....Smith tells us
that a society of which the greater part suffers is not happy. [Smith
I, p. 70] But, since even the most prosperous state of society leads to
suffering for the majority, and since the economic system [Nationalokonomie],
which is a society based on private interests, brings about such a state
of prosperity, it follows that society's distress is the goal of the economic
....We should further note in connection
with the relationship between worker and capitalist that the latter is
more than compensated for wage rises by a reduction in the amount of labour
time, and that wage rises and increases in the interest on capital act
on commodity prices like simple and compound interest respectively.
....Let us now look at things from the point
of view of the political economist and compare what he has to say about
the theoretical and practical claims of the worker.
....He tells us that, originally, and in
theory, the whole produce of labour belongs to the worker. [Smith I, p.
57] But, at the same time, he tells us that what the worker actually receives
is the smallest part of the product, the absolute minimum necessary; just
enough for him to exist not as a human being but as a worker and for him
to propagate not humanity but the slave class of the workers.
....The political economist tells us that
everything is bought with labour and that capital is nothing but accumulated
labour, but then goes on to say that the worker, far from being in a position
to buy everything, must sell himself and his humanity.
....While the ground rent of the indolent
landowner generally amounts to a third of the product of the soil, and
the profit of the busy capitalist to as much as twice the rate of interest,
the surplus which the worker earns amounts at best to the equivalent of
death through starvation for two of his four children. [Smith I, p. 60]
would be just so much the greater, and the chance of their combining together,
in order to raise the price, just so much the less." [ Smith I, p.
....Since we already
know that monopoly prices are as high as possible, since the interest
of the capitalists, even from a straight-forwardly economic point of view,
is opposed to the interest of society, and since the growth of profits
acts on the price of the commodity like compound interest [Smith, pp.
87-8], it follows that the sole defence against the capitalists is competition,
which in the view of political economy has the beneficial effect both
of raising wages and cheapening commodities to the advantage of the consuming
But, competition is possible only if capitals multiply and are held by
many different people. It is only possible to generate a large number
of capitals as a result of multilateral accumulation, since capital in
general stems from accumulation. But, multilateral accumulation inevitably
turns into unilateral accumulation. Competition among capitalists increases
accumulation of capitals. Accumulation -- which, under the rule of private
property, means concentration of capital in few hands -- inevitably ensues
if capitals are allowed to follow their own natural course. It is only
through competition that this natural proclivity of capital begins to
....We have already seen that the profit
on capital is in proportion to its size. If we ignore deliberate competition
for the moment,
labour, and somebody can always be found who is willing to do something
in order to obtain it. The quantity of labour, indeed, which it can purchase
is not always equal to what it could maintain, if managed in the most
economical manner, on account of the high wages which are sometimes given
to labour. But it can always purchase such a quantity of labour as it
can maintain, according to the rate at which that sort of labour is commonly
maintained in the neighbourhood.
....But land, in almost any situation, produces
a greater quantity of food than what is sufficient to maintain all the
labour necessary for bringing it to market in the most liberal way in
which that labour is ever maintained. The surplus, too, is always more
than sufficient to replace the stock which employed that labour, together
with its profits. Something, therefore, always remains for a rent to the
[Smith, I, p. 132-3 ]
...."Food is, in this manner, not only
the original source of rent, but every other part of the produce of land
which afterwards affords rent derives that part of its value from the
improvement of the powers of labour in producing food by means of the
improvement and cultivation of land."
[Smith, I, p. 150 ]
...."Human food seems to be the only
produce of land which always and necessarily affords a rent to the landlord."
[Smith, I, p. 147 ]
are populous not in proportion to the number of people whom their produce
can clothe and lodge, but in proportion to that of those whom it can feed."
[Smith, I, p. 149 ]
...."After food, clothing, and lodging,
are the two great wants of mankind. [Smith, I, p. 147] They generally
yield a rent, but not necessarily.