Karl Marx_Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844_selections

Karl Marx_Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844_selections

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KARL MARX ECONOMIC AND PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS OF 1844 Estranged Labour We have started out from the premises of political economy. We have accepted its language and its laws. We presupposed private property; the separation of labour, capital, and land, and likewise of wages, profit, and capital; the division of labour; competition; the conception of exchange value, etc. From political economy itself, using its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity, and moreover the most wretched commodity of all; that the misery of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and volume of his production; that the necessary consequence of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands and hence the restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; and that, finally, the distinction between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker and industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers . Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property. It does not explain it. It grasps the material process of private property, the process through which it actually passes, in general and abstract formulae which it then takes as laws . It does not comprehend these laws – i.e., it does not show how they arise from the nature of private property. Political economy fails to explain the reason for the division between labour and capital. For example, when it defines the relation of wages to profit, it takes the interests of the capitalists as the basis of its analysis – i.e., it assumes what it is supposed to explain. Similarly, competition is frequently brought into the argument and explained in terms of external circumstances. Political economy teaches us nothing about the extent to which these external and apparently accidental circumstances are only the expression of a necessary development. We have seen how exchange itself appears to political economy as an accidental fact. The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are greed , and the war of the avaricious Competition . Precisely because political economy fails to grasp the interconnections within the movement, it was possible to oppose, for example, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of craft freedom to the doctrine of the guild, and the doctrine of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the great estate; for competition, craft freedom, and division of landed property were developed and conceived only as accidental, deliberate, violent consequences of monopoly, of the guilds, and of feudal property, and not as their necessary, inevitable, and natural consequences. We now have to grasp the essential connection between private property, greed, the separation of
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2012 for the course 920 313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Karl Marx_Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844_selections

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