Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

to transform at one pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, at the opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage-labourers. If money, according to Augier, "comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek," capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.1


CHAPTER XV
WHAT CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION LEADS TO

(Extracted from vol. II, ch. 32.)

WHAT does the primitive accumulation of capital, i. e., its historical genesis, resolve itself into? In so far as it is not immediate transformation of slaves and serfs into wage- labourers, and therefore a mere change of form, it only means the expropriation of the immediate producers, i. e., the dissolution of private property based on the labour of its owner.

The private property of the labourer in his means of production is the foundation of petty industry; petty industry, again, is an essential condition for the development of social production and of the free individuality of the labourer himself. Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence. But it flourishes, it lets loose its whole energy, only where the labourer is the private owner of his own means of labour set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso.

____________________
1
"Capital is said to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both. Smuggling and the slave-trade have amply proved all that is here stated." ( T. J. Dunning, Trade- Unions and Strikes, London, 1860, p. 36.)

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