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An Atheist's Guide to Mohammedanism

By Frank R. Zindler
Mohammedans don't like to be called Mohammedans — that smacks too much of terms such as Christians. As everybody knows, Christians worship Christ as a god. Mohammedans don't want people to think they worship Mohammed (Arabic, Muhammad A - 'Praiseworthy'), and so dislike referring to their religion as Mohammedanism. However, Confucians don't worship Confucius (Chinese, K'ung Fu-tsu — 'K'ung [a family name] the Grand Master'), even though their system is calledConfucianism and often is considered to be a religion. Even so, Mohammedans don't want Mohammed to be viewed as a parallel of the Christ of the Christians.
Mohammed was merely a prophet, they will argue, who disclaimed the ability to do miracles. Mohammed was just a man - albeit the perfect man, leading a completely sinless life which has become the model for all true believers to emulate. Moreover, it will be asserted, Mohammed did not choose to be a prophet; he was chosen by Allah. He did not himself compose the 'revelations' that were spoken from his mouth; they were delivered to him by an angel who got them from the 'Mother of the Book' which has existed in heaven either forever or for just a little bit less.
Mohammed was a passive agent of Allah, simply serving as his mouthpiece or oracle. It is his message that is important, not his biography. He was one of a series of prophets who reported Allah's wishes to men (perhaps even to some women). These prophets included Jesus (Arabic ‘Issa), who, to spite the Christians, is demoted by Mohammedans from non-profit to prophet status. Most importantly, Mohammed was Allah's last prophet. Thus, Joseph Smith was an impostor, and Mormon missionaries are not welcome in Mohammedan territories. (Of course, no missionaries of any kind are welcome in such places, where it is often a capital offense to convert a Mohammedan to 'infidelity'.)
Despite such protestations by the faithful (all non-Mohammedans are infidels), the reverence accorded to Mohammed at times has bordered on the threshold of worship if not actually transgressing it. Very early, his followers came to attribute a number of miracles to him and passed along fabulous tales of supernatural signs and wonders relating to his birth and career. (One night, it is believed, Mohammed set out on a nocturnal journey or Miraj up to the heavens where he communed with Allah face-to-face.) It is still believed by many that at the Last Judgment, Mohammed will be an intercessor like the Virgin Mary and the Catholic saints, pleading for the exculpation of those who have submitted themselves to his teachings.
Among the mystical Sufis (from the Arabic suf, meaning 'wool' - alluding to the woolen hair shirts worn by early Sufis, not to the woolliness of their thinking), exaltation and veneration of Mohammed seems to have reached Christian proportions. In Sufism, Mohammed has become the eternal manifestation of the Divine Light in the world, pre-existent like the Christian Logos, representing the primal, divine force which created and sustains the universe, the only intermediary through whom one may approach Allah and have knowledge of him. For all practical purposes, the Sufi Mohammed (peace be upon him) is a supernatural being, even if not quite a full-fledged god.
Mohammedans prefer to be called Muslims B a term derived from the Arabic ’aslama, meaning 'to resign oneself [to Allah]'. They prefer their religion to be called Islam (from Arabic ’islam, meaning 'submission') rather than Mohammedanism. Most western scholars have gone along with this, rather than risk the wrath of purportedly peaceful members of 'the third great Abrahamic faith'. Nevertheless, Mohammedanism seems to be a perfectly appropriate name for a religion which currently poses so great a threat to secular civilizations throughout the world. Despite this fact, it must be conceded that Islam is easier to spell thanMohammedanism, and Muslim is less tedious to type than Mohammedan. Consequently, these shorter words will be the terms most often employed in the remainder of this guide.
Given the fierce monotheism professed by Muslims and their sometimes violent rejection of all religions other than Islam, one might suppose that intolerance would be the first and most fundamental 'pillar' upon which their religious practice rests. Not surprisingly, however, this greatest of Muslim virtues is not made explicit, but rather is allowed to lurk hidden within the first of the five duties ('pillars') required of all Muslim men.
The first pillar is the recitation (preferably in Arabic) of the creed, orshahada: "There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." If Allah is the only god in the neighborhood, Trinitarian Christians and Hindus are endlessly blaspheming true religion. Despite the occasionally tolerant references in the Qur’an to "People of the Book" (Jews and Christians in addition to Muslims), the non-Muslims need to be eliminated. Convert them or kill them, or make them pay a religious ransom to continue the private practice of their religion. (Of necessity, Muslims must reject the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) Atheists and Agnostics, who deny the reality of Allah, are also wicked blasphemers. They need to be eliminated also. It is preferable to kill them. Such intolerance, of course, is not unique to Islam. It is a natural attribute of all monotheistic religions.
The second pillar of Islam, salat, is daily ritual prayer. This is mandatory only five times per day (at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nighttime), but extremely religious Muslims such as suicide bombers and aerial terrorists usually pray more frequently. Prayer requires a person to face Mecca and the Ka‘aba, a roughly cubical building containing a magical black stone thought by some to be a meteorite. (Archaeological and other evidence shows, however, that in the early years of Islam, prayers were directed at Jerusalem, not Mecca.) Prayer is preceded by ritual purification and involves a series of bowings, prostrations, and recitations from the Qur’an. On Fridays, prayer is communal and conducted in a mosque (Arabic masjid, 'place for prostration'). Led by an imam (from Arabic amma, 'to walk before'), with worshippers standing in rows behind him, prayers normally are followed by a sermon. (Contrary to common western opinion, it is not mandatory for sermons to contain the slogans "Death to America" or "Death to Israel.") Women do not generally attend these public prayers, and when they do enter into mosques they are segregated from the men. Although this offends the western sense of sexual equality, it is quite understandable. The minds of men bowing down to the ground might wander from thoughts of the singularity of Allah if their noses were merely inches away from the raised derrieres of women kneeling on prayer rugs in front of them. Even if the women were completely shrouded in burqas, their intermingled presence would be a deterrent to patriarchal piety.
The third pillar of Islam is zakat, the giving of a fixed percentage of one's property to the poor and the homeless. Since there usually are no formal arrangements made for collection of zakat, this generally is the least burdensome of the five pillars.
The fourth pillar is the fasting required during the lunar month of Ramadan, which can occur at any season of the year. During this period, no food or drink may be consumed during daylight hours, although pregnant women and certain others may be exempted from this rule. Feasting is obligatory at the end of Ramadan, but with both pork and alcohol being forbidden, this feast offers far less fun than that enjoyed at, say, Irish or Polish Catholic festivals.
The fifth and final pillar of Islam is the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca every able-bodied Muslim is required to make at least once in his life. Pilgrims must wear special dress, walk seven times around the Ka‘aba (Arabic ka’bun, 'a cube'), and kiss the talismanic black stone enshrined like an idol in the southeast corner of the edifice. Although probably a meteorite — and thus a truly heavenly stone - the black stone is claimed to be one of the precious stones of paradise given by the angel Gabriel to the patriarch Abraham when he built the Ka‘aba — in Arabia, contrary to Jewish and Christian opinion! Even though the stone has been stolen, burned, and broken, it is the veneration focal point for more than a billion Muslims in the world today. (With so many Muslims required to come to Mecca, the logistics of the Hajj are rapidly bursting the bounds of the possible.) The Ka‘aba temple is widely believed to be older than Mohammed, having housed the pagan Arabian pantheon. All its idols were destroyed when it was adapted to serve the Islamic cultus.
When in Mecca kissing the Ka‘aba, it is also incumbent upon pilgrims to kill an animal in the Mina valley on the tenth day of the month of pilgrimage, since Allah, like the Yahweh of the Jews, is believed to enjoy having animals killed for his viewing pleasure. (It is amusing to imagine what will happen if P.E.T.A. and the Animal Liberation Front ever get wind of this. How Muslims would deal with the threat of animal-rights terrorism would be something worth watching closely.) After killing a goat or other suitable sacrificial species (for some reason, dogs and pigs are deemed unsuitable), most pilgrims then betake themselves to Medina (Yathrib), a city located 210 miles north of Mecca, in order to pray at what is claimed to be Mohammed's tomb. (If there are in fact human remains in the tomb, it would be interesting to see if the DNA could be matched up to that of persons claiming descent from the prophet.) I have been unable to learn whether pilgrims face the tomb or Mecca when performing their Medina prayers.
Although Mohammed is believed to have been born in the year 570 or 571 CE, it is not known what name he was given by his mother.Mohammed ('praiseworthy' or 'highly praised') is obviously an honorific title, not a name. In fact, once in the Qur’an (at 61:6) he is called ’Ahmad, which in Arabic means 'more praiseworthy', and at times his contemporaries are said to have called him al-’Amin, which means 'the trustworthy one'. Despite this problem, Muslims believe that Mohammed - whoever he may have been - was born in Mecca, an Arabian city supposed to have been located at the intersection of major caravan trade routes. Orphaned early in life, when he reached the age of twenty-five (595 CE) he married a wealthy widow named Khadija, fifteen years his senior. According to a traditional account, Mohammed had married his boss - the merchant Khadija having been his employer at the time. Only after her death in 620 did Mohammed begin to practice polygamy, taking perhaps a dozen wives. Only one of his children survived, however, a daughter named Fatima. (She married her father's cousin ‘Ali, making him the ancestor of all the prophet's later descendants.)
Tradition also tells us that in the year 610, while meditating in a cave outside Mecca, a supernatural voice (later identified as the voice of the angel Gabriel, the same heavenly messenger that previously had delivered the results of the pregnancy test to the Virgin Mary) commanded him to "Recite in the name of thy Lord, who created." Thus began the alleged revelations of the Qur’an. This event is revered as the "First Call" of the prophet and has been immortalized as the "Night of Power."
At least at first, Mohammed's 'revelations' were like those of other oracles, soothsayers, and religious con-artists whose utterances took the form of rhymed prose. Mohammed convinced himself that he had been called to be a prophet in the tradition of the Jews and of Jesus. He also convinced a small coterie of relatives and friends that he had tapped into a direct line to Allah. This quickly led to friction with his tribe, the Quraysh, who were custodians of the Ka‘aba, which at the time was a pagan shrine housing all the idols of economic significance to his tribe.
As is necessary for foundation myths of virtually all religions, the first followers of the new faith had to endure persecution, fleeing to Christian Ethiopia around the year 615. While those Muslims-in-the-making were out of town, Mohammed and the disciples who had stayed with him in Mecca were confined under siege - to be starved into submission.
Just in the nick of time, Mohammed received a revelation that helpfully clarified the theopolitical questions at issue for the Meccan guardians of the gods in the Ka‘aba. When Mohammed had reported that Allah was the only god in town, it turned out that he hadn't received the entire satellite transmission. Perhaps Gabriel had mumbled and Mohammed missed part of the message. Wouldn't you know? The three favorite goddesses of Mecca - al-Lat, al-Uzzah, and al-Manat - were also real! This saved Mohammed's neck and all body parts attached thereto, and the exiles were able to return from Ethiopia. Later, when it was safe to do so, this all-important revelation was expunged from the Qur’an and it was explained that the revelation had come from Shaitan (Satan), not Allah. Thus began the legend of the "Satanic Verses," which more than a thousand years later was to prompt the Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa of death against the novelist Salman Rushdie.
To draw attention to the Satanic Verses is to galvanize a still-raw nerve in the body politic of Islam. The Satanic Verses are an acute embarrassment to Mohammedan authorities because they imply that it was Satan, not Allah, who had saved their prophet's life. If Allah was the only god, and if he had previously selected Mohammed to be his last and greatest mouthpiece on this planet, why didn't he save his own appointed prophet? Why would the god of evil want to save his enemy's ambassador? Might not there be more Satanic Verses in the Qur’an — verses that have never been recognized as the handiwork of the prince of devils? Who knows what evils yet may lurk in the Book of Books?
In any event, the Satanic Verses didn't solve Mohammed's problems for the long term, and Mohammed and his gang would have to leave Mecca. On 16 July 622 CE - a date that later would become the starting point of the Moslem calendrical era C — some of his disciples left for the town of Yathrib, several hundred miles to the north. Mohammed and his friend Abu-Bakr followed them, arriving in Yathrib on 24 September 622 and renaming the town Medina (Arabical-Madinah, 'the city' [of the prophet]). Although the house-moving does not seem to have been all that remarkable to a western observer, it was considered to be a foundational event in the history of Islam. In Muslim literature, the migration from Mecca to Medina is referred to as the Hegira (Arabic hijrah 'migration').
While in Medina, Mohammed continued to dictate 'revelations' to various of his disciples, apparently including some who were able to write. (Mohammed is believed to have been illiterate.) More importantly, however, he became a successful politician, contracting many alliances by means of marriages. The most notable of these marriages was with Aisha, the infant daughter of Abu-Bakr, who became the most influential of all the prophet's wives. Many of the 'traditions' of the prophet are claimed to have been transmitted through her.
Once his power base had grown sufficiently, Mohammed took to banditry, attacking a Meccan caravan led by Abu-Sufyan of the Quraysh tribe as it was returning from Syria in the year 624 CE, during the holy month of Ramadan when fighting was prohibited. Somehow, the Meccans learned of this and rushed to the aid of the caravan, meeting 300 Muslims-in-the-making with a thousand Meccan fighters on a battlefield called Badr, approximately twenty miles southwest of Medina. Naturally, a miracle occurred and the prophet's force was victorious. From this time forward, the name Islam ('submission') was to belie the true nature of the militant polity which to this day is an obstacle in the path to planetary peace.
After consolidating his hold on Medina, Mohammed chased the Jews from their farms and divorced his developing system from both Judaism and Christianity. He ordered the faithful henceforth to pray facing Mecca, not Jerusalem as had been the case up to then. In 628 Mohammed obtained a truce with Mecca allowing his followers to make the pilgrimage to the Ka‘aba. Mecca became the religious capital of Islam and Medina remained the political capital. In 630 Mohammed attacked Mecca, conquered it, and smashed the 360 idols in the Ka‘aba. He declared the territory surrounding the shrine to be haram— forbidden - to all non-Muslims. Even today, no Atheist or Christian could visit the taboo area and escape with his life. Indeed, the entire region of Saudi Arabia in which the holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located (the Hijaz) is considered by Wahabi Muslims such as Osama bin Laden to be haram and out-of-bounds for American military infidels.
On 8 June 632, Mohammed came down with a truly killer headache and died suddenly. He died in Aisha's apartment and was buried right there. (There is no proof whatsoever that he ever uttered the famous line, "Not tonight, honey, I've got a headache.") Before he died, he had sent forces to attack Syria, beginning a struggle that would not end until a major part of the civilized world was subject to Arabs and their new-fangled religion.
The Qur’an/Koran (Arabic Qur’an, 'reading' or 'recitation'), as everybody knows, is the bible of the Mohammedans. It is the source of their 'knowledge' that there is but a single god, Allah, and that for men (and probably for women as well) after death there will be a limbo-like state leading to the Last Day, the Resurrection, and Retribution. In the thereafter, wicked men such as infidels will suffer damnation. According to Sura 44:43-50, the fruit of the Zuqqum tree will be their food and it will burn in their guts like molten brass and boil like scalding water. They will be dragged into the midst of blazing fire and then, just for good measure, boiling water will be poured over their heads. "In front of such a one is Hell, and he is given for drink boiling, fetid water. In gulps will he sip it, but never will he be near swallowing it down his throat. Death will come to him from every quarter, yet he will not die; and in front of him will be a chastisement unrelenting" [14:16-17]. Islamic Hell would appear to be even worse than 'life' in a Taliban society — which at least can be circumvented by death.
The Muslim Paradise is decidedly a man's heaven, despite the fact that Sura 9:72 promises to both believing men and women "gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions, in gardens of everlasting bliss." Sura 44:51-54 promises believers they will be rewarded in Paradise with houris (Arabic hur) "with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes." Such damsels are clearly the reward for Jihad-fighting men. That they could also be rewards for burqa‘-wearing women is unthinkable. Occasional proof-texts to the contrary notwithstanding, Mohammed's heaven is a penile paradise. (It is a pity no reliable translation of the Qur’an exists in English; all available English versions have been cleaned up and civilized by apologetic translators.)
As already noted, the Qur’an is supposed to have been revealed to the allegedly illiterate Mohammed over a period of years until his death in 632 CE. (It is possible, of course, that his illiteracy was a fabrication designed to counter charges that Mohammed had written up the 'revelations' himself and had been educated enough to be able to author the supposedly matchless Arabic prose with which they are expressed.) There is a tradition that Mohammed dictated his revelations to his secretaries, who either memorized them or wrote them down on things like palm leaves, stones, and even perhaps camel shoulder blades 1 and other such publication media that existed in the advanced society which the Lord of the Universe had chosen as the model for all subsequent earthly societies. Almost certainly, at the time of Mohammed's death, no single manuscript of the entire Qur’an existed.
There is a tradition that indicates that immediately after the death of Mohammed in 632, during the caliphate of his friend Abu Bakr [632-634], his friend ‘Umar (Omar) became alarmed over the fact that so many Muslims who knew by heart various parts of the Qur’an had been killed during the Battle of Yamama in Central Arabia. Unless all parts of the Qur’an were collected, there was serious danger that irreplaceable rules and regulations for living would be lost forever. Very shortly after the death of the prophet, then, Abu Bakr asked Mohammed's former secretary Zaid ibn Thabit to write down all those dicta still in people's memories, the entire collection then being transcribed onto a more suitable writing material. The Qur’an thus assembled passed from Abu Bakr after he died to his successor ‘Umar, who in turn bequeathed it to his daughter Hafsa. Ultimately, those precious words carried by Gabriel to Mohammed were transmitted to sinful mortals such as we - with perfect fidelity, so that we all can know Allah's whims and wishes without ambiguity and without excuse.
Unfortunately for Islamic orthodoxy, this encouraging tale of Qur’anic origins proves to be a bit more complicated (and less certain) than the mullahs and ayatollahs would have us believe. As is the case when trying to reconstruct the early history of any religion, there are conflicting traditions to be dealt with. There is a tradition which has Abu Bakr first have the idea to collect the Qur’an, but other traditions give the credit to the fourth caliph, ‘Ali - the Prophet's son-in-law and cousin (or brother, in one tradition). (It is from ‘Ali that the Shi‘a sect claims its descent.) Adding to the uncertainty and confusion, there are versions that exclude Abu Bakr completely!
It is implausible, moreover, that such a task could be completed in a mere two years. Furthermore, the warriors who fell at Yamama were apparently mostly new converts who would unlikely have known many verses by heart. On top of this, it seems inexplicable that no publication of the Qur’an thus compiled was carried out. Instead, it was treated as the private property of Hafsa. It seems likely that the tradition of Abu Bakr's collection was invented in order to establish the authenticity of the sacred text - by taking it as close to the time of the Prophet as possible. 2 It has also been suggested that the story was made up in order to take away the glory of Qur’anic creation from ‘Uthman, the third caliph, who appears to have been widely disliked. (This might explain why he was murdered in 656 CE.)
‘Uthman became the third caliph [644-656] a mere dozen years after the time allotted by tradition to Mohammed's death. Tradition credits him also with having collected the Qur’an after being asked to do so by one of his generals, who complained that theological quarrels had broken out among troops from different provinces in regard to the correct readings of the Qur’an. (Tradition is curiously silent as to where these different versions of the Qur’an had come from and who had written them down.)
It will be recalled that in the story of Abu Bakr's Qur’an, it was the prophet's secretary Zaid ibn Thabit who wrote everything down. Apparently unaware that he had done it all before, ‘Uthman commissioned ibn Thabit to prepare an official, standard text. Supposedly, this was done with the aid of three representatives of noble Meccan families, who compared a copy of unknown provenance in the possession of ‘Uthman with the 'leaves' (Arabic suhuf) owned by ‘Umar's daughter Hafsa - the same manuscript that ten years earlier Zaid is supposed to have written out himself!
Copies of ‘Uthman's new version were sent to Kufa, Basra, Damascus, and Mecca some time between 650 and 656, the year of ‘Uthman's death. The 'original' was kept in Medina. All other versions of the Qur’an supposedly were destroyed. Since we know absolutely nothing of the origins or authenticity of these other versions, we have no way to know that ‘Uthman's edition is the truest copy of the heavenly 'Mother of the Book'. The Qur’an emanating from ‘Uthman looks suspiciously like the product of political expediency.
Lest even this analysis be thought to provide too much certainty regarding Qur’anic origins, there are discrepancies even in the traditions from which it has been constructed! In some cases, the number of men on Zaid's commission varies, and men known to have been enemies of ‘Uthman are included on the roster. Without a wink anywhere to be seen among the swarthy swappers of these traditions, men are included in the project who were already dead at the time they were supposed to have been enlisted for the job. Finally, the ‘Uthman traditions seem completely to be unaware of the 'fact' that Zaid ibn Thabit had already transcribed the Qur’an ten years earlier, having himself produced the standard 'leaves' in the possession of Hafsa. (That the compiler of the Qur’an didn't remember he had done it all before, let alone know by heart the entire text of Hafsa's 'leaves' undercuts the apologetic Muslim notion that the early Arabs involved in the transmission of the Qur’anic text had prodigious, 'Oriental' memories.)
From the conflicting welter of traditions regarding the origins of the Qur’an there emerges a picture of somewhat coarse resolution. It would appear that by the time of ‘Uthman there had emerged a theopolitical class that was challenging the authority of the caliphs (Arabic kalifa, 'successor'), who had become the successors to Mohammed's political office and were losing ground as successors to his religious authority. The ubiquitous religious contest between priests and politicians was beginning to develop in what we may call Islam's embryonic period. Competing with the caliphs were the Qurra (Arabic for 'reciters' or 'readers') - men who were the masters of large volumes of Qur’anic verbiage and could recite the supposed revelations when called upon to lead in worship or settle disputes. Many Qurra claimed to have actually learned their verses from Mohammed himself, although many by now were second or even third scholarly generations removed from the Prophet. The fact that the whole application of the Qur’an depended upon memory invited abuse. Verses claiming to be Qur’anic revelations could be - and were - invented to serve the economic and political needs of individual Qurra. (It is likely that some of these recited verses were written down in manuscripts of varying size, but of course, no Qur’anic manuscripts have survived from this period - forgeries to the contrary not withstanding.) To consolidate the power of the caliphate and stop the abuses of the Qurra, it was necessary to eliminate the contradictory oral Qur’ans and replace them with a standardized written text, which could not be manipulated when expedient. Exactly when this happened is not really known, but it may have taken place as early as the reign of the caliph ‘Uthman [644-656], as many traditions record. Even so, Ibn Warraq has argued quite persuasively in his The Origins Of The Koran 3 that both the Abu Bakr and ‘Uthmanic traditions of Qur’anic compilation and standardization are tendentious tales confected in later times.
The earliest account of the compilation of the Qur’an is that of Ibn Sa‘ad [844 CE], followed by Bukhari [870 CE] and Muslim [874 CE]. 4 (Remember, Mohammed is supposed to have died in 632 CE.) Ibn Sa‘ad transmits ten somewhat contradictory traditions in which the 'Companions' of Mohammed had 'collected' the Qur’an during the life of the prophet. Still another tradition has ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan collect the Qur’an, during the caliphate of ‘Umar, not during the lifetime of Mohammed. Still another tradition passed on by Ibn Sa‘ad attributes the collection of the Qur’an in suhufs to the caliph ‘Umar himself!
More important in terms of influence, even though later, is Bukhari. 5He reports a tradition in which the Qur’an was collected during the lifetime of Mohammed by four helpers: Ubai ibn Ka‘ab, Mu‘adh ibn Jabal, Zaid ibn Thabit, and Abu Zaid. In another tradition, Ubai ibn Ka‘ab is replaced by Abud-Darda. Still another tradition 'proves' that the entire Qur’an was compiled under the caliphate of Abu Bakr and was exclusively the product of Zaid ibn Thabit. This is followed in Bukhari's account by the tradition which we have already examined,viz., that Zaid had the help of three Qurayshites, and that all variant versions in the provinces were destroyed. (Even though this account appears 238 years after the death of Mohammed and is 26 years later than the traditions recorded by Ibn Sa‘ad, this is the 'True Account' accepted by most scholars writing before the modern period of skeptical inquiry.)
Yet further traditions about the origins of the Qur’an are found in Arab historians such as Waqidi [d. 207 AH D/823 CE] who says that a Christian slave named Ibn Qumta was the amanuensis of the prophet, along with a certain ‘Abdallah b. Sa‘ad b. Abi Sarh, who reported that "It was only a Christian slave who was teaching him [Mohammed]; I used to write to him and change whatever I wanted." 6
Of course, all the above traditions are wrong, for Hajjaj b. Yusuf Barhebraeus records that his boss the Caliph Abdul-Malik b. Marwan [684-704 CE] was the collector of the Qur’an! 7
In this sand-storm of conflicting traditions, there is no way to descry in Muslim sources just when the Qur’an came into being as a written text. Only an examination of Christian accounts from the early centuries of the Arab conquests can give us a clue. The Monophysite patriarch of Antioch, John I, recording lengthy religious discussions with General ‘Amr b. al-‘As on 9 May 639 CE says nothing that would indicate that the 'Hagarians' or 'Ishmailites' (the earliest non-Muslim names for Muslims) had a sacred book of their own - even though the general had been shown the Torah, the Prophets, and the Gospels of the Jews and Christians. 8 This was, of course, only around seven years after the death of Mohammed, during the fifth year of the caliphate of ‘Umar. Around 647 CE, during ‘Uthman's caliphate, the patriarch of Seleucia, Isho‘yahb III, wrote a letter which betrays no knowledge of the existence of the Qur’an, and scholars familiar with this famous character are certain he would have mentioned or quoted the Hagarian book if he had known of it or even simply had heard of it. 9
More than thirty years later still, in 680 CE, an anonymous writer from the time of the Umayyad caliphate of Yazid ibn Mu‘awiah discussed the Arabs as the simple descendants of Ishmael who still practiced the ancient Abrahamic faith and treated Mohammed as a purely military man, betraying no awareness of any religious function or role played by the conqueror. Even in 690 CE, John Bar Penkaye — although an eyewitness of part of the Arab conquest - knows nothing of any Arabian sacred book existing during the caliphate of ‘Abdul-Malik [685-705]. 10
Quite clearly, Christian historians during the entire seventh century of the common era had no idea that the Hagarite conquerors had a sacred book. Only at the end of the first quarter of the eighth century does the Qur’an become the subject of argumentation by Nestorian, Jacobite, and Melchite Christians. Somewhat later, their polemics are answered by the Muslims.
A lot can be learned from these arguments about Muslim Qur’anic traditions. Of special interest is an apology for Christianity written around the year 835 CE by a certain al-Kindi, whose work was discussed in Alphonse Mingana's "The Transmission of the Koran," which has been reprinted by Ibn Warraq in his extremely useful bookThe Origins of the Koran. 11 Al-Kindi gives details of the stories circulating among the Muslims some two centuries after the death of Mohammed:
It [the Qur’an] was not at first collected in a volume, but remained in separate leaves. Then the people fell to variance in their reading; some read according to the version of ‘Ali, which they follow to the present day [i.e., c835 CE]; some read according to the collection of which we have made mention [a collection made by Abu Bakr himself]; one party read according to the text of Ibn Mas‘ud, and another according to that of Ubai ibn Ka‘ab.
Al-Kindi gives an account of the ‘Uthmanic collection of the Qur’an which is recognizably the same as the one we have examined yet provides some interesting details for the story:
When ‘Uthman came to power, and people everywhere differed in their reading, ‘Ali sought grounds of accusation against him, compassing his death. One man would read a verse one way, and another man another way; and there was change and interpolation, some copies having more and some less. When this was represented to ‘Uthman, and the danger urged of division, strife, and apostasy, he hereupon caused to be collected together all the leaves and scraps that he could, together with the copy that was written out at the first. But they did not interfere with that which was in the hands of ‘Ali [the hero of the Shi‘ites], or of those who followed his reading. Ubai was dead by this time; as for Ibn Mas‘ud, they demanded his exemplar, but he refused to give it up. Then they commanded Zaid ibn Thabit, and with him ‘Abdallah ibn Abbas, to revise and correct the text, eliminating all that was corrupt; they were instructed, when they differed on any reading, word, or name, to follow the dialect of the Quraish.
When the recension was completed, four exemplars were written out in large text; one was sent to Mecca, and another to Medina; the third was despatched to Syria, and is to this day at Malatya; the fourth was deposited in Kufa. People say that this last copy is still extant at Kufa, but this is not the case, for it was lost in the insurrection of Mukhtar (A.H. 67). The copy at Mecca remained there till the city was stormed by Abu Sarayah (A.H. 200); he did not carry it away; but it is supposed to have been burned in the conflagration. The Medina exemplar was lost in the reign of terror, that is, in the days of Yazid b. Mu‘awiah (A.H. 60-64). [Emphasis added]
Thus, by the year 835 CE, three of the four official copies of the Qur’an had been lost. But of course, other versions of the Qur’an were intentionally destroyed:
After what we have related above, ‘Uthman called in all the former leaves and copies, and destroyed them, threatening those who held any portion back; and so only some scattered remains, concealed here and there, survived. Ibn Mas‘ud, however, retained his exemplar in his own hands, and it was inherited by his posterity, as it is this day; and likewise the collection of ‘Ali has descended in his family. [Emphasis added]
Assuming, as devout Muslims do, that the Qur’an contains the very words of Allah, how can one know that the version of the Qur’an surviving today is the correct one? Mohammedans are faced with the same problem Christians must resolve when asked the embarrassing question, "Since there once existed almost a hundred gospels that were sacred to various Christian groups, how do you know that just these four gospels are the right ones?" But the headache for Muslim apologists becomes a migraine, if what al-Kindi wrote is true: 12
Then followed the business of Hajjaj b. Yusuf, who gathered together every single copy he could lay hold of, and caused to be omitted from the text a great many passages. Among these, they say, were verses revealed concerning the House of Umayyah with names of certain persons, and concerning the House of Abbas also with names. Six copies of the text thus revised were distributed to Egypt, Syria, Medina, Mecca, Kufa, and Basra. After that he called in and destroyed all the preceding copies, even as ‘Uthman had done before him. The enmity subsisting between ‘Ali and Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman is well known; now each of these entered in the text whatever favored his own claims, and left out what was otherwise. How, then, can we distinguish between the genuine and the counterfeit? And what about the losses caused by Hajjaj? The kind of faith that this tyrant held in other matters is well-known; how can we make an arbiter as to the Book of God a man who never ceased to play into the hands of the Umayyads whenever he found opportunity?
How, indeed! It is immensely significant, I believe, that twenty years after al-Kindi, when ‘Ali b. Rabbanat-Tabari was asked by the caliph Mutawakkil to write a counter-apology on behalf of Islam, 13 he addressed not a single one of al-Kindi's charges concerning the transmission of the Qur’an, falling back on a lame - but extremely perceptive - ad hominem: "If such people may be accused of forgery and falsehood, the disciples of the Christ might also be accused of the same."
The Christian apologist receives unexpected corroboration from one of the most famous Muslim commentators on the Qur'an, as-Suyuti [d. 1505 CE], who quoted Ibn Umar al-Khattab as saying, "Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Koran, for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Koran has been lost; thus let him say, 'I have acquired of it what is available'." 14 He also quotes ‘Aisha, the favorite wife of Mohammed as having said that "During the time of the Prophet, the chapter of the Parties used to be two hundred verses when read. When Uthman edited the copies of the Koran, only the current [73 verses] were recorded." (Among the alleged verses omitted was that of 'The Stoning', which is supposed to have been Allah's order that "If an old man or woman committed adultery, stone them to death.")
There remain more subtle problems, however, in the story of the transmission of Allah's instructions to mankind after Gabe gave them to Mohammed. Some of the suras of the Qur’an are extremely long chapters. How could Mohammed have kept the whole thing in his head after only one hearing? How could his amanuenses and secretaries have remembered them, perhaps after a single recitation by the ecstatic reporter of Allah's will? And when they wrote those priceless words down on leaves and stones and camels' bones, how reliable was their record? Even today, Arabic is written in a defective script, which does not normally indicate the short vowels in words and makes the reading of Arabic extremely difficult for a non-native speaker of the language. Furthermore, in ancient times, the problem was even greater. For at least a century after the death of Mohammed in 632, Arabic writing was 'unpointed' - that is, the dots now placed above or below certain consonants to distinguish them were not used. This could cause enormous ambiguity, since b, t, and th could not be distinguished from an initial or medial y; f could be confused with q; j,h, and kh would have looked the same; r could not be distinguished from z, s from d, s from sh, d from dh, nor t from z.
So great is the ambiguity resulting from the defectiveness of the Arabic script that even after pointed texts appeared it was necessary to borrow (perhaps from the Arameans) a system for indicating the short vowels in the sacred text. That this was understood to be of extreme theological importance can be inferred from the fact that today the Qur’an is practically the only book in which these vowel marks are employed — apart from Arabic language textbooks and dictionaries used to teach the throat disease believed by pious Muslims to be the language in which the creator of the universe speaks.
The problem of this defective script led to a situation in which different centers of Islamic studies had variant rules concerning the pointing and vocalization of the sacred text. Variant texts survived, despite ‘Uthman's attempts at creating a Procrustean uniformity. Ibn Warraq 15quotes Charles Adams declaration that "It must be emphasized that far from there being a single text passed down inviolate from the time of ‘Uthman's commission, literally thousands of variant readings of particular verses were known in the first three [Muslim] centuries. These variants affected even the ‘Uthmanic codex, making it difficult to know what its true form may have been."
The problem of ambiguity never ceased to plague Muslims who desired an absolutely certain version of Allah's instructions on camel-castrating or whatever. Under the direction of the Qur’anic scholar Ibn Mujahid [d. 935 CE], 16 there was a canonization of a specific consonantal system and a limit was placed on the vowels that could be used. This resulted in seven officially sanctioned systems for reading of the Qur’an, although some scholars accepted ten readings and still others found fourteen of merit. In the end, just three systems prevailed: the Medina system of Warsh [d. 812 CE], the Kufa system of Hafs [d. 805], and the Basra system of ad-Duri [d. 860]. Presently, only two of these seem to be in evidence: the system of Hafs, which was adopted for the Egyptian edition of the Koran issued in 1924, and the system of Warsh, which is used elsewhere in Africa. (Although Muslim apologists often claim that the seven versions pertain only to methods of recitation, this simply is not true.) 17
Clear proof that Qur’anic texts have evolved can be seen from the fact that the first Qur’anic (more accurately, pre-Qur’anic) quotations known are found on coins and inscriptions dating toward the end of the seventh century. Many of these differ from the canonical text. Substantial differences from the canonical text are also found in the ornamental inscriptions decorating the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, executed during the reign of Abd al-Malik in the seventy-second year of the Islamic era [691-692 CE]. Finally, some scholars have concluded that much of the Qur’an actually predates Mohammed, being liturgical material that was used by monotheistic Arabs, perhaps Judaeo-Christians or the mysterious Hanifs to whom Mohammed joined himself early in his career. Much of this material, of course, was unintelligible to later commentators of the Qur’an who had to invent far-fetched explanations for the obscurities.
After this lengthy investigation of the origins and transmission of the Qur’an, we can only come to the conclusion that Muslims have even less grounds for thinking they have the genuine words of a god than do the Christians with their epistles and gospels. In Islam as in Christianity, a god is made to say what is expedient to support the theopolitical claims of the parties that created him - parties that make a living selling him to hapless buyers who have no Better Business Bureau to which they can appeal.
A modern book written for beginning English-speaking Muslims 18very well summarizes the legend that needs to be examined critically:
The life of Muhammad is known as the Sira and was lived in the full light of history. Everything he did and said was recorded. Because he could not read and write himself, he was constantly served by a group of 45 scribes who wrote down his sayings, instructions and his activities. Muhammad himself insisted on documenting his important decisions. Nearly three hundred of his documents have come down to us, including political treaties, military enlistments, assignments of officials and state correspondence written on tanned leather. We thus know his life to the minutest details: how he spoke, sat, sleeped [sic], dressed, walked; his behaviour as a husband, father, nephew; his attitudes toward women, children, animals; his business transactions and stance toward the poor and the oppressed; his engagement in camps and cantonments, his behaviour in battle; his exercise of political authority and stand on power; his personal habits, likes and dislikes - even his private dealings with his wives. Within a few decades of his death, accounts of the life of Muhammad were available to the Muslim community in written form. One of the earliest and the most-famous biographies of Muhammad, written less than [a] hundred years after his death, is Sirat Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq.
The fire of these ardent assertions is quenched, however, by the cold water supplied by Professor John Burton, 19 an Islamologist at the University of St. Andrews, as he comments on a translation of al-Tabari's History as it deals with the life of Mohammed:
None will fail to be struck by the slimness of a volume purporting to cover more than half a century in the life of one of History's giants. Ignoring the pages tracing his lineage all the way back to Adam and disregarding the merely fabulous with which the author has padded out his book, is to realize how very meagre is the hard information available to the Muslims for the life of the man whose activities profoundly affected their own as well as the lives of countless millions. Of the childhood, the education of the boy and the influences on the youth, all of which set the pattern of the development of the man, we know virtually nothing. We simply have to adjust to the uncomfortable admission that, in the absence of contemporary documents, we just do not and never shall know what we most desire to learn.
How is an interested observer to choose between these diametrically opposite opinions concerning Mohammed? Only by examining the evidentiary sources upon which every Life of Mohammed must be based can we decide. So we must briefly survey the material that has come down to us.
Evidence on the life of Mohammed is derived from literary sources, papyri and manuscripts, inscriptions, coins, and archaeology. The literary sources include the Sira (a life of Mohammed written by Ibn Ishaq), the Maghazi (an account of the military acts and bandit raids of Mohammed, ascribed to al-Waqidi, d. 823), the Hadith (originally oral reports about the sayings and deeds of Mohammed), the Qur’an, thetafsir (commentaries on the Qur’an), and the writings of early non-Muslim critics and observers.
Since much of the literary evidence ultimately is derived from the oral traditions captured in the Hadith (or books of traditions), it is well to begin our criticism of the life of Mohammed by inquiring into the reliability of the Hadith. The Hadith are alleged to be the collected records of what Mohammed did, what he enjoined, what he did not forbid, and what was done in his presence. They also contain the supposed sayings and deeds of the prophet's companions. Each item is traced back to Mohammed by means of an isnad, a chain of supposedly honest witnesses and transmitters. The substance of such a report is called a matn, and the total tradition of Islamic law and morals derivable from the accredited Hadith is known as the sunna. Adherence to the sunna for guidance in all matters for which the Qur’an is either obscure or silent is a defining characteristic of the major Muslim sect of the world today, the so-called Sunni. (The other major group of Muslims, the Shi‘ites, do not generally honor the sunna, and trace their origin to a very early dispute over who should have been the immediate successor of Mohammed, siding with Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali and arguing that the leadership should have remained in Mohammed's family.)
The Hadith are especially important in post-9-1-1 America, where constant propaganda in favor of Islam is being broadcast even as part of television news programs. "Islam is a religion of peace," it is said. "Islam gave rights to women," they tell us, not mentioning Sura 2:282 which accords a woman only half the weight of a man as a witness in court. We are assured that "It is contrary to Islam to commit suicide," and that the kamikaze terrorists were not "true muslims." Repeatedly it is argued that the Qur’an forbids the sort of things that the Sunni Eterrorists did to the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. While it is true that a selective reading of the Qur’an can justify this self-serving twaddle, it is nevertheless ignoring a major source that, with very little effort, can be manipulated to justify the moral outrages that have been inflicted on our nation and other parts of the civilized world. That source is, of course, the Hadith. It was the Hadith plus the Qur’an that justified the Taliban in their restoration of the Dark Ages. It was the same two 'moral guides' that propelled the kamikaze martyrs on their one-way flights up to the houris in heaven.
Sunni Muslims accept six collections of Hadith as authentic traditions of Mohammed. These include the compilations of al-Bukhari [d. 870], Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj [d. 875], Ibn Maja [d. 887], Abu Dawud [d. 889], al-Tirmidhi [d. 892], and al-Nisai [d. 915]. In addition to these six collections, there is the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal [d. 855], an encyclopedia which contains nearly 29,000 Hadith! Reminding ourselves that Mohammed died in 632, we must immediately question the authenticity of traditions recorded well over two centuries after his time. To be sure, each Hadith is supported by an isnad tracing its transmission back to Mohammed. Nevertheless, modern scholars have been able to demonstrate that the vast majority of these isnads are fabrications created to serve the theopolitical needs of their inventors. Indeed, the fraudulent nature of most of the Hadith was detected already in olden times. Al-Bukhari, the first of the above-named collectors, traveled from country to country to collect Hadith. He was successful beyond his wildest dreams, discovering that more than 600,000 Hadith were current in his day. 20 Unfortunately, careful study convinced him that of that vast number only around four thousand were authentic - and European scholars would discard at least half of that two-thirds of one percent!
Islamic apologists face a terrible problem in the Hadith. Assuming as they do that the story of al-Bukhari is true, how can they be sure that not even one of those rejected 596,000 Hadith had been authentic? How can they know that all of the four thousand are in fact true reports of Mohammed's words and deeds? Surely, the story of al-Bukhari is a powerful discreditation of the whole idea of Hadith. When we learn that many collectors paid people to cough up new and useful Hadith, and when we read even in Muslim sources that people often created Hadith to support the pet projects and political needs of their masters, it is obvious that we are not likely to find much if any authentic information about the historical Mohammed in the Hadith.
Although the names of some seventy historians are known who are believed to have dealt with the life of Mohammed and the prehistory and early history of Islam up to the year 1000 CE, their works have not survived and they are known only from quotations in later historians. The Sira, or biography of Mohammed, is mainly known from a work by Ibn Ishaq [c85/704 —150 AH/767 CE]. Ibn Ishaq was born into a family of Medina that made a living procuring Hadith, and he followed the family trade, ending his career in Baghdad. A number of early Muslim critics held him to be a liar 21 in regard to his Hadith, and it is somewhat ironic that he has ended up being the earliest Muslim historian whose work is relied upon by modern Mohammedan apologists. Unfortunately, his work has not survived in its original form. Rather it has been transmitted in two highly altered and differing recensions: the most popular one made by Ibn Hisham [d. 218 AH/833 CE] and another one made by Yunus b. Bukayr [d. 199 AH/814-815 CE]. Some parts of Ibn Ishaq's work that were suppressed by Ibn Hisham and Yunus b. Bukayr can be found in quotations in the works of fourteen other historians writing 110 to 199 years after the Hegira. As a result, Ibn Ishaq's Sira has to be reconstructed from the works of sixteen later historians! 22 Doing so, however, is hardly worth the effort, considering the poor reliability of the entire Sira literature.
The Maghazi, it will be remembered, is the chronicle of Mohammed's bandit raids and military activities. One of the earliest authors known to have collected Maghazi legends was Wahb b. Munabbih, who was born 34 years after the Hegira [654 CE] and lived until the year 110 AH [728 CE]. A fragment of his work has survived in the Heidelberg Papyrus (early third/ninth centuries) which contains Maghazi traditions attributed to him. It is important to note that Wahb did not know about the use of isnads — the chains of transmitters used to establish the authenticity of traditions. 23 It seems likely then, that any isnads found in scraps of early historians are not authentic but were the creations of later historians who wished to give the appearance that their traditions are anchored in the secure moorings of primal Mohammedanism.
Perhaps the major source for this part of Mohammed's life is the Kitab al-Maghazi by al-Waqidi [130/747-207/822-823]. 24 He was a Shiite and is credited with having first established the chronology of the early years of Islam. He made extensive use of Ibn Ishaq's work and is himself cited extensively by the later popular historian al-Tabari [c224-225/839—311/923]. Ibn Warraq sums up the historical significance - or lack thereof- of Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi: 25
Both Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi's reputations have suffered in recent years as a consequence of the trenchant criticisms by Patricia Crone (especially in Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam, pp. 203-30), where she argues that much of the classical Muslim understanding of the Koran rests on the work of storytellers and that this work is of very dubious historical value. These storytellers contributed to the tradition on the rise of Islam, and this is evident in the steady growth of information: "If one storyteller should happen to mention a raid, the next storyteller would know the date of this raid, while the third would know everything that an audience might wish to hear about it." Then, comparing the accounts of the raid of Kharrar by Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi, Crone shows that al-Waqidi, influenced by and in the manner of the storytellers, "will always give precise dates, locations, names, where Ibn Ishaq has none, accounts of what triggered the expedition, miscellaneous information to lend color to the event, as well as reasons why, as was usually the case, no fighting took place. No wonder that scholars are fond of al-Waqidi: where else does one find such wonderfully precise information about everything one wishes to know? But given that this information was all unknown to Ibn Ishaq, its value is doubtful in the extreme. And if spurious information accumulated at this rate in the two generations between Ibn Ishaq and al-Waqidi, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that even more must have accumulated in the three generations between the Prophet and Ibn Ishaq."
Thus, the biography of Mohammed is very much like that of Jesus Christ: the later the biographer, the more he 'knows' about his character. The earliest sources know little or nothing about their lives, and biographies are built up from 'facts' that successive retailers of tales 'discover' as needed. It has been shown 26 that the Sira (and almost certainly the Maghazi as well) depends to a large extent upon the Hadith, which we have already seen are mostly factitious creations of theopolitical propagandists. Moreover, many Hadith have been shown to be etiological expansions of Qur’anic passages, created to provide a causal biographical or historical background for particular 'revelations'. This means that much of the Sira has been inferred from ambiguous or unintelligible passages in the Qur’an! Would-be biographers of Mohammed are faced with a chicken-or-egg conundrum at this point, since the Qur'an itself would appear to be a somewhat special collection of Hadith — many of which appear to have been manufactured for sale.
The unreliability of the Sira as a source of information regarding the life of Mohammed affects even the supposedly foundational datum of his birth having been in the year 570/571 CE. Lawrence Conrad 27 has shown that well into the second Muslim century, scholarly opinion concerning the birth date of the Prophet was spread over a space of eighty-five years! If Muslim scholars during that crucial formative century had not yet decided when Mohammed had been born, what can we believe of the other dates that later became 'facts' of Muslim chronology?
That the year 622 CE was indeed of early significance to the evolving religion has been confirmed from coins which mark it as the beginning of a new era. Nevertheless, there is no seventh-century source that identifies this year as the year of the Hegira. Two Nestorian Christian documents of 675 and 680 designate it as the year of "the rule of the Arabs." Casting yet another shadow on the doctrine of the Hegira as being a migration that took place in 622 CE is the Apocalypse of Samuel al-Qalamun, written in the eighth century. In this Coptic Christian prophecy, despite its having been composed in Arabic in Egypt, the term Hijra (Hegira) is employed for the Arab conquerors themselves, not for their move from Mecca to Medina!
So completely has the critical examination of Muslim sources revealed the unreliability of the Sira as a biography and the weakness of all available biographical data, a number of Soviet scholars have been able to argue quite coherently that the historical Mohammed is as unreal as the historical Jesus! N. A. Morozov, 28 for instance, propounded the theory in 1930 that Mohammed and the first caliphs were mythical figures and that Islam was a form of Judaism until the time of the Crusades. In the same year, Klimovich 29 published "Did Muhammad Exist?" and argued that all our information on Mohammed is late and that his life was a necessary fiction springing from the euhemeristic notion that all religions have to have had a founder and that all the gods were once men. Yet another Soviet scholar, S. P. Tolstov, compared the myth of Mohammed with the deified shamans of the Yakuts, et al. 30 and argued that the practical purpose of the Mohammed myth was to prevent the disintegration of a political block of traders, nomads, and peasants which had helped a new feudal aristocracy come to power.
It is not necessary to agree that Mohammed is a myth in order to understand the practical significance of the fact that such a view could be advanced in serious scholarly circles. Even if Mohammed did exist, we can know nothing about him from the existing sources. He might as well have been a myth.
After considering the records of early non-Muslim sources that reported on the Arab conquest or ancient writers who wrote about the caravan trade before or during the supposed time of Mohammed, a writer styling himself "Ibn al-Rawandi" 31 integrated those dates into his deep understanding of the Muslim sources for their version of Islamic history and concluded that
Once the Arabs had acquired an empire, a coherent religion was required in order to hold that empire together and legitimize their rule. In a process that involved a massive backreading of history, and in conformity to the available Jewish and Christian models, this meant they needed a revelation and a revealer (prophet) whose life could serve at once as a model for moral conduct and as a framework for the appearance of the revelation; hence the Koran, the Hadith, and the Sira, were contrived and conjoined over a period of a couple of centuries. Topographically, after a century or so of Judaeo-Muslim monotheism centered on Jerusalem, in order to make Islam distinctively Arab the need for an exclusively Hijazi origin became pressing. It is at this point that Islam as we recognize it today - with an inner Arabian biography of the Prophet, Mecca, Quraysh, Hijra, Medina, Badr, etc. - was really born, as a purely literary artefact. An artefact, moreover, based not on faithful memories of real events, but on the fertile imaginations of Arab storytellers elaborating from allusive references in Koranic texts, the canonical text of the Koran not being fixed for nearly two centuries. This scenario makes at least as much sense of the sources as the traditional account and eliminates many anomalies.
From the vantage point of this skeptical analysis the narrative related in the Sira, that purports to be the life of the Prophet of Islam, appears as a baseless fiction. The first fifty-two years of that life, including the account of the first revelations of the Koran and all that is consequent upon that, are pictured as unfolding in a place that simply could not have existed in the way it is described in the Muslim sources. Mecca was not a wealthy trading center at the crossroads of Hijazi trade routes, the Quraysh werenot wealthy merchants running caravan up and down the Arabian peninsula from Syria to the Yemen, and Muhammad, insofar as he was anything more than an Arab warlord of monotheist persuasion, did his trading far north of the Hijaz; furthermore, Mecca, as a sanctuary, if it was a sanctuary, was of no more importance than numerous others and was not a place of pilgrimage.
Space will not allow examination of all the non-Muslim sources and other evidence that led al-Rawandi to these startling opinions. However, a few points can be noted. The tenth-century Armenian historian Thomas Artsruni (Ardsruni) understood Mohammed's base of operation to be in Midian, not in South Arabia, and identified Mecca with the Pharan located in Arabia Petraea, which comprised modern Jordan down into the Sinai peninsula. 32
Information on the qibla, the direction in which early Muslims prayed, comes from the tenth-century Coptic bishop of Ashmunein in Egypt, Severus b. al-Muzaffa 33 and from the Muslim historian Baladhuri, 34who tells us that the qibla in the first mosque at Kufa (in Iraq) was westward, instead of south-southwest as would be the case if present-day Mecca were its focus. Added to other information that Jerusalem, not Mecca, was the focus of early Muslim worship, the archaeological discovery THAT an ancient mosque under the Great Mosque of Wasit was not oriented toward Mecca adds weight to the thesis that the Muslim movement started in northern, not southern, Arabia, and that the traditional story of Mohammed's movement from Mecca to Medina and back is a foundational myth concocted to completely Arabize a conquest history which found it necessary to distance itself from Judaism and Christianity for theopolitical reasons.
Investigation of the role of Mecca in the origin and early evolution of Islam leads to the startling conclusion that the Mecca of Muslim tradition never existed - perhaps being as fictional as the Nazareth in the foundation myth of Christianity. In the Mohammedan sources, Mecca is depicted as a wealthy trading center, a natural crossroads for caravan shipment of goods by prosperous merchants not only from Yemen in the south to Syria and the Roman empire in the north, but also for east-west trade as well. 35 Unfortunately, the classical geographers who showed considerable interest in Arabia knew nothing about it. (The Macoraba of Ptolemy, which some Muslim apologists claim to have been Mecca, is derived from a different root and clearly was not relatable to the present-day city in the southern Hijaz.)&ngsp;36 The only place name in Ptolemy which conceivably could be related to the name 'Mecca' is Moka, a town in Arabia Petraea in present-day Jordan. Patricia Crone 37 sums up the evidence of non-Muslim sources as it pertains to the myth of Mecca:
It is obvious that if the Meccans had been middlemen in a long-distance trade of the kind described in the secondary literature, there ought to have been some mention of them in the writings of their customers. Greek and Latin authors had after all, written extensively about the south Arabians who supplied them with aromatics in the past, offering information about their cities, tribes, political organization, and caravan trade; and in the sixth century they similarly wrote about Ethiopia and Adulis. The political and ecclesiastical importance of Arabia in the sixth century was such that considerable attention was paid to Arabian affairs, too; but of Quraysh and their trading center there is no mention at all, be it in the Greek, Latin, Syriac, Aramaic, Coptic, or other literature composed outside Arabia before the conquests. This silence is striking and significant.
This silence cannot be attributed to the fact that sources have been lost, though some clearly have. The fact is that the sources written after the conquests display not the faintest sign of recognition in their accounts of the new rulers of the Middle East or the city from which they came. Nowhere is it stated that Quraysh, or the "Arab kings," were the people who used to supply such-and-such regions with such-and-such goods; it was only Muhammad himself who was known to have been a trader. And as for the city, it was long assumed to have been Yathrib. Of Mecca there is no mention for a long time; and the first sources to mention the sanctuary fail to give a name for it; whereas the first source to name it fails to locate it in Arabia. [The Continuatio Arabica gives Mecca an Abrahamic location between Ur and Harran.] Jacob of Edessa knew of the Ka‘ba toward which the Muslims prayed, locating it in a place considerably closer to Ptolemy's Moka than to modern Mecca or, in other words, too far north for orthodox accounts of the rise of Islam; but of the commercial significance of this place he would appear to have been completely ignorant. Whatever the implications of this evidence for the history of the Muslim sanctuary, it is plain that the Qurashi trading center was not a place with which the subjects of the Muslims were familiar.
With the disappearance of Mecca from the list of documentable facts concerning the origins of Islam and the life of Mohammed, the character known as Mohammed of Mecca becomes as problematic as the character Jesus of Nazareth. Despite the claims of some Christian archaeologists otherwise of good repute, the archaeological and literary evidence shows that the place now known as Nazareth did not exist as an inhabited town during the first centuries BCE and CE. Without a Nazareth to come from, Jesus of Nazareth now seems as historical as the Wizard of Oz. Unexpectedly and quite surprisingly, the debunking of the Mecca of Muslim tradition makes it now seem likely that Mohammed of Mecca will soon be joining Jesus of Nazareth, the Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan as a resident of Never-Never Land.
The present essay has been greatly dependent upon the excellent books written or compiled by Ibn Warraq and published by Prometheus Books. Readers wishing to attain a solid understanding of the difficult subject of Mohammedan origins are urged to obtain and read these books - the first of which can be obtained from American Atheist Press: Why I Am Not A Muslim, by Ibn Warraq. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York: 1995.
The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited and translated by Ibn Warraq. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York: 2000. (Includes articles by early-modern and recent critical scholars concerned with the origins of Islam)
The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book, edited by Ibn Warraq. Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York: 1998. (Includes articles by early-modern and recent critical scholars concerned with the origins of the Qur'an)
A In transliterating Arabic, Hebrew, and other Semitic languages several special characters are required for sounds that either are not found in English or are not recognized as separate sounds having their own alphabetic characters. The character ’ is used to represent the glottal stop - the brief constriction of the throat that occurs when one pronounces a vowel at the beginning of an isolated word, but which is often absent when the word is preceded by an. Thus, we have ’apple, pronounced with a glottal stop, but ’an apple which, when smoothly pronounced, lacks the glottal stop before the second a. In Semitic languages, the glottal stop is given a symbol of its own and has the honor of being the first letter of the alphabet - alef - although in Arabic it carries a special diacritical mark called hamza to make it clear that the glottal stop is actually pronounced. Modern Arabic and ancient Hebrew have another special sound, a deep-throated, laryngeal glide, which is lacking in English but is considered to be a separate letter of the alphabet - ayin - and is transliterated with the special character ‘ . The difference between alef ’ [ and ayin ‘ can be illustrated by two rather undignified examples. A string of alefs (glottal stops) is pronounced when one imitates the sound of a machine-gun: ’aa!-’aa!-’aa!-’aa!-’aa! The ayin, on the other hand, is the dipping glide one makes when imitating the sound of an automobile engine being started up when it's ten below zero: ‘aah ‘aah ‘aah ‘aah ‘aah. Arabic, like most Semitic languages, has three gradations of aitch. The lightest of them, transliterated as h, is identical to the aitch of English. The harshest of them, usually transliterated as kh, is like the ch in the German nameBach. The middle aitch, transliterated with the special character
B The term Muslim is classical Arabic, whereas Moslem is colloquial Arabic, where u has changed to o, and i has changed to e. Thus,Mohammed is the colloquial equivalent of Muhammad, and Umarbecomes Omar.
C The Muslim calendar, like the Jewish calendar, is a lunar calendar - the year consisting of six months of 29 days and six months of 30 days each. This adds up to only 354 days, creating a discrepancy with the solar year of a little over three years per century. Unlike Jewish calendrical practice, no attempt is made to bring the Moslem year into accord with the solar year (the Muslim calendar falls behind eleven days every solar year), intercalary days are added every three years or so to make up for the fact that a lunation is a bit more than 29.5 days lone.
D AH = Anno Hegirae, 'In the year of the Hegira', reckoned from 16 July 622 CE.
E Most of the terrorists, especially those from Arabia, have been members of a fundamentalist Sunni sect known as the Wahabis. Founded by Mohammed ibn-‘Abd-al-Wahab [1703-1791 CE] of the Najd region of Central Arabia, it is noted for its rejection of all 'novelties' absorbed by Islam, rejecting music and the wearing of silk or jewelry. Wahab rejected consensus of opinion as a source of authority. By marriage he became allied with the family of Saud - the ruling family of Saudi Arabia today. Recently, an Internet news site made the unconfirmed claim that the great majority of imams who lead American mosques are Wahabis.
1 Alphonse Mingana, The Transmission of the Koran," in The Origins of the Koran, edited by Ibn Warraq, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1998: 108.
2 Ibn Warraq, "Introduction," in The Origins of the Koran, 11.
3 Ibid., 13.
4 Mingana, op. cit., 98.
5 Ibid., 99.
6 Ibid., 102.
7 Ibid., 102-103.
8 Ibid., 104-106.
9 Ibid., 106.
10 Ibid., 107.
11 Ibid., 108-109.
12 Ibid., 109.
13 Ibid., 110.
14 Ibn Warraq, Koran, 14.
15 Ibid, 15.
16 Ibid, 16.
17 Ibid, 17.
18 Z. Sardar and Z. A. Malik, Muhammad for Beginners, 1994, quoted by Ibn al-Rawandi, "Origins of Islam: A Critical Look at the Sources," in The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited and translated by Ibn Warraq, Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2000: 89-90.
19 Ibn al-Rawandi, op. cit., 90.
20 Ibn Warraq, "Studies on Muhammad and the Rise of Islam," in The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, 44-45.
21 Ibid., 27.
22 Ibid., 27-28.
23 Ibid., 26.
24 Ibid., 28.
25 Ibid., 29.
26 Ibid., 48.
27 Quoted by Ibn al-Rawandi, op. cit., 102-103.
28 Cited by Ibn Warraq, Muhammad, 49.
29 Cited ibid., 49.
30 Ibid., 49.
31 Ibn al-Rawandi, op. cit., 104-105.
32 Ibn Warraq, Muhammad, 33.
33 Ibid., 33.
34 al-Rawandi, op. cit., 96.
35 Ibid., 98.
36 Ibid., 98.
37 Patricia Crone, quoted by al-Rawandi, op. cit., 99.
Formerly a professor of biology and geology, Frank R. Zindler is now a science writer. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Science, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is the editor of American Atheist. His book The Jesus The Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources will be published by American Atheist Press in the spring of 2002.

زنده باد انقلاب اجتماعی کارگران اسرائيل

به نام هویت انسانی‌

خاورميانه با يک اسرائیل سوسياليستی هيچ مشکلی ندارد در تلألوی شبح عاصی اميدهای بی قراری که از اسپانيا تا تونس را پَر وار در می نوردد تنها راه باقيمانده برای حل ابدی مسئلۀ فلسطين ، کمک مردمان آزادۀ جهان به قطب سوسيالسم مدرن کارگران و چپ جامعه ، و به طبقۀ کارگر , برای برقرای سوسياليزم واستقرار دولت شوراها , در خود اسرائيل است.


فیروزه صابر: «شکایت ما از یک سیستم است نه یک شخص»

در چهلمین روز درگذشت هدی صابر، زندانی سیاسی عضو شورای فعالان ملی مذهبی، همسر و فرزندان او شکایت دوم خود را درباره ابهامات در مورد مرگ وی تحویل مقامات قضایی دادند. فیروزه صابر، خواهر هدی صابر، از جزئیات این شکایت می‌گوید.

صبح روز ۲۲ خرداد (۱۲ ژوئن) یازده روز پس از مرگ هاله سحابی در مراسم تشییع جنازه پدرش عزت‌الله سحابی، خبر درگذشت هدی صابر منتشر شد. این فعال ملی مذهبی که در زندان به سر می‌برد پس از شنیدن خبر مرگ هاله به همراه امیرخسرو دلیرثانی، یکی دیگر از فعالان ملی مذهبی، دست به اعتصاب غذا زده بودند.
روز جمعه (۲۰ خرداد / ۱۸ ژوئن ) به دنبال وخیم شدن حال هدی صابر، او را به بهداری زندان منتقل می‌کنند، اما به گفته‌ی هم‌بندانش او در آنجا مورد ضرب و شتم قرار می‌گیرد و بدون معالجه به سلولش بازگردانده می‌شود.
۶۴ زندانی هم‌‌بند هدی صابر شهادت داده‌اند که او همان روز به دلیل بدتر شدن حالش به بیمارستان مدرس منتقل شده است، اما خانواده‌اش می‌گویند که تا روز مرگ هدی صابر از بستری شدن وی در بیمارستان مطلع نشده بودند. به گفته‌ی فیروزه صابر، خواهر هدی، خبر مرگ هدی نیز از طریق رسانه‌ها به گوش خانواده رسیده است.
مجموعه این اخبار و گزارش‌ها باعث شده تا خانواده هدی صابر شکایت دومی را در پی اولین شکایت خود تسلیم مقامات قضایی کنند.
فیروزه صابر درباره جزئیات این شکایت‌نامه توضیح می‌دهد.
دویچه‌وله: خانم صابر، مطلع شدیم که خانواده شما شکایتی را در مورد مرگ هدی صابر تهیه کرده‌ و تحویل مقامات قضایی داده‌اند. اگر ممکن است درباره‌ی جزییات این شکایت برای ما توضیح دهید.
فیروزه صابر: بله، همسر و فرزندان هدی با توجه به جوابیه پزشک قانونی، در مرحله‌ی اول البته، و اطلاعاتی که از گزارش پرستاری بیمارستان به‌دست آمده، شکایت دومی را در ادامه‌ی شکایت اول که همان روز ۲۲ خرداد در محل بیمارستان مدرس انجام شد، برای رئیس قوه قضاییه تنظیم کردند که در واقع چند بند را دربردارد. یکی همان بحثی که چرا هدی را از زندان اوین دیر به بیمارستان رساندند و در واقع یک فرصت بین پنج و نیم تا شش و نیم ساعت که وقت طلایی نجات است از دست رفت. نکته‌ی دوم برخوردی است که در بهداری بند ۳۵۰ با هدی شده که در گزارش پزشک قانونی نیز هست که در ناحیه پیشانی‌اش خون‌مردگی و نشانه‌ی ضرب و شتم بوده است. و مطلب بعدی این که اگر از روز جمعه، ساعت حدود ۱۰ و نیم تا ۱۱ صبح هدی را به بیمارستان منتقل کردند، چرا به خانواده هیچ اطلاعی داده نشده است. علی‌رغم این که خودش شماره‌ای داده و خواسته‌ که خانواده‌اش را ببیند، ولی متأسفانه اجازه ندادند که کادر پزشکی بیمارستان با خانواده تماس بگیرد. موضوع حول این‌ها است.
شما اشاره کردید که این دومین شکایت بوده است. اگر ممکن است بیشتر توضیح بدهید علت این که یکبار دیگر شما شکایت نوشته‌اید چه بوده است؟ اشاره کردید به گزارشی که به دستتان رسیده، اگر ممکن است در این مورد بیشتر توضیح دهید.
شکایت اول همان روز یکشنبه صبح ۲۲ خرداد بود که ما از طریق سایت‌ها مطلع شدیم که هدی درگذشته و در بیمارستان مدرس است. همانجا بازپرسی آمد که مربوط به قتل است. آنجا این شکایت انجام شد که حول دو مورد بود: یکی این که چرا به خانواده خبر ندادند و دیگری این که چرا او را دیر به بیمارستان رساندند. منتهی ما بعدش براساس نامه‌ی یکی از هم‌بندهای نزدیک هدی و شهادت‌نامه‌ی ۶۴ زندانی بند ۳۵۰ که شهادت داده‌اند چه بر سر هدی آمده، اطلاع پیدا کردیم که در بهداری زندان هم با او نامناسب برخورد شده و منجر به ضرب و شتم شده است. این اطلاعات باعث شد که ما علم بیشتری نسبت به حادثه‌ای که رخ داده بود پیدا کنیم و در نتیجه خانواده شکایت مستقیمی برای رئیس قوه قضاییه فرستادند. ضمن این که در این فاصله هم مصاحبه‌‌هایی از طرف دادستان کل و دادستان تهران انجام شد، مبنی بر این که تعلل‌هایی در این مورد دیده‌اند. البته این آقایان خودشان هم مسئولند و هنوز جوابی نداده‌اند. به همین دلیل ما برای رئیس قوه قضاییه این نامه را نوشتیم که منتظرهستیم پاسخ دهند.
آیا این شکایت علیه شخص یا اشخاص حقیقی یا حقوقی مشخصی نوشته شده یا به صورت کلی است؟
نه. ما اصلاً بحث‌مان شخص نیست، شخص حقیقی نیست. بحث ما حقوقی است. چون این به نظام مدیریت زندان برمی‌گردد که چرا باید این گونه باشد و به نظام مدیریت قوه قضاییه که چرا باید این اتفاق‌ها بیافتد. حالا البته ممکن است مقصرینی هم باشند که به این سازمان برمی‌گردد.
خانم صابر، امروز چهلمین روز درگذشت برادرتان آقای هدی صابر هم هست. آیا مراسمی قرار است برگزار شود یا خیر؟
ما با توجه به محدودیت‌هایی که بوده، علاقه‌مند بودیم که برنامه را در حسینیه ارشاد برگزار کنیم. منتهی مجوز آن را به ما ندادند. در نتیجه ساعت ۵ تا ۶ بعدازظهر سر مزار خواهیم بود.
مصاحبه‌گر: میترا شجاعی

تحریریه: کیواندخت قهاری

down with islamic republic

this is islamic republic.


Karl Marx - The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Karl Marx
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Also known as The Paris Manuscripts and the 1844 Manuscripts
I have already given notice in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, the critique of jurisprudence and political science in the form of a critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right. In the course of elaboration for publication, the intermingling of criticism directed only against speculation with criticism of the various subjects themselves proved utterly unsuitable, hampering the development of the argument and rendering comprehension difficult. Moreover the wealth and diversity of the subjects to be treated, could have been compressed into one work only in a purely aphoristic style; while an aphoristic presentation of this kind, for its part, would have given the impression of arbitrary systemizing. I shall therefore issue the critique of law, ethics, politics, etc., in a series of distinct, independent pamphlets, and at the end try in a special work to present them again as a connected whole showing the interrelationship of the separate parts, and finally, shall make a critique of the speculative elaboration of that material. For this reason it will be found that the interconnection between political economy and the state, law, ethics, civil life, etc., is touched on in the present work only to the extent to which political economy itself ex professo touches on these subjects.
It is hardly necessary to assure the reader conversant with political economy that my results have been won by means of a wholly empirical analysis based on a conscientious critical study of political economy.
Whereas the uninformed reviewer who tries to hide his complete ignorance and intellectual poverty by hurling the "utopian phrase" at the positive critic's head, or again such phrases as "pure, resolute, utterly critical criticism," the "not merely legal but social -- utterly social -- society," the "compact, massy mass," the "oratorical orators of the massy mass," this reviewer has yet to furnish the first proof that besides his theological family-affairs he has anything to contribute to a discussion of worldly matters.
It goes without saying that besides the French and English Socialists I have made use of German Socialist works as well. The only original German works of substance in this science, however -- other than Weitling's writings -- are the essays by Hess published in Einundzwanzig Bogen, and Engels's Umrisse zu einer Kritik der Nationalökonomie in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, where, likewise, I indicated in a very general way the basic elements of this work.
Besides being indebted to these authors who have given critical attention to political economy, positive criticism as a whole -- and therefore also German positive criticism of political economy -- owes its true foundation to the discoveries of Feuerbach, against whose Philosophie der Zukunft and Thesen zur Reform der Philosophie in the Anecdotis, despite the tacit use that is made of them, the petty envy of some and the veritable wrath of others seem to have instigated a regular conspiracy of silence.
It is only with Feuerbach that positive, humanistic and naturalistic criticism begins. The less noise they make, the more certain, profound, widespread and enduring is the effect of Feuerbach's writings, the only writings since Hegel's Phänomenologie and Logik to contain a real theoretical revolution.
In contrast to the critical theologians of our day, I have deemed the concluding chapter of the present work -- the settling of accounts with Hegelian dialectic and Hegelian philosophy as a whole -- to be absolutely necessary, a task not yet performed. This lack of thoroughness is not accidental, since even the critical theologian remains a theologian. Hence, either he had to start from certain presuppositions of philosophy accepted as authoritative; or if in the process of criticism and as a result of other people's discoveries doubts about these philosophical presuppositions have arisen in him, he abandons them without vindication and in a cowardly fashion, abstracts from them showing his servile dependence merely in a negative, unconscious and sophistical manner.
In this connection the critical theologian is either forever repeating assurances about the purity of his own criticism, or tries to make it seem as though all that was let for criticism to deal with now was some other immature form of criticism outside itself -- say eighteenth-century criticism -- and the backwardness of the masses, in order to divert the observer's attention as well as his own from the necessary task of settling accounts between criticism and its point of origin -- Hegelian dialectic and German philosophy as a whole -- from this necessary raising of modern criticism above its own limitation and crudity. Eventually, however, whenever discoveries (such as Feuerbach's) are made about the nature of his own philosophic presuppositions, the critical theologian partly makes it appear as if he were the one who had accomplished this, producing that appearance by taking the results of these discoveries and, without being able to develop them, hurling them in the form of catch-phrases at writers still caught in the confines of philosophy; partly he even manages to acquire a sense of his own superiority to such discoveries by covertly asserting in a veiled, malicious and skeptical fashion elements of the Hegelian dialectic which he still finds lacking in the criticism of that dialectic (which have not yet been critically served up to him for his use) against such criticism -- not having tried to bring such elements into their proper relation or having been capable of doing so, asserting, say, the category of mediating proof against the category of positive, self-originating truth, etc., in a way peculiar to Hegelian dialectic. For to the theological critic it seems quite natural that everything has to be done by philosophy, so that he can chatter away about purity, resoluteness, and utterly critical criticism; and he fancies himself the true conqueror of philosophy whenever he happens to feel some "moment" in Hegel to be lacking in Feuerbach -- for however much he practices the spiritual idolatry of "self-consciousness" and "mind" the theological critic does not get beyond feeling to consciousness.
On close inspection theological criticism -- genuinely progressive though is was at the inception of the movement -- is seen in the final analysis to be nothing but the culmination and consequence of the old philosophical, and especially the Hegelian, transcendentalism, twisted into a theological caricature. This interesting example of the justice in history, which now assigns to theology, ever philosophy's spot of infection, the further role of portraying in itself the negative dissolution of philosophy -- i.e., the process of its decay -- this historical nemesis I shall demonstrate on another occasion.
How far, on the other hand, Feuerbach's discoveries about the nature of philosophy required still, for their proof at least, a critical settling of accounts with philosophical dialectic will be seen from my exposition itself.
First Manuscript
Wages are determined by the fierce struggle between capitalist and worker. The capitalist inevitably wins. The capitalist can live longer without the worker than the worker can live without him. Combination among capitalists is habitual and effective, while combination among the workers is forbidden and has painful consequences for them. In addition to that, the landowner and the capitalist can increase their revenues with the profits of industry, while the worker can supplement his income from industry with neither ground rent nor interest on capital. This is the reason for the intensity of competition among the workers. It is, therefore, only for the worker that the separation of capital, landed property, and labor, is a necessary, essential, and pernicious separation. Capital and landed property need not remain constant in this abstraction, as must the labor of the workers.
So, for the worker, the separation of capital, ground rent, and labor, is fatal.
For wages, the lowest and the only necessary rate is that required for the subsistence of the worker during work and enough extra to support a family and prevent the race of workers from dying out. According to [economist Adam] Smith, the normal wage is the lowest which is compatible with common humanity -- i.e., with a bestial existence. [See Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 2 vols., Everyman edition, Vol. I, p. 61.]
The demand for men necessarily regulates the production of men, as of every other commodity. If the supply greatly exceeds the demand, then one section of the workers sinks into beggary or starvation. The existence of the worker is, therefore, reduced to the same condition as the existence of every other commodity. The worker has become a commodity, and he is lucky if he can find a buyer. And the demand on which the worker's life depends is regulated by the whims of the wealthy and the capitalists. If supply exceeds demand, one of the elements which go to make up the price -- profit, ground rent, wages -- will be paid below its price. A part of these elements is, therefore, withdrawn from this application, with the result that the market price gravitates towards the natural price as the central point. But 1. it is very difficult for the worker to direct his labor elsewhere where there is a marked division of labor; and 2. because of his subordinate relationship to the capitalist, he is the first to suffer.
So the worker is sure to lose and to lose most from the gravitation of the market price towards the natural price. And it is precisely the ability of the capitalist to direct his capital elsewhere which either drives the worker, who is restricted to one particular branch of employment, into starvation or forces him to submit to all the capitalist's demands.
The sudden chance fluctuations in market price hit ground rent less than that part of the price which constitutes profit and wages, but they hit profit less than wages. For every wage which rises, there is generally one which remains stationary and another which falls.
The worker does not necessarily gain when the capitalist gains, but he necessarily loses with him. For example, the worker does not gain if the capitalist keeps the market price above the natural price by means of a manufacturing or trade secret, a monopoly or a favorably placed property.
Moreover, the prices of labor are much more constant than the prices of provisions. They are often in inverse proportion. In a dear year, wages drop because of a drop in demand and rise because of an increase in the price of provisions. They, therefore, balance. In any case, some workers are left without bread. In cheap years, wages rise on account of the rise in demand, and fall on account of the fall in the price of provisions. So they balance. [Smith, I, pp. 76-7.]
Another disadvantage for the worker:
The price of the labor of different kinds of workers varies much more than the profits of the various branches in which capital is put to use. In the case of labor, all the natural, spiritual, and social variations in individual activity are manifested and variously rewarded, were as dead capital behaves in a uniform way and is indifferent to real individual activity.
In general, we should note that where worker and capitalist both suffer, the worker suffers in his very existence while the capitalist suffers in the profit on his dead mammon.
The worker has not only to struggle for his physical means of subsistence; he must also struggle for work -- i.e., for the possibility and the means of realizing his activity. Let us consider the three main conditions which can occur in society and their effect on the worker.
(1) If the wealth of society is decreasing, the worker suffers most, although the working class cannot gain as much as the property owners when society is prospering, none suffers more cruelly from its decline than the working class. [Smith, I, p. 230.]
(2) Let us now consider a society in which wealth is increasing. This condition is the only one favorable to the worker. Here, competition takes place among the capitalists. The demand for workers outstrips supply. But:
In the first place, the rise of wages leads to overwork among the workers. The more they want to earn the more they must sacrifice their time and freedom and work like slaves in the service of avarice. In doing so, they shorten their lives. But this is all to the good of the working class as a whole, since it creates a renewed demand. This class must always sacrifice a part of itself if it is to avoid total destruction.
Furthermore, when is a society in a condition of increasing prosperity? When the capitals and revenues of a country are growing. But this is only possible
(a) as a result of the accumulation of a large quantity of labor, for capital is accumulated labor; that is to say, when more and more of the workers' products are being taken from him, when his own labor increasingly confronts him as alien property and the means of his existence and of his activity are increasingly concentrated in the hands of the capitalist.
(b) The accumulation of capital increases the division of labor, and the division of labor increases the number of workers; conversely, the growth in the number of workers increases the division of labor, just as the growth in the division of labor increases the accumulation of capital. As a consequence of this division of labor, on the one hand, and the accumulation of capitals, on the other, the worker becomes more and more uniformly dependent on labor, and on a particular, very one-sided and machine-like type of labor. Just as he is depressed, therefore, both intellectually and physically to the level of a machine, and from being a man becomes an abstract activity and a stomach, so he also becomes more and more dependent on every fluctuation in the market price, in the investment of capital and in the whims of the wealthy. Equally, the increase in that class of men who do nothing but work increases the competition among the workers and therefore lowers their price. In the factory system, conditions such as these reach their climax.
(c) In a society which is becoming increasingly prosperous, only the very richest can continue to live from the interest on money. All the rest must run a business with their capital, or put it on the market. As a result, the competition among the capitalists increases, there is a growing concentration of capital, the big capitalists ruin the small ones, and a section of the former capitalists sinks into the class of the workers -- which, because of this increase in numbers, suffers a further depression of wages and becomes even more dependent on the handful of big capitalists. Because the number of capitalists has fallen, competition for workers has increased, the competition among them has become all the more considerable, unnatural and violent. Hence, a section of the working class is reduced to beggary or starvation with the same necessity as a section of the middle capitalists ends up in the working class.
So, even in the state of society most favorable to him, the inevitable consequence for the worker and early death, reduction to a machine, enslavement to capital which piles up in threatening opposition to him, fresh competition and starvation or beggary for a section of the workers.
An increase in wages arouses in the worker the same desire to get rich as in the capitalist, but he can only satisfy this desire by sacrificing his mind and body. An increase in wages presupposes, and brings about, the accumulation of capital, and thus opposes the product of labor to the worker as something increasingly alien to him. Similarly, the division of labor makes him more and more one-sided and dependent, introducing competition from machines as well as from men. Since the worker has been reduced to a machine, the machine can confront him as a competitor. Finally, just as the accumulation of capital increases the quantity of industry and, therefore, the number of workers, so it enables the same quantity of industry to produce a greater quantity of products. This leads to overproduction and ends up either by putting a large number of workers out of work or by reducing their wages to a pittance.
Such are the consequences of a condition of society which is most favorable to the worker -- i.e., a condition of growing wealth.
But, in the long run, the time will come when this state of growth reaches a peak. What is the situation of the worker then?
(3) "In a country which had acquired that full complement of riches... both the wages of labor and the profits of stock would probably be very low... the competition for employment would necessarily be so great as to reduce the wages of labor to what was barely sufficient to keep up the number of laborers, and, the country being already fully peopled, that number could never be augmented." [Smith I, p. 84]
The surplus population would have to die.
So, in a declining state of society, we have the increasing misery of the worker; in an advancing state, complicated misery; and in the terminal state, static misery.
Smith tells us that a society of which the greater part suffers is not happy. [Smith I, p. 70] But, since even the most prosperous state of society leads to suffering for the majority, and since the economic system [Nationalokonomie], which is a society based on private interests, brings about such a state of prosperity, it follows that society's distress is the goal of the economic system.
We should further note in connection with the relationship between worker and capitalist that the latter is more than compensated for wage rises by a reduction in the amount of labor time, and that wage rises and increases in the interest on capital act on commodity prices like simple and compound interest respectively.
Let us now look at things from the point of view of the political economist and compare what he has to say about the theoretical and practical claims of the worker.
He tells us that, originally, and in theory, the whole produce of labor belongs to the worker. [Smith I, p. 57] But, at the same time, he tells us that what the worker actually receives is the smallest part of the product, the absolute minimum necessary; just enough for him to exist not as a human being but as a worker and for him to propagate not humanity but the slave class of the workers.
The political economist tells us that everything is bought with labor and that capital is nothing but accumulated labor, but then goes on to say that the worker, far from being in a position to buy everything, must sell himself and his humanity.
While the ground rent of the indolent landowner generally amounts to a third of the product of the soil, and the profit of the busy capitalist to as much as twice the rate of interest, the surplus which the worker earns amounts at best to the equivalent of death through starvation for two of his four children. [Smith I, p. 60]]
According to the political economist, labor is the only means whereby man can enhance the value of natural products, and labor is the active property of man. But, according to this same political economy, the landowner and the capitalist, who as such are merely privileged and idle gods, are everywhere superior to the worker and dictate the law to him.
According to the political economist, labor is the only constant price of things. But nothing is more subject to chance than the price of labor, nothing exposed to greater fluctuations.
While the division of labor increases to the productive power of labor and the wealth and refinement of society, it impoverishes the worker and reduces him to a machine. While labor gives rise to the accumulation of capital, and so brings about the growing prosperity of society, it makes the worker increasingly dependent on the capitalist, exposes him to greater competition and drives him into the frenzied world of overproduction, with its subsequent slump.
According to the political economist, the interest of the worker is never opposed to the interest of society. But, society is invariably and inevitably opposed to the interest of the worker.
According to the political economist, the interest of the worker is never opposed to that of society: (1) because the rise in wages is more than made up for by the reduction in the amount of labor time, with the other consequences explained above, and (2) because in relation to society the entire gross product is net product, and only in relation to the individual does the net product have any significance.
But it follows from the analyses made by the political economists, even though they themselves are unaware of the fact, that labor itself -- not only under present conditions, but in general, insofar as its goal is restricted to the increase of wealth --is harmful and destructive.
In theory, ground rent and profit on capital are deductions made from wages. But, in reality, wages are a deduction which land and capital grant the worker, an allowance made from the product of labor to the worker, to labor.
The worker suffers most when society is in a state of decline. He owes the particular severity of his distress to his position as a worker, but the distress as such is a result of the situation of society.
But, when society is in a state of progress, the decline and impoverishment of the worker is the product of his labor and the wealth produced by him. This misery, therefore, proceeds from the very essence of present-day labor.
A society at the peak of prosperity -- an ideal, but one which is substantially achieved, and which is at least the goal of the economic system and of civil society -- is static misery for the worker.
It goes without saying that political economy regards the proletarian -- i.e., he who lives without capital and ground rent, from labor alone, and from one-sided, abstract labor at that -- as nothing more than a worker. It can, therefore, advance the thesis that, like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle.
Let us now rise above the level of political economy and examine the ideas developed above, taken almost word for word from the political economists, for the answers to these two questions:
(1) What is the meaning, in the development of mankind, of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labor?
(2) What mistakes are made by the piecemeal reformers, who either want to raise wages and thereby improve the situation of the working class, or -- like Proudhon -- see equality of wages as the goal of social revolution?
In political economy, labor appears only in the form of wage-earning activity.
"It can be argued that those occupation which demand specific abilities or longer training have on the whole become more lucrative; while the commensurate wage for mechanically uniform activity, in which everyone can be quickly and easily trained, has fallen, and inevitably so, as a result of growing competition. And it is precisely this kind of labor which, under the present system of labor organization, is by far the most common.
"So, if a worker in the first category now earns seven times as much as he did 50 years ago, while another in the second category continues to earn the same as he did then, then on average they earn four times as much.
"But if in a given country there are only a thousand workers in the first category and a million in the second, then 999,000 are no better off than 50 years ago, and they are worse off if the prices of staple goods have risen.
"And yet people are trying to deceive themselves about the most numerous class of the population with superficial average calculations of this sort.
"Moreover, the size of wages is only one factor in evaluating a worker's income: it is also essential to take into account the length of time for which such wages are guaranteed, and there is no question of guarantees in the anarchy of so-called free competition with its continual fluctuations and stagnation. Finally, we must bear in mind the hours of work which were usual earlier and those which are usual now. And for the English cotton workers, the working day has been increased, as a result of the employers' greed, from 12 to 16 hours during the past 25 years or so -- i.e., since labor-saving machines were introduced. This increase in one country and in one branch of industry inevitably carried over to a
greater or lesser degree into other areas, for the rights of the wealthy to subject the poor to boundless exploitation are still universally acknowledged."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, Die Bewegung der Produktion, eine geschichtlichstatistiscke Abhandlung. Zurich and Winterthur, 1843, p. 65 ]
"But even even this were as true as it is false, that the average income of all classes of society has grown, the differences and relative intervals between incomes can still have grown bigger, so that the contrast between wealth and poverty becomes sharper. For it is precisely because total production rises that needs, desires, and claims also increase, and they increase in the same measure as production rises; relative poverty can therefore grow while absolute poverty diminishes. The Samoyed is not poor with his blubber and rancid fish, for in his self-contained society, everyone has the same needs. But, in a state which is making rapid headway, which, in the course of a decade, increases its total production in relation to the population by a third, the worker who earns the same at the end of the 10 years as he did at the beginning has not maintained his standard of living, he has grown poorer by a third."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 65-6 ]
But political economy knows the worker only as a beast of burden, as an animal reduced to the minimum bodily needs.
"If a people is to increase its spiritual freedom, it can no longer remain in thrall to its bodily needs, it can no longer be the servant of the flesh. Above all, it needs time for intellectual exercise and recreation. This time is won through new developments in the organization of labor.
"Nowadays, a single worker in the cotton mills, as a result of new ways of producing power and new machinery, can often do work that previously needed 100 or even 250-300 workers. All branches of industry have witnessed similar consequences, since external natural forces are increasingly being brought to bear on human labor. If the amount of time and human energy needed earlier to satisfy a given quantity of material needs was later reduced by half, then, without any forfeiture of material comfort, the margin for intellectual creation and recreation will have increased by half.
"But, even the sharing of the spoils which we win from old Chronos on his very own territory still depends on blind and unjust chance.
"In France, it has been estimated that, at the present stage of production, an average working day of five hours from each person capable of work would be sufficient to satisfy all society's material needs.... In spite of the time saved through improvements in machinery, the time spent in slave labor in the factories has increased for many people."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 67-8 ]
"The transition from complicated handicrafts presupposes a breaking down of such work into the simple operations of which it consists. To begin with, however, only a part of the uniformly recurring operations falls to the machines, while another part falls to men. Permanently uniform activity of this kind is by its very nature harmful to both soul and body -- a fact which is also confirmed by experience; and so, when machinery is combined in this way, with the mere division of labor among a larger number of men, all the shortcomings of the latter inevitably make their appearance. These shortcomings include the greater mortality of factory workers....
"No attention has been paid to the essential distinction between how far men work through machines and how far they work as machines."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 69 ]
"In the future life of the nations, however, the mindless forces of nature operating in machines will be our slaves and servants."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 74 ]
"In the English spinning mills, only 158,818 men are employed, compared with 196,818 women. For every 100 men workers in the Lancashire cotton mills, there are 103 women workers' in Scotland, the figure is as high as 209. In the English flax mills in Leeds, there are 147 women for every 100 men workers; in Dundee, and on the east coast of Scotland, this figure is as high as 280. In the English silk-factories, there are many women workers; in the wool factories, where greater strength is needed, there are more men. As for the North American cotton mills, in 1833 there were no fewer than 38,927 women alongside 18,593 men.
"So, as a result of changes in the organization of labor, a wider area of employment opportunities has been opened up to members of the female sex... more economic independence for women... both sexes brought closer together in their social relations."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 71-2 ]
"Employed in the English spinning mills operated by steam and water in the year 1835 were: 20,558 children between 8 and 12 years of age; 35,867 between 12 and 13; and, finally, 108,208 between 13 and 18....
"True, the advances in mechanization, which remove more and more of the monotonous tasks from human hands, are gradually eliminating these ills. But, standing in the way of these more rapid advances is the fact that the capitalists are in a position to make use of the energies of the lower classes, right down to children, very easily and very cheaply, and to use them instead of machinery."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 70-1 ]
"Lord Brougham's appeal to the workers: 'Become capitalists!'...
"The evil that million are only able to eke out a living through exhausting, physically destructive, and morally and intellectually crippling, labor; that they are even forced to regard the misfortune of finding such work as fortunate."
[ Wilhelm Schulz, pp. 60 ]
"So, in order to live, the non-owners are forced to place themselves directly or indirectly at the service of owners -- i.e., become dependent upon them."
[ C. Pecqueur, Theorie nouvelle d'economie sociale et politique, ou etudes sur l'organisation des societes, Paris, 1842, p. 409 ] "Servants -- pay; workers -- wages; clerks -- salaries or emoluments.... "hire out one's labor", "lend out one's labor at interest", "work in another's place". "hire out the materials of labor", "lend the materials of labor at interest", "make another work in one's place". [ C. Pecqueur, p. 409-10, 411 ] "This economic constitution condemns men to such abject employments, such desolate and bitter degradation, that by comparison savagery appears like a royal condition." "Prostitution of the non-owning class in all its forms." Rag-and-bone men. [ C. Pecqueur, p. 417-18, 421 ] Charles Loudon, in his work Solution du probleme de la population, gives the number of prostitutes in England as 60-70,000. The number of women of "doubtful virtue" is roughly the same.
"The average life span of these unfortunate creatures on the streets, after they have embarked on their career of vice, is about six or seven years. This means that, if the number of 60-70,000 prostitutes is to be maintained, there must be in the three kingdoms at least 8-9,000 women a year who take up this infamous trade -- i.e., roughly 24 victims a day, which is an average of one an hour. So, if the same proportion is true for the whole surface of the planet, then at all times there must be one-and-a-half million of these unhappy creatures."
[ Charles Loudon, Solution du probleme de la population et de la subsistence, soumise a un medecin dans une serie du lettres, Paris, 1842, p. 229 ]
"The population of the poor grows with their poverty, and it is at the most extreme limit of need that human beings crowd together in the greatest numbers in order to fight among themselves for the right to suffer....
"In 1821, the population of Ireland was 6,801,827. By 1831, it had risen to 7,764,010; that is, a 14 per cent increase in 10 years. In Leinster, the most prosperous of the provinces, the population only grew by 8 per cent, while in Connaught, the poorest of the provinces, the increase was as high as 21 per cent. (Extract from Inquiries Published in England on Ireland, Vienna, 1840.)
[ Eugene Buret, De la misere des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France, 2 vols., Paris, 1840, Vol. I, pp. 36-7 ] Political economy regards labor abstractly, as a thing; labor is a commodity; if the price is high, the commodity is much in demand; if it is low, then it is much in supply; "the price of labor as a commodity must fall lower and lower". [ ibid., p. 43 ] This is brought about partly by the competition among the workers themselves.
"... the working population, seller of labor, is forced to accept the smallest part of the product... Is the theory of labor as a commodity anything other than a disguised theory of slavery?"
"Why then was labor regarded as nothing more than an exchange value?"
[ Eugene Buret, p. 43 ]
The big workshops prefer to buy the labor of women and children, because it costs less than that of men.
"Vis-a-vis his employer, the worker is not at all in the position of a free seller.... The capitalist is always free to employ labor, and the worker is always forced to sell it. The value of labor is completely destroyed if it is not sold at every instant. Unlike genuine commodities, labor can be neither accumulated nor saved.
"Labor is life, and if life is not exchanged every day for food, it suffers and soon perishes. If human life is to be regarded as a commodity, we are forced to admit slavery."
[ Eugene Buret, p. 49-50 ]
So, if labor is a commodity, it is a commodity with the most unfortunate characteristics. But, even according to economic principles, it is not one, for it is not the "free product of a free market". [ ibid., p. 50 ] The present economic regime "reduces at the same time both the price and the remuneration of labor; it perfects the worker and degrades the man." [ ibid., p. 52-3 ] "Industry has become a war, commerce a game." [ ibid., p. 62 ]
"The machines for spinning cotton (in England) alone represent 84,000,000 handworkers."
[ Eugene Buret, p. 193 ]
Up to now, industry has been in the situation of a war of conquest:
"it has squandered the lives of the men who composed its army with as much indifference as the great conquerors. Its goal was the possession of riches, and not human happiness." "These interests (i.e., economic interests), left to their own free development, ... cannot help coming into conflict; war is their only arbiter, and the decisions of war assign defeat and death to some and victory to others.... It is in the conflict of opposing forces that science looks for order and equilibrium; perpetual was, in the view of science, is the only means of achieving peace; this war is called competition."
[ Eugene Buret, pp. 20,23 ]
"The industrial war, if it is to be waged successfully, needs large armies which it can concentrate at one point and decimate at will. And neither devotion nor duty moves the soldiers of this army to bear the burden placed upon them; what moves them is the need to escape the harshness of starvation. They feel neither affection nor gratitude for their bosses, who are not bound in their subordinates by any feeling of goodwill and who regard them not as human beings but as instruments of production which bring in as much and cost as little as possible. These groups of workers, who are more and more crowded together, cannot even be sure they they will always be employed; the industry which has summoned them together allows them to live only because it needs them; as soon as it can get rid of them, it abandons them without the slightest hesitation; and the workers are forced to offer their persons and their labor for whatever is the going price. The longer, more distressing and loathsome the work which is given them, the less they are paid; one can see workers who toil their way non-stop through a 16-hour day and who scarcely manage to buy the right not to die."
[ Eugene Buret, pp. 68-9 ]
"We are convinced... as are the commissioners appointed to look into the conditions of the handloom weavers, that the large industrial towns would quickly lose their population of workers if they did not all the time receive a continual stream of healthy people and fresh blood from the surrounding country areas."
[ Eugene Buret, pp. 362 ]
1. Capital
(1) What is the basis of capital -- i.e., of private property in the products of another's labor?
"Even if capital cannot be reduced to simple theft or fraud, it still needs the assistance of legislation to sanctify inheritance."
[ Jean-Baptiste Say, Traie d'economie politique, third edition, 2 volumes, Paris, 1817, I, p. 136, footnote ]
How does one become an owner of productive stock? How does on become owner of the products created by means of this stock?
Through positive law. [Say, II, p. 4]
What does one acquire with capital, with the inheritance of a large fortune, for example?
"The person who acquires, or succeeds to a great fortune, does not necessarily acquire or succeed to any political power.... The power which that possession immediately and directly conveys to him, is the power of purchasing; a certain command over all the labor, or over all the produce of labor, which is then in the market."
[ Smith, Wealth of Nations, I, pp. 26-7 ]
Capital is, therefore, the power to command labor, and its products. The capitalist possesses this power not on account of his personal or human properties but insofar as he is an owner of capital. His power is the purchasing power of his capital, which nothing can withstand.
Later, we shall see how the capitalist, by means of capital, exercises his power to command labor; but we shall then go on to see how capital, in its turn, is able to rule the capitalist himself.
What is capital?
"A certain quantity of labor stocked and stored up. .."
[ Smith, p. 295 ]
Capital is stored up-labor.
(2) Bonds, or stock, is any accumulation of the products of the soil or of manufacture. Stock is only called capital when it yields its owner a revenue or profit.
2. The Profit of Capital
The profit or gain of capital is altogether different from the wages of labor. This difference manifests itself in two ways: firstly, the profits of capital are regulated altogether by the value of the stock employed, although the labor of inspection and direction for different capitals may be the same. Furthermore, in many large factories, the whole labor of this kind is committed to some principal clerk, whose wages never bear any regular proportion to the capital of which he oversees the management. And the owner of this capital, though he is thus discharged of almost all labor, still expects that his profits should bear a regular proportion to his capital. [Smith, p. 43]
Why does the capitalist demand this proportion between profit and capital?
He could have no interest in employing these workers, unless he expected from the sale of their work something more than was sufficient to replace the stock advanced by him as wages; and he could have no interest to employ a great stock rather than a small one, unless his profits were to bear some proportion to the extent of his stock. [Smith, p. 42]
So the capitalist makes a profit first on the ages and secondly on the raw materials advanced by him.
What relation, then, does profit have to capital?
It is not easy to ascertain what are the average wages of labor even in a particular place and at a particular time, and it is even more difficult to determine the profit on capital. Variations of price in commodities which the capitalist deals in, the good or bad fortune both of his rivals and of his customers, a thousand other accidents to which his goods are liable in transit and in warehouses, all produce a daily, almost hourly, variation in profits. [Smith, pp. 78-9] But although it may be impossible to determine, with any degree of precision, the average profits of capital, some notion may be formed of them from the interest of money. Wherever a great deal can be made by the use of money, a great deal will be given for the use of it; wherever little can be made, little will be given. [Smith, p. 79]
"The proportion which the usual market rate of interest ought to bear to the ordinary rate of clear profit, necessarily varies as profit rises or falls. Double interest is in Great Britain reckoned what the merchants call a good, moderate, reasonable profit, terms which... mean no more than a common and usual profit."
[ Smith, p. 87 ]
What is the lowest rate of profit? And what is the highest?
The lowest rate of ordinary profit on capitals must always be something more than what is sufficient to compensate the occassional losses to which every employment of capital is exposed. It is this surplus value only which is the neat or clear profit. The same holds for the lowest rate of interest. [Smith, p. 86]
The highest rate to which ordinary profits can rise may be such as, in the price of the greater part of commodities, easts up the whole of the rent of the land and reduces the wages of labor expended in preparing the commodity and bringing it to market to the lowest rate, the bare subsistence of the laborer. The workman must always have been fed in some way or other while he was about the work; but the rent of land can disappear entirely. Examples: the servants of the East India Company in Bengal. [Smith, pp. 86-7]
Besides all the advantages of limited competition which the capitalist can exploit in such a case, he can keep the market price above the natural price, by quite honorable means.
Firstly, by secrets in trade, where the market is at a great distance from the residence of those who supply it; that is, by concealing a change in price, an increase above the natural level. The effect of this concealment is that other capitalists do not invest their capital in this branch of industry.
Secondly, by secrets in manufacture, which enable the capitalist to cut production costs and sell his goods at the same price, or even at a lower price than his competitors, while making a bigger profit. (Deceit by concealment is not immoral? Dealings on the Stock Exchange.) Furthermore, where production is confined to a particular locality (as in the case of select wines) and the effective demand can never be satisfied. Finally, through monopolies granted to individuals or companies. The price of monopoly is the highest which can be got. [Smith, pp. 53-4]
Other chance causes which can raise the profit on capital:
The acquisition of new territory, or of new branches of trade, may sometimes rise the profits of stock even in a wealthy country, because part of the capital is withdrawn from the old branches of trade, competition comes to be less than before, and the market is less fully supplies with commodities, the prices of which then rise: those who deal in these commodities can then afford to borrow at a higher interest. [Smith, p. 83] As any particular commodity comes to be more manufactured, that part of the price which resolves itself into wages and profit comes to be greater in proportion to that which resolves itself into rent. In the progress of the manufacture of commodity, not only the number of the profits increase, but every subsequent profit is greater than the preceding one; because the capital from which it is derived must always be greater. The capital which employs the weavers, for example, must be greater than that which employs the spinners; because it not only replaces that capital with its profits, but pays besides, the wages of the weavers; and the profits must always bear some proportion to the capital. [Smith, p. 45]
So, the growing role played by human labor in fashioning the natural product increases not the wages of labor but partly the number of profitable capitals and partly the size of each capital in proportion to those that precede it.
More later about the profit which the capitalist derives from the division of labor.
He profits in two ways: firstly, from the division of labor and secondly, and more generally, from the growing role played by human labor in fashioning the natural product. The larger the human share in a commodity, the larger the profit of dead capital.
In one and the same society, the average rates of profit on capital are more nearly upon a level than are the wages of different kinds of labor. [Smith, p. 45] In the different employments of capital, the ordinary rate of profit varies more or less with the certainty or uncertainty of the returns;
"... the ordinary profit of stock, though it rises with the risk, does not always seem to rise in proportion to it."
[ Smith, pp. 99-100 ]
Needlesstosay, profits also rise if the means of circulation (e.g., paper money) improve or become less expensive.
3. The Rule of Capital over Labor and the Motives of the Capitalist
"The consideration of his own private profit is the sole motive which determines the owner of any capital to employ it either in agriculture, in manufactures, or in some particular branch of the wholesale or retail trade. The different quantities of productive labor which may put it into motion, and the different values which it may add to the annual produce of the land and labor of the society, according as it is employed in one or other of those different ways, never enter into his thoughts."
[ Smith, p. 355 ]
"The most useful employment of capital for the capitalist is that which, with the same degree of security, yields him the largest profit; but this employment is not always the most useful for society... the most useful is that which... stimulates the productive power of its land and labor."
[ Say, II, pp. 130-31 ]
"The plans and projects of the employers of stock regulate and direct all the most important operations of labor, and profit is the end proposed by all those plans and projects. But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rise with the prosperity and fall with the declension of the society. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in countries which are going fastest to ruin. The interest of this third order [those who live by profit], therefore, has not the same connection with the general interest of the society as that of the other two.... The interest of the dealer, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers... and order of men whose interest is never exactly the same as that of the public, who have generally an interest to decisive and even to oppress the public..."
[ Smith I, pp. 231-2 ]
4. The Accumulation of Capitals and the Competition among the Capitalists
The increase of capitals, which raises wages, tends to lower profits, as a result of the competition among capitalists. [Smith, p. 78]
If, for example, the capital which is necessary for the grocery trade of a particular town
"is divided between two different grocers, their competition will tend to make both of them sell cheaper than if it were in the hands of one only; and if it were divided among 20, their competition would be just so much the greater, and the chance of their combining together, in order to raise the price, just so much the less."
[ Smith I, p. 322 ]
Since we already know that monopoly prices are as high as possible, since the interest of the capitalists, even from a straight-forwardly economic point of view, is opposed to the interest of society, and since the growth of profits acts on the price of the commodity like compound interest [Smith, pp. 87-8], it follows that the sole defense against the capitalists is competition, which in the view of political economy has the beneficial effect both of raising wages and cheapening commodities to the advantage of the consuming public.
But, competition is possible only if capitals multiply and are held by many different people. It is only possible to generate a large number of capitals as a result of multilateral accumulation, since capital in general stems from accumulation. But, multilateral accumulation inevitably turns into unilateral accumulation. Competition among capitalists increases accumulation of capitals. Accumulation -- which, under the rule of private property, means concentration of capital in few hands -- inevitably ensues if capitals are allowed to follow their own natural course. It is only through competition that this natural proclivity of capital begins to take shape.
We have already seen that the profit on capital is in proportion to its size. If we ignore deliberate competition for the moment, a large capital accumulates more rapidly, in proportion to its size, than does a small capital.
This means that, quite apart from competition, the accumulation of large capital takes place at a much faster rate than that of small capital. But, let us follow this process further.
As capitals multiply, the profits on capital diminish, as a result of competition. So, the first to suffer is the small capitalist.
"In a country which had acquired its full complement of riches, ... as the ordinary rate of clear profit would be very small, so the usual market rate of interest which could be afforded out of it would be so low as to render it impossible for any but the very wealthiest of people to live upon the interest of their money. All people of small or middling fortunes would be obliged to super-intend themselves the employment of their own stocks. It would be necessary that almost every man should be a man of business, or engage in some sort of trade."
[ Smith I, p. 86 ]
This is the situation most dear to the heart of political economy.
"The proportion between capital and revenue, therefore, seems everywhere to regulate the proportion between industry and idleness. Wherever capital predominates, industry prevails: wherever revenue, idleness."
[ Smith, p. 301 ]
But, what about the employment of capital in this increased competition?
"As the quantity of stock to be lent at interest increases, the interest, or the price which must be paid for the use of that stock, necessarily diminishes, not only from those general causes, which make the market price of things commonly diminish as their quantity increases, but from other causes which are peculiar to this particular case.
"As capitals increase in any country, the profits which can be made by employing them necessarily diminish. It becomes gradually more and more difficult to find within the country a profitable method of employing any new capital. There arises, in consequence, a competition between different capitals, the owner of one endeavoring to get possession of that employment which is occupied by another.
"But, on most occassions he can hope to jostle that other out of this employment by no other means but by dealing upon more reasonable terms. He must not only sell what he deals in somewhat cheaper, but, in order to get it to sell, he must sometimes, too, buy it dearer.
"The demand for productive labor, by the increase of the funds which are destined for maintaining it, grows every day greater and greater. Laborers easily find employment, but the owners of capitals find it difficult to get laborers to employ. Their competition raises the wages of labor and sinks the profits of stock."
[ Smith p. 316 ]
The small capitalist, therefore, has two choices: he can either consume his capital, since he can no longer live on the interest -- i.e., cease to be a capitalist; or, he can himself set up a business, sell his goods at a lower price, and buy them at a dearer price than the richer capitalist, and pay higher wages, which means that he would go bankrupt -- since the market price is already very low as a result of the intense competition we presupposed. If, on the other hand, the big capitalist wants to squeeze out the smaller one, he has all the same advantages over him as the capitalist has over the worker. He is compensated for the smaller profits by the larger size of his capital, and he can even put up with short-term losses until the smaller capitalist is ruined and he is freed of this competition. In this way, he accumulates the profits of the small capitalist.
Furthermore: the big capitalist always buys more cheaply than the small capitalist, because he buys in larger quantities. He can, therefore, afford to sell at a lower price.
But, if a fall in the rate of interest turns the middle capitalists from rentiers into businessmen, conversely the increase in business capitals and the resulting lower rate of profit produce a fall in the rate of interest.
"But, when the profits which can be made by use of a capital are diminished... the price which can be paid for the use of it... must necessarily be diminished with them."
[ Smith p. 316 ]
"As riches, improvement, and population, have increased, interest has declined", and consequently the profits of stock; "...after these are diminished, stock may not only continue to increase, but to increase much faster than before.... A great stock, though with small profits, generally increases faster than a small stock with great profits. Money, says the proverb, makes money."
[ Smith p. 83 ]
So, if this large capital is opposed by small capitals with small profits, as in the case under the conditions of intense competition which we have presupposed, it crushes them completely.
The inevitable consequence of this competition is the deterioration in the quality of goods, adulteration, spurious production, and universal pollution to be found in large towns.
Another important factor in the competition between big and small capitals is the relationship between fixed capital and circulating capital.
Circulating capital is capital
"employed in raising, manufacturing, or purchasing goods, and selling them again at a profit. The capital employed in this manner yields no revenue or profit to its employer, while it either remains in his possession or continues in the same shape.... His capital is continually going from him in one shape, and returning to him in another, and it is only by means of such circulation, or successive exchanges, that is can yield him any profit...."
Fixed capital is capital
"employed in the improvement of land, in the purchase of useful machines and instruments, or in such like things....
"...every saving in the expense of supporting the fixed capital of the undertaker of every work is necessarily divided between his fixed and his circulating capital. While his whole capital remains the same, the smaller the one part, the greater must necessarily be the other. It is the circulating capital which furnishes the materials and wages of labor, and puts industry into motion. Every saving, therefore, in the expense of maintaining the fixed capital, which does not diminish the productive powers of labor, must increase the fund which puts industry into motion...."
[ Smith, p. 257 ]
It is immediately clear that the relation between fixed capital and circulating capital is much more favorable to the big capitalist than it is to the smaller capitalist. The difference in volume between the amount of fixed capital needed by a very big banker and the amount needed by a very small one is insignificant. The only fixed capital they need is an office. The equipment needed by a big landowner does not increase in proportion to the extent of his land. Similarly, the amount of credit available to a big capitalist, compared with a smaller one, represents a bigger saving in fixed capital -- namely, in the amount of money which he must have available at all times. Finally, it goes without saying that where industrial labor is highly developed -- i.e., where almost all manual crafts have become factory labor -- the entire capital of the small capitalist is not enough to procure for him even the necessary fixed capital. It is well known that large-scale [agricultural] cultivation generally requires only a small number of hands.
The accumulation of large capitals is generally accompanied by a concentration and simplification of fixed capital, as compared with the smaller capitalists. The big capitalist establishes for himself some kind of organization of the instruments of labor.
"Similarly, in the sphere of industry every factory and every workshop is a more comprehensive combination of a larger material property with numerous and varied intellectual abilities and technical skills which have as their shared aim the development of production.... Where legislation preserves the unity of large landed properties, the surplus quantity of a growing population crowds together into industry, and it is therefore mainly in industry that the proletariat gathers in large numbers, as in Great Britain. But, where legislation allows the continuous division of the land, as in France, the number of small, debt-ridden proprietors increases and many of them are forced into the class of the needy and the discontented. Should this division and indebtedness go far enough, in the same way as big industry destroys small industry; and since larger landholding complexes once more come into being, many propertyless workers no longer needed on the land are, in this case too, forced into industry."
[ Schulz, pp. 58-9 ]
"The character of commodities of the same sort changes as a result of changes in the nature of production, and in particular as a result of mechanization. Only by eliminating human labor has it become possible to spin from a pound of cotton worth 3s. 8d., 350 hanks worth 25 guineas and 167 miles in length."
[ Schulz, p. 62 ]
"On average, the prices of cotton goods have fallen by 11/12ths over the past 45 years, and according to Marshall's calculations a quantity of manufacture costing 16s. in 1814 now cost 1s. 10d. The drop in prices of industrial products has meant both a rise in home consumption and an increase in the foreign market; as a result, the number of cotton workers in Great Britain not only did not fall after the introduction of machinery, but rose from 40,000 to 1.5 million. As for the earnings of industrial employers and workers, the growing competition among factory owners has inevitably resulted in a drop in profits in proportion to the quantity of products. Between 1820 and 1833, the gross profit made by Manchester manufacturers on a piece of calico fell from 4s. 1.5d. to 1s. 9d. But, to make up for this loss, the rate of production has been correspondingly increased. The consequence is that there have been instances of overproduction in some branches of industry; that there are frequent bankruptcies, which create fluctuations of property within the class of capitalists and masters of labor, and force a number of those who have been ruined economically into the ranks of the proletariat; and that frequent and sudden restriction in employment among the class of wage-earners."
[ Schulz, p. 63 ]
"To hire out one's labor is to begin one's enslavement; to hire out the materials of labor is to achieve one's freedom.... Labor is man, while matter contains nothing human."
[ Pecqueur, pp. 411-12 ]
"The element of matter, which can do nothing to create wealth without the element of labor, acquires the magical property of being fruitful for them [that is, for the property owners], as if they themselves had provided this indispensable element."
[ Pecqueur, p. 412 ]
"If we assume that a worker can earn an average of 400 francs a year from his daily labor, and that this sum is sufficient for one adult to eke out a living, then anyone who receives 2,000 francs in interest or rent is indirectly forcing 5 men to work for him; an income of 100,000 francs represents the labor of 250 men; and 1,000,000 francs the labor of 2,500 (300 million -- Louis Philippe -- therefore represents the labor of 750,000 workers)."
[ Pecqueur, pp. 412-13 ]
"The property owners have received from human law the right to use and abuse the materials of all labor -- i.e., to do as they wish with them.... There is no law which obliges them punctually and at all time to provide work for those who do not own property or to pay them a wage which is at all times adequate, etc."
[ Pecqueur, p. 413 ]
"Complete freedom as to the nature, the quantity, the quality, and the appropriateness of production, the use and consumption of wealth and the disposal of the materials of all labor. Everyone is free to exchange his possessions as he chooses, without any other consideration than his own interest as an individual."
[ Pecqueur, p. 413 ]
"Competition is simply an expression of free exchange, which is itself the immediate and logical consequence of the right of any individual to use and abuse all instruments of production. These three economic moments, which are in reality only one -- the right to use and abuse, freedom of exchange and unrestricted competition -- have the following consequences: each produces what he wants, how he wants, when he wants, where he wants; he produces well or he produces badly, too much or not enough, too late or too early, too dear or too cheap; no one knows whether he will sell, to whom he will sell, how he will sell, when he will sell, where he will sell; the same goes for buying. The producer is acquainted with neither the needs nor the resources, neither the demand nor the supply. He sells when he wants, then he can, where he wants, to whom he wants and at the price he wants. The same goes for buying. In all this he is at all times the plaything of chance, the slave of the law of the strongest, of the least pressed, of the richest.... While at one point there is a shortage of wealth, at another there is a surfeit and squandering of the same. While one producer sells a great deal, or at high prices and with an enormous profit, another sells nothing or sells at a loss.... Supply is ignorant of demand, and demand is ignorant of supply. You produce on the basis of a preference or a fashion prevalent among the consuming public; but by the time you are preparing to put your commodity on the market, the mood has passed and some other kind of product has come into fashion.... The inevitable consequences are continual and spreading bankruptcies, miscalculations, sudden collapses, and unexpected fortunes; trade crises, unemployment, periodic surfeits and shortages; instability and decline of wages and profits; the loss or enormous waste of wealth, of time, and of effort in the arena of fierce competition."
[ Pecqueur, p. 414-16 ]
Ricardo in his book [On the Principles of Political Economy et al] (rent of land): Nations are merely workshops for production, and man is a machine for consuming and producing. Human life is a piece of capital. Economic laws rule the world blindly. For Ricardo, men are nothing, the product everything. In Chapter 26, of the French translation, we read:
"To an individual with a capital of 20,000 pounds, whose profits were 2,000 per annum, it would be a matter quite indifferent whether his capital would employ a hundred or a thousand men... is not the real interest of the nation similar? Provided its net real income, its rents and profits, be the same, it is of no importance whether the nation consists of 10 or 12 million inhabitants."
[ Ricardo, pp. 234-5 ]
"In truth," says M. de Sismondi, "it remains only to desire that the king, who has been left quite alone on the island, should, by continuously cranking up a number of automatons, get all England's work done."
[ J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, Nouveaux principes d'economic politique, 2 volumes, Paris, 1819, II, p. 331 ]
"The master who buys a worker's labor at a price so low that it is barely enough to meet his most pressing needs is responsible neither for the low wages nor the long hours of work: he himself is subject to the law which he imposes.... Misery is the product not so much of men as of the power of things."
[ Buret, I, p. 82 ]
"The inhabitants of many different parts of Great Britain have not capital sufficient to improve and cultivate all their lands. The wool of the southern counties of Scotland is, a great part of it, after a long land carriage through very bad roads, manufactured in Yorkshire, for want of capital to manufacture it at home. There are many little manufacturing towns in Great Britain, of which the inhabitants have not capital sufficient to transport the produce of their own industry to those distant markets where there is demand and consumption for it. If there are any merchants among them, they are properly only the agents of wealthier merchants who reside in some of the greater commercial cities."
[ Smith, I, pp. 326-7 ]
"The annual produce of the land and labor of any nation can be increased in its value by no other means but by increasing either the number of its productive laborers, or the productive powers of those laborers who had before been employed.... In either case, an additional capital is almost always required."
[ Smith, I, pp. 306-7 ]
"As the accumulation of stock must, in the nature of things, previous to the division of labor, so labor can be more and more subdivided in proportion only as stock is previously more and more accumulated. The quantity of materials which the same number of people can work up, increases in a great proportion as labor comes to be more and more subdivided; and as the operations of each workman are gradually reduced to a greater degree of simplicity, a variety of new machines come to be invented for facilitating and abridging these operations. As the division of labor advances, therefore, in order to give constant employment to an equal number of workmen, an equal stock of provisions, and a greater stock of materials and tools than what would have been necessary in a ruder state of things, must be accumulated beforehand. But the number of workmen in every branch of business generally increases with the division of labor in that branch, or rather it is the increase of their number which enables them to class and subdivide themselves in this manner."
[ Smith, I, pp. 241-2 ]
"As the accumulation of stock is previously necessary for carrying on this great improvement in the productive powers of labor, so that accumulation naturally leads to this improvement. The person who employs his stock in maintaining labor, necessarily wishes to employ it in such a manner as to produce as great a quantity of work as possible. He endeavors, therefore, both to make among his workmen the most proper distribution of employment, and to furnish them with the best machines which he can either invent or afford to purchase. His abilities in both these respects are generally in proportion to the extent of his stock, or to the number of people it can employ. The quantity of industry, therefore, not only increases in every country with the increase of the stock which employs it, but, in consequence of that increase, the same quantity of industry produces a much greater quantity of work."
[ Smith, I, p. 242 ]
Hence overproduction.
"More extensive combinations of productive forces... in trade and industry through the unification of more numerous and more varied human and natural forces for undertakings on a larger scale. Also, there are already a number of cases of closer links among the main branches of production themselves. Thus, large manufacturers will try to acquire large estates in order to avoid depending on others for at least a part of the raw materials they need for their industry; or they will set up a trading concern linked to their industrial enterprises and not only sell their own products but buy up and retail other sorts of goods to their workers. In England, where there are some factory owners who employ between 10- and 12,000 workers... similar combinations of different branches of production under the control of one man, small states or provinces within a state, are not uncommon. For example, the mine-owners near Birmingham recently took over the entire process of iron production, which was previously in the hands of several different entrepreneurs and owners. See 'Der bergannische Distrikt bei Birmingham', Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, no.3, 1838. Finally, in the larger joint-stock companies, which have become so numerous, we find extensive combinations of the financial resources of many shareholders with the scientific and technical knowledge and skills of others to whom the execution of the work is entrusted. In this way, it is possible for many capitalists to apply their savings in a more diversified way and even invest them simultaneously in agricultural, industrial, and commercial production; as a result, their interests also become more diversified and the conflict between agricultural, industrial, and commercial interests begins to fade away. But the greater ease with which capital can be employed fruitfully in the most varied fields inevitably increases the conflict between the propertied and the propertyless classes."
[ Schulz, pp. 241-2 ]
The enormous profit which the landlords make out of misery. The greater the misery caused by industry, the higher the rent.
It is the same with the rate of interest on the vices of the proletariat. (Prostitution, drinking, the pawnbroker.)
The accumulation of capitals increases and the competition between them diminishes, as capital and landed property are united together in one hand and capital is enabled, because of its size, to combine different branches of production.
Indifference towards men. Smith's 20 lottery tickets. [Smith, I, p. 94]
Say's net and gross revenue.
The right of the landowners can be traced back to robbery. [Say, I, p. 136, n.2] Landowners, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for the natural produce of the land. [Smith, I, p. 44]
"The rent of land, it may be thought, is frequently no more than a reasonable profit or interest for the stock laid out by the landlord upon its improvement. This, no doubt, may be partly the case upon some occassions.... The landlord demands a rent even for unimproved land, and the supposed interest or profit upon the expense of improvement is generally an addition to this original rent. Those improvements, besides, are not always made by the stock of the landlord, but sometimes by that of the tenant. When the lease comes to be renewed, however, the landlord commonly demands the same augmentation of rent as if they had been all made by his own.
"He sometimes demands rents for what is altogether incapable of human improvements."
[ Smith, I, p. 131 ]
Smith gives as an example of this last case, kelp, a species of seaweed which, when burnt, yields an alkaline salt useful for making glass,soap, etc. It grows in several parts of Great Britain, especially in Scotland, but only upon such rocks as lie within the high water mark, which are twice every day covered with the sea and of which the produce, therefore, was never augmented by human industry. The landlord, however, whose estate is bounded by a kelp shore of this kind, demands a rent for it as much as for his corn fields. The sea in the neighborhood of the islands of Shetland is more than commonly abundant in fish, which make a great part of the subsistence of their inhabitants. But in order to profit by the produce of the water, they must have a habitation on the neighboring land. The rent of the landlord is in proportion, not to what the farmer can make by the land, but by what he can make both by the land and by the water.
"This rent may be considered as the produce of those power, the use of which the landlord lends to the farmer. It is greater or smaller according to the supposed extent of those powers, or in other words, according to the supposed natural of improved fertility of the land. It is the work of nature which remains after deducting or compensation everything which can be regarded as the work of man."
[ Smith, I, pp. 324-5 ]
"The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give."
[ Smith, I, p. 131 ]
"They [landlords] are the only ones of the three orders whose revenue costs them neither labor nor care, but comes to them, as it were, of its own accord, and independent of any plan or project of their own.
[ Smith, I, p. 230 ]
We have already seen how the volume of rent depends upon the degree of fertility of the land.
"The rent of land not only varies with its fertility, whatever be its produce, but with its situation, whatever be its fertility."
[ Smith, I, p. 133 ]
"The produce of lands, mines, and fisheries, when their natural fertility is equal, is in proportion to the extent and proper application of the capitals employed about them. When the capitals are equal and equally well applied, it is in proportion to their natural fertility."
[ Smith, I, p. 249 ]
These proportions of Smith are important, because they reduce the rent land, where costs of production and size are equal, to the degree of fertility of the soil. This clearly demonstrates the perversion of concepts in political economy, which turns the fertility of the soil into an attribute of the landlord.
But let us now examine the relation between landlord and tenant.
"In adjusting the terms of the lease, the landlord endeavors to leave him no greater share of the product than what is sufficient to keep up the stock from which he furnishes the seed, pays the labor, and purchases and maintains the cattle and other instruments of husbandry, together with the ordinary profits of farming stock in the neighborhood. This is evidently the smallest share with which the tenant can content himself without being a loser, and the landlord seldom means to leave him any more. Whatever part of the produce, or, what is the same thing, whatever part of the price is over and above this share, he naturally intends to reserve himself as the rent of his land, which is evidently the highest the tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumstances of the land.... This portion... may still be considered as the natural rent of land, or the rent for which it is actually meant that land should for the most part be let."
[ Smith, I, p. 130-31 ]
"The landlords," says Say, "operate a certain kind of monopoly against the tenants. The demands for their commodity, which is land, is capable of an infinite expansion; but the supply can only increase up to a certain point.... The agreement reached between landlord and tenant is always as advantageous as possible to the former.... Apart from the advantage which he derives from the nature of the case, he derives a further one from his position, his larger fortune, his credit and his standing; but the first of these advantages is in itself enough to enable him at all times to profit from the favorable circumstances of the land. The opening of a canal or road and a growth in population and prosperity in a canton always raise the price of the rent.... What is more, even if the tenant makes improvement on his plot of land at his own expense, he can only benefit from this capital for the duration of his lease; when his lease runs out, this capital remains in the hands of the landlord. From this moment on, it is the latter who reaps the interest, even though it was not he who made the original outlay; for now the rent is raised proportionately."
[ Say, II, pp. 142-3 ]
"Rent, considered as the price paid for the use of land, is naturally the highest which the tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumstances of the land."
[ Smith, I, p. 130 ]
"The rent of an estate above ground commonly mounts to what is supposed to be a third of the gross produce; and it is generally a rent certain and independent of the occassional variations in the crop."
[ Smith, I, p. 153 ]
Rent "is seldom less than a fourth, and frequently more than a third of the whole produce."
[ Smith, I, p. 325 ]
Ground rent cannot be paid in the case of all commodities. For example, in many districts no rent is paid for stones.
"Such parts only of the produce of land can commonly be brought to market of which the ordinary price is sufficient to replace the stock which must be employed in bringing them thither, together with its ordinary profits. If the ordinary price is more than this, the surplus part of it will naturally go to the rent of the land. If it is not more, though the commodity may be brought to market, it can afford no rent to the landlord. Whether the price is or is not more depends upon the demand."
[ Smith, I, p. 132 ]
"Rent, it is to be observed, therefore, enters into the composition of the price of commodities in a different way from wages and profit. High or low wages and profit are the causes of high or low prices; high or low rent is the effect of it."
[ Smith, I, p. 132 ]
Among the products which always yield a rent is food.
"As men, like all other animals, naturally multiply in proportion the means of subsistence, food is always, more or less, in demand. It can always purchase or command a greater or smaller quantity of labor, and somebody can always be found who is willing to do something in order to obtain it. The quantity of labor, indeed, which it can purchase is not always equal to what it could maintain, if managed in the most economical manner, on account of the high wages which are sometimes given to labor. But it can always purchase such a quantity of labor as it can maintain, according to the rate at which that sort of labor is commonly maintained in the neighborhood.
"But land, in almost any situation, produces a greater quantity of food than what is sufficient to maintain all the labor necessary for bringing it to market in the most liberal way in which that labor is ever maintained. The surplus, too, is always more than sufficient to replace the stock which employed that labor, together with its profits. Something, therefore, always remains for a rent to the landlord."
[ Smith, I, p. 132-3 ]
"Food is, in this manner, not only the original source of rent, but every other part of the produce of land which afterwards affords rent derives that part of its value from the improvement of the powers of labor in producing food by means of the improvement and cultivation of land."
[ Smith, I, p. 150 ]
"Human food seems to be the only produce of land which always and necessarily affords a rent to the landlord."
[ Smith, I, p. 147 ]
"Countries are populous not in proportion to the number of people whom their produce can clothe and lodge, but in proportion to that of those whom it can feed."
[ Smith, I, p. 149 ]
"After food, clothing, and lodging, are the two great wants of mankind." [Smith, I, p. 147] They generally yield a rent, but not necessarily.
Let us now sees how the landlord exploits everything which is to the benefit of society.
(1) The rent of land increases with population.
(2) We have already learnt from Say how ground rent rises with railways, etc., and with the improvement, security, and multiplication of the means of communication.
(3) "... every improvement in the circumstances of the society tends either directly or indirectly to raise the real rent of land, to increase the real wealth of the landlord, his power of purchasing the labor, or the produce of the labor of other people.
"The extension of improvement and cultivation tends to raise it directly. The landlord's share of the produce necessarily increases with an increase of the produce.
"That rise in the real price of those parts of the rude produce of land... the rise in the price of cattle, for example, tends too to raise the rent of land directly, and in a still greater proportion. The real value of the landlord's share, his real command of the labor of other people, not only rises with the real value of the produce, but the proportion of his share to the whole produce rises with it. That produce, after the rise in its real price, requires no more labor to collect it than before. A smaller proportion of it will, therefore, be sufficient to replace, with the ordinary profit, the stock which employs that labor. A greater proportion of it must, consequently, belong to the landlord."
[ Smith, I, pp. 228-29 ]
The greater the demand for raw products and the consequent rise in their value may partly be a result of the increase in population and the growth of their needs. But every new invention and every new application in manufacture of a raw material which was previously not used at all or only used rarely, makes for an increase in the ground rent. For example, the rent of coal-mines rose enormously when railways, steamships, etc., were introduced.
Besides this advantage which the landlord derives from manufacture, discoveries, and labor, there is another that we shall see presently.
(4) "All those improvements in the productive powers of labor, which tend directly to reduce the real price of manufactures, tend indirectly to raise the real rent of land. The landlord exchanges that part of his rude produce, which is over and above his own consumption, or what comes to the same thing, the price of that part of it, for manufactured produce. Whatever reduces the real price of the latter, raises that of the former. An equal opportunity of the former becomes thereby equivalent to a greater quantity of the latter; and the landlord is enabled to purchase a greater quantity of the conveniences, ornaments, or luxuries, which he has occassion for."
[ Smith, I, pp. 228-29 ]
But it is foolish to conclude, as Smith does, that since the landlord exploits everything which is of benefit to society, the interest of the landlord is always identical with that of society. In the economic system, under which the rule of private property, the interest which any individual has in society is in inverse proportion to the interest which society has in him, just as the interest of the moneylender in the spendthrift is not at all identical with the interest of the spendthrift.
We mention only in passing the landlord's obsession with monopoly against the landed property of foreign countries, which is the reason, for example, for the corn laws. We shall similarly pass over mediaeval serfdom, slavery in the colonies and the distress of the rural population -- the day-laborers -- in Great Britain. Let us confine ourselves to the propositions of political economy itself.
(1) The landlord's interest in the well-being of society means, according to the principles of political economy, that he is interested in the growth of its population and its production and the increase of its needs, in a word, in the increase of wealth; and the increase of wealth is, if our previous observations are correct, identical with the growth of misery and slavery. The relationship of rising rents and rising misery is one example of the landlord's interest in society, for a rise in house rent also means a rise in ground rent -- the interest on the land on which the house stands.
(2) According to the political economists themselves, the interest of the landlord is fiercely opposed to that of the tenant, and therefore of a considerable section of society.
(3) The landlord is in a position to demand more rent from the tenant the less wages the tenant pays out, and the more rent the landlord demands the further the tenant pushes down the wages. For this reason, the landlord's interest is just as opposed to that of the farm laborer as the manufacturer's is to that of the workers. It likewise pushes wages down to a minimum.
(4) Since a real reduction in the price of manufactured products puts up the rent of land, the landowner has a direct interest in depressing the wages of the factory worker, in competition among the capitalists, in overproduction and in all the misery occassioned by industry.
(5) So the interest of the landowner, far from being identical with the interest of society, is fiercely opposed to the interests of the tenants, the farm laborers, the factory workers, and the capitalists. But, as a result of competition, the interest of one landowner is not even identical with that of another. We shall now take a look at competition.
Generally speaking, large landed property and small landed property are in the same relation to one another as large and small capital. In addition, however, there are special circumstances which lead, without fail, to the accumulation of large landed property and the swallowing up of small properties.
(1) Nowhere does the number of workers and the amount of equipment decline so greatly in proportion to the size of the stock as in landed property. Similarly, nowhere does the possibility of many-sided exploitation,the saving of proportion costs and the judicious division of labor increase more in proportion to that stock than in this sphere. Whatever the size of the plot, there is a certain minimum of tools required -- a plough, a saw, etc. -- below which it is impossible to go, whereas there is no such lowermost limit to the size of the property.
(2) Large landed property accumulated for itself the interest on the capital which the tenant has invested in the improvement of the land. Small landed property must employ its own capital. The entire profit on this capital is lost to the investor.
(3) While every social improvement benefits the large landed property, it harms the small one, since it makes an increasingly large amount of ready money necessary.
(4) There are two further important laws of this competition to be considered:
(a) "... the rent of the cultivated land, of which the produce is human food, regulates the rent of the greater part of the other cultivated land."
[ Smith, I, p. 144 ]
In the long run, only the large estate can produce sources of food such as cattle, etc. It is, therefore, in a position to regulate the rent of other land and force it down to a minimum.
The small landowner who works on his own account is, therefore, in the same relation to the big landowner as the craftsman who owns his own tools is to the factory owner. The small estate has become a mere tool. Ground rent disappears entirely for the small landowner; at the most, there remains to him the interest on his capital and the wages of his labor, for ground rent can be forced so low by competition that it becomes nothing more than the interest on capital not invested by the owner himself.
(b) Furthermore, we have already seen that given equal fertility and equally effective exploitation of lands, mines, and fisheries, the produce is in proportion to the extent of capital employed. Hence, the victory of the large landowner. Similarly, where equal amounts of capital are invested, the produce is in proportion to the degree of fertility. That is to say, where capitals are equal, victory goes to the owner of the more fertile land.
(c) "A mine of any kind may be said to be either fertile or barren, according as the quantity of mineral which can be brought from it by a certain quantity of labor is greater or less than what can be brought by an equal quantity from the greater part of other mines of the same kind."
[ Smith, I, p. 151 ]
"The most fertile coal-mine, too, regulates the price of coals at all the other mines in its neighborhood. Both the proprietor and the undertaker of the work find, the one that he can get a greater rent, the other that he can get a greater profit by somewhat underselling all their neighbors. Their neighbors are soon obliged to sell at the same price, though they cannot so well afford it, and though it always diminishes, and sometimes takes away altogether both their rent and their profit. Some works are abandoned altogether; others can afford no rent, and can be wrought only by the proprietor."
[ Smith, I, pp. 152-3 ]
"After the discover of the mines of Peru, the silver-mines of Europe were, the greater part of them, abandoned.... This was the case, too, with the ancient mines of Peru, after the discovery of those of Potosi."
[ Smith, I, p. 154 ]
What Smith says here of mines is more-or-less true of landed property in general.
(d) "The ordinary market price of land, it is to be observed, depends everywhere upon the ordinary market rate of interest... if the rent of land should fall short of the interest of money by a greater difference, nobody would buy the land, which would soon reduce its ordinary price. On the contrary, if the advantages should much more than compensate the difference, everybody would buy the land, which would soon raise its ordinary price."
[ Smith, I, p. 320 ]
If follows from this relation between ground rent and interest on money that ground rent must continue to fall until eventually only the richest people can afford to live from it. This means an increase in competition between those landowners who do not lease out their land. Some of them are ruined. There is once again an accumulation of large landed property.
This competition has the further consequence that a large part of landed property falls into the hands of the capitalists; thus, the capitalist becomes landowners, just as the smaller landowners are, in general, nothing more than capitalists. In this way, a part of large landed property becomes industrial.
So, the final consequence of the abolition of the distinction between capitalist and landowner -- which means that, in general, there remain only two classes in the population: the working class and the capitalist class. This selling off of landed property, and transformation of such property into a commodity, marks the final collapse of the old aristocracy and the final victory of the aristocracy of money.
(1) We refuse to join in the sentimental tears which romanticism sheds on this account. Romanticism always confuses the infamy of selling off the land with the entirely reasonable and, within the system of private property, inevitable and desirable consequence of the selling off of private property in land. In the first place, feudal landed property is already in essence land which has been sold off, land which has been estranged from man and now confronts him in the shape of a handful of great lords.
In feudal landownership, we already find the domination of the earth as of an alien power over men. The serf is an appurtenance of the land. Similarly, the heir through primogeniture, the firstborn son, belongs to the land. It inherits him. The rule of private property begins with property in land, which is its basis. But in the system of feudal landownership, the lord at least appears to be king of the land. In the same way, there is still the appearance of a relationship between owner and land which is based on something more intimate than mere material wealth. The land is individualized with its lord, it acquires his status, it is baronial or ducal with him, has his privileges, his jurisdiction, his political position, etc. It appears as the inorganic body of its lord. Hence the proverb, nulle terre sans maitre ["No land without its master"], which expresses the blending of nobility and landed property. In the same way, the rule of landed property does not appear directly as the rule of mere capital. Its relationship to those dependent upon it is more like that of a fatherland. It is a sort of narrow personality.
In the same way, feudal landed property gives its name to its lord, as does a kingdom to its king. His family history, the history of his house, etc. -- all this individualizes his estate for him, and formally turns it into his house, into a person. Similarly, the workers on the estate are not in the position of day-laborers; rather, they are partly the property of the landowner, as are serfs, and they are partly linked to him through a relationship based on respect, submissiveness, and duty. His relation to them is therefore directly political, and even has an agreeable aspect. Customs, character, etc., vary from one estate to another and appear to be one with their particular stretch of land; later, however, it is only a man's purse, and not his character or individuality, which ties him to the land. Finally, the feudal landowner makes no attempt to extract the maximum profit from his property. Rather, he consumes what is there and leaves the harvesting of it to his serfs and tenants. Such is the aristocratic condition of landownership, which sheds a romantic glory on its lords.
It is inevitable that this appearance should be abolished and that landed property, which is the root of private property, should be drawn entirely into the orbit of private property and become a commodity; that the rule of the property owner should appear as the naked rule of private property, of capital, divested of all political tincture; that the relationship between property owner and worker should be reduced to the economic relationship between the property owner and his property should come to an end, and that the property itself should become purely material wealth; that the marriage of interest with the land should take over from the marriage of honor, and that land, like man, should sink to the level of a venal object. It is inevitable that the root of landed property -- sordid self-interest -- should also manifest itself in its cynical form. It is inevitable that immovable monopoly should become mobile and restless monopoly, competition; and that the idle employment of the products of the sweat and blood of other people should become a brisk commerce in the same. Finally, it is inevitable under these conditions of competition that landed property, in the form of capital, should manifest its domination both over the working class and over the property owners themselves, inasmuch as the laws of the movement of capital are either ruining or raising them. In this way, the mediaeval saying nulle terre sans seigneur gives way to the modern saying l'argent n'a pas de maitre ["Money knows no master"], which is an expression of the complete domination of dead matter over men.
(2) The following observations can be made in connection with the controversy over whether or not to divide up landed property.
The division of landed property negates the large-scale monopoly of landed property, abolishes it, but only by generalizing it. It does not abolish the basis of monopoly, which is private property. It attacks the existence, but not the essence, of monopoly. The consequence is that it falls foul of the laws of private property. For to divide up landed property corresponds to the movement of competition in the industrial sphere. Apart from the economic disadvantages of this division of the instruments of labor and separation of labor (not to be confused with the division of labor; this is not a case of dividing up work among a number of individuals, but of each individual doing the same work; it is a multiplication of the same work), this division of the land, like competition in industry, inevitably leads to further accumulation.
So wherever landed property is divided up, monopoly will inevitably reappear in an even more repulsive form -- unless, that is, the division of landed property itself is negated or abolished. This does not mean a return to feudal property, but the abolition [Aufhebung] of private property is land altogether. The first step in the abolition of monopoly is always to generalize and extend its existence. The abolition of monopoly, when it has reached its broadest and most comprehensive existence, is its complete destruction. Association, when applied to the land, retains the benefits of large landed property from an economic point of view and realizes for the first time the tendency inherent in the division of land, namely equality. At the same time, association restores man's intimate links to the land in a rational way, no longer mediated by serfdom, lordship, and an imbecile mystique of property. This is because the earth ceases to be an object of barter, and through free labor and free employment once again becomes authentic, personal property for man. One great advantage of the division of the land is that its masses, who are no longer prepared to tolerate servitude, are destroyed by property in a different way from those in industry.
As for large landed property, its apologists have always sophistically identified the economic advantages inherent in large-scale agriculture with large landed property, as if these advantages would not on the one hand attain their fullest degree of development and on the other hand become socially useful for the first time once property abolished. Similarly, they have attacked the trading spirit of the small landowners, as if large-scale landownership, even in its feudal form, did not already contain within it the elements of barter -- not to mention the modern English form, in which the feudalism of the landowner is combined with the huckstering and the industry of the tenant farmer.
Just as large-scale landed property can return the reproach of monopoly made against it by the advocated of division of the land, for the division of the land is also based on the monopoly of private property, so can the advocates of division return the reproach of partition, for partition of the land also exists -- though in a rigid, ossified form -- on the large estates. Indeed, division is the universal basis of private property. Besides, as the division of landed property leads once more to large landed property in the form of capital wealth, feudal landed property inevitably advances towards division or at least falls into the hands of the capitalists, however much it might twist and turn.
For large-scale landed property, as in England, drives the overwhelming majority of the population into the arms of industry and reduces its own workers to total misery. In this way, it creates and increases the power of its enemy, capital and industry, by driving the poor and an entire range of activities over to the other side. It makes the majority of the country industrial, and hence antagonistic to landed property. Where industry has acquired great power, as in England, it gradually forces large landed property to give up its monopoly against foreign countries and obliges it to compete with foreign landed property. For under the rule of industry, landed property could maintain its feudal proportions only by means of a monopoly against foreign countries, so as to protect itself against the universal laws of trade which contradict its feudal nature. Once exposed to competition, it is forced to obey the laws of competition, just like any other commodity which is subject to them. It too begins to fluctuate, to increase and diminish, to fly from one hand into another, and no law is any longer capable of keeping it in a few predestined hands, or, at any event, surrender to the power of the industrial capitalists.
Finally, large landed property, which has been forcibly preserved in this way and which has given rise alongside itself to an extensive industry, leads more rapidly to a crisis than does the division of landed property, alongside which the power of industry invariably takes second place.
It is clear from the case of England that large landed property has cast off its feudal character and assumed an industrial character insofar as it wants to make as much money as possible. It yields the owner the biggest possible rent and the tenant the biggest possible profit on his capital. As a consequence, the agricultural workers have already been reduced to a minimum, and the class of tenant farmers already represents within landed property the might of industry and capital. As a result of foreign competition, ground rent more or less ceases to be an independent source of income. A large part of the landowners is forced to take over from the tenants, some of whom are consequently reduced to the proletariat. On the other hand, many tenants will take possession of landed property; for the big landowners, who have given themselves up for the most part to squandering their comfortable revenue and are generally not capable of large-scale agricultural management, in many cases have neither the capital nor the ability to exploit the land. Therefore, a section of the big landowners is also ruined. Eventually wages, which have already been reduced to a minimum, must be reduced even further in order to meet the new competition, This then leads necessarily to revolution.
Landed property had to develop in each of these two ways, in order to experience in both of them its necessary decline; just as industry had to ruin itself both in the form of monopoly and in the form of competition before it could believe in man.
We have started out from the premises of political economy. We have accepted its language and its laws. We presupposed private property; the separation of labor, capital, and land, and likewise of wages, profit, and capital; the division of labor; competition; the conception of exchange value, etc. From political economy itself, using its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity, and moreover the most wretched commodity of all; that the misery of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and volume of his production; that the necessary consequence of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands and hence the restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; and that, finally, the distinction between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker and industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers.
Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property. It does not explain it. It grasps the material process of private property, the process through which it actually passes, in general and abstract formulae which it then takes as laws. It does not Comprehend these laws -- i.e., it does not show how they arise from the nature of private property. Political economy fails to explain the reason for the division between labor and capital. For example, when it defines the relation of wages to profit, it takes the interests of the capitalists as the basis of its analysis -- i.e., it assumes what it is supposed to explain. Similarly, competition is frequently brought into the argument and explained in terms of external circumstances. Political economy teaches us nothing about the extent to which these external and apparently accidental circumstances are only the expression of a necessary development. We have seen how exchange itself appears to political economy as an accidental fact. The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are greed, and the war of the avaricious -- Competition.
Precisely because political economy fails to grasp the interconnections within the movement, it was possible to oppose, for example, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of craft freedom to the doctrine of the guild, and the doctrine of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the great estate; for competition, craft freedom, and division of landed property were developed and conceived only as accidental, deliberate, violent consequences of monopoly, of the guilds, and of feudal property, and not as their necessary, inevitable, and natural consequences.
We now have to grasp the essential connection between private property, greed, the separation of labor, capital and landed property, exchange and competition, value and the devaluation [Entwertung] of man, monopoly, and competition, etc. -- the connection between this entire system of estrangement [Entfremdung] and the money system.
We must avoid repeating the mistake of the political economist, who bases his explanations on some imaginary primordial condition. Such a primordial condition explains nothing. It simply pushes the question into the grey and nebulous distance. It assumes as facts and events what it is supposed to deduce -- namely, the necessary relationships between two things, between, for example, the division of labor and exchange. Similarly, theology explains the origin of evil by the fall of Man -- i.e., it assumes as a fact in the form of history what it should explain.
We shall start out from a present-day economic fact.
The worker becomes poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and extent. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces. The devaluation of the human world grows in direct proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. Labor not only produces commodities; it also produces itself and the workers as a commodity and it does so in the same proportion in which it produces commodities in general.
This fact simply means that the object that labor produces, it product, stands opposed to it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor embodied and made material in an object, it is the objectification of labor. The realization of labor is its objectification. In the sphere of political economy, this realization of labor appears as a loss of reality for the worker, objectification as loss of and bondage to the object, and appropriation as estrangement, as alienation [Entausserung].
So much does the realization of labor appear as loss of reality that the worker loses his reality to the point of dying of starvation. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects he needs most not only for life but also for work. Work itself becomes an object which he can only obtain through an enormous effort and with spasmodic interruptions. So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital.
All these consequences are contained in this characteristic, that the workers is related to the product of labor as to an alien object. For it is clear that, according to this premise, the more the worker exerts himself in his work, the more powerful the alien, objective world becomes which he brings into being over against himself, the poorer he and his inner world become, and the less they belong to him. It is the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains within himself. The worker places his life in the object; but now it no longer belongs to him, but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the fewer objects the worker possesses. What the product of his labor is, he is not. Therefore, the greater this product, the less is he himself. The externalization [Entausserung] of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and beings to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien.
Let us not take a closer look at objectification, at the production of the worker, and the estrangement, the loss of the objet, of his product, that this entails.
The workers can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous external world. It is the material in which his labor realizes itself, in which it is active and from which, and by means of which, it produces.
But just as nature provides labor with the means of life, in the sense of labor cannot live without objects on which to exercise itself, so also it provides the means of life in the narrower sense, namely the means of physical subsistence of the worker.
The more the worker appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, through his labor, the more he deprives himself of the means of life in two respects: firstly, the sensuous external world becomes less and less an object belonging to his labor, a means of life of his labor; and, secondly, it becomes less and less a means of life in the immediate sense, a means for the physical subsistence of the worker.
In these two respects, then, the worker becomes a slave of his object; firstly, in that he receives an object of labor, i.e., he receives work, and, secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. Firstly, then, so that he can exists as a worker, and secondly as a physical subject. The culmination of this slavery is that it is only as a worker that he can maintain himself as a physical subject and only as a physical subject that he is a worker.
(The estrangement of the worker in his object is expressed according to the laws of political economy in the following way:
the more the worker produces, the less he has to consume;
the more value he creates, the more worthless he becomes;
the more his product is shaped, the more misshapen the worker;
the more civilized his object, the more barbarous the worker;
the more powerful the work, the more powerless the worker;
the more intelligent the work, the duller the worker and the more he becomes a slave of nature.)
Political economy conceals the estrangement in the nature of labor by ignoring the direct relationship between the worker (labor) and production. It is true that labor produces marvels for the rich, but it produces privation for the worker. It produces palaces, but hovels for the worker. It produces beauty, but deformity for the worker. It replaces labor by machines, but it casts some of the workers back into barbarous forms of labor and turns others into machines. It produces intelligence, but it produces idiocy and cretinism for the worker.
The direct relationship of labor to its products is the relationship of the worker to the objects of his production. The relationship of the rich man to the objects of production and to production itself is only a consequence of this first relationship, and confirms it. Later, we shall consider this second aspect. Therefore, when we ask what is the essential relationship of labor, we are asking about the relationship of the worker to production.
Up to now, we have considered the estrangement, the alienation of the worker, only from one aspect -- i.e., his relationship to the products of his labor. But estrangement manifests itself not only in the result, but also in the act of production, within the activity of production itself. How could the product of the worker's activity confront him as something alien if it were not for the fact that in the act of production he was estranging himself from himself? After all, the product is simply the resume of the activity, of the production. So if the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation. The estrangement of the object of labor merely summarizes the estrangement, the alienation in the activity of labor itself.
What constitutes the alienation of labor?
Firstly, the fact that labor is external to the worker -- i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. Hence, the worker feels himself only when he is not working; when he is working, he does not feel himself. He is at home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working. His labor is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labor. It is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is shunned like the plague. External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Finally, the external character of labor for the worker is demonstrated by the fact that it belongs not to him but to another, and that in it he belongs not to himself but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, the human brain, and the human heart, detaches itself from the individual and reappears as the alien activity of a god or of a devil, so the activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another, it is a loss of his self.
The result is that man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only in his animal functions -- eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most in his dwelling and adornment -- while in his human functions, he is nothing more than animal.
It is true that eating, drinking, and procreating, etc., are also genuine human functions. However, when abstracted from other aspects of human activity, and turned into final and exclusive ends, they are animal.
We have considered the act of estrangement of practical human activity, of labor, from two aspects: (1) the relationship of the worker to the product of labor as an alien object that has power over him. The relationship is, at the same time, the relationship to the sensuous external world, to natural objects, as an alien world confronting him, in hostile opposition. (2) The relationship of labor to the act of production within labor. This relationship is the relationship of the worker to his own activity as something which is alien and does not belong to him, activity as passivity [Leiden], power as impotence, procreation as emasculation, the worker's own physical and mental energy, his personal life -- for what is life but activity? -- as an activity directed against himself, which is independent of him and does not belong to him. Self-estrangement, as compared with the estrangement of the object [Sache] mentioned above.
We now have to derive a third feature of estranged labor from the two we have already examined.
Man is a species-being, not only because he practically and theoretically makes the species -- both his own and those of other things -- his object, but also -- and this is simply another way of saying the same thing -- because he looks upon himself as the present, living species, because he looks upon himself as a universal and therefore free being.
Species-life, both for man and for animals, consists physically in the fact that man, like animals, lives from inorganic nature; and because man is more universal than animals, so too is the area of inorganic nature from which he lives more universal. Just as plants, animals, stones, air, light, etc., theoretically form a part of human consciousness, partly as objects of science and partly as objects of art -- his spiritual inorganic nature, his spiritual means of life, which he must first prepare before he can enjoy and digest them -- so, too, in practice they form a part of human life and human activity. In a physical sense, man lives only from these natural products, whether in the form of nourishment, heating, clothing, shelter, etc. The universality of man manifests itself in practice in that universality which makes the whole of nature his inorganic body, (1) as a direct means of life and (2) as the matter, the object, and the tool of his life activity. Nature is man's inorganic body -- that is to say, nature insofar as it is not the human body. Man lives from nature -- i.e., nature is his body -- and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it is he is not to die. To say that man's physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.
Estranged labor not only (1) estranges nature from man and (2) estranges man from himself, from his own function, from his vital activity; because of this, it also estranges man from his species. It turns his species-life into a means for his individual life. Firstly, it estranges species-life and individual life, and, secondly, it turns the latter, in its abstract form, into the purpose of the former,also in its abstract and estranged form.
For in the first place labor, life activity, productive life itself, appears to man only as a means for the satisfaction of a need, the need to preserve physical existence. But productive life is species-life. It is life-producing life. The whole character of a species, its species-character, resides in the nature of its life activity, and free conscious activity constitutes the species-character of man. Life appears only as a means of life.
The animal is immediately one with its life activity. It is not distinct from that activity; it is that activity. Man makes his life activity itself an object of his will and consciousness. He has conscious life activity. It is not a determination with which he directly merges. Conscious life activity directly distinguishes man from animal life activity. Only because of that is he a species-being. Or, rather, he is a conscious being -- i.e., his own life is an object for him, only because he is a species-being. Only because of that is his activity free activity. Estranged labor reverses the relationship so that man, just because he is a conscious being, makes his life activity, his being [Wesen], a mere means for his existence.
The practical creation of an objective world, the fashioning of inorganic nature, is proof that man is a conscious species-being -- i.e., a being which treats the species as its own essential being or itself as a species-being. It is true that animals also produce. They build nests and dwelling, like the bee, the beaver, the ant, etc. But they produce only their own immediate needs or those of their young; they produce only when immediate physical need compels them to do so, while man produces even when he is free from physical need and truly produces only in freedom from such need; they produce only themselves, while man reproduces the whole of nature; their products belong immediately to their physical bodies, while man freely confronts his own product. Animals produce only according to the standards and needs of the species to which they belong, while man is capable of producing according to the standards of every species and of applying to each object its inherent standard; hence, man also produces in accordance with the laws of beauty.
It is, therefore, in his fashioning of the objective that man really proves himself to be a species-being. Such production is his active species-life. Through it, nature appears as his work and his reality. The object of labor is, therefore, the objectification of the species-life of man: for man produces himself not only intellectually, in his consciousness, but actively and actually, and he can therefore contemplate himself in a world he himself has created. In tearing away the object of his production from man, estranged labor therefore tears away from him his species-life, his true species-objectivity, and transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his inorganic body, nature, is taken from him.
In the same way as estranged labor reduces spontaneous and free activity to a means, it makes man's species-life a means of his physical existence.
Consciousness, which man has from his species, is transformed through estrangement so that species-life becomes a means for him.
(3) Estranged labor, therefore, turns man's species-being -- both nature and his intellectual species-power -- into a being alien to him and a means of his individual existence. It estranges man from his own body, from nature as it exists outside him, from his spiritual essence [Wesen], his human existence.
(4) An immediate consequence of man's estrangement from the product of his labor, his life activity, his species-being, is the estrangement of man from man. When man confront himself, he also confronts other men. What is true of man's relationship to his labor, to the product of his labor, and to himself, is also true of his relationship to other men, and to the labor and the object of the labor of other men.
In general, the proposition that man is estranged from his species-being means that each man is estranged from the others and that all are estranged from man's essence.
Man's estrangement, like all relationships of man to himself, is realized and expressed only in man's relationship to other men.
In the relationship of estranged labor, each man therefore regards the other in accordance with the standard and the situation in which he as a worker finds himself.
We started out from an economic fact, the estrangement of the worker and of his production. We gave this fact conceptual form: estranged, alienated labor. We have analyzed this concept, and in so doing merely analyzed an economic fact.
Let us now go on to see how the concept of estranged, alienated labor must express and present itself in reality.
If the product of labor is alien to me, and confronts me as an alien power, to whom does it then belong?
To a being other than me.
Who is this being?
The gods? It is true that in early times most production -- e.g., temple building, etc., in Egypt, India, and Mexico -- was in the service of the gods, just as the product belonged to the gods. But the gods alone were never the masters of labor. The same is true of nature. And what a paradox it would be if the more man subjugates nature through his labor and the more divine miracles are made superfluous by the miracles of industry, the more he is forced to forgo the joy or production and the enjoyment of the product out of deference to these powers.
The alien being to whom labor and the product of labor belong, in whose service labor is performed, and for whose enjoyment the product of labor is created, can be none other than man himself.
If the product of labor does not belong to the worker, and if it confronts him as an alien power, this is only possible because it belongs to a man other than the worker. If his activity is a torment for him, it must provide pleasure and enjoyment for someone else. Not the gods, not nature, but only man himself can be this alien power over men.
Consider the above proposition that the relationship of man to himself becomes objective and real for him only through his relationship to other men. If, therefore, he regards the product of his labor, his objectified labor, as an alien, hostile, and powerful object which is independent of him, then his relationship to that object is such that another man -- alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him -- is its master. If he relates to his own activity as unfree activity, then he relates to it as activity in the service, under the rule, coercion, and yoke of another man.
Every self-estrangement of man from himself and nature is manifested in the relationship he sets up between other men and himself and nature. Thus, religious self-estrangement is necessarily manifested in the relationship between layman and priest, or, since we are dealing here with the spiritual world, between layman and mediator, etc. In the practical, real world, self-estrangement can manifest itself only in the practical, real relationship to other men. The medium through which estrangement progresses is itself a practical one. So through estranged labor man not only produces his relationship to the object and to the act of production as to alien and hostile powers; he also produces the relationship in which other men stand to his production and product, and the relationship in which he stands to these other men. Just as he creates his own production as a loss of reality, a punishment, and his own product as a loss, a product which does not belong to him, so he creates the domination of the non-producer over production and its product. Just as he estranges from himself his own activity, so he confers upon the stranger and activity which does not belong to him.
Up to now, we have considered the relationship only from the side of the worker. Later on, we shall consider it from the side of the non-worker.
Thus, through estranged, alienated labor, the worker creates the relationship of another man, who is alien to labor and stands outside it, to that labor. The relation of the worker to labor creates the relation of the capitalist -- or whatever other word one chooses for the master of labor -- to that labor. Private property is therefore the product, result, and necessary consequence of alienated labor, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself.
Private property thus derives from an analysis of the concept of alienated labor -- i.e., alienated man, estranged labor, estranged life, estranged man.
It is true that we took the concept of alienated labor (alienated life) from political economy as a result of the movement of private property. But it is clear from an analysis of this concept that, although private property appears as the basis and cause of alienated labor, it is in fact its consequence, just as the gods were originally not the cause but the effect of the confusion in men's minds. Later, however, this relationship becomes reciprocal.
It is only when the development of private property reaches its ultimate point of culmination that this, its secret, re-emerges; namely, that is (a) the product of alienated labor, and (b) the means through which labor is alienated, the realization of this alienation.
This development throws light upon a number of hitherto unresolved controversies.
(1) Political economy starts out from labor as the real soul of production and yet gives nothing to labor and everything to private property. Proudhon has dealt with this contradiction by deciding for labor and against private property [see his 1840 pamphlet, Qu'est-ce que la propriete?]. But we have seen that this apparent contradiction is the contradiction of estranged labor with itself and that political economy has merely formulated laws of estranged labor.
It, therefore, follows for us that wages and private property are identical: for there the product,the object of labor, pays for the labor itself, wages are only a necessary consequence of the estrangement of labor; similarly, where wages are concerned, labor appears not as an end in itself but as the servant of wages. We intend to deal with this point in more detail later on: for the present we shall merely draw a few conclusions.
An enforced rise in wages (disregarding all other difficulties, including the fact that such an anomalous situation could only be prolonged by force) would therefore be nothing more than better pay for slaves and would not mean an increase in human significance or dignity for either the worker or the labor.
Even the equality of wages,which Proudhon demands, would merely transform the relation of the present-day worker to his work into the relation of all men to work. Society would then be conceived as an abstract capitalist.
Wages are an immediate consequence of estranged labor, and estranged labor is the immediate cause of private property. If the one falls, then the other must fall too.
(2) It further follows from the relation of estranged labor to private property that the emancipation of society from private property, etc., from servitude, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation of the workers. This is not because it is only a question of their emancipation, but because in their emancipation is contained universal human emancipation. The reason for this universality is that the whole of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and all relations of servitude are nothing but modifications and consequences of this relation.
Just as we have arrived at the concept of private property through an analysis of the concept of estranged,alienated labor, so with the help of these two factors it is possible to evolve all economic categories, and in each of these categories -- e.g., trade, competition, capital, money -- we shall identify only a particular and developed expression of these basic constituents.
But, before we go on to consider this configuration, let us try to solve two further problems.
(1) We have to determine the general nature of private property, as it has arisen out of estranged labor, in its relation to truly human and social property.
(2) We have taken the estrangement of labor, its alienation, as a fact and we have analyzed that fact. How, we now ask, does man come to alienate his labor, to estrange it? How it this estrangement founded in the nature of human development? We have already gone a long way towards solving this problem by transforming the question of the origin of private property into the question of the relationship of alienated labor to the course of human development. For, in speaking of private property, one imagines that one is dealing with something external to man. In speaking of labor, one is dealing immediately with man himself. This new way of formulating the problem already contains its solution.
As to (1): The general nature of private property and its relationship to truly human property.
Alienated labor has resolved itself for us into two component parts, which mutually condition one another, or which are merely different expressions of one and the same relationship. Appropriation appears as estrangement, as alienation; and alienation appears as appropriation, estrangement as true admission to citizenship.
We have considered the one aspect, alienated labor in relation to the worker himself -- i.e., the relation of alienated labor to itself. And as product, as necessary consequence of this relationship, we have found the property relation of the non-worker to the worker and to labor. Private property as the material, summarized expression of alienated labor embraces both relations -- the relation of the worker to labor and to the product of his labor and the non-workers, and the relation of the non-worker to the worker and to the product of his labor.
We have already seen that, in relation to the worker who appropriates nature through his labor, appropriation appears as estrangement, self-activity as activity for another and of another, vitality as a sacrifice of life, production of an object as loss of that object to an alien power, to an alien man. Let us now consider the relation between this man, who is alien to labor and to the worker, and the worker, labor, and the object of labor.
The first thing to point out is that everything which appears for the worker as an activity of alienation, of estrangement, appears for the non-worker as a situation of alienation, of estrangement.
Secondly, the real, practical attitude of the worker in production and to the product (as a state of mind) appears for the non-worker who confronts him as a theoretical attitude.
Thirdly, the non-worker does everything against the worker which the worker does against himself, but he does not do against himself what he does against the worker.
Let us take a closer look at these three relationships.
[ First Manuscript breaks off here. ]
Second Manuscript
... forms the interest on his capital. The worker is the subjective manifestation of the fact that capital is man completely lost to himself, just as capital is the objective manifestation of the fact that labor is man lost to himself. But the worker has the misfortune to be a living capital, and, hence, a capital with needs, which forfeits its interest and hence its existence every moment it is not working. As capital, the value of the worker rises or falls in accordance with supply and demand, and even in a physical sense his existence, his life, was and is treated as a supply of a commodity, like any other commodity. The worker produces capital and capital produces him, which means that he produces himself; man as a worker, as a commodity, is the product of this entire cycle. The human properties of man as a worker -- man who is nothing more than a worker -- exist only insofar as they exist for a capital which is alien to him. But, because each is alien to the other, and stands in an indifferent, external, and fortuitous relationship to it, this alien character inevitably appears as something real. So, soon as it occurs to capital -- whether from necessity or choice -- not to exist any longer for the worker, he no longer exists for himself; he has no work, and hence no wages, and since he exists not as a man but as a worker, he might just as well have buried himself, starve to death, etc. The worker exists as a worker only when he exists for himself as capital, and he exists as capital only when capital exists for him. The existence of capital is his existence, his life, for it determines the content of his life in a manner indifferent to him. Political economy, therefore, does not recognize the unoccupied worker, the working man insofar as he is outside this work relationship. The swindler, the cheat, the beggar, the unemployed, the starving, the destitute, and the criminal working man are figures which exist not for it, but only for other eyes -- for the eyes of doctors, judges, grave-diggers, beadles, etc. Nebulous figures which do not belong within the province of political economy. Therefore, as far as political economy is concerned, the requirements of the worker can be narrowed down to one: the need to support him while he is working and prevent the race of workers from dying out. Wages, therefore, have exactly the same meaning as the maintenance and upkeep of any other productive instrument, or as the consumption of capital in general which is necessary if it is to reproduce itself with interest -- e.g., the oil which is applied to wheels to keep them turning. Wages, therefore, belong to the necessary costs of capital and of the capitalist, and must not be in excess of this necessary amount. It was, therefore, quite logical for the English factory owners, before the Amendment Bill of 1834 [Poor Laws], to deduct from the worker's wages the public alms which he received from the Poor Rate, and to consider these aims as an integral part of those wages.
Production does not produce man only as a commodity, the human commodity, man in the form of a commodity; it also produces him as a mentally and physically dehumanized being... Immorality, malformation, stupidity of workers and capitalists... the human commodity... A great advance by Ricardo, Mill, etc., on Smith and Say, to declare the existence of the human being -- the greater or lesser human productivity of the commodity -- to be indifferent and even harmful. The real aim of production is not how many workers a particular sum of capital can support, but how much interest it brings in and how much it saves each year. Similarly, English political economy took a big step forward, and a logical one, when -- while acknowledging labor as the sole principle of political economy -- it showed with complete clarity that wages and interest on capital are inversely related and that, as a rule, the capitalist can push up his profits only by forcing down wages, and vice versa. Clearly, the normal relationship is not one in which the customer is cheated, but in which the capitalist and the worker cheat each other. The relation of private property contains latent within itself the relation of private property as labor, the relation of private property as capital, and the connection of these two. On the one hand, we have the production of human activity as labor -- i.e., as an activity wholly alien to itself, to man, and to nature, and hence to consciousness and vital expression, the abstract existence of man as a mere workman who, therefore, tumbles day-after-day from his fulfilled nothingness into absolute nothingness, into his social and, hence, real non-existence; and, on the other, the production of the object of human labor as capital, in which all the natural and social individuality of the object is extinguished and private property has lost its natural and social quality (i.e., has lost all political and social appearances and is not even apparently tainted with any human relationships), in which the same capital stays the same in the most varied natural and social circumstance, totally indifferent to its real content. This contradiction, driven to its utmost limit, is necessarily the limit, the culmination and the decline of the whole system of private property.
It is, therefore, yet another great achievement of recent English political economy to have declared ground rent to be the difference between the interest on the worst and the best land under cultivation, to have confuted the romantic illusions of the land-owner -- his alleged social importance and the identity of his interest with the interest of society, which Adam Smith continued to propound after the Physiocrats -- and to have anticipated and prepared the changes in reality which will transform the land-owner into a quite ordinary and prosaic capitalist, thereby simplifying the contradiction, bringing it to a head and hastening its resolution. Land as land and ground rent as ground rent have thereby lost their distinction in rank and have become dumb capital and interest -- or, rather, capital and interest which only talk hard cash. The distinction between capital and land, between profit and ground rent, and the distinction between both and wages, industry, agriculture, and immovable and movable private property, is not one which is grounded in the nature of things, it is a historical distinction, a fixed moment in the formation and development of the opposition between capital and labor. In industry, etc., as opposed to immovable landed property, only the manner in which industry first arose and the opposition to agriculture within which industry developed, are expressed. As a special kind of work, as an essential, important, and life-encompassing distinction, this distinction between industry and agriculture survives only as long as industry (town life) is developing in opposition to landed property (aristocratic feudal life) and continues to bear the feudal characteristics of its opposite in the form of monopoly, crafts, guilds, corporations, etc. Given these forms, labor continues to have an apparently social meaning, the meaning of genuine community, and has not yet reached the stage of indifference towards its content and of complete being-for-itself -- i.e., of abstraction from all other being and, hence, of liberated capital.
But, the necessary development of labor is liberated industry constituted for itself as such, and liberated capital. The power of industry over its antagonist is, at once, manifested in the emergence of agriculture as an actual industry, whereas previously most of the work was left to the soil itself and to the slave of the soil, through whom the soil cultivated itself. With the transformation of the slave into a free worker -- i.e., a hireling -- the landowner himself is transformed into a master of industry, a capitalist. This transformation at first took place through the agency of the tenant farmer. But the tenant farmer is the representative, the revealed secret, of the landowner; only through him does the landowner have his economic existence, his existence as a property owner -- for the ground rent of his land exists only because of the competition between the tenants. So, in the person of the tenant the landowner has already essentially become a common capitalist. And this must also be effected in reality; the capitalist engaged in agriculture -- the tenant -- must become a landlord, or vice-versa. The industrial trade of the tenant is the industrial trade of the landlord, for the existence of the former posits the existence of the latter.
But, remembering their conflicting origins and descent, the landowner sees the capitalist as his presumptuous, liberated, and enriched slave of yesterday, and himself as a capitalist who is threatened by him; the capitalist sees the landowner as the idle, cruel, and egotistical lord of yesterday; he knows that the landowner is harmful to him as a capitalist, and yet that he owes his entire present social position, his possessions and his pleasures, to industry; the capitalist sees in the landowner the antithesis of free industry and free capital, which is independent of all natural forces -- this opposition is extremely bitter, and each side tells the truth about the other. One only need read the attacks launched by immovable on movable property, and vice-versa, in order to gain a clear picture of their respective worthlessness. The land-owner emphasizes the noble lineage of his property, the feudal reminiscences, the poetry of remembrance, his high-flown nature, his political importance, etc. When he is talking economics, he avows that agriculture alone is productive. At the same time, he depicts his opponent as a wily, huckstering, censorious, deceitful, greedy, mercenary, rebellious, heartless, and soulless racketeer who is estranged from his community and busily trades it away, a profiteering, pimping, servile, smooth, affected trickster, a desiccated sharper who breeds, nourishes, and encourages competition and pauperism, crime and the dissolution of all social ties, who is without honor, principles, poetry, substance, or anything else. (See, among others, the Physiocrat Bergasse, whom Camille Desmoulins has already flayed in his journal Revolutions de France et de Brabant; see also von Vincke, Lancizolle, Haller, Leo, Kosegarten, and Sismondi.)
MARX NOTE: See also the pompous Old Hegelian theologian Funke, who, according to Herr Leo, told with tears in his eyes how a slave had refused, when serfdom was abolished, to cease being a noble possession. See also Justus Moser's Patriotische Phantasien, which are distinguished by the fact that they never for one moment leave the staunch, petty-bourgeois, "Home-baked", ordinary, narrow-minded horizon of the philistine, and, yet still, remain pure fantasy. It is this contradiction which has made them so plausible to the German mind.
Movable property, for its part, points to the miracles of industry and change. It is the child, the legitimate, only-begotten son, of the modern age. It feels sorry for its opponent, whom it sees as a half-wit unenlightened as to his own nature (an assessment no one could disagree with) and eager to replace moral capital and free labor by brute, immoral force and serfdom. It paints him as a Don Quixote, who, under the veneer of directness, probity, the general interest, and stability, hides an inability and evil intent. It brands him as a cunning monopolist. It discountenances his reminiscences, his poetry, and his enthusiastic gushings, by a historical and sarcastic recital of the baseness, cruelty, degradation, prostitution, infamy, anarchy, and revolt forged in the workshops of his romantic castles.
Movable property, itself, claims to have won political freedom for the world, to have loosed the chains of civil society, to have linked together different worlds, to have given rise to trade, which encourages friendship between peoples and to have created a pure morality and a pleasing culture; to have given the people civilized instead of crude wants and the means with which it satisfy them. The landowner, on the other hand -- this idle and vexatious speculator in grain -- puts up the price of the people's basic provisions and thereby forces the capitalist to put up wages without being able to raise productivity, so making it difficult, and eventually impossible, to increase the annual income of the nation and to accumulate the capital which is necessary if work is to be provided for the people and wealth for the country. As a result, the landowner brings about a general decline. Moreover, he inordinately exploits all the advantages of modern civilization without doing the least thing in return, and without mitigating a single one of his feudal prejudices. Finally, the landlord -- for whom the cultivation of the land and the soil itself exist only as a heaven-sent source of money -- should take a look at the tenant farmer and say whether he himself is not a downright, fantastic, cunning scoundrel, who in his heart and in actual fact has for a long time been part of free industry and well-loved trade, however much he may resist them and prattle of historical memories and moral or political goals. All the arguments he can genuinely advance in his own favor are only true for the cultivator of the land (the capitalist and the laborers), of whom the landowner is rather the enemy; thus, he testifies against himself. Without capital, landed property is dead, worthless matter. The civilized victory of movable capital has precisely been to reveal and create human labor as the source of wealth in place of the dead thing. (See Paul-Louis Courier, Saint-Simon, Ganilh, Ricardo, Mill, MacCulloch, Destutt de Tracy, and Michael Chevalier.)
The real course of development (to be inserted here) leads necessarily to the victory of the capitalist -- i.e., of developed private property -- over undeveloped, immature private property -- the landowner. In the same way, movement inevitably triumphs over immobility, open and self-conscious baseness over hidden and unconscious baseness, greed over self-indulgence, the avowedly restless and versatile self-interest of enlightenment over the parochial, worldly-wise, artless, lazy and deluded self-interest of superstition, just as money must triumph over the other forms of private property. Those states which have a foreboding of the danger of allowing the full development of free industry, pure morality, and that trade which encourages friendship among peoples, attempt -- although quite in vain -- to put a stop to the capitalization of landed property.
Landed property, as distinct from capital, is private property, capital, which is still afflicted with local and political prejudices, which has not yet entirely emerged from its involvement with the world and come into its own; it is capital which is not yet fully developed. In the course of its formation on a world scale, it must attain its abstract, i.e., pure, expression. The relation of private property is labor, capital, and the connection between these two. The movement through which these parts [Glieder] have to pass is:
First -- Unmediate or mediated unity of the two. Capital and labor, at first, still united; later, separated and estranged, but reciprocally developing and furthering each other as positive conditions.
Second -- Opposition of the two. They mutually exclude each other; the worker sees in the capitalist his own non-existence, and vice-versa; each tries to wrench from the other his existence.
Third -- Opposition of each to itself. Capital = stored-up labor = labor. As such, it divides into itself (capital) and its interest; this latter divides into interest and profit. Complete sacrifice of the capitalist. He sinks into the working class, just as the worker -- but only by way of exception -- becomes a capitalist. Labor as a moment of capital, its costs. i.e., wages a sacrifice of capital.
Labor divides into labor itself and wages of labor. The workers himself a capital, a commodity.
Hostile reciprocal opposition.
Third Manuscript
ad page XXXVI. [ Marx numbered the pages of these manuscripts in roman numerals. The page referred to is one of those missing between the First and Second Manuscripts. ]
The subjective essence of private property, private property as activity for itself, as subject, as person, is labor. It, therefore, goes without saying that only that political economy which recognized labor as its principle (Adam Smith), and which therefore no longer regarded private property as nothing more than a condition external to man, can be regarded as both a product of the real energy and movement of private property (it is the independent movement of private property become conscious of itself, it is modern industry as self), a product of modern industry, and a factor which has accelerated and glorified the energy and development of this industry and transformed it into a power belonging to consciousness. Therefore, the supporters of the monetary and mercantile system, who look upon private property as a purely objective being for man, appear as fetish-worshippers, as Catholics, to this enlightened political economy, which has revealed -- within the system of private property -- the subjective essence of wealth. Engels was, therefore, right to call Adam Smith the Luther of political economy [in Engels 1843 Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy]. Just as Luther recognized religion and faith as the essence of the external world and, in consequence, confronted Catholic paganism; just as he transcended religion external religiosity by making religiosity the inner essence of man; just as he negated the idea of priests as something separate and apart from the layman by transferring the priest into the heart of the layman; so wealth as something outside man, and independent of him -- and, therefore, only to be acquired acquired and maintained externally -- is abolished [aufgehoben]. i.e., its external and mindless objectivity is abolished inasmuch as private property is embodied in man himself and man himself is recognized as its essence -- but this brings man himself into the province of religion. So, although political economy, whose principle is labor, appears to recognize man, it is, in fact, nothing more than the denial of man carried through to its logical conclusion: for man himself no longer stands in a relation of external tension to the external essence of private property -- he himself has become the tense essence of private property. What was formerly being-external-to-oneself, man's material externalization, has now become the act of alienation -- i.e., alienation through selling [Verausserung]. This political economy, therefore, starts out by seeming to recognize man, his independence, his spontaneous activity, etc. Since it transfers private property into the very being of man, it can no longer be conditioned by local or national features of private property as something existing outside it. It (political economy) develops a cosmopolitan, universal energy which breaks through every limitation and bond and sets itself up as the only policy, the only universality, the only limitation, and the only bond. But then, as it continues to develop, it is forced to cast off its hypocrisy and step forth in all its cynicism. This it does, without troubling its head for one moment about all the apparent contradiction to which this doctrine leads, by developing in a more one-sided way, and, thus, more sharply and more logically, the idea of labor as the sole essence of wealth, by showing that the conclusions of this doctrine, unlike the original conception, are anti-human, and finally be delivering the death-blow to ground rent -- that last individual and natural form of private property and source of wealth independent of the movement of labor, that expression of feudal property which has already become entirely economic and is therefore incapable of putting up any resistance to political economy. (The Ricardo School.) Not only does political economy become increasingly cynical from Smith through Say to Ricardo, Mill etc., inasmuch as the consequences of industry appeared more developed and more contradictory to the latter; the latter also became more estranged -- consciously estranged -- from man than their predecessors. But this is only because their science develops more logically and more truly. Since they make private property in its active form the subject, thereby making man as a non-being [Unwesen] the essence [Wesen], the contradiction in reality corresponds entirely to the contradictory essence which they have accepted as their principle. The discordant reality of industry, far from refusing their internally discordant principle, actually confirms it. Their principle is in fact the principle of this discordance.
The physiocratic doctrine of Dr Quesnay forms the transition from the mercantile system to Adam Smith. Physiocracy is, in a direct sense, the economic dissolution of feudal property, but it is therefore just as directly the economic transformation and restoration of that property. The only real difference is that its language is no longer feudal but economic. All wealth is resolved into land and agriculture. The land is not yet capital; it is still a particular mode of existence of capital whose value is supposed to lie in its natural particularity. But land is a universal natural element, whereas the mercantile system considered that wealth existed only in precious metals. The object of wealth, its matter, has therefore attained the greatest degree of universality possible within the limits of nature -- insofar as it is directly objective wealth even as nature. And it is only through labor, through agriculture, that land exists for man. Consequently, the subjective essence of wealth is already transferred to labor. But, at the same time, agriculture is the only productive labor. Labor is, therefore, not yet grasped in its universal and abstract form, but is still tied to a particular element of nature as its matter and if for that reason recognized only in a particular mode of existence determined by nature. It is, therefore, still only a determinate, particular externalization of man -- just as its product is conceived as a determinate form of wealth, due more to nature than to itself. Here, the land is still regarded as part of nature which is independent of man, and not yet as capital -- i.e., as a moment of labor itself. Rather, labor appears as a moment of nature. But, since the fetishism of the old external wealth, which exists only as an object, has been reduced to a very simple element of nature, and since its essence has been recognized -- even if only partially and in a particular way -- in its subjective essence, the necessary advance has taken place in the sense that the universal nature of wealth has been recognized and labor has, therefore, been elevated in its absolute -- i.e., abstract -- form to that principle. It is possible to argue against the Physiocrats that agriculture is no different from an economic point of view -- that is, from the only valid point of view -- from any other industry, and that the essence of wealth is therefore not a particular form of labor tied to a particular element, a particular manifestation of labor, but labor in general.
Physiocracy denies particular, external, purely objective wealth by declaring labor to be its essence. But, for physiocracy, labor is in the first place merely the subjective essence of landed property -- it starts out from the type of property which appears historically as the dominant and recognized type. It simple turns landed property into alienated man. It abolishes the feudal character of landed property by declaring industry (agriculture) to be its essence; but it sets its face against the world of industry and acknowledges the feudal system by declaring agriculture to be the only industry.
Clearly, once the subjective essence is grasped of industry constituting itself in opposition to landed property -- i.e., as industry -- this essence includes within it that opposition. For, just as industry absorbs annulled landed property, so the subjective essence of industry at the same time absorbs the subjective essence of landed property.
Just as landed property is the first form of private property, and industry at first confronts it historically as nothing more than a particular sort of private property -- or, rather, as the liberated slave of landed property -- so this process is repeated in the scientific comprehension of the subjective essence of private property, of labor; labor appears at first only as agricultural labor, but later assumes the form of labor in general.
All wealth has become industrial wealth, wealth of labor, and industry is fully developed labor, just as the factory system is the perfected essence of industry -- i.e., of labor -- and industrial capital the fully developed objective form of private property.
Thus, we see that it is only at this point that private property can perfect its rule over men and become, in its most universal form, a world-historical power.
ad page XXXIX. [ This section, "Private Property and Communism", formed an appendix to page XXXIX of the incomplete Second Manuscript. ]
But the antithesis between propertylessness and property is still an indifferent antithesis, not grasped in its active connection, its inner relation, not yet grasped as contradiction, as long as it is not understood as the antithesis between labor and capital. In its initial form, this antithesis can manifest itself even without the advanced development of private property -- as, for example, in ancient Rome, in Turkey, etc. In such cases, it does not yet appear as established by private property itself. But labor, the subjective essence of private property as exclusion of property, and capital, objective labor as exclusion of labor, constitute private property in its developed relation of contradiction: a vigorous relation, therefore, driving towards resolution.
ad ibidem.
The supersession [Aufhebung] of self-estrangement follows the same course self-estrangement. Private property is first considered only in its objective aspect, but still with labor as its essence. Its form of existence is therefore capital, which is to be abolished "as such" (Proudhon). Or the particular form of labor -- levelled down, parcelled, and, therefore, unfree -- is taken as the source of the harmfulness of private property and its humanly estranged existence. For example, Fourier, like the Physiocrats, regarded agriculture as at least the best form of labor, while Saint-Simon, on the other hand, declared industrial labor as such to be the essence and consequently wants exclusive rule by the industrialists and the improvement of the condition of the workers. Finally, communism [that is, crude or utopian communism, like Proudhon et al above] is the positive expression of the abolition of private property, and, at first, appears as universal private property. In grasping this relation in its universality, communism is
(1) in its initial form only a generalization and completion of that relation (of private property). As such, it appears in a dual form: on the one hand, the domination of material property bulks so large that it threatens to destroy everything which is not capable of being possessed by everyone as private property; it wants to abstract from talent, etc., by force. Physical, immediate possession is the only purpose of life nd existence as far as this communism is concerned; the category of worker is not abolished but extended to all men; the relation of private property remains the relation of the community to the world of things; ultimately, this movement to oppose universal private property to private property is expressed in bestial form -- marriage (which is admittedly a form of exclusive private property) is counterposed to the community of women, where women become communal and common property. One might say that this idea of a community of women is the revealed secret of this as yet wholly crude and unthinking communism. Just as women are to go from marriage into general prostitution, so the whole world of wealth -- i.e., the objective essence of man -- is to make the transition from the relation of exclusive marriage with the private owner to the relation of universal prostitution with the community. This communism, inasmuch as it negates the personality of man in every sphere, is simply the logical expression of the private property which is this negation. Universal envy constituting itself as a power is the hidden form in which greed reasserts itself and satisfies itself, but in another way. The thoughts of every piece of private property as such are at least turned against richer private property in the form of envy and the desire to level everything down; hence these feelings in fact constitute the essence of competition. The crude communist is merely the culmination of this envy and desire to level down on the basis of a preconceived minimum. It has a definite, limited measure. How little this abolition of private property is a true appropriation is shown by the abstract negation of the entire world of culture and civilization, and the return to the unnatural simplicity of the poor, unrefined man who has no needs and who has not yet even reached the stage of private property, let along gone beyond it.
(For crude communism) the community is simply a community of labor and equality of wages, which are paid out by the communal capital, the community as universal capitalist. Both sides of the relation are raised to an unimaginary universality -- labor as the condition in which everyone is placed and capital as the acknowledged universality and power of the community.
In the relationship with woman, as the prey and handmaid of communal lust, is expressed the infinite degradation in which man exists for himself -- for the secret of this relationship has its unambiguous, decisive, open and revealed expression in the relationship of man to woman and in the manner in which the direct, natural species- relationship is conceived. The immediate, natural, necessary relation of human being to human being is the relationship of man to woman. In this natural species-relationship, the relation of man to nature is immediately his relation to man, just as his relation to man is immediately his relation to nature, his own natural condition. Therefore, this relationship reveals in a sensuous form, reduced to an observable fact, the extent to which the human essence has become nature for man or nature has become the human essence for man. It is possible to judge from this relationship the entire level of development of mankind. It follows from the character of this relationship of this relationship how far man as a species-being, as man, has become himself and grasped himself; the relation of man to woman is the most natural relation of human being to human being. It therefore demonstrates the extent to which man's natural behavior has become human or the extent to which his human essence has become a natural essence for him, the extent to which his human nature has become nature for him. This relationship also demonstrates the extent to which man's needs have become human needs, hence the extent to which the other, as a human being, has become a need for him, the extent to which in his most individual existence he is at the same time a communal being.
The first positive abolition of private property -- crude communism -- is therefore only a manifestation of the vileness of private property trying to establish itself as the positive community.
(2) Communism
(a) still of a political nature, democratic or despotic;
(b) with the abolition of the state, but still essentially incomplete and influenced by private property -- i.e., by the estrangement of man.
In both forms, communism already knows itself as the reintegration, or return, of man into himself, the supersession of man's self-estrangement; but since it has not yet comprehended the positive essence of private property, or understood the human nature of need, it is still held captive and contaminated by private property. True, it has understood its concept, but not yet in essence.
[Marx now endeavors to explore if own version of communism, as distinct from Proudhon et al above.]
(3) Communism is the positive supersession of private property as human self-estrangement, and hence the true appropriation of the human essence through and for man; it is the complete restoration of man to himself as a social -- i.e., human -- being, a restoration which has become conscious and which takes place within the entire wealth of previous periods of development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature, and between man and man, the true resolution of the conflict between existence and being, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution of the riddle of history and knows itself to be the solution.
The entire movement of history is therefore both the actual act of creation of communism -- the birth of its empirical existence -- and, for its thinking consciousness, the comprehended and known movement of its becoming; whereas the other communism, which is not yet fully developed, seeks in isolated historical forms opposed to private property a historical proof for itself, a proof drawn from what already exists, by wrenching isolated moments from their proper places in the process of development (a hobbyhorse Cabet, Villegardelle, etc., particularly like to ride) and advancing them as proofs of its historical pedigree. But all it succeeds in showing is that be far the greater part of this development contradicts its assertions and that if it did not once exist, then the very fact that it existed in the past refutes its claim to essential being [Wesen].
It is easy to see how necessary it is for the whole revolutionary movement to find both its empirical and its theoretical basis in the movement of private property or, to be exact, of the economy.
This material, immediately sensuous private property is the material, sensuous expression of estranged human life. Its movement --production and consumption -- is the sensuous revelation of the movement of all previous production -- i.e., the realization or reality of man. Religion, the family, the state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production and therefore come under its general law. The positive supersession of private property, as the appropriation of human life, is therefore the positive supersession of all estrangement, and the return of man from religion, the family, the state, etc., to his human -- i.e., social -- existence. Religious estrangement as such takes place only in the sphere of consciousness, of man's inner life, but economic estrangement is that of real life -- its supersession therefore embraces both aspects. Clearly the nature of the movement in different countries initially depends on whether the actual and acknowledged life of the people has its being more in consciousness or in the external world, in ideal or in real life. Communism begins with atheism (Owen), but atheism is initially far from being communism, and is for the most part an abstraction. The philanthropy of atheism is therefore at first nothing more than an abstract philosophical philanthropy, while that of communism is at once real and directly bent towards action.
We have seen how, assuming the positive supersession of private property, man produces man, himself and other men; how the object, which is the direct activity of his individuality, is at the same time his existence for other men, their existence and their existence for him. Similarly, however, both the material of labor and man as subject are the starting-point as well as the outcome of the movement (and the historical necessity of private-property lies precisely in the fact that they must be this starting-point). So the social character is the general character of the whole movement; just as society itself produces man as man, so it is produced by him. Activity and consumption, both in their content and in their mode of existence, are social activity and social consumption. The human essence of nature exists only for social man; for only here does nature exist for him as a bond with other men, as his existence for others and their existence for him, as the vital element of human reality; only here does it exist as the basis of his own human existence. Only here has his natural existence become his human existence and nature become man for him. Society is therefore the perfected unity in essence of man with nature, the true resurrection of nature, the realized naturalism of man and the realized humanism of nature. [Marx note at the bottom of the page: Prostitution is only a particular expression of the universal prostitution of the worker, and since prostitution is a relationship which includes not only the prostituted but also the prostitutor -- whose infamy is even greater -- the capitalist is also included in this category.]
Social activity and social consumption by no means exist solely in the form of a directly communal activity and a directly communal consumption, even though communal activity and communal consumption -- i.e., activity and consumption that express and confirm themselves directly in real association with other men -- occur wherever that direct expression of sociality [Gesellschaftlichkeit] springs from the essential nature of the content of the activity and is appropriate to the nature of the consumption.
But even if I am active in the field of science, etc. -- an activity which I am seldom able to perform in direct association with other men -- I am still socially active because I am active as a man. It is not only the material of my activity -- including even the language in which the thinker is active -- which I receive as a social product. My own existence is social activity. Therefore what I create from myself I create for society, conscious of myself as a social being.
My universal consciousness is only the theoretical form of that whose living form is the real community, society, whereas at present universal consciousness is an abstraction from real life and as such in hostile opposition to it. Hence the activity of my universal consciousness -- as activity -- is my theoretical existence as a social being.
It is, above all, necessary to avoid once more establishing "society" as an abstraction over against the individual. The individual is the social being. His vital expression -- even when it does not appear in the direct form of a communal expression, conceived in association with other men -- is therefore an expression and confirmation of social life. Man's individual and species-life are not two distinct things, however much -- and this is necessarily so -- the mode of existence of individual life is a more particular or a more general mode of the species-life, or species-life a more particular or more general individual life.
As species-consciousness man confirms his real social life and merely repeats in thought his actual existence; conversely, species-being confirms itself in species-consciousness and exists for itself in its universality, as a thinking being.
Man, however much he may therefore be a particular individual -- and it is just this particularity which makes him an individual totality, the ideal totality, the subjective existence of thought and experienced society for itself; he also exists in reality as the contemplation and true enjoyment of social existence and as a totality of vital human expression.
It is true that thought and being are distinct, but at the same time they are in unity with one another.
Death appears as the harsh victory of the species over the particular individual, and seemingly contradicts their unity; but the particular individual is only a particular species-being, and, as such, mortal.
(4) Just as private property is only the sensuous expression of the fact that man becomes objective for himself and at the same time becomes an alien and inhuman object for himself, that his expression of life [Lebensausserung] is his alienation of life [Lebensentausserung], and that his realization is a loss of reality, an alien reality, so the positive supersession of private property -- i.e., the sensuous appropriation of the human essence and human life, of objective man and of human works by and for man -- should not be understood only in the sense of direct, one-sided consumption, of possession, of having. Man appropriates his integral essence in an integral way, as a total man. All his human elations to the world -- seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking, contemplating, sensing, wanting, acting, loving -- in short, all the organs of his individuality, like the organs which are directly communal in form, are in their objective approach or in their approach to the object the appropriation of that object. This appropriation of human reality, their approach to the object, is the confirmation of human reality. [Marx's note: It is therefore just as varied as the determinations of the human essence and activities.] It is human effectiveness and human suffering, for suffering, humanly conceived, is an enjoyment of the self for man.
Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it, when it exists for us as capital or when we directly possess, eat, drink, wear, inhabit it, etc., in short, when we use it. Although private property conceives all these immediate realizations of possession only as means of life; and the life they serve is the life of private property, labor, and capitalization.
Therefore all the physical and intellectual senses have been replaced by the simple estrangement of all these senses -- the sense of having. So that it might give birth to its inner wealth, human nature had to be reduced to this absolute poverty. (On the category of having see Hess in Einundzwanzig Bogen.)
The supersession of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and attributes; but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and attributes have become human, subjectively as well as objectively. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object, made by man for man. The senses have therefore become theoreticians in their immediate praxis. They relate to the thing for its own sake, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa. [Marx's note: In practice I can only relate myself to a thing in a human way if the thing is related in a human way to man.] Need or employment have therefore lost their egoistic nature, and nature has lost its mere utility in the sense that its use has become human use.
Similarly, senses and enjoyment of other men have become my own appropriation. Apart from these direct organs, social organs are therefore created in the form of society; for example, activity in direct association with others, etc., has become an organ of my life expressions and a mode of appropriation of human life.
Obviously the human eye takes in things in a different way from the crude non-human eye, the hum ear in a different way from the crude ear, etc.
To sum up: it is only when man's object becomes a human object or objective that man does not lose himself in that object. This is only possible when it becomes a social object for him and when he himself becomes a social being for himself, just as society becomes a being for him in this object.
On the one hand, therefore, it is only when objective reality universally becomes for man in society the reality of man's essential powers, becomes human reality, and thus the reality of his own essential powers, that all objects become for him the objectification of himself, objects that confirm and realize his individuality, his objects -- i.e., he himself becomes the object. The manner in which they become his depends on the nature of the object and the nature of the essential power that corresponds to it; for it is just the determinateness of this relation that constitutes the particular, real mode of affirmation. An object is different for the eye from what it is for the ear, and the eye's object is different for from the ear's. The peculiarity of each essential power is precisely its peculiar essence, and thus also the peculiar mode of its objectification, of its objectively real, living being. Man is therefore affirmed in the objective world not only in thought but with all the senses.
On the other hand, let us look at the question in its subjective aspect: only music can awaken the musical sense in man and the most beautiful music has no sense for the unmusical ear, because my object can only be the confirmation of one of my essential powers -- i.e., can only be for me insofar as my essential power exists for me as a subjective attribute (this is because the sense of an object for me extends only as far as my sense extends, only has sense for a sense that corresponds to that object). In the same way, and for the same reasons, the senses of social man are different from those of non-social man. Only through the objectively unfolded wealth of human nature can the wealth of subjective human sensitivity -- a musical ear, an eye for the beauty of form, in short, senses capable of human gratification -- be either cultivated or created. For not only the five senses, but also the so-called spiritual senses, the practical senses (will, love, etc.), in a word, the human sense, the humanity of the senses -- all these come into being only through the existence of their objects, through humanized nature. The cultivation of the five senses is the work of all previous history. Sense which is a prisoner of crude practical need has only a restricted sense. For a man who is starving, the human form of food does not exist, only its abstract form exists; it could just as well be present in its crudest form, and it would be hard to say how this way of eating differs from that of animals. The man who is burdened with worries and needs has no sense for the finest of plays; the dealer in minerals sees only the commercial value, and not the beauty and peculiar nature of the minerals; he lacks a mineralogical sense; thus the objectification of the human essence, in a theoretical as well as a practical respect, is necessary both in order to make man's senses human and to create an appropriate human sense for the whole of the wealth of humanity and of nature.
Just as in its initial stages society is presented with all the material for this cultural development through the movement of private property, and of its wealth and poverty -- both material and intellectual wealth and poverty -- so the society that is fully developed produces man in all the richness of his being, the rich man who is profoundly and abundantly endowed with all the senses, as its constant reality. It can be seen how subjectiveness and objectivism, spiritualism and materialism, activity and passivity [Leiden], lose their antithetical character, and hence their existence as such antithesis, only in the social condition; it can be seen how the resolution of the theoretical antitheses themselves is possible only in a practical way, only through the practical energy of man, and how their resolution is for that reason by no means only a problem of knowledge, but a real problem of life, a problem which philosophy was unable to solve precisely because it treated it as a purely theoretical problem.
It can be seen how the history of industry and the objective existence of industry as it has developed is the open book of the essential powers of man, man's psychology present in tangible form; up to now this history has not been grasped in its connection with the nature of man, but only in an external utilitarian aspect, for man, moving in the realm of estrangement, was only capable of conceiving the general existence of man -- religion, or history in its abstract and universal form of politics, art, literature, etc. -- as the reality of man's essential powers and as man's species-activity. In everyday, material industry (which can just as easily be considered as a part of that general development as that general development itself can be considered as a particular part of industry, since all human activity up to now has been labor -- i.e., industry, self-estranged activity) we find ourselves confronted with the objectified powers of the human essence, in the form of sensuous, alien, useful objects, in the form of estrangement. A psychology for which this book, the most tangible and accessible part of history, is closed, can never become a real science with a genuine content. What indeed should we think of a science which primly abstracts from this large area of human labor, and fails to sense its own inadequacy, even though such an extended wealth of human activity says nothing more to it perhaps than what can be said in one word -- "need", "common need"?
The natural sciences have been prolifically active and have gathered together an ever growing mass of material. But philosophy has remained just as alien to them as they have remained alien to philosophy. Their momentary union was only a fantastic illusion. The will was there, but not the means. Even historiography only incidentally takes account of natural science, which it sees as contributing to enlightenment, utility and a few great discoveries. But natural science has intervened in and transformed human life all the more practically through industry and has prepared the conditions for human emancipation, however much its immediate effect was to complete the process was to complete the process of dehumanization. Industry is the real historical relationship of nature, and hence of natural science, to man. If it is then conceived as the exoteric revelation of man's essential powers, the human essence of nature or the natural essence of man can also be understood. Hence natural science will lose its abstractly material, or rather idealist, orientation and become the basis of a human science, just as it has already become -- though in an estranged form -- the basis of actual human life. The idea of one basis for life and another for science is from the very outset a lie. Nature as it comes into being in human history -- in the act of creation of human society -- is the true nature of man; hence nature as it comes into being through industry, though in an estranged form, is true anthropological nature.
Sense perception (see Feuerbach) must be the basis of all science. Only when science starts out from sense perception in the dual form of sensuous consciousness and sensuous need -- i.e., only when science starts out from nature -- is it real science. The whole of history is a preparation, a development, for "man" to become the object of sensuous consciousness and for the needs of "man as man" to become [sensuous] needs. History itself is a real part of natural history and of nature's becoming man. Natural science will, in time, subsume the science of man, just as the science of man will subsume natural science: there will be one science.
Man is the immediate object of natural science; for immediate sensuous nature for man is, immediately, human sense perception (an identical expression) in the form of the other man who is present in his sensuous immediacy for him. His own sense perception only exists as human sense perception for himself through the other man. But nature is the immediate object of the science of man. Man's first object -- man -- is nature, sense perception; and the particular sensuous human powers, since they can find objective realization only in natural objects, can find self-knowledge only in the science of nature in general. The element of thought itself, the element of the vital expression of thought -- language -- is sensuous nature. The social reality of nature and human natural science or the natural science of man are identical expressions.
It can be seen how the rich man and the wealth of human need take the place of the wealth and poverty of political economy. The rich man is simultaneously the man in need of totality of vital human expression; he is the man in whom his own realization exists as inner necessity, as need. Given socialism, not only man's wealth but also his poverty acquire a human and hence a social significance. Poverty is the passive bond which makes man experience his greatest wealth -- the other man -- as need. The domination of the objective essences within me, the sensuous outburst of my essential activity, is passion, which here becomes the activity of my being.
(5) A being sees himself as independent only when he stands on his own feet, and he only stands on his own feet when he owes this existence to himself. A man who lives by the grace of another regards himself as a dependent being. But I live completely by the grace of another if I owe him not only the maintenance of my life, but also its creation, if he is the source of my life. My life is necessarily grounded outside itself if it is not my own creation. The creation is therefore an idea which is very hard to exorcize from the popular consciousness. This consciousness is incapable of comprehending the self-mediated being [Durchsichselbstsein] of nature and of man, since such a being contradicts all the palpable evidence of practical life.
The creation of the Earth receives a heavy blow from the science of geogeny -- i.e., the science which depicts the formation of the Earth, its coming to be, as a process of self-generation. Generatio aequivoca [spontaneous generation] is the only practical refutation of the theory of creation.
Now, it is easy to say to a particular individual what Aristotle said: You were begotten by your father and your mother, which means that in you the mating of two human beings, a human species-act, produced another human being. Clearly, then, man also owes his existence to man in a physical sense. Therefore, you should not only keep sight of the one aspect, the infinite progression which leads you on to the question: "Who begot my father, his grandfather, etc.?" You should also keep in mind the circular movement sensuously perceptible in that progression whereby man reproduces himself in the act of begetting and thus always remains the subject. But you will reply: I grant you this circular movement, but you must also grant me the right to progress back to the question: Your question is itself a product of abstraction. Ask yourself how you arrived at that question. Ask yourself whether your question does not arise from a standpoint to which I cannot reply because it is a perverse one. Ask yourself whether that progression exists as such for rational thought. If you ask about the creation of nature and of man, then you are abstracting from nature and from man. You assume them as non-existent and want me to prove to you that they exist. My answer is: Give up your abstraction and you will them give up your question. But if you want to hold on to your abstraction, then do so consistently, and if you assume the non-existence of man and nature, then assume also your own non-existence, for you are also nature and man. Do not think and do not ask me questions, for as soon as you think and ask questions, your abstraction from the existence of nature and man has no meaning. Or are you such an egoist that you assume everything as non-existence and still want to exist yourself?
You can reply: I do not want to assume the nothingness of nature, etc. I am only asking how it arose, just as I might ask the anatomist about the formation of bones, etc.
But since for socialist man the whole of what is called world history is nothing more than the creation of man through human labor, and the development of nature for man, he therefore has palpable and incontrovertible proof of his self-mediated birth, of his process of emergence. Since the essentiality [Wesenhaftigkeit] of man and nature, a man as the existence of nature for man and nature as the existence of man for man, has become practically and sensuously perceptible, the question of an alien being, being above nature and man -- a question which implies an admission of the unreality of nature and of man -- has become impossible in practice. Atheism, which is a denial of this unreality, no longer has any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God, through which negation it asserts the existence of man. But socialism as such no longer needs such mediation. Its starting point is the theoretically and practically sensuous consciousness of man and of nature as essential beings. It is the positive self-consciousness of man, no longer mediated through the abolition of religion, just as real life is positive reality no longer mediated through the abolition of private property, through communism. Communism is the act of positing as the negation of the negation, and is therefore a real phase, necessary for the next period of historical development, in the emancipation and recovery of mankind. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism is not as such the goal of human development -- the form of human society.
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.
If man's feelings, passions, etc., are not merely anthropological characteristics in the narrower sense, but are truly ontological affirmations of his essence (nature), and if they only really affirm themselves insofar as their object exists sensuously for them, then it is clear:
(1) That their mode of affirmation is by no means one and the same, but rather that the different modes of affirmation constitute the particular character of their existence, of their life. The mode in which the object exists for them is the characteristic mode of their gratification.
(2) Where the sensuous affirmation is a direct annulment [Aufheben] of the object in its independent form (eating, drinking, fashioning of objects, etc.), this is the affirmation of the object.
(3) Insofar as man, and hence also his feelings, etc., are human, the affirmation of the object by another is also his own gratification.
(4) Only through developed industry -- i.e., through mediation of private property, does the ontological essence of human passion come into being, both in its totality and in its humanity; the science of man is, therefore, itself a product of the self-formation of man through practical activity.
(5) The meaning of private property, freed from its estrangement, is the existence of essential objects for man, both as objects of enjoyment and of activity.
Money, inasmuch as it possess the property of being able to buy everything and appropriate all objects, is the object most worth possessing. The universality of this property is the basis of money's omnipotence; hence, it is regarded as an omnipotent being... Money is the pimp between need and object, between life and man's means of life. But that which mediates my life also mediates the existence of other men for me. It is for me the other person.
What, man! confound it, hands and feet And head and backside, all are yours! And what we take while life is sweet, Is that to be declared not ours? Six stallions, say, I can afford, Is not their strength my property? I tear along, a sporting lord, As if their legs belonged to me.
(Goethe, Faust -- Mephistopheles) [ Part I, scene 4 ]
Shakespeare, in Timon of Athens:
Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold! No, gods, I am no idle votarist; roots, you clear heavens! Thus much of this will make black, white; foul, fair; Wrong, right; base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant. ... Why, this Will lug your priests and servants from your sides; Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads: This yellow slave Will knit and break religions; bless th'accurst; Make the hoar leprosy adored; place thieves, And give them title, knee, and approbation, With senators on the bench: this is it That makes the wappen'd widow wed again; She whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices To th'April day again. Come, damned earth, Thou common whore of mankind, that putt'st odds Among the rout of nations, I will make thee Do thy right nature.
And, later on:
O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce 'Twixt natural son and sire! Thou bright defiler Of Hymen's purest bed! Thou valiant Mars! Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer, Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow That lies on Dian's lap! Thous visible god, That solder'st close impossibilities, And mak'st them kiss! That speak'st with every tongue, To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts! Think, thy slave man rebels; and by thy virtue Set them into confounding odds, that beasts May have in world empire!
Shakespeare paints a brilliant picture of the nature of money. To understand him, let us begin by expounding the passage from Goethe.
That which exists for me through the medium of money, that which I can pay for, i.e., that which money can buy, that am I, the possessor of money. The stronger the power of my money, the stronger am I. The properties of money are my, the possessor's, properties and essential powers. Therefore, what I am and what I can do is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy the most beautiful woman. Which means to say that I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness, its repelling power, is destroyed by money. As an individual, I am lame, but money procurs me 24 legs. Consequently, I am not lame. I am a wicked, dishonest, unscrupulous and stupid individual, but money is respected, and so also is its owner. Money is the highest good, and consequently its owner is also good. Moreover, money spares me the trouble of being dishonest, and I am therefore presumed to be honest. I am mindless, but if money is the true mind of all things, how can its owner be mindless? What is more, he can buy clever people for himself, and is not he who has power over clever people cleverer than them? Through money, I can have anything the human heart desires. Do I not possess all human abilities? Does not money therefore transform all my incapacities into their opposite?
If money is the bond which ties me to human life and society to me, which links me to nature and to man, is money not the bond of all bonds? Can it not bind and loose all bonds? Is it therefore not the universal means of separation? It is the true agent of separation and the true cementing agent, it is the chemical power of society.
Shakespeare brings out two properties of money in particular:
(1) It is the visible divinity, the transformation of all human and natural qualities into their opposites, the universal confusion and inversion of things; it brings together impossibilities.
(2) It is the universal whore, the universal pimp of men and peoples.
The inversion and confusion of all human and natural qualities, the bringing together of impossibilities, the divine power of money lies in its nature as the estranged and alienating species-essence of man which alienates itself by selling itself. It is the alienated capacity of mankind.
What I, as a man, do -- i.e., what all my individual powers cannot do -- I can do with the help of money. Money, therefore, transforms each of these essential powers into something which it is not, into its opposite.
If I desire a meal, or want to take the mail coach because I am not strong enough to make the journey on foot, money can provide me both the meal and the mail coach -- i.e., it transfers my wishes from the realm of imagination, it translates them from their existence as thought, imagination, and desires, into their sensuous, real existence, from imagination into life, and from imagined being into real being. In this mediating role, money is the truly creative power.
Demand also exists for those who have no money, but their demand is simply a figment of the imagination. For me, or for any other third party, it has no effect, no existence. For me, it therefore remains unreal and without an object. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my desire, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between a representation which merely exists within me and one which exists outside me as a real object.
If I have money for travel, I have no need -- i.e., no real and self-realizing need -- to travel. If I have a vocation to study, but no money for it, I have no vocation to study -- i.e., no real, true vocation. But, if I really do not have any vocation to study, but have the will and the money, then I have an effective vocation do to so. Money, which is the external, universal means and power -- derived not from man as man, and not from human society as society -- to turn imagination into reality and reality into more imagination, similarly turns real human and natural powers into purely abstract representations, and therefore imperfections and phantoms -- truly impotent powers which exist only in the individual's fantasy -- into real essential powers and abilities. Thus characterized, money is the universal inversion of individualities, which it turns into their opposites and to whose qualities it attaches contradictory qualities.
Money, therefore, appears as an inverting power in relation to the individual and to those social and other bonds which claim to be essences in themselves. It transforms loyalty into treason, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, nonsense into reason, and reason into nonsense.
Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and exchanges everything, it is the universal confusion and exchange of all things, an inverted world, the confusion and exchange of all natural and human qualities.
He who can buy courage is brave, even if he is a coward. Money is not exchange for a particular quality, a particular thing, or for any particular one of the essential powers of man, but for the whole objective world of man and of nature. Seen from the standpoint of the person who possesses it, money exchanges every quality for every other quality and object, even if it is contradictory; it is the power which brings together impossibilities and forces contradictions to embrace.
If we assume man to be man, and his relation to the world to be a human one, then love can be exchanged only for love, trust for trust, and so on. If you wish to enjoy art, you must be an artistically educated person; if you wish to exercise influence on other men, you must be the sort of person who has a truly stimulating and encouraging effect on others. Each one of your relations to man -- and to nature -- must be a particular expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love unrequitedly -- i.e., if your love as love does not call forth love in return, if, through the vital expression of yourself as a loving person, you fail to become a loved person -- then your love is impotent, it is a misfortune.
This is, perhaps, the place to make a few remarks, by way of explanation and justification, about the Hegelian dialectic -- both in general and in particular, as expounded in the Phenomenology and Logic, as well as about its relation to the modern critical movement.
Modern German criticism was so pre-occupied with the old world, and so entangled during the course of its development with its subject-matter, that it had a completely uncritical attitude to the method of criticism, and was completely unaware of the seemingly formal but in fact essential question of how we now stand in relation to the Hegelian dialectic. The lack of awareness about the relation of modern criticism to Hegelian philosophy in general and to the dialectic in particular has been so pronounced that critics like Strauss and Bruno Bauer are still, at least implicitly, imprisoned within Hegelian logic, the first completely so and the second in his Synoptiker (where, in opposition to Strauss, he substitutes the "self-consciousness" of abstract man for the substance of abstract nature) and even in his Das entdeckte Christentum. For example, in Das entdeckte Christentum we find the following passage:
"As if self-consciousness, in positing the world, that which is different, and in producing itself in that which it produces, since it then does away with the difference between what it has produced and itself and since it is only in the producing and in the movement that it is itself -- as if it did not have its purpose in this movement," etc.
[ Bruno Bauer, Das entdeckte Christentum, Eine Erinnerung an das achtzehnte Jahrhundert une ein Beitrag zur Krisis des neunzehnten, Zurich and Winterthur, 1843, p.113 ]
Or again:
"They (the French Materialists) could not yet see that the movement of the universe only really comes to exist for itself and enters into unity with itself as the movement of self-consciousness."
[ Bauer, ibid., p.114 f. ]
These expressions are not even different in their language from the Hegelian conception. They reproduce it word for word.
How little awareness there was of the relation to Hegel's dialectic while this criticism was under way (Bauer's Synoptiker), and how little even the completed criticism of the subject-matter contributed to such an awareness, is clear from Bauer's Gute Sache der Freiheit, where he dismisses Herr Gruppe's impertinent question "and now what will happen to logic?" by referring him to future Critics.
But, now that Feuerbach, both in his "Thesen" in the Anekdota and in greater detail in his Philosophie der Zukunft, has destroyed the foundations of the old dialectic and philosophy, that very school of Criticism, which was itself incapable of taking such a step but instead watched while it was taken, has proclaimed itself the pure, resolute, absolute Criticism which has achieved self-clarity, and in its spiritual pride has reduced the whole process of history to the relation between the rest of the world, which comes into the category of the "masses", and itself. It has assimilated all dogmatic antitheses into the one dogmatic antithesis between its own sagacity and the stupidity of the world, between the critical Christ and mankind -- the "rabble". It has daily and hourly demonstrated its own excellence against the mindlessness of the masses and has finally announced that the critical Day of Judgment is drawing near, when the whole of fallen humanity will be arrayed before it and divided into groups, whereupon each group will receive its certificate of poverty. The school of Criticism has made known in print its superiority to human feelings and the world, above which it sits enthroned in sublime solitude, with nothing but an occassional roar of sarcastic laughter from its Olympian lips. After all these delightful capers of idealism (Young Hegelianism) which is expiring in the form of Criticism, it (the critical school) has not once voiced so much as a suspicion of the need for a critical debate with its progenitor, the Hegelian dialectic. It has not even indicated a critical attitude to Feuerbach's dialectic. A completely uncritical attitude towards itself.
Feuerbach is the only person who has a serious and critical attitude to the Hegelian dialectic and who has made real discoveries in this field. He is the true conqueror of the old philosophy. The magnitude of his achievement and the quiet simplicity with which he present to to the world are in marked contrast to the others.
Feuerbach's great achievement is:
(1) To have shown that philosophy is nothing more than religion brought into thought and developed in thought, and that it is equally to be condemned as another form and mode of existence of the estrangement of man's nature.
(2) To have founded true materialism and real science by making the social relation of "man to man" the basic principle of this theory.
(3) To have opposed to the negation of the negation, which claims to be the absolute positive, the positive which is based upon itself and positively grounded in itself.
Feuerbach explains the Hegelian dialectic, and in so doing justifies taking the positive, that is sensuously ascertained, as his starting-point, in the following way:
Hegel starts out from the estrangement of substance (in logical terms: from the infinite, the abstractly universal), from the absolute and fixed abstraction. In ordinary language, he starts out from religion and theology.
Secondly, he supercedes the infinite and posits the actual, the sensuous, the real, the finite, the particular. (Philosophy as supersession of religion and theology.)
Thirdly, he once more supersedes the positive, and restores the abstraction, the infinite. Restoration of religion and theology.
Feuerbach, therefore, conceives the negation of the negation only as a contradiction of philosophy with itself, as philosophy which affirms theology (supersession, etc.) after having superseded it and, hence, affirms it in opposition to itself.
The positing or self-affirmation and self-confirmation present in the negation of the negation is regarded as a positing which is not yet sure of itself, which is still preoccupied with its opposite, which doubts itself and therefore stands in need of proof, which does not prove itself through its own existence, which is not admitted. It is, therefore, directly counterposed to that positing which is sensuously ascertained and grounded in itself. (Feuerbach sees negation of the negation, the concrete concept, as thought which surpasses itself in thought and as thought which strives to be direct awareness, nature, reality.)
But, since he conceives the negation of the negation from the aspect of the positive relation contained within it as the true and only positive and from the aspect of the negative relation contained within it as the only true act and self-realizing act of all being, Hegel has merely discovered the abstract, logical, speculative expression of the movement of history. This movement of history is not yet the real history of man as a given subject, it is simply the process of his creation, the history of his emergence. We shall explain both the abstract form of this movement and the difference between Hegel's conception of this process and that of modern criticism as formulated in Feuerbach's Das Wesen des Christentums, or, rather, the critical form of a movement which in Hegel is still uncritical.
Let us take a look at Hegel's system. We must begin with his Phenomenology, which is the true birthplace and secret of the Hegelian philosophy.
[ chapter and section headings ] Phenomenology
A. Self-consciousness
1. Consciousness. (a) Certainty in sense experience, or the "this" and meaning. (b) Perception or the thing with its properties and illusion. (c) Power and understanding, phenomena and the super-sensible world.
2. Self-consciousness. The truth of certainty of oneself.
(a) Independence and dependence of self-consciousness (b) Freedom of self-consciousness. Stoicism, scepticism, the unhappy consciousness.
3. Reason. Certainty and truth.
(a) Observational reason; observation of nature and of self-consciousness. (b) Realization of rational self-consciousness through itself. Pleasure and necessity. The law of the heart and the madness of self-conceit. Virtue and the way of the world. (c) Individuality which is real in and for itself. The spiritual animal kingdom and deception or the thing itself. Legislative reason. Reason which tests laws.
B. Mind.
1. True mind, morality. 2. Self-estranged mind, culture. 3. Mind certain of itself, morality.
C. Religion. Natural religion, the religion of art, revealed religion.
D. Absolute knowledge.
Hegel's Encyclopaedia begins with logic, with pure speculative thought, and ends with absolute knowledge, with the self-conscious, self-comprehending philosophical or absolute mind -- i.e., super-human, abstract mind. In the same way, the whole of the Encyclopaedia is nothing but the extended being or philosophical mind, its self-objectification; and the philosophical mind is nothing but the estranged mind of the world thinking within its self-estrangement -- i.e., conceiving itself abstractly. Logic is the currency of the mind, the speculative thought-value of man and of nature, their essence which has become completely indifferent to all real determinateness and hence unreal, alienated thought, and therefore though which abstract from nature and from real man; abstract thought. The external character of this abstract thought... nature as it is for this abstract thought. Nature is external to it, its loss of self; it grasps nature externally, as abstract thought, but as alienated abstract thought. Finally mind, which is thought returning to its birthplace and which as anthropological, phenomenological, psychological, moral, artistic-religious mind, is not valid for itself until it finally discovers and affirms itself as absolute knowledge and therefore as absolute, i.e., abstract mind, receives its conscious and appropriate existence. For its real existence is abstraction.
Hegel commits a double error.
The first appears most clearly in the Phenomenology, which is the birthplace of Hegelian philosophy. When, for example, Hegel conceives wealth, the power of the state, etc., as entities estranged from the being of man, he conceives them only in their thought form... They are entities of thought, and therefore simply an estrangement of pure -- i.e., abstract -- philosophical thought. Therefore, the entire movement ends with absolute knowledge. What these objects are estranged from and what they confront with their claim to reality is none other than abstract thought. The philosopher -- himself an abstract form of estranged man -- sets himself up as the yardstick of the estranged world. The entire history of alienation, and the entire retraction of this alienation, is, therefore, nothing more than the history history of the production of abstract (i.e., absolute), though, of logical, speculative thought. Estrangement, which thus forms the real interest of this alienation and its super-session, is the opposition of in itself and for itself, of consciousness and self-consciousness, of object and subject -- i.e., the opposition within thought itself of abstract thought and sensuous reality, or real sensuousness. All other oppositions and the movements of these oppositions are only the appearance, the mask, the exoteric form of these two opposites which are alone important and which form the meaning of these other, profane oppositions. It is not the fact that the human essence objectifies itself in an inhuman way, in opposition to itself, but that it objectifies itself in distinction from and in opposition to abstract thought, which constitutes the essence of estrangement as it exists and as it is to be superseded.
The appropriation of man's objectified and estranged essential powers is, therefore, firstly only an appropriation which takes place in consciousness, in pure thought -- i.e., in abstraction. In the Phenomenology, therefore, despite its thoroughly negative and critical appearance, and despite the fact that its criticism is genuine and often well ahead of its time, the uncritical positivism, and equally uncritical idealism of Hegel's later works, the philosophical dissolution and restoration of the empirical world, is already to be found in its latent form, in embryo, as a potentiality and a secret. Secondly, the vindication of the objective world for man -- e.g., the recognition that sensuous consciousness is not abstractly sensuous consciousness, but humanly sensuous consciousness; that religion, wealth, etc., are only the estranged reality of human objectification, of human essential powers born into work, and therefore only the way to true human reality -- this appropriation, or the insight into this process, therefore appears in Hegel in such a way that sense perception, religion, the power of the state, etc., are spiritual entities, for mind alone is the true essence of man, and the true form of mind is the thinking mind, the logical, speculative mind. The humanity of nature and of nature as produced by history, of man's products, is apparent from the fact that they are products of abstract mind and therefore factors of the mind, entities of thought. The Phenomenology is therefore concealed and mystifying criticism, criticism which has not attained self-clarity; but insofar as it grasps the estrangement of man -- even though man appears only in the form of mind -- all the elements of criticism are concealed within it, and often prepared and worked out in a way that goes far beyond Hegel's own point of view. The "unhappy consciousness", the "honest consciousness", the struggle of the "noble and base consciousness", etc., etc., these separate sections contain the critical elements -- but still in estranged form -- of entire spheres, such as religion, the state, civil life and so fort. Just as the entity, the object,appears as a thought-entity, so also the subject is always consciousness of self-consciousness; or rather, the object appears only as abstract consciousness and men only as self-consciousness. The various forms of estrangement which occur are therefore merely different forms of consciousness and self-consciousness. Since abstract consciousness, which is how the object is conceived, is in itself only one moment in the differentiation of self-consciousness, the result of the movement is the identity of self-consciousness and consciousness, absolute knowledge, the movement of abstract thought no longer directed outwards but proceeding only within itself; i.e., the result is the dialectic of pure thought.
The importance of Hegel's Phenomenology and its final result -- the dialectic of negativity as the moving and producing principle -- lies in the fact that Hegel conceives the self-creation of man as a process, objectification as loss of object [Entgegenstandlichung], as alienation and as supersession of this alienation; that he therefore grasps the nature of labor and conceives objective man -- true, because real man -- as the result of his own labor. The real, active relation of man to himself as a species-being, or the realization of himself as a real species-being -- i.e., as a human being, is only possible if he really employs all this species-powers -- which again is only possible through the cooperation of mankind and as a result of history -- and treats them as objects, which is at first only possible in the form of estrangement.
We shall now demonstrate, in detail, the one-sidedness and the limitations of Hegel, as observed in the closing chapter of the Phenomenology. This chapter ("Absolute Knowledge") contains the concentrated essence of the Phenomenology, its relation to the dialectic, and Hegel's consciousness of both and their interrelations.
For the present, let us observe that Hegel adopts the standpoint of modern political economy. He sees labor as the essence, the self-confirming essence, of man; he sees only the positive and not the negative side of labor. Labor is man's coming to be for himself within alienation or as an alienated man. The only labor Hegel knows and recognizes is abstract mental labor. So that which above all constitutes the essence of philosophy -- the alienation of man who knows himself or alienated science that thinks itself -- Hegel grasps as its essence, and is therefore able to bring together the separate elements of previous philosophies and present his own philosophy as the philosophy. What other philosophers did -- that they conceived separate moments of nature and of man's life as moments of self-consciousness, indeed, of abstract self-consciousness -- this Hegel knows by doing philosophy. Therefore, his science is absolute.
Let us now proceed to our subject.
"Absolute Knowledge." The last chapter of the Phenomenology.
The main point is that the object of consciousness is nothing else but self-consciousness, or that the object is only objectified self- consciousness, self-consciousness as object. (The positing of man = self-consciousness.)
It is, therefore, a question of surmounting the object of consciousness. Objectivity as such is seen as an estranged human relationship which does not correspond to human nature, to self-consciousness. The reappropriation of the objective essence of man, produced in the form of estrangement as something alien, therefore means transcending not only estrangement but also objectivity. That is to say, man is regarded as a non-objective, spiritual being.
Hegel describes the process of surmounting the object of consciousness in the following way:
The object does not only show itself as returning into the self, (according to Hegel that is a one-sided conception of the movement, a conception which grasps only one side). Man is equated with self. But the self is only abstractly conceived man, man produced by abstraction. Man is self [selbstisch]. His eyes, his ears, etc., have the quality of self; each one of his essential powers has this quality of self. But therefore it is quite wrong to say that self-consciousness has eyes, ears, essential powers. Self-consciousness is rather a quality of human nature, of the human eye, etc.; human nature is not a quality of self-consciousness.
The self abstracted and fixed for itself is man as abstract egoist, egoism raised to its pure abstraction in thought. (We shall come back to this later.)
For Hegel, human nature, man, is equivalent to self-consciousness. All estrangement of human nature is therefore nothing but estrangement of self-consciousness not as the expression, reflected in knowledge and in thought, of the real estrangement of human nature. On the contrary, actual estrangement, estrangement which appears real, is in its innermost hidden nature -- which philosophy first brings to light -- nothing more than the appearance of the estrangement of real human nature, of self-consciousness. The science which comprehends this is therefore called phenomenology. All reappropriation of estranged objective being, therefore, appears as an incorporation into self-consciousness; the man who takes hold of his being is only the self-consciousness which takes hold of objective being. The return of the object into the self is therefore the reappropriation of the object.
Expressed comprehensively, the surmounting of the object of consciousness means [the following eight points taken almost verbatim from Phenomenology, chapter "Absolute Knowledge"]:
(1) That the object as such presents itself to consciousness as something disappearing.
(2) That it is the alienation of self-consciousness which establishes thingness [Dingheit].
(3) That this alienation has not only a negative but also a positive significance. (4) That this significance is not only for us or in itself, but for self-consciousness itself.
(5) For self-consciousness the negative of the object, its own supersession of itself, has a positive significance -- or self-consciousness knows the nullity of the object -- in that self-consciousness alienates itself, for in this alienation it establishes itself as object of establishes the object as itself, for the sake of the indivisible unity of being-for-itself.
(6) On the other hand, this other moment is also present in the process, namely, that self-consciousness has superseded and taken back into itself this alienation and objectivity, and is therefore at home in its other-being as such.
(7) This is the movement of consciousness, and consciousness is therefore the totality of its moments.
(8) Similarly, consciousness must have related itself to the object in terms of the totality of its determinations, and have grasped it in terms of each of them. This totality of determinations make the object intrinsically [an sich] a spiritual being, and it becomes that in reality for consciousness through the apprehending of each one of these determinations as determinations of self or through what we earlier called the spiritual attitude towards them.
As to (1)
That the object as such presents itself to consciousness as something disappearing is the above-mentioned return of the object into self.
As to (2)
The alienation of self-consciousness establishes thingness. Because man is equivalent to self-consciousness, his alienated objective being or thingness (that which is an object for him, and the only true object for him is that which is an essential object -- i.e., his objective essence; since it is not real man, and therefore not nature, for man is human nature, who becomes as such the subject, but only the abstraction of man, self-consciousness, thingness can only be alienated self-consciousness) is the equivalent of alienated self-consciousness, and thingness is established by this alienation. It is entirely to be expected that a living, natural being equipped and endowed with objective -- i.e., material -- essential powers should have real natural objects for the objects of its being, and that its self-alienation should take the form of the establishment of a real, objective world, but as something external to it, a world which does not belong to its being and which overpowers it. There is nothing incomprehensible or mysterious about that. It would only be mysterious if the contrary were true. But it is equally clear that a self-consciousness, through its alienation, can only establish thingness -- i.e., and abstract thing, a thing of abstraction and not a real thing. It is also clear that thingness is therefore in no way something independent or substantial vis-a-vis self-consciousness; it is a mere creature, a postulate of self-consciousness. And what is postulated, instead of confirming itself, is only a confirmation of the act of postulating; an act which, for a single moment, concentrates its energy as product and apparently confers upon that product -- but only for a moment -- the role of an independent, real being.
When real, corporeal man, his feet firmly planted on the solid earth and breathing all the powers of nature, establishes his real, objective essential powers as alien objects by externalization [Entausserung], it is not the establishing [Setzen] which is subject; it is the subjectivity of objective essential powers whose action must therefore be an objective one. An objective being acts objectively, and it would not act objectively is objectivity were not an inherent part of its essential nature. It creates and establishes only objects because it is established by objects, because it is fundamentally nature. In the act of establishing, it, therefore, does not descend from its "pure activity" to the creation of objects; on the contrary, its objective product simply confirms its objective activity, its activity as the activity of an objective, natural being.
Here we see how the constant naturalism or humanism differs both from idealism and materialism and is at the same time their unifying truth. We also see that only naturalism is capable of comprehending the process of world history.
Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being, and as a living natural being, he is on the one hand equipped with natural powers, with vital powers, he is an active natural being; these powers exist in him as dispositions and capacities, as drives. On the other hand, as a natural, corporeal, sensuous, objective being, he is a suffering, conditioned, and limited being, like animals and plants. that is to say, the objects of his drives exist outside him as objects independent of him; but these objects are objects of his need, essential objects, indispensable to the exercise and confirmation of his essential powers. To say that man is a corporeal, living, real, sensuous, objective being with natural powers means that he has real, sensuous objects as the object of his being and of his vital expression, or that he can only express his life in real, sensuous objects. To be objective, natural, and sensuous, and to have object, nature, and sense outside oneself, or to be oneself object, nature, and sense for a third person is one and the same thing. Hunger is a natural need; it therefore requires a nature and an object outside itself in order to satisfy and still itself. Hunger is the acknowledged need of my body for an object which exists outside itself and which is indispensable to its integration and to the expression of its essential nature. The Sun is an object for the plant, an indispensable object with confirms its life, just as the plant is an object for the Sun, as expression of its life-awakening power and its objective essential power.
A being which does not have its nature outside itself is not a natural being and plays no part in the system of nature. A being which has no object outside it, it would exist in a condition of solitude. For as soon as there are objects outside me, as soon as I am not alone, I am another, a reality other than the object outside me. For this third object I am therefore a reality other than it -- i.e., its object. A being which is not the object of another being therefore presupposes that no objective being exists. As soon as I have an object, this object has me for its object. But a non-objective being is an unreal, non-sensuous, merely thought -- i.e., merely conceived -- being, a being of abstraction. To be sensuous -- i.e., to be real -- is to be an object of sense, a sensuous object, and thus to have sensuous objects outside oneself, objects of one's sense perception. To be sensuous is to suffer (to be subjected to the actions of another).
Man as an objective sensuous being is therefore a suffering being, and because he feels his suffering [Leiden], he is a passionate [leidenschaftliches] being. Passion is man's essential power vigorously striving to attain its object.
But man is not only a natural being; he is a human natural being; i.e., he is a being for himself and hence a species-being, as which he must confirm and realize himself both in his being and in his knowning. Consequently, human objects are not natural objects as they immediately present themselves, nor is human sense, in its immediate and objective existence, human sensibility and human objectivity. Neither objective nor subjective nature is immediately present in a form adequate to the human being. And as everything natural must come into being, so man also has his process of origin in history. But for him history is a conscious process, and hence one which consciously superseded itself. History is the true natural history of man. (We shall return to this later.)
Thirdly, since this establishing of thingness is itself only an appearance, n act which contradicts the nature of pure activity, it must be superseded once again and thingness must be denied.
As to 3, 4, 5, 6.
(3) This alienation of consciousness has not only a negative but also a positive significance, and (4) it has this positive significance not only for us or in itself, but for consciousness itself.
(5) For self-consciousness, the negative of the object or its own supersession of itself has a positive significance -- or self-consciousness knows the nullity of the object -- in that self-consciousness alienates itself, for in this alienation it knows itself as object or, for the sake of the individisible unity of being-for-itself, the object as itself.
(6) On the other hand, the other moment is also present in the process, namely, that self-consciousness has superseded and taken back into itself this alienation and objectivity, and is therefore at home in its other-being as such.
To recapitulate. The appropriation of estranged objective being or the supersession of objectivity in the form of estrangement -- which must proceed from indifferent otherness to real, hostile estrangement -- principally means for Hegel the supersession of objectivity, since it is not the particular character of the object but its objective character which constitutes the offense and the estrangement as far as self-consciousness is concerned. The object is therefore negative, self-superseding, a nullity. This nullity of the object has not only a negative but also a positive significance for consciousness, for it is precisely the self-confirmation of its non-objectivity and abstraction. For consciousness itself, the nullity of the object therefore has a positive significance because it knows this nullity, the objective being, as its self-alienation, because it knows that this nullity exists only as a result of its own self-alienation...
The way in which consciousness is, and in which something is for it, is knowing. Knowing is its only act. Hence, something comes to exist for consciousness insofar as it knows that something. Knowing is its only objective relationship. It knows the nullity of the object -- i.e., that the object is not direct from it, the non-existence of the object for it, in that it knows the object as its own self-alienation; that is, it knows itself -- i.e., it knows knowing, considered as an object -- in that the object is only the appearance of an object, an illusion, which in essence is nothing more than knowing itself which has confronted itself with itself and hence a nullity, a something which has no objectivity outside knowing. Knowing knows that when it relates itself to an object it is only outside itself, alienates itself; that it only appears to itself as an object, or rather, that what appears to it as an object is only itself.
On the other hand, says, Hegel, this other moment is also present in the process, namely, that self-consciousness has superseded and taken back into itself this alienation and objectivity, and is therefore at home in its other-being as such.
This discussion is a compendium of all the illusions of speculation.
Firstly, consciousness -- self-consciousness -- is at home in its other-being as such. It is therefore, if we here abstract from Hegel's abstraction and talk instead of self-consciousness, of the self-consciousness of man, at home in its other-being as such. This implies, for one thing, that consciousness -- knowing as knowing, thinking as thinking -- claims to be the direct opposite of itself, claims to be the sensuous world, reality, life -- thought over-reaching itself in thought (Feuerbach). This aspect is present insofar as consciousness as mere consciousness is offended not by estranged objectivity but by objectivity as such.
Secondly, it implies that self-conscious man, insofar as he has acknowledged and superseded the spiritual world, or the general spiritual existence of his world, as self-alienation, goes on to reaffirm it in this alienated form and presents it as his true existence, restores it and claims to be at home in his other-being as such. Thus, for example, having superseded religion and recognized it as a product of self-alienation, he still finds himself confirmed in religion as religion. Here is the root of Hegel's false positivism or of his merely apparent criticism; it is what Feuerbach calls the positing, negating, and re-establishing of religion or theology, but it needs to be conceived in a more general way. So reason is at home in unreason as unreason. Man, who has realized that in law, politics, etc., he leads an alienated life as such. Self-affirmation, self-confirmation in contradiction with itself and with the knowledge and the nature of the object is therefore true knowledge and true life.
Therefore there can no longer be any question abut a compromise on Hegel's part with religion, the state, etc., since this untruth is the untruth of his principle.
If I know religion as alienated human self-consciousness, then what I know in it as religion is not my self-consciousness but my alienated self-consciousness confirmed in it. Thus I know that the self-consciousness which belongs to the essence of my own self is confirmed not in religion but in the destruction and supersession of religion.
In Hegel, therefore, the negation of the negation is not the confirmation of true being through the negation of apparent being. It is the confirmation of apparent being or self-estranged being in its negation, or the negation of this apparent being as an objective being residing outside man and independent of him and its transformation into the subject.
The act of superseding therefore plays a special role in which negation and preservation (affirmation) are brought together.
Thus, for example, in Hegel's Philosophy of Right, private right superseded equals morality, morality superseded equals family, family superseded equals civil society, civil society superseded equals state, and state superseded equals world history. In reality, private right, morality, family, civil society, state, etc., continue to exist, but have become moments and modes of human existence which are meaningless in isolation but which mutually dissolve and engender one another. They are moments of movement.
In their real existence this character of mobility is hidden. It first appears, is first revealed, in thought and in philosophy. Hence, my true religious existence is my existence in the philosophy of religion, my true political existence is my existence in the philosophy of right, my true natural existence is my existence in the philosophy of nature, my true artistic existence is my existence in the philosophy of art and my true human existence is my existence in philosophy. Similarly, the true existence of religion, state, nature, and art is the philosophy of religion, nature, the state and art. But if the philosophy of religions, etc., is for me the true existence of religion, then I am truly religious only as a philosopher of religion, and I therefore deny real religiosity and the really religious man. But at the same time I confirm them, partly in my own existence or in the alien existence which I oppose to them -- for this is merely their philosophical expression -- and partly in their particular and original form, for I regard them as merely apparent other-being, as allegories, forms of their own true existence concealed under sensuous mantles -- i.e. forms of my philosophical existence.
Similarly, quality superseded equals quantity, quantity superseded equals measure, measure superseded equals essence, essence superseded equals appearance, appearance superseded equals reality, reality superseded equals the concept, the concept superseded equals objectivity, objectivity superseded, equals the absolute idea, the absolute idea superseded equals nature, nature superseded equals subjective spirit, subjective spirit superseded equals ethical objective spirit. ethical spirit superseded equals art, art superseded equals religion, religion superseded equals absolute knowledge.
On the one hand, this act of superseding is the act of superseding an entity of thought; thus, private property as thought is superseded in the thought of morality. And because thought imagines itself to be the direct opposite of itself -- i.e., sensuous reality -- and therefore regards its own activity as sensuous, real activity, this supersession in thought, which leaves its object in existence in reality, thinks it has actually overcome it. On the other hand, since the object has now become a moment of thought for the thought which is doing the superseding, it is regarded in its real existence as a continuation of thought, so self-consciousness, of abstraction.
From one aspect the existence which Hegel superseded in philosophy is therefore not real religion, state, nature, but religion already in the form of an object of knowledge -- i.e., dogmatics; hence also jurisprudence, political science, and natural science. From this aspect, he therefore stands in opposition both to the actual being and to the immediate non-philosophical science or non-philosophical concepts of being. He therefore contradicts their current conceptions.
From the other aspect the man who is religious, etc., can find his final confirmation in Hegel.
We should now examine the positive moments of the Hegelian dialectic, within the determining limits of estrangement.
(a) The act of superseding as an objective movement which re-absorbs alienation into itself. This is the insight, expressed within estrangement, into the appropriation of objective being through the supersession of its alienation; it is the estranged insight into the real objectification of man, into the real appropriation of his objective being through the destruction of the estranged character of the objective world, through the supersession of its estranged mode of existence, just as atheism as the supersession of God is the emergence of theoretical humanism, and communism as the supersession of private property the vindication of real human life as man's property, the emergence of practical humanism. Atheism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of religion; communism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of private property. Only when we have superseded this mediation -- which is, however, a necessary precondition -- will positive humanism, positively originating in itself, come into being.
But atheism and communism are no flight, no abstraction, no loss of the objective world created by man or of his essential powers projected into objectivity. No impoverished regression to unnatural, primitive simplicity. They are rather the first real emergence, the realization become real for man, of his essence as something real.
Therefore, in grasping the positive significance of the negation which has reference to itself, even if once again in estranged form, Hegel grasps man's self-estrangement alienation of being, loss of objectivity, and loss of reality as self-discovery, expression of being, objectification and realization. In short, he sees labor -- within abstraction -- as man's act of self-creation and man's relation to himself as an alien being and the manifestation of himself as an alien being as the emergence of species-consciousness and species-life.
(b) But in Hegel, apart from or rather as a consequence of the inversion we have already described, this act appears,firstly, to be merely formal because it is abstract and because human nature itself is seen only as abstract thinking being, as self-consciousness.
And secondly, because the conception is formal and abstract, the supersession of alienation becomes a confirmation of alienation. In other words, Hegel sees this movement of self-creation and self-objectification in the form of self-alienation and self-estrangement as the absolute and hence the final expression of human life which has itself as its aim, is at rest in itself and has attained its own essential nature.
This movement in its abstract form as dialectic is therefore regarded as truly human life. And since it is still an abstraction, an estrangement of human life, it is regarded as a divine process, but as the divine process of man. It is man's abstract, pure, absolute being (as distinct from himself), which itself passes through this process.
Thirdly, this process must have a bearer, a subject; but the subject comes into being only as the result; this result, the subject knowing itself as absolute self-consciousness, is therefore God, absolute spirit, the self-knowing and self-manifesting idea. Real man and real nature become mere predicates, symbols of this hidden, unreal man and this unreal nature. Subject and predicate therefore stand in a relation of absolute inversion to one another; a mystical subject-object or subjectivity encroaching upon the object, the absolute subject as a process, as a subject which alienates itself and returns to itself from alienation, while at the same time re-absorbing this alienation, and the subject as this process; pure, ceaseless revolving within itself.
First, the formal and abstract conception of man's act of self-creation of self-objectification.
Because Hegel equates man with self-consciousness, the estranged object, the estranged essential reality of man is nothing but consciousness, nothing but the thought of estrangement, its abstract and hence hollow and unreal expression, negation. The supersession of alienation is therefore likewise nothing but an abstract, hollow supersession of that hollow abstraction, the negation of the negation. The inexhaustible, vital, sensuous, concrete activity of self-objectification is therefore reduced to its mere abstraction, absolute negativity, an abstraction which is then given permanent form as such and conceived as independent activity, as activity itself. Since this so-called negativity is nothing more than the abstract, empty form of that real living act, its content can only be a formal content, created by abstraction from all content. Consequently there are general, abstract forms of abstraction which fit every content and are therefore indifferent to all content: forms of thought and logical categories torn away from real mind and real nature. (We shall expound the logical content of absolute negativity later.)
Hegel's positive achievement in his speculative logic is to present determinate concepts, the universal fixed thought-forms in their independence of nature and mind, as a necessary result of the universal estrangement of human existence, and thus also of human thought, and to comprehend them as moments in the process of abstraction. For example, being superseded is essence, essence superseded is the concept, the concept superseded is... the absolute idea. But what is the absolute idea? It is compelled to supersede its own self again, if it does not wish to go through the whole act of abstraction once more from the beginning and to reconcile itself to being a totality of abstraction which comprehends itself as abstraction knows itself to be nothing; it must relinquish itself, the abstraction, and so arrives at something which is its exact opposite, nature. Hence the whole of the Logic is proof of the fact that abstract thought is nothing for itself, that the absolute idea is nothing for itself, and that only nature is something.
The absolute idea, the abstract idea which "considered from the aspect of its unity with itself in intuition [Anschauen]", and which "in its own absolute truth resolves to let the moment of it s particularity or of initial determination and other-being, the immediate-idea, as its reflection, issue freely from itself as nature", this whole idea, which conducts itself in such a strange and baroque fashion, and which has caused the Hegelians such terrible headaches, is purely and simply abstraction -- i.e., the abstract thinker; abstraction which, taught by experience and enlightened as to its own truth, resolves under various conditions -- themselves false and still abstract -- to relinquish itself and to establish its other-being, the particular, the determinate, in place of its self-pervasion [Beisichsein], non-being, universality, and indeterminateness; to let nature, which is concealed within itself as a mere abstraction, as a thing of things, issue freely from itself -- i.e., to abandon abstractions and to take a look at nature, which exists free from abstraction. The abstract idea, which directly becomes intuition, is quite simply nothing more than abstract thought which relinquishes itself and decides to engage in intuiting. This entire transition from logic to philosophy of nature is nothing more than the transition -- so difficult for the abstract thinker to effect, and hence described by him in sich a bizarre manner -- from abstracting to intuiting. The mystical feeling which drives the philosopher from abstract thinking to intuition is boredom, the longing for a content.
The man estranged from himself is also the thinker estranged from his essence -- i.e., from his natural and human essence. His thoughts are therefore fixed phantoms existing outside nature and man. In his Logic, Hegel has locked up all these phantoms, conceiving each of them firstly as negative -- i.e., as alienation of human thought -- and secondly as negation of the negation -- i.e., as supersession of this alienation, as a real expression of human thought. But since this negation of the negation is itself still trapped in estrangement, what this amounts to is in part a failure to move beyond the final stage, the stage of self-reference in alienation, which is the true existence of these phantoms.
[Marx note: That is, Hegel substitutes the act of abstraction revolving within itself for these fixed abstractions; in so doing he has the merit, first of all, of having revealed the source of all these inappropriate concepts which originally belonged to separate philosophers, of having combined them and of having created as the object of criticism the exhaustive range of abstraction rather than one particular abstraction. We shall later see why Hegel separates thought from the subject; but it is already clear that if man is not human, then the expression of his essential nature cannot be human, and therefore that thought itself could not be conceived as an expression of man's being, of man as a human and natural subject, with eyes, ears, etc., living in society, in the world, and in nature.]
Insofar as this abstraction apprehends itself and experiences an infinite boredom with itself, we find in Hegel an abandonment of abstract thought which moves solely within thought, which has no eyes, teeth, ears, anything, and a resolve to recognize nature as being and to go over to intuition.
But nature, too, taken abstractly, for itself, and fixed in its separation from man, is nothing for man. It goes without saying that the abstract thinker who decides on intuition, intuits nature abstractly. Just as nature lay enclosed in the thinker in a shape which even to him was shrouded and mysterious, as an absolute idea, a thing of thought, so what he allowed to come forth from himself was simply this abstract nature, nature as a thing of thought -- but with the significance now of being the other-being of thought, real, intuited nature as distinct from abstract thought. Or, to put it in human terms, the abstract thinker discovers from intuiting nature that the entities which he imagined he was creating out of nothing, out of pure abstraction, in a divine dialectic, as the pure products of the labor of thought living and moving within itself and never looking out into reality, are nothing more than abstractions from natural forms. The whole of nature only repeats to him in a sensuous, external form the abstractions of logic. He analyzes nature and these abstractions again. His intuiting of nature is therefore only the act of confirmation of his abstraction from the intuition of nature, a conscious re-enactment of the process by which he produced his abstraction. Thus, for example, Time is equated with Negativity referred to itself. In the natural form, superseded Movement as Matter corresponds to superseded Becoming as Being. Light is the natural form of Reflection-in-itself. Body as Moon and Comet is the natural form of the antithesis which, according to the Logic, is the positive grounded upon itself and the negative grounded upon itself. The Earth is the natural form of the logical ground, as the negative unity of the antithesis, etc.
Nature as nature -- i.e., insofar as it is sensuously distinct from the secret sense hidden within it -- nature separated and distinct from these abstractions is nothing, a nothing proving itself to be nothing, it is devoid of sense, or only has the sense of an externality to be superseded.
"In the finite-teleological view is to be found the correct premise that nature does not contain the absolute end within itself."
Its end is the confirmation of abstraction.
"Nature has revealed itself as the idea in the form of other-being. Since the idea in this form is the negative of itself, or external to itself, nature is not only external relative to this idea, but externality constitutes the form in which it exists as nature."
[ Hegel p.225 ]
"For us, mind has nature as its premise, since it is nature's truth and, therefore, its absolute primus. In this truth, nature has disappeared, and mind has yielded as the idea which has attained being-for-itself, whose object as well as subject is the concept. This identity is absolute negativity, for, whereas in nature the concept has its perfect external objectivity, in this its alienation has been superseded and the concept has become identical with itself. It is this identity only in that it is a return from nature."
"Revelation, as the abstract idea, is unmediated transition to, the coming-to-be, nature; as the revelation of the mind which is free it is the establishing of nature as its own world; an establishing which, as reflection, is at the same time a presupposing of the world as independently existing nature. Revelation in its concept is the creation of nature as the mind's being, in which it procures the affirmation and truth of its freedom."
"The absolute is mind; this is the highest definition of the absolute."