Capital in 1861-63 Continued.

And the following lengthy which incorporates many of the phenomena I have posted on such as domination, personification, reification, subsumption, valorisation, science etc. in one fell swoop. This is why its worth quoting in full:

The capitalist himself only holds power as the personification of capital. (In double-entry book-keeping this role he has as capitalist, as capital personified, is constantly counterposed to his existence as a mere person; in the latter capacity he only appears as a private consumer and debtor to his own capital.) The productivity of capital consists first of all, even when it is only the formal subsumption of labour under capital that is being considered, in the compulsion to perform surplus labour; to work beyond the individual’s immediate needs. The capitalist mode of production shares this compulsion with previous modes of production, but exerts it, carries it out, in a manner more favourable to production. Even from the point of view of this merely formal relation — the general form of capitalist production, which has its less developed mode in common with the more developed — the means of production, the objective conditions of labour — material of labour, means of labour (and means of subsistence) — do not appear as subsumed under the worker; rather, he appears as subsumed under them. He does not employ them, they employ him. And they are thereby capital. CAPITAL EMPLOYS LABOUR.†85 The means of production are not means by which he can produce products, whether in the form of direct means of subsistence, or as means of exchange, as commodities. He is rather a means for them, partly to preserve their value, partly to valorise it, i.e. to increase it, to absorb surplus LABOUR.

Even this relation in its simplicity is an inversion, a personification of the thing and a reification of the person, for what distinguishes this form from all previous ones is that the capitalist does not rule the worker in any kind of personal capacity, but only in so far as he is “capital”; his rule is only that of objectified labour over living labour; the rule of the worker’s product over the worker himself. But the relation becomes still more complex — and apparently more mysterious — in that, with the development of the specifically capitalist mode of production, not only do these directly material things — all of them products of labour, viewed from the angle of use value the objective conditions of labour as well as the products of labour, viewed from the angle of exchange value objectified general labour time, or money — stand on their hind legs vis-á-vis the worker and confront him as “capital”, but also the forms of socially developed labour, cooperation, manufacture (as a form of the division of labour), the factory (as a form of social labour organised on the material basis of machinery) appear as forms of the development of capital, and therefore the productive powers of labour, developed out of these forms of social labour, hence also science and the forces of nature, appear as productive forces of capital. In fact, unity in cooperation, combination in the division of labour, the application of the forces of nature and science, as well as the products of labour in the shape of machinery, for the purpose of production, are all things which confront the individual workers themselves as alien and objective, as a mere form of existence of the means of labour which are independent of them and rule over them — just as the means of labour, in their simple visible shape as material, instrument, etc., confront the workers as functions of capital and therefore functions of the capitalist. The social forms of their own labour, or the form of their own [XXI-1318] social labour, are relations constituted quite independently of the individual workers; the workers as subsumed under capital become elements of these social constructions, but these social constructions do not belong to them. They therefore confront the workers as shapes of capital itself, as combinations which, unlike their isolated labour capacities, belong to capital, originate from it and are incorporated within it. And this assumes a form which is the more real the more, on the one hand, their labour capacity is itself modified by these forms, so that it becomes powerless when it stands alone, i.e. outside this context of capitalism, and its capacity for independent production is destroyed, while on the other hand the development of machinery causes the conditions of labour to appear as ruling labour technologically too, and at the same time to replace it, suppress it, and render it superfluous in its independent forms. In this process, in which the social characteristics of their labour confront them as capitalised to a certain extent — in the way that e.g. in machinery the visible products of labour appear as ruling over labour — the same thing of course takes place for the forces of nature and science, the product of general historical development in its abstract quintessence: they confront the workers as powers of capital. They become in fact separated from the skill and knowledge of the individual worker, and although — if we look at them from the point of view of their source — they are in turn the product of labour, they appear as incorporated into capital wherever they enter the labour process. The capitalist who employs a machine does not need to understand it (see Ure†a). But vis-á-vis the workers, realised science appears in the machine as capital. And in fact all these applications of science, of the forces of nature and of large masses of products of labour — applications based on social labour — appear only as means of exploitation of labour, means of appropriating surplus labour, hence, vis-á-vis labour, as forces belonging to capital. Capital naturally employs all these means only to exploit labour, but in order to exploit labour, it must employ them in production. And thus the development of the social productive powers of labour and the conditions for this development appear as the work of capital, and not only does the individual worker relate passively to this work, it also takes place in antagonism to him.”
MECW 34 122-124

About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
This entry was posted in Marx and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s