The Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy

The Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy

Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) Karl Marx, Translated by Martin Nicolaus, Foreword by Martin Nicolaus

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 912 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 42mm | 599g
  • Publication date: 7 November 1993
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0140445757
  • ISBN 13: 9780140445756
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 40,360

Product description

Written during the winter of 1857-8, the "Grundrisse" was considered by Marx to be the first scientific elaboration of communist theory. A collection of seven notebooks on capital and money, it both develops the arguments outlined in the Communist Manifesto (1848) and explores the themes and theses that were to dominate his great later work "Capital". Here, for the first time, Marx set out his own version of Hegel's dialectics and developed his mature views on labour, surplus value and profit, offering many fresh insights into alienation, automation and the dangers of capitalist society. Yet while the theories in "Grundrisse" make it a vital precursor to "Capital", it also provides invaluable descriptions of Marx's wider-ranging philosophy, making it a unique insight into his beliefs and hopes for the foundation of a communist state.

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Author information

Karl Marx (1818-1883). The core of Marx's economic analysis found early expression in the Okonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte aus dem Jahre 1844 (Economic and Political Manuscripts of 1844) (1844). There, Marx argued that the conditions of modern industrial societies invariably result in the estrangement (or alienation) of workers from their own labor. In his review of a Bruno Baier book, On the Jewish Question (1844), Marx decried the lingering influence of religion over politics and proposed a revolutionary re-structuring of European society. Much later, Marx undertook a systematic explanation of his economic theories in Das Kapital (Capital) (1867-95) and Theorien uber den Mehrwert (Theory of Surplus Value) (1862).

Editorial reviews

Notwithstanding its deficiencies, this is a publishing event of magnitude for Anglo-American intellectuals. The Grundrisse, as it is always called (its full title would be Basic Principles of the Critique of Political Economy) forms a crucial and intrinsically electrifying link between Marx's early work, his 1850's economic studies, and Capital itself; the manuscripts which compose it were lost for decades, and the work was generally unavailable in the West until 1953. In English, only tiny excerpts have appeared by way of Gorz, Marcuse, Lichtheim, Fischer and Marek; Hobsbawm presented bigger slices in Precapitalist Economic Formations (1965}. McLellan's translation is not only readable but elegant. However. McLellan, perhaps the most prominent British Marxologist (a term homologous with "entomologist," not "Marxist"), fails to tell us what he has cut or why in this selection - by no means a slight selection, but far too slender to merit the Grundrisse title tout court. The excerpts are broken into very brief chapters with one-sentence prefaces and roughly analytic titles like "Capital and Labor as Productive and Unproductive," "Exchange Relationships in Feudal and Capitalist Society," "Individuals and Society," etc. The Introduction, which focuses on the biographical externalities of Marx's compositions, is inadequate. McLellan briefly and rightly suggests that as a supremely comprehensive outline draft of Capital, the Grundrisse can be viewed as Marx's "most fundamental" work, given the incompleteness of Capital; but he doesn't even try to locate these writings in the substance of Marx's theoretical development, and in a most anti-Marxian spirit he refers to the key "noneconomic" elements as "digressions," though affirming their importance. More might have been expected from the author of the interesting and useful Marx Before Marxism (1970). But all the donnishness and skimpiness cannot extinguish the historical and theoretical importance of this work (Martin Nicolaus has given the fullest English precis so far in a 1968 New Left Review article). Finally, McLellan tells us that another translator's complete English version will not be available for a few years. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

Introduction (Notebook M)1. Production in general 2. General relation between production, distribution, exchange and consumption 3. The method of political economy 4. Means (forces) of production and relations of production, relations of production and relations of circulation The Chapter on Money (Notebooks I and II, pp. 1-7)Darimon's theory of crises Gold export and crises Convertibility and note circulation Value and price Transformation of the commodity into exchange value; money Contradictions in the money relation: (1) Contradiction between commodity as product and commodity as exchange value (2) Contradiction between purchase and sale (3) Contradiction between exchange for the sake of exchange and exchange for the sake of commodities (4) Contradiction between money as particular commodity and money as general commodity (The Economist and the Morning Star on money) Attempts to overcome the contradictions by the issue of time-chits Exchange value as mediation of private interests Exchange value (money) as social bond Social relations which create an undeveloped system of exchange The product becomes a commodity; the commodity becomes exchange value; the exchange value of the commodity becomes money Money as measure Money as objectification of general labour time (Incidental remark on gold and silver) Distinction between particular labor time and general labour time Distinction between planned distribution of labour time and measurement of exchange values by labour time (Strabo on money among the Albanians) The precious metals as subjects of the money relation: (a) Gold and silver in relation to the other metals (b) Fluctuations in the value-relations between the different metals (c) and (d) (headings only): Sources of gold and silver; money as coin Circulation of money and opposite circulation of commodities General concept of circulation: (a) Circulation circulates exchange values in the form of prices (Distinction between real money and accounting money) (b) Money as the medium of exchange (What determines the quantity of money required for circulation) (Comment on (a)) Commodity circulation requires appropriation through alienation Circulation as an endlessly repeated process The price as external to and independent of the commodity: Creation of general medium of exchange; exchange as a special business Double motion of circulation: C-M; M-C, and M-C; C-M Three contradictory functions of money: (1) Money as general material of contracts, as measuring unit of exchange values (2) Money as medium of exchange and realizer of prices (Money, as representative of price, allows commodities to be exchanged at equivalent prices) (An example of confusion between the contradictory functions of money) (Money as particular commodity and money as general commodity) (3) Money as money: as material representative of wealth (accumulation of money) (Dissolution of ancient communities through money) (Money, unlike coin, has a universal character) (Money in its third function is the negation #negative unity# of its character as medium of circulation and measure) (Money in its metallic being; accumulation of gold and silver) (Headings on money, to be elaborated later) The Chapter on Capital (Notebooks II pp. 8-28, III, IV, V, VI and VII)The Chapter on Money as Capital: Difficulty in grasping money in its fully developed character as money Simple exchange: relations between the exchangers (Critique of socialists and harmonizers: Bastiat, Proudhon) Section One: The Production Process of Capital Nothing is expressed when capital is characterized merely as a sum of values Landed property and capital Capital comes from circulation; its content is exchange value; merchant capital, money capital, and money interest Circulation presupposes another process; motion between presupposed extremes Transition from circulation to capitalist production "Capital is accumulated labour (etc.)" "Capital is a sum of values used for the production of values" Circulation, and exchange value deriving from circulation, the presupposition of capital Exchange value emerging from circulation, a presupposition of ciruclation, preserving and multiplying itself in it by means of labour Product and capital. Value and capital. Proudhon Capital and labour. Exchange value and use value for exchange value Money and its use value (labour) in this relation capital: Self-multiplication of value is its only movement Capital, as regards substance, objectified labour. Its antithesis, living, productive labour Productive labour and labour as performance of a service Productive and unproductive labour. A. Smith etc. The two different processes in the exchange of capital with labour Capital and modern landed property The market Exchange between capital and labour. Piecework wages Value of labour power Share of the wage labourer in general wealth determined only quantitatively Money is the worker's equivalent; he thus confronts capital as an equal But the aim of his exchange is satisfaction of his need. Money for him is only medium of circulation Savings, self-denial as means of the worker's enrichment Valuelessness and devaluation of the worker a condition of capital (Labour power as capital!) Wages not productive The exchange between capital and labour belongs within simple circulation, does not enrich the worker Separation of labour and property the precondition of this exchange Labour as object absolute poverty, labour as subject general possibility of wealth Labour without particular specificity confronts capital Labour process absorbed into capital (Capital and capitalist) Production process as content of capital The worker relates to his labour as exchange value, the capitalist as use value The worker divests himself of labour as the wealth-producing power; capital appropriates it as such Tranformation of labour into capital Realization process (Costs of production) Mere self-preservation, non-multiplication of value contradicts the essence of capital Capital enters the cost of production as capital. Interest bearing capital (Parentheses on: original accumulation of capital, historic presuppositions of capital, production in general) Surplus value. Surplus labour time Value of labour. How it is determined Conditions for the self-realization of capital Capital is productive as creator of surplus labour But this is only a historical and transitory phenomenon Theories of surplus value (Ricardo; the Physiocrats; Adam Smith; Ricardo again) Surplus value and productive force. Relation when these increase Result: in proportion as necessary labour is already diminished, the realization of capital becomes more difficult Concerning increases in the value of capital Labour does not reproduce the value of material and instrument, but rather preserves it by relating to them in the labour process as to their objective conditions Absolute surplus labour time. Relative It is not the quantity of living labour, but rather its quality as labour which preserves the labour time already contained in the material The change of form and substance in the direct production process It is inherent in the simple production process that the previous stage of production is preserved through the subsequent one Preservation of the old use value by new labour The quantity of objectified labour is preserved because contact with living labour preserves its quality as use value for new labour In the real production process, the separation of labour from its objective moments of existence is suspended. But in this process labour is already incorporated in capital The capitalist obtains surplus labour free of charge together with the maintenance of the value of material and instrument Through the appropriation of present labour, capital already possesses a claim to the appropriation of future labour Confusion of profit and surplus value. Carey's erroneous calculation The capitalist, who does not pay the worker for the preservation of the old value, then demands remuneration for giving the worker permission to preserve the old capital Surplus Value and Profit Difference between consumption of the instrument and of wages. The former consumed in the production process, the latter outside it Increase of surplus value and decrease in rate of profit Multiplication of simultaneous working days Machinery Growth of the constant part of capital in relation to the variable part spent on wages=growth of the productivity of labour Proportion in which capital has to increase in order to employ the same number of workers if productivity rises Percentage of total capital can express very different relations Capital (like property in general) rests on the productivity of labour Increase of surplus labour time. Increase of simultaneous working days. (Population) (Population can increase in proportion as necessary labour time becomes smaller) Transition from the process of the production of capital into the process of circulation Section Two: The Circulation Process of Capital Devaluation of capital itself owing to increase of productive forces (Competition) Capital as unity and contradiction of the production process and the realization process Capital as limit to production. Overproduction Demand by the workers themselves Barriers to capitalist production OVerproduction; Proudhon Price of the commodity and labour time The capitalist does not sell too dear; but still above what the thing costs him Price can fall below value without damage to capital Number and unit (measure) important in the multiplication of prices Specific accumulation of capital. (Transformation of surplus labour into capital) The determination of value and of prices The general rate of profit If the capitalist merely sells at his own cost of production, then it is a transfer to another capitalist. The worker gains almost nothing thereby Barrier of capitalist production. Relation of surplus labour to necessary labour. Proportion of the surplus consumed by capital to that transformed into capital Devaluation during crises Capital coming out of the production process becomes money again (Parenthesis on capital in general) Surplus Labour or Surplus Value Becomes Surplus Capital All the determinants of capitalist production now appear as the result of (wage) labour itself The realization process of labour at the same time its de-realization process Formation of surplus capital I Surplus capital II Inversion of the law of appropriation Chief result of the production and realization process Original accumulation of capital Once developed historically, capital itself creates the conditions of its existence (Performance of personal services, as opposed to wage labour) (Parenthesis on inversion of the law of property, real alien relation of the worker to his product, division of labour, machinery) Forms which precede capitalist production. (Concerning the process which precedes the formation of the capital relation or of original accumulation) Exchange of labour for labour rests on the worker's propertylessness Circulation of capital and circulation of money Production process and circulation process moments of production. The productivity of the different capitals (branches of industry) determines that of the individual capital Circulation period. Velocity of circulation substitutes for volume of capital. Mutual dependence of capitals in the velocity of their circulation The four moments in the turnover of capital Moment II to be considered here: transformation of the product into money; duration of this operation. Transport costs. Circulation costs. Means of communication and transport Division of the branches of labour Concentration of many workers; productive force of this concentration General as distinct from particular conditions of production Transport to market (spatial condition of circulation) belongs in the production process Credit, the temporal moment of circulation Capital is circulating capital Influence of circulation on the determination of value; circulation time=time of devaluation Difference between the capitalist mode of production and all earlier ones (universality, propagandistic nature) (Capital itself is the contradiction) Circulation and creation of value Capital not a source of value-creation Continuity of production presupposes suspension of circulation time Theories of Surplus Value Ramsay's view that capital is its own source of profit No surplus value according to Ricardo's law Ricardo's theory of value. Wages and profit Quincey Ricardo Wakefield. Conditions of capitalist production in colonies Surplus value and profit. Example (Malthus) Difference between labour and labour capacity Carey's theory of the cheapening of capital for the worker Carey's theory of the decline of the rate of profit Wakefield on the contradiction between Ricardo's theories of wage labour and of value Bailey on dormant capital and increase of production without previous increase of capital Wade's explanation of capital. Capital, collective force. Capital, civilization. Rossi. What is capital? Is raw material capital? Are wages necessary for it? Malthus. Theory of value and of wages Aim of capitalist production value (money), not commodity, use value etc. Chalmers Difference in return. Interruption of the production process. Total duration of the production process. Unequal periods of production The concept of the free labourer contains the pauper. Population and overpopulation Necessary labour. Surplus labour. Surplus population. Surplus capital Adam Smith: work as sacrifice Adam Smith: the origin of profit Surplus labour. Profit. Wages Immovable capital. Return of capital. Fixed capital. John Stuart Mill Turnover of capital. Circulation process. Production process. Circulation costs. Circulation time Capital's change of form and of substance; different forms of capital; circulation capital as general character of capital Fixed (tied down) capital and circulating capital Constant and variable capital Competition Surplus value. Production time. Circulation time. Turnover time Competition (continued) Part of capital in production time, part in circulation time Surplus value and production phase. Number of reproductions of capital = number of turnovers Change of form and of matter in the circulation of capital. C-M-C. M-C-M Difference between production time and labour time Formation of a mercantile estate; credit Small-scale circulation. The process of exchange between capital and labour capacity generally Threefold character, or mode, of circulation Fixed capital and circulating capital Influence of fixed capital on the total turnover time of capital Fixed capital. Means of labour. Machine Transposition of powers of labour into powers of capital both in fixed and in circulatin capital To what extent fixed capital (machine) creates value Fixed capital and continuity of the production process. Machinery and living labour. Contradiction between the foundation of bourgeois production (value as measure) and its development Significance of the development of fixed capital (for the development of capital generally) The chief role of capital is to create disposable time; contradictory form of this in capital Durability of fixed capital Real saving (economy)=saving of labour time=development of productive force True conception of the process of social production Owen's historical conception of industrial (capitalist) production Capital and value of natural agencies Scope of fixed capital indicates the level of capitalist production Is money fixed capital or circulating capital? Turnover time of capital consisting of fixed capital and circulating capital. Reproduction time of fixed capital The same commodity sometimes circulating capital, sometimes fixed capital Every moment which is a presupposition of production is at the same time its result, in that it reproductes its own conditions The counter-value of circulating capital must be produced within the year. Not so for fixed capital. It engages the production of subsequent years Maintanence costs of fixed capital Revenue of fixed capital and circulating capital Free labour=latent pauperism. Eden The smaller the value of fixed capital in relation to its product, the more useful Movable and immovable, fixed and circulating Connection of circulation and reproduction Section Three: Capital as Fructiferous. Tranformation of Surplus Value into Profit Rate of profit. Fall of the rate of profit Surplus value as profit always expresses a lesser proportion Wakefield, Carey and Bastiat on the rate of profit Capital and revenue (profit). Production and distribution. Sismondi Transformation of surplus value into profit Laws of this and transformation Surplus value=relation of surplus labour to necessary labour Value of fixed capital and its productive power Machinery and surplus labour. Recapitulation of the doctrine of surplus value generally Relation between the objective conditions of production. Change in the proportion of the component parts of capital Miscellaneous Money and fixed capital: presupposes a certain amount of wealth. Relation of fixed capital and circulating capital (Economist) Slavery and wage labour; profit upon alienation (Steuart) Steuart, Montanari and Gouge on money The wool industry in England since Elizabeth; silk-manufacture; iron; cotton Origin of free wage labour. Vagabondage. (Tuckett) Blake on accumulation and rate of profit; dormant capital Domestic agriculture at the beginning of the sixteenth century. (Tuckett) Profit. Interest. Influence of machinery on the wage fund. (Westminster Review) Money as measure of values and yardstick of prices. Critique of theories of the standard measure of money Transformation of the medium of circulation into money. Formation of treasures. Means of payment. Prices of commodities and quantity of circulating money. Value of money Capital, not labour, determines the value of money (Torrens) The minimum of wages Cotton machinery and working men in 1826. (Hodgskin) How the machine creates raw material. (Economist) Machinery and surplus labour Capital and profit. Relation of the worker to the conditions of labour in capitalist production. All parts of capital bring a profit Tendency of the machine to prolong labour Cotton factories in England. Example for machinery and surplus labour Examples from Glasgow for the rate of profit Alienation of the conditions of labour with the development of capital. Inversion Merivale. Natural dependence of the worker in colonies to be replaced by artificial restrictions How the machine saves material. Bread. Dureau de la Malle Development of money and interest Productive consumpion. Newman. Transformations of capital. Economic cycle Dr. Price. Innate power of capital Proudhon. Capital and simple exchange. Surplus Necessity of the worker's propertylessness Galiani Theory of savings. Storch MacCulloch. Surplus. Profit Arnd. Natural interest Interest and profit. Carey How merchant takes the place of master Merchant wealth Commerce with equivalents impossible. Opdyke Principal and interest Double standard On money James Mill's false theory of prices Ricardo on currency On money Theory of foreign trade. Two nations may exchange according to the law of profit in such a way that both gain, but one is always defrauded Money in its third role, as money (I) Value (This section to be brought forward) Bastiat and Carey Bastiat's economic harmonies Bastiat on wages