Karl Marx's

from the Third Manuscript


We have seen what significance the wealth of human needs has, on the presupposition of socialism, and consequently what significance a new mode of production and a new object of production have. A fresh confirmation of human powers and a fresh enrichment of human nature. Under the system of private property their significance is reversed. Each person speculates on creating a new need in the other, with the aim of forcing him to make a new sacrifice, placing him in a new dependence and seducing him into a new kind of of enjoyment and hence into economic ruin. Each attempts to establish over the other an alien power, in the hope of thereby achieving satisfaction of his own selfish needs. With the mass of objects grows the realm of alien powers to which mn is subjected, and each new product is a new potentiality of mutual fraud and mutual pillage. Man becomes ever poorer as a man, and needs ever more money if he is to achieve mastery over the hostile being. The power of his money falls in inverse proportion to the volume of productions -- i.e., his need grows as the power of money increases.

The need for money is for that reason the real need created by the modern economic system, and the only need it creates. The quantity of money becomes more and more its sole important property. Just as it reduces everything to its own form of abstraction, so it reduces itself in the course of its own movement to something quantitative. Lack of moderation and intemperance become its true standard.

Subjectively this is manifested partly in the fact that the expansion of production and needs becomes the inventive and ever calculating slave of inhuman, refined, unnatural and imaginary appetites -- for private property does not know how to transform crude need into human need. Its idealism is fantasy, caprice, and infatuation. No eunuch flatters his despot more basely, or uses more infamous means to revive his flagging capacity for pleasure, in order to win a surreptitious favor for himself, than does the eunuch of industry, the manufacturer, in order to sneak himself a silver penny or two, or coax the gold from the pocket of his dearly beloved neighbor. (Every product is a bait with which to entice the essence of the other, his money. Every real or potential need is a weakness which will tempt the fly onto the lime-twig. Universal exploitation of communal human nature. Just as each one of man's inadequacies is a bond with heaven, a way into his heart for the priest, so every need is an opportunity for stepping up to one's neighbor in sham friendship and saying to him: "Dear friend, I can give you want you need, but you know the terms. You know which ink you must use in signing yourself over to me. I shall cheat you while I provide your pleasure." He places himself at the disposal of his neighbor's most depraved fancies, panders to his needs, excites unhealthy appetites in him, and pounces on every weakness, so that he can then demand the money for his labor of love.

This estrangement partly manifests itself in the fact that the rent of needs and of the means of fulfilling them gives rise to a bestial degeneration and a complete, crude and abstract simplicity of need; or rather, that it merely reproduces itself in its opposite sense. Even the need for fresh air ceases to be a need for the worker. Man reverts once more to living in a cave, but the cave is now polluted by the mephitic and pestilential breath of civilization. Moreover, the worker has no more than a precarious right to live in it, for it is for him an alien power that can be daily withdrawn and from which, should he fail to pay, he can be evicted at any time. He actually has to pay for this mortuary. A dwelling in the light, which Prometheus describes in Aeschylus as one of the great gifts through which he transformed savages into men, ceases to exist for the worker. Light, ire, etc. -- the simplest animal cleanliness -- cases be a need for man. Dirt -- this pollution and putrefaction of man, the sewage (this word is to be understood in its literal sense) of civilization -- becomes an element of life for him. Universal unnatural neglect, putrefied nature, becomes an element of life for him. None of this sense exist any longer, either in their human form or in their inhuman form -- i.e., not even in their animal form. The crudest modes (and instruments) of human labor reappear; for example, the tread-mill used by Roman slave has become the mode of production and mode of existence of many English workers. It is not only human needs which man lacks -- even his animal needs cease to exist. The Irishman has only one need left -- the need to eat, to eat potatoes, and, more precisely, to eat rotten potatoes, the worst kind of potatoes. But England and France already have a little Ireland in each of their industrial cities.. The savage and the animal at least have the need to hunt,to move about, etc., the need of companionship. The simplification of machinery and of labor is used to make workers out of human beings who are still growing, who are completely immature, out of children, while the worker himself becomes a neglected child. The machine accommodates itself to man's weakness, in order to turn weak man into a machine.

The fact that the multiplication of needs and of the means of fulfilling them gives rise to a lack of needs and of means is proved by the political economist (and by the capitalist -- we invariably mean empirical businessmen when we refer to political economists, who are the scientific exposition and existence of the former) in the following ways:

(1) By reducing the worker's needs to the paltriest minimum necessary to maintain his physical existence and by reducing his activity to the most abstract mechanical movement. In so doing, the political economist declares that man has no other needs, either in the sphere of activity or in that of consumption. For even this life he calls human life and human existence.

(2) By taking as his standard -- his universal standard, in the sense that it applies to the mass of men -- the worst possible state of privation which life (existence) can know. He turns the worker into a being with neither needs nor senses and turn the worker's activity into a pure abstraction from all activity. Hence any luxury that the worker might enjoy is reprehensible, and anything that goes beyond the most abstract need -- either in the form of passive enjoyment or active expression -- appears to him as a luxury. Political economy, this science of wealth, is therefore at the same time the science of denial, of starvation, of saving, and it actually goes so far as to save man the need for fresh air or physical exercise. This science of the marvels of industry is at the same time the science of asceticism, and its true ideal is the ascetic but rapacious skinflint and the ascetic but productive slave. Its moral ideal is the worker who puts a part of his wages into savings, and it has even discovered a servile art which can dignify this charming little notion and present a sentimental version of it on the stage. It is therefore -- for all its worldly and debauched appearance -- a truly moral moral science, the most moral science of all. Self-denial, the denial of life and of all human needs, is its principal doctrine. The less you eat, drink, buy books, go to the theatre, go dancing, go drinking, think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save and the greater will become that treasure which neither moths nor maggots can consume -- your capital. The less you are, the less you give expression to your life, the more you have, the greater is your alienated life and the more you store up of your estranged life. Everything which the political economist takes from you in terms of life and humanity, he restores to you in the form of money and wealth, and everything which you are unable to do, your money can do for you: it can eat, drink, go dancing, go to the theatre, it can appropriate art, learning, historical curiosities, political power, it can travel, it is capable of doing all those thing for you; it can buy everything it is genuine wealth, genuine ability. But for all that, it only likes to create itself, to buy itself, for after all everything else is its servant. And when I have the master I have the servant, and I have no need of his servant. So all passions and all activity are lost in greed. The worker is only permitted to have enough for him to live, and he is only permitted to live in order to have.

It is true that a controversy has arisen in the field of political economy. One school (Lauderdale, Malthus, etc.) advocates luxury and execrates thrift. The other (Say, Ricardo, etc.) advocates thrift and execrates luxury. But the former admits that it wants luxury in order to produce labor -- i.e., absolute thrift; and the latter admits that it advocates thrift in order to produce wealth -- i.e., luxury. The former has the romantic notion that greed alone should not regulate the consumption of the rich, and it contradicts its own laws when it forwards the idea of prodigality as a direct means of enrichment. The other side then advances earnest and detailed arguments to show that through prodigality I diminish rather than increase my possessions; but its supporters hypocritically refuse to admit that production is regulated by caprice and luxury; they forget the "refined needs" and forget that without consumption there can be no production; they forget that, through competition, production becomes more extensive and luxurious; they forget that it is use which determines the value of a thing, and that it is fashion which determines use; they want only "useful things" to be produced, but they forget that the production of too many useful things produces too many useless people. Both sides forget that prodigality and thrift, luxury and privation, wealth and poverty are equal.

And you must not only be parsimonious in gratifying your immediate senses, such as eating, etc. You must also be chary of participating in affairs of general interest, showing sympathy and trust, etc., if you want to be economical and if you want to avoid being ruined by illusions.

You must make everything which is yours venal -- i.e., useful. I might ask the political economist: am I obeying economic laws if I make money by prostituting my body to the lust of another (in France, the factory workers call the prostitution of their wives and daughters the nth working hour, which is literally true), or if I sell my friend to the Moroccans [where they still had Christian slaves] (and the direct sale of men in the form of trade in conscripts, etc., occurs in all civilized countries)? His answer will be: your acts do not contravene my laws, but you find out what Cousin Morality and Cousin Religion have to say about it; the morality and religion of my political economy have no objection to make, but... But who should I believe, then? Political economy or morality? The morality of political economy is gain, labor and thrift, sobriety -- and yet political economy promises to satisfy my needs. The political economy of morality is the wealth of a good conscience, of virtue, etc. But how can I be virtuous if I do not exist? And how can I have a good conscience if I am not conscious of anything? It is inherent in the very nature of estrangement that each sphere imposes upon me a different and contrary standard; one standard for morality, one for political economy, and so on. This is because each of them is a particular estrangement of man and each is centred upon one particular area of estranged essential activity: each is related in an estranged way to the other... Thus M. Michael Chevalier accuses Ricardo of abstracting from morality. But Ricardo allows political economy to speak its own language. If this language is not that of morality, it is not the fault of Ricardo. M. Chevalier abstracts from political economy insofar as he moralizes, but he really and necessarily abstracts from morality insofar as he deals with political economy. The relationship of political economy to morality is either an arbitrary and contingent one which is neither founded nor scientific, a simulacrum, or it is essential and can only be the relationship of economic laws to morality. If such a relationship does not exist, or if the opposite is rather the case, can Ricardo do anything about it? Moreover, the opposition between political economy and morality is only an apparent one. It is both an opposition and not an opposition. Political economy merely gives expression to moral laws in its own way.

Absence of needs as the principle of political economy is most in its theory of population. There re too many people. Even the existence of man is a pure luxury, and if the worker is "moral" he will be economical in procreation. (Mill suggests public commendation of those who show themselves temperate in sexual matters and public rebukes of those who sin against this barrenness of marriage... Is this not the morality, the doctrine, of asceticism?) The production of people appears as a public disaster.

The meaning which production has for the wealthy is revealed in the meaning which it has for the poor. At the top, it always manifests itself in refined, concealed, and ambiguous way -- as an appearance. At the bottom, it manifests itself in a crude, straightforward, and overt way -- as a reality. The crude need of the worker is a much greater source of profit than the refined need of the rich. The basement dwellings in London bring in more for the landlords than the palaces -- i.e., they constitute a greater wealth for him and, from an economic point of view, a greater social wealth.

Just as industry speculates on the refinement of needs, so too it speculated on their crudity. But the crudity on which it speculates is artificially produced, and its true manner of enjoyment is therefore self-stupefaction, this apparent satisfaction of need, this civilization within the crude barbarism of need. The English ginshops are, therefore, the symbolic representation of private property. Their luxury demonstrated to man the true relation of industrial luxury and wealth. For that reason, they are rightly the only Sunday enjoyment of the English people, and are at least treated mildly by the English police.

We have already seen how the political economist establishes the unity of labor and capital in a number of different ways:

(1) capital is accumulated labor;

(2) the purpose of capital within production -- partly the reproduction of capital with profit, partly capital as raw material (material of labor) and partly as itself a working instrument (the machine is capital directly identified with labor) -- is productive labor;

(3) the worker is a piece of capital;

(4) wages belong to the costs of capital;

(5) for the worker, labor is the reproduction of his life capital;

(6) for the capitalist, it is a factor in the activity of his capital. Finally,

(7) the political economist postulates the original unity of capital and labor as the unity of capitalist and worker, which he sees as the original state of bliss. The fact that these two elements leap at each other's throats in the form of two persons is a contingent event for the political economist, and hence only to be explained by external factors (see Mill).

Those nations which are still dazzled by the sensuous glitter of precious metals and, therefore, make a fetish of metal money are not yet fully developed money nations. Compare England and France. The extent to which the solution of theoretical problems is a function of practice and is mediated through practice, and the extent to which true practice is the condition of a real and positive theory is shown, for example, in the case of fetish-worship. The sense perception of a fetish-worshipper is different from that of a Greek because his sensuous existence is different. The abstract hostility between sense and intellect is inevitable so long as the human sense [Sinn] for nature, the human significance [Sinn] of nature, and, hence, the natural sense of man, has not yet been produced by man's own labor.

Equality is nothing but a translation into French -- i.e., into political form -- of the German "Ich - Ich". Equality as the basis of communism is its political foundation. It is the same as when the German founds it on the fact that he sees man as universal self-consciousness. It goes without saying that the supersession of estrangement always emanates from the form of estrangement which is the dominant power -- in Germany, self-consciousness; in France, equality, because politics; in England, real, material, practical need, which only measures itself against itself. It is from this point of view that Proudhon should be criticized and acknowledged.

If we characterize communism itself -- which because of its character as negation of the negation, as appropriation of the human essence which is mediated with itself through the negation of private property, is not yet the true, self-generating position [Position], but one generated by private property... [Here, the corner of the page has been torn away, and only fragments on the six sentences remain, rendering it impossible to understand.]

... the real estrangement of human life remains and is all the greater the more one is conscious of it as such, it can only be attained once communism is established. In order to supersede the idea of private property, the idea of communism is enough. In order to supersede private property as it actually exists, real communist activity is necessary. History will give rise to such activity, and the movement which we already know in thought to be a self-superseding movement will in reality undergo a very difficult and protracted process. But we must look upon it as a real advance that we have gained, at the outset, an awareness of the limits as well as the goal of this historical movement and are in a position to see beyond it.

When communist workmen gather together, their immediate aim is instruction, propaganda, etc. But at the same time, they acquire a new need -- the need for society -- and what appears as a means had become an end. This practical development can be most strikingly observed in the gatherings of French socialist workers. Smoking, eating, and drinking, etc., are no longer means of creating links between people. Company, association, conversation, which in turn has society as its goal, is enough for them. The brotherhood of man is not a hollow phrase, it is a reality, and the nobility of man shines forth upon us from their work-worn figures.

When political economy maintains that supply and demand always balance each other, it immediately forgets its own assertion that the supply of people (the theory of population) always exceeds the demand and that therefore the disproportion between supply and demand finds its most striking expression in what is the essential goal of production -- the existence of man.

The extent to which money, which appears to be a means, is the true power and the sole end -- the extent to which in general the means which gives me being and which appropriates for me alien and objective being, is an end in itself... is apparent from the fact that landed property, where the soil is the source of life, and the horse and the sword, where they are the true means of life, are also recognized as the actual political powers. In the Middle Ages, an Estate becomes emancipated as soon as it is allowed to bear a sword. Among nomadic peoples, it is the horse which makes one into a free man and a participant in the life of the community.

We said above that man is regressing to the cave dwelling, etc. -- but in an estranged, repugnant form. The savage in his cave -- an element of nature which is freely available for his use and shelter -- does not experience his environment as alien; he feels just as much at home as a fish in water. But the poor man's basement dwelling is an uncongenial element, an "alien, restrictive power which only surrenders itself to him at the expense of his sweat and blood". He cannot look upon it as his home, as somewhere he can call his own. Instead, he finds himself in someone else's house, in an alien house, whose owner lies in wait for him every day, and evicts him if he fails to pay the rent. At the same time, he is aware of the difference in quality between his own dwelling and those other-worldly human dwellings which exist in the heaven of wealth.

Estrangement appears not only in the fact that the means of my life belong to another and that my desire is the inaccessible possession of another, but also in the fact that all things are other than themselves, that my activity is other than itself, and that finally -- and this goes for the capitalists too -- an inhuman power rules over everything.

There is one form of inactive and extravagant wealth, given over exclusively to pleasure, the owner of which is active as a merely ephemeral individual, rushing about erratically. He looks upon the slave labor of others, their human sweat and blood, as they prey of his desires, and regards man in general -- including himself -- as a futile and sacrificial being. He arrogantly looks down upon mankind, dissipating what would suffice to keep alive a hundred human beings, and propagates the infamous illusion that his unbridled extravagance and ceaseless, unproductive consumption is a condition of the labor, and, hence, subsistence of the others. For him, the realization of man's essential powers is simply the realization of his own disorderly existence, his whims, and his capricious and bizarre notions. But this wealth, which regards wealth as a mere means, worthy only of destruction, and which is therefore both slave and master, both generous and mean, capricious, conceited, presumptuous, refined, cultured, and ingenious -- this wealth has not yet experienced wealth as an entirely alien power over itself; it sees in wealth nothing more than its own power, the final aim of which is not wealth but consumption... [Here, the bottom of the page is gone, losing perhaps three or four lines]

... and the glittering illusion about the nature of wealth -- an illusion which derives from its sensuous appearance -- is confronted by the working, sober, prosaic, economical industrialist who is enlightened about the nature of wealth and who not only provides a wider range of opportunities for the other's self-indulgence and flatters him through his products -- for his products are so many base compliments to the appetites of the spendthrift -- but also manages to appropriate for himself in the only useful way the other's dwindling power. So if industrial wealth at first appears to be the product of extravagant, fantastic wealth, in its inherent course of development it actively supplants the latter. For the fall in the interest on money is a necessary consequence and result of industrial development. Therefore, the means of the extravagant rentier diminish daily in inverse proportion to the growing possibilities and temptations of pleasure. He must, therefore, either consume his capital himself, and in so doing bring about his own ruin, or become an industrial capitalist.... On the other hand, it is true that there is a direct and constant rise in the rent of land as a result of industrial development, but as we have already seen there inevitably comes a time when landed property, like every other kind of property, falls into the category of capital which reproduces itself with profit -- and this is a result of the same industrial development. Therefore, even the extravagant landlord is forced either to consume his capital -- i.e., ruin himself -- or become the tenant farmer of his own property -- an agricultural industrialist.

The decline in the rate of interest -- which Proudhon regards as the abolition of capital and as a tendency towards the socialization of capital -- is therefore rather a direct symptom of the complete victory of working capital over prodigal wealth -- i.e., the transformation of all private property into industrial capital. It is the complete victory of private property over all those of its qualities which are still apparently human and the total subjugation of the property owner to the essence of private property -- labor. To be sure, the industrial capitalist also seek s enjoyment. He does not by any means regress to an unnatural simplicity of need, but his enjoyment is only incidental, a means of relaxation; it is subordinated to production, it is a calculated and even an economical form of pleasure, for it is charged as an expense of capital; the sum dissipated may therefore not be in excess of what can be replaced by the reproduction of capital with profit. Enjoyment is, therefore, subsumed under capital, and the pleasure-seeking individual under the capitalizing individual, whereas earlier the contrary was the case. The decline in the rate of interest is therefore a symptom of the abolition of capital only insofar as it is a symptom of the growing domination of capital, of that growing estrangement which is hastening towards its own abolition. This is the only way in which that which exists affirms its opposite.

The wrangle among political economists about luxury and saving is therefore merely a wrangle between that section of political economy which has become aware of the nature of wealth and that section which is still imprisoned within romantic and anti-industrial memories. But neither of them knows how to express the object of the controversy in simple terms, and neither of them is therefore in a position to clinch the argument.

Furthermore, the rent of land qua rent of land has been abolished, for the argument of the Physiocrats, who say that the landowner is the only true producer, has been demolished by the political economists, who show that the landowner as such is the only completely unproductive rentier. Agriculture is a matter for the capitalist, who invests his capital in this way when he can expect to make a normal profit. The argument of the Physiocrats that landed property, as the only productive property, should alone pay state taxes and should therefore alone give its consent to them and take part in state affairs, is turned into the opposite argument that the tax on rent of land is the only tax on unproductive income and hence the only tax which does not harm national production. Naturally, it follows from this argument that the landowner can no longer derive political privileges from his position as principal tax-payer.

Everything which Proudhon interprets as the growing power of labor as against capital is simply the growing power of labor in the form of capital, industrial capital, as against capital which is not consumed as capital -- i.e, industrially. And this development is on its way to victory -- i.e., the victory of industrial capital.

Clearly, then, it is only when labor is grasped as the essence of private property that the development of the economy as such can be analyzed in its real determinateness.

Society, as it appears to the political economist, is civil society, in which each individual is a totality of needs and only exists for the other as the other exists for him -- insofar as each becomes a means for the other. The political economist, like politics in its rights of man, reduces everything to man -- i.e., to the individual, whom he divests of all his determinateness in order to classify him as a capitalist or a worker.

The division of labor is the economic expression of the social nature of labor within estrangement. Or, rather, since labor is only an expression of human activity within alienation, an expression of life as alienation of life, the division of labor is nothing more than the estranged, alienated positing of human activity as a real species-activity or as activity of man as a species-being.

Political economists are very unclear and self-contradictory about the essence of the division of labor, which was naturally seen as one of the main driving forces in the production of wealth as soon as labor was seem to be the essence of private property. That is to say, they are very unclear about human activity as species activity in this its estranged and alienated form.

Adam Smith:

"The division of labor... is not originally the effect of any human wisdom.... It is the necessary, though very slow and gradual consequence of the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another. Whether this propensity be one of those original principles of human nature... or whether, as seems more probably, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of reason and of speech it belongs not to our present subject to inquire. It is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.... In almost every other race of animals the individual when it is grown up to maturity is entirely independent.... But man has almost constant occassion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favor, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.... We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages."

"As it is by treaty, by barter, and by purchase that we obtain from one another the greater part of those mutual good offices that we stand in need of, so it is this same trucking disposition which originally gives occassion to the division of labor. In a tribe of hunters or shepherds a particular person makes bows and arrows, for example, with more readiness and dexterity than any other. He frequently exchanges them for cattle or for venison with his companions; and he finds at last that he can in this manner get more cattle and venison than if he himself went to the field to catch them. From a regard to his own interest, therefore, the making of bows and arrows grows to be his chief business..."

"The difference of natural talents in different men... is not... so much the cause as the effect of the division of labor.... Without the disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, every man must have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life which he wanted. All must have had... the same work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment as could alone give occassion to any great difference of talent."

"As it is this disposition which forms that difference of talents... among men, so it is this same disposition which renders that difference useful. Many tribes of animals... of the same species derive from nature a much more remarkable distinction of genius than what, antecedent to custom and education, appears to take place among men. By nature a philosopher is not in genius and in disposition half so different from a street-porter, as a mastiff is from a greyhound, or a greyhound from a spaniel, or this last from a shepherd's dog. Those different tribes of animals, however, though all of the same species, are of scarce any use to one another. The strength of the mastiff is not, in the least, supported for example by the swiftness of the greyhound.... The effects of those geniuses and talents, for want of the power or disposition to barter and exchange, cannot be brought into a common stock, and do not in the least contribute to the better accommodation and conveniency of the species. Each animal is still obliged to support and defend itself, separately and independently, and derives no sort of advantage from that variety of talents with which nature has distinguished its fellows. Among men, on the contrary, the most dissimilar geniuses are of use to one another; the different produces of their respective talents, by the general disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, bring brought, as it were, into a common stock, where every man may purchase whatever part of the produce of other men's talents he has occassion for."

"As it is the power of exchanging that gives occassion to the division of labor, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of that power, or in other words, by the extent of the market. When the market is very small, no person can have any encouragement to dedicate himself entirely to one employment, for want of the power to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labor, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men's labor as he has occassion for." [ Smith, I, p.12,13,14,15 ]

In an advanced state of society "every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society." [ Smith, I, pp.20 ]

(See Destutt de Tracy: "Society is a series of reciprocal exchanges; commerce contains the whole essence of society.") The accumulation of capitals increases with the division of labor, and vice-versa.

Thus far Adam Smith.

"If every family produced all that it consumed, society could keep going even if no exchange of any sort took place... Although it is not fundamental, exchange is indispensable in our advanced state of society... The division of labor is a skilful application of the powers of man; it increases society's production -- its power and its pleasures -- but it robs the individual, reduces the capacity of each person taken individually. Production cannot take place without exchange." [Smith, I, pp.76-7]
Thus J.-B. Say.

"The powers inherent in man are his intelligence and his physical capacity for work. Those which spring from the condition of society consist of the capacity to divide labor and to distribute different tasks among the different people... and the power to exchange mutual services and the products which constitute these means... The motive which induces a man to give his services to another is self-interest -- he demands a recompense for the services rendered. The right of exclusive private property is indispensable to the establishment of exchange among men."

"Exchange and division of labor mutually condition each other." [Theorie des richesses sociales, suivie d'une bibliographie de l'economie politique, Paris, 1829, Vol. I, p.25f]

Thus Skarbek.

Mill presents developed exchange, trade, as a consequence of the division of labor.

"... the agency of man can be traced to very simple elements. He can, in fact, do nothing more than produce motion. He can move things towards one another; and he can separate them from one another; the properties of matter perform all the rest.... "In the employment of labor and machinery, it is often found that the effects can be increased by skilful distribution, by separating all those operations which have any tendency to impede one another, by bringing together all those operations which can be made in any way to aid one another. As men in general cannot perform many different operations with the same quickness and dexterity with which they can, by practice, learn to perform a few, it is always an advantage to limit as much as possible the number of operations imposed upon each. For dividing labor, and distributing the power of men and machinery, to the greatest advantage, it is in most cases necessary to operate upon large scale; in other words, to produce the commodities in great masses. It is this advantage which gives existence to the great manufactories; a few of which, placed in the most convenient situations, sometimes supply not one country, but many countries, with as much as they desire of the commodity produced." [ James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, pp.5-9 ]
Thus Mill.

But all the modern political economists agree that division of labor and volume of production, division of labor and accumulation of capital, are mutually determining, and that only liberated private property, left to itself, is capable of producing the most effective and comprehensive division of labor.

Adam Smith's argument can be summed up as follows: the division of labor gives labor an infinite capacity to produce. It has its basis in the propensity to exchange and barter, a specifically human propensity which is probably not fortuitous but determined by the use of reason and of language. The motive of those engaged in exchange is not humanity but egoism. The diversity of human talents is more the effect than the cause of the division of labor -- i.e., of exchange. Moreover, it is only on account of the latter that this diversity is useful. The particular qualities of the different races within a species of animal are by nature more marked than the difference between human aptitudes and activities. But since animals are not able to exchange, the diversity of qualities in animals of the same species but of different races does not benefit any individual animal. Animals are unable to combine the different qualities of their species; they are incapable of contributing anything to the common good and the common comfort of their species. This is not the case with men, whose most disparate talents and modes of activity are of benefit to each other, because they can gather together their different products in a common reserve from which each can make his purchases. Just as the division of labor stems from the propensity to exchange, so it grows and is limited by the extent of exchange, of the market. In developed conditions each man is a merchant and society is a trading association.

Say regards exchange as fortuitous and not basic. Society could exist without it. It becomes indispensable in an advanced state of society. Yet production cannot take place without it. The division of labor is a convenient, useful means, a skilful application of human powers for social wealth, but it is a diminution of the capacity of each man taken individually. This last remark is an advance of Say's part.

Skarbek distinguishes the individual powers inherent in man -- intelligence and physical capacity for work -- from those powers which are derived from society -- exchange and division of labor, which mutually condition each other. But the necessary precondition of exchange is private property. Skarbek is here giving expression in objective form to what Smith, Say, Ricardo, etc., say when they designate egoism and private self-interest as the basis of exchange and haggling as the essential and adequate form of exchange.

Mill presents trade as a consequence of the division of labor. For him, human activity is reduced to mechanical movement. The division of labor and the use of machinery promote abundance of production. Each person must be allocated the smallest possible sphere of operations. The division of labor and the use of machinery, for their part, require the production of wealth en masse, which means a concentration of production. This is the reason for the big factories.

The consideration of the division of labor and exchange is of the highest interest, because they are the perceptibly alienated expressions of human activity and essential powers as species-activity and species-power.

To say that the division of labor and exchange are based on private property is simply to say that labor is the essence of private property -- an assertion that the political economist is incapable of proving and which we intend to prove for him. It is precisely in the fact that the division of labor and exchange are configurations of private property that we find the proof, both that human life needed private property for its realization and that it now needs the abolition of private property.

The division of labor and exchange are the two phenomena on whose account the political economist brags about the social nature of his science, while in the same breath he unconsciously expresses the contradiction which underlies his science -- the establishment of society through unsocial, particular interests.

The factors we have to consider are these: the propensity to exchange, which is grounded in egoism, is regarded as the cause or the reciprocal effect of the division of labor. Say regards exchange as not fundamental to the nature of society. Wealth and production are explained by the division of labor and exchange. The impoverishment and denaturing [Entwesung] of individual activity by the division of labor are admitted. Exchange and division of labor are acknowledged as producers of the great diversity of human talents, a diversity which becomes useful because of exchange. Skarbek divides man's powers of production or essential powers into two parts:

(1) those which are individual and inherent in him, his intelligence and his special disposition or capacity for work; and

(2) those which are derived not from the real individual but from society, the division of labor and exchange.

Furthermore, the division of labor is limited by the market. Human labor is simply mechanical movement; most of the work is done by the material properties of the objects. Each individual must be allocated the smallest number of operations possible. Fragmentation of labor and concentration of capital; the nothingness of individual production and the production of wealth en masse. Meaning of free private property in the division of labor.

Transcribed for the Internet by director@marx.org