Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
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Hugo Gellert: Karl Marx' 'Capital' in Lithographs

Small Peasants' Property


. . . The private ownership of the land, and with it the expropriation of the direct producers from the land -- the private property of some, which implies lack of private property on the part of others -- is the basis of the capitalist mode of production.

. . . In agriculture on a small scale, the price of the land (a form and result of private ownership of the land) appears as a barrier to the production itself. In agriculture on a large scale, and in the case of large estates resting upon a capitalist mode of production, private ownership likewise acts as a carrier, because it limits the tenant in his investment of productive capital, which, in the last analysis, benefits, not him, but the landlord. In both forms the exploitation and devastation of the powers of the soil takes the place of a consciously rational treatment of the soil in its role of an eternal social property, of an indispensable condition of existence, and reproduction for successive generations of human beings.

. . . In the case of small property this happens from lack of means and science, by which the social productivity of labor-power might be utilized. In the case of large property, it is done by the exploitation of such means for the purpose of the most rapid accumulation of wealth for the tenant and proprietor. The dependence of both of them upon the market price is instrumental in accomplishing this result. . . .

While small propety in land creates a class of barbarians standing half-way outside of society, a class suffering all the tortures and all the miseries of civilized countries, in addition to the crudeness of primitive forms of society, large property in land undermines labor-power in the last region, in which its primal energy seeks refuge, and in which it stores up its strength as a reserve fund for the regeneration of the vital power of nations, the land itself.

Large-scale industry and large-scale agriculture work together. Originally distinguised by the fact that large-scale industry lays waste and destroys principally the labor power, the natural power, of human beings, whereas agriculture industrially managed destroys and wastes mainly the natural powers of the soil, both of them join hands in the further course of development, so that the industrial system weakens also the laborers of the country districts, and industry and commerce supply agriculture with the means by which the soil may be exhausted.

"Capital is said by a Quarterly Reviewer to fly turbulence and strife, and to be timid, which is very true; but this is very incompletely stating the question. Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum; with adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will censure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent certainly will produce eagerness; 50 per cent, positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent, and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged. If turbulence and strife will bring a profit, it will freely encourage both." . . .
--T. J. Dunning.