ENGLISH

Engels

"ANTI-DÜHRING"


The following chapter was written by

Karl Marx

 

X

FROM THE

CRlTlCAL HISTORY


    Finally, let us take a glance at the Critical History of Political Economy, at "that enterprise" of Herr Dühring's which, as he says, "is wholly without precedent". Perhaps here at last we shall find the definitive and most rigorously scientific treatment he has so often promised us.

    Herr Dühring makes a big fuss over his discovery that "economic science" is "an enormously modern phenomenon" (p. 12).

    In fact, Marx says in Capital, "Political economy . . . as an independent science, first sprang into being during the period of manufacture", and in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, page 29, describes "classical political economy" as "beginning with William Petty in Britain and Boisguillebert in France, and ending with Ricardo in Britain and Sismondi in France".* Herr Dühring follows the path thus prescribed for him, except that in his view the higher economics begins only with the wretched abortions brought into existence by bourgeois science after the close of


    * Capital, Vol. I, p. 364, and A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1971, p. 52. --Ed.

its classical period. On the other hand, he is fully justified in triumphantly proclaiming at the end of his introduction:

    "But if this enterprise is entirely without precedent in its outer observable characteristics and in the more novel half of its content, it is even more peculiarly mine in its inner critical points of view and its general standpoint" (p. 9).

    Actually, as far as both its outer and inner features are concerned, he could have announced his "enterprise" (the industrial term is well chosen) as The Ego and His Own.

    Since political economy, as it made its appearance in history, is in fact nothing but the scientific insight into the economics of the period of capitalist production, principles and theorems relating to it can be found, for example, in the writers of ancient Greek society, only in so far as certain phenomena -- commodity production, trade, money, interest-bearing capital, etc. -- are common to both societies. In so far as the Greeks make occasional excursions into this sphere, they show the same genius and originality as in all others. Historically, therefore, their views form the theoretical starting-points of the modern science. Let us now listen to the world-historic Herr Dühring.

    "Strictly speaking (!), we have absolutely nothing positive to report from antiquity concerning scientific economic theory, and the totally unscientific Middle Ages give still less occasion for this" (for this -- for reporting nothing!). "But as the fashion of vaingloriously displaying a semblance of erudition . . . has defaced the true character of modern science, notice must be taken of at least a few examples."

    Herr Dühring then produces examples of a critique which is in truth free from even the "semblance of erudition".

    Aristotle's thesis runs:

    "Of everything which we possess there are two uses: . . . The one is the proper, and the other is the improper or secondary use of it. For example, a shoe is used for wear, and is used for exchange; both are uses of the shoe. He who gives a shoe in exchange for money or food to him who wants one, does indeed use the shoe as a shoe, but this is not its proper or primary purpose, for a shoe is not made to be an object of barter."

This thesis is "not only expressed very trivially and pedantically" according to Herr Dühring. But, moreover, those who see in it a "distinction between use-value and exchange-value" fall prey to a freakish mood in which they forget that nothing has been left of use-value and exchange-value "in the most recent period" and "in the framework of the most advanced system", which of course is Herr Dühring's own.

    "In Plato's writings on the state, people . . . claim to have found the modern chapter on the economic division of labour."[*]

    This no doubt refers to the passage in Capital, Ch. XII, 5 (p. 369 of the third edition),** where the views of classical antiquity on the division of labour are on the contrary shown to have been "in most striking contrast" with the modern view. Herr Dühring has nothing but sneers for Plato's presentation -- for his time full of genius -- of the division of labour as the natural basis of the city (which for the Greeks was identical with the state); and this on the ground that he did not mention -- though the Greek Xenophon did, Herr Dühring --

the "limit set by the actual extent of the market to the further ramification of professions and the technical dissection of special operations -- only the conception of this limit constitutes the knowledge thanks to which this idea, which is otherwise hardly fit to be called scientific, becomes a major economic truth".


    * All italics in quotations from Dühring and other authors in this chapter are Marx's. --Ed.


** Capital, English ed., Vol. I, p. 365. --Ed.

    It was actually "Professor" Roscher, of whom Herr Dühring is so contemptuous, who set up this "limit" at which the idea of the division of labour is supposed first to become "scientific", and who therefore explicitly pointed to Adam Smith as the discoverer of the law of the division of labour. In a society in which commodity production is the dominant form of production, "the market" -- to adopt Herr Dühring's style for once -- was a "limit" very well known to "business people". But more than "the knowledge and instinct of routine" is needed to realize that it was not the market that created the capitalist division of labour, but that, on the contrary, it was the dissolution of former social connections and the resulting division of labour that created the market (see Capital, Vol. I, Ch. XXIV, 5: "Creation of the Home Market for Industrial Capital").*

    "The role of money has at all times provided the first and main stimulus to economic (!) ideas. But what did an Aristotle know of this role? No more, clearly, than was contained in the idea that exchange through the medium of money had followed primitive exchange by barter."

    But when "an" Aristotle presumes to discover the two different forms of the circulation of money, the one in which it operates as a mere medium of circulation, and the other in which it operates as money-capital, according to Herr Dühring he is "only expressing a moral antipathy".

    When "an" Aristotle carries his audacity so far as to attempt an analysis of money in its "role" as a measure of value and indeed correctly poses this problem which is so decisive for the theory of money, "a" Dühring prefers to say nothing (and for good private reasons) about such impermissible temerity.


    * Ibid., p. 471. --Ed.

    The net result is that Greek antiquity, as mirrored in the "notice taken" by Dühring, in fact possessed "only quite ordinary ideas" (p. 25), if such "niaiserie "[*] (p. 19) has anything whatever in common with ideas, whether ordinary or extraordinary.

    It would be better to read Herr Dühring's chapter on mercantilism in the "original", that is, in F. List's National System, Chapter 29: "The Industrial System, Incorrectly Called the Mercantile System by the School". The great care with which here too Herr Dühring manages to avoid any "semblance of erudition" is shown by the following passage, among others:

    List, Chapter 28: "The Italian Political Economists", says:

    "Italy has been the forerunner of all modern nations, in the theory as well as in the practice of Political Economy,"

and then he cites, as

"the earliest work written specially on Political Economy in Italy, that of Antonio Serra of Naples (in 1613), on the means of providing 'the Kingdoms' with an abundance of gold and silver".

    Herr Dühring confidently accepts this and is therefore able to regard Serra's Breve trattato

"as a kind of inscription at the entrance to the more recent prehistory of economics".

    His treatment of the Breve trattato is in fact limited to this "piece of literary buffoonery". Unfortunately, the actual facts of the case were different; in 1609, that is, four years before the Breve trattato, Thomas Mun's A Discourse of Trade, etc., had appeared. The particular significance of this book was that, already in its first edition, it was directed


    * "Nonsense". --Ed.

against the original monetary system which was then still defended in England as the practice of the state, and that hence it represented the conscious self-separation of the mercantile system from the system which gave it birth. Even in its original form the book went through several editions and exercised a direct influence on legislation. In the edition of 1664 (England's Treasure, etc.), which had been completely rewritten by the author and was published after his death, it remained the mercantilist gospel for another hundred years. If therefore mercantilism has an epoch-making work "as a kind of inscription at the entrance", it is this book, and for this very reason it simply does not exist for Herr Dühring's "history which most carefully observes distinctions of rank".

    Of Petty, the founder of modern political economy, Herr Dühring tells us that

    there was "a fair measure of superficiality in his way of thinking" and that he had "no sense of the intrinsic and nicer distinctions between concepts", while he possessed "a versatility which knows a great deal but skips lightly from one thing to another without taking root in any idea of a more profound character"; . . . that he "proceeds very crudely in economic matters", and that he "achieves naivetés whose contrasts . . . may at times well amuse a more serious thinker".

    What inestimable condescension for the "more serious thinker" Herr Dühring to deign to take any notice at all of "a Petty"! And how he takes notice of him!

    Petty's thesis on

"labour and even labour-time as a measure of value, of which imperfect vestiges can be found in his writings",

are totally ignored apart from this sentence. Imperfect vestiges forsooth! In his Treatise on Taxes and Contributions (first edition, 1662), Petty gives a perfectly clear and correct analysis of the magnitude of value of commodities. In illustrating this magnitude at the outset by the equal value of precious metals and corn which cost the same quantity of labour, he says the first and last "theoretical" word on the value of the precious metals. But he also lays it down in a precise and general way that the values of commodities are measured by equal labour. He applies his discovery to the solution of various problems, some of which are very complicated, and he draws important conclusions from the fundamental proposition on various occasions and in various works, even where he does not repeat it. In his very first work he says:

    "This" (estimation by equal labour), "I say, to be the foundation of equalizing and balancing of values ; yet in the superstructures and practices hereupon, I confess there is much variety, and intricacy."

    Petty is thus equally conscious of the importance of his discovery and of the difficulty of using it in detail. He therefore tries to find another way for certain purposes of detail.

    "A natural par" should therefore be found between land and labour so that value may be expressed at will "by either of them alone as well or better than by both".

    Even this error is an error of genius.

    Herr Dühring makes this sharply conceived observation on Petty's theory of value:

    "Had his own thought been sharper, it would be quite impossible to find vestiges of a contrary view in other passages to which we have previously referred";

that is to say, to which no "previous" reference has been made except that the "vestiges" are "imperfect". This is very characteristic of Herr Dühring's method -- to allude to something "previously" in a meaningless phrase, in order "subsequently" to make the reader believe that he has "previously" been made acquainted with the main point, which in fact the said author has slid over both previously and subsequently.

    Now in Adam Smith there are not only "vestiges" of "contrary views" on the concept of value, not only two but even three, and strictly speaking even four, sharply contrary opinions on value, running quite cheerfully side by side and together. But what is natural in a writer who is the founder 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 century and a half of investigation, the results of which have already passed in part from books into the general consciousness. To pass from the sublime to the ridiculous, Herr Dühring himself gives us, as we have seen, five different kinds of value to choose from at will, and with them, an equal number of contrary views. Of course, "had his own thought been sharper", he would not have had to expend so much effort in trying to throw his readers back from Petty's perfectly clear conception of value into the uttermost confusion.

    Petty's Quantulumcunque* Concerning Money is a smoothly finished work which is cast in a single block; it was published in 1682, ten years after his Anatomy of Ireland (this "first" appeared in 1672, not in 1691 as stated by Herr Dühring, who takes it second-hand from "the most current text book compilations"). The last vestiges of mercantilist views to be found in his other writings have completely disappeared here. In content and form it is a little masterpiece, and for


* A Few Words. . . --Ed.

this very reason Herr Dühring does not so much as mention its title. It is quite appropriate that, confronted with the most brilliant and original of economic pioneers, our vainglorious and pedantic mediocrity should only snarl his displeasure and take offence at the fact that the flashes of theoretical insight do not proudly parade about in rank and file as ready-made "axioms", but leap sporadically to the surface from the depths of "crude" practical material such as taxes.

    Herr Dühring treats Petty's founding of "Political Arithmetic ", commonly called statistics, in the same way as his specifically economic work. He maliciously shrugs his shoulders at the odd methods used by Petty. Considering the grotesque methods still employed in this field a century later even by Lavoisier and the great distance separating even contemporary statistics from the goal which Petty assigned them in such bold strokes, such self-satisfied priggishness two centuries post festum * stands out in all its undisguised stupidity.

    Petty's most important ideas, which get such scant attention in Herr Dühring's "enterprise", are in the latter's view nothing but disconnected brainwaves, chance thoughts and incidental comments, to which a significance they totally lack intrinsically is for the first time attached in our day by citing excerpts torn from their context, and which therefore play a part not in the real history of political economy, but only in modern books below the standard of Herr Dühring's deep-rooted criticism and "treatment of history in the grand manner". In his "enterprise" he seems to have had in view a circle of blindly faithful readers who would never make


* After the event. --Ed.

so bold as to ask for proof of an assertion. We shall return to this point soon (when dealing with Locke and North), but must first take a fleeting glance at Boisguillebert and Law.

    With regard to the former, we must underline the sole find made by Herr Dühring: he has discovered a previously ignored connection between Boisguillebert and Law. Boisguillebert asserts that the precious metals could be replaced by credit money (un morceau de papier )[*] in the normal monetary functions they fulfil in commodity circulation. Law on the other hand imagines that any "increase" whatever in the number of these "pieces of paper" increases the wealth of a nation. Herr Dühring draws from this the conclusion that Boisguillebert's "turn of thought already harboured a new turn in mercantilism" -- in other words, already included Law. This is made crystal clear in the following:

    "All that was necessary was to assign to the 'simple pieces of paper' the same role that the precious metals should have played, and a metamorphosis of mercantilism was thus immediately accomplished."

    The metamorphosis of my uncle into my aunt can be immediately accomplished in the same way. True, Herr Dühring adds appeasingly: "Of course Boisguillebert had no such intention."

    But how, in the devil's name, could he intend to replace his own rationalist conception of the money function of the precious metals by the superstitious conception of the mercantilists merely because he held that the precious metals can be replaced in this role by paper money?

    Yet Herr Dühring continues in his serio-comic style:


    * A piece of paper. --Ed.

    "Nevertheless it may be conceded that here and there our author succeeded in making a really apt remark" (p. 83).

    In reference to Law, Herr Dühring only succeeds in making this "really apt remark":

    "Law too was obviously never able completely to eradicate the above named basis" (namely, "the basis of the precious metals"), "but he pushed the note issue to its extreme limit, that is to say, to the collapse of the system" (p. 94).

    In reality, however, these paper butterflies, mere money tokens, were intended to flutter about among the public, not in order to "eradicate" the basis of the precious metals, but to entice them from the pockets of the public into the depleted treasuries of the state.

    To return to Petty and the inconspicuous role in the history of economics assigned him by Herr Dühring. Let us first listen to what we are told about Petty's immediate successors, Locke and North. Locke's Considerations on Lowering the of Interest and Raising of Money, and North's Discourses upon Trade, appeared in the same year, 1691.

    "What he" (Locke) "wrote on interest and money does not go beyond the framework of the reflections which were current under the dominion of mercantilism in connection with the events of political life" (p. 64).

    To the reader of this "report" it should now be patently clear why Locke's Lowering of Interest had such an important influence, in more than one direction, on political economy in France and Italy during the latter half of the eighteenth century.

    "Many businessmen thought the same" (as Locke) "on free play for the rate of interest, and the developing situation also produced the tendency to regard restrictions on interest as ineffective. At a period when a Dudley North could write his Discourses upon Trade in the direction of free trade, a great deal must already have been in the air, as it were, which made the theoretical opposition to restrictions on interest rates seem something, not at all extraordinary" (p. 64).

    So Locke had only to regurgitate the ideas of this or that contemporary "businessman", or to breathe in much of what was "in the air, as it were", to be able to theorize on free play for the rate of interest without saying anything "extraordinary"! In fact, as early as 1662 Petty in his Treatise on Taxes and Contributions had contrasted interest, as "rent of money which we call usury", with "rent of land and houses", and lectured the landlords, who wished to keep down by legislation not of course the rent of land but the rent of money, on "the vanity and fruitlessness of making civil positive law against the law of nature". In his Quantulumcunque (1682) he therefore declared that the legal regulation of the rate of interest was as stupid as the regulation of the export of precious metals or of the exchange rate. In the same work he made definitive statements on the "raising of money" (for example, the attempt to call sixpence a shilling by doubling the number of shillings coined from one ounce of silver).

    With regard to this last point, Locke and North did little more than copy him. With regard to interest, however, Locke followed Petty's parallel between interest on money and rent of land, while North goes further and opposes interest as "rent of stock" to rent of land and the stocklords to the landlords. While free play for the rate of interest as demanded by Petty is accepted by Locke only with reservations, North accepts it unconditionally.

    Herr Dühring, himself still a bitter mercantilist in the "subtler" sense, surpasses himself when he dismisses Dudley North's Discourses upon Trade with the comment that they were written "in the direction of free trade". It is like saying of Harvey that he wrote "in the direction" of the circulation of the blood. Apart from its other merits, North's work is a classical exposition, driven home with relentless logic, of the doctrine of free trade, whether in foreign or in internal commerce -- certainly "something extraordinary" in the year 1691!

    For the rest, Herr Dühring informs us that

North was a "merchant" and a bad type into the bargain, also that his work "met with no approval".

    Indeed! How could a book of this sort have met with "approval" among the mob setting the tone at the time of the final triumph of protectionism in England? But this did not hinder its immediate effect on theory, as can be seen from a whole series of economic works published in England shortly after, some of them even in the seventeenth century.

    Locke and North gave us proof of how the first bold strokes which Petty made in almost every sphere of political economy were taken up one by one and elaborated by his English successors. The traces of this process during the period 1691 to 1752 are obvious to the most superficial observer from the fact that all the more important economic writings of that time start from Petty, either positively or negatively. This period, which abounded in original thinkers, is therefore the most important for the investigation of the gradual genesis of political economy. The "treatment of history in the grand manner", which chalks up against Marx the unpardonable sin of making so much fuss over Petty and the writers of that period in Capital, simply strikes them right out of history. From Locke, North, Boisguillebert and Law it jumps straight to the Physiocrats, and then, at the entrance to the real temple of political economy, there appears -- David Hume. With Herr Dühring's permission, we restore the chronological order, with Hume before the Physiocrats.

    Hume's economic Essays appeared in 1752. In the related essays, "Of Money", "Of the Balance of Trade", "Of Commerce", Hume follows Jacob Vanderlint's Money Answers All Things, London, 1734, step by step, often even down to its idiosyncrasies. However unknown this Vanderlint may have remained to Herr Dühring, references to him can be found in English economic works as late as the end of the eighteenth century, that is to say, in the period after Adam Smith.

    Like Vanderlint, Hume treated money as a mere token of value; he copied Vanderlint almost word for word (this is important, as he might have taken the token of value theory from many other sources) on why the balance of trade cannot be permanently either favourable or unfavourable to a country; like Vanderlint, he teaches the equilibrium of balances, which is brought about naturally, in accordance with the different economic situations in the individual countries; like Vanderlint, he preaches free trade, but less boldly and consistently; like Vanderlint, though more superficially, he emphasizes wants as the motive forces of production; he follows Vanderlint in the influence on commodity prices which he wrongly ascribes to bank money and government securities in general; like Vanderlint, he rejects credit money; like Vanderlint, he makes commodity prices dependent on the price of labour, that is, on wages; he even copies Vanderlint's whimsical idea that the accumulation of treasure keeps commodity prices down, etc., etc.

    At a much earlier point Herr Dühring had spoken in oracular undertones about how others had misunderstood Hume's theory of money, with a particularly menacing reference to Marx, who in Capital had, moreover, subversively pointed to Hume's secret connections with Vanderlint and J. Massie,[*] who will be mentioned later.

    As for this misunderstanding, the facts are as follows. With the best will in the world -- though in his own luminous way -- Herr Dühring can only repeat his predecessors' errors concerning Hume's actual theory of money, according to which money is a mere token of value, and therefore, other things being equal, commodity prices rise in proportion to the increase in the volume of money in circulation and fall in proportion to its decrease. But after propounding the above theory, Hume himself raises the objection (as Montesquieu, starting from the same premises, had done previously) that

nevertheless "it is certain" that since the discovery of the mines in America "industry has increased in all the nations of Europe, except in the possessors of those mines", and that this "may justly be ascribed, amongst other reasons, to the increase of gold and silver".

    His explanation of this phenomenon is that

"though the high price of commodities be a necessary consequence of the increase of gold and silver, yet it follows not immediately upon that increase; but some time is required before the money circulates through the whole state and makes its effect be felt on all ranks of people". In this interval it has a beneficial effect on industry and trade.

    At the end of this analysis Hume also tells us why this is so, although much more one-sidedly than many of his predecessors and contemporaries:

    "It is easy to trace the money in its progress through the whole commonwealth; where we shall find, that it must first quicken the diligence of every individual before it increases the price of labour. "


    * See Marx, Capital, Vol. I. p. 124, first footnote, and p. 514, third footnote. --Ed.

    In other words, Hume is here describing the effect of a revolution in the value of the precious metals, namely, a depreciation, or, which is the same thing, a revolution in the measure of value of the precious metals. He correctly ascertains that, in the gradual process of readjustment in the prices of commodities, this depreciation "increases the price of labour" -- in ordinary language, wages -- only in the last instance; that is to say, it increases the profit made by merchants and manufacturers at the cost of the worker (which he nevertheless thinks is quite in order) and thus "quickens diligence". But he does not ask himself the real scientific question, namely, whether and in what way an increase in the supply of the precious metals, their value remaining the same, affects the prices of commodities; and he lumps together every "increase of the precious metals" with their depreciation. Hume therefore does precisely what Marx says he does (A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, p. 173).* We shall come back once more to this point in passing, but we must first turn to Hume's essay "On Interest".

    Hume's arguments, expressly directed against Locke, that the rate of interest is not regulated by the amount of money available but by the rate of profit, and his other explanations of the causes determining the high or low level of the rate of interest, are all to be found, much more exactly though less brilliantly stated, in An Essay on the Governing Causes of the Natural Rate of Interest, wherein the sentiments of Sir W. Petty and Mr. Locke, on that head, are considered. This work appeared in 1750, two years before Hume's essay; its author was J. Massie, a writer active in various fields who had a wide public, as can be seen from contemporary


    * English ed., Lawrence and Wishart, p. 160 ff. --Ed.

English literature. Adam Smith's discussion of the rate of interest is closer to Massie than to Hume. Neither Massie nor Hume knows or says anything regarding the nature of "profit", which plays a role with both.

    "In general," Herr Dühring sermonizes us, "the estimate of most of Hume's commentators has been very prejudiced, and ideas have been attributed to him which he never entertained in the least."

    Herr Dühring himself gives us more than one striking example of this "procedure".

    For example, Hume's essay on interest begins as follows:

    "Nothing is esteemed a more certain sign of the flourishing condition of any nation than the lowness of interest: and with reason; though I believe the cause is somewhat different from what is commonly apprehended."

    Thus in the very first sentence Hume cites the view that the lowness of interest is the surest indication of the flourishing condition of a nation as a commonplace which had already become trivial in his day. Actually, this "idea" had had fully a hundred years, since Child, to become generally current. But we are told:

    "Among the views" (of Hume) "on the rate of interest we must mainly stress the idea that it is the true barometer of conditions" (which?) "and that its lowness is an almost infallible sign of the prosperity of a nation" (p. 130).

    Who is the "prejudiced" and predisposed "commentator" who says this? None other than Herr Dühring.

    It arouses the naive astonishment of our critical historian that Hume, in connection with some felicitous idea or other, "does not even claim to have originated it". This would not have happened to Herr Dühring.

    We have seen how Hume confuses every increase in the precious metals with such an increase as is accompanied by a depreciation, a revolution in their own value, hence, in the measure of value of commodities. This confusion was inevitable in Hume because he had not the slightest insight into the function of the precious metals as the measure of value. It was impossible for him to have it because he had absolutely no knowledge of value itself. The very word is to be found perhaps only once in his essays, in the passage where, in attempting to correct Locke's erroneous notion that the precious metals had "only an imaginary value", he makes matters even worse by saying that they had "chiefly a fictitious value".

    In this he is much inferior not only to Petty but to many of his English contemporaries. He shows the same "backwardness" in still proclaiming the old-fashioned notion that the "merchant " is the mainspring of production, which Petty had long passed beyond. As for Herr Dühring's assurance that in his essays Hume was concerned with the "chief economic relationships", if the reader only compares Cantillon's work quoted by Adam Smith (which appeared the same year as Hume's essays, 1752, but many years after its author's death), he will be surprised at the narrow field covered by Hume's economic writings. As we have said, despite the letters-patent issued to him by Herr Dühring, Hume remains a respectable figure in the field of political economy too, but here he is anything but an original investigator, and even less an epoch-making one. The influence of his economic essays on the educated circles of his day was due not merely to his excellent presentation, but much more to the fact that they were a progressive and optimistic glorification of the thriving industry and trade of the time -- in other words, of the capitalist society which was then rapidly rising in England, and whose "applause" they were therefore bound to gain. Let one instance suffice here. Everyone knows the passionate fight the masses of the English people were waging, precisely in Hume's day, against the system of indirect taxes methodically exploited by the notorious Sir Robert Walpole for the relief of the landlords and of the rich in general. Without mentioning his name, Hume polemizes against his ever-present authority Vanderlint, the stoutest opponent of indirect taxation and the most determined advocate of a land tax, in his essay "Of Taxes" as follows:

    "They" (taxes on consumption) "must be very heavy taxes, indeed, and very injudiciously levied, which the artisan will not, of himself, be enabled to pay, by superior industry and frugality, without raising the price of his labour. "

    It is almost as if Robert Walpole himself were speaking, especially if we add the passage in the essay on "Public Credit" in which Hume says with reference to the difficulty of taxing the state's creditors:

    "The diminution of their revenue . . . would not be disguised under the appearance of a branch of excise or customs."

    As might have been expected of a Scotchman, Hume's admiration of bourgeois acquisitiveness was in no way purely platonic. A poor devil by origin, he worked himself up to a very weighty annual income of £1,000; which Herr Dühring (as he is not dealing with Petty here) tactfully expresses in this way:

    "On the basis of very slight means, he succeeded by good domestic economy in reaching the position of not having to write to please anyone."

    Herr Dühring says further:

    "He had never made the slightest concession to the influence of parties, princes or universities."

    There is no evidence that Hume ever entered into a literary partnership with a "Wagener", but it is well known that he was an indefatigable partisan of the Whig oligarchy, which thought highly of "Church and state", and that in reward for these services he was given first a secretaryship in the Embassy in Paris and subsequently the incomparably more important and better-paid post of an Under-Secretary of State.

    "In politics Hume was and always remains conservative and strongly monarchist in his views. For this reason he was never so bitterly denounced for heresy as was Gibbon by the supporters of the established church,"

says old Schlosser.

    "This selfish Hume", "this lying historian" reproaches the English monks with being fat, having neither wife nor family and living by begging, "but he himself never had 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," says the "rude" plebeian Cobbett. Hume was "in essential respects greatly superior to a Kant in the practical management of life",

says Herr Dühring.

    But why is Hume given such an exaggerated position in the Critical History ? Simply because this "serious and subtle thinker" has the honour of enacting the Dühring of the eighteenth century. Hume serves as proof that

"the creation of this whole branch of science" (economics) "is the achievement of a more enlightened philosophy",

and similarly Hume as a precursor is the best guarantee that this whole branch of science will find its immediately foreseeable close in that phenomenal man who has transformed the merely "more enlightened" philosophy into the absolutely luminous philosophy of reality, and with whom, just as with Hume, and what is "unprecedented on German soil . . . the cultivation of philosophy in the narrow sense of the word is combined with scientific endeavours in economics".

    Accordingly we find Hume, who in any case is respectable as an economist, inflated into an economic star of the first magnitude, whose importance could hitherto be denied only by the same envy which has hitherto so obstinately hushed up Herr Dühring's achievements, which are "authoritative for the epoch".

*           *           *

    The Physiocratic school, as everyone knows, left us a riddle in the form of Quesnay's Tableau Economique on which all critics and historians of political economy have so far broken their teeth in vain. This Tableau, which was intended to bring out clearly the Physiocrats' conception of the production and circulation of a country's total wealth, has remained pretty obscure for succeeding economists. Here too Herr Dühring will at last give us light.

    What this "economic image of the relations of production and distribution means in Quesnay himself", he says, can only be explained if one has "first carefully examined the leading ideas which are peculiar to him". All the more so because hitherto these have only been set forth with "wavering indefiniteness", and their "essential features cannot be recognized" even in Adam Smith.

    Herr Dühring will now once and for all put an end to this traditional "superficial reporting". He then proceeds to fool the reader through five whole pages, five pages in which all kinds of pretentious phrases, constant repetitions and calculated confusion are designed to conceal the awkward fact that Herr Dühring has hardly as much to tell us about Quesnay's "leading ideas" as "the most current textbook compilations" against which he tirelessly warns us.

    It is "one of the most dubious aspects" of this introduction that here too the Tableau, which so far has only been mentioned by name, is just casually snuffled at and then gets lost in all sorts of "reflections", such as, for example, "the difference between input and output". Though the latter, "it is true, is not to be found complete in Quesnay's idea", Herr Dühring on the other hand will give us a dazzling example of it as soon as he passes from his lengthy introductory "input" to his remarkably short-winded "output", that is to say, to his elucidation of the Tableau itself. We shall now give all, but literally all, he feels it right to tell us of Quesnay's Tableau.

    In his "input" Herr Dühring says:

    "It seemed self-evident to him" (Quesnay) "that the revenue" (Herr Dühring had just spoken of the net product) "must be thought of and treated as a money value. . . . He tied his deliberations (!) immediately with the money values which he assumed as the results of the sales of all agricultural products when they first change hands. In this way (!) he operates with several milliards" (that is, of money values) "in the columns of his Tableau. "

    We have therefore learnt three times over that, in his Tableau, Quesnay operates with the "money values" of "agricultural products", including the money values of the "net product" or "net revenue". Further on in the text we find:

    "Had Quesnay considered things from a really natural standpoint, and had he rid himself not only of regard for the precious metals and the quantity of money but also of regard for money values. . . . But as it is he calculates solely with sums of values and imagined (!) the net product in advance as a money value. "

    So for the fourth and fifth time, there are only money values in the Tableau !

    "He" (Quesnay) "obtained it" (the net product) "by deducting the expenses and thinking (!) principally" (not traditional, but for that matter all the more superficial, reporting) "of that value which would accrue to the landlord as rent."

    We have still not advanced a step; but now it is coming:

    "On the other hand, however, now also " -- this "however, now also" is a gem! -- "the net product enters into circulation as a natural object, and in this way becomes an element which should serve . . . to maintain the class which is described as sterile. Here we can immediately (!) see the confusion arising from the fact that in one case it is the money value, and in the other the thing itself, which determines the course of thought."

    In general, it seems, all circulation of commodities suffers from the "confusion" that commodities enter into circulation simultaneously as "natural objects" and as "money values". But we are still moving in a circle about "money values", for "Quesnay is anxious to avoid a double booking of the economic revenue".

    With Herr Dühring's permission: in Quesnay's Analysis the various kinds of products figure as "natural objects" at the foot of the Tableau, and their money values are given up above in the Tableau itself. Subsequently Quesnay even made his assistant, the Abbe Baudeau, include the natural objects in the Tableau itself, beside their money values.

    After all this "input", we at last get the "output". Listen and marvel at these words:

    "Nevertheless, the inconsistency" (referring to the role assigned by Quesnay to the landlords) "at once becomes clear as soon as we enquire what becomes of the net product which has been appropriated as rent in the course of economic circulation. Here the Physiocrats and the Tableau Economique could offer nothing but confusion and arbitrariness culminating in mysticism."

    All's well that ends well. So Herr Dühring does not know "what becomes of the net product, which has been appropriated as rent in the course of economic circulation" (as represented in the Tableau ). To him, the Tableau is the "squaring of the circle". By his own confession, he does not understand the ABC of Physiocracy. After all the beating about the bush, the threshing of straw, the jumping hither and thither, the harlequinades, episodes, diversions, repetitions and stupefying mix-ups whose sole purpose was to prepare us for the imposing revelation, "what the Tableau means in Quesnay himself" -- after all this we finally get Herr Dühring's shamefaced confession that he himself does not know.

    Once he has shaken off this painful secret, this Horatian "black care" which sat hunched on his back during his ride through the land of the Physiocrats, our "serious and subtle thinker" blows another merry blast on his trumpet:

    "The lines which Quesnay draws to and fro" (in all there are just five of them!) "in his otherwise pretty simple (!) Tableau, and which are meant to represent the circulation of the net product", make one wonder whether "these whimsical combinations of columns" may not be based on some mathematical fantasy; they are reminiscent of Quesnay's attempts to square the circle -- and so forth.

    Since, by his own admission, Herr Dühring was unable to understand these lines in spite of their simplicity, he had to follow his favourite procedure of casting suspicion on them. And now he can confidently deliver the coup de grâce to the vexatious Tableau : "We have considered the net product in this its most dubious aspect," etc. So the forced confession that he does not understand the first thing about the Tableau Economique and the "role" played by the net product which figures in it -- that is what Herr Dühring calls "the most dubious aspect of the net product"! What grim humour!

    But in order that our readers may not remain in the same state of cruel ignorance about Quesnay's Tableau as that in which those who receive their economic wisdom "first hand" from Herr Dühring necessarily find themselves, here is a brief explanation.

    As is known, the Physiocrats divide society into three classes: (1) The productive class, i.e., the class which is actually engaged in agriculture -- tenant-farmers and agricultural labourers; they are called productive, because their labour yields a surplus -- rent. (2) The class which appropriates this surplus, including the landowners and their retainers, the prince and in general all officials paid by the state, and finally also the Church in its special character as appropriator of tithes. For the sake of brevity, in what follows we call the first class simply "farmers", and the second class "landlords". (3) The industrial or sterile class, sterile because, in the view of the Physiocrats, it adds to the raw materials delivered to it by the productive class only as much value as it consumes in means of subsistence supplied to it by that same class. Quesnay's Tableau was intended to portray how the total annual product of a country (in fact, France) circulates among these three classes and serves annual reproduction.

    The first premise of the Tableau is that the farming system and with it large-scale agriculture as understood in Quesnay's time, had been generally introduced, Normandy, Picardy, Ile de France and a few other French provinces serving as prototypes. The farmer therefore appears as the real leader in agriculture, representing the whole productive (agricultural) class in the Tableau and paying the landlord a rent in money. An invested capital or inventory of ten milliard livres is assigned to the farmers as a whole; of this sum, one-fifth, or two milliards, is the working capital which has to be replaced every year -- this figure too was estimated on the basis of the best-managed farms in the above provinces.

    Further premises:

(1) that for the sake of simplicity constant prices and simple reproduction prevail;

(2) that all circulation which takes place solely within one class is excluded, and that only circulation between class and class is taken into account;

(3) that all purchases and sales taking place between class and class in the course of the working year are combined in a single total sum. Lastly, it must be borne in mind that in Quesnay's time the home industry of the peasant family itself provided by far the greater portion of its needs other than food in France, as more or less in all Europe, and that it is therefore taken for granted here as accessory to agriculture.

    The starting-point of the Tableau is the total harvest, the gross product of the annual yield of the soil, which is consequently placed as the first item, or the "total reproduction" of the country, in this case France. The total value of this gross product is estimated on the basis of the average prices of agricultural products among the trading nations. It comes to five milliard livres, a sum which roughly expresses the money value of the gross agricultural production of France based on such statistical estimates as were then possible. This and nothing else is the reason why Quesnay in his Tableau "operates with several milliards", to be precise, with five milliards, and not with five livres tournois. "

    The whole gross product, five milliards in value, is therefore in the hands of the productive class, that is, in the first place of the farmers, who have produced it by advancing an annual working capital of two milliards, which corresponds to an invested capital of ten milliards. The agricultural products -- foodstuffs, raw materials, etc. -- which are required for the replacement of the working capital, including therefore the maintenance of all persons directly engaged in agriculture, are taken in natura [*] from the total harvest and expended for the purpose of new agricultural production. Since, as we have seen, constant prices and simple reproduction on a given scale are assumed, the money value of the portion which is thus taken from the gross product is equal to two milliard livres. This portion, therefore, does not enter into general circulation. For, as we have noted, circulation which takes place merely within a particular class, and not between one class and another, is excluded from the Tableau.

    After the replacement of the working capital out of the gross product there remains a surplus of three milliards, of which two milliards are in foodstuffs and one in raw materials. But the rent which the farmers have to pay the landlords is only two-thirds of this sum, equal to two milliards. It will soon be seen why it is only these two milliards which figure under the heading of "net product" or "net income".

    But before the movement described in the Tableau begins, there is also the whole pécule,** two milliards in cash, in the hands of the farmers, in addition to the "total reproduction" of agriculture amounting to five milliards in value, of which three milliards enter into general circulation. This comes about in the following way.


    * In kind. --Ed.
** Hoard. --Ed.

 

    As the total harvest is the starting-point of the Tableau, it likewise forms the closing point of an economic year, for example, of the year 1758, after which a new economic year begins. During the course of this new year, 1759, the portion of the gross product destined to enter into circulation is distributed among the two other classes through the medium of a number of individual payments -- purchases and sales. But these successive and splintered movements stretching over a whole year are combined -- as was in any case unavoidable in the Tableau -- into a few characteristic transactions each of which embraces a whole year's operations in one stroke. This, then, is how the money paid by the farmer class to the landlords as rent for the year 1757, amounting to two milliards, flows back to it at the close of 1758 (the Tableau itself will show how this comes about), so that the farmer class can again throw this sum into circulation in 1759. But since, as Quesnay observes, this sum is much larger than is actually required for the total circulation of the country (France), in which payments are constantly being repeated piecemeal, the two milliard livres in the hands of the farmers represent the total money in circulation in the nation.

    The class of landlords drawing rent first appears in the role of receivers of payments, which incidentally is the case even today. On Quesnay's assumption the landlords proper receive only four-sevenths of the two milliards of rent, two-sevenths go to the government and one-seventh to the receivers of tithes. In Quesnay's day the Church was the biggest landlord in France and in addition received tithes on all other landed property.

    The working capital (avances annuelles ) expended by the "sterile" class in the course of a whole year consists of raw materials to the value of one milliard -- only raw materials, because tools, machinery, etc., are included among the products of that class itself. But the many different roles played by such products in the industrial enterprises of this class do not concern the Tableau any more than the circulation of commodities and money which takes place exclusively within this sphere. The wages for the labour by which the sterile class transforms the raw materials into manufactured goods is equal to the value of the means of subsistence which it receives in part directly from the productive class, and in part indirectly, through the landlords. Although it is itself divided into capitalists and wage-workers, according to Quesnay's basic conception it forms an integral class which is in the pay of the productive class and of the landlords. The total industrial production, and consequently also its total circulation, which is distributed over the year following the harvest, is likewise combined into a single whole. It is therefore assumed that the annual commodity production of the sterile class is entirely in its hands at the beginning of the movement set out in the Tableau, and consequently that its whole working capital, consisting of raw materials to the value of one milliard, has been converted into goods to the value of two milliards, one-half of which represents the price of the means of subsistence consumed during this transformation. An objection might be raised here. Surely the sterile class also consumes industrial products for its own domestic needs; where are these shown, if its own total product passes through circulation to the other classes? This is the answer we are given: the sterile class not only consumes a portion of its own commodities itself, but in addition strives to retain as much of the rest as possible. It therefore sells the commodities thrown by it into circulation above their real value, and it must do so, as we have evaluated these commodities at the total value of their production. This, however, does not affect the figures of the Tableau, for the two other classes receive manufactured goods only to the value of their total production.

    So now we know the economic position of the three different classes at the beginning of the movement set out in the Tableau.

    After its working capital has been replaced in kind, the productive class still has three milliards of the gross product of agriculture and two milliards in money. The landlord class first appears only with its rent claim of two milliards on the productive class. The sterile class disposes of two milliards in manufactured goods. Circulation passing between only two of these three classes is called imperfect by the Physiocrats, circulation which takes place between all three classes is called perfect.

    Now for the economic Tableau itself.

    First (imperfect) Circulation : The farmers pay the landlords the rent due to them with two milliards of money, without receiving anything in return. With one of these two milliards the landlords buy means of subsistence from the farmers, to whom one half of the money expended by them in the payment of rent thus returns.

    In his Analyse du Tableau Economique Quesnay does not make further mention of the state, which receives two sevenths, or of the Church, which receives one-seventh, of the ground-rent, as their social roles are generally known. In regard to the landlord class proper, however, he says that its expenditure (in which that of all its retainers is included) is unfruitful expenditure at least as regards the great bulk of it, with the exception of that small portion which is used "for the maintenance and improvement of their lands and the raising of their standard of cultivation". But by "natural law" their proper function consists precisely in "the provision of good management and expenditures for the maintenance of their patrimony", or, as is explained further on, in making the avances foncières, that is, outlays for the preparation of the soil and for the provision of all equipment needed by the farms, which enable the farmer to devote his whole capital exclusively to the business of actual cultivation.

    Second (perfect) Circulation : With the second milliard of money still remaining in their hands, the landlords purchase manufactured goods from the sterile class, and the latter, with the money thus obtained, purchases from the farmers means of subsistence for the same sum.

    Third (imperfect) Circulation : The farmers buy from the sterile class, with one milliard of money, a corresponding amount of manufactured goods; a large part of these goods consists of agricultural implements and other means of production required in agriculture. The sterile class returns the same money to the farmers, buying raw materials with it to the value of one milliard to replace its own working capital. Thus the two milliards expended by the farmers in payment of rent have flowed back to them, and the movement is closed. So this is the solution of the great riddle,

"What becomes of the net product which has been appropriated as rent in the course of economic circulation?"

    We saw above that at the starting-point of the process there was a surplus of three milliards in the hands of the productive class. Of these, only two were paid as net product in the form of rent to the landlords. The third milliard of the surplus constitutes the interest on the total invested capital of the farmers, that is, ten per cent on ten milliards. They do not receive this interest -- this should be carefully noted -- from circulation; it exists in natura in their hands, and they realize it only in circulation, by thus converting it into manufactured goods of equal value.

    If it were not for this interest, the farmer -- the chief agent in agriculture -- would not advance the capital for investment in it. Already from this standpoint, the appropriation by the farmer of that portion of the agricultural surplus revenue which represents interest is, according to the Physiocrats, as necessary a condition of reproduction as the farmer class itself, and hence this element cannot be put in the category of the national "net product" or "net income"; for the latter is characterized precisely by the fact that it is consumable without any regard to the immediate needs of national reproduction. But according to Quesnay, this fund of one milliard serves for the most part to cover the repairs which become necessary in the course of the year and the partial renewals of invested capital; further, as a reserve fund against accidents; and lastly, where possible, for the enlargement of the invested and working capital as well as for the improvement of the soil and the extension of cultivation.

    The whole process is certainly "pretty simple". There enter into circulation: from the farmers, two milliards in money for the payment of rent, and three milliards in products, of which two-thirds are means of subsistence and one-third raw materials; from the sterile class, two milliards in manufactured goods. Of the means of subsistence amounting to two milliards, one half is consumed by the landlords and their retainers, the other half by the sterile class in payment for its labour. The raw materials to the value of one milliard replace the working capital of this latter class. Of the manufactured goods in circulation, amounting to two milliards, one half goes to the landlords and the other to the farmers, for whom it is only a converted form of the interest on their invested capital accruing at first hand from agricultural reproduction. But the money thrown into circulation by the farmer in payment of rent flows back to him through the sale of his products, and thus the same process can take place afresh in the next economic year.

    And now we must admire Herr Dühring's "truly critical" exposition, which is so infinitely superior to the "traditional superficial reporting". After mysteriously pointing out to us five times in succession how hazardous it was for Quesnay to operate in the Tableau with mere money values -- which moreover turned out to be untrue -- he asks:

    "What becomes of the net product which has been appropriated as rent in the course of economic circulation?" and he finally reaches the conclusion that "the economic Tableau could offer nothing but confusion and arbitrariness culminating in mysticism".

    We have seen that the Tableau -- this description of the annual process of reproduction through the medium of circulation which was as simple as for its time it was inspired -- gives a very exact answer to the question of what becomes of this net product in the course of economic circulation. Thus once again it is with Herr Dühring and Herr Dühring alone that the "mysticism" and the "confusion and arbitrariness" remain as "the most dubious aspect" and the sole "net product" of his study of Physiocracy.

    Herr Dühring is just as familiar with the historical influence of the Physiocrats as with their theories.

    "With Turgot," he teaches us, "Physiocracy in France came to an end both in practice and in theory."

    That Mirabeau, however, was essentially a Physiocrat in his economic views; that he was the leading economic authority in the Constituent Assembly of 1789; that in its economic reforms this Assembly translated a substantial portion of the Physiocrats' principles from theory into practice, and in particular laid a heavy tax on ground-rent, the net product appropriated by the landlords "without any equivalent in return" -- all this does not exist for "a" Dühring.

    Just as the bold stroke drawn through the years 1691 to 1752 removed all of Hume's predecessors, so another stroke obliterated Sir James Steuart, who came between Hume and Adam Smith. There is not a syllable in Herr Dühring's "enterprise" on Steuart's great work, which, apart from its historical importance, permanently enriched the domain of political economy. But, instead, Herr Dühring applies the most abusive epithet in his vocabulary to him and says that he was "a professor " in Adam Smith's time. Unfortunately this insinuation is a pure invention. As a matter of fact, Steuart was a large landowner in Scotland who was banished from Great Britain for alleged complicity in the Stuart plot and who made himself familiar with economic conditions in various countries through long residence and his journeys on the Continent.

    In a word, according to the Critical History the sole value of all earlier economists is to serve either as "pegs" for Herr Dühring's "authoritative" and deeper foundations, or still more, because of their badness, as a foil to him. Nevertheless, there are also a few heroes of political economy who represent not only the "pegs" of "the deeper foundations", but the "principles" out of which these "foundations" are not "developed" but actually "composed", as prescribed in the natural philosophy -- for example, the "eminent and incomparable" List, who puffed up the "more subtle" mercantilistic teachings of a Ferrier and others into "mightier" words for the benefit of German manufacturers; then Carey who reveals the true essence of his wisdom in the following sentence:

    "Mr. Ricardo's system is one of discords . . . its whole tends to the production of hostility among classes. . . . His book is the true manual of the demagogue, who seeks power by means of agrarianism, war, and plunder";

and, at long last, the Confucius[*] of the London City, MacLeod.

    So people who want to study the history of political economy in the present and the immediately foreseeable future will continue to be on much safer ground if they familiarize themselves with the "watery products", "commonplaces" and "pauper's broth" of "the most current textbook compilations", rather than rely on Herr Dühring's "treatment of history in the grand manner".

*       *       *

    What, then, is the final result of our analysis of Dühring's "very own system" of political economy? Nothing, except the fact that with all the big words and the still bigger promises, we are left in the dark just as much as in the Philosophy. His theory of value, this "touchstone of the worth of economic systems", amounts to this: that by value Herr Dühring understands five totally different and flagrantly self-contradictory things, and, therefore, at best, he himself does not know what he wants. The "natural laws of all econom-


    * The German edition of Anti-Dühring has the pun Confusius instead of Confucius, as in Marx's manuscript of Chapter X. --Ed.

ics", ushered in with such pomp, prove to be merely the worst kind of universally familiar platitudes, and often even these are wrongly grasped. The sole explanation of economic facts his very own system can give us is that they are the result of "force", a formula with which the philistine of all nations has consoled himself for thousands of years for every hardship befalling him, and which leaves us just where we were. But instead of investigating the origin and effects of this force, Herr Dühring expects us gratefully to content our selves with the mere word "force" as the last final cause and ultimate explanation of all economic phenomena. Compelled to give further elucidations of the capitalist exploitation of labour, he first represents it in general as based on taxes and price surcharges, thus completely appropriating the Proudhonian "prior deduction" (prélèvement ), and he then proceeds to explain this exploitation in particular by means of Marx's theory of surplus-labour, surplus-product and surplus-value. In this way he manages to bring about a happy reconciliation of two totally contradictory outlooks by copying down both without taking his breath. And just as in philosophy he could not find words hard enough for the very Hegel whom he so constantly exploited and at the same time diluted, so in the Critical History the most baseless calumniation of Marx only serves to conceal the fact that everything in the Course about capital and labour which makes any sense at all is likewise a diluted plagiarism of Marx. His ignorance, that in the Course puts the "large landed proprietor" at the beginning of the history of civilized peoples and is oblivious of the common ownership of land in tribal and village communities which is the real starting-point of all history -- this ignorance, which is nowadays almost inconceivable, is well-nigh surpassed by that of the Critical History, which immoderately glories in "the universal breadth of its historical survey", and of which we have given only a few deterrent examples. In a word: first the colossal "input" of self-praise, of charlatan blasts on his own trumpet, of promises each surpassing the other; and then the "output" -- exactly nil.


 


 

Marx - Engels