Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
Graphic Witness home page

Hugo Gellert: Karl Marx' 'Capital' in Lithographs

page 13. PRIMARY ACCUMULATION

Repercussion of the agrarian revolution on industry
Creation of the home market for industrial capital


PRIMARY ACCUMULATION: Repercussion of the agrarian revolution on industry-- creation of the home market for industrial capital

It is not obvious in the face of the matter that the great manufactories, any more than it is obvious that the great farms, have been compacted out of a very large number of lesser foci of production and that they owe their existence to the expropriation of many small independent producers. Yet no unprejudiced observer can fail to recognize the fact. In the days of Mirabeau, the lion of the revolution, the great manufactories still passed by the name of "manufactures réunies," united workshops--just as we speak of fields thrown into one.

Says Mirabeau: "People pay attention only to the great manufactories, where hundreds of persons work under one manager, these being commonly spoken of as united manufactories. Those, on the other hand, where a great many workers labor separately, each on his own account, are hardly thought worth considering; they are put quite in the background. This is a great mistake, for it is only these which constitute a really important constituent of national wealth. . . .The united workshop will provide immense wealth for one or two entrepreneurs; but the workers are only wage earners, better paid or worse, and do not share in the least in the entrepreneurs' prosperity. In the separate workshop, on the other hand, no one grows rich, but a great number of workers enjoy a measure of prosperity. . . .The number of diligent and thrifty workers will increase, because they will see a good behavior, in activity, a means for effecting a notable improvement in their position, instead of merely securing a moderate increase in wages, which can never be an important consideration for the future, seeing that it merely enables people to live somewhat more commodiously but still from hand to mouth. . . . Separate individual manufactories, combined, for the most part, with tilling of the soil, are the free ones."

The expropriation and eviction of part of the countryfolk not merely "set free" the workers for the uses of industrial capital, together with their means of subsistence and the materials of their labor, but also creates the home market.

In fact, the events that transform the petty peasants into wage workers, and transform their means of subsistence and the materials of their labor into the material elements of capital, create at the same time a home market for the capitalists. In former days the peasant family produced and elaborated the means of subsistence and the raw materials, most of which the same persons subsequently consumed. These raw materials and means of subsistence have now become commodities. The large-scale farmer sells them, finding his market in the manufactories.

Yarn, linen, coarse woolen stuffs--things whose raw materials used to be within reach of every peasant family, things that were spun and woven by peasants for their own use--are now transformed into articles of manufacture, the market for which is in these same country districts. The many scattered customers, who had hitherto been served by a number of small independent producers, have been concentrated into one great market supplied by industrial capital.

"Twenty pounds of wool converted unobtrusively into the yearly clothing of a laborer's family (by its own industry in the intervals of other work)--this makes no show; but bring it to market, send it to the factory, thence to the broker, thence to the dealer, and you will have great commercial operations, and nominal capital engaged to the amount of twenty times its value. The working class is thus amerced [*arbitrarily fined or punished] to support a wretched factory population, a parasitical shopkeeping class, and a fictitious, commercial, monetary and financial system."

Thus hand-in-hand with the expropriation of those who in former days were independent peasants, working on their own account and with the divorce of these from their means of production, goes the annihilation of rural subsidiary industries, the divorce of manufacture from agriculture. Moreover, nothing but the destruction of rural domestic industry can provide for the home market of a country the extension and the stability requisite for the capitalist method of production.

Nevertheless, the manufacturing period, properly so-called, does not bring about a thoroughgoing transformation of the kind. It will be remembered that manufacture succeeded in mastering national production only here and there, and that behind it there was always a broad background of handicraft production in the towns and of subsidiary home industry in the rural districts. . . .Not until large-scale industry, based on machinery, comes, does there arise a permanent foundation for capitalist agriculture. Then the enormous majority of the rural population is fully expropriated; and therewith is completed the divorce between agriculture and rural domestic industry (whose roots, spinning and weaving, are torn up by the new system). Modern industry, therefore, for the first time succeeds in effecting, on behalf of industrial capital, the conquest of the whole of the home market.