7. The enactment of closure: from the Grundrisse to Capital
As we saw in chapter 3, the Grundrisse was written at a time when Marx expected that an economic crisis was about to unleash a new wave of revolutionary struggles across Europe. After ten years of patient waiting the time seemed right for the beginnings of a proletarian revolution.
In the Grundrisse the gradual shift towards an attitude of 'critical positivism', evident since the defeat of the 1848 revolutions, becomes temporarily disrupted by the prospect of revolutionary crisis. The tension between 'critical positivism' and 'critical utopianism' comes to the fore, propelling Marx forward as it does so. It is within the Grundrisse that Marx comes to enact the closure within his thematic. It is here that the problems and difficulties of making such a closure become most readily apparent; and it is here that the consequent tears and incisions within his thematic lie at the surface of Marx's writing.
The note books which make up the Grundrisse were for a long time lost. It was only in 1939 and 1941 that a small limited edition of the Grundrisse was published by the Marx-Engels- Lenin Institute in Moscow in the form of two volumes. The first edition to become readily available in any significant numbers in the West was not published until 1953 and it was not for another twenty years that an English translation of the Grundrisse appeared in print. So for a long time the Grundrisse remained an obscure, if not an unknown, text and it has been only in the last few decades that its widespread availability has begun to raise the question of its critical importance in the understanding of Marx.
In chapter 3 we covered briefly the, by now, standard Marxian interpretation of the Grundrisse, in which it was seen as the record of enquiry from which Capital was produced. We shall now go on to consider a more radical re-interpretation of the Grundrisse that has been put forward by Negri in a series of lectures which have been collected together and published as Marx Beyond Marx.
From the 'hot autumn of '69' to the kidnapping and murder of the Italian prime minister, A. Moro, in 1978 Italy was repeatedly shaken by wave after wave of intense class conflict. Strikes and riots swept the industrial centres of Italy giving rise to what became known as the autonomous movement. This movement not only raged against the Italian state and bourgeoisie but also against the traditional labour movement, dominated as it was by the largest communist party in Western Europe. Negri emerged as one of the leading Marxist theoreticians of the autonomist movement and was imprisoned along with thousands of other militants of this movement following the 'anti-terrorist' clamp down of the late seventies'.(1)
Negri sought to redefine Marx in terms of the autonomous movement and against the conventional interpretations of the Stalinist ideologists of the Italian Communist Party. In doing this Negri came to grasp the dynamic of class composition and contestation, what we have termed the counter- dialectic of class struggle, in the light of Marx's theoretical project. This stood radically opposed to the 'scientific' readings of Marx made by Marxist orthodoxy. For Negri the most important of Marx's texts for this task of redefinition was not Capital but the Grundrisse. Through his radical reinterpretation of the Grundrisse Negri seeks to draw out the revolutionary subjectivity of Marx that becomes closed off in Capital. He thereby comes to pose a Marx that is, in a sense, beyond Marx: Marx the revolutionary rather than Marx the dialectical scientist. As Negri himself states: Let us be clear: it is not a question of an abstract polemic against Capital: each of us was born in the reflection and theoretical consciousness of the class hate which we experience in studying Capital. But Capital is also this text which served to reduce critique to economic theory, to annihilate subjectivity in objectivity, to subject the subversive capacity of the proletariat to the reorganising and repressive intelligence of capitalist power. (Negri, 1991, p. 19) Negri sees within the Grundrisse, despite its numerous digressions and asides: ..a forward movement in theory, a more and more constraining movement constituted by the antagonism between the collective worker and the collective capitalist, an antagonism which appears in the form of crisis. (Negri, 1991, p. 4) and so The Grundrisse constitutes the subjective approach ('the imminent crisis') to the analysis of the revolutionary subjectivity in the process of capital. The note books represent the strongest point of analysis and of imagination in the revolutionary will of Marx. All the formal dualism about which so much debate occurs (theoretical analysis of capital as opposed to political analysis, dialectics as opposed to materialism, objectivity as opposed to subjectivity) is burned up and melted in the reality of that dualism that constitutes, antagonistically, the capitalist process.' (Negri, 1991, p. 9) Thus while the: ...objectification of categories in Capital blocks action by revolutionary subjectivity. Is it not the case...that the Grundrisse is a text dedicated to revolutionary subjectivity? Does it not reconstruct what the Marxist tradition has too often torn apart, that is to say the unity of the constitution and the strategic project of working class subjectivity? Does it not present Marx as a whole, where other texts cut him apart and give him unilateral definitions? (Negri, 1991, p. 8) The common factor which binds the principal interpretations of the Grundrisse, despite their disagreements on other points, is, as Negri argues, the view that the Grundrisse is purely a rough draft of Capital; it is merely a stage in the evolution of Marx's thought that found its 'completion' in his ultimate work. Negri, however, by considering the Grundrisse as a text in its own right breaks from this view and comes to pose the question albeit rather tentatively, of the incompleteness of Marx.
Let us say right off that: the path followed by the most famous interpreters does not seem to us to be the right one. Could it not be as suggested in the preparatory outlines, that Capital is only one part, and a non fundamental part at that, in the totality of the Marxian thematic? A part which has been overvaluated because it is the only one fully developed, and for less noble reasons, one that can, because of its partial nature, be limited and be led back within the field of interpretations fundamentally inadequate to the spirit of the total work of Marx? (Negri, 1991, p. 5) In Marx Beyond Marx Negri launches a fiercely argued polemic that seeks to reclaim Marx for the side of the revolutionaries. In the midst of the Italian crisis of the late 1970s and its immediate aftermath Negri seeks to leap free from the encroaching clutches of Stalinism and the onset of reaction. In doing so he makes common cause with the Marx of the Grundrisse. He comes to probe the incompleteness of Marx brought about by the closure within the Marxian project established by Capital and the problematic of political economy. As such Negri's theoretical efforts are invaluable to us. Yet it is perhaps hard not to feel that this fierce polemic, outlined in the ten lessons of Marx Beyond Marx seeks to read too much into the Grundrisse, that it tries to force the Grundrisse to become explicit where it can only remain implicit. In making his radical reinterpretation of the Grundrisse Negri has to annul its movement towards Capital and closure. He has to emphasis those elements reactivated by the prospect of crisis, the elements of the theory of the counter- dialectic of class struggle. He has to underline the Grundrisse as being radically open: The originality, the happiness, the freshness of the Grundrisse rests entirely with its incredible openness. (Negri, 1991, p. 9) But the Grundrisse is itself a moment in the critique of political economy, a product not only of the prospect of crisis and revolution but also of years of systematic study and research on the economic question. The Grundrisse falls far short of Capital in its critique of political economy. The traditional interpretations of the Grundrisse are correct in seeing in this work a process of enquiry that finds its ultimate presentation in Capital. The Grundrisse is necessarily part of the process of closure that becomes imposed with the problematic of political economy. Yet Negri is right in showing how this process of closure that begins within the Grundrisse, and is most evident there, reveals the limitations of Capital. In the raw state of the Grundrisse we can see what Capital must close off, what parts of the Marxian thematic must be suppressed in order to hold fast to the objectified categories of political economy.
We may perhaps say then that the standard interpretations of the Grundrisse drew out the necessary development of the Grundrisse, its movement towards Capital and closure of the Marxian thematic. Negri, however, reveals to us how the Grundrisse can be seen to show, in what is left behind, the possibilities of the Marxian thematic -- what may lie beyond Capital. How the opening moments in the process of closure reveal the openness of Marx's thematic. For us the Grundrisse contains the movement of closure that necessarily leads to Capital, yet at the same time it reveals the possibilities beyond Capital once the dialectic of capital is grasped and then reversed into the counter-dialectic of class struggle. The closure enacted with the movement from the Grundrisse to Capital is necessary but provisional. We cannot make the leap from the Grundrisse to beyond Capital but must follow Marx through his 'ultimate' work.
In the Grundrisse, then, with all its hesitations and digressions, we find Marx in the very act of closure. It is thus for us, as it is for Negri, a crucial text for an understanding of the limitations of Marx and Capital. However, since in the following chapters we shall make a detailed examination of Marx's critique of political economy as presented in each of the three volumes of Capital, we do not propose to undertake a close examination of the Grundrisse in its entirety since this would only lead us into an unnecessary degree of repetition. Instead we shall, through a critical engagement with both Negri and Rosdolsky, concentrate on the transition between the Grundrisse and Capital which highlights their difference. For such purposes we shall focus on two issues that most clearly illustrate the movement of closure within this transition; firstly, the 'problem of how to begin a critique of political economy' evident both in the Introduction to the Grundrisse and its opening chapter, and its eventual solution in chapter one of Capital, and secondly, the change in outline of Marx's plan of work from his original plan for six books at the time of the Grundrisse to the resulting three volumes of Capital.
We shall begin, in the following section of this chapter, with the 'problem of the beginning'.
A) The problem of the beginning As Marx remarks in the preface to the first edition of Capital Volume I: Beginnings are always difficult in all sciences. (Capital *I, p. 89) Any beginning of a science is obliged to delimit the field of investigation that is to be subsequently undertaken. It has to set out the presuppositions that serve as the foundation of what is to follow with all due care. Such efforts are often onerous even for a science whose field of investigation seems self-evident. They are all the more difficult for what is not merely a science but a critique, which by its very nature must critically examine its own presuppositions.(2)
As a consequence, Marx's efforts to find the correct point of departure for his critique of political economy were fraught with difficulties, as is witnessed by his various deliberations in the Introduction to the Grundrisse. As we saw in chapter three, the Introduction sets out to consider 'how to begin' and then 'how to proceed' with a critique of political economy. Yet, despite offering numerous methodological insights into his method, the Introduction ends up as little more than a false start, which Marx subsequently abandons.
The problematic nature of the beginning of Marx's critique that we may discern in the Introduction is, as we shall argue, symptomatic of the problem of inscribing the closure within Marx's broader thematic so that he can focus on a critique of political economy. It is therefore a problem that is very pertinent to our discussion and must now be considered in detail.
However, before considering the implications of Marx's eventual solution to this problem we must first of all briefly outline how he came to this solution between the Grundrisse and Capital.
In the opening sentence of the Introduction Marx declares: The object before us, to begin with, [is] material production. (Grundrisse, p. 83) By declaring material production as his starting point Marx reaffirms the conclusions that he had reached a decade before in The German Ideology, where he had stated: The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary, not dogmas, but real premises from which real abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. (Marx, 1970, p. 42) Here, then, at the very opening of the Introduction, Marx distances himself in no uncertain terms from any lingering idealism bequeathed from German philosophy. Yet, lest he fall foul of the crude materialism of the political economists, Marx is obliged immediately to add a further qualification to his conception of material production: Individuals producing in society -- hence socially determined individual production -- is, of course, the point of departure. (Grundrisse, p. 83) With this qualification Marx is at pains to stress that for him 'material production' is production through society, that it is social. Material production is not merely an aggregation of technical processes that transform nature into useful objects for human consumption, but it at the same time produces society. It is an integral part of the social whole and is therefore constituted both in and through society. Hence, there could be no question of abstracting away society and beginning with the 'natural individual' -- production as simply the aggregation of individual Robinson Crusoes -- as the political economists were wont to do. Material production could not be divorced from the society of which it was a part.
But all Marx's efforts in the opening section of the Introduction to stress the necessary historical specificity of material production prove to be insufficient to specify it in the form of capitalist production. The category of production proves to be too much of an abstract generality, from which only the equally abstract general category of consumption can be posited as its opposite. As in any mode of production, consumption stands as the means and end for capitalist production and as such these two opposites become resolved within the identity of the production process taken as a whole. Hence, as Marx remarks: Thereupon, nothing simpler for a Hegelian than to posit production and consumption as identical. (Grundrisse, p. 93) Marx thereby found himself, in the Introduction, at a dead end. In order to break though this impasse, Marx was obliged to plunge straight into the midst of the question of money and crisis. Hence, we find that the Grundrisse proper opens with a detailed critique of Darimon's theory of the French monetary crisis of 1855, which then develops into a more general criticism of Proudhonian proposals for labour-money and banking reform.
With money and crisis Marx finds himself in the midst of the immediate specifity of the relations of production. Indeed, the capitalist mode of production makes its appearance as first and foremost as a monetary economy and capital finds its most blatant and independent expression as money. And what could express the autonomous movement of capital over and against the satisfaction of real human needs more than crisis and overproduction?
By beginning with the most blatant and foremost expression of capital and the capitalist mode of production Marx could hope to penetrate behind this appearance to reveal the essential laws of the capitalist economy. However, as Marx's investigation in the first chapter of the Grundrisse unfolded, it became clear that money must be first understood as a commodity. As Marx comes to remark in the Contribution a few months later: The principal difficulty in the analysis of money is surmounted as soon as it is understood that the commodity is the origin of money. After that it is only a question of clearly comprehending the specific form peculiar to it. (Contribution, p. 64) Thus, once Marx comes to present his critique of political economy in Capital he begins not with 'money' but with 'the commodity'. The methodological significance of this final solution to the 'problem of where to begin' has been perhaps best summarized by Nicolaus in his Introduction to the English translation of the Grundrisse: It is this category, the commodity, which forms the starting point...of Marx's Critique of Political Economy (1859) and of Capital I (1867). It is a beginning which is at once concrete, material, almost tangible, as well as historically specific (to capitalist production); and contains within it (is the unity of) a key antithesis (use-value v. exchange value) whose development involves all the other contradictions of this mode of production. Unlike Hegel's Logic, and unlike Marx's own initial attempts earlier, this beginning begins not with pure, indeterminate, eternal and universal abstraction, but rather with a compound, determinate, delimited and concrete whole -- "a concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse..." In a word, this "impure" beginning with which the Grundrisse ends is superior as dialectics to the previous starts, because it contains contradiction from the outset, in embryo; whereas the "pure" (indeterminate, eternal, absolute and universal) beginning starts, falsely, by excluding an opposite (else it would not be pure!), and hence has to pull its antithesis in by the hairs, out of "nothing", by magic...Only a materialist beginning, that is, a beginning with the concrete, the determinate, and hence...the contradictory in itself, can therefore be a truly dialectical beginning... (Grundrisse, p. 38) Here then, we have in outline the evolution of Marx's solution to the problem of where to begin his critique of political economy. But how does this solution inscribe a closure within his broad thematic? To answer this we must return to once more to consider Marx's confrontation with Hegel.
In the 1844 Manuscripts the central category around which Marx brings Hegel, classical political economy and socialism into mutual confrontation is that of private property. Whereas the political economists took private property as a presupposed -- as a positive fact of civilized society -- and therefore beyond their problematic of the objective laws of the economy, this was not so true either for Hegel or for the socialists. For both Hegel and the socialists private property was the expression of the will of the individual subject. Whereas for Hegel, who took up the perspective of the bourgeoisie, private property was the positive expression of the free will of the bourgeois individual; for the socialists, in so far as they took up the perspective of the proletariat and the impoverished artisan, private property was the denial of the expression of free will, or else the expression of the free will of the exclusive few -- of the other.
In The Philosophy of Right Hegel faced the problem of reconciling the incessant 'war of all against all', the constant battle of individual wills, of bourgeois civil society with the unity of will of the bourgeois state. For Hegel, the state was not merely the means through which the strong ruled the weak; nor was the sense of patriotism and civil duty which it invoked merely a cloak with which to hide private self-interest. On the contrary, for Hegel, the modern nation state was the material expression of the ethical Idea. But as such an expression, Hegel could not accept the Hobbesian conception of the state as a leviathan which simply imposed 'law and order' on an otherwise warring populace, nor could he accept that the state was simply the product of a 'social contract' made implicitly between otherwise externally related sovereign individuals. Instead, as we have previously noted, Hegel sought to demonstrate how the will of the individual subject, by objectifying itself within the alien and positive world of the economy and civil society, came to recognizes itself as a particular expression of the universality of the state and thus of the ethical Idea.
Indeed, for Hegel, it was only through the travails of economic necessity that the individual subject could find her own freedom; that she may realize herself as the immediate expression of absolute free will that becomes explicit in the laws and duties of the state. The Philosophy of Right can therefore be seen as the odyssey of the principle of will and subjectivity, that begins with the individual subject and finds it culmination in the modern state, where 'law is freedom'. Hegel sums up the culmination of this odyssey as follows: The state is the actuality of concrete freedom. But concrete freedom consists in this, that personal individuality and its particular interests not only achieve their complete development and gain explicit recognition for their right (as they do in the sphere of the family and civil society) but for one thing, they also pass over of their own accord into the interests of the universal, and, for another thing, they know and will the universal; they even recognize it as their own substantive mind; they take it as their end and aim and are active in its pursuit. The result is that the universal does not prevail or achieve completion except along with particular interests and through the co- operation of particular knowing and willing; and individuals likewise do not live as private persons for their own ends alone, but in the very act of willing these they will the universal in the light of the universal, and their activity is consciously aimed at none but the universal end. The principle of modern states has prodigious strength and depth because it allows the principle of subjectivity to progress to its culmination in the extreme self-subsistent personal particularity, and yet at the same time brings it back to the substantive unity and so maintains this unity in the principle of subjectivity itself. (Hegel, 1952, p. 160) The starting point for Hegel is, then, the individual subject, which for Hegel is the immediate and implicit expression of absolute free will. But how does Hegel come to this starting point?
Hegel opens the Introduction to The Philosophy of Right by making it clear that he is not concerned with actual systems of law as such, but rather with Right as the Idea which then finds its particular expression in actually existing legal systems that arise within various contingent circumstances; Right as the rational essence of positive law. Here, Hegel makes it quite clear that, for him, Right is the social embodiment of Reason. Law is the active expression of Reason itself.
Right must therefore find its origin in the free activity of the mind -- that is in will. As Hegel himself says: The basis of right is, in general, mind; its precise place and point of origin is the will. The will is free, so that freedom is both the substance of right and its goal, while the system of right is the realm of freedom made actual, the world of mind brought forth out of itself like a second nature. (Hegel, 1952, p. 20) Hence, implicitly, from the very outset of The Philosophy of Right, Hegel equates Right with the realization of free will.
However, will makes its immediate appearance as the will of the isolated individual ego. As such, will appears as the unity of two opposed abstract moments. Firstly, it appears as indeterminate and abstract freedom. The freedom of the individual ego to potentially think, and therefore will, anything. Pure abstract universality: The will contains...the element of pure indeterminacy or that pure reflection of the ego into itself which involves the dissipation of every restriction and every content either immediately presented by nature, by needs, desires, and impulses, or given and determined by any means whatever. This is the unrestricted infinity of absolute abstraction or universality, the pure thought of oneself. (Hegel, 1952, p. 21) Secondly, it appears as the self-restriction of the ego into something determinate and finite. Its resolution to will something in the context of its particular circumstances. The abstract particularization of the individual ego: At the same time, the ego is also the transition from undifferentiated indeterminancy to the differentiation, determination, and positing of a determinancy as a content and object. Now further, this content may either be given by nature or engendered by the concept of the mind. Through this positing of itself as something determinate, the ego steps in principle into determinate existence. This is the absolute moment, the finitude or particularisation of the ego. (Hegel, 1952, p. 22) As the unity of these two abstract moments the will of the individual ego establishes its abstract freedom; its 'freedom of choice': The will is the unity of both these moments. It is particularity reflected into itself and so brought back to universality, i.e. it is individuality. It is the self-determination of the ego, which means that at one and the same time the ego posits itself as its own negative, i.e. as restricted and determinate, and yet remains by itself, i.e. in its self-identity and universality. It determines itself and yet at the same time binds itself together with itself. The ego determines itself in so far as it is the relating of negativity to itself. As this self-relation, it is indifferent to this determinancy; it knows it as something which is its own, something which is only ideal, a mere possibility by which this is not constrained and in which it is confined only because it has put itself in it. This is the freedom of the will and it constitutes the concept or substantiality of the will...(Hegel, 1952, p. 23) Yet for Hegel, this immediate free will of the individual and isolated ego is merely abstract and arbitrary. It is merely a matter of whim and fancy: What the will has decided to choose...it can equally easily renounce. But its ability to go beyond any other choice which it may substitute, and so on ad infinitum, never enables it to get beyond its own finitude, because the content of every such choice is something other than the form of the will and therefore something finite, while the opposite of determinancy, namely indeterminancy, ie indecision or abstraction from any content, is only the other, equally one-sided moment of will. (Hegel, 1952, p. 28) For Hegel, the purely subjective free will of the isolated individual ego is an empty freedom. It is:
...free only in itself or for an external observer...It is not until it has itself as its object that the will is for itself what it is in itself. (Hegel, 1952, p. 25) Indeed, Hegel is swift to condemn the common and libertarian view of freedom that bases itself on this abstract freedom of the individual ego. A position that was to later find its most forceful expression with Stirner: The idea which people most commonly have of freedom is that it is arbitrariness -- the mean, chosen by abstract reflection, between the will wholly determined by natural impulses, and the will free absolutely. If we hear it said that the definition of freedom is ability to do what we please, such an idea can only be taken to reveal an utter immaturity of thought, for contains not even an inkling of the absolutely free will, of right, ethical life, and so forth. Reflection, the formal universality and unity of self-consciousness, is the will's abstract certainty of its freedom, but it is not yet the truth of freedom, because it has not yet got itself as its content and aim, and consequently the subjective side is still other than the objective; the content of this self-determination, therefore, also remains purely and simply finite. Instead of being the will in its truth, arbitrariness is more like the will as contradiction. (Hegel, 1952, p. 27) To make itself its own object the will must objectify itself; it must leave the realm of pure reflection and find its own externalization in the objective world. In doing so the individual ego must place itself in relation to the multiplicity of other individual egos. The individual ego thereby comes to stand before all others as a determinate subject; a person. A person with her own peculiar and unique characteristics but at the same time a rational human being like all other persons. Hence: Personality implies that as this person: i) I am completely determined on every side (in my inner caprice, impulse, and desire, as well as by immediate external facts) and so finite, yet ii) none the less I am simply and solely self-relation, and therefore in finitude I know myself as something infinite, universal free. (Hegel, 1952, p. 37) It is from this universal aspect of personality that Hegel locates the basis of formal right; the mutual respect of individual egos of others' rights as a person like themselves: Personality essentially involves the capacity for rights and constitutes the concept and the basis...of the system of abstract and therefore formal right. Hence the imperative of right is: 'Be a person and respect others as persons'. (Hegel, 1952, p. 37) Here then, the universality of the free will of the individual ego finds its expression in the formal rights of the individual subject as a person in relation to other such persons. But: As immediate individuality, a person in making decisions is related to a world of nature directly confronting him, and thus the personality of the will stands over and against this world as something subjective. For personality, however, as inherently infinite and universal, the restriction of being only subjective is a contradiction and a nullity. Personality is that which struggles to lift itself above this restriction and to give itself reality, or in other words to claim that external world as its own. (Hegel, 1952, p. 38) So, how is the personality to give itself reality; how is it to claim the external world as its own? For Hegel the answer is simply to appropriate the external world as private property. With private property the will of the individual subject becomes embodied and objectified in the external world of objects. The free will of the individual subject thereby gains its objective reality. But if the will of the individual subject is not to be subordinated to its objective expression it must also be free to withdraw itself from its particular external expressions; that is, private property must be alienable from the individual subject.
The reason I can alienate my property is that it is mine only in so far as I put my will into it. Hence I may abandon (derelinquere) as a res nullius anything that I have or yield it to the will of another and so into his possession, provided always that the thing in question is a thing external by nature. (Hegel, 1952, p. 52) However, in taking possession of particular objects of the external world as private property, the will of the individual subject is brought into an immediate relation with the wills of other individual subjects. By making something her own private property, by making it the exclusive expression of her own will and freedom, the individual subject must exclude all others. She must gain the implicit recognition from all other individual subjects of her exclusive right to that particular object. From the mutual recognition of particular individuals to the right of possession over particular objects emerges the universal right of private property. The universal and formal rights as persons now finds its content in the universal right to private property. This then becomes fully explicit with the mutual exchange of property and the mutual recognition of the particular rights of private property through commercial contracts. As Hegel puts it: Right is in the first place the immediate embodiment which freedom gives itself in an immediate way, i.e. a) possession, which is property-ownership. Freedom is here the freedom of the abstract will in general or, eo ipso, the freedom of a single person related only to himself. b) A person by distinguishing himself from himself relates himself to another person, and it is only as owners that these two persons really exist for each other. Their implicit identity is realised through the transference of property from one to the other in conformity with a common will and without detriment to the rights of either. This is contract. (Hegel, 1952, p. 38) Here then we see how for Hegel private property is presupposed, and is thus the point of departure for civil society: a society which appears as the simple aggregation of property-owners that are brought into relation to one another through the mutual exchange of property. In accordance with Adam Smith's 'invisible hand', each individual, in pursuit of her own particular self-interest, comes to serve the interest of all. The universal therefore finds its fullest particularization in the free will of the individual.
But for Hegel, the positive laws of the market -- of supply and demand -- are in themselves insufficient. They need to be supplemented by a positive system and institutions of rights and duties to provide for education, the administration of justice and so forth. But while these laws of the market and duties imposed by civil society may appear imposed on the free will of the subject, for Hegel they are the means and guarantee of such free will. In recognizing this the individual subject comes to recognize herself as a citizen of the bourgeois state; as a particular expression of the universality of free will. She comes to consciously will the ends of the state as the universal expression of her own ends.
Here then we see how the bourgeois property-owners find their common unity, and the semblance of human existence, in and through civil society and the state. But, as the socialist critics of Hegel protest, if right and free will is to be expressed only through private property, if the basis of the state is property ownership, what is to become of the vast numbers that have little or no property; of those that have nothing to sell but their labour-power? What of the proletariat that can only see in private property the appropriation of their own will and purpose, their own subjective activity, to an alien end? For them, as Proudhon proclaims, private property is not right; private property is theft! It is not the embodiment of their liberty, but the denial of their own free will. A denial that is enforced through the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state that upholds the 'rights' of private property over and against the human needs and desires of the proletariat.
In taking an exclusively bourgeois perspective Hegel effectively suppresses the question of the potentially antagonistic will of the proletariat. Yet he is not completely unaware of it. It continually returns to haunt his exposition. Indeed, Hegel is keenly aware that the unhindered development of civil society leads not only to the enrichment of the few, but also to the impoverishment of the many. Hence the danger arises for Hegel of a large dispossessed rabble antagonistic to the rights of private property: When civil society is in a state of unimpeded activity, it is engaged in expanding internally in population and industry. The amassing of wealth is intensified by generalising a) the linkage of men by their needs, and b) the methods of preparing and distributing the means to satisfy these needs, because it is from this double process of generalisation that the largest profits are derived. That is one side of the picture. The other side is the subdivision and restriction of particular jobs. This results in the dependence and distress of the class tied to work of that sort, and these again entail inability to feel and enjoy the broader freedoms and especially the intellectual benefits of civil society...
When the standard of living of a large mass of people falls below a certain subsistence level -- a level regulated automatically as the one necessary for a member of society -- and when there is a consequent loss of the sense of right and wrong, of honesty and the self- respect which makes man insist on maintaining himself by his own work and effort, the result is the creation of a rabble [pobel] of paupers. (Hegel, 1952, : p. 149) While Hegel does not explicitly admit it, it is the potential threat of this rabble that more than anything else limits the free play of the market; and it is this threat that forces the otherwise indifferent property-owners to recognise their common interest in defending the right of private property through the institutions of the state. The will of the state thereby stands as the common will of the bourgeoisie ranged against the potentially antagonistic will of the proletariat.
Yet, while Hegel is obliged to acknowledge the proletariat as an implicitly antagonistic subject at various points in his exposition, for the most part the proletariat is closed off and subsumed. Such closure is imposed within the very category of private property, but it is a closure which is not without its problems. This becomes clear when Hegel is obliged to consider the sale of labour as a form of private property.
Here, Hegel seeks to subsume the proletariat's sale of their own subjective activity as simply another form of alienating private property. But the problem for Hegel is that labour- power is not something external and separable from the worker. In selling her labour the worker sells herself, she alienates her own individual freedom. Hegel can only overcome this, to reassert the freedom of the worker as a bourgeois subject, by pointing out that the worker only sells herself temporarily. In her free time she can enjoy the freedom of her own will like any other property-owner: Single products of my particular physical and mental skill and of my power to act I can alienate to someone else and I can give him the use of my abilities for a restricted period, because, on the strength of this restriction, my abilities acquire an external relation to the totality and universality of my being. By alienating the whole of my time, as crystallized in my work, and everything I produced, I would be making into another's property the substance of my being, my universal activity and actuality, my personality. (Hegel, 1952, p. 54) Here, then, Hegel does not exclude the proletariat as the an uncivilized rabble but rather subsumes them as 'respectable' bourgeois commodity-owners. But whether excluded as an uncivilized rabble or else subsumed as a peculiar form of property-owners, the proletariat, as a distinct and antagonistic class, find themselves foreclosed with Hegel's category of private property.
Let us consider in a little more detail the implications of the closure imposed by this category.
As we have seen, Hegel derives the category of private property prior to the system of labour and needs of the economy and civil society; for him labour and use are only marks with which the individual will designates a particular object as its own private property. This first of all serves to affirm the bourgeoisie's right to own property irrespective of how it is used or who produced it. It thereby denies the counter-claims of the proletariat that arise on the basis of labour and need. At the same time, in denying such counter- claims it takes the suppression of the proletarian perspective as given -- as a result. The right to private property is taken to have imposed itself. The bourgeoisie stand to the fore as the owners of property in which all trace of who produced it and for what end have been expunged; the proletariat stand cowered in the background, forgotten except as the shadowy rabble.
Yet private property, as the will of the bourgeoisie, must impose itself over and against the will of the proletariat. This imposition as process, rather than as result, makes its immediate appearance before the proletariat as money and the state. This was well recognized by early socialists such as Proudhon who at least obliquely grasped the reflection of class antagonism in the relations of money and state power, and perhaps more forcefully and explicitly by Bakunin and the anarchists. Indeed, both Proudhon and Bakunin can be seen to have clearly recognized money and state authority as the hostile will of the bourgeoisie and as a consequence they resolutely set themselves against them.
It may be added here that it was this unreclaimed deferral of money and the state as the hostile will of the bourgeoisie, and consequently of the workers' organizational response to it - in contrast to its immediate recognition by the anarchists -- which opened the way to Marx's authoritarian statism, and subsequently to Marxism's commitment to state socialism. It is precisely here, with this omission, that Bakunin's prophetic warnings against the Marxist illusion of abolishing classes through state power and the danger of the emergence a bureaucratic class and the dictatorship of the most knowledgeable strikes home. Indeed, it is with this particular but vital question that Bakunin's more immediate and imminent perspective of class antagonism places him in a far more perceptive position than that of the more sophisticated and 'scientific' Marx of Capital.(3)
However, in the Grundrisse Marx does immediately enter the fray. Here he sees money not simply as an objective measure of value or a mere means of commodity circulation, but as command. As Negri observes when considering money as the starting point of Marx's investigation in the Grundrisse: There is so much class hatred contained in this way of approaching the material! Money has the advantage of presenting me immediately the lurid face of the social relation of value; it shows me value right away as exchange, commanded and organised for exploitation. I do not need to plunge into Hegelianism in order to discover the double face of the commodity, of value: money has only one face, that of the boss. (Negri, 1991, p. 23) As Negri demonstrates, by starting with money and crisis, by placing himself within the imminence of rupture, Marx cannot so easily resolve the class contradictions within the synthesis of the dialectic of capital. With its immediate appearance as money, rather than as commodity, capital stands opposed to labour as an antagonistic subject. Capital as money must be seen to impose its will over and against labour. Money thereby stands forth, not simply as a social measure or instrument, as it does in Capital, but as a social power -- as capital's command over the labour of the proletariat. But at the same time money's command is not guaranteed: This perpetual tension of money in command is the exact parallel of workers' insurrection... (Negri, 1991, p. 61) Against the insurrectionary potential of the working class the bourgeoisie, as the subjective agents of capital, must come to consciously organize itself as a class; that is, it must come to constitute itself through state power.
Thus with this point of departure that we find in the Grundrisse, we find ourselves in the midst of class antagonism. Marx 'economistic' analysis becomes overtly political: By confronting the theme of money as capital...Marx makes of command the very material of money. This mode of exposition which attacks and reverses our habitual way of seeing the development of Marx's thought -- politics and command are situated according to our tradition at the end of the analysis of the process of production, or, according to a more recent mode, politics is even considered as alien to the interest of the "economist" Marx. Just the contrary! Here the assumption of the command in all the intensity of its general political functioning is, on the contrary, primary. (Negri, 1991, p. 61) But for all Negri's insistence on the superiority of money as the point of departure for a Marxian analysis it is only so for a reworking of Marx; for a neue Darstellung that seeks to go beyond the Marx of Capital by taking up the critical perspective of a revolutionary proletariat. However, for the Marx of 1867 it was still necessary, as we have seen, to go beyond the uncritical perspective of the proletariat as articulated by his socialist contemporaries, to take up the critical perspective of the bourgeoisie, so as to understand what capitalism essentially is.
As Marx came to recognize, capital, money, and indeed the state, could only be understood in themselves as arising from commodity exchange. Money had to be first derived from the commodity, while analysis of the state, as we shall see, came to be deferred beyond the limits of the general problematic of political economy to a separate book on the state. Here, then, we have the necessity of the provisional closure that emerges with the very onset of the problematic of political economy, and which becomes inscribed within the 'problem of the beginning' of Marx's critique of political economy.
The starting point for Marx's own Darstellung could only be the commodity. What is more, the commodity as object; that is as the immediate expression of the reification of capitalist social relations. But as a starting point, the commodity as object is also a result. The commodity is the very product of capitalist production and as such concentrates the contradictions and relations of such production into their most simple and objective form. Indeed, as the very product of capitalist production, the commodity has implicit within it capital in all its more developed forms.
But with such a result, the will of the proletariat appears, as with Hegel, to be extinguished. The commodity stands as the objective confirmation of the subordination of the worker that produced it. Its ownership by the capitalist is witness to the triumph of the capitalist's will, the will of capital, for whose commercial purposes it was produced.
As such Marx's category appears to stand very close to Hegel's category of private property -- an external object into which the bourgeois individual has objectified her will. But whereas Hegel's category is separated from the very start from the 'system of labour and needs', the 'commodity' is very much a part of it. The commodity is nothing other than the product of labour; it is undeniably the result of the subjective activity of the worker who produced it. While the commodity is the objective proof of the subordination of the proletariat to the will of capital, it can not deny its own maker. The will of proletariat cannot be finally closed off, as it is with Hegel; it can only ever be provisionally denied. It remains implicit within the very contradictions of the commodity-form.
Thus, although by starting with the commodity-object Marx comes to emphasise the unity of the dialectic of capital, class antagonism, the counter-dialectic of class struggle, is still implicit within his analysis. The subordination of the will of the proletariat is only ever provisional and must be repeatedly made. Here then, in the very 'problem of where to begin', we can see how Marx comes to inscribe the first part of his provisional two-fold closure.
We shall see how this beginning serves to impose the second fold of this provisional closure in the following chapter, but before that we must, in the remaining section of this chapter, proceed to consider how the enactment of closure that arises within Marx's critique of political economy becomes evident in the change in his overall plan of work between the Grundrisse of 1857 and Capital of 1867.
B) The Change in Outline We have seen in the previous section the problems that faced Marx in establishing the correct starting point for a critique of political economy. We saw how such problems were bound up with the closure Marx had to impose within his thematic in order that he could focus on the problematic of political economy. How Marx had to suppress, and hold implicit, the subjective and the negative in order to draw out the dialectic of capital. In the Grundrisse, this closure, this suppression, is in the process of being made. It is this process that explains why the beginning was so problematic and also why, as Nicolaus, in the Introduction to the English translation of the Grundrisse, remarks: ...on one scale the Grundrisse is the Olympian overview of the whole, on another scale it is one fourth of one sixth of the entire opus originally projected. The first three volumes of Capital, however, are themselves, in subject matter, no more than this first of the four projected parts of the original design of the book on capital. (Grundrisse, p. 55) In the original plan of six books that were to make up Marx's critique of political economy we can infer an overall unfolding of this critique to the point at which it would open out into a detailed exposition of the thematic of 'capitalism and its overthrow'. In the first three books -- the books on capital, landed property and wage-labour -- Marx intended to expose the objective, historically given, economic and material conditions on which the three great classes of bourgeois society are based. In the fourth book, the book on the state, Marx would have then sought to show how the contradictions between these three classes are held within the political unity imposed by the state. In the fifth book, the book on foreign trade, Marx would of then been able to have examined the economic relations between different states which would then prepare the way for the sixth and final book, the book on the world market and crises. This unfolding would have not only entailed an ascent from the abstract to the concrete but also a movement in which the subjective and the negative would have necessarily become increasingly explicit, emerging fully at the point of global crisis. At this point the repeated displacement of crisis through the intensive and extensive development of capital would finally reach its limit and the counter-dialectic of class struggle would finally break through.
There is little, if any, evidence to suggest that Marx came to totally reject this overall direction of the original outline, and in fact, as Rosdolsky concludes: As far as these last books (Books IV, V, VI) are concerned our enquiry suggests the conclusion that they were never really abandoned. (Rosdolsky, 1977, p. 23) Yet it is clear that the first three books of the plan had been substantially revised by the time Marx came to write Capital. As we saw in chapter 3, Rosdolsky argues that the books on landed property and wage-labour were incorporated into the three volumes of Capital. From a close comparison of the contents of the Grundrisse with that of each of the three volumes of Capital he is able to demonstrate convincingly how Marx comes to introduce the questions of wage-labour and landed property into the structure of Capital. Furthermore, Rosdolsky puts forwarded persuasive arguments as to why Marx should have altered his plan in this way.
But, as Negri has objected, while Rosdolsky has shown why Marx came to revise his plan for the first three books, he does not show conclusively that Marx incorporated the entire contents of what was to have originally appeared in the books on landed property and wage-labour into the confines of the volumes of Capital. In the light of this objection we shall now return to examine Rosdolsky's arguments concerning the abandonment of these two books in a little more detail.
In The Making of Marx's Capital Rosdolsky explains the change in Marx's plan that occurs between the writing of the Grundrisse in 1857 and the writing of Capital ten years latter by first rejecting the earlier explanations of this change of plan put forward by Grossman and Behrens. Both of these explanations, despite various disagreements, had argued that in the original plan for three separate books on capital, landed property and wage-labour, Marx had merely adopted the three-fold division of political economy. This three-fold division, which Marx was to come to term the 'trinity formula', was seen as an apologetic and unscientific approach that Marx came to abandon when he finally broke through to a scientific critique of political economy in the early 1860s.
Rosdolsky, however, argues that this three-fold division of the subject matter within the original outline of 1857 was a necessary point of departure that only possessed a superficial resemblance to the 'trinity formula' of vulgar economics. Under the 'trinity formula' land, labour and capital were taken as mere things, as factors of production, that are brought into an external relation to each other with their combination in the production process, and in consequence give rise to the three revenues in return for their use to their respective owners in the orms of rent, wages and profit (interest). For Marx, even in 1857, capital, wage-labour and landed property were not things but social relations of production that emerge within the capitalist mode of production. The dominant social relation was, for bourgeois society, that of capital. It was capital that structured the social whole and thereby assigned landed-property and wage- labour the locations within this social totality.
Thus it was the book on capital that Marx had to take first. In order to uncover the inner-connections of capital Marx sought at first to abstract from the complicating effects of wage-labour and landed-property, which are separated out into distinct books. As Marx explains to Engels concerning the Grundrisse: 1. Capital. First Section: Capital in General. In the whole of this section it is assumed that the wages of labour are constantly equal to their lowest level. The movement of wages themselves and the rise or fall of the minimum come under the consideration of wage labour.
Further, landed property is taken as = 0; that is nothing as yet concerns landed property as a particular economic relation. This is the only possible way to avoid having to deal with everything under each particular relation. (MESC,p. 106) Yet as Rosdolsky points out: ...once Marx had accomplished the most fundamental part of his task -- the analysis of industrial capital -- the former structure of the work, which had served as a means of self-clarification, became superfluous. The Rough Draft [i.e. the Grundrisse] itself provides an important pointer here because, although this manuscript was drafted entirely in accordance with the intentions of the original outline, none of basic lines of thought which Marx later developed in Volumes I and II of Capital are missing -- with the exception of the chapter on the wage and its forms. This shows that the entire analysis of the production and circulation process of capital could have been carried out without going into any of the topics envisaged for the proposed book on wage labour and landed property. All that this analysis presupposed was the existence of the relation of wage labour -- but this coincides, conceptually, with that of capital itself. Everything else could, and had to be disregarded in the first instance so that the category of capital could be elaborated in its pure form... The blueprint had served its purpose and could therefore be dropped in the further stages of the analysis, without leading to any fundamental changes in the results which had already been obtained. This meant that the separate books on landed property, and wage labour could be given up, with their essential parts incorporated into the new work [i.e. Capital] which only dealt with 'capital'. (Rosdolsky, 1977, p. 53) So, Rosdolsky concludes that both the book on landed property and the book on wage labour were, in all their essentials, incorporated into the three volumes of Capital so that: Both are to be found there, where they properly belong; the Book on Landed Property in Volume III, because the real theoretical problem of ground-rent could only be solved at this stage of the analysis, as a continuation of the already completed analysis of industrial capital, and its 'secondary' and 'derived' forms. In contrast, the Book on Wage-Labour goes directly into the analysis of the production process of capital, i.e. into Volume I in order to create one of the necessary 'links' between value-theory in Volume I and the theory of prices of production developed in Volume III, by means of an analysis of the wage and its forms. (Rosdolsky, 1977, p. 54) But, as we may ask Rosdolsky, in the light of Marx's intentions outlined in the original plan, is it sufficient to conclude that everything which is apparently missing in the Grundrisse is, at: least in terms of the first three books; present in: Capital? Is it not possible that the book on landed property and the book on wage-labour were in some way dismembered so that not all of their 'essential parts' were incorporated into the three volumes of Capital?' Should we not seek to find what is missing, in the light of the original outline, in Capital as well as in the Grundrisse? Because Rosdolsky implicitly assumed that Capital was in some sense Marx's ultimate and complete work on 'economics' he was unable to address such questions. He could only envisage the two abandoned books in so far as they would have contributed to the critique of political economy presented in the pages of Capital. We must therefore venture beyond Rosdolsky to seek out the broad contents of these two abandoned books.
Marx left no detailed plans for what he intended to include in either the book on landed property or the book on wage- labour and it is probable that he had only a vague outline of what they would contain. Yet despite these severe limitations we may hope that by grasping the implicit trajectory of Marx's critique of political economy, aided by various asides and digressions in the Grundrisse, it will be possible to discern whether the three volumes of Capital did enclose the first three books of the original plan, as Rosdolsky maintains, or whether there are parts that are missing.
a) The book on landed property First let us look at the book on landed property. According to Marx's original outline the Grundrisse aimed to cover the first part of the book on Capital; the question of landed property was to have been held in abeyance, yet here and there in the course of his investigation set out in the Grundrisse Marx is obliged to address certain aspects of landed property, if only to abstract them. Perhaps the most important place this occurs is in a short aside entitled 'capital and modern landed property -- Wakefield'. The importance of this aside arises due to the fact that it emerges at a point where it is clear that Marx is seeking to clarify the broad development of his investigation.
In the middle of an exploration into the distinctive character of the exchange between capital and labour Marx suddenly breaks off to outline his proposed book on capital in order to situate this exploration. Having divided the book on capital into three parts -- 'capital-in-general', 'capital-in- particularity' and 'capital-singularity' (concluding with capital as the money market) -- Marx goes on to consider the book on landed property that would then follow: In the money market capital is posited in its totality; there it determines prices, derives work, regulates production, in a word, is the source of production; but capital, not only as something which produces itself (positing prices materially in industry etc., developing forces of production) but at the same time as a creator of values, has to posit a value or a form of wealth specifically distinct from capital. This is ground rent. This is the only value created by capital which is distinct from itself, from its own production. By its nature as well as historically, capital is the creator of modern landed property, of ground rent... (Grundrisse, p. 275) Marx in the following few pages goes onto examine the relation between the category of landed property with those of capital and wage-labour in terms of both the logical and historical transitions of capital into landed property and of landed property into wage-labour.
With this digression Marx explicitly sets out the historical and logical connections of the book on landed property with the of book on capital, of which his investigation in the Grundrisse was a part, so that he could abstract landed property from his investigation. By starting with the book on capital Marx had taken as given that capital dominated social relations; he had taken the capitalist mode of production as being in its maturity and thus as self-sustaining. Yet central to Marx's critique was the historical specificity of the capitalist mode of production; as he remarks in the passage in question: It must be kept in mind that the new forces of production and relations of production do not develop out of nothing, nor drop from the sky, nor the womb of the self-positing idea; but from within and in antithesis to the existing development of production and the inherited, traditional relations of property. While in the completed bourgeois system every economic relation presupposes every other in its bourgeois economic form, and everything posited is thus also a presupposition, this is the case with every organic system. This organic system itself, as a totality, has its presuppositions, and its development to its totality consists in precisely subordinating all elements of society to itself or in creating out of it organs which it still lacks. This is historically how it becomes a totality. The process of becoming this totality forms a moment of its process, of its development. (Grundrisse, p. 278) Here Marx indicates an important methodological problem. Categories cannot be understood unless placed within the context of a historically specific totality; thus Marx holds fast to the capitalist mode of production by starting with the category of capital, but such a totality has to come into being out of pre-existing conditions, and while such becoming may become a moment in the continuing development of that totality the relation between categories in the mature totality are not necessarily the same as they are in its process of becoming. The logical and historical connections of a totality such as the capitalist mode of production are distinct. This becomes vital in considering the separating out of the questions of landed property from that of capital itself.
Up until this digression in question Marx had held to the logical inner-connections of capital; progressing from money in the first notebook of the Grundrisse to capital in the second. Then with the discussion of the distinct character of the exchange between capital and labour Marx had begun to consider the subordination of wage-labour to capital. In the logical connections of the 'complete bourgeois system' wage- labour directly presupposes capital just as capital directly presupposes wage-labour. At the same time the transition from the sphere of circulation -- money, money as money, money as capital -- to the process of production is a logical transition from the surface of capitalism to its essence. This logical transition, however, mirrors an historical transition. Capital comes into existence, first in the circulation of commodities as money-capital in the form of mercantile capitalism, and then only later appropriates production to become industrial capital where it directly appropriates wage-labour for its own self-expansion.
Yet in its embryonic form capital cannot appropriate labour immediately since such labour does not historically exist in the form of wage-labour freely available for exploitation. Instead capital has to create the pre-conditions for wage- labour through the creation of modern landed property. Through the creation of modern landed property the mass of the population becomes excluded from the land and thus finds itself dispossessed from the means of subsistence and production. The working population are consequently obliged to offer themselves as wage-labourers.
This process of becoming is important in the examination of the historical origins of capitalism but it is also important in the continued development of the capitalist mode of production since the inherent drive of capital towards expansion repeatedly brings it into confrontation with pre- capitalist social formations. Thus, as Marx remarks when considering Wakefield's proposition that the government should actively seek to reserve land in the colonies in order to raise its price above the means of the mass of the colonial population: If within one society the modern relations of production, i.e. capital, are developed to its totality, and this society then seizes hold of a new territory, as e.g. the colonies, then it finds, or rather its representative, the capitalist finds, that his capital ceases to be capital without wage labour, and that one of the presuppositions of the latter is not only landed property in general, but modern landed property which, as capitalised rent, is expensive, and which, as such excludes the direct use of the soil by individuals.
Hence Wakefield's theory of the colonies, followed in practice by the English government in Australia. Landed property is here artificially made more expensive in order to transform the workers into wage workers, to make capital act as capital (Grundrisse, p. 278) The transformation of traditional forms of landed property (and property relations of natural resources in general) into modern landed property is a necessity for the development of capital as capital. Capital must subordinate landed property to its own ends. This it does by constituting land as a value, which capital itself does not produce, through the capitalization of ground rent. With this subordination of landed property to the capitalist relation, which Marx terms the transition of capital into landed property, the rural population is excluded from the land and is made available as wage-labourers; at the same time agriculture becomes opened up to capitalistic methods of production.
So modern landed property is a necessity for the process of the becoming of capital, a process that persists within the mature totality of capitalistic relations through the expansion of capitalism in such forms as colonialism. However, in creating modern landed property capital creates the conditions of a distinct propertied class within bourgeois society that is opposed to capital. A landowning class, who, through its monopoly of land and natural resources, not only excludes the worker but also the capitalist. This class is consequently able to intercept the produced surplus-value of production requiring such land or natural resources as ground rent. Once capital becomes established as a totality this modern landed property that it has itself created for its own development becomes an obstacle to the self-expansion of capital since it serves to drain off the surplus-value that could have otherwise been accumulated as capital. Modern landed property becomes the material base for the continued existence of a reactionary propertied class of landowners.
As Marx goes on to argue: ...after capital has posited landed property and hence arrived at its double purpose: (1) industrial agriculture, and thereby development of the forces of production on the land; (2) wage labour, thereby general domination of capital over the countryside; it then regards the existence landed property itself as a merely transitional development, which is required as an action of capital on the old relations of landed property, and a product of their decomposition; but which, as such -- once this purpose is achieved -- is merely a limitation on profit, not a necessary requirement for production. It thus endeavours to dissolve landed property as private property and to transfer it to the state... Thus transition double (I) Positive Transition from landed property, or from capital through the mediation of modern landed property, to wage labour; (2) Negative Transition negation of landed property by capital... (Grundrisse, p. 279) So within the mature totality of capital modern landed property tends to be eliminated so that in the complete bourgeois system the essential categories are those of capital and wage-labour; the principal classes being the capitalist class and the working class. So that as Marx comes to remark in his Theories of Surplus Value: Capitalist and wage-labourer are the sole functionaries and factors of production whose relationship and confrontation arise from the nature of the capitalist mode of production. (TSV II, p. 152) and this: ...can only be grasped and become self-evident when the capitalist has seized agriculture, and everywhere, as is generally the case in England, has taken charge of agriculture just as he has industry, and has excluded the landowner from any direct participation in the production process. (TSV II, p. 153) We are now in a position to see the full importance of Marx's digression -- 'capital and modern landed property -- Wakefield'. In the Grundrisse Marx seeks to investigate the logical innerconnections of the capital relation in abstraction from the complications of landed property. In confronting Wakefield, Marx is able to confirm that, although modern landed property is vital for the development of capital and persists as a moment within the complete and mature bourgeois economic system in such areas as the colonies, the transition of capital into landed property is for the most part an historical transition. The connection of modern landed property to capitalism belongs to the becoming of capital rather than to capital in itself. Since landed property relates to capital as an historical connection rather than a logical connection, and since within mature capitalism the predominant tendency is for the elimination of modern landed property, Marx can assure himself that he may consider capital in its pure form in isolation from landed property. Landed property can be separated out and considered in the separate book on landed property as Marx had intended; an intention that is now confirmed as resting on a real abstraction.
However, the subordination of modern landed property to capital is not entirely an historical relation of capital's becoming but persists, even with the elimination of a distinct land owning class, within the logic of capital as a self- sustaining system. Capital must still posit a value distinct from itself. This gives us a clue to the basis on which Marx reintroduced landed property when he came to write Capital.
In the competitive battle between industrial capitals, both within and between particular branches of production, those producing in the most favourable conditions will be able to extract surplus-profit, that is profits above that warranted by the general rate of profit ruling in the economy as a whole.(4) To a large, and ever increasing extent, the conditions of productions are internal to capital itself. Through the introduction of more advanced technology or production methods the conditions of production are repeatedly revolutionized. Capitals that introduce new technology, or more advanced methods of production, will able to reap surplus- profits, but only until their rivals catch up. Surplus- profits that arise from the internal transformation of the conditions of production are therefore always more or less temporary to the degree that rival competitors can themselves reproduce those conditions.
However, certain conditions of production, such as land or natural resources, are external to capital. If property relations can be extended to these conditions of production which can limit their use, so that only particular individual capitals can take advantage of them, then the basis for a more or less permanent surplus-profit emerges to the degree that such conditions have no viable substitutes. Since the ownership of these conditions of production confer an entitlement to the produced surplus-value, capital imputes a value for them distinct from itself.
Insofar as the surplus-profit is intercepted by a distinct property owning class, then it takes the form of ground rent. It is this that provides the material basis for the persistence of a distinct land owning class in mature capitalism. But even if the land owning class is somehow dispossessed then the existence of the property relations within these external conditions of production will still affect the competition between capitals and thus the formation of prices and the distribution of surplus-value as profit. Thus, for example, if the ownership of land is transferred to the capitalist farmer then the extra surplus-value that is retained by the farmer, due to the ownership of land and the exclusion of competitors, is now pocketed not by the landlord as rent but by the capitalist farmer as a permanent surplus- profit. Thus purely in terms of the 'logical connections' of capital-in-itself -- as opposed to the historical connections -- the study of landed property and ground rent resolves itself into merely a study of the extreme form of the relation of surplus-profit that arises from the peculiarities of conditions of production external to capital.
Because the overriding tendency of capitalist production is to extend the subjection of nature and thereby internalize previously external conditions of production, then the logical connections that emerge with landed property and rent, or else permanent surplus-value, are for the most part of a secondary order and were of little concern to Marx's attempt to investigate the primary (inner) connections of capital in the Grundrisse. Yet when Marx came to present this investigation in Capital these secondary logical connections of rent and landed property, in distinction to the historical connections of capital's becoming, did become a concern, as we shall now see.
In Part VI of Volume III of Capital -'Transformation of surplus-profit into ground rent' we find these secondary logical connections of landed property and rent incorporated into the main text of Capital. It is here, in the penultimate section of Volume III, where Marx sets out his theories of differential and absolute rent, that Rosdolsky identifies as the place where the 'essential parts' of the book on landed property are to be found. But why did Marx decide to introduce these logical connections into Capital at this point? And are they .the 'essential parts' of the originally intended book on landed property?
We may identify two principal reasons why Marx decided to introduce these logical connections at this point in Capital. Firstly, as Rosdolsky points out, Volume III goes beyond 'capital-in-general', which had been the concern of the Grundrisse, to consider 'many-capitals'. This led Marx to pose the problem of the transformation of values into prices and the formation of the general rate of profit. As we saw in chapter 3, Marx came to solve the transformation problem through his critique of Ricardo's theory of rent that he made, a few years after the Grundrisse, in his Theories of Surplus- Value. Although an exposition of his theory of rent was not essential for the presentation of Marx's solution to the transformation problem in Volume III, it did illustrate the distinction between value and price and underline the point that profit and rent are particular forms of surplus-value.
Secondly, and more importantly, Marx had to introduce his theory of rent at this point in the presentation of his critique of political economy so that he could show how the essential relations of capital make their appearance in terms of the 'trinity formula', so familiar to the economists. In the process of investigation, of which the Grundrisse had been a part, Marx had to isolate out landed property in order to come to grips with the primary, inner connections of capital. In Capital, where he presents the results of such investigation, Marx has to introduce these secondary logical connections of landed property, that arise with rent theory, if he is to show the material basis for the revenues that support the two distinct propertied classes of bourgeoise society. Surplus-value does not only take the forms of profit and interest, which provide the material basis for the capitalist class, but must also take the form of rent, which provides the material basis for the distinct propertied class of landowners.
However, because these logical connections of landed property are secondary, Marx need only introduce them just before he considers the appearance of the essential relations of capital in the form of the 'trinity formula'. We therefore find these logical connections of landed property towards the end of the third volume of Capital. Hence we find that 'the transformation of surplus-value into rent' comes after its transformation into profit and interest, and just before Marx concludes with the three revenues of the three great classes of bourgeois society.
It can be seen that the logical connections of landed property that arise with the theory of rent are the 'essential parts' of the originally intended book on landed property that Marx has to introduce in order to present his critique of political economy in Capital. But while these connections were 'essential' for Capital, they are not necessarily the essential, or only parts of what Marx may have intended to include in the book on landed property. They are only the essential parts if we concur with Rosdolsky and take Capital as being Marx's ultimate and complete work. It may be asked, what happened to the historical connections of landed property? Would not a study of these connections have provided a substantial, if not essential, part of what Marx would have originally included in the book on landed property?
If we examine Capital we do in fact find what Marx defined as the historical transition of capital into landed property included in the course of his exposition. Most notably in Part VIII of Volume I: 'The so-called Primitive Accumulation'. Here we find Marx turning away temporarily from the logical unfolding of the categories of capitalist production that make up much of Volume I to take a lengthy digression into the historical genesis of such categories. This digression allows Marx to emphasise the historical character of the capitalist mode of production and provides him with the basis with which to refute the idea that the capitalist owes her position to the frugality and abstinence of her forebearers. By turning to consider the 'bloody' becoming of capital, both in the historical transition of feudalism into capitalism witnessed in England and Europe, and in the contemporary advance of colonialism -- both of which required the introduction of the historical connections of landed property -- Marx was able to bring Volume I to a powerful and well illustrated conclusion.
It would seem that, although he omits to mention the inclusion of landed property in Volume I, Rosdolsky's argument is vindicated. The logical connections that would have appeared in the original book on landed property find their way into Volume III, while the historical connections find their way into Marx's theory of the primitive accumulation of capital in Volume I. But this is true only insofar as most, or at least the essential parts, of both the historical and logical connections of the book on landed property can be accounted for in Capital. While the logical connections of landed property are necessarily introduced into the logical unfolding of the categories of capital-in-itself that is presented by Marx's Capital, the historical connections of landed property are only introduced to illustrate 'this logical unfolding of the categories of capital. There is no reason to suppose that such historical connections were included in their entirety. In fact there is a certain amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest that a large amount of material relating to the historical connections of landed property was omitted from Capital.
Soon after the publication of Volume I of Capital the question of the historical connections of landed property became one of Marx's principal theoretical preoccupations, which lasted for the rest of his life. In fact it could be argued that this preoccupation with the question of landed property was one of the main factors that prevented Marx from bring the final two volumes of Capital to publication himself. From 1870 onwards Marx amassed an enormous quantity of empirical and statistical material concerning the agricultural conditions in various countries.
After Marx's death Engels records finding over two cubic metres of documents relating to Russian agricultural statistics alone among Marx's papers. In order to read these documents Marx had gone to the trouble, late in his life, to learn Russian. Furthermore, it is known that during the 1870s Marx had devoted much time to studying those natural sciences closely related to agriculture, such as geology, biology and plant physiology, in order to understand the differing agricultural conditions in various countries and regions.
So why did Marx devote such efforts in studying these sources that relate to agricultural production, and thus landed property, to the detriment of the completion of Capital, and despite his ill-health? Do such efforts imply that there was more to the book on landed property that did not find its way into the three volumes of Capital, and which remained to haunt Marx?
In order to uncover the general laws and categories of capital Marx abstracted from the specific historical conditions of the most advanced capitalist economy of his time - that of England. It is not surprising, therefore, that when Marx came to present his critique of political economy, which was written principally against the British political economists, he should draw the historical illustrations and examples for his theoretical arguments mainly from the historical development of capitalism in England and the British Isles.
Yet with the rapid development of capitalism elsewhere in the world, which was becoming readily apparent by the late 1860's, the particular course of historical development of capitalism in England, which served to illustrate much of Capital, came into stark contrast with the development of capitalism in other countries. This threatened to have serious political implications for the interpretation and development of Marx's ideas. Consequently Marx was obliged to turn his attention increasingly away from the uncovering of the general laws of capitalism to their application to specific economic and political conditions and conjunctures in various regions of the world.
Let us firstly take the example of Russia, which as we have already noted was of particular interest for Marx in his final years.
Following the defeat of the Paris Commune hopes for a revolutionary upheaval shifted decisively towards Eastern Europe, and Russia in particular. As Marx writes in a letter to Sorge in 1877: Russia has long been standing on the threshold of an upheaval, all the elements of it are prepared -- I have studied the conditions there from original Russian sources, unofficial-and official. All sections of Russian society are in complete disintegration economically, morally and intellectually. This time revolution will begin in the East, hitherto the unbroken bulwark and reserve army of counter-revolution. (M&ESC, p. 341) Marx's interest in the revolutionary potential of Russia and Eastern Europe was matched by the interest that the fervent and committed revolutionaries of Russia and Eastern Europe showed in Marx. No other edition of the first volume of Capital had a greater circulation at this time than the Russian edition. Marx's ideas, with the translation of his ideas into Russian, came to have a profound impact on revolutionary circles in Russia and Eastern Europe. Yet while many revolutionaries rushed to become 'Marxists' many others denied the applicability of Marx's ideas to Russia or Eastern Europe.
Consequently an intense debate emerged in the revolutionary camp between those who regarded themselves as Marxists and those who later became known as the Narodniks. This controversy owed not a little to the fact that the historical development of capitalism in England and Western Europe, which had served to illustrate Capital and much of Marx's writings, was in stark contrast to the development of capitalism that was emerging in Russia and Eastern Europe.(5)
The feudal order from which capitalism had to originate in Eastern Europe had a distinctly different character from that which had existed in Western Europe. Owing to the abundance of unclaimed land relative to the population, the peasants of Eastern Europe had always enjoyed a far greater degree of strength and independence in relation to the nobility than their western counterparts. The demands of the Eastern nobility on the lower orders had always been tempered by the fact that the peasantry could at any time strike out on their own if their obligations became too onerous. In fact it was not until the final stages of feudalism, which saw the rise of the absolute state, that the peasantry became enserfed in Russia. Yet even with the draconian laws implemented by a ruthless state apparatus the Russian aristocracy found it difficult to control the peasantry completely. Right up until the abolition of serfdom in l860 many peasant communities retained communal organizations and property relations on land that existed independently of the feudal order and aristocratic interference.(6)
Consequently the Russian and Eastern European peasantry were far more volatile and revolutionary than those of Western Europe, a fact underlined by a long history of peasant uprisings. The revolutionary traditions of the Russian peasantry, coupled with the persistence of communal organization and property relations in much of the Russian countryside, led many Russian revolutionaries to place their hopes in a peasant revolution that would allow Russia to miss out on capitalism altogether and go straight to a peasant based socialist society. For such revolutionaries Marx's advocacy of the central importance of the industrial proletariat in the revolutionary construction of a communist or socialist society made no sense in Russia where the industrial proletariat hardly existed, and where the overwhelming majority of the population were peasants.
Against such arguments the would be Marxist revolutionaries argued that the development of capitalism was inevitable. There could be no short cut to a communist society through a peasant revolution. With the development of capitalism Russia and Eastern Europe would follow the same, inevitable course as that of England and Western Europe. An ever growing industrial proletariat would sooner or later emerge with sufficient strength to overthrow existing class society and usher in the era of socialism.
In the heat of the polemics between the Narodniks and the Russian Marxists, Marx's ideas became caricatured into a rigid determinism. The Marxists asserted the inevitability of capitalism and the emergence of a revolutionary industrial proletariat as a universal, scientifically determined, law; while the Narodniks denied its applicability to Russia and Eastern Europe. Consequently Marx was obliged to correct such misinterpretations, and the correction of such misinterpretations rested heavily on the question of landed property in the context of Russia and Eastern Europe.
In a letter to a Russian journal in response to an article misinterpreting his work Marx writes: The chapter on primitive accumulation [in volume I of Capital] does not pretend to do more than trace the path by which, in Western Europe, the capitalist order of economy emerged from the womb of the feudal order of economy. It therefore describes the historic movement which by divorcing the producers from their means of production converts them into wage earners (proletarians in the modern sense of the word) while it converts into capitalists those who hold the means of production...
Now what application to Russia can my critic make of this historical sketch? Only this: If Russia is tending to become a capitalist nation after the example of Western European countries, and during the last years she has been taking a lot of trouble in this direction -- she will not succeed without having first transformed a good part of her peasants into proletarians; and after that, once taken to the bosom of the capitalist regime, she will experience its pitiless laws like any other profane peoples. That is all. But that is not enough for my critic. He feels himself obliged to metamorphose my historical sketch of the genesis of capitalism in Western Europe into a historico-philosophic theory of the marche generale [general march] imposed by fate upon every people... (M&ESC, p. 353) This refutation of rigidly deterministic interpretations of his ideas was then further elaborated in his preface to the Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto, where Marx writes: The Communist Manifesto had as its object the proclamation of the inevitably impending dissolution of modern bourgeois, property. But in Russia we find, face to face with the rapidly developing capitalist swindle and bourgeois landed property, just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is: Can the Russian Obshchina [village community], though greatly undermined, yet a form of the primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher form of communist ownership? Or, on the contrary, must it pass through the same process of dissolution as constitutes the historical evolution in the West? The only answer that is possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both compliment each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development. (MESW, p. 23) We can see how, in order to intervene in the Russian debate so as to refute the rigidly deterministic interpretations of Capital, Marx has to reconsider the development of capitalism in the light of the specific conditions that pre-exist capitalism outside of Western Europe. This necessarily raises the question of the historical connections of landed property. The historical transition of capital into landed property, that was sketched in the final part of Volume I of Capital, now had to be viewed from a different perspective. Rather than drawing out the generalities of the subordination of landed property to capitalist relations, we can infer a necessary movement in Marx towards a consideration of the reverse perspective, the drawing out of the particularities of the subordination of capitalist relations to landed property. This is not merely evident in the case of Marx's intervention in the debate amongst Russian revolutionaries but is also evident in his dealings with other political issues of his time. Another example being his engagement with the theories of the American economist -- Carey.
During the 1850s Carey emerged as an influential economist in both socialist and bourgeois circles. He was one of the principal proponents of the view that the evils of capitalism that were so apparent in Europe were due to the persistence of feudalism. In the New World of the Americas capitalism could develop in its pure form, free from the contamination of feudalism, and would be shown to be an essentially harmonious economic system unencumbered by class antagonism. This view was appealing to many workers and socialists fleeing from political persecution in Europe, and was to serve as an important theoretical influence on the development of the radical American populist movement that was to emerge in the following decades. As such it was an important theoretical obstacle to the development of a truly socialist movement among the American working class which, as Marx recognized, was vital, given the capitalist potential of North America, for the international workers' movement.
Carey's economic theory centred on an attack on the orthodox theory of rent that had been inherited from Ricardo. Ricardo's theory of rent, by assuming diminishing marginal returns to agricultural production, had concluded that as capitalist production progressed rents would rise, squeezing profits. It thus implied a growing class antagonism between landowners and capitalists. Carey, however, argued that, from the experience of agricultural production in America, the reverse was true. Colonial farmers would at first only farm the most accessible land which was often the least fertile. Only after the development of better transport and communications would the colonial farmer come to cultivate the less accessible but more fertile lands. Consequently the returns to agricultural production far from falling, would rise at the margin as more land was cultivated. This tendency for rising marginal returns to land would be further accentuated by improvements in the land brought about by better farming methods. Thus Carey was able to conclude that the development of agricultural production under capitalism would lead, not to rising rents and greater mass antagonisms, but falling rents and harmony between the classes. In fact insofar as the improvement of land leading to the development of better farming techniques predominated over the shift towards more fertile land then Carey regarded rent as little more than interest on the fixed capital invested by past farming methods in the land.
Marx saw Carey's rent theory as the reverse side of Ricardo's one-sided theory of rent. Like Ricardo, Carey had failed to grasp rent as part of a social relation that emerges with modern landed property; instead he could only explain rent in terms of the relative fertility of the soil. For Marx the difference between America and Europe was not that between a pure and impure capitalism, but was due to a different historical transition of capital into landed property. In Europe capital had to transform the traditional feudal relations of landed property into the form of modern, capitalistic landed property. In America and the New World, once the native population had been decimated, capitalistic relations of modern landed property had to be created out of nothing. This process was still unfolding; once it reached its completion it would be essentially the same as that which had emerged in capitalist Europe. As Marx puts it in a letter to Engels in 1869: As a harmonist, Carey first proved that there was no antagonism between capitalist and wage-labourer. The second step was to prove harmony between landowner and capitalist, and this is done by taking land ownership where it is still in an undeveloped state and representing this as normal. The great decisive difference between the colonies and the old civilised countries, is that in the latter the mass of the population is excluded from the land and soil -- whether fertile or infertile, cultivated or uncultivated -- by a system of landed property, while in the colony land can, relatively speaking, still be appropriated by the cultivator himself -- this fact must not be mentioned whatever happens. It must have absolutely nothing to do with the rapid development of the colonies. The disagreeable 'question of property' in its most disagreeable form, would indeed knock harmony off its feet. (M&ESC, p. 273) So here, with Marx's confrontation with Carey, we again find Marx, in considering the context of a pressing political issue of his day, having to examine the particularity of the becoming of capital which necessarily leads to an analysis of the particular historical connections of landed property. Once more, and perhaps even more clearly than in the case of Russia, we see how Marx, in showing the specific social and political implications of the emergence of capitalism in the particular case of North America, is led back to examine how this particular development of capitalism is shaped and given its specificity by, in this case, the absence of pre- capitalist landed property relations from which capital must form the relations of modern landed property so as to presuppose wage-labour.(7)
Thus again we find that Marx comes to emphasise the particular subordination of capital to landed property, rather than the general subordination of landed property to capital that served to illustrate his account of the genesis of capitalism in Capital, and which is the obverse side of the formation of modern landed property. So from these two examples of Russia and North America, not to mention various other examples where Marx comes to consider the particular development of capital it would appear that there was far more to the historical connections of landed property than that which Marx came to include within the pages of Capital.
In Capital we find the historical connections of landed property only in so far as they demonstrate the need for capital to presuppose historically the presence of wage- labour. In Capital Marx is only concerned with the general process of the becoming of capital and thus he merely emphasises the generality of the subordination of landed property to capital in the formation of modern landed property. As a result we find that side of the historical connections of landed property that concern the particularity of the becoming of capital -- how capitalism was shaped and subordinated to pre-capitalist forms of landed property -- is excluded from Capital and only emerges when Marx seeks to understand certain contemporary issues.
It is not unreasonable to assume that the historical connections of landed property would have formed a substantial part of Marx's intended book on landed property. Therefore we may suggest contrary to the conclusions reached by Rosdolsky, that the book on landed property was not for the most part incorporated into the body of Capital; rather it was only those parts that were essential for the presentation of Marx's critique of political economy that found their way there. Of course it may be argued that these excluded parts of the book on landed property that we have identified do not concern Marx's general theory of capitalism, only its application, and were therefore, as Rosdolsky suggests, nonessential. But what is important for us at this point is what this exclusion of material from the book on landed property suggests for the book on wage-labour. If Rosdolsky's conclusions were wrong and the book on landed property was not entirely incorporated into Capital could this not be also true of his similar conclusions with regard to the book on wage- labour?
This would have important implications for the understanding of Marx and Capital and is the question that we shall now turn to in the following section of this chapter.
b) The book on wage-labour
In accordance with the original plan there is no separate analysis of the wage in the Grundrisse since this was intended for the book on wage-labour. Yet at several points during the Grundrisse Marx touches on issues related to the theory of wage-labour and thereby gives an indication of what he may have intended to have included in his proposed book on wage- labour. From a careful reading of such indications Rosdolsky identifies several interrelated themes which we may list as follows: 1. How are wages determined by the value of labour power?
2. The different forms of the wage (i.e. time rates, piece rates etc.)
3. The reduction of skilled to unskilled labour Rosdolsky concludes that all but the last of these themes may be found in Volume I of Capital, principally in the four chapters that make up Part VI that is suitably entitled 'Wages'. The first theme finds its way into the first of these chapters: chapter 19 'The transformation of the value (and respectively the price) of labour- power into wages'. The second theme is then dealt in the two subsequent chapters: chapter 20 'Time wages', and chapter 21 'Piece wages'. It is only the final theme concerning the reduction of skilled to unskilled labour that Rosdolsky is unable to find a distinct home for within the three volumes of Capital.
Yet, as Rosdolsky points out, this final theme is merely a sub-problem of the reduction of concrete labour to abstract labour which is dealt with in Part I of Volume I and can be worked out on that basis. From this Rosdolsky concludes that all the themes that were-indicated as being part of the Book on Wage-labour in the Grundrisse, with the exception of the rather minor theme concerning the reduction of skilled to unskilled labour, were for the most part incorporated within Capital. A few aspects of these themes, and a few minor themes that were perhaps not mentioned in the Grundrisse, may have been omitted or else escaped attention but the book on wage- labour, like the book on landed property, was, according to Rosdolsky's conclusions, abandoned and its essential contents incorporated into Capital.
Yet as Rosdolsky readily admits: One thing which should be noted from the outset is that we cannot say exactly which themes were to have come under the scope of the Book on Wage-Labour, as we have no precise information on the subject. (Rosdolsky, 1977, p. 57) It is only possible to go so far in attempting to ascertain what Marx's ultimate intentions. In fact it is perhaps reasonable to assume that Marx had only a broad and shifting overview of what he would include in the book on wage-labour. Consequently it is necessary to identify and follow the logical trajectory of Marx's thematic. For Rosdolsky, Marx's thematic culminates in the three volumes of Capital. The Grundrisse being exclusively the rough draft for this ultimate work. This tends to lead Rosdolsky into a position where he reads into the Grundrisse, and Marx's thematic as a whole, the objectivist perspective that arises from the provisional closure within Capital imposed by his problematic of political economy. This becomes most apparent when Rosdolsky seeks to find the overall purpose of the book on wage-labour in a statement on the matter that arises within the Contribution.
As Rosdolsky quotes: The task of the 'Theory of Wage-Labour' is defined in the Contribution in the following way: "Given labour- time as the intrinsic measure of value, how are wages to be determined on this basis." (Rosdolsky, 1977, p. 57) This quote from the Contribution comes at the end of a section entitled: 'Historical notes on the analysis of commodities' in which Marx gives a brief summary of the history of political economy and the labour theory of value which he was to greatly expand upon in the three volumes of his Theories of Surplus-Value. At the conclusion of this section Marx notes how each of his three proposed books on, capital, landed property and wage-labour, would serve to address the contradictions of classical political economy regarding value and surplus-value. With regard to wage-labour he states: Since the determination of exchange-value by labour-time has been formulated and expounded in the clearest manner by Ricardo, who gave to classical political economy its final shape, it is quite natural that the arguments raised by economists should be primarily directed against him. If this polemic is stripped of its mainly trivial form it can be summarised as follows: One. Labour itself has exchange-value and different types of labour have different exchanges-values. If one makes exchange-value the measure of exchange-value, one is caught in a vicious circle, for the exchange-value used as a measure requires in turn a measure. This objection merges into the following problem: given labour-time as the intrinsic measure of value, how are wages to be determined on this basis. The theory of wage-labour provides an answer to this. (Contribution, p. 61) Here we see, as Rosdolsky does, Marx identifying the theme of the determination of the exchange-value of labour -- that is, the wage -- by the value of labour power as an important and necessary part of the book on wage-labour. Important and necessary, as our lengthier quote emphasises, in that it develops Marx's labour theory of value against the perspective of bourgeois political economy. But is this confrontation with the errors of political economy the full extent of a Marxian theory of wage-labour or is it merely one of its tasks?
As we have already seen, there is ample evidence from the Grundrisse that Marx was equally concerned with the subjective side of the wage relation that becomes obscured by the objectified categories of classical political economy; that is of the worker as subject, not merely subordinated to capital as labour-power and then subsumed as variable capital, but as a potentially revolutionary subject. That this was also to have been included within the book on wage-labour may perhaps be inferred from the following, where Marx considers the formal freedom and equality of the worker compared with the slave briefly within the Grundrisse before deferring it to a future consideration of wage-labour: In the slave relation, he belongs to the individual particular owner, and is his labouring machine. As a totality of force expenditure, as labouring capacity he is a thing [Sache] belonging to another, and hence does not relate as subject to his particular expenditure of force, nor to the act of living labour. In the serf relation he appears as a moment of property in land itself, is an appendage of the soil, exactly like draught cattle. In the slave relation the worker is nothing but a living labour machine, which therefore has value for others, or rather a value. The totality of the free worker's [i.e. the wage worker's] labour capacity appears to him as his property, as one of his moments, over which he, as subject, exercises domination, and which he maintains by expending it.
This to be developed later under wage labour. (Grundrisse, p. 464) As we shall see in more detail in chapter 8, capital must presuppose the wage worker as a free subject, equal in the realm of exchange, before appropriating the worker's labour in the production process. Labour has to be repeatedly alienated from the worker within each cycle of production in which the worker, as a presupposed free subject, becomes subsumed by the objective laws of the dialectic of capital. Yet because the worker must repeatedly re-emerge as a free subject before each production cycle, the worker has the potential for revolutionary subjectivity; the potential to disrupt the movement of capital's dialectic through the eruption of the counter-dialectic of class struggle. Can this been seen as an essential the missing theme of the book on wage-labour?
Here in the Grundrisse, Marx is in the process of carefully unravelling the dialectic of capital through his critique of political economy. Worker's subjectivity is to appear here as a mere presupposition of capital. Yet here we see the possibilities and themes that lie beyond the dialectic of capital explicitly deferred to the question of wage-labour. Do we have an indication of what might have been in the book of wage-labour?
Because Rosdolsky sees Marx's thematic culminating in Capital he can only see that which was later incorporated into its three volumes as having any importance. He therefore concludes that the determination of the wage by the value of labour-power is a central theme of the intended book on wage- labour, but he is unable to recognize the importance that the question of working class subjectivity may have played in this proposed book since this lies beyond the limits of the problematic of political economy that is articulated in the three volumes of Capital.
Yet as Negri argues, while the question of the subjectivity of the worker lies beyond the problematic of Capital it is still implicit within it. This is nowhere more so than in Marx's theory of surplus-value which points beyond itself to working class subjectivity (and consequently to the missing parts of the book on wage-labour): That necessary labour and its creativity are hidden under the form of the wage -- this is what we learn by dwelling on the theory of surplus-value. This reality which is hidden -- but still unique and powerful as a productive force -- is found everywhere the law of surplus-value operates. It joins in all the law's movements. This means that in order to attain working class subjectivity, in order to illuminate its role, we must above all explore the wage-form in order to break the envelope that hides the vitality of value, that pumps out its subsistence and gives it the appearance of the productivity of capital. (Negri, 1991, p. 128) So, while we may concur with Rosdolsky that important themes were incorporated in to Capital, we may suggest that these were not necessarily the only or essential themes that would have belonged to the book on wage-labour. To further substantiate this suggestion we shall now look a little more closely at both how and why these themes that Rosdolsky identifies were included in the first volume of Capital to see to what extent they point beyond themselves towards the question of the counter-dialectic of class struggle.
As we saw above, in the Contribution Marx saw the problem of the determination of wages by the value of labour-power as bound up with the problem of overcoming the shortcomings of the classical labour theory of value. By distinguishing wages as the price of labour-power, rather than as the price of labour, it was possible for Marx to break out of the vicious circularity which, by making the wage the 'exchange-value' of labour, made 'exchange-value the measure of exchange-value'.
But this distinction was not only important for the development and clarification of Marx's labour theory of value, it was essential for the development of his theory of surplus-value. As we shall see in chapter 8, it was only through his distinction between labour-power and labour that Marx was able to construct his theory of exploitation. Indeed as Marx himself was to remark, this distinction was one of his most important advances over the classical political economists. Because of this it was vital for Marx to demonstrate the determination of wages by the value of labour power in order to complete his theory of surplus-value that we find set out in Parts IV and V of Volume I of Capital.
The problem of the determination of wages by the value of labour-power is not simply a quantitative problem. If it had been there would have been little cause for confusion within the ranks of classical political economy. The problem is that the wage-form serves to disguise this determination. With the primary wage-forms, the worker appears to be paid, not in accordance with the cost of her subsistence, nor even in accordance with some social average cost of subsistence, but in terms of the amount of labour the worker has performed or has been contracted to perform. Thus wages are paid according to the time worked, as with the form time wages, or in terms of the amount produced, as with the form of piece wages. As a consequence, it appears that wages are the price, not of labour-power, but of labour.
The essential determination of wages by the value of labour- power only becomes apparent once the limits of a particular wage-form are transgressed. Thus in the chapters on the wage in Volume I we find Marx considering the transgression of both time wages and piece wages that emerge out of the contradictions that arise between individual capitals and capital-in-general. Such contradictions, however, are strictly outside the theoretical development that we find in Volume I. As we shall show in more detail in chapter 11, and as Rosdolsky argues, in Volume I Marx is principally concerned with capital-in-general. As such individual capitals are only considered in so far as they act as capital-in-general. However, Marx does make numerous digressions from this methodological constraint, the most significant being his discussion concerning the limits to the working day, which he considers at length in chapter 10. Before considering the transgressions of the wage-forms we should perhaps illuminate it by first considering this closely related digression that we find in chapter 10.
As Marx argues through his theory of the production of absolute surplus-value, the capitalist is driven to extend the length of the working day so as to extract as much surplus- value as is possible. But there are obvious natural and social limits to the working day. If nothing else, the worker must be able to sleep and replenish her capacity to work if she is to continue to work, as well as have time to carry out all the various tasks necessary for the survival both of herself and her family. But the extent of such limits to the working day appear different from the viewpoint of the individual capitalist than they do form the perspective of capital-in-general.
For capital-in-general what is important is the reproduction of the labour-power of the working class as a whole. It needs a healthy working class that is able bring forth a future generation of healthy and relatively educated workers. From this perspective, therefore, it is not only necessary that workers are adequately paid but that they are not ground down by excessive work. Hence social capital comes to define a social limit to the working day. The individual capitalist, however, is only concerned with how much surplus-value she can extract out of any individual worker. If she wears out workers by overworking them this is of no concern to her, so long as she can hire new workers to replace them. Indeed, what happens outside of her factory gates is not necessarily of any immediate concern to her. As a result there may emerge a conflict of interest between capital-in-general and the individual capitalist, in which the individual capitalist, driven by competition, may seek to transgress the social limits to the working day in order extract extra surplus- value.
Marx considers this question in great detail; he illustrates it by a brief historical account of British legislation concerning the length of the working day. Marx shows that in the early days of capitalism in Britain the main aim of legislation concerning the working day was to extend the working day against the recalcitrance and traditions of the labourers. However, as industrial capitalism became established from the late eighteenth century onwards, bringing with it the factory system, the power of individual capitals over labour increased dramatically, while the rapid expansion of capital began to seriously deplete the reserves of labour- power. As a result, factory legislation began to shift towards limiting the length of the working day in order to impose the general interests of capital against the individual capitalist.
Although this digression departs from the strict methodological constraints of Volume I, it still remains for the most part with in the critical perspective of capital. Wage-labour is taken to be completely subordinated to the logic of capital, appearing at most as an inert obstacle to the extension of the working day. The main question being the relation between the individual capital's interest in transgressing the social limits to the working day and the means through which this transgression is opposed by the state acting to impose the general interests of capital as a whole for a health and plentiful working class able to work to the full.
However, at the end of this digression Marx acknowledges that it is not only the imposition of the general interests of capital that sets limits to the working day but also the purposeful political action of the working class itself. Indeed, as Marx seeks to stress, while it was in the general interest of the capitalist class to impose a limit on the working day through factory legislation, the bourgeois state could not be relied upon to pass and then enforce such legislation against the special pleading of various particular capitalist interests, without concerted political pressure from the working class.
In fact Marx goes as far as to conclude: The creation of a normal working-day is...the product of a protracted civil war, more or less dissembled, between the capitalist class and the working class. (Capital I, p. 299) Here Marx begins to explicitly raise the theme of class struggle. As such he steps well beyond the perspective of the dialectic of capital that is central to his theoretical line of development in Capital. What is the reason for this?
At the time of writing the issue of the length of the working day was at the top of the agenda for the emerging international workers' movement, and as such it was a question that Marx could not simply omit from Capital merely for methodological reasons. But what is more, because Marx in his political involvement in the international workers' movement had sought to press home the importance of working class political action in securing basic reforms, to have simply remained within the perspective of the dialectic of capital would have implied that there was no need for working class political action over the question of the working day since it was ultimately in the general interest of capital to impose it. Marx could not allow such a conclusion to be drawn from what was to be his most authoritative work. He had to make clear the importance of working class action, and hence raise the question of class struggle, even if it meant departing from the strict theoretical line of development at work in Capital.
Yet Marx does not dwell long over the question of class struggle over the length of the working day. Having raised the question in the conclusion of his analysis of the limits to the working day Marx swiftly returns to his principal line of theoretical development of the his theory of the production of surplus-value. Thus we find the this tangential digression somewhat truncated. A fate similar to that which befalls his digression concerning the transgression of the wage-forms that we find in Part VI of Volume I.
As with his digression concerning the transgression of the social limits to the length of the working day, Marx considers the transgressions of the limits of the wage-form that arise from the contradiction in interests between capital-in-general and the individual capital. However, as we shall see, in opening out onto the question of class struggle it is a digression that is ultimately sustained by an imperative that is more theoretical than political.
As we have noted it is in the general interest of capital that workers are paid a wage sufficient to ensure the reproduction of the working class as a whole; that is it is necessary that the wage is determined by the value of labour power. However, the interests of the individual capitalist may not coincide with this general interest. Indeed, the individual capitalist may seek to push wages below the value of labour-power thereby exposing the ambiguities of the particular wage-form.
In the case of time wages in which the capitalist is contractually bound to pay a given wage rate for a specified amount of time worked, for example an hourly rate, then wages can be forced below the value of labour-power by reducing the hours worked by the workers. To illustrate this Marx uses a contemporary example of the revolt of London building workers. As Marx relates, this revolt arose against the employers' practice of varying the amount time each week that they would hire workers in order to accommodate fluctuations in trade. This meant that when there was a downturn in construction the employers could reduce their wage bill by putting their workers on short time. But such short time working meant that the workers could not earn enough to sufficiently cover the cost of reproducing their labour-power over the week as a whole. Thus although wage rates remained constant, in periods of short time working, the total wages paid over a week would fall short of the weekly value of the building workers' labour- power.
Here, with the transgression of the wage-form of time wages, the essential determination of wages by the value of labour- power, rather by work done, is exposed.
The individual capitalist must necessarily impose through the wage-form a link between the payment of wages and labour so as to enforce the appropriation of surplus-labour. This is necessary because the worker as a subject is both capable of resisting this imposition of work and susceptible to incentives. If the worker was merely an object of exploitation - a mere beast of burden -- there would be no need for the wage-form to impose a link between payment and labour; the worker could be paid directly the means of her subsistence. Yet workers have needs that must be satisfied if they are to reproduce themselves as workers. So, ultimately, however much the wage is linked to the labour of each individual worker, wages in general must be sufficient to reproduce the labour- power of the working class as a whole, and this becomes clear once workers begin to struggle collectively. A point driven home by the class revolt of the London building workers, and one that is then further developed in relation to piece wages in chapter 21.
With time rates the worker appears to be paid in accordance with her labour measured in terms of labour-time. The longer she works the more she is paid. The problem for the capitalist is that, although time-wages encourages the worker to work longer, they do not ensure that this actual concrete labour-time is of sufficient intensity. This problem can be simply solved by introducing piece rates in which the worker is paid in accordance with what she herself produces. Thus the harder she works the more she is paid.
Yet as with time wages, piece rates are ultimately determined by the value of labour-power. Thus, just as the hourly rate of pay times the number of hours worked a week must be sufficient to meet the weekly value of labour-power, so the piece rates must be such that the worker can produce enough in a week to ensure a weekly wage sufficient to reproduce her labour-power. Indeed, piece rates are calculated in terms of what the average worker can be expected to produce in a given period to ensure she is paid the value of her labour-power.
However, this only becomes clear once we consider the individual capitalist's drive to transgress the limits of this wage-form by attempting to force wages below the value of labour-power and the workers attempts to raise wages above the value of labour-power. With piece rates the individual worker is able to raise her wages above the value of her labour-power by working harder than the average worker. Yet, as Marx observes, the more that individual workers attempt to do this then the higher the average intensity of work becomes and the lower piece rates fall. As a result individual workers, by seeking to raise their own individual wages above the average, only serve to reduce the wage of the average wage below the value of labour-power. The capitalist is able to set worker against worker.
Yet, as Marx points out, this individualistic and self- defeating scramble to raise wages by working harder can be resisted by the collective action of the workers in setting a normal intensity of working amongst themselves. By collectively contesting the imposition of a greater intensity of work, through the imposition of piece rates, and by insisting they are able to earn enough so they all can meet their needs, the workers come to expose the determination of wages by the value of labour-power.
Indeed, as Marx illustrates with the example of the 'great ribbon workers' strike' of 1860, the workers may seek to turn piece rates to their advantage by insisting that they are paid for the increased productivity of their labour due to the introduction of new technology or method of production. In the face of such demands the employers are likely to drop all pretence that wages are paid according to the amount each worker produces and revert to time wages. This change in the form of the wage may then, as with the 'great ribbon workers' strike' provoke further industrial conflict.
Here then, with the struggle over the wage-form, Marx's digression opens out into a discussion of class struggle over the wage and its determination. Yet, like his digression concerning the length of the working day, it is a discussion that is soon truncated as Marx is obliged to return to his principal line of theoretical development. As is evident throughout Capital, this line of theoretical development takes the working class as simply the inert object of the dialectic of capital. It is because of this that, for most of his exposition in Capital, Marx is able to take the value labour- power as a fixed datum. Indeed Marx in this regard often comes close to the position of the classical political economists who, in seeing the working class as little more than cattle, saw the wage as being defined by a simply biological level of subsistence. Here, however, in order to examine the wage-form, Marx has to raise the importance of class struggle in determining the wage and the value of labour- power. Indeed it is only through the struggle of the wage- form that the determination of the wage by labour-power rather than by labour as such becomes clear. As a result, Marx's insistence that the value of labour-power is a socially determined datum, that it is the sediment of the history of class struggle, briefly becomes explicit.
But all this is tangential. It points beyond Capital, and for this reason Marx's discussion necessarily becomes truncated at this point. Marx only includes that which is necessary for the development of his exposition in Capital. To this extent we can agree with both Lebowitz and Negri when they argue that there was more to the book on wage-labour than what we find incorporated into Capital.
That Marx had not entirely abandoned the book on wage-labour, or at least that, contrary to Rosdolsky's conclusions, there remains a substantial part unincorporated into the main text of Capital is indicated in the very opening of chapter 20 where Marx suggests a special study on wage-labour beyond Capital itself: Wages themselves again take many forms, a fact not recognisable in the ordinary economic treatise which, exclusively interested in the material side of the question, neglect every difference of form. An exposition of all these forms however, belongs to the special study of wage labour not therefore to this work. (Capital I, p. 508) If Rosdolsky's conclusion is wrong and only those parts of the book on wage-labour that were essential for the elaboration of Marx's theory of surplus-value were included in Capital, leaving a substantial part of it unwritten, then what would have been in these excluded parts? Is it not possible that the tangential development of the question of class struggle that we find truncated in the two digressions on the wage and the length of the working day in Marx's theory of surplus-value would have been taken up these excluded parts of book on wage-labour? Can we not concur with Negri when he asserts that the: ...theme of the Book on Wage Labour is this and this alone: from the wage to the subject, from capital relation to the class struggle. (Negri, 1991, p. 134) Both Negri and Lebowitz have sought to explore in great detail the missing themes of the book on wage-labour. Such a task need not be repeated here.(8) What is important for us is what such themes indicate in terms of the closure of Marx's Capital. It is here, in digressions from the exposition of his theory of surplus-value that concern the wage, where Marx introduces themes that would have originally belonged to the book on wage-labour, that we contend that Marx comes closest to opening out into an elaboration of the counter-dialectic of class struggle, which is so evidently suppressed in the exposition of the objective laws of the dialectic of capital that is pursued in the three volumes of Capital. And it is here, therefore, that we can see, what we shall term, the first part of the closure within Marx which emerges with the problematic of political economy.
Conclusion So, we have seen that not only is the first fold of the closure within Marx reflected in the 'problem of the beginning' that is so evident in the Introduction to the Grundrisse, but that it is also reflected in the change in the outline of Marx's original plan of work. As we have sought to show, in abandoning the original plan for three distinct and separate books on capital, landed property and wage-labour, Marx did not, as Rosdolsky concludes, abandon the two books on landed property and wage-labour and incorporate all their essential contents into the three volumes of Capital. But rather he disassembled these two books and incorporated only those parts that were essential for his exposition of the objective laws of movement of the dialectic of capital. Thus we have suggested that substantial parts of these two abandoned books remained excluded from Marx's Capital in its final form.
In the case of the book on landed property we find, although the logic connections of landed property to capital are included towards the end of Volume III in the form of the theory of ground rent, the historical connections of landed property to capital are only included in sofaras they illustrate the general historical development of capitalism. Those parts that would have illustrated the particular development of capitalism in various conditions and circumstances remain excluded from the three volumes of Capital although it would appear that they would have formed a substantial part of the book on landed property.
This in itself is perhaps hardly surprising since any general theory of capitalist society would at some point have to abstract from the concrete particularities and contingent factors of capitalist development in various countries and regions of the world. What is important about this diassemblement of the book on landed property is the similar fate it suggests for the book on wage-labour.
In the case of the book on wage-labour we find that only those parts in which wage-labour merely acts as an objective limit to the accumulation of capital are included in the three volumes of Capital. The working class only enters in the form of the objectified logical categories of labour-power and variable capital; all trace of working class subjectivity and class struggle are expunged. Yet this only concerns the logical connections of wage-labour to capital. If the historical connections of landed property mark the coming to be of capital, then the historical connections of wage-labour must mark the passing away of capital, but such connections are virtually absent from the text of Capital. If they were to have been in the original book on wage-labour then they remain excluded.
Here, in the case of the book on wage-labour, we see not so much an abstraction that brings out the general over the particular but one that closes off the subjective from the objective that separates the dialectic of capital from the counter-dialectic of class struggle. It is with these omitted parts of the book on wage-labour that we see what lies beyond the closure within Capital and what makes Marx incomplete.
It may be asked: what happened to these omitted parts of these two 'abandoned books'? Such a question lies beyond the scope of this work but it would seem reasonable to surmise that these omitted parts would have found their way into the subsequent books on the state and foreign trade which seem not to have been entirely abandoned. It can be imagined how the historical connections of landed property would have played a role in elaborating the differing conditions that would lead to trade between various capitalist economies. It can also be imagined how the omitted parts of the book on wage-labour would have fitted into the book on the state insofar as the power of the working class to impose its subjectivity on the free movement of capital would demand the use of state power to sustain and mediate capital accumulation.
Having seen how Marx came to make his closure in his broad thematic by focusing on the problematic of political economy, and having seen how this closure becomes reflected and revealed in the theoretical movement from the Grundrisse to Capital, we shall now, in the following chapters, see how this closure is established and consolidated within Capital itself.
1. See Red Notes (1979 & 81)
2. There has been considerable debate concerning 'the problem of the beginning' and its relation to Marx's methodology. Along with its consideration in Rosdolsky, Negri (1991) and in Nicolaus's Foreword to the Grundrisse, other notable contributions have included Banaji (1979) and Kay (1979).
3 For a succinct and critical analysis of the opposition of marxism and anarchism in the classical workers' movement, see Debord (1967).
4. The question of surplus-profits is considered in more detail in our examination of Volume III of Capital in chapter ten.
5. For an examination of 'the question of Russian landed property' and its implications for the transition to communism, see the collection of articles in Shanin (1983).
6. For a detailed examination of the distinct nature of East European Feudalism and its implications for the subsequent development of capitalism, see Anderson (1974).
7. Two other examples that we could have considered were the Irish landed question and the question of the Asiatic Mode of Production. Indeed, in the immediate period following the publication of Volume I of Capital Marx became pre-occupied with the Irish question, which he saw as resting on the peculiar Irish relations of landed property. For Marx, the resolution of the Irish question was a necessary prerequisite for the further advance of the British working class movement at that time, and hence an understanding of its origins and causes, that centred around the question of land, were of vital political importance at that conjuncture.
8. See Negri (1991) and Lebowitz (1992).