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Title: Karl Marx
Author: Loria, Achille
Language: English
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_The socialism that inspires hopes and fears to-day is of the school of
Marx. No one is seriously apprehensive of any other so-called
socialistic movement, and no one is seriously concerned to criticise or
refute the doctrines set forth by any other school of "socialists."_





It has been said that the professional and professorial exponents of
economic science confine themselves to variants of a single theme.
Usually belonging to the master class by birth and education, and at any
rate attached to that class by the ties of economic interest, they are
ever guided by the conscious or subconscious aim of providing a
theoretical justification for the capitalist system, and their lives are
devoted to inculcating the art of extracting honey from the hive without
alarming the bees. Achille Loria is an exception to this generalisation.
Professor of political economy at Turin, and one of the most learned
economists of the day, he is anything but an apologist for the bourgeois
economy. With the exception of the first volume of Marx's _Capital_, no
more telling indictment of capitalism has ever been penned than Loria's
_Analysis of Capitalist Property_ (1889).

This gigantic work has not been translated, but a number of Loria's
books are available to English readers: _The Economic Foundations of
Society_, 1902; _Contemporary Social Problems_, 1911; _The Economic
Synthesis_, 1914. A biographical and critical study of Malthus, in the
Italian, was rendered into English in 1917 and published in the United
States as the opening chapter of a symposium on _Population and Birth
Control_ edited by the writers of this foreword. _The Economic
Foundations of Society_ has run through five editions in Swan
Sonnenschein's (now Allen & Unwin's) "Social Science Series." But on the
whole Loria's works are less widely known in England and America than on
the continent, far less widely known than they deserve to be.

An exposition of his outlook and a study of his relationship to Marx
will not only be of interest in themselves, but will help readers to
surmount certain terminological difficulties in the _Karl Marx_. All
original thinkers write perforce in a language of their own minting.
Those of us to whom "surplus value," the "class struggle," the
"materialist conception," "economic determinism," have been familiar
concepts from childhood upwards, are apt to forget that Marx's
contemporaries were repelled by what they regarded as superfluous
jargon. The first students of Kant, the first students of Darwin, the
first students of all great innovators in philosophy, science, and the
arts, have had to master a new vocabulary before they could understand
what these writers were driving at; for new ideas must be conveyed in a
new speech or by the use of old words refashioned. We cannot understand
Loria, we cannot appreciate Loria's criticism of Marx, we cannot grasp
the nature of Loria's own affiliation to Marx, unless we realise
precisely what the Italian economist means by the speciously familiar
terms "income," "subsistence," "unproductive labourers," "recipients of
income," and the like. The familiarity of the words makes them all the
more misleading to those who do not hold the Lorian clue to guide them
through the economic labyrinth. Does this sound alarming? Yet Loria's
doctrines, like those of Marx, like those of Darwin, like those of--but
we must not say "like those of Kant"--are simplicity itself to anyone
who is able to survive the first shock of the encounter, to surmount the
first agony of a new idea.

In our own view the difficulty of economics in large part depends upon
the fact that it is either a system of apologetics or else a system of
attack. There are, in fact, two conflicting sciences: the economic
science of the master class, and the economic science of the
proletariat. Both are necessarily tendentious, and the conflicting
tendencies will remain irreconcilable as long as the class struggle
continues. Not until that struggle has been fought to a successful
issue, not until the co-operative commonwealth has come into existence,
can there be a comparatively dispassionate political economy. As
dispassionate as conic sections it can never be, for it is biological,
sociological, is by its very nature tinged with human interest, and can
therefore never be wholly impartial. But many of the contradictions and
perplexities of economics are by no means inherent; they are, we
contend, no more than confusing reflexes of the class struggle.

Loria seems to hold a somewhat similar opinion. In _Contemporary Social
Problems_ (pp. 99, 100) he writes: "I am inclined to consider political
economy and socialism as two intellectual weapons which, for a long time
separate and mutually antagonistic owing to the apologetic theories of
the one and the subversive utopianism of the other, are drawing closer
and closer together as they become more human and the old animosities
disappear. Perhaps the day is not far distant when the two forces will
unite under one standard." To a casual reader this might suggest that
Loria thinks that the class struggle, that the conflict between orthodox
economics and socialism, can be overcome within the framework of the
bourgeois economy--that the capitalist Old-Man-of-the-Sea can at one and
the same time remain seated upon the back of the proletarian Sindbad the
Sailor, and walk beside him amicably arm in arm as the two climb the
mount of human endeavour. But an attentive student of Loria's _Karl
Marx_ will realise that when the Italian speaks of "a day not far
distant," he means the morrow of the social revolution, when Marx's
promethean work shall have been completed, and when, led by Marx "the
emperor in the realm of mind," the human race shall have reached "the
brilliant goal which awaits it in a future not perhaps immeasurably
remote" (infra p. 162).

For Loria, one of the greatest living champions of the doctrine of
economic determinism, sees no difficulty in reconciling that doctrine
with a firm belief in the magistral efficacy, at the stage which
evolution has now reached, of the deliberate human will. "The economic
natural force," writes Eduard Bernstein (_Evolutionary Socialism_, p.
14), "like the physical, changes from the ruler of mankind to its
servant, according as its nature is recognised." Herein is embodied the
application in the special economic field of the profound general truth
that by scientific study man, the child of nature, learns to control
nature, and thereby to mould his own being and social environment in
accordance with the dictates of his own enlightened will. Similarly
Loria is far from the rigid economic determinism which would refuse to
admit the existence of "ideal" causation, or the possibility in the
sphere of sociology of intelligently adapting means to ends. "Idealism"
is a word which has been soiled by such ignoble use that one really
hesitates to employ it; but we must distinguish between idealism and
sentimentalism, and between idealism and window dressing. The right sort
of idealism is realist idealism, and Loria is a realist idealist. He
distinguishes clearly between fatalism and quietism, on the one hand,
and economic determinism tempered by rationalist guidance, on the other.

In _The Economic Foundations of Society_ (pp. 376 et seq.) he writes:
"Can we say that a doctrine leads to fatalism which concedes a fertile
field to human activity, and which only seeks to mark out the limits
within which such efforts may be applied? Can we give the name of
quietism to a theory whose aims lie in the direction of substituting
enlightened action, aware of its ends, for blind and ignorant innovation
which is powerless to realise its purposes?... Turning to consider the
great social transformations which alter the structure of property, our
theory does, it is true, deny that such movements can be effected before
the necessary change in economic conditions has rendered them
inevitable; but far from this conclusion leading to the degradation of
human nature, it seems to us to inspire the highest sentiments. If we
examine the great spontaneous movements that have sought to modify
economic conditions before their time, we shall find that they all
lacked definite purpose. There was no clear idea of the new order of
things to be substituted for the old; on this account these movements
were wanting in discipline; they were anarchic, and hence their lack of
effect. Our theory, on the contrary, declares that it is first of all
necessary to learn the nature of the future social system, and, after
this knowledge has been acquired, to substitute a co-ordination of
effort towards this rigorously determined end for the blind and
disorganised attempts that have thus far been made in this direction....
Far from leading towards fatalism our theory tends to encourage rational
human activity, which alone can prevent, or at least mitigate, the
confusion otherwise attendant upon the social metamorphosis.... A wide
field is thus opened to human activity, and it is certainly a noble
mission for mankind to withdraw social development from the operation of
the blind and brutal forces of physical evolution and to submit the
process to the kindlier and more civilised action of human reason."

The definitive exposition of Loria's views is to be found in _The
Economic Synthesis_; but since in his theory of social evolution the
effects of increasing population play so notable a part, reference must
first be made to his examination of Malthus' theory of population. At
the outset, however, let us recall Marx's attitude to the Malthusian

Marx rejected the idea that, for human beings, population tends to grow
in such a manner as necessarily to press on the means of subsistence.
Though he accepted Darwinism and had a profound admiration for Darwin,
as far as the human species is concerned he rejected Malthusianism (on
which Darwinism is based), and wrote of Malthus in terms of bitter
personal hostility. The animus we may ignore, but the arguments are
worth recapitulating. Pressure of population, he says, is the outcome of
capitalism. On p. 645 of _Capital_ Marx writes: "The labouring
population ... produces, along with the accumulation of capital produced
by it, the means by which it is itself made relatively superfluous, is
turned into a relatively surplus population, and it does this always to
an increasing extent. This is a law of population peculiar to the
capitalist mode of production, and in fact every special historic mode
of production has its own special laws of population, historically
valid within its limits alone. An abstract law of population exists for
plants and animals only, and only in so far as man has not interfered
with them." Later in the same chapter he says (in effect) that undue
fertility is characteristic of poverty-stricken circumstances, and that
with improved conditions the population difficulty tends to settle

We shall see that Loria says much the same thing, and shall consider the
assertion presently.

At a later date (1875) Marx writes somewhat more guardedly. In his
_Criticism of the Gotha Programme_ the reference to the Malthusian
doctrine of population runs as follows: "But if I accept this law [the
iron law of wages] as formulated by Lassalle, I must likewise accept its
foundation. What is this foundation? As F. A. Lange showed shortly after
Lassalle's death, the iron law of wages is founded upon Malthus' theory
of population, a theory which Lange himself espoused. Now if the iron
law of wages be correct, it is impossible to abrogate it, even if we
should do away with wage labour a hundred times over, for not the wage
system alone, but every social system, must be governed by the law. Upon
this foundation, for fifty years and more, economists have continued to
demonstrate that socialism could never suppress poverty, which they
regard as resulting from the nature of things. Socialism, they declare,
can only generalise poverty, can only diffuse it simultaneously over the
whole surface of society!"

Does it not almost seem as if Marx, by 1875, had, for a moment at least,
glimpsed the real difficulty? For if we grant for the sake of argument
that the excess of population under capitalism be only a relative
excess, if we grant that each historic mode of production has its own
special law of population, the question we have to ask ourselves as
socialists is, "What will be the law of population under socialism?" May
not socialism tend to promote an _absolute_ excess of population? Will
not natural increase, stimulated by easy circumstances, threaten the
stability of the system unless the growth of population be deliberately
checked? Will not the inhabitants of each area have to specify some
limit beyond which it is undesirable that the population of that area
should increase? Ways and means, social and individual, lie beyond our
present scope. But in our opinion Paul Lafargue, Henry George, and many
others who have written on this question, and who have endeavoured to
meet the Malthusian difficulty by a simple denial of the facts upon
which "Parson Malthus" grounded his theory, have displayed more zeal
than knowledge. As Karl Pearson wrote thirty years ago: "Marx by abusing
Malthus has not solved the population difficulty"; and we agree with the
same writer that "the acceptance of the law discovered by Malthus is an
essential of any socialistic theory which pretends to be scientific";
but happily it is no longer true that "Kautsky seems to stand alone
among socialists in accepting the Malthusian law and its consequences"
(_The Ethic of Free-thought_, 1888, pp. 438-9).

Loria's treatment of the subject is closely akin to that of Marx, though
Loria differs from Marx in that he speaks with admiration, nay almost
with veneration, of the author of _The Principles of Population_. As
regards the main issue, Loria contends that while Malthus elucidated a
profoundly important truth, he erred in respect of many of its
applications. In present conditions, i.e., under capitalism, says Loria,
there is no excess of population over food supply, but merely (in
certain countries) an excess of people in relation to the privately
owned capital which is able to secure profitable investment. Hence, as a
result not of over-population but simply of capitalist conditions, we
have in addition to the mass of the workers who obtain subsistence, on
the one hand an owning class with a superfluity, and on the other a
parasitic class of dependents, paupers, semi-criminals, and criminals.

He contends, further, that Malthus' theory is invalidated by the
ascertained fact that, as far as human beings are concerned, an excess
of food over population does not necessarily lead to an increase in the
birth rate--that a rising standard of life is nowadays apt to be
characterised by diminished procreation. Speaking of certain
postmalthusian applications of Malthus' theory, he writes (_Contemporary
Social Problems_, p. 79): "Some also suggest various physiological
expedients--the obscene abominations of the so-called neomalthusians--to
limit population. Do they not see that there is no excess of mouths to
be fed, and that procreation will of itself diminish with the
amelioration of the condition of the working classes, without recourse
to loathsome and unnatural practices?"

In this passage, as repeatedly in his _Malthus_, Loria fails oddly (for
so acute a mind) in his analysis of operating causes. As the result of a
rising standard of life--consequent upon improved economic conditions
among the proletariat--the workers, we are told (_Malthus_, p. 80),
"become less prolific." Thus the growth of population is "automatically"
regulated by economic means, and there is no need to have recourse to
"physiological expedients" to limit population. Yet he nowhere
endeavours to elucidate the working of this economic factor in the
biologic field, or to show how it can possibly operate unless precisely
in virtue of what he is so strangely and so inconsistently moved to
condemn, viz., the deliberate application of increasing physiological
knowledge by individual couples in order to regulate the number of their
offspring. In a word, by birth control.

As far as past stages of economic evolution are concerned, the
transition from primitive tribal communism to slavery, from slavery to
serfdom and the guild system, and from these to capitalism, Loria
himself insists that the prime motive force has been the pressure of
increasing population on the means of subsistence. Thus in _Contemporary
Social Problems_ (pp. 128 et seq.) he writes: "We easily understand how
evolution takes place in the sphere of economic phenomena provided we
steadfastly hold in mind the simple premise that ceaseless increase in
population makes necessary the occupation and cultivation of lands ever
less fertile, hence requiring more efficacious means of production to
combat the increasing resistance of matter. Given, therefore, a certain
density of population and a certain degree of fertility of cultivated
land, there is rendered not only possible, but also necessary, a
determinate economic system permitting human labour to attain a
commensurate productivity; but population increasing, and the necessity
of cultivating less fertile lands becoming urgent, the economic system
hitherto existing proves inadequate, since the degree of productivity
which it permits to labour is insufficient to combat matter now become
more rebellious. As the economic and productive system which
corresponded with the preceding degree of the productivity of the soil
has grown incompatible with the new and more exacting conditions, it
must be supplanted by a better system. Then follows an epoch of social
disintegration which destroys the superannuated form, from whose ashes a
new structure arises; on the ruins of the shattered economic system is
erected a new one which allows human nature to become more productive,
and is therefore adapted, for a time, to combat the increasing
resistance of matter. However, with each additional increment to
population, a moment comes when it is necessary to bring under
cultivation lands which are still more resistant, and for the
development of which the prevailing economic system is found to be
inadequate; consequently this system suffers the fate of those which
have preceded it, and it is in turn destroyed to give place to a new and
superior form."

The detailed application of these ideas is one of the main themes of
Loria's _Analysis of Capitalist Property_. We learn, he says, from
history and statistics that capitalistic property (the term is here used
by Loria in the widest sense to include all the forms of property which
render possible the exploitation of one human being by another) is
everywhere and at all times due to one and the same cause, the
suppression of free land. As long as there is any free land, as long as
any man who so desires can take possession of a piece of land and
develop it by his labour, capitalistic property is impossible, because
no man will willingly work for another when he can establish himself for
his own account on a piece of land without paying for it. Where there is
free land, labour owns the means of production, so that agriculture is
carried on by free peasants on small holdings, whilst manufacturing
industry (in so far as this exists at such a stage) is in the hands of
independent artisans. In these conditions labour is isolated, and
isolated labour rarely produces anything more than the labourer's
subsistence. The regular supplementary production of "income" is the
characteristic feature of associated labour.

This brings us to _The Economic Synthesis_, a work which bears as
sub-title "A Study of the Laws of Income." It is, Loria tells us, "the
complement and the theoretic crown" of all his earlier writings. The
meaning he attaches to the word income is, in truth, simple enough; but
that meaning is the very core of Lorianism, just as surplus value is
(for many) the very core of Marxism. Isolated labour, labour of the kind
described in the last paragraph, produces, says Loria, first of all
subsistence--the bare necessities of life. In exceptionally favourable
conditions even isolated labour may produce something more than this,
and that something more is income. But as a rule, and more and more as
population increases and land of diminishing fertility has to be brought
under cultivation, _isolated_ labour fails to produce anything beyond
subsistence, fails to produce even that, so that it becomes necessary to
have recourse to the superior productivity of _associated_ labour. Now
for this, since the natural man is averse from associated labour, some
form of _coercion_, direct or indirect, is essential; and the history of
all the developed economic systems that have hitherto prevailed is the
history, in one form or another, of the _coercion to associated labour_.

Income, in the Lorian sense of the term, is "the specific product of
associated labour"; i.e., it is the surplus produced by labour because
it is associated, over and above what the labourers could have produced
in isolation. Working in isolation they produce, or theoretically might
have produced, subsistence for themselves; associated they produce
something more, which is income, and this accrues to those who control
and direct the associating force.

In primitive tribal communism that force emanates from the collectivity
of economic equals, and the "undifferentiated income" is communally
owned and consumed. But subsequently "differentiated income," received
by non-labourers, makes its appearance. In slave-owning communities,
differentiated income goes to the slave owners; in feudal serfdom, it
accrues to the baronage; under modern capitalist conditions the
dispossessed proletarian masses produce of course their own subsistence,
and produce in addition income for the legal owners of land and capital.
Slave owners, barons, capitalists, are in successive stages the
"recipients of [differentiated] income."

Throughout the history of these economic phases there has been a
conflict between the interests of the labourers and those of the
recipients of income, taking the form, in times of exceptional stress,
of slave insurrections and slave wars, of jacqueries and ruthless
reprisals by the baronage, of strikes and lock-outs. Here we have one
aspect of what Loria terms "the struggle between subsistence and
income," and this aspect coincides obviously enough with one aspect of
the Marxist class struggle.

The association of labour is the prime cause of labour's enhanced
productivity. But while the association increases productivity, the
coercion that is requisite to secure association exercises a restrictive
influence upon productivity, the restriction being more marked in
proportion to the severity of the coercion. Thus the crude and harsh
coercion of the slave-owning system makes slave labour (in part for
psychological reasons dependent upon the mentality of the labourer) less
productive than serf labour under the feudal system, wherein coercion
was somewhat milder. In modern capitalism coercion, though still very
real, is veiled, and for this reason (quite apart from the peculiar
advantages of machinofacture) associated labour is more productive under

It is the superior productivity of each successive system which has
rendered it victorious over its predecessor. With the dry light of
economic science Loria displays for us the working of the type of
production dominant to-day, the most effective system of production the
world has yet known.

Such is Loria's outline picture of the succession of economic phases.

It is impossible here to trace the Italian economist's detailed analysis
of the causes which lead to the break up of one economic system and its
replacement by another. Suffice it to say that in his view an important
part is played by the action of those whom he calls "unproductive
labourers," members of the educated caste living also on differentiated
income, on portions of income reallotted by the primary recipients of
income, whose interests, in the prosperous phase of any system of
income, the educated caste is thus paid to serve. A typical service is
that of the priestly order, which is maintained "to pervert the egoism"
of the labourers, to delude them into the belief that they are pursuing
their own better interests by peacefully and diligently producing income
for the master class.

But in the declining phase of any economic system (and Loria considers
that the wage system of capitalism has now, despite its imposing
appearance, actually entered its declining phase), the diminution of
income curtails the amount available for reallotment to the unproductive
labourers. Hence from supporters of the existing system they are
speedily transformed into its active opponents. These "intellectuals"
now make common cause with the labourers, the disinherited of the
earth; and the old property system totters to its fall.

He writes (_The Economic Foundations of Society_, p. 347): "All
revolutions undertaken by the non-proprietary classes alone, without the
support of the unproductive labourers, are ... foredoomed to failure.
The rebels, divided and disorganised, not at all sure of themselves and
uncertain of the ends they would attain, soon fall back under the
dominion of the proprietary class.... The ancient economy was not
destroyed by the revolt of the slaves, nor was the ruin of the medieval
economy effected by the armed uprising of the serfs. These two economic
systems did not succumb until the clients of the Roman economy and the
ecclesiastics of the medieval economy were induced by a falling-off of
their share in the constantly decreasing revenues [income] to break
their long-standing alliance with the revenue holders [recipients of
income] and to lend their support to the final revolt of the labouring

To the Lorian theory of revolution we shall return in conclusion, after
we have discussed the relationships of Loria to Marx. The theory
involves tactical questions of the utmost interest and importance. Apart
from these, the crux of the problem of transition to the co-operative
commonwealth centres, as most thoughtful socialists are coming to see,
around the question of the coercion to associated labour. A fundamental
part of the socialist outlook is the belief that the existence of a
special class of recipients of income, whether these be slave owners,
feudal barons, or legal monopolists of land and capital, is not needful
to modern civilisation. We affirm that the disappearance of such a class
(though that class may have played a necessary part in social evolution)
can now be witnessed by the enlightened without a single regret. But
what is to ensure the continuance of that high social productivity which
will be necessary to the maintenance of general wellbeing? Now that our
race is at length becoming truly self-conscious, will it be possible "to
transform the economic natural force from the ruler of mankind to its

The closing sentences of The _Economic Synthesis_ show in outline how
Loria envisages that possibility: "The essential social contradiction
can be eliminated, economic equilibrium can be established, only by
means of a profound transformation, affecting not merely the process of
distribution but also the process of production, relieving this latter
process from the coercion which has hitherto environed it and restricted
its efficiency; in other words by the destruction of the coercive
association of labour and its replacement by the free association of
labour. Herein is to be found the supreme objective towards which must
converge all the forces of social renovation." And in a terminal
footnote he adds: "This is now understood by all the most enlightened
economists, not excepting the socialists, who point out that a reform
which effects no more than the distribution of income among the
proletarians, while leaving unaffected the method by which that income
is actually produced, would have no more than an extremely restricted
and fugitive effect; and that a decisive and durable social renovation
must be initiated by a radical metamorphosis in the process of

We have now to ask, what does Loria consider the most important elements
of Marxist teaching? In his account of the _Communist Manifesto_ (infra
p. 68) he tells us that "this writing contains the whole Marxist system
in miniature, and ... supplies a critique of all doctrinaire, idealist,
and utopian forms of socialism. Thus the _Manifesto_ voices the two
fundamentals of Marxism: the dependence of economic evolution upon the
evolution of the instrument of production, in other words the
_technicist determination of economics_; and the derivation of the
political, moral, and ideal order from the economic order, in other
words the _economic determination of sociology_--or, as we should
express it to-day, historical materialism."

On pp. 145 and 146 he tells us that we must "recognise in Marx the
supreme merit of having been the first to introduce the evolutionary
concept into the domain of sociology, the first to introduce it in the
only form appropriate to social phenomena and social institutions; not
as" an "unceasing and gradual upward movement," but as a "succession of
age-long cycles rhythmically interrupted by revolutionary explosions."
Speaking of Marx's "masterly investigation into the successive forms of
the technical instrument, of productive machinery," he says that Marx
may be termed "the Darwin of technology.... This physiology of industry,
which is now the least studied and least appreciated of Marx's
scientific labours, nevertheless constitutes his most considerable and
most enduring contribution to science."

Loria wrote his _Karl Marx_ nearly two years before the publication of
William Paul's _The State_, of which pp. 2 to 7, the section on "Man and
Tools" is devoted to a restatement of this aspect of Marxism; and the
Italian economist is not acquainted with the thought-trend of Walton
Newbold. As far as the young but rapidly growing and vigorous school of
British Marxists is concerned, it is certainly no longer true that
Marx's work as "the Darwin of technology" is the least studied and least
appreciated of Marx's scientific labours.

To the class struggle Loria does not refer at any length in this essay
on Karl Marx. We have already seen that he recognises the enormous part
the class struggle has played in history; but he has throughout life
remained the man of science, the man of the study; he has never entered
the arena as what the French term a "militant." In 1904, when the
Italian Socialist Party wished him to be socialist parliamentary
candidate for Turin, Loria refused on the ground that parliamentary
life would interfere with his theoretical studies; and it may be that
for these and other reasons he is less keenly impressed than are most
left-wing socialists of the profound importance of diffusing among the
workers awareness of the class struggle.

Economic determinism has been sufficiently considered in what has gone
before. If in the present study Loria says less about it than about some
of the other elements of Marxism, this is not because he considers it of
minor importance, nor because he accepts it uncritically, but because he
has devoted an entire volume to the exposition of this aspect of

It remains, then, to discuss Loria's outlook on the Marxist theory of
value. It is here that Lorianism will be most strenuously challenged by
those more enthusiastic disciples of Marx who, even if they do not
accept the dogma of Marx's infallibility, none the less regard the
doctrine of value, based on the labour theory of value, as the very
heart of Marxist socialism.

We must remember that it is natural for persons who do not gain their
subsistence by applying their labour power to the production of
commodities, and whose claim to the title of "workers" will nevertheless
hardly be disputed, to question the labour theory of value. Bernard
Shaw, for example, in his pamphlet _The Impossibilities of Anarchism_,
protests that it is "natural for the [manual] labourer to insist that
labour _ought to be_ the measure of price, and that the just wage of
labour is its average product; but the first lesson he has to learn in
economics is that labour is not and never can be the measure of price
under a competitive system. Not until the progress of socialism replaces
competitive production and distribution with individual greed for its
incentive, by collectivist production and distribution with fair play
all round for its incentive, will the prices either of labour or of
commodities represent their just value."

Leaving Shaw to the tender mercies of the orthodox Marxists who will not
be slow to declare that if he means "value" he should not say "price,"
and that if he thinks that "price" and "value" are interchangeable terms
he is not worth powder and shot, and without ourselves venturing to rush
into the fray, we may suggest that our propagandists would be less
inclined to make the Marxist theory of value an article of faith, "which
faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled without doubt he shall
perish everlastingly"--if they could realise that the theory is perhaps
no more than a difficult point of abstract economic doctrine which is
not essential to the use of the conception of surplus value as a means
of making the worker aware of the basic character of capitalist
exploitation. Bernstein explains the matter very well in the book
previously quoted (p. 35): "Practical experience shows that in the
production and distribution of commodities a part only of the community
takes an active share, whilst another part consists of persons who
either enjoy an income for services which have no direct relation to the
process of production, or have an income without working at all. An
essentially greater number of men thus live on the labour of all those
engaged in production than are actively engaged in it, and income
statistics show that the classes not actively engaged in production
appropriate, moreover, a much greater share of the total produced than
the ratio of their number to that of the actively producing class. The
surplus labour of the latter is an empiric fact, demonstrable by
experience, which needs no deductive proof. Whether the Marxist theory
of value be correct or not, is quite immaterial to the proof of surplus
labour. It is in this respect no demonstration, but only a means of
analysis and illustration."

The professional economist, however, cannot rest content with these
loose formulations. Loria feels that there is a void in the Marxist
system, and it seems to us (though Loria nowhere tells us so in set
terms) that the Lorian doctrine of differentiated income, the most
essential part of the Italian economist's teaching, is really an attempt
to restate the theory of surplus value in a form absolutely proof
against enemy attack. Be this as it may, the conception, however
interesting, is far less easy to convey to the uninstructed mind, and it
is unlikely, for propaganda purposes, to replace the simple formula of
surplus value. But is it not essential that those who undertake to teach
socialist economics should themselves fully understand the objections to
the Marxist theory of value, and that they should have a clear grasp of
Loria's alternative doctrine of the nature of capitalist exploitation?

Let us return, in conclusion, to the Lorian theory of revolution. If we
may summarise that theory in colloquial phraseology, it is that, while
economic evolution must pave the way for revolution, the final stages of
revolution have been effected in the past, and can only be effected in
the future, through the co-operation of "disgruntled intellectuals."
These are the "unproductive labourers" of Loria's scheme, who have
served as hirelings of the master class during the prosperous phase of
an economic system: but in the declining phase of that system, when the
diminution of income curtails the amount available for these secondary
recipients of income, they turn against the primary recipients, their
employers, make common cause with the subject class, and give the
death-blow to the old order.

This may possibly have been true of the fall of the slave economy, and
it may possibly have been true of the fall of the medieval economy; but
we do not think it is true that a revolution of the non-proprietary
classes under capitalism is "foredoomed to failure" unless these
classes secure the support of the unproductive labourers. Their support
for a genuinely _proletarian_ revolution can hardly be expected, on
Loria's own theory. The intellectuals who aided in the overthrow of the
slave economy, and the intellectuals who helped to subvert the feudal
order and to promote the bourgeois and industrial revolution, did so,
says Loria, in order to maintain their position as "recipients of
income," to maintain their position as members of a privileged class.
What have such as they to gain from a proletarian revolution, which will
abolish class, will put an end to exploitation, will do away for ever
with the private appropriation of income and surplus value?

We need only turn our eyes eastward to see how such "intellectuals" will
hail the revolution of the propertiless. Despite the onslaughts of the
capitalist powers, the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic has
lived long enough to show the sort of help socialists may expect from
the Kerenskys. Men of this calibre, "people whose interests lie in the
opposite direction," even if they "are carried away by the new ideas and
enter the lists for the new order of things" (Boudin, _The Theoretical
System of Karl Marx_, 1918), are aghast when the real revolution comes,
and endeavour to lay the red spectre they have helped to conjure up.

In truth, a revolution foredoomed to failure would be that of
proletarians who should depend in large measure upon the support of
disgruntled intellectuals. A serf's life was on the average better than
that of a chattel slave; a wage labourer's life is on the average better
than was that of slave or serf. But neither the replacement of slavery
by feudalism, nor the replacement of feudalism by capitalism, secured
the emancipation of labour in any adequate sense of that term. All that
a proletarian revolution carried through with the help of middle-class
intellectuals is likely to bring about is some form of Fabian
collectivism or state capitalism--in a word, the servile state. As far
as the _productive_ labourers are concerned the revolution would be a
sham. The form of the state might be revolutionised, but the
authoritative state would endure, and production would be effected, not
by the free, but by the coercive association of labour.

What Loria has failed to recognise is that the conditions of the problem
are now radically changed. As he says, in the old revolutions the rebels
were divided and disorganised, were not sure of themselves, and were
uncertain of the ends they would attain. As far as the workers were
concerned, revolt only was possible, not revolution. It is otherwise
to-day; and still more will it be otherwise the day after to-morrow.
Thanks to the new forms of organisation now being worked out: thanks to
industrial unionism and the growth of the workers committees and shop
stewards movements; and thanks above all to independent working class
education, which is forging the new weapons and simultaneously teaching
the workers how to use them, which is fashioning the limbs of the
co-operative commonwealth within the womb of the capitalist
order--thanks to all these things, the workers of the day after
to-morrow need not put their trust in the frail reed of the support of
intellectuals. Once more we raise the Marxist slogan and cry: "The
emancipation of the workers must be the work of the workers themselves."

And if we modify another Marxist watchword, quoted on p. 154 below, that
force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, it is
only to say that, while we do not repudiate force (which the skilled
accoucheur ever has in reserve), new times bring new methods. The
self-educated workers of the future may have no occasion to use force,
and certainly need not await the aid of Loria's unproductive labourers.
For the day draws nigh, and on that day the workers will achieve their
own salvation. They will achieve the salvation of all the workers, and
indeed of all the world of man; but it will not be all the workers that
will actively participate. No more will be possible than that there
should be a considerable minority of educated workers. A minority they
must inevitably remain until after the social revolution; but a little
leaven can leaven a large lump. The midwife of revolution is not force
but--independent working class education.

In a word, the "dynamogenic function" of which Loria speaks (infra pp.
159 and 160), attaches not to poverty but to slavery. The poor have
seldom failed to realise their poverty, and poverty when extreme has at
times led to revolt; but it is the new realisation of the _slavery_ of
wagedom that is organising the workers for the social revolution. By
means of Marxist education "the proletarian is breaking his chains and
entering upon an era of conscious and glorious freedom."

Do we seem to imply that there is no place in our movement for
middle-class intellectuals? Such is not our meaning. They have played in
the past a rôle of supreme importance, and may still have a notable part
to play in the future. But the intellectuals for whom there is a place
are not the kind of intellectuals described in Loria's theory of
revolution, and the rôle of the intellectual is no longer the one which
he assigns. It is not those intellectuals who are dissatisfied with
their reallotment of income, not those who are discontented with their
ration of loaves and fishes, not those who sigh for the vanishing cakes
and ale, who will help the coming of the definitive social revolution.
Rarely indeed, too, is the function of the socialist intellectual the
function of leadership. To an increasing extent, under the new
conditions, he tends to be no more than the fifth wheel of the
revolutionary coach.

The right sort of intellectual had a function in the past; it was to
help the workers to overcome their division and disorganisation, to help
them to be sure of themselves, to help them to clear views of the ends
they must attain. That work is afoot. The ferment has been created:
created by such men as Marx, whose abilities would have secured him
ease, comfort, wealth, had he made his peace with bourgeoisdom, but who
was a revolutionist by deliberate choice; by such men as Engels, a
well-to-do manufacturer; by such men as Loria himself, a university
professor; by such men as the American, Scott Nearing, who recently
forfeited his academic position because he would not keep the class
struggle out of his lectures on economics. Can it be said that men like
Herzen, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, have been, or that men like Trotzky and
Lenin are, the disgruntled intellectuals of Loria's theory of
revolution? Quite apart from leadership under such peculiar conditions
as obtain in Russia, there is work for socialist intellectuals, the
work of promoting independent working-class education, the work of
assisting in the spread of the ferment generated by the writings of
earlier revolutionary thinkers.

Our conviction that we ourselves, declassed bourgeois, have a modest
function, that though not part of the team, not even spokes of a fifth
wheel, we may at least help to complete the outfit as little dogs under
the waggon, is witnessed by our translation of Achille Loria's monograph
on Karl Marx.



_The Centenary of Karl Marx_.



It is unquestionably one of the strangest of anomalies exhibited by the
polychrome flora of human thought that revolutionary blossoms should so
frequently spring from aristocratic seeds, and that the most incendiary
and rebellious spirits should emerge from a domestic and social
environment compounded of conservatism and reaction. Yet when we look
closely into the matter, we find it less strange than it may have
appeared at first sight. It is, in fact, not difficult to understand
that those only who live in a certain milieu can fully apprehend its
vices and its constitutional defects, which are hidden as by a cloud
from those who live elsewhere.

It is true enough that many dwellers in the perverted environment lack
the intelligence which would enable them to understand its defects.
Others, again, are induced by considerations of personal advantage to
close their eyes to the evils they discern, or cynically to ignore them.
But if a man who grows to maturity in such an environment be at once
intelligent and free from base elements, the sight of the evil medium
from which he himself has sprung will arouse in his mind a righteous
wrath and a spirit of indomitable rebellion, will transform the
easy-going and cheerful patrician into the prophet and the

Such has been the lot of the great rebels of the world, of men like
Dante, Voltaire, Byron, Kropotkin, and Tolstoi, who all sprang from the
gentle class, and whose birthright placed them among the owners of
property. Similar was the lot of Karl Marx.

It would, indeed, be difficult to imagine a more typically refined and
aristocratic entourage than the one wherein the future high priest of
the revolution was born and passed his early years. He was born at
Treves on May 5, 1818. His ancestors on both sides had been
distinguished rabbis, famed for their commentaries on the scriptures.
The father's family was originally known as Mordechai, whilst the
mother's family, Pressburg by name, had come from Hungary to settle in
Holland. His father, an employee in the state service, became a
Christian, and the whole family was baptised when Karl was five years of
age. As he grew up, the young man was an intimate in the best houses of
the district, and one of his closest friends was Edgar von Westphalen,
who subsequently became a member of the reactionary Manteuffel ministry.
In 1843 Marx married Westphalen's sister, the beautiful and brilliant
Jenny. The match proved well assorted, and was blessed by a love so
intense and so unfailing as to lead a certain German pastor to say that
it had been ratified in heaven.

Thus by origin Marx belonged to an extremely ancient stock devoted to
the accumulation of wealth, whilst his marriage united him to the race
of German feudatories, fierce paladins of the throne and of the altar.
Is it not then truly remarkable that from such an environment, eminently
calculated to foster ideas of obscurantism and reaction, there should
emerge the most brilliant, most consistent, and most invincible example
of a thinker and revolutionary agitator?

Unquestionably, Marx's thought, essentially slow-moving, laborious, and
ever subjected to a rigorous process of self-criticism, does not seem at
first sight characteristically negational and rebellious. In youth,
indeed, he was still no more than the earnest student. Engels tells us
that he closed his university career at Bonn in 1841 by writing a
brilliant thesis upon the philosophy of Epicurus, while in leisure
moments Marx penned verses of no mean order. These latter compositions
display numerous defects of style; they are heavy and turgid; the
movement is sluggish; their sonorous gravity reminds the reader of a
company of medieval warriors in heavy armour mounting the grand
staircase: but they are none the less distinguished by remarkable
profundity of thought, and they may be looked upon as versified
philosophy rather than as poetry in the proper sense of the term.

In the following year we find Marx at Cologne as editor of the "Rhenish
Gazette." His editorials, it is true, were at first devoted to harmless
topics of general interest; but he soon began to turn his attention to
social questions, such as forest thefts, the subdivision of landed
property, the condition of the peasantry in the Moselle district, and
French socialism. To this last doctrine, the editor declared himself
adverse, while professing a great personal admiration for Proudhon. But
the discussion upon socialism revealed to him his own ignorance and
incompetence, and induced him to withdraw from the journalistic arena
that he might devote himself to study. An excuse for resigning his
editorship was furnished in 1843, when the "Rhenish Gazette" found it
necessary to assume an extremely cautious tone in order to avoid the
attentions of the police.

But, like all the more brilliant and free-spirited among his
contemporaries, he soon found himself incommoded by the obscurantism of
Prussia, and, accompanied by his young wife, he hastened to Paris, the
city of light, where there shortly assembled a circle of intellectual
rebels from all lands--France, Germany, England, Italy, and Russia. The
Russians predominated, and indeed we learn from Marx himself that the
most fervent of his disciples at this date were drawn from among the
scions of the Russian nobility and upper bourgeoisie, who, when they
returned to their country, were unhesitatingly to become the sycophants
of authority. In this cohort of spiritual rebels he assumed from the
first the position of dictator, and none competed for the crown with
the revolutionary Cæsar.

People were already beginning to talk of the Marxists, and the police
made a black cross against the name of a Parisian café where the
associates of Marx were wont to assemble. He struck up a friendship with
Heinrich Heine, and one day, accompanied by his staff, he paid a formal
visit to the poet and declared that the latter ought to divide among the
exiles the pension granted him by Guizot, to which suggestion Heine
cynically replied that he could spend the pension more profitably upon
himself. Marx had a yet closer intimacy with Proudhon, with whom he
passed long evenings talking about Hegel and discussing the problems of
socialism; but this friendship was destined ere long to be replaced by
fierce hostility, aroused by fundamental differences of opinion.

In 1844, in conjunction with Arnold Ruge, Marx founded the
"Franco-German Year Book," of which, however, there appeared but one
volume, containing writings by Marx himself on the philosophy of law and
upon the Jews, in addition to letters from Holland, and articles by
Engels, Heine, Freiligrath, and other more or less rebellious spirits.

These outward activities represent nothing more than an interlude or
partial episode in the series of his essential occupations, science and
philosophy. Engels' contribution to the "Year Book," a criticism of
political economy, initiated between the two thinkers a friendship which
time was to strengthen and to render indissoluble. The first fruit of
this friendship was a joint work entitled _The Holy Family_, a criticism
of the philosophy of Bruno Bauer and his followers (1845), stuffed with
sallies and orphic sayings of doubtful taste and still more doubtful
value. The young men next turned to a weightier task, a criticism of
posthegelian philosophy, which filled two huge octavo manuscript
volumes, but has never found a publisher. Nevertheless, Marx tells us,
this enormous labour cannot be regarded as utterly wasted, for it
enabled the writers to gain an understanding of themselves, and traced
the lines by which henceforward they were to be safely guided through
the labyrinth of social investigation.

But revolutionary agitation (which Marx continued even amid his
philosophical meditations), and the editorship of the definitely
antiprussian journal "Forward," now attracted the hostile attention of
the Prussian government, upon whose demand, in January, 1845, Guizot
suppressed the periodical and expelled Marx from France. Marx removed to
Brussels, where Engels was living, and for the first time devoted
himself to prolonged and profound labours. In the year 1847, he
published in the Belgian capital his book _The Poverty of Philosophy, a
Reply to Proudhon's Philosophy of Poverty_, a harsh criticism of the
"economic contradictions" of his rival. Marx reproached Proudhon for
complete ignorance of that Hegelian philosophy which Proudhon tried to
apply to economics, and reproached the French socialist yet more for
arbitrary and fallacious expositions, for the idealisation of a tortuous
series of fantastic categories (division of labour, machines,
competition, rent, etc.), declaring that Proudhon confined himself in
each case to an examination of the good and the bad effects without ever
troubling to throw light upon the nature of the phenomena under
consideration or upon the course of their formation and development. The
criticism is apt, but might well rebound upon Marx himself, enmeshed at
this epoch in a series of categories whose progressive evolution he
arbitrarily asserted. Further, Marx fiercely criticised Proudhon's
theory of "constituted value," according to which the reduction of value
to labour cannot be effected in extant society, and must be deferred to
the future society, fashioned in the brain of the thinker. It is well
to point out that Marx, though in the first volume of _Capital_ he
conceives the reduction of value to the quantity of effective labour to
be one of the immanent laws of capitalist economy, nevertheless admits
in the third volume that in the capitalist economic phase value neither
is nor can be reduced to the quantity of labour, and that value as
measured by labour is merely an archetype or suprasensible entity, but
not a concrete reality. Substantially this means that Marx's labour
measure of value is, after all, not essentially different from the
constituted value of Proudhon. But amid these unjust or excessive
criticisms, Marx's book gives utterance to the idea, profoundly true,
and at that time practically original, that economic relationships are
no mere arbitrary products or derivatives of human will, but are the
inevitable issue of the existing condition of the forces of production.
The deduction drawn from this is that utopian socialism, which exhausts
itself in futile declamations or in yet more futile imaginary
reconstructions of the social order, must yield place to scientific
socialism, wholly devoted to the analysis of the necessary process of
economic evolution and to the possibility of accelerating that

The same idea can be read between the lines of the _Lecture on Free
Exchange_ delivered by Marx at Brussels on January 9, 1849. Herein he
asserted that socialism ought to declare in favour of freedom of trade,
for this, hastening the dissolution of the old nationalities and
accentuating the contrast between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat,
would precipitate the dissolution of the capitalist economy. But the
idea is affirmed far more categorically in the _Manifesto of the
Communist Party_, the joint composition of Engels and Marx, published in
the year 1848, embodying the first and most decisive formulation of the
latter's teaching. Even though some of his special theories,
subsequently to secure fuller development in _Capital_, are but
cursorily sketched in the _Manifesto_, even though some of these
theories (for example, the theory of wages, stated to be the price of
"wage labour" instead of being the price of "labour power") are still in
an undeveloped and imperfect state, it is nevertheless true that this
writing contains the whole Marxist system in miniature, and that it
supplies a critique of all doctrinaire, idealist, and utopian forms of

Thus the _Manifesto_ voices the two fundamentals of Marxism: the
dependence of economic evolution upon the evolution of the instrument of
production, in other words the _technicist determination of economics_;
and the derivation of the political, moral and ideal order from the
economic order, in other words the _economic determination of
sociology_--or, as we should express it to-day, historical materialism.
This dependence of the political order upon the economic order, leading
as it does to the concentration of political power in the hands of
those who hold economic power, or in the hands of their representatives
and agents, renders absurd the idea of effecting by peaceful political
means any amelioration in the condition of the proletarian classes, and
indicates to the dispossessed that revolution is their only hope of
salvation. To revolution, then, or to the compact federation which can
alone pave the way for revolution, the _Manifesto_ incites the sufferers
of the world with the historic phrase: "Workers of the world, unite."
The epoch-making significance of the _Manifesto_ is not to-day disputed
by the most resolute adversaries of that document. It is, in fact, the
Declaration of Rights of the Fourth Estate, the Magna Charta of the
revolutionary proletariat, the oriflamme of fire and blood, the standard
round which the insurrectionary phalanxes have ever since mustered.

Hardly had the message been launched upon the world when the young
leader hoped to translate it into action, for the movements of 1848 and
1849 led the rebel masses to entertain new and bolder aspirations.
Expelled from Belgium, Marx first went to Paris, and hastened thence to
his German homeland, now in a ferment, assuming there editorial charge
of the "New Rhenish Gazette." But although the skill of the able editor
was for a brief period successful in saving the barque of the imperilled
gazette from the waves of police persecution, a day soon arrived when
the situation became untenable. An appeal to the German people published
in the columns of the journal advocating a refusal to pay taxes led to
its suppression and to two criminal charges against the editor.
Triumphantly acquitted by the Cologne jury, but none the less exiled by
the Prussian government, he immediately returned to Paris, where it
seemed to his restless imagination that events were taking a more
favourable turn. But France proved a no securer refuge than Germany, and
the Parisian government propounded to our agitator a peremptory
dilemma, interment in the remote department of Morbihan or exile from
France. He was not likely to hesitate in his choice, and indeed at this
juncture was glad to accept an invitation from the executive committee
of the Communist Party, then centred in London, to remove with his
devoted wife to that great metropolis (1849).


In London the saddest trials awaited him, for poverty, gloomy companion,
sat ever at his board from the day of his entry into the British capital
down to the hour of his last breath. One after another of his children
died in the unwholesome dwellings of his exile, and he was forced to beg
from friends and comrades the scanty coins needed to pay for their
burial; he and his family had to make the best of a diet of bread and
potatoes; he was forced to pawn his watch and his clothing, to sell his
books, to tramp the streets in search of any help that might offer; the
day came when, under the lash of hunger, he was compelled to contemplate
seeking work as railway clerk, of placing his daughters out to service,
of making them governesses or actresses, whilst himself retiring with
his unhappy wife to dwell in the proletarian quarter of Whitechapel.

The severity of these sufferings did much to add a tinge of gall to a
character naturally acerb, a character which amid the upheavals and
horrors of exile frequently showed itself far from amiable. Mingled
sentiments of grief and anger fill our minds when, in Marx's private
letters to Engels, we trace the manifestations of this harshness, which
left him unmoved by the misfortunes of his dearest friends, which led
him to make any use he could of these friends and then to overwhelm them
with reproaches and accusations, which showed itself (and this is the
worst of all) in a jealous hatred of comrades less unfortunate than
himself. Deplorable from every point of view was his conduct towards
Freiligrath and Lassalle, in especial towards Lassalle, who had shown
him the utmost friendliness, had given him ample financial assistance,
had entertained him in Berlin, had helped him to find a publisher; for
Marx subsequently censured Lassalle's works with much acrimony, beheld
his triumphs askance, and commented upon the incidents of Lassalle's
death in a tone of tepid apology. But you well-fed folk who amid easy
circumstances are studying the life of our agitator, be not too ready to
blame him, and before stoning him bethink yourselves of all the miseries
the exile must suffer, of all the tortures amid which he must bear his

Vainly did he endeavour by hard work to free himself from the sad
restraints of poverty. It is true he was able to place articles with the
"New York Tribune," writing for this paper essays on political,
economic, and financial questions, which secured much appreciation. But
the pay was only one pound per article, and he could write but one
article a week. Collaboration in the production of an American
encyclopædia, to be paid at the rate of two dollars a page, seemed to
promise more ample funds, and with feverish anxiety he devoted himself
to the production of articles on the most varied topics, well stored
with facts. But this source of income, limited at best, was suddenly
interrupted by the outbreak of the American civil war. The loss was not
adequately compensated by the possibility of occasionally inserting some
poorly paid contribution in a German newspaper like the "New Oder
Gazette" or in one of the Viennese periodicals.

He was lucky in that certain turns of fortune favoured him from those
sources of property and inheritance which he condemned and attacked with
such persistence and vehemence. He had a legacy from his mother-in-law;
a legacy from his mother; a trifling legacy from an aunt; and Wilhelm
Wolff, a companion in exile, bequeathed him £800. An uncle in Holland,
whom he had begged for some trifling help, gave him £160; from Lassalle
and Freiligrath came generous gifts; and Droncke, another companion in
exile, gave £250 to enable him to complete the scientific work on which
he was engaged.

But none of these casual resources, however extensive, would have saved
him from ruin had it not been for the providential assistance of his
friend Friedrich Engels, who applied himself to the care of Marx with
inexhaustible generosity, and with the tenderness of a woman. Engels,
indeed, will secure a splendid place in the history of socialist
thought, were it only because of the way in which he devoted himself to
Marx. It was through Engels that Marx was enabled to continue his
studies and to complete the work which is his title to eternal fame.
Engels, a well-to-do cotton spinner at Manchester, gladly responded to
his friend's unremitting requests for aid, succouring him in every
emergency. Engels was an expert upon military topics, and penned
articles which Marx passed on to the "Tribune" and to the encyclopædia,
articles for which Marx was paid; Engels sent Marx weekly subsidies, and
frequently despatched gifts of port wine; he made presents of £100 or
£150 at a time; and at length, when his business prospered, he gave his
friend a regular allowance of £350 a year.

Not even these strokes of good luck sufficed, it is true, to restore a
satisfactory balance to Marx's finances, for he was a bad manager, and
the disorder was probably incurable. However, they enabled our thinker
to furnish aid to companions yet more unfortunate, to Pieper, Eccarius,
and Dupont; they enabled him to escape from the worst extremities of
poverty and to establish himself in life under conditions more worthy of
an honest and respectable bourgeois. He was able to move from the
decayed neighbourhood of Soho Square and to settle in Maitland Park Road
on Haverstock Hill; it became possible for him to secure a good
education for his daughters, to have them taught French and Italian,
drawing and music; he could weigh the financial status of aspirants to
their hands, and could choose Lafargue and Longuet, who were
comparatively well off. He often went to the theatre, and with one of
his daughters he attended at the Society of Arts a soirée graced by the
presence of royalty; from time to time he took his family to the
seaside; he liked his wife to sign herself "Jenny, née Baronne de
Westphalen"; he was well received in affluent circles, and was
frequently consulted by the "Times" upon financial affairs; finally he
accepted the office of constable of the vestry of St. Pancras, taking
the customary oath, and donning the regulation uniform on gala

Nevertheless, neither this final settlement in a foreign land nor the
persecution he suffered from the government of his own country could
destroy or even lessen his devotion to Germany. To the day of his death
he remained a faithful child of the fatherland, for which he hoped the
greatest of futures. He sang the praises of German music and literature;
he delighted in German victories and German expansion; he dreaded a
weakening of German protectionism which might strengthen the commercial
hegemony of Britain; and in 1870 he refused to sign an appeal in favour
of peace unless it were definitely stated that Germany was waging a
purely defensive war. The French and Russian exiles in London were
indignant, and circulated whispers that Marx was a Prussian emissary,
and had received a bribe of £10,000. An idle tale! It is true that among
German conservatives and among the beneficiaries of Germany there could
not be found a supporter more sincere and more fervent than was this
proscribed rebel. But he was no paladin on behalf of Prussian
imperialism, as we can learn beyond dispute from a letter he sent to
the "Daily News" in 1878 denouncing Bismarckian ambitions and the
Bismarckian expansionist policy as a growing peril.

Yet the supreme aim of his activity and his life enormously transcended
the circumscribed range of country and of nation, for he aspired to a
loftier goal, to the organisation of the mental and manual workers of
all countries so that they might constitute a united revolutionary
force. Within a brief time of his arrival in the British metropolis he
again became the chief, nay the dictator, of a circle to which none
could be admitted without passing a severe examination as to knowledge
of science in general and of political economy in particular, an
examination so rigorous that even Wilhelm Liebknecht was unable at first
to satisfy its requirements, an examination that was physical as well as
mental, for the aspirants were subjected (rejoice, shade of Lombroso!)
to precise craniometrical tests.

Thus our thinker, crowned as if by divine right with a kind of imperial
halo, exercised undisputed sway over the troop of exiles, Pieper, Bauer,
Blind, Biskamp, Eccarius, Liebknecht, Freiligrath, Cesare Orsini
(brother of the regicide), and even over the revolutionary agitators in
Germany. Soon, however, his mind was invaded and dominated by a yet more
ambitious design, for he planned the formation of a society which should
unite the proletarians of all the world into one formidable
International, to resist the aggressions of capital and to work for the
destruction of the capitalist system. It was at first an association of
modest proportions, consisting merely of a few revolutionaries assembled
in London. Marx absolutely refused the chairmanship, contenting himself
with the post, ostensibly less important, of delegate for the German

From the first formation of the new federation Marx did his utmost to
counteract the influence of Mazzini, for Mazzini, through the
instrumentality of two of his followers, Fontana and the elder Wolff,
wished to inspire the International with his idealist conceptions and to
initiate it into the secrets of conspiracy. Marx, on the other hand, was
unwearying in his efforts to advocate his own view that material
interests preponderate, and that these interests must be publicly
asserted and defended in the arena of history. Soon the federation
established branches in France, Germany, the United States, and even the
Latin countries; and this involved for Marx, who was really the chief, a
mass of work in the way of organisation, and of struggle against those
who held conflicting views. Everywhere, in fact, he had to encounter
trends differing from his own, and differing no less extensively one
from another owing to the varying characters of the countries concerned.

In Germany he had to fight the opportunism of Lassalle, a man inclined
to compromises and to elastic unions with constituted authority. In
France anti-intellectual tendencies were already manifest, so that there
was an inclination to restrict the socialist outlook to an aspiration
for immediately practical labour legislation of minor importance. In
Italy and in Spain, Marx's troubles arose from the anarchist tendencies
characteristic of those countries, tendencies fostered by the propaganda
of Bakunin.

As against these divergent aims, Marx, with inflexible tenacity,
maintained his own programme with the utmost rigour, insisting that it
was essential to federate the proletarian forces of the world into an
invincible organisation which in all possible ways, by strikes, by
parliamentary and legal methods, but also by force should need arise,
should deliver onslaughts upon the bourgeoisie and upon constituted
authority, should exact concessions of increasing importance, and should
ultimately secure a complete triumph. The proletarians of the two
hemispheres were not slow to accept the programme; and this man who was
himself suffering from actual hunger, now secured a great position as a
thinker, so that the operatives of Paris, New York, and Düsseldorf did
honour to his name.

These activities, however, did not completely interrupt his intellectual
labours, for during the period at which we have now arrived he published
in the "New York Tribune" a series of articles upon _Revolution and
Counter-revolution in Germany_ and upon _Political Struggles in France_.
In 1852, in "The Revolution," published in the German tongue in New
York, there had appeared the article _The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis
Bonaparte_. Substantially these writings are an application of the
materialist conception of history to the more conspicuous events of the
recent political history of Germany and of France. In addition, Marx
published in the "Tribune" a series of articles of a more distinctively
political character, dealing with _The Eastern Question_, displaying
marvellous erudition and a wonderful power of forecasting events.


Nevertheless, the organisation of the proletariat, and his journalistic
labours, however intense and however weighty, did not represent in the
life of Marx anything more than a vexatious parenthesis or a regrettable
delay in the fulfilment of the supreme task he had set before himself
from the very outset of his life in Britain. Hardly, in fact, had Marx
settled down in the wonderful town of London, to the economist so
inexhaustible a field for study and experience, than he proposed to
rebuild from the foundations the entire edifice of his economic and
statistical knowledge, which was at that time comparatively small when
contrasted with the vast extent of his preliminary readings in
philosophy. In the British Museum library, therefore, he plunged into
the study of the classical economists of the island realm, showing
inexhaustible patience in tracing the earliest and most trifling
ramifications of economic science.

Beginning with the study of the theory of rent, he went on to the study
of money, of the relationship between the quantity of metal in
circulation and the rate of exchange, of the influence of bank reserves
upon prices, and so forth. He then devoted himself to the theories of
value, profit, interest, and population. Simultaneously he studied
without remission statistics, blue books, ministerial and parliamentary

From all this gigantic toil he derived the materials for the writing of
the work which was henceforward to be at once the sorrow and the joy of
his life. His first intention was to limit himself to a critical history
of political economy, or a detailed analysis of the theories which he
had so often enunciated, as well as of the lacunae which had become
apparent in them. But an unexpected result issued from the mental
contact with this huge mass of science and analysis, for he believed
that he had made a splendid and startling discovery whereby the sacred
theory of profit could be utterly exploded.

Now, therefore, he outlined the design of his great work, which was to
consist of two parts; a first, historico-critical, intended to elucidate
the different forms of the theory of profit as expounded by the various
British economists; and a second, theoretical and constructive, which
was to announce to the world the author's own doctrine. This method of
exposition is substantially identical with that followed by Böhm-Bawerk
in his _Capital and Interest_, and it corresponds moreover to the
immediate requirements of the investigation, which ought to begin with
the study of prevailing opinions and doctrines, and then only proceed to
innovation. But a more attentive examination of the question soon
convinced Marx that this would not be the most efficacious method of
furnishing a theoretical reproduction of actualities, since, to this
end, we must let the phenomena tell their own tale before we proceed to
call to account those who have already analysed them, and before we draw
attention to the ways in which their conception of the facts diverges
from that which reality, when directly questioned, reveals. The method
has ever been preferred by the most gifted theorists, and has been
applied by Bergson with admirable dexterity in his _Creative Evolution_.
Marx, therefore, never weary of destroying and refashioning, inverted
his original design, and promptly began the study and analysis of
concrete phenomena, to proceed then only to a criticism of the theories
of his precursors. It was in accordance with such criteria that he wrote
his _Criticism of Political Economy_, of which the first instalment was
published at Berlin in 1859.

The most notable portion of this work is the preface, which contains
the first statement of the theory of historical materialism. The
relationships of men in social life, says Marx, are determined by the
conditions of production, are necessary relationships independent of the
individual will; these determined relationships constitute the real
foundation upon which is erected the legislative, political, moral, and
religious superstructure of every age. The relationships of production,
or the economic relationships prevailing at a given period, are a
natural and necessary outcome of the method of production, or rather of
the historic phase of the instrument of production. But sooner or later
the further development of the productive forces generates a new
configuration in technical method, a configuration incompatible with the
prevailing relationships of production, those correlative to the
productive order hitherto dominant. There then occurs an explosion, a
social revolution, which disintegrates economic relationships, and, by
ricochet, disintegrates existing social relationships, replacing them by
better economic relationships, adequate to the new and more highly
evolved phase of the productive instrument.

In broad outline it may be said that economic evolution has exhibited
four progressive phases; the Asiatic economy, the classical economy, the
feudalist economy, and the modern bourgeois or capitalist economy. The
evolution of the productive instrument, never arrested in its secular
march, will in due course renew the eternally recurrent opposition
between the method of production and the relationships of production,
rendering these incompatible. Once more will come an explosion, the last
of the great social convulsions, whereby the bourgeois economic order
will be overthrown and will be replaced by the co-operative
commonwealth. This new development will close the primary epoch of the
history of human society.

But the work we are discussing is further noteworthy inasmuch as it
reflects a special phase of our author's thought, a thought which never
ceased to exhibit a struggle between opposing trends and was ever
oppressed by their contrast. The book, in fact, shows Marx continually
involved in antiquated Hegelian machinery, or proceeding through a chain
of categories evolving one from another--capital, landed property, the
wage system, the state, foreign commerce, the world market. From each of
these categories we may infer how the process of their successive
development is accomplished. We are led to infer that the wage system is
the outcome of landed proprietorship, for the expropriation of the
peasant proprietors produces the proletarianised masses offering labour
power for sale; and we are led to infer that the constitution of the
world market is the crown and the epilogue of modern capitalist economy.
In fact, according to Marx, the historic mission of capitalism based
upon wage labour, whose origins go back to the sixteenth century, is the
creation of the world market. The world market is now devoted to the
colonisation of California and Australia and to the opening of trading
ports in China and Japan; its creation marks the climax of capitalism's
historic mission, and indicates the approaching end of the economic form
which was destined to fulfill it.

Now these ideas, in themselves arbitrary and fantastic, show how Marx's
thought at that epoch was still in an undecided or amphibious phase, in
which the torrid sun of British economic science had not as yet
succeeded in totally dispelling the fogs of German philosophy. But
another incompatibility lessens the value of the book or diminishes its
doctrinal efficacy; for Marx, at this stage of his studies, invariably
gave to the history of doctrine too preponderant a place, introducing it
insistently into the course of his own exposition, which was thus
deprived of continuity and weakened in force.

Further, the book we are considering did not directly bear upon any of
the social questions which strongly arouse public interest, but was
restricted to the study of two theories whose importance at first sight
seems purely academic, the theory of value and the theory of money.

Marx contended that the value of commodities is exclusively determined
by the quantity of labour incorporated into them; he traced the
affiliations of this thesis with the work of its first enunciators in
Italy and in England; but he did not offer any reasoned demonstration of
its truth. On the contrary, he frankly recognised that this contention
is full of contradictions alike theoretical and practical,
contradictions that appear insoluble; but he promised to vanquish them
in the subsequent course of his exposition.

Far more noteworthy is the chapter on money, for it contains a masterly
criticism of the quantitative theory of Ricardo, and an effective
refutation of the "labour notes" idea of Bray, Gray, Proudhon, and
others. According to this plan, every producer performing a certain
quantum of labour would receive from the state a voucher entitling him
to obtain from other producers the result of an equal quantum of labour;
but the suggestion implies complete ignorance of the intrinsic
conditions of the individualistic economy, wherein each producer creates
an object without any certainty that there will be a market for it, or
that it represents a real utility and will fetch a definite price. It
obviously follows that the producer cannot be sure that he will be able
to sell the article which he has produced, or that he will be able to
transform it into anything with universal purchasing power; the product
has to be baptised or sanctioned by the market, which alone has power to
stamp it as useful by purchasing it.

Now the "labour note" system claims that it can forcibly dispense with
the market by supplying to the producer of an article whose utility and
saleable value has not been recognised by the market, a universally
available purchasing power. The practical outcome of this forcible
method is that the producer of a useless article can by means of his
"labour note" secure for himself a useful article, whereas the producer
of this latter will not in turn be able to exchange his own "labour
note" for any object possessing utility; that is to say, the article
made by the first producer will find no purchaser, and the "labour note"
of the second producer will effect no purchase. This is inevitable, for
the proposed reform is inconsistent, eclectic, and incomplete, since it
pretends to socialise exchange while maintaining production and
distribution upon their old individualistic basis, and overlooks the
incongruity of any such supposition.

The "labour note" system cannot rationally be instituted until
production has been socialised, or until the state shall impose upon
each individual the production of a specified quantity and quality of
commodities, correlatively imposing upon the consumer the obligation to
acquire these. In such conditions, however, we could no longer speak of
commodities or of exchange, for these phenomena belong exclusively to an
individualistic economy and would have no place in a socialised economy.
This means that the reform of exchange by the suppression of profit can
only be effected by the suppression of exchange itself, by the
institution of the co-operative commonwealth. Indeed, Robert Owen, who
proposed the "labour note" system in 1832, and was the most brilliant of
its advocates, clearly recognised this difficulty, and understood that
the socialisation of production would be an indispensable preliminary to
the adoption of the plan. It was the impatience of his disciples which
forced him to inaugurate the system within the framework of the
capitalist economy by founding the National Equitable Labour Exchange.
The logic of facts gave a patent demonstration of the irrationality of
the attempt; and Owen, saddened and humiliated, was compelled to witness
the failure of the new institution.

It will readily be understood that these abstruse and abstract
investigations, devoid as they are of any tangible connection with the
burning problems of property, were not likely to arouse interest among
the members of the party. Nothing could be more natural than the tone of
hopeless discouragement with which the volume was greeted even by the
author's most devoted friends. Liebknecht, for example, declared that he
had never before experienced so great a disappointment. Biskamp enquired
what on earth it was all about; Burgers deplored that Marx should have
published a work so dull and fragmentary. It is true that the book had a
moderate sale; Rau quoted it in his treatise; certain Russian and
American economists made it the subject of profound studies.
Nevertheless, the publisher refused to proceed with the issue.

Hardly had this literary bickering come to an end when Marx became
involved in a violent quarrel with the distinguished naturalist Karl
Vogt, who publicly charged him with setting snares for the German exiles
and with having sordid relationships with the police. Marx replied with
a savage booklet entitled _Herr Vogt_ (London, 1860). The style of this
polemic writing is intolerably vulgar; but in other respects the book is
noteworthy, for it contains interesting revelations anent the Italian
campaign and the relationships between Turin and the Tuileries. We must
remember, moreover, that the accusation here launched against Vogt, that
he was in the pay of the Second Empire, was subsequently confirmed
beyond dispute, for in 1871 among the ruins of the Tuileries there was
found a receipt for frs. 40,000 which had been paid over to Vogt.

But scientific failures, personal contests, persistent and distressing
domestic discomforts, seemed to inspire our athlete with renewed
strength for the continuance of the work he had begun. Nevertheless,
profiting by experience, he decided upon a yet further modification in
the plan of his book, resolving to defer to its final section all
historico-critical disquisitions, and to concentrate his energies upon
the positive analysis of concrete reality. Further, being prevented by
frequent illness from tackling the more difficult themes of pure
economics, he devoted these long intervals of comparative leisure to
statistical investigations and to the perusal of factory inspectors'
reports, of white books and of blue books, and he plunged into the study
of the economic history of Great Britain, so that it became possible for
him to interleave the pages of abstract theory, necessarily difficult
to understand, with pages that are really living, pages that vibrate
with the reflex of reality. At length, abandoning the method he had
previously followed of publishing fragmentary essays, he decided to
rewrite the work throughout before sending it to press.

After several years of incredible labour, the days being devoted to
reading in the British Museum library, and the nights (for he often went
on writing until four in the morning) to literary composition; falling
again and again beneath the burden of his cross, but ever rising to his
feet once more, thanks to the demon within urging him on and thanks also
to the sustaining hand of his incomparable friend; he at length
completed his task, and in the spring of 1867 sailed for Hamburg with
the manuscript of the first volume of _Capital_, which he entrusted to
Meissner for publication. In Hamburg he passed pleasant days with Dr.
Kugelmann, a friend and fervent admirer, and with various officials,
generals, and bankers; he was visited by a lawyer named Warnebold, an
emissary from Bismarck, who, acting on the minister's instructions,
exhorted him "to employ his brilliant talents for the advantage of the
German people." Before long, however, he returned to London, where he
earnestly devoted himself to giving the last touches to his book, which
was finally issued from the press in the autumn of the same year.

Thus was at length given to the world the monumental work destined to
revolutionise sociological thought, and to give a new and higher trend,
not to socialism alone, but to political economy itself. To sum up its
drift very briefly, we may say that the argument follows three chief
lines, value, machinery, and primitive accumulation. He set out from the
fundamental principle (a principle which the philosopher Krause had
declared to be as important to political economy as the fall of heavy
bodies is important to physics) that the value of products is measured
by the mass of labour incorporated into them, and drew the conclusion
that the profit of capital is nothing other than the materialisation of
a quantity of labour expended by the worker, and is in other words
unpaid labour, stolen and usurped income. The worker, that is to say,
transmits into the product a value equal to the quantity of labour
incorporated therein, but receives from the capitalist a value less than
this, a value equal to the quantity of labour embodied in the
commodities necessary to reproduce the energy expended by the worker.

Now the difference between the value of the product (that is to say the
quantity of labour transmitted by the worker into the product) and the
value of the labour power (that is to say the quantity of labour
employed in producing the commodities consumed by the worker) constitute
the surplus value which is gratuitously pocketed by the owner of the
means of production in virtue of the fact that he is owner. In this way
Marx attains to the qualitative notion of the income of capital, or
explains whereof that income effectively consists. It remains to
determine the quantity of income, which cannot be specified unless there
have previously been precisely determined the measure and the figure of

Now though it be true that the growth of accumulation virtually tends to
bring about an increase in the amount paid in wages, it is nevertheless
within the power of the capitalist to obviate this undesirable event by
investing the growing accumulation in the form of technical capital,
which by its very nature is without influence upon wages. But the
capitalist can do more than this. He can transform into technical
capital a part of the capital which has hitherto been utilised in paying
wages, thus throwing some of the workers out of employment, or creating
an industrial reserve army. This reserve army, on the one hand stifles
all resistance on the part of the workers in active employment, keeping
their wages at a level which will purchase the barest necessaries, and
on the other hand permits to capitalist industry the sudden expansions
in times of prosperity which to the capitalist are so desirable and so

Thus Marx's qualitative investigation is succeeded by a quantitative
investigation, so that we learn, not only what surplus value is, but
that it is equal to all the excess over and above the more or less
limited subsistence of the worker, and that the worker is not merely
defrauded of part of the value resulting from his labour, but is reduced
to a wretched pittance, happy if he can secure this, and if he be not
condemned by the hopeless entanglements of capitalist relationships to
submergence in the backwater of the most terrible poverty. The result is
that to the favoured recipients of surplus value there is subject a
brutalised crowd reduced to a narrow wage, while at a yet lower level
there struggles in the morass the amorphous mass of those who are
condemned to labour without end.

We thus realise, adds Marx, how profit is born of capital and is in its
turn transformed into capital. But none of the considerations hitherto
adduced suffice to make it clear what was the origin of primitive
capital, that which first of all gave birth to profit, and consequently
cannot be the product of profit. The celebrated section on the secret of
primitive accumulation was intended to solve this problem. Classical
political economy, said Marx, regarded the formation of primitive
capital as an episode which occurred during the first days of creation.
In times long gone by, there were two sorts of people; one, the
diligent, intelligent, and above all frugal élite; the other, lazy
rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living. Thus it
came to pass before long that the former became impoverished whilst the
latter grew wealthy, and the wealthy earned the gratitude of the poor
by hiring these to work for them in return for a paltry wage. The
theological legend of original sin tells us how man came to be condemned
to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow; but the economic history of
original sin reveals to us that there are people to whom this is by no
means essential. We learn that one section of humanity has succeeded in
eluding the divine judgment and in procuring for itself bread and cakes
by the sweat of others.

Unfortunately, continues Marx, a conscientious questioning of history
discloses that primitive capital originated in very various ways, of a
character anything but idyllic. Until the close of the fifteenth century
there existed in England a race of peasant proprietors, nominally
subject to the jurisdiction of the great lords of the soil. But the
increasing demand for wool which resulted from the expansion of the
Flemish wool industry, and the increasing demand for flesh meat
consequent upon the growth of population, induced the great landowners
to destroy an agrarian system by which their returns from rent were
rendered practically nil. The free cultivators were brutally evicted
from the fields which their ancestors had arduously tilled for centuries
past, to be replaced by shepherds and flocks, the crowds of the
expropriated hastening to the towns to offer the strength of their arms
for hire.

Here they happened upon a rout of usurers, traders, house-owners,
enriched craftsmen, and lucky speculators; and here too were those who
had expropriated them, the landowners who had heaped up savings by fair
means or foul, but had hitherto been unable to turn their savings to
account owing to the restrictions imposed by the corporative economy
(guild system). These accepted as a gift from heaven the influx of the
proletarian multitude, and were not slow in setting the newcomers to
work on behalf of the growing manufactures. Modern capitalist industry
thus originated in a terrible expropriation of the working population
which transformed the independent peasants into an impoverished and
hunger-stricken mob. But historic nemesis awaits this society conceived
in theft, and Marx predicts its disastrous end in the ominous words:
"The knell of capitalist property will sound; the expropriators will be

The fulfilment of the process will be effected by the forces inherent in
the mechanism of the capitalist economy. The more extensive the
development of that economy, the fiercer becomes the internecine
struggle between the individual aggregations of capital, the more
extensive become the accumulations of wealth in the hands of capitalists
of the upper stratum, and the smaller becomes the number of these;
correlatively there takes place an increase in the size of the working
and poverty-stricken crowd, the more hopeless and more pitiful becomes
its degradation, whilst simultaneously its cohesion grows more compact,
for the workers are disciplined and organised by the very process which
associates labour in the factory and upon the land. At a given moment,
when the number of mammoth capitalists has conspicuously diminished, and
when the pullulating mass of proletarians has increased to an
immeasurable degree and has been forced down into the most abject
poverty, it will at length be easy to the dispossessed to expropriate
the small group of usurpers.

Thus the expropriation of the masses by the few, which greeted the dawn
of the contemporary economic order, will be counterposed by the
expropriation of the restricted number of masters at the hands of the
proletarian masses, and this will triumphantly herald a calmer and more
resplendent sunrise.


A broad outline has now been given of the marvellous work which,
whatever judgment we may feel it necessary to pass upon the value of the
doctrines it enunciates, will remain for all time one of the loftiest
summits ever climbed by human thought, one of the imperishable monuments
of the creative powers of the human mind. Above all we are impressed and
charmed by the magnificent quality of the exposition, in which but one
defect can be pointed out, and this was probably imposed by the abnormal
conditions under which the author wrote.

We allude to the last chapter, the one that crowns the story of the
historic expropriation of the workers with the eloquent example of the
colonies. Logically this chapter should precede the penultimate chapter,
wherein Marx, from his account of these terrible happenings, casts the
horoscope of revolution. It is probable that the inversion was
deliberate, for the prophetic call to the proletarian revolution would
have been more likely to attract the attention of the censorship had it
been placed at the end of the volume.

Apart from this trifling matter, we cannot but admire the shapely
pyramidal construction, the harmonious and flowing movement of the book,
which, passing from the most subtle disquisitions upon the algebra of
value, deals with the complexities of factory life and machine
production, plunges into the inferno of workshops and mines and into the
infamous stews of unspeakable poverty, to conclude with a description of
the tragic expropriation of a suffering population. The work is a
masterpiece wherein all is great, all alike incomparable and
wonderful--the acuteness of the analysis, the statuesque majesty of the
whole, the style vibrant with sorrow or with indignation according as
the author is sympathising with the woes of the poor or scourging the
villainies of the mighty, the vast learning, and the torrential impetus
of passion. There is a stupendous harmony of irreconcilables, so that,
as in the mysterious creations of nature, we find an almost
inconceivable association of real symmetry with apparent disorder; an
association of minute attention to detail with monumental synthesis, an
association of mathematics with history, an association of repose with
movement; so that in all its fibres the book seems to be the offspring
of an unfathomable and transcendental union between superhuman labour
and superhuman pain.

Nothing, therefore, is more natural or more readily explicable than the
phenomenal success of _Capital_, a success which has rarely been
paralleled in the history of intellectual productions. Translated into
almost every language (recently even into Chinese); eagerly read by men
of learning no less than by statesmen, by reactionaries as well as by
rebels; quoted in parliaments and in meetings of the plebs, from the
pulpit and from the platform, in huts and in palaces--it speedily
secured a world-wide reputation for its author, making him the idol of
the most irreconcilable classes and of the most contrasted stocks.
Whereas, in fact, the prophetic announcement of the glorious advent of
collective property led to the assembling round Marx of all the common
people of the west, who hailed him as avenger, as leader, and as seer of
the onward march of the proletariat; in such countries as Russia, where
capitalist development was as yet in its infancy, the bourgeois classes
sang the praises of the book which announced the historic mission of
capitalism, and thus it was that the idol of the western pétroleurs
became in the far east of Europe the fetich of bankers and

After the first shock of surprise, however, readers turned to the
dispassionate analysis of the individual doctrines advocated in the
work, and were not slow to bring to light certain gaps and sophisms. To
say truth, no sovereign importance can be attributed to any of these
criticisms, nor is it necessary to make much of the numerous attacks
upon the statistical demonstrations of _Capital_.

It is undeniable that Marx's thesis of the progressive concentration of
wealth into the hands of an ever-diminishing number of owners, and of
the correlatively progressive impoverishment of the common people, has
not been confirmed. It has indeed been confuted by the most
authoritative statistics collected since the publication of the book,
for these show that the greater recipients of income increase more than
proportionally to the medium and lesser recipients, whereas the number
of taxpayers in the lowest grades diminishes, with a proportionate
increase in the number of those at a slightly higher level. Further, as
far as this last fact is concerned, there can be no doubt that wages
have increased of late, so that they not merely rise above the miserable
level of bare subsistence specified by Lassalle, but also rise above the
level (which is still miserable, though a trifle higher) expressed in
the calculations of Marx.

It is, however, needful to add that the Marxist thesis merely points to
a general tendency, and does not imply a denial that more or less
considerable fluctuations may occur at particular periods. Moreover, the
concentration of wealth does not find expression solely in the
diminution of the numerical proportion between the greater and the
lesser recipients of income, but in addition in a diminution of the
ratio between the taxpayers and the population and in an increase in the
contrast between the wealth of the recipients of income in various
grades. Further, the most authoritative statistics demonstrate a
growing diminution in the ratio between the owners and the general
population. Again, no one can deny that the contrast between high grade
and low grade incomes has of late exhibited an enormous increase; that
banking concentration and the sway of the banks over industry (a source
of increasing disparity in fortunes) has attained in recent years an
intensity which even Marx could not have foreseen; and that,
subsequently to the publication of _Capital_ and to the death of its
author, the social fauna has been enriched by an economic animal of a
species previously unknown, the multimillionaire, whose existence
undeniably reveals an unprecedented advance in capitalist concentration.

Nay more, after Marx's death, agrarian and industrial concentration
attained preposterous proportions, such as he had never ventured to
predict. In the American Union, a single landed estate will embrace
territories equal to entire provinces, while industrial capital becomes
amassed by milliards in the hands of a few despotic trusts, so that
two-thirds of the entire working population are employed by
one-twentieth of all the separate enterprises in the country. These
statements concern the apex of the social pyramid; but even at the base
of that structure the phenomena are far from invalidating the Marxist
conception to the extent which many contend. Correlatively with the
undeniable rise in wages (which, moreover, has been arrested of late,
and has been replaced by a definite movement of retrogression), there
has occurred an enormously greater increase in income, and therefore a
deterioration in the relative condition of the workers. There has
further been manifest an increasing instability of employment, so that
unemployment has become more widespread and more frequent, exposing the
working classes to impoverishment and incurable degradation.

Marx's other theses, however, are open to more serious objection.
Retracing the thread of his demonstrations with special attention to his
study of primitive accumulation, no one can deny the absolute
authenticity of the facts he narrated. Nor can Marx be blamed for having
restricted his historic demonstration to England; though in actual fact
the expropriation of the cultivators has been carried out everywhere,
openly or tacitly, and everywhere this expropriation has been an initial
stage in the foundation of capitalist property. Even Russia, who
flattered herself upon her independence of the universal law and upon
escaping the fated expropriation of her peasants, Russia, whom Marx
himself, as if in a sudden fit of mental aberration, was on the point of
excluding from the sphere of his generalisations, has to submit to the
invariable rule, and to witness the transformation of her independent
peasant proprietors into proletarians.

The constitutional defect of this portion of Marx's book is of a very
different character. Although he tells the story of the expropriation of
the cultivators, he fails to explain why such expropriation must always
take place, he fails to bring this great historical event beneath the
sway of a universal economic theory. Now, putting aside the incongruity
that a book essentially founded upon logical demonstration should all at
once break off that demonstration to turn to a historical disquisition
and a simple record of facts, no one has any right to construct a
theoretical generalisation upon the bare narration of hard facts without
referring these to the general psychological and logical causes which
have produced them. It cannot be denied that in this respect Marx's
demonstration presents a defect which it is impossible to make good.

Yet more serious criticism may be directed against the theory of the
industrial reserve army, the theory wherein Marx attempts to sum up the
law of population of the capitalist era. For the theory is wholly based
upon the premise that the conversion of wage capital into technical
capital is competent to bring about the permanent unemployment of
labour, or definitively to reduce the demand for labour. Now this
premise will not hold, for technical capital, by promptly increasing the
profit of capital, and by lowering the price of the product in the long
run, provides for the capitalist, first of all, and subsequently for the
consumer, the possibility of fresh savings, and these in the end create
a further demand for labour, so that sooner or later there will be a
call upon the active services of the workers who are temporarily
unemployed. Vain, therefore, is any attempt to make technical capital
responsible for the relative excess of population, which technical
capital cannot possibly produce, for this phenomenon must be referred to
the presence and to the activity of a very different variety of capital,
and one not considered by Marx, namely unproductive capital.

But these criticisms, which after all touch no more than points of
detail, are mere trifles in comparison with the incurable contradictions
in which the author's fundamental theory is involved. In fact, by a
vigorous deduction from his premise that the value of commodities is
measured by the mass of labour incorporated in them, Marx arrives at the
fundamental and logical distinction between constant capital and
variable capital. If, however, the value of products be exclusively
determined by the mass of labour incorporated in them, it is evident
that the capital invested in machinery or in raw material can only
transmit to the product a value exactly equal to the quantity of labour
contained therein, without adding any surplus, and that it is therefore
constant capital; whereas wage capital transmits to the product value
equal to all the quantity of labour which it maintains and sets in
motion, a quantity which, as we know, exceeds the quantity of labour
contained in the capital itself. In other words, wage capital, besides
reproducing its own value, furnishes a supplement or a surplus value,
and is therefore variable capital. Consequently surplus value arises
exclusively from variable capital, and is therefore precisely
proportional to the quantity of this capital.

It further ensues that of two undertakings employing equal amounts of
aggregate capital, the one which employs a larger proportion of constant
capital ought to furnish a profit and a rate of profit lower than that
furnished by the other. But free competition among the capitalists
enforces an equal rate of profit upon the capitals invested in the
various undertakings, and leads to the immediate abandonment of
undertakings requiring a greater proportion of constant capital, and to
the correlative expansion of the others. There consequently results an
increase in the value of the products of the former undertakings, and a
diminution in the value of the products of the latter. This process
continues until the value of the respective products furnishes an equal
rate of profit to the capitals respectively employed in producing them.
Value, therefore, though in the first instance it is equivalent to the
labour employed in producing the products, necessarily diverges from
that standard in the end, and has then an utterly different measure.
Thus the theory we are discussing is peremptorily refuted, or is reduced
to absurdity.

From the outset Marx is distinctly aware of the existence of this
striking contradiction, which emerges in so formidable a manner in the
first stage of his investigation; he frankly recognises it, but
postpones its solution to the later volumes of his treatise. On the very
morrow, indeed, of the publication of the first volume, he ardently set
to work once more, and sketched to his friend, in monumental pages, the
design of the complete book. Just as St. Augustine was grieved that the
duties of his episcopate deprived him of the hours which he would have
preferred to devote to the writing of a volume to be the crown of his
_City of God_, so Marx was harassed by the thought of the time which the
work of party organisation filched from his scientific labours, and it
was solely that he might escape from the absorbing engagements involved
in the former task that in the Hague congress of 1872 he proposed the
transfer of the International to New York.

But now we unexpectedly reach a "dead point" in the biography of our
thinker, for his mental life, otherwise so normal and so brilliant, here
suddenly becomes obscured, and is tinged with mystery and enigma. For,
on the one hand, Marx clearly affirmed, and showed by his actions, that
he definitely wished to devote himself to the completion of his
treatise, whereas, on the other hand, it is undeniable that after the
publication of the first volume of _Capital_, he never wrote another
line of the book, and that all the posthumous additions to this volume
were composed prior to 1867. I do not mean to imply that during
subsequent years he gave himself up to inertia or repose, for it was
during this period that he wrote all the economic section in Engels'
booklet against Dühring; he learned Russian; he read the agricultural
statistics of numerous countries and the reports on poverty in Ireland;
he studied the matriarchal system; carried on ingenious discussions with
Engels concerning Carey's theory of rent and Bastiat's theory of the
cost of reproduction; threw light on the influence of fluctuations in
the value of money upon the rate of profit; sketched a mathematical
theory of commercial cycles--in a word, his thought-process remained so
active that when a certain publisher asked for the right to issue his
complete works, he replied, "My works, those which represent my present
thought, are not yet written." But the essential work of his life, the
work which had been so much cherished and which he again and again
turned over in his thoughts, seems, as far as palpable traces are
concerned, to have been entirely dismissed from his mind. We thus look
on, marvelling and grieved, at the sight of the enfeebled hero
withdrawing from the field, what time his banner, whose staff is not yet
firmly implanted in the ground, is left as a target for the easy
assaults of his emboldened adversaries.

There certainly contributed to this intellectual shipwreck the illnesses
and the misfortunes from which Marx suffered during the later years of
his life. His health had been gravely undermined by overwork during the
composition of the first volume of _Capital_ and during the task of
proletarian organisation; trouble from boils alternated with bronchitis,
liver disorder, headache, and lumbago. In vain did he seek health in
gentler climes, at Ramsgate, Ventnor, Neuenahr, Carlsbad, Algiers, Monte
Carlo, Vevey, and other fashionable health resorts. All attempts at
cure proving inefficacious, he had at length to settle down once more in

In 1881 occurred the death of his wife; while the death of his beautiful
daughter Jenny, Longuet's wife, in January, 1883, was, if possible, a
yet more cruel blow. Marx never recovered from this last shock;
henceforward he was a broken man, the mere shadow of his former self; he
passed his time contemplating the portraits of his two dear ones which
Engels was to bury with him, and he no longer took any interest in the
world around him or in the social tumult of which he was the inspirer
and the originator. He died suddenly at two in the afternoon of March
14, 1883, while seated in his study chair. The titanic brain, which had
given a new world to humanity, which had broken once for all the
spiritual and material bondage of mankind, had ceased to live and to

Most distressing of all, he had taken with him to the grave the
solution of the formidable enigma which everyone, the vulgar and the
thinkers alike, had expected his genius to solve, and which no one else
could unravel. It is true that shortly before his death he showed his
friend the bulky manuscripts dictated in earlier days relating to the
_Criticism of Political Economy_, suggesting that something might be
made of this collection. It is also true that Engels, faithful executor
of his divinity's wishes, devoted himself with splendid zeal to the
publication of the manuscripts. But alas what delusion was in store for
the admirers of the master! What a Russian campaign of disaster
organised by enthusiastic lieutenants to the hurt of this Napoleon of

In 1885, two years after the death of Marx, there was published under
Engels' supervision a so-called second volume of _Capital_. But the
careless and pedestrian editorship, the long theoretical disquisitions
making no appeal to facts for their justification, disquisitions in
which the argumentative thread is continually broken, suffice to show
that what we have before us is not a book, hardly even a sketch for a
book, but a series of casual writings composed for the purposes of study
and for personal illumination. Moreover, the work is wholly devoted to
uninspiring monetary discussions upon the circulation of capital, to
dissertations concerning fixed and circulating capital, the formation of
metallic reserves, the circulation of commodity-capital, etc.

Noteworthy, in any case, are the investigations which aim at throwing
light on the process in virtue of which there is effected the formation
of metallic reserves which remain out of circulation for a longer or
shorter period. If, says Marx, a certain commodity requires for its
production six months of labour, and cannot be sold until two months
after its production has been completed, the capitalist, if he is to
continue the work of production during the period in which the commodity
remains unsold, has need of additional capital which he could dispense
with if the sale could be effected immediately after production. But
when, at the close of the circulation period, the capitalist resumes
possession of the capital first utilised and realises it in money, he
has no immediate need of all this capital, but only of the quantity
necessary to make good the additional capital which he has invested,
that is to say, a quantity of capital equal to the difference between
the primary capital and the supplementary capital; consequently the
excess remains at liberty, and goes to constitute and to increase
monetary reserves. These reserves are formed in addition, and by an
analogous process, on account of the wear of machinery; for the portions
of value transmitted by the machines to the product and correlative to
the wear of these machines are pent up until the day of the complete
destruction of the machines or of their necessary replacement. Thus the
difference between the period of production and the period of exchange
of the commodities, and the difference between the period of economic
redintegration and the period of technical redintegration of the
productive machinery, give rise to the formation of monetary or
capitalistic reserves, which become in their turn the source of
intricate developments and interesting complications.

The book likewise contains a masterly, though wordy and disconnected,
account of the circulation of capital. But absolutely nowhere does it
touch on or even hint at the theoretical enigma left unsolved in the
first volume. Solely in Engels' preface do we find an announcement that
the definitive solution will be furnished in a subsequent volume, and a
suggestion that in the interim economists engage in a sort of academic
debate, and bring forward their respective solutions. There actually
took part in this strange competition, with varying success, Conrad
Schmidt, Landé, Lexis, Skworzoff, Stiebeling, Julius Wolf, Fireman,
Lafargue, Soldi, Coletti, Graziadei, and myself. At length, however, in
1894, appeared the third volume, which was to reveal to an impatient
world the desired solution.

The solution reduces itself to this. It is true, says Marx, that the
value commensurate to labour ends by assigning to the capitals
respectively employed as constant and as variable, different rates of
profit, and that this is radically incompatible with competition. But it
is likewise true that products are not actually sold for their value,
but for their price of production, which is equal to the capital
consumed plus profit at the ordinary rate on the total capital employed.
Certainly if we consider the mass of products sold, we find that their
total price is precisely equal to their total value. But this integral
value is not distributed among the various products in proportion to the
quantity of labour incorporated in them, but in a lesser or greater
proportion, according as the products themselves contain a greater or
less proportion of the mean between the constant capital and the total
capital; that is to say, the products containing a proportion of
constant capital superior to the mean are sold at a price above their
value in order to eliminate the deficiency of profit due to the
preponderance of the capital which does not produce surplus value;
whereas the products containing a proportion of constant capital
inferior to the mean are sold at a price less than their value so as to
eliminate the excess of profit due to the preponderance of the capital
that produces surplus value; whilst only the products containing the
mean proportion of constant capital and total capital are sold at a
price precisely identical with their value.

But it soon becomes apparent that this so-called solution is little more
than a play upon words, or, better expressed, little more than a solemn
mystification. For when economists endeavour to throw light upon the
laws of value, they naturally consider the value at which the
commodities are actually sold, and not a fantastical or transcendental
value, not a value which neither possesses nor can possess any concrete
relationship to facts. It may well be that value as determined by
abstract economic theory will not always correspond precisely with value
as a concrete fact, for the complexities and the manifold vicissitudes
of real life impose obstacles; it may well be, indeed, that to the
rigidity of normal value, constituting the type of the relationship of
exchange, we ought to counterpose the comparatively transient
fluctuations of current value.

But it must be understood that no logical fact should stand in the way
of the realisation of normal value, for this, conversely, ought to be
derived by logical necessity from fundamental economic premises. Of a
value, indeed, which not only is not realised, but is not logically
capable of realisation, the economist neither can nor ought to take any
account; he should show in what respect, instead of being the expression
of what value is, it is the expression of what value is not and cannot
be; he should point out the negation of every correct and positive
theory of value. Now this value commensurate to labour, value as defined
by Marx's theory, not merely has its realisation restricted or modified
by the vicissitudes of reality, but further, as Marx himself is
constrained to recognise, is not logically capable of realisation,
seeing that it would give rise to results incompatible with the most
elementary advantage of those who effect the exchange of commodities;
consequently, it is not merely an abstraction remote from reality, but
is incompatible with reality; not only is it an impossibility in the
realm of fact, but further and above all it is a logical impossibility.

Thus, far from effecting the salvation of the threatened doctrine, this
alleged solution administers a death-blow, and implies the categorical
negation of what it professes to support. For what meaning can there
possibly be in this reduction of value to labour, the doctrine
dogmatically affirmed in the first volume, to one who already knows that
the author is himself calmly prepared to jettison it? Is there any
reason for surprise at Marx's hesitation to publish this so-called
defence; need we wonder that his hand trembled, that his spirit quailed,
before the inexorable act of destruction?

Despite all, however, genius will not be denied, and even this volume
contains here and there masterly disquisitions, enriching the science of
economics with new and fertile truths. It will be enough, in this
connection, to refer to two theories. The first of these, the theory of
the decline in the rate of profit, though not free from objection, is
none the less inspired and profound. The second is the theory of
absolute rent, a brilliant and acute deduction from the Marxist theory
of value. This theory, indeed, as we saw just now, leads to the
conclusion that value commensurate to labour furnishes an extra profit
to the capital which produces commodities requiring for their production
an above-average proportion of variable capital. Now, where free
competition exists, such extra profit cannot continue, and must
necessarily be eliminated by a reduction in the price of the product to
a point below its value. But when competition is not fully free, there
is no reason why such extra profit should not be permanent. Now agrarian
production requires an abnormally high proportion of variable capital,
and consequently agricultural produce, when sold for its value,
furnishes an extra profit. But since land is a monopolised element, this
extra profit can be permanently assigned to the owners of the soil,
because there is no effective competition to prevent their continuing to
draw it. There thus comes into existence an absolute land rent, in
opposition to or in addition to the differential rent of Ricardo's
theory. This absolute rent is not due to the varying cost of production
in different areas; it is not the exclusive appanage of lands more
favourably situated or of lands of better quality; it arises solely from
the excess in the value of agrarian produce over its cost of production,
and is a general attribute of land per se, in virtue of its quality as a
monopolised element. Marx acutely studies the manifold varieties of this
rent according as it is rendered in work, in produce, or in money; and
with sound and far-reaching intuition he deduces from his theory
explanations of the intricate agrarian relationships among the various
peoples of the globe.

Nor is this the only gem with which the work is adorned. Very remarkable
are the pages upon merchants' capital and moneylenders' capital, on
their despotic predominance prior to the inauguration of the capitalist
régime, and upon their inevitable dissolution after the advent of that
régime. The closing pages, however, seem to breathe a vague weariness,
and we find hardly any trace of masterly theoretical discussion of the
class struggle, of its origin, of the instruments through which it
operates, although this discussion, according to the author's original
plan, was to be the monumental crown of the titanic work.

Thus, however fragmentarily, and thanks to the help of lieutenants and
of disciples who were not always adequately instructed, the theoretical
treatise, at once the pride and the torment of our prophet, at length
arrived at completion. But the reader will not forget that to the
positive treatment of his subject, Marx always counterposed a
historico-critical investigation of the theories of his precursors, and
in the more mature design of his work such an exposition was to follow
upon the exposition of his own doctrines and to form their apt
complement. It remained, therefore, to bring to light this last part of
his researches, a duty which was faithfully discharged (after the death
of Engels) by Karl Kautsky, with the publication of the _History of the
Theory of Surplus Value_, which appeared in four volumes during the
years 1905 to 1910. Substantially, though publishers have preferred to
treat it as a work apart, this book is nothing other than the concluding
section of _Capital_, announced in the preface to the first volume,
where the author tells of a sequel to be devoted to the history of this

In the posthumous work Marx traces the development of the theory of
surplus value through its three essential stages, the prericardian, the
Ricardian, and the postricardian. To the first of these phases belong
the theories of the physiocratic school, whose essence Marx grasps with
marvellous acuteness, maintaining that the theories in question were the
doctrinal reflection of the interests of the rising capitalist class,
constrained to pretend that its own economic claims were the logical
expression of the advantage of the landed and feudalist classes then
politically dominant. Particularly noteworthy are the comments on the
teaching of Adam Smith. The second volume contains a searching criticism
of the Ricardian system, and above all of Ricardo's theories of value
and of profit. In the third section Marx passes judgment on the theories
of Ricardo's successors, Malthus, Senior, and John Stuart Mill, for
these writers, says Marx, follow the setting sun of bourgeois economic
science, follow that science to its now inevitable doom.

It was a fixed idea with Marx that the theoretical analysis of
capitalist relationships had secured its fullest and most adequate
expression in the pages of Ricardo; he believed that Ricardo had
supplied the ultimate synthesis possible on these lines; that any
further progress of economic science in its bourgeois trappings had
become impossible; that its decline amid contradictions and perversions
was inevitable; and that economics could only be renewed and reborn
when the disintegrated vesture of bourgeois economic relationships had
been completely thrown aside to give place to a definitive and superior
social form. It is scarcely necessary to point to the sophisms and the
arbitrary assumptions upon which this concept is based; but it must be
admitted that the poverty, deficiency, and incurable vanity of current
economic science increasingly tend to give the theory an awkward
semblance of truth.


To-day, now that the fruits of Marx's meditations, be it only as the
result of the work of collaborators, be it only with many gaps and
imperfections, have all been given forth to the reading world, it is at
length possible to take a general view, and to pass a dispassionate
judgment upon the pre-eminent worth of his writings. The most austere
criticism must bow reverently before such gigantic mental attainments as
have few counterparts in the history of scientific thought, garnering
from all branches of knowledge on behalf of the undying cause of
mankind. The most inexorable criticism should recognise in Marx the
supreme merit of having been the first to introduce the evolutionary
concept into the domain of sociology, the first to introduce it in the
only form appropriate to social phenomena and social institutions; not
as the unceasing and gradual upward-movement outlined by Spencer, but as
the succession of agelong cycles rhythmically interrupted by
revolutionary explosions, proceeding in accordance with the manner
sketched by Lyell for geological evolution, and in our own time by de
Vries for biological evolution.

With the aid of this concept, strictly positive and scientific, Marx
triumphantly overthrew, on the one hand classical economic science,
taken prisoner by its own notion of a petrified society, and on the
other the philosophy of law and idealist socialism which were convinced
that it was possible to mould the world in accordance with the arbitrary
conceptions of the thinker. Looked at in this light, the work of Marx
presents a new instrument for the use of the philosophy of history and
for the use of sociology; and it has contributed no less powerfully to
the advance of technological science, thanks to the writer's masterly
investigation into the successive forms of the technical instrument of
productive machinery. In this respect more than in any others Marx may
be compared with Darwin, and may indeed be spoken of as the Darwin of
technology: for no one has ever had a profounder knowledge than Marx of
the structural development of the industrial mechanism, no one else has
followed step by step the formation and upward elaboration of productive
technique; just as Darwin, with invincible mental energy, traced the
evolution of animal technique, the development of the functional
apparatus of organised beings.

This physiology of industry, which is now the least studied and least
appreciated of Marx's scientific labours, nevertheless constitutes his
most considerable and most enduring contribution to science. Noteworthy,
in especial, and destined to form a permanent and integral part of the
economic science of the world, are Marx's analyses of money, credit, the
circulation of capital, poverty, primitive accumulation, not to speak of
the historico-critical investigations into the work of the British
classical economists--for here Marx, without prejudice to the merits of
those who have fought honourably in this difficult arena, will ever
remain the most brilliant and most profound commentator. For these
mighty and noble contributions, his name will be inscribed in
imperishable letters in the history of creative thought.

But if his sociological, historical, and technological investigations,
if his studies of money, the banking system, and industrial statistics,
be so many intellectual jewels of which no praise can be excessive, it
is none the less true that his fundamental economic theory is
essentially vitiated and sophistical, and that he is himself responsible
for reducing it to hopeless absurdity. We arrive, therefore, at this
remarkable result: that Marx, whose primary aim it was to be a theorist
of political economy, and to deal only in subsidiary fashion with the
philosophy of history and technology, secured a triumphant success in
these subordinate fields; whereas in respect of the fundamental object
of his thought, his work was a complete failure.

Nor can we deny that the very design of Marx's work, however marvellous
in the Michelangelesque grandeur of its ensemble, does not satisfy those
who insist upon strictly scientific method, and that in this respect
Marx stands far below the great masters of positive science. For,
however admirable and however great this man who succeeded in subsuming
an entire world within the limits of an extremely simple initial
principle, and whose life was but the development of an equation which
he had formulated at its outset, how far more straightforward and
trustworthy, how far more scientific, was the method of Darwin, who
never formulated any apriorist principles, but, quite free from
preconceptions, accepted phenomena in the order of progressive
complexity in which life itself presented them. Darwin first studied the
natural formation of organised beings, then devoted himself to an
examination of the larger types, and was finally led to infer their
development by evolutionary growth. This method, which follows nature
and reflects it, seems far more worthy of respect, far more honest, far
more strictly scientific, than the other method, which manipulates the
truth, does violence to the truth, in order to accommodate it to hidden

There is no reason, therefore, to be surprised that such a flood of
criticism should have been directed against this colossus, or that on
the morrow of the completion of Marx's work the skies of the two
hemispheres should have rung with disorderly clamour proclaiming the
crisis, nay the failure, of Marxism. But that which is less easy to
understand, that which discloses the utter immaturity of economic
science as well as of contemporary socialism, is that criticism has not
been directed against the truly vulnerable point of the system, but has
been solely concerned in attacking its better defended and less fragile
parts. In fact the scientific and socialist currents partially or wholly
opposed to Marxism display a strange reverence for his theory of value,
or do not venture to attack it, but concentrate their forces against the
statistical and historical theories which are the deductions and
complements of the Marxist theory of value.

In this respect the critics of Marxism form two very distinct groups.
The first of these, the reformist or revisionist school, has a high
respect for the master's theory of value, and reiterates it as an
indisputable truth; whereas reformists criticise the theory of
increasing misery, the theory of the concentration of capital, and above
all the catastrophic vision of the proletarian revolution. The writers
of this school affirm, and think that in so doing they are setting up an
antithesis to Marxism, that to await the millennium of the social
revolution is futile utopianism; they contend, that the progressive
reduction in the number of the wealthy, paralleled by the ceaseless
increase in the number of more and more impoverished proletarians, a
development which according to Marx's vision was to provide the
apparatus destined to destroy the contemporary economy, is negatived by
an actual tendency towards a more democratic distribution of
commodities; and they insist, therefore, that socialism should aim at
securing the triumph of its cause by means that are less violent but far
more efficacious, namely by social legislation or by reforms tending to
reduce inequality.

Now, without troubling to repeat what I have already said, that the
Marxist dynamic of the distribution of wealth is far from being as
completely negatived by contemporary facts as these critics are pleased
to insist, I merely propose to point out that this paying of high honour
to reform and social legislation nowise conflicts with the doctrine or
with the work of Marx, who, on the contrary, was the first to throw into
high relief the pre-eminent value of social legislation, devoting
classical chapters to the elucidation of its most memorable
manifestations. In this light, therefore, revisionism or reformism, far
from being a negation or correction of Marxism, is a specific
application or partial realisation of the doctrine, for it brings into
the lime-light one of the numerous sides of that marvellous polyhedron,
and deserves credit for having explained and developed this particular
aspect of Marxism.

But revisionism errs gravely in that it wishes to replace the beautiful
and complex multiplicity of the Marxist system by forcing us to
contemplate this unilateral aspect alone. The reformists err in that
they fail to see that legislative reforms, though desirable and
extremely opportune, are invariably circumscribed by the prepotent
opposition of the privileged classes, and can never do anything more
than mitigate a few of the grosser harshnesses of the present
system--whilst, precisely because they effect this mitigation, reforms
tend to preserve an increasingly unstable economic order from the
imminent disaster of a destructive cataclysm.

If the reformist school mutilates Marxism thus violently, by reducing
the whole of _Capital_ to the paragraphs extolling social legislation,
the syndicalists inflict a yet cruder mutilation on the Marxist system
by tearing a single page out of _Capital_, to make of this page the
alpha and the omega of their revolutionary creed. It is true that Marx,
in the thirty-first chapter of _Capital_, makes an explicit appeal to
force, the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one; but
this appeal is not made until it has been fully demonstrated that the
social revolution can only be effected at the close of a slow and
lengthy evolutionary process which shall have caused complete
disintegration of the existing economic order and shall have paved the
way for its inevitable transformation into a superior order.

Now the syndicalists unhesitatingly sponge all this demonstration from
the slate, and affirm that the proletarian masses can undertake action
at any moment, can violently overthrow the prevailing economic order
whenever it shall please them to do so; and they declare that it is
needless for revolutionists to keep their eyes fixed upon the clock of
history, in order to see if this is about to sound the knell of the
present social order. It would be superfluous to demonstrate the
absurdity of such a thesis, for the very school which proclaims it has
assumed the task of giving it the lie in clamorous accents. For if, as
the new apostles of force contend, the proletarian masses can at any
moment annihilate the prevailing economic order, why do they not rise
against the capitalism they detest, and replace it with the co-operative
commonwealth for which they long? Why is it that after so much noisy
organisation, after so much declamation and delirious excitement, the
utmost they are able to do is to tear up a few yards of railway track or
to smash a street lamp? Do we not find here an irrefragable
demonstration that force is not realisable at any given moment but only
in the historic hour when evolution shall have prepared the inevitable
fall of the dominant economic system?

Thus whatever they can do, it always seems that the infirm will of the
disciples who demand an arbitrary renovation of the social system
(whether by legal measures or by force) breaks vainly against the
fatality of evolution, and that reformism and syndicalism are merely
caricatures, counterfeits, or exaggerations of the many-sided and
well-balanced theory of the master, who proposed a threefold line of
advance: by social legislation; by the activity of the organised
workers; and by revolution. In face of these various forms of
neo-marxism, the outcome of mutilations and of one-sided exclusivism,
Marx redivivus would have excellent reason for repeating his own adage,
so thoughtful and so true, "I am not a Marxist." However striking the
temporary success of these new forms among the crowd or among the
learned, we may confidently predict that neither reformism nor
syndicalism will definitively supplant the Marxist system, which despite
all and against all remains and will remain a supreme and invincible
force at once of theory and of organisation for the proletarian assault
upon the long-enduring fortress of property.

The value of Marx's work is, in fact, displayed in the most brilliant
light by the detailed criticism of the theorists and by the contrast
with opposing trends; all the more when we compare the aspect of
economic thought and of proletarian organisation before and after the
publication of _Capital_. For if we study the utterances of thinkers
upon these matters during the middle of the nineteenth century, we find
that nearly all are dominated by the categorical idea that the social
order is of an absolutely immobile character, and that none but a few
utopians entertain the thought of changing that order by means of
precipitate legislation inspired by their individual preconceptions. In
any case, it was an idea common to all, to revolutionists as well as to
conservatives, that the poverty of the masses was a negative and
distressing residue from the economic system, that it was a purely
passive feature of that system which must be accepted with resignation,
for it could not exercise any propulsive influence in the general social
movement. This is substantially the notion which emerges from Victor
Hugo's _Les Misérables_, for poverty is here regarded as an
overwhelming mass of suffering for which it is impossible to assign the
responsibility; it is looked upon as a load pressing with inexorable
cruelty upon suffering humanity, which is unable to respond by anything
more effective than complaints and tears.

But how utterly different is the notion prevailing in our own days upon
this matter. Not only is the conviction now rooted in the mind of every
thinker that the economic order is subject to unceasing change, is
advancing towards predestined destruction; but it is considered certain
that the artificer, the demiurge, the most potent factor of this
destruction, will be the active resistance, the unrest, the rebellion,
of the proletarians in the grasp of the capitalist machine and eager to
destroy it. This conception of the dynamogenic function of poverty is
the most characteristic feature of the social thought of our day, the
feature wherein that thought contrasts most categorically with the ideas
of an earlier age. Just as the Christian sect, represented by Gibbon as
a mere pathological efflorescence growing on the margin of Roman
society, is by the better equipped science of our own time looked upon
as having been the most potent solvent of the imperial complex and as
the ferment generating a new and better life, so the proletarian masses,
regarded by the science and the art of the past as a crushed and pitiful
appendage of the bourgeois economy, now appear to contemporary science
as the most vigorous among the forces tending to disintegrate that
economy, as tending irresistibly to create a higher and better balanced
form of association.

Correlatively with this development, whereas the proletarians of other
days were content to sulk in their hovels as they contemplated the
brilliant gyrations of the capitalist constellation, merely cursing in
secret the sorrows of their lot, to-day the workers of the two worlds
are advancing in serried ranks to the conquest of a new humanity and a
new life. Thus the immobility of our fathers has given place to rapid
movement; their discouragement and resignation, to rebellious demands;
and whereas of old a chasm yawned between the scattered visionaries who
entertained dreams of social rebirth and the inert mass of the
poverty-stricken, we find to-day that the impoverished are themselves
becoming the artificers, the heralds, the pioneers, of the irresistible
ascent of humanity towards a juster and better social order. Now all
this new moral and social world, unknown to our grandparents, the glory
and the plague of science, of society, of contemporary life; all this
gigantic tumult of ideas, facts, claims, of assaults, wounds, innovating
reconstructions; all this marvellous necromancy is the work of one man,
a sage and a martyr. All this we owe to Karl Marx. It measures,
concretes, and materialises for us his colossal worth and the omnipotent
vastness of his achievement. Though science may well and with full
right complain of the gaps in his doctrinal system, though life may
furnish the most definite refutations of his theoretical visions, and
though future history may display forms of which he never dreamed,
nevertheless, no one will ever be able to unseat him from his throne, or
to dispute the sovereignty which accrues to him on account of his
splendid contributions to civil progress. Whether praised and accepted,
or despised and rejected, by practice or by theory, by history or by
reason, he will always remain the emperor in the realm of mind, the
Prometheus foredestined to lead the human race towards the brilliant
goal which awaits it in a future not perhaps immeasurably remote.

For the day is coming. And in that day, when remorseless time shall have
destroyed the statues of the saints and of the warriors, renascent
humanity will raise in honour of the author of this work of destruction,
upon the shores of his native stream, a huge mausoleum representing the
proletarian breaking his chains and entering upon an era of conscious
and glorious freedom. Thither will come the regenerated peoples bearing
garlands of remembrance and of gratitude to lay upon the shrine of the
great thinker, who, amid sufferings, humiliations, and numberless
privations, fought unceasingly for the ransom of mankind. And the
mothers, as they show to their children the suffering and suggestive
figure, will say, their voices trembling with emotion and joy: See from
what darkness our light has come forth; see how many tears have watered
the seeds of our joy; look, and pay reverence to him who struggled, who
suffered, who died for the Supreme Redemption.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Karl Marx" ***

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