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Few writers have had a more demonstrable impact on the development of  the modern world than has Karl Marx (1818-1883). Born in Trier into a  middle-class Jewish family in 1818, by the time of his death in London  in 1883, Marx claimed a growing international reputation.

Of central importance then and later was his book Das Kapital, or, as it is known to English readers, simply Capital. Volume One of Capital  was published in Paris in 1867 and is included in this edition. This  was the only volume published during Marx’s lifetime and the only to  have come directly from his pen. Volume Two, available as a separate  Wordsworth eBook, was published in 1884, and was based on notes Marx  left, but written by his friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels  (1820-1895).

Readers from the nineteenth century to the present have been captivated  by the unmistakable power and urgency of this classic of world  literature. Marx’s critique of the capitalist system is rife with big  themes: his theory of ‘surplus value’, his discussion of the  exploitation of the working class, and his forecast of class conflict on  a grand scale. Marx wrote with purpose. As he famously put it,  ‘Philosophers have previously tried to explain the world, our task is to  change it.’

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Karl Marx

Capital, Volume 1

A Critical Analysis of

Capitalist Production

translated by Samuel Moore

and Edward Aveling

with an Introduction

by Mark G. Spencer



Capital first published

by Wordsworth Editions Limited in 2013

Published as an ePublication 2013

ISBN 978 1 84870 560 9

Introduction © Mark G. Spencer 2013

Wordsworth Editions Limited

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Further reading

Typesetter’s note

Volume 1. Capitalist Production

Editor’s Preface

Author’s Prefaces

1. To the First Edition

2. To The Second Edition

Part 1. Commodities and Money

Chapter 1. Commodities

Section 1. The Two Factors of a Commodity:Use-Value and Value (The Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value).

Section 2. The TwoFold Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities.

Section 3. The Form of Value or Exchange Value.

Section 4. The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof.

Chapter 2. Exchange

Chapter 3. Money, or the Circulation of Commodities

Section 1. The Measure of Values.

Section 2. The Medium of Circulation.

Section 3. Money.

Part 2. The Transformation of Money into Capital

Chapter 4. The General Formula for Capital

Chapter 5. Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital

Chapter 6. The Buying and Selling of Labour Power

Part 3. The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value

Chapter 7. The Labour-Process and the Process of Producing Surplus-Value

Section 1. The Labour-Process or the Production of Use-Values.

Section 2. The Production of Surplus-Value.

Chapter 8. Constant Capital and Variable Capital

Chapter 9. The Rate of Surplus-Value

Section 1. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour Power.

Section 2. The Representation of the Components of the Value of the Product by Corresponding Proportional Parts of the Product Itself.

Section 3. Senior’s ‘Last Hour’.

Section 4. Surplus-Produce.

Chapter 10. The Working-Day

Section 1: The Limits of the Working-Day.

Section 2: The Greed for Surplus-Labour. Manufacturer and Boyard.

Section 3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation.

Section 4. Day and Night Work. The Relay System.

Section 5. The Struggle for a Normal Working-Day. Compulsory Laws for the Extension of the Working-Day from the Middle of the 14th to the End of the 17th Century.

Section 6. The Struggle for the Normal Working-Day. Compulsory Limitation by Law of the Working-Time. The English Factory Acts, 1833 to 1864.

Section 7. The Struggle for the Normal Working-Day. Reaction of the English Factory Acts on Other Countries.

Chapter 11. Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value

Part 4. The Production of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter 12. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter 13. Co-Operation

Chapter 14. Division of Labour and Manufacture

Section 1. Two-Fold Origin of Manufacture.

Section 2. The Detail Labourer and his Implements.

Section 3. The Two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture: Heterogeneous Manufacture, Serial Manufacture.

Section 4. Division of Labour in Manufacture, and Division of Labour in Society.

Section 5. The Capitalistic Character of Manufacture.

Chapter 15. Machinery and Modern Industry

Section 1. The Development of Machinery.

Section 2. The Value Transferred by Machinery to the Product.

Section 3. The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the Workman.

Section 4. The Factory.

Section 5. The Strife Between Workman and Machine.

Section 6. The Theory of Compensation as Regards the Work-people Displaced by Machinery.

Section 7. Repulsion and Attraction of Workpeople by the Factory System. Crises in the Cotton Trade.

Section 8. Revolution Effected in Manufacture, Handicrafts, and Domestic Industry by Modern Industry.

Section 9: The Factory Acts. Sanitary and Educational Clauses of the Same. Their General Extension in England.

Section 10. Modern Industry and Agriculture.

Part 5: The Production of Absolute and of Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter 16: Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value

Chapter 17: Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour Power and in Surplus-Value

Section 1. Length of the Working-Day and Intensity of Labour Constant. Productiveness of Labour Variable.

Section 2. Working-Day Constant. Productiveness of Labour Constant. Intensity of Labour Variable.

Section 3. Productiveness and Intensity of Labour Constant. Length of the Working-Day Variable.

Section 4. Simultaneous Variaions in the Duration, Productiveness, and Intensity of Labour.

Chapter 18: Various Formulae for the Rate of Surplus-Value

Part 6: Wages

Chapter 19: The Transformation of the Value (and Respectively the Price) of Labour Power into Wages

Chapter 20: Time-Wages

Chapter 21: Piece-Wages

Chapter 22: National Differences of Wages

Part 7: The Accumulation of Capital

Chapter 23: Simple Reproduction

Chapter 24: Conversion of Surplus-Value into Capital

Section 1. Capitalist Production on a Progressively Increasing Scale. Transition of the Laws of Property that Characterise Production of Commodities into Laws of Capitalist Appropriation.

Section 2. Erroneous Conception, by Political Economy, of Reproduction on a Progressively Increasing Scale.

Section 3. Separation of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue. The Abstinence Theory.

Section 4. Circumstances that, Independently of the Proportional Division of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue, Determine the Amount of Accumulation. Degree of Exploitation of Labour Power. Productivity of Labour. Growing Difference in Amount Between Capital Employed and Capital Consumed. Magnitude of Capital Advanced.

Section 5. The So-Called Labour-Fund.

Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

Section 1.The Increased Demand for Labour power that Accompanies Accumulation, the Composition of Capital Remaining the Same.

Section 2. Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of Capital Simultaneously with the Progress of Accumulation and of the Concentration that Accompanies it.

Section 3. Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus-Population or Industrial Reserve Army.

Section 4. Different Forms of the Relative Surplus-Population. The General Law of Capitalistic Accumulation.

Section 5. Illustrations of the General Law of Capitalist Accumulation.

Part 8: The So-Called Primitive Accumulation

Chapter 26: The Secret of Primitive Accumulation

Chapter 27: Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land.

Chapter 28: Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated, from the End of the 15th Century. Forcing Down of Wages by Acts of Parliament.

Chapter 29: Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer

Chapter 30: Reaction of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. Creation of the Home-Market for Industrial Capital.

Chapter 31: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist

Chapter 32: Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation

Chapter 33: The Modern Theory of Colonisation

Notes to Volume 1


for T. R. Sansom

Few writers have had a more notable impact on the modern world than has Karl Marx (1818–1883). And much of Marx’s impact can be traced to Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, or, as it is best known to its English readers, simply Capital. Marx’s Capital and Darwin’s Origin of the Species are often mentioned together as the two most influential books of the nineteenth century. Darwin’s principal works are still in print and Capital can still be published in the twenty-first century in a prominent series celebrating classics of world literature. Both are still relevant, but initially neither was welcomed. When the first volume of Capital was finally published in 1867 (in German), the forty-nine-year-old Marx had labored over it for such a long time that he felt compelled to offer an apology in the opening line of his preface: ‘The work, the first volume of which I now submit to the public,’ wrote Marx, ‘forms the continuation of my Zur Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie [A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy] published in 1859. The long pause between the first part and the continuation is due to an illness of many years’ duration that again and again interrupted my work.’ What he did not say is that his ill health was largely rooted in what had become for Marx, and his family, a life in exile full of uncertainty, disappointment, and recurrent poverty. He also does not say, but could have, that Capital came out of a much wider historical and intellectual context or that it had a much longer gestation period than Marx there lets on. When he wrote in 1867, Marx did not know that Capital’s immediate reception would be no more promising than its painstaking birth had been. Nor, of course, could he have known that his book would become one of the most acclaimed publications of the modern world.

Karl Heinrich Marx was himself born on 5 May 1818 in the ancient city of Trèves (or Trier) in the Mosel valley, a dependency of the Kingdom of Prussia (in a region that is a part of present-day Germany). His parents, Heinrich Marx (1777–1838) and Henrietta (née Pressburg, 1788–1863), provided him and his siblings (there were nine children in all) with a seemingly amicable middle-class upbringing which was in many respects not notable. One event that stands out from Marx’s youth is noted by all of his biographers, some reading more into it than others. That is the conversion of Marx’s father, a counselor-at-law to the High Court of Appeal, from Judaism to Protestantism in 1824 in order to help advance his career in the wake of anti-Jewish laws which were in effect. For some historians that event – and the unsettled station the young Marx, as a result of his Jewish background, may have felt – possibly explains some of Marx’s later antipathy (called by some, ‘self-hatred’) towards Judaism in particular and religion (‘the opiate of the masses’) in general.

Marx’s father left other imprints on his son. Heinrich was an avid reader; something that marked Karl from an early age. Along with reading from his father’s collection of books, which included many works of the French rationalists of the eighteenth century, Marx also regularly pillaged the library of a close family friend, Ludwig von Westphalen (1770–1842). Westphalen became a senior reading companion of the young Marx. He introduced the boy to works ranging from the epic poems of the ancient Greek writer Homer, to the tragedies and comedies of Shakespeare (1564–1616), and the utopian schemes of Claude Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825), to name a few which, many years later, would surface in the pages of Capital. This home-schooling, and then attendance at the local High School from 1830 to 1835, prepared Marx to enter university at age seventeen.

In October 1835, Marx enrolled at Bonn University as a student in the Faculty of Law. In his first year there he also entered into club life at the university and dabbled with writing verse, but met with little scholarly success. On more than one occasion, he also managed to get himself into trouble with the school authorities for offences such as ‘disturbing the peace of the night with drunken noise’. At the end of his first year, his father decided it was time for a change of location; in October 1836, Marx transferred to the University of Berlin. There, he continued to be interested in poetry and even more interested in writing verses for Jenny von Westphalen (1814–1881), Ludwig Westphalen’s beautiful daughter, to whom Marx had become secretly engaged. His formal preparation for the law included quite wide reading in history and philosophy, studies which he would draw upon later in his wide-ranging writings. At Berlin, his studies also began to take on a more serious edge. Like any student then his reading encompassed many of the ancients (Aristotle was a favorite), but also the writers of the Enlightenment, with an emphasis on those from France, German, and Scotland – including Voltaire (1694–1778), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach (1723–1789), Adam Smith (1723–1790), Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), and Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805). Marx also read their critics. The most important of those was the recently deceased star of German intellectual life, the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), who had held the Chair of Philosophy at Berlin. Hegel’s conception of history as a process that progressed dialectically was to stay with Marx even as he came to question other aspects of Hegel’s thought. And perhaps just as important for explaining the development of Marx’s thought at this time was the company he kept.

At the University of Berlin, Marx, like many other German students of his generation, was introduced to the possibility of applying Hegel’s theory of the dialectic to the real world, not only to understand the past but to achieve revolutionary change in the future. Marx’s professors at the university included the conservative Friedrich Karl von Savigny (1779–1861) but, more importantly for the lesson mentioned above, Eduard Gans (1797–1838). Mixing with Gans and others who considered themselves to be the ‘Young Hegelians’, Marx became intimate with radical thought and its implications. Among his closest acquaintances at this time were Adolph Rutenberg (1808–1869) and the Bauer brothers – Bruno (1809–1882), Edgar (1820–1886), and Egbert – one of whom (Edgar) commented in verse on Marx’s activities in the club:

But who advances here full of impetuosity?

It is a dark form from Trier, an unleashed monster,

With self-assured step he hammers the ground with his heels

And raises his arms in full fury to heaven

As though he wished to seize the celestial vault and lower it to earth.

In rage he continually deals his redoubtable fist,

As if a thousand devils were gripping his hair.

However, Marx’s letters home to his father during these years strike a far less self-assured tone and show him to have been searching for philosophical direction at the same time that he was finding himself as a young man. His father, like many fathers since, strongly preferred that his son drop his flighty pursuits of philosophy and history for something more practical that would lead directly to a well-paid government job. He asked pointedly in a letter sent before his death in 1838, ‘And do you think that here in this workshop of senseless and aimless learning, you can ripen the fruits to bring you and your loved one happiness?’ After his father’s death, it did not take Marx long to give up any pretense of studying law. By January of 1839 he had begun work on his doctoral dissertation, ‘The Difference between the Philosophies of Nature in Democritus and Epicurus’. Had his father been alive to see it, he would not have been pleased. In April 1841, Marx submitted (by post) his thesis to the University of Jena and was awarded his degree in absentia.

Aspiring at first to a university appointment, Marx settled in the immediate term for work as a journalist. His first article was published in May 1843 in the Rheinische Zeitung, a newspaper published in Col-ogne and headed by Moses Hess (1812–1875), the so-called ‘Communist Rabbi’ who was the author of The Sacred History of Mankind (1817). From October 1842, Marx edited that paper. Only a few years older than Marx, Hess had quickly become infatuated with Marx’s philosophical prowess. Hess wrote of the twenty-four-year-old Marx: ‘He is the greatest, perhaps the one genuine philosopher now alive . . . Dr Marx . . . combines the deepest philosophical seriousness with the most biting wit. Imagine Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine and Hegel fused into one person – I say fused, not thrown together in a heap – and you have Dr Marx.’ Under Marx’s guidance the content of the Rheinische Zeitung took a decidedly radical turn and its circulation and reputation increased significantly. This notoriety probably ended any chance Marx had for a university position. Moreover, the Prussian government moved to shut down the newspaper in early 1843. Marx resigned his editorship in March.

Looking back at these years, Marx commented in his ‘Preface’ to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859), that it was as editor of the Rheinische Zeitung that he ‘experienced for the first time the embarrassment of having to take part in discussions on so-called material interests [which] . . . provided the first occasion for occupying myself with economic questions.’ As Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) put it in his biographical sketch of Marx, ‘Marx’s journalistic activities convinced him that he was insufficiently acquainted with political economy, and he zealously set out to study it.’ Applying his stock of knowledge to the close study of real-world questions of local concern may also have offered Marx the first glimpse of the power of intellectuals to bring about revolutionary change:

The system of profit and commerce, of property and human exploitation, leads much more quickly than an increase of population to a rift inside contemporary society that the old society is incapable of healing, because it never heals or creates, but only exists and enjoys. The existence of a suffering humanity which thinks and a thinking humanity which is oppressed must of necessity be disagreeable and unacceptable for the animal world of philistines who neither act nor think but merely enjoy.

For Marx, it was the self-assigned task of the intellectual to assure that ‘the old world . . . [is] brought right out into the light of day and the new one given a positive form. The longer that events allow thinking humanity time to recollect itself and suffering humanity time to assemble itself the more perfect will be the birth of the product that the present carries in its womb.’ Or, as he put it elsewhere:

The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical.

The world of radical newspaper writers was always to be the place where Marx felt most at home.

The year 1843 was an important one for Marx. In the early spring of 1843, having resigned from the Rheinische Zeitung, Marx sought gainful employment in other ways. That became even more pressing when, in April, Marx and Jenny Westphalen were finally married after an exceedingly long engagement. Jenny would be his life-long companion; ‘infinitely mercurial’ in good times, and in bad. Together they would have six children, although only three would survive to adulthood. 1843 was also the year that Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872) published his Preliminary Theses on the Reformation of Philosophy, a book that Marx devoured with lasting effect. Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997), the historian of ideas, described Feuerbach’s impact on Marx in this way: ‘Feuerbach is one of those interesting authors, not infrequently met with in the history of thought, who, without being thinkers of the first order, nevertheless provide men of greater gifts with the sudden spark which sets on fire long-accumulated fuel.’ But Feuerbach was not the only one whom Marx read in 1843. That year he began a period of intense study of political philosophy, reading Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532), Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws (1748), Rousseau’s Social Contract (1762), and Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). They were all read or re-read as Marx worked out a Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’ and took manuscript notes that would later inform parts of Capital. Finally, 1843 was also the year that Marx decided to leave Prussia for Paris, a city that was then the gathering point for Europe’s radical intellectuals. In October 1843, as this eventful year drew to a close, Marx and his pregnant bride made their way to France where Marx helped Arnold Ruge (1802–1880), another political exile who had been one of the ‘Young Hegelians’, to edit the short-lived Deutsche-französische Jahrbücher [German-French Annals]. Working closely together, Marx and Ruge came to see they differed considerably in their understanding of socialist theories. With another contributor to the Deutsche-französische Jahrbücher Marx shared much more. This man would become Marx’s most intimate of friends and most important of collaborators – Friedrich Engels (1820–1895).

Marx and Engels had met briefly in Prussia, in November of 1842, in the office of the Rheinische Zeitung. Looking back at their reunion in August 1844 in Paris at the Café de la Régence, Engels recorded that ‘When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of 1844, we found ourselves in complete agreement on questions of theory and our collaboration began at that time.’ At the time, Engels was working on a project which aimed to describe and criticize the lives of the industrial poor in Manchester, England, and to suggest ways they might be improved. The expanding industrial world of nineteenth-century Europe was one that Engels knew well. He was an industrial insider since his wealthy family had business interests not only in Manchester but also in the Rhineland at Barmen (near Dusseldorf), a town that became known as the ‘Little Manchester’. Engels’s project, The Condition of the Working Classes in England, was first published in Leipzig in 1845.

The intellectual team of Marx and Engels has been considered by some to represent a merging of the theoretical mind of Marx with the empirical and practical mind of Engels. But that way of seeing things may not give sufficient weight to the empirical side of Marx which appears to have been with him from the beginning. When commenting on their collaboration, Engels always cast himself as the lesser of the two, later writing that

Marx could very well have done without me. What Marx accomplished I would not have achieved. Marx stood higher, saw farther, and took a wider and quicker view than all the rest of us. Marx was genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not, by a long way, be what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name.

In January 1845, as political tensions mounted throughout Europe and particularly in Paris, Marx was expelled from France. He made his way to Belgium which, like England was highly industrialized, and he and Jenny settled in Brussels. In 1846, Marx and Engels traveled to London together where they studied, talked, and wrote The German Ideology. That volume was not published until 1932, but it circulated as a manuscript in the nineteenth century and is a work that clearly articulated Marx’s historical materialism:

In direct contrast to German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, here we ascend from earth to heaven. That is to say, we do not set out from what men say, imagine, conceive, nor from men as narrated, thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at men in the flesh. We set out from real, active men, and on the basis of their real life-process we demonstrate the development of the ideological reflexes and echoes of this life-process.

In The German Ideology, ‘communism’ was ‘an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself . . . the real movement which abolishes the present state of things’. Marx had gradually drifted away from seeing philosophy – as the ‘Young Hegelians’ of his university years had, and continued to – as an intellectual endeavour. As Marx put it, ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.’

Part of what needed to be righted, Marx and Engels argued, was the modern tendency towards a strict division of labor:

In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, cowboy or critic.

At the same time, Marx was coming to see more clearly how the division of labor not only alienated the worker from his work, but also the worker from himself. Adam Ferguson’s An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) were probably both in the background here. Smith was certainly not blind to the potentially negative moral consequences of market forces or the possibly devastating implications of the division of labor for individual labourers. As Smith had put it in the Wealth of Nations:

In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations; frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.

Marx would come back to these themes in Capital, but that was still twenty years away.

In 1847, Marx published his La Misère de la Philosophie, an attack on Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), whose work Marx had once praised but now saw sorely lacking in historical content. What he kept was the idea that property was theft – of labour, time and life. Marx also set to work on his Theses on Feuerbach. He paid his bills and fed his family with donations from Engels. That would be a recurrent fact in their lives. It was also at this time that Marx’s materialist conception of history came into sharper focus. For Marx, ‘politics and its history have to be explained from the economic conditions and their evolution and not vice versa.’ Again, Adam Smith and other Scots, such as David Hume (1711–1776), had been there first with their idea that consciousness was formed by work and that laws reflected economic conditions, as John Millar (1735–1801) had also argued.

Marx and Engels were becoming increasingly involved in revolutionary circles, even taking on organizational roles. That was the case in early 1847 when they were involved with the formation of a clandestine international political party that became known as the Communist League. In late 1847 and early 1848, encouraged by a group of German émigrés residing in London, Marx and Engels worked together to write for this party The Communist Manifesto, the most widely-read of all of Marx’s literary productions. ‘The history of all hitherto existing society,’ Marx and Engels wrote, ‘is the history of class struggle.’ ‘A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.’ By the middle of 1848, with revolution sweeping across Europe, Marx and his growing family moved to Cologne. Joined by Engels, the two men brought back to life a revamped Rheinische Zeitung as the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, the so-called ‘Organ of Democracy’. The future must have looked potentially bright for Marx. But things were soon to change. Within a year, revolutionary regimes were failing around him and his newspaper was forced to close. Once again Marx was forced into exile; this time it involved travel by ship to England.

When he sailed to London in August 1849, Marx could not have known how bleak the next decade would be for him and his family. He would later refer to these years as his ‘sleepless night of exile’. The 1850s began with some promise of success, personal and professional. Marx brought to the press The Class Struggles in France (1850) and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1851), a work in which Marx used Louis Bonaparte’s dictatorship as Emperor Napoleon III to comment on the relationship between social classes, politics, and history. Even the failed 1848 revolutions Marx thought might be explained away as only a temporary setback which would, with time and changing social and political circumstances, give way to the inevitable march of history toward a revolution by the proletariat. The future, so to speak, looked bright and its realization was inevitable.

Historians are not agreed on the extent to which Marx and his family lived in poverty in the 1850s. However that is measured, life was not comfortable. Working as a free-lance journalist, as he was, provided some income, particularly when Marx was writing for the New York Daily Tribune. But there was not much security in that. Life in the Marx household in a cramped three-room Soho apartment on Dean Street was certainly very different from the bourgeois comforts of Marx’s youth. Jenny, who had long fretted about financial security, had written soon after their marriage:

Dear heart, I have too great an anxiety about our future, both in the long and the short term, and I think that I shall be punished for my present high spirits and exuberance. If you can, please calm my fears on this point. People talk far too much about a steady income. I then answer simply with my red cheeks, my white flesh, my velvet cloak, my feathered hat and my fine ribbons.

In the early 1850s, velvet cloaks and fine ribbons must indeed have seemed to Jenny only an extravagant memory of a distant past. Son Henry, born in 1849, had died in November 1850. A visitor to the household remarked: ‘Marx lives in one of the worst, therefore one of the cheapest quarters in London . . . In the whole apartment there is not one clean and solid piece of furniture. Everything is broken, tattered and torn, with a half inch of dust over everything and the greatest disorder everywhere.’ As David McLellan, one of Marx’s twentieth-century biographers, put it, during the 1850s the ‘pawnshop was an indispensable institution for the Marx household’. In September 1852, Marx himself lamented:

My wife is ill, little Jenny is ill, Lenchen has a sort of nervous fever, I cannot and could not call the doctor because I have no money for medicine. For 8–10 days I have fed the family on bread and potatoes of which it is still questionable whether I can rustle up any today . . . I have tried everything, but in vain . . . How can I get clear of all this hellish muck?

Born in early 1851, daughter Jenny (Franziska) had died by the spring of 1853. On 6 April 1856 tragedy struck yet again; Edgar, their only son, died, age 8. Four months later the loss was still palpable. Marx wrote to a friend, ‘The death of my child has deeply shaken my heart and mind and I still feel the loss as freshly as on the first day. My poor wife is also complete broken down.’ Still, work on Capital carried on, largely in the Reading Room of the British Library (possibly a hiding place from debt collectors), sometimes standing because of painful carbuncles, and always with a cigar close to hand. Marx once lamented to a friend that ‘Capital will not even pay for the cigars I smoked writing it.’ During the same years that Marx was working on what would be his masterpiece – in what we have seen to have been far from ideal circumstances – he contributed some 500 separate pieces to the New York Daily Tribune. As always, Marx could cast off pieces on daily affairs while working up timeless classics.

These were some of the various biographical, intellectual, and political contexts in which Capital was envisioned, sketched, and partly composed. In many ways Capital can be seen as an extension of Marx’s earlier collaborations with Engels and as a summary and expansion of Marx’s prior publications stretching all the way back to the earliest of them. Indeed, many of those earlier publications are referred to in Capital and even quoted or repeated verbatim. What we now consider Das Kapital is a book of three Volumes: Volume 1, The Process of Production of Capital; Volume 2, The Process of Circulation of Capital; and Volume 3, The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole. Volume 1, first published on 14 September 1867, was the only volume that Marx saw through the press as it was the only part of Capital published during his lifetime. Marx left manuscript notes for Volume 2, but the volume was prepared by Engels and not published until 1885. Volume 3, also prepared by Engels, was not published until 1894.

Capital, taken as a whole, is a far-ranging book that is not easy to summarize. Jon Elster’s twentieth-century appraisal of Marx’s writing in general applies nicely to Capital: ‘Even in his most carefully written works, Marx’s intellectual energy was not matched by a comparable level of intellectual discipline. His intellectual profile is a complex blend of relentless search for truth, wishful thinking, and polemical intent.’ At its core, Capital is concerned with the capitalist mode of production, exchange, and distribution. Looking at the project as a whole, Marx’s aim was to pursue those themes, wherever they led, through the various realms of political economy, European history, and sociology. Marx was critical of capitalism because as a system of political economy it was inefficient; historically it was, and promised to continue to be, exploitative; and perhaps most importantly of all, it alienated the workers without whom it would fail. For Marx, ‘alienation’ has a technical meaning. James Russell provides a useful definition in his Marx-Engels Dictionary:

The separation of one or more humanly defining conditions for human beings. Marx specified two humanly defining conditions of human nature: humans are social beings, and they develop their societies and themselves through creative labour . . . The capitalist class owns and controls the means of production. Hence workers are separated (alienated) from control over how their work is planned, how the product is to be used, their interrelationships with other workers, and lastly themselves, since the capitalist directs them instead of allowing them to be creatively self-directed.

Volume 1 of Capital was intended ‘to discover the economic law of motion of modern society’. The table of contents for that volume provides something of a roadmap to Marx’s discussion of ‘The Process of Production of Capital’. There are 8 parts in all: Part 1, ‘Commodities and Money’; Part 2, ‘The Transformation of Money into Capital’; Part 3, ‘The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value’; Part 4, ‘The Production of Relative Surplus-Value’; Part 5, ‘The Production of Absolute and of Relative Surplus-Value’; Part 6, ‘Wages’; Part 7, ‘The Accumulation of Capital’; and Part 8, ‘The So-Called Primitive Accumulation’. Even with this roadmap, readers have not always found the book easy to follow.

On reading it in the nineteenth century, William Morris (1834–1896) recorded in a memorable passage that he ‘suffered agonies of confusion of the brain’. Jon Elster points out that while Marx wrote in part to motivate factory workers of the world, he frustratingly ‘assumes that his readers know Greek, Latin, and the major European languages; that they are capable of recognizing remote allusions to literary and philosophical works, besides being thoroughly familiar with arcane matters of political economy.’ Isaiah Berlin remarks quite simply with reference to Volume 1 of Capital, ‘Marx is not the clearest of writers.’ When modern students grapple with Capital they should take solace in the fact that they are not alone.

Few books have seen as many ‘Reading Guides’ published to help the lost, but persistent, navigate their way. For some, such as French philosopher Louis Althusser (1918–1990) for instance, part of the difficulty is that Capital is too much a work of theory. In Althusser’s case, Part 1 is so theoretical that he recommends readers at first skip it entirely, and only come back to it when they are armed with a firm knowledge of the rest of the book. Marx himself wrote in the ‘Preface’ to the first edition that ‘Beginnings are always difficult in all sciences. The understanding of the first chapter, especially the section that contains the analysis of commodities, will therefore present the greatest difficulty.’ But are there other ways to approach the text that differ from what Althusser recommends?

What unites Capital is Marx’s overarching sensitivity to the consequences of the science of political economy for the lives of real human beings. Despite the book’s theoretical span and historical range, the frame of reference is always a human one. For instance, consider the very first page where Marx introduces ‘commodities’. The book begins: ‘The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as an immense accumulation of commodities; its unit being a single commodity.’ Theoretical, perhaps; but the opening paragraphs also explain that while a commodity is an ‘object outside us’ it is something that ‘satisfies human wants of some sort or another’. Those wants might arise ‘from the stomach or from fancy’; from which ‘makes no difference’.

It is worth noting that this is an aspect of Capital that unites it with Marx’s earlier writings. As Erich Fromm has argued in his volume on Marx’s Concept of Man, ‘Marx is primarily concerned with the emancipation of man as an individual.’ When interviewed by his daughters in the Victorian parlour game known as ‘Confessions’, Mark answered the question, ‘What is your Favourite Maxim?’ with the simple answer: ‘Nihil humani a me alienum puto.’ [‘I regard nothing human as alien to me.’] This aspect of Capital is also something that unites it with the political economy of the Scottish Enlightenment from which Marx drew heavily. Many years ago the historian of economics Ronald L. Meek argued for the impact of what he referred to as the ‘Scottish Historical School’ on Marx. Meek had in mind Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson and James Millar, all mentioned above, but also William Robertson (1721–1793), Lord Kames (1696–1782), Gilbert Stuart (1742–1786), Lord Monboddo (1714–1799), Hugh Blair (1718–1800) and James Dunbar (1742–1798). For these Scots in the eighteenth century, as for Marx in the nineteenth, there are systems to be built when we attempt to understand economic and political man, but all of them focus on individuals in society. Meek claimed that ‘Smith, like Marx, was a whole man, who tried to combine a theory of history, a theory of ethics, and a theory of political economy into one great general theoretical system.’ When Capital is approached in this way – with a focus on the human dimension – some of its passage become easier. Illustrative of this possibility, recently Volume 1 has even been recast as a best-selling Japanese comic book! In Capital in Manga! we find the ‘story of a cheese-maker turned capitalist and how greed, exploitation and its social consequences destroys lives and remakes workers into commodities.’ As the Canadian publishers of the English translation put it on the back cover, ‘As the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, a new generation is once again reflecting on Karl Marx’s revolutionary insights . . . It is hoped that this Manga may act as a bridge to Marx’s original work . . . Marx not only stood against the global economic system but he also helped us understand it.’

It is worth remembering, as well, that for all of the commentary on Capital as a scientific work, Marx referred to it more than once as a ‘work of art’. As Francis Wheen and others before him – such as S. S. Prawer – have pointed out, to overlook the literary aspects of Volume 1 is to overlook too much. It ought to be ‘read as a work of the imagination: a Victorian melodrama, or a vast Gothic novel whose heroes enslaved and consumed the monster they created (Capital which comes into the world soiled with mire from top to toe and oozing blood from every pore); or perhaps a satirical utopia like Swift’s land of the Houyhnhnms, where every prospect pleases and only man is vile.’ Some of the most entertaining passages are found in Marx’s caustic footnotes.

The initial muted reception of Volume 1 of Capital did not give Marx much cause for celebration, or hope. He wrote to Engels in October, ‘The silence about my book makes me fidgety.’ If possible, Jenny was even more frustrated than was her husband by the lack of public attention: ‘There can be few books that have been written in more difficult circumstances, and I am sure I could write a secret history of it which would tell of many, extremely many unspoken troubles and anxieties and torments. If the workers had an inkling of the sacrifices that were necessary for this work, which was written only for them and for their sakes, to be completed they would perhaps show a little more interest.’ Eventually reviews appeared – even some that had not been planted by Engels – but Marx’s pamphlet of 1871, The Civil War in France, drew more attention than had the first volume of his masterpiece. In the wake of that uproar, Marx published a second edition of Volume 1 of Capital in the winter of 1872/3.

Marx continued to work on the manuscripts of Volumes 2 and 3, but progress was slow as the philosopher’s rough life began to show in his aging body. Good health was in short supply; he was under doctor’s orders to forgo his habit of working in the evenings, and serious scholarly pursuits increasingly gave way to more relaxed pastimes, such as playing with and reading to his growing number of grandchildren. Jenny, too, had not been well and sensed her end was near. She died on 2 December 1881. Marx’s health was so poor at the time he was unable to attend her funeral or burial at London’s Highgate Cemetery. In January 1883 Jenny Marx Longuet, the Marxs’ eldest daughter, died, probably of bladder cancer. Marx’s health went from bad to worse although he hung on to life until 14 March 1883, when he died at age 64. On 17 March, without much fanfare or even notice, he was buried alongside Jenny in Highgate Cemetery. His life-long friend, Engels, delivered a short eulogy which concluded: ‘His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work!’ Fewer than a dozen were in attendance.

Engels inherited his friend’s notes and manuscripts and from those completed Volume 2 of Capital, the first German edition of which was published in July 1885. Below, readers will find reprinted the complete text of Volume 2, The Process of Circulation of Capital. Engels explained in his Preface to that volume that, ‘It was no easy task to prepare the second volume of Capital for the printer in such a way that it should make a connected and complete work and represent exclusively the ideas of its author, not of its publisher.’ Volume 2 is divided into three parts: Part One, ‘The Metamorphoses of Capital and their Cycles’; Part Two, ‘The Turn-Over of Capital’; and Part Three, ‘The Reproduction and Circulation of the Aggregate Social Capital’. The second volume is very different from the first. Gone, almost entirely, are the literary allusions and playful footnotes. Marx was a writer of genius, but from the manuscript he left of the second volume of Capital it was impossible for Engels to match the first volume. Despite its notable deficiencies, it is useful to include here to provide the reader with a fuller sense of what the project as a whole contained.

In 1887 the first English translation of Volume 1 of Capital appeared in London, published by Swan Sonnenschein, Lowrey & Co, on Paternoster Square. Edited by Engels, the translation was prepared by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (1849–1898), Eleanor Marx’s partner. That is the text reprinted below. Volume 3 of Capital, also prepared by Engels, was first published in 1894. As Jon Elster noted, the modern consensus is that the economic theories espoused in Volume 3 are ‘seriously flawed’ and ‘the non-specialist reader will not profit much from struggling with Marx’s exposition of them.’ Volume 3 is not reprinted below.

As with all authors of literary classics, Marx’s reputation changes with the times. The reception of Marx and Capital has ebbed and flowed with the subsequent course of history. Little celebrated at the time of his death in 1883, by 1917 Marx was seen as the intellectual hero of the Russian Revolution. Since then, Marx’s reputation has risen, and fallen, along with the fates of Marxist regimes around the world and with events like the Great Depression which made many Marxists in both America and Europe. In recent years, scholars such as John Cassidy have changed the focus, finding in Marx what Eric Hobsbawm artfully described as his ‘predictions of an increasingly uncontrollable globalization of the capitalist economy.’ After all, Marx had written at the mid-point of the nineteenth century lines which would not be out of place in a newspaper column of 2013:

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe . . . The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.

Explaining the emergence and subsequent impact of Marx’s thought, then, is no easy task for historians. It is tempting to see his ideas and writings as being the product of a particular stage in the development of European thought and culture. Clearly Capital belongs to the general historical context in which it was written – that of the Utopian Socialists, the revolutionaries of 1848 and those who invented other forms of socialism and even communism. But there is also novelty and individual genius here as well. After all, it is not only Marx’s ideas but Marx the individual who has become impressed on the modern mind. Some of that character, which this short essay has attempted to illuminate in a small way, comes through in the iconic image of Marx captured in John Mayall’s (1813–1901) penetrating photograph of 1875 (shown on page xxvii).

Many years ago, Isaiah Berlin suggested that we separate the fate of Marxism from our assessment of Marx’s thought. ‘Even if all its specific conclusions were proved false,’ Berlin wrote, ‘its importance in creating a wholly new attitude to social and historical questions and so opening new avenues of human knowledge would be unimpaired.’ David McLellan reminded us in a book about Marx’s legacy, that even if one disagrees with Marx, there is no doubt that he ‘has shaped our ideas about society. He built up a system which draws on philosophy, on history, on economics and on politics. And although the professional philosophers, the economists and the political scientists often do not accept his theories, they cannot ignore them.’ Marx has ‘become part of the mental scaffolding of the [twentieth] century with the result that a lot of our thinking about history and society is a dialogue with Marx’s ghost.’ In our century the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm (1917–2012) put it differently. In How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism, 18402011, one of his final publications, Hobsbawm confidently declared: ‘Economic and political liberalism, singly or in combination, cannot provide the solution to the problems of the twenty-first century. Once again the time has come to take Marx seriously.’ Regardless of how much or little truth there is in Hobsbawm’s sentiments about liberalism’s fate, there is no doubt of the continued relevance of Marx’s masterpiece, Capital, to twenty-first-century readers of today and even, we can venture with some confidence, engaged readers of tomorrow.

Mark G. Spencer

St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Further Reading

Althusser, Louis, and Étienne Balibar, translated by Ben Brewster. Reading ‘Capital’ (London: NLD, 1970).

Avineri, Shlomo. The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (London: Cambridge University Press, 1968).

Berlin, Isaiah, with a new forward by Alan Ryan. Karl Marx, His Life and Environment, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Bober, Mandell Morton. Karl Marx’s Interpretation of History, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1948).

Bottomore, Tom, et al., eds. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983).

Bradley, Ian, and Michael Howard, eds. Classical and Marxian Political Economy: Essays in Honor of Ronald L. Meek (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982).

Brudney, Daniel. Marx’s Attempt to Leave Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Buchanan, Allen E. ‘Marx, Morality, and History: An Assessment of Recent Analytical Work on Marx’, Ethics 98 (1987): 104–36.

Callinicos, Alex. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx (London: Bookmarks, 1983).

Carver, Terrell. A Marx Dictionary (Cambridge and Oxford: Polity Press,1987).

Carver, Terrell. Marx’s Social Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982).

Carver, Terrell, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Cassidy, John. ‘The Return of Karl Marx’, New Yorker 73, no. 32 (20–27 October 1997): 248–259.

Cohen, G.A. Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defense (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978).

Cohen, Marshall, Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon, eds., Marx, Justice, and History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980).

Cornu, Auguste. The Origins of Marxian Thought (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1957).

Elster, Jon. Making Sense of Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

Elster, Jon. An Introduction to Karl Marx (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

Gilbert, Alan. Marx’s Politics: Communists and Citizens (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1981).

Fleischer, Helmut. Marxism and History translated by Eric Mosbacher (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1973).

Fromm, Erich. Marx’s Concept of Man (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, Co., 1961).

Harvey, David. A Companion to Marx’s ‘Capital’ (London and New York: Verso, 2010).

Hobsbawm, Eric J., ed. The History of Marxism. Volume One: Marxism in Marx’s Day (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1982).

Hobsbawm, Eric J. How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism, 1840–2011 (London: Little, Brown, 2011).

Hook, Sidney. Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx: A Revolutionary Interpretation (New York: John Day Co., 1933).

Hook, Sidney. From Hegel to Marx: Studies in the Intellectual Development of Karl Marx (New York: The Humanities Press, 1958).

Kolakowski, Leszek. Main Currents of Marxism : its origins, growth, and dissolution, 3 volumes, translated from the Polish by P. S. Falla (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).

Laski, Harold J. Karl Marx: An Essay (London: The Fabian Society and Allen & Unwin limited, 1922).

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. Karl Marx: A Brief Biographical Sketch with an Exposition of Marxism (1918).

Levine, Andrew. The General Will: Rousseau, Marx, Communism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

Lichtheim, George. The Origins of Socialism (New York: Praeger, 1969).

Lindsay, A. D. Karl Marx’s Capital: An Introductory Essay (London: Oxford University Press, 1925).

Little, Daniel. The Scientific Marx (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

Marcuse, Herbert. Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961).

Mazlish, Bruce. The Meaning of Karl Marx (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).

McLellan, David. Karl Marx: His Life and Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).

McLellan, David. Karl Marx: The Legacy, from the BBC TV Series written and presented by Asa Briggs (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1983).

McLellan, David, ed. Marx: The First Hundred Years (London: Fontana Books, 1983).

McLellan, David. The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx (London: MacMillan and Co., 1969).

McMurtry, John. The Structure of Marx’s World-View (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978).

Meek, Ronald L. ‘The Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology’, in Economics and Ideology and Other Essays (London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd, 1967).

Meek, Ronald L. Studies in the Labour Theory of Value (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1956).

Mehring, Franz. Karl Marx: The Story of His Life. Eng. trans. by Edward Fitzgerald, new introduction by Max Schachtman (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1962).

Miller, Richard W. Analyzing Marx: Morality, Power and History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987).

Prawer, S. S. Karl Marx and World Literature (Oxford University Press, 1978).

Rader, Melvin. Marx’s Interpretation of History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Rühle, Otto. Karl Marx, His Life and Work. Eng. trans. by Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: Garden City Press, 1936).

Russell, James. Marx-Engels Dictionary (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980).

Shipside, Steve. Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’: A Modern-Day Interpretation of an Economic Classic (Oxford: Infinite Ideas Limited, 2009).

Singer, Peter. Marx (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

Spencer, Mark G. ‘Introduction: Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations’, in Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations (Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, 2012).

Sperber, Jonathan. Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life (New York and London: Liverright Publishing Company, 2013).

Tucker, Robert C. Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, 3rd ed. (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001).

Uchida, Hiroshi, ed. Marx for the 21st Century (London and New York: Routledge, 2006).

Walker, Angus. Marx, His Theory and its Context: Politics as Economics, an introductory and critical essay on the political economy of Karl Marx (London and New York: Longman, 1978).

Wendling, Amy E. Karl Marx on Technology and Alienation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

Wheen, Francis. Karl Marx: A Life (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000).

Wheen, Francis. Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’: A Biography (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006).

Wolff, Jonathan. Why Read Marx Today? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Wood, Allen W. Karl Marx, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2004).

Yasko, Guy. Capital in Manga! Based on the Classic Text by Karl Marx (Red Quill Books: Ottawa, 2012).

Zeitlin, Irving M. Marxism: A Re-examination (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1967).

Typesetter’s note

In Volume 1 Marx refers to the projected later parts of the work as Books 2, 3 and 4. However, when it comes to the projected second book, he refers to it as Volume 2, and to Book 1 sometimes as Book 1 and sometimes as Volume 1. I have not corrected this inconsistency.

Within Volume 1 (and to a lesser extent Volume 2) the longest chapters are divided into sections, subsections, sub-subsections and sub-sub-subsections. These are treated in the text as follows.

Section heading: Section 1. Section Title

Subsection heading: A. Subsection Title

Sub-subsection: 1. Sub-subsection Title

Sub-sub-subsection: (a) Sub-sub-subsection Title

Capital Volume 1

Editor’s Preface

The publication of an English version of Das Kapital needs no apology. On the contrary, an explanation might be expected why this English version has been delayed until now, seeing that for some years past the theories advocated in this book have been constantly referred to, attacked and defended, interpreted and misinterpreted, in the periodical press and the current literature of both England and America.

When, soon after the author’s death in 1883, it became evident that an English edition of the work was really required, Mr Samuel Moore, for many years a friend of Marx and of the present writer, and than whom, perhaps, no one is more conversant with the book itself, consented to undertake the translation which the literary executors of Marx were anxious to lay before the public. It was understood that I should compare the MS. with the original work, and suggest such alterations as I might deem advisable. When, by and by, it was found that Mr Moore’s professional occupations prevented him from finishing the translation as quickly as we all desired, we gladly accepted Dr Aveling’s offer to undertake a portion of the work; at the same time Mrs Aveling, Marx’s youngest daughter, offered to check the quotations and to restore the original text of the numerous passages taken from English authors and Blue Books and translated by Marx into German. This has been done throughout, with but a few unavoidable exceptions.

The following portions of the book have been translated by Dr Aveling: (1) Chapters 10 (The Working-Day) and 11 (Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value); (2) Part 6 (Wages, comprising Chapters 19 to 22); (3) from Chapter 24, Section 4 (Circumstances that &c.) to the end of the book, comprising the latter part of Chapter 24, Chapter 25, and the whole of Part 8 (Chapters 26 to 33); (4) the two Author’s Prefaces. All the rest of the book has been done by Mr Moore. While, thus, each of the translators is responsible for his share of the work only, I bear a joint responsibility for the whole.

The third German edition, which has been made the basis of our work throughout, was prepared by me, in 1883, with the assistance of notes left by the author, indicating the passages of the second edition to be replaced by designated passages, from the French text published in 1873. [1] The alterations thus effected in the text of the second edition generally coincided with changes prescribed by Marx in a set of MS. instructions for an English translation that was planned, about ten years ago, in America, but abandoned chiefly for want of a fit and proper translator. This MS. was placed at our disposal by our old friend Mr F. A. Sorge of Hoboken N. J. It designates some further interpolations from the French edition; but, being so many years older than the final instructions for the third edition, I did not consider myself at liberty to make use of it otherwise than sparingly, and chiefly in cases where it helped us over difficulties. In the same way, the French text has been referred to in most of the difficult passages, as an indicator of what the author himself was prepared to sacrifice wherever something of the full import of the original had to be sacrificed in the rendering.

There is, however, one difficulty we could not spare the reader: the use of certain terms in a sense different from what they have, not only in common life, but in ordinary Political Economy. But this was unavoidable. Every new aspect of a science involves a revolution in the technical terms of that science. This is best shown by chemistry, where the whole of the terminology is radically changed about once in twenty years, and where you will hardly find a single organic compound that has not gone through a whole series of different names. Political Economy has generally been content to take, just as they were, the terms of commercial and industrial life, and to operate with them, entirely failing to see that by so doing, it confined itself within the narrow circle of ideas expressed by those terms. Thus, though perfectly aware that both profits and rent are but sub-divisions, fragments of that unpaid part of the product which the labourer has to supply to his employer (its first appropriator, though not its ultimate exclusive owner), yet even classical Political Economy never went beyond the received notions of profits and rents, never examined this unpaid part of the product (called by Marx surplus-product) in its integrity as a whole, and therefore never arrived at a clear comprehension, either of its origin and nature, or of the laws that regulate the subsequent distribution of its value. Similarly all industry, not agricultural or handicraft, is indiscriminately comprised in the term of manufacture, and thereby the distinction is obliterated between two great and essentially different periods of economic history: the period of manufacture proper, based on the division of manual labour, and the period of modern industry based on machinery. It is, however, self-evident that a theory which views modern capitalist production as a mere passing stage in the economic history of mankind, must make use of terms different from those habitual to writers who look upon that form of production as imperishable and final.

A word respecting the author’s method of quoting may not be out of place. In the majority of cases, the quotations serve,