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and each .time a decisive role, in xhe historical
26 Pre/ace.
developmen* of capitalist production. On the basis of this
surplus-value he developed the first rational theory of wages
which we have, and drew for the first time an outline of
the history of capitalist accumulation and a sketch of its
historical tendencies. "
And Rodbertus? After he has read all that, he regards
it as "an assault on society," and finds that he has said much
more briefly and clearly by what means surplus-value is
originated, and finally declares tha.t all this does indeed ap-
ply to "the present form of capital," .that is to say Co capi-
tal as it exists historically, but not to Che "conception of
capital," .that is to say, not to the utopi.an idea which l_d-
bertus has of capital. He is just like old Pricstley, who stood
by phlogisbon to Che end and refused to have anything to
do with oxygen. There is only _his difference: Priestley
.had actually produced oxygen, while Rodbertus had merely
rediscovered a common-place in his surplus-value, or rather
his "rent;" and Marx declined to act like Lavoisier and to
claim that he was Che furst to discover the fact of the exist-
ence of surplus-value.
The other economic feats of Rodbertus were performed
on about the same plane. His elaboration of surplus-value
into a utopia has already been in.advertently criticized by
Marx in his "POVERTY OF PHILOSOPHY." What may
be mid about this point in other respects, I have said in
my preface to the German edition of that work. Rodbertus'
explanation of commercial crises out of the underconsump-
tion of the working class has been stated before him by Sis-
mondi in his "Nouveaux Principes de l'Economie Politique,"
liv. IV, eh. IV. a However, Sismondi always had the world-
market in mind, while Che horizon of Rodbertus does not
extend beyond Prussia. His speeuhtions as to whether
wages are derived from capital or from income belong ,to
the domain of scholasticism and are definitely settled by the
3 "Thus the concentration of wealth into the hands of a small number of proprietors
narrows the home market more and more, and industry is more and more compelled to
open up forelgu markets, where stlll greater revolutions await it" (namely, the crisis of
1817, which IS immediately described). _ouveaox Principes, edition of 1819, L, p. 3_,
Preface. 27
third parL of this second volume of "CAPITAL." His the-
ory _f rent has remained .his exclusive property and may
rest in peace, until .the manuscript of Marx criticising it
will be published. Finally his suggestions for the eman-
cipation of the old Prussian landlords from the oppression
of capital are entirely utopian ; for they avoid the _nly prac-
tical question, which has to be solved, viz. : How can the old
Prussian landlord have a yearly income of, say, 20,000
marks _nd a yearly expense of, say, 30,000 marks, without
running into debt?
The Ricardian school failed about the year 1830, being
unable to solve the riddle of surplus-value. And what was
.impossible for this school, remained still more insoluble for
its successor, vulgar economy. The two points which causcd
its failure were these:
1. Labor is the measure of value. However, actual labor
in its exchange with capital has a lower value than labor
embodied in the commodities for which actual labor is ex-
changed. Wages, the value of a definite quantity vf actual
labor, are always lower than the value of the commodity
produced by this same quantity of labor and in which it
is embodied. The question is indeed insoluble, if put in
this form. It .has been correctly formulated by Marx and
then answered. It is nvt labor which has any value. As
an activity which creates values it can no more have any
special value in itself than gravity can have any special
weight,, heat any special Cemperature, electricity any special
strength ef current. It is not labor which is .bought and
sold as a commodity, but labor-power. As soon as labor-
power becomes a commodity, its value is determined by _he
labor embodied in this commodity as a social product. This
value is equal to the social labor required for the produc-
tion and reproduction of thks commodity. Hence the pur-
chase and sale of labor-power on the basis of this value does
not contradict the economic law of value.
2. According to the Ricardian law of value, two capitals
employing bhe same and equally paid labor, all o_her con-
28 Preface.
4i'ti_)ns being equal, produce the same value and surplus-
value, or profit, in me same lime. But if they employ un-
equal quantities of actual labor, they cannot produce equal
surplus-'¢alues, _)r, as the Ricardians say, equal profits. Now
in reality, the exact opposite takes place. As a matter of
fact, equal capitals, regardless of the quantity of actual labor
employed by them, produce equal average profits in equal
times. Here we have, therefore, a clash with the law of value,
which had been nobiced by Ricardo himself, but which his
school _,as unable to reconcile. Rodbertus likewise could
not but note this contradiction. But instead of solving it,
he made it a starting,point of his utopia (Zur Erkenn_niss,
etc.). Marx had solved this contradiction even in his manu-
According to the plan of "CAPITAL," this solution will be
made public in Volume III. Several months will pass before
this can be published. Hence those economists, who claim
to have discovered that Rodbertus .is t,he secret source and
the superior predecessor of Marx, have now an _)pportunity
to demonstrate what the economics of Rodbertus can accom-
plish. If Chey can show in which way an equal average
rate of profit can and must come about, not only without a
violation of the law of value, but by means of it, I am
willing to discuss the matter further with them. In the mean-
time, they had better make haste. The brilliant analyses of
this Volmno II and its entirely new conclusions on an al-
most untilled ground are but the initial statements prepar-
ing the way for the contents of Volume III, which develops
the final conclusions of Marx's analysis of the social process
of reproduction on a capitalist basis. When this Vohnne
III will appear, little mention will be made of a certain
economist called Rodbertus.
The second and third volumes of "CAPITAL" were to be
dedicated, as Marx stated repeatedly,'to his wife.
London, on Marx's birthday, May 5, 1885.
Pre[_..e. 29
The present second edition i.-:,in the main, ,a faithful
rep_int of the first. Typographical errors have been cor-
rected, a few inoonsistencies ,of style eliminated, and a few
short passages containing repetitions struck out.
The third volume, which presented quite unforeseen diffi-
culties, is likewise almost ready for _he printer. If my
health holds out, it will be ready for the press this .fall.
London, July 15, 1893.
30 Preface.
The conditions and the location of the place in which
I translated volumes II and III of this work made it im-
possible for me to get access to the original works of the
authors quoted by Marx. I was compelled, under these
circumstances, to retranslate many quotations from Eng-
lish authors from the German translation, without an op-
portunity to compare my retranslated version with the Eng-
lish original. But whatever may be the difference in the
wording of the originals and of my retranslation from the
German, it does not affect the substance of the quotations
in the least. The meaning of the originals will be found to
be the same as that of my retranslation. The interpretation
given by Marx to the various quotations from_other authors,
and the conclusions drawn by him from them, are not altered
in the least by any deviation, which my translation may
show from the original texts. If any one should be inclined