Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations [download pdf] - Karl Marx

Ebook Title          : Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations
Ebook Thickness  : 59 Page
Language : English

One of the prerequisites of wage labor, and one of the historic conditions for capital, is free labor and the exchange of free labor against money, in order to reproduce money and to convert it into values, in order to be consumed by money, not as use value for enjoyment, but as use value for money. Another prerequisite is the separation of free labor from the objective conditions of its realization from the means and material of labor. This means above all that the workers must be separated from the land, which functions as his natural laboratory. This means the dissolution both of free petty landownership and of communal landed property, based on the oriental commune.

In both these forms, the relationship of the worker to the objective conditions of his labor is one of ownership: this is the natural unity of labor with its material prerequisites. Hence, the worker has an objective existence independent of his labor. The individual is related to himself as a proprietor, as master of the conditions of his reality. The same relation holds between one individual and the rest. Where this prerequisite derives from the community, the others are his co-owners, who are so many incarnations of the common property. Where it derives from the individual families which jointly constitute the community, they are independent owners co-existing with him, independent private proprietors. The common property which formerly absorbed everything and embraced them all, then subsists as a special ager publicus [common land] separate from the numerous private owners.

In both cases, individuals behave not as laborers but as owners and as members of a community who also labor. The purpose of this labor is not the creation of value, although they may perform surplus labor in order to exchange it for foreign labor  i.e., for surplus products. Its purpose is the maintenance of the owner and his family as well as of the communal body as a whole. The establishment of the individual as a worker, stripped of all qualities except this one, is itself a product of history.

The first prerequisite of this earliest form of landed property appears as a human community, such as emerges from spontaneous evolution [naturwuchsig]: the family, the family expanded into a tribe, or the tribe created by the inter-marriage of families or combination of tribes. We may take it for granted that pastoralism, or more generally a migratory life, is the first form of maintaining existence, the tribe not settling in a fixed place but using up what it finds locally and then passing on. Men are not settled by nature (unless perhaps in such fertile environments that they could subsist on a single tree like the monkeys; otherwise they would roam, like the wild animals). Hence the tribal community, the natural common body, appears not as the consequence, but as the precondition of the joint (temporary) appropriation and use of the soil.

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