Part 2: Political Economy

Submitted by libcom on August 5, 2005


Political economy, in the widest sense, is the science of the laws governing the production and exchange of the material means of subsistence in human society. Production and exchange are two different functions. Production may occur without exchange, but exchange -- being necessarily an exchange of products -- cannot occur without production. Each of these two social functions is subject to the action of external influences which to a great extent are peculiar to it and for this reason each has, also to a great extent, its own special laws. But on the other hand, they constantly determine and influence each other to such an extent that they might be termed the abscissa and ordinate of the economic curve.

The conditions under which men produce and exchange vary from country to country, and within each country again from generation to generation. Political economy, therefore, cannot be the same for all countries and for all historical epochs. A tremendous distance separates the bow and arrow, the stone knife and the acts of exchange among savages occurring only by way of exception, from the steam-engine of a thousand horse power, the mechanical loom, the railways and the Bank of England. The inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego have not got so far as mass production and world trade, any more than they have experience of bill-jobbing or a Stock Exchange crash. Anyone who attempted to bring the political economy of Tierra del Fuego under the same laws as are operative in present-day England would obviously produce nothing but the most banal commonplaces. Political economy is therefore essentially a historical science. It deals with material which is historical, that is, constantly changing; it must first investigate the special laws of each individual stage in the evolution of production and exchange, and only when it has completed this investigation will it be able to establish the few quite general laws which hold good for production and exchange in general. At the same time it goes without saying that the laws which are valid for definite modes of production and forms of exchange hold good for all historical periods in which these modes of production and forms of exchange prevail. Thus, for example, the introduction of metallic money brought into operation a series of laws which remain valid for all countries and historical epochs in which metallic money is a medium of exchange.

The mode of production and exchange in a definite historical society, and the historical conditions which have given birth to this society, determine the mode of distribution of its products. In the tribal or village community with common ownership of land -- with which, or with the easily recognisable survivals of which, all civilised peoples enter history -- a fairly equal distribution of products is a matter of course; where considerable inequality of distribution among the members of the community sets in, this is an indication that the community is already beginning to break up. -- Both large- and small-scale agriculture admit of very diverse forms of distribution, depending upon the historical conditions from which they developed. But it is obvious that large-scale farming always gives rise to a distribution which is quite different from that of small-scale farming; that large-scale agriculture presupposes or creates a class antagonism -- slave-owners and slaves, feudal lords and serfs, capitalists and wage-workers -- while small-scale agriculture does not necessarily involve class differences between the individuals engaged in agricultural production, and that on the contrary the mere existence of such differences indicates the incipient dissolution of smallholding economy. -- The introduction and extensive use of metallic money in a country in which hitherto natural economy was universal or predominant is always associated with a more or less rapid revolutionisation of the former mode of distribution, and this takes place in such a way that the inequality of distribution among the individuals and therefore the opposition between rich and poor becomes more and more pronounced. -- The local guild-controlled handicraft production of the Middle Ages precluded the existence of big capitalists and lifelong wage-workers just as these are inevitably brought into existence by modern large-scale industry, the credit system of the present day, and the form of exchange corresponding to the development of both of them -- free competition.

But with the differences in distribution, class differences emerge. Society divides into classes: the privileged and the dispossessed, the exploiters and the exploited, the rulers and the ruled; and the state, which the natural groups of communities of the same tribe had at first arrived at only in order to safeguard their common interests (e.g., irrigation in the East) and for protection against external enemies, from this stage onwards acquires just as much the function of maintaining by force the conditions of existence and domination of the ruling class against the subject class.

Distribution, however, is not a merely passive result of production and exchange; it in its turn reacts upon both of these. Each new mode of production or form of exchange is at first retarded not only by the old forms and the political institutions which correspond to them, but also by the old mode of distribution; it can secure the distribution which is suitable to it only in the course of a long struggle. But the more mobile a given mode of production and exchange, the more capable it is of perfection and development, the more rapidly does distribution reach the stage at which it outgrows its progenitor, the hitherto prevailing mode of production and exchange, and comes into conflict with it. The old primitive communities which have already been mentioned could remain in existence for thousands of years -- as in India and among the Slavs up to the present day -- before intercourse with the outside world gave rise in their midst to the inequalities of property as a result of which they began to break up. On the contrary, modern capitalist production, which is hardly three hundred years old and has become predominant only since the introduction of modern industry, that is, only in the last hundred years, has in this short time brought about antitheses in distribution -- concentration of capital in a few hands on the one side and concentration of the propertyless masses in the big towns on the other -- which must of necessity bring about its downfall.

The connection between distribution and the material conditions of existence of society at any period lies so much in the nature of things that it is always reflected in popular instinct. So long as a mode of production still describes an ascending curve of development, it is enthusiastically welcomed even by those who come off worst from its corresponding mode of distribution. This was the case with the English workers in the beginnings of modern industry. And even while this mode of production remains normal for society, there is, in general, contentment with the distribution, and if objections to it begin to be raised, these come from within the ruling class itself (Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen) and find no response whatever among the exploited masses. Only when the mode of production in question has already described a good part of its descending curve, when it has half outlived its day, when the conditions of its existence have to a large extent disappeared, and its successor is already knocking at the door -- it is only at this stage that the constantly increasing inequality of distribution appears as unjust, it is only then that appeal is made from the facts which have had their day to so-called eternal justice. From a scientific standpoint, this appeal to morality and justice does not help us an inch further; moral indignation, however justifiable, cannot serve economic science as an argument, but only as a symptom. The task of economic science is rather to show that the social abuses which have recently been developing are necessary consequences of the existing mode of production, but at the same time also indications of its approaching dissolution,-and to reveal within the already dissolving economic form of motion, the elements of the future new organisation of production and exchange which will put an end to those abuses. The wrath which creates the poet [Juvenalis, Satirae, 1, 79 (si nature negat, facit indignatio versum). -- Ed.] is absolutely in place in describing these abuses, and also in attacking those apostles of harmony in the service of the ruling class who either deny or palliate them; but how little it proves in any particular case is evident from the fact that in every epoch of past history there has been no lack of material for such wrath.

Political economy, however, as the science of the conditions and forms under which the various human societies have produced and exchanged and on this basis have distributed their products -- political economy in this wider sense has still to be brought into being. Such economic science as we possess up to the present is limited almost exclusively to the genesis and development of the capitalist mode of production: it begins with a critique of the survivals of the feudal forms of production and exchange, shows the necessity of their replacement by capitalist forms, then develops the laws of the capitalist mode of production and its corresponding forms of exchange in their positive aspects, that is the aspects in which they further the general aims of society, and ends with a socialist critique of the capitalist mode of production, that is, with an exposition of its laws in their negative aspects, with a demonstration that this mode of production, by virtue of its own development, drives towards the point at which it makes itself impossible. This critique proves that the capitalist forms of production and exchange become more and more an intolerable fetter on production itself, that the mode of distribution necessarily determined by those forms has produced a situation among the classes which is daily becoming more intolerable -- the antagonism, sharpening from day to day, between capitalists, constantly decreasing in number but constantly growing richer, and propertyless wage-workers, whose number is constantly increasing and whose conditions, taken as a whole, are steadily deteriorating; and finally, that the colossal productive forces created within the capitalist mode of production which the latter can no longer master, are only waiting to be taken possession of by a society organised for co-operative work on a planned basis to ensure to all members of society the means of existence and of the free development of their capacities, and indeed in constantly increasing measure.

In order to complete this critique of bourgeois economics, an acquaintance with the capitalist form of production, exchange and distribution did not suffice. The forms which had preceded it or those which still exist alongside it in less developed countries, had also, at least in their main features, to be examined and compared. Such an investigation and comparison has up to the present been undertaken, in general outline, only by Marx, and we therefore owe almost exclusively to his researches [65] all that has so far been established concerning pre-bourgeois theoretical economics.

Although it first took shape in the minds of a few men of genius towards the end of the seventeenth century, political economy in the narrower sense, in its positive formulation by the physiocrats and Adam Smith, is nevertheless essentially a child of the eighteenth century, and ranks with the achievements of the contemporary great French philosophers of the Enlightenment, sharing with them all the merits and demerits of that period. What we have said of the philosophers a is also true of the economists of that time. To them, the new science was not the expression of the conditions and requirements of their epoch, but the expression of eternal reason; the laws of production and exchange discovered by this science were not laws of a historically determined form of those activities, but eternal laws of nature; they were deduced from the nature of man. But this man, when examined more closely, proved to be the average burgher of that epoch, on the way to becoming a bourgeois, and his nature consisted in manufacturing and trading in accordance with the historically determined conditions of that period.

Now that we have acquired sufficient knowledge of our "layer of critical foundations", Herr Dühring, and his method in the philosophical field, it will not be difficult for us to foretell the way in which he will handle political economy. In philosophy, in so far as his writings were not simply drivel (as in his philosophy of nature), his mode of outlook was a distortion of that of the eighteenth century. It was not a question of historical laws of development, but of laws of nature, eternal truths. Social relations such as morality and law were determined, not by the actual historical conditions of the age, but by the famous two men, one of whom either oppresses the other or does not -- though the latter alternative, sad to say, has never yet come to pass. We are therefore hardly likely to go astray if we conclude that Herr Dühring will trace political economy also back to final and ultimate truths {D. Ph. 2}, eternal natural laws, and the most empty and barren tautological axioms; that nevertheless he will smuggle in again by the backdoor the whole positive content of political economy, so far as this is known to him; and that he will not evolve distribution, as a social phenomenon, out of production and exchange, but will hand it over to his famous two men for final solution. And as all these are tricks with which we are already familiar, our treatment of this question can be all the shorter.

In fact, already on page 2, [66] Herr Dühring tells us that

his economics links up with what has been "established" in his Philosophie, and "in certain essential points depends on truths of a higher order which have already been consummated [ausgemacht] in a higher field of investigation" {D. C. 2}.

Everywhere the same importunate eulogy of himself; everywhere Herr Dühring is triumphant over what Herr Dühring has established and put out [ausgemacht]. Put out, yes, we have seen it to surfeit -- but put out in the way that people put out a sputtering candle. [In German an untranslatable play on words: ausmachen means consummate and also put out. -- Ed.]

Immediately afterwards we find

"the most general natural laws governing all economy" {4} --

so our forecast was right.

But these natural laws permit of a correct understanding of past history only if they are "investigated in that more precise determination which their results have experienced through the political forms of subjection and grouping. Institutions such as slavery and wage bondage, along with which is associated their twin-brother, property based on force, must be regarded as social-economic constitutional forms of a purely political nature, and have hitherto constituted the frame within which the consequences of the natural economic laws could alone manifest themselves" {4-5}.

This sentence is the fanfare which, like a leitmotif in Wagner's operas, announces the approach of the famous two men. But it is more than this: it is the basic theme of Herr Dühring's whole book. In the sphere of law, Herr Dühring could not offer us anything except a bad translation of Rousseau's theory of equality into the language of socialism, such as one has long been able to hear much more effectively rendered in any workers' tavern in Paris. Now he gives us an equally bad socialist translation of the economists' laments over the distortion of the eternal natural economic laws and of their effects owing to the intervention of the state, of force. And in this Herr Dühring stands, deservedly, absolutely alone among socialists. Every socialist worker, no matter of what nationality, knows quite well that force only protects exploitation, but does not cause it; that the relation between capital and wage-labour is the basis of his exploitation, and that this was brought about by purely economic causes and not at all by means of force.

Then we are further told that

in all economic questions "two processes, that of production and that of distribution, can be distinguished". Also that J. B. Say, notorious for his superficiality, mentioned in addition a third process, that of consumption, but that he was unable to say anything sensible about it, any more than his successors {7-8} and that exchange or circulation is, however, only a department of production, which comprises all the operations required for the products to reach the ultimate consumer, the consumer proper {11-12}.

By confounding the two essentially different, though also mutually dependent, processes of production and circulation, and unblushingly asserting that the avoidance of this confusion can only "give rise to confusion", Herr Dühring merely shows that he either does not know or does not understand the colossal development which precisely circulation has undergone during the last fifty years, as indeed is further borne out by the rest of his book. But this is not all. After just lumping together production and exchange into one, as simply production, he puts distribution alongside production, as a second, wholly external process, which has nothing whatever to do with the first. Now we have seen that distribution, in its decisive features, is always the necessary result of the production and exchange relations of a particular society, as well as of the historical conditions in which this society arose; so much so that when we know these relations and conditions we can confidently infer the mode of distribution which prevails in this society. But we see also that if Herr Dühring does not want to be unfaithful to the principles "established" by him in his conceptions of morality, law and history, he is compelled to deny this elementary economic fact, especially if he is to smuggle his indispensable two men into economics. And once distribution has been happily freed of all connection with production and exchange, this great event can come to pass.

Let us first recall how Herr Dühring developed his argument in the field of morality and law. He started originally with one man, and he said:

"One man conceived as being alone, or, what is in effect the same, out of all connection with other men, can have no obligations; for such a man there can be no question of what he ought, but only of what he wants, to do" {D. Ph. 199}.

But what is this man, conceived as being alone and without obligations, but the fateful "primordial Jew Adam" {110} in paradise, where he is without sin simply because there is no possibility for him to commit any? -- However, even this Adam of the philosophy of reality is destined to fall into sin. Alongside this Adam there suddenly appears -- not, it is true, an Eve with rippling tresses, but a second Adam. And instantly Adam acquires obligations and -- breaks them. Instead of treating his brother as having equal rights and clasping him to his breast, he subjects him to his domination, he makes a slave of him -- and it is the consequences of this first sin, the original sin of the enslavement of man, from which the world has suffered through the whole course of history down to the present day -- which is precisely what makes Herr Dühring think world history is not worth a farthing.

Incidentally, Herr Dühring considered that he had brought the "negation of the negation" sufficiently into contempt by characterising it as a copy of the old fable of original sin and redemption {see D. K. G. 504} -- but what are we to say of his latest version of the same story? (for, in due time, we shall, to use an expression of the reptile press, [67] "get down to brass tacks" on redemption as well). All we can say is that we prefer the old Semitic tribal legend, according to which it was worth while for the man and woman to abandon the state of innocence, and that to Herr Dühring will be left the uncontested glory of having constructed his original sin with two men.

Let us now see how he translates this original sin into economic terms:

"We can get an appropriate cogitative scheme for the idea of production from the conception of a Robinson Crusoe who is facing nature alone with his own resources and has not to share with anyone else... Equally appropriate to illustrate what is most essential in the idea of distribution is the cogitative scheme of two persons, who combine their economic forces and must evidently come to a mutual understanding in some form as to their respective shares. In fact nothing more than this simple dualism is required to enable us accurately to portray some of the most important relations of distribution and to study their laws embryonically in their logical necessity... Co-operative working on an equal footing is here just as conceivable as the combination of forces through the complete subjection of one party, who is then compelled to render economic service as a slave or as a mere tool and is maintained also only as a tool... Between the state of equality and that of nullity on the one part and of omnipotence and solely-active participation on the other, there is a range of stages which the events of world history have filled in in rich variety. A universal survey of the various institutions of justice and injustice throughout history is here an essential presupposition" {D. C. 9-10} ....

and in conclusion the whole question of distribution is transformed into an

"economic right of distribution" {10}.

Now at last Herr Dühring has firm ground under his feet again. Arm in arm with his two men he can issue his challenge to his age. But behind this trinity stands yet another, an unnamed man.

"Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the labourer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production, whether this proprietor be the Athenian [aristocrat], Etruscan theocrat, civis Romanus [Roman citizen], Norman baron, American slave-owner, Wallachian Boyard, modern landlord or capitalist" (Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. I, 2nd edition, p. 227).

When Herr Dühring had thus learned what the basic form of exploitation common to all forms of production up to the present day is -- so far as these forms move in class antagonisms -- all he had to do was to apply his two men to it, and the deep-rooted foundation of the economics of reality was completed. He did not hesitate for a moment to carry out this "system-creating idea" {D. Ph. 525}. Labour without compensation, beyond the labour-time necessary for the maintenance of the labourer himself -- that is the point. The Adam, who is here called Robinson Crusoe, makes his second Adam -- Man Friday -- drudge for all he is worth. But why does Friday toil more than is necessary for his own maintenance? To this question, too, Marx step by step provides an answer. But this answer is far too long-winded for the two men. The matter is settled in a trice: Crusoe "oppresses" Friday, compels him "to render economic service as a slave or a tool" and maintains him "also only as a tool". With these latest "creative turns" {D. K. G. 462} of his, Herr Dühring kills as it were two birds with one stone. Firstly, he saves himself the trouble of explaining the various forms of distribution which have hitherto existed, their differences and their causes; taken in the lump, they are simply of no account -- they rest on oppression, on force. We shall have to deal with this before long. Secondly, he thereby transfers the whole theory of distribution from the sphere of economics to that of morality and law, that is, from the sphere of established material facts to that of more or less vacillating opinions and sentiments. He therefore no longer has any need to investigate or to prove things; he can go on declaiming to his heart's content and demand that the distribution of the products of labour should be regulated, not in accordance with its real causes, but in accordance with what seems ethical and just to him, Herr Dühring. But what seems just to Herr Dühring is not at all immutable, and hence very far from being a genuine truth. For genuine truths {D. Ph. 196}, according to Herr Dühring himself, are "absolutely immutable". In 1868 Herr Dühring asserted -- Die Schicksale meiner sozialen Denkschrift etc. -- that

it was "a tendency of all higher civilisation to put more and more emphasis on property, and in this, not in confusion of rights and spheres of sovereignty, lies the essence and the future of modern development".

And furthermore, he was quite unable to see

"how a transformation of wage-labour into another manner of gaining a livelihood is ever to be reconciled with the laws of human nature and the naturally necessary structure of the body social".

Thus in 1868, private property and wage-labour are naturally necessary and therefore just; in 1876 both of these are the emanation of force and "robbery" and therefore unjust. And as we cannot possibly tell what in a few years' time may seem ethical and just to such a mighty and impetuous genius, we should in any case do better, in considering the distribution of wealth, to stick to the real, objective, economic laws and not to depend on the momentary, changeable, subjective conceptions of Herr Dühring as to what is just or unjust.

If for the impending overthrow of the present mode of distribution of the products of labour, with its crying contrasts of want and luxury, starvation and surfeit, we had no better guarantee than the consciousness that this mode of distribution is unjust, and that justice must eventually triumph, we should be in a pretty bad way, and we might have a long time to wait. The mystics of the Middle Ages who dreamed of the coming millennium were already conscious of the injustice of class antagonisms. On the threshold of modern history, three hundred and fifty years ago, Thomas Münzer proclaimed it to the world. In the English and the French bourgeois revolutions the same call resounded -- and died away. And if today the same call for the abolition of class antagonisms and class distinctions, which up to 1830 [68] had left the working and suffering classes cold, if today this call is re-echoed a millionfold, if it takes hold of one country after another in the same order and in the same degree of intensity that modern industry develops in each country, if in one generation it has gained a strength that enables it to defy all the forces combined against it and to be confident of victory in the near future -- what is the reason for this? The reason is that modern large-scale industry has called into being on the one hand a proletariat, a class which for the first time in history can demand the abolition, not of this or that particular class organisation, or of this or that particular class privilege, but of classes themselves, and which is in such a position that it must carry through this demand on pain of sinking to the level of the Chinese coolie. On the other hand this same large-scale industry has brought into being, in the bourgeoisie, a class which has the monopoly of all the instruments of production and means of subsistence, but which in each speculative boom period and in each crash that follows it proves that it has become incapable of any longer controlling the productive forces, which have grown beyond its power, a class under whose leadership society is racing to ruin like a locomotive whose jammed safety-valve the driver is too weak to open. In other words, the reason is that both the productive forces created by the modern capitalist mode of production and the system of distribution of goods established by it have come into crying contradiction with that mode of production itself, and in fact to such a degree that, if the whole of modern society is not to perish, a revolution in the mode of production and distribution must take place, a revolution which will put an end to all class distinctions. On this tangible, material fact, which is impressing itself in a more or less clear form, but with insuperable necessity, on the minds of the exploited proletarians -- on this fact, and not on the conceptions of justice and injustice held by any armchair philosopher, is modern socialism's confidence in victory founded.



"In my system, the relation between general politics and the forms of economic law is determined in so definite a way and at the same time a way so original that it would not be superfluous, in order to facilitate study, to make special reference to this point. The formation of political relationships is historically the fundamental thing, and instances of economic dependence are only effects or special cases, and are consequently always facts of a second order. Some of the newer socialist systems take as their guiding principle the conspicuous semblance of a completely reverse relationship, in that they assume that political phenomena are subordinate to and, as it were, grow out of the economic conditions. It is true that these effects of the second order do exist as such, and are most clearly perceptible at the present time; but the primary must be sought in direct political force and not in any indirect economic power" {D. Ph. 538}.

This conception is also expressed in another passage, in which Herr Dühring

"starts from the principle that the political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation and that the reverse relationship represents only a reaction of a second order ... so long as the political grouping is not taken for its own sake, as the starting-point, but is treated merely as a stomach-filling agency, one must have a portion of reaction stowed away in one's mind, however radical a socialist and revolutionary one may seem to be" {D. K. G. 230-31}.

That is Herr Dühring's theory. In this and in many other passages it is simply set up, decreed, so to speak. Nowhere in the three fat tomes is there even the slightest attempt to prove it or to disprove the opposite point of view. And even if the arguments for it were as plentiful as blackberries, Herr Dühring would give us none of them. For the whole affair has been already proved through the famous original sin, when Robinson Crusoe made Friday his slave. That was an act of force, hence a political act. And inasmuch as this enslavement was the starting-point and the basic fact underlying all past history and inoculated it with the original sin of injustice, so much so that in the later periods it was only softened down and "transformed into the more indirect forms of economic dependence" {D. C. 19}; and inasmuch as "property founded on force" {D. Ph. 242}, which has asserted itself right up to the present day, is likewise based on this original act of enslavement, it is clear that all economic phenomena must be explained by political causes, that is, by force. And anyone who is not satisfied with that is a reactionary in disguise.

We must first point out that only one with as much self-esteem as Herr Dühring could regard this view as so very "original", which it is not in the least. The idea that political acts, grand performances of state, are decisive in history is as old as written history itself, and is the main reason why so little material has been preserved for us in regard to the really progressive evolution of the peoples which has taken place quietly, in the background, behind these noisy scenes on the stage. This idea dominated all the conceptions of historians in the past, and the first blow against it was delivered only by the French bourgeois historiansb of the Restoration period [69]; the only "original" thing about it is that Herr Dühring once again knows nothing of all this.

Furthermore: even if we assume for a moment that Herr Dühring is right in saying that all past history can be traced back to the enslavement of man by man, we are still very far from having got to the bottom of the matter. For the question then arises: how did Crusoe come to enslave Friday? Just for the fun of it? By no means. On the contrary, we see that Friday "is compelled to render economic service as a slave or as a mere tool and is maintained also only as a tool" {D. C. 9}. Crusoe enslaved Friday only in order that Friday should work for Crusoe's benefit. And how can he derive any benefit for himself from Friday's labour? Only through Friday producing by his labour more of the necessaries of life than Crusoe has to give him to keep him fit to work. Crusoe, therefore, in violation of Herr Dühring's express orders, "takes the political grouping" arising out of Friday's enslavement "not for its own sake, as the starting-point, but merely as a stomach-filling agency"; and now let him see to it that he gets along with his lord and master, Dühring

The childish example specially selected by Herr Dühring in order to prove that force is "historically the fundamental thing", therefore, proves that force is only the means, and that the aim, on the contrary, is economic advantage. And "the more fundamental" the aim is than the means used to secure it, the more fundamental in history is the economic side of the relationship than the political side. The example therefore proves precisely the opposite of what it was supposed to prove. And as in the case of Crusoe and Friday, so in all cases of domination and subjection up to the present day. Subjugation has always been -- to use Herr Dühring's elegant expression -- a "stomach-filling agency" (taking stomach-filling in a very wide sense), but never and nowhere a political grouping established "for its own sake". It takes a Herr Dühring to be able to imagine that state taxes are only "effects of a second order", or that the present-day political grouping of the ruling bourgeoisie and the ruled proletariat has come into existence "for its own sake", and not as a "stomach-filling agency" for the ruling bourgeois, that is to say, for the sake of making profits and accumulating capital.

However, let us get back again to our two men. Crusoe, "sword in hand" {D. C. 23}, makes Friday his slave. But in order to manage this, Crusoe needs something else besides his sword. Not everyone can make use of a slave. In order to be able to make use of a slave, one must possess two kinds of things: first, the instruments and material for his slave's labour; and secondly, the means of bare subsistence for him. Therefore, before slavery becomes possible, a certain level of production must already have been reached and a certain inequality of distribution must already have appeared. And for slave-labour to become the dominant mode of production in the whole of a society, an even far higher increase in production, trade and accumulation of wealth was essential. In the ancient primitive communities with common ownership of the land, slavery either did not exist at all or played only a very subordinate role. It was the same in the originally peasant city of Rome; but when Rome became a "world city" and Italic landownership came more and more into the hands of a numerically small class of enormously rich proprietors, the peasant population was supplanted by a population of slaves. If at the time of the Persian wars the number of slaves in Corinth rose to 460,000 and in Aegina to 470,000 and there were ten slaves to every freeman, [70] something else besides "force" was required, namely, a highly developed arts and handicraft industry and an extensive commerce. Slavery in the United States of America was based far less on force than on the English cotton industry; in those districts where no cotton was grown or which, unlike the border states, did not breed slaves for the cotton-growing states, it died out of itself without any force being used, simply because it did not pay.

Hence, by calling property as it exists today property founded on force, and by characterising it as

"that form of domination at the root of which lies not merely the exclusion of fellow-men from the use of the natural means of subsistence, but also, what is far more important, the subjugation of man to make him do servile work" {5},

Herr Dühring is making the whole relationship stand on its head. The subjugation of a man to make him do servile work, in all its forms, presupposes that the subjugator has at his disposal the instruments of labour with the help of which alone he is able to employ the person placed in bondage, and in the case of slavery, in addition, the means of subsistence which enable him to keep his slave alive. In all cases, therefore, it presupposes the possession of a certain amount of property, in excess of the average. How did this property come into existence? In any case it is clear that it may in fact have been robbed, and therefore may be based on force, but that this is by no means necessary. It may have been got by labour, it may have been stolen, or it may have been obtained by trade or by fraud. In fact, it must have been obtained by labour before there was any possibility of its being robbed.

Private property by no means makes its appearance in history as the result of robbery or force. On the contrary. It already existed, though limited to certain objects, in the ancient primitive communities of all civilised peoples. It developed into the form of commodities within these communities, at first through barter with foreigners. The more the products of the community assumed the commodity form, that is, the less they were produced for their producers' own use and the more for the purpose of exchange, and the more the original spontaneously evolved division of labour was superseded by exchange also within the community, the more did inequality develop in the property owned by the individual members of the community, the more deeply was the ancient common ownership of the land undermined, and the more rapidly did the commune develop towards its dissolution and transformation into a village of smallholding peasants. For thousands of years Oriental despotism and the changing rule of conquering nomad peoples were unable to injure these old communities; the gradual destruction of their primitive home industry by the competition of products of large-scale industry brought these communities nearer and nearer to dissolution. Force was as little involved in this process as in the dividing up, still taking place now, of the land held in common by the village communities [Gegoferschaften] on the Mosel and in the Hochwald; the peasants simply find it to their advantage that the private ownership of land should take the place of common ownership. Even the formation of a primitive aristocracy, as in the case of the Celts, the Germans and the Indian Punjab, took place on the basis of common ownership of the land, and at first was not based in any way on force, but on voluntariness and custom. Wherever private property evolved it was the result of altered relations of production and exchange, in the interest of increased production and in furtherance of intercourse -- hence as a result of economic causes. Force plays no part in this at all. Indeed, it is clear that the institution of private property must already be in existence for a robber to be able to appropriate another person's property, and that therefore force may be able to change the possession of, but cannot create, private property as such.

Nor can we use either force or property founded on force in explanation of the "subjugation of man to make him do servile work" in its most modern form -- wage-labour. We have already mentioned the role played in the dissolution of the ancient communities, that is, in the direct or indirect general spread of private property, by the transformation of the products of labour into commodities, their production not for consumption by those who produced them, but for exchange. Now in Capital, Marx proved with absolute clarity -- and Herr Dühring carefully avoids even the slightest reference to this -- that at a certain stage of development, the production of commodities becomes transformed into capitalist production, and that at this stage "the laws of appropriation or of private property, laws that are based on the production and circulation of commodities, become by their own inner and inexorable dialectic changed into their opposite. The exchange of equivalents, the original operation with which we started, has now become turned round in such a way that there is only an apparent exchange. This is owing to the fact, first, that the capital which is exchanged for labour-power is itself but a portion of the product of others' labour appropriated without an equivalent; and, secondly, that this capital must not only be replaced by its producer, but replaced together with an added surplus... At first property seemed to us to be based on a man's own labour... Now, however" (at the end of Marx's analysis) "property turns out to be the right, on the part of the capitalist, to appropriate the unpaid labour of others, and to be the impossibility, on the part of the labourer, of appropriating his own product. The separation of property from labour has become the necessary consequence of a law that apparently originated in their identity." In other words, even if we exclude all possibility of robbery, force and fraud, even if we assume that all private property was originally based on the owner's own labour, and that throughout the whole subsequent process there was only exchange of equal values for equal values, the progressive development of production and exchange nevertheless brings us of necessity to the present capitalist mode of production, to the monopolisation of the means of production and the means of subsistence in the hands of the one, numerically small, class, to the degradation into propertyless proletarians of the other class, constituting the immense majority, to the periodic alternation of speculative production booms and commercial crises and to the whole of the present anarchy of production. The whole process can be explained by purely economic causes; at no point whatever are robbery, force, the state or political interference of any kind necessary. "Property founded on force" {D. C. 4} proves here also to be nothing but the phrase of a braggart intended to cover up his lack of understanding of the real course of things.

This course of things, expressed historically, is the history of the development of the bourgeoisie. If "political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation" {D. K. G. 230-31}, then the modern bourgeoisie cannot have developed in struggle with feudalism, but must be the latter's voluntarily begotten pet child. Everyone knows that what took place was the opposite. Originally an oppressed estate liable to pay dues to the ruling feudal nobility, recruited from all manner of serfs and villains, the burghers conquered one position after another in their continuous struggle with the nobility, and finally, in the most highly developed countries, took power in its stead; in France, by directly overthrowing the nobility; in England, by making it more and more bourgeois and incorporating it as their own ornamental head. And how did they accomplish this? Simply through a change in the "economic situation", which sooner or later, voluntarily or as the outcome of combat, was followed by a change in the political conditions. The struggle of the bourgeoisie against the feudal nobility is the struggle of town against country, industry against landed property, money economy against natural economy; and the decisive weapon of the bourgeoisie in this struggle was its means of economic power, constantly increasing through the development of industry, first handicraft, and then, at a later stage, progressing to manufacture, and through the expansion of commerce. During the whole of this struggle political force was on the side of the nobility, except for a period when the Crown played the bourgeoisie against the nobility, in order to keep one estate in check by means of the other [71]; but from the moment when the bourgeoisie, still politically powerless, began to grow dangerous owing to its increasing economic power, the Crown resumed its alliance with the nobility, and by so doing called forth the bourgeois revolution, first in England and then in France. The "political conditions" in France had remained unaltered, while the "economic situation" had outgrown them. Judged by his political status the nobleman was everything, the burgher nothing; but judged by his social position the burgher now formed the most important class in the state, while the nobleman had been shorn of all his social functions and was now only drawing payment, in the revenues that came to him, for these functions which had disappeared. Nor was that all. Bourgeois production in its entirety was still hemmed in by the feudal political forms of the Middle Ages, which this production -- not only manufacture, but even handicraft industry -- had long outgrown; it had remained hemmed in by all the thousandfold guild privileges and local and provincial customs barriers which had become mere irritants and fetters on production. The bourgeois revolution put an end to this. Not, however, by adjusting the economic situation to suit the political conditions, in accordance with Herr Dühring's precept -- this was precisely what the nobles and the Crown had been vainly trying to do for years -- but by doing the opposite, by casting aside the old mouldering political rubbish and creating political conditions in which the new "economic situation" could exist and develop. And in this political and legal atmosphere which was suited to its needs it developed brilliantly, so brilliantly that the bourgeoisie has already come close to occupying the position held by the nobility in 1789: it is becoming more and more not only socially superfluous, but a social hindrance; it is more and more becoming separated from productive activity, and, like the nobility in the past, becoming more and more a class merely drawing revenues; and it has accomplished this revolution in its own position and the creation of a new class, the proletariat, without any hocus-pocus of force whatever, in a purely economic way. Even more: it did not in any way will this result of its own actions land activities -- on the contrary, this result established itself with irresistible force, against the will and contrary to the intentions of the bourgeoisie; its own productive forces have grown beyond its control, and, as if necessitated by a law of nature, are driving the whole of bourgeois society towards ruin, or revolution. And if the bourgeois now make their appeal to force in order to save the collapsing "economic situation" from the final crash, this only shows that they are labouring under the same delusion as Herr Dühring: the delusion that "political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation"; this only shows that they imagine, just as Herr Dühring does, that by making use of "the primary", "the direct political force", they can remodel those "facts of the second order" {D. Ph. 538}, the economic situation and its inevitable development; and that therefore the economic consequences of the steam-engine and the modern machinery driven by it, of world trade and the banking and credit developments of the present day, can be blown out of existence by them with Krupp guns and Mauser rifles. [72]


III. THEORY OF FORCE (Continuation)

But let us look a little more closely at this omnipotent "force" of Herr Dühring's. Crusoe enslaved Friday "sword in hand" {D. C. 23}. Where did he get the sword? Even on the imaginary islands of the Robinson Crusoe epic, swords have not, up to now, been known to grow on trees, and Herr Dühring provides no answer to this question. If Crusoe could procure a sword for himself, we are equally entitled to assume that one fine morning Friday might appear with a loaded revolver in his hand, and then the whole "force" relationship is inverted. Friday commands, and it is Crusoe who has to drudge. We must apologise to the readers for returning with such insistence to the Robinson Crusoe and Friday story, which properly belongs to the nursery and not to the field of science -- but how can we help it? We are obliged to apply Herr Dühring's axiomatic method conscientiously, and it is not our fault if in doing so we have to keep all the time within the field of pure childishness. So, then, the revolver triumphs over the sword; and this will probably make even the most childish axiomatician comprehend that force is no mere act of the will, but requires the existence of very real preliminary conditions before it can come into operation, namely, instruments, the more perfect of which gets the better of the less perfect; moreover, that these instruments have to be produced, which implies that the producer of more perfect instruments of force, vulgo arms, gets the better of the producer of the less perfect instruments, and that, in a word, the triumph of force is based on the production of arms, and this in turn on production in general -- therefore, on "economic power", on the "economic situation", on the material means which force has at its disposal.

Force, nowadays, is the army and navy, and both, as we all know to our cost, are "devilishly expensive". Force, however, cannot make any money; at most it can take away money that has already been made -- and this does not help much either -- as we have seen, also to our cost, in. the case of the French milliards. [73] In the last analysis, therefore, money must be provided through the medium of economic production; and so once more force is conditioned by the economic situation, which furnishes the means for the equipment and maintenance of the instruments of force. But even that is not all. Nothing is more dependent on economic prerequisites than precisely army and navy. Armament, composition, organisation, tactics and strategy depend above all on the stage reached at the time in production and on communications. It is not the "free creations of the mind" {D. Ph. 43} of generals of genius that have had a revolutionising effect here, but the invention of better weapons and the change in the human material, the soldiers; at the very most the part played by generals of genius is limited to adapting methods of fighting to the new weapons and combatants.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, gunpowder came from the Arabs to Western Europe, and, as every school child knows, completely revolutionised the methods of warfare. The introduction of gunpowder and fire-arms, however, was not at all an act of force, but a step forward in industry, that is, an economic advance. Industry remains industry, whether it is applied to the production or the destruction of things. And the introduction of fire-arms had a revolutionising effect not only on the conduct of war itself, but also on the political relationships of domination and subjection. The procurement of powder and fire-arms required industry and money, and both of these were in the hands of the burghers of the towns. From the outset therefore, fire-arms were the weapons of the towns, and of the rising town-supported monarchy against the feudal nobility. The stone walls of the noblemen's castles, hitherto unapproachable, fell before the cannon of the burghers, and the bullets of the burghers' arquebuses pierced the armour of the knights. With the defeat of the nobility's armour-clad cavalry, the nobility's supremacy was broken; with the development of the bourgeoisie, infantry and artillery became more and more the decisive types of arms compelled by the development of artillery, the military profession had to add to its organisation a new and entirely industrial subsection, engineering.

The improvement of fire-arms was a very slow process. The pieces of artillery remained clumsy and the musket, in spite of a number of inventions affecting details, was still a crude weapon. It took over three hundred years for a weapon to be constructed that was suitable for the equipment of the whole body of infantry. It was not until the early eighteenth century that the flint-lock musket with a bayonet finally displaced the pike in the equipment of the infantry. The foot soldiers of that period were the mercenaries of princes; they consisted of the most demoralised elements of society, rigorously drilled but quite unreliable and only held together by the rod; they were often hostile prisoners of war who had been pressed into service. The only type of fighting in which these soldiers could apply the new weapons was the tactics of the line, which reached its highest perfection under Frederick II. The whole infantry of an army was drawn up in triple ranks in the form of a very long, hollow square, and moved in battle order only as a whole; at the very most, either of the two wings might move forward or keep back a little. This cumbrous mass could move in formation only on absolutely level ground, and even then only very slowly (seventy-five paces a minute); a change of formation during a battle was impossible, and once the infantry was engaged, victory or defeat was decided rapidly and at one blow.

In the American War of Independence, [74] these unwieldy lines were met by bands of rebels, who although not drilled were all the better able to shoot from their rifled guns; they were fighting for their vital interests, and therefore did not desert like the mercenaries; nor did they do the English the favour of encountering them also in line and on clear, even ground. They came on in open formation, a series of rapidly moving troops of sharpshooters, under cover of the woods. Here the line was powerless and succumbed to its invisible and inaccessible opponents. Skirmishing was reinvented -- a new method of warfare which was the result of a change in the human war material.

What the American Revolution had begun the French Revolution [75] completed, also in the military sphere. It also could oppose to the well-trained mercenary armies of the Coalition only poorly trained but great masses of soldiers, the levy of the entire nation. But these masses had to protect Paris, that is, to hold a definite area, and for this purpose victory in open mass battle was essential. Mere skirmishes would not achieve enough; a form had to be found to make use of large masses and this form was discovered in the column. Column formation made it possible for even poorly trained troops to move with a fair degree of order, and moreover with greater speed (a hundred paces and more in a minute); it made it possible to break through the rigid forms of the old line formation; to fight on any ground, and therefore even on ground which was extremely disadvantageous to the line formation; to group the troops in any way if in the least appropriate; and, in conjunction with attacks by scattered bands of sharpshooters, to contain the enemy's lines, keep them engaged and wear them out until the moment came for masses held in reserve to break through them at the decisive point in the position. This new method of warfare, based on the combined action of skirmishers and columns and on the partitioning of the army into independent divisions or army corps, composed of all arms of the service -- a method brought to full perfection by Napoleon in both its tactical and strategical aspects -- had become necessary primarily because of the changed personnel: the soldiery of the French Revolution. Besides, two very important technical prerequisites had been complied with: first, the lighter carriages for field guns constructed by Gribeauval, which alone made possible the more rapid movement now required of them; and secondly, the slanting of the butt, which had hitherto been quite straight, continuing the line of the barrel. Introduced in France in 1777, it was copied from hunting weapons and made it possible to shoot at a particular individual without necessarily missing him. But for this improvement it would have been impossible to skirmish with the old weapons.

The revolutionary system of arming the whole people was soon restricted to compulsory conscription (with substitution for the rich, who paid for their release) and in this form it was adopted by most of the large states on the Continent. Only Prussia attempted through its Landwehr system, [76] to draw to a greater extent on the military strength of the nation. Prussia was also the first state to equip its whole infantry -- after the rifled muzzle-loader, which had been improved between 1830 and 1860 and found fit for use in war, had played a brief role -- with the most up-to-date weapon, the rifled breech-loader. Its successes in 1866 were due to these two innovations. [77]

The Franco-German War was the first in which two armies faced each other both equipped with breech-loading rifles, and moreover both fundamentally in the same tactical formations as in the time of the old smoothbore flint-locks. The only difference was that the Prussians had introduced the company column formation in an attempt to find a form of fighting which was better adapted to the new type of arms. But when, at St. Privat on August 18, [78] the Prussian Guard tried to apply the company column formation seriously, the five regiments which were chiefly engaged lost in less than two hours more than a third of their strength (176 officers and 5,114 men). From that time on the company column, too, was condemned as a battle formation, no less than the battalion column and the line; all idea of further exposing troops in any kind of close formation to enemy gun-fire was abandoned, and on the German side all subsequent fighting was conducted only in those compact bodies of skirmishers into which the columns had so far regularly dissolved of themselves under a deadly hail of bullets, although this had been opposed by the higher commands as contrary to order; and in the same way the only form of movement when under fire from enemy rifles became the double. Once again the soldier had been shrewder than the officer; it was he who instinctively found the only way of fighting which has proved of service up to now under the fire of breech-loading rifles, and in spite of opposition from his officers he carried it through successfully.

The Franco-German War marked a turning-point of entirely new implications. In the first place the weapons used have reached such a stage of perfection that further progress which would have any revolutionising influence is no longer possible. Once armies have guns which can hit a battalion at any range at which it can be distinguished, and rifles which are equally effective for hitting individual men, while loading them takes less time than aiming, then all further improvements are of minor importance for field warfare. The era of evolution is therefore, in essentials, closed in this direction. And secondly, this war has compelled all continental powers to introduce in a stricter form the Prussian Landwehr system, and with it a military burden which must bring them to ruin within a few years. The army has become the main purpose of the state, and an end in itself; the peoples are there only to provide soldiers and feed them. Militarism dominates and is swallowing Europe. But this militarism also bears within itself the seed of its own destruction. Competition among the individual states forces them, on the one hand, to spend more money each year on the army and navy, artillery, etc., thus more and more hastening their financial collapse; and, on the other hand, to resort to universal compulsory military service more and more extensively, thus in the long run making the whole people familiar with the use of arms, and therefore enabling them at a given moment to make their will prevail against the warlords in command. And this moment will arrive as soon as the mass of the people -- town and country workers and peasants -- will have a will. At this point the armies of the princes become transformed into armies of the people; the machine refuses to work and militarism collapses by the dialectics of its own evolution. What the bourgeois democracy of 1848 could not accomplish, just because it was bourgeois and not proletarian, namely, to give the labouring masses a will whose content would be in accord with their class position -- socialism will infallibly secure. And this will mean the bursting asunder from within of militarism and with it of all standing armies.

That is the first moral of our history of modern infantry. The second moral, which brings us back again to Herr Dühring, is that the whole organisation and method of warfare of the armies, and along with these victory or defeat, prove to be dependent on material, that is, economic conditions: on the human material and the armaments, and therefore on the quality and quantity of the population and on technical development. Only a hunting people like the Americans could rediscover skirmishing tactics -- and they were hunters as a result of purely economic causes, just as now, as a result of purely economic causes, these same Yankees of the old States have transformed themselves into farmers, industrialists, seamen and merchants who no longer skirmish in the primeval forests, but instead all the more effectively in the field of speculation, where they have likewise made much progress in making use of large masses. -- Only a revolution such as the French, which brought about the economic emancipation of the bourgeois and, especially, of the peasant, could find the mass armies and at the same time the free forms of movement which shattered the old rigid lines -- the military counterparts of the absolutism which they were defending. And we have seen in case after case how advances in technique, as soon as they became applicable militarily and in fact were so applied, immediately and almost forcibly produced changes and even revolutions in the methods of warfare, often indeed against the will of the army command. And nowadays any zealous N.C.O. could explain to Herr Dühring how greatly, besides, the conduct of a war depends on the productivity and means of communication of the army's own hinterland as well as of the theatre of war. In short, always and everywhere it is the economic conditions and the instruments of economic power which help "force" to victory, without which force ceases to be force. And anyone who tried to reform methods of warfare from the opposite standpoint, on the basis of Dühringian principles, would certainly earn nothing but a beating. *4

If we pass now from land to sea, we find that in the last twenty years alone an even more complete revolution has taken place there. The warship of the Crimean War [79] was the wooden two- and three-decker of 60 to 100 guns; this was still mainly propelled by sail, with only a low-powered auxiliary steam-engine. The guns on these warships were for the most part 32-pounders, weighing approximately 50 centners, with only a few 68-pounders weighing 95 centners. Towards the end of the war, iron-clad floating batteries made their appearance; they were clumsy and almost immobile monsters, but to the guns of that period they were invulnerable. Soon warships, too, were swathed in iron armourplating; at first the plates were still thin, a thickness of four inches being regarded as extremely heavy armour. But soon the progress made with artillery outstripped the armour-plating; each successive increase in the strength of the armour used was countered by a new and heavier gun which easily pierced the plates. In this way we have already reached armour-plating ten, twelve, fourteen and twenty-four inches thick (Italy proposes to have a ship built with plates three feet thick) on the one hand, and on the other, rifled guns of 25, 35, 80 and even 100 tons (at 20 centners) in weight, which can hurl projectiles weighing 300, 400, 1,700 and up to 2,000 pounds to distances which were never dreamed of before. The warship of the present day is a gigantic armoured screwdriven steamer of 8,000 to 9,000 tons displacement and 6,000 to 8,000 horse power, with revolving turrets and four or at most six heavy guns, the bow being extended under water into a ram for running down enemy vessels. It is a single colossal machine, in which steam not only drives the ship at a high speed, but also works the steering-gear, raises the anchor, swings the turrets, changes the elevation of the guns and loads them, pumps out water, hoists and lowers the boats -- some of which are themselves also steam-driven -- and so forth. And the rivalry between armour-plating and the fire power of guns is so far from being at an end that nowadays a ship is almost always not up to requirements, already out of date, before it is launched. The modern warship is not only a product, but at the same time a specimen of modern large-scale industry, a floating factory -- producing mainly, to be sure, a lavish waste of money. The country in which large-scale industry is most highly developed has almost a monopoly of the construction of these ships. All Turkish, almost all Russian and most German armoured vessels have been built in England; armour-plates that are at all serviceable are hardly made outside of Sheffield; of the three steelworks in Europe which alone are able to make the heaviest guns, two (Woolwich and Elswick) are in England, and the third (Krupp [80]) in Germany. In this sphere it is most palpably evident that the "direct political force" {D. Ph. 538} which, according to Herr Dühring, is the "decisive cause of the economic situation" {D. K. G. 231}, is on the contrary completely subordinate to the economic situation, that not only the construction but also the operation of the marine instrument of force, the warship, has itself become a branch of modern large-scale industry. And that this is so distresses no one more than force itself, that is, the state, which has now to pay for one ship as much as a whole small fleet used to cost; which has to resign itself to seeing these expensive vessels become obsolete, and therefore worthless, even before they slide into the water; and which must certainly be just as disgusted as Herr Dühring that the man of the "economic situation", the engineer, is now of far greater importance on board than the man of "direct force", the captain. We, on the contrary, have absolutely no cause to be vexed when we see that, in this competitive struggle between armour-plating and guns, the warship is being developed to a pitch of perfection which is making it both outrageously costly and unusable in war, * and that this struggle makes manifest also in the sphere of naval warfare those inherent dialectical laws of motion on the basis of which militarism, like every other historical phenomenon, is being brought to its doom in consequence of its own development.

Here, too, therefore we see absolutely clearly that it is not by any means true that "the primary must be sought in direct political force and not in any indirect economic power" {D. Ph. 538}. On the contrary. For what in fact does "the primary" in force itself prove to be? Economic power, the disposal of the means of power of large-scale industry. Naval political force, which reposes on modern warships, proves to be not at all "direct" but on the contrary mediated by economic power, highly developed metallurgy, command of skilled technicians and highly productive coal-mines.

And yet what is the use of it all? If we put Herr Dühring in supreme command in the next naval war, he will destroy all fleets of armoured ships, which are the slaves of the economic situation, without torpedoes or any other artifices, solely by virtue of his direct force."


IV. THEORY OF FORCE (Conclusion)

"It is a circumstance of great importance that as a matter of fact the domination over nature, generally speaking," (!), "only proceeded," (a domination proceeded!) "through the domination over man. The cultivation of landed property in tracts of considerable size never took place anywhere without the antecedent subjection of man in some form of slave-labour or corvée. The establishment of an economic domination over things has presupposed the political, social and economic domination of man over man. How could a large landed proprietor even be conceived without at once including in this idea also his domination over slaves serfs, or others indirectly unfree? What could the efforts of an individual, at most supplemented by those of his family, have signified or signify in extensively practiced agriculture? The exploitation of the land, or the extension of economic control over it on a scale exceeding the natural capacities of the individual, was only made possible in previous history by the establishment, either before or simultaneously with the introduction of dominion over land, of the enslavement of man which this involves. In the later periods of development this servitude was mitigated ... its present form in the more highly civilised states is wage-labour, to a greater or lesser degree carried on under police rule. Thus wage-labour provides the practical possibility of that form of contemporary wealth which is represented by dominion over wide areas of land and" (!) "extensive landed property. It goes without saying that all other types of distributive wealth must be explained historically in a similar way, and the indirect dependence of man on man, which is now the essential feature of the conditions which economically are most fully developed, cannot be understood and explained by its own nature, but only as a somewhat transformed heritage of an earlier direct subjugation and expropriation" {D. C. 18-19}.

Thus Herr Dühring.

Thesis: The domination of nature (by man) presupposes the domination of man (by man).

Proof: The cultivation of landed property in tracts of considerable size never took place anywhere except by the use of bondmen.

Proof of the proof: How can there be large landowners without bondmen, as the large landowner, even with his family, could work only a tiny part of his property without the help of bondmen?

Therefore, in order to prove that man first had to subjugate man before he could bring nature under his control, Herr Dühring transforms "nature" without more ado into "landed property in tracts of considerable size", and then this landed property -- ownership unspecified -- is immediately further transformed into the property of a large landed proprietor, who naturally cannot work his land without bondmen.

In the first place "domination over nature" and the "cultivation of landed property" are by no means the same thing. In industry, domination over nature is exercised on quite another and much greater scale than in agriculture, which is still subject to weather conditions instead of controlling them.

Secondly, if we confine ourselves to the cultivation of landed property consisting of tracts of considerable size, the question arises: whose landed property is it? And then we find in the early history of all civilised peoples, not the "large landed proprietors" whom Herr Dühring interpolates here with his customary sleight of hand, which he calls "natural dialectics", [82] but tribal and village communities with common ownership of the land. From India to Ireland the cultivation of landed property in tracts of considerable size was originally carried on by such tribal and village communities; sometimes the arable land was tilled jointly for account of the community, and sometimes in separate parcels of land temporarily allotted to families by the community, while woodland and pastureland continued to be used in common. It is once again characteristic of "the most exhaustive specialised studies" made by Herr Dühring "in the domain of politics and law" {D. Ph. 537} that he knows nothing of all this; that all his works breathe total ignorance of Maurer's epoch-making writings on the primitive constitution of the German mark, [83] the basis of all German law, and of the ever-increasing mass of literature, chiefly stimulated by Maurer, which is devoted to proving the primitive common ownership of the land among all civilised peoples of Europe and Asia, and to showing the various forms of its existence and dissolution. Just as in the domain of French and English law Herr Dühring "himself acquired all his ignorance", great as it was, so it is with his even much greater ignorance in the domain of German law. In this domain the man who flies into such a violent rage over the limited horizon of university professors is himself today at the very most, still where the professors were twenty years ago.

It is a pure "free creation and imagination" {43} on Herr Dühring's part when he asserts that landed proprietors and bondmen were required for the cultivation of landed property in tracts of considerable size. In the whole of the Orient, where the village community or the state owns the land, the very term landlord is not to be found in the various languages, a point on which Herr Dühring can consult the English jurists, whose efforts in India to solve the question: who is the owner of the land? -- were as vain as those of the late Prince Heinrich LXXII of Reuss-Greiz-Schleiz-Lobenstein-Eberswalde [84] in his attempts to solve the question of who was the night-watchman. It was the Turks who first introduced a sort of feudal ownership of land in the countries conquered by them in the Orient. Greece made its entry into history, as far back as the heroic epoch, with a system of social estates which itself was evidently the product of a long but unknown prehistory; even there, however, the land was mainly cultivated by independent peasants; the larger estates of the nobles and tribal chiefs were the exception; moreover they disappeared soon after. Italy was brought under cultivation chiefly by peasants; when, in the final period of the Roman Republic, the great complexes of estates, the latifundia, displaced the small peasants and replaced them with slaves, they also replaced tillage with stockraising, and, as Pliny already realised, brought Italy to ruin (latifundia Italiam perdidere). During the Middle Ages, peasant farming was predominant throughout Europe (especially in bringing virgin soil into cultivation); and in relation to the question we are now considering it is of no importance whether these peasants had to pay dues, and if so what dues, to any feudal lords. The colonists from Friesland, Lower Saxony, Flanders and the Lower Rhine, who brought under cultivation the land east of the Elbe which had been wrested. from the Slavs, did this as free peasants under very favourable quit-rent tenures, and not at all under "some form of corvée" {D. C. 18}. -- In North America, by far the largest portion of the land was opened for cultivation by the labour of free farmers, while the big landlords of the South, with their slaves and their rapacious tilling of the land, exhausted the soil until it could grow only firs, so that the cultivation of cotton was forced further and further west. In Australia and New Zealand, all attempts of the British government to establish artificially a landed aristocracy came to nothing. In short, if we except the tropical and subtropical colonies, where the climate makes agricultural labour impossible for Europeans, the big landlord who subjugates nature by means of his slaves or serfs and brings the land under cultivation proves to be a pure figment of the imagination. The very reverse is the case. Where he makes his appearance in antiquity, as in Italy, he does not bring wasteland into cultivation, but transforms arable land brought under cultivation by peasants into stock pastures, depopulating and ruining whole countries. Only in a more recent period, when the increasing density of population had raised the value of land, and particularly since the development of agricultural science had made even poorer land more cultivable -- it is only from this period that large landowners began to participate on an extensive scale in bringing wasteland and grass-land under cultivation -- and this mainly through the robbery of common land from the peasants, both in England and in Germany. But there was another side even to this. For every acre of common land which the large landowners brought into cultivation in England, they transformed at least three acres of arable land in Scotland into sheep-runs and eventually even into mere big-game hunting-grounds.

We are concerned here only with Herr Dühring's assertion that the bringing into cultivation of tracts of land of considerable size and therefore of practically the whole area now cultivated, "never and nowhere" took place except through the agency of big landlords and their bondmen -- an assertion which, as we have seen, "presupposes" a really unprecedented ignorance of history. It is not necessary, therefore, for us to examine here either to what extent, at different periods, areas which were already made entirely or mainly cultivable were cultivated by slaves (as in the hey-day of Greece) or serfs (as in the manors of the Middle Ages); or what was the social function of the large landowners at various periods.

And after Herr Dühring has shown us this masterpiece of the imagination -- in which we do not know whether the conjuring trick of deduction or the falsification of history is more to be admired -- he exclaims triumphantly:

"It goes without saying that all other types of distributive wealth must be explained historically in similar manner!" {19.}

Which of course saves him the trouble of wasting even a single word more on the origin, for example, of capital.

If, with his domination of man by man as a prior condition for the domination of nature by man, Herr Dühring only wanted to state in a general way that the whole of our present economic order, the level of development now attained by agriculture and industry, is the result of a social history which evolved in class antagonisms, in relationships of domination and subjection, he is saying something which long ago, ever since the Communist Manifesto, became a commonplace. But the question at issue is how we are to explain the origin of classes and relations based on domination, and if Herr Dühring's only answer is the one word "force", we are left exactly where we were at the start. The mere fact that the ruled and exploited have at all times been far more numerous than the rulers and the exploiters, and that therefore it is in the hands of the former that the real force has reposed, is enough to demonstrate the absurdity of the whole force theory. The relationships based on domination and subjection have therefore still to be explained.

They arose in two ways.

As men originally made their exit from the animal world -- in the narrower sense of the term -- so they made their entry into history: still half animal, brutal, still helpless in face of the forces of nature, still ignorant of their own strength; and consequently as poor as the animals and hardly more productive than they. There prevailed a certain equality in the conditions of existence, and for the heads of families also a kind of equality of social position -- at least an absence of social classes -- which continued among the primitive agricultural communities of the civilised peoples of a later period. In each such community there were from the beginning certain common interests the safeguarding of which had to be handed over to individuals, true, under the control of the community as a whole: adjudication of disputes; repression of abuse of authority by individuals; control of water supplies, especially in hot countries; and finally when conditions were still absolutely primitive, religious functions. Such offices are found in aboriginal communities of every period -- in the oldest German marks and even today in India. They are naturally endowed with a certain measure of authority and are the beginnings of state power. The productive forces gradually increase; the increasing density of the population creates at one point common interests, at another conflicting interests, between the separate communities, whose grouping into larger units brings about in turn a new division of labour, the setting up of organs to safeguard common interests and combat conflicting interests. These organs which, if only because they represent the common interests of the whole group, hold a special position in relation to each individual community -- in certain circumstances even one of opposition -- soon make themselves still more independent, partly through heredity of functions, which comes about almost as a matter of course in a world where everything occurs spontaneously, and partly because they become increasingly indispensable owing to the growing number of conflicts with other groups. It is not necessary for us to examine here how this independence of social functions in relation to society increased with time until it developed into domination over society; how he who was originally the servant, where conditions were favourable, changed gradually into the lord; how this lord, depending on the conditions, emerged as an Oriental despot or satrap, the dynast of a Greek tribe, chieftain of a Celtic clan, and so on; to what extent he subsequently had recourse to force in the course of this transformation; and how finally the individual rulers united into a ruling class. Here we are only concerned with establishing the fact that the exercise of a social function was everywhere the basis of political supremacy; and further that political supremacy has existed for any length of time only when it discharged its social functions. However great the number of despotisms which rose and fell in Persia and India, each was fully aware that above all it was the entrepreneur responsible for the collective maintenance of irrigation throughout the river valleys, without which no agriculture was possible there. It was reserved for the enlightened English to lose sight of this in India; they let the irrigation canals and sluices fall into decay, and are now at last discovering, through the regularly recurring famines, that they have neglected the one activity which might have made their rule in India at least as legitimate as that of their predecessors.

But alongside this process of formation of classes another was also taking place. The spontaneously evolved division of labour within the family cultivating the soil made possible, at a certain level of well-being, the incorporation of one or more strangers as additional labour forces. This was especially the case in countries where the old common ownership of the land had already disintegrated or at least the former joint cultivation had given place to the separate cultivation of parcels of land by the respective families. Production had developed so far that the labour-power of a man could now produce more than was necessary for its mere maintenance; the means of maintaining additional labour forces existed; likewise the means of employing them; labour-power acquired a value. But the community itself and the association to which it belonged yielded no available, superfluous labour forces. On the other hand, such forces were provided by war, and war was as old as the simultaneous existence alongside each other of several groups of communities. Up to that time one had not known what to do with prisoners of war, and had therefore simply killed them; at an even earlier period, eaten them. But at the stage of "economic situation" which had now been attained, the prisoners acquired value; one therefore let them live and made use of their labour. Thus force, instead of controlling the economic situation, was on the contrary pressed into the service of the economic situation. Slavery had been invented. It soon became the dominant form of production among all peoples who were developing beyond the old community, but in the end was also one of the chief causes of their decay. It was slavery that first made possible the division of labour between agriculture and industry on a larger scale, and thereby also Hellenism, the flowering of the ancient world. Without slavery, no Greek state, no Greek art and science, without slavery, no Roman Empire. But without the basis laid by Hellenism and the Roman Empire, also no modern Europe. We should never forget that our whole economic, political and intellectual development presupposes a state of things in which slavery was as necessary as it was universally recognised. In this sense we are entitled to say: Without the slavery of antiquity no modern socialism.

It is very easy to inveigh against slavery and similar things in general terms, and to give vent to high moral indignation at such infamies. Unfortunately all that this conveys is only what everyone knows, namely, that these institutions of antiquity are no longer in accord with our present conditions and our sentiments, which these conditions determine. But it does not tell us one word as to how these institutions arose, why they existed, and what role they played in history. And when we examine these questions, we are compelled to say -- however contradictory and heretical it may sound -- that the introduction of slavery under the conditions prevailing at that time was a great step forward. For it is a fact that man sprang from the beasts, and had consequently to use barbaric and almost bestial means to extricate himself from barbarism. Where the ancient communities have continued to exist, they have for thousands of years formed the basis of the cruellest form of state, Oriental despotism, from India to Russia. It was only where these communities dissolved that the peoples made progress of themselves, and their next economic advance consisted in the increase and development of production by means of slave labour. It is clear that so long as human labour was still so little productive that it provided but a small surplus over and above the necessary means of subsistence, any increase of the productive forces, extension of trade, development of the state and of law, or foundation of art and science, was possible only by means of a greater division of labour. And the necessary basis for this was the great division of labour between the masses discharging simple manual labour and the few privileged persons directing labour, conducting trade and public affairs, and, at a later stage, occupying themselves with art and science. The simplest and most natural form of this division of labour was in fact slavery. In the historical conditions of the ancient world, and particularly of Greece, the advance to a society based on class antagonisms could be accomplished only in the form of slavery. This was an advance even for the slaves; the prisoners of war, from whom the mass of the slaves was recruited, now at least saved their lives, instead of being killed as they had been before, or even roasted, as at a still earlier period.

We may add at this point that all historical antagonisms between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes to this very day find their explanation in this same relatively undeveloped human labour. So long as the really working population were so much occupied with their necessary labour that they had no time left for looking after the common affairs of society -- the direction of labour, affairs of state, legal matters, art, science, etc. -- so long was it necessary that there should constantly exist a special class, freed from actual labour, to manage these affairs; and this class never failed, for its own advantage, to impose a greater and greater burden of labour on the working masses. Only the immense increase of the productive forces attained by modern industry has made it possible to distribute labour among all members of society without exception, and thereby to limit the labour-time of each individual member to such an extent that all have enough free time left to take part in the general -- both theoretical and practical -- affairs of society. It is only now, therefore, that every ruling and exploiting class has become superfluous and indeed a hindrance to social development, and it is only now, too, that it will be inexorably abolished, however much it may be in possession of "direct force".

When, therefore, Herr Dühring turns up his nose at Hellenism because it was founded on slavery, he might with equal justice reproach the Greeks with having had no steam-engines or electric telegraphs. And when he asserts that our modern wage bondage can only be explained as a somewhat transformed and mitigated heritage of slavery, and not by its own nature (that is, by the economic laws of modern society), this either means only that both wage-labour and slavery are forms of bondage and class domination, which every child knows to be so, or is false. For with equal justice we might say that wage-labour could only be explained as a mitigated form of cannibalism, which, it is now established, was the universal primitive form of utilisation of defeated enemies.

The role played in history by force as contrasted with economic development is therefore clear. In the first place, all political power is organically based on an economic, social function, and increases in proportion as the members of society, through the dissolution of the primitive community, become transformed into private producers, and thus become more and more divorced from the administrators of the common functions of society. Secondly, after the political force has made itself independent in relation to society, and has transformed itself from its servant into its master, it can work in two different directions. Either it works in the sense and in the direction of the natural economic development, in which case no conflict arises between them, the economic development being accelerated. Or it works against economic development, in which case, as a rule, with but few exceptions, force succumbs to it. These few exceptions are isolated cases of conquest, in which the more barbarian conquerors exterminated or drove out the population of a country and laid waste or allowed to go to ruin productive forces which they did not know how to use. This was what the Christians in Moorish Spain did with the major part of the irrigation works on which the highly developed agriculture and horticulture of the Moors depended. Every conquest by a more barbarian people disturbs of course the economic development and destroys numerous productive forces. But in the immense majority of cases where the conquest is permanent, the more barbarian conqueror has to adapt himself to the higher "economic situation" {D. K. G. 231} as it emerges from the conquest; he is assimilated by the vanquished and in most cases he has even to adopt their language. But where -- apart from cases of conquest -- the internal state power of a country becomes antagonistic to its economic development as at a certain stage occurred with almost every political power in the past, the contest always ended with the downfall of the political power. Inexorably and without exception the economic development has forced its way through -- we have already mentioned the latest and most striking example of this: the great French Revolution. If, in accordance with Herr Dühring's theory, the economic situation and with it the economic structure of a given country were dependent simply on political force, it is absolutely impossible to understand why Frederick William IV after 1848 could not succeed, in spite of his "magnificent army", [85] ingrafting the mediaeval guilds and other romantic oddities on to the railways, the steam-engines and the large-scale industry which was just then developing in his country; or why the tsar of Russia, who is possessed of even much more forcible means, is not only unable to pay his debts, but cannot even maintain his "force" without continually borrowing from the "economic situation" of Western Europe.

To Herr Dühring force is the absolute evil; the first act of force is to him the original sin; his whole exposition is a jeremiad on the contamination of all subsequent history consummated by this original sin; a jeremiad on the shameful perversion of all natural and social laws by this diabolical power, force. That force, however, plays yet another role in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, that it is the instrument with the aid of which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilised political forms -- of this there is not a word in Herr Dühring. It is only with sighs and groans that he admits the possibility that force will perhaps be necessary for the overthrow of an economic system of exploitation -- unfortunately, because all use of force demoralises the person who uses it. And this in spite of the immense moral and spiritual impetus which has been given by every victorious revolution! And this in Germany, where a violent collision -- which may, after all, be forced on the people -- would at least have the advantage of wiping out the servility which has penetrated the nation's mentality following the humiliation of the Thirty Years' War. And this parson's mode of thought -- dull, insipid and impotent -- presumes to impose itself on the most revolutionary party that history has known!



TIt is now about a hundred years since the publication in Leipzig of a book which by the beginning of the nineteenth century had run through over thirty editions; it was circulated and distributed in town and country by the authorities, by preachers and philanthropists of all kinds, and was generally prescribed as a reader for use in the elementary schools. This book was Rochow's Kinderfreund. Its purpose was to teach the youthful offspring of the peasants and artisans their vocation in life and their duties to their superiors in society and in the state, and likewise to inspire in them a beneficent contentment with their lot on earth, with black bread and potatoes, serf labour, low wages, paternal thrashings and other delectations of this sort, and all that by means of the system of enlightenment which was then in vogue. With this aim in view the youth of the towns and of the countryside was admonished how wisely nature had ordained that man must win his livelihood and his pleasures by labour, and how happy therefore the peasant or artisan should feel that it was granted to him to season his meal with bitter labour, instead of, like the rich glutton, suffering the pangs of indigestion or constipation, and having to gulp down the choicest tit-bits with repugnance. These same platitudes that old Rochow thought good enough for the peasant boys and girls of the electorate of Saxony of his time, are served up to us by Herr Dühring on page 14 and the following pages of his Cursus as the "absolutely fundamental" {D. Ph. 150} basis of the most up-to-date political economy

"Human wants as such have their natural laws, and their expansion is confined within limits which can be transgressed only by unnatural acts and only for a time, until these acts result in nausea, weariness of life, decrepitude, social mutilation and finally salutary annihilation... A game of life consisting purely of pleasures without any further serious aim soon makes one blasé, or, what amounts to the same thing exhausts all capacity to feel. Real labour, in some form or other, is therefore the natural social law of healthy beings... If instincts and wants were not provided with counterbalances they could hardly bring us even infantile existence, let alone a historically intensified development of life. If they could find satisfaction without limit and without effort they would soon exhaust themselves, leaving an empty existence in the form of boring intervals lasting until the wants were felt again... In every respect, therefore, the fact that the satisfaction of the instincts and passions depends on the surmounting of economic obstacles is a salutary basic law of both the external arrangement of nature and the inner constitution of man" {D. C. 14, 15, 16} -- and so on, and so forth.

It can be seen that the commonest commonplaces of the worthy Rochow are celebrating their centenary in Herr Dühring, and do so, moreover, as the "deeper foundation" {11} of the one and only really critical and scientific "socialitarian system" {IV}.

With the foundations thus laid, Herr Dühring can proceed to build. Applying the mathematical method, he first gives us, following the ancient Euclid's example, a series of definitions. This is all the more convenient because it enables him at once to contrive his definitions in such a way that what is to be proved with their help is already partially contained in them. And so we learn at the outset that

the governing concept in all prior political economy has been wealth and that wealth, as it really has been understood hitherto and as it has developed its sway in world history, is "economic power over men and things" {16-17}.

This is doubly wrong. In the first place the wealth of the ancient tribal and village communities was in no sense a domination over men. And secondly, even in societies moving in class antagonisms, wealth, in so far as it includes domination over men, is mainly and almost exclusively a domination over men exercised by virtue of, and through the agency of, the domination over things. From the very early period when the capture of slaves and the exploitation of slaves became separate branches of business, the exploiters of slave-labour had to buy the slaves, acquiring control over men only through their prior control of things, of the purchase price of the slave and of his means of subsistence and instruments of labour. Throughout the Middle Ages large landed property was the prerequisite by means of which the feudal nobility came to have quit-rent peasants and corvée peasants. And nowadays even a six-year-old child sees that wealth dominates men exclusively by means of the things which it has at its disposal.

But what is it that makes Herr Dühring concoct this false definition of wealth, and why has he to sever the actual connection which existed in all former class societies? In order to drag wealth from the domain of economics over into that of morals. Domination over things is quite all right, but domination over men is an evil thing; and as Herr Dühring has forbidden himself to explain domination over men by domination over things, he can once again do an audacious trick and explain domination over men offhand by his beloved force. Wealth, as domination over men, is "robbery" {17} -- and with this we are back again at a corrupted version of Proudhon's ancient formula: "Property is theft."

And so we have now safely brought wealth under two essential aspects, production and distribution: wealth as domination over things -- production wealth, the good side; wealth as domination over men -- distribution wealth up to the present day, bad side away with it! Applied to the conditions of today, this means: The capitalist mode of production is quite good and may remain, but the capitalist mode of distribution is no good and must be abolished. Such is the nonsense which comes of writing on economics without even having grasped the connection between production and distribution.

After wealth, value is defined as follows:

"Value is the worth which economic things and services have in commerce." This worth corresponds to "the price or any other equivalent name, for example wages" {D. C. 19}.

In other words, value is the price. Or rather, in order not to do Herr Dühring an injustice and give the absurdity of his definition as far as possible in his own words: value are the prices. For he says on page 19:

"value, and the prices expressing it in money"

-- thus himself stating that the same value has very different prices and consequently also just as many different values. If Hegel had not died long ago, he would hang himself, with all his theologies he could not have thought up this value which has as many different values as it has prices. It requires once more someone with the positive assurance of Herr Dühring to inaugurate a new and deeper foundation for economics with the declaration that there is no difference between price and value except that one is expressed in money and the other is not.

But all this still does not tell us what value is, and still less by what it is determined. Herr Dühring has therefore to come across with further explanations.

"Speaking absolutely in general, the basic law of comparison and evaluation, on which value and the prices expressing it in money depend, belongs in the first place to the sphere of pure production, apart from distribution, which introduces only a second element into the concept of value. The greater or lesser obstacles which the variety of natural conditions places in the way of efforts directed toward the procurement of things, and owing to which it necessitates a greater or lesser expenditure of economic energy, determine also ... the greater or lesser value", {19-20} and this is appraised according to "the resistance offered by nature and circumstances to the procuring of things {20} ... The extent to which we invest our own energy into them" (things) "is the immediate determining cause of the existence of value in general and of a particular magnitude of it" {21}. :

In so far as there is a meaning in this, it is: The value of a product of labour is determined by the labour-time necessary for its production; and we knew that long ago, even without Herr Dühring. Instead of stating the fact simply, he has to twist it into an oracular saying. It is simply wrong to say that the dimensions in which anyone invests his energies in anything (to keep to the bombastic style) is the immediate determining cause of value and of the magnitude of value. In the first place, it depends on what thing the energy is put into, and secondly, how the energy is put into it. If someone makes a thing which has no use-value for other people, his whole energy does not produce an atom of value; and if he is stiff-necked enough to produce by hand an object which a machine produces twenty times cheaper, nineteen-twentieths of the energy he put into it produces neither value in general nor any particular magnitude of value.

Moreover it is an absolute distortion to transform productive labour, which creates positive products, into a merely negative overcoming of a resistance. In order to come by a shirt we should then have to set about it somewhat as follows: Firstly we overcome the resistance of the cotton-seed to being sown and to growing, then the resistance of the ripe cotton to being picked and packed and transported, then its resistance to being unpacked and carded and spun, further the resistance of the yarn to being woven, then the resistance of the cloth to being bleached and sewn, and finally the resistance of the completed shirt to being put on.

Why all this childish perversion and perversity? In order, by means of the "resistance", to pass from the "production value", the true but hitherto only ideal value, to the "distribution value", the value, falsified by force, which alone was acknowledged in past history:

"In addition to the resistance offered by nature ... there is yet another, a purely social obstacle... An obstructive power steps in between man and nature, and this power is once again man. Man, conceived as alone and isolated, faces nature as a free being... The situation is different as soon as we think of a second man who, sword in hand, holds the approaches to nature and its resources and demands a price, whatever form it may take, for allowing access. This second man..., so to speak, puts a tax on the other and is thus the reason why the value of the object striven for turns out greater than it might have been but for this political and social obstacle to the procuring or production of the object... The particular forms of this artificially enhanced worth of things are extremely manifold. and it naturally has its concomitant counterpart in a corresponding forcing down of the worth of labour {23} ... It is therefore an illusion to attempt to regard value in advance as an equivalent in the proper sense of this term, that is, as something which is of equal worth, or as a relation of exchange arising from the principle that service and counter-service are equal... On the contrary, the criterion of a correct theory of value will be that the most general cause of evaluation conceived in the theory does not coincide with the special form of worth which rests on compulsory distribution. This form varies with the social system, while economic value proper can only be a production value measured in relation to nature and in consequence of this will only change with changes in the obstacles to production of a purely natural and technical kind" [D. C. 24-25].

The value which a thing has in practice, according to Herr Dühring, therefore consists of two parts: first, the labour contained in it, and, secondly, the tax surcharge imposed "sword ; in hand". In other words, value in practice today is a monopoly price. Now if, in accordance with this theory of value, all commodities have such a monopoly price, only two alternatives are possible. Either each individual loses again as a buyer what he gained as a seller; the prices have changed nominally but in reality -- in their mutual relationship -- have remained the same; everything remains as before, and the far-famed distribution value is a mere illusion. -- Or, on the other hand, the alleged tax surcharges represent a real sum of values, namely, that produced by the labouring, value-producing class but appropriated by the monopolist class, and then this sum of values consists merely of unpaid labour; in this event, in spite of the man with the sword in his hand, in spite of the alleged tax surcharges and the asserted distribution value, we arrive once again at the Marxian theory of surplus-value.

But let us look at some examples of the famous "distribution value". On page 135 and the following pages we find:

"The shaping of prices as a result of individual competition must also be regarded as a form of economic distribution and of the mutual imposition of tribute... If the stock of any necessary commodity is suddenly reduced to a considerable extent, this gives the sellers a disproportionate power of exploitation [135-36] ... what a colossal increase in prices this may produce is shown particularly by those abnormal situations in which the supply of necessary articles is cut off for any length of time" [137] and so on. Moreover, even in the normal course of things virtual monopolies exist which make possible arbitrary price increases, as for example the railway companies, the companies supplying towns with water and gas [see 153, 154], etc.

It has long been known that such opportunities for monopolistic exploitation occur. But that the monopoly prices these produce are not to rank as exceptions and special cases, but precisely as classical examples of the determination of values in operation today -- this is new. How are the prices of the necessaries of life determined? Herr Dühring replies: Go into a beleaguered city from which supplies have been cut off, and find out! What effect has competition on the determination of market prices? Ask the monopolists -- they will tell you all about it!

For that matter, even in the case of these monopolies, the man with the sword in his hand who is supposed to stand behind them is not discoverable. On the contrary: in cities under siege, if the man with the sword, the commandant, does his duty, he, as a rule, very soon puts an end to the monopoly and requisitions the monopolised stocks for the purpose of equal distribution. And for the rest the men with the sword, when they have tried to fabricate a "distribution value", have reaped nothing but bad business and financial loss. With their monopolisation of the East Indian trade, the Dutch brought both their monopoly and their trade to ruin. The two strongest governments which ever existed, the North American revolutionary government and the French National Convention, ventured to fix maximum prices, and they failed miserably. [86] For some years now, the Russian government has been trying to raise the exchange rate of Russian paper money -- which it is lowering in Russia by the continuous emission of irredeemable banknotes -- by the equally continuous buying up in London of bills of exchange on Russia. It has had to pay for this pleasure in the last few years almost sixty million rubles, and the ruble now stands at under two marks instead of over three. If the sword has the magic economic powers ascribed to it by Herr Dühring, why is it that no government has succeeded in permanently compelling bad money to have the "distribution value" of good money, or assignats to have the "distribution value" of gold? And where is the sword which is in command of the world market?

There is also another principal form in which the distribution value facilitates the appropriation of other people's services without counter-services: this is possession-rent, that is to say, rent of land and the profit on capital. For the moment we merely record this, to enable us to. state that this is all that we learn of this famous "distribution value". -- All? No, not quite. Listen to this:

"In spite of the twofold standpoint which manifests itself in the recognition of a production value and a distribution value, there is nevertheless always underlying these something in common, the thing of which all values consist and by which they are therefore measured. The immediate, natural measure is the expenditure of energy, and the simplest unit is human energy in the crudest sense of the term. This latter can be reduced to the existence time whose self-maintenance in turn represents the overcoming of a certain sum of difficulties in nutrition and life. Distribution, or appropriation, value is present in pure and exclusive form only where the power to dispose of unproduced things, or, to use a commoner expression, where these things themselves are exchanged for services or things of real production value. The homogeneous element, which is indicated and represented in every expression of value and therefore also in the component parts of value which are appropriated through distribution without counter-service consists in the expenditure of human energy, which... finds embodiment... in each commodity"

Now what should we say to this? If all commodity values are measured by the expenditure of human energy embodied in the commodities, what becomes of the distribution value, the price surcharge, the tax? True, Herr Dühring tells us that even unproduced things -- things which consequently cannot have a real value -- can be given a distribution value and exchanged against things which have been produced and possess value. But at the same time he tells us that all values -- consequently also purely and exclusively distributive values -- consist in the expenditure of energy embodied in them. Unfortunately we are not told how an expenditure of energy can find embodiment in an unproduced thing. In any case one point seems to emerge clearly from all this medley of values: that distribution value the price surcharge on commodities extorted as a result of social position, and the tax levied by virtue of the sword all once more amount to nothing The values of commodities are determined solely by the expenditure of human energy, vulgo labour, which finds embodiment in them. So, apart from the rent of land and the few monopoly prices, Herr Dühring says the same, though in more slovenly and confused terms, as the much-decried Ricardo-Marxian theory of value said long ago in clearer and more precise form.

He says it, and in the same breath he says the opposite. Marx taking Ricardo's investigations as his starting-point, says. The value of commodities is determined by the socially necessary general human labour embodied in them, and this in turn is measured by its duration. Labour is the measure of all values, but labour itself has no value. Herr Dühring, after likewise putting forward, in his clumsy way, labour as the measure of value, continues:

this "can be reduced to the existence time whose self-maintenance in turn represents the overcoming of a certain sum of difficulties in nutrition and life" {D. C. 27}.

Let us ignore the confusion, due purely to his desire to be original, of labour-time, which is the only thing that matters here, with existence time, which has never yet created or measured values. Let us also ignore the false "socialitarian" presence which the " self-maintenance" of this existence time is intended to introduce; so long as the world has existed and so long as it continues to exist every individual must maintain himself in the sense that he himself consumes his means of subsistence. Let us assume that Herr Dühring expressed himself in precise economic terms; then the sentence quoted either means nothing at all or means the following: The value of a commodity is determined by the labour-time embodied in it, and the value of this labour-time by the means of subsistence required for the maintenance of the labourer for this time. And, in its application to present-day society, this means: the value of a commodity is determined by the wages contained in it.

And this brings us at last to what Herr Dühring is really trying to say. The value of a commodity is determined, in the phraseology of vulgar economics, by the production outlays;

Carey, on the contrary, "brought out the truth that it is not the costs of production, but the costs of reproduction that determine value" (Kritische Geschichte, p. 401).

We shall see later what there is to these production or reproduction costs; at the moment we only note that, as is well known, they consist of wages and profit on capital. Wages represent the "expenditure of energy" embodied in commodities, the production value. Profit represents the tax or price surcharge extorted by the capitalist by virtue of his monopoly, the sword in his hand -- the distribution value. And so the whole contradictory confusion of the Dühringian theory of value is ultimately resolved into the most beautiful and harmonious clarity.

The determination of the value of commodities by wages, which in Adam Smith still frequently appeared side by side with its determination by labour-time, has been banned from scientific political economy since Ricardo, and nowadays survives only in vulgar economics. It is precisely the shallowest sycophants of the existing capitalist order of society who preach the determination of value by wages, and along with this, describe the profit of the capitalist likewise as a higher sort of wages, as the wages of abstinence (reward to the capitalist for not playing ducks and drakes with his capital), as the premium on risk, as the wages of management, etc. Herr Dühring differs from them only in declaring that profit is robbery. In other words, Herr Dühring bases his socialism directly on the doctrines of the worst kind of vulgar economics. And his socialism is worth just as much as this vulgar economics. They stand and fall together.

After all, it is clear that what a labourer produces and what he costs are just as much different things as what a machine produces and what it costs. The value created by a labourer in a twelve-hour working-day has nothing in common with the value of the means of subsistence which he consumes in this working-day and the period of rest that goes with it. In these means of subsistence there may be embodied three, four or seven hours of labour-time varying with the stage of development reached in the productivity of labour. If we assume that seven hours of labour were necessary for their production, then the theory of value of vulgar economics which Herr Dühring has accepted implies that the product of twelve hours of labour has the value of the product of seven hours of labour, that twelve hours of labour are equal to seven hours of labour, or that 12=7. To put it even more plainly: A labourer working on the land, no matter under what social relationships produces in a year a certain quantity of grain, say sixty bushels of wheat. During this time he consumes a sum of values amounting of forty-five bushels of wheat. Then the sixty bushels of wheat have the same value as the forty-five bushels, and that in the same market and with other conditions remaining absolutely identical; in other words, sixty=forty-five. And this styles itself political economy!

The whole development of human society beyond the stage of brute savagery begins on the day when the labour of the family created more products than were necessary for its maintenance on the day when a portion of labour could be devoted to the production no longer of the mere means of subsistence, but of means of production. A surplus of the product of labour over and above the costs of maintenance of the labour, and the formation and enlargement, out of this surplus, of a social production and reserve fund, was and is the basis of all social, political and intellectual progress. In history, up to the present, this fund has been the possession of a privileged class, on which also devolved along with this possession, political domination and intellectual leadership. The impending social revolution will for the first time make this social production and reserve fund -- that is, the total mass of raw materials, instruments of production and means of subsistence -- a really social fund, by depriving that privileged class of the disposal of it and transferring it to the whole of society as its common property.

Of two alternative courses, one. Either the value of commodities is determined by the costs of maintenance of the labour necessary for their production -- that is, in present-day society, by the wages. In that case each labourer receives in his wages the value of the product of his labour; and then the exploitation of the wage-earning class by the capitalist class is an impossibility. Let us assume that the costs of maintenance of a labourer in a given society can be expressed by the sum of three marks. Then the product of a day's labour, according to the above-cited theory of the vulgar economists, has the value of three marks. Let us assume that the capitalist who employs this labourer, adds a profit to this product, a tribute of one mark, and sells it for four marks. The other capitalists do the same. But from that moment the labourer can no longer cover his daily needs with three marks, but also requires four marks for this purpose. As all other conditions are assumed to have remained unchanged, the wages expressed in means of subsistence must remain the same, while the wages expressed in money must rise, namely, from three marks to four marks a day. What the capitalists take from the working class in the form of profit, they must give back to it in the form of wages. We are just where we were at the beginning: if wages determine value, no exploitation of the worker by the capitalist is possible. But the formation of a surplus of products is also impossible, for, on the basis of the assumption from which we started, the labourers consume just as much value as they produce. And as the capitalists produce no value, it is impossible to see how they expect to live. And if such a surplus of production over consumption, such a production and reserve fund, nevertheless exists, and exists in the hands of the capitalists, no other possible explanation remains but that the workers consume for their self-maintenance merely the value of the commodities and have handed over the commodities themselves to the capitalist for further use.

Or, on the other hand, if this production and reserve fund does in fact exist in the hands of the capitalist class, if it has actually arisen through the accumulation of profit (for the moment we leave the land rent out of account), then it necessarily consists of the accumulated surplus of the product of labour handed over to the capitalist class by the working class, over and above the sum of wages paid to the working class by the capitalist class. In this case, however, it is not wages that determine value, but the quantity of labour; in this case the working class hands over to the capitalist class in the product of labour a greater quantity of value than it receives from it in the shape of wages; and then the profit on capital, like all other forms of appropriation without payment of the labour product of others, is explained as a simple component part of this surplus-value discovered by Marx.

Incidentally, in Dühring's whole Cursus of political economy there is no mention of that great and epoch-making discovery with which Ricardo opens his most important work:

"The value of a commodity ... depends on the quantity of labour which is necessary for its production, and not on the greater or lesser compensation which is paid for that labour."

In the Kritische Geschichte it is dismissed with the oracular phrase:

"It is not considered" (by Ricardo) "that the greater or lesser proportion in which wages can be an allotment of the necessaries of life" (!) "must also involve ... different forms of the value relationships!" {D. K. G. 215.}

A phrase into which the reader can read what he pleases, and is on safest ground if he reads into it nothing at all.

And now let the reader select for himself, from the five sorts of value served up to us by Herr Dühring, the one that he likes best: the production value, which comes from nature; or the distribution value, which man's wickedness has created and which is distinguished by the fact that it is measured by the expenditure of energy, which is not contained in it; or thirdly, the value which is measured by labour-time; or fourthly, the value which is measured by the costs of reproduction; or lastly, the value which is measured by wages. The selection is wide, the confusion complete, and the only thing left for us to do is to exclaim with Herr Dühring:

"The theory of value is the touchstone of the worth of economic systems!" {499}



Herr Dühring has discovered in Marx a gross blunder in economics that a schoolboy would blush at, a blunder which at the same time contains a socialist heresy very dangerous to society.

Marx's theory of value is "nothing but the ordinary ... theory that labour is the cause of all values and labour-time is their measure. But the question of how the distinct value of so-called skilled labour is to be conceived is left in complete obscurity. It is true that in our theory also only the labour-time expended can be the measure of the natural cost and therefore of the absolute value of economic things; but here the labour-time of each individual must be considered absolutely equal, to start with, and it is only necessary to examine where, in skilled production, the labour-time of other persons ... for example in the tool used, is added to the separate labour-time of the individual. Therefore the position is not, as in Herr Marx's hazy conception, that the labour-time of one person is in itself more valuable than that of another, because more average labour-time is condensed as it were within it, but all labour-time is in principle and without exception -- and therefore without any need to take first an average -- absolutely equal in value; and in regard to the work done by a person, as also in regard to every finished product, all that requires to be ascertained is how much of the labour-time of other persons may be concealed in what appears to be only his own labour-time. Whether it is a hand tool for production, or the hand, or even the head itself, which could not have acquired its special characteristics and capacity for work without the labour-time of others, is not of the slightest importance in the strict application of the theory. In his lucubrations on value, however, Herr Marx never rids himself of the ghost of a skilled labour-time which lurks in the background. He was unable to effect a thoroughgoing change here because he was hampered by the traditional mode of thought of the educated classes, to whom it necessarily appears monstrous to recognise the labour-time of a porter and that of an architect as of absolutely equal value from the standpoint of economics" {D. K. G. 499-500}.

The passage in Marx which calls forth this "mightier wrath" {501} on Herr Dühring's part is very brief. Marx is examining what it is that determines the value of commodities and gives the answer: the human labour embodied in them. This, he continues, "is the expenditure of simple labour-power which, on an average, apart from any special development, exists in the organism of every ordinary individual... Skilled labour counts only as simple labour intensified, or rather, as multiplied simple labour, a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a greater quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this reduction is constantly being made. A commodity may be the product of the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating it to the product of simple unskilled labour, represents a definite quantity of the latter labour alone. The different proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to unskilled labour as their standard, are established by a social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and, consequently, appear to be fixed by custom".

Marx is dealing here first of all only with the determination of the value of commodities, i.e., of objects which, within a society composed of private producers, are produced and exchanged against each other by these private producers for their private account. In this passage therefore there is no question whatever of "absolute value" -- wherever this may be in existence -- but of the value which is current in a definite form of society. This value, in this definite historical sense, is shown to be created and measured by the human labour embodied in the individual commodities, and this human labour is further shown to be the expenditure of simple labour-power. But not all labour is a mere expenditure of simple human labour-power; very many sorts of labour involve the use of capabilities or knowledge acquired with the expenditure of greater or lesser effort, time and money. Do these kinds of compound labour produce, in the same interval of time, the same commodity values as simple labour, the expenditure of mere simple labour-power? Obviously not. The product of one hour of compound labour is a commodity of a higher value -- perhaps double or treble -- in comparison with the product of one hour of simple labour. The values of the products of compound labour are expressed by this comparison in definite quantities of simple labour; but this reduction of compound labour is established by a social process which goes on behind the backs of the producers, by a process which at this point, in the development of the theory of value, can only be stated but not as yet explained.

It is this simple fact, taking place daily before our eyes in present-day capitalist society, which is here stated by Marx. This fact is so indisputable that even Herr Dühring does not venture to dispute it either in his Cursus or in his history of political economy ; and the Marxian presentation is so simple and lucid that no one but Herr Dühring "is left in complete obscurity" by it. Because of his complete obscurity he mistakes the commodity value, which alone Marx was for the time being concerned with investigating, for "the natural cost", which makes the obscurity still more complete, and even for the "absolute value", which so far as our knowledge goes has never before had currency in political economy. But whatever Herr Dühring may understand by the natural cost, and whichever of his five kinds of value may have the honour to represent absolute value, this much at least is sure: that Marx is not discussing any of these things, but only the value of commodities; and that in the whole section of Capital which deals with value there is not even the slightest indication of whether or to what extent Marx considers this theory of the value of commodities' applicable also to other forms of society.

"Therefore the position is not," Herr Dühring proceeds, "as in Herr Marx's hazy conception, that the labour-time of one person is in itself more valuable than that of another, because more average labour-time is condensed as it were within it, but all labour-time is in principle and without exception -- and therefore without any need to take first an average -- absolutely equal in value" {D. K. G. 500}.

It is fortunate for Herr Dühring that fate did not make him a manufacturer, and thus saved him from fixing the value of his commodities on the basis of this new rule and thereby running infallibly into the arms of bankruptcy. But say, are we here still in the society of manufacturers? No, far from it. With his natural cost and absolute value Herr Dühring has made us take a leap, a veritable salto mortale, out of the present evil world of exploiters into his own economic commune of the future, into the pure, heavenly air of equality and justice; and so we must now, even though prematurely, take a glance at this new world.

It is true that, according to Herr Dühring's theory, only the labour-time expended can measure the value of economic things even in the economic commune; but as a matter of course the labour-time of each individual must be considered absolutely equal to start with, all labour-time is in principle and without exception absolutely equal in value, without any need to take first an average. And now compare with this radical equalitarian socialism Marx's hazy conception that the labour-time of one person is in itself more valuable than that of another, because more average labour-time is condensed as it were within it -- a conception which held Marx captive by reason of the traditional mode of thought of the educated classes, to whom it necessarily appears monstrous that the labour-time of a porter and that of an architect should be recognised as of absolutely equal value from the standpoint of economics!

Unfortunately Marx put a short footnote to the passage in Capital cited above: "The reader must note that we are not speaking here of the wages or value that the labourer gets for a given labour-time, but of the value of the commodity in which that labour-time is materialised." Marx, who seems here to have had a presentiment of the coming of his Dühring, therefore safeguards himself against an application of his statements quoted above even to the wages which are paid in existing society for compound labour. And if Herr Dühring, not content with doing this all the same, presents these statements as the principles on which Marx would like to see the distribution of the necessaries of life regulated in society organised socialistically, he is guilty of a shameless imposture, the like of which is only to tee found in the gangster press.

But let us look a little more closely at the doctrine of equality in values. All labour-time is entirely equal in value, the porter's and the architect's. So labour-time, and therefore labour itself, has a value. But labour is the creator of all values. It alone gives the products found in nature value in the economic sense. Value itself is nothing else than the expression of the socially necessary human labour materialised in an object. Labour can therefore have no value. One might as well speak of the value of value, or try to determine the weight, not of a heavy body, but of heaviness itself, as speak of the value of labour, and try to determine it. Herr Dühring dismisses people like Owen, Saint-Simon and Fourier by calling them social alchemists {D. K. G. 237}. His subtilising over the value of labour-time, that is, of labour, shows that he ranks far beneath the real alchemists. And now let the reader fathom Herr Dühring's brazenness in imputing to Marx the assertion that the labour-time of one person is in itself more valuable than that of another {500}, that labour-time, and therefore labour, has a value -- to Marx, who first demonstrated that labour can have no value, and why it cannot!

For socialism, which wants to emancipate human labour-power from its status of a commodity, the realisation that labour has no value and can have none is of great importance. With this realisation all attempts -- inherited by Herr Dühring from primitive workers' socialism -- to regulate the future distribution of the necessaries of life as a kind of higher wages fall to the ground And from it comes the further realisation that distribution, in so far as it is governed by purely economic considerations, will be regulated by the interests of production, and that production is most encouraged by a mode of distribution which allows all members of society to develop, maintain and exercise their capacities with maximum universality. It is true that, to the mode of thought of the educated classes which Herr Dühring has inherited, it must seem monstrous that in time to come there will no longer be any professional porters or architects, and that the man who for half an hour gives instructions as an architect will also act as a porter for a period, until his activity as an architect is once again required. A fine sort of socialism that would be -- perpetuating professional porters!

If the equality of value of labour-time. means that each labourer produces equal values in equal periods of time, without there being any need to take an average, then this is obviously wrong. If we take two workers, even in the same branch of industry, the value they produce in one hour of labour-time will always vary with the intensity of their labour and their skill -- and not even an economic commune, at any rate not on our planet, can remedy this evil -- which, however, is only an evil for people like Dühring. What, then, remains of the complete equality of value of any and every labour? Nothing but the purely braggart phrase, which has no other economic foundation than Herr Dühring's incapacity to distinguish between the determination of value by labour and determination of value by wages -- nothing but the ukase, the basic law of the new economic commune: Equal wages for equal labour-time! Indeed, the old French communist workers and Weitling had much better reasons for the equality of wages which they advocated.

How then are we to solve the whole important question of the higher wages paid for compound labour? In a society of private producers, private individuals or their families pay the costs of training the qualified worker; hence the higher price paid for qualified labour-power accrues first of all to private individuals: the skilful slave is sold for a higher price, and the skilful wage-earner is paid higher wages. In a socialistically organised society, these costs are borne by society, and to it therefore belong the fruits, the greater values produced by compound labour. The worker himself has no claim to extra pay. And from this, incidentally, follows the moral that at times there is a drawback to the popular demand of the workers for "the full proceeds of labour". [87]



"To begin with, Herr Marx does not hold the accepted economic view of capital, namely, that it is a means of production already produced; on the contrary, he tries to get up a mare special, dialectical-historical idea that toys with metamorphoses of concepts and history. According to him, capital is born of money, it forms a historical phase opening with the sixteenth century, that is, with the first beginnings of a world market, which presumably appeared at that period. It is obvious that the keenness of national-economic analysis is lost in such a conceptual interpretation. In such barren conceptions, which are represented as half historical and half logical, but which in fact are only bastards of historical and logical fantasy, the faculty of discernment perishes, together with all honesty in the use of concepts" {D. K. G. 497-98} --

and so he blusters along for a whole page...

"Marx's definition of the concept of capital can only cause confusion in the strict theory of national economy ... frivolities which are palmed off as profound logical truths ... the fragility of foundations" {D. K. G. 498} and so forth.

So according to Marx, we are told, capital was born of money at the beginning of the sixteenth century. This is like saying that fully three thousand years ago metallic money was born of cattle, because once upon a time cattle, among other things, functioned as money. Only Herr Dühring is capable of such a crude and inept manner of expressing himself. In the analysis which Marx makes of the economic forms within which the process of the circulation of commodities takes place, money appears as the final form. "This final product of the circulation of commodities is the first form in which capital appears. As a matter of history, capital, as opposed to landed property, invariably takes the form at first of money; it appears as moneyed wealth, as the capital of the merchant and of the usurer... We can see it daily under our very eyes. All new capital, to commence with, comes on the stage, that is, on the market, whether of commodities, labour, or money, even in our days, in the shape of money that by a definite process has to be transformed into capital." Here once again Marx is stating a fact. Unable to dispute it, Herr Dühring distorts it: Capital, he has Marx say, is born of money!

Marx then investigates the processes by which money is transformed into capital, and finds, first, that the form in which money circulates as capital is the inversion of the form in which it circulates as the general equivalent of commodities. The simple owner of commodities sells in order to buy; he sells what he does not need, and with the money thus procured he buys what he does need. The incipient capitalist starts by buying what he does not need himself; he buys in order to sell, and to sell at a higher price, in order to get back the value of the money originally thrown into the transaction, augmented by an increment in money; and Marx calls this increment surplus-value.

Whence comes this surplus-value? It cannot come either from the buyer buying the commodities under their value, or from the seller selling them above their value. For in both cases the gains and the losses of each individual cancel each other, as each individual is in turn buyer and seller. Nor can it come from cheating, for though cheating can enrich one person at the expense of another, it cannot increase the total sum possessed by both, and therefore cannot augment the sum of the values in circulation. "The capitalist class, as a whole, in any country, cannot over-reach themselves."

And yet we find that in each country the capitalist class as a whole is continuously enriching itself before our eyes, by selling dearer than it had bought, by appropriating to itself surplus-value. We are therefore just where we were at the start: whence comes this surplus-value? This problem must be solved, and it must be solved in a purely economic way, excluding all cheating and the intervention of any force -- the problem being: how is it possible constantly to sell dearer than one has bought, even on the hypothesis that equal values are always exchanged for equal values?

The solution of this problem was the most epoch-making achievement of Marx's work. It spread the clear light of day through economic domains in which socialists no less than bourgeois economists previously groped in utter darkness. Scientific socialism dates from the discovery of this solution and has been built up around it.

This solution is as follows: The increase in the value of money that is to be converted into capital cannot take place in the money itself, nor can it originate in the purchase, as here this money does no more than realise the price of the commodity, and this price, inasmuch as we took as our premise an exchange of equivalents, is not different from its value. For the same reason, the increase in value cannot originate in the sale of the commodity. The change must, therefore, take place in the commodity bought; not however in its value, as it is bought and sold at its value, but in its use-value as such, that is, the change of value must originate in the consumption of the commodity. "In order to be able to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to find ... in the market, a commodity, whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an embodiment of labour, and, consequently, a creation of value. The possessor of money does find on the market such a special commodity in capacity for labour or labour-power." Though, as we saw, labour as such can have no value, this is by no means the case with labour-power. This acquires a value from the moment that it becomes a commodity, as it is in fact at the present time, and this value is determined, "as in the case of every other commodity, by the labour-time necessary for the production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this special article"; that is to say, by the labour-time necessary for the production of the means of subsistence which the labourer requires for his maintenance in a fit state to work and for the perpetuation of his race. Let us assume that these means of subsistence represent six hours of labour-time daily. Our incipient capitalist, who buys labour-power for carrying on his business, i.e., hires a labourer, consequently pays this labourer the full value of his day's labour-power if he pays him a sum of money which also represents six hours of labour. And as soon as the labourer has worked six hours in the employment of the incipient capitalist, he has fully reimbursed the latter for his outlay, for the value of the day's labour-power which he had paid. But so far the money would not have been converted into capital, it would not have produced any surplus-value. And for this reason the buyer of labour-power has quite a different notion of the nature of the transaction he has carried out. The fact that only six hours' labour is necessary to keep the labourer alive for twenty-four hours, does not in any way prevent him from working twelve hours out of the twenty-four. The value of the labour-power, and the value which that labour-power creates in the labour-process, are two different magnitudes. The owner of the money has paid the value of a day's labour-power; his, therefore, is the use of it for a day -- a whole day's labour. The circumstance that the value which the use of it during one day creates is double its own value for a day is a piece of especially good luck for the buyer, but according to the laws of exchange of commodities by no means an injustice to the seller. On our assumption, therefore, the labourer each day costs the owner of money the value of the product of six hours' labour, but he hands over to him each day the value of the product of twelve hours' labour. The difference in favour of the owner of the money is six hours of unpaid surplus-labour, a surplus-product for which he does not pay and in which six hours' labour is embodied. The trick has been performed. Surplus-value has been produced; money has been converted into capital.

In thus showing how surplus-value arises, and how alone surplus-value can arise under the domination of the laws regulating the exchange of commodities, Marx exposed the mechanism of the existing capitalist mode of production and of the mode of appropriation based on it; he revealed the core around which the whole existing social order has crystallised.

However, this creation of capital requires that one essential prerequisite be fulfilled: "For the conversion of his money into capital the owner of money must meet in the market with the free labourer, free in the double sense, that as a free man he can dispose of his labour-power as his own commodity, and that on the other hand he has no other commodity for sale, is short of everything necessary for the realisation of his labour-power." But this relation between the owners of money or of commodities on the one hand, and those who possess nothing beyond their own labour-power on the other, is not a natural relation, nor is it one that is common to all historical periods: "It is clearly the result of a past historical development, the product ... of the extinction of a whole series of older forms of social production." And in fact we first encounter this free labourer on a mass scale in history at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, as a result of the dissolution of the feudal mode of production. With this, however, and with the bringing into being of world trade and the world market dating from the same epoch, the basis was established on which the mass of the existing movable wealth was necessarily more and more converted into capital, and the capitalist mode of production, aimed at the creation of surplus-value, necessarily became more and more exclusively the prevailing mode.

Up to this point, we have been following the "barren conceptions" of Marx, these "bastards of historical and logical fantasy" in which "the faculty of discernment perishes, together with all honesty in the use of concepts". Let us contrast these "frivolities" with the "profound logical truths" and the "definitive and most strictly scientific treatment in the sense of the exact disciplines" {D. K. G. 498}, such as Herr Dühring offers us.

So Marx "does not hold the accepted economic view of capital, namely, that it is a means of production already produced" {497}; he says, on the contrary, that a sum of values is converted into capital only when it increases its value, when it forms surplus-value. And what does Herr Dühring say?

"Capital is a basis of means of economic power for the continuation of production and for the formation of shares in the fruits of the general labour-power" {D C. 40},

However oracularly and slovenly that too is expressed, this much at least is certain: the basis of means of economic power may continue production to eternity, but according to Herr Dühring's own words it will not become capital so long as it does not form "shares in the fruits of the general labour-power" -- that is to say, form surplus-value or at least surplus-product. Herr Dühring therefore not only himself commits the sin with which he charges Marx -- of not holding the accepted economic view of capital -- but besides commits a clumsy plagiarism of Marx, "badly concealed" {D. K. G. 506} by high-sounding phrases.

On page 262 {D. C.} this is further developed:

"Capital in the social sense" (and Herr Dühring still has to discover a capital in a sense which is not social) "is in fact specifically different from the mere means of production; for while the latter have only a technical character and are necessary under all conditions, the former is distinguished by its social power of appropriation and the formation of shares. It is true that social capital is to a great extent nothing but the technical means of production in their social function; but it is precisely this function which ... must disappear".

When we reflect that it was precisely Marx who first drew attention to the "social function" by virtue of which alone a sum of values becomes capital, it will certainly "at once be clear to every attentive investigator of the subject that Marx's definition of the concept of capital can only cause confusion" {D. K. G. 498} -- not, however, as Herr Dühring thinks, in the strict theory of national economy but as is evident simply and solely in the head of Herr Dühring himself, who in the Kritische Geschichte has already forgotten how much use he made of the said concept of capital in his Cursus. However, Herr Dühring is not content with borrowing from Marx the latter's definition of capital, though in a "purified" form. He is obliged to follow Marx also in the "toying with metamorphoses of concepts and history" {497}, in spite of his own better knowledge that nothing could come of it but "barren conceptions", "frivolities", "fragility of the foundations" {498} and so forth. Whence comes this "social function" {D. C. 262} of capital, which enables it to appropriate the fruits of others' labour and which alone distinguishes it from mere means of production?

Herr Dühring says that it does not depend "on the nature of the means of production and their technical indispensability" {262}.

It therefore arose historically, and on page 262 Herr Dühring only tells us again what we have heard ten times before, when he explains its origin by means of the old familiar adventures of the two men, one of whom at the dawn of history converted his means of production into capital by the use of force against the other. But not content with ascribing a historical beginning to the social function through which alone a sum of values becomes capital Herr Dühring prophesies that it will also have a historical end. It is "precisely this which must disappear" {262}. In ordinary parlance it is customary to call a phenomenon which arose historically and disappears again historically, "a historical phase". Capital, therefore, is a historical phase not only according to Marx but also according to Herr Dühring, and we are consequently forced to the conclusion that we are among Jesuits here. When two persons do the same thing, then it is not the same. [A paraphrase of a dictum from the comedy Adelphoe by the Roman playwright Terentius (Act V, Scene 3). -- Ed.] When Marx says that capital is a historical phase, that is a barren conception, a bastard of historical and logical fantasy, in which the faculty of discernment perishes, together with all honesty in the use of concepts When Herr Dühring likewise presents capital as a historical phase that is proof of the keenness of his economic analysis and of his definitive and most strictly scientific treatment in the sense of the exact disciplines.

What is it then that distinguishes the Dühringian conception of capital from the Marxian?

"Capital," says Marx, "has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the labourer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production." Surplus-labour, labour beyond the time required for the labourer's own maintenance, and appropriation by others of the product of this surplus-labour, the exploitation of labour, is therefore common to all forms of society that have existed hitherto, in so far as these have moved in class antagonisms. But it is only when the product of this surplus-labour assumes the form of surplus-value, when the owner of the means of production finds the free labourer -- free from social fetters and free from possessions of his own -- as an object of exploitation, and exploits him for the purpose of the production of commodities -- it is only then, according to Marx, that the means of production assume the specific character of capital. And this first took place on a large scale at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century.

Herr Dühring on the contrary declares that every sum of means of production which "forms shares in the fruits of the general labour-power" {D. C. 40}, that is, yields surplus-labour in any form, is capital. In other words, Herr Dühring annexes the surplus-labour discovered by Marx, in order to use it to kill the surplus-value, likewise discovered by Marx, which for the moment 3 does not suit his purpose. According to Herr Dühring, therefore, not only the movable and immovable wealth of the Corinthian and Athenian citizens, built on a slave economy, but also the wealth of the large Roman landowners of the time of the empire, and equally the wealth of the feudal barons of the Middle Ages, in so far as it in any way served production -- all this without distinction is capital.

So that Herr Dühring himself does not hold "the accepted view of capital, namely, that it is a means of production already produced" {D. K. G. 497}, but rather one that is the very opposite of it, a view which includes in capital even means of production which have not been produced, the earth and its natural resources. The idea, however, that capital is simply "produced means of production" is once again the accepted view only in vulgar political economy. Outside of this vulgar economics, which Herr Dühring holds so dear, the "produced means of production" or any sum of values whatever, becomes capital only by yielding profit or interest, i.e., by appropriating the surplus-product of unpaid labour in the form of surplus-value, and, moreover, by appropriating it in these two definite subforms of surplus-value. It is of absolutely no importance that the whole of bourgeois economy is still labouring under the idea that the property of yielding profit or interest is inherent in every sum of values which is utilised under normal conditions in production or exchange. In classical political economy, capital and profit, or capital and interest, are just as inseparable, stand in the same reciprocal relations to each other, as cause and effect, father and son, yesterday and today. The word "capital" in its modern economic meaning is first met with, however, at the time when the thing itself makes its appearance, when movable wealth acquires, to a greater and greater extent, the function of capital, by exploiting the surplus-labour of free labourers for the production of commodities; and in fact it was introduced by the first nation of capitalists in history, the Italians of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And if Marx was the first to make a fundamental analysis of the mode of appropriation characteristic of modern capital; if he brought the concept of capital into harmony with the historical facts from which, in the last analysis, it had been abstracted, and to which it owed its existence; if by so doing Marx cleared this economic concept of those obscure and vacillating ideas which still clung to it even in classical bourgeois political economy and among the former socialists -- then it was Marx who applied that "definitive and most strictly scientific treatment" {498} about which Herr Dühring is so constantly talking and which we so painfully miss in his works.

In actual fact, Herr Dühring's treatment is quite different from this. He is not content with first inveighing against the presentation of capital as a historical phase by calling it a "bastard of historical and logical fantasy" {498} and then himself presenting it as a historical phase. He also roundly declares that all means of economic power, all means of production which appropriate "shares in the fruits of the general labour-power" {D. C. 40} -- and therefore also landed property in all class societies -- are capital; which however does not in the least prevent him, in the further course of his exposition, from separating landed property and land rent, quite in the traditional manner, from capital and profit, and designating as capital only those means of production which yield profit or interest, as he does at considerable length on page 156 and the following pages of his Cursus. With equal justice Herr Dühring might first include under the name 'locomotive" also horses, oxen, asses and dogs, on the ground that these, too, can be used as means of transport, and reproach modern engineers with limiting the name locomotive to the modern steam-engine and thereby setting it up as a historical phase, using barren conceptions, bastards of historical and logical fantasy and so forth; and then finally declare that horses, asses, oxen and dogs are nevertheless excluded from the term locomotive, and that this term is applicable only to the steam-engine. -- And so once more we are compelled to say that it is precisely the Dühringian conception of capital in which all keenness of economic analysis is lost and the faculty of discernment perishes, together with all honesty in the use of concepts; and that the barren conceptions, the confusion, the frivolities palmed off as profound logical truths and the fragility of the foundations are to be found in full bloom precisely in Herr Dühring's work.

But all that is of no consequence. For Herr Dühring's is the glory nevertheless of having discovered the axis on which all economics, all politics and jurisprudence, in a word, all history, has hitherto revolved. Here it is:

"Force and labour are the two principal factors which come into play in forming social connections" {D. C. 255}.

In this one sentence we have the complete constitution of the economic world up to the present day. It is extremely short, and runs:

Article One: Labour produces.

Article Two: Force distributes.

And this, "speaking in plain human language" {D. K. G. 496}, sums up the whole of Herr Dühring's economic wisdom.



"In Herr Marx's view, wages represent only the payment of that labour-time during which the labourer is actually working to make his own existence possible. But only a small number of hours is required for this purpose; all the rest of the working-day, often so prolonged, yields a surplus in which is contained what our author calls 'surplus-value', or, expressed in everyday language, the earnings of capital. If we leave out of account the labour-time which at each stage of production is already contained in the instruments of labour and in the pertinent raw material, this surplus part of the working-day is the share which falls to the capitalist entrepreneur. The prolongation of the working-day is consequently earnings of pure exploitation for the benefit of the capitalist" {D. K. G. 500-01}.

According to Herr Dühring, therefore, Marx's surplus-value would be nothing more than what, expressed in everyday language, is known as the earnings of capital, or profit. Let us see what Marx says himself. On page 195 of Capital, surplus-value is explained in the following words placed in brackets after it: "Interest, Profit, Rent". On page 210, Marx gives an example in which a total surplus-value of £3.11.0. appears in the different forms in which it is distributed: tithes, rates and taxes, £1.10; rent £1.80; farmer's profit and interest, £1.20; together making a total surplus-value of £3.11.0. -- On page 542, Marx points out as one of Ricardo's main shortcomings that he "has not {...} investigated surplus-value as such, i.e., independently of its particular forms, such as profit, rent, etc.", and that he therefore lumps together the laws of the rate of surplus-value and the laws of the rate of profit; against this Marx announces: "I shall show in Book III that, with a given rate of surplus-value, we may have any number of rates of profit, and that various rates of surplus-value may, under given conditions, express themselves in a single rate of profit." On page 587 we find: "The capitalist who produces surplus-value -- i.e., who extracts unpaid labour directly from the labourers, and fixes it in commodities, is, indeed, the first appropriator, but by no means the ultimate owner, of this surplus-value. He has to share it with capitalists, with landowners, etc., who fulfil other functions in the complex of social production. Surplus-value, therefore, splits up into various parts. Its fragments fall to various categories of persons, and take various forms, independent the one of the other, such as profit, interest, merchants' profit, rent, etc. It is only in Book III that we can take in hand these modified forms of surplus-value." And there are many other similar passages.

It is impossible to express oneself more clearly. On each occasion Marx calls attention to the fact that his surplus-value must not be confounded with profit or the earnings of capital; that this latter is rather a subform and frequently even only a fragment of surplus-value. And if in spite of this Herr Dühring asserts that Marxian surplus-value, "expressed in everyday language, is the earnings of capital"; and if it is an actual fact that the whole of Marx's book turns on surplus-value -- then there are only two possibilities: Either Herr Dühring does not know any better, and then it is an unparalleled act of impudence to decry a book of whose main content he is ignorant; or he knows what it is all about, and in that case he has committed a deliberate act of falsification.

To proceed:

"The venomous hatred with which Herr Marx presents this conception of the business of extortion is only too understandable. But even mightier wrath and even fuller recognition of the exploitative character of the economic form which is based on wage-labour is possible without accepting the theoretical position expressed in Marx's doctrine of surplus-value" {D. K. G. 501}.

The well-meant but erroneous theoretical position taken up by Marx stirs in him a venomous hatred against the business of extortion; but in consequence of his false "theoretical position" the emotion, in itself ethical, receives an unethical expression, manifesting itself in ignoble hatred and low venomousness, while the definitive and most strictly scientific treatment {498} by Herr Dühring expresses itself in ethical emotion of a correspondingly noble nature, in wrath which even in form is ethically superior and in venomous hatred is also quantitatively superior, is a mightier wrath. While Herr Dühring is gleefully admiring himself in this way, let us see where this mightier wrath stems from.

We read on: "Now the question arises, how the competing entrepreneurs are able constantly to realise the full product of labour, including the surplus-product, at a price so far above the natural outlays of production as is indicated by the ratio, already mentioned, of the surplus labour-hours. No answer to this is to be found in Marx's theory, and for the simple reason that there could be no place in it for even raising that question. The luxury character of production based on hired labour is not seriously dealt with at all, and the social constitution with its exploitatory features is in no way recognised as the ultimate basis of white slavery. On the contrary, political and social matters are always to be explained by economics" {501}.

Now we have seen from the above passages that Marx does not at all assert that the industrial capitalist, who first appropriates the surplus-product, sells it regardless of circumstances on the average at its full value, as is here assumed by Herr Dühring. Marx says expressly that merchants' profit also forms a part of surplus-value, and on the assumptions made this is only possible when the manufacturer sells his product to the merchant below its value, and thus relinquishes to him a part of the booty. The way the question is put here, there clearly could be no place in Marx for even raising it. Stated in a rational way, the question is: How is surplus-value transformed into its subforms: profit, interest, merchants' profit, land rent, and so forth? And Marx, to be sure, promises to settle this question in the third book. But if Herr Dühring cannot wait until the second volume of Capital [88] appears he should in the meantime take a closer look at the first volume. In addition to the passages already quoted, he would then see, for example on p. 323, that according to Marx the immanent laws of capitalist production assert themselves in the external movements of individual masses of capital as coercive laws of competition, and in this form are brought home to the mind and consciousness of the individual capitalist as the directing motives of his operations that therefore a scientific analysis of competition is not possible before we have a conception of the inner nature of capital, just as the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies are not intelligible to any but him who is acquainted with their real motions, which are not directly perceptible by the senses e; and then Marx gives an example to show how in a definite case, a definite law, the law of value, manifests itself and exercises its motive power in competition. Herr Dühring might see from this alone that competition plays a leading part in the distribution of surplus-value, and with some reflection the indications given in the first volume are in fact enough to make clear, at least in its main features, the transformation of surplus-value into its subforms.

But competition is precisely what absolutely prevents Herr Dühring from understanding the process. He cannot comprehend how the competing entrepreneurs are able constantly to realise the full product of labour, including the surplus-product, at prices so far above the natural outlays of production. Here again we find his customary "strictness" {D. C. 95} of expression, which in fact is simply slovenliness. In Marx, the surplus-product as such has absolutely no outlays of production; it is the part of the product which costs nothing to the capitalist. If therefore the competing entrepreneurs desired to realise the surplus-product at its natural outlays of production, they would have simply to give it away. But do not let us waste time on such "micrological details" {D. K. G. 507}. Are not the competing entrepreneurs every day selling the product of labour above its natural outlays of production? According to Herr Dühring, the natural outlays of production consist

"in the expenditure of labour or energy, and this in turn, in the last analysis, can be measured by the expenditure of food" {D. C. 274};

that is, in present-day society, these costs consist in the outlays really expended on raw materials, means of labour, and wages, as distinguished from the "tax" {D. C. 135}, the profit, the surcharge levied sword in hand {23}. Mow everyone knows that in the society in which we live the competing entrepreneurs do not realise their commodities at the natural outlays of production, but that they add on to these -- and as a rule also receive -- the so-called surcharge, the profit. The question which Herr Dühring thinks he has only to raise to blow down the whole Marxian structure -- as Joshua once blew down the walls of Jericho [89] -- this question also exists for Herr Dühring's economic theory. Let us see how he answers it.

"Capital ownership," he says, "has no practical meaning, and cannot be realised, unless indirect force against human material is simultaneously incorporated in it. The product of this force is earnings of capital, and the magnitude of the latter will therefore depend on the range and intensity in which this power is exercised {179} ... Earnings of capital are a political and social institution which exerts a more powerful influence than competition. In relation to this the capitalists act as a social estate, and each one of them maintains his position. A certain measure of earnings of capital is a necessity under the prevailing mode of economy" {180}.

Unfortunately even now we do not know how the competing entrepreneurs are able constantly to realise the product of labour above the natural outlays of production. It cannot be that Herr Dühring thinks so little of his public as to fob it off with the phrase that earnings of capital are above competition, just as the King of Prussia was above the law. [90] We know the manoeuvres by which the King of Prussia attained his position above the law; the manoeuvres by which the earnings of capital succeed in being more powerful than competition are precisely what Herr Dühring should explain to us, but what he obstinately refuses to explain. And it is of no avail, if, as he tells us, the capitalists act in this connection as an estate, and each one of them maintains his position. We surely cannot be expected to take his word for it that a number of people only need to act as an estate for each one of them to maintain his position. Everyone knows that the guildsmen of the Middle Ages and the French nobles in 1789 acted very definitely as estates and perished nevertheless. The Prussian army at Jena [91] also acted as an estate, but instead of maintaining their position they had on the contrary to take to their heels and afterwards even to capitulate in sections. Just as little can we be satisfied with the assurance that a certain measure of earnings of capital is a necessity under the prevailing mode of economy; for the point to be proved is precisely why this is so. We do not get a step nearer to the goal when Herr Dühring informs us:

"The domination of capital arose in close connection with the domination of land. Part of the agricultural serfs were transformed in the towns into craftsmen and ultimately into factory material. After the rent of land, earnings of capital developed as a second form of rent of possession" {176}.

Even if we ignore the historical inexactitude of this assertion, it nevertheless remains a mere assertion, and is restricted to assuring us over and over again of precisely what should be explained and proved. We can therefore come to no other conclusion than that Herr Dühring is incapable of answering his own question: how the competing entrepreneurs are able constantly to realise the product of labour above the natural outlays of production; that is to say, he is incapable of explaining the genesis of profit. He can only bluntly decree: earnings of capital shall be the product of force -- which, true enough, is completely in accordance with Article 2 of the Dühringian constitution of society: Force distributes. This is certainly expressed very nicely; but now "the question arises" {D. K. G. 501}: Force distributes -- what? Surely there must be something to distribute, or even the most omnipotent force, with the best will in the world, can distribute nothing. The earnings pocketed by the competing capitalists are something very tangible and solid. Force can seize them, but cannot produce them. And if Herr Dühring obstinately refuses to explain to us how force seizes the earnings of capitalists, the question of whence force takes them he meets only with silence, the silence of the grave. Where there is nothing, the king, like any other force, loses his rights. Out of nothing comes nothing, and certainly not profit. If capital ownership has no practical meaning, and cannot be realised, unless indirect force against human material is simultaneously embodied in it, then once again the question arises, first, how capital-wealth got this force -- a question which is not settled in the least by the couple of historical assertions cited above; secondly, how this force is transformed into an accession of capital value, into profit; and thirdly, where it obtains this profit.

From whatever side we approach Dühringian economics, we do not get one step further. For every obnoxious phenomenon -- profit, land rent, starvation wages, the enslavement of the workers -- he has only one word of explanation: force, and ever again force, and Herr Dühring's "mightier wrath" {501} finally resolves itself into wrath at force. We have seen, first, that this invocation of force is a lame subterfuge, a relegation of the problem from the sphere of economics to that of politics, which is unable to explain a single economic fact; and secondly, that it leaves unexplained the origin of force itself -- and very prudently so, for otherwise it would have to come to the conclusion that all social power and all political force have their source in economic preconditions, in the mode of production and exchange historically given for each society at each period.

But let us see whether we cannot wrest from the inexorable builder of "deeper foundations" {see D. C. 11} of political economy some further disclosures about profit. Perhaps we shall meet with success if we apply ourselves to his treatment of wages. On page 158 we find:

"Wages are the hire paid for the maintenance of labour-power, and are at first taken into consideration only as a basis for the rent of land and earnings of capital. In order to get absolute clarity as to the relationships obtaining in this field, one must conceive the rent of land, and subsequently also earnings of capital, first historically, without wages, that is to say, on the basis of slavery or serfdom... Whether it is a slave or a serf, or a wage-labourer who has to be maintained, only gives rise to a difference in the mode of charging the costs of production. In every case the net proceeds obtained by the utilisation of labour-power constitute the income of the master... It can therefore be seen that... the chief antithesis, by virtue of which there exists on the one hand some form of rent of possession and on the other hand propertyless hired labour, is not to be found exclusively in one of its members, but always only in both at the same time."

Rent of possession, however, as we learn on page 188, is a phrase which covers both land rent and earnings of capital. Further, we find on page 174:

"The characteristic feature of earnings of capital is that they are an appropriation of the most important part of the proceeds of labour-power. They cannot be conceived except in correlation with some form of directly or indirectly subjected labour."

And on page 183:

Wages "are in all circumstances nothing more than the hire by means of which, generally speaking, the labourer's maintenance and possibility of procreation must be assured".

And finally, on page 195:

"The portion that falls to rent of possession must be lost to wages, and vice versa, the portion of the general productive capacity" (!) "that reaches labour must necessarily be taken from the revenues of possession."

Herr Dühring leads us from one surprise to another. In his theory of value and the following chapters up to and including the theory of competition, that is, from page 1 to page 155, the prices of commodities or values were divided, first, into natural outlays of production or the production value, i.e., the outlays on raw materials, instruments of labour and wages; and secondly, into the surcharge or distribution value {27}, that tribute levied sword in hand {23} for the benefit of the monopolist class -- a surcharge which, as we have seen, could not in reality make any change in the distribution of wealth, for what it took with one hand it would have to give back with the other, and which, besides, in so far as Herr Dühring enlightens us as to its origin and nature, arose out of nothing and therefore consists of nothing. In the two succeeding chapters, which deal with the kinds of revenue, that is, from page 156 to 217, there is no further mention of the surcharge. Instead of this, the value of every product of labour, that is, of every commodity, is now divided into the two following portions: first, the production costs, in which the wages paid are included; and secondly, the "net proceeds obtained by the utilisation of labour-power", which constitute the master's income. And these net proceeds have a very well-known physiognomy, which no tattooing and no house-painter's art can conceal. "In order to get absolute clarity as to the relationships obtaining in this field" {158}, let the reader imagine the passages just cited from Herr Dühring printed opposite the passages previously cited from Marx, dealing with surplus-labour, surplus-product and surplus-value, and he will find that Herr Dühring is here, though in his own style, directly copying from Capital.

Surplus-labour, in any form, whether of slavery, serfdom or wage-labour, is recognised by Herr Dühring as the source of the revenues of all ruling classes up to now; this is taken from the much-quoted passage in Capital, p. 227: Capital has not invented surplus-labour, and so on. -- And the "net proceeds" which constitute "the income of the master" -- what is that but the surplus of the labour product over and above the wages, which, even in Herr Dühring, in spite of his quite superfluous disguise of it in the term "hire", must assure, generally speaking, the labourer's maintenance and possibility of procreation? How can the "appropriation of the most important part of the proceeds of labour-power" {174} be carried out except by the capitalist, as Marx shows, extorting from the labourer more labour than is necessary for the reproduction of the means of subsistence consumed by the latter; that is to say, by the capitalist making the labourer work a longer time than is necessary for the replacement of the value of the wages paid to the labourer? Thus the prolongation of the working-day beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of the labourer's means of subsistence -- Marx's surplus-labour -- this, and nothing but this, is what is concealed behind Herr Dühring's "utilisation of labour-power"; and his "net proceeds" {158} falling to the master -- how can they manifest themselves otherwise than in the Marxian surplus-product and surplus-value? And what, apart from its inexact formulation, is there to distinguish the Dühringian rent of possession from the Marxian surplus-value? For the rest, Herr Dühring has taken the name "rent of possession" ["Besitzrente"] from Rodbertus, who included both the rent of land and the rent of capital, or earnings of capital, under the one term rent, so that Herr Dühring had only to add "possession" to it. *6 And so that no doubt may be left of his plagiarism, Herr Dühring sums up, in his own way, the laws of the changes of magnitude in the price of labour-power and in surplus-value which are developed by Marx in Chapter XV (page 539, et seqq., of Capital), and does it in such a manner that what falls to the rent of possession must be lost to wages, and vice versa, thereby reducing certain Marxian laws, so rich in content, to a tautology without content -- for it is self-evident that of a given magnitude falling into two parts, one part cannot increase unless the other decreases. And so Herr Dühring has succeeded in appropriating the ideas of Marx in such a way that the "definitive and most strictly scientific treatment in the sense of the exact disciplines" {D. K. G. 498} -- which is certainly present in Marx's exposition -- is completely lost.

We therefore cannot avoid the conclusion that the strange commotion which Herr Dühring makes in the Kritische Geschichte over Capital, and the dust he raises with the famous question that comes up in connection with surplus-value (a question which he had better have left unasked, inasmuch as he cannot answer it himself) -- that all this is only a military ruse, a sly manoeuvre to cover up the gross plagiarism of Marx committed in the Cursus Herr Dühring had in fact every reason for warning his readers not to occupy themselves with "the intricate maze which Herr Marx calls Capital" {D. K. G. 497}, with the bastards of historical and logical fantasy, the confused and hazy Hegelian notions and jugglery {498}, etc. The Venus against whom this faithful Eckart warns the German youth had been taken by him stealthily from the Marxian preserves and brought to a safe place for his own use. We must congratulate him on these net proceeds derived from the utilisation of Marx's labour-power, and on the peculiar light thrown by his annexation of Marxian surplus-value under the name of rent of possession on the motives for his obstinate (repeated in two editions) and false assertion that by the term surplus-value Marx meant only profit or earnings of capital.

And so we have to portray Herr Dühring's achievements in Herr Dühring's own words as follows:

"In Herr" Dühring's "view wages represent only the payment of that labour-time during which the labourer is actually working to make his own existence possible. But only a small number of hours is required for this purpose; all the rest of the working-day, often so prolonged, yields a surplus in which is contained what our author calls" {500} -- rent of possession. "If we leave out of account the labour-time which at each stage of production is already contained in the instruments of labour and in the pertinent raw material, this surplus part of the working-day is the share which falls to the capitalist entrepreneur. The prolongation of the working-day is consequently earnings of pure extortion for the benefit of the capitalist. The venomous hatred with which Herr" Dühring "presents this conception of the business of exploitation is only too understandable" {501}...

But what is less understandable is how he will now arrive once more at his "mightier wrath" {501}.



TUp to this point we have been unable, despite our sincerest efforts, to discover how Herr Dühring, in the domain of economics, can

"come forward with the claim to a new system which is not merely adequate for the epoch but authoritative for the epoch" {D. K. G. 1}.

However, what we have not been able to discern in his theory of force and his doctrine of value and of capital, may perhaps become as clear as daylight to us when we consider the "natural, laws of national economy" {D. C. 4} put forward by Herr Dühring. For, as he puts it with his usual originality and in his trenchant way,

"the triumph of the higher scientific method consists in passing beyond the mere description and classification of apparently static matter and attaining living intuitions which illumine the genesis of things. Knowledge of laws is therefore the most perfect knowledge, for it shows us how one process is conditioned by another" {59}.

The very first natural law of any economy has been specially discovered by Herr Dühring.

Adam Smith, "curiously enough, not only did not bring out the leading part played by the most important factor in all economic development, but even completely failed to give it distinctive formulation, and thus unintentionally reduced to a subordinate role the power which placed its stamp on the development of modern Europe" {64}. This "fundamental law, to which the leading role must be assigned, is that of the technical equipment, one might even say armament, of the natural economic energy of man" {63}.

This "fundamental law" {66} discovered by Herr Dühring reads as follows:

Law No. 1. "The productivity of the economic instruments, natural resources and human energy is increased by inventions and discoveries" {65}.

We are overcome with astonishment. Herr Dühring treats us as Molière's newly baked nobleman is treated by the wag who announces to him the news that all through his life he has been speaking prose without knowing it. That in a good many cases the productive power of labour is increased by inventions and discoveries (but also that in very many cases it is not increased, as is proved by the mass of waste-paper in the archives of every patent office in the world) we knew long ago; but we owe to Herr Dühring the enlightening information that this banality, which is as old as the hills, is the fundamental law of all economics. If "the triumph of the higher scientific method" in economics, as in philosophy, consists only in giving a high-sounding name to the first commonplace that comes to one's mind, and trumpeting it forth as a natural law or even a fundamental law, then it becomes possible for anybody, even the editors of the Berlin Volks-Zeitung, to lay "deeper foundations" {11} and to revolutionise science. We should then "in all rigour" {9, 95} be forced to apply to Herr Dühring himself Herr Dühring's judgment on Plato:

"If however that is supposed to be political-economic wisdom, then the author of" the critical foundations "shares it with every person who ever had occasion to conceive an idea" or even only to babble "about anything that was obvious on the face of it" {D. K. G. 20}.

If, for example, we say animals eat, we are saying quite calmly, in our innocence, something of great import; for we only have to say that eating is the fundamental law of all animal life, and we have revolutionised the whole of zoology.

Law No. 2. Division of Labour: "The cleaving of trades and the dissection of activities raises the productivity of labour" {D. C. 73}.

In so far as this is true, it also has been a commonplace since Adam Smith. How far it is true will be shown in Part III.

Law No. 3. "Distance and transport are the chief causes which hinder or facilitate the co-operation of the productive forces" {91}.

Law No. 4. "The industrial state has an incomparably greater population capacity than the agricultural state" {107}.

Law No. 5. "In the economy nothing takes place without a material interest" {126}.

These are the "natural laws" {4, 5} on which Herr Dühring founds his new economics. He remains faithful to his method, already demonstrated in the section on Philosophy. In economics too a few self-evident statements of the utmost banality -- moreover quite often very ineptly expressed -- form the axioms which need no proof, the fundamental theorems, the natural laws. Under the pretext of developing the content of these laws, which have no content, he seizes the opportunity to pour out a wordy stream of economic twaddle on the various themes whose names occur in these pretended laws -- inventions, division of labour, means of transport, population, interests, competition, and so forth -- a verbal outpouring whose flat commonplaces are seasoned only with oracular grandiloquence, and here and there with inept formulations or pretentious hair-splitting over all kinds of casuistical subtleties. Then finally we reach rent of land, earnings of capital, and wages, and as we have dealt with only the two latter forms of appropriation in the preceding exposition, we propose now in conclusion to make a brief examination of the Dühringian conception of rent.

In doing this we shall not consider those points which Herr Dühring has merely copied from his predecessor Carey; we are not concerned with Carey, nor with defending Ricardo's views on rent of land against Carey's distortions and stupidities. We are only concerned with Herr Dühring, and he defines rent as

"that income which the proprietor as such draws from the land" {D. C. 156}.

The economic concept of rent of land, which is what Herr Dühring is to explain, is straightaway transferred by him into the juridical sphere, so that we are no wiser than we were before. Our constructor of deeper foundations must therefore, whether he likes it or not, condescend to give some further explanation. He compares the lease of a farm to a tenant with the loan of capital to an entrepreneur, but soon finds that there is a hitch in the comparison, like in many others.

For, he says, "if one wanted to press the analogy further, the earnings left to the tenant after payment of rent must correspond to the balance of earnings of capital left with the entrepreneur who puts the capital to use after he has paid interest. But it is not customary to regard tenants' earnings as the main income and rent as a balance... A proof of this difference of conception is the fact that in the theory of land rent the case of management of land by the owner is not separately treated, and no special emphasis is laid on the difference between the amount of rent in the case of a lease and where the owner produces the rent himself. At any rate no one has found it necessary to conceive the rent resulting from such self-management of land as divided in such a way that one portion represents as it were the interest on the landed property and the other portion the surplus earnings of enterprise. Apart from the tenant's own capital which he brings into the business, it would seem that his specific earnings are mostly regarded as a kind of wages. It is however hazardous to assert anything on this subject, as the question has never been raised in this definite form. Wherever we are dealing with fairly large farms it can easily be seen that it will not do to treat what are specifically the farmer's earnings as wages. For these earnings are themselves based on the antithesis existing in relation to the rural labour-power, through whose exploitation that form of income is alone made possible. It is clearly a part of the rent which remains in the hands of the tenant and by which the full rent, which the owner managing himself would obtain, is reduced" {157-58}.

The theory of land rent is a part of political economy which is specifically English, and necessarily so, because it was only in England that there existed a mode of production under which rent had in fact been separated from profit and interest. In England, as is well known, large landed estates and large-scale agriculture predominate. The landlords lease their land in large, often very large, farms, to tenant-farmers who possess sufficient capital to work them and, unlike our peasants, do not work themselves but employ the labour of hands and day-labourers on the lines of full-fledged capitalist entrepreneurs. Here, therefore, we have the three classes of bourgeois society and the form of income peculiar to each: the landlord, drawing rent of land; the capitalist, drawing profit; and the labourer, drawing wages. It has never occurred to any English economist to regard the farmer's earnings as a kind of wages, as seems to Herr Dühring to be the case; even less could it be hazardous for such an economist to assert that the farmer's profit is what it indisputably, obviously and tangibly is, namely, profit on capital. It is perfectly ridiculous to say that the question of what the farmer's earnings actually are has never been raised in this definite form. In England there has never been any necessity even to raise this question; both question and answer have long been available, derived from the facts themselves, and since Adam Smith there has never been any doubt about them.

The case of self-management, as Herr Dühring calls it -- or rather, the management of farms by bailiffs for the landowner's account, as happens most frequently in Germany -- does not alter the matter. If the landowner also provides the capital and has the farm run for his own account, he pockets the profit on capital in addition to the rent, as is self-understood and cannot be otherwise on the basis of the existing mode of production. And if Herr Dühring asserts that up to now no one has found it necessary to conceive the rent (he should say revenue) resulting from the owner's own management as divided into parts, this is simply untrue, and at best only proves his own ignorance once again. For example:

"The revenue derived from labour is called wages. That derived from stock, by the person who manages or employs it, is called profit... The revenue which proceeds altogether from land, is called rent, and belongs to the landlord... When those three different sorts of revenue belong to different persons they are readily distinguished; but when they belong to the same they are sometimes confounded with one another, at least in common language. A gentleman who farms a part of his own estate, after paying the expense of cultivation, should gain both the rent of the landlord and the profit of the farmer. He is apt to denominate, however, his whole gain, profit, and thus confounds rent with profit, at least in common language. The greater part of our North American and West Indian planters are in this situation. They farm, the greater part of them, their own estates, and accordingly we seldom hear of the rent of a plantation, but frequently of its profit... A gardener who cultivates his own garden with his own hands, unites in his own person the three different characters, of landlord, farmer, and labourer. His produce, therefore, should pay him the rent of the first, the profit of the second, and the wages of the third. The whole, however, is commonly considered as the earnings of his labour. Both rent and profit are, in this case, confounded with wages."

This passage is from the sixth chapter of Book I of Adam Smith. The case of self-management was therefore investigated a hundred years ago, and the doubts and uncertainties which so worry Herr Dühring in this connection are merely due to his own ignorance.

He eventually escapes from his quandary by an audacious trick:

The farmer's earnings come from the exploitation of the "rural labour-power" and are therefore obviously a "part of the rent" by which the "full rent", which really should flow into the landowner's pocket, "is reduced".

From this we learn two things. Firstly, that the farmer "reduces" the rent of the landowner, so that, according to Herr Dühring, it is not, as was considered hitherto, the farmer who pays rent to the landowner, but the landowner who pays rent to the farmer -- certainly a "from the ground up original view" {D. Ph. 525}. And secondly, we learn at last what Herr Dühring thinks rent of land is: namely, the whole surplus-product obtained in farming by the exploitation of rural labour. But as this surplus-product in all economics hitherto -- save perhaps for the work of a few vulgar economists -- has been divided into land rent and profit on capital, we are compelled to note that Herr Dühring's view of rent also is "not the accepted one" {D. K. G. 497}.

According to Herr Dühring, therefore, the only difference between rent of land and earnings of capital is that the former is obtained in agriculture and the latter in industry or commerce. And it was of necessity that Herr Dühring arrived at such an uncritical and confused view of the matter. We saw that his starting-point was the "really historical conception", that domination over the land could be based only on domination over man. As soon, therefore, as land is cultivated by means of any form of subjugated labour, a surplus for the landlord arises, and this surplus is the rent, just as in industry the surplus-labour product beyond what the labourer earns is the profit on capital.

"Thus it is clear that land rent exists on a considerable scale wherever and whenever agriculture is carried on by means of any of the forms of subjugation of labour" {D. C. 162}.

In this presentation of rent as the whole surplus-product obtained in agriculture, Herr Dühring comes up against both English farmer's profit and the division, based on English farming and recognised by all classical political economy, of that surplus-product into rent of land and farmer's profit, and hence against the pure, precise conception of rent. What does Herr Dühring do? He pretends not to have the slightest inkling of the division of the surplus-product of agriculture into farmer's profit and rent, and therefore of the whole rent theory of classical political economy; he pretends that the question of what farmer's profit really is has never yet been raised "in this definite form" {157}, that at issue is a subject which has never yet been investigated and about which there is no knowledge but only illusion and uncertainty. And he flees from fatal England -- where, without the intervention of any theoretical school, the surplus-product of agriculture is so remorselessly divided into its elements: rent of land and profit on capital -- to the country so beloved by him, where the Prussian law exercises dominion, where self-management is in full patriarchal bloom, where "the landlord understands by rent the income from his plots of land" and the Junkers' views on rent still claim to be authoritative for science -- where therefore Herr Dühring can still hope to slip through with his confused ideas of rent and profit and even to find credence for his latest discovery: that rent of land is paid not by the farmer to the landlord but by the landlord to the farmer.



Finally, let us take a glance at the Kritische Geschichte der Nationalökonomie, at "that enterprise" of Herr Dühring's which, as he says, "is absolutely without precedent" {9}. It may be that here at last we shall find the definitive and most strictly scientific treatment which he has so often promised us.

Herr Dühring makes a great deal of noise over his discovery that

"economic science" is "an enormously modern phenomenon" (p. 12).

In fact, Marx says in Capital: "Political economy ... as an independent science, first sprang into being during the period of manufacture"; and in Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, page 29, that "classical political economy ... dates from William Petty in England and Boisguillebert in France, and closes with Ricardo in the former country and Sismondi in the latter". Herr Dühring follows the path thus laid down for him, except that in his view higher economics begins only with the wretched abortions brought into existence by bourgeois science after the close of its classical period. On the other hand, he is fully justified in triumphantly proclaiming at the end of his introduction:

"But if this enterprise, in its externally appreciable peculiarities and in the more novel portion of its content, is absolutely without precedent, in its inner critical approaches and its general standpoint, it is even more peculiarly mine" (p. 9).

It is a fact that, on the basis of both its external and its internal features, he might very well have announced his "enterprise" (the industrial term is not badly chosen) as: The Ego and His Own.

Since political economy, as it made its appearance in history, is in fact nothing but the scientific insight into the economy in the period of capitalist production, principles and theorems relating to it, for example, in the writers of ancient Greek society, can only be found in so far as certain phenomena -- commodity production, trade, money, interest-bearing capital, etc. -- are common to both societies. In so far as the Greeks make occasional excursions into this sphere, they show the same genius and originality as in all other spheres. Because of this, their views form, historically, the theoretical starting-points of the modern science. Let us now listen to what the world-historic Herr Dühring has to say.

"We have, strictly speaking, really" (!) "absolutely nothing positive to report of antiquity concerning scientific economic theory, and the completely unscientific Middle Ages give still less occasion for this" (for this -- for reporting nothing!). "As however the fashion of vaingloriously displaying a semblance of erudition ... has defaced the true character of modern science, notice must be taken of at least a few examples" {17}.

And Herr Dühring then produces examples of a criticism which is in truth free from even the "semblance of erudition".

Aristotle's thesis, that

"twofold is the use of every object... The one is peculiar to the object as such, the other is not, as a sandal which may be worn, and is also exchangeable. Both are uses of the sandal, for even he who exchanges the sandal for the money or food he is in want of, makes use of the sandal as a sandal. But not in its natural way. For it has not been made for the sake of being exchanged" --

this thesis, Herr Dühring maintains, is "not only expressed in a really platitudinous and scholastic way" {18}; but those who see in it a "differentiation between use-value and exchange-value" fall besides into the "ridiculous frame of mind" {19} of forgetting that "in the most recent period" and "in the framework of the most advanced system" -- which of course is Herr Dühring's own system -- nothing has been left of use-value and exchange-value.

"In Plato's work on the state, people ... claim to have found the modern doctrine of the national-economic division of labour" {20}.

This was apparently meant to refer to the passage in Capital, Ch. XII, 5 (p. 369 of the third edition), where the views of classical antiquity on the division of labour are on the contrary shown to have been "in most striking contrast" with the modern view. Herr Dühring has nothing but sneers for Plato's presentation -- one which, for his time, was full of genius -- of the division of labour as the natural basis of the city (which for the Greeks was identical with the state); and this on the ground that he did not mention -- though the Greek Xenophon did, Herr Dühring -- the "limit"

"set by the given dimensions of the market to the further differentiation of professions and the technical subdivision of special operations... Only the conception of this limit constitutes the knowledge with the aid of which this idea, otherwise hardly fit to be called scientific, becomes a major economic truth" {20}.

It was in fact "Professor" Roscher {14}, of whom Herr Dühring is so contemptuous, who set up this "limit" at which the idea of the division of labour is supposed first to become "scientific", and who therefore expressly pointed to Adam Smith as the discoverer of the law of the division of labour. In a society in which commodity production is the dominant form of production, "the market" -- to adopt Herr Dühring's style for once -- was always a "limit" very well known to "business people" {18}. But more than "the knowledge and instinct of routine" is needed to realise that it was not the market that created the capitalist division of labour, but that, on the contrary, it was the dissolution of former social connections, and the division of labour resulting from this, that created the market (see Capital, Vol. I, Ch. XXIV, 5: "Creation of the Home-Market for Industrial Capital").

"The role of money has at all times provided the first and main stimulus to economic" (!) "ideas. But what did an Aristotle know of this role? No more, clearly than was contained in the idea that exchange through the medium of money had followed the primitive exchange by barter" {21}.

But when "an" Aristotle presumes to discover the two different forms of the circulation of money -- the one in which it operates as a mere medium of circulation, and the other in which it operates as money capital,

he is thereby -- according to Herr Dühring -- "only expressing a moral antipathy"

And when "an" Aristotle carries his audacity so far as to attempt an analysis of money in its "role" of a measure of value, and actually states this problem, which has such decisive importance for the theory of money, correctly -- then "a" Dühring prefers (and for very good private reasons) to say nothing about such impermissible temerity.

Final result: Greek antiquity, as mirrored in the "notice taken" {21} by Dühring, in fact possessed "only quite ordinary ideas" (p. 25), if such "niaiserie" (p. 19) has anything whatever in common with ideas, whether ordinary or extraordinary.

It would be better to read Herr Dühring's chapter on mercantilism [93] in the "original", that is, in F. List's Nationales System, Chapter 29: "The Industrial System, Incorrectly Called the Mercantile System by the School". How carefully Herr Dühring manages to avoid here too any "semblance of erudition" {17} is shown by the following passage, among others:

List, Chapter 28: "The Italian Political Economists", says:

"Italy was in advance of all modern nations both in the practice and in the theory of political economy",

and then he cites, as

"the first work written in Italy, which deals especially with political economy, the book by Antonio Serra, of Naples, on the way to secure for the kingdoms an abundance of gold and silver (1613)".

Herr Dühring confidently accepts this and is therefore able to regard Serra's Breve trattato

"as a kind of inscription at the entrance of the more recent prehistory of economics" {34}.

His treatment of the Breve trattato is in fact limited to this "piece of literary buffoonery" {506}. Unfortunately, the actual facts of the case were different: in 1609, that is four years before the Breve trattato, Thomas Mun's A Discourse of Trade etc., had appeared. The particular significance of this book was that, even in its first edition, it was directed against the original monetary system which was then still defended in England as being the policy of the state; hence it represented the conscious self-separation of the mercantile system from the system which gave it birth. Even in the form in which it first appeared the book had several editions and exercised a direct influence on legislation. In the edition of 1664 (England's Treasure etc.), which had been completely rewritten by the author and was published after his death, it continued to be the mercantilist gospel for another hundred years. If mercantilism therefore has an epoch-making work "as a kind of inscription at the entrance", it is this book, and for this very reason it simply does not exist for Herr Dühring's "history which most carefully observes the distinctions of rank" {133}.

Of Petty, the founder of modern political economy, Herr Dühring tells us that there was

"a fair measure of superficiality in his way of thinking" {54} and that "he had no sense of the intrinsic and nicer distinctions between concepts" {55} ... while he possessed "a versatility which knows a great deal but skips lightly from one thing to another without taking root in any idea of a more profound character" {56}, .. his "national-economic ideas are still very crude", and "he achieves naivetés, whose contrasts ... a more serious thinker may well find amusing at times" {56}.

What inestimable condescension, therefore, for the "more serious thinker" Herr Dühring to deign to take any notice at all of "a Petty" {60}! And what notice does he take of him?

Petty's propositions on

"labour and even labour-time as a measure of value, of which imperfect traces can be found in his writings" {62}

are not mentioned again apart from this sentence. Imperfect traces! In his Treatise on Taxes and Contributions (first edition 1662), Petty gives a perfectly clear and correct analysis of the magnitude of value of commodities. In illustrating this magnitude at the outset by the equal value of precious metals and corn on which the same quantity of labour has been expended, he says the first and the last "theoretical" word on the value of the precious metals. But he also lays it down in a definite and general form that the values of commodities must be measured by equal labour. He applies his discovery to the solution of various problems, some of which are very intricate, and on various occasions and in various works, even where he does not repeat the fundamental proposition, he draws important conclusions from it. But even in his very first work he says:

"This" (estimation by equal labour) "I say to be the foundation of equalizing and balancing of values, yet in the superstructures and practices hereupon, I confess there is much variety, and intricacy."

Petty was thus conscious equally of the importance of his discovery and of the difficulty of applying it in detail. He therefore tried to find another way in certain concrete cases.

A natural par should therefore be found between land and labour, so that value might be expressed at will "by either of them alone as well or better than by"

Even this error has genius.

Herr Dühring makes this penetrating observation on Petty's theory of value:

"Had his own thought been more penetrating it would not be possible to find, in other passages, traces of a contrary view, to which we have previously referred" {63-64};

that is to say, to which no "previous" reference has been made except that the "traces" are "imperfect". This is very characteristic of Herr Dühring's method -- to allude to something "previously" in a meaningless phrase, in order "subsequently" to make the reader believe that he has "previously" been made acquainted with the main point, which in fact the author in question has slid over both previously and subsequently.

In Adam Smith, however, we can find not only "traces" of "contrary views" on the concept of value, not only two but even three, and strictly speaking even four sharply contrary opinions on value, running quite comfortably side by side and intermingled. But what is quite natural in a writer who is laying the foundations of political economy and is necessarily feeling his way, experimenting and struggling with a chaos of ideas which are only just taking shape, may seem strange in a writer who is surveying and summarising more than a hundred and fifty years of investigation whose results have already passed in part from books into the consciousness of the generality. And, to pass from great things to small: as we have seen, Herr Dühring himself gives us five different kinds of value to select from at will, and with them, an equal number of contrary views. Of course, "had his own thought been more penetrating", he would not have had to expend so much effort in trying to throw his readers back from Petty's perfectly clear conception of value into the uttermost confusion.

A smoothly finished work of Petty's which may be said to be cast in a single block, is his Quantulumcunque concerning Money, published in 1682, ten years after his Anatomy of Ireland (this "first" appeared in 1672, not 1691 as stated by Herr Dühring, who takes it second-hand from the "most current textbook compilations"). [94] In this book the last vestiges of mercantilist views, found in other writings by him, have completely disappeared. In content and form it is a little masterpiece, and for this very reason Herr Dühring does not even mention its title. It is quite in the order of things that in relation to the most brilliant and original of economic investigators, our vainglorious and pedantic mediocrity should only snarl his displeasure, and take offence at the fact that the flashes of theoretical thought do not proudly parade about in rank and file as ready-made "axioms" {D. Ph. 224}, but merely rise sporadically to the surface from the depths of "crude" {D. K. G. 57} practical material, for example, of taxes.

Petty's foundations of Political Arithmetic {58}, vulgo statistics, are treated by Herr Dühring in the same way as that author's specifically economic works. He malevolently shrugs his shoulders at the odd methods used by Petty! Considering the grotesque methods still employed in this field a century later even by Lavoisier, [95] and in view of the great distance that separates even contemporary statistics from the goal which Petty assigned to them in broad outline, such self-satisfied superiority two centuries post festum stands out in all its undisguised stupidity.

Petty's most important ideas -- which received such scant attention in Herr Dühring's "enterprise" {9} -- are, in the latter's view, nothing but disconnected conceits, chance thoughts, incidental comments, to which only in our day a significance is given, by the use of excerpts torn from their context, which in themselves they have not got; which therefore also play no part in the real history of political economy, but only in modern books below the standard of Herr Dühring's deep-rooted criticism and "historical depiction in the grand style" {556}. In his "enterprise", he seems to have had in view a circle of readers who would have implicit faith and would never be bold enough to ask for proof of his assertions. We shall return to this point soon (when dealing with Locke and North), but must first take a fleeting glance at Boisguillebert and Law.

In connection with the former, we must draw attention to the sole find made by Herr Dühring: he has discovered a connection between Boisguillebert and Law which had hitherto been missed. Boisguillebert asserts that the precious metals could be replaced, in the normal monetary functions which they fulfil in commodity circulation, by credit money (un morceau de papier). Law on the other hand imagines that any "increase" whatever in the number of these "pieces of paper" increases the wealth of a nation. Herr Dühring draws from this the conclusion that Boisguillebert's

"turn of thought already harboured a new turn in mercantilism" {83}

in other words, already included Law. This is made as clear as daylight in the following:

"All that was necessary was to assign to the 'simple pieces of paper' the same role that the precious metals should have played, and a metamorphosis of mercantilism was thereby at once accomplished" {83}.

In the same way it is possible to accomplish at once the metamorphosis of an uncle into an aunt. It is true that Herr Dühring adds appealingly:

"Of course Boisguillebert had no such purpose in mind" {83}.

But how, in the devil's name, could he intend to replace his own rationalist conception of the monetary function of the precious metals by the superstitious conception of the mercantilists for the sole reason that, according to him, the precious metals can be replaced in this role by paper money?

Nevertheless, Herr Dühring continues in his serio-comic style,

"nevertheless it may be conceded that here and there our author succeeded in making a really apt remark" (p. 83).

In reference to Law, Herr Dühring succeeded in making only this "really apt remark":

"Law too was naturally never able completely to eradicate the above-named basis" (namely, "the basis of the precious metals"), "but he pushed the issue of notes to its extreme limit, that is to say, to the collapse of the system" (p. 94).

In reality, however, these paper butterflies, mere money tokens, were intended to flutter about among the public, not in order to "eradicate" the basis of the precious metals, but to entice them from the pockets of the public into the depleted treasuries of the state. [96]

To return to Petty and the inconspicuous role in the history of economics assigned to him by Herr Dühring, let us first listen to what we are told about Petty's immediate successors, Locke and North. Locke's Considerations on Lowering of Interest and Raising of Money, and North's Discourses upon Trade, appeared in the same year, 1691.

"What he" (Locke) "wrote on interest and coin does not go beyond the range of the reflections, current under the dominion of mercantilism, in connection with the events of political life" (p. 64).

To the reader of this "report" it should now be clear as crystal why Locke's Lowering of Interest had such an important influence, in more than one direction, on political economy in France and Italy during the latter half of the eighteenth century.

"Many businessmen thought the same" (as Locke) "on free play for the rate of interest, and the developing situation also produced the tendency to regard restrictions on interest as ineffective. At a period when a Dudley North could write his Discourses upon Trade in the direction of free trade, a great deal must already have been in the air, as they say, which made the theoretical opposition to restrictions on interest rates seem something not at all extraordinary" (p. 64).

So Locke had only to cogitate the ideas of this or that contemporary "businessman", or to breathe in a great deal of what was "in the air, as they say" to be able to theorise on free play for the rate of interest without saying anything "extraordinary"! In fact, however, as early as 1662, in his Treatise on Taxes and Contributions, Petty had counterposed interest, as rent of money which we call usury to rent of land and houses, and lectured the landlords, who wished to keep down by legislation not of course land rent, but the rent of money, on the vanity and fruitlessness of making civil positive law against the law of nature. in his Quantulum cunque (1682) he therefore declared that legislative regulation of the rate of interest was as stupid as regulation of exports of precious metals or regulation of exchange rates. In the same work he made statements of unquestionable authority on the raising of money (for example, the attempt to give sixpence the name of one shilling by doubling the number of shillings coined from one ounce of silver).

As regards this last point, Locke and North did little more than copy him. In regard to interest, however, Locke followed Petty's parallel between rent of money and rent of land, while North goes further and opposes interest as rent of stock to land rent, and the stocklords to the landlords. And while Locke accepts free play for the rate of interest, as demanded by Petty, only with reservations, North accepts it unconditionally.

Herr Dühring -- himself still a bitter mercantilist in the "more subtle" {55} sense -- surpasses himself when he dismisses Dudley North's Discourses upon Trade with the comment that they were written "in the direction of free trade" {64}. It is rather like saying of Harvey that he wrote "in the direction" of the circulation of the blood. North's work -- apart from its other merits -- is a classical exposition, driven home with relentless logic, of the doctrine of free trade, both foreign and internal -- certainly "something extraordinary" {64} in the year 1691!

Herr Dühring, by the way, informs us that

North was a "merchant" and a bad type at that, also that his work "met with no approval" {64}.

Indeed! How could anyone expect a book of this sort to have met with "approval" among the mob setting the tone at the time of the final triumph of protectionism in England? But this did not prevent it from having an immediate effect on theory, as can be seen from a whole series of economic works published in England shortly after it, some of them even before the end of the seventeenth century.

Locke and North gave us proof of how the first bold strokes which Petty dealt in almost every sphere of political economy were taken up one by one by his English successors and further developed. The traces of this process during the period 1691 to 1752 are obvious even to the most superficial observer from the very fact that all the more important economic writings of that time start from Petty, either positively or negatively. That period, which abounded in original thinkers, is therefore the most important for the investigation of the gradual genesis of political economy. The "historical depiction in the grand style" {556}, which chalks up against Marx the unpardonable sin of making so much commotion in Capital about Petty and the writers of that period, simply strikes them right out of history. From Locke, North, Boisguillebert and Law it jumps straight to the physiocrats, and then, at the entrance to the real temple of political economy, appears -- David Hume. With Herr Dühring's permission, however, we restore the chronological order, putting Hume before the physiocrats.

Hume's economic Essays appeared in 1752. In the related essays: of Money, of the Balance of Trade, of Commerce, Hume follows step by step, and often even in his personal idiosyncrasies, Jacob Vanderlint's Money Answers All Things, published in London in 1734. However unknown this Vanderlint may have been to Herr Dühring, references to him can be found in English economic works even at the end of the eighteenth century, that is to say, in the period after Adam Smith.

Like Vanderlint, Hume treated money as a mere token of value; he copied almost word for word (and this is important as he might have taken the theory of money as a token of value from many other sources) Vanderlint's argument on why the balance of trade cannot be permanently either favourable or unfavourable to a country; like Vanderlint, he teaches that the equilibrium of balances is brought about naturally, in accordance with the different economic situations in the different countries; like Vanderlint, he preaches free trade, but less boldly and consistently; like Vanderlint, though with less profundity, he emphasises wants as the motive forces of production; he follows Vanderlint in the influence on commodity prices which he erroneously attributes to bank money and government securities in general; like Vanderlint, he rejects credit money; like Vanderlint, he makes commodity prices dependent on the price of labour, that is, on wages; he even copies Vanderlint's absurd notion that by accumulating treasures commodity prices are kept down, etc., etc.

At a much earlier point Herr Dühring made an oracular allusion to how others had misunderstood Hume's monetary theory with a particularly minatory reference to Marx, who in Capital had, besides, pointed in a manner contrary to police regulations to the secret connections of Hume with Vanderlint and with J. Massie, who will be mentioned later.

As for this misunderstanding, the facts are as follows. In regard to Hume's real theory of money (that money is a mere token of value, and therefore, other conditions being equal, commodity prices rise in proportion to the increase in the volume of money in circulation, and fall in proportion to its decrease), Herr Dühring, with the best intentions in the world -- though in his own luminous way -- can only repeat the errors made by his predecessors. Hume, however, after propounding the theory cited above, himself raises the objection (as Montesquieu, starting from the same premises, had done previously) that

nevertheless "'tis certain" that since the discovery of the mines in America, "industry has encreased in all the nations of Europe, except in the possessors of those mines", and that this "may justly be ascribed, amongst other reasons, to the encrease of gold and silver".

His explanation of this phenomenon is that

"though the high price of commodities be a necessary consequence of the encrease of gold and silver, yet it follows not immediately upon that encrease; but some time is required before the money circulate through the whole state, and make its effects be felt on all ranks of people". In this interval it has a beneficial effect on industry and trade.

At the end of this analysis Hume also tells us why this is so, although in a less comprehensive way than many of his predecessors and contemporaries:

"'Tis easy to trace the money in its progress through the whole commonwealth; where we shall find, that it must first quicken the diligence of every individual, before it encreases the price of labour.'"

In other words, Hume is here describing the effect of a revolution in the value of the precious metals, namely, a depreciation, or, which is the same thing, a revolution in the measure of value of the precious metals. He correctly ascertains that, in the slow process of readjusting the prices of commodities, this depreciation "increases the price of labour" -- vulgo, wages -- only in the last instance; that is to say, it increases the profit made by merchants and industrialists at the cost of the labourer (which he, however, thinks is just as it should be), and thus "quickens diligence". But he does not set himself the task of answering the real scientific question, namely, whether and in what way an increase in the supply of the precious metals, their value remaining the same, affects the prices of commodities; and he lumps together every "increase of the precious metals" with their depreciation. Hume therefore does precisely what Marx says he does (Zur Kritik etc., p. 141). We shall come back once more to this point in passing, but we must first turn to Hume's essay on Interest.

Hume's arguments, expressly directed against Locke that the rate of interest is not regulated by the amount of available money but by the rate of profit, and his other explanations of the causes which determine rises or falls in the rate of interest, are all to be found, much more exactly though less cleverly stated, in An Essay on the Governing Causes of the Natural Rate of Interest; wherein the sentiments of Sir W. Petty and Mr. Locke, on that head, are considered. This work appeared in 1750, two years before Hume's essay; its author was J. Massie, a writer active in various fields, who had a wide public, as can be seen from contemporary English literature. Adam Smith's discussion of the rate of interest is closer to Massie than to Hume. Neither Massie nor Hume know or say anything regarding the nature of "profit", which plays a role with both.

"In general," Herr Dühring sermonises us, "the attitude of most of Hume's commentators has been very prejudiced, and ideas have been attributed to him which he never entertained in the least" {131}.

And Herr Dühring himself gives us more than one striking example of this "attitude".

For example, Hume's essay on interest begins with the following words:

"Nothing is esteemed a more certain sign of the flourishing condition of any nation than the lowness of interest: And with reason; though I believe the cause is somewhat different from what is commonly apprehended."

In the very first sentence, therefore, Hume cites the view that the lowness of interest is the surest indication of the flourishing condition of a nation as a commonplace which had already become trivial in his day. And in fact this "idea" had already had fully a hundred years, since Child, to become generally current. But we are told:

"Among" (Hume's) "views on the rate of interest we must particularly draw attention to the idea that it is the true barometer of conditions" (conditions of what?) "and that its lowness is an almost infallible sign of the prosperity of a nation" (p. 130).

Who is the "prejudiced" and captivated "commentator" who says this? None other than Herr Dühring.

What arouses the naive astonishment of our critical historian is the fact that Hume, in connection with some felicitous idea or other, "does not even claim to have originated it" {131}. This would certainly not have happened to Herr Dühring.

We have seen how Hume confuses every increase of the precious metals with such an increase as is accompanied by a depreciation, a revolution in their own value, hence, in the measure of value of commodities. This confusion was inevitable with Hume because he had not the slightest understanding of the function of the precious metals as the measure of value. And he could not have it, because he had absolutely no knowledge of value itself. The word itself is to be found perhaps only once in his essays, namely, in the passage where, in attempting to "correct" Locke's erroneous notion that the precious metals had "only an imaginary value", he makes it even worse by saying that they had "merely a fictitious value".

In this he is much inferior not only to Petty but to many of his English contemporaries. He shows the same "backwardness" in still proclaiming the old-fashioned notion that the "merchant" is the mainspring of production -- an idea which Petty had long passed beyond. As for Herr Dühring's assurance that in his essays Hume concerned himself with the "chief economic relationships" {121}, if the reader only compares Cantillon's work quoted by Adam Smith (which appeared the same year as Hume's essays, 1752, but many years after its author's death), [97] he will be surprised at the narrow range of Hume's economic writings. Hume, as we have said, in spite of the letters-patent issued to him by Herr Dühring, is nevertheless quite a respectable figure also in the field of political economy, but in this field he is anything but an original investigator, and even less an epoch-making one. The influence of his economic essays on the educated circles of his day was due not merely to his excellent presentation, but principally to the fact that the essays were a progressive and optimistic glorification of industry and trade, which were then flourishing -- in other words, of the capitalist society which at that time was rapidly rising in England, and whose "approval" they therefore had to gain. Let one instance suffice here. Everyone knows the passionate fight that the masses of the English people were waging, just in Hume's day, against the system of indirect taxes which was being regularly exploited by the notorious Sir Robert Walpole for the relief of the landlords and of the rich in general. In his essay Of Taxes, in which, without mentioning his name, Hume polemises against his indispensable authority Vanderlint -- the stoutest opponent of indirect taxation and the most determined advocate of a land tax -- we read:

"They" (taxes on consumption) "must be very heavy taxes, indeed, and very injudiciously levied, which the artisan will not, of himself, be enabled to pay, by superior industry and frugality, without raising the price of his labour."

It is almost as if Robert Walpole himself were speaking, especially if we also take into consideration the passage in the essay on "public credit" in which, referring to the difficulty of taxing the state's creditors, the following is said:

"The diminution of their revenue would not be disguised under the appearance of a branch of excise or customs."

As might have been expected of a Scotchman, Hume's admiration of bourgeois acquisitiveness was by no means purely platonic. Starting as a poor man, he worked himself up to a very substantial annual income of many thousands of pounds; which Herr Dühring (as he is here not dealing with Petty) tactfully expresses in this way:

"Possessed of very small means to start with he succeeded, by good domestic economy, in reaching the position of not having to write to please anyone" {134}.

Herr Dühring further says:

"He had never made the slightest concession to the influence of parties, princes or universities" {134}.

There is no evidence that Hume ever entered into a literary partnership with a "Wagener", [98] but it is well known that he was an indefatigable partisan of the Whig oligarchy, which thought highly of " Church and state", and that in reward for these services he was given first a secretaryship in the Embassy in Paris and subsequently the incomparably more important and better-paid post of an Under-Secretary of State.

"In politics Hume was and always remained conservative and strongly monarchist in his views. For this reason he was never so bitterly denounced for heresy as Gibbon by the supporters of the established church,"

says old Schlosser.

"This selfish Hume, this lying historian" reproaches the English monks with being fat, having neither wife nor family and living by begging; "but he himself never had a family or a wife, and was a great, fat fellow, fed, in considerable part, out of public money, without having merited it by any real public services" -- this is what the "rude" plebeian Cobbett says.

Hume was "in essential respects greatly superior to a Kant in the practical management of life" {122}, is what Herr Dühring says.

But why is Hume given such an exaggerated position in Kritische Geschichte? Simply because this "serious and subtle thinker" {121} has the honour of enacting the Dühring of the eighteenth century. Hume serves as proof that

"the creation of this whole branch of science" (economics) "is the achievement of a more enlightened philosophy" {123};

and similarly Hume as predecessor is the best guarantee that this whole branch of science will find its close, for the immediately foreseeable future, in that phenomenal man who has transformed the merely "more enlightened" philosophy into the absolutely luminous philosophy of reality, and with whom, just as was the case with Hume,

"the cultivation of philosophy in the narrow sense of the word is combined -- something unprecedented on German soil -- with scientific endeavours on behalf of the national economy" {D. Ph. 531}

Accordingly we find Hume, in any case respectable as an economist, inflated into an economic star of the first magnitude, whose importance has hitherto been denied only by the same envious people who have hitherto also so obstinately hushed up Herr Dühring's achievements, "authoritative for the epoch" {D. K. G. 1}.

* * *

The physiocratic school left us in Quesnay's Tableau économique, as everyone knows, a nut on which all former critics and historians of political economy have up to now broken their jaws in vain; This Tableau, which was intended to bring out clearly the physiocrats' conception of the production and circulation of a country's total wealth, remained obscure enough for the succeeding generations of economists. On this subject, too, Herr Dühring comes to finally enlighten us.

What this "economic image of the relations of production and distribution means in Quesnay himself," he says, can only be stated if one has "first carefully examined the leading ideas which are peculiar to him". All the more because these have hitherto been set forth only with "wavering indefiniteness", and their "essential features cannot be recognised" {105} even in Adam Smith.

Herr Dühring will now once and for all put an end to this traditional "superficial reporting". He then proceeds to pull the reader's leg through five whole pages, five pages in which all kinds of pretentious phrases, constant repetitions and calculated confusion are designed to conceal the awkward fact that Herr Dühring has hardly as much to tell us in regard to Quesnay's "leading ideas" {105}, as the "most current textbook compilations" {109} against which he warns us so untiringly. It is "one of the most dubious sides" {111} of this introduction that here too the Tableau, which up to that point had only been mentioned by name, is just casually snuffled at, and then gets lost in all sorts of "reflections", such as, for example, "the difference between effort and result". Though the latter, "it is true, is not to be found completed in Quesnay's ideas", Herr Dühring will give us a fulminating example of it as soon as he comes from his lengthy introductory "effort" to his remarkably shortwinded "result" {109}, that is to say, to his elucidation of the Tableau itself. We shall now give all, literally all that he feels it right to tell us of Quesnay's Tableau.

In his "effort" Herr Dühring says:

"It seemed to him" (Quesnay) "self-evident that the proceeds" (Herr Dühring had just spoken of the net product) "must be thought of and treated as a money value {105-06} ... He connected his deliberations" (!) "immediately with the money values which he assumed as the results of the sales of all agricultural products when they first change hands. In this way" (!) "he operates in the columns of his Tableau with several milliards" {106} (that is, with money values).

We have therefore learnt three times over that, in his Tableau, Quesnay operates with the "money values" of "agricultural products", including the money values of the "net product" or "net proceeds". Further on in the text we find:

Had Quesnay considered things from a really natural standpoint, and had he rid himself not only of regard for the precious metals and the amount of money, but also of regard for money values... But as it is he reckons solely with sums of value, and imagined" (!) "the net product in advance as a money value" {106}.

So for the fourth and fifth time: there are only money values in the Tableau!

"He" (Quesnay) "obtained it" (the net product) "by deducting the expenses and thinking,' (!) "principally" (not traditional but for that matter all the more superficial reporting) "of that value which would accrue to the landlord as rent" {1061.

We have still not advanced a step; but now it is coming:

"On the other hand, however, now also" -- this "however, now also" is a gem! -- "the net product, as a natural object, enters into circulation, and in this way becomes an element which ... should serve ... to maintain the class which is described as sterile. In this the confusion can at once" (!) "be seen -- the confusion arising from the fact that in one case it is the money value, and in the other the thing itself, which determines the course of thought" {106}.

In general, it seems, all circulation of commodities suffers from the "confusion" that commodities enter into circulation simultaneously as "natural objects" and as "money values". But we are still moving in a circle about "money value", for

"Quesnay is anxious to avoid a double booking of the national-economic proceeds" {106}.

With Herr Dühring's permission: In Quesnay's Analysis at the foot of the Tableau, the various kinds of products figure as "natural objects" and above, in the Tableau itself, their money values are given. Subsequently Quesnay even made his famulus, the Abbé Baudeau, include the natural objects in the Tableau itself, beside their money values.

After all this "effort", we at last get the "result". Listen and marvel at these words:

"Nevertheless, the inconsequence" (referring to the role assigned by Quesnay to the landlords) "at once becomes clear when we enquire what becomes of the net product, which has been appropriated as rent, in the course of the national-economic circulation. In regard to this the physiocrats and the economic Tableau could offer nothing but confused and arbitrary conceptions, ascending to mysticism" {110}.

All's well that ends well. So Herr Dühring does not know "what becomes of the net product, which has been appropriated as rent, in the course of the national-economic circulation" (represented in the Tableau). To him, the Tableau is the "squaring of the circle" {110}. By his own confession, he does not understand the ABC of physiocracy. After all the beating about the bush, the dropping of buckets into an empty well, the hying hither and thither, the harlequinades, episodes, diversions, repetitions and stupefying mix-ups whose sole purpose was to prepare us for the imposing conclusion, "what the Tableau means in Quesnay himself" {105} -- after all this Herr Dühring's shamefaced confession that he himself does not know.

Once he has shaken off this painful secret, this Horatian "black care" which sat hunched on his back during his ride through the land of the physiocrats, our "serious and subtle thinker" blows another merry blast on his trumpet, as follows:

"The lines which Quesnay draws here and there" (in all there are just five of them!) "in his otherwise fairly simple" (!) "Tableau, and which are meant to represent the circulation of the net product", make one wonder whether "these whimsical combinations of columns" may not be suffused with fantastic mathematics; they are reminiscent of Quesnay's attempts to square the circle {110} -- and so forth.

As Herr Dühring, by his own admission, was unable to understand these lines in spite of their simplicity, he had to follow his favourite procedure of casting suspicion on them. And now he can confidently deliver the coup de grâce to the vexatious Tableau:

"We have considered the net product in this its most dubious aspect" {111}, etc.

So the confession he was constrained to make that he does not understand the first word about the Tableau économique and the "role" played by the net product which figures in it -- that is what Herr Dühring calls "the most dubious aspect of the net product"! What grim humour!

But in order that our readers may not be left in the same cruel ignorance about Quesnay's Tableau as those necessarily are who receive their economic wisdom "first hand" from Herr Dühring, we will explain it briefly as follows:

As is known, the physiocrats divide society into three classes: (1) The productive, i.e., the class which is actually engaged in agriculture -- tenant-farmers and agricultural labourers; they are called productive, because their labour yields a surplus: rent. (2) The class which appropriates this surplus, including the landowners and their retainers, the prince and in general all officials paid by the state, and finally also the Church in its special character as appropriator of tithes. For the sake of brevity, in what follows we call the first class simply "farmers", and the second class "landlords". (3) The industrial or sterile class; sterile because, in the view of the physiocrats, it adds to the raw materials delivered to it by the productive class only as much value as it consumes in means of subsistence supplied to it by that same class. Quesnay's Tableau was intended to portray how the total annual product of a country (concretely, France) circulates among these three classes and facilitates annual reproduction.

The first premise of the Tableau was that the farming system and with it large-scale agriculture, in the sense in which this term was understood in Quesnay's time, had been generally introduced, Normandy, Picardy, ÃŽle-de-France and a few other French provinces serving as prototypes. The farmer therefore appears as the real leader in agriculture, as he represents in the Tableau the whole productive (agricultural) class and pays the landlord a rent in money. An invested capital or inventory of ten milliard livres is assigned to the farmers as a whole; of this sum, one-fifth, or two milliards, is the working capital which has to be replaced every year -- this figure too was estimated on the basis of the best-managed farms in the provinces mentioned above.

Further premises: (1) that for the sake of simplicity constant prices and simple reproduction prevail; (2) that all circulation which takes place solely within one class is excluded, and that only circulation between class and class is taken into account; (3) that all purchases and sales taking place between class and class in the course of the industrial year are combined in a single total sum. Lastly, it must be borne in mind that in Quesnay's time in France, as was more or less the case throughout Europe, the home industry of the peasant families satisfied by far the greater portion of their needs other than food, and is therefore taken for granted here as supplementary to agriculture.

The starting-point of the Tableau is the total harvest, the gross product of the annual yield of the soil, which is consequently placed as the first item -- or the "total reproduction" of the country, in this case France. The magnitude of value of this gross product is estimated on the basis of the average prices of agricultural products among the trading nations. It comes to five milliard livres, a sum which roughly expresses the money value of the gross agricultural production of France based on such statistical estimates as were then possible. This and nothing else is the reason why in his Tableau Quesnay "operates with several milliards" {106}, to be precise, with five milliards, and not with five livres tournois. [99]

The whole gross product, of a value of five milliards, is therefore in the hands of the productive class, that is, in the first place the farmers, who have produced it by advancing an annual working capital of two milliards, which corresponds to an invested capital of ten milliards. The agricultural products -- foodstuffs, raw materials, etc. -- which are required for the replacement of the working capital, including therefore the maintenance of all persons directly engaged in agriculture, are taken in natura from the total harvest and expended for the purpose of new agricultural production. Since, as we have seen, constant prices and simple reproduction on a given scale are assumed, the money value of the portion which is thus taken from the gross product is equal to two milliard livres. This portion, therefore, does not enter into general circulation. For, as we have noted, circulation which takes place only within a particular class, and not between one class and another, is excluded from the Tableau.

After the replacement of the working capital out of the gross product there remains a surplus of three milliards, of which two are in means of subsistence and one in raw materials. The rent which the farmers have to pay to the landlords is however only two-thirds of this sum, equal to two milliards. It will soon be seen why it is only these two milliards which figure under the heading of "net product" or "net income" {106}.

But in addition to the "total reproduction" of agriculture amounting in value to five milliards, of which three milliards enter into general circulation, there is also in the hands of the farmers, before the movement described in the Tableau begins, the whole "pécule" of the nation, two milliards of cash money. This comes about in the following way.

As the total harvest is the starting-point of the Tableau, this starting-point also forms the closing point of an economic year, for example, of the year 1758, from which point a new economic year begins. During the course of this new year, 1759, the portion of the gross product destined to enter into circulation is distributed among the two other classes through the medium of a number of individual payments, purchases and sales. These movements separated, following each other in succession, and stretching over a whole year, are however -- as was bound to happen in any case in the Tableau -- combined into a few characteristic transactions each of which embraces a whole year's operations at once. This, then, is how at the close of the year 1758 there has flowed back to the farmer class the money paid by it to the landlords as rent for the year 1757 (the Tableau itself will show how this comes about), amounting to two milliards; so that the farmer class can again throw this sum into circulation in 1759. Since, however, that sum, as Quesnay observes, is much larger than is required in reality for the total circulation of the country (France), inasmuch as there is a constant succession of separate payments, the two milliard livres in the hands of the farmers represent the total money in circulation in the nation.

The class of landlords drawing rent first appears, as is the case sometimes even today, in the role of receivers of payments. On Quesnay's assumption the landlords proper receive only foursevenths of the two milliards of rent: two-sevenths go to the government, and one-seventh to the receivers of tithes. In Quesnay's day the Church was the biggest landlord in France and in addition received the tithes on all other landed property.

The working capital (avances annuelles) advanced by the "sterile" class in the course of a whole year consists of raw materials to the value of one milliard -- only raw materials, because tools, machinery, etc., are included among the products of that class itself. The many different roles, however, played by such products in the industrial enterprises of this class do not concern the Tableau any more than the circulation of commodities and money which takes place exclusively within that class. The wages for the labour by which the sterile class transforms the raw materials into manufactured goods are equal to the value of the means of subsistence which it receives in part directly from the productive class, and in part indirectly, through the landlords. Although it is itself divided into capitalists and wage-workers, it forms, according to Quesnay's basic conception, an integral class which is in the pay of the productive class and of the landlords. The total industrial production, and consequently also its total circulation, which is distributed over the year following the harvest, is likewise combined into a single whole. It is therefore assumed that at the beginning of the movement set out in the Tableau the annual commodity production of the sterile class is entirely in its hands, and consequently that its whole working capital, consisting of raw materials to the value of one milliard, has been converted into goods to the value of two milliards, one-half of which represents the price of the means of subsistence consumed during this transformation. An objection might be raised here: Surely the sterile class also uses up industrial products for its own domestic needs; where are these shown, if its own total product passes through circulation to the other classes? This is the answer we are given: The sterile class not only itself consumes a portion of its own commodities, but in addition it strives to retain as much of the rest as possible. It therefore sells the commodities thrown by it into circulation above their real value, and must do this, as we have evaluated these commodities at the total value of their production. This, however, does not affect the figures of the Tableau, for the two other classes receive manufactured goods only to the value of their total production.

So now we know the economic position of the three different classes at the beginning of the movement set out in the Tableau.

The productive class, after its working capital has been replaced in kind, still has three milliards of the gross product of agriculture and two milliards in money. The landlord class appears only with its rent claim of two milliards on the productive class. The sterile class has two milliards in manufactured goods. Circulation passing between only two of these three classes is called imperfect by the physiocrats; circulation which takes place between all three classes is called perfect.

Now for the economic Tableau itself.

First (imperfect) Circulation: The farmers pay the landlords the rent due to them with two milliards of money, without receiving anything in return. With one of these two milliards the landlords buy means of subsistence from the farmers, to whom one-half of the money expended by them in the payment of rent thus returns.

In his Analyse du Tableau économique Quesnay does not make further mention of the state, which receives two-sevenths, or of the Church, which receives one-seventh, of the land rent, as their social roles are generally known. In regard to the landlord class proper, however, he says that its expenditure (in which that of all its retainers is included) is at least as regards the great bulk of it .unfruitful expenditure, with the exception of that small portion which is used "for the maintenance and improvement of their lands and the raising of their standard of cultivation". But by "natural law" their proper function consists precisely in "provision for the good management and expenditure for the maintenance of their patrimony in good repair", or, as is explained further on, in making the avances foncieres, that is, outlays for the preparation of the soil and provision of all equipment needed by the farms, which enable the farmer to devote his whole capital exclusively to the business of actual cultivation.

Second (perfect) Circulation: With the second milliard of money still remaining in their hands, the landlords purchase manufactured goods from the sterile class, and the latter, with the money thus obtained, purchases from the farmers means of subsistence for the same sum.

Third (imperfect) Circulation: The farmers buy from the sterile class, with one milliard of money, a corresponding amount of manufactured goods; a large part of these goods consists of agricultural implements and other means of production required in agriculture. The sterile class returns the same amount of money to the farmers, buying raw materials with it to the value of one milliard to replace its own working capital. Thus the two milliards expended by the farmers in payment of rent have flowed back to them, and the movement is closed. And therewith also the great riddle is solved:

"what becomes of the net product, which has been appropriated as rent, in the course of the economic circulation?" {110.}

We saw above that at the starting-point of the process there was a surplus of three milliards in the hands of the productive class. Of these, only two were paid as net product in the form of rent to the landlords. The third milliard of the surplus constitutes the interest on the total invested capital of the farmers, that is, ten per cent on ten milliards. They do not receive this interest -- this should be carefully noted -- from circulation; it exists in natura in their hands, and they realise it only in circulation, by thus converting it into manufactured goods of equal value.

If it were not for this interest, the farmer -- the chief agent in agriculture -- would not advance the capital for investment in it. Already from this standpoint, according to the physiocrats, the appropriation by the farmer of that portion of the agricultural surplus proceeds which represents interest is as necessary a condition of reproduction as the farmer class itself; and hence this element cannot be put in the category of the national "net product" or "net income"; for the latter is characterised precisely by the fact that it is consumable without any regard to the immediate needs of national reproduction. This fund of one milliard, however, serves, according to Quesnay, for the most part to cover the repairs which become necessary in the course of the year, and the partial renewals of invested capital; further, as a reserve fund against accidents, and lastly, where possible, for the enlargement of the invested and working capital, as well as for the improvement of the soil and extension of cultivation.

The whole process is certainly "fairly simple" {110}. There enter into circulation: from the farmers, two milliards in money for the payment of rent, and three milliards in products, of which two-thirds are means of subsistence and one-third raw materials; from the sterile class, two milliards in manufactured goods. Of the means of subsistence amounting to two milliards, one half is consumed by the landlords and their retainers, the other half by the sterile class in payment for its labour. The raw materials to the value of one milliard replace the working capital of this latter class. Of the manufactured goods in circulation, amounting to two milliards, one half goes to the landlords and the other to the farmers, for whom it is only a converted form of the interest, which accrues at first hand from agricultural reproduction, on their invested capital. The money thrown into circulation by the farmer in payment of rent flows back to him, however, through the sale of his products, and thus the same process can take place again in the next economic year.

And now we must admire Herr Dühring's "really critical" {D. Ph. 404} exposition, which is so infinitely superior to the "traditional superficial reporting" {D. K. G. 105}. After mysteriously pointing out to us five times in succession how hazardous it was for Quesnay to operate in the Tableau with mere money values -- which moreover turned out not to be true -- he finally reaches the conclusion that, when he asks,

"what becomes of the net product, which has been appropriated as rent, in the course of the national-economic circulation?" -- the economic Tableau "could offer nothing but confused and arbitrary conceptions, ascending to mysticism" {110}.

We have seen that the Tableau -- this both simple and, for its time, brilliant depiction of the annual process of reproduction through the medium of circulation -- gives a very exact answer to the question of what becomes of this net product in the course of national-economic circulation. Thus once again the "mysticism" and the "confused and arbitrary conceptions" are left simply and solely with Herr Dühring, as "the most dubious aspect" and the sole "net product" {111} of his study of physiocracy.

[table insert]

Herr Dühring is just as familiar with the historical influence of the physiocrats as with their theories.

"With Turgot," he teaches us, "physiocracy in France came to an end both in practice and in theory" {120}.

That Mirabeau, however, was essentially a physiocrat in his economic views; that he was the leading economic authority in the Constituent Assembly of 1789; that this Assembly in its economic reforms translated from theory into practice a substantial portion of the physiocrats' principles, and in particular laid a heavy tax also on land rent, the net product appropriated by the landowners "without consideration" -- all this does not exist for "a" Dühring. --

Just as the long stroke drawn through the years 1691 to 1752 removed all of Hume's predecessors, so another stroke obliterated Sir James Steuart, who came between Hume and Adam Smith. There is not a syllable in Herr Dühring's "enterprise" {9} on Steuart's great work, which, apart from its historical importance, permanently enriched the domain of political economy. But, instead, Herr Dühring applies to him the most abusive epithet in his vocabulary, and says that he was "a professor" {136} in Adam Smith's time. Unfortunately this insinuation is a pure invention. Steuart, as a matter of fact, was a large landowner in Scotland, who was banished from Great Britain for alleged complicity in the Stuart plot and through long residence and his journeys on the Continent made himself familiar with economic conditions in various countries.

In a word: according to the Kritische Geschichte the only value all earlier economists had was to serve either as "rudiments" {1} of Herr Dühring's "authoritative" {1} and deeper foundations, or, because of their unsound doctrines, as a foil to the latter. In political economy, however, there are also some heroes who represent not only "rudiments" of the "deeper foundation" {D. C. 11}, but "principles" {5} from which this foundation, as was prescribed in Herr Dühring's natural philosophy, is not "developed" {353} but actually "composed": for example, the "incomparably great and eminent" {16} List, who, for the benefit of German manufacturers, puffed up the "more subtle" mercantilistic teachings of a Ferrier and others into "mightier" words; also Care, who reveals the true essence of his wisdom in the following sentence:

"Ricardo's system is one of discords ... its whole tends to the production of hostility among classes ... his book is the true manual of the demagogue, who seeks power by means of agrarianism, war, and plunder";

People who want to study the history of political economy in the present and immediately foreseeable future will certainly be on much safer ground if they make themselves acquainted with the "watery products", "commonplaces" and "beggars' soup" {14} of the "most current text-book compilations" {109}, rather than rely on Herr Dühring's "historical depiction in the grand style" {556}.

* * *

What, then, is the final result of our analysis of Dühring's "very own system" of political economy? Nothing, except the fact that with all the great words and the still more mighty promises we are just as much duped as we were in the Philosophy. His theory of value, this "touchstone of the worth of economic systems" {499}, amounts to this: that by value Herr Dühring understands five totally different and directly contradictory things, and, therefore, to put it at its best, himself does not know what he wants. The "natural laws of all economics" {D. C. 4}, ushered in with such pomp, prove to be merely universally familiar and often not even properly understood platitudes of the worst description. The sole explanation of economic facts which his "very own" system can give us is that they are the result of "force", a term with which the philistine of all nations has for thousands of years consoled himself for everything unpleasant that happens to him, and which leaves us just where we were. Instead however of investigating the origin and effects of this force, Herr Dühring expects us to content ourselves gratefully with the mere word "force" as the last final cause and ultimate explanation of all economic phenomena. Compelled further to elucidate capitalist exploitation of labour, he first represents it in a general way as based on taxes and price surcharges, thereby completely appropriating the Proudhonian "deduction" (prélèvement), and then proceeding to explain it in detail by means of Marx's theory of surplus-labour, surplus-product and surplus-value. In this way he manages to bring about a happy reconciliation of two totally contradictory modes of outlook, by copying down both without taking his breath. And just as in philosophy he could not find enough hard words for the very Hegel whom he was so constantly exploiting and at the same time emasculating, so in the Kritische Geschichte the most baseless calumniation of Marx only serves to conceal the fact that everything in the Cursus about capital and labour which makes any sense at all is likewise an emasculated plagiarism of Marx. His ignorance, which in the Cursus puts the "large landowner" at the beginning of the history of the civilised peoples, and knows not a word of the common ownership of land in the tribal and village communities, which is the real starting-point of all history -- this ignorance, at the present day almost incomprehensible, is well-nigh surpassed by the ignorance which, in the Kritische Geschichte, thinks not little of itself because of "the universal breadth of its historical survey" {2}, and of which we have given only a few deterrent examples. In a word: first the colossal "effort" of self-admiration, of charlatan blasts on his own trumpet, of promises each surpassing the other; and then the "result" {109} -- exactly nil.