and the glittering illusion about the nature of wealth, blinded by sensual appearances, is confronted by the working, sober, prosaic, economical industrialist who is quite enlightened about the nature of wealth, and who, while providing a wider sphere for the other's self-indulgence and paying fulsome flatteries to him in his products (for his products are just so many base compliments to the appetites of the spendthrift), knows how to appropriate for himself in the only useful way the other's waning power. If, therefore, industrial wealth appears at first to be the result of extravagant, fantastic wealth, yet its motion, the motion inherent in it, ousts the latter also in an active way. For the fall in the rate of interest is a necessary consequence and result of industrial development. The extravagant rentier's means therefore dwindle day by day in inverse proportion to the increasing possibilities and pitfalls of pleasure. Consequently, he must either consume his capital, thus ruining himself, or must become an industrial capitalist.... On the other hand, there is a direct, constant rise in the rent of land as a result of the course of industrial development; nevertheless, as we have already seen, there must come a time when landed property, like every other kind of property, is bound to fall within the category of profitably self-reproducing capitals - and this in fact results from the same industrial development. Thus the squandering landowner, too, must either consume his capital, and thus be ruined, or himself become the farmer of his own estate - an agricultural industrialist.

The diminution in the interest on money, which Proudhon regards as the annulling of capital and as a tendency to socialise capital, is therefore in fact rather only a symptom of the total victory of working capital over squandering wealth - i.e., the transformation of all private property into industrial capital. It is a total victory of private property over all those of its qualities which are still in appearance human, and the complete subjection of the owner of private property to the essence of private property - labour.

To be sure, the industrial capitalist also takes his pleasures. He does not by any means return to the unnatural simplicity of need; but his pleasure is only a side-issue--recreation--something subordinated to production; at the same time it is a calculated and, therefore, itself an economical pleasure. For he debits it to his capital's expense account, and what is squandered on his pleasure must therefore amount to no more than will be replaced with profit through the reproduction of capital. Pleasure is therefore subsumed under capital, and the pleasure-taking individual under the capital-accumulating individual, whilst formerly the contrary was the case. The decrease in the interest rate is therefore a symptom of the annulment of capital only inasmuch as it is a symptom of the growing domination of capital--of the estrangement which is growing and therefore hastening to its annulment. This is indeed the only way in which that which exists affirms its opposite.>

The quarrel between the political economists about luxury and thrift is, therefore, only the quarrel between that political economy which has achieved clarity about the nature of wealth, and that political economy which is still afflicted with romantic, anti-industrial memories. Neither side, however, knows how to reduce the subject of the controversy to its simple terms, and neither therefore can make short work of the other.
[see also page XXXIV GT.]

Send comments to: Lemmaesthetics@freeuk.com, The Hypertext Manuscripts of Karl Marx, Paris 1844, Copyright Gary Tedman 2001-3