Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
Part 3) Relative Surplus Value

Volume 34, MECW, p. 8-61
g) Machinery utilisation of the Forces of Nature and of Science (Steam, Electricity, Mechanical and Chemical Agencies). Conclusion[5]

Replacement of Labour by Machinery

[XX-1251] //p. 138a, Notebook IV.

The relations mentioned there belong to the section we are coming to now, namely the relation between wages and surplus value. However, what was said there, all of which, properly speaking, refers to relative surplus value and therefore presupposes the magnitude of the total working day as a given quantity, needs to be supplemented in two respects:

Machinery lessens the number of workers employed by a given capital. Hence, if on the one hand it raises the rate of surplus value, on the other hand it reduces its amount, because it reduces the number of workers employed simultaneously by a given capital.

Secondly: The increase in productive power, hence the fall in the prices of commodities and the devaluation of labour capacity, allows the purchase of more labour capacity with the same capital. Thus not only is the rate of surplus value (quoad the individual worker) increased, but there is also an increase in the number of workers who can be exploited simultaneously using the same capital.[6] This is true of all the means which increase the productive power of labour (hence also true for machinery).

Surplus value (we are not concerned here with profit) always = surplus labour. The rate of surplus value, i.e. the ratio between the surplus labour of the individual worker and his necessary labour, = the ratio of the total surplus value created by capital to the variable capital. For the variable capital = the wage of the individual worker multiplied by the number of workers employed at the same time by this capital.

Assuming that the wage of the individual worker is 10, and the number of workers is x, the variable capital (equal to the total amount of wages paid out) = 10x. If the surplus value created by the individual worker = 2, the surplus value created by x workers = 2x. And the ratio 2x/10x , i.e. the ratio of the total surplus value to the variable capital is the same, 2/10, [as] the rate of surplus value the individual worker creates. 2/10 = 1/5, i.e. the surplus labour time = 1/5 of the necessary labour time. It therefore follows that the rate of surplus value can only rise or fall in an inverse ratio to the necessary labour, and that the rate of surplus value always = the rate of surplus labour.

But it has been demonstrated in considering absolute surplus value that its amount depends not only on its rate, but on the a number of workers employed at the same time. Now, however, the development of productive power increases the number of workers who can be employed simultaneously by a variable capital of a given magnitude. If the wage = a, and the number of workers = x, the variable capital = ax. If we assume that ax is a constant magnitude, = v (variable capital), it is clear that the smaller a is, the larger will x be, the number of workers, and the larger a, the smaller x. The number of labour capacities which can be bought with a given variable capital, v, evidently depends on, rises and falls with, the value of those labour capacities. Therefore, in so far as the increase in the productive powers of labour depreciates labour capacity, it increases the number of labour capacities v can buy simultaneously. Thus the same means which raise the rate of relative surplus value or lessen necessary labour time also increase the quantity of surplus value, not only because they raise the rate of exploitation of the individual worker but also because more workers can be exploited at this rate with the same capital, v. So an increase in surplus value takes place, not only because the rate of surplus value rises, but also because the quantity of workers exploited by the same capital v grows. Relative surplus value therefore implies not only a reduction of necessary labour time, but also an increase in the number of workers exploited by the same v. To that extent, a rise in relative surplus value is not simply identical with a fall in the rate of necessary labour time, for both factors of surplus value are simultaneously affected by the rise in relative surplus value, both the [XX-1252] rate of surplus value and the number of workers exploited by a v of the same value.

This by no means contradicts the law that with the development of the productive forces, hence of capitalist production, the ratio of variable capital, i.e. that laid out in wages, to total capital falls, because its proportion to constant capital falls — and profit must be examined chiefly from this point of view. Nor does it contradict the fact, which emerges in particular when one considers machinery, that the same capital (total capital) reduces the number of workers it employs. Assume that the total capital is 500; let the original ratio v:c (variable to constant) = 400:100, hence 4/5 v and 1/5 c Let the constant capital rise from 100 to 400 as a result of capitalist development. This development may be accompanied not only by a fall from 400 to 100 in the capital laid out in wages, because the number of workers employed by the capital has undergone a 4fold reduction, but also a fall from 100 to only 50, for the same reasons, in the cost of this number of workers, now reduced to 1/4 of its former size. The same variable capital of 400 would now set in motion twice the number of workers, and the remaining variable capital of 50 now in fact sets in motion — for its aliquot part — twice as great a number of workers as previously. There has been a relative increase in the number of workers set in motion by variable capital, even though there has been a fall in this variable capital and thereby in the absolute number of workers employed.[7]

Absolute surplus value — which presupposes a given level of productivity — can increase the number of workers simultaneously employed and therefore the amount of surplus value, at a given rate, only in so far as there is a growth in capital, more capital is employed altogether; it does contribute to this growth, admittedly, in so far as the accumulation of capital — the reconversion of surplus value into capital — increases with the increase in surplus value, no matter how the latter process can be effectuated. But relative surplus value directly increases the rate of gratis labour, and lessens the absolute wage, thus making it possible to exploit more workers at the same time with the same variable capital at the increased rate of exploitation. It makes it possible to draw in more labour capacities with the same wage payment (also through the introduction of female and child labour), and thus has an impact on the population absolutely (just as, in relative terms, it constantly increases it by making some sort of labour of other continuously redundant), thereby increasing the mass of living labour capacities which forms the basis for exploitation by capital; the animate material from which surplus value is extracted.//

If the quantity of workers employed is reduced by machinery in a single branch, while their wages are at the same time reduced by the cheapening of the commodities which enter into the workers’ consumption, there is a simultaneous reduction in wages in all other branches of capitalist production, in which this revolution has not taken place, because one of the elements which go to make up wages has fallen in value. Here the same quantity of labour is employed as before, but using less capital. A part of the capital previously laid out in wages is therefore freed.[8]

The capital thus set free can be invested in the same branches of production, to extend them, or in new branches. And since machinery takes hold, now of one branch, now of another (disregarding here the fact that the use value of the income is increased, hence a greater part of it can be reconverted back into capital), capital is in this manner continuously set free. This is naturally slower to take effect than the displacement of the workers by machinery. On the other hand, the demand of those thrown out of work falls or ceases altogether. Therefore the capitals which in part derived their return from the consumption of these workers are in part depreciated, if they cannot find a foreign market for the part of their product which has been set free in this way. But the variable capital which has now been converted into constant capital, ceases to constitute a demand for labour. Even the labour it originally set in motion (machine workers, etc.) is never as much as the labour it releases, for this part of the capital, e.g. 1,000 laid out in machines, now represents not only the wages of the mechanics, but at the same time the profit of these capitalists, whereas previously it only represented wages (Ricardo).[9]

[XX-1253] As an infinite drive for enrichment, capital strives for the infinite increase of the productive forces. On the other hand, every increase in the productive powers of labour — leaving aside the fact that it increases use values for capital — is an increase in the productive power of capital and it is only a productive power of labour in so far as it is a productive power of capital.[10]


We have shown alio loco that, in so far as the reproduction process of the total capital is confined to the reproduction of the process on the previous scale, the different moments are conditioned by natural laws, and that in fact exchange takes place between the surplus value of the producers of constant capital and the constant capital of the producers of the means of subsistence, etc. We have further seen how a part of this surplus value of all classes is exchanged for the new gold and silver of the producers of the precious metals.[11] But to the extent that the reproduction process is a process of direct accumulation, i.e. the conversion of surplus value (income) into capital, there is no such mutual dependence. It is possible that a part, whether of the commodities which enter into constant capital or form constant capital, or even of the commodities which enter into variable capital, exchanges definitively for money, whether hoarded money or new supplies of gold and silver, and that on one side the surplus is fixed to the spot in this money form as latent capital. In this form it is a draft on future labour. As such, it is a matter of indifference whether this exists in the form of tokens of value, debt claims, etc. It may be replaced by any other title. Like the state creditor with his coupons, every capitalist possesses a draft on future labour in his newly acquired value, and by appropriating present labour he has already appropriated future labour. The accumulation of capital in the money form is by no means a material accumulation of the material conditions of labour. It is rather an accumulation of property titles to labour.[12]

There is a distinction between absolute and relative surplus value which emerges for variable capital. In the first case, v can only employ n workers, e.g. with 100 thalers it can employ 100 workers. The ratio between the value of the variable capital and the number of workers simultaneously employed is constant here. Admittedly, if the working day is prolonged in absolute terms, 100 workers who work 16 hours (their product = 1,600 hours of labour) replace 133 1/3 workers who work only 12 hours (for 12×133 1/3 = 1,600 hours of labour). Or, in other words, the same aim is achieved by prolonging labour time by 4 hours as if 33 1/3 more workers working the old day of 12 hours were to be added. Leaving aside the fact that the instruments of labour, factory buildings, etc., are saved for these 33 1/3 workers, a saving which occurs even if the 4 surplus labour hours are paid in the same proportion as the 12, hence are not appropriated by the capitalist altogether gratis. This represents a positive saving in the constant capital laid out, which does not need to grow here in the same measure as the quantity of labour exploited.

If a part of the constant capital (instrument of labour, buildings, etc.) is worn out more rapidly, firstly this does not happen in the same proportion (neither in the case of the instrument, nor, even less, in the case of the buildings) as the increase in the productive use of these conditions of labour. Secondly, no component of surplus value is thereby added to the commodities produced, since the proportion of these conditions of labour to the labour itself remains constant in the worst case, but in reality falls. Thirdly, the more rapid turnover, which at once replaces greater capital outlays, is of direct profit to the capitalist. The individual capitalist never has more than a certain amount of capital at his disposal. Every acceleration of turnover, which permits him to exploit the same quantities of labour with a lessened capital outlay — since the rapidity of circulation lessens the size of the capital that needs to be laid out and allows the same operations to be carried out with a smaller amount of [XX-1254] capital — reduces the production costs of the exploitation and increases his capacity of disposition over his capital. All these considerations, however, belong to — the examination of profit — where the ratio of the surplus value to the total amount of capital laid out is discussed.[13]

But as far as the variable capital is concerned, the capitalist must pay as much for 100 workers as for 133 1/3, if he pays the 4 hours of overtime at the same rate as the previous 12 hours; or if the 4 hours are divided into necessary and surplus labour in the same proportion as the 12 were. In this case no alteration in the variable capital would take place. As against this, if, once the working day is raised from 12 to 16 hours, more surplus labour in general is added for nothing, say for the sake of simplicity the whole of the 4 hours, a variable capital of 33 1/3 thalers is of course saved, namely the amount that needed to be laid out to produce the same magnitude of value under the 12-hour working day. Nevertheless, the 100 workers can only be employed for 100 thalers. The variable capital laid out for them remains constant in relation to the number employed by it, although it has fallen relatively in relation to the quantity of surplus labour set in motion by it, and therefore in relation to the increased number of workers who would have had to be paid under other circumstances.

The ratio between the value of the variable capital and the number of workers employed, however, changes as a result of the increase in the productive forces and the relative devaluation of labour capacity brought about by this. Now perhaps only 70 thalers are needed to employ the same 100 workers. This sets free a part of the variable capital, = 30 thalers, quite apart from the increase in relative surplus labour. The same number of workers produce more commodities, and provide a greater amount of surplus value. However, the rate of surplus value grows here because wages fall, hence there is also a decline in the value of the variable capital in proportion to the number of workers set in motion by it. It can now be seen that the ratio of variable to constant capital, its rise or fall, is subject to different variations from those affecting the ratio between the value of the variable capital and the number of labour capacities it can buy.

Since the surplus value a given variable capital produces is doubly determined, by the rate of surplus and by the number of workers employed at the same time, it can be seen in considering relative surplus value how the development of productive power and therefore the development of real capitalist production affects both these moments.[14]

With the division of labour and simple cooperation, it appears more clearly that the number of workers remains the same or even increases, but that they are set in motion, are represented, by a variable capital of relatively smaller value; with machinery the number of workers employed is reduced, and the value of the variable capital falls at the same time in proportion to the number of workers, so that if e.g. there are 50 workers instead of 100, the variable capital which sets these 50 in motion is smaller than the variable capital which set 100/2 or 50 in motion on the old scale.

Lauderdale makes the point against the saving of labour by machinery that this is not the characteristic thing, because labour performs operations by means of machinery which it could not do without it. The latter, however, concerns only the use value of the machine and has nothing to do with the exchange value of the commodities produced by it, hence it has nothing to do with the surplus value either.

The greater productivity of labour expresses itself in the fact that capital has to buy less necessary labour to produce the same value and a greater quantity of use values. The growth of the productive forces therefore implies that, if the total value of capital remains the same, or for a capital of a given magnitude, the constant part of it grows continuously relative to the variable, i.e. to that part of the capital which is laid out in living labour, the part which constitutes the wage fund. This means at the same time that a smaller amount of labour sets in motion a greater amount of capital.[15]

With absolute surplus value, the raw material must increase if the labour time is prolonged. But the quantity of labour and the quantity of constant capital (in so far as the latter grows at all, hence only the part of it which is formed by raw material) remain in a constant ratio, and grow [XX-1255] in a constant ratio. (Although the quantity of paid labour does not grow in the same ratio as the constant capital does. But the number of workers remains the same.) If the limit a of the working day is given here, constant and variable capital remain in the same ratio.

Although in considering surplus value we merely have to consider the ratio of the surplus labour to the variable capital, hence not the ratio of the surplus value to the total capital, the result that emerges is the same as is already to be noted in considering relative surplus value, namely that the development of the productive forces, which is the condition for the increase of relative surplus value, presupposes or is accompanied by two things:

1) Concentration of capital, i.e. an absolute increase in the amounts of value which must be present in the hands of the individual capitalists; for work on a large scale is a presupposition. Hence an increase in the total amounts of capital which represent the property of the individual capitalists. These amounts of capital must therefore be concentrated in a few hands.

2) While the absolute amounts of capital in the hands of the individual capitalist increase, take on social dimensions, there is at the same time a change in the composition of the capitals. The variable capital declines relatively in proportion to the constant capital, and forms a progressively smaller component of the total capital.

//The question is whether this should not be placed together in the following section, 8), where we derive the results from the characteristics of capitalist production.//[16]

If there is an increase in the total value of the capital which enters into the production process, the wage fund, the variable capital, must decline relatively, in comparison with the previous ratio, in which the productive power of labour remained the same. If the ratio changes in such a way that, out of 100, only 1/4 instead of 1/2 is laid out in labour, hence 75c+25v, the capital would have to increase from 100 to 200 in order to employ the same number of workers as before. Then [we should have] 150c+50v.

The 2 moments of surplus value are its rate, the surplus time the individual worker works, and the number of workers employed simultaneously, hence from the point of view of the total capital the surplus labour of the individual worker multiplied by the number of simultaneous workers, or by the working population. If the latter is given, the surplus value can only grow through a relative increase in surplus labour, and an absolute reduction in necessary labour time. If the rate is given, it can only grow through a growth in the population.

The ratio between the rate of surplus value and the number of simultaneously exploited workers receives a characteristic modification with the development of the productive forces, particularly through machinery — in short with the real development of capitalist production.

The ratio of the part of the individual working day (if its limit has been reached) which constitutes surplus labour to the part which consists of necessary labour time is modified by the development of the productive forces, so that the necessary labour is restricted to an ever smaller fractional part. But the same is then true for the population. A working population of, say, 6 millions can be considered as one working day of 6×12, i.e. 72 million hours of labour; so that the same laws are applicable here. But this first develops with the employment of machinery.

Capital can produce surplus labour only by positing necessary labour, i.e. by entering into exchange with the worker. It is therefore the tendency of capital to produce as much labour as possible, just as it is its tendency to reduce necessary labour to a minimum. It is therefore as much the tendency of capital to enlarge the working population as it is to posit a part of that population as a surplus population, = a population which is initially useless, until such time as capital can utilise it. (Surplus population and surplus capital.) It is as much the tendency of capital to render human labour superfluous, as to drive it on without limit. It must increase the number of simultaneous working days in order to increase the surplus; but equally, it must transcend it as necessary labour in order to posit it as surplus labour. [17] And indeed we see that the reduction in necessary labour presupposes cooperation, hence also the materials of labour, on a mass scale, and that the population is thus itself a means of positing surplus population, just as on the other hand — at a given rate of surplus labour — it sets a limit to the amount of labour that can be exploited simultaneously.

With respect to the single working day, the process is as follows: 1) to lengthen it to the limit of physical possibility; 2) to shorten more and more the necessary part of it. makes it The very process by which necessary labour is reduced possible to set to work new necessary labour; i.e. the Production of workers becomes cheaper, more workers can be produced in the same time in the measure to which the proportion of necessary labour time becomes smaller, or the time required for the production of the living labour capacities is reduced. This irrespective of the fact that the increase in population increases the productive power of labour, by making possible division of labour, cooperation, etc. [XX-1254a] Increase in population is a natural power of labour for which nothing is paid.

On the other hand, it is just as much the tendency of capital — as previously in the case of the single working day — now to reduce to a minimum the many simultaneous working days (which, so far as value alone is concerned, can be regarded as one single working day), i.e. to posit as many of them as possible as not necessary. As previously in the case of the single working day it was the tendency of capital to reduce the hours of necessary labour, so now it tends to reduce the necessary working days in relation to the total of objectified labour time. If 6 are necessary to produce 12 hours of surplus labour, capital works towards the reduction of these 6 to 4. 6×2 = 4×3. Thus 4 workers who work 3 surplus [hours] produce as much surplus value as 6 workers each of whom only works 2 surplus hours. Or 6 working days = a working day of 72 hours. The surplus labour here = 12 hours, hence the necessary labour = 60 hours. If capital succeeds in reducing necessary labour time by 24 hours (i.e. by two working days or 2 workers), the total working day remains 60-24+12 = 36+12 = 48, of which 12 are surplus [hours]. On the other hand, the newly created surplus capital can be valorised as such only by being exchanged for living labour. Hence it is just as much the tendency of capital constantly to increase the working population as it is constantly to diminish the necessary part of it, i.e. posit a part of it as surplus population, overpopulation. It is a reserve. Au fond this is only the application of what has been developed in the case of the single working day. All the contradictions expressed, but not understood, in modern population theory[18] are, therefore, already latent here.[19]

Ricardo, in speaking of machinery, correctly states that capital makes a redundant population. It has the tendency both to increase the population absolutely and to posit an ever-increasing part of the latter as surplus population.

The division of labour and the combination of labour within the production process is a machinery which costs the capitalist nothing. He pays for the individual labour capacities, not for their combination, not for the social power of labour. Another productive force which costs him nothing is scientific power. The growth of the population is a further productive force which costs nothing. But it is only through the possession of capital — in particular in its form as machinery — that he can appropriate for himself these free productive forces; the latent wealth and powers of nature just as much as all the social powers of labour which develop with the growth of the population and the historical development of society.

The reduction of necessary labour relative to surplus labour is expressed, if we consider a single working day, in the appropriation of a larger part of the working day by capital. Here the living labour which is employed remains the same. Let us assume that 3 workers out of 6 are made superfluous through the employment of machinery. If the 6 workers themselves possessed the machinery, they would now work for only half a day each (presupposing, that is, that this proportion applies generally, so that a use value of the value of 6 hours performs the same service as previously the use value of the value of 12 hours did). Now 3 continue to work for the whole day each day of the week.

Assume that necessary labour previously amounted to 10 hours and surplus labour to 2 hours daily; in this case the surplus labour performed by the 6 workers amounted to 2×6 hours = 1 working day, and over the week to the weekly surplus labour of a single worker. Each worked one day a week gratis. It would be the same as if 5 workers had worked only for themselves and the 6th had worked gratis for the whole of the week. One worker in 6 costs the capitalist nothing. The 5 workers represent necessary labour. If their number could be reduced to 4, and the one worker worked for nothing as before, relative surplus value would have grown. Previously, its ratio was 1:6 and it is now 1:5. If each one, instead of working 10 hours of necessary labour time, only works 93/5, hence surplus [labour] is 2 2/5 instead of 2, 2 2/5 ×5 = 12 hours of labour = 1 whole working day, and it would be the same as if 1 of the 5 workers represented the whole of the surplus labour, and the other 4 worked the necessary labour time for themselves and for the 5th worker. The variable capital would have fallen from 6x (x = the wage) to 5x. 6x was = 5 weekdays, and 5x is now = 4 weekdays, but provides the same surplus value. Thus the rate of surplus value has grown. The same quantity of surplus labour is extracted with less variable capital.

If it is possible for this capital to employ the 6 workers at the new rate, surplus value will increase not merely relatively to the variable capital laid out, but absolutely as well. For now each of 6 workers works 2 2 /5 hours a day gratis. This = (2 +2/5)6 = 72/5 = 14 2/5. Previously it was only = 12. 2 2/5 performed by 6 is of course more than 2 2/5 performed by 5.[20]

[XX-1255a] Given this new rate, capital again has an interest in employing as many workers as possible at this rate, partly in consequence of the law, developed in the case of absolute surplus value, that if the rate of surplus value is given, its amount can only grow in proportion to the number of workers employed simultaneously a; partly because the advantages deriving from the combination and division of labour grow as the number of workers employed simultaneously grows.

The tendency of capital is, of course, to link absolute surplus value with relative; hence the greatest possible extension of the working day and the maximum number of simultaneous workers, accompanied by the reduction of necessary labour time to the minimum and therefore a restriction of the necessary number of workers to the minimum. The contradictions involved here appear as a process in which mutually contradictory conditions alternate in time. One necessary consequence is the greatest possible diversification of the use value of labour — or of the branches of production — so that capital’s production strives on the one hand for the development and intensification of productive power and on the other hand for a limitless variety of branches of labour, i.e. that production should have the maximum of all-round content, subjecting to itself all aspects of nature.[21]

a) D'abord, any concern with profit is to be left aside here. Machinery can always step into the place of workers, whether they worked as independent handicraftsmen or in manufacture based on the division of labour, as soon as the price of the commodity is thereby lessened, and this always takes place once the part of the value which falls to the individual commodity as depreciation of the machinery is smaller than the value added to the commodity by the labour replaced by the machine. Because as the machinery replaces labour, it goes without saying that less living labour enters into the individual commodity, or a smaller amount of living labour produces the same quantity of commodities as before, or a greater quantity. Hence the price of the individual commodity falls under these circumstances, since it = the value of the machinery used up in it + the value of the labour added, which is the smaller, the greater the quantity of use values a given quantity of living labour produces. It is not necessary to speak here of the value of the raw material, because it is constant for both kinds of production, the old and the new. Raw material enters into both as a given value.

But the total amount of more cheaply produced commodities is not greater than the total amount of more expensively produced commodities. I.e., if the same labour time (objectified +living labour) produces twice as many commodities as before, this double quantity of commodities is now worth only the same amount as the half produced before. In itself, the cheapening of the commodity brought about by machinery creates no surplus value. The surplus value remains, as before, equal to the surplus labour, the excess [of the total labour performed] over the necessary labour. But since the number of workers a capital of a given magnitude sets in motion has become smaller — owing to the employment of machinery — the total quantity of living labour set in motion by that capital has also become smaller. So that for the surplus value to remain the same it must increase relatively, i.e. a greater part than previously of the now’ smaller total quantity of labour must be surplus labour, or, and this is the same thing, the smaller number of workers must provide the same quantity of surplus labour as the greater number did previously. The surplus value would then stay the same, but would even so have grown relatively, since wages, and therefore the variable capital, would have fallen. For to say that a greater proportion of the total quantity of labour is surplus labour means nothing more than that the [proportion of] necessary labour, labour necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity, has fallen. Hinc the amount of wages [has fallen too]. Despite this relative rise in surplus value and fall in wages, the capitalist would have no more surplus value to pocket than before, because the rate of surplus value would only have risen in the same proportion as the number of workers has fallen, hence the total amount of surplus value, = the result of multiplying the number of workers by the rate of surplus value, would have remained the same. Therefore for the employment of machinery to bring the capitalist more surplus value for a given capital the surplus value would have to grow absolutely, i.e. the reduced number of workers would have to do not only just as much surplus labour as the greater number did before, but more surplus labour than they did.

Now, however — leaving aside the fact that skilled labour is reduced to simple labour — the wage only falls in so far as the cheaper commodities produced by machinery enter into the worker’s consumption, thereby cheapening the reproduction of labour capacity and depreciating its value, so that it is represented by a wage of lesser [XX-1256] value.

It is clear, firstly, that this reduction of wages by machinery is not simultaneous with the latter’s introduction, but only occurs gradually; however, once the fall in the value of the commodity produced by the machinery has become general, surplus value rises, not just in the branch where machinery has been introduced, but in all branches of production, since one element of the value of labour capacity has undergone a general fall. Indeed, surplus value rises more in branches where machinery has not been introduced, for those branches employ the same number of workers as before, but pay less for them. This cannot therefore be a motive for the branch of production which is introducing machinery.

Secondly, machinery only cheapens the particular product of a particular branch of production; this product only enters into the value of labour capacity or the consumption of the worker as a particular item, and only reduces that value in the proportion to which it forms an element in the worker’s means of subsistence. The depreciation of labour capacity which results from this — or the surplus value which results from this — therefore stands in no relation to the proportion to which the machinery has increased the productive power of labour or reduced the number of workers necessary for the production of a given quantity of use values.

Thirdly, however, it is clear that the surplus labour provided by a smaller number of workers as a result of the introduction of machinery — hence in the branches of production where machinery has been introduced — can only grow absolutely up to a certain limit, or even only be kept equal, within certain limits, to the surplus labour provided by a greater number of workers before the introduction of machinery. E.g. if the working day = 12 hours, the machine replaces 24 workers by 2, and the surplus labour previously amounted to 1 hour, the quantity of surplus labour provided by the 24 = 24 hours or 2 working days, hence as large as the total amount of labour provided by the 2 workers, taking necessary and surplus labour together. The greater the proportion in which the machinery reduces the number of workers set in motion by a given capital, the more impossible does it become for the number of workers remaining to provide a greater amount of surplus labour than, or an equal amount to, that provided by the workers who have been displaced, however much the relative surplus labour time they work may grow.

But the value of a commodity is determined by the labour time necessary to produce it under the conditions of production prevailing in general. The capitalists who are first to introduce machinery into a particular branch of production produce the commodity with the expenditure of less labour time than the time socially necessary. The individual value of their commodity therefore stands below its social value. This therefore enables them — until machinery has taken over generally in that branch of production — to sell the commodity above its individual value, although they are selling it below its social value. Or the labour of their workers appears so far as higher labour, standing above average labour, and its product therefore has a higher value. Thus, for the capitalist who introduces machinery, a smaller number of workers in fact produce a higher surplus value than was produced by the larger number of workers.

Let us assume that 2 workers have displaced 12. The 2 produce as much as the 12 did. Each of the 12 had to work 1 hour surplus, hence 12 hours altogether. If the capitalist now sells his product at 24, the old total of labour time (22 of which are necessary labour and 2 surplus labour),+10 hours, the whole of the surplus labour of the 10 who have been displaced, the part of the value of the product which corresponds to the raw material remains the same. Let the depreciation of the machinery which enters into the product (from which one must further deduct in the comparison the depreciation of the old handicraft tools) amount annually to ‘/lo of the machinery which displaced the 10 workers. [22] The total amount of the previous product cost 12×12 hours = 144 hours + the raw material + the depreciation of the old handicraft tools. The total amount of product produced by machinery = 24 hours + 10 hours + 120/10 = 12 = 46 hours. The price of a single commodity has therefore fallen greatly. The raw material can be left out of account on both sides. The capitalist therefore extracts a surplus value of 12 hours out of the 24 hours.[23] Or each of the 2 workers provides for him as much surplus as 6 did previously. It is the same as if he had reduced necessary labour time to 6 hours and bought the whole working day with the value of the product of half the working day.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the reduction in the number of workers set in motion with a given capital, and therefore in one of the factors which constitute surplus value, a reduction resulting from the introduction of machinery, gives rise in part to the tendency, which is precisely a feature of the mechanical workshop, to prolong absolute labour time, hence to have the 2 workers work e.g. 16 or 17 hours, when they previously only worked 12. This tendency receives all possible facilities from the character of machinery, and, apart from the motive indicated, it is accompanied by yet further motives, which will be developed later (in connection with profit and as determined by the ratio between variable and constant capital).

[XX-1257] Once machinery has been introduced generally into the branch of production, thereby obliterating the difference between the individual and the social value of the commodity produced by it, there is naturally an increase in this tendency to expand the amount of surplus value — lessened by the reduction in the number of workers — by absolutely lengthening the working day, and thus increasing the absolute quantity of labour extracted from this smaller number of workers.

Once barriers have been put up against this tendency and the normal working day has been established, the tendency is to increase the intensity of labour and thus to valorise it as standing above simple labour. This point has already been developed.

In so far as machinery brings about a direct reduction of wages for the workers employed by it, by e.g. using the demand of those rendered unemployed to force down the wages of those in employment, it is not part of our task to deal with this case. It belongs to the theory of wages.[24] In our investigation we proceed from the assumption that the labour capacity is paid at its value, hence wages are only reduced by the depreciation of that labour capacity, or, what is the same thing, by the cheapening of the means of subsistence entering into the workers’ consumption. Here, in contrast, it is not a matter of a reduction in the value of the average wage, but of a reduction below its previous average (expressed quantitatively, in use values), of a reduction in the average itself or a fall in the price of labour below its value.

But the following is indeed relevant here:

Firstly: The fact that owing to the direct exploitation of the labour of women and children, who must earn their wages themselves, so that a greater amount of labour from the whole of the worker’s family falls to the share of capital, firstly: there is an increase in the total amount of exploitable labour a given population offers to capital, hence also in the amount of surplus labour extractable from this working population; secondly: the labour capacity of the adult worker is depreciated. Previously the worker’s wage had to suffice to maintain himself and his family. The wife worked for their house, not for the capitalist, and the children only began to earn the equivalent for their consumption at an advanced age. The wage of the adult père de famille had to suffice not only to maintain them without labour on their part, but also to replace the cost of developing their labour capacity, which is reduced almost to 0 by machinery.

Now, in contrast, women and children not only reproduce an equivalent of their consumption but at the same time [produce] surplus value. Thus the whole family must provide a greater amount of labour, necessary + surplus labour, must supply more surplus labour in order to squeeze out the same average wage for the whole family.

Secondly: In so far as machinery replaces the skilled independent handicraftsman, replacing equally the specialisation developed through the division of labour with simple labour, differentiated at most by distinctions of age and sex, it reduces all labour capacities to simple labour capacities and all labour to simple labour, whereby the total amount of labour capacities is depreciated.

All this refers to the workers employed by machinery. We shall come back later to the workers who have to compete with the new machine workers or those working with improved machinery.

b) We now have two further questions to investigate. Firstly, how far the effects of machinery differ from those of the division of labour and simple cooperation, and secondly the effects of machinery on those thrown out of work, displaced by it.

It is characteristic of all social forms and combinations of labour developed within capitalist production that they curtail the time necessary for the production of commodities, hence also lessen the number of workers required to produce a given quantity of commodities (and similarly surplus value). Yet it is only in machinery, and in the mechanical workshop based on the application of the new system of developed machinery, that the replacement of workers by a part of constant capital (by the part of the product of labour which again becomes a means of labour) exists; in general, only here does the rendering of the workers superfluous emerge as an explicit and conscious tendency and a tendency acting on a large scale. Past labour appears here as a means of replacing living labour or lessening the number of workers. This reduction in human labour appears here as a capitalist speculation, as a means of increasing surplus value.

(This can in fact only take place to the extent that the commodities produced by machinery enter as means of subsistence into the consumption of the worker, or form reproductive elements of labour capacity. Nevertheless, in so far as the individual value of the commodities produced by machinery is initially, before the general introduction of machinery, [XX-1258] different from their social value, and the individual capitalist pockets part of this difference, it is a general tendency of capitalist production to replace human labour by machinery in all branches of production.)

It is also with the coming of machinery that the worker first directly fights against the productive power developed by capital, seeing in it a principle antagonistic to him personally, to living labour. The destruction of machinery and the resistance in general on the part of the workers to the introduction of machinery is the first declaration of war against the mode of production and the means of production developed by capitalist production. Nothing of this kind takes place with simple cooperation and the division of labour. On the contrary. The division of labour within manufacture in a certain manner reproduces the division of labour between the different crafts. The only antagonism we find here is the prohibition, on the part of the guild and the medieval organisation of labour, on the employment by a single master of more than a maximum of workers, and the complete ban on their employment by a mere merchant, who is not a master. This antagonism is instinctively directed against the general foundation on which alone the transition from the handicraft-based to the capitalist mode of production can take place, namely the cooperation of many workers under a single master, and against production on a mass scale, although the social powers of labour which this mass production develops, and the depreciation or even

replacement of living labour by the product of past labour, could not here as yet be present to consciousness.

The division of labour and simple cooperation never rest directly upon replacing labour or rendering workers superfluous, since their basis is on the one hand the conglomeration of workers, on the other hand the establishment of a living machinery or system of machines by means of these conglomerated workers. Admittedly, labour is rendered relatively superfluous by these methods. E.g. when a manufactory based on the division of labour, with 30 workers, produces x times as many locks as 30 independent locksmiths could produce, not only are the independent locksmiths driven out of business when they come into competition with the manufactory, but the growth in the production of locks no longer presupposes, as it did previously, a proportionate growth in the number of locksmiths. This appears more as a transformation of guild masters and their journeymen into capitalists and wage labourers than as a displacement of the wage labourers themselves by the application of capital and scientific knowledge. The latter form is the less likely to be seen in that manufactories appear only sporadically, in so far as they appear before the invention of machinery; they by no means seize hold of all branches, and they coincide with the initial development of industrial labour on a large scale and the requirements based on this. The later manufactories, which go hand in hand with machinery, have it as a presupposition, even if they are only able to employ it partially as yet. They have as a presupposition the surplus population formed by machinery and constantly renewed by it.

Adam Smith could therefore still view the division of labour in manufacture and the increase in the number of workers as identical expressions. (See the one quotation.)

Here the main form always remains — the relative number of workers (because the quantity of labour) required to produce a given amount of the commodity is reduced, or the same number produce more (hence also the demand for labour for the expansion of production falls relatively), but at the same time more workers must be employed in order to bring about this relative increase in productive power. The tangible, visible form in which this appears here is a relative reduction of the necessary labour time, not a reduction in the absolute amount of labour employed; because the living worker, and the number of workers simultaneously employed, always remains the basis here. The more so as the emergence of manufacture falls in a period during which needs, the amount of commodities being exchanged, and foreign trade (in fact a relative world market) suddenly underwent an immense expansion. We therefore only find manufacture in conflict with handicraft production, by no means with wage labour itself, which (in the towns) first assumes an existence on a broad scale with this mode of production.

The necessary labour time is changed, but only because of the growth in the number of workers employed simultaneously, and in general because industrial labour as wage labour is separated from handicraft and rural patriarchal production. But the basis of this development of productive power is always the worker and the extension of his specific kind of skill. The situation is admittedly different in large-scale agriculture, which develops simultaneously with manufacture. From the outset this type of agriculture operates in the manner of machinery, but in fact only because here, both in the conversion of arable land into pasture and in the employment of better implements and horses, past labour, as with machinery, steps forth as a means of replacing or lessening living labour.

[XX-1259] As regards machinery, however:

Where new branches of industry are founded on machinery, one cannot of course speak of the replacement of workers by machinery. But this case does not in general arise until machinery is already developed; in an advanced epoch of the mode of production based on it, and even here only to an infinitesimally small extent, whether compared with commodities where human labour is displaced by machinery, or commodities which replace those produced previously by hand labour alone.

The first thing is always the application of machinery to branches where the work was previously carried on as a handicraft or manufacture. With this the machine steps forth as a revolution in the mode of production altogether, emerging from the capitalist mode of production. The purpose, once the mechanical workshop has been set up, is to make continuous improvements in the machinery, which will either subordinate to the machine system sections of the workshop not yet subordinated to it, or reduce the number of workers employed, or put the labour of women and children in place of that of adult male workers, or, finally, increase the productive power of the same number of workers to a greater extent than in manufacture (which is therefore directly felt by the workers) thereby lessening the relative number of workers required for the production of a given quantity of commodities.

The formula with machinery is not the relative shortening of the single working day — the shortening of its necessary part — but the reduction of the number of workers, i.e. of the working day which is composed of many simultaneous working days put together — the reduction of its necessary part; i.e. the aim is to throw out, to extinguish, a certain number of workers, as being superfluous to the production of surplus labour; leaving aside the annihilation of the specialisation developed through the division of labour and the resultant depreciation of labour capacity. Past labour — and the social circulation of labour — is consciously treated here as a means of rendering living labour superfluous. In the other form, necessary labour time is the basis on which surplus labour is developed. Here, inversely, what is calculated is how a given quantity of surplus labour can be obtained through the possession of a given quantity of necessary labour.

Here the antithesis between capital and wage labour develops into a complete contradiction, in that capital appears as a means, not only of depreciating living labour capacity, but of making it superfluous; completely superfluous for particular processes, but on the whole as a means of reducing it to the smallest possible number. Necessary labour is directly posited here as superfluous — overpopulation — in so far as it is not required for the production of surplus labour.

We have already explained a how in this way capital — against its will — in fact lessens the amount of surplus labour a given capital can produce. Hence in turn the contrary tendency to cause the relatively small number of workers actually employed by machinery to do as much absolute surplus labour as possible, i.e. to extend the absolute working day.

The political economists of the period of large-scale industry therefore attack the erroneous view, which still prevailed in the period of manufacture, that it was in the interest of the state — i.e. here the capitalist class — to employ the largest possible number of workers. The task appears to be the opposite one, to reduce as far as possible the number of workers required for the production of surplus labour and to make population redundant.[25]

g) What this amounts to for the worker is not only the annihilation of his special skill and the depreciation of his labour capacity, but the annihilation, for a constantly fluctuating section of workers, of their only commodity — labour capacity — which is posited as superfluous by machinery, whether because part of the work is entirely taken over by the machinery, or because the number of workers assisting the machinery is very much reduced and the workers belonging to the previous mode of production and competing with the machinery are ruined. The labour time necessary for the production of the commodity for them as individuals is no longer the labour time socially necessary. Their labour of 16 to 18 hours now only has the [XX-1260] value of the 6 or 8 hours’ labour required with machinery. Confronted with a labour time prolonged beyond all normal limits and with inferior remuneration — since the value of their labour is regulated by the value of the commodities produced with machinery — they then take up the struggle against machinery until they finally go under. (See the example with the weavers in the supplementary notebook.[26])

If on the one hand machinery has the tendency constantly to throw workers out, whether from the mechanical workshop itself, or from the handicraft enterprise, on the other hand it has the tendency constantly to attract them, since once a particular stage of development of productive power is given, surplus value can only be increased by increasing the number of workers employed at the same time. This attraction and repulsion is the characteristic feature of machinery, hence the constant fluctuation in the worker’s existence.

It is also demonstrated in strikes that machinery is invented and employed in direct opposition to the claims of living labour, and that it appears as a means of defeating and breaking them. (See Ricardo on the constant antagonism between machinery and living labour. [27])

Here, therefore, we have, in a concentrated expression, the alienated form which the objective conditions of labour — past labour — assume against living labour; here we have it as a direct antagonism, in that past labour, hence the general social powers of labour, including natural forces and scientific knowledge, appear directly as weapons, used partly to throw the worker onto the streets, to posit him as a surplus object, partly to break down his special skill and the claims based on the latter, partly to subject him to the thoroughly organised despotism of the factory system and the military discipline of capital.

It is in this form, therefore, that the social conditions of labour, which emerge from the social productive power of labour and are posited by labour itself, appear most emphatically as forces not only alien to the worker, belonging to capital, but also directed in the interests of the capitalist in a hostile and overwhelming fashion against the individual worker. We have seen at the same time how the capitalist mode of production not only changes the labour process formally, but radically remoulds all its social and technological conditions[28]; and how capital here no longer appears as material conditions of labour — raw material and means of labour — not belonging to the worker, but as the quintessence of the social forces and forms of the individual worker’s common labour confronting him.

Here too past labour — in the automaton and the machinery moved by it — steps forth as acting apparently in independence of [living] labour, it subordinates labour instead of being subordinate to it, it is the iron man confronting the man of flesh and blood.[29] The subsumption of his labour under capital — the absorption of his labour by capital — which lies in the nature of capitalist production, appears here as a technological fact. The keystone of the arch is complete. Dead labour has been endowed with movement, and living labour only continues to be present as one of dead labour’s conscious organs. The living connection of the whole workshop no longer lies here in cooperation; instead, the system of machinery forms a unity, set in motion by the prime motor and comprising the whole workshop, to which the living workshop is subordinated, in so far as it consists of workers. Their unity has thus taken on a form which is tangibly autonomous and independent of them.

Here we should further cite, first, the relevant passages from Ure, etc., and, second, some comments on scientific knowledge and the forces of nature.

The workshop based on machinery constantly repels workers as necessary and, on the other hand, attracts those who have been repelled, to perform functions set by the machine itself. If e.g. 40 out of 50 workers have been dislodged, there is nothing at all to prevent 40 workers from being brought back on the basis of the new level of production. A more detailed discussion of this point does not belong here, however, since it concerns relations between variable and constant capital. The peculiar obsession of the political economists with demonstrating that in the long run large-scale industry based on the employment of machinery always re-absorbs the redundant population is laughable. First they want to prove that machinery is good because it saves labour, and then it is once again good because it doesn’t save any labour, compensating for its replacement of manual labour at one point by making manual labour necessary at another point. [XX-1261] For it is particularly the subsidiary labour, not performed by machinery but made necessary as a result of machinery, that bourgeois political economy points to as a consolation for the worker. The consolation therefore consists in the fact that machinery only apparently does away with drudgery, but in fact creates new forms of it alongside the old. Or, as far as concerns the workers employed in the mechanical workshop itself, that in spite of the machinery — and in spite of the fact that the toil of the individual worker is increased by machinery — the number of those condemned to this drudgery is itself increased. Incidentally, this is not the place to discuss this question in more detail, since it presupposes an examination of the real movement of capital which is not yet possible here. Nevertheless, the examples I have adduced so far make it possible at least to illustrate the effects of machinery in both directions. This is just as little the place to undertake any further demonstration of the way in which in agriculture the predominant tendency of machinery must be to make the population redundant not only temporarily but absolutely.

With machinery — and the mechanical workshop based on it — the domination of past labour over living labour assumes not only a social validity — expressed in the relation of capitalist and worker — but so to speak a technological validity.

One might ask how it is possible at all for the application of machinery — leaving aside a setting free of capital and labour — directly to make possible new and increased labour, since all labour, from start to finish, whether directly performed by machinery or presupposed by it, must be < than the amount of labour previously contained in the commodity produced without machinery. But although e.g. the quantity of labour contained in a yard of machine-made linen is < than that in a yard made without machinery, it by no means follows from this that if now 1,000 yards are produced with machinery where previously one yard was produced, there is not a great increase in labour — the labour of flax cultivation, transport and all kinds of intermediary labour. The increase concerns not the quantity of labour contained in a single yard, but the greater amount of preliminary labour — independent of the weaving itself — which 1,000 yards require, as opposed to one yard, whether in the preparation of the material or in the circulation (transport). Each yard would remain cheaper as a result of machine labour, although the thousand yards set in motion a thousand times as much subsidiary labour as the single yard did previously.

It is mass production — cooperation on a large scale, with the employment of machinery — that first subjugates the forces of nature on a large scale — wind, water, steam, electricity — to the direct production process, converts them into agents of social labour. (In agriculture, in its pre-capitalist forms, human labour appears rather as merely an assistant to the process of nature, which it does not control.) These forces of nature cost nothing as such. They are not the product of human labour. But their appropriation occurs only by means of machinery, which does have a cost, is itself the product of past labour. They are therefore only appropriated as agents of the labour process through machinery and by the owners of machinery.

Since these natural agents cost nothing, they enter into the labour process without entering into the valorisation process. They make labour more productive without raising the value of the product, without adding to the value of the commodity. They rather lessen [the value of] the single commodity, since the quantity of commodities produced in the same labour time is increased, hence the value of every aliquot part of this quantity is reduced. Thus, in so far as these commodities enter into the reproduction of labour capacity, the value of labour capacity is thereby reduced, or the labour time necessary for the reproduction of the wage is shortened, and the surplus labour is lengthened. To that extent, therefore, the forces of nature themselves are appropriated by capital, not through their raising the value of the commodities, but through their reducing it, through their entering into the labour process without entering into the valorisation process. The employment of these forces of nature on a large scale is only possible where machinery is employed on a large scale, hence also where there is a corresponding conglomeration of workers and cooperation of workers subsumed under capital.

The employment of the natural agents — their incorporation so to speak into capital — coincides with the development of scientific knowledge as an independent factor in the production process. In the same way as the production process becomes an application of scientific knowledge, so, conversely, does science become a factor, a function so to speak, of the production process.[30] Every invention becomes the basis of new inventions or new, improved methods of production. It is the capitalist mode of production which first puts the natural sciences [XX-1262] to the service of the direct production process, while, conversely, the development of production provides the means for the theoretical subjugation of nature. It becomes the task of science to be a means for the production of wealth; a means of enrichment.

This is the first mode of production where practical problems are posed which can only be solved scientifically. Only now is experience and observation — and the necessities of the production process itself — on a scale which permits and necessitates the application of scientific knowledge. Exploitation of science, of the theoretical progress of humanity. Capital does not create science, but it exploits it, appropriates it to the production process. There is at the same time a separation of science, as science applied to production, from direct labour, whereas at earlier stages of production the restricted measure of knowledge and experience is directly linked with labour itself, does not develop as an autonomous power separated from labour, and therefore in general never goes beyond a collection of procedures carried on traditionally and only expanding very slowly and little by little. (Learning by experience of the mysteries of each handicraft.) No separation of hand from brain.

Mr. Howell (one of the Factory Inspectors) says, in Reports etc. [of the Inspectors of] Factories [for the] Half Year ending 31st October 1856, pp. 53[-54]:

* “According to the best authority in such matters, it would seem that factory employment is a kind of drudgery which requires small cultivation of the faculties of the mind”,*

and he cites the masters themselves, as follows:

* “The factory operatives should keep in wholesome remembrance the fact that theirs is really a low species of skilled labour; and that there is none which is more easily acquired or of its quality more amply remunerated, or which, by a short training of the least expert can be more quickly as well as abundantly supplied.’ ‘The master’s machinery really plays a far more important part in the business of production than the labour and skill of the operative, which six months’ education can teach, and a common labourer can learn” * (The Master Spinners and Manufacturers’ Defence Fund. Report of the Committee appointed for the receipt and apportionment of this fund, to the Central Association of Master Spinners and Manufacturers, [Manchester, 1854,] pp. 17[-19]).

(The meaning of the * word factory as given in the interpretation clause of the Factory Act of 1844 (7 Victoria, c. 15, section 73) * is this:

* “The word factory ... shall be taken to mean all buildings and premises ... wherein or within the curtilage of which steam, water, or any other mechanical power shall be used to move or work machinery employed in preparing, manufacturing, or finishing, or in any process incident to the manufacture of cotton, etc.” *[31]

The particular object on which the factory works, such as cotton, wool, hair, silk, flax, hemp, jute or two, is of course a local matter, etc., and does not form part of the essential character of the factory.)

Just as machinery is described here as the “master’s machinery”, and its function is described as his function in the production process (The business of production), so equally is this true for the scientific knowledge which is embodied in this machinery, or in the methods of producing, chemical processes, etc. Science appears as a potentiality alien to labour, hostile to it and dominant over it, and its application — on the one hand concentration and on the other hand the development into a science of the knowledge, observations and craft secrets obtained by experience and handed down traditionally, for the purpose of analysing the production process to allow the application of the natural sciences to the material production process — this, the application of science, rests entirely on the separation of the intellectual potentialities of the process from the knowledge, understanding and skill of the individual worker, just as the concentration and development of the conditions of production and their conversion into capital rests on the divestiture — the separation — of the worker from those conditions. Instead, factory labour leaves the worker only a knowledge of certain hand movements; with this, therefore, the laws on apprenticeship are done away with; and the struggle of the state, etc., to get the factory children at least to learn reading and writing shows how this application of science upon the process of production coincides with the suppression of all intellectual development in the course of this process. Admittedly, a small class of higher workers does take shape, but this does not stand in any proportion to the masses of “deskilled” workers.

[XX-1263] On the other hand, two points are also clear:

The development of the natural sciences themselves //and they form the basis of all knowledge// as also the development of all knowledge with regard to the production process, itself takes place on the basis of capitalist production, which generally first produces the sciences’ material means of research, observation and experiment. In so far as the sciences are used as a means of enrichment by capital, and thereby become themselves a means of enrichment for those who develop them, the men of science compete with each other to discover practical applications for their science. Moreover, invention becomes a métier by itself. With capitalist production, therefore, the scientific factor is for the first time consciously developed, applied, and called into existence on a scale which earlier epochs could not have imagined.

“This invention” (of the iron man29) “confirms the great doctrine already propounded, that when capital enlists science in her service, the refractory hand of labour will always be taught docility” (Ure, l.c., [Vol.] II, [p.] 140 [p. 368]).

It is very good that the same Ure who tells us here that science in the service of capital subjects the refractory hand of labour to its yoke — as shown particularly in his account of the inventions called forth by STRIKES — makes this proclamation to the worker:

“What a different lot would be his, did he quietly move onwards in the progression of improvement designed by Providence to emancipate his animal functions from brute toil, and to leave his intelligent principle leisure to think of its immortal interests!” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 143 [p. 370]).

The same Ure who bluntly informs us here that science enlisted in the service of capital subjects labour to the yoke of capital [says]:

“The blessings which physico-mechanical science has bestowed on society, and the means it has still in store for ameliorating the lot of mankind, have been too little dwelt upon; while, on the other hand, it has been accused of lending itself to the rich capitalists as an instrument for harassing the poor, and of exacting from the operative an accelerated rate of work” (Ure, Vol. I, [p.] 10 [p. 7]).

//Since Ure has in fact expressed the spirit of the factory system, and of modern industry in general, more correctly than any other official spokesman, let us bring together here a brief collection of his own contradictory statements:

Vol. I, p. 13: “This class of operatives, who, though inmates of factories, are not, properly speaking, factory workers, being independent of the moving power, have been the principal source of the obloquy so unsparingly cast on the cotton and other factories” [pp. 8-9].

As if these assistants of the actual machine workers were not a necessary result of the system!

“By the infirmity of human nature it happens, that the more skilful the workman, the more self-willed and intractable he is apt to become, and, of course, the less fit a component of a mechanical system, in which, by occasional irregularities, he may do great damage to the whole. The grand object therefore of the modern manufacturer is, through the union of capital and science, to reduce the task of his work-people to the exercise of vigilance and dexterity, — faculties, when concentred to one process, speedily brought to perfection in the young” (Vol. I, [pp.] 30-31 [pp. 20-21]).

Thus, that cramping of the faculties, that narrowing of the mind, that stunting of the frame, which were ascribed, and not unjustly, by moral writers, to the division of labour, cannot, in common circumstances, occur under the equable distribution of industry — ([Vol.] I, [p.] 34 [pp. 22-23]).

“It is, in fact, the constant aim and tendency of every improvement in machinery to supersede human labour altogether, or to diminish its cost, by substituting the industry of women and children for that of men; or that of ordinary labourers, for trained artisans” ([Vol.] I, [pp. 34-]35 [p. 23]).

“The principle of the factory system then is, to substitute mechanical science for [XX-1264] hand skill, and the partition of a process into its essential constituents, for the division or graduation of labour among artisans” ([Vol.] I, [p.] 30 [p. 20]).

“On the graduation system, a man must serve an apprenticeship of many years before his hand and eye become skilled enough for certain mechanical feats; but on the system of decomposing a process into its constituents, and embodying each part in an automatic machine, a person of common care and capacity may be entrusted with any of the said elementary parts after a short probation, and may be transferred from one to another, on any emergency, at the discretion of the master” ([Vol.] I, [pp.] 32-33 [pp. 21-22]).

And after he has told us that the constant aim of machinery is to devalue labour and displace skilled by unskilled labour //since now skill is transferred to the machine and the individual worker’s special knowledge is replaced by the application of mechanical science//, he lists this as one of the advantages of machinery:

“They effect a substitution of more skilled labour for that which is comparatively unskilled” ([Vol.] I, [p.] 46 [p. 30]).

He says in the same passage ([Vol.] I, p. 46 [p. 30]):

“They enable an operative to turn out a greater quantity of work than he could before, — time” //i.e not the time for which the worker must work but the time needed to turn out a greater quantity of work//, “labour” //this is wrong: the labour becomes more intensive with the increased speed of the machinery//, “and quality of work remaining constant.”

Machinery imposes continuity of labour on the worker:

“In like manner, he must necessarily renounce his old prerogative of stopping” (work) “when he pleases, because he would thereby throw the whole establishment into disorder” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 4 [p. 279]).

After Ure has told us that it is the tendency of machinery to make labour superfluous or depreciate it:

“Instead of repining as they have done at the prosperity of their employers, and concerting odious measures to blast it, they should, on every principle of gratitude and self-interest, have rejoiced at the success resulting from their labours... Had it not been for the violent collisions and interruptions resulting from erroneous views among the operatives, the factory system would have been developed still more rapidly and beneficially for all concerned than it has been” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 5-6 [pp. 279, 280]).

Thus the workers have harmed themselves by their strikes, etc., because they have prevented the mechanical workshop from developing still. more rapidly. But then he reproaches them for the opposite reason, because their strikes, combinations, etc., have called forth inventions, extended the [factory] system, and accelerated its development, thereby harming themselves once again. (Previously he said that the worker must renounce “his prerogative of stopping work”. Now he says it is untrue that “the work in a factory is incessant “ . ([Vol.] II, [p.] 50 [p. 309]) because he views the labour of vigilance as non-labour, and only counts the moments when the worker has to perform an operation with his fingers.)

“Fortunately for the state of society in the cotton districts of Great Britain, the improvements in machinery are gradual, or at any rate brought very gradually into general use” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 68 [p. 322]).

On the one hand he praises the inventions called forth by combinations and strikes for having furthered the development of the system and expanded its power of production to an extraordinary degree. E.g. [he speaks] of the iron man, a creation destined to restore order among the industrious classes, and to confirm to Great Britain the empire of the cotton industry” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 138 [p. 3671).

Thus in the case of the machines employed in calico printworks (for printing colours, etc.):

“At length capitalists sought deliverance from this intolerable bondage in the resources of science, and were speedily re-instated in their legitimate rule, that of the head over the inferior members” (Vol. II, [p.] 141 [p. 369]).

(The mindlessness and inferiority of the workers, their existence as mere organs of the factory is the legitimate right of capital, which exists as the head through this fact alone.)

Through their revolts, he explains in detail, the workers themselves “hastened” the development of the system, and thereby brought about their own ruin.

“Violent revulsions of this nature display short-sighted [XX-1265] man in the contemptible character of a self-tormentor. What a different lot would be his, did he quietly move onwards in the progression of improvement” (Vol. II, [pp.] 142-43 [p. 370]).

He likewise demonstrates that science, enlisted by capital, is not employed for the suppression of the “oppressed class”, by saying that in all conflicts between capital and labour “science enlisted in the service of capital” compels the workers “to surrender at discretion” (Vol. II, [p.] 142 [p. 370]) and secures to capital its “legitimate right” to be the head of the factory and to degrade the workers to the level of organs of the factory, lacking in mind or will.

It is capitalist production which first transforms the material production process into the application of science to production — science put into practice — but it does so only by subjecting labour to capital and suppressing the worker’s own intellectual and professional development.

Let us now see Ure’s further apologies for the displacement of labour, the throwing out of labour by machinery and the devaluation of labour associated with this, and on the other hand his presentation of the drawing back of labour. For this repulsion and attraction is what is peculiar to the system.

//Ure presents it as an advantage of the more rapid development of the system that a couple more workers are employed as the NCOs of capital, and placed in opposition to their own class, or even that there is an increasing number of examples of working-class parvenus, who have themselves turned into exploiters of the workers. But in particular [he says it is an advantage] that there are yet more factory workers.

Thus good workmen would have advanced their condition to that of overlookers, managers, and partners in new mills, and have increased at the same time the demand for their companions’ labour in the market” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 5 [p. 280]).

“ The system ... would have exhibited still more frequently gratifying examples of skilful workmen becoming opulent proprietors” ([Vol.] II, [pp. 5-]6 [p. 280]).//

//Ure admits that the regulation of the working day on the part of the state, the Twelve Hours’, Ten Hours’ BILL, etc., owes its existence solely to “the revolts” of the workers, to their unions (he describes them polemically as “conspiracies”):

“In consequence of these turmoils and complaints” //of the Spinners’ Union in the period around 1818//, “Sir Robert Peel’s bill for regulating the hours of labour in factories was passed in 1818: but a similar spirit of discontent continuing to manifest itself, a second bill was passed in 1825, and a third in 1831 — the last under the direction of Sir J. C. Hobhouse” ([Vol.] II, [p.]19 [p. 288]).//

// “The Spinners’ Union succeeded perfectly in mystifying their dupes by romantic representations of white slavery, and of the hecatombs of infants sacrificed annually on the calico-crowned altar of Mammon” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 39-40 [p. 302]).//

“The effect of improvements in machinery, not merely in superseding the necessity for the employment of the same quantity of adult labour as before, in order to produce a given result, but in substituting one description of human labour for another, — the less skilled for the more skilled, juvenile for adult, female for male — causes a fresh disturbance in the rate of wages. It is said to lower the rate of earnings of adults by displacing a portion of them, and thus rendering their number superabundant as compared with the demand for their labour.

“It certainly augments the demand for the labour of children, and increases the rate of their wages” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 67 [p. 321]).

“If any check were given to the cotton manufacture, nay, if its continual expansion shall not prove sufficiently great to re-absorb those adults whom it is continually casting out, then the improvements in machinery might be said to have a tendency to ‘lower wages([Vol.] II, [p.] 67 [pp. 321-22]).

Here the process is described correctly. Machinery continually casts out adult workers, and in order merely to “re-absorb” them, to draw them back in, it needs to expand continuously.

Improvements in machinery are gradual, or only come into general use gradually. At the same time there is a continuous gradual extension in that

the demand [for the manufactured article], arising from the decrease of price, bringing it continually within the range of the means of greater numbers of consumers, keeps up the demand for adult labour, and thus counteracts the effect of the improvements of machinery which operate to displace it. Hence no [XX-1266] diminution of earnings for adults has thus far arisen” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 68-69 [p. 322]).

“In cotton-spinning it would now be possible to reduce the wages of labour, because, since the mules have been enlarged, there is always a sufficiency of hands... The operative spinners, aware that a great excess of hands would have the effect of reducing their wages, combine to pay the expenses of sending their unemployed comrades away to America... The trade-unions are, in fact, bound by their articles to pay certain sums to their idle members, in order to support them, and to prevent them volunteering to work at under-wages from necessity” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 74-75 [pp. 326-27]).

“The main reason why they” (wages) //in the mechanised factory// “are so high is, that they form a small part of the value of the manufactured article” (and this is true in general of the labour added to the material)... “ The less proportion wages bear to the value of the goods, the higher, generally speaking, is the recompense of labour” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 78 [p. 329]).

Ure relates how in their war with the workers the manufacturers enlarged the MULE-JENNIES a increased the number of spindles, etc.

“The workmen could not decently oppose” this “because its direct tendency was to raise, or uphold at least, the wages of each spinner, but to diminish the numbers necessary for the same quantity of work; so that those employed would prosper, but the combined body would be impoverished” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 133-34 [p. 364]). (Incidentally, Ure admits here that ([Vol.] 11, [p.] 134 [p. 365]) there is some additional task in the shape of a lengthened mule”.)

Division of labour and mechanical workshop. Ure says this of the invention of a machine for dressing warps:

Thus the combined malcontents who fancied themselves impregnably entrenched behind the old lines of the division of labour, found their flanks turned and their defences rendered useless by the new mechanical tactics, and were obliged to surrender at discretion” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 142 [p. 370]).//

//It is possible for wages to stand e.g. higher in England than on the Continent, and yet be lower relatively, in proportion to the productivity of labour. b Ure himself cites from the Supplément de rapport des manufactures. Prefaces des tables par M. J. W Cowell:

Mr. Cowell, however, by a most elaborate analysis of cotton-spinning, endeavours to prove in his supplementary report, that the wages in England are virtually lower to the capitalist, though higher to the operative, than on the continent of Europe, in consequence of the amount of work turned out daily by every machine being more than equivalent to the higher price of labour upon it” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 58 [pp. 314-15]).//

//On the determination of the minimum, and of the wage in general, in the case Of TASK WORK, see the following passage from Ure:

So much weight of prepared cotton is delivered to him” [the spinner], “and he has to return by a certain time in lieu of it a given weight of twist or yarn of a certain degree of fineness, and he is paid so much per pound for all that he so returns. If his work is defective in quality, the penalty falls on him; if less in quantity than the minimum fixed for a given time, he is dismissed and an abler operative procured. The productive power of his spinning-machine is accurately measured, and the rate of pay for work done with it decreases with (though not as) the increase of its productive power” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 61 [pp. 316-17]).

//The mitigating circumstance mentioned at the end comes into force if the price of the manufactured product does not sink in the same proportion as its value is reduced, and the demand for labour is so strong that the worker can appropriate for himself part of the augmented productivity. Or if the intensity of the labour also grows with the increased productivity of the mule, and the labour does not remain the same for a given time.// And apart from this, Mr. Ure himself indicates that the increase in the productivity of the mule is accompanied by an increase in the number of children employed, children the spinner has to pay, and thus the apparent increase in his wage, which may be shown by comparative tables, is reduced to nothing, and probably turns into a negative quantity. Say, e.g., that the number of spindles carried by the mule is to be increased from 500 to 600:

“By this increase, the productive power of the machine will be augmented one-fifth. When this event happens, the spinner will not be paid at the same rate for work done as he was before; but as that rate will not be diminished in the ratio of one-fifth, the improvement will augment his money earnings for any given number of hours’ work. The whole benefit arising from the improvement is divided between the master and the operative. Both the profits of the one, and the earnings of the other are simultaneously increased by it. The foregoing statement requires a certain modification ... the spinner has to pay something [XX-1267] for additional juvenile aid out of his additional sixpence. This deduction deserves to be considered.”

//And as Ure himself concedes further on, this augmentation of juvenile aid is accompanied by the “displacement” of a portion of the adults, etc. ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 66, 67 [pp. 320, 321]).//

// Ure’s grounds for consoling the factory workers are IN FACT that the agricultural workers of large-scale agriculture, which originates from the same system, are still worse off; that the children who work in the mines and in industries which have not yet developed to the stage of the mechanical workshop are still worse off; and particularly that workers in branches which have been ruined by machinery or have to compete with it, or into which machinery throws its displaced surplus workers, are still worse off than the workers employed directly in the mechanical workshop. And this is supposed to prove that the system is favourable to the working class!

“It has been said, for example, that the steam-engine now drives the power-looms with such velocity as to urge on their attendant weavers at the same rapid pace; but that the hand-weaver, not being subjected to this restless agent, can throw his shuttle and move his treddles at his convenience” ([Vol.] I, [pp.] 10-11 [p. 7]).

He cites Dr. Carbutt of Manchester:

“With regard to Sir Robert Peel’s assertion, a few evenings ago, that the hand-loom weavers are mostly small farmers, nothing can be a greater mistake; they live, or rather they just keep life together, in the most miserable manner, in the cellars and garrets of the town, working sixteen or eighteen hours for the merest pittance” ([Vol.] 1, [pp.] 11-12 [pp. 7-8]).

“The textile manufactures consist of two distinct departments; one carried on by multitudes of small independent machines belonging” (not always, and less and less) “to the workmen, another carried on by concatenated systems of machinery, the property of the masters. Of the former, muslin and stocking-weaving are examples; of the latter, mule-spinning and power-loom weaving. The workmen of the first class being scattered over a wide tract of country, and being mutual competitors for work and wages; can seldom conspire with one another, and never with effect against their employers. But supposing them to do so in some degree, they would lock up as much of their own capital as of their masters'; that is, they would lose as much interest of money in their unemployed looms and loom-shops, as he would lose on the capital advanced to them in yarn for weaving. The operatives of the latter class are necessarily associated in large bodies; and moreover have no capital sunk in machinery or work-shops. When they choose to strike they can readily join in the blow, and by stopping they suffer merely the loss of wages for the time, while they occasion to their master loss of interest on his sunk capital and his taxes, as well as injury to the delicate moving parts of metallic mechanisms by inaction in our humid climate... If we add to the loss of this interest, that of the profit fairly resulting from the employment of the said capital, we may be able to appreciate ... the vast evils which mischievous cabals among the operatives may inflict on mill-owners” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 7-8 [pp. 281-82]).

(The loss of the “interest” and “profit” deriving from the appropriation of surplus labour is treated in the same way as if these fellows had suffered the theft of their property and its natural fruits.)//

//"Under what pretext, or with what face of pretension, operatives, whose labour is assisted by steam or water power, can lay claim to a peculiar privilege of exemption from more than ten hours’ daily labour it is hard to conjecture. They compare their toil [with that] of the small class, comparatively speaking, of artisans, such as carpenters, bricklayers, stone-masons, etc., who, they say, work only from six to six, with two one-hour intervals for meals: a class, however, in this material respect distinguished from most factory operatives, that their work is done entirely by muscular effort, and after serving a long apprenticeship with no little outlay. But what do the factory people think of the numerous class of domestic operatives, the stocking or frame-work knitters, the hand-loom weavers, the wool-combers, the lace-manufacturers, and a variety of others, who work, and very hardly too, from twelve to sixteen hours a-day, to earn a bare subsistence... The consideration is also overlooked by these interested” (the capitalists, after all, are disinterested!) “reasoners” //he is not a reasoner!//, [XX-1268]that by reducing the hours of labour, and thereby the amount of subsistence derivable from the less objectionable occupations, they would cause a corresponding increase of competition for employment in the more objectionable ones; and thus inflict an injury on the whole labouring community, by wantonly renouncing the fair advantages of their own” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 76-77 [pp. 328, 329]).

This “reasoning” goes even beyond the heights of absurdity one may expect from Ure. Thus if the workers work 10 hours instead of 12, then //assuming productivity remains the same and is not increased by new inventions// the capitalists, so as to continue producing on the same scale, will have to employ not more workers at the same time, which would reduce the surplus population of the unemployed, thereby reducing the competition between workers in general, but the reverse, less workers will be employed at the same time, thus increasing the competition among them! If 6 workers do 2 hours of overwork every day, they displace 1 worker a day and 6 workers a week. According to Ure the situation is reversed, 6 more are employed because 6 are displaced!//

// “It deserves to be remarked, moreover, that hand-working” (working at home) “is more or less discontinuous from the caprice of the operative, and never gives an average weekly or annual product comparable to that of a like machine equably driven by power. For this reason hand-weavers very seldom turn off in a week much more than one-half of what their loom could produce if kept continuously in action for twelve or fourteen hours a day, at the rate which the weaver in his working paroxysms impels it” ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 83-84 [p. 333]).

“The present net weekly earnings of the cotton hands in the stocking trade are from 4s. to 7s. a week; but those received by a far greater number are less than the lowest sum... The full-wrought cotton-hose workmen are all sober and industrious persons ... their average earnings are not more than 6s.6d. a week. On this sum, a man, his wife, and children, have to be maintained. Many among them are therefore extremely wretched and destitute of the necessaries of life... The embroidery of bobbin-net, called lace running, also a non-factory household work, painfully illustrates our position. No less than one hundred and fifty thousand females, chiefly of very youthful ages, get their livelihood from this employment in Great Britain. The work is wholly domestic; and though requiring more skill and harder labour than any other branch of the lace business, it is the worst paid... They begin early, and work late, and during this long daily period their bodies are constantly bent over the frame upon which the lace is extended”, etc. ... “[They contract a] consumptive tendency, distortion of the limbs, and general debility”, etc. “Aversion to the control and continuity of factory labour, and the pride of spurious gentility or affectation of lady — rank are among the reasons why young women so frequently sacrifice their comfort and health to lace-embroidery at home. One girl in her examination states, ‘I like it better than the factory, though we can’t get so much. We have our liberty at home, and get our meals comfortable, such as they are — ([Vol.] II, [pp.] 86-88 (pp. 334-35, 336]). [32]

Flattering as the last point is for the factory system, it becomes absurd when Ure applies it generally. How much extension would be needed for the cotton industry to absorb e.g. 150,000 more girls, considering that in 1860, therefore almost 30 years after the appearance of Ure’s book, all the cotton mills of the United Kingdom employed no more than 269,013 females of all ages! This is the kind of rubbish the fellow talks. Even if these 150,000 girls wanted to enter any factory at all, all the factories of all kinds employed only 467,261 females of all ages in 1860! Ure did, nevertheless, with the aim of glorifying factory labour, perform the service of highlighting and stressing the still more atrocious condition of the out of door workers — itself in this form a result of the [factory] system. Thus he stresses the extraordinary wretchedness of the hand-weavers, as if this misery were not the result of mechanical weaving and of the actions of the capitalists, who themselves in turn exploited this misery.

“There is no combination among these poor men. They work in damp detached cellars as long as they can see. [XX-1269] Each brings his individual labour to the proprietor of the material, who will of course accept the cheapest offer” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 92 [p. 338]).

“It must appear to every impartial judge ... that the hardest labour, in the worst room, in the worst conducted factory, is less hard, less cruel, and less demoralising, than the labour in the best of coal mines — ([Vol.] II, [p.] 90 [p. 337]).

“A brutality of manners is here disclosed, too gross for transcription, and most discreditable to the masters of the mines” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 90 [p. 3371).

Ure has this to say about the combination of spinning and weaving:

The difficulty of competition from the augmented capital and skill, is increased” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 79 [p. 330]).

“The continental nations must serve a severe and tedious apprenticeship under the fostering care of tranquillity and capital, before they can fabricate and manage a good system of throstles, self-actors, mules, and power-looms” (l.c., [p.] 81 [p. 331]).

“On the other hand, non-factory processes of art which can be condensed into a single frame or machine moveable by hand, come within the reach of operatives in every adjacent country, and will have their profits ere long reduced to the minimum consistent with the employment of capital in it, and their wages brought down to the scale of those in the cheapest or meanest living country. The stocking trade affords a painful illustration of this fact” ([Vol.] II, [p.] 82 [p. 332]).

So much for Ure.//

Improvements in shipbuilding, navigation, geography, astronomy, etc., have reduced the cost of a lb. of tea from £6-10 to 1-3s. (Hodgskin .)

* “The natural agent” * (such as *water power, coals, etc.) “has nothing that it did not possess 40 or 400 years before, but capital has rendered its powers productive” * (Carey, Principles of Political Economy, Part I, Philadelphia, 1837 [p. 421).

“In the 13th century (and part of the 14th) English agriculture was *in a very deplorable state: superstition operated on the farmer, so that he would not sow seeds on certain unlucky days, etc.; the implements of husbandry also were generally insufficient for good farming operations; hence, indifferent crops were the result, frequently not more than 4 bushels an acre.” * [33] (Now the average is 3 qrs or 24 Bushels.) (J. D Tuckett, A History of the Past and Present State of the Labouring Population etc., Vol. I, London, 1846, [p.] 49.)

The expansion and improvement of the means of communication naturally have an effect on the productive power of labour: they lessen the labour time required for the production of the same commodities, and they create that intercourse which is required for intellectual and commercial development, as also for improved agricultural methods, advances in chemistry, geology, etc. Enlightenment in general as well (see above the reference to superstition), also legal security, etc. As late as under George II

* “our highways continued to be generally kept in repair merely by the compulsory labour of the parish paupers, or, where these could not be obtained, a compulsory statute labour on various farms in the parish” * (Tuckett, l.c. [p. 266]).

“Where no regular roads exist, *there can hardly be said to be a community; the people could have nothing in common” * (l.c. [p. 270]).

Such improvements in the mode and operation of farming have been made that now 8 or 10 hands can supply the necessaries of 100 where 20 years ago, it took 35 persons; and a century prior to this, it took as many as it now does in Italy, from 75 to 85. By this a portion of the [rural] labourers have been driven to the manufacturing towns (Tuckett, Vol. II, p. 527).

[XX-1270] It is demonstrated most strikingly in agriculture (in England) that with an increase in the productive power of labour the average wage not only does not rise, but falls. On the average, the condition of the agricultural labourers in England has deteriorated in the same ratio as agriculture has been improved.

//The article by that louse Potter (*M.P.*) in The Times,[34] which we shall say more later, was written when he was Chairman of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and, as Ferrand says (in his motion on the cotton famine House Of Commons, April 27, 1863),

* “that letter might be looked upon as the manifesto of the manufacturers”.* [35]

Ferrand was invited by a deputation of workmen from 16 districts (27 delegates from different parts of Lancashire and Cheshire) to bring forward their cause in Parliament, and he obtained information from them which none of the manufacturers present in the House Of Commons gave the lie to. We shall assemble together here the most important passages of his speech.

Intensity of labour.

* “They informed him that the labour in the factories was, owing to the improvement in the machinery, continually on the increase. When, for instance, the powerloom was first introduced, one person attended two looms; now one attended three without a helper, while it was not at all an unusual thing for one person to attend to 4 looms. There had also been a large increase in the number of ‘picks’. In 1825, for instance, there were 85 picks a minute, there were now 160 on an average, being an increase of 50 picks a minute since the passing of the Ten Hours’ Act. Twelve hours work was, it further appeared, now done instead of ten, owing to the increased speed of machinery since 1847. Hon. members would, therefore, at once see how much the labours of factory operatives had increased of late v cars."”

Vicissitudes of the cotton trade.

The cotton trade of England had existed for 90 years. During the first half of that period our manufacturers had a monopoly of the world; ... it had lasted through three generations of the English race ... it had destroyed nine generations of the cotton operatives themselves. From 1815 to 1830 the cotton trade of this country had to contend against the cotton trade of the continent of Europe and against that of the United States of America. In 1833 the China and Indian trade was opened, and during the last 30 years it had extended itself in the East by the destruction of the human race. 111 1790, when the first census of the United States’ slaves was taken, the number was 697,000. In 1861 the probable number was 3,500,000.

“From 1815 to 1821 the cotton trade was depressed.

“1822 and 1823 prosperous years.

“1824 Repeal of the combination laws, important strikes frequent, mills at a stand for weeks.

“1825 Monetary crisis and failing trade.

“1826 Great distress, riots.

“1827 Slight improvement.

“1828 Great increase of power looms and exports.

“1829 Exports exceeded those of any former year, especially to India.

“1830 Great distress, glutted markets.

“1831-1833 Continued distress. In 1833 trade to the East thrown open.

“1834 Great increase of mills and machinery. At last discovered, when the mills were built and filled with machinery, that there was no population in the factory districts to work the machinery. A proposition was then made by the manufacturers to the Poor Law [36] Commissioners that the surplus population should be sent from the agricultural districts to the North, and that the manufacturers would absorb it and use it up. Those were the very words used by the cotton manufacturers. Agents were appointed in the town of Manchester, with the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners, lists of workpeople were made out and sent to these agents, the manufacturers [XX-1271] went to the offices, and, having selected such as suited them, the families were sent down from the South. They were forwarded ticketed, like so many bales of goods — by canal and by carriers’ carts, — some tramped, and many were found in the manufacturing districts lost and half-starved. This had grown up into a regular trade. The House would hardly believe it, that this regular trade, this traffic in human flesh had continued to be carried on, and these people were bought and sold by the agents in Manchester to the cotton manufacturers just as regularly as slaves were sold to the cotton growers in the Southern States.

“1835 Trade again prosperous. Extinction of the handloom weavers by the powerlooms, many of them died by starvation, some of them with their families existed on 21/4 d. per day.

“1836 Prosperity.

“1837 and 1838 Depressed state.

“1839 Recovery of the cotton trade. Villiers’ first motion for the repeal of the corn laws.[37]

“1840 Great depression, riots put down by the military.

“1841 and 1842 Dreadful suffering.* 1842 The manufacturers *locked out the factory operatives, to enforce the repeal of the corn laws. They flocked into Yorkshire by tens of thousands, driven back by the military, their leaders placed on their trial at Lancaster.

“1843 Great Distress.

“1844 Revival of trade.

“1845 Great Prosperity.

“1846 Repeal of the corn laws.

“1847 Trade depressed; wages reduced after the pledge of the masters that they would be raised.

“1848 Still depression, Manchester under the protection of the military.

“1849 Revival.

“1850 Prosperity.

“1851 Declining prices, low wages, and frequent strikes.

“1852 Slight improvement, strikes continued, proposal made to bring over foreigners to work the mills.

“1853 Great distress at Stockport. Eight months’ strike at Preston to get back the 10% which had been taken from the operatives after the repeal of the corn laws.

“1854 Markets glutted.

“1855 Frequent failures reported from the United States, Canada, and the Eastern markets, consequent on the glutted state of the markets.

“1856 Average commercial prosperity.” *

“1857 crisis in autumn. (Although the cotton trade was affected only superficially.)

“1858 Improvement of the cotton trade.

“1859 Great Prosperity. Increase of mills.

“1860 The cotton trade was at its zenith. Indian markets, etc., glutted with cotton.” * As late as 1863 the glut in these markets had not been entirely removed. Hence the [XX-1272] American crisis was at first very advantageous for the manufacturers. [38] * “The French Treaty became law* in this year of 1860. *Enormous increase of mills and machinery in Lancashire, want of hands. The millowners applied to the flesh agents, and they sent to the downs of Dorset, the glades of Devon, and to the plains of Wilts, but the surplus population had been used up. The Bury Guardian said it was estimated that on the completion of the treaty 10,000 additional hands could be absorbed in Lancashire, and that between 30,000 and 40,000 would be needed. The agents and subagents having scoured the agricultural districts in 1860, and found the surplus population absorbed, a deputation from the cotton manufacturers waited upon the President of the Poor Law Board (Villiers) to ask him to supply them again with the poor orphans from the workhouses.

“1861 Census taken. Stated that the surplus population in the agricultural districts was on the decline.

“1862 Mills worked short time, and the great mass of the people unemployed.

“1863 Trade prostrate, riots occurred.

Between 1770 and 1815, cotton trade depressed or stagnant 5 years, and revived and prosperous 40 years.

Between* 1815 and 1863 *depressed or stagnant 28 years, prosperous 20 years.

After 1846, since the repeal of the corn laws, cotton trade stagnant or depressed 9 years, revived 8.

“1834-35 The distress caused to the Indian handloom weavers frightful.

“The Governor General of India:

“That distress was scarcely paralleled in the history of commerce.’ ‘The bones of the handloom weavers,'* says the same * Governor General, ‘whited the plains of India.'

“1834 The New Poor Law passed, which favoured the migration of labour from the agricultural to the manufacturing districts.” * c

The letter of Edmund Potter, to which Ferrand refers, is in The Times for March 24, 1863 . This mouthpiece of the manufacturers says there, among other things:

* “The cotton operative may be told the supply of cotton workers is too large ... it must be reduced by a third, perhaps, and that then there will be a healthy demand for the remaining two thirds. ... Public opinion urges emigration... The master cannot willingly see his labour supply being removed; he may think, and perhaps justly, that it is both wrong and unsound. ... If the public funds are devoted to assist emigration he has a right to be heard, and perhaps to protest

The same Potter says in his apology for the cotton trade:

* “True, the legislature interfered and regulated his trade, and forced upon the trade an extent of education for the young people and a restriction of the hours of working for females which has been singularly beneficial to the entire population... The growth and value of the trade has undoubtedly drawn the surplus population from Ireland and from many agricultural districts...” *

He considers that after a year or two the cotton trade will again return to its old progress, especially through the expansion of the Asiatic market, and particularly the Indian market.

* “Ought we, then, to ... break up the very machinery of supply?” *

He cites these figures:

* “Cotton trade exports:

1830  £19,418,8851855£34,779,141
1850£128,257,4011861£45,978,272 *

[XX-1273] * “When in its zenith, it” (the cotton trade) “furnished 5/13 of our exports... It is not pretended that the trade will assume its former proportions till the raw material is produced at a certain rate, assume it to be 6d. per lb.; it may be some time before the supply can be forced sufficiently to bring it to that price, but it is not denied that time — one, two or three years it may be — will produce the quantity ... [39]

“The question I would put, then, is this — is the trade worth retaining, is it worth while to keep the machinery[40] in order, and is it not the greatest folly to think of parting with that? 1 think it is. I allow that the workers are not a property, not the Property of Lancashire or the masters, but they are the strength of both; they are the mental and trained power which cannot be replaced for a generation; the mere machinery which they work might much of it be beneficially replaced, nay improved, in a twelvemonth. Encourage or allow the working power to emigrate, and what of the capitalist? He too will emigrate. Take away the cream of the workers, the fixed capital will depreciate in a great degree, and the floating will not subject itself to a struggle with the short supply of inferior labour ... [I will not go into the question as to where the 150,000 hands and those depended upon them are to be removed to, a question I should fancy quite as difficult to solve as the one it is sought to] decide upon — viz., emigration. We are told the workers wish it. Very natural it is that they should do so.

“Reduce, compress the cotton trade, by taking away its working power and reducing their wages’ expenditure, say one-third, or five millions, and what then would happen to the class above, the small shopkeepers; and what of the rents, the cottage rents, the savings, and property, to some extent, of the workers themselves, or of those just above them; what would be the rate of rental if one-third were unoccupied, Every man, woman, and child among our working population now pays a rental of 20s. per head per annum. Trace such effects upward to the small farmer, the better householder, and, last of all and most lightly, the landowner, and say if there could be any suggestion more suicidal to all classes of the country than by enfeebling a nation by exporting the best of its manufacturing population, and destroying the value of some of its most productive capital and enrichment.

“At the very worst, five or six millions sterling in the shape of a loan, safe enough as an investment, lent and judiciously expended with statesmanlike judgment, might preserve and ultimately resuscitate a trade which has done more for the prosperity of the nation, morally and physically, than anything history records.

“I suggest, then, a loan (no gifts, no charity except such as private benevolence will continue to administer), extending, it may be, over two or three years, administered by Special Commissioners added to the Boards of Guardians in the Cotton districts, under special legislative regulations, enforcing some occupation or labour, as a means of keeping up, at least, the moral standard of the recipients of the loan. Both statesmen and employers and Lancashire property owners will have to meet and grapple with the difficulty now; it is a duty which cannot, ought not to be delayed under present aspects. I may be told that all this is very unsound — very exceptional. It may be. But can anything be worse for landowners or masters than parting with the best of the workers and demoralising and disappointing the rest by an extended depletive emigration, and a depletion of capital and value in an entire province, it may be called, containing 2,000,000 souls, or, taking Lancashire and the adjacent parts of Cheshire, of nearly 3,000,000?” *

In the same issue, for March 24, 1863, The Times roundly rebukes Edmund Potter,. this mouthpiece of the cotton manufacturers. The following cuttings come from its article:

[XX-1274] * “Mr. Edmund Potter, in another part of our paper, copiously argues that the Cotton workers of Lancashire and Cheshire must be kept together by national loans in idleness and in plenty, in order that the Cotton Trade may, at some uncertain future, revive.

“Mr. Potter thinks Cotton Lords do a great kindness to their country when they accumulate to themselves enormous fortunes.

“When we are told that but for the Cotton Trade morals and education would have been lower throughout England, we are tempted to recognise in such an assertion the conceit of an uneducated Plutocracy. When we are told of the reasonable profits of the masters, and yet of the ‘self-made men and capitalists’ who spring up in such unexampled profusion from the workers of the Cotton districts, we find a difficulty in reconciling these inconsistent assertions.

“If we look into any book of statistical references, such as M'Culloch, for example, we shall see that the Cotton Trade is estimated to maintain, directly, about half a million workers, and directly and indirectly about 1,200,000 men, women, and children. It is supposed to have a capital of £8,000,000 constantly circulating in wages, and to give an annual profit of £13,000,000 to the masters. During the last few years of extraordinary overtrading these figures have doubtless been increased; but these are the average dimensions of the trade according to the latest independent estimates.

“Edmund Potter argues otherwise. He is so impressed with the exceptional and supreme importance of the Cotton Masters that, in order to preserve this class and perpetuate their profession, he would keep half a million of the labouring class confined in a great moral workhouse against their will. ‘Is the trade worth retaining?’ asks Mr. Potter. ‘Certainly, by all honest means, it is,’ we answer. ‘Is it worth while keeping the machinery in order?’ again asks Mr. Potter. Here we hesitate. By the ‘machinery’ Mr. Potter means the human machinery, for he goes on to protest that he does not mean to use them as an absolute property. We must confess that we do not think it ‘worth while’., or even possible, to keep the human machinery in order — that is, to shut it up and keep it oiled till it is wanted. Human machinery will rust under inaction, oil and rub it as you may. Moreover, the human machinery will, as we have just seen, get the steam up of its own accord, and burst or run a muck in our great towns. It might, as Mr. Potter says, require some time to reproduce the workers; but, having machinists and capitalists at hand, we could always find thrifty, hard, industrious men wherewith to improvise more master manufacturers than we can ever want. But to preserve the class of workers is just what we cannot do.

“Mr. Potter talks of the trade reviving ‘in one, two, or three years’, and he asks us not to encourage or allow (!) the working power to emigrate’. He says that it is very natural that the workers should wish to emigrate; but he thinks that, in spite of their desire, the nation ought to keep this half million of workers, with their 700,000 dependents, shut up in the Cotton districts; and, as a necessary consequence, he must of course think that the nation ought to keep down their discontent by force and sustain them by alms — and this upon the chance that the Cotton Masters may some day want them.

“Not fifty Cotton Trades could justify us in the folly of pauperising and demoralising a million of our countrymen; not a thousand Cotton Trades could pay us for the horrible necessity of slaughtering our people in civil broils. The time is come when the great public opinion of these Islands must operate to save this ‘working power’ from those who would deal with it as they would deal with iron, and coal, and cotton” * [p. 9, cols 2, 3].

[XX-1275] Finally, we shall give some further figures relating to cotton, wool, silk, flax, etc., taken from the Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom 1861, issued officially by Parliament. These figures should be compared with the notes on the progress of factories given earlier.

 Quantities of Cotton Imported into the United Kingdom [lbs] [41]
There remain467,267,607474,038,380712,359,270754,586,034
[There remain]662,661,953756,379,924928,783,481893,952,234
[There remain]886,232,023890,641,5221,022,576,832968,140,971
[There remain]1,033,006,3861,224,425,2941,388,702,782

Let us now compare exports of cotton commodities, in both quantity and value, according to the same Statistical Abstracta:

[XX-1276]Cotton Manufacturers
Value. Quantities
Cotton Twist and Yarn.
declared value
Twist Yarn and lbs quantities
184717,375,245     937,229,4895,957,980120,270,741

We now return to p. 1269.

[XX-1277] “As long as the prejudice which condemned labour [as degrading] retained its full force, the physicists, naturalists, engineers, and mathematicians claimed to be studying the sciences in a disinterested manner. They would have been ashamed to place the daughters of the muses in the service of sordid gain; they investigated the properties of matter or of numbers for their own sake; at most they allowed themselves to make occasional application of their discoveries to public works or the protection of health... But now all the universities have chairs of Chemistry, Physics, Mechanics in their application to the crafts; all men of learning pride themselves on their ability to justify the usefulness of their labours and their discoveries, by demonstrating the benefits to be drawn from them, in facilitating all kinds of labour, in bringing wealth to the markets, and in providing enjoyment to the consumers” (Sismondi, Études, Vol. I, [Brussels, 1837, p.] 38).

//Mr. MacCulloch says, on p. 165 of his Principles of Political Economy, Edinburgh, 1825:

“The bad consequences that have been supposed to result *from the indefinite extension and improvement of machinery* would *equally result from the continued improvement of the skill and industry of the labourer.* “

In so far as this skill rests on the division of labour — i.e. on the development of manufacture as opposed to handicrafts — the statement is in part correct. But even here it is not true, since Ure correctly remarks that the greater the skill of the worker, the more “self-willed”, etc., the fellow is. There is a very great difference, invisible only to a M'Culloch, between a situation where progress in skill and appears as the personal virtuosity of’ the worker, and a situation where this is reversed as in the capitalist employment of machinery as a characteristic of capital as opposed to the worker and at the expense of the worker.//

It ascribes *to his property” (the capitalist’s) “merely, whether he employ it to pay wages, or whether it consists in useful instruments, all that vast assistance, which knowledge and skill, when realised in machinery, give to labour — the productive power of this skill” (of combined labour) “is attributed to its visible products, the instruments, the mere owners of which, who neither use nor make them, imagine themselves to be very productive persons” * (Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, [London, Edinburgh, 1827,1 pp. 249-51 ).

In manufacture the worker is thrown out of work TEMPORARILY, in agriculture this is constant.

Jones says this of modern agriculture:

* “In the progress of culture, all, and perhaps more than all the labour and capital which once loosely occupied 500 acres, are now concentrated for the more complete tillage of 100” (Jones, Distribution of Wealth, London, 183 1, [pp. 190-] 191).[42]

“Since the general introduction of expensive machinery, human nature has been forced far beyond its average strength” * (R. Owen, Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System, 2nd Ed., London, 1817, [p. 16]).

Horses, working cattle, etc., also belong among the machines used in agriculture. Machines of this kind themselves consume commodities (not only coal) which otherwise would have been consumed by labourers.

Messrs. Senior and Torrens assert, as do others, that machinery, when applied to commodities which fall within the worker’s consumption, must always raise wages.

Senior says:

Only in two cases can the *general rate of wages* be reduced by the introduction of machinery: *when labour is employed in the construction of machinery, which labour would otherwise have been employed in the production of commodities for the use of labourers*; and secondly, *when the machine itself consumes commodities (as horses, working cattle, etc.) which would otherwise have been consumed by labourers, and that to a greater extent than it produces them* “ (Senior, Three Lectures on the Rate of Wages, London, 1830, [p.] 40).

[XX-1278] Torrens, for his part, says:

* “Machines work but do not cat. When they displace labour, and render it dispensable, they at the same time displace and render dispensable a the real wages, the food and clothing, which maintained it. The aggregate fund for the support of labour is not diminished” * (Torrens, Wages and Combination, London, 1834, [p.] 39).

The whole of this raisonnement rests on an incorrect conception of variable capital. The latter, considered from the point of view of its material elements, can in fact be resolved into the commodities that enter into the workers’ consumption, the means of subsistence. But the converse by no means follows from this, namely that these commodities or means of subsistence must be consumed by the workers and form variable capital, with the result that there is a fixed proportion between the number of workers on the one hand and the quantity of the means of subsistence on the other. (Even Ricardo occasionally falls into this nonsensical way of speaking.) These means of subsistence are also consumed by the other classes, and they may be consumed by them in greater quantities. They may be consumed by unproductive workers (soldiers, servants, etc.). They may be exported and exchanged for luxuries. The more productive the branches of industry which produce the means of subsistence which are necessary, and therefore also enter into the consumption of the workers, the greater the possible size of that section of the workers who produce means of subsistence which do not enter at all into the consumption of the workers; and the more they are displaced by machinery in those branches, the greater the competition between them, which results in a fall in wages in the other branches as well.

£5-6 per acre was regarded as the capital required for the cultivation of land; but the high farming of modern times requires almost double that sum” (W. Johnston, England As It Is etc., London, 1851, Vol. I, [p.] 14).

M'Culloch, l.c. (Principles of Political Economy, Edinburgh, 1825, p. 166):

“If it be advantageous that the skill of the labourer should be indefinitely extended — that he should be enabled to produce a vastly greater quantity of commodities with the same, or a less, quantity of labour, it must also be advantageous that he should avail himself of the assistance of such machinery as may most effectively assist him in bringing about that result.”

Here Mr. M'Culloch assumes that the machine belongs to the worker.

“In a factory ... *the portions of capital and land are much greater than those of labour and skill*; and the *net revenue accruing to their proprietors is also much greater. But the very preponderancy of machinery or capital begets the necessity of a corresponding excess of labour and skill in other processes — namely in the repair of mills and machinery, and in the construction of new ones, etc. ... industry preponderates in nearly every group employed in the fabrication of productive capital... And if we look at the means employed in the construction of expensive ornaments, and other articles of luxury, the demand for which is engendered by the profits of capital, we find their value to consist almost exclusively of the services of labour and skill — ... the preponderance (in service and profits), of skill in one process of production, begets the necessity of a corresponding excess of labour in one or more others, and vice versa ... the augmented profits of capital setting free a larger number of desires, increase the demand for and the production of value in its consumable forms* “ (G. Opdyke, Treatise on Political Economy, New York, 1851, p. 98 sqq.).

This is partially correct. Large-scale production permits a large part of the labour to be employed, partly in luxury production (where it is in part paid still worse), partly in the production of fixed capital (railways, etc.), where much crude labour is required.

Differences in agricultural productivity.

In Great Britain the production of wheat is about 32 bushels an acre; in France, by official returns, it only averages 14 bushels, and rarely exceeds 20.* That is, in France, with twice the expenditure of labour, the return is only one-half what it is in Great Britain. Nearly the same as in Ireland” (The Economist, November 8, 1851 [p. 1231]).

In England 1/7 of the agriculturists are independent peasants and cottiers, [43] 1/7 tenant farmers, 5/7 agricultural labourers. In Ireland 1/13 employs labourers 6/13 cottiers, and 6/13 labourers. In England 28% [XX-1279] of the population are employed in the production of food, in Ireland 63%. But the acreable produce in Ireland is only 1/2 what it is in England (Third Report of the Irish Poor Law Commission, 1836). Thus twice as many people are engaged in producing half as much food. Labour in Ireland is only 1/4 as productive as in England (The Economist, 1848).

“Labour is nothing without * knowledge.[44] In the subdivisions of occupations and of labour itself, it becomes ... so separated from labour in complicated societies,* that we must consider it apart” (W. Thompson, An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth etc, London, 1824, [p.] 272).

* “The chances of the future extension of science [are] multiplied in exact proportion to its diffusion” * (p. 275).

In the earlier stages of society, labour and knowledge accompany each other because they are both simple” (l.c.).

“The man of knowledge and the productive labourer come to be widely divided from each other: and knowledge, *instead of remaining the handmaid of labour in the hand of the labourer to increase his productive powers ... has almost everywhere arrayed itself against labour*... The possessors of knowledge, and the possessors of power, sought everywhere to advance their own individual interests, knowledge being such an instrument; so capable of being detached from labour, and opposed to it” (l.c., [p.] 274).

Knowledge thus becomes independent of labour and enters the service of capital; this process belongs in general to the category of the attainment of an independent position by the conditions of production vis-à-vis labour. This separation and autonomisation, which is at first of advantage to capital alone, is at the same time a condition for the development of the powers of science and knowledge.

“The union of the workers with the industrial entrepreneur is a genuine association” (Le comte A. de Laborde, De l'esprit d'association etc, Paris, 1818, [p.] 131.

This Laborde is the actual inventor of the economic harmonies. The fellow does not ask himself: what kind of association is this?

“Ten peasant families have been dismissed in the new system to make room for the farmer, who is not a peasant at all. He only contributes to production by the employment of his capital and his intelligence; but the greater the improvement in the condition of the rich farmer, the greater the deterioration in that of the men who work in the fields for him. The former reserves for himself the use of the will, of choice, of intelligence; that is to say, he denies his labourers and domestic servants the use of these things. From them he demands nothing but the employment of their muscular power, and he reduces them as much as he can to the level of machines — (Sismondi, Etudes, Vol. I, pp. [130-]131).

* “Knowledge of the material world, and skill to apply it by labour, are the sources of wealth” * (The Economist, August 30, 1851 [pp. 953-54, cols 2, 11).

In the 18th century advances in mathematics, mechanics and chemistry and discoveries occurred at almost the same rate in England, France, Sweden, and Germany. Inventions too in France for example. But only in England were they applied in capitalist fashion at the time, because there alone were the economic relations sufficiently developed to allow the exploitation of scientific progress by capital. (Particularly decisive in this connection were England’s agricultural relations and colonial possessions.)

* “What presents or removes obstacles to the application of capital and labour” * //this therefore applies equally to civil institutions, security, means of transport, etc.// “ *must affect production,* although the number of [XX-1280] labourers and the quantity of capital remain the same” (Bailey, Money and Its Vicissitudes, London, 1837, [p.] 55).

In the system of small-scale production the producers are aided by

* “such knowledge only, and such an amount of mechanical power as may be found in the possession of persons labouring with their own hands for their own subsistence” (R. Jones, Text-book of Lectures on Political Economy, Hertford, 1852, [p.] 43).[45]

“The lapse of two centuries has produced a wonderful change in the progress of science and in the instruments it has employed” (The Industry of Nations, Part II, London, 1855, [p.] 286).[46]

“Up to a certain point, in fact, and especially in chemical investigations, costly and complicated apparatus is not essentially necessary. For much depends upon the observer’s own faculties of perception and combination. But beyond this the philosopher becomes to a very large extent dependent upon his instruments” ([p.] 288).

“The insensitiveness of a chemist’s balance, the defective construction of a lens, the incorrect graduation of a thermometer, or the faulty subdivision of the circle of a transit instrument, cannot but vitiate all researches in which they are employed... That physical science in the present day has attained its present eminent position, and is still progressing, must be in a large degree attributed to the wonderful care exercised, and the mechanical skill displayed, in the production of philosophical instruments” [47] ([p.] 289).

On the other hand there is the impact of physical science on production.

* “To it are we indebted for the steam-engine and the electric telegraph — inventions originating entirely in physical philosophy” ([p.] 290).

The loss of corn is estimated at 2 1/2% less with threshing machines than with ordinary hand threshing.’ With almost all machines, it is true to say that using the same amount of raw material they provide a greater quantity of manufactured goods than the imperfect tools of hand labour, by working the material more finely , etc. (Use of waste, reconversion of rags, etc., into raw material. ) [48]

Better methods in agriculture.

Such as the introduction of green crops in place of fallow, and the introduction of beet cultivation on a large scale, which was begun under George II (in England). From that time onwards sandy ground and worthless game preserves were transformed into excellent wheat and barley fields, and the production of corn on light soils increased threefold, while at the same time excellent green fodder was gained for cattle and sheep. The expansion and improvement of cattle-raising by crossing the breeds, better methods of irrigation and drainage, a more appropriate rotation of the crops, the employment of bone-meal as a fertiliser, etc.” a

Malthus estimates the average crop yield in [West] European countries to be four times the amount of seed sown, in Hungary and the surrounding area eight to ten times, and in the tropical parts of America as much as 12 to 20 times.”

of corn
Great Britain
produces on
13 mill.5,200,00056 mill.170,0001,250,00010,200,000
France 40 [mill.]22-24 mill.153 [mill.]40,000800,0005,200,000

//“The system of free competition, that system which consists in the non-existence of system, has only a negative significance in itself. It means the dissolution of the earlier associations of real and personal wealth, which had emerged in the big estate complexes and the union between landowners and peasants, as also in the corporations of the guild type, with their precisely structured relations between masters, journeymen and apprentices” (W. SchuIz, Die Bewegung der Production, Zurich, 1843, [pp.] 57-58).

[XX-1281] “All statistically based assertions that wages have risen, or at least not fallen in relation to the necessary means of subsistence, possess at most a merely abstract validity, which reveals itself to be nothing but an illusion when applied to reality. All that can be said is that those occupations which presuppose specific dispositions or a long apprenticeship have on the whole become more remunerative; whereas the relative wage for the mechanically uniform activity which one person can be trained for as easily and quickly as another has fallen with the growth of competition, and necessarily had to fall. And it is precisely this kind of labour which is still the most widely practised, at the present stage of its organisation. Thus if a worker of the first category now earns seven times as much as 50 years ago, and a worker of the second category earns the same as 50 years ago, both workers will of course earn four times as much on an average. But if there are in a given country only 1,000 of the first category, while the second category includes 1,000,000 human beings, 999,000 are not better off than 50 years ago, and they are worse off if the price of the requirements of life has risen at the same time” (SchuIz, l.c., [p.] 65).

“Even if it were as true as it is actually false, that the average income of all the classes of society has risen, the differences between different incomes, and the relative gap between them, could well have increased, with the result that contrasts of wealth and poverty have emerged more sharply. Precisely because total production rises, there is, in the same degree as this happens, an increase in needs, desires and claims, with the result that relative poverty can increase while absolute poverty declines. A Samoyed who lives on oil and rancid fish is not poor, because in his enclosed society all have the same needs. But in a state which progresses, and increases its total production in proportion to the population in the course of a decade by perhaps one-third, the worker who earns exactly the same now as 10 years ago has not remained just as well off, but has become worse off by one-third. This is exactly the case in our present epoch” (l.c., [pp.] 65-66).

“In order to achieve a freer intellectual development, a people must cease its enslavement to its own physical needs, it must no longer be in servitude to the body. It must above all have time, to be able to create intellectually and enjoy the fruits of the intellect. This time is gained by progress in the organisation of labour... If a certain expenditure of time and human power was necessary previously for the satisfaction of a given quantity of material needs, and if this expenditure is subsequently reduced by a half, the room for manoeuvre available for intellectual creation and enjoyment is at the same time increased by as much, without any loss in physical well-being... But even the division of these spoils we have captured from old Chronos himself in his very own realm is still decided by the throw of blind and unjust fortune’s dice... It is certain, at least, that for large numbers of people the duration of slave labour in the factories has indeed increased, regardless of the saving in time achieved by the perfecting of the machine system. And yet the gain of a greater quantity of free time is also a common acquisition by the power of the nation as a whole (l.c., [pp.] 67-68).

Period of manufacture ... of handicraft activity subdivided to the highest degree, which is at the same time an activity in which one hand cooperates with another for one and the same purpose of production” (l.c., [p.] 37).

“The continued division of labour finally leads to the employment of a more highly perfected machine system, and thereby to the 4th stage” //first hand labour, then handicraft labour, then manufacture, then fabrication // “of actual fabrication by machines” (l.c., [p.] 37).

[XX-1282] In fabrication,

“man ... becomes the rational guide and director of the forces of nature, active intellectually rather than physically. He thereby enters into an entirely different relation of activity, since he now only brings the material which is to be subjected to the purposes of production into connection with natural forces alien to him, and therefore the result of their impact, or the product, no longer stands in any proportion to his own physical exertions” (l.c., [p.] 38).

(Even with manufacture and simple cooperation, it does not stand in proportion to his individual performance.)

“Trade, with its purpose of raising the value of a commodity by means of transport, is merely a branch of industry, and is essentially subject to the same law of development. The first and simplest kind of trade is the exchange of commodities from hand to hand. Following this, it creates the first tools and means of transport, which are as yet simple, such as beasts of burden, or small boats; the rudder still serves man as a craft implement required for the steering and motion of these boats. There is also a continued subdivision of activities for the common purposes of transport, as is perhaps the case with the larger crews of big rowing boats, where a majority of the people still work in uniform, ever-repeated, but at the same time interconnected operations of the machine type. Finally a higher stage of development is reached, in that in sailing ships, steamships, steam-driven vehicles and the like, the power of wind and steam does not merely replace that of the human being, but is multiplied by its obedient subordination to his will... Thus trade too, like agriculture and industry, has its periods of hand labour, handicrafts, manufacture, and machinery” (l.c., [pp.] 38-39).//

We have seen how the ancients conceive the division of labour qualitatively — as improvement of labour and the use values created by labour.’ The application of machinery properly so called to production appears first of all in the water mill. The poem written by Antipater, a contemporary of Cicero, in honour of the introduction of water mills in Rome, bears witness once again to a conception entirely different from that of the moderns (in the Greek Anthology).

“He tells the female slaves whose task it is to grind the corn that they can sleep late now” (they no longer need to rise early) “even if the crowing cocks announce the dawn. For Ceres has ordered the Nymphs to perform the work of their hands, and they, dancing on top of the wheel” (leaping, hopping) “circle” (rotate in a circle) “the axle; this, with its twisted spikes, turns the weight of 4 concave millstones. We enjoy again” (taste again) “the old life, if we learn to feast on the gifts of Ceres without toil.” [49]

The sole point of view considered here is the saving of labour for the worker himself, not saving on the price of labour.

Volume 34, MECW, p. 61