Metaphysics of Ground Capital (CXXV)

From 1884 to 1847

Our intention is not merely to argue that what Marx wrote in the last moments of his life, both in Book III and in Book IV of his greatest unfinished work, is the last word in agrarian economic theory.

This theory had a well-defined form from the moment the body of revolutionary doctrine came to be, with clear and precise outlines, a few years before the "Manifesto" was published in 1848.

And indeed, it is Marx himself who confirms this fact, which should mortify for the umpteenth time those who have always affirmed the character of "continuous change" of the Marxist method in general, and Karl Marx's analyses in particular. And among those people, there were some (there are no more) who were not fools. We mean by this somewhat bland statement that, if there are any today, they are all idiots. Among those who are now deceased, let us recall Tonino Graziadei who knew his case (even if, in recent years, he had been reduced, in the counterfeiters' party, to the role of bibliographical and doctrinal consultant to the great militant leadership).

From the time when he was a very right-wing reformer to the time he turned out to be a communist, but always as a teacher (as he once smiled happily in Berlin when he told how he had easily crossed the border as a "Universitätsprofessor"!..., to a customs officer who would certainly have forbidden the passage to Karl Marx himself!), he never stopped publishing, even during the fascist period, one book a year to prove that Book III of "Capital" had destroyed, piece by piece, Marx's first economic theories, and especially his theory of surplus value, which had the result (according to Tonino) that the theory of rent was nothing more than a vain literary exercise.

At the end of Book III of the "History of Doctrines", in the interesting paragraph where he compares Rodbertus to Ricardo, Marx, probably tired of quoting the "blunders" of the first, exclaims at one point: "I have already given a correct explanation of modern landed property". And refers to the "Poverty of Philosophy", published in Paris in 1847.

This fundamental work, which we have used many times, and which takes as its starting point Proudhon's economic writings, represents the first organic exposition of Marxist economy and the basic principles of dialectical determinism, while the "Manifesto", written a few months later, established, on irrevocable foundations, the historical and political part.

We have also often noted that the demolition of the Proudhonian construction marks an important date since it makes way for the countless deviations that manifested much later throughout the century, by repeating exactly the same errors and the same dishonourable -isms, whose ideal series - moral - egalitarian - liberal - libertarian - individual - personal - subjectiv - mercantil - business -ism.

This is moreover brilliantly underlined by Engels in his "Preface" of 1884 (and therefore 37 years later), from which we have also extracted on other occasions excellent formulas for synthesising fundamental positions, and where he nevertheless warns that the terminology is not yet as elaborate as that of "Capital", insofar as we speak of labour value and prices, in place of labour power, which is considered in the wage-based economy (ergo capitalist) to be a commodity.

Economy, Morality, Logic

It is no coincidence that we have said that what is usually designated as philosophical problems also receives a definition in Marx's criticism of Proudhon. In his well-known caustic preamble, Marx mocks the author who was considered in France to be a great German philosopher, and in Germany to be a great French economist.

However, it is precisely when Proudhon begins to deal with our current subject, i.e. agrarian property and rent, that he gets away with it: "The origin of rent, as property, is, so to speak, extra- economic: it rests in psychological and moral considerations which are only very distantly connected with the production of wealth".

It is clear that we are faced with a choice of options whose terms are separated by an abyss. Should we use data from psychological science and moral science (?) to explain economic processes? Or, on the contrary, to brandish the solid key of historical materialism, and explain by economic data the "psychological" manifestations and the innumerable systems of morality?

When Marx raises the question of the "economico-metaphysical method" with which Proudhon openly claims to be familiar, he is ridiculing himself and his opponent, who wanted to scare the French by throwing quasi-Hegelian phrases in their face. Marx seems to be saying: we have completely surpassed Hegel (perhaps some readers remember the quotation from this note in Book III of "Capital", where Hegel's definition of property as an act of strength and will of the human person, or, as is still mentioned today at every turn, as an extension of the person himself, is treated by Marx as something "of the highest comic"), but you who flatter yourself for being faithful to him, you do not know him or, in reality, you have not understood him... And, indeed, Proudhon's text says: "We are not giving a history according to the order in time [oh boy!... then it would be filotempismo], but according to the sequence of ideas. Economic phases or categories are in their manifestation sometimes contemporary, sometimes inverted.... Economic theories have nonetheless their logical sequence and their serial relation in the understanding: it is this order that we flatter our- selves to have discovered".

Marx's following passage, which can and must be used again for the theory of knowledge and thought, not only liquidates Proudhon's economic verbosity, but also puts Kant's pure reason and Hegel's logical method out of action; Marx analyses them as a "strip-tease" which, by successively ignoring all objects and their real relationships, by dropping all their alleged accidents, reduces the whole movement and life of the real world to nudity, more than nudity, to the emptiness of the logical category that lives only in a state of mind; to the absolute method that exists before everything.

"All things being reduced to a logical category, and every movement, every act of production, to method, it follows naturally that every aggregate of products and production, of objects and of movement, can be reduced to a form of applied metaphysics. What Hegel has done for religion, law, etc., M. Proudhon seeks to do for political economy".

In the criticism of Marx and Engels towards their opponents, we always find a double aspect. As the latter boast all the time that they have "discovered" new laws and truths, Marx and Engels demonstrate that, while these are accurate observations and theories, they have already been stated long before by economists who were satisfied with the serious "descriptive and historical" method, usually despised by innovators; and, if these authors have said truly original things, they prove that they are 99 times out of 100 times enormous mistakes, a travesty of reality, arbitrary deductions from empty metaphysical constructions, supported by the banal dogmas of current culture and by a mundane sentimentality.

Proudhon's reference to psychology and morality, to the order of ideas, to his curious way of analysing in any economic process (competition, monopoly, division of labour, mechanisation, credit, taxes, etc.) the good and the bad, are now secular expedients: indeed, what do you mean by different in any presentation, even dated January 1954, by an economist, be he amateur or professional? If strict scientific analysis shows that there will be a downturn in the economic structure, if any analysis of the facts calls into question the possibility, for example, of averting the looming crisis, either by removing controls and obstacles to free the economic initiatives of individuals and companies or by strengthening dirigisme and interventionism by the State, what is the refuge? The use of mental forces, the action of honest and willing men, and other jokes. And the same is true on the opposite side when the return of the revolutionary class force is made dependent on the return of consciousness everywhere, in both camps, anti-Marxism and sub-Marxism, it is the refusal to see in mental attitudes the result and reflection of the economic process, which are determined by the material nature of the latter.

Down with free will, you stupid clown!

Leaving his journey in the metaphysical economy, Proudhon also leaves the port of reality and takes a path that has been charted for some time by real explorers: he establishes the distinction between use value and exchange value, for each object, and he tries to found a theory of market phenomena. He has not yet mentioned the mystical powers, but he is still going astray by neglecting two essential points: the genesis and historical development of exchange during the different periods, the social and not individual character of the relationship of exchange to others. And, as a result, his ship will ground.

The modern economists have hardly gone further. Given a buyer, driven by the need to buy potatoes, for example, and a seller who sells potatoes for money, these economists wonder how to explain the figure that will result from the transaction. The buyer thinks of value in the use, of the need to eat, the seller of the exchange value, i.e. the maximum cash gain that can be made from his potatoes. The whole effort to move the problem somewhat beyond this simple duo, and to make society, the economic community, appear at least in the background, is reduced to the famous little rule (these are truths that we will say are almost banal, writes Marx) of supply and demand. The price drops if there are many potatoes and little appetite for them, it rises if potatoes are rare and many who want them. Assimilating abundance to use value, our author describes this value as use value; and rarity to exchange value, he describes it as a value of opinion. And he wondered whether, between these two opposing powers, a point of comparison could be established. He finds one, indeed an arbitrary one.

"In my capacity as a free buyer, I am judge of my needs, judge of the desirability of an object, judge of the price I am willing to pay for it. On the other hand, in your capacity as a free producer, you are master of the means of execution, and in consequence, you have the power (?) to reduce your expenses"... "It is proved that it is man’s free will that gives rise to the opposition between use value and exchange value. How can this opposition be removed, so long as free will exists? And how can the latter be sacrificed without sacrificing mankind?".

Here, Marx looks at things more closely and from his own point of view. In the commercial contract, supply is at the same time a demand, demand a supply, and these are two exchange values that confront each other.

"In the course of production, [the product offered] has been exchanged for all the costs of production, such as raw materials, wages of workers, etc., all of which are marketable values. The product, therefore, represents, in the eyes of the producer, a sum total of marketable values. What he supplies is not only a useful object, but also and above all a marketable value."

In Proudhon's hypothesis, we are in a society based on the division of labour and exchange. Consequently, the means of production do not depend on the free will of the producer, on the contrary, they are largely products that come to him from outside...

"The consumer is no freer than the producer. His judgment depends on his means and his needs. Both of these are determined by his social position, which itself depends on the whole social organisation. True, the worker who buys potatoes and the kept woman who buys lace both follow their respective judgments. But the difference in their judgements is explained by the difference in the positions which they occupy in the world, and which themselves are the product of social organisation".

M. Proudhon "pushes abstraction to the limit, by founding all producers into a single producer, all consumers into a single consumer, and by establishing the struggle between these two chimeric characters"... "What, then, does all M. Proudhon’s dialectic consist in? In the substitution for use value and exchange value, for supply and demand, of abstract and contradictory notions like scarcity and abundance, utility and estimation, one producer and one consumer, both of them knights of free will".

Let us make a package of all the modern economists who manufacture formulas on price determination based on moving market forces: economic satisfaction , marginal utility, speed of circulation, volume of circulating capital, quantity of consumer goods, etc., and bury them under this lapidary phrase knights of free will, in the noble chapel of the Proudhon family.

A doctor, a banker, a teacher

In the previous "Fili", we deliberately focused on the important work done by Marx on the Quesnay Economic Tableau. And we have highlighted the essential reason why Quesnay occupies the highest place among the ancestors of capitalism's economists: he goes far beyond the point of view of the "molecular" exchange and the childish personification of economic forces. For him, it is not a question of the man who sells and the man who buys, but of the mechanism of the circulation of wealth between the productive class, the rentier class, and the (in his opinion sterile) class of industry.

And we have made the comparison, in the light of Marxism, between Quesnay and Ricardo, the most eminent representatives of two economic schools, by showing that the enormous advantage of the former, because of the discovery of the class protagonists, surpasses that which must be attributed to the English when it establishes the scope of industrial production, and the creation, also within it, of surplus value in the employment of workers.

We have also pointed out the various contributions that the schools of the great nations have made to bourgeois criticism of the feudal world, because, while bourgeois revolutions have a common class character, they nevertheless have clear national profiles. Germany gave Philosophy, England Economy, France Politics, all three appropriate to the time and capitalist mode of production.

How does the proletarian class struggle initially base itself on intervention in the bourgeois national revolutions (we still find, in these same pages, a formulation that does not seem to have entered the small heads of some of the big poles that are waddling around)? There it is:

"The Classics, like Adam Smith and Ricardo, represent a bourgeoisie which, while still struggling with the relics of feudal society, works only to purge economic relations of feudal taints, to increase the productive forces and to give a new upsurge to industry and commerce. The proletariat that takes part in this struggle and is absorbed in this feverish labour experiences only passing, accidental sufferings, and itself regards them as such".

Thus, the original and integral new class doctrine possesses with force and elaborates the material of these three historical contributions.

And it is to this vigorously summarised position, which was therefore not invented a few months earlier, that Marx refers in 1847, when he follows Proudhon who imprudently moves from the field of "English" economics to that of "German" philosophy. Marx was initially forced to speak at length about Ricardo's school in order to clarify the great French confusion. And he says: "M. Proudhon is transporting us to our dear fatherland and is forcing us, whether we like it or not, to become German again".

"The Englishman is Ricardo, rich banker and distinguished economist; the German is Hegel, simple professor at the University of Berlin."

And the Frenchman? The aim is to demonstrate that ideological constructions are the product of society contemporary to their author and not the spontaneous fermentation of "pure reason" under the banker's hat or in the philosopher's brain.

And this is France's contribution to the... pool of the bourgeois revolution. Attention!

"Louis XV, the last absolute monarch (the last to die absolute... and in his bed) and representative of the decadence of French royalty, had attached to his person a physician who was himself France's first economist. This doctor, this economist, represented the imminent and certain triumph of the French bourgeoisie".

Dr. Quesnay (who will never know why, in the edition of "l'Avanti!", he is referred to as Tuesnay), made political economy a science; he summed it up in his famous "Tableau économique". In addition to the thousand and one comments that appeared in this tableau, we have one from the doctor himself. This is "the analysis of the economic tableau", followed by "seven important observations".

Marx uses this masterful idea to lay out seven observations of the Proudhonian method, the first of which is precisely the one to which we have alluded, the one on the economic "categories" that Proudhon treats in a metaphysical way by singling out Hegel. The latter had a "magic formula", but he was unable to find the problems to apply it to. Proudhon posed some of these problems, but the formula became fixed in his hands. He tried to found a socialist system, but he only managed to establish a theory for the petty-bourgeois that still stinks terribly today.

Mercantile egalitarianism

This form of socialist system, widespread as quack-grass, and which, basically, can be found in the heads of at least nine and a half out of ten of those who call themselves Marxists, is the hybrid result of the marriage of a bourgeois Ricardian economy and an Encyclopedist humanitarian philosophy.

A few passages from Marx's text and Engels' Preface will explain this form "in all [its] crudity". Ricardo and his followers are among the "fatalistic" economists who do not have programs to defeat or overcome capitalism: they take it as it is, without even questioning its good or bad sides. In another passage, Marx says that Ricardo is cynical. He puts hats and men on the same level:

"Diminish the cost of production of hats, and their price will ultimately fall to their own new natural price (i.e., the price set by the amount of labour required to make a hat), although the demand should be doubled, trebled, or quadrupled. Diminish the cost of subsistence of men, by diminishing the natural price of food and clothing, by which life is sustained, and wages will ultimately fall, notwithstanding the demand for labourers may very greatly increase".

Ricardo therefore had not even the slightest hair (under his headgear) that was vaguely labourist. Nevertheless, we are very interested in him. That is why Engels, in his "Preface", summarises his contribution, from the "Principles" that date back to 1817. First: the value of any commodity is only and only determined by the amount of labour required for its production. Second: the product of all social labour is divided among three classes, that of owners (income), that of capitalists (profit), and that of workers (wages).

However, a series of authors, who we can call "pre-Marxist" socialists, have based an egalitarian theory on Ricardo's two proposals. In England, for example, it was Bray, in Germany, Rodbertus (whose claim to have been plagiarised by Marx, who followed a completely different path, is denied by Engels). Using the system of "work orders", they proposed that the entire value of the social product should no longer be expressed in money, but in a currency that would indicate the work contained in each commodity, and that these orders should be allocated to those who provided the labour time that corresponded to their value. They believed that it would thus be possible to restore to the worker all the value produced, or added to the products, by his labour, and, ultimately, to remove rent and profits from capital.

Although it is dictated by the humanitarian and philanthropic objective of eliminating social misery and suffering, this system is not only impracticable, but it is not even efficient if it is proposed to replace capitalist society with a society with less poverty and cruelty. From the outset, such an intention is perfectly reactionary in relation to free development and private capital accumulation. This judgment is hammered through in all Marx's writings, but it is supported by particularly decisive developments in this "Anti-Proudhon".

Engels gives the following explanation, which we have quoted on other occasions: "[The] application of the Ricardian theory that the entire social product belongs to the workers as their product, because they are the sole real producers, leads directly to communism. But, as Marx indeed indicates... it is incorrect in formal economic terms, for it is simply an application of morality to economics... Marx, therefore, never based his communist demands upon this, but upon the inevitable collapse of the capitalist mode of production which is daily taking place before our eyes to an ever growing degree".

And he adds that this "moral" reaction among the masses is not at all devoid of historical, and even economic, effect, despite its intrinsic doctrinal falsity: like all the others, it is an "approached" ideology, a precursor of other subsequent ideologies and a superstructure of a contradiction between positive forces in society, and it must therefore certainly not be ignored or underestimated.

But in the course of the criticism of the Proudonian version of this limited socialism, Marx presents constructions of the highest interest, on which it would be good to dwell a little, in order, mainly, to make clear the radical distinction between these first demands and ours, and to establish that the formulation which exceeds and abandons any "economism" of this kind is certainly not new, but that it is quite simply essential in its irreducible orthodoxy: This is an objective to which we will never devote enough time, as it is so easy to lose this compass in the difficult seas of current events and activity.

Prescription: "pills"

Proudhon called the "relative value" of a commodity the value determined according to the labour time required to reproduce it. He reduced the social question to the following request: the worker should be paid according to the exact measure of his work. On the contrary, Marx shows him that, historically, it is precisely the measurement of the value of goods according to labour that Ricardo introduces, or better discovers, that defines the capitalist economy and that it includes the formation of a surplus value. Should we, for the umpteenth time, repeat this demonstration in our own words? As long as there is free trade, those who hold time vouchers can always find on the market labour that works, for example, ten hours, not for a ten-hour voucher but for a six-hour voucher, if the six-hour time value is sufficient to buy a worker's daily subsistence, in the full sense. As if that were not enough, this system requires a completely different device of constraint: but that is only one aspect of the objections that Marx introduces into this healthy pill:

"Thus relative value, measured by labour time, is inevitably the formula of the present enslavement of the worker, instead of being, as M. Proudhon would have it, the “revolutionary theory” of the emancipation of the proletariat".

If we take this pill after a meal, we quickly understand that the theory of surplus value is essential for us to analyse the anatomy of capitalist society, as well as that our programmatic objective is not the abolition of surplus value. What is it? What is it? Marx says so! He says it over and over again; and the pills we gave them!

The metaphysics of Proudhon claims that, if at any time the miracle law of labour value had been respected, given that the most necessary things are obtained in less time, automatically, humanity would have had - as it will from the moment the famous vouchers are issued - everything necessary to satisfy the basic needs of all and, gradually, it would have provided the highest needs. Pill, to prevent indigestion from such rhetoric and utopia:

"Things happen in quite a different way from what M. Proudhon imagines. The very moment civilization begins, production begins to be founded on the antagonism of orders, estates, classes, and finally on the antagonism of accumulated labour and actual labour. No antagonism, no progress. This is the law that civilization has followed up to our days."

It's a pill that can get a hippopotamus to dance the waltz. Above all, it demonstrates that, in their time, all successive modes of production, including the capitalist mode, precisely because it is a better producer of surplus labour, have turned the famous wheel of history on its head. Proudhon's visionary formula is like saying that "because moray eels were fed in artificial swimming pools under the Roman emperors, we had enough to feed the entire Roman population abundantly". But there is even more to this pill since we see, in the bourgeois era, that accumulated labour is capital, and that immediate labour is the work of the workers, it follows the lapidary formula of the communist demand:

abolish the dependence of immediate labour on accumulated labour.

The short formula of 1847 is enough to establish that, in the Russia of 1954, there is not a crumb of socialism. Suppose it is proven that the Russian worker receives a higher real wage than the Western worker. Since it is remunerated on the basis of the exchange of equivalents, that is, so much money (and even if it were so many objects of consumption) for so many hours of work, it means (even if the individuals of capitalists and owners are invisible) the domination of accumulated labour over immediate labour.

From where comes poverty?

If the usefulness of a product is judged by its low price, then brandy and tobacco (hey, Marx doesn't talk about this second product: if it had been sold at a prohibitive price, well Marx could certainly have finished writing "Capital") of the worst quality are they products that are useful to the masses? And is it because of the utility that the minimum price (even if it is expressed in working time) determines the maximum consumption? Warning: "No, it is because in a society founded on poverty the poorest products have the fatal prerogative of being used by the greatest number".

And Marx never took care of defining the characteristics of communist society! Let's mouth a horn of the same calibre as Ronceveaux's: "In a future society, in which class antagonism will have ceased, in which there will no longer be any classes, use will no longer be determined by the minimum time of production; but the time of production devoted to different articles will be determined by the degree of their social utility ". Is it still necessary to explain?!

Perhaps the energetic treatment prescribed to digest a little dialectic is not yet enough, even during this "session"? We used Ricardo, as we used Hegel and also Voltaire (and we are sorry, but we will not have a festival of theorists, which would only serve to increase the list of doctrine providers, although misunderstood geniuses, uterus-brains in a state of false pregnancy, usually abound), but if we meet Ricardians, Hegelians or Voltairians, we will give them a good beating.

"Labour time serving as the measure of marketable value becomes in this way the law of the continual depreciation of labour". Well, not only do we not deny that economy, governed by this law, was born, but even that it was right to be born, or that it was right to be born where it had not been born until then (Russia, China). What we deny - as when we said with our "Dialogue with Stalin" - is that this economy subject to such a fundamental law is a proletarian economy. And has this formula really contributed to magically producing this range of products of great diversity that Mr. Proudhon is so delighted with? Not even:

"On the contrary, monopoly in all its monotony follows in its wake and invades the world of products, just as to everybody's knowledge monopoly invades the world of the instruments of production". And so monopoly, dictatorship over the consumption of the most stupid goods and services, which, for example, we denounce in the most modern prosperous America, have been engraved for a century in Marxist prophecy.

The polemic takes a hellish turn, and it confirms the inseparability of the two struggles: the catastrophic destiny of capitalism, the revolutionary social program of communism.

There is no proportionality in current production, and there will never be - there will never be after the medieval equilibrium where "Production followed close on the heels of consumption" - any proportionality between the different consumption sectors that Sismondi, Proudhon and others invoke, without understanding that it is incompatible with market distribution, with the domination of the law of exchange between equivalent values (this has been admitted in Russia, even if those who did so have witnessed the end of Beria).

"Large-scale industry, forced by the very instruments at its disposal to produce on an ever-increasing scale, can no longer wait for demand". What a laugh: we write entire periodicals to explain all these things to Marx: the poor man, in his time, he couldn't know! He had not sniffed the smell of monopoly, of imperialism. Well, cockroaches with their legs dipped in the inkwell, write on your "blank pages":

"In existing society, in industry based on individual exchange, anarchy of production, which is the source of so much misery, is at the same time the source of all progress.

Thus, one or the other:

‘Either you want the true proportions of past centuries with present-day means of production, in which case you are both reactionary and utopian (and we add, idle cockroach )'.

Or you want progress without anarchy: in which case, in order to preserve the productive forces, you must abandon individual exchange.

Individual exchange is suited only to the small-scale industry of past centuries with its corollary of “true proportion,” or else to large-scale industry with all its train of misery and anarchy".

Or you want progress without anarchy then, to keep the productive forces, abandon individual exchanges.

Individual exchanges are only in harmony with the small industry of past centuries, and its corollary of "just proportion", or with the large industry and all its procession of misery and anarchy".

Is it any wonder that, after such sharp and formidable statements, the innovators of this first half century are saying the same bullshit as those of the second half of the previous century?

"One sees that the first illusions of the bourgeoisie are also their last".

Rent according to Proudhon

Let's bring the sails.

With such premises, it is clear that our Proudhon could only be wrong about rent. How? It is not very important; what is important is to show that Marx, still very young, defined the problem in the same terms as in the works of his maturity.

Declaring it impossible to carry out an economic analysis of rural property in making abstraction of sentiments, the author, who had just dealt with credit and its harmful effects (in this field, who knows why the spirit of Evil prevailed?), rolls up his sleeves to "bind man more closely to nature". Does this not sound like a parliamentary speech on land reform?

Then, with a loud clatter of words, he began to present Ricardo's theory on differential rent, a matter that we will deal with (given the early morning hour) in a few words.

With his customary sobriety, Marx explains what Ricardo had said: "that the excess of the price of agricultural products over their cost of production, including the ordinary profit and interest on the capital, gives the measure of the rent".

Not only may this margin not be achieved in some cases, but, of course, its size varies from one land to another, depending on fertility. But subjecting these different degrees of fertility to quantitative analysis is quite different from falling back into the idea that land is a natural resource that offers a fraction of wealth as a rent, without it coming from human labour.

The problem clearly posed by Ricardo is above all a historical one.

"Rent, in the Ricardian sense, is property in land in its bourgeois state; that is, feudal property which has become subject to the conditions of bourgeois production"... "[rent] is patriarchal agriculture transformed into commercial industry, industrial capital applied to land, the town bourgeoisie transplanted into the country".

Proudhon's biggest mistake in this area is to argue that rent is the interest paid for a capital that never perishes: land. And while the commercial interest rate is decreasing, the ground rent rate is increasing historically.

Marx proves that improvements and investments in capital technology on land lead to a decrease and not an increase in rent, although the investment finds its rightful profit margin, which tends to decline historically like that of any other industrial investment.

And then he asks himself: To what extent is it fair to define land as capital?

"Land, so long as it is not exploited as a means of production, is not capital". This means that capital is only the assets made on the land by human labour, as well as the machines, tools, stocks, which are necessary for its cultivation. And the income from all this is the farmer's profit and not the rent of the landowner, on which Proudhon makes a great deal of confusion.

As for the eternity he attributes to the land: land is a fixed capital, and fixed capital wears out, just like circulating capital, and it must be partially renewed every year, no less so than in industry proper.

If we can talk about a land capital, it is not in relation to the landowner's rent, but rather the profit of the farmer entrepreneur.

Rent does not result from the interest of capital, neither as land capital nor as capital invested in land. Rent is the result of the social relationships in which agriculture is found. Rent does not come from the soil but from society.

And so, once again, property and land rents can be abolished while remaining in a bourgeois regime: "We understand such economists as Mill, Cherbuliez, Hilditch, and others demanding that rent should be handed over to the state to serve in place of taxes".

The Russian formula: the land of the nation is not socialism.


[1] A notion put forward by the Italian economist Pareto, who opposes that of utility and "expresses the relationship of convenience by which a thing satisfies a need or desire, legitimate or not" (Editor's note).

[2] In Neapolitan in the text, "scarrafone" (Editor's note).

[3] Literally: the same cockroaches, in Neapolitan "scarrafonate" (Editor's note).

Il Programma Comunista No. 3, February 1954
Translation by Libri Incogniti

(Italian Version)


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