Sunday, November 6, 2011

Frederick Engels on the Theoretical Development of Modern Socialism

Thomas Riggins

Engels discusses the theories of modern socialism in chapter two of part three of his book Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science. We are informed that socialism is a politico-economic theory based on the materialist conception of history. Unlike idealist conceptions that history is based on the great ideas and actions of famous individuals (the view of Bertrand Russell for one), or guided by spiritual forces, or the expression of a grand plan set up by some deity or other (there are several choices as to which deity came up with the plan) materialists believe that the existence of the various institutions and social structures that have developed overtime, and by which various groups of humans arrange their social institutions, belief patterns, and social relations are to be understood, in the last analysis, by a study of how they interact to make their daily bread (production) and how they come to distribute what they made to each other (distribution). Thus the causes of the different phases of human development , Engels says, "are to be sought, not in the philosophy but in the economics of each particular epoch."

Today, Engels says (he means the 1870s in Europe but his comments are still as true now as then) there is a growing sense that something is basically wrong and unfair in how our national and international economic system operates. It can't employ all who wish to work, millions of people are living in poverty, famines droughts brought about by human activity engulf large sections of the globe and hunger stalks the streets of many of our largest cities, families are homeless and uprooted, and our schools and colleges fail to properly educate the youth to understand the world they live in. Yet a very small group of wealthy people grow richer and richer while the vast majority of humanity suffers and wastes away.

This shows, according to Engels, that new ways of production and distribution have evolved and that the social order we live in has not kept up with these developments. In fact our social order has become dysfunctional and is holding back all the possible potential improvements in human welfare that the new productive and distributive powers could provide. It is the task of socialists to discover and point out the current impediments which prevent the productive system from reaching its full potential and to discover the means of benefiting all humanity rather than just a small portion. And, he says: "These means are not to be invented, spun out of the head, but discovered with the aid of the head in the existing material facts of production."

Our present society is the creation of a class of people consisting of merchants, shopkeepers, owners of small manufacturing concerns, all those who made their living either by buying, selling, and trading commodities, small farmers who trucked their product to market and those who ministered to them (doctors, lawyers, teachers and preachers). Underneath this class was a class of laborers who made the commodities, or helped in their storage and distribution, upon which the former relied for their income. This latter class became the working class of today and the former the class of people living off of the surplus value created by the working class. Marx and others referred to them as the bourgeoisie or capitalists.

This mode of production, the creation of commodities for a market, has come to be called capitalism. The first capitalists found themselves subservient to a powerful ruling class of nobles consisting of feudal lords and (mostly) hereditary monarchs who lived by means of agricultural exploitation of serfs and taxation of the income of the developing bourgeoise. This ruling class stifled the productive capacity of the bourgeoise and prevented it from reaching its true potential. In other words, the bounds within which the feudal system restricted the capitalists were incompatible with that class's growing mode of production and so, Engels says, the "bourgeoisie broke up the feudal system and built upon its ruins the capitalist order of society."

Once the feudal bonds were broken (the French Revolution was one of the most dramatic instances) the capitalist mode of production flourished and developed the productive forces of society to unprecedented heights, only in its turn to find that its own associated method of distribution contradicted its mode of production. The social product is a collective creation of working people in all the branches of production but it is appropriated by a small number of capitalists who own and control the means by which this social product is created. The social product is then distributed in a way that increases the social wealth of the capitalist class at the expense of the well being of the working people, ultimately leading to their impoverishment. The only way the working people can free themselves from the exploitation of the capitalist class is by uniting together and abolishing it.

This conflict is waged daily in every work place, factory, field, and mine where the capitalist mode of production holds sway. This very active and real class warfare is a feature, 24/7, of daily life in almost every country on the face of the earth, and just like high blood pressure (the silent killer) it is going on and even intensifying whether the people involved are aware of it or not.

Engels says, "Modern socialism is nothing but the reflex in thought , of this conflict in fact; its ideal reflection in the minds, first, of the class directly suffering under it, the working class." The fact that in many countries many, and even most, working people are lacking this "reflex in thought" is testament to the power of the capitalist class, through its mass media and control of the education system, means of entertainment, and professional sports, to fill the heads of working people with illusions and a false sense of reality.

How did this class warfare between workers and capitalists begin? It was not to be found in the Middle Ages because the peasant farmers and handicraft men, or their families, made their own necessities by and large, and the products of their labor belonged to them. They could use them themselves or take them to market as commodities or pay their taxes and feudal dues in kind or exchange them with one another.

With the progress of invention it was possible for a person to set up shop with, say, many looms, and put many hands to work side by side with the peasant with his own loom in his hut making products for himself. Now the product of the man with many looms belonged to him and loom workers were given wages.

Engels says the old division of labor of the peasant village with products being exchanged in kind began to break up as this primitive factory system began to evolve. "In the midst of the old division of labour, grown up spontaneously and upon no definite plan, which had governed the whole of society, now arose division of labor upon a definite plan, as organized in the factory; side by side with individual production appeared social production." Planning locally, and eventually central planning, was a major feature of the success of capitalism. Whatever the problems of 20th century socialism were, they did not result from the use of central planning per se.

As the capitalist system evolved it eventually replaced individual production with social production but kept in place individual appropriation of the products that were produced-- thus creating a new class of exploited human beings that became known as the proletariat who soon began to stand outcast and starving amid the wonders they had made, which wonders were now the property of the bourgeoisie.

As production for a market became more and more wide spread it was soon discovered, Engels points out, that: "Anarchy reigns in socialized production." This is because no one can really tell what the fate of the the commodities they are making will be, will there be a demand for them, will they be sold at a profit or loss. Even with the planning involved in setting up the factory system there always remains this risk factor under capitalism.

Capitalism thus finds itself subject to the laws of EXCHANGE ("the only persistent form of social interrelations") which manifest themselves in competition. The anarchy became exacerbated since capitalism destroys competing modes of production and will not co-exist with them; thus handicrafts were replaced by the system of manufacture and manufacture by steam powered machinery.

This all happened under pressure of the age of discovery, starting roughly with the voyages of Columbus, and planting of colonies which vastly increased the number of markets and sealed the fate of the handicraft system which could not keep up with demand. It also led to the outbreaks of wars between nations fighting for market share-- a form of anarchistic behavior that still marks the world capitalist system.

It is at this point that Engels turns to Darwinian images to describe the relations of capitalists to one another. Both Marx and Engels were very impressed with The Origin of Species but neither were so-called "social Darwinists." Nevertheless today's globalization is simply an extension of the world market of the nineteenth century that Engels described as a universal struggle of existence between different capitalist elites and whole nations and those who fail are "remorselessly cast aside"-- unless, of course they get government stimulus money and bailouts.

"It is," Engels says, "the Darwinian struggle of the individual for existence transferred from nature to society with intensified violence." Capitalism reduces humanity back to its natural animal form of existence. This is the result of the intensification of the contradiction between socialized mode of production and the private capitalist appropriation of the social product.

One of the results of the unfettered competition between capitalists is that they lose control of their own economic system, as we see going on at present, and as it crashes the anarchy of production (which also reigns in the financial sector) forces "the great majority" of the people into becoming "proletarians." The current Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWSM) reflects the fact the "middle class" (actually a better paid strata of the working class mixed with small business people and professionals) is being forced into lower paid jobs, unemployment, bankruptcy, and debt and sees no way out for itself in this economy. They are becoming part of the surplus population (from the point of view of the capitalists) and don't like it. They have yet to fully realize that this is the natural outcome of capitalism and their only hope for a better life is to support socialist economic measures.

The OWSM is a natural response to what is the latest breakdown in the capitalist system. Engels dates the first general breakdown to the Crisis of 1825-- caused by over speculation by the banks (esp. the Bank of England) in unsound investments in Latin America (esp. Peru). Just as our current crisis, investors were given misinformation about the soundness of their investments and when the market collapsed were left holding bag. The banks use the term "asymmetric information" to note that what they know about the investment and what you know is different. The term "fraud" would be more to the point. In 1825 France bailed out England, in our current crisis the US taxpayers bailed out the banks.

These panics used to occur about every ten years but there was some stabilization after World War II and we had about 60 years of minor panics and recessions before this current world wide on going economic crash of the capitalist system-- with no end in sight. However, for Engels, what looks like a financial crisis is really a crisis in production. Socialized production has made too many goodies for the markets so factories laid off working people who then could not pay their bills-- esp. the fraudulent mortgages. Since the financial sector had cooked up so many mortgages based on "asymmetric information" the whole economy began to fall apart.

So many factories remain closed or under utilized that unemployment balloons, and the great productive forces available to our economy are dormant until the capitalists can figure how to get them going again in such a way that they, not the American people, can once again appropriate the wealth that will be created by the workers. The added twist of our day is that capitalists, their industries having become unproductive during the down turn, add to their profits by getting out of paying taxes, by adding fees and surcharges to service products, and by hiking interest rates to private borrowers (credit cards for example) even while commercial interest rates are held low by government intervention via the Federal Reserve.

As the corporate world flounders, as the auto industry recently did, it relies on "its official representative"-- namely the state-- to come to its aid. It should be obvious to all that the state which Lincoln called "of the people, for the people, by the people" is now "of, for, and by the corporations"-- it is their referee.

Engels says that the state will eventually be forced to take over the commanding heights of the economy simply because the capitalists can no longer control them due to the growing contradiction between the socialized productive forces (masses of workers united with or without unions in the creation of the social product in factories and industries and subject to increasing unemployment and poverty) and the private appropriation of the social product by the 1 to 10% of the ruling class and its top functionaries. The tipping point has not yet been reached, but it is coming-- if not in this crisis, then the next it will present itself.

This state takeover under capitalism is not yet socialism, Engels tells us, even though the commanding heights will have been converted into state property. However, the takeover reveals that all the functions of running the economy can be taken over by state "salaried employees." Since the "modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine" as it is forced to nationalize failing industries "it actually becomes the national capitalist." The state directly exploits the working people having done away with individual, and incompetent, private capitalists (done in by their own creation).

This is not a stable situation and in a democracy it cannot last. The contradiction between the state and the people brings "to a head" the capitalist relation between people and their government and this must "topple over." State capitalism is not, therefore, the answer to the class conflict, "but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements" leading to that answer.

Once the people understand the source of their problems is the private appropriation of the social product, then the 99% can really set an agenda to put the 1% in their place. Here is what Engels thinks should happen. The people should set about " the harmonizing of the modes of production, appropriation, and exchange." Hopefully they can do this through political action and the regulation of the three modes. Engels says "it depends only upon ourselves to subject them to our own will" and if we don't do so these forces will continue to work against us and to master us. State capitalism will be transformed in the direction of socialism.

The greatest challenge is to become conscious of the need for what is to be done especially when that need is the take over of the economy by the people because "this understanding goes against the grain of the capitalist mode of production and its defenders"--i.e., the capitalists, the major political parties, the mass media, the mainstream churches, and the public and private education systems as well as the leadership of most unions and mass organizations as presently constituted.

Nevertheless, according to Engels, as the crisis deepens this consciousness will begin to develop in all of the above institutions except for the capitalist class itself and those completely dependent upon it. The working people and its allies and friends, the 99%, will have to take political power out of the hands of the corporations and their flunkies, if they have not already been nationalized, and turn the current privately held means of production into state property.

A by product of this action, the abolition of private property, is that the 1% will no longer have the means to dominate the 99%-- all people will be equally working for their own and the common good. This is what Engels means when speaking of the ending of classes and class exploitation.

An even more startling consequence, to both his own time and ours, is Engels' (and Marx's) belief that the state will disappear. Even the most jaded Libertarian or demented tea bagger could never hope to get government reduced to zero. But Engels points out that throughout history the role of the state has been to control the 99% in the interests of the 1%-- be they slave owners, feudal lords, or capitalists. This role will no longer exist in a society where everything (economically speaking) is owned and managed by the people collectively at the points of production and distribution. There will still be planning commissions and civic associations, but the state, as we know it, will be superfluous.

This doesn't mean that the state will be formally abolished by some sort of declaration or proclamation. It will just slowly wither away over time as its functions become moribund. At least this is the ideal that Engels has in mind for it; perhaps like "liberty and justice for all" it will remain an ideal that every generation comes closer to but never 100% attains, then again maybe Engels will be right.

We must be mindful that all of this speculation about the coming to power of the working people, the disappearance of the 1%, the transition to socialism, etc., is dependent on the development of the productive forces of society to such a high degree of perfection that they can eliminate scarcity and there will be the possibility of abundance of food and other necessities and luxuries for all and that the only reason for poverty and suffering is the control of society by the 1% in its own selfish interests.

In the language of philosophy this means that Sartre's proposition in the Critique of Dialectical Reason : "Scarcity is a fundamental relation of our History and a contingent determination of our univocal relation to materiality" leading to his assertion "There is not enough for everybody" does not hold, it has been overcome and negated, for our world. Indeed, Engels thought it did not hold even in the nineteenth century. We have the productive capacity but we cannot use it due to the capitalist framework within which it exists. It is as the sick person-- the medicine exists to cure him but he hasn't the money to buy it, so he dies.

If this is ever done, and it is a big IF, the world humanity will find itself in after the passing of the capitalist mode of production will be very different from the world of today. Commodity production will cease as there will be no market and no anarchy of production. Objects with use values will be made according to a central plan and they will be made to satisfy human needs not to be sold for profit. There will be no more struggle for existence as all humans will be provided for and, Engels says, for the first time humanity will live as humans should and not be subject to an animal existence. For the first time humanity will control the laws of its own social existence and economy and not be subjected to them. The pre-history of humanity will be over and the true history of humanity will begin. It will be the beginning not the end of history. It will be the leap of humanity "from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom."

Well, as the Chinese say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, I hope we have made that step on September 17, 2011 a few blocks from Wall Street in Liberty Square. But even if we haven't and Engels was at heart an utopian and his vision of the future a dream, still a dream, if that is all it is, can, as Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, inspire people to fight for a better world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Frederick Engels on the Historical Development of Modern Socialism

Thomas Riggins

In the first chapter of Part Three of his classic work Anti-Dühring, Engels discusses the origins of the modern socialist movement. He begins with the enthronement of "Reason" by the pre-revolutionary 18th century French philosophers who thought that only reason could be used to answer any of the questions of existence.

After the overthrow of Louis XVI and the abolition of the monarchical French state, a new state was constructed by the revolutionaries-- one based on "eternal" reason and designed to be completely rational. The spiritual progenitor of this state was Rousseau's book The Social Contract.

But "eternal" reason turned out to be simply the explanation of existence from the point of view of the rising bourgeois class. The complexity of the new political reality they had created quite eluded them as the contradictions between their class and the newly conscious masses of the disposed poor of Paris and the countryside began to manifest themselves.

The wretched of the earth exerted themselves and the bourgeois rational state fell apart and morphed into the Reign of Terror under which the masses, for a moment, gained "the mastery" and saved the Revolution. With the abolition of feudalism the bourgeoisie had expected social peace but instead got a furious international response and the development of an intense struggle between the poor and the rich at home.

After Robespierre and the Jacobins, representing the French masses, were overthrown on 9 Thermidor Year II (July 27, 1794) by the conservative bourgeoisie, the new ruling class lost faith in its own ability to rule. After five years of corrupt government under the Directory, they surrendered to the coup d'etat of Napoleon Bonaparte on 18 Brumaire Year IX (November 9, 1799).

All this turmoil was a reflection of the "development of industry upon a capitalist basis [which] made poverty and misery of the working masses conditions of existence of society." From the dispossessed Paris masses (the "have-nothings" and other disadvantaged groups the proletariat began to develop "as the nucleus of a new class." However, at this time "the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, was still very incompletely developed."

At this historical juncture the three "founders" of socialism appeared: Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen. First on the scene was Claude Henri Comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825). The Revolution was supposed to be a victory of the Third Estate (production workers) over a ruling class of idlers (the nobility and the Catholic hierarchy and its priests). But, in reality Engels says, the victory did not go to the Third Estate as a whole but only that part of it owning property, "the socially privileged part."

Saint-Simon saw the Revolution as a struggle between "workers" (anyone engaged in productive activity) and "idlers"-- people living off unearned income. For him "the workers were not only the wage workers, but also the manufacturers, the merchants, and the bankers." Science and Industry must move to the forefront and lead the revolution. The undeveloped nature of the class struggle within the Third Estate is apparent-- the proletariat and the capitalists are in the same "class." (I can't say the vast majority of the American people have gone much beyond that stage of consciousness yet but it has recently begin to dawn on them that class struggle is real).

Saint-Simon's heart was in the right place as he wanted to improve the conditions of the lowest and greatest number of the Third Estate-- what would become the proletariat and included the masses of downtrodden peasants, the most numerous and poor; Engels quotes him: "la class la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre." However his socialism was utopian as he expected the bankers to lead the way into the new world! "The bankers especially were to be called upon to direct the whole of social production by the regulation of credit." Ironically the bankers today, the finance capitalists, do control production but in their interests not those of "la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre."

Saint-Simon actually thought the rich bourgeoisie, bankers and manufactures, would change themselves into public servants and use their ruling positions to help the poor and oppressed. But at least he realized the "poor and oppressed" made up the majority of "the people" (Third Estate). In fact Engels credits him with understanding that the Revolution was a three way struggle-- Nobility vs. the Bourgeoisie AND the propertyless masses even though there was a tendency to group the latter two together when contrasted to the Nobility.

His greatness was in proclaiming that "all men ought to work" and recognizing that within the bourgeois revolution the Reign of Terror represented the power of "the toiling masses" against the haut bourgeoisie. Engels quotes Saint-Simon addressing himself to the poor masses: "See what happened in France at the time when your comrades held sway there; they brought about a famine." The "they" are the bourgeois enemies of Robespierre and the rule of the Parisian sans culottes.

Saint-Simon also saw a future where economics was more important than politics , i.e., the administration of things (planned economy) over the administration of people (the bourgeois state)-- i.e, he envisioned "the abolition of the state." We find in Saint-Simon the seeds, Engels says, of "almost all the ideas of later Socialists that are not strictly economic."

Following on the appearance of Saint-Simon came the ideas of Francois-Marie Charles Fourier (1772-1837). He contrasted the actual living conditions of the people after the establishment of bourgeois rule ("material and moral misery") with the pictures of what life would be like painted by their pre-revolutionary propaganda and by the "rose-colored phraseology of the bourgeois ideologists of his time."

In his first book, The Theory of the Four Movements (1808) he wrote, "Social progress and changes of a period are accompanied by the progress of women towards freedom, while the decay of the social system brings with it a reduction of the freedoms enjoyed by women." Therefore, "Extension of the rights of women is the basic principle of all social progress."

Engels says of him, with respect to the above passage, that: "He was the first to declare that in any given society the degree of woman's emancipation is the natural measure of the general emancipation." This not only tells us a lot about Saudi Arabia, but where our own society is heading with its failure to pass an Equal Rights Amendment and the movement to restrict the right to abortion, as well as the recent Supreme Court ruling that the woman discriminated against for years at Walmart have no right to a class action suit to redress their grievances.

Fourier also divided the history of human development up to the present era into "four stages of evolution," which were 1.) Savagery 2.) the Patriarchate 3.) Barbarism, and 4.) Civilization. In this scheme "Civilization" appears with the development of capitalism in the 1500s and he says "that the civilized stage raises every vice practiced by barbarism in a simple fashion into a form of existence, complex, ambiguous, equivocal [and] hypocritical."

Engels says that for Fourier civilization develops along "a vicious circle" throwing up contradictions it cannot resolve and arriving at the exact opposite destinations that it wants to arrive at or at least pretends to want to arrive at so that, as Fourier writes, "under civilization POVERTY IS BORN OF SUPER-ABUNDANCE ITSELF." For example the US, the richest country in the world, has 25% of its children at or under the official poverty line-- a completely ridiculous society!

One of the things Engels admires about Fourier is his masterly use of the dialectical method in his writings, which he compares to that of Hegel "his contemporary." Engels also says something curious here. He says Fourier postulates the "ultimate destruction of the human race" which he introduced into historical science just as Kant had introduced the "ultimate destruction of the Earth" into natural science. But, in this pre-Star Trek world, Kant's end of the Earth scenario would have entailed the end of the human race as well.

Saint-Simon and Fourier were products of the French Revolution but, Engels points out, at the same time over in England just as great a revolution was taking place. The whole basis of bourgeois society was being changed by the development of steam engines and tool making machines and manufacture (from the Latin "manus" hand) was being replaced by gigantic factories were machines tended by workers began to to turn out commodities rather than commodities directly made by them, "thus revolutionizing the whole foundation of bourgeois society."

This industrial revolution began to divide society in to a powerful group of capitalists on one hand, and propertyless proletarians on the other. The heretofore large and stable middle class began to break up and tended to be forced down into the lower class of workers-- "it now led a precarious existence." Sound familiar?

However, then the term "middle class" had a different meaning than it does now. Then it meant the class of artisans and small shop keepers who thrived in the era of manufacture. Now it is used to refer to an income group consisting of well paid workers and professionals whose wages were partially subsidized by the mega-profits of the imperialist international capitalist corporations who bought a modicum of social peace at home at the expense of the international solidarity of first world workers with third world workers and peasants by the creation of a labor aristocracy, according to Lenin, in the metropolitan countries.

Professionals such as lawyers, doctors and the parasitical class of preachers and priests were also included. With the decline of high paying production jobs in the West due to the rise of industry in the third world, among other factors, these high wage jobs are disappearing forcing the "middle class" down into lower paying jobs and so, as in the first days of capitalism, it now leads "a precarious existence."

Another difference is that today we have labor unions, pro-working class political parties and associations, and growing class awareness which is developing into a major class battle for the protection of people's jobs, life styles and incomes. This battle is just beginning and should grow as today's world capitalist system proceeds further down the path of decay and self destruction.

But in the England of the early 1800s, capitalism was on the rise and not the decline. It was into this world that the third great early founder of socialism arose: Robert Owen (1771-1858).
Owen was a materialist in philosophy and thought that humans were the product of their heredity (although at this time nothing was known of genes or DNA or any of the mechanisms of heredity) and their environment, most particularly their childhood environment.

For 29 years (1800-1829) he managed New Lanark the large cotton-mill employing around 2500 "hands" in Scotland. And, Engels says, by "simply placing the people in conditions worthy of human beings" the workers lived in a society without "drunkenness, police, magistrates, lawsuits, poor laws, [or] charity." He sent all the children off to school at age 2, put the working day at 101/2 hours (not the 13 or 14 that was the norm) and kept everyone on full wages when there was a four month shut down due to a cotton crisis AND made large profits and doubled the value of the business. Well, my goodness! Why didn't all the capitalists follow suit?

They didn't follow suit, for the same reason Owen fought with the other shareholders at new Lanark-- they didn't like the extra expenses that had to be put out for "conditions worthy of human beings." After Owen left in 1829 the community continued, in one form or another, under different capitalists, until 1968 when it went bust. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site drawing in around 400,000 tourists a year to visit it and the house where Owen lived.

In his work "The Revolution in Mind and Practice" (1849) Owen wrote he was unhappy with New Lanark because "The people were slaves at my mercy." He pointed out that New Lanark's 2500 workers, with steam power, created as much social wealth as it it took 600,000 workers to create a couple of generations earlier. Those 600,000 had to be paid living wages just as the 2500-- so what happened to all the surplus wealth saved in wages that would have gone to 597,500 extra workers? It was pocketed by the capitalists.

This new wealth was being generated all over England. It was being used to wage the wars of the Empire and to maintain an oppressive aristocratic and bourgeois order at home. "And yet this new power was the creation of the working class." Owen wanted this vast new wealth to go to the working class that created it for the building of a new society in which it would be, as Engels says "the common property of all, to be worked for the common good of all."

In his day, because of his reforms at New Lanark, Owen was considered a great philanthropist. He was lionized and respected and welcome at the tables of the rich and powerful. But as soon as he started talking about the working class creating all the wealth and how it ought to build a new society based on "common property" he was dropped like a hot potato, became persona non gratia, and shunned by official society. He therefore went to the working class and became a union leader and, Engels says, "Every social movement, every real advance in England on behalf of the workers links itself on to the name of Robert Owen."

Owen called for the overthrow of three great impediments to the advance of the working class and the reform of society along communist lines-- private property, religion, and "the present form of marriage (Engels)." Marriage is going through some radical changes nowadays and it is certainly very different from the forms of marriage Owen would have seen in the early 19th century. But private property and religion (i.e., supernaturalism and superstition) are still major impediments that hold back social progress for workers.

The last few pages of this chapter Engels devotes to vituperative attacks against Dühring and his negative views of the three utopians compared to whom Dühring is a pipsqueak. Engels says Dühring displays "a really frightful ignorance of the works of the three utopians." Their works are still worth reading (Dühring's are not) and whatever limitations they have were the result of the undeveloped conditions of early industrial capitalism.

But, since the time of the utopians and today (the 1870s) "modern industry has developed the contradictions laying dormant in the capitalist mode of production into such crying antagonisms that the approaching collapse of this mode of production is, so to speak, palpable."

Well they may have been "palpable" to Engels, but capitalism is still around, sad to say. And once again the palpability of capitalist collapse is in the air. From the looming default of Greece, to the threat of defaults spreading to Spain, Portugal and Italy which will bring down the Euro-zone and mobilize millions of workers to take to the streets of Europe, to the failure of the recovery in the United States and the desperate turn to the Tea Party by big capital to nurture home grown fascism to attack the workers and their unions, the smell of capitalist decay is everywhere. Let us hope this generation of workers will pay due to the long ago optimism of Frederick Engels.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Russell, Mao and the Fate of China

Russell, Mao and the Fate of China

Thomas Riggins

[I] In 1922 Bertrand Russell, then probably the most famous living philosopher in the world, published The Problem of China [POC]. This book was the result of Russell's being invited to China to give a series of lectures and conduct meetings with leading Chinese over a period of about six months. In POC Russell diagnoses the problems facing China as a result of its semi-occupation by European and Japanese imperialism. In the course of the book he also makes several recommendations and predictions concerning the future development of China.

The future leader of China, Mao Zedong, was either present at one of Russell's lectures or read a detailed account of it in the Chinese press. The purpose of this article is to discuss Russell's blueprint for Chinese liberation and compare it to what the Chinese, under the leadership of the Communist Party, actually did. Another purpose is to point out that many of Russell's comments about the role of the United States made over 90 years ago, as well as what was needed in China, are still relevant today.

A word of caution. Russell considered himself a radical and a "socialist", perhaps even a theoretical "communist" (although he was hostile to many of the actions of the Russian Bolsheviks) at this time. After WWII and up to the late 1950s Russell was a cold war anti-Communist, though not a ridiculous mindless one a la Sidney Hook and those in his milieu, before coming to his senses in the 1960s. I am only concerned, in this article, with Russell's political statements and opinions in the early 1920s. Some of Russell's views, while commonly held in the 20s, are completely politically incorrect by today's standards-- I will note them with explanation marks (!!) but otherwise I will not address them or pass over them in silence. These are usually remarks dealing with the nature of the "Chinese mind" or "character" as if all Chinese think a certain way.

This article will deal with Chapter One of POC: "Questions.''

In trying to understand China, Russell thinks he is dealing with a totally alien culture. He is forced to ask himself what his ultimate values are, what makes one culture or society "better" than another, and what ends does he wish to see triumph in the world. He says different people have different answers to these questions and he thinks they are just subjective preferences not amenable to argument. He will merely state his own and hope his reader will agree with him. Russell is no objectivist in morals. The ends he values are: "knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship and affection." He believes in the goals, if not always the methods, of communism (although he is not a Marxist), and thinks a socialist society will best approximate the ends he wants. There are elements in Chinese culture that also reflect his ends better than they are reflected in Euro-American culture.

Russell thinks a nation should be judged not only on how its own people are treated, but also on how it treats others. He finds China, in this respect, better than the imperialist nations of the West. In the following quote Russell uses the word "our" and I want to stress that he does not intend to restrict its meaning to the British Empire but uses it inclusively to refer to the major imperialist nations of Europe and the English speaking world or even to "capitalist" nations thus including Japan.

"Our prosperity," he writes, "and most of what we endeavor to secure for ourselves, can only be obtained by widespread exploitation of weaker nations ." The Chinese, however, obtain what they have by means of their own hard work. China is radically different today but I think what Russell says about it is still basically correct and what he says about "us" hasn't changed very much at all.

What happens in China, he says will determine the whole future course of world history. There are tremendous resources in China and whether they are to be controlled "by China, by Japan, or by the white races [!!], is a question of enormous importance, affecting not only the whole development of Chinese civilization, but the balance of power in the world, the prospects of peace, the destiny of Russia, and the chances of development toward a better economic system in the advanced nations."

This remark is as true today as it was some 90 years ago. Chinese civilization, however, is now, at least, much more in the hands of the Chinese, the world balance of power remains in flux, the destiny of Russia is still undetermined, and a better economic system for the West (i.e., socialism) is still a distant dream but may be positively influenced by the economic development of China.

I didn't mention the "prospects for peace" and that is because in the short term Russell was absolutely correct: the civil war and revolution in China, World War II (in the Pacific), the Korean War, and the Vietnam War all had China, in one way or another, as their focus and the hope of eventually controlling her resources as a backdrop. Today as well many circles in the West, associated with international finance capital, see China as a future threat and the US military has contingency plans for a war with her. So, Russell was quite prescient to see the economic resources of China as the focal point of contemporary history.

[II] Russell discusses the internal state of China, as he understood it in 1920-21, in his chapter "Modern China" in The Problem of China. He thinks there are only two ways the Chinese can escape from imperialist domination. The first way is for China to become a strong military power. Russell thinks this would be a disaster.

However since "the capitalist system involves in its very essence a predatory relation of the strong towards the weak [a perfectly good Leninist proposition even if clumsily expressed], internationally as well as nationally" he proposes a second way for Chinese liberation. The foreign imperialist powers will have to " become Socialistic." Russell thinks this is the only real solution for the Chinese.

It didn't occur to Russell that China might free itself by military means and work towards socialism at the same time. It goes without saying that the Chinese would be waiting for kingdom come to be liberated if they had taken Russell's advice and expected Europe and America to turn socialist.

Russell, as did many in his generation, expected a major war to eventually break out between Japan and the United States over which would be top dog in the far east, but did not see that war as an opportunity for the victims of imperialism to break free and become independent. At any rate, in respect to his "only" solution to Chinese liberation, Russell was wildly off the mark-- despite his Leninist grasp of the nature of capitalism.

Russell did, however, urge progressives to support the fledgling government of Sun Yat-sen which was at this time battling the war lord system. No one at that time foresaw that the Kuomintang would degenerate into a fascist despotism under Sun's successor Chiang Kai-shek, or that the recently founded Communist Party of China would be the eventual vehicle both for Chinese liberation and regeneration.

Russell's next comment was completely correct and was about an issue that, after the success of the revolution, the Chinese took very seriously. Russell wrote that "in the long run, if the birth-rate is as great as is usually supposed, no permanent cure for their poverty is possible while their families continue to be so large."

The introduction of birth control and the one child policy, which was a drastic step and is now being reevaluated, probably helped to considerably contain the population from an unmanageable explosion (not to credit natural disasters and the unintended consequences of policies that turned out to be mistaken with respect to premature industrial expansion and agricultural reforms in the 1950s).

Another problem the Chinese would have to overcome before they could hope to compete with the West, according to Russell, was lack of a modern educational system for the masses. This too the CPC saw as a major problem and immediately after coming to power launched a mass literacy program and built schools and institutions of higher learning throughout China.

This was a prerequisite, Russell said, as Chinese workers would need education and skills in order to command decent wages (he did not foresee a socialist revolution in China). Nevertheless industrialization in China, as in all other countries, would begin to develop by methods that are "sordid and cruel." Intellectuals, he remarked, "wish to be told of some less horrible method by which their country may be industrialized, but so far none is in sight."

Whether you are capitalist or socialist, it appears, if you are starting from a primitive economic base the only way you can accumulate capital to make industrial advances is to take it from the surplus value created by the working class. As we will see Russell thinks state capitalism, or state socialism (they are the same for him), would be the best way for the Chinese to go-- but he doesn't envision a revolution.

Russell now hits upon a major problem which I think was responsible for some of the major errors of the Mao era. "There is one traditional Chinese belief which dies very hard, and that is the belief that correct ethical sentiments are more important than detailed scientific knowledge. This view is, of course, derived from the Confucian tradition, and is more or less true in a pre-industrial society."

One would think that Russell, with commitments to science as the basis for correct knowledge of the world, would hold that "detailed scientific knowledge" is always to be preferred; how would a pre-industrial society ever advance to a higher level without also developing science?

In the 1950s and 60s Mao pushed the line that politics ( "correct ethical sentiments") was the correct guide to action and could win out over any objections based on economic (scientific) considerations. This led to the twin disasters of the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. There was no basis in Marxism for the views he was espousing even though Mao used Marxist terminology to try and explain his thought. If Russell was correct, this would have been a case of the unconscious Confucian substrata in Mao's world view manifesting itself in Marxist guise.

Mao himself was ant-Confucian at this time so even he was blind to the real origins of the reactionary policies he was peddling in Marxist dress. I should also point out that it was only one wing of Confucianism that held to this view-- an Idealist trend that developed in the Ming Dynasty and that there were other wings of Confucianism that were materialistically motivated. Mao had indeed studied Ming Confucianism and was influenced by it in his youth, and, I think, unconsciously after he assumed power.

[III] Russell's chapter, "Present Forces and Tendencies in the Far East" (in The Problem of China) deals with the balance of power in this region in the 1920s and focuses on China, Japan, Russia and America. I will omit his comments on Japan here and concentrate on China's dealings with America and the influence of Russia. Russell points out that the interests of Britain are (leaving India to the side) basically the same as those of America-- at least its ruling sector of finance capital and NOT "the pacifistic and agrarian tendencies of the Middle West."

At this time Russell thought that the two most important "moral forces" in the Far East were those emanating from Russia and America. He thought the Americans to be more idealistic than the jaded imperialists running the European capitalist states. However he thought that cynical imperialist views were an inevitability as a nation's power increased and the Americans would abandon their idealism.

We must keep this in mind, he warns us, "when we wish to estimate the desirability of extending the influence of the United States." Today we can see that Russell was right. The United States has evolved into the most cynical and ruthless imperial power in the world, encircling the globe with its garrisons and fleets, and subjecting whole nations and peoples to its bloody domination in search of power, wealth, and resources.

All this, however, was in the future. The benign United States that appeared to Russell was that of the Harding Administration and the Washington Naval Conference, presided over by Secretary of State Charles Evan Hughes. The conference was held from late 1921 to early 1922 and was the first disarmament conference in modern history. It was designed to reign in Japanese aggression in China, limit naval construction, and keep the Open Door Policy in place in China.

Russell thought America's policy at the conference was a liberal one, but only because the outcome of the conference was in line with American interests in the Far East. What Russell really believed was that "when American interests or prejudices are involved liberal and humanitarian principles have no weight whatever." Have we seen anything to contradict this assessment since the days of Warren Harding (or those of George Washington for that matter)?

If American plans for the future economic development of China should be successful Russell thought it would be disastrous for China. It would certainly be good for America and her allies, but would involve "a gradually increasing flow of wealth from China to the investing countries, the chief of which is America [the CPC appears to have reversed this flow]; the development of a sweated proletariat [still a problem]; the spread of Christianity [another great evil]; the substitution of American civilization for Chinese [not yet but McDonalds and KFC have secured beach heads];…. the gradual awakening of China to her exploitation by the foreigner [China was already awake when Russell wrote]; and one day, fifty or a hundred years hence [around 1972 or 2022], the massacre of every white man throughout the Celestial Empire at a signal from some vast secret society."

Well, the great awakening was already at hand when Russell wrote, he was just blind to it. China liberated itself in a little over 25 years, despite the best actions the US and its allies could do to prevent it, and no vast secret society sprang up to threaten every "white man." The Celestial Empire has become a People's Republic.

Well, Russell's vision of the future was off, but the definition he gave of what the West considers "good" government was spot on, even today: "it is a government that yields fat dividends for capitalists." This is still the game plan in the 21st century.

Russell now embarks on some ill founded speculations which, nevertheless, hint at a grain of truth. He predicts, for example "it is not likely that Bolshevism [as seen in Russia-tr] as a creed will make much progress in China." He gives the following three reasons: 1) China has a decentralized state tending towards feudalism whereas Bolshevism requires a centralized state. Russell doesn't seem to understand a successful socialist revolution would reverse this tendency.

2) China is more suitable for anarchism because the Chinese have a great sense of personal freedom and the Bolsheviks need to have (and do have) more control over individuals "than has ever been known before." This is strange. The Chinese had just emerged from an oriental despotism under the Manchus that had regulated everything including dress and hair styles for the population, and had no tradition of anything like "personal freedom" as had developed in Europe.

3) Bolshevism opposes "private trading" which is the "breath of life to all Chinese except the literati." But ninety percent of the Chinese at this time were basically illiterate peasants most of whom were under the control of a feudalistic landlord class. The Chinese masses had more in common with the Russian masses than Russell seemed to realize.

The greatest appeal of Bolshevism, Russell said, was to the youth of China who wanted to develop industry by skipping the stage of capitalist development. But Russia was now engaged in the New Economic Policy and Russell thought this signaled a slow return to capitalist methods which would disillusion the Chinese.

But, Russell said, the fact that as a creed Bolshevism [i.e., Marxism] would not hold any lasting appeal, Bolshevism "as a political force" had a great future. What he meant was that Bolshevik Russia would continue to play the Great Game in Asia and follow in the footsteps of Tzarist imperialism with Bolshevik imperialism since "the Russians have an instinct for colonization" [!!].

Here is where Russell becomes very confused in his analysis. He doesn't really define "imperialism." Marxists at this time defined it as the international policy of monopoly capitalism based on the control of the state by financial capital sometimes allied with industrial capital. In this sense Bolshevik imperialism was a contradiction in terms. As far as "the Russians," lumped together without any attempt at class analysis, having an "instinct" to become colonialists -- such general statements are useless in trying to describe social reality.

Regardless, Russell thinks it would not be so bad for Russia to become hegemonic in Asia. The Russians could enter into more nearly equal relations with Asian peoples because their "character" [!!] is more "Asiatic" than that of the "English speaking-nations." English speaking nations would not be able to have the same understanding and ability "to enter into relations of equally" with these strange inscrutable Orientals. As a result an Asian Block of nations would arise as a defensive block and this would be good for world peace as well as "humanity."

Russell recommends that outside powers leave off meddling with the Chinese and attempting to impose their own values on them as the Chinese will, left to themselves, "find a solution suitable to their character" for their own political problems. This idea is of "national character" is quite unscientific and if Russell had understood what he read of Das Kapital and other Marxist writings and substituted some such phrase as "find a solution based on their own historical development and class relations" he would have made better sense. POC would have been better understood, in fact, if "national character" had been replaced by "historical development" whenever it occurred along with a brief description of that development.

Russell goes on to predict what the future of China will most likely be. Marxists, as great predictors of the future themselves, especially its inevitable trends and outcomes, understand what a risky business this is and should have great sympathy for Russell's wrong headed prognosis.

Since the US emerged unscathed from WW I it had an excess of available capital to invest and would be the principal nation involved in China's future development. "As the financiers are the most splendid feature of the American civilization, China must be so governed as to enrich the financiers." The US will contribute greatly to building educational institutions in China so that Chinese intellectuals will end up serving the interests of the big Trusts just as American intellectuals do. As a result a conservative anti-radical reform system will be produced and touted as a great force for peace. But, Russell points out: "it is impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear or peace and freedom out of capitalism."

The US will encourage the growth of a stable government, foster an increase in income to build up a market for American goods, discourage other powers besides themselves from meddling in China, and look askance upon all attempts of the Chinese to control their own economy, especially the nationalization of the mines and railroads, which Russell sees as a "form of State Socialism or what Lenin calls State Capitalism." The reference to Lenin is in respect to the New Economic Plan (NEP) in Russia.

The US would also keep lists of radical students and see to it that they would not get jobs, try to impose its puritan morality on the Chinese, and because Americans think their own country and way of life are "perfect" they will do great damage to what is best in Chinese culture in their attempts to make China as much as possible resemble what they call "God's own country."

As a result of all this a "Marxian class-war will break out" between Asia and the West. The Asian forces will be led by a socialist Russia and be fought for freedom from the imperialist powers and their exploitation. These views are very different from those Russell will be representing in his future Cold War phase.

Ever the pessimist, Russell sees this war as so destructive all around that probably "no civilization of any sort would survive it." When the actual war came is was very destructive, but it was a civil war between the bourgeois democratic capitalist powers and the authoritarian fascist capitalist powers into which the Russians were drawn against their will and from which the Chinese emerged as a free and independent people determined to build socialism.

Russell ends his chapter on a socialist note about the evils of the "present "(1920s)
system of world wide capitalist domination. Russell's conclusion is almost a perfect description of the world we live in today. "The essential evil of the present system," he says, "as Socialists have pointed out over and over again, is production for profit instead of for use." American power may, for a while, impose peace, but never freedom for weak countries. "Only international Socialism can secure both; and owing to the stimulation of revolt by capitalist oppression, even peace alone can never be secure until international Socialism is established throughout the world."

[IV] The last chapter in Bertrand Russell's The Problem of China is entitled "The Outlook for China." Russell, writing in 1922, thinks that China (due to its population and resources) has the capacity to become the second greatest power in the world (after the United States). Today the US seems to be slipping economically so maybe China will become number one in the world sometime in the present century.

Three things will have to about for China to reach its full potential. Russell lists them as: 1.) The establishment of an orderly government [the CPC has accomplished this requirement]; 2.) Industrial development under Chinese control [this too has been brought about by the CPC whether you call it "market socialism" or "state capitalism"]; 3.) the spread of education [ditto care of the CPC].

All three prerequisites put forth by Russell have been attained if not quite in the manner he imagined in his book. Let's look at some of Russell's elaborations on these prerequisites.

First, the problem of orderly government: Russell says that in the 1920s China was functionally anarchic with battling warlords and weak central governments in the north and south of the country. He envisioned an eventual constitutional setup and a parliamentary form of government. But he cautioned that even so the masses of the people (Russell uses the term "public opinion") will have to be guided by what amounts to a Leninist political party using democratic centralist methods.

Here is what Russell wrote: "It will be necessary for the genuinely progressive people throughout the country to unite in a strongly disciplined society, arriving at collective decisions and enforcing support for those decisions upon all its members." That is just what happened under the leadership of CPC.

Second, the problem of industrial development: China, or any country for that matter, to be truly free has to also be economically free and that requires that it has control of its own railroads and natural resources. He thus thinks the Chinese government should own the railroads and the mines of China. He also thinks that state ownership of "a large amount" of the industry in China should also occur. "There are many arguments for State Socialism, or rather what Lenin calls State Capitalism, in any country which is economically but not culturally backward."

Russell thinks that is possible for China, with a strong and honest government, to skip over the stage of capitalism and lay the foundations for socialism. This is tricky business as the Chinese would find out much later. If you skip too far and too fast you can trip and fall on your face. With the right government "it will be possible to develop Chinese industry without, at the same time, developing the overweening power of private capitalists by which the Western nations are now both oppressed and misled." We can only hope that China is heading in this direction.

Third, the problem of education: Russell says that "Where the bulk of the population
cannot read, true democracy is impossible. Education is a good in itself, but is also essential for developing political consciousness, of which at present there is almost none in rural China."

By "democracy" Russell then, and almost all Western governments and their intellectual tools today, mean "bourgeois democracy"-- i.e., "democratic" institutions and constitutions that guarantee the government will be controlled by, for, and of one of two contending classes that exist in the modern capitalist world, i.e., the capitalist class. Russell proclaimed his belief in "socialism" (Mao even said Russell believed in "communism") but he never transcended the bourgeois concept of "democracy" inculcated in him by the British ruling class by which he was educated.

But the wider, and I believe correct, meaning of "democracy" (rule of the "demos" or people) includes other forms of government than those proclaimed by the bourgeoisie and their lackeys. It must refer to any form of government that objectively rules in the interests of its people i.e., the vast majority of its population composed of working people, called by old time communists "the toiling masses" and historically personified by the "people's democracies" and "people's republics" of eastern Europe and Asia, and by the only completely democratic state in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba.

In just a few years after Russell wrote the above words, hundreds of millions of the peasants of "rural China" would develop a political consciousness that would lead to the overthrow of the rule by landlords and capitalists in China and the establishment, however flawed, of a true people's republic. Then they learned to read.

Russell was both correct and incorrect in saying the following: "Until it has been established for some time, China must be, in fact if not in form, an oligarchy, because the uneducated masses cannot have any effective political opinion [or in the case of the US-- miseducated masses]. If that "oligarchy" is a real communist party (not one in name only) it will bring to the masses the correct political opinion that they and they alone control their own destiny and can abolish their subjection to a class that only lives off of their exploitation. The one party state may be the instrument leading to this liberation and its own eventual elimination, along with the state, but it also gives to the masses "effective political opinion" and if it doesn't it may find itself being eliminated ahead of schedule.

Russell hoped the Chinese, by combining "Western" science with their traditional culture, would create a new civilization free of the deficiencies of the capitalist West. What we are seeing now, in the 21st century, in China is perhaps the fulfillment of Russell's vision but it is a synthesis of Marx, left wing Confucianism, and modern science. Hopefully the coming century will see the end of Western "civilization" as we know it, a predatory war based imperialist system attempting to enchain the world, and the establishment of a real new world order. The values of Bertrand Russell will be better remembered and served in such a world.

Epilogue: What Mao thought of Russell's views on China.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
November 1920. January 1921
[Extracted from. two letters to Ts’ai Ho-sen[1895-1932 a leader of the CPC, arrested in Hong Kong by the British and turned over to the Kuomintang which killed him- tr], in November 1920 and January 1921.]

In his lecture at Changsha, Russell .... took a position in favour of communism but against the dictatorship of the workers and peasants. He said that one should employ the method of education to change the consciousness of the propertied classes, and that in this way it would not be necessary to limit freedom or to have recourse to war and bloody revolution.... My objections to Russell's view point can be stated in a few words: 'This is all very well as a theory, but it is unfeasible in practice' .... Education requires money, people and instruments. In today's world money is entirely in the hands of the capitalists. Those who have charge of education are all either capitalists or wives of capitalists. In today's world the schools and the press, the two most important instruments of education are entirely under capitalist control. In short, education in today's world is capitalist education. If we teach capitalism to children, these children, when they grow up will in turn teach capitalism to a second generation of children. Education thus remains in the hands of the capitalists. Then the capitalists have 'parliaments' to pass laws protecting the capitalists and handicapping the proletariat; they have 'governments' to apply these laws and to enforce the advantages and the prohibitions that they contain; they have 'armies' and 'police' to defend the well-being of the capitalists and to repress the demands of the proletariat; they have 'banks' to serve as repositories in the circulation of their wealth ; they have ' factories', which are the instruments by which they monopolize the production of goods. Thus, if the communists do not seize political power, they will not be able to find any refuge in this world; how, under such circumstances, could they take charge of education? Thus, the capitalists will continue to control education and to praise their capitalism to the skies, so that the number of coverts to the proletariat's communist propaganda will diminish from day to day. Consequently, I believe that the method of education is unfeasible.... What I have just said constitutes the first argument. The second argument is that, based on the principle of mental habits and on my observation of human history, I am of the opinion that one absolutely cannot expect the capitalists to become converted to communism.... If one wishes to use the power of education to transform them, then since one cannot obtain control of the whole or even an important part of the two instruments of education — schools and the press — even if one has a mouth and a tongue and one or two schools and newspapers as means of propaganda.... this is really not enough to change the mentality of the adherents of capitalism even slightly; how then can one hope that the latter will repent and turn toward the good? So much from a psychological standpoint. From a historical standpoint.... one observes that no despot imperialist and militarist throughout history has ever been known to leave the stage of history of his own free will without being overthrown by the people. Napoleon I proclaimed himself emperor and failed; then there was Napoleon III. Yuan Shih-K'ai failed; then, also there was Tuan Ch'i-jui.... From what I have just said based on both psychological and a historical standpoint, it can be seen that capitalism cannot be overthrown by the force of a few feeble efforts in the domain of education. This is the second argument. There is yet a third argument, most assuredly a very important argument, even more important in reality. If we use peaceful means to attain the goal of communism, when will we finally achieve it? Let us assume that a century will be required, a century marked by the unceasing groans of the proletariat. What position shall we adopt in the face of this situation? The proletariat is many times more numerous than the bourgeoisie; if we assume that the proletariat constitutes two-thirds of humanity, then one billion of the earth's one billion five hundred million inhabitants are proletarians (I fear that the figure is even higher), who during this century will be cruelly exploited by the remaining third of capitalists. How can we bear this? Furthermore, since the proletariat has already become conscious of the fact that it too should possess wealth, and of the fact that its sufferings are unnecessary, the proletarians are discontented, and a demand for communism has arisen and has already become a fact. This fact confronts us, we cannot make it disappear; when we become conscious of it we wish to act. This is why, in my opinion, the Russian revolution, as well as the radical communists in every country, will daily grow more powerful and numerous and more tightly organized. This is the natural result. This is the third argument.....
There is a further point pertaining to my doubts about anarchism. My argument pertains not merely to the impossibility of a society without power or organization. I should like to mention only the difficulties in the way of the establishment of such form of society and of its final attainment.... For all the reasons just stated, my present viewpoint on absolute liberalism, anarchism, and even democracy is that these things are fine in theory, but not feasible in practice....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Karl Marx on Eugen Dühring

Thomas Riggins

Anti-Dühring is Engels' enduring criticism of the mishmash of philosophy, science, and socialism published in Germany by Eugen Dühring (1833-1921) in the middle of the 19th century as an alternative to the thought of Karl Marx. Engels' book is divided into three parts-- philosophy, political science, and socialism. But Engels did not write every chapter in his famous book. Chapter 10, the last of the section on political economy, was written by his friend and life long collaborator Karl Marx. This article discusses Marx's opinions of Dühring in that chapter, entitled, "From the Critical History."

It is Dühring's 1871 work Critical History of Political Economy that Marx intends to critique, beginning with Dühring's claim that his work in Political Economy "is absolutely without precedent." Here we will find a definitive treatment of the subject in a scientific manner. The science is, he says, "peculiarly mine."

Dühring's first great "discovery" is that Political Science is a modern creation with no medieval or ancient roots. Marx points out, however, that this claim to modernity was already put forth by him in Capital and Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. The difference is that Marx begins with the great founders of this science(from William Petty (1623-1687) and Boisguillebert (1646-1714) to Ricardo (1772-1823) and Sismondi (1773-1842)) while Dühring begins with the "wretched abortions" of later bourgeois economists. Marx also has respect for the medieval and classical traditions.

Of course, since Political Science was founded in an attempt to scientifically understand modern CAPITALISM, you will not find it in the classical (slave) world , nor the middle ages (feudal). Capitalist societies are based on commodity production and exchange but there was limited commodity production and exchange in both the classical period and the Middle Ages and what the Ancients and other pre-moderns had to say about it is still worth while; Marx especially defends the economic writings of Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Plato (427-347 BC) from Dühring's unerudite "criticisms."

Dühring is also ignorant of the history and development of political economy in the modern period. For example, he takes a minor work [Antonio Serra's Breve trattato of 1613 as a defining work of Mercantilism-- the dominant economic theory of capitalism for its first 250 years of existence, ending around the time of Adam Smith (1723-1790)] while completely ignoring Thomas Mun's (1571-1641) A Discourse of Trade of 1609 which was "the mercantilist gospel" for the entire Seventeenth Century.

Worse than that is Dühring's treatment of William Petty, "the founder of modern political economy." After much hard thinking and many investigations, Petty in 1662
formulated one of the bed rock foundations of political economy as a science (Treatise on Taxes and Contributions). Here, Marx says he "lays it down in a definite and general form that the values of commodities must be measured by equal labour." Further, in a work of 1672 (Anatomy of Ireland) Petty has overcome "the last vestiges of mercantilist views."

These are great intellectual feats for the founder of the new science. Marx says about Petty, and this applies to Marx himself in our day, that what is "quite natural in a writer who is laying the foundations of political economy and is necessarily feeling his way, experimenting and struggling with a chaos of ideas which are only just taking shape, may seem strange in a writer who is surveying and summarizing more than a hundred and fifty years of investigation whose results have already passed in part from books into the consciousness of the generality." That Dühring fails to grasp this and thinks that "there is fair measure of superficiality" in Petty's thinking, only shows, Marx avers, that Dühring is a "vainglorious and pedantic mediocrity."

One of Petty's great successors was the the philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) who, besides his works on the social contract and the foundations of epistemology, also wrote an important work in the fledgling science of political economy: Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interests and Raising the Value of Money, 1691.

Petty had already compared interest to "rent on money"-- i.e. to "rent of land and houses." His position was that all rent should be unregulated and determined by the market. This, of course, is a reactionary view today but not so in 1691. This was part of the fight against Mercantilism which progressives in those days rightly viewed as a system that held back social and economic progress by using the state to impose import duties and taxes to defend domestic markets and subsidize exports.

Trying to regulate interest rates, i.e., rent on money, Petty felt was "against the law of nature". Petty, Marx wrote, "declared that legislative regulation of the rate of interest was as stupid as regulation of exports of precious metals [a pillar of Mercantilism] or regulation of exchange rates." Ideas that are reactionary and unworkable today (just think of the ridiculous economic and philosophical bloviations of Ayn Rand and her followers) in the end stage of capitalism, were forward looking and progressive during it birth pangs.

Locke, whose economic essay, basically followed Petty's lead, had a great influence in those European countries struggling to go beyond the strictures of the Mercanilists or economic nationalists. Petty, who is, incidentally credited with the invention of the laissie faire school, was also supported by Sir Dudley North (1641-1691) in A Discourse on Trade, 1691, a contemporary of Locke's, whose work, Marx says "is a classical exposition, driven home with relentless logic, of the doctrine of free trade-- both foreign and internal…."

Locke and North deserve credit for furthering Petty's views and in developing them along new lines. But Dühring sees none of this. For Marx, the period 1691-1752 is crucial for the understanding of the development of political science. In was in this period that the writers influenced by Petty, Locke, North, and others, laid down the foundations for overthrowing Mercantilism. This period is a blank page for Herr Dühring. Dühring passes directly to David Hume (1711-1776) and the physiocrats. Marx has many interesting things to say about Hume as an economist (his philosophy is not mentioned) and why Dühring is so enamored with him.

Hume published his Economic Essays in 1752 and they are, in our current terminology, basically a plagerised version of the 1734 work of Jacob Vanderlint (died 1740) Money Answers All Things. While Hume almost literally follows Vanderlint, he is, according to Marx, "less profound." Dühring is unaware of Vanderlint and praises Hume while none the less failing to understand what he says.

Since Dühring doesn't have a real understanding of Hume I will just present Marx's views for the record. Hume's theory of money is that money is just a TOKEN of value and, ceteris paribus, "commodity prices rise in proportion to the increase in the volume of money in circulation, and fall in proportion to its decrease." Hume is basically saying that the increase in the amount of gold and silver in circulation, due to the imports from the New World, increases the prices of commodities. He also notes that this takes some time to spread through out the country until it finally trickles down to the working people: in Hume's words "it must first quicken the diligence of every individual before it increases the price of labour." So old is Reaganomics.

But Hume is not, according to Marx, addressing the "real scientific question" in this description-- i.e., how an increase in money "affects the prices of commodities." However, Marx does not answer this question here as he really wants to remark on Hume's theory of INTEREST. Hume says it is the not the money supply but the rate of profit that regulates the amount of interest (here he attacks Locke's view). Hume's theory is not original. Just as he got almost all his ideas from Vanderlint on most economic issues, his interest theory is just a rehash, and not as exact, of the work of J. Massie (died 1784) An Essay on the Governing Causes of the Natural Rate of Interest, 1750.

Hume, by the way, maintains a low interest rate means a nation is in a "flourishing condition." Well maybe in his day-- but we have low interest rates in the USA and we are hardly "flourishing", at least with respect to the majority of the population which is made up of working people.

There are other problems with Hume's ideas, according to Marx. Marx says "he had not the slightest understanding of the function of the precious metals as the measure of value." This is because he didn't know what "value" itself meant in terms of capitalist production. For example, he corrects Locke for holding that the precious metals only have "an imaginary value" by saying what they really have is "a fictitious value." These views are "much inferior" not only to those of Petty but to his contemporaries as well who were writing on these subjects-- esp. his friend Adam Smith.

Hume also is blind to the economic world coming into existence all around him. He holds to the outmoded view "that the 'merchant' is the mainspring of production." Despite these limitations, Marx concedes that in his day Hume was still a "respectable" political economist. His criticism is meant to dispel the over wrought praise Hume is given by Dühring. Because, while respectable, Marx adds, "he is anything but an original investigator, an even less an epoch making one."

Why does Marx think that Dühring likes Hume so much? It is because Dühring identified with Hume. Hume was denounced by the church for some of his views, but not so much as Gibbon was for his, Dühring too fell afoul of the authorities for some of his views. Hume attained a better reputation as a philosopher, and Dühring thinks that will also be his fate (it was not to be.)

Marx can't resist giving two quotes which many Hume fans would resent. The first is from a popular German world history book by Friedrich Schlosser (1766-1861): "In politics Hume was and always remained conservative and strongly monarchist in his views." He was also highly racist in his views on Africans. And William Cobbett (1762-1835) calls him "selfish" and a "lying Historian" [Hume wrote a history of England] and implies he was an hypocrite for attacking monks for their fatness, their not having wives or children and begging for their bread while he himself was without "a family or a wife and was a great fat fellow, fed, in considerable part, out of public money, without having merited it by any real public services."

Well, enough about Hume. Marx next turns his attention to Dühring and the physiocrats, especially the Tableau Economique of Francois Quesnay (1694-1744). Marx says Dühring's attempt to explain Quesnay's economic theories (the physiocrats were the first real school of modern economics, not counting the Mercantilists as modern!, and Quesnay was the founder) is completely mixed up and confused and shows, once again, that Dühring doesn't know what he is talking about. But so that WE can understand what the school was all about, Marx undertakes to explain it for our benefit.

The physiocrats divided society into three classes: the PRODUCTIVE class-- i.e., agricultural workers and farmers-- all wealth comes from a nation's agricultural production; the LANDLORDS [landowners, the nobility, the Church] who live off of the surplus produced by the farmers; and the STERILE class [the industrial bourgeoisie, merchants, etc, who live off of the raw materials and surpluses of the productive class. Where's the proletariat? Sorry, 17th century France was too backward to have noticed this newly developing class.

Quesnay is not describing the actually real existing economy of France-- he is constructing a simple MODEL that represents a starting point for understanding the actual economy (just as Marx did in Das Kapital). Marx says Quesday makes three premises to simplify the model: 1) he only looks at circulation between the classes and not within them; 2) he only deals with simple reproduction and constant prices; and 3) he treats all the annual purchases between the classes as a lump sum. Marx also notes that at this time almost all the non-food articles consumed by peasant families in Europe were home made and "treated as supplementary to agriculture."

Lets start the ball rolling: the Tableau (all figures are based on the value of French money in the 17th century) the total value of the harvest for one year is the starting point. This amount will be the "total reproduction" in France for that year-- let us refer to it as 5 economic units [5EU-- this was 5 million livres in those days].

Since the farmers are the only productive class they have the entire 5EU to themselves. They produced it by investing 2EU in seeds, etc., so they have a surplus of 3EU. They give 2EU to the landlords as RENT and the landlords then buy food from them in the amount of 1EU for the year so now the farmers have 2EU and the landlords 1EU.

With their 1EU left, the landlords buy the things they need to live on, etc., [other than agricultural goods] from the STERILE class. The farmers also buy from the Sterile class say 1EU but the sterile class has to buy food from the farmers but it does not buy back as much in EUs from the farmers as the farmers gave to it because, instead of a fair trade in equivalents, the sterile class has extracted a profit from the farmers by selling their commodities to them above the cost of production AND above their real value.

By the end of the year it is time to reap another harvest and the cycle continues. I have simplified Marx's exposition because the physiocrats are now only of historical interest and the main point has been shown-- i.e., that for them all wealth is produced by the farmers and is then distributed about society to the other classes.

Having finished with the physiocrats Marx makes two more observations on Dühring's incompetence. First, Dühring thinks that the physiocratic school ended with Turgot (1727-1781) the originator of the Idea of Progress and controller-general of France, 1774-76, in charge of economic reforms under Louis XVI. But Marx says the school actually ended with Mirabeau (1749-1791) "the leading economic authority in the Constituent Assembly of 1789."

Second, Dühring barely mentions Sir James Steuart (1712-1780) whose work was between Hume and Adam Smith and who "permanently enriched the domain of political economy" (with An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, 1767). And what he does say about him is wrong.

Marx ends his chapter with the opinion that Dühring's Critical History is not worth reading, and he is particularly upset that Dühring begins his history with the large landlords of ancient history and doesn't know anything about "the common ownership of land in the tribal and
village communities, which is the real starting-point of all history."

And with that said, we conclude our review of Part II of Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Frederick Engels and Eugen Dühring on the Natural Laws of Economics and Ground Rent

Thomas Riggins

Engels deals with Dühring's views on ground rent and the natural laws of economics in chapter nine of part two ("Political Economy") of his famous book "Anti-Dühring." Dühring claims that his theories on capitalism and socialism are the scientifically correct ones, not the overrated views of Herr Karl Marx, and that the worker's movement should follow his ideas not those of Marx and Engels. Engels proposes to look at Dühring's views on the "natural laws" of economics and of ground rent to see if there is anything to them.

The FIRST NATURAL LAW of economics, somehow overlooked by Adam Smith and others, has been discovered by Herr Dühring and is thusly quoted by Engels: "The productivity of the economic instruments, natural resources and human energy is increased by INVENTIONS and DISCOVERIES." This is pretty vapid, according to Engels, as are the following four other "laws" discovered by Herr Dühring. Law Two: (the division of labour) "The cleaving of trades and the dissection of activities raises the productivity of labour." Law Three: "DISTANCE AND TRANSPORT are the chief causes which hinder or facilitate the co-operation of the productive forces." Law Four: "The industrial state has an incomparably greater population capacity than the agricultural state." And finally, Law Five: "In economics nothing takes place without a material interest."

Engels says that Dühring's method in explicating economics is the same as in his discussions of philosophy: poorly expressed commonplaces and banal formulations of so-called natural laws. Dühring gives no proofs, just dogmatic assertions about the nature of wages, the earnings of capital and the nature of ground rent. In previous articles we have discussed Dühring's views on capital, wages, and surplus value, so now let us turn our attention to the meaning of "ground rent."

In his own words, Dühring says ground-rent is "that income which the proprietor AS SUCH draws from the land." But this is a legal right of the proprietor, it doesn't tell us what the economic basis of ground-rent is, so Dühring must dig a little deeper. Engels says he then compares a farm lease to "the loan of capital to an entrepreneur" but come across a "hitch" in so doing. The "hitch" is that we are not dealing with natural laws but historically developed laws. Ground-rent, Engels points out "is a part of political economy which is specifically English."

This is because England developed an economic system in which "rent had in fact been separated from profit and interest." Unlike Germany (Dühring's model) England developed large scale agricultural industries and the farmer (unlike the German peasant) hires workers to work his lands "on the lines of full-fledged capitalist entrepreneurs."

In England we have the three main bourgeois classes and their incomes: landlords getting ground-rent, capitalists getting profits, and workers getting wages. In England it is quite clear, though Dühring doesn't see it, that the farmer's income is "profit on capital." This has been known at least since the time of Adam Smith.

Smith (The Wealth of Nations) tells us labour revenue is called WAGES, that from stocks, etc., PROFIT, and from the land RENT. This is very clear when each type goes to different individuals, the worker, the capitalist, the landlord. However when the same individual gets two or more of these types of income "they are sometimes confounded with one another."

This is exactly what Herr Dühring is guilty of, according to Engels. Dühring sees that the capitalist farmer exploits rural labour and this exploitation puts revenue in his pocket, thus it becomes unavailable to the landlord as rent. So, the capitalist farmer is living on "rent" (not the exploitation of surplus labour) which has been taken from that which would have been available to the landlord.

In this amazing notion, that the landlord pays "rent" to his tenant farmer, we can see just how confused Dühring really is. Dühring thinks that ground-rent is "the whole surplus product obtained in farming by the exploitation of rural labour." Everyone else who has seriously studied this subject divides the surplus product from agriculture into ground-rent AND profit on capital.

But Dühring thinks there is NO real difference between the earnings of capital and ground rent; the one is revenue from industry and/or commerce the other from agriculture. This is the result of his view that all surplus wealth is the result of the subjugation and domination of man by man. The agricultural surplus is rent and the industrial surplus is profit on capital.

Dühring's views pit him against the views of "all classical political economy" which divides agricultural surplus into both the profit of the farmer AND ground rent.

Engels has accomplished what intended in this chapter of Anti-Dühring--i.e., that Dühring doesn't understand what ground rent is. Engels has not, however, explained just what it is himself.

It is not my purpose here to give an exposition on ground rent and the distinctions between rent, profits of production and interest, all of which are derived from the surplus value created by labour power. For this I refer you to volume three of Das Kapital.

I will note, however, that the notion of ground rent is a controversial subject as can be seen from a recent article by Benjamin Kunkel in THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS of Feb. 3, 2011. In "How Much is too Much" Kunkel reviews two recent books by David Harvey, THE ENIGMA OF CAPITAL: AND THE CRISES OF CAPITALISM and A COMPANION TO MARX'S 'CAPITAL'.

Kunkel points out that many Marxists are embarrassed by the concept of ground rent because it SEEMS difficult to reconcile the labour theory of value with the concept of rent since unimproved land doesn't incorporate human labour power.

David Harvey suggests that ground rent is "fictitious capital" ["virtual" capital?] and writes that it is based on a "claim on future profits from the use of land or, more directly, a claim on future labour."

These discussions, however, take us beyond the parameters of Engels' critique of Eugen Dühring and his misconceptions regarding ground rent.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Thomas Riggins

In chapters seven and eight of part two of Anti-Dühring ("Capital and Surplus Value"), Engels continues his role as Marx's bulldog. Again, Herr Dühring has gone too far in his criticisms of Marx and must be put in his place by sounder judgment and sharper intellect. Dühring has claimed Marx says that "capital is born of money" and the birth pangs took place at the "opening of the sixteenth century." Dühring calls Marx's ideas a mixture of history and logic which have become "bastards of historical and logical fantasy."

This upsets Engels to no end who himself responds that Dühring has "a crude and inept manner of expressing himself. Marx's real statement on this subject is found in Das Kapital vol 1, part 2, chapter 4 "The General Formula For Capital" where he writes: "As a matter of history, capital, as opposed to landed property invariably takes the form at first of money; it appears as moneyed wealth, as the capital of the merchant and of the usurer. But we have no need to refer to the origin of capital in order to discover that the first form of the appearance of capital is money. We can see it daily under our very eyes. All new capital to commence with, comes on the stage, that is, on the market, whether as commodities, labour, or money, even in our days, in the shape of money that by a definite process has to be transformed into capital."

But how does this transformation take place. Capital is used to invest to make more money and more capital. So how do I turn money into capital? Engels says when I take my own commodities to market I sell them to get money to buy things I need to live on. This is simple exchange. The capitalist goes to market to buy things he does not need to live on; he buys them in order to sell them for what he paid plus a profit-- and increment in money. "Marx calls this increment

But where does it come from? Capitalism results in an increase in the values in circulation so it can't come from cheating (that would effect the distribution not the amount of values) nor
from buying under or selling above the values of the commodities because the sum of values still remains the same. Yet capitalists do accumulate riches by selling dearer than they have bought."This problem," Engels says,"must be solved, and it must be solved in a PURELY ECONOMIC way, excluding all cheating and the intervention of any force-- the problem being: how is it possible constantly to sell dearer than one has bought, even on the hypothesis that equal values are always exchanged for equal values?"

The most important contribution of Marx to economic thought was the solution to this problem; Engels calls it "epoch-making." Here is the solution as presented by Engels. The increment doesn't take place in the money itself, nor in the price of the commodity sold (at this stage we are dealing with the exchange of equivalents: price = value, later we see how they can
differ). But something does change in the bought commodity--not its exchange VALUE but its USE-VALUE. The increment takes place during the commodity's consumption; and not just any commodity, but a very specific one.

Here is what Marx says about this from Das Kapital vol 1, chapter vi "The Buying and Selling of Labour Power": "In order to be able to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to find, within the sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity, whose use-value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an embodiment of labour, and, consequently, a creation of value. The possessor of money does find on the market such a special commodity in capacity for labour or labour-power."

But how is the value of labour-power determined? Again Marx: "The value of labour-power is determined, as in the case of every other commodity, by the labour-time necessary for the production, and consequently also the reproduction, of this special article. So far as it has value, it represents no more than a definite quantity of the average labour of society incorporated in it. Labour-power exists only as a capacity, or power of the living individual. Its production consequently pre-supposes his existence. Given the individual, the production of labour-power consists in his reproduction of himself or his maintenance. For his maintenance he requires a given quantity of the means of subsistence. Therefore the labour-time requisite for the production of labour-power reduces itself to that necessary for the production of those means of subsistence; in other words, the value of labour-power is the value of the means of subsistence necessary for the maintenance of the labourer."

This also includes the cost of raising a family of little baby laborers to take his place in the next generation. Suppose a worker could produce in six hours the value of goodies he needs to live on and Moneybags gives the worker the full value of his labor power. The goodies cost
$60 and that is what the capitalist gives the worker, paying him $10 an hour. The worker has also made $60 worth of goodies for the capitalist. An even exchange-- no increment for the capitalist.

What to do? The capitalist will hire the worker for $5 an hour for 12 hours. This is what free labor and the labor market are all about. After 12 hours the worker gets his agreed upon wage, buys his $60 of goodies and goes home. The capitalist however has been left with $60 from the first 6 hours AND $60 from the last 6 hours of the worker's toil. He sells the first $60 worth of goodies and gets his money back-- and sells the surplus $60 of goodies and makes a profit; a profit he did not work for but that he expropriates from the surplus value created by the worker. And this, Engels says, is how the "trick has been performed. Surplus-value has been produced; money has been converted into capital." Marx has thus demonstrated how surplus-plus value is created and has revealed "the core around which the whole existing social order has crystallized."

Now, under capitalism there is a "prerequisite" without which the capitalist can not get his hands on surplus-value and that is he must go to market and hire a FREE LABOURER. That is, a worker who can sell his labour power as a commodity and it is the only commodity he can sell. This is the condition working people have found themselves in since the end of the fifteenth century and the disintegration of the feudal order. Marx says "It is clearly the result of a past historical development." Marx and Engels appeared after this transitional period had been underway for about 400 years and we are two centuries further on than they. The present great world wide capitalist depression may or maynot be the "final conflict" which will mark the disintegration of capitalism and the arrival of the socialist order but as Marxists we must always be open to that possibility and continue to hold down the fort.

What is the upshot of all of Dühring's criticism of Marx and his proposed explanation of how capitalism works? Well, we need not go over all of Dühring's arguments and bombast against Marx. Suffice it to say that Engels concludes that Dühring actually steals his ideas from Marx, puts them forth in his own words and style and attacks Marx to cover up his theft; as Engels puts it Dühring "commits a clumsy plagiarism of Marx."

Just what, then, is the difference in Dühring's conception of capital and Marx's? For Marx every class dominated mode of production sweats surplus labour out of the productive class-- be they slaves, serfs, or modern workers (wage slaves). But it is only when, under a regime based on commodity production for a market, when the means of production employ surplus labour in the form of surplus value, that we have capitalism. This is a specific historical stage in the evolution of production. Dühring says any system that uses "surplus labour in any form" produces capital. He thus blurs the distinctions between different modes of production and makes capital an eternal law of nature with regard to economic activity.

What is more, for Dühring surplus value becomes simply the earnings of capital and is equivalent to profit. Whereas Marx makes it very clear in volume one of Das Kapital that surplus value should NOT be confused with profit. Dühring appears to only credit the capitalist in his role as a manufacturer as generating profit (surplus value.) Since Dühring claims to be explaining what Marx believes, Engels points out that Dühring should have paid more attention to what Marx ACTUALLY wrote. The profit made by the MERCHANT, Marx clearly says, is also a part of surplus value and the merchant can make a profit only because the industrial or manufacturing capitalist sells his product to him BELOW its full value "and thus relinquishes to him a part of the booty."

There are other subforms of surplus value besides manufacture's and merchant's profit, e.g., interest and ground-rent. But the explanations of these subdivisions will have to await volumes two and three of capital: only the outlines are being laid down in volume one. The complete explanation awaits "a scientific analysis of competition" and we can't make that analysis until the real inner nature, the essence, of capital is revealed in volume one. Engels gives as an analogy the understanding we have of the seeming motions of the planets which is based on knowledge of their real motions "which are not directly perceptible to the senses." [Empiricists take note!] Nevertheless, Marx gives us enough information in volume one to at least grasp in broad outline the subforms of surplus value to be dealt with in the later volumes.

It is because he doesn't know how competition works and also doesn't understand what Marx has said about it in volume one of Das Kapital, that Herr Dühring can't figure out how capitalists get back all that they have put out plus the surplus product at prices way above "the natural outlays of production." Where does this profit come from? He can't answer this question so he flees from the field of economics to that of politics and claims that the capitalist imposes a surcharge on his products by means of force. But Engels says FORCE can seize wealth but cannot produce it. Not only that, but Dühring leaves unexplained the ORIGIN of force itself. Dühringian economics gets us nowhere.

But all is not lost for Herr Dühring. His research finally leads him to some correct answers, although his distinctive way of expressing himself is not as clear as we might wish. Engels provides two quotes from Dühring that are on the right track. "IN EVERY CASE THE NET PROCEEDS OBTAINED BY THE UTILIZATION OF LABOUR-POWER CONSTITUTE THE INCOME OF THE MASTER...." And:"The characteristic feature of earnings of capital is that they are AN APPROPRIATION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROCEEDS OF LABOUR-POWER."

What, Engels asks, is the INCOME OF THE MASTER but the surplus product the worker makes after the deduction for wages? What is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROCEEDS OF LABOUR-POWER but that part which comes after the worker has created the value of his own maintenance-- i.e., surplus value? So where did Herr Dühring finally get a clue to the correct explanation of the relation between capital and surplus value? He got it, Engels says by "in his own style, DIRECTLY COPYING from CAPITAL"[i.e., volume one of Das Kapital]. So much for Herr Dühring's alternative theory of economics.