English political economy that, whilst elevating labour to the position of its sole principle, it should at the same time expound with complete clarity the inverse relation between wages and interest on capital, and the fact that the capitalist could normally only gain by pressing down wages, and vice versa. Not the defrauding of the consumer, but the capitalist and the worker taking advantage of each other, is shown to be the normal relationship.
....The relations of private property contain latent within them the relation of private property as labour, the relation of private property as capital, and the mutual relation of these two to one another. There is the production of human activity as labour--that is, as an activity quite alien to itself, to man and to nature, and therefore to consciousness and the expression of life the abstract existence of man as a mere workman who may therefore daily fall from his filled void into the absolute void--into his social, and therefore actual, non-existence. On the other hand, there is the production of the object of human activity as capital--in which all the natural and social characteristic of the object is extinguished; in which private property has lost its natural and social quality (and therefore every political and social illusion, and is not associated with any apparently human relations); in which the selfsame capital remains the same in the most diverse natural and social manifestations, totally indifferent to its real content. This contradiction, driven to the limit, is of necessity the limit, the culmination, and the downfall of the whole private-property relationship.
....It is therefore another great achievement of modern English political economy to have declared rent of land to be the difference in the interest yielded by the worst and the best land under cultivation; to have [exposed] the landowner's romantic illusion--his alleged social importance and the identity of his interest with the interest of society, a view still propounded by Adam Smith after the Physiocrats; and to [have] anticipated and prepared the movement of the real world which will transform the landowner into an ordinary, prosaic capitalist, and thus simplify and sharpen the contradiction [between capital and labour] and hasten its resolution. Land as land, and rent as rent, have lost their distinction of rank and become insignificant capital and interest--or rather, capital and interest that signify only money.
....The distinction between capital and land, between profit and ground rent, and between both and wages, and industry, agriculture, and immovable and movable private property--this distinction is therefore not rooted in the nature of things, but is a historical distinction, a fixed historical moment in the formation and development of the contradiction between capital and labour. In industry, etc., as opposed to immovable landed property, only the manner in which industry first arose and the opposition to agriculture within which industry developed, are expressed. This distinction only continues to exist as a special sort of work--as an essential, important and life-embracing distinction--so long as industry (town life) develops over and against landed property (aristocratic feudal life) and itself continues to bear the feudal character of its opposite in the form of monopoly, craft, guild, corporation, etc., within which labour still has a seemingly social significance, still the significance of the real community, and has not yet reached the stage of indifference to its content, of complete being-for-self, i.e., of abstraction from all other being, and hence has not yet become liberated capital.

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The Hypertext Manuscripts of Karl Marx, Paris 1844
Copyright Gary Tedman 2001
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