MARX wrote Capital especially for the working class, for the struggle of the workers. With special emphasis on the history of English capitalism, he made clear the manner in which not only the material means of production are being constantly created and reproduced anew in the course of English capitalist production, but the conditions for exploitation as well. With the piling up, the accumulation of, capital, its power is extended over an ever¬¬-increasing number of wage-workers. “Accumulation of capital is, therefore, increase of the proletariat,” the more so as the concentration of production and of capital in the hands of an ever smaller number of big capitalists constantly ruins more small capitalists and small producers and changes them into proletarians.
Thus the process develops within capitalism itself which intensifies the contradiction between the new—the social productive force of labour and the working class—and the old—the concentration of constantly growing social wealth in the hands of an ever smaller stratum of capitalist magnets. Marx summarised his demonstration of the inevitable victory of the new Socialist order over the old capitalist anarchy in the following words, which since then have become famous and have been confirmed a thousand times in practice:
“Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour-process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”
THE HOUR STRIKES—
The hour struck-for the first time in Russia, since then in a number of other lands, including Marx’s homeland. The process of the revolutionary abolition of private capitalist ownership through Socialist, social ownership—the expropriation of the expropriators—has for more than six decades been the decisive character of our epoch. Marx’s scientific foresight has been vindicated.
The expropriation of the expropriators takes from the capitalist only what generations of workers have created but have not received. With the transference of the means of production to social ownership the producers are at last united with their product and the means of production. The contradiction between the social character of the production process and private capitalist appropriation, the fundamental contradiction of the capitalist mode of production, is set aside. In contrast to the past, in which one form of exploitation was merely replaced by another, the revolution of proletariat abolishes the all exploitation of man by man. The humanist demand is implemented: What the people produce shall belong to the people.
With this compelling logic Marx outlined the inevitable abolition of the capitalist by the Communist society and the world historic mission of the working class. In disclosing the laws of development of capitalist society, he transformed Socialism for ever from a utopia into a science.
In Capital, Marx further developed the various components of Scientific Communism: political economy, dialectical and historical materialism, the theory of the Socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. With Capital, he crowned his theoretical work.
Marx disclosed the anatomy of capitalist society and its laws of development at a time when it had developed fully only in one country, England. When he began his work on Capital, barely one per cent of the world population were industrial workers, and yet he recognized in this class the future creator of a community of men free of war, poverty and oppression.
In his major work he also developed thoughts and lessons which retain great value for the building of the new Socialist society. That is especially true of the methods of building the Socialist economy. He investigated the decisive role of the productive forces and their development for the progress of human society. He concerned himself with the necessary, orderly increase in labour productivity and with the problem of labour and education in Communism. He studied in detail the close connection and the interaction between the natural sciences as a productive force and the rhythm of social change. The natural sciences claimed his interest at all times. In Capital he described chemistry, physics, mathematics, technology and other branches of science as “a productive force distinct from labour” in the production process through which the functions of the workers and the division of labour would also be constantly influenced and changed.
He saw the setting up of polytechnical and agronomic schools and trade schools as a factor in this process of change. they were already necessary in capitalism in elementary form, but there could be “no doubt that when the working class comes into power, as inevitably it must, technical instruction, both theoretical and practical, will take its place in the working class school.”
Though science, Marx said, could not develop fully as a productive force in capitalist, society, it would nevertheless contribute significantly to the sharpening of the antagonisms between the steadily developing productive forces and the capitalist form of production. “But the historical development of the antagonisms, immanent in a given form production, is the only way in which that from of production can be dissolved and a new form established.” Those who are constructing Socialism today can all the more appreciate the great value of Marx’s studies in the natural sciences and mathematics, which helped him to discover the laws of development of the capitalist mode of production in their totality, and thereby to indicate in advance the practical tasks of Socialist construction.
Marx had set himself the task of developing all the volumes of Capital as “an artistic whole”, and to present them to the public in as unified a form as possible. Before the printing of the first book, he had already written a rough draft of the two following books. After September 1867, he immediately returned to work on these manuscripts. But he was not granted the opportunity to make them ready for the printer. Death claimed him before he could complete the task.
It was then Frederick Engels who undertook to complete the major scientific work of his friend and comrade and to see them through the printing. Engels could not only read Marx’s hand as no one else; there was also no one else who was so intellectually close to Marx. Marx had discussed every problem, every scientific discovery with him, and not a few of these discoveries were their joint intellectual property.
Engels regarded completion of the work on Capital and the publication of its second and third volumes as his most important task in life. He performed the immense job of deciphering and copying the manuscripts, bringing them together into a single whole, making numerous editorial corrections and filling in the gaps.
Speaking of Engels’ role in preparing the second and third volumes of Capital for publication, Lenin wrote: “…by publishing Volumes II and III of Capital Engels created a majestic monument to the genius who had been his friend, a monument on which, without intending it, he indelibly carved his own name. Indeed, these two volumes of Capital are the work of two men: Marx and Engels.”
But Engels did not live to complete the preparation of all of Marx’s economic manuscripts for publication. The fourth volume of Marx’s principal work, Theories of Surplus Value, was published only in the twentieth century.
In the first volume of Capital, Marx had investigated the production process of capital; in the second, he investigated the process of circulation and reproduction; in the third, finally, he analysed the whole process of capitalist production. He had planned to end the third volume with a study of the development of classes and the class struggle. But with the beginning of the chapter about classes the written draft of the manuscript breaks off.
Lenin thoroughly studied Capital and greatly contributed to the popularization of its ideas. In the conditions of the new epoch Lenin enriched Marxist economic theory with his doctrine on imperialism as the last stage in the development of capitalism. In his studies of the laws of imperialist society Lenin constantly stressed that the laws of capitalism discovered by Marx were valid also during the imperialist stage.
It was Marx’s aim, in Capital, “to give the bourgeoisie a blow from which it will never recover.” The bourgeois Press tried to pass over Volume I of Capital in silence. But the one hundred and sixteen years since the publication of Volume I of Capital show that Marx succeeded in his aim.
In 1868 Engels wrote about Capital: “As long as there have been capitalists and workers in the world, no book has appeared of such importance to the working class as the one before us.” This statement of fact is still true today. Even though capitalism has in our day developed into State monopoly capitalism, it has not in essence changed. The laws of development of capitalism discovered by Marx have therefore remained valid. As before, the working class in the capitalist world, robbed of the means of production, is still forced to sell its labour power. As before, the capitalists—monopoly owners of the means of production—exploit the workers. No bourgeois theory, whether it speaks of “social partnership” or “class harmony”, and no slogan, whether it is that of the “organized society” or the “industrial society”, can set aside this contradiction.