I. PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION, DISTRIBUTION, EXCHANGE (CIRCULATION)
(a) To begin with, the question under discussion is 'material
Individuals producing in a society, and hence the socially determined
production of individuals, is of course the point of departure. The
solitary and isolated hunter or fisherman, who serves Adam Smith and
Ricardo as a starting point, is one of the unimaginative fantasies of
eighteen-century romances a la Robinson Crusoe; and despite the
assertions of social historians, these by no means signify simply a
reaction against over-refinement and reversion to a misconceived natural
No more is Rousseau's 'contrat social', which by means of a contract
establishes a relationship and connection between subjects that are by
nature independent, based in this kind of naturalism.
This is an illusion and nothing but the aesthetic illusion of the small
and big Robinsonades.
It is, on the contrary, the anticipation of "bourgeois society", which
began to evolve in the sixteen century and in the eighteen century made
giant strides towards maturity.
The individual in this society of free competition seems to be rid of
natural ties, etc., which made him an appurtenance (appendage, R.R.)
of a particular, limited aggregation of human beings in previous
historical epochs. The prophets of the eighteenth century, on whose
shoulders Adam Smith and Ricardo were still wholly standing, envisaged
this 18th-century individual -a 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.
They saw this individual not as an historical result, but as the
starting point of history; not as something evolving in the course of
history, but posited by nature, because for them this individual was in
conformity with nature, in keeping with their idea of human nature.
This delusion has been characteristic of every new epoch hitherto.
Steuart, who in some respect was in opposition to the eighteenth
century and as an aristocrat tended rather to regard things from an
historical standpoint, avoided this naive view.
The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the
individual, and accordingly also the producing individual, appear to
be dependent and to belong to a larger whole.
At first, the individual in a still quite natural manner is part of
the family and of the tribe which evolves from the family; later he
is part of a community, of one of the different forms of the community
which arise from the conflict and the merging of tribes.
It is not until the eighteenth century that in bourgeois society the
various forms of the social texture confront the individual as merely
means towards his private ends, as external necessity.
But the epoch which produces this standpoint, namely that of the
solitary individual, is precisely the epoch of the (as yet) most highly
developed social (according to this standpoint, general) relations.
Man is a 'zoon politikon' (social animal. Aristoteles, "De Republica",
Lib. I, Cap. 2 -Ed.) in the most literal sense: he is not only a social
animal, but an animal that can be individualised only within society.
Production by a solitary individual outside society -a rare event, which
might occur when a civilised person who has already absorbed the dynamic
social forces is accidentally cast into the wilderness- is just as
preposterous as the development of speech without individuals who live
'together' and talk to one another.
It is unnecessary to dwell upon this point further. It need not have
been mentioned at all, if this inanity, which had rhyme and reason in
the works of eighteenth-century writers, were not expressly introduced
once more into modern political economy by Bastiat, Carey, Proudhon,
It is of course very pleasant for Proudhon, for instance, to be able to
explain the origin of an economic relationship -whose historical
evolution he does not know- in an historico-philosophical manner by
means of mythology; alleging that 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' ( platitudes,
Thus when we speak of production, we always have in mind production at
a definite stage of social development, production by individuals in a
It might therefore seem that, in order to speak of production at all, we
must either trace the various phases in the historical process of
development, or else declare from the very beginning that we are
examining 'one' particular historical period, as for instance modern
bourgeois production, which is indeed our real subject-matter.
All periods of production, however, have certain features in common:
they have certain common categories.
'Production in general' is an abstraction, but a sensible abstraction
in so far as it actually emphasises and defines the common aspects and
thus avoids repetition. Yet, this 'general' concept, or the common
aspect which has been brought to light by comparison, is itself a
multifarious compound comprising divergent categories. Some elements are
found in all epochs, others are common to a few epochs. The most modern
period and the most ancient period will have [certain] categories in
common. Production without them is inconceivable.
But although the most highly developed languages have laws and
categories in common with the most primitive languages, it is precisely
their divergence from these general and common features which
constitutes their development.
It is necessary to distinguish those definitions which apply to
production in general, in order not to overlook the essential
differences existing despite the unity that follows from the very fact
that the subject, mankind, and the object, nature, are the same. For
instance, on failure to perceive this fact depends the entire wisdom
of modern economists who prove the eternity and harmony of existing
For example, no production is possible without an instrument of
production, even if this instrument is simply the hand. It is not
possible without past, accumulated labour, even if this labour is only
the skill acquired by repeated practice and concentrated in the hand
of a savage.
Capital is among other things also an instrument of production, and also
past, materialised labour. Consequently capital is a universal and
eternal relation given by nature -that is, provided one omits precisely
those specific factors which turn the "instrument of production" or
"accumulated labour" into capital. The whole history of the relations of
production thus appears, for instance in Carey's writings, as a
falsification malevolently brought about by the government.
Just as there is no production in general, so also there is no general
production. Production is always a 'particular' branch of production
-e.g. agriculture, cattle-breeding, manufacture- or it is the 'totality'
of production. Political economy, however, is not technology. The
relation of the general categories of production at a given social stage
to the particular forms of production is to be set forth elsewhere
Finally, not only is production particular production, but it is
invariably only a definite social corpus, a social subject, that is
engaged in a wider or narrower totality of productive spheres. The
relation of the academic presentation to the actual process does not
belong here either. 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 which appears under the heading "Production", see for
instance John Stuart Mill**- which deals with the 'general conditions'
of all production. This general part comprises or purports to comprise:
1. The conditions without which production production cannot be carried
on. This means in fact only that the essential factors required for
any kind of production are indicated. But this amounts actually, as
we shall see, to a few very simple definitions, which are further
expanded into trivial tautologies.
2. The conditions which promote production to a larger or smaller
degree, as in the case of Adam Smith's progressive and stagnant state
of society. To give this, which in Smith's work has its value as an
'appercu' (insight. R.R.), to give it scientific significance,
research into the 'degree of productivity' at various periods in the
development of individual nations would have to be conducted;
strictly speaking, such an investigation lies outside the framework
of the subject, those aspects which are however relevant to it ought
to be mentioned in connection with the development of competition,
The answer in its general form amounts to the general statement that
an industrial nation achieves its highest productivity when it is
altogether at the height of its historical development. (In fact, a
nation is at the height of its industrial development so long as not
the gain but gaining remains its principal aim. In this respect the
Yankees are superior to the English.)
Or else that for example certain races, formations, climates, natural
circumstances, such as maritime position, fertility of the soil,
etc., are more conducive to production than others. This again
amounts to the tautological statement that the production of wealth
grows easier in the measure that its subjective and objective
elements become available.
But all this is not really what the economists are concerned about in
the general part. It is rather -see for example Mill- that production,
as distinct from distribution, etc., is to be presented as governed by
eternal natural laws which are independent of history, and at the same
time 'bourgeois' relations are clandestinely passed off as irrefutable
natural laws of society 'in abstracto'. This is the more or less
conscious purpose of the whole procedure.
As regards distribution, however, it is said that men have indeed
indulged in a certain amount of free choice. Quite apart from the crude
separation of production and distribution and their real interconnection,
it should be obvious from the outset that, however dissimilar the mode
of distribution at the various stages of society may be, it must be
possible, just as in the case of production, to emphasise the common
aspects, and it must be likewise possible to confuse and efface all
historical differences in laws that are 'common to all mankind'.
For example, the slave, the serf, the wage-worker, they all receive an
amount of food enabling them to exist as slave, serf or wage-worker. 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
clergyman who lives on tithes, all receive a portion of the social
product which is determined by laws different from those that determine
the portion of the slave, and so on. The two principal factors which all
economists include in this section are:
1) property and
2) its protection by the judiciary, police, etc.
Only a very brief reply is needed:
Regarding 1: production is always appropriation of nature by an
individual within and with the help of a definite social
In this context it is tautological to say that property
(appropriation) is a condition of production. But it is
quite ridiculous to make a leap from this to a distinct
form of property, e.g., private property (this is moreover
an antithetical form, which similarly presupposes 'non
property' as a condition).
History has shown, on the contrary, that common property
(e.g., among the Indians, Slavs, ancient Celts, etc.) is
the original form, and in the shape of communal property it
plays a significant role for a long time.
The question whether wealth develops faster under this or
under that form of property is not yet under discussion at
this point. It is tautological however to state that where
no form of property exists there can be no production and
hence no society either. Appropriation which appropriates
nothing is a contradiction in terms.
Regarding 2: safeguarding of what has been acquired, etc. If these
trivialities are reduced to their real content, they say
more than their authors realise, namely that each mode of
production produces its specific legal relations, political
It is a sign of crudity and lack of comprehension that
organically coherent factors are brought into haphazard
relation with one another, i.e., into a simple reflex
connection. The bourgeois economists have merely in view
that production proceeds more smoothly with modern police
than, e.g., under club-law. They forget, however, that
club-law too is law, and that the law of the stronger, only
in a different form, still survives even in their
While the social conditions appropriate to a particular stage of
production are either still in the course of evolution or already in a
state of dissolution, disturbances naturally occur in the process of
production, although these may be of varying degree and extent.
To recapitulate: there are categories which are common to all stages of
production and are established by reasoning as general categories; the
so-called 'general conditions' of all and any production, however, are
nothing but abstract conceptions which do not define any of the actual
historical stages of production.
2. THE GENERAL RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION TO DISTRIBUTION,
EXCHANGE AND CONSUMPTION
Before starting upon a further analysis of production it is necessary
to consider the various sections which economists place alongside it.
The quite obvious conception is this:
In the process of production members of society appropriate (produce,
fashion) natural products in accordance with human requirements;
distribution determines the share the individual receives of these
products; exchange supplies him with the particular products into which
he wants to convert the portion accorded to him as a result of
distribution; finally, in consumption the products become objects of
use, i.e., they are appropriated by individuals.
Production creates articles corresponding to requirements;
distribution allocates them according to social laws;
exchange in its turn distributes the goods, which have already been
allocated, in conformity with individual needs;
finally, in consumption the product leaves this social movement, it
becomes the direct object and servant of an individual need, which its
Production thus appears as the point of departure,
consumption as the goal,
distribution and exchange as the middle, which has a dual form since,
according to the definition, distribution is actuated by society and
exchange is actuated by individuals.
In production persons acquire an objective aspect, and in consumption
objects (in the manuscript: "persons".Ed.) acquire a subjective aspect;
in distribution it is society which by means of dominant general rules
mediates between production and consumption; in exchange, this mediation
occurs as a result of random decisions of individuals.
Distribution determines the proportion (the quantity) of the products
accruing to the individual, exchange determines the products in which
the individual claims to make up the share assigned to him by
Production, distribution, exchange and consumption thus form a proper
syllogism; production represents the general, distribution and exchange
the particular, and consumption the individual case which sums up the
whole. This is indeed a sequence, but a very superficial one.
Production is determined by general laws of nature;
distribution by random social factors, it may therefore exert a more or
less beneficial influence on production;
exchange, a formal social movement, lies between these two;
and consumption, as the concluding act, which is regarded not only as
the final aim but as the ultimate purpose, falls properly outside the
sphere of economy, except in so far as it in turn exerts a reciprocal
action on the point of departure thus once again initiating the whole
The opponents of the economists who accuse the latter of crudely
separating interconnected elements, either argue from the same
standpoint or even from a lower one, no matter whether these opponents
come from within or without the domain of political economy.
Nothing is more common than the reproach that the economists regard
production too much as a goal in itself, and that distribution is
equally important. This argument is based on the concept of the
economists that distribution is a separate and independent sphere
Another argument is that the different factors are not considered as a
single whole; as though this separation had forced its way from the
textbook into real life and not, on the contrary, from real life into
the textbooks, and as though it were a question of the dialectical
reconciliation of concepts and not of the resolution of actually
a.[Production and Consumption]
Production is simultaneously consumption as well. It is consumption in
a dual form -subjective and objective consumption.
[Firstly,] the individual, who develops his abilities while producing,
expends them as well, using them up in the act of production,
just as in natural procreation vital energy is consumed.
Secondly, it is consumption of the means of production, which are used
and used up and in part (as for instance fuel) are broken
down into simpler components. It similarly involves
consumption of raw material which is absorbed and does not
retain its original shape and quality.
The act of production itself is thus in all its phases also an act of
consumption. The economists concede this. They call 'productive
consumption' both production that is simultaneously identical with
consumption, and consumption which is directly concurrent with
production. The identity of production and consumption amounts to
Spinoza's proposition: 'Determinatio est negatio'.
But this definition of productive consumption is only advanced in order
to separate consumption that is identical with production from
consumption in the proper sense, which is regarded by contrast as the
destructive antithesis of production. Let us therefore consider
Consumption is simultaneously also production, just as in nature the
production of a plant involves the consumption of elemental forces and
chemical materials. It is obvious that man produces his own body,
e.g., through feeding, one form of consumption. But the same applies to
any other kind of consumption which in one way or another contributes to
the production of some aspect of man. Hence this is consumptive
production. Nevertheless, says political economy, this type of
production that is identical with consumption is a second phase arising
from the destruction of the first product.
In the first type of production the producer assumes an objective
aspect, in the second type the objects created by him assume a personal
aspect. Hence this consuming production -although it represents a direct
unity of production and consumption- is essentially different from
production proper. The direct unity, in which production is concurrent
with consumption and consumption with production, does not affect their
Production is thus at the same time consumption, and consumption is at
the same time production. Each is simultaneously its opposite. But an
intermediary movement takes place between the two at the same time.
Production leads to consumption, for which it provides the material;
consumption without production would have no object. But consumption
also leads to production by providing for its products the subject for
whom they are products. The product only attains its final consummation
in consumption. A railway on which no one travels, which is therefore
not used up, not consumed, is potentially but not actually a railway.
Without production there is no consumption, but without consumption
there is no production either, since in that case production would be
useless. Consumption produces production in two ways.
1. Because a product becomes a real product only through consumption.
For example, a dress becomes really a dress only by being worn, a
house which is uninhabited is indeed not really a house; in other
words a product as distinct from a simple natural object manifests
itself as a product, 'becomes' a product, only in consumption. It is
only consumption which, by destroying the product, gives it the
finishing touch, for the product is a product, not because it is
materialised activity, but only in so far as it is an object for the
2. Because consumption creates the need for 'new' production, and
therefore provides the conceptual, intrinsically actuating reason
for production, which is the-precondition for production. Consumption
furnishes the impulse to produce, and also provides the object which
acts as the determining purpose of production.
If it is evident that externally production supplies the object of
consumption, it is equally evident that consumption 'posits' the
object of production as a 'concept', an internal image, a need, a
motive, a purpose. Consumption furnishes the object of production in
a form that is still subjective. There is no production without a
need, but consumption re-creates the need.
This is matched on the side of production,
1. by the fact that production supplies the material, the object of
consumption. Consumption without an object is no consumption, in this
respect, therefore, production creates, produces consumption.
2. But production provides not only the object of consumption, it also
gives consumption a distinct form, a character, a finish. Just as
consumption puts the finishing touch on the product as a product, so
production puts the finishing touch to consumption.
'For one thing', the object is not simply an object in general, but a
particular object which must be consumed in a particular way, a way
determined by production.
Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat
eaten with knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat
with the help of hands, nails and teeth.
Production thus produces not only the object of consumption but also
the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively.
Production therefore creates the consumer.
3. Production not only provides the material to satisfy a need, but it
also provides the need for the material. When consumption emerges
from its original primitive crudeness and immediacy -and its
remaining in that state would be due to the fact that production was
still primitively crude- then it is itself as a desire brought about
by the object. The need felt for the object is induced by the
perception of the object.
An 'object d'art' creates a public that has artistic taste and is
able to enjoy beauty -and the same can be said of any other product.
Production accordingly produces not only an object for the subject,
but also a subject for the object.
Hence production produces consumption:
1) by providing the material of consumption;
2) by determining the mode of consumption;
3) by creating in the consumer a need for the objects which it first
presents as products.
It therefore produces the object of consumption, the mode of consumption
and the urge to consume.
Similarly, consumption produces the 'predisposition' of the producer by
positing him as a purposive requirement.
The identity of consumption and production has three aspects:
1. 'Direct identity': Production is consumption and consumption is
production. Consumptive production and productive consumption.
Economists call both productive consumption, but they still make a
distinction. The former figures in their work as reproduction, the
latter as productive consumption. All investigations of the former
are concerned with productive and unproductive labour, those of the
latter with productive and non-productive consumption.
2. Each appears as a means of the other, as being induced by it; this is
called their mutual dependence; they are thus brought into mutual
relation and appear to be indispensable to each other, but
nevertheless remain extrinsic to each other. Production provides the
material which is the external object of consumption, consumption
provides the need, i.e., the internal object, the purpose of
production. There is no consumption without production, and no
production without consumption. This proposition appears in various
forms in political economy.
3. Production is not only simultaneously consumption, and consumption
simultaneously production; nor is production only 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- in other words, each of them is not only simultaneously
the other, and not merely the cause of the other, but each of them by
being carried through creates the other, it creates itself as the
It is only consumption that consummates the process of production,
since consumption completes the product as a product by destroying
it, by consuming its independent concrete form. Moreover by its need
for repetition consumption leads to the perfection of abilities
evolved during the first process of production and converts them into
Consumption is therefore the concluding act which turns not only the
product into a product, but also the producer into a producer.
Production, on the other hand, produces consumption by creating a
definite mode of consumption, and by providing an incentive to
consumption it thereby creates the capability to consume as a
The last kind of identity, which is defined in point 3, has been
variously interpreted by economists when discussing the relation of
demand and supply, of objects and needs, of needs created by society and
After this, nothing is simpler for a Hegelian than to assume that
production and consumption are identical. And this has been done, not
only by socialist 'belletrists' but also by prosaic economists, such as
Say, in declaring that if one considers a nation -or mankind 'in
abstracto'- then its production is its consumption.
Storch*** has shown that this proposition of Say's is wrong, since a
nation, for instance does not consume its entire product, but must also
provide means of production, fixed capital, etc.
It is moreover wrong to consider society as a single subject, for this
is a speculative approach. With regard to one subject, production and
consumption appear as phases of a single operation. Only the most
essential point is emphasised here, that production and consumption, if
considered as activities of one subject or of single individuals, appear
in any case as phases of one process whose actual point of departure is
production which is accordingly the decisive factor.
Consumption, as a necessity and as a need, is itself an intrinsic aspect
of productive activity; the latter however is the point where the
realization begins and thus also the decisive phase, the action
epitomising the entire process. An individual produces an object and by
consuming it returns again to the point of departure: he returns however
as a productive individual and an individual who reproduces himself.
Consumption is thus a phase of production.
But in society, the relation of the producer to the product after its
completion is extrinsic, 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, which on the basis of social laws determines the
individual's share in the world of products, intervenes between the
producer and the products, i.e., between production and consumption.
Is distribution, therefore, an independent sector alongside and outside
b. [Production and Distribution]
When looking through the ordinary run of economic works, one's attention
is attracted forthwith by the fact that everything is mentioned twice,
e.g., rent, wages, interest and profit figure under the heading
DISTRIBUTION, while under the heading of PRODUCTION land, labour and
capital appear as factors of production.
As to capital, it is evident from the outset that this is counted twice,
first as a factor of production, and secondly as a source of income;
i.e., as a determining and determinate form of distribution. Interest
and profit appear therefore in production as well, since they are forms
in which capital increases and grows, and are thus phases of its
production. As forms of distribution, interest and profit presuppose
capital as a factor of production. They are likewise modes of
reproduction of capital.
Wages represent also wage-labour, which is examined in a different
section; the particular function that labour performs as a factor of
production in the one case appears as a function of distribution in the
other. If labour did not have the distinct form of wage-labour, then its
share in the product would not appear as wages, as for instance in
Finally rent -if we take the most advanced form of distribution by which
landed property obtains a share in the product- presupposes large-scale
landed property (strictly speaking, large-scale agriculture) as a factor
of production, and not land in general.
The relations and modes of distribution are thus merely the reverse
aspect of the factors of production. An individual whose participation
production takes the form of wage-labour will receive a share in the
product, the result of production, in the form of wages. The structure
of distribution is entirely determined by the structure of production.
Distribution itself is a product of production, not only with regard to
the content, for only the results of production can be distributed, but
also with regard to the form, since the particular mode of men's
participation in production determines the specific form of
distribution, the form in which they share in distribution. It is
altogether an illusion to speak of land in the section on production,
and rent in the section on distribution, etc.
Economists like Ricardo who are mainly accused of having paid exclusive
attention to production, have accordingly regarded distribution as the
exclusive subject of political economy, for they have instinctively
treated the forms of distribution as the most precise expression in
which factors of production manifest themselves in a given society.
To the single individual distribution naturally appears as a social law,
which determines his position within the framework of production, within
which he produces; distribution thus being antecedent to production. An
individual who has neither capital nor landed property of his own is
dependent on wage-labour from his birth as a consequence of social
distribution. But this dependence 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 an ante-economic factor. A conquering nation may divide the land
among the conquerors and in this way imposes a distinct mode of
distribution and form of landed property, thus determining production.
Or may turn the population into slaves, thus making slave-labour the
basis of production.
Or in the course of a revolution, a nation may divide large estates into
plots, thus altering the character of production in consequence of the
Or legislation may perpetuate land ownership in certain families, or
allocate labour as a hereditary privilege, thus consolidating it into a
In all these cases, and they have all occurred in history, it seems that
distribution is not regulated and determined by production but, on the
contrary, production by distribution.
Distribution according to the most superficial interpretation is
distribution of products; it is thus removed further from production and
made quasi-independent of it.
But before distribution becomes distribution of products, it is
1) distribution of the means of production, and
2) (which is another aspect of the same situation) distribution of the
members of society among the various types of production ( the
subsuming of the individuals under definite relations of production)
It is evident that the distribution of products is merely a result of
this distribution, which is comprised in the production process and
determines the structure of production. To examine production divorced
from this distribution which is a constituent part of it, is obviously
idle abstraction; whereas conversely the distribution of products is
automatically determined by that distribution which is initially a
factor of production.
Ricardo, the economist of production 'par excellence', whose object was
the understanding of the distinct social structure of modern production,
for this very reason declares that distribution, NOT production, is the
proper subject of contemporary political economy. This is a witness to
the banality of those economists who proclaim production as an eternal
truth, and confine history to the domain of distribution.
The question as to the relation between that form of distribution that
determines production and production itself, belongs obviously to the
sphere of production. If it should be said that in this case at least,
since production must proceed from a specific distribution of the means
of production, distribution is to this extent antecedent to and a
prerequisite of production, then the reply would be as follows:
Production has indeed its conditions and prerequisites which are
constituent elements of it. At the very outset these may have seemed to
be naturally evolved. In the course of production, however, they are
transformed from naturally evolved factors into historical ones, and
although they may appear as natural pre-conditions for any one period,
they are the historical result of another period. They are continuously
changed by the process of production itself. For example, the employment
of machinery led to changes in the distribution of both the means of
production and the product. Modern large-scale landed property has been
brought about not only by modern trade and modern industry, but also by
the application of the latter to agriculture.
The above-mentioned questions can be ultimately resolved into this:
what role do general historical conditions play in production and how
is production related to the historical development as a whole?
This question clearly belongs to the analysis and discussion of
In the trivial form, however, in which these questions have been raised
above, they can be dealt with quite briefly.
Conquests may lead to either of three results.
The conquering nation may impose its own mode of production upon the
conquered people (this was done, for example, by the English in Ireland
during this century, and to some extent in India);
or it may refrain from interfering in the old mode of production and be
content with tribute (e.g., the Turks and Romans);
or interaction may take place between the two, giving rise to a new
system as a synthesis (this occurred partly in the Germanic conquests).
In any case it is the mode of production -whether that of the conquering
nation or of the conquered or the new system brought about by a merging
of the two- that determines the new mode of distribution employed.
Although the latter appears to be a pre-condition of the new period of
production, it is in its turn a result of production, a result not
simply occasioned by the historical evolution of production in general,
but by a specific historical form of production.
The Mongols, for example, who caused devastation in Russia, acted in
accordance with their mode of production, cattle-breeding, for which
large uninhabited tracts are a fundamental requirement. The Germanic
barbarians, whose traditional mode of production was agriculture with
the aid of serfs and who lived scattered over the countryside, could the
more easily adapt the Roman provinces to their requirements because the
concentration of landed property carried out there had already uprooted
the older agricultural relations.
It is a long-established view that over certain epochs people lived by
plunder. But in order to be able to plunder, there must be something to
be plundered, and this implies production. Moreover, the manner of
plunder depends itself on the manner of production, e.g., a
stock-jobbing nation cannot be robbed in the same way as a nation of
The means of production may be robbed directly in the form of slaves.
But in that case it is necessary that the structure of production in the
country to which the slave is abducted admits of slave-labour, or (as in
South America, etc.) a mode of production appropriate to slave-labour
has to be evolved.
Laws may perpetuate a particular means of production, e.g., land, in
certain families. These laws acquire economic significance only if
large-scale landed property is in keeping with the social mode of
production, as for instance in Britain.
Agriculture was carried on in France on a small scale, despite the
existence of large estates, which were therefore parcelled out by the
Revolution. But is it possible, e.g.' by law, to perpetuate the division
of land into small lots? Landed property tends to become concentrated
again despite these laws. The influence exercised by laws on the
preservation of existing conditions of distribution, and the effect they
thereby exert on production has to be examined separately.
c. Lastly, Exchange and Circulation
Circulation is merely a particular phase of exchange or of exchange
regarded in its totality.
Since EXCHANGE is simply an intermediate phase between production and
distribution, which is determined by production, and consumption; since
consumption is moreover itself an aspect of production, the latter
obviously comprises also exchange as one of its aspects.
Firstly, it is evident that exchange of activities and skills, which
takes place in production itself, is a direct and essential part of
Secondly, the same applies to the exchange of products in so far as this
exchange is a means to manufacture the finished product intended for
immediate consumption. The action of exchange in this respect is
comprised in the concept of production.
Thirdly, what is known as exchange between dealer and dealer, both with
respect to its organisation and as a productive activity, is entirely
determined by production.
Exchange appears to exist independently alongside production and
detached from it only in the last stage, when the product is exchanged
for immediate consumption. But
(1) no exchange is possible without division of labour, whether this is
naturally evolved or is already the result of an historical process;
(2) private exchange presupposes private production;
(3) the intensity of exchange, its extent and nature, are determined by
the development and structure of production: e.g., exchange between
town and country, exchange in the countryside, in the town, etc. All
aspects of exchange to this extent appear either to be directly
comprised in production, or else determined by it.
The conclusion which follows from this is, not that production,
distribution, exchange and consumption are identical, but that they are
links of a single whole, different aspects of one unit.
Production is the decisive phase, both with regard to the contradictory
aspects of production and with regard to the other phases. The process
always starts afresh with production.
That exchange and consumption cannot be the decisive elements, is
obvious; and the same applies to distribution in the sense of
distribution of products. Distribution of the factors of production,
on the other hand, is itself a phase of production.
A distinct mode of production thus determines the specific mode of
consumption, distribution, exchange and the SPECIFIC RELATIONS OF THESE
DIFFERENT PHASES TO ONE ANOTHER. Production 'in the narrow sense',
however, is in its turn also determined by the other aspects.
For example, if the market, or the sphere of exchange, expands, then the
volume of production grows and tends to become more differentiated.
Production also changes in consequence of changes in distribution,
e.g., concentration of capital, different distribution of the population
in town and countryside, and the like. Production is, finally,
determined by the demands of consumption. There is an interaction
between the various aspects. Such interaction takes place in any organic
3. THE METHOD OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
When examining a given country from the standpoint of political economy,
we begin with its population, the division of the population into
classes, town and country, the sea, the different branches of
production, export and import, annual production and consumption,
It would seem to be the proper thing to start with the real and concrete
elements, with the actual pre-conditions, e.g., to start in the sphere
of economy with population, which forms the basis and the subject of the
whole social process of production.
Closer consideration shows, however, that this is wrong. Population is
an abstraction if, for instance, one disregards the classes of which it
is composed. These classes in turn remain empty terms if one does not
know the factors on which they depend, e.g., wage-labour, capital, and
so on. These presuppose exchange, division of labour, prices, etc.
If one were to take population as the point of departure, it would be a
very vague notion of a complex whole and through closer definition one
would arrive analytically at increasingly simple concepts; from
imaginary concrete terms one would move to more and more tenuous
abstractions until one reached the most simple definitions.
From there it would be necessary to make the journey again in the
opposite direction until one arrived once more at the concept of
population, which is this time not a vague notion of a whole, but a
totality comprising many determinations and relations.
The first course is the historical one taken by political economy at its
inception. The seventeenth-century economists, for example, always took
as their starting point the living organism, the population, the nation,
the State, several States, etc., but analysis led them always in the end
to the discovery of a few decisive abstract, general relations, such as
division of labour, money, and value.
When these separate factors were more or less clearly deduced and
established, economic systems were evolved which from simple concepts,
such as labour, division of labour, demand, exchange-value, advanced to
categories like State, international exchange and world market. The
latter is obviously the correct scientific method.
The concrete concept is concrete because it is a synthesis of many
definitions, thus representing the unity of diverse aspects. It appears
therefore in reasoning as a summing-up, a result, and not as the
starting point, although it is the real point of origin, and thus also
the point of origin of perception and imagination.
The first procedure attenuates meaningful images to abstract
definitions, the second leads from abstract definitions by way of
reasoning to the reproduction of the concrete situation. Hegel
accordingly conceived the illusory idea that the real world is the
result of thinking which causes its own synthesis, its own deepening and
its own movement; whereas the method of advancing from the abstract to
the concrete is simply the way in which thinking assimilates the
concrete and reproduces it as a concrete mental category. This is,
however, by no means the process of evolution of the concrete world
For example, the simplest economic category, e.g., exchange-value,
presupposes population, a population moreover which produces under
definite conditions, as well as a distinct kind of family, or community,
or State, etc.
Exchange-value cannot exist except as an abstract, UNILATERAL relation
of an already existing concrete organic whole. But exchange-value as a
category leads an antediluvian existence. Thus to consciousness -and
this comprises philosophical consciousness- which regards the
comprehending mind as the real man, and hence the comprehended world as
such as the only real world; to consciousness, therefore, the evolution
of categories appears as the actual process of production -which
unfortunately is given an impulse from outside- whose result is the
world; and this (which is however again a tautological expression) is
true in so far as the concrete totality regarded as a conceptual
totality, as a mental fact, is indeed a product of thinking, of
but it is by no means a product of the idea which evolves spontaneously
and whose thinking proceeds outside and above perception and
imagination, but is the result of the assimilation and transformation of
perceptions and images into concepts.
The totality as a conceptual entity seen by the intellect is a product
of the thinking intellect which assimilates the world in the only way
open to it, a way which differs from the artistic, religious and
practically intelligent assimilation of this world. The concrete subject
remains outside the intellect and independent of it -that is so long as
the intellect adopts a purely speculative, purely theoretical attitude.
The subject, society, must always be envisaged therefore as the
pre-condition of comprehension even when the theoretical method is
But have not these simple categories also an independent historical or
natural existence preceding that of the more concrete ones? This
depends. Hegel, for example, correctly takes ownership, the simplest
legal relation of the subject, as the point of departure of the
philosophy of law. No ownership exists, however, before the family or
the relations of master and servant are evolved, and these are much more
It would, on the other hand, be correct to say that families and entire
tribes exist which have as yet only 'possessions' and not 'property'.
The simpler category appears thus as a relation of simply family or
tribal communities to property.
In societies which have reached a higher state the category appears as
a comparatively simple relation existing in a more advanced community.
The concrete substratum underlying the relation of ownership is however
always presupposed. One can conceive an individual savage who has
possessions; possession in this case, however, is not a legal relation.
It is incorrect that in the course of historical development possession
gave rise to the family. On the contrary, possession always presupposes
this "more concrete legal category".
One may, nevertheless, conclude that the simple categories represent
relations or conditions which may reflect the immature concrete
situation without as yet positing the more complex relation or condition
which is conceptually expressed in the more concrete category; on the
other hand, the same category may be retained as a subordinate relation
in more developed concrete circumstances.
Money may exist and has existed in historical time before capital,
banks, wage-labour, etc. came into being. In this respect it can be
said, therefore, that the simpler category expresses relations
predominating in an immature entity or subordinate relations in a more
advanced entity; relations which already existed historically before the
entity had developed the aspects expressed in a more concrete category.
The procedure of abstract reasoning which advances from the simplest to
more complex concepts to that extent conforms to actual historical
It is true, on the other hand, that there are certain highly developed,
but nevertheless historically immature, social formations which employ
some of the most advanced economic forms, e.g., co-operation, developed
division of labour, etc., without having developed any money at all, for
instance Peru. In Slavonic communities too, money -and its
pre-condition, exchange- is of little or no importance within the
individual community, but is used on the borders, where commerce with
other communities takes place; and it is altogether wrong to assume that
exchange within the community is an original constituent element.
On the contrary, in the beginning exchange tends to arise in the
intercourse of different communities with one another, rather than among
members of the same community. Moreover, although money begins to play
a considerable role very early and in diverse ways, it is known to have
been a dominant factor in antiquity only among nations developed in a
particular direction, i.e., merchant nations.
Even among the Greeks and Romans, the most advanced nations of
antiquity, money reaches its full development, which is presupposed in
modern bourgeois society, only in the period of their disintegration.
Thus the full potential of this quite simple category does not emerge
historically in the most advanced phases of society, and it certainly
does not penetrate into all economic relations. For example, taxes in
kind and deliveries in kind remained the basis of the Roman empire even
at the height of its development; indeed a completely evolved monetary
system existed in Rome only in the army, and it never permeated the
whole complex of labour.
Although the simpler category, therefore, may have existed historically
before the more concrete category, its complete intensive and extensive
development can nevertheless occur in a complex social formation,
whereas the more concrete category may have been fully evolved in a more
primitive social formation.
Labour seems to be a very simple category. The notion of labour in this
universal form, as labour in general, is also extremely old.
Nevertheless "labour" in this simplicity is economically considered just
as modern a category as the relations which give rise to this simple
The Monetary System, for example, still regards wealth quite objectively
as a thing existing independently in the shape of money. Compared with
this standpoint, it was a substantial advance when the Manufacturing or
Mercantile System transferred the source of wealth from the object to
the subjective activity -mercantile or industrial labour- but it still
considered that only this circumscribed activity itself produced money.
In contrast to this system, the Physiocrats assume that a specific form
of labour -agriculture- creates wealth, and they see the object no
longer in the guise of money, but as a product in general, as the
universal result of labour. In accordance with the still circumscribed
activity, the product remains a naturally developed product, an
agricultural product, a product of the land 'par excellence'.
It was an immense advance when Adam Smith rejected all restrictions with
regard to the activity that produces wealth -for him it was labour as
such, neither manufacturing, nor commercial, nor agricultural labour,
but all types of labour. The abstract universality which creates wealth
implies also the universality of the objects defined as wealth: they are
products as such, or once more labour as such, but in this case past,
materialised labour. How difficult and immense a transition this was is
demonstrated by the fact that Adam Smith himself occasionally relapses
once more into the Physiocratic system. It might seem that in this way
merely an abstract expression was found for the simplest and most
ancient relation in which human beings act as producers -irrespective
of the type of society they live in. This is true in one respect, but
not in another.
The fact that the specific kind of labour is irrelevant presupposes a
highly developed complex of actually existing kinds of labour, none of
which is any more the all-important one. The most general abstractions
arise on the whole only when concrete development is most profuse, so
that a specific quality is seen to be common to many phenomena, or
common to all. Then it is no longer perceived solely in a particular
form. This abstraction of labour is, on the other hand, by no means
simply the conceptual resultant of a variety of concrete types of
The fact that the particular kind of labour employed is immaterial is
appropriate to a form of society in which individuals easily pass from
one type of labour to another, the particular type of labour being
accidental to them and therefore irrelevant.
Labour, not only as a category but in reality, has become a means to
create wealth in general, and has ceased to be tied as an attribute to a
particular individual. This state of affairs is most pronounced in the
United States, the most modern form of bourgeois society.
The abstract category "labour", "labour as such", labour 'sans phrase',
the point of departure of modern economics, thus becomes a practical
fact only there.
The simplest abstraction, which plays a decisive role in modern
political economy, an abstraction which expresses an ancient relation
existing in all social formations, nevertheless appears to be actually
true in this abstract form only as a category of the most modern
It might be said that phenomena which are historical products in the
United States -e.g., the irrelevance of the particular type of labour-
appear to be among the Russians, for instance, naturally developed
predispositions. But in the first place, there is an enormous difference
between barbarians having a predisposition which makes it possible to
employ them in various tasks, and civilised people who apply themselves
to various tasks. As regards the Russians, moreover, their indifference
to the particular kind of labour performed is in practice matched by
their traditional habit of clinging fast to a very definite kind of
labour from which they are extricated only by external influences.
The example of labour strikingly demonstrates how even the most abstract
categories, despite their validity in all epochs -precisely because they
are abstractions- are equally a product of historical conditions even in
the specific form of abstractions, and they retain their full validity
only for and within the framework of these conditions.
Bourgeois society is the most advanced and complex historical
organisation of production. The categories which express its relations,
and an understanding of its structure, therefore, provide an insight
into the structure and the relations of production of all formerly
existing social formations the ruins and component elements of which
were used in the creation of bourgeois society.
Some of these unassimilated remains are still carried on within
bourgeois society, others, however, which previously existed only in
rudimentary form, have been further developed and have attained their
full significance, etc. The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy of
the ape. On the other hand, rudiments of more advanced forms in the
lower species of animals can only be understood when the more advanced
forms are already known.
Bourgeois economy thus provides a key to the economy of antiquity, etc.
But it is quite impossible (to gain this insight) in the manner of those
economists who obliterate all historical differences and who see in all
social phenomena only bourgeois phenomena. If one knows rent, it is
possible to understand tribute, tithe, etc., but they do not have to be
treated as identical.
Since bourgeois society is, moreover, only a contradictory form of
development, it contains relations of earlier societies often merely in
very stunted form or even in the form of travesties, e.g., communal
ownership. Thus, although it is true that the categories of bourgeois
economy are valid for all other social formations, this has to be taken
'cum grano salis' (with a pinch of salt. R.R.), for they may contain
them in an advanced, stunted, caricatured, etc., form, that is always
with substantial differences.
What is called historical evolution depends in general on the fact that
the latest form regards earlier ones as stages in the development of
itself and conceives them always in a one-sided manner, since only
rarely and under quite special conditions is a society able to adopt a
critical attitude towards itself; in this context we are not of course
discussing historical periods which themselves believe that they are
periods of decline.
The Christian religion was able to contribute to an objective
understanding of earlier mythologies only when its self-criticism was to
a certain extent prepared, as it were potentially. Similarly, only when
the self-criticism of bourgeois society had begun, was bourgeois
political economy able to understand the feudal, ancient and oriental
In so far as bourgeois political economy did not simply identify itself
with the past in a mythological manner, its criticism of earlier
economies -especially of the feudal system against which it still had to
wage a direct struggle -resembled the criticism that Christianity
directed against heathenism ( people choosing to be neither Christian,
Jewish, nor Muslim. R.R.), or which Protestantism directed against
Just as in general when examining any historical or social science, so
also in the case of the development of economic categories is it always
necessary to remember that the subject, in this context contemporary
bourgeois society, is presupposed both in reality and in the mind, and
that therefore categories express forms of existence and conditions of
existence -and sometimes merely separate aspects- of this particular
society, the subject; thus the category, EVEN FROM THE SCIENTIFIC
STANDPOINT, by no means begins at the moment when it is discussed
AS SUCH. This has to be remembered because it provides important
criteria for the arrangement of the material.
For example, nothing seems more natural than to begin with rent, i.e.,
with landed property, since it is associated with the earth, the source
of all production and all life, and with agriculture, the first form
of production in all societies that have attained a measure of
stability. But nothing would be more erroneous. There is in every social
formation a particular branch of production which determines the
position of all the others, and the relations obtaining in this branch
accordingly determine the relations of all others branches as well. It
is as though light of a particular hue were cast upon everything,
tingeing all other colours and modifying their specific features; or as
if a special ether determined the specific gravity of everything found
Let us take as an example pastoral tribes. (Tribes living exclusively on
hunting or fishing are beyond the boundary line from which real
development begins.) A certain type of agricultural activity occurs
among them and this determines land ownership. It is communal ownership
and retains this form in a larger or smaller measure, according to the
degree to which these people maintain their traditions, e.g., communal
ownership among the Slavs.
Among settled agricultural people -settled already to a large extent-
where agriculture predominates as in the societies of antiquity and the
feudal period, even manufacture, its structure and the forms of property
corresponding thereto, have, in some measure, specifically agrarian
features. Manufacture is either completely dependent on agriculture, as
in the earlier Roman period, or as in the Middle Ages, it copies in the
town and in its conditions the organisation of the countryside.
In the Middle Ages even capital -unless it was solely money capital-
consisted of the traditional tools, etc., and retained a specifically
agrarian character. The reverse takes place in bourgeois society.
Agriculture to an increasing extent becomes just a branch of industry
and is completely dominated by capital. The same applies to rent. In all
forms in which landed property is the decisive factor, natural relations
still predominate; in the forms in which the decisive factor is capital,
social, historically evolved elements predominate. Rent cannot be
understood without capital, but capital can be understood without rent.
Capital is the economic power that dominates everything in bourgeois
society. It must form both the point of departure and the conclusion and
it has to be expounded before landed property. After analysing capital
and landed property separately, their interconnection must be examined.
It would be inexpedient and wrong therefore to present the economic
categories successively in the order in which they have played the
dominant role in history. On the contrary, their order of succession is
determined by their mutual relation in modern bourgeois society and this
is quite the reverse of what appears to be natural to them or in
accordance with the sequence of historical development.
The point at issue is not the role that various economic relations have
played in the succession of various social formations appearing in the
course of history; even less is it their sequence "as concepts"
(Proudhon)( a nebulous notion of the historical process), but their
position within modern bourgeois society.
It is precisely the predominance of agricultural peoples in the ancient
world which caused the merchant nations -Phoenicians, Carthaginians- to
develop in such purity (abstract precision). For capital in the shape of
merchant or money capital appears in that abstract form where capital
has not yet become the dominant factor in society. Lombards and Jews
occupied the same position with regard to mediaeval agrarian societies.
Another example of the various roles which the same categories have
played at different stages of society are joint-stock companies, one of
the most recent features of bourgeois society; but they arise also in
its early period in the form of large privileged commercial companies
with rights of monopoly.
The concept of national wealth finds its way into the works of the
economists of the seventeenth century as the notion that wealth is
created for the State, whose power, on the other hand, is proportional
to this wealth -a notion which to some extent still survives even among
eighteenth-century economists. This is still an unintentionally
hypocritical manner in which wealth and the production of wealth are
proclaimed to be the goal of the modern State, which is regarded merely
as a means of producing wealth.
The disposition of material has evidently to be made in such a way that
[section] one comprises general abstract definitions, which therefore
appertain in some measure to all social formations, but in the sense set
Two, the categories which constitute the internal structure of bourgeois
society and on which the principal classes are based. Capital,
wage-labour, landed property and their relations to one another. Town
and country. The three large social classes; exchange between them.
Circulation. The (private) credit system.
Three, the State as the epitome of bourgeois society. Analysis of its
relations to itself. The "unproductive" classes. Taxes. National debt.
Public credit. Population. Colonies. Emigration.
Four, international conditions of production. International division of
labour. International exchange. Export and import. Rate of exchange.
Five, world market and crises.
Means of Production and Conditions**** of Production.
Conditions of Production and Communication.
Political Forms and Forms of Cognition in Relation
to the Conditions of Production and Communication.
Legal Relations. Family Relations.
Notes regarding points which have to be mentioned in this context and
should not be forgotten.
1. WAR develops [certain features] earlier than peace; the way in which
as a result of war, and in the armies, etc., certain economic
conditions, e.g., wage-labour, machinery, etc., were evolved earlier
than within civil society. The relations between productive power and
conditions of communication are likewise particularly obvious in the
2. THE RELATION OF THE HITHERTO EXISTING IDEALISTIC HISTORIOGRAPHY TO
REALISTIC HISTORIOGRAPHY. IN PARTICULAR WHAT IS KNOWN AS HISTORY OF
CIVILISATION, the old history of religion and states. (The various
kinds of historiography hitherto existing could also be discussed in
this context; the so-called objective, subjective (moral and others),
3. SECONDARY AND TERTIARY PHENOMENA, in general DERIVED and TRANSMITTED,
i.e., non-primary, conditions of production. The influence of
4. REPROACHES ABOUT THE MATERIALISM OF THIS CONCEPTION; RELATION TO
5. DIALECTICS OF THE CONCEPTS PRODUCTIVE POWER (MEANS OF PRODUCTION)
AND RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION, the limits of THIS DIALECTICAL
connection, which does not abolish the real differences, have to be
6. THE UNEQUAL DEVELOPMENT OF MATERIAL PRODUCTION AND, E.G., THAT OF ART.
The concept of progress is on the whole not to be understood in the
usual abstract form. Modern art, etc. This disproportion is not as
important and difficult to grasp as within concrete social relations,
e.g., in education. Relations of the United States to Europe. However,
the really difficult point to be discussed here is how the relations
of production as legal relations take part in this uneven development.
For example the relation of Roman civil law (this applies in smaller
measure to criminal and constitutional law) to modern production.
7. THIS CONCEPTION APPEARS TO BE AN INEVITABLE DEVELOPMENT. But
vindication of chance. How? (Freedom, etc., as well) (Influence of
the means of communication. World history did not always exist;
history as world history is a result.)
8. THE STARTING POINT IS OF COURSE THE NATURALLY DETERMINED FACTORS;
both subjective and objective. Tribes, races, etc.
As regards art, it is well known that some of its peaks by no means
correspond to the general development of society; nor do they therefore
to the material substructure, the skeleton as it were of its
organisation. For example the Greeks compared with modern [nations], or
It is even acknowledged that certain branches of art, e.g., the EPOS
(early unwritten epic poetry. R.R.), can no longer be produced in their
epoch-making classic form after artistic production as such has begun;
in other words that certain important creations within the compass of
art are only possible at an early stage in the development of art.
If this is the case with regard to different branches of art within the
sphere of art itself, it is not so remarkable that this should also be
the case with regard to the entire sphere of art and its relation to the
general development of society. The difficulty lies only in the general
formulation of these contradictions. As soon as they are reduced to
specific questions they are already explained.
Let us take, for example, the relation of Greek art, and that of
Shakespeare, to the present time. We know that Greek mythology is not
only the arsenal of Greek art, but also its basis. Is the conception of
nature and of social relations which underlies Greek imagination and
therefore Greek [art] possible when there are self-acting mules,
railways, locomotives and electric telegraphs? What is Vulcan compared
with Roberts and Co., Jupiter compared with the lightning conductor, and
Hermes compared with the Credit Mobilier?
All mythology subdues, controls and fashions the forces of nature in the
imagination and through imagination; it disappears therefore when real
control over these forces is established. What becomes of Fama side by
side with Printing House Square? Greek art presupposes Greek mythology,
in other words that natural and social phenomena are already assimilated
in an unintentionally artistic manner by the imagination of the people.
This is the material of Greek art, not just any mythology, i.e., not
every unconsciously artistic assimilation of nature (here the term
comprises all physical phenomena, including society); Egyptian mythology
could never become the basis of or give rise to Greek art. But at any
rate [it presupposes] a mythology; on no account however a social
development which precludes a mythological attitude towards nature,
i.e., any attitude to nature which might give rise to myth; a society
therefore demanding from the artist an imagination independent of
Regarded from another aspect: is Achilles possible when powder and shot
have been invented? And is the Iliad possible at all when the printing
press and even printing machines exist? Is it not inevitable that with
the emergence of the press bar the singing and the telling and the muse
cease, that is the conditions necessary for epic poetry disappear?
The difficulty we are confronted with is not, however, that of
understanding how Greek art and epic poetry are associated with certain
forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still give us
aesthetic pleasure and are in certain respects regarded as a standard
and unattainable ideal.
An adult cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish. But does
the naivete (innocence. R.R.) of the child not give him pleasure, and
does not he himself endeavour to reproduce the child's veracity on a
higher level? Does not the child in every epoch represent the character
of the period in its natural veracity? Why should not the historical
childhood of humanity, where it attained its most beautiful form, exert
an eternal charm because it is a stage that will never recur? There are
rude children and precocious children. Many of the ancient peoples belong
to this category. The Greek were normal children. The charm their art has
for us does not conflict with the immature stage of the society in which
it originated. On the contrary its charm is a consequence of this and is
inseparably linked with the fact that the immature social conditions
which gave rise, and which alone could give rise, to this art cannot
the end of August and
the middle of September 1857
* The "Introduction" is an unfinished rough draft, which was found
among Marx's papers after his death. It was first published in the
magazine 'Die Neue Zeit' in 1903 and constitutes the first of the set
of manuscripts published under the title 'Grundisse der Kritik der
politischen Okonomie (Rohentwurf), Moscow, 1939 (reprinted in Berlin
** See John Stuart Mill, "Principles of Political Economy", Vol. I,
London, 1848, Book I, 'Production'.
*** H. Storch, "Considerations sur la nature du revenu national", Paris,
**** The German word used by Marx is "Verhaltnisse", which can mean both
"conditions" and "relations". In this section the word "conditions"
has mostly been used to render "Verhaltnisse", and it should be
borne in mind that "conditions" comprises "relations" as well.-Tr.
From K. Marx, "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy",
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1977, with some notes by
RRojas Research Unit, 1998