MARX’S CAPITAL

A Student Edition
Edited and introduced by C J Arthur

ELECBOOK CLASSICS

Marx's Capital
A Student Edition

Karl Marx
ISBN 1 84327 096 X

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Marx’s Capital
A Student Edition
Edited and Introduced by C J Arthur

This edition is an edited and abridged version of the first volume of Capital: A Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx, using the text of the English edition of 1887 which was translated from the third German edition by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling and edited by Friederich Engels.

First published by Lawrence & Wishart 1992 Edition and introduction © C J Arthur 1992

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CONTENTS Editor's Introduction Preface to the First German Edition Afterword to the Second German Edition PART I—COMMODITIES AND MONEY Chapter 1 – Commodities Section 1. The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use-value and Value Section 2. The Two-fold Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities Section 3. The Form of Value or Exchange-value A. Elementary or Accidental Form of Value B. Total or Expanded Form of Value C. The General Form of Value D. The Money-form Section 4. The Fetishism of Commodities 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 8 27 30

36 36 42 49 50 64 67 73 74 88 97 97 104 131

PART II—THE TRANSFORMATION OF MONEY INTO CAPITAL Chapter 4 – The General Formula for Capital 142 Chapter 5 – Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital 152 Chapter 6 – The Buying and Selling of Labour-power 161

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PART III—THE PRODUCTION OF ABSOLUTE SURPLUS-VALUE Chapter 7-The Labour-process and the Process of Producing Surplus-value 171 Section 1. The Labour-process 171 Section 2. The Production of Surplus-value 180 Chapter 8 – Constant Capital and Variable Capita] 196 Chapter 9 – The Rate of Surplus-value 209 Chapter 10 – The Working Day 216 Section 1. The Limits of the Working Day 216 Section 2. The Greed for Surplus-labour 219 Section 3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation 223 Section 4. Day and Night Work. The Relay System 231 Section 5. The Struggle for a Normal Working Day 237 Section 6. The English Factory Acts, 1833 to 1864 243 Section 7, Reaction of the English Factory Acts on Other Countries 264 Chapter 11 – Rate and Mass of Surplus-value 268 PART IV—PRODUCTION OF RELATIVE SURPLUS-VALUE Chapter 12 – The Concept of Relative Surplus-value Chapter 13 – Cooperation 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
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276 268 297 297

303 312
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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 Workpeople 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. Educational Clauses of the Same. Their General Extension in England Section 10. Modern Industry and Agriculture

321 329 329 342 349 372 379 391 397 403 422 434

PART V—THE PRODUCTION OF ABSOLUTE AND OF RELATIVE SURPLUS-VALUE Chapter 16 – Absolute and Relative Surplus-value 438 Chapter 17 – Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-power and in Surplus-value 442 PART VI – WAGES Chapter 19 – The Transformation of the Value (and Respectively the Price) of Labour-power into Wages Chapter 22 – National Differences in Wages

449 457

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PART VII – THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL Chapter 23 – Simple Reproduction 461 Chapter 24 – Conversion of Surplus-value into Capital 471 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 471 Section 3. Separation of Surplus-value into Capital and Revenue 481 Chapter 25 – The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation 486 Section 1. The Increased Demand for Labour-power that Accompanies Accumulation. the Composition of Capital Remaining the Same 486 Section 2. Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of Capital Simultaneously with the Progress of Accumulation and of the Concentration that Accompanies it 492 Section 3. Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus Population or Industrial Reserve Army 501 Section 4. Different Forms of the Relative Surplus Population. The General Law of Capitalistic Accumulation 512 PART VIII – 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 Fifteenth Century Chapter 32 – Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation

520 520 534 538

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EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

K

arl Marx was one of the intellectual giants of the modern epoch. While it is true that even without him we would still be arguing about capitalism and socialism, class struggle and revolution, it cannot be denied that in his work he established in large part the framework within which the discussion has been carried on. Furthermore, many of his own concepts have become common currency in the social sciences: ‘class consciousness’; ‘alienation’, ‘ideology’; ‘exploitation’; ‘mode of production’; ‘relations of production’; ‘commodity fetishism’; ‘materialist conception of history’. Above all, Marx challenged the rationality of capitalist society. His ‘critique of political economy’ argued that capitalism was exploitative, inherently contradictory and systematically prone to crisis. That we still speak of capital and wage labour, that we can trace the booms and slumps in the economy since his day, means that Marx may still have much to teach us. Serious scholars, whether economists, historians or political scientists, know that if his work is not accepted or developed it must be refuted. In a word, he is unavoidable: anyone wishing to further their own education must take Marx's Capital seriously. It was in 1867 that Marx brought out his masterpiece Capital: A Critique of Political Economy; to be precise, he brought out Volume One: The Process of Production of Capital. From the mass of his notes, Friedrich Engels brought out after his death two more volumes: Volume Two on circulation of capital, and Volume Three dealing with revenues such as rent. These are inferior in literary quality and coherence to
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Volume One. Karl Kautsky brought out a ‘Volume Four': Theories of Surplus Value, itself a mass of notes taking up three volumes. When people speak of Marx's Capital they usually have in mind simply Volume One. This is the book read by students, workers, social scientists, philosophers, historians and the educated public wishing to acquaint themselves with one of the great minds of the modern era. This is what is presented in our abridgement. The other volumes are read by economists of course; but they are relatively less known than the first volume. As Engels said in his Preface to the English Edition of 1887, Volume One ‘is in great measure a whole in itself’ and ranks ‘as an independent work’. This was a verdict oft-repeated. Karl Korsch said that the book ‘impresses us both in form and content as a finished and rounded whole’, while Rosa Luxemburg asserted that it shows ‘not a trace of theoretical incompleteness’. Moreover, it fully realises Marx's ambition to create an ‘artistic whole’ (as expressed in a letter to Engels 31 July 1865). In the past it was undoubtedly true that people were discouraged from reading Capital by the text's formidable length and forest of footnotes. This is why we have issued this ‘student edition’. We have done our best to retain the meat of the book, while making the way clear by judicious pruning of its sprawling branches. Of course, nothing can be done about the theoretical content. Marx presupposed a reader prepared to ‘get stuck in’.

THE PRINCIPLE OF TOTALITY
Capital: Volume One is therefore a whole, not just a quarter of the complete theory, because the inner workings of capitalist production, which Marx laid bare in it, form the originating framework within which
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all other relations in this mode of production can be located. The later volumes are thus not of equal weight to the first, nor are they the conclusions to premises established here; rather, they are concretisations in more determinate form of the main relationships and tendencies established in the first volume. Methodologically speaking, Marx can work in this way because, as the presentation itself shows, the capitalist mode of production has an organic unity. This means that knowledge of it must take the form of a system of related categories rather than a series of discrete investigations; moreover, in the theory, it is necessary to establish what is the hierarchy of determinations involved, and especially what lies at the heart of the matter – the principle that works itself out through the increasingly complex secondary and tertiary layers of the entire structure. Of course, it is equally necessary for theory to develop these further mediations, in order to show, in principle at least, how this fundamental dynamic grounds itself in its effects and thereby successfully reproduces the whole system. But Marx's most significant problem clearly lay in disentangling from the bewilderingly complicated phenomena of modern economic life the essential features, which can be articulated in a few simple abstract categories (value, surplus-value, etc.). This he gives us here. This means that the argument of Capital is pitched at a high level of generality throughout all three volumes, but especially Volume One. New readers should not make the mistake of imagining that the discussion deals with very detailed movements and relationships of wages, prices and profits as they are determined in everyday life. When Marx formulates his law of value it is certainly intended to be the really fundamental regulator of everyday phenomena, but many further stages would be necessary to explain, even in principle, its concrete
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manifestation. This leads the more obtuse critic to wonder what use it is then, if it cannot be immediately ‘applied’, if it refers to relationships not visible on the surface of things. But no science, including social science, can dispense with such fundamental principles, ‘abstracted’, if you like, from contingent empirical phenomena. It is clear that when Marx uses the metaphor ‘laws of motion’ he has Newton in mind. This should be taken quite seriously. No one ever saw a body moving at a constant speed in a straight line for ever. Such a body is always subject to disturbing influences, friction, air resistance, gravity and the like. But this did not stop Newton correctly considering such a law as the basic regulator of mechanical motion, and defending it against the Aristotelian assumption that bodies tend to a state of rest. Marx's law of value, explained in this volume, has much the same status. In its purity it is the principle underlying the most complex phenomena of capitalism, albeit that market prices never coincide with values, or profits with surplus-value. But Marx shows how one must understand the latter as a stage in generating the former. Marx makes the point in Volume Three that there would be no need for science if the appearance of things directly coincided with their essence. He argues that the real relationships may be quite contrary to the way they appear; though that they appear so must itself be explained as well. Thus Marx's theory is explanatory because, instead of making observations of surface phenomena like costs and prices, it develops the inner structure of the observable relations. In so far as appearances are systematically misleading it is a critical science; for it undercuts moral and political positions rooted in these appearances; and conversely it represents in theory the standpoint of the proletariat.

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THE PRINCIPLE OF SOCIAL FORM
It is important to understand, especially for those already acquainted with modern ‘economics’, that Marx's approach to his subject matter has very little in common with what is understood today by ‘economics’. For example, Marx regards analysis of supply and demand curves as an entirely superficial problem compared with the theorisation of market exchange itself as a peculiar social form, and the divination of its longrun tendencies of development. Furthermore, the differential distribution of economic power in modern capitalism, which is glossed over and taken for granted in bourgeois economics, is precisely what Marx thinks requires investigation and explanation, in particular of course, the power of capital. As early as 1847 Marx had adumbrated his basic approach to the understanding and critique of ‘political economy’, namely that ‘economic categories are only the theoretical expressions, the abstractions, of the social relations of production’ (Poverty of Philosophy). It was these ‘social relations of production’ that Marx investigated. In his view, scientific study of the economy is not only about material transformations, for example the managing of scarce resources, or the correlation of inputs and outputs to determine technically consistent systems. Rather, such topics are to be subordinated to the understanding of how people relate to each other in particular, historically specific modes of production. Thus Marx's theory is not addressed primarily to ‘economising’ (a relation between people and things) nor to ‘utility maximisation’ (another, dubious relation between people and things) but to the ‘social economy’, through which labours are socially recognised, commensurated, allocated and exploited. It understands that technical methods are employed only within certain
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social forms: ‘An African is an African. Only in certain relations does he become a slave. A mule is a machine for spinning cotton. Only in certain relations does it become capital.’ (Wage Labour and Capital) The specificity of the capitalist mode of production is, first, that the products of labour take the form of commodities for sale. The reason for this phenomenon is that labours are undertaken in private enterprises which are socially synthesised only through exchange in which products assume the form of value; this is not the only possible form of social synthesis, but it is the one determining almost all production in this society. Second, the immediate producers, the workers, have been deprived of means of production of their own and hence have nothing to sell but their labour-power; from this feature of the organisation of production arises the capital relation based on exploitation of wage-labour. Clearly this nexus is a social fact, not a natural one. In this way Marx can demonstrate that the Industrial Revolution was defined by the form of capitalist development. In general, Marx holds that it is the social form of the economy that is the key to understanding its movement, reproduction, development, limits and destiny.

THE PRINCIPLE OF HISTORICAL SPECIFICITY
Because social forms vary, there are no economic laws valid for each and every different form of society. Each socially specified mode of production has its own laws of motion. Marx's concern, as the very title of his work indicates, is with the capitalist mode of production; nothing he says here necessarily has any application to pre-capitalist, postcapitalist or, in general, non-capitalist societies. It is important, therefore, for theorists today to determine whether or not the mode of production has changed sufficiently to invalidate the laws Marx
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formulated. In 1859 Marx outlined a sketch of economic development listing the ‘Asiatic, ancient, feudal, and modern bourgeois modes of production’. His topic is the last named only, as he puts it in his Preface: ‘it is the ultimate aim of this work to reveal the economic law of motion of modern society’ (my emphasis). History implies, in other words, an evolution of socio-economic forms of life. A Russian reviewer, quoted with approval by Marx, said that the value of Marx's book ‘lies in the illumination of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development and death of a given social organism and its replacement by another, higher one.’ We are now in a position to understand how Marx starts the exposition of his theory. We know that he must begin with that relationship which conditions the economy as a whole. We know that this relation must be social in form. We know that it must be historically specific, not just ‘production in general’. Marx's chosen foundation is the relation of capital to wage-labour. Whereas in earlier modes of production land-ownership was the key element, nowadays it is industrial capital that is the dominant force, the overriding moment in the dynamic of the system. Thus in Volume One he concentrates entirely on this relation of production, leaving until later volumes such matters as rent, interest and commerce. But capital is itself complex. Marx defines it as self-expanding value, so he must first thematise value in exchange (as distinguished from value in use) as it is borne by the mass of commodities circulating in the market place, then he must develop the logic of money from this, and finally reach the concept of capital. What Marx shows, then, in Volume One, is that capitalist production is a matter of producing value, surplusvalue and capital itself; that this is at the same time a matter of the continual reproduction of its basic social form the opposition of capital and wage-labour – within which the capitalist is compelled to
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accumulate and the workers are compelled to sell themselves; and finally that this in turn grounds the compulsion for the proletariat to unite itself as a class against capital, and to end wage-slavery. On the basis of the method outlined above he can even risk already sketching out the destiny of the capitalist system, and reaffirming his judgement of nearly twenty years before – in the Communist Manifesto – that what capitalism produces above all else is its own gravediggers, a revolutionary proletariat.

HISTORICAL PRESUPPOSITIONS
Throughout Capital Marx has undertaken a systematic investigation of capitalism, its articulation as an ongoing system. But in the last part of the book he locates it historically. It has its origins and destiny. Capitalism is able to reproduce itself if its basic presuppositions, capital and wage-labour, are in place. But these are by no means ‘givens’ historically, however familiar they seem to us today. They are social forms taken on by labour and the means of production, which had to be historically produced. The most important single point here is that capital depends on the availability of labour-power. This requires the existence of a class without access to the means of production on their own account – thus forced to sell their services to capital in order to subsist. This separation of the producer from the means of production was by no means a natural, God-given fact; if anything was natural, it was the converse – an immediate unity of the producers with the land on which they subsisted. Marx therefore explains the real historical process of expropriation in Britain, whereby people were driven off the land, through such measures as the Enclosure Acts, the Highland ‘clearances’ and the like. It is noteworthy that the intervention of the
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‘clearances’ and the like. It is noteworthy that the intervention of the state plays a role in forcing on the process. Every country's history is different but in one way or another the traditional smallholder has been driven off the land to be made into a wage-labourer. How or when it happens is a historically specific matter.

COMMODITY FETISHISM
The main conceptual difficulties which lie in the way of the reader of Capital relate to the concepts of ‘value’ and ‘surplus-value’. It is important to understand that Marx sharply distinguishes between usevalue and exchange-value, and that the latter has a purely social reality. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe naturally took a great interest in the useful properties of the items salvaged from his ship, but it would have had no meaning whatsoever to ‘value’ them to see how much he was ‘worth’. Nor does it make sense in any communal form of social production. It is only when the products of labour are treated by society as exchangeable commodities that they acquire value in the economic sense. Value does not inhere in them naturally like their mass. Just as a pawn is only an oddly shaped piece of wood outside the contest of the rules of chess, within which it acquires certain powers in relation to other pieces, so also does a product of labour acquire a certain value in relation to other such commodities within the rules of the ‘exchange game’. To treat such powers as naturally inherent is to fetishise the commodity, says Marx. At the same time, once the exchange system is in operation then the value of a commodity is perfectly objective, as against the hopes and wishes of individuals. Marx argues that the substance of value is ‘abstract labour’ and that its measure is ‘socially necessary labour-time’.
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In principle, then, commodities exchange in proportions ultimately determined by the labour-time necessary to produce their kind. In truth, what Marx does is to reduce a relation between products to another relation – between producers. But he points out that this theoretical achievement does not alter the fact that people have to conform to the laws of the market. Having set up the exchange system in which commodities have value relations to each other, we become its victim. It is not that the law of value appears like the law of gravity in its independence of human will. It really is effective over the agents concerned, whether they understand it or not, as long as private property and exchange exist. Commodity fetishism characterises not so much a confused consciousness as the form of appearance of the relations themselves (just as one distinguishes the hallucinations of a madman from the mirage everyone can ‘see’).

EXPLOITATION
It is clear from the outset that Marx's law of value is intended to be descriptive and explanatory: it shows how the system works. It has got nothing to do with any normative principle about how production and exchange ought to be carried on. (Marx's own prescription is that the market, and with it the law of value, should be abolished.) It is not often so well understood that Marx stuck to this view even where surplus-value was concerned. It was not a question for him of complaining that appropriation of surplus-value broke the law of equivalent exchange. Rather, he undertakes to show how the capital relation ensures the systematic exploitation of the immediate producers on the basis of the law itself. So for him, it is not a matter of demanding ‘fair wages’ but of abolishing the wages system. Even those, like Smith
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and Ricardo, who advanced a labour theory of value, stumbled when it came to explaining surplus-value. If costs and prices were based on labour values, how could a surplus-value arise at all? Yet it obviously does; and forms the basis of profit, rent and interest. But this seems impossible if labour is paid for in full. Marx solves the problem by pointing out that the expression ‘value of labour’ makes no sense. What workers sell is not their labour but their labour-power, their capacity to labour. Labour may be paid by the hour or by the piece, but Marx argues that the underlying determinant of the wage is the value of labour-power and that this is something distinct from labour itself. There are two reasons Marx can advance for this conceptual innovation. First, the expression ‘value of labour’ has no sense because labour as the source of value can no more itself be valued than gravity which gives things weight can itself have a weight, or the wavelength of light which explains colour can itself be coloured. In logical terms, it is a category mistake to ask about the value of labour. Second, a less abstract argument can be derived from considering the labour theory of value itself. What it envisages is that value is determined not by the use to which a thing is put, but in its conditions of production. For instance, it is no good my going to a furniture shop and telling the vendor I intend to use the goods for firewood. I have to pay compensation for all the work embodied in the commodity, even if it is no good for the use to which I intend to put it. In exactly the same way the value of what the worker sells must be determined not by the use to which the employer puts it but by its conditions of production. To produce a worker fit and ready for work involves the consumption of certain values, that is, means of subsistence. It is the quantity of labour embodied in these inputs which determines the value of labour-power,
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not the labour-time extorted out of it during the working day. One sees immediately that there is no necessary relationship between these two quantities. In Marx's favourite arithmetical illustration, suppose it takes six hours’ labour a day to produce the workers’ means of subsistence, and yet the employer gets twelve hours’ labour a day out of them. Six hours of these twelve must go to create the counter-value of their wages. But this still leaves six hours’ ‘surplus labour’ for the benefit of the capitalist, if he succeeds in realising it in the form of surplus-value. Unfortunately Marx often confuses the matter by using the expression unpaid labour’, contrary to his own argument. In chapter eighteen he asserts that this ‘popular expression’ for surplus labour could not mislead anyone into thinking that the capitalist pays for labour. But it has. The temptation to use the expression ‘unpaid labour’ has obvious political roots. It can even be justified theoretically in so far as ‘surplus labour’ is too general an expression. All exploitative modes of production rest on the ‘pumping out’ (Volume Three) of surplus labour. Marx explains the implications of this in Volume One: ‘What distinguishes the various economic formations of society – the distinction for example between slavery and wage-labour – is the form in which this surplus labour is in each case extorted from the immediate producer, the worker.’ The slave and the serf are obliged by force or customary obligations to work ‘for nothing’. Yet capital claims to ‘pay for’ labour. Therefore Marx's interest (theoretical and practical) lies in the specific form in which surplus labour is appropriated in this case. Marx did not discover that capitalism is exploitative. It does not require great intellect to see that the capitalists live off other people's labour. The theoretical problem resolved in the way just discussed is how it happens. Even those who had isolated labour as the sole source of value thought exploitation must be based on a failure to return to the
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labourers the full value of their labour. Marx grasped that surplus-value resulted, not from such a deduction, but from something, namely surplus labour, being added to the original values brought into play in the production process. This was how the value originally in the hands of the worker could be paid for in full, and yet surplus-value be appropriated by its purchaser.

DOMESTIC LABOUR AND HUMAN REPRODUCTION
Marx is a little too glib when he suggests that labour-power is a commodity like any other. Apart from the fact that normally it can only be hired and not bought outright, its conditions of production are not those of capitalist competition. As a consequence, it is impossible to establish the socially necessary labour-time for its production. Marx replies that, nonetheless, its value can be equated to the value of the means of subsistence required to sustain the worker and his or her family. Fair enough. But what is subsistence? Marx concedes that this notion has a ‘historical and moral’ component which does make a real difference to the value of labour-power. In the context of Volume One, perhaps, Marx does not need to develop this point because, however the value of labour-power is determined, the potentiality for the creation of surplus-value through exploitation remains. (It is worth noting that in chapter seventeen Marx points out that, given increased productivity, real wages can rise while the value of labour-power falls.) Nevertheless, in view of much recent controversy on one aspect of the matter, we must dwell on the question a little longer. Some feminists have advanced the argument that Marx is at fault for neglecting the role of domestic labour in the production of labour-power. Surely this labour contributes to the value of labour-power?
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