The Elements of the Structure and their History

The definition of every mode of production as a combination of (always the same) elements which are only notional elements unless they are put into relation with each other according to a determinate mode, and the possibility this affords of periodizing the modes of production according to a principle of the variation of these combinations, are two propositions which of themselves alone deserve our attention. In fact, they convey the radically anti-evolutionist character of the Marxist theory of the history of production (and therefore of society). Nothing conforms less to the dominant ideology of the nineteenth century, the century of history and evolution to which Marx belonged, if we are to believe chronology. As we shall see better later, this is because Marx's concepts are not intended to reflect, reproduce and mimic history, but to produce the knowledge of it: they are the concepts of the structures on which the historical effects depend.

In consequence, here there is neither a progressive movement of differentiation of the forms, nor even a line of progress with a logic akin to a destiny. Marx does tell us that all the modes of production are historical moments, but he does not tell us that these moments descend one from the other : on the contrary, the way his basic concepts are defined excludes such a facile solution. As Marx says in the 1857 Introduction that we have already quoted, 'certain determinations are common to the most modern and to the most ancient epochs' (e.g., co-operation and certain forms of direction, of accountability, which are common to 'Asiatic' modes of production and to the capitalist mode of production more than to all the others). This breaks the identity between chronology and a law of the internal development of forms which is at the root of evolutionism as of all historicisms of 'supersession'. Marx's aim was to show that the distinction between different modes is necessarily and sufficiently based on a variation of the connexions between a small number of elements which are always the same. The announcement of these connexions and of their terms constitutes the exposition of the primary theoretical concepts of historical materialism, of the few general concepts which form the rightful beginning of his exposition and which characterize the scientific method of Capital, conferring on its theory its axiomatic form; i.e., the announcement of a determinate form of this variation, one which directly depends on the concepts of labour-power, means of production, property, etc., is a constantly necessary presupposition of the economic' proofs in Capital.

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But is this some kind of 'structuralism'? The suggestion is a tempting one, despite the risk of a confusion with thoroughly unscientific contemporary ideologies, in that it would redress the balance, for readings have traditionally leaned towards evolutionism and historicism. The 'combination' that Marx analyses is, to be sure, a system of 'synchronic' connexions obtained by variation. However, this science of combinations is not a combinatory, in which only the places of the factors and their relationships change, but not their nature, which is not only subordinate to the system in general, but also indifferent : it is therefore possible to abstract from it and proceed directly to the formalization of the systems. This suggests the possibility of an a priori science of the modes of production, a science of possible modes of production, whose realization or non-realization in real-concrete history would depend on the result of a throw of the dice or on the action of an optimum principle. Historical materialism does authorize the prediction or even the reconstruction of 'notional' modes of production (as one might describe the 'mode of simple commodity production') which, never having been dominant in history, have never existed in an undeformed state. However, it does so in a different way, as will be explained later, on the basis of modifications in an existing mode of production. Otherwise, this would presuppose that the 'factors' of the combination were the very concepts I have listed, that these concepts directly designated the elements of a construction, the atoms of a history. In reality, as I have already said in a very general way, these concepts designate the elements of the construction only mediately: what I have called the 'differential analysis of forms' is an essential intermediate step in the determination of the historical forms taken by labour-power, property, 'real appropriation', etc. These concepts designate only what might be called the pertinences of historical analysis. It is this feature of the 'combinatory', which is therefore a pseudo-combinatory, that explains why there are general concepts of the science of history although there can never be a history in general.

In order to show how this pertinence works, I shall now return in a little more detail to a few of the problems of definition involving the two 'connexions' which I have distinguished, taking the two articulations of the 'combination' separately in order to bring out their peculiar effects on the definition of the elements ('factors'). These specifications are indispensable if we are to see that Marx was right to speak of a structure of the process of production, and if the combination of the factors is to be no mere descriptive juxtaposition, but an effective explanation of a functional unity.

(1) W H A T I S ' P R O P E R T Y ' ?

The first connexion that we inscribed in the 'combination' of a mode of production was designated as the 'property' connexion, or connexion of surplus-value appropriation; in fact, Marx constantly defines the 'rela-

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tions of production' characteristic of a historical mode of production (and notably of capitalism) by its kind of ownership of the means of production, and therefore by the mode of appropriation of the social product which depends on it. The principle of this definition is well known. But a number of specifications are necessary, in order to bring out its exact structural function.

In the previous chapter, I concentrated above all on showing the difference between two concepts of appropriation, each of which refers to one aspect of the dual production process contained in every mode of production, and therefore defines one of the two connexions which constitute the combination of the 'factors' of production. But it is no less important to take up Marx's many hints and distinguish between the relations of production themselves, which are all that concern us here, and their 'legal expression', which does not belong to the structure of production considered in its relative autonomy. In this case, it is a question of distinguishing sharply between the connexion that we have called 'property' and the law of property. This analysis is of fundamental importance in characterizing the degree of relative autonomy of the economic structure with respect to the equally 'regional' structure of the 'legal and political forms', i.e., in initiating an analysis of the articulation of regional structures or instances within the social formation.

This is also a decisive point for the history of theoretical concepts: Althusser has already recalled that the Marxist concept of 'social relations' marks a break with the whole of classical philosophy and with Hegel in particular, insofar as these relations do not represent forms of inter-subjectivity but relations which assign a necessary function to things as well as to men. Let us add that the Hegelian concept of 'civil society', adopted from the classical economists and designated by Marx as the main site of his discoveries, i.e., of his theoretical transformations, includes both the economic system of the division of labour and exchange, and the sphere of private law. There is therefore an immediate identity of appropriation in the 'economic' sense and legal property, and, in consequence, if the second can be designated as an 'expression' of the first, it is a necessarily adequate expression, or a duplication.

It is particularly interesting to note that certain of the clearest texts Marx devoted to the distinction between the social relations of production and their legal expression, concern precisely the possibility of a dislocation between base and superstructure, which, without this distinction, would obviously be incomprehensible. For example, in his analysis of the 'Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent', he writes:

Since the direct producer [in the feudal mode of production] is not the owner, but only a possessor, and since all his surplus-labour de jure actually belong to the landlord, some historians have expressed astonishment that it should be at all possible for those subject to forced labour,

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or serfs, to acquire any independent property, or relatively speaking, wealth, under such circumstances. However, it is evident that tradition must play a dominant role in the primitive and undeveloped circumstance on which these social production relations and the corresponding mode of production are based. It is furthermore clear that here as always it is in the interest of the ruling section of society to sanction the existing order as law and legally to establish its limits given through usage and tradition. Apart from all else, this, by the way, comes about of itself as soon as the constant reproduction of the basis of the existing order and its fundamental relations assumes a regulated and orderly form in the course of time. And such regulation and order are themselves indispensable elements of any mode of production, if it is to assume social stability and indifference from mere chance and arbitrariness. These are precisely the form of its social stability and therefore its relative freedom from mere arbitrariness and mere chance. . . . It achieves this form by mere repetition of its own reproduction (Capital, Vol. III, pp. 773-4, modified).

Such a gap or discordance between the law and a 'tradition' which might seem a sub-law or a debased law, is therefore in reality the expression of a gap or discordance between the law and an economic relation (the individual producer's necessary disposition of his plot of land), characteristic of periods of the formation of a mode of production, i.e., of the transition from one mode of production to another. A remarkable instance of the same effect is also featured in the analysis of the factory legislation that dates from the first period of the history of industrial capitalism and codifies the conditions of the 'normal' exploitation of wage labour-power (see Capital, T.II, pp. 159ff.; Vol. I, pp. 480ff.).

Since such gaps are possible, or more precisely, since contradictions are induced within the law itself by its non-correspondence with the relations of production, law must be distinct and second in order of analysis to the relations of production. And this is confirmed if we compare the passages where Marx reveals the specificity of 'bourgeois' property, e.g.:

In each historical epoch, property has developed differently and under a set of entirely different social relations, thus to define bourgeois property is nothing else than to give an exposition of all the social relations of bourgeois production. To try to give a definition of property as of an independent relation, a category apart, an abstract and eternal idea, can be nothing but an illusion of metaphysics or jurisprudence (Poverty of Philosophy, op. cit., p. 154).

with those that recall the chronological precedence, the precession of the ('Roman') legal forms of the right of property with respect to the capitalist mode of production, which alone generalizes the private ownership of the means of production. On this point I could refer to the text of Pre-Capitalist

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Economic Formations that has already been quoted (and is a very legal text, both in its object and in its terminology), or else to a letter from Engels to Kautsky:

Roman law was the consummate law of simple, i.e., pre-capitalist commodity production, which however included most of the legal relations of the capitalist period. Hence precisely what our city burghers needed at the time of their rise and did not find in the local law of custom (26 June 1884).

This comparison retrospectively illuminates the text on 'The Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent' that I quoted above. It shows that the problem of the gap between a 'tradition' and a 'law' must not be interpreted as a theory of the genesis of the law out of the economic relations: for although the transition from a custom to a law does occur in history, this transition is not a continuity, but on the contrary, a rupture, a change in the law, or better: a change in the nature of law which is achieved by re-activating an older law ('Roman' law) which has already been superseded once. Nor is the repetition that seems to play an essential part in the articulation of the law with the economic relations here an element of this genesis, which, would explain the formation of a codified superstructure by virtue of its duration: its function is necessarily quite different, and refers us to the theoretical analysis of the functions of reproduction found in every mode of production, which we will discuss later. What we can see from the reproduction of economic relations is the necessary function of the law with respect to the system of economic relations itself, and the structural conditions to which it is therefore subordinate; but not the generation of the instance of the law itself in the social formation.

It is difficult, firstly, to distinguish clearly between the relations of production and their 'legal expression'; this very concept of expression is difficult, too, once it no longer means duplication but rather the articulation of two heterogeneous instances; finally, so is the possible dislocation between the economic relations and the legal forms. All these preliminary difficulties are not accidental, they explain the method of investigation which must necessarily be followed here (and to which Marx himself shows the way, notably in his texts on pre-capitalist modes of production, which are closer to investigations than to systematic expositions). This method consists of looking for the relations of production behind the legal forms, or better: behind the secondary unity of production and law, which has to be disentangled. Only by this method will it eventually be possible to trace the theoretical boundary while still taking into account the ambivalent function that Marx assigns to legal forms: they are necessary and yet 'irrational', expressing and codifying the 'economic' reality which each mode of production defines in its own way, and yet simultaneously masking it. This represents a commitment to a regressive course -- another attempt to determine gaps or differences which will be expressed negatively on the basis of

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the forms of the law, but this time within a completely self-contemporaneous system (a highly determinate mode of production: here the capitalist mode of production). Hence a difficult terminological problem as well, since the concepts in which the relations of production are expressed are precisely concepts in which the economic and the legal are indistinct, starting with the concept of property. What is 'property' insofar as it forms a system within the relatively autonomous structure of production, and logically precedes the law of property peculiar to the society considered? Such is the problem which must be initiated for capitalism too.

This commitment to an analysis of the relations between the economic structure of the capitalist mode of production and the law that corresponds to it demands a complete study of its own: that is why I must be satisfied here by giving a few hints which will serve as reference points. The steps in a proof can be outlined as follows:

(1) the whole of the economic structure of the capitalist mode of production from the immediate process of production to circulation and the distribution of the social product, presupposes the existence of a legal system ; the basic elements of which are the law of property and the law of contract. Each of the elements of the economic structure receives a legal qualification in the context of this system, notably the various elements of the immediate production process: the owner of the means of production, the means of production ('capital'), the 'free' labourer, and the process itself, characterized legally as a contract.

(2) the peculiarity of the legal system we are discussing here (but not, of course, of every historical legal system) is its abstract universalistic character: by which I mean that this system simply distributes the concrete beings which can support its functions into two categories within each of which there is no pertinent distinction from the legal point of view: the category of human persons and the category of things. The property relation is established exclusively between human persons and things (or between what are reputed to be persons and what are reputed to be things); the contract relation is established exclusively between persons. Just as, in law, there is no diversity between persons, who are all or can all be owners and contractors, so there is no diversity between things, which are all or can all be property, whether they are means of labour or means of consumption, and whatever the use to which this property is put.

(3) this universality of the legal system reflects, in the strict sense, another universality which is part of the economic structure: the universality of commodity exchange, which as we know is only realized on the basis of the capitalist mode of production (although the existence of commodity exchange and the forms that it implies are much older); only on the basis of the capitalist mode of production is the set of elements of the economic structure distributed entirely as commodities (including labour-power) and exchangers (including the direct producer). These two categories thus correspond adequately to those which define the legal system (persons and things).

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Thus the general problem of the relationship between the capitalist mode of production and the legal system which its functioning presupposes depends historically and theoretically on another problem: that of the relationship between the economic structure of the immediate process of production and the economic structure of the circulation of commodities. This necessary presence of 'commodity categories' in the analysis of the process of production explains the necessary presence of the corresponding legal categories.

(4) the social relations of production which are part of the structure of the capitalist mode of production can be characterized on the basis of their legal expression, by comparison, uncovering a series of dislocations between them.

Firstly, whereas the 'law of property' is characterized as universalistic, introducing no differences between the things possessed and their uses, the only property which is significant from the point of view of the structure of the production process is the ownership of the means of production, to the extent that, as Marx constantly reiterates, the latter function as means of production, i.e., are consumed productively, combined with 'living' labour and not hoarded or consumed unproductively. Whereas legal property is a right of consumption of any kind (in general: the right 'to use and abuse', i.e., to consume individually, to consume productively, to alienate -- exchange -- or to 'squander' -- Capital, Vol. III, p. 804), the economic ownership of the means of production is not so much a legal 'right' to them as the power to consume them productively, depending on their material nature, on their adaptation to the conditions of the labour process, as a means of appropriating surplus-labour. This power does not come down to a law, but, as Althusser has already suggested, to a distribution of the means of production (notably a suitable concentration in quantity and quality). The economic relation is not based on the indifference of 'things' (and, correlatively, of commodities ), but on an appreciation of their differences, which can be analysed according to two lines of opposition:

elements of individual consumption
elements of productive consumption


labour-power/means of production

(the reader will realize that this system of differences recurs in the analysis of the departments of aggregate social reproduction). Thus the gap between the social relations of production and the law of property can be characterized as a movement of extension or protraction, as an abolition of the divisions required by the structure of production: from 'ownership of the means of production' to property 'in general'.

Secondly, the relationship established between the owner of the means of production (the capitalist) and the wage-labourer is, legally, a special form of contract: a labour contract. This is established on condition that labour is

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legally reputed to be an exchange, i.e., that labour-power is legally reputed to be a 'commodity', or a thing. Note that in its concept this transformation of labour-power into a commodity and the establishment of the labour contract are completely independent of the nature of the labour in which the labour is consumed. That is why the legal form of the wage-earner is, just as before, a universal form which applies both to productive labour, the work of transformation that produces surplus-value, and to all the other forms of labour that can generally be designated by the term 'services'. But only 'productive' labour determines a relation of production, and productive labour cannot generally be defined by the relationship between the employer and the wage-earner, a relationship between 'persons': it presupposes that the economic sphere in which it takes place is taken into account (the sphere of immediate production, the source of surplus-value), i.e., the material nature of the labour and its objects, i.e., the nature of the means of labour with which it is combined. A few moments ago the ownership of the means of production, in the form of a legal relation between a person and a thing, appeared to us as a power over 'living' labour through the disposition of the means of production (which alone confer this power); in the same way, wage labour, insofar as it is a relationship inside the structure of production, in the legal form of a wage-service contract, appears to us now as a power over the means of production through the disposition of productive labour (which alone confers this power, i.e., determines an adequate consumption, not just any consumption). Thus the gap between wage labour as a social relation of production and the law of labour can be characterized as a movement of extension or protraction formally similar to the preceding one.

Hence two conclusions of the first importance:

-- whereas from the legal point of view (from the point of view of the law implied by the capitalist mode of production, of course) the property relation, a relation between a 'person' and a 'thing', and the contract relation, a relation between a 'person' and a 'person', are two distinct forms (even if they are based on a single system of categories), the same is no longer the case from the point of view of the economic structure: the ownership of the means of production and productive wage labour define a single connexion, a single relation of production. This follows directly from the two analyses outlined above.

-- because this social relation is not legal in nature, although, for reasons that lie in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production, we are obliged (and Marx first of all) to describe it in the peculiar terminology of legal categories, it cannot be supported by the same concrete beings. The legal relations are universalistic and abstract: they are established between 'persons' and 'things' in general; it is the systematic structure of law which defines its supports as individuals (persons) confronted by things. Similarly, it is through their functions in the production process that the means of production are the supports of a connexion in the economic structure, and

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this connexion (as opposed to property and contract) cannot be defined for individuals, but only for social classes or representatives of social classes. The definition of the capitalist class or of the proletarian class therefore does not precede that of the social relations of production, but vice versa, the definition of the social relations of production implies a 'support' function defined as a class.

But a class cannot be the subject of property in the sense in which -- legally -- the individual is the subject of his property, nor a partner, nor 'third party', of a contract. We are not dealing here with the inherence of the object in its subject, or with the mutual recognition of subjects, but with the mechanism of the constant distribution of the means of production, hence with the entire capital and in consequence the entire social product (as Marx shows in the penultimate chapter of Volume Three of Capital : 'relations of production are relations of distribution'). Classes are not the subjects of this mechanism but its supports, and the concrete characteristics of these classes (their types of revenue, their internal stratification, their relations to the different levels of the social structure) are the effects of this mechanism. The economic relation of production appears therefore as a relation between three functionally defined terms: owner class/means of production/class of exploited producers. Confirmation of this may be found especially in Part 7 of Volume One ('The Accumulation of Capital'), where Marx shows how the mechanism of capitalist production, by productively consuming the means of production and the workers' labour power, produces the labourers' existence as an appendage of capital and makes the capitalist the instrument of accumulation, capital's functionary. There is nothing individual about this connexion, it is in consequence not a contract, but 'invisible threads' which bind the worker to the capitalist class, the capitalist to the working class (Capital, T.III, pp. 16, 20; Vol. I, pp. 573-4, 577-8). We therefore find that the social relation which determines the distribution of the means of production is instituted as a necessary relation between each individual of one class and the whole of the opposing class.

(2) P R O D U C T I V E F O R C E S (H A N D I C R A F T S A N D
M E C H A N I Z A T I O N)

Among the general concepts to whose systematic articulation by Marx I referred in my analysis of the Preface to A Contribution, none, perhaps, presents such difficulties, despite all its apparent simplicity, as that of the productive forces, or, more exactly, of the level of the productive forces (or their degree of development). Indeed, the announcement of the concept alone immediately suggests two consequences which have been the source of fundamental misconstructions of Marx's theory, but of which it must be said that they are not easy to avoid: first, to speak of 'productive forces', 'forces' of production, immediately suggests the possibility of a list -- 'the productive forces are the population, the machines, science, etc.'; at the

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same time, it suggests that the 'advance' of the productive forces may take the form of a cumulative progress, an addition of new productive forces or a replacement of certain of them by other, more 'powerful' ones (the craftsman's tool by the machine). This leads to an interpretation of the 'level' or 'degree of development' which is all the more tempting in that it seems to be implied by the words themselves: a linear and cumulative development, a quasi-biological continuity. But if that were so, how could we explain the historical discontinuities expressly contained in the general theory, except by a theory of 'qualitative change', of the transformation 'of quantity into quality', i.e., a descriptive theory of the pattern of a movement which does not suppress its general structure? How could we avoid a mechanistic theory of historical movement in which the 'dialectic' is merely another name for a periodic, and periodically compensated and adjusted, dislocation or lateness of the other instances with respect to this development against which they are measured?

However, such a distribution quickly runs into remarkable difficulties: and all of them are related to the heteronomy of the 'elements' that must be added together to make Marx's concept coincide directly with a description of the 'facts'. Marx's bourgeois critics have not failed to note that the 'productive forces' ultimately include not only technical instruments, but also the application of scientific knowledge to the perfection and replacement of those instruments, and ultimately science itself; not only a population of working strengths, but also the technical and cultural customs of this population, which history (for earlier modes of production) and industrial social psychology show to be more and more historically and sociologically 'dense' and complex; not only techniques, but also a certain organization of labour, or even a social and political organization ('planning' is an obvious example), etc. These are not arbitrary difficulties: they reflect the fact that Marx's concept cannot be made to coincide with the categories of a sociology which, for its part, does proceed by the distribution and adding together of levels -- the technological, the economic, the legal, the social, the psychological, the political, etc. -- and which bases its peculiar historical classifications on these distributions (traditional societies and industrial societies, liberal societies and centralized-totalitarian societies, etc.). Moreover, these difficulties provide us with an index to an essential formal difference between Marx's concept and categories of this kind: the fact that the concept of the productive forces has nothing to do with a distribution of this type. We must therefore start looking for its real features.

First let us stop and examine Marx's formulation itself: 'level' and 'degree', are certainly expressions which suggest the possibility of at least a notional measurement, and the measurement of a growth. These expressions are thought to characterize the essence of the productive forces, and in consequence to define them in the specificity of a historical mode of production. But it is a common-place to note that the productivity of any

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labour, i.e., the 'measure' of this development, increased more in a few decades of industrial capitalism than in centuries of previous modes of production, whereas the 'relations' of production and the legal and political forms maintained a comparable rate of change; the same is true of the transformation of the means of labour (the equipment) which Marx calls the 'Gradmesser der Entwicklung der menschlichen Arbeitskraft '. Besides, Marx says much more correctly, and whenever this level plays a direct part in economic analysis: the productive power of labour, the productivity of the power of labour (Produktivkraft ).

In other words, as we shall see, the 'productive forces' are not really things. If they were things, the problem of their transport, their importation, would, paradoxically enough, be easier to resolve for bourgeois sociology (with the exception of a few 'psychological' problems of cultural adaptation) than it is for Marx -- since his theory claims that there is a necessary connexion or correlation between certain productive forces and a certain type of society (defined by its social relations). Bypassing the verbal illusion created by the term, we can already say that the most interesting aspect of the 'productive forces' is no longer their distribution or composition, but the rhythm and pattern of their development, for this rhythm is directly linked to the nature of the relations of production, and the structure of the mode of production. What Marx proved, notably in Capital, and what is alluded to in some well-known sentences in the Manifesto, is not the fact that capitalism has liberated the development of the productive forces once and for all, but the fact that capitalism has imposed on the productive forces a determinate type of development whose rhythm and pattern are peculiar to it, dictated by the form of the process of capitalist accumulation. It is this pattern which best characterizes, descriptively, a mode of production, rather than the level attained at any moment. ('The law of increased productivity of labour is not, therefore, absolutely valid for capital. So far as capital is concerned, productivity does not increase through a saving in living labour, but only through a saving in the paid portion of living labour, as compared to labour expended in the past' -- Capital, Vol. III, p. 257).

But from the theoretical point of view, the 'productive forces', too, are a connexion of a certain type within the mode of production, in other words, they, too, are a relation of production : precisely the one I have tried to suggest by introducing into the constitutive connexions inside the mode of production, as well as a 'property' connexion, a connexion, B, of 'real appropriation', between the same elements: means of production, direct producers, even 'non-labourers', i.e., in the context of the capitalist mode of production, the non-wage-earners. I should now like to show that this really is a connexion, or more rigorously a relation of production, by tracing the analysis to be found in the chapters of Capital devoted to the methods of formation of relative surplus-value; at the same time, we shall see better what the differential analysis of forms is.

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Marx's analysis takes up three chapters of Capital (Volume One, Chapters XIII, XIV and XV in the English translation) which are devoted to the forms of co-operation in manufacture and modern industry, and the transition from the one to the other which constitutes the 'industrial revolution'. But this development is incomprehensible unless we refer it on the one hand to the definition of the labour process (Volume One, Chapter VII) and on the other to Chapter XVI of Volume One ('Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value') which is its conclusion.

The transition from manufacture to modern industry inaugurates what Marx calls the 'specific mode of production' of capitalism, or again the 'real subsumption' of labour beneath capital. In other words, modern industry constitutes the form of our connexion which belongs organically to the capitalist mode of production.

At first, capital subordinates labour on the basis of the technical conditions given by historical development. It does not change immediately the mode of production. The production of surplus-value in the form considered by us -- by means of a simple extension of the working day, proved, therefore, to be independent of any change in the mode of production itself (Capital, T.I, p. 303; Vol. I, p. 310).
The production of relative surplus-value revolutionizes out and out the technical processes of labour, and the forms of social grouping (die gesellschaftlichen Gruppierungen ). It therefore presupposes a specific mode, the capitalist mode of production, a mode which, along with its methods, means and conditions, arises and develops itself spontaneously on the basis provided by the formal subsumption of labour under capital. In the case of this development, the formal subsumption is replaced by the real subsumption of labour under capital (Capital, Vol. I, p. 510, retranslated from Marx-Engels: Werke, Bd. XXIII, pp. 532-3).

The following considerations may be regarded merely as a commentary on these texts.

Firstly, the difference between formal subsumption and 'real' subsumption indicates the existence of a chronological dislocation in the formation of the different elements of the structure: capital as a 'social relation', i.e., the capitalist ownership of the means of production, exists before and independently of the 'real' subsumption, i.e., the specific form of our connexion (real appropriation) which corresponds to the capitalist mode of production. The explanation for this dislocation and for the possibility of such dislocations in general is found in a theory of the forms of transition from one mode of production to another, which I shall leave aside for the moment. Let me merely underline the following: the simple, purely chronological dislocation is indifferent to the theory that we are studying; the 'synchrony' in which the concept of a mode of production is given simply suppresses this aspect of temporality and hence excludes from the theory of history every mechan-

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ical form of thought where time is concerned (any theory which asserts that anything featured at the same level in a chart of chronological concordances belong to the same time). Not only is there a dislocation between the emergence of the capitalist ownership of the means of production and the 'industrial revolution', but the industrial revolution is itself dislocated from one branch of production to another. The second dislocation is also suppressed by the theory. Finally, within a single branch, it proceeds by successive replacements of manual labour by 'mechanized' labour, in a rhythm subject to structural and conjunctural economic necessities; so much so that the 'transition' which is our object here appears as a tendency in the strict sense Marx gave that term, i.e., as a structural property of the capitalist mode of production: the essence of the 'productive forces' in the capitalist mode of production is to be constantly in the process of transition from manual labour to mechanized labour.

Let us recall in what this transition from manufacture to modern industry consists.

Both are forms of co-operation between the labourers (the direct producers), and this co-operation is only possible through their subjection to capital, which employs them all simultaneously. Both therefore constitute what can be called organisms of production, instituting a 'collective labourer': the labour process which is defined by the delivery of a finished use product (whether this use be an individual consumption or a productive consumption) requires the intervention of several labourers in a specific form of organization. Manufacture and modern industry are thus equally opposed to the individual handicraft. However, that is not the real break.

All co-operation may take simple or complex forms: in simple co-operation, there is a juxtaposition of labourers and operations. 'Numerous labourers work together side by side, whether in one and the same process, or in different but connected processes.' This form of co-operation is still found, particularly in agriculture. In the workshop of the guild master, the labour of the journeymen is usually performed in simple co-operation. The same is true of the primitive forms of manufacture, which consist simply in gathering the artisans into a single place of work. Complex co-operation, on the contrary, consists of an imbrication, of an intertwining of the labour. The operations performed by each worker successively or simultaneously are complementary, and only together do they give birth to a finished product. This form of co-operation (which is found in quite distant times in some sectors, e.g., metallurgy) constitutes the essence of the division of labour in manufacture: one piece of work is divided among the workers (until the eighteenth century this was called a single 'oeuvre ' or 'ouvrage ' in France).

Obviously, this division may have different origins. It may derive from a real 'division', after the complex operations of a single handicraft have been shared out among different labourers who thus become specialists in one fraction of the labour: or it may derive from the junction of several different

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handicrafts, subordinated to the production of a single useful product to which they all contribute, thus transforming these handicrafts post festum into fractions of a single labour. Marx analyses examples of both (the manufacture of pins, the manufacture of carriages); they depend on the physical properties of the product, but in any case, this process of formation disappears in the result which is a division of labour of the same form. The basic principle, the importance of which we shall soon discover, is the fact that the fractional operations can be performed as manual labour.[12] All the advantages of the manufacturing division of labour are derived from the rationalization of each component operation which is made possible by its isolation and by the specialization of the labourer: the improvement of movements and tools, increased speed, etc. It is therefore essential that this specialization is in fact possible, that each simplest possible operation is individualized. Instead of a break, we therefore find a continuity between handicraft and manufacture: the manufacturing division of labour arises as the extension of the analytical movement of specialization peculiar to handicrafts, a movement which simultaneously affects both the perfection of technical operations and the psycho-physical characteristics of the workers' labour-power. These are merely two aspects, two faces of one and the same development

Indeed, manufacture is merely the extreme radicalization of the distinctive feature of handicrafts: the unity of labour-power and means of labour. On the one hand, the means of labour (the tool) must be adapted to the human organism; on the other, a tool is no longer a technical instrument in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it: its effective use demands of the worker a set of physical and intellectual qualities, a sum of cultural habits (an empirical knowledge of the materials, of the tricks of the trade up to and including the craft secret, etc.). That is why handicrafts are indissolubly linked to apprenticeship. Before the industrial revolution, a 'technique ' was the indissociable ensemble of a means of labour or tool, and a worker, moulded to its use by apprenticeship and habit. The technique is essentially individual, even if the organization of labour is collective. Manufacture retains these properties and pushes them to the limit: the inconveniences denounced from the beginning of fractional labour arise precisely from the fact that it maintains a rigorous coincidence of the technical process, which gives rise to more and more differentiated operations, adapted to more and more numerous and distinct materials, with the anthropological process, which makes individual abilities more and more specialized. The tool and the worker reflect one and the same movement.

The main consequence of this immediate unity is what Marx calls 'manual labour as a regulating principle of social production'. This means that co-
12 Obviously, we are here using a general concept of 'manual labour', one not restricted to actions performed by the hands, although the hands are the dominant organs, but extended to the world of the whole psycho-physiological organism. Similarly, 'machine' should not be understood in the restricted sense of machines which are mechanical.

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operation in manufacture brings workers into relationship, and only through their mediation, means of production. This fact emerges clearly if, for example, we consider the constraints to which the constitution of the 'organisms of production' must conform where the proportion of workers employed in different tasks is concerned: these are dictated by the characteristics of labour-power. The number of manual operations into which it is most advantageous to divide the labour, and the number of workers detailed to each functional task so that there is 'work' for all of them all the time, must be established empirically. This will fix the composition of a unity-group which is paralysed if even one of its members is missing, in exactly the same way as an artisan would be paralysed in the continuity of his labour-process if for some reason he could not perform any one of the operations required for the manufacture of his product (See Capital, T.II, p. 37; Vol. I, p. 347).

By replacing human strength in the function of tool-bearer, i.e., by suppressing its direct contact with the object of labour, mechanization produces a complete transformation of the connexion between the labourer and the means of production. From then on, the information of the object of labour no longer depends on the culturally acquired characteristics of the labour-power, but is pre-determined by the form of the production instruments and by their functioning mechanism. The basic principle of the organization of labour becomes the necessity to replace the operations of manual labour as completely as possible by the operations of machines. The machine-tool makes the organization of production completely independent of the characteristics of human labour-power: at the same stroke, the means of labour and the labourer are completely separated and acquire different forms of development. The previous relationship is inverted: rather than the instruments having to be adapted to the human organism, that organism must adapt itself to the instrument.

This separation makes possible the constitution of a completely different type of unity, the unity of the means of labour and the object of labour. The machine-tool, says Marx, makes possible the constitution of a 'material skeleton independent of the labourers themselves' (Capital, T.II, p. 56; Vol. I, p. 367). An organism of production is now no longer the union of a certain number of workers, it is a set of fixed machines ready to receive any workers. From now on, 'a technique' is a set of certain materials and instruments of labour, linked together by a knowledge of the physical properties of each of them, and of their properties as a system. The process of production is regarded in isolation as a natural labour process: within the elements of the labour process, it constitutes a relatively autonomous sub-set. This unity is expressed in the emergence of technology, i.e., the application of the natural sciences to the techniques of production. But this application is only possible on the existing basis provided by the objective unity of the means of production (means and object of labour) in the labour process.

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The collective labourer acquires the determination of what Marx calls 'socialized labour '. It is impossible to explain the totality of conditions actually required by a particular labour process (leading to a determinate useful product) without considering it as a component labour process, an element of social production as a whole. And notably, the intellectual labour which produces the knowledges which are applied in any particular labour process must appear in its analysis (in the analysis of the technical division of this labour process). There are labourers in this co-operation who are not present at the work-place. The fact that this product of intellectual labour, science, is a free element so far as the capitalist is concerned (which besides is not completely the case) and seems to be a gift of society, is a different problem, one which does not arise in the analysis of the labour process. Similarly, the set of workshops or factories in which the same technique is applied, independently of the distribution of property, tends to become its field of application and experiment, constituting what Marx calls 'practical experience on a wide scale':

It is only the experience of the collective worker which discovers and reveals . . . the simplest methods of applying the discoveries, and the ways to overcome the practical frictions arising from carrying out the theory -- in its application to the production process, etc. (Capital, Vol. III, p. 103, modified).

Thus we see that as a consequence of the relationship between the elements of the combination, the natures of those elements themselves are transformed. This 'collective worker' in a relationship with the unity of the means of production is now a completely different individual from the one who formed the characteristic unity of artisan-manufacturing labour with different means of labour; at the same time, the determination of 'productive labour' has changed it support:

Once . . . the individual product has been transformed into a social product, produced by a collective labourer, each member of which participates to a very different extent and from near or far or not at all in the manipulation of the material, the determinations of productive labour, and of the productive labourer become extended as a necessary consequence. In order to labour productively, it is no longer necessary for you to do manual work yourself; it is enough that you are an organ of the collective labourer, and perform one of its subordinate functions. The first determination given above of productive labour, a definition deduced from the very nature of the production of material objects, still remains correct for the collective labourer, considered as a single person. But it no longer holds good for each of its members taken individually (Capital, T.II, pp. 183-4; Vol. I, pp. 508-9).[13]

13 In the text of Capital, this determination is followed by a second one, which notes that in the capitalist mode of production the description 'productive labourer' is at the same [cont. onto p. 241. -- DJR] time restricted to the wage labourer, the labourer who corresponds to an advance of variable capital for the capitalist. These two inverse movements (extension-limitation) are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. Each corresponds to one of the two internal connexions of the mode of production, or more exactly to the determination of one element -- the direct labourer -- with respect to each of the two connexions, according to the specific form that the latter take in the capitalist mode of production. In the one that we have taken as the object of our study, the element (the labourer) which has the ability actually to set to work the social means of production is constituted not only by wage labourers and non-wage labourers (intellectual workers), but also by the capitalists themselves, insofar as they have the technical function of supervision and organization. The same double movement (extension- limitation) will recur later in this exposition, when I analyse the specific types of development of the productive forces in the capitalist mode of production and the historical tendency of that mode of production.

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In our pseudo-combinatory, therefore, we do not really find the same 'concrete' elements when we move from one variant to the next. Nor is their particularity defined by a mere place, but rather as an effect of the structure, differing every time, i.e., an effect of the combination which constitutes the mode of production. I have taken this connexion as an example because the analysis in Capital unravels every inch of it, but it is clear that an analysis of the same type could be conducted for the forms of property, not in the legal sense of the term, but in the sense of the relations of production pre- supposed and formalized by the legal forms. Marx outlines a hint towards such an analysis in the retrospective texts on The Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent (Capital, Volume Three) and Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations (Grundrisse), making use notably of a formal distinction between 'property' and 'possession'. His hints are enough to show that we should find forms which are as complex as those he reveals with respect to real appropriation.[14]

(3) D E V E L O P M E N T A N D D I S P L A C E M E N T

Before announcing the further consequences we can draw from this analysis, I must first show that it depends entirely on criteria for the differentiation of forms which are contained in the definition of the labour process.

The simple elements (die einfache Momente ) into which the labour process breaks down are: (1) the personal activity of man, or labour strictly speaking (zweckmässige Tätigkeit ); (2) the object on which that labour acts (Gegenstand ); (3) the means with which it acts (Mittel ) (Capital, T.I, p. 181; Vol. I, p. 178).

What most people remember about Marx's analysis of the industrial revolution is what distinguishes it from other explanations of the same 14 The function of ownership of the means of production may be performed by individuals, collectivities, real or imaginary representatives of the collectivity, etc.; it may appear in a unique form, or, on the contrary, be duplicated -- 'property' and 'possession', etc.

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'phenomenon': the fact that he attributed the origin of the technical and social upheavals to the introduction of the machine-tool, to the replacement of man as the tool-bearer, instead of attributing it to the introduction of new sources of energy (the steam engine), to the replacement of man as the motor. But it is less usual to dwell on the theoretical expression of this originality, which is contained in the definition of the labour process. The industrial revolution (the transition from manufacture to modern industry) can be completely defined, with the assistance of these concepts, as the transformation of the relationship which followed from the replacement of the means of labour. Returning to what I said above about this transformation, summarizing Marx, it could be represented as the succession of two 'material forms of existence' of the labour process:[16]

-- unity of the means of labour and of the labour power,
-- unity of the means of labour and of the object of labour;

in both cases, the pattern of the relationship between the three elements is completely characterized by designating the sub-set which has a unity and relative autonomy.

-- object of labour




unity of mechanization,

-- means of labour




handcraft (and manufacturing) unity,

-- labour power

It is obvious straightaway that the three concepts of the definition of the labour process have nothing to do with the abstraction of an empirical description (subject, object, 'mediation'), which can always be recast by distinguishing other elements. They are not derivatives of the analysis of the two successive forms of the connexion. They make that analysis possible.

Thus the movement from one form to the other can be completely analysed: not as the mere dissolution of a structure (the separation of the labourer from the means of labour), but as the transformation of one structure into another. Nor as the constitution ex nihilo of a structure although it is original (the unity of object and means of labour in a single system of physical interactions) (or as the accidental formation of that structure by the convergence of those two abstractions ('science' and 'technique'): for it is the forms of the labour
1 'The means of labour acquire in mechanization a material form of existence (materielle Existenzweise ) which is the condition for the substitution of natural forces for human force, and the conscious application of science instead of empirical routine' (Capital, T.II, p. 71; Vol. I, p. 386).

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process which have changed. The new system of the productive forces, of which modern capitalist mechanized industry is the first example, is neither an absolute end nor an absolute origin, but a reorganization of the entire system, of the relation of the real appropriation of nature, of the 'productive forces'.

But at the same time it is quite clear that this change in form could not have been analysed at all as the linear movement of a development, as a lineage. There is such a lineage between handicrafts and manufacture, since, as we have seen, manufacture can be regarded, from the point of view which concerns us, as the continuation of a movement peculiar to handicrafts, and one which conserves all its characteristics. But the machine which replaces the ensemble of tools and educated, specialized labour-power is in no way a product of the development of that ensemble. It merely occupies the same place. It replaces the previous system by a different system: the continuity is not that of elements or individuals, but of functions. This type of transformation can be designated by the general term displacement.

Here I should like to make a digression, though not an arbitrary one, and compare this kind of reasoning with the very interesting and very surprising method followed by Freud in his texts on the history of the libido (notably the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality ). The analogy is precise enough to encourage this comparison, which will perhaps seem even more justified if we think how akin were the ideological situations in which and against which Marx and Freud had to construct their theories, and how alike sometimes even the concepts of those ideologies were. Evolutionism reigns as supreme in the science of history as it does in 'psychology'. The terms Freud uses in the Three Essays refer to a psychological evolutionism, exactly as Marx's terms 'level', 'degree of development' of the productive forces, refer to a historical evolutionism (in the Preface to A Contribution, Marx speaks of the replacement of the existing social relations by 'new, higher' relations). Therefore (to forestall any ambiguity) I am not interested here in the articulation of the objects of psycho-analysis and historical materialism, but in the possibility of revealing epistemological analogies between Marx's theoretical work and Freud's.

Indeed, on the one hand we find in these texts of Freud's a whole biological or quasi-biological theory of the stages of development of the libido (sexual instinct), a problematic of the congenital constitution and established nature of the 'germs' whose development will constitute the successive stages. We find a theory of development and of its intermediate degrees, which at the same time justifies a theory of the pathological as the fixation on one stage of development or a regression to it (but a regression is always merely the revelation of a fixation), etc.

But on the other hand, in contrast with what would be a real evolutionist theory, although in the very same terms, we find something completely different.

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For example, in the following passage:

A difficult question and one which cannot be evaded: what is the general characteristic which enables us to recognize the sexual manifestations of children? The concatenation of phenomena into which we have been given an insight by psycho-analytic investigation justifies us, in my opinion, in regarding thumb-sucking as a sexual manifestation and in choosing it for our study of the essential features of infantile sexual activity (Three Essays, pp. 180-1).[16]

This is one example of a reasoning Freud generalizes in this study, which consists of making a series of organizations of the search for pleasure into the successive forms of a single sexual instinct. 'The final outcome of sexual development lies in what is known as the normal sexual life of the adult' (the formulation in the Introduction to Psychoanalysis gives a more complex chain, since Freud uses in his definition both infantile sexuality and 'abnormal' adult sexuality: hence the final outcome of the development is either 'normal' sexuality or perversion and neurosis, which have the same place in the 'abnormal' outcome). Paradoxically, the origins of the development are the stages which are least obviously of a 'sexual' character. In reality, they only acquire this character because analysis discovers for them the same function. The succession of these stages is much better analysed as a series of displacements than as a continuity: a displacement of the erotogenic zones, i.e., of the parts of the body invested with a sexual 'value' in a given libidinal organization (Freud tells us that there is hardly any part of the body that cannot be treated in this way); a displacement of the biological functions which 'prop up' the sexual instinct initially; a displacement of the objects of the instinct, from what Freud calls the absence of an object, but which is a particular modality of an object, to the object of genital love. Each of these displacements corresponds to one variant of the relations between what Freud calls the 'component instincts', i.e., the components of the complex sexual instinct.

In the second place we have found that some of the perversions which we have examined are only intelligible if we assume the convergence of several motive forces. If such perversions admit of analysis, that is, if they can be taken to pieces, then they must be of a composite nature. This gives us a hint that perhaps the sexual instinct itself may be no simple thing, but put together from components which have come apart again in the perversions. If this is so, the clinical observation of these abnormalities will have drawn our attention to amalgamations which have been lost to view (Three Essays, p. 162).

16 References to the 'Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality' are to The Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, translated and edited by James Strachey, Vol. VII, London 1953.

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Each of these variants is a system of organization of the complex sexual instincts implying a relation of dominance or hierarchy within the 'component instincts' (pre-genital or genital organizations -- primacy of the genital erotogenic zone) (see Three Essays, pp. 197ff.).

Thus Freud's reasoning in these pages sets to work a series of concepts which only superficially have anything to do with a theory of the evolution of the individual, or with a biological model of the latter. This reasoning must answer two questions at once : what form does the development take and what is its subject, what is it that develops?[17] This reasoning seems to be inseparable from a new definition of the 'sexuality' which is the object of the analysis (Freud is constantly dealing with objections which are related to this 'extension' of the notion of sexuality and which confuse it with the protraction of 'genital' sexual activity to periods before puberty). Finally, it emerges that sexuality is defined quite simply by the succession of forms between which such 'displacements ' can be analysed. Anything is sexual which in an element of an organization of the component instincts, the final outcome of whose variations is genital organization.

But what makes it possible to analyse these displacements is a set of theoretical concepts which plays a part analogous to that of the concepts which define the labour process in the analysis of the forms of the connexion of real appropriation ('productive forces'): activity/object/means of labour. In Freud, these concepts are used systematically in the Three Essays and presented systematically in the article Instincts and their Vicissitudes (Standard Edition, Vol. XIV): they are the concepts of the source (Quelle ), pressure (Drang ), object (Objekt ) and aim (Ziel ) of the instinct. Of course, there is no question of any correspondence between Freud's concepts and those of Marx: but rather one of the same type of analysis, and hence of an identity of the functions of these concepts in the method.
17 In reality, these questions are necessarily posed to any theory of development, notably in its original domain: the biological (whether individuals or species are concerned). The Darwinian revolution can be situated in a history of theories of development as a new way of posing them, which introduces a new answer ('evolution', restricted to the species and distinct from individual development). On this point, it has been possible to write: 'Originally such a development was understood as applying to a unique and qualified individual. No doubt, around the middle of the [nineteenth] century, it became hard to tell what was the subject of this development (what developed ). This invariant behind the embryological transformations could not be assimilated to surface and volume (as in an unfolding), nor to the adult structure (as in a maturation) . . . Other than [a] pseudo-unity in instantaneity (ecological, etc.), the only universe left for Darwin was a unity in a succession reduced almost to a minimum: that of a continuous lineage (filiation ), both in the genealogical sense (all species deriving from the same stock) and in an almost mathematical sense (tiny elementary variations) This lineage explained the relative persistence of types and plans of organization: it was not the substratum or foundation of the history: it was merely a consequence of it ' (G. Canguilhem, G. Lapassade, J. Piquemal and J. Ulman: 'Du développement à l'évolution au XIXe siècle', Thales, T.XI, 1962). In Freudian (and Marxist) pseudo-development, we do not even find this minimum -- we are dealing with the radical absence of any pre-existing unity, i.e., any germ or origin.

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Perhaps in return we shall now be able to illuminate the problems posed by Marx's text. Notably the difficulty Marx found in isolating the connexion that I have discussed, or, what amounts to the same thing, in thinking the 'level of the productive forces' as a connexion within the combination, i.e., as a relation of production with the same status as the forms of the ownership of the means of production.[18]

This difficulty is accompanied by the temptation to list the productive forces, and, for example, to divide them between nature and man. Similarly, these texts of Freud's contain formulations which attempt to situate the sexual instinct, as described by analysis, with respect to the domains of biology and psychology; Freud ends by defining instinct as a frontier between the biological and the psychological, and he even locates this ambiguity at the level of the 'source' of instinct (see Instincts and their Vicissitudes, op. cit., p. 123: 'By the source of an instinct is meant the somatic process which occurs in an organ or part of the body and whose stimulus is represented in mental life by an instinct. We do not know whether this process is invariably of a chemical nature . . . The study of the sources of instincts lies outside the scope of psychology. Although instincts are wholly determined by their origin in a somatic source, in mental life we know them only by their aims'). In the analysis of forms, the biological is therefore always absent as such. The sought after 'frontier' is thereby strictly non-existent. But we should add that in another sense the psychological, too, is absent: in its traditional conception, it, too, was defined by its opposition and relation to the biological. If the latter disappears as such, the psychological is transformed into something other than itself: into precisely what Freud called the 'psychical'. We are therefore always dealing with a series of reorganizations and displacements of the domains whose links Freud himself has very clearly conceived. In the Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Freud writes:

Whereas for most people 'conscious' and 'psychical' are the same, we have been obliged to extend the concept of 'psychical' and to recognize something 'psychical' that is not 'conscious'. And in just the same way, whereas other people declare that 'sexual' and 'connected with reproduction' (or, if you prefer to put it more shortly, 'genital') are identical, we cannot avoid postulating something 'sexual' that is not 'genital' -- has nothing to do with reproduction. The similarity here is only a formal one, but it is not without a deeper foundation (Standard Edition, Vol. XVI, p. 32I).

We should add, simply, that this 'extension' is in fact a completely new definition, in content as well as in the nature of the theoretical discourse by which it is justified. 18 Althusser has proposed the term 'technical relations of production', which clearly marks the distinction. But we should remember that 'relations' in itself implies their social character.

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The same is true of 'nature' in the analysis of the productive forces. For although Marx writes that 'labour is, in the first place, an action which takes place between man and nature . . . In it man has the role of a natural power with respect to nature', it would perhaps be equally correct to say that nature has the role of a social element. In this sense, too, 'nature' as such is absent.

Insofar as the Marxist analysis of the 'productive forces' is systematically inscribed in the definition of a mode of production, i.e., insofar as it is not a simple list or description of the 'technical' aspects of production or its 'resources', but rather the definition of a form of variation of the 'technical' social relations of production, it therefore achieves the same effect of displacement and rupture with respect to the traditional theoretical division of labour as that which we have found in Freud. This rupture effect is characteristic of the founding of a new science which is in the process of constituting its object and defining for it a domain which a variety of disciplines were previously occupying and for that reason ignoring completely. In the domain of historical materialism, as a scientific theoretical discipline, the analysis of the productive forces does not arise as a technical or geographical preliminary, formulating the conditions or bases on which a 'social' structure of human institutions and practices can be constructed, as an essential, but external limitation imposed on history: on the contrary, it is inside the definition of the social structure of a mode of production (no definition of a 'mode of production' can be regarded as satisfactory unless it includes a definition of the productive forces which are typical of that mode of production); it therefore completely transforms the meaning of 'social'.

But, as we have seen, the analogy goes further: it also extends to the type of object and history that Marx and Freud defined. Just as the 'sexual' that Freud discusses is not the subject of the development staked out by the organizations of the instincts, just as the organizations of the instincts do not strictly speaking descend one from another, so in Marx's analysis we are never dealing with anything other than the combination itself and its forms. Thus, in Marx's case, too, we can say that the subject of development is nothing but what is defined by the succession of the forms of organization of labour and the displacements that it achieves. Which reflects exactly the theoretical, non-empirical character of the constitution of his object.

(4 ) H I S T O R Y A N D H I S T O R I E S :

This analysis has very important consequences for the theory of history. Indeed, we should ask what has really been achieved by this analysis of two successive forms: we should pose the question of whether this can be called 'a history '. This definition would be manifestly meaningless unless we could at the same time designate the object of this history. Whatever the mode

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of this designation, by a concept or by a mere name, we can never conceive history in general, but only the history of something.

We should note that most historians have, until really quite recently, avoided the necessity of giving a theoretical answer to this problem of their object. Take for example Marc Bloch's reflections on the 'science of history'; it is clear that all his efforts are devoted solely to the constitution of a methodology. The attempt to define the object of the historian's work is indeed revealed as aporetic, once it has been demonstrated that this object cannot be 'the past', nor ultimately any pure and simple definition of time: 'the very idea that the past as such could be the object of science is absurd' (Marc Bloch: The Historian's Craft, trans. Peter Putnam, Manchester 1954, p. 22). Nevertheless, after this negative and perfectly cogent conclusion (although its consequences have not always been drawn -- by the philosophers), attempts such as Bloch's are content with an incomplete definition of their science which relegates the problem of the object to the indefiniteness of a totality: 'man, let us say rather, men', and characterizes knowledge solely as a certain set of methods. Here is not the place to analyse the empiricism that ultimately flows from this incomplete definition, but we should note that the problem evaded theoretically is necessarily solved practically at every moment. That is why we have political histories, histories of institutions, histories of ideas, histories of the sciences, economic histories, etc.

In this perspective we could undoubtedly define the object which was the concern of the above analysis as 'labour' and say that it was a history of labour, or a moment of such a history.

But at the same time, we see that Marx's analysis was presented in an essentially polemical situation with respect to what is usually called 'labour history' or 'technical history'. Such histories exist, and they receive but do not constitute objects which are claimed to persist in a certain identity of nature, through all their changes. These histories require a 'subject' to unify them, and they find one in technology, regarded as a 'fact' (even as a 'fact of civilization'), or in labour, regarded as a kind of cultural 'behaviour'. To say that they receive these objects is quite simply to say that the moment of their constitution lies outside the historian's theoretical practice itself, but is a part of other practices, theoretical or otherwise. From the viewpoint of theoretical practice, the constitution of the object is therefore presented as a designation, as a reference to another practice; it is therefore only possible from the point of view of the personal identities of the men who are implied in all these practices at once, in a historian's theoretical practice, and in political, economic and ideological practices. This reference is therefore only possible as an effect of the complex historical unity and of the historical articulation of these different practices, but as it is given, as it is reflected uncritically in a privileged site, the ideology of the period. But at the same time, because they are a paradox -- a discourse (supposedly critical par excellence ) which depends for the constitution of its object on an uncritical

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operation -- these histories encounter, in their conceptualization and in the nature of their explanations, the insoluble problem of the mutual frontiers of these received objects, and finally, of the relation between this component history and other histories, and the history of the totality. As Vilar says of economic history, their description of the change, the movement of their peculiar object leads them to the insertion of this movement into a reality wider than their objects considered in their 'purity' (the 'pure' economy, 'pure' technique, etc.), which is the totality of human relations and explains this change (see Contributions à la première Conférence Internationale d'Historie Économique, Stockholm, 1960, p. 38). They discover that their objects change, that their objects have a history because what they are not changes too. It thus appears that the constitutive problem of each history is that of the relation between its object and history in general, i.e., other historical objects, and they solve it, when they are prepared to go beyond empiricism, sometimes by the announcement of a global, undifferentiated relation, which ultimately results in a theory of the 'spirit of the age', a 'historical psychology' (see for example Francastel's work on the history of the plastic arts, and I. Meyerson's theories), sometimes by the complete reduction of one structure to another, which thus emerges as the absolute reference, the original text of several translations (see for example the works of Lukács and his disciple Goldmann on literary history).

When I say that Marx presents his analysis in a polemical situation with respect to this historical practice, I do not mean that this analysis suppresses the problem of the relation between component histories and general history -- a problem which must necessarily be solved before it is possible to speak strictly of 'a history'. On the contrary, it shows that this problem cannot be solved unless history really constitutes its object, instead of receiving it. In this sense, the term analysis used by Marx has exactly the same significance as that given it by Freud when he speaks of the 'analysis of an individual history': just as Freud's analysis produces a new definition of his object (sexuality, the libido), i.e., really constitutes it by showing the variation of its formations, which is the reality of a history, so Marx's analysis constitutes his object (the 'productive forces') by constructing the history of its successive forms, i.e., forms which have a determinate place in the structure of the mode of production.

In his determination of the object of a component theory, Marx's method thus completely abolishes the problem of 'reference', of the empirical designation of the object of a theoretical knowledge, or of the ideological designation of the object of a scientific knowledge. In fact, this determination now depends entirely on the theoretical concepts which make it possible to analyse in a differential way the successive forms of a connexion, and the structure of the mode of production to which this connexion belongs. 'Labour' is presented as a connexion between the elements of the mode of production, and therefore its constitution, as an object of history, depends

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entirely on a recognition of the structure of the mode of production. We can generalize this comment and say that each of the elements of the combination (Verbindung ) undoubtedly has a kind of 'history', but it is a history without any locatable subject : the real subject of each component history is the combination on which depend the elements and their relations, i.e., it is something which is not a subject. In this sense we can say that the first problem for a history as a science, for a theoretical history, is the determination of the combination on which depend the elements which are to be analysed, i.e., it is to determine the structure of a sphere of relative autonomy, such as what Marx calls the process of production and its modes.

In fact, this preliminary determination provides a determination of the component object, and, at the same stroke, that of its articulation with the other component objects. Which is to say once again that the knowledge of one instance of the social formation through its structure includes the theoretical possibility of knowing its articulation with other instances. This problem then emerges as the problem of the mode of intervention of the other instances in the history of the instance analysed. On this point, too, the preceding analysis provides us with an excellent example: the example of the application of science to production, i.e., the articulation of (economic) production with another practice: the theoretical practice of the natural sciences. In his study of the ways of economizing on constant capital in order to raise the rate of profit, Marx writes:

The development of the productive power of labour in any one line of production, e.g., the production of iron, coal, machinery, in architecture, etc., which may again be partly connected with progress in the field of intellectual production, notably natural science and its practical application, etc. (Capital, Vol. III, p. 81).

A text of this kind contains absolutely no implications that 'intellectual production' is a branch of production in the economic sense of the term But it does mean that intellectual production intervenes in the history of the mode of production (in the strict sense) through its products, which are susceptible to importation (knowledges). And the analysis of the displacement of elements within the mode of production, which I have reproduced above, alone enables us to explain why and in what form this intervention takes place. This analysis cancels out all the questions that have been posed as to the technological 'routine' of the ancient world and the middle ages, since the application of science to production is not determined by the 'possibilities' of that science, but by the transformation of the labour process which is an organic part of the combination of a determinate mode of production. It is determined by the constitution of the system which I have called the unity of the means of labour and of the object of labour. Not only is it therefore essential to seek in the analysis of the mode of production itself for the conditions which explain its relation with other practices, but

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the definition of this relation depends on the same theoretical concepts as those that designate the structure of the mode of production itself, in which the specific form of the other practices is as such absent. These other practices intervene through their specific products under conditions, or more accurately, as Marx says, within limits, which express the current essence of the mode of production (we shall see this in more detail with respect to the articulation of the political practice of the class struggle with the economic structure). Such also is one of the senses of the concept of 'methods' which Marx uses in relation of the production of relative surplus-value (see the passage quoted above, Capital, Vol. I, p. 510) as well as in relation to the (political) 'methods' of primitive accumulation; perhaps one could suggest that for Marx this concept always designates the intervention of one practice in conditions determined by another -- the articulation of two practices.

On this model, we can formulate the indispensability of other histories than those of the modes of production, histories whose objects remain to be constituted. Not all histories are possible: historical research, via controversies in economic history, the history of ideas, mentalities, etc., is beginning to sense this, although it has not explicitly posed the problem of this constitution. The determination of the objects of these histories must await that of the relatively autonomous instances of the social formation, and the production of concepts which will define each of them by the structure of a combination, like the mode of production. We can predict that these definitions, too, will always be polemical definitions, i.e., they will only be able to constitute their objects by destroying ideological classifications or divisions which benefit from the obviousness of the 'facts'. Attempts like that of Foucault give us a good example of this.[19] It might be suggested -- to enter the realm of conjecture -- that the history of ideologies, and notably the history of philosophy, are perhaps not histories of systems, but histories of concepts organized into problematics, whose synchronic combinations it is possible to reconstitute. I am referring here to Althusser's work on the anthropological problematic to which Feuerbach and the Young Marx belonged, and on the history of philosophy in general. Similarly, the history of literature may not be that of the 'works', but that of another object, a specific one, i.e., a certain relation to the ideological (itself already a social relation). In this case, too, as Pierre Macherey suggests ('Lénine, critique de Tolstoï', La Pensée no. 121, June 1965 or Pour une théorie de la production littéraire, Maspero, Paris 1966), the object under consideration would be defined by a complex combination whose forms all have to be analysed. Obviously, these are only programmatic hints.

If the theory of history implied by Marx's method of analysis is really like this, we can produce a new concept which belongs to that theory: I shall call it the concept of the differential forms of historical individuality. In the
19 Particularly in La Nasssance de la Clinique, op. cit.

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example which Marx analysed, we see that the two successive forms of the 'productive forces' connexion imply two different forms of historical individuality. In the example which Marx analysed, we see that the two successive forms of the 'productive forces' connexion imply two different forms of individuality for the 'labourer', who is one of the elements of the connexion (and similarly, two different forms of the means of production): in the first case, the ability to set the means of production to work belonged to the individual (in the ordinary sense), it was an individual mastery of these means of production; in the second case, the same ability only belongs to a 'collective labourer', it is what Marx calls a 'social' mastery of the means of production. The productive forces developed by capitalism thus institute a norm which is not valid for any individual. On the other hand, this historical difference is strictly relative to the combination considered, i.e., it only concerns the practice of production. We can say that each relatively autonomous practice thus engenders forms of historical individuality which are peculiar to it. This observation results in a complete transformation in the meaning of the term 'men', which, as we have seen, the Preface to A Contribution made the support for the whole construction. We can now say that these 'men', in their theoretical status, are not the concrete men, the men of whom we are told, in famous quotations, no more than that they 'make history'. For each practice and for each transformation of that practice, they are the different forms of individuality which can be defined on the basis of its combination structure. Just as, in Althusser's words, there are different times in the social structure, none of which is the reflection of a common fundamental time, so for the same reason, i.e., what has been called the complexity of the Marxist totality, there are different forms of political, economic and ideological individuality in the social structure, too, forms; which are not supported by the same individuals, and which have their own relatively autonomous histories.

Besides, Marx formulated the very concept of the dependence of the forms of individuality with respect to the structure of the process or the 'mode' of production. His terminology itself is marked by the epistemological fact that in the analysis of the 'combination' we are not dealing with concrete men, but only with men insofar as they fulfil certain determinate functions in the structure: -- bearers of labour power (with respect to the labour process, in his exposition of the theoretical concepts which define the analysis, Marx does not, as we have seen, say 'man' or 'subject', but 'zweckmässige Tätigkeit ', activity which conforms to the norms of the mode of production); -- representatives of capital.

To designate these individuals, he systematically used the term Träger, which is most often translated into English as support. Men do not appear in the theory except in the form of supports for the connexions implied by the structure, and the forms of their individuality as determinate effects of the structure.

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We might perhaps import the term pertinence to designate this characteristic of Marxist theory, and say that each relatively autonomous practice in the social structure must be analysed according to its own pertinence, on which depends the identification of the elements which it combines. There is no reason why the elements, which are thus determined in different ways, should coincide in the unity of concrete individuals, who would then appear as the local, miniature reproduction of the whole social articulation. The supposition of such a common support is, on the contrary, the product of a psychological ideology, in exactly the same way as linear time is the product of a historical ideology. It is this ideology which supports the whole problematic of mediations, i.e., the attempt to rediscover concrete individuals, the subjects of psychological ideology, as the centres or 'intersections' of various progressively more external systems of determination, culminating in the structure of economic relations, systems which constitute a series of hierarchized levels. This is a modern form of what Leibniz expressed perfectly when he said that each substance with a degree of singularity, and in particular each mind, expresses the whole universe in a specific way:

Minds . . . in a manner . . . express and concentrate the whole into themselves, so that it may be said that minds are total parts ('De rerum originatione radicali', in The Monadology and other Philosophical Writings, trans. Robert Latta, Oxford 1898, p. 349).

Similarly, if men were the common supports of determinate functions in the structure of each social practice, they would 'in a manner express and concentrate' the entire social structure into themselves, i.e., they would be the centres from which it would be possible to know the articulation of these practices in the structure of the whole. At the same time, each of these practices would be effectively centred on the men-subjects of ideology, i.e., on consciousnesses. Thus the 'social relations', instead of expressing the structure of these practices, of which individuals are merely the effects, would be generated from the multiplicity of these centres, i.e., they would have the structure of a practical inter-subjectivity.

As we have seen, Marx's whole analysis excludes this possibility. It forces us to think, not the multiplicity of centres, but the radical absence of a centre. The specific practices which are articulated in the social structure are defined by the relations of their combination before they themselves determine the forms of historical individuality which are strictly relative to them.

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