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increased half a million, the population in the 580 towns increased by a mil-
lion and a half (1,554,067). The increase of the population of the country
parishes is 6.5 per cent., and of the towns 17.3 per cent. The difference in
the rates of increase is due to the migration from country to town. Three-
fourths of the total increase of population has taken place in the towns."
("Census, &c.," pp, 11 and 12.)



THE GENERAL LAW OF CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION 643

The third category of the relative surplus-population, the
stagnant, forms a part of the active labour army, but with ex-
tremely irregular employment. Hence it furnishes to capital an
inexhaustible reservoir of disposable labour-power. Its condi-
tions of life sink below the average normal level of the working-
class; this makes it at once the broad basis of special branches of
capitalist exploitation. It is characterised by maximum of
working-time, and minimum of wages. We have learnt to know its
chief form under the rubric of "domestic industry." It recruits
itself constantly from the supernumerary forces of modern indus-
try and agriculture, and specially from those decaying branches
of industry where handicraft is yielding to manufacture, manu-
facture to machinery. Its extent grows, as with the extent and
energy of accumulation, the creation of a surplus-population ad-
vances. But it forms at the same time a self-reproducing and self-
perpetuating element of the working-class, taking a proportionally
greater part in the general increase .of that class than the other
elements. In fact, not only the number of births and deaths, but
the absolute size of the families stand in inverse proportion to the
height of wages, and therefore to the amount of means of subsist-
ence of which the different categories of labourers dispose. This
law of capitalistic society would sound absurd to savages, or even
civilised colonists. It calls to mind the boundless reproduc-
tion of animals individually weak and constantly hunted
down. l

The lowest sediment of the relative surplus-population finally
dwells in the sphere of pauperism. Exclusive of vagabonds, crim-
inals, prostitutes, in a word, the "dangerous" classes, this
layer of society consists of three categories. First, those able to
work. One need only glance superficially at the statistics of Eng-
lish pauperism to find that the quantity of paupers increases
with every crisis, and diminishes with every revival of trade. Sec-
ond, orphans and pauper children. These are candidates for the
industrial reserve army, and are, in times of great prosperity, as
1860, e.g., speedily and in large numbers enrolled in the active



1 "Poverty seems i'avourable to generation." (A. Smith.) This is even
a specially wise arrangement of God, according to the gallant and witty Abbe
Galiani. "Iddio af che gli uomini che esercitano mestieri di prima utilita
nascono abbondantemente." (Galiani, 1. c., p. 78.) "Misery up to the extreme
point of famine and pestilence, instead of checking, tends to increase popu-
lation." (S. Laing, "National Distress," 1844, p. 69.) After Laing has illus-
trated this by statistics, he continues: "If the people were all in easy cir-
cumstances, the world would soon be depopulated."



44 CAPITALIST PRODUCTION

army of labourers. Third, the demoralised and ragged, and those
unable to work, chiefly people who succumb to their incapacity for
adaptation, due to the division of labour; people who have passed
the normal age of the labourer; the victims of industry, whose num-
ber increases with the increase of dangerous machinery, of mines,
chemical works, &c., the mutilated, the sickly, the widows,
&c. Pauperism is the hospital of the active labour-army and the
dead weight of the industrial reserve army. Its production is in-
cluded in that of the relative surplus-population, its necessity in
theirs; along with the surplus-population, pauperism forms a con-
dition of capitalist production, and of the capitalist development
of wealth. It enters into the faux frais of capitalist production;
but capital knows how to throw these, for the most part, from
its own shoulders on to those of the working-class and the lower
middle class.

The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the
extent and energy of its growth, and, therefore, also the absolute
mass of the proletariat and the productiveness of its labour, the
greater is the industrial reserve army. The same causes which
develop the expansive power of capital, develop also the labour-
power at its disposal. The relative mass of the industrial reserve
army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But
the greater this reserve army in proportion to the active labour-
army, the greater is the mass of a consolidated surplus-popula-
tion, whose misery is in inverse ratio to its torment of labour.
The more extensive, finally, the lazarus-layers of the working-
class, and the industrial reserve army, the greater is official
pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumu-
lation. Like all other laws it is modified in its working by many
circumstances, the analysis of which does not concern us here.

The folly is now patent of the economic wisdom that preaches
to the labourers the accommodation of their number to the
requirements of capital. The mechanism of capitalist production
and accumulation constantly effects this adjustment. The first
word of this adaptation is the creation of a relative surplus-popu-
lation, or industrial reserve army. Its last word is the misery of
constantly extending strata of the active army of labour, and the
dead weight of pauperism.

The law by which a constantly increasing quantity of means
of production, thanks to the advance in the productiveness of
social labour, may be set in movement by a' progressively di-
minishing expenditure of human power, this law, in a capitalist
society where the labourer does not employ the means of pro-



THE GENERAL LAW OP CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION 645

duction, but the means of production employ the labourer
undergoes a complete inversion and is expressed thus: the higher
the productiveness of labour, the greater is the pressure of the
labourers on the means of employment, the more precarious, there-
fore, becomes their condition of existence, viz., the sale of their
own labour-power for the increasing of another's wealth, or for
the self-expansion of capital. The fact that the means of produc-
tion, and the productiveness of labour, increase more rapidly
than the productive population, expresses itself, therefore,
capitalistically in the inverse form that the labouring population
always increases more rapidly than the conditions under
which capital can employ this increase for its own self-expan-
sion.

We saw in Part IV., when analysing the production of
relative surplus-value: within the capitalist system all methods
for raising the social productiveness of labour are brought about
at the cost of the individual labourer; all means for the develop-
ment of production transform themselves into means of domi-
nation over, and exploitation of, the producers; they mutilate
the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level
of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm
in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him
the intellectual potentialities of the labour-process in the same
proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent pow-
er; they distort the conditions under which he works, subject
him during the labour-process to a despotism the more hateful
for its meanness; they transform his life-time into working-time,
and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut
of capital. But all methods for the production of surplus-value are
at the same time methods of accumulation; and every extension
of accumulation becomes again a means for the development of
those methods. It follows therefore that in proportion as capital
accumulates, the lot of the labourer, be his payment high or
low, must grow worse. The law, finally, that always equilibrates
the relative surplus-population, or industrial reserve army, to
the extent and energy of accumulation, this law rivets the labour-
er to capital more firmly than the wedges of Vulcan did Prometheus
to the rock. It establishes an accumulation of misery, corre-
sponding with accumulation of capital. Accumulation of wealth at
one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery,
agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation,
at the opposite pole, i.e., on the side of the class that produces
its own product in the form of capital.



646 CAPITALIST PRODUCTION

This antagonistic character of capitalistic accumulation 1
is enunciated in various forms by political economists, although
by them it is confounded with phenomena, certainly to some
extent analogous, but nevertheless essentially distinct, and be-
longing to precapitalist^ modes of production.

The Venetian monk Ortes, one of the great economic writers
of the 18th century, regards the antagonism of capitalist produc-
tion as a general natural law of social wealth. "In the economy of
a nation, advantages and evils always balance one another (il
bene ed il male economico in una nazione sempre all, istessa mi-
sura): the abundance of wealth with some people, is always equal
to the want of it with others (la copia dei beni in alcuni sempre
eguale alia mancanza di essi in altri): the great riches of a small
number are always accompanied by the absolute privation of
the first necessaries of life for many others. The wealth of a na-
tion corresponds with its population, and its misery corresponds
with its wealth. Diligence in some compels idleness in others.
The poor and idle are a necessary consequence of the rich and
active," &c. 2 In a thoroughly brutal way about 10 years after
Ortes, the Church of England parson, Townsend, glorified misery as
a necessary condition of wealth. "Legal constraint (to labour) is
attended with too much trouble, violence, and noise, ....
whereas hunger is not only a peaceable, silent, unremitted pres-
sure, but as the most natural motive to industry and labour, it
calls forth the most powerful exertions." Everything therefore
depends upon making hunger permanent among the working-
class, and for this, according to Townsend, the principle of popu-
lation, especially active among the poor, provides. "It seems to
be a law of Nature that the poor should be to a certain degree im-
provident" [i.e., so improvident as to be born without a silver
spoon in the mouthj, "that there may always be some to fulfil

1 "De jour en jour il devient done plus clair que les rapports de pro-
duction dans lesquels se meut la bourgeoisie n'ont pas un caractere un, un
caractere simple, mais un caractere de duplicite; que dans les memes rap-
ports dans lesquels se prod nit la richesse, la misere se produit aussi; que
dans les memes rapports dans lesquels il y a developpement des forces produc-
tives, il y a une force productive de repression; que ces rapports ne pro-
duisent la richesse bourgeoise, c'est-a-dire la richesse de la classe bourgeoise,
qu'en aneantissant continuellernent la richesse des membres integrants de
cette classe et en produisant un proletariat toujours croissant." (Karl Marx:
"Misere de la Philosophic," p. 116.)

2 G. Ortes: "Delia Ecoriomia Nazionale libri sei,' 1777," in Custodi,
Parte Moderna, t. xxi, pp. 6, 9, 22, 25, etc. Ortes says, 1 c., p. 32: "In luo-
co di progettar sistemi inutili per la I'elicita de'popoli, mi limitero a inves-
tigare la ragione della loro infelicita."



THE GENERAL LAW OF CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION 547

the most servile, the most sordid, and the most ignoble offices in
the community. The stock of human happiness is thereby much
increased, whilst the more delicate are not only relieved from drudg-
ery. . . . but are left at liberty without interruption to pursue
those callings which are suited to their various dispositions. . . .
it [the Poor Law] tends to destroy the harmony and beauty, the
symmetry and order of that system which God and Nature have
established in the world." l If the Venetian monk found in the fatal
destiny that makes misery eternal, the raison d'etre of Christian
charity, celibacy, monasteries and holy houses, the Protestant
prebendary finds in it a pretext for condemning the laws in virtue
of which the poor possessed a right to a miserable public relief.

; The progress of social wealth," says Storch, "begets this
useful class of society . . . which performs the most wearisome,
the vilest, the most disgusting functions, which takes, in a word,
on its shoulders all that is disagreeable and servile in life, and pro-
cures thus for other classes leisure, serenity of mind and conven-
tional [c'est bon!] dignity of character." 2 Storch asks himself in
what then really consist the progress of this capitalistic civili-
sation with its misery and its degradation of the masses, as com-
pared with barbarism. He finds but one answer: security!

"Thanks to the advance of industry and science," says
Sismondi, "every labourer can produce every day much more
than his consumption requires. But at the same time, whilst his
labour produces wealth, that wealth would, were he called on to
consume it himself, make him less fit for labour." According to him,
"men" [i.e., non-workers] "would probably prefer to do without
all artistic perfection, and all the enjoyments that manufacturers
procure for us, if it were necessary that all should buy them by
constant toil like that of the labourer. . . . Exertion to-day is



1 "A Dissertation on the Poor Laws. By a Well-wisher of Mankind.
(The Rev. J. Townsend) 1786," republished Lond. 1817, pp. 15, 39, 41. This
"delicate" parson, from whose work just quoted, as well as from his "Jour-
ney through Spain," Malthus often copies whole pages, himself borrowed
the greater part of his doctrine from Sir James Steuart, whom he however al-
ters in the borrowing. E.g., when Steuart says: "Here, in slavery, was a
forcible method of making mankind diligent," [for the non-workers] ... "Men
were then forced to work" [i.e., to work gratis for others], "because they were
slaves of others; men are now forced to work" [i.e., to work gratis for non-
workers] "because they are the slaves of their necessities," he does not thence
conclude, like the fat holder of benefices, that the wage-labourer must
always go fasting. He wishes, on the contrary, to increase their wants and to
make the increasing number of their wants a stimulus to their labour for the
"more delicate."

9 Storch, 1. c., t. iii., p. 223.



648 CAPITALIST PRODUCTION

separated from its recompense; it is not the same man that first
works, and then reposes; but it is because the one works that the
other rests. . . . The indefinite multiplication of the productive
powers of labour can then only have for result the increase of
luxury and enjoyment of the idle rich." 1

Finally Destutt de Tracy, the fish-blooded bourgeois doctri-
naire, blurts out brutally: "In poor nations the people are comfor-
table, in rich nations they are generally poor." 2

SECTION 5. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE GENERAL LAW
OF CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION

(a.) England from 1846-1866

No period of modern society is so favourable for the study
of capitalist accumulation as the period of the last 20 years. It
is as if this period had found Fortunatus' purse. But of all coun-
tries England again furnishes the classical example, because
it holds the foremost place in the world-market, because capital-
ist production is here alone completely developed, and lastly,
because the introduction of the Free-trade millennium since 1846
has cut off the last retreat of vulgar economy. The titanic advance
of production the latter half of the 20 years' period again far
surpassing the former has been already pointed out sufficiently
in Part IV.

Although the absolute increase of the English population in
the last half century was very great, the relative increase or rate
of growth fell constantly, as the following table borrowed from
the census shows.

Annual increase per cent, of the population of England and
Wales in decimal numbers:

1811-1821 1.533 per cent.
1821-1831 1.446
1831-1841 1.326
1841-1851 1.216
1851-1861 1.141

Let us now, on the other hand, consider the increase of
wealth. Here the movement of profit, rent of land, &c., that come



1 Sismondi, 1. c., pp. 79, 80, 85.

2 Destutt de Tracy, 1. c., p. 231: "Les nations pauvres, c'est la oil le
peuple est a son aise; et les nations riches, c'est la oil il est ordinairoment
pauvre."



THE GENERAL LAW OP CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION 649

under the income tax, furnishes the surest basis. The increase of
profits liable to income tax (farmers and some other categories not
included) in Great Britain from 1853 to 1864 amounted to 50.47%
or 4.58% as the annual average, l that of the population during
the same period to about 12%. The augmentation of the rent of
land subject to taxation (including houses, railways, mines,

fisheries, &c.), amounted for 1853 to 1864 to 38% or 3^ % annu-

i

ally. Under this head the following categories show the greatest
increase:

Excess of annuai income

of 18G4 over that

of 1853

H ouses, 38 . 60 % 3 . 50 %

Q uarries, 84 . 76 % 1 . 70 %

Mines, 68.85% 6.26%

Ironworks, 39.92% 3.63%

Fisheries, 57.37% 5.21%

Gasworks, 128.02% 11.45%

Railways, 83.29% 7.57%*

If we compare the years from 1853 to 1864 in three sets of
four consecutive years each, the rate of augmentation of the in-
come increases constantly. It is, e.g., for that arising from prof-
its between 1853 to 1857, 1.73% yearly; 1857-1861, 2.74%, and
for 1861-64, 9.30% yearly. The sum of the incomes of the United
Kingdom that come under the income tax wasin 1856, 307, 068, 898;
in 1859, 328,127,416; in 1862, 351,745,241; in 1863,
359,142,897; in 1864, 362,462,279; in 1865, 385,530,020. 3

The accumulation of capital was attended at the same time
by its concentration and centralisation. Although no official
statistics of agriculture existed for England (they did for Ireland),
they were voluntarily given in 10 counties. These statistics gave



1 "Tenth Report of the Commissioners of H. M. Inland Revenue." Lond.
1866, p. 38.
Ibidem.

8 These figures are sufficient for comparison, but, taken absolutely,
are false, since perhaps, 100,000,000 of income are annually not declared.
The complaints of the Inland Revenue Commissioners of systematic fraud,
especially on the part of the commercial and industrial classes, are repeat-
ed in each of their reports. So e.g., "A Joint-stock company returns 6,000 as
assessable profits, the surveyor raises the amount to 88,000, and upon that
sum duty is ultimately paid. Another company which returns 190,000 is
finally compelled to admit that the true return should be 250,000,'^ (Ibid.,
P 42.)



650



CAPITALIST PRODUCTION



the result that from 1851 to 1861 the number of farms of less than
100 acres had fallen from 31,583 to 26,597, so that 5,016 had been
thrown together into larger farms. l From 1815 to 1825 no person-
al estate of more than 1,000,000 came under the succession duty;

from 1825 to 1855, however, 8 did; and 4 from 1856 to June a 1859,

^
i.e., in 4 years. 2 The centralisation will, however, be best seen

A

from a short analysis of the Income Tax Schedule D (profits,
exclusive of farms, &c.), in the years 1864 and 1865. I note before-
hand that incomes from this source pay income tax on every-
thing over 60. These incomes liable to taxation in England,
Wales and Scotland, amounted in 1864 to 95,844,222, in 1865 to
105,435, 579. 3 The number of persons taxed were in 1864, 308,416,
out of a population of 23,891,009; in 1865, 332,431 out of a popu-
lation of 24,127,003. The following table shows the distribution
of these incomes in the two years:





Year ending April


5th, 1864.


Year ending April


5th, 1865.




Income from
profits.


Persons.


Income from
profits.


Persons.


Total Income . . .

of these ....
>


95,844,222
57,028,289
36,415,225


308,416
23,334
3,619


105,435,738
64,554,297
42,535,576


332,431
24,265
4,021


i>


22,809,781


832


27,555,313


973





8,744,762


91


11,077,238


107













In 1855 there were produced in the United Kingdom
61,453,079 tons of coal, of value 16,113,167; in 1864, 92,787,873
tons, of value 23,197,968; in 1855, 3,218,154 tons of pig-iron,
of value 8,045,385; 1864, 4,767,951 tons, of value 11,919,877.
In 1854 the length of the railroads worked in the United King-
dom was 8,054 miles, with a paid-up capital of 286,068,794; in
1864 the length was 12,789 miles, with capital paid up of
425,719,613. In 1854 the total sum of the exports and imports
of the United Kingdom was 268,210,145; in 1865, 489,923,285.
The following table shows the movement of the exports:



1 "Census, &c.," 1. c., p. 29. John Bright's assertion that 150 landlords
own half of England, and 12 half the Scotch soil, has never been refuted.

2 "Fourth Report, &c., of Inland Revenue." Lond., 1860, p. 17

8 These are the net incomes after certain legally authorised abatements.



THE GENERAL LAW OP CAPITALIST ACCUMULATION 651



1846 58,842,377

1849 63,596,052

1856 115,826,948

1860 135,842,817

1865 165,862,402

1866 188 ,917,563*



After these few examples one understands the cry of triumph
of the Registrar-General of the British people: "Rapidly as the
population has increased, it has not kept pace with the progress
of industry and wealth." 2

Let us turn now to the direct agents of this industry, or the pro-
ducers of this wealth, to the working-class. "It is one of the most
melancholy features in the social state of this country," says Glad-
stone, "that while there was a decrease in the consuming powers of
the people, and while there was an increase in the privations and
distress of the labouring class and operatives, there was at the same
time a constant accumulation of wealth in the upper classes, and
a constant increase of capital." 8 Thus spake this unctuous min-
ister in the House of Commons of February 13th, 1843. On April
16th, 1863, 20 years later, in the speech in which he introduced his
Budget: "From 1842 to 1852 the taxable income of the country
increased by 6 per cent. ... In the 8 years from 1853 to 1861
it had increased from the basis taken in 1853 by 20 per cent.!
The fact is so astonishing as to be almost incredible. . . .
this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power . . .
entirely confined to classes of property .... must be of indi-
rect benefit to the labouring population, because it cheapens
commodities of general consumption. While the rich have been
growing richer, the poor have been growing less poor. At any



1 At this moment, March, 1867, the Indian and Chinese market is again
overstocked by the consignments of the British cotton manufacturers. In
1866 a reduction in wages of 5 per cent, took place amongst the cotton opera-
tives. In 1867, as consequence of a similar operation, there was a strike of
20,000 men at Preston. [Added in the 4th German edition. That was the
prelude to the crisis which broke out immediately afterwards. F. E.]

2 "Census, &c.," 1. c., p. 11.

3 Gladstone in the House of Commons, Feb 13th, 1843. Times, Feb.
14th, 1843 "It is one of the most melancholy features in the social state
of this country that we see, beyond the possibility of denial, that while
there is at this moment a decrease in the consuming powers of the people, an
increase of the pressure of privations and distress; there is at the same
time a constant accumulation of wealth in the upper classes, an increase
of the luxuriousness of their habits, and of their means of enjoyment.* 1
(Hansard, 13th Feb.)



CAPITALIST PRODUCTION



rate, whether the extremes of poverty are less, I do not presume
to say" 1 How lame an anti-climax! If the working-class has re-
mained "poor," only "less poor" in proportion as it produces for
the wealthy class "an intoxicating augmentation of wealth and
power," then it has remained relatively just as poor. If the ex-
tremes of poverty have not lessened, they have increased, because
the extremes of wealth have. As to the cheapening of the means
of subsistence, the official statistics, e.g., the accounts of the Lon-
don Orphan Asylum, show an increase in price of 20% for the
average of the three years 1860-1862, compared with 1851-1853.
In the following three years, 1863-1865, there was a progressive



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