in 1844. [4] My 
inquiry led to 

page 3 

the conclusion that neither legal relations nor forms of state could be grasped 
whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the 
human mind, but on the contrary they have their origin in the material conditions 
of existence, the totality of which Hegel, following the example of the 
Englishmen and Frenchmen of the eighteenth century, embraces within the term 
"civil society"; that the anatomy of this civil society, however, has to be sought in 
political economy. I began the study of the latter in Paris and continued it in 
Brussels, to which I moved owing to an expulsion order issued by M. Guizot. The 
general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the 
guiding principle of my studies can be summarized as follows. In the social 
production of their existence, men enter into definite, necessary relations, which 
are independent of their will, namely, relations of production corresponding to a 
determinate stage of development of their material forces of production. The 
totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of 
society, the real foundation on which there arises a legal and political 
superstructure and to which there correspond definite forms of social 
consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, 
political and intellectual life-process in general. It is not the consciousness of men 
that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that 
determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the 
material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations 
of production or - what is merely a legal expression for the same thing — with the 
property relations within the framework of which they have hitherto operated. 
From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their 
fetters. At that point an era of social revolution 

page 4 

begins. With the change in the economic foundation the whole immense 
superstructure is more slowly or more rapidly transformed. In considering such 
transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material 
transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be 
determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, 
artistic or philosophic, in short, ideological, forms in which men become 
conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual 
by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such an epoch of 
transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must 



be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict 
between the social forces of production and the relations of production. A social 
order never perishes before all the productive forces for which it is broadly 
sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never 
replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured 
within the womb of the old society. Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such 
tasks as it can solve, since closer examination will always show that the task itself 
arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at 
least in the process of formation. In broad outline, the Asian, ancient, feudal and 
modern bourgeois modes of production may be designated as progressive epochs 
of the socio-economic order. The bourgeois relations of production are the last 
antagonistic form of the social process of production — antagonistic not in the 
sense of an individual antagonism but of an antagonism growing out of the social 
conditions of existence of individuals; but the productive forces developing in the 
womb of bourgeois society simultaneously create the material conditions 

page 5 

for the solution of this antagonism. The prehistory of human society therefore 
closes with this social formation. Frederick Engels, with whom I maintained a 
constant exchange of ideas by letter after the publication of his brilliant sketch of 
the critique of economic categories^] (in the Deutsch Franz&oumlsische 
Jahrb&uumlcher ), arrived by another road (compare his The Condition of the 
Working Class in England m) at the same result as I, and when in the spring of 
1845 he too came to live in Brussels, we decided to set forth together our view as 
opposed to the ideological one of German philosophy, in fact to settle accounts 
with our former philosophical conscience. The resolve was carried out in the form 
of a critique of post-Hegelian philosophy. m The manuscript, two large octavo 
volumes, had long ago reached its place of publication in Westphalia when we 
were informed that owing to changed circumstances its printing was not 
permitted. We abandoned the manuscript to the gnawing criticism of the mice all 
the more willingly since we had achieved our main purpose - self-clarification. 
Of the scattered works in which we then presented one or another aspect of our 
views to the public, I shall mention only the Manifesto of the Communist Party, 
jointly written by Engels and myself, and Discours sur le libre &eacutechange 
{Lecture on Free Trade ), which I myself published. The decisive points in our 
view were first outlined in a scientific, although polemical, form in my 
Mis&egravere de la philosophie {The Poverty of Philosophy m). . ., which was 
aimed at Proudhon and which appeared in 1847. The publication of an essay on 
Wage-Labour m written in German in which I brought together the lectures I had 
given on this subject at the German Workers' Association in Brussels, [io] was 
interrupted by the February Revolution and as a result my forcible removal from 
Belgium. 

page 6 



The publication of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung [in in 1848 and 1849 and 
subsequent events interrupted my economic studies, which I could only resume in 
1850 in London. The enormous amount of material on the history of political 
economy which is accumulated in the British Museum, the favourable vantage 
point afforded by London for the observation of bourgeois society, and finally the 
new stage of development which the latter seemed to have entered with the 
discovery of gold in California and Australia, induced me to start again from the 
very beginning and to work critically through the new material. These studies led 
partly of themselves into apparently quite remote disciplines on which I had to 
dwell at greater or lesser length. But in particular it was the imperative necessity 
of earning my living which reduced the time at my disposal. My collaboration, 
continued now for eight years, with the New York Tribune,\m the leading Anglo- 
American newspaper, necessitated extraordinarily scattered studies, for it was 
only exceptionally that I wrote newspaper correspondence in the strict sense. 
Since articles on significant economic events in Britain and on the Continent 
formed a considerable part of my contributions, I was compelled to become 
conversant with practical details which lie outside the sphere of the science proper 
of political economy. 

This sketch of the course of my studies in the domain of political economy is 
intended merely to show that my views — no matter how they may be judged and 
how little they coincide with the interested prejudices of the ruling classes - are 
the outcome of conscientious research carried on over many years. At the 
entrance to science, as at the entrance to hell, the demand must be made: 

page 7 

"Qui si convien lasciare ogni sospetto 
Ogni vilta convien che qui sia mortal 

Karl Marx 

London, January 1859 



Printed in A Contribution to the Original in German 

Critique of Political Economy, 
Berlin, 1859 



* Here must all mistrust be left; 
All cowardice must here be dead. 

Dante, The Divine Comedy, English translation, Illustrated Modern Library, Inc., 1944, p. 22.) 
-Ed. 



page 8 



INTRODUCTION TO A CONTRIBUTION 
TO THE CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 

(From the economic manuscripts of 1857-58 ) im 



I. PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION, DISTRIBUTION, 
EXCHANGE (CIRCULATION) 



1. PRODUCTION 

a) To begin with, the object before us is material production. 

Individuals producing in society - and hence socially determined production 
by individuals - is of course the point of departure. The individual and isolated 
hunter or fisherman, with whom Smith and Ricardo begin, is one of the 
unimaginative fantasies of eighteenth-century romances a la Robinson Crusoe, 
which by no means express merely a reaction against over-refinement and a 
reversion to a misunderstood natural life, as cultural historians imagine. 
Rousseau's contrat social, which establishes a relationship and connection 
between naturally independent subjects by means of a contract, is as little based 

page 9 

on this kind of naturalism. This is an illusion and the merely aesthetic illusion of 
the Robinsonades, great and small. On the contrary, it is the anticipation of "civil 
society," which began to evolve in the sixteenth century and made giant strides 
towards maturity in the eighteenth. In this society of free competition the 
individual seems detached from the natural ties, etc., which in earlier historical 
epochs make him an appurtenance of a particular, limited human conglomeration. 
The prophets of the eighteenth century, on whose shoulders Smith and Ricardo 
were still standing with their whole weight, envisaged this eighteenth-century 
individual - the product of the dissolution of feudal society on the one hand and 
of the new productive forces evolved since the sixteenth century on the other - as 
an ideal whose existence belonged to the past. Not as a historical result, but as 
history's point of departure. Not as arising historically but as posited by nature, 
because this individual was in conformity with nature, in keeping with their idea 



of human nature. This illusion has been characteristic of every new epoch so far. 
Steuart, who in many respects was in opposition to the eighteenth century and as 
an aristocrat stood more firmly on historical ground, avoided this naive view. 

The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the individual, 
and hence also the producing individual, appear as dependent and belonging to a 
larger whole: at first, still quite naturally, to the family and to the family extended 
into the clan [Stamm ]; later to the community in its various forms as it arises 
from the clash and fusion of clans. It is only in the eighteenth century, in "civil 
society" that the various forms of social connection confront the individual as 
mere means for his private ends, as external necessity. But the epoch which 
produces this standpoint, namely, that of the 

page 10 

isolated individual, is precisely the epoch of the (as yet) most highly developed 
social (according to this standpoint, general) relations. Man is a zoon politikonm 
in the most literal sense, not only a social animal, but an animal that can be 
individuated only within society. Production by an isolated individual outside 
society - a rare event, which may well occur when a civilized person who already 
possesses the force of society within himself dynamically is accidentally cast into 
the wilderness - is just as preposterous as the development of language without 
individuals living together and talking to one another. It is unnecessary to dwell 
on this any further. The point need not have been mentioned at all, if this 
nonsense, which had rhyme and reason for the people of the eighteenth century, 
had not again been pulled back in all seriousness into modern political economy 
by Bastiat, Carey, Proudhon, etc. Naturally, it is very pleasant for Proudhon and 
others to be able to explain the origin of an economic relationship - whose 
historical source he does not know - in a historico-philosophical manner by 
means of myths, according to which Adam or Prometheus hit upon the ready- 
made idea, which was then put into practice, etc. Nothing is more tedious and dull 
than the fantasies of locus communis** 

Thus whenever we speak of production, we always have in mind production at 
a definite stage of social development - production by social individuals. It might 
therefore seem that, in order to speak of production at all, we must either trace the 
historical process of development in its various phases, or else declare from the 
very beginning that we are 



* Social animal (in Greek). Aristotle, The Politics, Book 1, Chapter 2. —Ed. 
** The commonplace. —Ed. 



page 11 



examining a particular historical epoch, such as for instance modern bourgeois 
production, which is indeed our proper theme. All epochs of production, however, 



have certain features in common, common determinations. [14] Production in 
general is an abstraction, but a reasonable abstraction insofar as it actually 
stresses and fixes the common aspects and thus saves us from repetition. Yet this 
general concept, or the common aspect which has been separated out by 
comparison, is itself an articulated manifold comprising divergent determinations. 
Some elements are found in all epochs, others are common only to a few. The 
most modern and the most ancient epochs will have [certain] determinations in 
common. Production without them is inconceivable; but although the most highly 
developed languages have laws and characteristics in common with the least 
developed ones, it is precisely the divergence from these general and common 
features which determines their development. It is necessary to differentiate those 
determinations which apply to production in general in order not to forget the 
essential dissimilarities in view of the unity that follows from the very fact that 
the subject, mankind, and the object, nature, are the same. For instance, the entire 
wisdom of those modern economists who demonstrate the eternity and harmony 
of existing social relations depends on this forgetting. For example, no production 
is possible without an instrument of production, even if this instrument is only the 
hand. No production is possible without past, accumulated labour, even if this 
labour is only the dexterity gathered and concentrated in the hand of the savage 
through repeated practice. Capital is among other things also an instrument of 
production, also past, objectified labour. Consequently capital is a general and 
eternal relation of nature - that is, provided one omits precisely the specific 
character which alone turns the "instrument 

page 12 

of production" or "accumulated labour" into capital. The whole history of the 
relations of production thus appears, in Carey for instance, as a malevolent 
perversion brought about by governments. 

If there is no production in general, there is also no general production. 
Production is always a particular branch of production - e.g., agriculture, cattle- 
breeding, manufacture - or it is a totality. However, political economy is not 
technology. The relation of the general determinations of production at a given 
social stage to the particular forms of production is to be set forth elsewhere 
(later). 

Finally, production is not only particular production, it is invariably only a 
certain social body, a social subject, which is active in a greater or narrower sum 
of branches of production. Nor does the relationship between a scientific 
presentation and the actual process belong here yet. Production in general. 
Particular branches of production. Totality of production. 

It is fashionable to preface economic works with a general part - and it is just 
this part that appears under the heading "Production," see for instance John Stuart 
Mill[i5] - which deals with the general conditions of all production. This general 
part comprises or purports to comprise: 



1) The conditions without which production is impossible. In fact this means 
only that the essential moments in all production are indicated. But, as we shall 
see, in fact this reduces itself to a few very simple characteristics, which are 
expanded into trivial tautologies. 

2) The conditions which promote production to a greater or lesser degree, as in 
the case of Adam Smith's progressive and stagnant state of society. To elevate 
this, which has its 

page 13 

value as an aper&ccedilu [*] in his work, to scientific significance would require 
investigations into the degree of productivity at various periods in the 
development of individual nations - an investigation which lies outside the 
proper limits of the subject, but which, insofar as it does belong there, must be 
brought in in the development of competition, accumulation, etc. The answer in 
the usual formulation amounts to the general statement that an industrial nation 
achieves the peak of its production when it arrives at its historical peak as a 
whole. In fact. The industrial peak of a nation when its principal aim is not yet 
gain but the process of gaining. In this respect the Yankees are superior to the 
English. Or also that, for example, certain races, layouts, climates, natural 
conditions, such as maritime location, fertility of the soil, etc., are more 
favourable to production than others. This again amounts to the tautology that 
wealth is more easily created to the extent that its subjective and objective 
elements are present in greater degree. 

But none of this really concerns the economists in this general part. The aim is 
rather - see for example Mill - to represent production, as distinct from 
distribution, etc., as governed by eternal natural laws independent of history, and 
the opportunity is taken to smuggle in bourgeois relations surreptitiously as 
irrevocable natural laws of society in abstracto. This is the more or less conscious 
purpose of the whole procedure. In distribution, however, it is alleged that 
mankind has in fact allowed itself to be arbitrary in all kinds of ways. Quite apart 
from the crude tearing asunder of production and distribution and of their real 
relationship, it must be obvious from the outset that, however varied distribution 
may have been at differ- 



* Insight. --Ed. 
page 14 

ent stages of society, it must be possible here, just as with production, to bring out 
the common characteristics, and just as possible to confuse and efface all 
historical differences in general human laws. For example, the slave, the serf, the 
wage-labourer all receive a quantity of food enabling them to exist as slave, serf 
or wage-labourer. The conqueror who lives on tribute, or the official who lives on 



taxes, or the landowner who lives on rent, or the monk who lives on alms, or the 
Levite who lives on tithes, all receive a quota of the social product which is 
determined by other laws than that of the slave's, and so on. The two main points 
which all economists put under this head are: 1) property; and 2) its protection by 
the judiciary, police, etc. Only a very brief reply to them is needed: 

Regarding 1): all production is appropriation of nature by an individual within 
and through a specific form of society. In this sense it is a tautology to say that 
property (appropriation) is a condition of production. But it is quite ridiculous to 
make a leap from this to a specific form of property, e.g., private property (this is 
moreover an antithetical form, which equally presupposes non-property as a 
condition). Rather history points to common property (e.g., among the Hindus, 
Slavs, ancient Celts, etc.) as the original form, a form which in the shape of 
communal property plays a significant role for a long time. The question whether 
wealth develops better under this or that form of property is not yet even an issue 
here. But that there can be no production and hence no society either where no 
form of property exists is a tautology. Appropriation which appropriates nothing 
is contradictio in subjecto* 

Regarding 2): safeguarding of acquisitions, etc. If these trivialities are reduced 
to their real content, they say more 



* Contradiction in terms. —Ed. 

page 15 

than their preachers know. Namely, that every form of production creates its own 
legal relations, form of government, etc. The crudity and lack of comprehension 
consist in bringing things organically belonging together into a haphazard 
relation, into a mere reflex connection. The bourgeois economists only see that 
production is carried on better with modern police than, e.g., under the law of the 
cudgel. They only forget that the law of the cudgel too is law, and that the right of 
the stronger still survives in a different form even in their "constitutional state." 

When the social conditions corresponding to a particular stage of production 
are either still arising or are already passing away, disturbances in production 
naturally occur, although differing in degree and effect. 

To sum up: there are characteristics which are common to all stages of 
production and which are established in thought as general; but the so-called 
general conditions of all production are nothing but these abstract moments with 
which no real historical stage of production may be grasped. 



2. GENERAL RELATION OF PRODUCTION TO DISTRIBUTION, 
EXCHANGE AND CONSUMPTION 

Before entering on a further analysis of production, it is necessary to consider 
the various headings which economists place alongside it. 

The obvious and shallow notion is: - In production the members of society 
appropriate (create, fashion) natural products in accordance with human needs; 
distribution determines the proportion in which the individual shares these 
products; exchange brings him the particular products into which he wants to 
convert the quantity he receives through 

page 16 

distribution; finally, in consumption the products^ become objects of use and 
pleasure, of individual appropriation. Production creates objects corresponding to 
needs; distribution distributes them according to social laws; exchange further 
distributes what has already been distributed, in conformity with individual needs; 
finally, in consumption the product quits this social movement, it becomes the 
direct object and servant of an individual need and satisfies it in use. Production 
thus appears as the point of departure, consumption as the final point, distribution 
and exchange as the middle, which has a dual form, since distribution is defined 
as proceeding from society and exchange as proceeding from individuals. The 
person objectifies himself in production, the thing subjectifies itself in 
consumption;^] in distribution society undertakes mediation between production 
and consumption in the form of general, dominant determinations; in exchange 
they are mediated through the contingent determinateness of the individual. 

Distribution determines the relation (the quantity) of the products accruing to 
the individual; exchange determines the products in the form in which the 
individual demands the share allotted to him by distribution. 

Production, distribution, exchange and consumption thus form a regular 
syllogism, with production as the general, distribution and exchange as the 
particular, and consumption as the singular in which the whole is joined together. 
This is indeed a connection, but a superficial one. Production is determined by 
general laws of nature, distribution by social accident, and it may therefore 
influence production more or less 



* In the manuscript: "production." —Ed. 
** In the manuscript: "the person." —Ed. 



page 17 



favourably; exchange lies between the two, as a formal social movement; and the 
concluding act of consumption, which is considered not only as the end purpose 



but as the end in itself, falls properly outside economics, except insofar as it reacts 
in turn on the point of departure and begins the whole process afresh. 

The opponents of the political economists — whether inside or outside its 
domain - who accuse the latter of barbarously tearing apart things belonging 
together are on the same level as they are or on a lower one. Nothing is more 
common than the accusation that the political economists regard production too 
exclusively as an end in itself, and that distribution is equally important. This 
accusation is itself based on the economic notion that distribution dwells as an 
autonomous, independent sphere side by side with production. Or that these 
moments are not grasped in their unity. As though this tearing apart had forced 
itself on to real life from the textbooks and not, on the contrary, on to the 
textbooks from real life, and as though it were a question of the dialectical 
balancing of concepts and not of the resolution of real relations. 



a) [Production and Consumption] 

Production is also immediately consumption. Twofold consumption, subjective 
and objective: [Firstly,] the individual, who develops his abilities while 
producing, is also expending them, using them up in the act of production, just as 
natural procreation is a consumption of vital energy. Secondly, consumption of 
the means of production, which are employed and used up and in part (as for 
instance in combustion) are broken down into their natural elements again. 

page 18 

Likewise, consumption of raw material which does not retain its natural form and 
qualities and which, on the contrary, is used up. The act of production itself is 
thus in all its phases also an act of consumption. But the economists concede this. 
Production as immediately identical with consumption, consumption as 
immediately coincident with production, they call productive consumption. This 
identity of production and consumption amounts to Spinoza's proposition: 
Determinatio est negation 

But this definition of productive consumption is only advanced in order to 
separate consumption that is identical with production from consumption proper, 
which is regarded by contrast as the destructive antithesis of production. Let us 
therefore consider consumption proper. 

Consumption is also immediately production, just as in nature the consumption 
of the elements and of chemical substances is the production of a plant. It is 
obvious that man produces his own body, through eating, for example, one form 
of consumption. But this holds for every kind of consumption which in one way 
or another produces human beings in some specific aspect. Consumptive 
production. Nevertheless, says economics, this production which is identical with 



consumption is a second production arising from the destruction of the first 
product. The producer objectified himself in the former, the thing made by him 
personifies itself in the latter. Hence this consumptive production - although it 
constitutes an immediate unity of production and consumption — is essentially 
different from production proper. The immediate unity, in which production 
coincides with consumption and consumption with production, permits their 
immediate duality to remain. 



* Determination is negation. —Ed. 

page 19 

Production is thus immediately consumption, consumption is immediately 
production. Each is immediately its opposite. But at the same time a mediating 
movement takes place between the two. Production mediates consumption, for 
which it makes the material and which would be without an object in its absence. 
But consumption also mediates production by creating for the products the subject 
for whom they are products. The product only obtains its last finish in 
consumption. A railway on which no one travels, which is there fore not used up, 
not consumed, is only a railway dynamei,[*] not actually. Without production no 
consumption; but without consumption no production either, since production 
would then be aimless. Consumption produces production in two ways: 

1) because a product becomes a real product only through consumption. For 
example, a dress becomes a real dress only in the act of being worn; a house 
which is uninhabited is in fact no real house; in other words, a product, as distinct 
from a mere natural object, proves itself as such, becomes a product, only in 
consumption. Only by destroying the product does consumption give it the 
finishing touch; for the product is a product,** not because it is materialized 
activity, but only as an object for the active subject; 

2) because consumption creates the need for new production, and therefore the 
ideal; inherently impelling ground for production, which is its presupposition. 
Consumption creates the motive for production; it also creates the object which is 
active in production as determining its goal. If it is clear that externally production 
furnishes the object of consumption, it is no less clear that consumption ideally 
posits the object of 



* Potentially (in Greek). —Ed. 

** In the manucript: "production." —Ed. 



page 20 

production as an internal image, as a need, as a motive, as a purpose. It creates the 
object of production in an as yet subjective form. No production without a need. 
But consumption reproduces the need. 



In its turn production correspondingly, 

1) supplies consumptions with the material, with the object. Consumption 
without an object is no consumption; in this respect, therefore, production creates, 
produces, consumption. 

2) But it is not only the object that production creates for consumption. It also 
gives consumption its precise nature, its character, its finish. Just as consumption 
gave the product its finish as product, so production gives the finish to consump 
tion. For one thing, the object is not an object in general, but a specific object 
which must be consumed in a specific way to be mediated in its turn by 
production. Hunger is hunger, but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat 
eaten with knife and fork is a different hunger from that which devours raw meat 
with hand, nail and tooth. Not only the object of consumption but also the manner 
of consumption is therefore produced by production, not only objectively but also 
subjectively. So production creates the consumer. 

3) Production not only provides the material for a need, but it also provides a 
need for the material. When consumption emerges from its initial natural crudity 
and immediacy - and its remaining in that state would itself be the result of 
production being stuck in a state of natural crudity - it itself is mediated as an 
urge by the object. The need it feels for the object is created by perception of the 
latter. Like every other product an objet d'art creates a public with artistic taste 



* In the manuscript: "production." —Ed. 

page 21 

and a capacity to enjoy beauty. Production accordingly produces not only an 
object for the subjest, but also a subject for the object. 

Hence production produces consumption 1) by creating the material for it; 2) 
by determining the manner of consumption; 3) by creating as a want in the 
consumer products which it initially posits as an object. It therefore produces the 
object of consumption, the manner of consumption and the urge for consumption. 
Similarly, consumption produces the disposition of the producer by soliciting him 
as a goal-determining need. 

Thus the identities between consumption and production appear threefold: 

1) Immediate identity : Production is consumption; consumption is production. 
Consumptive production. Productive consumption. Economists call both 
productive consumption. But make another distinction. The former figures as 
reproduction, the latter as productive consumption. All investigations of the 
former are concerned with productive or unproductive labour, those of the latter 
with productive or non-productive consumption. 



2) Each appears as a means for the other; is mediated by it; what is called their 
mutual dependence; a movement through which they are mutually related and 
appear to be indispensable to each other, but nevertheless remain external to each 
other. Production creates the material as the external object for consumption; 
consumption creates the need as the internal object, as the purpose of production. 
Without production no consumption; without consumption no production. This 
appears in many forms in economics. 

3) Production is not only immediately consumption, and consumption 
immediately production; not only is production 

page 22 

a means of consumption and consumption the purpose of production — i.e., each 
provides the other with its object, production supplying the external object of 
consumption and consumption the conceptual object of production; but also each 
of them is not only immediately the other and not only mediates the other, but in 
addition each of them creates the other by completing itself, it creates itself as the 
other. Consumption consummates the act of production only by completing the 
product as product, by destroying it, by using up its independent material form, by 
enabling the latent capacity developed in the initial act of production to attain 
perfection through the need for repetition; therefore it is not only the concluding 
act through which the product becomes product, but also that through which the 
producer becomes producer. On the other hand, production produces consumption 
by creating the specific manner of consumption, and further by creating the 
incentive for consumption, the capacity to consume as a need itself. This last 
identity, specified under point 3, is much discussed in economics with reference 
to the relation of demand and supply, of objects and needs, of needs created by 
society and natural needs. 

Hence nothing is simpler for a Hegelian than to posit production and 
consumption as identical. And this has been done not only by socialist belletrists 
but also by prosaic economists themselves, for example Say, in the form that 
when one considers a nation, its production is its consumption. Or also mankind 
in abstracto. Storch demonstrated Say's error, since a nation, for instance, does 
not consume its whole product, but also creates means of production, etc., fixed 
capital, etc. [16] Moreover, to regard society as a single subject is to regard it 
incorrectly - speculatively. With a single subject production and consumption 
appear as moments of a single act. The 

page 23 

essential point to emphasize here is that whether production and consumption are 
considered as activities of a single subject or of separate individuals, they in any 
case appear as moments of a single process in which production is the actual point 
of departure and accordingly the predominant moment. Consumption, as a 
pressing necessity, as a need, is itself an internal moment of productive activity. 



The latter, however, is the point of departure of realization and thus also the 
predominant moment, the act in which the entire process runs its course again. 
The individual produces an object and turns it into himself again by consuming it, 
but as a productive and self-reproductive individual. Consumption thus appears as 
a moment of production. 

In society, however, the relation of the producer to the product after its 
completion is an external one, and the return of the product to the subject depends 
on his relations to other individuals. The product does not immediately come into 
his possession. Its immediate appropriation, moreover, is not his aim, if he 
produces within society. Distribution steps in between the producer and the 
products, hence between production and consumption, determining his share in 
the world of products according to social laws. 

Now, does distribution stand as an independent sphere alongside and outside 
production? 



b) [Production and Distribution] 

When one considers the ordinary run of works on economics, one is 
immediately struck by the fact that everything is treated twice there, e.g., ground- 
rent, wages, interest and profit figure under distribution, while under production 
land, labour and capital appear as factors of production. As for 

page 24 

capital, it is evident from the outset that it is posited twice, 1) as a factor of 
production; 2) as a source of income, i.e., as a determining and determined form 
of distribution. Interest and profit therefore appear as such in production, insofar 
as they are forms in which capital increases, grows, consequently moments of its 
own production. As forms of distribution, interest and profit presuppose capital as 
a factor of production. They are modes of distribution whose precondition is the 
existence of capital as a factor of production. They are like wise modes of 
reproduction of capital. 

Likewise wages are wage-labour when considered under another heading; the 
determinateness which labour has here as a factor of production appears as a 
determination of distribution. If labour were not distinguished as wage-labour, its 
manner of sharing in the product would not appear as wages, as for instance in 
slavery. Finally ground-rent - to take at once the most advanced form of 
distribution through which landed property shares in the product - presupposes 
large-scale landed property (strictly speaking, large-scale agriculture) as a factor 
of production, and not merely land as such, exactly as wages do not presuppose 
just labour as such. The relations and methods of distribution thus appear merely 
as the reverse aspect of the factors of production. An individual who participates 



in production in the form of wage-labour participates in the products, the results 
of production, in the form of wages. The structure of distribution is wholly 
determined by the structure of production. Distribution is itself a product of 
production, not only with regard to its object, for only the results of production 
can be distributed, but also with regard to its form, for the particular way of 
participating in production determines the specific form of distribution, the form 
in which participation in distribution occurs. It is altogether an 

page 25 

illusion to posit land in production and ground-rent in distribution, etc. 

Economists like Ricardo, who are most often accused of having paid attention 
only to production, have accordingly regarded distribution as the exclusive 
subject of economics, for they have instinctively considered the forms of 
distribution as the most precise expression in which the factors of production take 
shape in a given society. 

To the single individual, distribution naturally appears as a social law that 
determines his position within the framework of production within which he 
produces and distribution is therefore antecedent to production. The individual 
originally has neither capital nor landed property. Through social distribution he 
is assigned to wage-labour from his birth. But this state of being assigned is itself 
the result of the existence of capital and landed property as independent factors of 
production. 

When one considers whole societies, still another aspect of distribution appears 
to be antecedent to production and to determine it, as though it were a pre- 
economic fact. A conquering nation divides the land among the conquerors and in 
this way imposes a determinate distribution and form of landed property and thus 
determines production. Or it may turn the conquered people into slaves, thus 
making slave-labour the basis of production. Or a nation may divide large estates 
into small parcels through a revolution, thus giving production a new character 
through the new distribution. Or legislation perpetuates land ownership in certain 
families, or distributes labour as a hereditary privilege, thus fixing it into a caste 
system. In all these cases, and they are all historical, it seems that distribution is 
not structured and determined by production but, on the contrary, production by 
distribution. 

page 26 

According to the most superficial interpretation distribution appears as the 
distribution of products, and therefore as further removed from and quasi- 
independent of production. But before distribution becomes the distribution of 
products, it is 1) the distribution of the instruments of production, and 2) which is 
another determination of the same relation? the distribution of the members of 
society among the various types of production (the subsumption of individuals 



under definite relations of production). It is evident that the distribution of the 
products is merely a result of this distribution, which is comprised within the very 
process of production and determines the structure of production. To examine 
production apart from this distribution which is included in it is obviously an 
empty abstraction, whereas conversely the distribution of the products is 
automatically determined by this distribution which originally forms a moment of 
production. Ricardo, whose object was to grasp modern production in its specific 
social structure and who is the economist of production par excellence, for this 
very reason declares that distribution and not production is the proper subject of 
modern economics. This again shows the inanity of those economists who treat 
production as an eternal truth, while banishing history to the domain of 
distribution. 

The question of the relation between this form of distribution which determines 
production and production itself obviously belongs within production itself. If it is 
said that in this case at least, since production must proceed from a specific 
distribution of the instruments of production, distribution in this sense precedes 
and is a prerequisite of production, the answer would be that indeed production 
does have its conditions and prerequisites, which constitute its moments. At the 
very outset these may appear as spontaneous. Through 

page 27 

the process of production itself, however, they are transformed from spontaneous 
into historical conditions, and although they may appear as a natural prerequisite 
of production for one period, they are its historical result for another. They are 
continuously being changed within production itself. For example, the 
employment of machinery changed the distribution both of the instruments of 
production and of the products. Modern large-scale landed property is itself the 
result of modern trade and modern industry as well as of the application of the 
latter to agriculture. 

All the above-mentioned questions ultimately resolve themselves into the role 
general historical relations play in production and its relation to the course of 
history in general The question clearly belongs to the discussion and analysis of 
production itself. 

Yet in the trivial form in which these questions have been raised above, they 
can be dealt with equally briefly. In all conquests there are three possibilities. The 
conquering nation subjects the conquered nation to its own mode of production 
(for example, the English in Ireland in this century, and partly in India); or it 
allows the old mode to remain and is content with tribute (e.g., the Turks and 
Romans); or interaction takes place, which gives rise to a new system, a synthesis 
(partly in the Germanic conquests). In all cases the mode of production - whether 
that of the conquering or of the conquered nation or the one resulting from the 
fusion of the two - is the determinant of the new distribution that occurs. 
Although the latter appears as a prerequisite of the new period of production, it is 



thus itself in its turn a product of production, not only of historical production in 
general but of a specific historical mode of production. 

page 28 

The Mongols, for example, with their devastation of Russia, acted in 
conformity with their system of production, cattle-breeding, for which vast 
uninhabited stretches of land are a principal requirement. The Germanic 
barbarians, for whom agriculture with serfs was the traditional form of production 
and who lived in isolation over the countryside could the more easily subject the 
Roman provinces to these conditions because the concentration of landed property 
which had occurred there had already completely overthrown the older 
agricultural relations. 

It is a traditional view that in certain periods people lived by plunder alone. But 
in order to be able to plunder, there must be something to plunder, consequently 
production. And the mode of plunder is in turn itself determined by the mode of 
production, e.g., a stock-jobbing nation cannot be robbed in the same way as a 
nation of cowherds. 

In the case of the slave the instrument of production is stolen directly. But then 
the production of the country for which the slave is stolen must be so organized as 
to admit of slave-labour, or (as in South America, etc.) a mode of production 
appropriate to slave-labour must be created. 

Laws may perpetuate an instrument of production, e.g., land, in certain 
families. These laws acquire economic significance only if large-scale landed 
property is in harmony with the social mode of production, as for instance in 
England. Small-scale agriculture was carried on in France despite the large 
estates, which were therefore broken up by the Revolution. But, can laws, for 
example, perpetuate parcelization? Landed property tends to become concentrated 
again despite these laws. The influence of laws on the preservation of conditions 
of distribution and therefore their effect on production should be examined as a 
separate item. 

page 29 



c) Finally, Exchange and Circulation 

Circulation itself is merely a particular moment of exchange or is also exchange 
regarded in its totality. 

Insofar as exchange is only a moment mediating between production with the 
distribution it determines and consump tion, and insofar, however, as the latter 



itself appears as a moment of production, exchange is manifestly also included as 
a moment in production. 

Firstly, it is clear that the exchange of activities and abilities which occurs 
within production itself belongs directly to it and essentially constitutes it. 
Secondly, the same holds for the exchange of products, insofar as it is a means of 
finishing the product and making it ready for immediate consumption. The act of 
exchange is to that extent comprised in production. Thirdly, by virtue of its 
organization the so-called exchange between dealers and dealers is entirely 
determined by production, as a productive activity itself. Exchange only appears 
as independent and indifferent with respect to production in the last stage, where 
the product is immediately exchanged for consumption. But 1) there is no 
exchange without division of labour, whether the latter is spontaneous or is 
already a historical product; 2) private exchange presupposes private production; 
3) the intensity of exchange as well as its extent and manner are determined by 
the development and structure of production: e.g., exchange between town and 
country, exchange in the countryside, in the town, etc. In all its moments 
exchange thus appears either directly comprised in production or else determined 
by it. 

The conclusion we arrive at is not that production, distribution, exchange and 
consumption are identical, but that they all constitute members of a single whole, 
differences within a 

page 30 

single unity. Production predominates both over itself in the antithetical 
determination of production and over the other moments. With it the process 
always starts afresh. It is self-evident that exchange and consumption cannot be 
predominant. Similarly for distribution as the distribution of the products. But as 
distribution of the factors of production, on the other hand, it is itself a moment of 
production. A specific production thus determines a specific consumption, 
distribution and exchange as well as the specific relations of these different 
moments to one another. Production in its one-sided form, of course, is in its turn 
determined by the other moments. For example, if the market, i.e., the sphere of 
exchange, expands, then production grows in range and becomes more deeply 
differentiated. Production changes with a change in distribution, e.g., with the 
concentration of capital, a different distribution of the population between town 
and country, and the like. Lastly, the needs of consumption determine production. 
Interaction takes place among the various moments. Such is the case with every 
organic whole. 



3. THE METHOD OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 



When we consider a given country from a politico-economic standpoint, we 
begin with its population, the division of the latter into classes, town, country, 
coast, the different branches of production, exports and imports, annual 
production and consumption, commodity prices, etc. 

It seems to be correct to start with the real and concrete, the actual 
prerequisites, thus in economics, e.g., with population, which is the basis and the 
subject of the whole social process of production. Yet on closer consideration this 
proves to be wrong. The population is an abstraction if, for instance, I 

page 31 

omit the classes of which it is composed. These classes in turn remain an empty 
phrase if I am ignorant of the elements on which they are based, e.g., wage- 
labour, capital, and so on. These presuppose exchange, division of labour, prices, 
etc. For example, capital is nothing without wage-labour, without value, money, 
price, etc. If, therefore, I were to start with population, it would be a chaotic idea 
of the whole and through more precise determination I would arrive analytically 
at increasingly simple concepts; from the concrete as imagined to increasingly 
tenuous abstractions until I reached the most simple determinations. From there it 
would be necessary to take the journey again backwards until I finally arrived at 
population again, but this time not as a chaotic idea of a whole, but as a rich 
totality with many determinations and relations. The first course is historically the 
one taken by economics at its inception. The seventeenth-century economists, for 
example, always began with the living whole, the population, the nation, the state, 
several states, etc., but they always end by discovering through analysis a few 
determining abstract, general relations, such as division of labour, money, value, 
etc. As soon as these individual moments were more or less clearly established 
and deduced, economic systems were begun which ascended from what is simple, 
such as labour, division of labour, need, exchange-value, to the state, exchange 
between nations and the world market. Scientifically the latter is obviously the 
correct method. The concrete is concrete because it is the summing up of many 
determinations, thus the unity of the manifold. Therefore, it appears in thought as 
a process of summing up, a result, and not the point of departure, although it is the 
real point of departure and thus also the point of departure of perception 
[Anschauung ] and conception. On the first road the rounded 

page 32 

concept was dissolved into an abstract determination; on the second abstract 
determinations lead by way of thought to the reproduction of the concrete. Hegel 
accordingly succumbed to the illusion of conceiving the real as the result of the 
self concentration, self-immersion and self-generated self-movement of thought, 
whereas the method of ascending from the abstract to the concrete is simply the 
way in which thought appropriates the concrete, reproduces it as a concrete in the 
mind. But this is by no means the process of origination of the concrete itself. For 
example, the simplest economic category, e.g., exchange- value, presupposes 



population, a population moreover producing under specific conditions; as well as 
a certain kind of family, or community, or state, etc. It can never exist save as an 
abstract, one-sided relation of an already given concrete, living whole. But 
exchange-value as a category leads an antediluvian existence. Thus to 
consciousness - and philosophical consciousness is determined in this way - for 
which the conceiving mind is the real human being and hence the conceived 
world as such is the only reality, to consciousness, therefore, the movement of the 
categories appears as the real act of production - which unfortunately gets only a 
jolt from outside - whose result is the world; and this (which, however, is again a 
tautology) is true insofar as the concrete totality as a totality of thoughts, as a 
concrete mental phenomenon, is in fact a product of thinking, of conceiving; but 
by no means a product of the concept which thinks and gives birth to itself outside 
and above perception and conception, but a product of the working up of 
perception and conception into concepts. The totality, as it appears in the brain as 
a totality of thoughts, is a product of the thinking mind which appropriates the 
world in the only way possible for it, a way which differs from the artistic, 
religious and practical- 
page 33 

intelligent appropriation of this world. The real subject continues to exist 
independently outside the mind just as before; that is, so long as the mind operates 
merely speculatively, merely theoretically. The subject, society, must invariably 
be present in thought, therefore, as the premise in the theoretical method too. 

But don't these simple categories also have an independent historical or natural 
existence preceding the more concrete ones? That depends. Hegel, for example, 
correctly begins the philosophy of right with possession, as the subject's simplest 
legal relation. But no ownership exists prior to the family or to master- servant 
relations, which are much more concrete relations. On the other hand, it would be 
correct to say that families and clan groups exist which as yet only possess, but 
have no property. The simpler category thus appears in relation to property as a 
relation of simple family or clan associations. In society at a higher stage it 
appears as a comparatively simple relation of a more advanced organization. 
However, the more concrete substratum of which possession is a relation is 
always presupposed. One can imagine an individual savage as possessing. In this 
case, however, possession is not a legal relation. It is wrong to say that 
historically possession develops into the family. On the contrary, possession 
invariably presupposes this "more concrete legal category." Yet this much 
remains: the simple categories express relations in which the less developed 
concrete may have realized itself without as yet positing the more many-sided 
connection or relation which is mentally expressed in the more concrete category; 
while the more developed concrete retains the same category as a subordinate 
relation. Money may exist and did exist historically before capital existed, before 
banks existed, before wage-labour existed, etc. Thus in this respect it can 

page 34 



be said that the simpler category can express the dominant relations of a less 
developed whole or the subordinate relations of a more developed whole, which 
already existed historically before this whole developed in the direction which is 
expressed in a more concrete category. To this extent the course of abstract 
thought, which ascends from the most simple to the composite, would appear to 
conform to the actual historical process. 

It may be said on the other hand that there are certain highly developed, but 
nevertheless historically less mature, social forms in which the highest forms of 
economy, e.g., co-operation, developed division of labour, etc., are found without 
the existence of any sort of money, for instance in Peru. In Slav communities too, 
money - and exchange which conditions it - plays little or no role inside the 
individual community, but does so on their borders, in trade with others; and it is 
altogether wrong to place exchange in the heart of the community as its original 
constitutive element. On the contrary, in the beginning exchange appears in the 
relations among the different communities rather than among members of one and 
the same community. Moreover, although money plays a role very early and 
many-sidedly, nevertheless it is a predominant element in antiquity only among 
one-sidedly developed nations, trading nations. And even in the most advanced 
areas of antiquity, among the Greeks and Romans, its full development, which is 
presupposed in modern bourgeois society, appears only in the period of their 
decay. Thus this quite simple category appears in its intensity historically only in 
the most developed conditions of society. In no way does it permeate all 
economic relations. For example, in the Roman Empire even at the height of its 
developmeat the base remained taxes in kind and deliveries in kind. In fact the 
monetary 

page 35 

system only developed there completely in the army. It never laid hold of the 
totality of labour. Thus, although the simpler category may have existed 
historically before the more concrete one, it can attain its full intensive and 
extensive development precisely in a complex form of society, whereas the more 
concrete one was more completely developed in a less developed form of society. 

Labour seems quite a simple category. The notion of labour in this general 
form, as labour in general, is also extremely old. Nevertheless, conceived in this 
simplicity from an economic point of view, "labour" is just as modern a category 
as the relations which produce this simple abstraction. The Monetary System, for 
example, still places wealth quite objectively as a thing existing outside itself, in 
money. Compared with this standpoint, it was a great advance when the 
Manufacturing or Mercantile System put the source of wealth not in the object but 
in subjective activity - labour in trade and manufacture - but it still considered 
this activity within the narrow confines of money-making. In contrast to this 
system, the Physiocratic one posits one specific form of labour - agriculture - as 
wealth-creating, and the object itself no longer in the guise of money, but as the 
product in general, as the general result of labour. In accordance with the narrow 



confines of the activity, this product always remains a naturally determined 
product, an agricultural product, a product of the earth par excellence. 

It was an immense advance when Adam Smith rejected all restrictions on 
wealth-creating activity - labour as such, neither manufacturing, nor commercial, 
nor agricultural labour, but one as much as the others. The abstract universality of 
wealth-creating activity is accompanied by the universality of the object defined 
as wealth, the product as such, or again 

page 36 

labour as such, but as past, objectified labour. How difficult and immense a 
transition this was is demonstrated by the fact that from time to time Adam Smith 
himself relapses into the Physiocratic System. Now it might seem that in this way 
there was found only the abstract expression for the simplest and most ancient 
relation in which human beings act as producers in whatever form of society. This 
is true in one respect. Not in another. Indifference with regard to a specific kind of 
labour presupposes a highly developed totality of real kinds of labour, no single 
one of which is the predominant one any longer. The most general abstractions 
arise as a rule only together with the richest concrete development, in which one 
thing appears common to many, common to all. At that point it ceases to be 
conceivable in a particular form alone. On the other hand, this abstraction of 
labour as such is not only the intellectual result of a concrete sum of labours. 
Indifference towards specific labour corresponds to a form of society in which 
individuals pass easily from one kind of labour to another, and in which the 
specific kind of labour is accidental, and therefore indifferent, to them. Labour, 
not only as a category but in reality, has become a means to create wealth in 
general and has ceased to be organically tied to particular individuals in a specific 
form. This state of affairs is at its most developed in the United States, the most 
modern form of bourgeois society in existence. Here, then, the abstraction of the 
category "labour," "labour as such," labour sans phrase, the point of departure of 
modern economics, becomes true in practice for the first time. Thus the simplest 
abstraction, which modern economics puts in the forefront and which expresses 
an ancient relation holding in all social formations, nevertheless appears to be true 
in practice as an abstraction only as a category of the most modern society. It 
might be said that what is a historical 

page 37 

product in the United States - this indifference with regard to a particular kind of 
labour - appears among the Russians, for instance, as a spontaneous disposition. 
But there is a devil of a difference between barbarians having a disposition to be 
applied to everything and civilized people who apply themselves to everything. 
And then this indifference of the Russians with regard to the specificity of labour 
corresponds in practice to their being traditionally embedded within one quite 
specific kind of labour, from which they are jarred loose only by external 
influences. 



The example of labour strikingly demonstrates how even the most abstract 
categories, despite their validity - precisely because of their abstraction - for all 
epochs, are themselves equally the product of historical conditions even in the 
specific form of this abstraction, and they possess their full validity only for and 
within these conditions. 

Bourgeois society is the most developed and complex historical organization of 
production. Therefore, the categories which express its relations, the 
comprehension of its structure, also allow an insight into the structure and the 
relations of production of all extinct social formations from the ruins and elements 
of which it built itself up, and the as yet partly un subdued remnants of which it 
still drags along inside itself, while what were mere intimations have developed 
their explicit significance, etc. Human anatomy provides a key to the anatomy of 
the ape. On the other hand, the intimations of higher forms in the subordinate 
species of animals can be understood only when the higher are already known. 
The bourgeois economy thus provides a key to the ancient economy, etc. But by 
no means in the fashion of those economists who obliterate all historical 
differences and who see bourgeois formations in all social formations. If you are 
familiar with 

page 38 

ground-rent, you can understand tribute, tithes, etc. But they do not have to be 
treated as identical. Moreover, since bourgeois society is itself only a 
contradictory form of development, it frequently contains relations from earlier 
societies though only in quite a stunted form or even in the form of travesties. For 
example, communal property. Thus although it is true that the categories of 
bourgeois economics possess some truth for all other social formations, this has to 
be taken cum grano salis.i*] They may contain these formations in a developed, 
stunted, caricatured, etc., form, but invariably with an essential difference. So- 
called historical progress generally depends on the fact that the latest form regards 
earlier ones as stages en route to itself and always conceives them one-sidedly, 
since it is able to criticize itself only rarely and under quite definite conditions - 
of course we are not discussing historical periods which appear to themselves as 
periods of decay. The Christian religion was able to contribute to an objective 
understanding of earlier mythologies only when its self-criticism was to a certain 
extent, so to speak dynamei** ready to start. Similarly, bourgeois economics 
attained an understanding of feudal, ancient and oriental economies only when the 
self-criticism of bourgeois society had begun. Insofar as the bourgeois economy 
did not mythologize by completely identifying itself with the past, its critique of 
the earlier economies, and especially of the feudal economy, with which it still 
had to struggle directly, resembled Christianity's critique of paganism or 
Protestantism's critique of Catholicism. 

In the progress of the economic categories, as in the case of every historical, 
social science, it is always necessary to re- 



* With a grain of salt. —Ed. 
** Potentially (in Greek). —Ed. 



page 39 

member that the subject, in this context modern bourgeois society, is given in the 
mind as well as in reality, and that therefore categories express forms of existence 
and determinations of existence and frequently only individual aspects of this 
particular society, of this subject, and that consequently, scientifically too, this 
society by no means begins merely at the time when it is discussed as such. This 
is to be remembered because it will be immediately decisive for the sequence of 
the [categories]. For example, nothing seems more natural than to begin with 
ground-rent, with landed property, since it is tied up with the earth, the source of 
all production and all existence, and with agriculture, the first form of production 
in all more or less settled societies. But nothing would be more erroneous. In 
every social formation there is a specific kind of production which predominates 
over all the others and whose relations therefore determine their rank and 
influence. It is a general illuminant tingeing all other colours and modifying their 
specific features. It is a special ether determining the specific gravity of 
everything appearing in it. For example, pastoral peoples. (Peoples living 
exclusively on hunting or fishing are outside the point from which real 
development begins.) A certain form of tillage occurs sporadically among them. 
Landed property is determined by this. It is held in common and retains this form 
in larger or smaller measure according to the greater or lesser degree to which 
these peoples maintain their traditions, e.g., communal property among the Slavs. 
Among settled agricultural peoples - the settled state already constituting a great 
advance — where tillage predominates as in ancient and feudal society, even 
industry together with its organization and the forms of property corresponding to 
it has, more or less, the character of landed property and is either completely 
dependent on agri- 
page 40 

culture, as among the earlier Romans, or as in the Middle Ages, copies the 
organization of the countryside in the town and in urban relations. In the Middle 
Ages even capital - unless it was pure money-capital - in the shape of the 
traditional hand tool, etc., retained this character of landed property. It is the 
reverse in bourgeois society. Agriculture increasingly becomes a mere branch of 
industry and is completely dominated by capital. The same applies to ground rent. 
In all forms in which landed property rules, natural relations still predominate. In 
those in which capital rules, the social, historically created elements predominate. 
Ground rent cannot be understood without capital. But capital can be understood 
without rent. Capital is the all-dominant economic power of bourgeois society. It 
must form both the point of departure and the conclusion and it has to be analysed 
before landed property. After they have both been considered separately, their 
interrelation must be considered. 



Therefore it would be impractical and wrong to let the economic categories 
succeed each other in the order in which they were historically decisive. Their 
order of succession is determined rather by their mutual relation in modern 
bourgeois society, and this is the exact opposite of what appears to be their natural 
order or what corresponds to the sequence of historical development. The point at 
issue is not the role that economic relations have historically played in the 
succession of various social formations. Even less is it their sequence "in the 
Idea" (Proudhon ) (a wishy-washy notion of the historical process). But rather 
their structure within modern bourgeois society. 

The purity (abstract determinateness) of the merchant peoples - Phoenicians, 
Carthaginians - in the ancient world follows precisely from the predominance of 
the agricultural 

page 41 

peoples. Capital as merchant's or money-capital appears in this abstract form 
precisely where capital has not yet become the dominant element in society. 
Lombards and Jews occupied the same position with regard to mediaeval agrarian 
societies. 

As a further illustration of the various roles which the same categories have 
played at different stages of society: one of the latest forms of bourgeois society, 
joint-stock companies. But they also appear at its beginning in the form of the 
great privileged trading companies endowed with a monopoly. 

The very concept of national wealth creeps into the works of the economists of 
the seventeenth century as the notion that wealth is created solely for the state and 
that power is proportionate to this wealth - a notion which still survives partly 
among eighteenth-century economists. This was the as yet unconsciously 
hypocritical form in which wealth and its production were proclaimed as the goal 
of modern states and which regarded them merely as a means for producing 
wealth. 

The order has evidently to be arranged in the following way: 1) The general 
abstract determinations, which therefore appertain in some measure to all social 
formations, but in the sense set forth above. 2) The categories which constitute the 
internal structure of bourgeois society and on which the fundamental classes rest. 
Capital, wage-labour, landed property. Their relations. Town and country. The 
three great social classes. Exchange between them. Circulation. The (private) 
credit system. 3) The concentration of bourgeois society in the form of the state. 
Examined in relation to itself. The "unproductive" classes. Taxes. National debt. 
Public credit. Population. Colonies. Emigration. 4) International relations of 
production. International division of labour. International exchange. Exports and 
imports. Rate of exchange. 5) The world market and crises. 

page 42 



4. PRODUCTION. MEANS OF PRODUCTION AND RELATIONS 

OF PRODUCTION. RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION 

AND RELATIONS OF CIRCULATION. 

FORMS OF THE STATE AND FORMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS 

IN RELATION TO RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION AND 
CIRCULATION. LEGAL RELATIONS. FAMILY RELATIONS 

Notes regarding points to be mentioned here and not to be forgotten. 

1) War developed earlier than peace; the way in which certain economic 
relations, e.g., wage-labour, machinery, etc., developed earlier as a result of war 
and in the armies, etc., than inside bourgeois society. The relations between the 
productive forces and the relations of circulation are also particularly plain in the 
army. 

2) Relation of hitherto idealistic to realistic historiography. In particular, the 
so-called history of civilization, the old history of religion and states. (Something 
may be said of the various kinds of previous historiography in this context. So- 
called objective, subjective (moral among others). Philosophical.) 

3) Secondary and tertiary phenomena, in general derivative, transmitted, not 
original relations of production. Influence of international relations here. 

4) Objections to the materialism of this conception. Relation to naturalistic 
materialism. 

5) Dialectic of the concepts productive force {means of production ) and 
relation of production, a dialectic the limits of which are to be determined and 
which does not annul the real differences. 

6) Unequal relation of the development of material production to, e.g., that of 
art. The concept of progress is generally not to be grasped in the usual 
abstractness. Modern art, 

page 43 

etc. This disproportion is not as important and difficult to grasp as within 
practical-social relations themselves. For example, in education. Relation of the 
United States to Europe. However, the really difficult point to discuss here is how 
the relations of production develop unevenly as legal relations. Thus, for example, 
the relation of Roman civil law (less so for criminal and public law) to modern 
production. 



7) This conception appears as a necessary development. But justification of 
chance. How. (Freedom, etc., as well.) (Influence of the means of communication. 
World history has not always existed; history as world history is a result.) 

8) The point of departure is of course the situation determined by nature', 
subjective and objective. Clans, races, etc. 

As regards art, it is well known that certain flourishing periods by no means 
correspond to the general development of society and hence to the material base, 
the skeleton as it were of its organization. For example, the Greeks compared to 
the moderns or also Shakespeare. It is even acknowledged that certain forms of 
art, e.g., the epic, can no longer be produced in their epoch-making classical form 
as soon as the production of art as such has begun; in other words that in the 
domain of art itself certain significant forms are only possible at an undeveloped 
stage of the development of art. If this is the case with the relation between 
different kinds of art within the sphere of art itself, it is not so strange that this 
should be the case with the relation of the entire domain of art to the general 
development of society. The difficulty lies only in the general formulation of 
these contradictions. As soon as they are specified, they are already explained. 

Let us take, for example, the relation of Greek art and that of Shakespeare to 
the present time. It is well known that Greek mythology is not only the arsenal of 
Greek art but also its 

page 44 

foundation. Is the view of nature and of social relations which underlies the Greek 
imagination and therefore Greek [mythology] possible with self-acting mules, 
railways, locomotives and electric telegraphs? What is Vulcan compared with 
Roberts and Co., Jupiter with the lightning conductor, and Hermes with the 
Cr&eacutedit mobilier\m All mythology subdues and dominates and fashions 
the forces of nature in the imagination and through the imagination; it disappears 
therefore with real mastery over them. What becomes of Fama side by side with 
Printing House Square? Greek art presupposes Greek mythology, i.e., nature and 
the social forms are already worked over in an unconsciously artistic way by the 
popular imagination. This is its material. Not just any mythology, i.e., not any 
random unconsciously artistic working over of nature (here including all that is 
objective, and hence society). Egyptian mythology could never be the foundation 
or womb of Greek art. But in any case a mythology. On no account, therefore, a 
social development which excludes every mythological and mythologizing 
relation to nature; which therefore demands of the artist an imagination 
independent of mythology. 

From another aspect: is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or in general 
the Iliad with the printing press and, still more, printing machines? Don't the 
song, the chant and the Muse cease with the printer's bar, so don't the conditions 
necessary for epic poetry disappear? 



But the difficulty is not in understanding that Greek art and epic poetry are tied 
up with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still give 
us aesthetic pleasure and in certain respects still hold as a norm and unattainable 
model. 

A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish. But doesn't he 
enjoy the child's naivete, and mustn't he strive 

page 45 

to reproduce its truth on a higher level himself? Doesn't the special character of 
every epoch come alive in its true nature in the nature of its children? Why 
shouldn't the historical childhood of humanity, in which it attained its most 
beautiful development, exert an eternal charm as a stage that will never recur? 
There are unruly children and precocious children. Many of the ancient peoples 
belong to this category. The Greeks were normal children. The charm of their art 
for us does not contradict the undeveloped stage of society on which it grew. 
Rather it is its result and is inseparably connected with the fact that the immature 
social conditions in which it arose and in which alone it could arise can never 
recur. 



TTT . t , , Original in German 

Written between the end of 

August and the middle of 

September 1857 

First published in Die Neue 
Zeit, Nos. 23-25 (Vol. I), 1902-03 



page 46 



KARL MARX, A CONTRIBUTION TO THE 
CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 

Part One, Franz Duncker, Berlin, 1859 

by Frederick Engels 



I 

The Germans have long since shown that in all spheres of science they are 
equal, and in most of them superior, to the other civilized nations. Only one 
science, political economy, did not count a single German name among its leading 
lights. The reason is obvious. Political economy is the theoretical analysis of 
modern bourgeois society and therefore presupposes developed bourgeois 
conditions, conditions which could not prevail for centuries in Germany after the 
wars of the Reformation and the Peasant Wars and especially the Thirty Years' 
War. The separation of the Netherlands from the Empires forced Germany out 
of world trade and from the outset reduced her industrial development to the 
pettiest proportions. While the Germans were so painfully and slowly recovering 

page 47 

from the devastations of the civil wars, while they were using up all their civic 
energy, which had never been very great, in a fruitless struggle against the 
customs barriers and crazy commercial regulations which every petty princeling 
and imperial baron imposed on the industry of his subjects, while the imperial 
cities with their guild mummery and patricianism were falling into decay — 
Holland, England and France were conquering the leading positions in world 
trade, were founding colony after colony and developing manufacturing industry 
to the highest pitch of prosperity, until finally England assumed the leadership of 
modern bourgeois development through the agency of steam power, which only 
then imparted value to her coal and iron deposits. But no German political 
economy was possible so long as a struggle had still to be waged against such 
ludicrously antiquated remnants of the Middle Ages as fettered the material 
bourgeois development of Germany until 1830. Only with the establishment of 
the Customs Unions did the Germans arrive at a position in which they could at 
least understand political economy. From this time, in fact, there began the import 
of English and French economics for the benefit of the German bourgeoisie. 
Presently the learned fraternity and the bureaucracy seized hold of the imported 
material and worked it up in a fashion which does little credit to the "German 
spirit." From the medley of knights of industry, merchants, schoolmasters and 
bureaucrats dabbling in authorship there arose a German economic literature 
which is paralleled only by the German novel in triteness, shallowness, empty- 
headedness, verbosity and plagiarism. Among practical minded people the 
protectionist school of industrialists was the first to establish itself; and its 
authority, List, is still the best that German bourgeois economic literature has 
produced, although the whole of his glorious work is copied from the 

page 48 

Frenchman Ferrier, the theoretical originator of the Continental System. [20] In 
opposition to this trend the free-trade school was formed in the forties by 
merchants from the Baltic provinces, who stammeringly echoed the English Free 



Traders' arguments with childlike but selfish faith. Finally, among the 
schoolmasters and bureaucrats who had to handle the theoretical side of the 
discipline there were uncritical and desiccated collectors of herbaria like Herr 
Rau, smart-aleck speculators who translated foreign propositions into undigested 
Hegelian language, like Herr Stein, or literary gleaners in the field of the so-called 
history of civilization, like Herr Riehl. The upshot of all this was cameralistics,[2ij 
a mush consisting of all sorts of extraneous matter, with a spattering of eclectic- 
economic sauce of the sort a state-employed law school graduate might find it 
useful to know for his final state board examination. 

While the bourgeoisie, the schoolmasters and the bureaucracy in Germany were 
still labouring to learn by rote, and in some measure to understand, the first 
elements of Anglo-French economics as unassailable dogmas, the German 
proletarian party appeared on the scene. Its whole theoretical existence proceeded 
from the study of political economy, and scientific, independent German 
economics also dates from the moment of its emergence. This German economics 
rests essentially on the materialist conception of history, the basic features of 
which are briefly set forth in the preface* to the above-named work. The main 
points of this preface have already been published in Das Volk.vm for which 
reason we refer to it. The proposition that "the mode of production of material life 
conditions the social, political and intellectual 



* See above, pp. 1-7 . --Ed. 

page 49 

life-process in general"; that all social and political relations, all religious and 
legal systems, all the theoretical outlooks which emerge in history can only be 
understood if the material conditions of life of the corresponding epoch have been 
under stood and the former are derived from these material conditions - this 
proposition was a revolutionary discovery not only for economics but for all 
historical sciences (and all sciences which are not natural sciences are historical). 
"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary 
it is their social being that determines their consciousness." The proposition is so 
simple that it must be self-evident to anyone not bemused by idealist delusions. 
But it has highly revolutionary consequences not only for theory but also for 
practice. "At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces 
of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or - what is 
merely a legal expression for the same thing - with the property relations within 
the framework of which they have hitherto operated. From forms of development 
of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. At that point an era 
of social revolution begins.* With the change in the economic foundation the 
whole immense superstructure is more slowly or more rapidly trans formed. . . . 
The bourgeois relations of production are the last antagonistic form of the social 
process of production - antagonistic not in the sense of an individual antagonism 
but of an antagonism growing out of the social conditions of existence of 



individuals; but the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois 
society simultaneously create the material conditions for the solution of this 
antagonism."** The 



* Engels' italics. —Ed. 

** See above, pp. 3^5. —Ed. 

page 50 

perspective of a tremendous revolution, the most tremendous revolution of all 
time, accordingly presents itself to us as soon as we pursue our materialist thesis 
further and apply it to the present. 

But closer consideration immediately shows that this apparently simple 
proposition that the consciousness of men depends on their being and not the 
other way round at once and in its first consequences runs directly counter to all 
idealism, even the most concealed. All established and conventional views on 
historical matters are negated by it. The whole traditional mode of political 
reasoning falls to the ground; patriotic high-mindedness indignantly bristles up 
against such an unprincipled interpretation. It was thus inevitable that the new 
point of view should shock not only the representatives of the bourgeoisie but also 
the mass of French socialists who would fain unhinge the world with the magic 
formula, liberte, &eacutegalite, fraternite. But above all it excited great wrath 
among the German vulgar-democratic ranters. Nevertheless they have by 
preference attempted to exploit the new ideas in plagiaristic fashion, although 
with a rare lack of understanding. 

The development of the materialist conception for even a single historical 
example was a scientific work which would have demanded years of tranquil 
study, for it is obvious that nothing can be done here with mere phrases, that only 
a mass of critically sifted historical material which has been completely mastered 
can enable one to accomplish such a task. The February Revolution thrust our 
Party on to the political stage and thus made the pursuit of purely scientific aims 
impossible for it. Nevertheless, the fundamental outlook runs like a red thread 
through all the literary productions of the Party. In all of them it is demonstrated 
in each particular case how the 

page 51 

action always originated from direct material impulses and not from the phrases 
accompanying it, how on the contrary the political and legal phrases, like the 
political actions and their results, followed from the material impulses. 

When, after the defeat of the Revolution of 1848-49, a period set in during 
which it became increasingly impossible to influence Germany from abroad, our 
Party relinquished the field of emigrant squabbles - for that remained the only 



action possible - to the vulgar democrats. While the latter indulged in intrigues to 
their hearts' content, scuffling today, fraternizing tomorrow and washing all their 
dirty linen in public again the day after, while they went begging throughout 
America and started a new scandal immediately after over the division of the few 
coins garnered - our Party was glad to find some respite for study again. It had 
the great advantage of possessing a new scientific outlook as its theoretical 
foundation, the working out of which kept it fully occupied; for this reason alone 
it could never become so deeply demoralized as the "great men" of the 
emigration. 

The first fruit of these studies is the book under review. 



II 

In a work like the one before us there can be no question of a merely desultory 
criticism of separate chapters taken from economics, of the isolated treatment of 
this or that disputed economic question. Rather it is from the outset designed as a 
systematic integration of the whole complex of economic science, as a coherent 
development of the laws of bourgeois production and bourgeois exchange. This 
development is at the same time a critique of the whole of economic 

page 52 

literature, for economists are nothing but the interpreters of and apologists for 
these laws. 

Since Hegel's death hardly any attempt had been made to develop a science in 
its own inner interconnection. The official Hegelian school had appropriated only 
the most simple devices from the master's dialectics and applied them to anything 
and everything, often moreover with ludicrous clumsiness. For it Hegel's whole 
heritage was confined to a sheer pattern, by means of which any subject could be 
knocked into shape, and to a compilation of words and phrases whose only 
remaining purpose was to turn up at the right time wherever ideas and positive 
knowledge were lacking. Thus it came about that, as a Bonn professor said, these 
Hegelians understood nothing about anything but could write about everything. 
And that's just what their stuff was like. Yet for all their conceit these gentlemen 
were sufficiently conscious of their weakness to give major problems the widest 
possible berth; the old periwigged learning held the field by its superiority in 
positive knowledge, and only after Feuerbach declared speculative conceptions 
untenable did Hegelianism gradually fall asleep; and it seemed as if the reign of 
the old metaphysics with its rigid categories had begun anew in science. 

The thing had its natural basis. After the regime of the Hegelian Diadochi,[23] 
which had wound up in empty phrases, there naturally followed an epoch in 
which the positive content of science again outweighed its formal side. But at the 



same time Germany plunged into the natural sciences with quite extraordinary 
energy, in accordance with the immense bourgeois development after 1848; and 
with the coming into fashion of these sciences, in which the speculative trend 
never achieved any kind of importance, there was a recrudescence 

page 53 

of the old metaphysical mode of thinking, including the extreme platitudes of 
Wolff. Hegel fell into oblivion and there developed the new natural- scientific 
materialism, which is virtually indistinguishable theoretically from that of the 
eighteenth century and mostly only enjoys the advantage of having a richer 
natural- scientific material available, especially in chemistry and physiology. We 
find the narrow-minded philistine mode of thought of the pre-Kantian period 
reproduced in its most banal form by B&uumlchner and Vogt; and even 
Moleschott, who swears by Feuerbach, continually flounders most amusingly 
among the very simplest of categories. The lumbering cart horse of bourgeois 
workaday understanding naturally stops dead in confusion before the ditch 
separating essence from appearance, cause from effect; but one must not ride cart 
horses if one goes gaily hunting over the badly broken ground of abstract thought. 

Here, therefore, was another problem to be solved, one which had nothing to do 
with political economy as such. How was science to be treated? There was, on the 
one hand, the Hegelian dialectics in the wholly abstract "speculative" form in 
which Hegel had bequeathed it, and, on the other hand, the ordinary, essentially 
Wolffian, metaphysical method, which had again become fashionable and in 
which the bourgeois economists too had written their fat disjointed volumes. This 
latter method had been so annihilated theoretically by Kant and particularly by 
Hegel that only sloth and the absence of any simple alternative method could 
render possible its continued existence in practice. On the other hand, the 
Hegelian method was absolutely unusable in its existing form. It was essentially 
idealistic, and here the problem was the development of a world outlook more 
materialistic than any previous one. Hegel's method took 

page 54 

pure thought as its point of departure, and here one ought to have started from the 
most stubborn facts. A method which, according to its own avowal, "came from 
nothing through nothing to nothing" was by no means suitable in this form. 
Nevertheless, it was the only element in all the available logical material which 
could be used at least as a starting point. It had not been criticized or overthrown; 
none of the opponents of the great dialectician had been able to make a breach in 
its proud edifice. It had fallen into oblivion because the Hegelian school had not 
the slightest idea of what to do with it. Therefore, it was above all necessary to 
subject the Hegelian method to a thoroughgoing critique. 

What distinguished Hegel's mode of thought from that of all other philosophers 
was the tremendous historical sense on which it was based. Though abstract and 



idealist in form, the development of his thoughts always runs parallel with the 
development of world history, and the latter is really meant to be only the test of 
the former. If this thus reversed the correct relation and stood it on its head, the 
real content nevertheless entered everywhere into philosophy; all the more so 
since Hegel - unlike his disciples - did not parade ignorance, but was one of the 
most erudite intellects of all time. He was the first to try and show that there is a 
development, an inner coherence, in history, and however strange much in his 
philosophy of history may seem to us now, the grandeur of the basic conception is 
still admirable today, compared both with his predecessors and with those who 
following him indulged in general reflections concerning history. This 
magnificent conception of history is all-pervasive in the Phenomenology, the 
Aesthetics, and the History of Philosophy, and the material is everywhere 

page 55 

handled historically, in a definite historical connection, even if in an abstract 
distorted manner. 

This epoch-making conception of history was tlhe direct theoretical premise of 
the new materialist outlook, and this alone provided a connecting point for the 
logical method, too. Since this forgotten dialectics had led to such results even 
from the standpoint of "pure thought" and had, moreover, so easily settled 
accounts with the whole of the earlier logic and metaphysics, there must at any 
rate have been more to it than sophistry and hairsplitting. But the critique of this 
method, which all official philosophy had fought shy of and still does so, was no 
small matter. 

Marx was and is the only one who could undertake the work of extracting from 
the Hegelian logic the kernel containing Hegel's real discoveries in this field, and 
of establishing the dialectical method, divested of its idealistic wrappings, in the 
simple shape in which it becomes the only correct form of developmental 
thinking. We consider the working out of the method which underlies Marx's 
critique of political economy a result of hardly less importance than the basic 
materialist conception. Even according to the method acquired, the citique of 
economics could still be arranged in two ways - historically or logically. Since in 
history, as in its literary reflection, development on the whole proceeds from the 
most simple to the more complex relations, the historical development of the 
literature of political economy provided a natural guiding thread with which the 
critique could link up, and on the whole the economic categories would thus 
appear in the same order as in the logical development. This form apparently has 
the advantage of greater clarity, since indeed it is the actual development that is 
followed, but in fact it would thus become, at most, 

page 56 

more popular. History often moves in leaps and zigzags, and it would have to be 
followed up throughout, so that not only would much material of slight 



importance have to be included, but also the train of thought would frequently 
have to be inter rupted; moreover, it would be impossible to write the history of 
economics without that of bourgeois society, and the task would thus become 
endless because of the absence of any preliminary studies. The logical method of 
treatment was therefore the only suitable one. But as a matter of fact this is 
nothing but the historical method, only stripped of its historical form and its 
disturbing fortuities. The train of thought must begin at the same point as the 
beginning of this history, and its further progress will be nothing but the reflection 
of the historical process in an abstract and theoretically consistent form; a 
corrected reflection but corrected in accordance with laws yielded by the actual 
historical process itself, since each factor can be examined at the point of 
development of its full maturity, of its classical form. 

With this method we proceed from the first and simplest relation which is 
historically, factually available, thus in this context from the first economic 
relation to be found. We analyse this relation. The fact that it is a relation already 
implies that it has two sides which are related to each other. Each of these sides is 
considered by itself; this reveals the nature of their mutual behaviour, their 
reciprocal action. Contradictions will result which demand a solution. But as we 
are not considering an abstract mental process that takes place solely in our 
minds, but a real process which actually took place at some particular time or 
which is still taking place, these contradictions, too, will have developed in 
practice and will have probably found their solution. We shall trace the nature of 
this solution and find that it has been effected by the 

page 57 

establishment of a new relation, whose two opposite sides we shall now have to 
work out, and so on. 

Political economy begins with commodities, with the moment when products 
are exchanged for one another — whether by individuals or by primitive 
communities. The product that appears in exchange is a commodity. But it is a 
commodity solely because a relation between two persons or communities 
attaches to the thing, the product, the relation between producer and consumer 
who are here no longer united in the same person. Here at once we have an 
example of a peculiar fact, which runs through the whole of economics and which 
has caused serious confusion in the minds of bourgeois economists - economics 
deals not with things but with relations between persons, and in the last resort 
between classes; these relations however are always tied to things and appear as 
things. This interconnection, which in isolated cases it is true has dawned on this 
or that economist, was first discovered by Marx for all economics, and he thus 
made the most difficult problems so simple and clear that even bourgeois 
economists will now be able to grasp them. 

If now we consider commodities from their various aspects, that is in their 
complete development and not as they first developed laboriously in primitive 



barter between two primitive communities, they present themselves to us from the 
two points of view of use-value and of exchange-value, and here we immediately 
enter the sphere of economic controversy. Anyone wishing to find a striking 
instance of the fact that the German dialectical method at its present stage of 
development is at least as superior to the old, shallow, garrulous metaphysical 
method as railways are to the means of transport of the Middle Ages, should look 
up Adam Smith or any other official economist of repute to see how much distress 
exchange- 
page 58 

value and use-value caused these gentlemen, how hard it was for them to keep the 
two properly apart and comprehend each in its specificity, and should then 
compare the clear and simple exposition in Marx. 

After use-value and exchange-value have been explained, the commodity is 
presented as the immediate unity of both, in the form in which it enters the 
process of exchange. What contradictions arise here may be found on pp. 20 and 
21. [24] We merely note that these contradictions are not only of theoretical, abstract 
interest, but also reflect the difficulties originating from the nature of direct 
exchange relations, i.e., simple barter, and the impossibilities in which this first 
crude form of exchange necessarily terminates. The solution of these 
impossibilities is to be found in the fact that the property of representing the 
exchange-value of all other commodities is transferred to a special commodity - 
money. Money or simple circulation is then analysed in the second chapter, 
namely, 1) money as the measure of value, in which connection value measured 
in terms of money, price, is more closely defined; 2) money as means of 
circulation and 3) as the unity of both determinations, as real money, as the 
representative of all material bourgeois wealth. This closes the development of the 
first part, reserving the conversion of money into capital for the second part. 

One can see that with this method, the logical development need by no means 
be confined to the purely abstract sphere. On the contrary, it requires historical 
illustration and constant contact with reality. These proofs are therefore 
introduced in great variety, comprising references both to the actual course of 
history at various stages of social development and to the economic literature, in 
which the clear working out of definitions of economic relations is pursued from 
the outset. Thus 



page 59 



the critique of particular, more or less one-sided or confused interpretations is 
already substantially given in the logical exposition itself and can be kept quite 
short. We shall deal with the economic content of the book in a third article. [25] 



Written August 3-15, 1859 Original in German 

Published in Das Volk, Nos. 14 
and 16, August 6 and 20, 1859 



From Marx 
to Mao 


Marx and Engels 
Collection 


~ ,. Notes on 

^^ the Text 
Guide _ , 

Below 



page 60 



NOTES 



[1] Marx's Zur Kritik der Politischen &Oumlkonomie (A Contribution to the Critique of Political 
Economy ), which marks an important stage in the development of Marxist political economy, was 
written between August 1858 and January 1859. According to Marx's original plan the entire work 
was to consist of six books, in the first of which he intended to give an analysis of capital. 

Although the first edition of the Critique, which was published in Berlin in 1859, was marked 
"Part One," no further parts appeared, and Marx subsequently abandoned his initial design and 
planned to write a work on capital in four volumes, [p.i] 

[2] Rheinische Zeitung f&uumlr Politik, Handel und Gewerbe (Rhine Gazette for Politics, Trade 
and Industry ) - a daily published in Cologne from January 1, 1842, to March 31, 1843. It was 
founded by members of the bourgeoisie in the Rhine Province who were opposed to Prussian 
absolutism. Marx became a contributor in April 1842 and chief editor in the following October. Its 
revolutionary and democratic character became more pronounced under his editorship. The 
government established a specially strict censorship over the paper and subsequently closed it 
down, [p.2] 

[3] Allgemeine Zeitung (General Journal ) — a reactionary daily founded in 1798 and published in 
Augsburg from 1810 tn 1882. [p.2] 

[4] Deutsch-Franz&oumlsische Jahrb&uumlcher (German-French Yearbooks ) — a German 
publication edited by Karl Marx and Arnold Ruge. Actually, only one issue, a double number, 
came out in February 1844. In addition to Marx's Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. 
Einleitung (A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Introduction ), 

page 61 



the issue contained other essays by Marx and Engels, which marked the authors' adoption of a 
materialist and communist standpoint, [p.2] 

[5] The reference is to Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, which is included as an 
appendix in Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Lawrence and Wishart, 
London, 1969, pp. 175-209. [p.5] 

[6] See Marx and Engels, On Britain, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1962, pp. 

3-338. [p.5] 

[7] An allusion to The German Ideology, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1965. [p.5] 

[8] Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Lawrence and Wishart, London, no date. This edition 
also contains as an appendix Marx's On the Question of Free Trade, which is mentioned in the 
previous sentence, [p.5] 

[9] Marx is referring to Wage-Labour and Capital. (See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, FLPH, 
Moscow, 1958, Vol. I, pp. 70-105.) [p.5] 

[10] The German Workers' Association was founded by Marx and Engels towards the end of 
August 1847. Its aim was the political education of German workers living in Belgium and the 
propagation of scientific communism, [p.5] 

[11] Neue Rheinische Zeitung (New Rhine Gazette ) — a daily published in Cologne from June 1, 
1848, to May 19, 1849, which was the militant organ of the proletarian wing of the democratic 
movement. Marx was its editor-in-chief; Marx and Engels wrote leading articles which determined 
its attitude to the principal problems of the revolution in Germany and Europe. After the defeat of 
the German revolution the paper ceased publication. Lenin said that the Neue Rheinische Zeitung 
"to this very day remains the best and the unsurpassed organ of the revolutionary proletariat." (V. 
I. Lenin, Karl Marx , Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1974, p. 50.) [p.6] 

[12] New York Daily Tribune — an American newspaper published from 1841 to 1924. Marx was a 
contributor from August 1851 to March 1862. At Marx's request, many of the articles were written 
by Engels. [p.6] 

[13] This profound and masterly Introduction is an unfinished rough draft, which was found 
among Marx's papers after his death. It was first published in the German Social-Democratic 
periodical Die Neue Zeit (New Times ) in 1903 and constitutes the first of the set of manuscripts 
published under the title Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen &Oumlkonomie (Rohentwurf), 
Moscow, 1939 and Berlin, 1953 (an English version is 

page 62 

Grundrisse, Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft ), Penguin Books, 
London, 1973). [p.8] 

[14] Throughout the Introduction, Marx generally uses the word "determination" according to its 
meaning in logic, i.e., as delimitation, or as the rendering of a notion more definite by the addition 
of an attribute or attributes, [p.nj 

[15] See John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Vol. I, Book I, Production, [p. 12] 



[16] Cf. H. Storch, Consid&eacuterations sur la nature du revenu national, Paris, 1824. pp. 144- 

59. [p.22] 

[17] Soci&eacutete g&eacuten&eacuterale de cr&eacutedit mobilier — a large French joint- stock 
company set up in 1852 by the brothers P&eacutereire, who were originally Saint-Simonians but 
became Bonapartists. Its main purpose was to act as an intermediary in credit operations and to 
further the establishment of industrial limited liability companies. The major part of the company's 
income was derived from speculative transactions on the stock exchange. Cr&eacutedit mobilier 
went bankrupt in 1867 and was liquidated in 1871. The rise of this new type of financial enterprise 
in the 1850s was symptomatic of this period of reaction which was marked by unbridled 
speculation in stocks, [p.44] 

[18] The Netherlands passed to Spain when the Holy Roman Empire was divided in October 1555. 
It subsequently freed itself from Spanirh rule and became an independent republic. In consequence 
of the separation of the Netherlands, Germany was deprived of direct access to the principal 
maritime routes and had to depend on the Dutch carrying trade; this hampered her economic 
development, [p.46] 

[19] The Customs Union was formed under Prussian hegemony in 1854 and comprised most 
German states apart from Austria. By abolishing internal customs barriers it created a common 
German market, [p.47] 

[20] The Continental System which was introduced by Napoleon in 1806 prohibited the European 
import of British goods. It was nominally adhered to by Spain, Naples and Holland, and later also 
by Prussia, Denmark, Russia, Austria and other countries, [p.48] 

[21] Cameralistics — the curriculum of administrative and economic subjects taught at German 
universities, [p.48] 

[22] Das Volk (The People ) — a German weekly published in London from May 7 to August 
20,1859. Marx and Engels were contributors, [p.48] 

[23] Diadochi: Alexander of Macedon's successors, whose internecine warfare after his death led 
to the disintegration of the empire. Engels 

page 63 

here applies this term ironically to the official representatives of the Hegelian school in the 
German universities, [p.52] 

[24] See Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Lawrence and Wishart, 
London, 1971, pp. 43-44. [p.58] 

[25] The third part of this review did not appear and the manuscript has not been found, [p.59]