Marx, Proudhon and political struggle
James Tansey critiques Ian McKay’s Property is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology
“…the triumph of opportunism within Italy and the Communist International… show[ed] that the doctrine of self-sufficient factory councils (with their own little self-contained revolutions), was a very dangerous starting point; as indeed was the illusion that communist victory was assured as soon as individual enterprises had passed from the hands of the management into those of their employees. In fact Communism involves the reorganisation of the whole of human life, and the old productive model… needs to be denounced, and then totally destroyed from top to bottom.”
– Amadeo Bordiga[i] –
Recently AK press published a book entitled Property is Theft!: A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology.[ii] This is an important contribution for all students of socialism. Proudhon was a major player in the French working class movement during his own time, even taking up a parliamentary seat in the French Second Republic during the revolution of 1848. He was key in the formation of the ideas of Mikhail Bakunin who led the anarchist opposition to Karl Marx within the International Workingmen’s Association, and developed several concepts which are fundamental for anarchism such as support for organisational federalism over centralism, the rejection of the idea of the working class taking political power and using it to transform society and a general attempt to move the focus on to the economic rather than political movement of the class. He also developed a focus on ethical opposition to forms of social hierarchy and authority as a basis for anti-capitalist politics.
Aside from anarchism, Proudhon’s work also serves as a precursor to the varies forms of ‘market socialism’, such as that of David Schweikhart, which envision an economy of worker-owned co-operative enterprises as an alternative to the existing managerial institutions of capitalist society. Proudhon’s work, described by Marx as the most consistent expression of the critique of political economy from the standpoint of political economy,[iii] also bears relation to those political economists who, like Keynes, have sought to save capitalist society as a whole by destroying those forms of capital deemed ‘parasitic’, namely financial/interest-bearing capital[iv]. The name of Proudhon then, is tied deeply to currents of socialism opposed to that inaugurated by Karl Marx and his associate Friedrich Engels.
This means that, living as we do in the post-Soviet world, Proudhon’s ideas are certain to be invoked (consciously or unconsciously) by those who would seek to argue that the failure that was the Soviet experience was the result, not of the objective factors, the internal dynamics and material conditions of the Russian economy and its relation with the world economy, but in the subjective factor, the Bolshevik’s self-proclaimed ideology of Marxism. This is certainly the argument put forward by the book’s editor, Ian McKay. He believes that the statist detour of the 20th century working class movement into the avenues of social democracy and ‘official’ communism (otherwise known as Stalinism) is a result of fundamental flaws in Marxian modes of analysis. The alternative is to turn, not to one of the many currents of Marxism developed in opposition to the aforementioned trends, but instead to turn to an analysis based on the theorists of anarchism. And, for McKay at least, this analysis may be found in its first systematic expression in Proudhon’s work, along with the evidence of the superiority of Anarchist to Marxian forms of social critique.
I cannot possibly claim to deal satisfactorily with all of these fundamental issues in the course of a single article. Instead, my aim here is to critique the specific points brought up by McKay against Marx and in favour of Proudhon in his section on this issue in introduction to the anthology (As well as dealing occasionally with side issues brought up in the main body of the introduction).[v] First I will deal with some of the minor side issues brought up in his piece. Then I will move on to the main body of his critique. In order to do this it will be necessary to lay out the nature of certain fundamental concepts in Marx’s critique of political economy, in particular the concept of capital. After having done this, I will show that Proudhon advocates a form of capitalism in Marx’s sense, and the claimed plagiarism of Proudhon which McKay ascribes to Marx are thus due to a misreading of Marx’s concepts.
The main point which I hope to demonstrate is the superiority of Marx’s analysis of the nature of capital over that of Proudhon, and by extension that this superiority lies in a fundamental superiority of method. The fundamental overarching theme of the text is thus to demonstrate one of the key principles of Communist Students, that “Marxism is the best way of understanding the world and changing it.”[vi]
The first distortion that we find is McKay claiming that Marx appropriated the famous slogan that “the emancipation of the working-class must be the act of the working-class themselves” from Proudhon. However, the slogan from Proudhon with which he compares Marx’s exhortation declares that the working class must emancipate itself, “without the help of the government.” McKay should know well enough that this would not have been Marx’s intention, as he had all his life fought for the idea that it was “the great duty of the working classes” to “conquer political power”[vii] and that to be successful in their struggle workers’ would have to “employ forcible means, hence governmental means”[viii] against the capitalist class. He himself notes in a footnote that the phrase actually originates with Flora Tristan, whose work Union Ouvrière, which Engels had defended against the Young Hegelians in the fourth chapter of The Holy Family, contained an endorsement of the creation of an international union of the working class. Which is more likely, that Marx was plagiarising a phrase which he directly disagreed with, or that he was directly quoting someone whose ideas formed a precursor to those of the IWMA whose statutes he was writing? For my part I would think the answer is obvious, although McKay seems determined to dig up anything he can which would implicate Marx in some kind of mean-spirited conspiracy against Proudhon.
Moving onwards to the realm of political economy, McKay asserts that Marx’s understanding of labour-power and surplus-value sounds “remarkably like” Proudhon’s axiom that “all labour must leave a surplus”. Yet the “peculiar property” of labour-power which means that the value it creates during a given period is greater than the value the worker receives during that time is not anything trans-historical, but the fact that labour-power is a commodity whose use-value is to be a source of value, a situation which is only true in an economy in which value in Marx’s sense exists – a capitalist economy.
As for McKay’s claims that Proudhon was the inventor of Marx’s theory of surplus-value, certainly Marx was not the first to note that the worker did not receive back what they produced during a given production period.[ix] Ricardian socialists had noted this before Proudhon even. What is significant about Marx’s theory of surplus-value is the inverse ratio it establishes between the rate of profit and the rate of wages. On the basis of a given state of the productive forces, as wages rise, the rate of profit falls, the peaceful course of capital accumulation is interrupted and the seeds are sown for a crisis. The significance of Marx’s theory of surplus-value is not to show that capitalism is unethical, but that workers cannot make substantial gains without going beyond its narrow horizons.
Proudhon’s advocacy of capitalism[x]
With those initial remarks aside, it is time to get to the meat and potatoes of the argument. McKay’s argument has as one of its central assumptions that Proudhon did not advocate a society which would be recognisable as a capitalist society. To see the validity of these claims, we can start by examining the kind of society which Marx outlined as the basis of his critique in Capital Volume One.
Marx began his magnum opus, Das Kapital, with an analysis of the social form taken by wealth in capitalist society – the commodity-form. What is a commodity? In the first place it is a use-value, but not a use-value which is useful to its producer. “Whoever directly satisfies his wants with the produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use values, but not commodities. In order to produce the latter, he must not only produce use-values, but use-values for others, social use-values.”[xi] Labour which produces social use-values is social labour, and labour under capitalism is, in the first place then, social labour, which requires a social division of labour.
But that labour is social labour is not enough for labour to produce wealth in the form of commodities. Within the capitalist firm itself, the products of the workers mutually complement one another without ever taking on the form of commodities: “…in every factory the labour is divided according to a system, but this division is not brought about by the operatives mutually exchanging their individual products. Only such products can become commodities with regard to each other, as result from different kinds of labour, each kind being carried on independently and for the account of private individuals.”[xii] The fact that wealth takes on the form of commodities is conceived by Marx in the first chapter of Capital as the result of the atomisation of the producers, their production as isolated enterprise units, as private property owners. A closer look in fact reveals this to be an overarching theme of Marx’s critique of political economy from the time of his 1844 Comments on James Mill in which he states: “Exchange or barter is therefore the social act, the species-act, the community, the social intercourse and integration of men within private ownership, and therefore the external, alienated species-act.”[xiii]
It would thus appear obvious that Proudhon’s system of worker-managed enterprises competing on the marketplace would fall victim to the critique put forward by Marx in Capital. But McKay denies this. According to him Marx draws a “clear distinction between commodity production and capitalism”, and yet “Marx’s critique [of Proudhon] rested on a massive confusion of commodity production (the market) and capitalism.” For McKay, Proudhon does not advocate capitalism in the sense of the system critiqued throughout the three volumes of Das Kapital, and Marx’s claiming that he did is merely more evidence of Marx’s desire to crush Proudhon’s doctrine through any backhanded means necessary.
My own opinion is that the first of McKay’s claims, namely that there is a distinction between commodity production and capitalism in Marx’s theory, is only partly accurate. A corrected view of the relationship between commodity production and capitalism in Marx’s theory shows that the supposed ‘confusion’ in Marx’s thought is actually non-existent. Marx’s opinion that Proudhon advocated a form of capitalism is perfectly consistent with his comments on the existence of commodity production without capitalism.
Commodity Production and Capitalism
To understand the relation between capitalism and commodity production in Marx’s theory, it may be instructive to go briefly over Marx’s derivation of capital in Volume I[xiv] and the nature of capital in Marx’s works. As I have already noted, Volume I begins with the fact that capitalist production is the production of commodities, and links this fact to the way in which production is organised within capitalist society, as being at once a process for the production of useful articles for society at large, but where this social production is carried on by individual enterprises for their own private account.
The next part of the book then moves on briefly to the examination of the simple circulation of commodities. The simple circulation of commodities involves the exchange of commodities for money, which is then exchanged for commodities which are consumed – selling in order to buy. This is represented by Marx as follows:
C – M – C
Where C represents commodities and M represents money. However, this simple circulation of commodities contains a problem. The aim of simple circulation is for the circulating agent to end up with a use-value which will satisfy their needs when consumed. Exchange-value here appears as a temporary mediation between the producers which disappears with the consumption of the use-values they obtained through the circulation process. “The repetition or renewal of the act of selling in order to buy is kept within bounds by the very object it aims at, namely, consumption or the satisfaction of definite wants, an aim that lies altogether outside the sphere of circulation.”[xv]
The limited form of the simple circulation of commodities cannot therefore be the basis of a society in which wealth generally takes the form of commodities. The basis of the latter is found in a new form of circulation, wherein the object is no longer use-value, but exchange-value. A circuit where the start and end points are constituted by value in the form of money. This circuit is the exchange of money for commodities which are sold on for more money, buying in order to sell which is represented by:
M – C – M’
In this circuit “money ends the movement only to begin it again.”[xvi] The aim of the circulation of capital is not to provide any use-value to an end consumer, but to increase the surplus-value of the capitalist. The circuit cannot be enacted once in order for the thirst it quenches to be satisfied, it must be constantly repeated in order to continue the self-expansion of value on an ever larger scale. “Use-values must therefore never be looked upon as the real aim of the capitalist; neither must the profit on any single transaction. The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at.”[xvii] As a result: “The circulation of capital has … no limits.”[xviii] The limitless nature of the circuit which permits the expansion of capital makes it the only form of circulation adequate for maintaining the production of commodities as the generalised form of production throughout society.
We are thus in a position to counter McKay’s arguments with regards to Marx’s supposed confusion between commodity production and capitalism. Although it is true that in the isolated instances of simple commodity circulation which existed in pre-capitalist societies, commodity production did not entail capitalism, the production of commodities as the general form of social wealth entails that wealth circulate in the form adequate to the generalised production of commodities. A society of generalised commodity production must therefore necessarily be, in Marx’s theory, a society in which production is the production of surplus-value and hence capital. In order to show that we are not just constructing a theory arbitrarily using selective quotation, let us quote directly from Marx’s work: “In order that capital may be able to arise and take control of production, a definite stage in the development of trade is assumed. This applies therefore also to the circulation of commodities, and hence to the production of commodities; for no articles can enter circulation as commodities unless they are produced for sale, hence as commodities. But the production of commodities does not become the normal, dominant type of production until capitalist production serves as its basis.”[xix]
Or again: “Capital formation cannot occur except on the basis of the circulation of commodities (which includes the circulation of money), hence at an already given stage of development of trade in which the latter has achieved a certain extension. The production and circulation of commodities, however, do not conversely presuppose the capitalist mode of production for their existence; on the contrary, as I have already demonstrated, they also “exist in pre-bourgeois social formations”. They are the historical presupposition of the capitalist mode of production. On the other hand, however, it is only on the basis of capitalist production that the commodity becomes the general form of the product, that every product must take on the commodity form, that sale and purchase seize control not only of the surplus of production but of its very substance, and that the various conditions of production themselves emerge in their totality as commodities which go into the production process from circulation.”[xx]
But what about McKay’s quoting of Marx’s statement that where the individual producers own their means of production that the means of production do not constitute capital? He uses this to infer that for Marx any society where the producers have formal legal ownership over the means of production (hence a society of co-operatives ala Proudhon) is, for Marx, non-capitalist, and therefore there is a difference between commodity-producing societies and specifically capitalist societies based on whether or not the producers have such legal ownership. What he misses is that when Marx refers to workers’ individual ownership of the means of the production he refers to individual ownership in the context of societies prior to the socialisation of production and the generalisation of commodity production. This form of production “excludes cooperation, division of labour within each separate process of production, the control over, and the productive application of the forces of nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers.”[xxi] Since Proudhon’s doctrine was formed after the rise of modern capitalism, his ideas about workers’ ownership of the means of production can only mean (and indeed McKay takes them to mean) that workers are to take control within an economy which still features the antagonism between socialised production and individual ownership, identified by Marx at the beginning of Capital as the primary feature of capitalism.
We would note again that, far from being passing remarks, these ideas formed a core part of Marx’s ideas over the course of his life. For Marx, the distinctive feature of humanity as a species, what makes humans revolutionary in contrast to prior forms of life, is the human capacity to produce and reproduce our own material environment. “Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.”[xxii]
This implies a tripartite division of human history, beginning with societies in which human beings are dominated by the forces of nature, moving to societies in which the development of the productive forces allows them to overcome the rule of nature but subjects them instead to the rule of their own alienated productive forces, and finally ending in communist society in which production is controlled by the associated producers, allowing for the free development of human capacities as an end in themselves: “…the most essential historical activity of men, the one which has raised them from bestiality to humanity and which forms the material foundation of all their other activities, namely the production of their requirements of life, that is today social production, is above all subject to the interplay of unintended effects from uncontrolled forces and achieves its desired end only by way of exception and, much more frequently, the exact opposite. In the most advanced industrial countries we have subdued the forces of nature and pressed them into the service of mankind; we have thereby infinitely multiplied production, so that a child now produces more than a hundred adults previously did. And what is the result? Increasing overwork and increasing misery of the masses, and every ten years a great collapse… Only conscious organisation of social production, in which production and distribution are carried on in a planned way, can lift mankind above the rest of the animal world as regards the social aspect, in the same way that production in general has done this for men in their aspect as species.”[xxiii]
Proudhon as an advocate of class society
McKay asserts that Proudhon was in opposition to a society founded on the antagonism of classes. However, in my opinion, Proudhon’s mutualism would be a class society in Marx’s sense. To understand this we need to go back again to Marx’s view of capital.
I have already demonstrated that for Marx, the generalisation of commodity production involves the circulation of commodities as capital in the form M – C – M’. What, however, is the source of the expansion of value, the creation of surplus-value, which drives this circuit? Famously, for Marx, it is wage-labour, labour as a commodity which is bought and sold on the market, which provides the source of surplus-value. McKay argues that because workers’ are not bought and sold by capitalists, a mutualist society would not be a society in which wage-labour existed. On my part I believe this rests on a fundamental confusion which equates capitalists as such with the specific historical form of the individual factory-owner capitalist. For Marx, however, the capitalist is not confined to this form, but is merely “the conscious representative of this movement [i.e. the circulation of commodities as capital]”[xxiv]. This representative may come in the form of an individual private capitalist, “or as in joint-stock companies, a collective capitalist.”[xxv] Similarly, in a co-operative enterprise does not do away with capital, but the workers’ themselves become it’s representative, “the antithesis between capital and labour is overcome within them… only by way of making associated labourers into their own capitalist”[xxvi].
Interestingly, McKay quotes the same passage from Capital Volume III which I just quoted from, only he emphasises certain parts which would appear to have Marx as believing that co-operatives constitute an alternative not just to the hierarchical firm but to capitalism as such. This seems to miss the main thrust of this chapter which shows how capitalism creates the basis for it’s own supersession. Marx does not argue that co-operatives constitute a new mode of production but that they “show how a new mode of production naturally grows out of an old one, when the development of the material forces of production and of the corresponding forms of social production have reached a particular stage.”[xxvii] In this respect they are compared to joint-stock companies which turn production by individual capitalists into social production, albeit still within the bounds of the capitalist mode of production. “The capitalist stock companies, as much as the co-operative factories, should be considered as transitional forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one, with the only distinction that the antagonism is resolved negatively in the one and positively in the other.”[xxviii] I doubt that McKay would use this to argue that joint-stock companies also formed a mode of production distinct from the capitalist mode of production.
As the co-operatives remain capitalist enterprises, so too the workers’ bought and sold by the co-ops remain proletarians, wage-labourers. Far from abolishing the proletarian condition, Proudhon’s schemes would, as Marx declares in his 1844 Manuscripts, actually generalise it: “…the equality of wages, as demanded by Proudhon, only transforms the relationship of the present-day worker to his labour into the relationship of all men to labour. Society would then be conceived as an abstract capitalist.”[xxix] As such, for Marx, far from abolishing the antagonism within the capitalist organisation of production, the Proudhonist schemes contain this antagonism in all its essential aspects.
Let us remark that the difference between Marx and Proudhon on this score constitutes a fundamental difference of method. Whereas for Proudhon and McKay capital is understood in terms of specific managerial forms, Marx understands it in terms of its content as the self-expansion of value produced by the alienation of the workers’ own product, where the products of the producers present themselves as an alien power which dominates them. The difference in method lies in whether to consider the appearance of a phenomenon or its essence, it’s form or content. For Marx, in contrast to vulgar economy and the Proudhonists, “all science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided.”[xxx]
This methodology traces its way back to the most famous follower of the founder of Western Philosophy – Plato. For Plato, philosophy deals not with the world of appearances, but with what is in essence, the forms. Dialectic, as the highest form of reasoning, is that mode of thought which reasons solely in terms of the forms, which “moves solely through forms to forms, and finishes with forms.”[xxxi] Similarly, Marx’s capital deals initially not with capital’s phenomenal forms, but examines the inner nature of capital itself, before showing how capital incarnates itself historically.
With this elaboration of Marx’s theory of capital, most of McKay’s arguments against Marx crumble into nothing. Since Proudhon did advocate a form of capitalism according to Marx, all Marx’s critiques on this basis are valid. Protestations to the contrary on the basis of a methodological formalism which sees in capital only one of its historically transient incarnations rather than its inner nature which might still remain can be dismissed easily by noting that in a hypothetical world of ‘self-managed’ enterprises exchanging their products, the human misery caused by the periodical crises and the continued enforcement of the logic of capital within the workplace will make the protestations of the formalists that this logic is now imposed ‘democratically’ and therefore not capitalistically at all of little consequence to the workers still suffering under capital’s iron heel.
Marx on Co-Operatives: A Question of Politics
“This new consciousness that is emerging more clearly every day should be held in the highest regard; however, we would not want it to be led astray by vain illusions… We would not like the working masses to get hold of the idea that all they need do to take over the factories and get rid or the capitalists is set up councils. This would indeed be a dangerous illusion. The factory will be conquered by the working class… only after the working class as a whole has seized political power. Unless it has done so, the Royal Guards, military police, etc. – in other words, the mechanism of force and oppression that the bourgeoisie has at its disposal, its political power apparatus – will see to it that all illusions are dispelled.” (Bordiga, Seize Power or Seize the Factory?)[xxxii]
“At the same time the experience of the period from 1848 to 1864 has proved beyond doubt that, however, excellent in principle and however useful in practice, co-operative labour, if kept within the narrow circle of the casual efforts of private workmen, will never be able to arrest the growth in geometrical progression of monopoly, to free the masses, nor even to perceptibly lighten the burden of their miseries… To save the industrious masses, co-operative labour ought to be developed to national dimensions, and, consequently, to be fostered by national means. Yet the lords of the land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their economic monopolies… To conquer political power has, therefore, become the great duty of the working classes.” (Marx, Inaugural Address of the International Workingmen’s Association)[xxxiii]
By way of a conclusion we might discuss a bit more Marx’s support of the co-operative movement. I believe I have already shown that Marx did not consider co-operatives as an alternative to capitalism but as a form which could be used as a lever for transition in the same way that large joint-stock companies could. McKay uses Marx’s ‘mature’ support for co-operatives to dismiss Marx’s ‘youthful’ dismissal of Proudhon’s schemes. Yet I believe there is a huge gulf between Proudhon on co-operatives and Marx, one which McKay as an Anarchist should be well aware of.
Co-operatives were and still can be attempts on the part of groups of workers to improve their conditions of life through their own efforts. For this reason Marx supported them, as he supported any instance of self-activity on the part of the working class. However, he maintained no illusions as to the limited nature of co-operative production. The activity of workers in the co-operatives was the limited activity of private individuals still contained within the sphere of civil society. For this reason, even in Marx’s day, some of the more ‘humanitarian’ supporters of the ruling class saw them as a way to solve the antagonism between capital and labour, “…those members of the ruling classes who are intelligent enough to perceive the impossibility of continuing the present system – and they are many – have become the obtrusive and full-mouthed apostles of co-operative production.”[xxxiv]
In order for co-operatives to not remain “a sham and a snare” it would be necessary for them to integrate themselves into a system of socially planned production which would supercede not only the hierarchical firm but the whole system of commodity production and the rule of the producers by their productive forces altogether. To achieve this, it would be necessary for the working class to not restrict itself to battling on the economic field by forming co-operatives, but by fighting out on the political field, and taking political-administrative power into its own hands. “Restricted, however, to the dwarfish forms into which individual wages slaves can elaborate it by their private efforts, the co-operative system will never transform capitalist society. To convert social production into one large and harmonious system of free and co-operative labour, general social changes are wanted, changes of the general conditions of society, never to be realised save by the transfer of the organised forces of society, viz., the state power, from capitalists and landlords to the producers themselves.”[xxxv]
Proudhon never called on the workers to take political power. It was precisely his tendency that opposed such action by the workers, and which wanted them to focus solely on emancipating themselves through the co-operative movement. And there can be little doubt that Proudhon would have opposed the use of co-operatives as a lever for ending the anarchy of production and instituting planned production by the associated producers. For Proudhon and his followers, it is not for the working-class to dirty themselves with something as contrary to eternal principles as the wielding of state power. On the contrary, the state is something which must be ignored. The illusion must be maintained that as long as the workers avoid anything to do with the state it will not bother them in their isolated and purely economic efforts to emancipate themselves.
As Marxists, we are fundamentally opposed to this whole line of reasoning. McKay has provided us with little that will shake our convictions beside distortion and misrepresentation. But alas, not all are convinced. It is likely that in future social upheavals there will be those conscious or unconscious followers of Proudhon who urge the workers to avoid anything as horrific as state power. Then as previously, the force wielded by the bourgeoisie against the workers through its state will soon see to it that all illusions about a class struggle which avoids political struggle are dispelled.
[i] Amadeo Bordiga, The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism: http://www.international-communist-party.org/BasicTexts/English/57Fundam.htm
[ii] A detailed blog post covering the release of the book, various aspects of its contents and development as well as containing praise for the book by the editor may be found here: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/pjproudhon/property-is-theft-now-published
[iii] In plain English, this means that although Proudhon saw the transitory nature of existing capitalist property relations, his critique was made on the acceptance of the trans-historical character of the other categories of political economy such as value, price and money. Marx notes that this bears similarity to the critiques of financial capital and landed property made by certain political economists, although Proudhon has the merit of carrying his critique all the way through in a consistent fashion. The relevant discussion is found in Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, chapter four, section four – ‘Proudhon’.
[iv] Lest the reader think the reference to Keynes ungenerous, we should note that this observation stems from McKay himself who in his introduction notes that Keynes had rated highly the work of one of Proudhon’s followers.
[v] Ian McKay, Proudhon and Marx: http://anarchism.pageabode.com/pjproudhon/appendix-proudhon-and-marx.html. Unless otherwise stated, all further references to McKay’s work are to this article.
[vi] Communist Students, Who We Are: http://communiststudents.org.uk/?page_id=2671
[vii] Inaugural Address of the International Workingmen’s Association: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/10/27.htm
[viii] Conspectus of Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/04/bakunin-notes.htm
[ix] … “And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists, the economic economy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production (historische Entwicklungsphasen der Production), (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat. (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” Karl Marx’s letter to J W Weydemeyer: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/letters/52_03_05-ab.htm
[x] I should like to mention that the understanding presented in what follows of Marx’s capital being not merely a critique of hierarchical managerial structures within the capitalist firm but of the whole structure of production by isolated individual enterprises has roots in my reading of the writings of Italian Marxist and first general secretary of the Communist Party of Italy (Section of the Third International), Amadeo Bordiga. Bordiga’s opposition to theories which hypothesised a capitalist economy in which the enterprises were managed by the workers’ within them began with his polemics against Gramsci and the tendency around L’Ordine Nuovo during the biennio rosso, and was elaborated in a much more theoretically considered form in his writings against the ‘modernists’ (Thinkers like Cornelius Castoriadis who proposed a need for Marxism to be ‘updated’ or revised significantly in light of trends in post-war capitalism) which were prominent in his writing after the Second World War. For an early piece by Bordiga against attempts to seize capitalism by workers taking over the management of individual enterprises see his text ‘Seize Power or Seize the Factory?': http://www.marxists.org/archive/bordiga/works/1920/seize-power.htm. For a more general ‘Bordigist’ critique of Gramsci’s political positions see the International Communist Party’s (Il Programma Comunista) article ‘Gramscism: An Age Long Bane of Communism’ in Internationalist Papers no. 10. For a developed text by Bordiga critiquing the idea of the workers taking power within the individual enterprises see ‘The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism’, linked to in footnote 1. Bordiga’s critique of Gramsci and of the advocates of ‘self-managed’ capitalism in general is, I would argue, essentially the same as Marx’s critique of the Proudhonists and those who saw the co-operative movement as something to be pursued at the expense of the political movement of the working class.
[xi] Marx, Das Kapital Volume I. Chapter One: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm
[xiii] Marx, Comments on James Mill: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/james-mill/index.htm
[xiv] I should note that my understanding of the reasoning behind the transition from simple circulation to the circulation of capital was helped along by Paresh Chattopadhyay’s paper ‘On the question of Labour Values in a Communist Society’, available from the International Working Group on Value Theory website: http://www.iwgvt.org/iwg_sessions.php?year=1997
[xv] Marx, Das Kapital Volume I. Chapter Four, The General Formula for Capital: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch04.htm
[xix] Karl Marx, Das Kapital Volume II. Chapter One, The Circuit of Money-Capital: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch01.htm
[xx] Karl Marx, Results of the Direct Production Process. AD 1) Commodities as the Product of Capital: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/economic/ch01.htm
[xxi] Karl Marx, Das Kapital Volume I. Chapter Thirty Two, Historical Tendency of Capital Accumulation: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch32.htm
[xxii] Marx and Engels, The German Ideology. Part I: Feuerbach. Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01a.htm. The importance of the distinctively human trait for biosphere reproduction was first made clear to me by Cyril Smith’s book ‘Karl Marx and Human Self-Creation': http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-cyril/works/alteration/index.htm. See also Loren Goldner’s article ‘Social Reproduction for Begginners: Bringing Reality Back In': http://home.earthlink.net/~lrgoldner/socreprod.html
[xxiii] Friedrich Engels, Dialectics of Nature. Introduction: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/don/ch01.htm. I quote Engels here at least partly in opposition to the school of thought which sees Engels as being in some kind of fundamental opposition to Marx.
[xxiv] Karl Marx, Das Kapital Volume I. Chapter Four
[xxv] Ibid. Chapter Thirteen, Co-Operation.
[xxvi] Karl Marx, Das Kapital Volume III. Chapter Twenty Seven, The Role of Credit in Capitalist Production: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch27.htm
[xxix] Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Estranged Labour: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm
[xxx] ibid. Chapter Fourty Eight, The Trinity Formula: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch48.htm
[xxxi] Plato, The Republic. 511c
[xxxii] See footnote ten.
[xxxiv] Marx, The Civil War in France. Chapter Five, The Paris Commune: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch05.htm
[xxxv] Marx, Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council. Co-Operative Labour: http://www.marxists.org/history/international/iwma/documents/1866/instructions.htm#05