I’m reading the 1861-63 Manuscripts. I was struck by how often Marx uses the term ‘personification’ in his notes on the valorisation process with reference to the roles of workers and capitalists take on in capital valorization. If I recall correctly he uses the term a handful of times in Capital, but he uses it 5 times in this section, which is all nicely summed up in the following:
“Let us now look at labour capacity itself in its antithesis to the commodity, which confronts it in the form of money, or in its antithesis to objectified labour, to value, which is personified in the money owner or capitalist and in this person has become a will in its own right, being-for-itself, a conscious end in itself.
Labour capacity appears on the one hand as absolute poverty, in that the whole world of material wealth as well as its general form, exchange value, confronts it as alien commodity and alien money, whereas it is itself merely the possibility of labour, available and confined within the living body of the worker [subject], a possibility which is, however, utterly separated from all the objective conditions of its realisation, hence from its own reality, denuded of them, and existing independently over against them. To the extent that all the objective conditions for labour to come to life, for its actual process, for really setting it in motion — all the conditions for its objectification — mediate between the capacity for labour and actual labour, they can all be described as means of labour. In order that labour capacity may as an independent factor come to meet the [I-20] objectified labour represented by the owners of money and commodities, that it may confront the value personified by the capitalist, it must be denuded of its own means of labour and step forth in its independent shape as the worker who is obliged to offer his labour capacity as such for sale as a commodity. Since actual labour is the appropriation of nature for the satisfaction of human needs, the activity through which the metabolism between man and nature is mediated, to denude labour capacity of the means of labour, the objective conditions for the appropriation of nature through labour, is to denude it, also, of the means of life, for as we saw earlier, the use value of commodities can quite generally be characterised as the means of life. Labour capacity denuded of the means of labour and the means of life is therefore absolute poverty as such, and the worker, as the mere personification of the labour capacity, has his needs in actuality, whereas the activity of satisfying them is only possessed by him as a non-objective capacity (a possibility) confined within his own subjectivity. As such, conceptually speaking, he is a pauper, he is the personification and repository of this capacity which exists for itself, in isolation from its objectivity.”
‘The capitalist, who represents value as such, is confronted by the worker, as labour capacity pure and simple, as worker in general, so that the antithesis between [I-21] self-valorising value, self-valorising objectified labour, and living value-creating labour capacity forms the point and the actual content of the relation. They confront each other as capital and labour, as capitalist and worker.’