Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. III. The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole

Karl Marx
Marx, Karl
Display paragraphs in this book containing:
Frederick Engels, ed. Ernest Untermann, trans.
First Pub. Date
Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co.
Pub. Date
Das Kapital, based on the 1st edition.
55 of 55

Part VII, Chapter LII.


THE owners of mere labor-power, the owners of capital, and the landlords, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground-rent, in other words, wage laborers, capitalists and landlords, form the three great classes of modern society resting upon the capitalist mode of production.


In England, modern society is indisputably developed most highly and classically in its economic structure. Nevertheless the stratification of classes does not appear in its pure form, even there. Middle and transition stages obliterate even here all definite boundaries, although much less in the rural districts than in the cities. However, this is immaterial for our analysis. We have seen that the continual tendency and law of development of capitalist production is to separate the means of production more and more from labor, and to concentrate the scattered means of production more and more in large groups, thereby transforming labor into wage labor and the means of production into capital. In keeping with this tendency we have, on the other hand, the independent separation of private land from capital and labor,*155 or the transformation of all property in land into a form of landed property corresponding to the capitalist mode of production.


The first question to be answered is this: What constitutes a class? And this follows naturally from another question, namely: What constitutes wage laborers, capitalists and landlords into three great social classes?


At first glance it might seem that the identity of their revenues and their sources of revenue does that. They are three great social groups, whose component elements, the individuals forming them, live on wages, profit and ground-rent, or by the utilization of their labor-power, their capital, and their private land.


However, from this point of view physicians and officials would also form two classes, for they belong to the two distinct social groups, and the revenues of their members flow from the same common source. The same would also be true of the infinite dissipation of interests and positions created by the social division of labor among laborers, capitalists and landlords. For instance, the landlords are divided into owners of vineyards, farms, forests, mines, fisheries.

Notes for this chapter

F. List remarks correctly: "Prevalence of self-management in the case of large estates proves only a lack of civilization, of means of communication, of home industries and rich cities. For this reason it is found everywhere in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Mecklenburg. Formerly it prevailed also in England. But with the rise of commerce and industry came their division into medium-sized farms and their occupancy by tenants." (The Agrarian Constitution, the Petty Farm, and Emigration, 1842, p. 10.)

End of Notes


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