On Reproduction

In everything that I have said so far, I have only been defining a single concept: 'mode of production', on the basis of the use that Marx made of it in his analysis of the capitalist mode of production. I have outlined what might be called the first theoretical effects peculiar to this concept: all the terms the function of which in Marx's exposition I have attempted to pin-point have only acquired their meaning by reference to this first definition; their intervention in a proof thus appears as an extension of the effectivity of the 'presuppositions' implied by the definition of a mode of production; the transformations in the way history is thought contained in these terms, transformations which at the same time have the meaning of a transition from ideology to science, are merely the effects of a single theoretical event : the introduction of the concept of a mode of production into the traditional problematic of periodization.

But to stop there would leave us facing a difficulty which I have already referred to in my discussion of 'component histories' in the normal practice of historians: I have pointed out the stumbling-block of these histories, which do not constitute their object on the basis of a historical definition but receive it ready constituted, the problem of the location of that object in a totality of historical objects. This location is always something already established for theoretical discourse (for the discourse that aims to be theoretical), established by a non-theoretical operation which refers to the more or less immediate obviousness in which this object proposes its existence and consistency; thus, in the last analysis, it presents itself as a recourse to gesture, to the gesture which shows the objects of a world, whose conceptual representatives one only then proposes to deal with in a theoretical discourse. But we also know that this gesture is only apparently an innocent one, that in reality it is inhabited by an ideology which governs the division of the world into objects, and, in the same movement, the 'perception' of these objects, what has elsewhere been designated as the allusive nature of ideology. We know this from the moment a science breaks, constituting other objects in polemical rupture with the previous ones.

The difficulty we are now about to meet is of an analogous kind, and we shall not lack examples to persuade us that this difficulty is no fabrication. We now have the theoretical concept of a mode of production, or more precisely, we have it in the form of the knowledge of one particular mode of

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production, since, as we have seen, the concept only exists if it is specified. However, it seems that we still need to know something else, i.e., when and where the concept is 'applicable ', what societies, at what moments in their histories, have a capitalist mode of production. Indeed, the whole problem of periodization seems to be concentrated in this point: it is not enough to have at one's disposal a theoretical analysis of the effects which depend on the structure of each mode of production, once one has formulated its 'presuppositions' -- it is also necessary to build an actual history with them, quite simply, real history, our history, which presents these different modes of production here or there, one after the other. A true knowledge tells us, i.e., we know theoretically, what the capitalist mode of production is, but we also want to know if this knowledge is really the knowledge of England in 1840 or of France in 1965, etc. This is a problem of identification or judgement : it seems that we need rules to determine which objects in experience fall within the concept of the capitalist mode of production. It is this apparent necessity which gives rise to the empiricist interpretation of theoretical practice as a practice which constitutes 'models': in this view, the entire theory of Capital is a study of the properties of a model, properties which are valid for every production that is an 'example' or 'case' of the structure. The identification of the cases, the actual subsumption, is, in this ideology of models, in every respect a pragmatic process, a gesture, however complicated the forms in which it is achieved (by which I mean, even if this identification is not made at one stroke, but through a series of partial identifications in which the elements of the structure and its particular effects are discovered). As such, it is a non-theoretical process which depends, not on concepts, but on properties of the identifier, properties which might well be called psychological even where a scientific consciousness is concerned. Kant already said that good judgement is a gift which cannot be learnt, and that the basis of judgement is a profound mystery (for theory).

Nevertheless, this route whose mere exercise subordinates theoretical practice to a non-theoretical faculty seems to be implied, at least negatively, like the space within a mould, in certain terms which Marx applies to his own object in Capital. I shall only recall a few of these texts here, for I have commented on them several times already. Marx tells us that he only studied the mode of production 'in its ideal average' (Capital, Vol. III, p. 810). Which does not only mean that one abstracts from the 'particular' effects, from the 'accidental' circumstances or 'superficial' traits, in order to study the general structure itself, but also that one studies a structure which is not peculiar to any particular time or place. This is also the meaning of the famous reference to England:

In this work I have to examine the capitalist mode of production, and the relations of production and exchange corresponding to that mode. Their classical ground is England. That is the reason why I have taken the chief

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facts and examples which illustrate the development of my theories from England. If, however, the German reader shrugs his shoulders . . . I must; plainly tell him, 'De te fabula narratur! ' (Capital, preface to the first German edition, T.I, p. 18; Vol. I, p. 8).

We must take this text strictly literally, and say that the object of the theory is itself a theoretical object at a determinate level of abstraction. The mode of production, the relations of production and exchange, these things are what is known in Capital, not England or Germany (besides, a whole book could be written on the history of the theoretical destiny of the English example in Marxism, from its function here as a paradigm to the function as an exception which Lenin gave it, basing himself on certain of Marx's own political texts -- see Lenin: '"Left-Wing" Childishness and Petty-bourgeois Mentality', Selected Works in Three Volumes, Vol. II, pp. 753-5). Certain of Marx's texts allow us to go further and say that the analysis is not only in principle independent of the national historical examples it deals with, but also of the extension of the connexions that it analyses; it is a study of the properties of every possible economic system which constitutes a market subject to a structure of capitalist production:

We here take no account of export trade, by means of which a nation can change articles of luxury either into means of production or means of subsistence, and vice versa. In order to free the general analysis of all irrelevant subsidiary circumstances, we must treat the commercial world as one nation, and assume that capitalist production is everywhere established and has possessed itself of every branch of industry (Capital, T.III, p. 22n; Vol. I, p. 581n).

The same is true of every mode of production.

In the chapter on the 'Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent' (Vol. III), where he analyses the successive forms of land ownership in different modes of production, Marx could therefore generalize these epistemological suggestions, and write:

This does not prevent the same economic basis -- the same form from the standpoint of its main conditions -- due to innumerable different empirical circumstances, natural environment, racial relations, external historical influences, etc., from showing infinite variations and gradations in appearance, which can be ascertained only by analysis of the empirically given circumstances (Capital, Vol. III, p. 772).

Like many others, this passage expresses perfectly the theoretical pragmatism which I have been discussing. Reading it literally, one would be perfectly justified in reserving theoretical status for the study of the 'main conditions', which coincide with the structure of the mode of production, and saying that the analysis of the empirically given circumstances is itself an empirical analysis.

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But what Marx is reflecting here is quite simply the operation I was trying to explain at the beginning, when I said that the first movement of a science of history was to reduce the continuity of history, on which is based the impossibility of sharp 'breaks', and to constitute history as a science of discontinuous modes of production, as the science of a variation. He is reflecting this movement by re-establishing continuity as a real reference, a reference to the reality of history, and by making discontinuity a property of the concept in general. Thus the problem of the location of the object whose science is the science of the mode of production is not posed inside the theory itself, which is merely the production of models; this problem is posed on the frontiers of theory, or, more accurately, it makes it obligatory to presuppose that theory has a frontier, which is occupied by a subject of knowledge. 'Hic Rhodus, hic salta': theoretical analysis must be abandoned and complemented by 'empirical' analysis, i.e., by the designation of the real objects which actually obey the laws expounded. It is then really one and the same problem to collect together the examples which are realizations of the model, despite 'infinite gradations', and to designate the transitions from one mode of production to another: to say where the concept of one mode of production is applicable and where it is necessary to apply the concepts of two modes of production in succession. In either case, a residue remains which is given as the irreducibly empirical (in the last analysis, the obviousness of something observed: where its theoretical definition is concerned, on the one hand, the capitalist mode of production is a certain system of relations between labour, means of production, etc., and where its location is concerned, on the other, it is 'our' mode of production). But if we refuse to budge, and insist on staying in theoretical discourse, then this residue can be seen as really a lacuna, as something which must be thought and yet cannot be thought with the help of the theoretical concept of the 'mode of production' alone.

I have deliberately gone to this extreme conclusion and to the texts which can be used to support it, leaving aside everything in Capital itself which might look like an analysis of the transition from one mode of production to another, i.e., like a solution to the problem of location, namely, an analysis of the formation of the capitalist mode of production and an analysis of its dissolution. I have done so in order to underline straight away that we really do need a second concept at the same theoretical level as that of the mode of production, just as 'abstract', if you like, in order to constitute a theory of history as a succession of modes of production. We need it because the concept as we have developed it up to now has precisely left succession in parenthesis. We have only been able to define what a mode of production is by revealing the singularity of its forms, the specific combination that binds together these elements of every combination: labourer, means of production, non-labourers, etc. In order not to pre-judge the issue, let us say that if historical materialism were reduced to this concept alone, it would be

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unable to think the transition from one combination to another at the same theoretical level.

It follows that we must read all of Marx's analyses which deal with the formation and dissolution of a mode of production, and look in them for this second attempt, whether it is there explicitly or has to be disengaged But we cannot take these analyses for descriptions pure and simple. However, the fact that Marx let ambiguities survive which allow certain of his terms to have a theory of 'models' read into them, is a warning that we shall find more difficulties in this task.

If we return to Capital and try to read in it a theory of the transition from one mode of production to another, we find first of all a concept which seems to be the very concept of historical continuity : the concept of reproduction. The theory of reproduction in fact seems to ensure a triple link or a triple continuity:

-- a link between the different economic subjects, in the event, between the; different individual capitals, which really constitute a single 'inter-twining' or a single movement. A study of the reproduction of capital is a study of this interlacing and intertwining:

However, the circuits of the individual capitals intertwine, presuppose and necessitate one another, and form, precisely in this interlacing (Verschlingung ), the movement of the total social capital (Capital, Vol. II, p. 353).

Therefore, what made it possible to imagine the movement of an individual capital was only an abstraction, and a deforming abstraction, since the movement as a whole is more complex than a mere addition.

-- a link between the different levels of the social structure, since reproduction implies the permanence of the non-economic conditions of the production process, notably the legal conditions: in the chapter of Capita1 on the 'Genesis of Capitalist Ground Rent', Marx shows that the institution of a law corresponding to the real relations of production is merely the effect of the repetition of the process of production, of reproduction: see the passage quoted above, Capital, Vol. III, pp. 773-4:

It is in the interest of the ruling section of society to sanction the existing order as law and to legally 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 arbitrariness and mere chance. Under stagnant conditions of the production

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process as well as the corresponding social relations, it achieves this form by mere repetition of its own reproduction. If this has continued on for some time, it entrenches itself as custom and tradition and is finally sanctioned as an explicit law.

-- lastly, reproduction ensures the successive continuity of production itself, and this is the basis for all the rest. Production cannot be stopped, and its necessary continuity is inscribed in the identity of the elements as they emerge from one production process and enter another: means of production which have themselves been products, labourers and non-labourers between whom the products and means of production are shared in a certain way. It is the materiality of the elements which supports the continuity, but it is the concept of reproduction which expresses its specific form, because it envelops the different (differential) determinations of the material. Through each of the aspects that I have evoked, the concept expresses merely one and the same pregnancy of the structure which presents a 'well-bound' history. At the beginning of her book, The Accumulation of Capital, Rosa Luxemburg writes:

The regular repetition of reproduction is the general sine qua non of regular consumption which in its turn has been the pre-condition of human civilization in every one of its historical forms. The concept of reproduction, viewed in this way, reflects an aspect of the history of civilization (ein kultur-geschichtliches Moment ) (trans. Agnes Schwarzschild, London 1951, p. 31).

Thus, the analysis of reproduction seems genuinely to set in motion what has hitherto been seen only in a static form, and to articulate together levels which have hitherto been isolated; reproduction appears to be the general form of permanence of the general conditions of production, which in the last analysis englobe the whole social structure, and therefore it is indeed essential that it should be the form of their change and restructuration, too. That is why I shall dwell on it, for this concept implies more than the previous ones.

(1) T H E F U N C T I O N O F ' S I M P L E ' R E P R O D U C T I O N

In the series of expositions that have the title 'reproduction', Marx always prefaced the exposition of the reproduction peculiar to the capitalist mode of production, which is capitalist accumulation (the capitalization of surplus-value) and its peculiar conditions, with a prior exposition of 'simple reproduction'. Marx calls this simple reproduction an 'abstraction', or better, 'a strange assumption' (Capital, Vol. II, p. 395). Several explanations of this might be advanced.

It might be thought that this was a matter of an exposition procedure, that 'simple' reproduction is only a simplification. At the level of Volume Two

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(the reproduction schemes), i.e., of the conditions of reproduction which affect the exchanges between the different departments of production, it seems obvious enough why such a simplification should be attempted. It allows the presentation of the general form of these connexions in the form of equations, before presenting them in the form of inequalities. The disequilibrium, or disproportion which constitutes the motor of accumulation of the social capital is made intelligible with respect to a simple equilibrium pattern.

It might also be thought that the study of simple reproduction is the study of a particular case, which is partly the same thing, insofar as this particular case is simpler than the general case. But this would not just be an exposition procedure: it would give the knowledge of the movement of reproduction of certain capitals, those which are content to maintain production in certain periods when accumulation temporarily ceases.

Finally, it might be thought that the study of simple reproduction is the study of a part, an always necessary part, of extended reproduction. However much of the surplus-value is capitalized, it is added on over and above an automatic capitalization, which is merely the conservation of the existing capital. The quantity of capitalized surplus-value varies, and it depends on the initiative of the capitalists, in appearance at any rate; simple reproduction cannot be altered, once a capital of a given size is considered, without the. capitalist ceasing to be a capitalist to the precise extent of the decrease. That is why it is important to study simple reproduction in itself (Marx writes 'As far as accumulation does take place, simple reproduction is always a part of it, and can therefore be studied by itself, and is an actual factor of accumulation', Capital, Vol. II, p. 395), and only afterwards accumulation or extended reproduction, as a supplement added on to simple reproduction. To be precise, this supplement cannot be added on at will: it has to conform to quantitative conditions which depend on the technical composition of capital; hence it may be intermittent in its actual application. Simple reproduction, on the other hand, is autonomous, continuous and automatic.

None of these explanations are false, nor are they incompatible. But they leave room for a different explanation, one which is more important for us. In Capital, Marx does first present us with the concept of reproduction in the forms of the accumulation of capital, or more accurately, since we want to indicate both 'simple' and 'extended' reproduction, in the forms of the capitalization of the product, and he first installs us in a quantitative problematic. It is a question of analysing the conditions under which the capitalist or ensemble of capitalists can realize this practical objective: to increase the scale of production, i.e., the scale of exploitation, i.e., the quantity of surplus-value appropriated; which presupposes, in principle at least, the possibility of a practical choice between a simple reproduction and an expansion. But as we know, or are about to discover, this choice is really illusory, a fake, and if we look at the whole of capital, it is a fictive choice. There is no

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alternative, there are only the real conditions of extended reproduction. Marx tells us that the premiss of simple reproduction is incompatible with capitalist production, 'although this does not exclude the possibility that in an industrial cycle of ten to eleven years some year may show a smaller total production than the preceding year, so that not even simple reproduction takes place compared to the preceding year ' (Capital, Vol. II, p. 520). Which amounts to saying quite clearly this: the conceptual distinction between simple reproduction and accumulation does not cover the quantitative variations in accumulation, which depend on various circumstances (Marx analyses them) and are the effects of the general law of capitalist accumulation.

Simple reproduction, reproduction on the same scale, appears as an abstraction, inasmuch as on the one hand the absence of all accumulation or reproduction on an extended scale is a strange assumption in capitalist conditions, and on the other hand conditions of production do not remain exactly the same in different years (and this is assumed ) . . . The value of the annual product may decrease, although the quantity of use-values may remain the same; or the value may remain the same although the quantity of use-values may decrease; or the quantity of value and of the reproduced use-values may decrease simultaneously. All this amounts to reproduction taking place either under more favourable conditions than before or under more difficult ones, which may result in imperfect -- defective -- reproduction. All this can refer only to the quantitative aspect of the various elements of reproduction, not to the role which they play as reproducing capital or as reproduced revenue in the entire process (Capital, Vol II, pp. 394-5).

When 'simple' reproduction such that Iv+s = IIc (which, from the economic point of view, is not the expression of a state of equilibrium anyway, but that of a crisis) occurs during accumulation, this occurrence has precisely only the sense of an occurrence, of a coincidence, i.e., it has no particular theoretical significance. The same is true if we consider the reproduction of an individual capital, which may be extended, simple, or less than simple, and may have a rhythm higher than, equal to or lower than that of the social capital as a whole, etc. These variations make no conceptual difference, in exactly the same way and for the same reason, that variations in the prices of commodities never make them anything but prices : it may be that a commodity is actually sold 'at its value' without this being any more than a coincidence. Moreover, it is a coincidence that cannot be registered in a general rule, i.e., cannot be measured: only prices are assessed in the exchange of commodities, not values. In both cases, Marx presents an important conceptual distinction between two levels of the structure, or, better, between the structure and its effects, in the mild form of a 'provisional assumption', to be lifted later ('the prices of commodities coincided

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with their values', 'the conditions of reproduction remain the same'). The assumption of 'invariant conditions ' is not an analysis of the effects, but of the conditions themselves.

We are thus led to look for another explanation for this duplication of the analysis of reproduction, and we find it in a series of indications of Marx's such as the following:

This illustration of fixed capital, on the basis of an unchanged scale of reproduction, is striking. A disproportion of the production of fixed and circulating capital is one of the favourite arguments of the economists in explaining crises. That such a disproportion can and must arise even when the fixed capital is merely preserved, that it can and must do so on the assumption of ideal normal production on the basis of simple reproduction of the already functioning social capital is something new to them (bei Voraussetzung einer idealen Normalproduktion ) (Capital, Vol. II, p. 469).

This ideal 'normal' production is obviously production in its concept, production as Marx studies it in Capital, telling us to make it as the 'norm' or the 'ideal average'. Before it is a simplification of the exposition or the study of one particular case, one which we have just seen to be without theoretical significance, even before it makes possible a quantitative analysis of capitalized value and of the origin of its different parts, 'simple reproduction' is therefore the analysis of the general formal conditions of all reproduction. And even before it is an exposition of the general forms of the connexions between the different departments of production, in the mathematical sense of the term, it is an exposition of the 'form' of the reproduction process in the sense in which we have already analysed the 'capitalist form' of a mode of production.

This is indeed the sense of the first exposition of 'simple reproduction' (Capital, Vol. I, Chapter XXIII). Marx starts from the definition of reproduction as a simple repetition of the immediate production process in the way we have just analysed it, and he writes:

The production process periodically begins again and always passes through the same phases in a given time, but is always repeated on the old scale. Nevertheless, this repetition, or continuity, gives certain new characteristics to the process, or, rather (oder vielmehr,) causes the disappearance of some apparent characteristics which it possessed as an isolated act (die Scheincharaktere seines nur vereinzelten Vorgangs ) (Capital, T.III, p. 10; Vol. I, p. 567).

The essential aspect of simple reproduction is not therefore that all surplus-value is unproductively consumed instead of being partially capitalized; it is this uncovering of the essence by the removal of illusions, this virtue of repetition which retrospectively illuminates the nature of the 'first' production process (in the manuscript Pre-Capitalist Economic Forma-

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tions, Marx also writes: 'the true nature of capital does not appear until the end of the second cycle ').

However, the point of view of repetition itself implies the possibility of an illusion which might conceal the orientation of Marx's reflection on this point. This would be to wish to follow capital in its successive 'acts ', to wish to understand what happens when, after a 'first' production cycle, capital undertakes to pursue a 'second' cycle. In this way, instead of arising as the knowledge of the determinations of the production process itself, reproduction appears as a continuation of production, as a supplement to the analysis of production. Thus the analysis of capital seems to follow in the tracks of the destiny of an object which is capital: at the moment of reproduction, this capital meets others on the market, its freedom of movement is suppressed (it cannot grow in arbitrary proportions because it is in competition with other capitals), and it seems that the movement of social capital is not the sum of the movements of the individual capitals, but a complex movement of its own which has been called an 'intertwining'. For example, this is the path urged on us at the beginning of Rosa Luxemburg's Accumulation of Capital, which starts from a literal reading of Marx ('The literal meaning of the word "reproduction" is repetition . . .') and asks what new conditions reproduction implies with respect to production. The passage of Marx's which I have quoted shows us that, on the contrary, it is a matter of the same conditions, initially implicit (transposed and deformed in the eyes of the agents of production into 'apparent characteristics'; and presented in Marx's exposition of the 'immediate' production process in the forms of admitted 'assumptions' or 'presuppositions').

In reality, it is a matter of a more complex operation than a mere repetition. In Marx's text, simple reproduction is from the beginning identified with the consideration of the ensemble of social production. The movement that destroys this appearance which arises from the study of the immediate production process and is also what the capitalist and the worker 'imagine' (Capital, T.III, p. 13; Vol. I, p. 569: 'die Vorstellung des Kapitalisten ') is at once a 'repetition' and the transition to capital as a totality:

The matter takes a quite different aspect, when we contemplate, not the single capitalist, and the single labourer, but the capitalist class and the labouring class, not isolated acts of production, but capitalist production in its full continuous renewal, and on its social scale (Capital, T. III, pp. 14-15; Vol. I, p. 572).

The analysis of Volume Two will show clearly in detail how the analysis of the repetition (of the succession of cycles of production) and that of capital as a form of the ensemble of production are inter-dependent. But this unity is already present here. The 'isolated act of production' is twice characterized negatively as something which is not repeated and as something which is done by an individual. Or rather, 'isolated act' is a way of saying the

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same thing twice. Once the isolation has been suppressed, we are no longer dealing with an act, i.e., with a subject, an intentional structure of means and ends, if it is true, as Marx says in the 1857 Introduction, that 'to treat society as a single subject is to treat it from a false position -- speculatively' (Grundrisse, p. 15). There can therefore be no question in this analysis of following the reproduction process, of attempting effectively -- and fictively -- to 're-new' the production process.

This analytical operation is in principle the one which the 1857 Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy installed in parallel to the comparative analysis of the modes of production. It is now no longer a question of identifying the variants of the 'combination' of the 'relations of production' and the 'productive forces' on the basis of historical material, but of examining what Marx calls 'the general determination of production at a given social stage', i.e., the relation between the totality of social production and its particular forms (branches) in a given synchrony (as this term has been illuminated for us from now on, since the analysis of the 'repetition' of production, of the continuity of production in a series of cycles, depends on the analysis of production as a whole, of production as a totality -- Totalität ). For there is totalization only in the actuality of the social division of labour at a given moment, not in the individual adventures of capitals. This is expressed by Marx when he says that the analysis of reproduction envisages social production exclusively in its result ('If we study the annual function of social capital . . . in its results', Capital, Vol. II, p. 392 -- modified). As we know, this result is production as a whole and its division into different departments: the operation that reveals it is not therefore a section through the movement of the different branches of production, of the different capitals, at a moment chosen with reference to a common external time, and hence dependent both in principle and in actual realization on this movement; it is an operation in which the peculiar movement of the capitals, the movement of production in each of its divisions, is completely set aside, suppressed, without any kind of conservation. Marx bases his whole analysis of reproduction from the first very general exposition of simple reproduction (Volume One) to the system of reproduction schemes (Volume Two) on this transformation of succession into synchrony, into 'simultaneity' (in his own term: Gleichzeitigkeit ). Paradoxically, the continuity of the movement of production finds its concept in the analysis of a system of synchronic dependencies: the succession of the cycles of individual capitals and their intertwining depend on it. In this 'result', the movement which has produced it is necessarily forgotten, the origin is 'obliterated ' (die Herkunft ist aufgelöscht ) (Capital, Vol. II, p. 110).

To move from the isolated act, from the immediate production process, to the repetition, to the ensemble of social capital, to the result of the production process, is to install oneself in a fictive contemporaneity of all the movements, or, to put it more accurately, applying one of Marx's theoretical

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metaphors, in a fictive planar space, in which all the movements have been suppressed, in which all the moments of the production process appear in projection side by side with their connexions of dependence. It is the movement of this transition that Marx describes for the first time in the chapter of Volume One on 'Simple Reproduction'.

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

We can list the 'appearances' (Scheincharaktere ) which are dissipated in this operation as follows:

First the appearance of the separation and the relative independence of the different 'moments' of production in general: the separation of production in the strict sense from circulation, of production from individual consumption, of the production and distribution of the means of production from that of the means of consumption. If we consider an 'isolated act' of production or even a plurality of such 'acts', all these moments seem to belong to a different sphere from that of production ('sphere' is a word which Marx very often uses). Circulation belongs to the market on which commodities are presented after 'leaving' production, without any certainty that they will actually be sold; individual consumption is a private act which takes place outside the sphere of circulation itself:

The labourer's productive consumption, and his individual consumption, are therefore totally distinct. In the former, he acts as the motive power of capital, and belongs to the capitalist. In the latter, he belongs to himself, and performs his vital functions outside the process of production. The result of the one is, that capital lives; of the other, that the labourer himself lives (Capital, T.III, p. 14; Vol. I, p. 571).

The distribution of the means of production and consumption appears either as the contingent origin of production, or as revenue (and then it passes into the sphere of consumption).

The introductory act (der einleitende Akt ), which constitutes an act of circulation -- the purchase and sale of labour-power -- itself rests on a distribution of the elements of production which preceded and presupposed the distribution of the social products, namely on the separation of labour-power as a commodity of the labourer from the means of production as the property of non-labourers (Capital, Vol. II, p. 385).

The analysis of reproduction shows that these moments have no relative autonomy or laws of their own, but are determined by those of production. If we consider the ensemble of social capital in its result, the sphere of circulation disappears as a 'sphere', since all exchanges are predetermined in the division of the departments of production and in the material nature of their production. The individual consumption of the worker and capitalist,

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too, is predetermined in the nature and quantity of the means of consumption produced by the total social capital: while one portion of the annual product is 'destined for productive consumption from the very first' (T.III, p. 9; Vol. I, p. 566), another is destined from the very first (von Haus aus ) for individual consumption. The limits within which individual consumption can oscillate depend on the internal composition of capital and are fixed at each moment.

The individual consumption of the labourer, whether it proceeds within the workshop or outside it, forms therefore an element (Moment ) of the reproduction of capital; just as cleaning machinery does, whether it be done during the labour process or at moments when it is interrupted (Capital, T.III, p. 15; Vol. I, p. 572).

Lastly, the distribution of the means of production and consumption, or the division of the different elements, ceases to appear as a contingent factual state: once he has consumed the equivalent of his wages, the worker leaves the production process as he entered it, stripped of property, and the capitalist as he entered it, owner of the products of labour, which include new means of production. Production continually determines the same distribution.

Thus it appears that the capitalist mode of production determines the modes of circulation, consumption and distribution. More generally, the analysis of reproduction shows that every mode of production determines modes of circulation, distribution and consumption as so many moments of its unity.

Further, the analysis of reproduction destroys the appearance involved in the 'beginning' of the production process, the appearance of a 'free' contract between the worker and the capitalist, which is renewed on each occasion, the appearance which makes variable capital an 'advance' from the capitalist to the labourer (on account of the product, i.e., of the 'end' of the production process). In a word, all the appearances which seem to reduce to chance the face to face meeting of the capitalist and the worker as buyer and seller of labour power. Reproduction reveals the 'invisible threads' which chain the wage-earner to the capitalist class.

The capitalist production process reproduces . . . the conditions which force the labourer to sell himself in order to live, and enable the capitalist to purchase him in order that he may enrich himself. It is no longer a mere accident, that capitalist and labourer confront each other in the market as buyer and seller. It is the dilemma (Zwickmühle -- 'double mill') of the process itself that incessantly hurls back the labourer onto the market as a vendor of his labour-power, and that incessantly converts his product into a means by which another man can purchase him. In reality, the labourer belongs to the capitalist class before he has sold himself to an individual capitalist (Capital, T.III, pp. 19-20; Vol. I, p. 577).

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Simultaneously, reproduction destroys the appearance according to which capitalist production merely applies the laws of commodity production, i.e., of the exchange of equivalents. Each sale-purchase of labour-power is a transaction of that form, but the general movement of capitalist production appears as the movement by which the capitalist class continually appropriates a portion of the product created by the working class without giving any equivalent for it. This movement no longer has any beginning or termination (a division duplicated and designated by the legal structure of the contract, precisely a terminal contract or 'contrat à terme '), i.e., there is no longer any isolated structure in which the elements of production meet. In the concept of the elements of production provided by the analysis of reproduction, they no longer need to meet because they are always already together.

Thus simple reproduction destroys in the production process even the appearance of an isolated act : an act whose agents were individuals, transforming things under determinate conditions which eventually obliged them to make these things into commodities and surplus-value for the capitalist. In this appearance the individuals retained their identity, just as capital seemed to be a sum of value which was conserved throughout the succession of acts of production.[20]

And, conversely, these material elements, in the specificity of their material nature, and in the differential distribution of these natural properties through all the branches of production and all the capitals of which they are composed, now express the conditions of the process of social reproduction. Thus reproduction reveals that things are transformed in the hands of the agents of production without their being aware of it, without it being possible for them to be aware of it if the production process is taken for the acts of individuals. Similarly, these individuals change and they really are only class representatives. But these classes are obviously not sums of individuals, which would not change anything: it is impossible to make a class by adding individuals together on whatever scale. Classes are functions of the process of production as a whole. They are not its subjects, on the contrary, they are determined by its form.

Precisely in these chapters of Volume One on reproduction, we find all the images which Marx uses to help us grasp the mode of existence of the agents of the production process as the supports (Träger ) of the structure.
20 'The capitalist imagines that he is consuming the surplus-value, and is keeping intact the capital-value; but what he thinks cannot change the fact that after a certain period, the capital-value he then possesses is equal to the sum total of the surplus-value that he has acquired for nothing during this period, and the value he has consumed is equal to that which he advanced. Of the old capital which he advanced out of his own pocket, not an atom remains. It is true, he has in hand a capital whose amount has not changed, and of which a part, viz., the buildings, machinery, etc., were already there when the work of his business began. But what we have to do with here, is not the material elements, but the value, of that capital' (Capital, T.III, pp. 12-13; Vol. I, pp. 569-70).

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On the stage of reproduction, where things 'come to light' (Capital, T.III, p. 26; Vol. I, p. 586) and look quite different (ganz anders aussehen ), the individuals quite literally come forward masked ('it is only because his money constantly functions as capital that the economic guise of a capitalist -- die ökonomische Charaktermaske des Kapitalisten -- attaches to a man', Capital, T.III, p. 9; Vol. I, p. 566): they are nothing more than masks.

These are therefore the analyses in which Marx shows us the movement of transition (but this transition is a rupture, a radical innovation) from a concept of production as an act, the objectivation of one or more subjects, to a concept of production without a subject, which in return determines certain classes as its peculiar functions. This movement, in which Marx pays retrospective homage to Quesnay (for whom 'the innumerable individual . acts of circulation are at once brought together in their characteristic social mass movement -- the circulation between great functionally determined economic classes of society', Capital, Vol. II, p. 359), is carried out in exemplary fashion with respect to the capitalist mode of production, but in principle it is valid for every mode of production. As opposed to the movement of reduction and then constitution which characterizes the transcendental tradition of classical philosophy, it directly achieves an extension which excludes any possibility of production being the acts of any subjects. their practical cogito, It embraces the possibility, which I can only suggest here, of formulating a new philosophical concept of production in general.

All the preceding can be summarized by saying that, in a single movement, reproduction replaces and transforms the things, but retains the relations indefinitely. These relations are obviously what Marx calls 'social relations'; the relations which are drawn, 'projected', in the fictive space which I have mentioned,[21] the term itself is Marx's own:

This natural faculty of labour (to conserve old value, while it creates new) takes the appearance of the self-sustaining faculty of the capital,

21 In Volume One, Marx defines them in their concept (but not in all their effects) by the analysis of the abstract object which he calls a 'fraction of the total social capital promoted into autonomy' (Capital, Vol. II, p. 353). By which we are obviously to understand, as Establet notes (Lire le Capital, first edition, Vol. II, p. 343), not a real firm or enterprise which is capitalist in form, but a fictive capital which is necessarily a productive capital and yet carries out all the functions historically assumed by different types of 'capital' (merchant's capital, interest-bearing capital, etc.). The division of social capital is an essential property: it is therefore possible to represent capital in general by one capital.
For their part, only the analyses of reproduction in Volume Two, Part 3 ('Reproduction and Circulation of the Aggregate Social Capital'), which make way for the establishment of schemes of reproduction, and thus allow the mathematical formalization of economic analysis, explain by what mechanism the reproduction of the social relations is assured, by subjecting the qualitative and quantitative composition of the total social product to invariable conditions. But these structural conditions are not specific to the capitalist mode of production: in their theoretical form they imply no reference to the social form of the production process, to the form of the product ('value'), to the type of circulation of the social product which it [cont. onto p. 269. -- DJR] implies ('exchange'), or to the concrete space which supports this circulation ('market'). On this point, I refer the reader in particular to the various recent works of Charles Bettelheim, and to his critical comments in Problèmes de la Planification, No. 9 (École Pratique des Hautes Études) -- Note of 1967.

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in which it is incorporated, just as the social productive forces take the appearance of a property of capital, and as the constant appropriation of surplus-labour by the capitalist takes that of a constant self-expansion of capital. All faculties of labour are projected (projektieren sich ) as faculties of capital, just as all forms of commodity value are projected as forms of money (Capital, T.III, p. 47; Vol. I, pp. 606-7).

The relations thus revealed mutually imply one another: notably the relations of property and the relations of real appropriation ('productive forces') in their complex unity. They comprehend the hitherto disjointed 'moments' (production, circulation, distribution, consumption) in a necessary and complete unity. And at the same time, they comprehend everything which appeared during the analysis of the immediate production process as its 'presuppositions', as the necessary 'conditions' for the process to be able to proceed in the form described: e.g., in capitalist production, the autonomy of the economic instance or of the legal forms corresponding to the forms of commodity exchange, i.e., a certain form of correspondence between the various instances of the social structure. This is what might be called the 'consistency' of the structure as it appears in the analysis of reproduction. It might also be said that for Marx the conceptual pair production/ reproduction contains the definition of the structure involved in the analysis of a mode of production.

On the plane instituted by the analysis of reproduction, production is not the production of things, it is the production and conservation of social relations. At the end of the chapter on simple reproduction, Marx writes:

The capitalist production process, therefore, considered in its inter-connexion (Zusammenhang ) or as reproduction, produces not only commodities, not only surplus-value, but it also produces and eternalizes the social relation between the capitalist and the wage-earner (Capital, T.III, p. 20; Vol. I, p. 578).

This formulation is repeated at the end of the whole work, just as Marx is locating the relationship of the classes to the different forms of

On the other hand, if the capitalist mode of production presupposes this definite social form of the conditions of production, so does it reproduce it continually. It produces not merely the material products, but reproduces continually the production relations in which the former are

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produced, and thereby also the corresponding distribution relations (Capital, Vol. III, p. 857).

The same goes for any mode of production. Each mode of production continually reproduces the social relations of production presupposed its functioning. In the manuscript Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, Marx had already expressed this by assigning the production and reproduction of the social relations to the corresponding production as its unity result (instead of a 'not merely . . .'):

Property -- and this applies to its Asiatic, Slavonic, Antique and Germanic forms -- therefore originally signifies a relation of the working (producing) subject (or self-reproducing subject) to the conditions of his production or reproduction as his own. Hence, according to the conditions of production, property will take different forms. The aim of production itself is to reproduce the producer in and together with these objective conditions of his existence (Grundrisse, p. 395; PCEF, p. 95).

What is the meaning of this double 'production'?

Let us note first of all that it provides us with a key to a number of formulations of Marx's which have been regarded, precipitately perhaps, as fundamental theses of historical materialism. For the lack of a complete definition of the terms which they contain, they have lent authority to a number of rather divergent readings. For example, the formulations in the Preface to A Contribution which I discussed at the outset: 'In the social production their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will . . . therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve '; or the formulations in Engels's letter to Bloch: 'We make our history ourselves, but, in the first place, under very definite assumptions and conditions '. The whole philosophical interpretation of historical materialism is indeed at stake here: if we take this double 'production' literally, i.e. if we think that the objects transformed and the social relations which they support are modified or conserved by the production process in the same way, if, for example, we group them within a single concept of 'practice ', we are giving a rigorous foundation to the idea that 'men make history'. Only on the basis of such a unique, unified concept of practice-production can this formulation have any theoretical meaning, can it be an immediately theoretical thesis (and not simply a moment in the ideological struggle against a mechanistic-materialist determinism). But this concept really belongs to an anthropological conception of production and practice, centred precisely on those 'men', who are the 'concrete individuals' (notably in the form of the masses) who produce, reproduce and transform the conditions of their former production. In respect to this activity, the constraining necessity of the relations of production only appears as a form which the object of their practice already possesses and which restricts the possibilities of creating a new form. The necessity of the social relations is simply

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the work of the former production activity, which necessarily leaves to the succeeding one determinate conditions of production.

But our analysis of reproduction has shown us that this double 'production' must be taken in two different senses : to take the unity of the expression literally is precisely to reproduce the appearance which makes the production process an isolated act enclosed in the determinations of the preceding and the succeeding. An isolated act, insofar as its only connexions with the other acts of production are supported by the structure of linear temporal continuity in which there can be no interruption (whereas in the conceptual analysis of reproduction, these connexions are, as we have seen, supported by the structure of a space ). Only the 'production of things' can be thought as an activity of this kind -- it already almost contains the concept of it in its determination of the 'raw' material and the 'finished' product; but the 'production of the social relations' is far rather a production of things and individuals by the social relations, a production in which the individuals are determined so as to produce and the things so as to be produced in a specific form by the social relations. That is, it is a determination of the functions of the social process of production, a process without a subject. These functions are no more men than, on the plane of reproduction, the products are things. Therefore (re)production, i.e., social production in its concept, does not strictly speaking produce the social relations, since it is only possible on condition that these social relations exist; but on the other hand, neither does it produce commodities in the sense of producing things which subsequently receive a certain social qualification from the system of economic relations which invests them, objects which subsequently 'enter into relations' with other things and men; production only produces (ever already ) qualified things, indices of relations.

Marx's formulation ('the process of production does not only produce material objects but also social relations') is not therefore a conjunction but a disjunction : either it is a matter of the production of things, or else it is a matter of the (re)production of the social relations of production. There are two concepts, the concept of the 'appearance' and the concept of the effectivity of the structure of the mode of production. As opposed to the production of things, the production of social relations is not subject to the determinations of the preceding and the succeeding, of the 'first' and the 'second'. Marx writes that 'every process of social production is at the same time a process of reproduction. The conditions of production are also those of reproduction'; and at the same time they are the conditions which reproduction reproduces: in this sense the 'first' process of production (in a determinate form) is always-already a process of reproduction. There is no 'first' process of production for production in its concept. All the definitions concerning the production of things must therefore be transformed: in the production of the social relations, what appeared as the conditions of the first production really determines identically all the other productions.

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This transaction, which pertains to circulation -- the sale and purchase of labour power -- not only inaugurates the process of production, but also determines implicitly its specific character (Capital, Vol. II, p. 385).

The concept of reproduction is thus not only the concept of the 'consistency' of the structure, but also the concept of the necessary determination of the movement of production by the permanence of that structure; it is the concept of the permanence of the initial elements in the very functioning of is the system, hence the concept of the necessary conditions of production, conditions which are precisely not created by it. This is what Marx calls the eternity of the mode of production:

This incessant reproduction or eternalization (Verewigung ) of the labourer, is the sine qua non of capitalist production (Capital, Vol. I, p. 571; retranslated from the German text).

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