The modern bourgeoisie may remark how Karl Marx was, at the least, an enduring and important thinker. It’s something of a contradiction then that throughout his adult life Marx condemned the same bourgeoisie to their certain doom. The bourgeoisie, it seems at a glance, are confessing that Marx spoke right.
Here are 18 qoutes from Grundrisse:
“In present bourgeois society as a whole, this positing of prices and their circulation etc. appears as the surface process, beneath which, however, in the depths, entirely different process go on, in which this apparent individual equality and liberty disappear. It is forgotten, on one side, that the presupposition of exchange value, as the objective basis of the whole of the system of production, already in itself implies compulsion over the individual, since his immediate product is not a product for him, but only becomes such in the social process, and since it must take on this general but nevertheless external form; and that the individual has an existence only as a producer of exchange value, hence that the whole negation of his natural existence is already implied; that he is therefore entirely determined by society; that this further presupposes a division of labour etc., in which the individual is already posited in relations other than that of mere exchanger, etc. That therefore this presupposition by no means rises either out of the individual’s will or out of the immediate nature of the individual, but that it is, rather historical, and posits the individual as already determined by society. It is forgotten, on the other side, that these higher forms, in which exchange, or the relations of production which realize themselves in it, are now posited, do not by any means stand sill in this simple form where the highest distinction which occurs is formal and hence irrelevant one. What is over looked, finally, is that already the simple forms of exchange value and of money latently contain the opposition between labour and capital etc. Thus, what all this wisdom comes down to is the attempt to stick fast at the simplest economic relations, which conceived by themselves, are pure abstractions; but these relations are, in reality, mediated by the deepest antithesis, and-represent only one side, in which the full expression of the antitheses is obscured.” (p.247/248)
“The existence of value in its purity and generality presupposes a mode of production in which the individual product has ceased to exist for the producer in general and even more for the individual worker, and here nothing exists unless it is realized through circulation.” (p.252)
“Circulation therefore does not carry within itself the principle of self-renewal. The moments of the latter are presupposed to it, not posited by it. Commodities constantly have to be thrown into it anew form the outside, like fuel into a fire. Otherwise it flickers out in indifference. It would die out with money, as the indifferent result which, in so far as it no longer stood in any connection with commodities, prices or circulation, would have cased to be money, to express a relation of production; only its metallic existence would be left over, while its economic existence would be destroyed. Circulation, therefore, which appears as that which is immediately present on the surface of bourgeois society, exits only in so far as it is constantly mediated. Looked at in itself, it is the mediation of presupposed extremes. But it does not posit these extremes. Thus, it has to be mediated not only in each of its moments, but as a whole of mediation, as a total process itself. Its immediate being is therefore pure semblance. It is the phenomenon of a process taking place behind it.” (p. 255)
“The first presupposition is that capital stands on one side and labour on the other, both as independent forms relative to each other; both hence also alien to one another. The labour which stands opposite capital is alien [fremde] labour, and the capital which stands opposite labour is alien capital. The extremes which stand opposite one another are specifically different. In the first positing of simple exchange value, labour was structured in such a way that the product was not a direct use value for the labourer, not a direct means of subsistence. This was the general condition for the creation of an exchange value and of exchange in general. Otherwise the worker would have produce only a product – a direct use value for himself – but not an exchange value. This exchange value, however, was materialized in a product which had, as such, a use value for others, and, as such, was the object of their needs. The use value which the worker has to offer to the capitalist, which he has to offer to others in general, is not materialized in a product, does not exist apart from him at all, thus exists not really, but only in potentiality, as his capacity. It becomes a reality only when it has been solicited by capital, is set in motion, since activity without object is nothing, or, at the most, mental activity, which is not the question at issue here. As soon as it has obtained motion from capital [is employed], this use value exists as the worker’s specific, productive activity; it is his vitality itself, directed toward a specific purpose and hence expressing itself in a specific form.” (p. 266/267)
“The goal-determining activity of capital can only be that of growing wealthier, i.e. of magnification, of increasing itself.” (p. 270)
“While in the completed bourgeois system every economic form, and everything posited is thus also a presupposition, this is the cases with every organic system. This organic system itself, as a totality, has its presupposition, and its development to its totality consists precisely insubordinating all elements of society to itself, or in creating out of it the organs which it still lacks. This is historically how it becomes a totality. The process of becoming this totality forms a moment of its process, of its development. – On the other hand, if within one society the modern relations of production, i.e. capital, are developed to its totality, and this society then seizes hold of a new territory, as e.g. the colonies, then it finds, or rather its representative, the capitalist, finds, that his capital ceases to be capital without wage labour, and that one of the presuppositions of the latter is not only landed property in general, but modern landed property; landed property which, as capitalized rent, is expensive, and which, as such, excludes the direct use of the soil by individuals. Hence Wakfield’s theory of colonies, followed in practice by the English government in Australia. Landed property is here artificially made more expensive in order to transform the workers into wage workers, to make capital act as capital, and thus to make the new colony productive; to develop wealth in it, instead of using it, as in America, for the momentary deliverance of the wage labourers.” (p. 278)
“His [the wage worker’s] valuelessness and devaluation is the presupposition of capital and the precondition of free labor in general…the worker is thereby formally posited as a person who is something for himself apart from his labor, and who alienates his life-expression only as a means towards his own life. So long as the worker as such has exchange value, industrial capital as such cannot exist, hence nor can develop capital in general. Towards the latter [that is towards capital], labour must exist as pure use value, which is offered as a commodity by its possessor himself [the wage worker] in exchange for it, for its exchange value, which of course becomes real in the worker’s hand only in its role as general medium of exchange; otherwise vanishes. Well. The worker, then, finds himself only in the relation of simple circulation, of simple exchange, and obtains only coin for his use value; subsistence; but mediated. This form of mediation is, as we saw, essential to and characteristic of the relation. That it can proceed to the transformation of the coin into money – savings – proves precisely only that his relation is that of simple circulation; he can save more or less; but beyond that he cannot get; he can realize what he has saved only by momentarily expanding the sphere of his pleasures. It is of importance – and penetrates into the character of the relation itself – that, because money is the product of his exchange, general wealth drives him forward as an illusion; makes him industrious. (p. 289)
“The exchange value of labour, the realization of which takes place in the process of exchange with the capitalist, is therefore presupposed, predetermined, and only undergoes the formal modification which every only ideally posited price takes on when it is realized. It is not determined by the use value of labour. It has a use value for the worker himself only in so far as it is exchange value, not in so far as it produces exchange values. It has exchange value for capital only in so far as it is use value. It is a use value, as distinct from exchange value, not for the worker himself, but only for capital. The worker therefore sells labour as a simple, predetermined exchange value, determined by a previous process – he sells labour itself as objectified labour; i.e. he sells labour only in so far as it already objectifies a definite amount of labour, hence in so far as its equivalent is already measured, given; capital buys it as living labour, as the general productive force of wealth; activity which increases wealth. It is clear, therefore, that the worker cannot become rich in this exchange, since, in exchange for his labour capacity as a fixed, available magnitude, he surrenders its creative power, like Esau his birthright for a mess of pottage. Rather, he necessarily impoverishes himself, as we shall see further on, because the creative power of his labour establishes itself as the power of capital, as an alien power confronting him. He divests himself [entäussert sich] of labour as the force productive of wealth; capital appropriates it, as such. The separation between labour and property in the product of labour, between labour and wealth, is thus posited in this act of exchange itself. What appears paradoxical as result is already contained in the presupposition. The economists have expressed this more or less empirically. Thus the productivity of his labour, his labour in general, in so far as it is not a capacity but a motion, real labour, comes to confront the worker as an alien power; capital, inversely, realizes itself through the appropriation of alien labour. (At least the possibility of realization is thereby posited; as result of the exchange between labour and capital. The relation is realized only in the act of production itself, where capital really consumes the alien labour.)” (p. 306/307)
“The only thing which can make him into a capitalist is not exchange, but rather a process trough which he obtains objectified labour time, i.e. value, without exchange.” (p.324)
“The great historic quality of capital is to create this surplus labour, superfluous labour from the standpoint of mere use value, mere subsistence; and its historic destiny [Bestimmung] is fulfilled as soon as, on one side, there has been such a development of needs that surplus labour above and beyond necessity has itself become a general need arising out of individual needs themselves – and, on the other side, when the severe discipline of capital, acting on succeeding generations [Geschlechter], has developed general industriousness as the general property of the new species [Geschlecht] – and, finally, when the development of the productive powers of labour, which capital incessantly whips onward with its unlimited mania for wealth, and of the sole conditions in which this mania can be realized, have flourished to the stage where the possession and preservation of general wealth require a lesser labour time of society as a whole, and where the labouring society relates scientifically to the process of its progressive reproduction, its reproduction in a constantly greater abundance; hence where labour in which a human being does what a thing could do has ceased. Accordingly, capital and labour relate to each other here like money and commodity; the former is the general form of wealth, the other only the substance destined for immediate consumption. Capital’s ceaseless striving towards the general form of wealth drives labour beyond the limits of its natural paltriness [Naturbedürftigkeit], and thus creates the material elements for the development of the rich individuality which is as all-sided in its production as in its consumption, and whose labour also therefore appears no longer as labour, but as the full development of activity itself, in which natural necessity in its direct form has disappeared; because a historically created need has taken the place of the natural one. This is why capital is productive; i.e. an essential relation for the development of the social productive forces. It ceases to exist as such only where the development of these productive forces themselves encounters its barrier in capital itself.” (p.325)
“Initially the worker’s use of the instrument as an instrument, and his shaping of the raw material, adds to the value of the raw material and of the instrument as much new form as is = to the labour time contained in his own wage; what he adds additionally is surplus labour time, surplus value. For their part, the raw materials and the instrument are preserved not in their form but in their substance, through the simple relation of being used as instrument and being posited as the raw material of labour, the simple process of coming into contact with labour, being posited as its means and object and therefore as objectification of living labour, moments of labour itself; and, viewed economically, their substance is objectified labour time.” (p.360)
12. “We see therefore that the capitalist, by means of the exchange process with the worker – by indeed paying the worker an equivalent for the costs of production contained in his labour capacity, i.e. giving him the means of maintaining his labour capacity, but appropriating living labour for himself – obtains two things free of charge, first the surplus labour which increases the value of his capital; but at the same time, secondly, the quality of living labour which maintains the previous labour materialized in the component parts of capital and thus preserves the previously existing value of capital.” (p.365)
“An increase in the productivity of labour means nothing more than that the same capital creates the same value with less labour, or that less labour creates the same product with more capital. That less necessary labour produces more surplus labour.” (p.388)
“On the other side, the production of relative surplus value, i.e. production of surplus value based on the increase and development of the productive forces, requires the production of new consumption; requires that the consuming circle within circulation expands as did the productive circle previously. Firstly quantitative expansion of existing consumption; secondly: creation of new needs by propagating existing ones in a wide circle; thirdly: production of new needs and discovery and creation of new use values. In other words, so that the surplus labour gained does not remain a merely quantitative surplus, but rather constantly increases the circle of qualitative differences within labour (hence of surplus labour), makes it more diverse, more internally differentiated. For example, if, through a doubling of productive force, a capital of 50 can now do what a capital of 100 did before, so that a capital of 50 and the necessary labour corresponding to it become free, then, for the capital and labour which have been set free, a new, qualitatively different branch of production must be created, which satisfies and brings forth a new need. The value of the old industry is preserved by the creation of the fund for a new one in which the relation of capital and labour posits itself in a new form. Hence exploration of all of nature in order to discover new, useful qualities in things; universal exchange of the products of all alien climates and lands; new (artificial) preparation of natural objects, by which they are given new use values. The exploration of the earth in all directions, to discover new things of use as well as new useful qualities of the old; such as new qualities of them as raw materials etc.; the development, hence, of the natural sciences to their highest point; likewise the discovery, creation and satisfaction of new needs arising from society itself; the cultivation of all the qualities of the social human being, production of the same in a form as rich as possible in needs, because rich in qualities and relations – production of this being as the most total and universal possible social product, for, in order to take gratification in a many-sided way, he must be capable of many pleasures [genussfähig], hence cultured to a high degree – is likewise a condition of production founded on capital. This creation of new branches of production, i.e. of qualitatively new surplus time, is not merely the division of labour, but is rather the creation, separate from a given production, of labour with a new use value; the development of a constantly expanding and more comprehensive system of different kinds of labour, different kinds of production, to which a constantly expanding and constantly enriched system of needs corresponds.
Thus, just as production founded on capital creates universal industriousness on one side – i.e. surplus labour, value-creating labour – so does it create on the other side a system of general exploitation of the natural and human qualities, a system of general utility, utilizing science itself just as much as all the physical and mental qualities, while there appears nothing higher in itself, nothing legitimate for itself, outside this circle of social production and exchange. Thus capital creates the bourgeois society, and the universal appropriation of nature as well as of the social bond itself by the members of society. Hence the great civilizing influence of capital; its production of a stage of society in comparison to which all earlier ones appear as mere local developments of humanity and as nature-idolatry. For the first time, nature becomes purely an object for humankind, purely a matter of utility; ceases to be recognized as a power for itself; and the theoretical discovery of its autonomous laws appears merely as a ruse so as to subjugate it under human needs, whether as an object of consumption or as a means of production. In accord with this tendency, capital drives beyond national barriers and prejudices as much as beyond nature worship, as well as all traditional, confined, complacent, encrusted satisfactions of present needs, and reproductions of old ways of life. It is destructive towards all of this, and constantly revolutionizes it, tearing down all the barriers which hem in the development of the forces of production, the expansion of needs, the all-sided development of production, and the exploitation and exchange of natural and mental forces.
But from the fact that capital posits every such limit as a barrier and hence gets ideally beyond it, it does not by any means follow that it has really overcome it, and, since every such barrier contradicts its character, its production moves in contradictions which are constantly overcome but just as constantly posited. Furthermore. The universality towards which it irresistibly strives encounters barriers in its own nature, which will, at a certain stage of its development, allow it to be recognized as being itself the greatest barrier to this tendency, and hence will drive towards its own suspension.” (p.408-410)
“Capital exists and can only exist as many capitals, and its self-determination therefore appears as their reciprocal interaction with one another.” (p.414)
“Thirdly: The independent, for-itself existence [Fürsichsein] of value vis-à-vis living labour capacity – hence its existence as capital – the objective, self-sufficient indifference, the alien quality [Fremdheit] of the objective conditions of labour vis-à-vis living labour capacity, which goes so far that these conditions confront the person of the worker in the person of the capitalist – as personification with its own will and interest – this absolute divorce, separation of property, i.e. of the objective conditions of labour from living labour capacity – that they confront him as alien property, as the reality of other juridical persons, as the absolute realm of their will – and that labour therefore, on the other side, appears as alien labour opposed to the value personified in the capitalist, or the conditions of labour – this absolute separation between property and labour, between living labour capacity and the conditions of its realization, between objectified and living labour, between value and value-creating activity – hence also the alien quality of the content of labour for the worker himself – this divorce now likewise appears as a product of labour itself, as objectification of its own moments. For, in the new act of production itself – which merely confirmed the exchange between capital and living labour which preceded it – surplus labour, and hence the surplus product, the total product of labour in general (of surplus labour as well as necessary labour), has now been posited as capital, as independent and indifferent towards living labour capacity, or as exchange value which confronts its mere use value. Labour capacity has appropriated for itself only the subjective conditions of necessary labour – the means of subsistence for actively producing labour capacity, i.e. for its reproduction as mere labour capacity separated from the conditions of its realization – and it has posited these conditions themselves as things, values, which confront it in an alien, commanding personification. The worker emerges not only not richer, but emerges rather poorer from the process than he entered. For not only has he produced the conditions of necessary labour as conditions belonging to capital; but also the value-creating possibility, the realization [Verwertung] which lies as a possibility within him, now likewise exists as surplus value, surplus product, in a word as capital, as master over living labour capacity, as value endowed with its own might and will, confronting him in his abstract, objectless, purely subjective poverty. He has produced not only the alien wealth and his own poverty, but also the relation of this wealth as independent, self-sufficient wealth, relative to himself as the poverty which this wealth consumes, and from which wealth thereby draws new vital spirits into itself, and realizes itself anew. All this arose from the act of exchange, in which he exchanged his living labour capacity for an amount of objectified labour, except that this objectified labour – these external conditions of his being, and the independent externality [Ausserihmsein] (to him) of these objective conditions – now appear as posited by himself, as his own product, as his own self-objectification as well as the objectification of himself as a power independent of himself, which moreover rules over him, rules over him through his own actions.
In surplus capital, all moments are products of alien labour – alien surplus labour transformed into capital; means of subsistence for necessary labour; the objective conditions – material and instrument – whereby necessary labour can reproduce the value exchanged for it in means of subsistence; finally the amount of material and instrument required so that new surplus labour can realize itself in them, or a new surplus value can be created.
It no longer seems here, as it still did in the first examination of the production process, as if capital, for its part, brought with it any value whatever from circulation. Rather, the objective conditions of labour now appear as labour’s product – both to the extent that they are value in general, and as use values for production. But while capital thus appears as the product of labour, so does the product of labour likewise appear as capital – no longer as a simple product, nor as an exchangeable commodity, but as capital; objectified labour as mastery, command over living labour. The product of labour appears as alien property, as a mode of existence confronting living labour as independent, as value in its being for itself; the product of labour, objectified labour, has been endowed by living labour with a soul of its own, and establishes itself opposite living labour as an alien power: both these situations are themselves the product of labour. Living labour therefore now appears from its own standpoint as acting within the production process in such a way that, as it realizes itself in the objective conditions, it simultaneously repulses this realization from itself as an alien reality, and hence posits itself as insubstantial, as mere penurious labour capacity in face of this reality alienated [entfremdet] from it, belonging not to it but to others; that it posits its own reality not as a being for it, but merely as a being for others, and hence also as mere other-being [Anderssein], or being of another opposite itself. This realization process is at the same time the de-realization process of labour. It posits itself objectively, but it posits this, its objectivity, as its own not-being or as the being of its not-being – of capital. It returns back into itself as the mere possibility of value-creation or realization [Verwertung]; because the whole of real wealth, the world of real value and likewise the real conditions of its own realization [Verwirklichung] are posited opposite it as independent existences. As a consequence of the production process, the possibilities resting in living labour’s own womb exist outside it as realities – but as realities alien to it, which form wealth in opposition to it.
In so far as the surplus product is realized anew as surplus capital, enters anew into the process of production and self-realization, it divides into (1) means of subsistence for the workers, to be exchanged for living labour capacity; let this part of capital be designated as labour fund; this labour fund, the part allotted for the maintenance of living labour capacity – and for its progressive maintenance, since surplus capital constantly grows – now likewise appears as the product of alien labour, labour alien to capital, as well as (2) its other component parts – the material conditions for the reproduction of a value = to these means of subsistence + a surplus value.
Further, if we consider this surplus capital, then the division of capital into a constant part – raw material and instrument with an antediluvian existence before labour – and a variable part, i.e. the necessary goods exchangeable for living labour capacity, appears as purely formal, in so far as both of them are equally posited by labour and are equally posited by it as its own presuppositions. Now, however, this internal division of capital appears in such a way that labour’s own product – objectified surplus labour – splits into two component parts – the objective conditions for new realization of labour (1), and a labour fund for maintaining the possibility of this living labour, i.e. of living labour capacity as alive (2), but in such a way that labour capacity can only re-appropriate that part of its own result – of its own being in objective form – which is designated as labour fund, can appropriate and extract this part from the form of the alien wealth which confronts it, only by reproducing not merely its own value, but by also realizing that part of the new capital which represents the objective conditions for the realization of new surplus labour and surplus production, or production of surplus values. Labour has itself created a new fund for the employment of new necessary labour, or, what is the same, a fund for the maintenance of new living labour capacities, of workers, but has created at the same time the condition that this fund can be employed only if new surplus labour is employed on the extra part of the surplus capital. Thus, the production by labour of this surplus capital – surplus value – is at the same time the creation of the real necessity of new surplus labour, and thus surplus capital is itself at the same time the real possibility both of new surplus labour and of new surplus capital. It here becomes evident that labour itself progressively extends and gives an ever wider and fuller existence to the objective world of wealth as a power alien to labour, so that, relative to the values created or to the real conditions of value-creation, the penurious subjectivity of living labour capacity forms an ever more glaring contrast. The greater the extent to which labour objectifies itself, the greater becomes the objective world of values, which stands opposite it as alien – alien property. With the creation of surplus capital, labour places itself under the compulsion to create yet further surplus capital etc. etc.” (p.452-455).
“Now, if we initially examine the relation such as it has become, value having become capital, and living labour confronting it as mere use value, so that living labour appears as a mere means to realize objectified, dead labour, to penetrate it with an animating soul while losing its own soul to it – and having produced, as the end-product, alien wealth on one side and, on the other, the penury which is living labour capacity’s sole possession – then the matter is simply this, that the process itself, in and by itself, posits the real objective conditions of living labour (namely, material in which to realize itself, instrument with which to realize itself, and necessaries with which to stoke the flame of living labour capacity, to protect it from being extinguished, to supply its vital processes with the necessary fuels) and posits them as alien, independent existences – or as the mode of existence of an alien person, as self-sufficient values for-themselves, and hence as values which form wealth alien to an isolated and subjective labour capacity, wealth of and for the capitalist. The objective conditions of living labour appear as separated, independent [verselbständigte] values opposite living labour capacity as subjective being, which therefore appears to them only as a value of another kind (not as value, but different from them, as use value). Once this separation is given, the production process can only produce it anew, reproduce it, and reproduce it on an expanded scale. How it does this, we have seen. The objective conditions of living labour capacity are presupposed as having an existence independent of it, as the objectivity of a subject distinct from living labour capacity and standing independently over against it; the reproduction and realization [Verwertung], i.e. the expansion of these objective conditions, is therefore at the same time their own reproduction and new production as the wealth of an alien subject indifferently and independently standing over against labour capacity. What is reproduced and produced anew [neuproduziert] is not only the presence of these objective conditions of living labour, but also their presence as independent values, i.e. values belonging to an alien subject, confronting this living labour capacity. The objective conditions of labour attain a subjective existence vis-à-vis living labour capacity – capital turns into capitalist; on the other side, the merely subjective presence of the labour capacity confronted by its own conditions gives it a merely indifferent, objective form as against them – it is merely a value of a particular use value alongside the conditions of its own realization [Verwertung] as values of another use value. Instead of their being realized [realisiert] in the production process as the conditions of its realization [Verwirklichung], what happens is quite the opposite: it comes out of the process as mere condition for their realization [Verwertung] and preservation as values for-themselves opposite living labour capacity. The material on which it works is alien material; the instrument is likewise an alien instrument; its labour appears as a mere accessory to their substance and hence objectifies itself in things not belonging to it. Indeed, living labour itself appears as alien vis-à-vis living labour capacity, whose labour it is, whose own life’s expression [Lebensäusserung] it is, for it has been surrendered to capital in exchange for objectified labour, for the product of labour itself. Labour capacity relates to its labour as to an alien, and if capital were willing to pay it without making it labour it would enter the bargain with pleasure. Thus labour capacity’s own labour is as alien to it – and it really is, as regards its direction etc. – as are material and instrument. Which is why the product then appears to it as a combination of alien material, alien instrument and alien labour – as alien property, and why, after production, it has become poorer by the life forces expended, but otherwise begins the drudgery anew, existing as a mere subjective labour capacity separated from the conditions of its life. The recognition [Erkennung] of the products as its own, and the judgement that its separation from the conditions of its realization is improper – forcibly imposed – is an enormous [advance in] awareness [Bewusstsein], itself the product of the mode of production resting on capital, and as much the knell to its doom as, with the slave’s awareness that he cannot be the property of another, with his consciousness of himself as a person, the existence of slavery becomes a merely artificial, vegetative existence, and ceases to be able to prevail as the basis of production.” (p.463)
“A presupposition of wage labour, and one of the historic preconditions for capital, is free labour and the exchange of this free labour for money, in order to reproduce and to realize money, to consume the use value of labour not for individual consumption, but as use value for money. Another presupposition is the separation of free labour from the objective conditions of its realization – from the means of labour and the material for labour. Thus, above all, release of the worker from the soil as his natural workshop – hence dissolution of small, free landed property as well as of communal landownership resting on the oriental commune. In both forms, the worker relates to the objective conditions of his labour as to his property; this is the natural unity of labour with its material [sachlich] presuppositions. The worker thus has an objective existence independent of labour. The individual relates to himself as proprietor, as master of the conditions of his reality. He relates to the others in the same way and – depending on whether this presupposition is posited as proceeding from the community or from the individual families which constitute the commune – he relates to the others as co-proprietors, as so many incarnations of the common property, or as independent proprietors like himself, independent private proprietors – beside whom the previously all-absorbing and all-predominant communal property is itself posited as a particular ager publicus alongside the many private landowners.” (p.471)
*All passages are from the Penguin Classics edition.