Written between end of August and middle September 1857.

Marx intended this to be the Introduction to his _Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy_ (1859), but, as his Preface to that work notes, he decided to omit it.

The unfinished rough draft, which was found among Marx's papers after his death. First published 1903, in _Die Neue Zeit_. Would become the first manuscript in the _Grundrisse_.


2. The General Relations of Production to Distribution, Exchange and Consumption

Before starting upon a further analysis of production, it is necessary to consider the various sections which economists place alongside it.

The quite obvious conception is this: In the process of production, members of society appropriate (produce, fashion) natural products in accordance with human requirements; distribution determines the share the individual receives of these products; exchange supplies him with the particular products into which he wants to convert the portion accruing to him as a result of distribution; finally, by consumption, the products becomes objects of use -- i.e., they are appropriated by individuals. Production creates articles corresponding to requirements; distribution allocates them according to social laws; exchange, in its turn, distributes the goods, which have already been allocated, in conformity with individual needs; finally, in consumption, the product leaves this social movement and it becomes the direct object and servant of an individual need, which use it satisfies. Production thus appears as the point of departure, consumption as the goal, distribution and exchange as the middle -- which has a dual form since, according to the definition, distribution is actuated by society and exchange is actuated by individuals. In production, p[persons acquire an objective aspect, and in consumption objects acquire a subjective aspect; in distribution, it is society which, by means of dominant general rules, mediates between production and consumption; in exchange, this mediation occurs as a result of random decisions of individuals.

Distribution determines the proportion (the quantity) of the products accruing to the individual, exchange determines the products in which the individual claims to make up the share assigned to him by distribution.

Production, distribution, exchange and consumption, thus, form a proper syllogism; production represents the general, distribution and exchange the particular, and consumption the individual case, which sums up the whole. This is indeed a sequence, but a very superficial one. Production is determined by general laws of nature; distribution by random social factors, it may therefore exert a more-or-less beneficial influence on production; exchange, a formal social movement, lies between these two; and consumption, as the concluding act, which is regarded not only as the final aim but as the ultimate purpose, falls properly outside the sphere of economy -- except insofar as it in turn exerts a reciprocal action on the point of departure, thus once again initiating the whole process.

The opponents of the economists, who accuse the latter of crudely separating interconnected elements, either argue from the same standpoint or even from a lower one -- no matter whether these opponents come from within or without the domain of political economy. Nothing is more common that the reproach that the economists regard production as a goal in itself, and that distribution is equally important. This argument is based on the concept of the economists that distribution is a separate and independent sphere alongside production. Another argument is that the different factors are not considered as a single whole; as though this separation had forced its way from the textbook into real life and not, on the contrary, from real life into the textbooks; and as though it were a question of the dialectic reconciliation of concepts, and not of the resolution of actually existing conditions.

(a) Production and Consumption

Production is simultaneously consumption as well. It is consumption in a dual form -- subjective and objective consumption. Firstly, the individual, who develops his abilities while producing, expends them as well, using them up in the act of production, just as in natural procreation, vital energy is consumed. Secondly, it is consumption of the means of production -- which are used and used up and in part (as for instance fuel) are broken down into simpler components. It similarly involves consumption of raw material, which is absorbed and does not retain its original shape and quality. The act of production itself is thus, in all its phases, also an act of consumption. The economists concede this. They call productive consumption, production that is simultaneously identical with consumption, and consumption which is directly concurrent with production. The identity of production and consumption amounts to Spinoza's proposition: _Determinatio est negatio_.

But this definition of productive consumption is only advanced in order to separate consumption that is identical with production from consumption in the proper sense, which is regarded by contrast as the destructive antithesis or production. Let us therefore consider consumption proper.

Consumption is simultaneously also production -- just as in nature, the production of a plant involves the consumption of elemental forces and chemical materials. It is obvious that man produces his own body (e.g., through feeding, one form of consumption). But the same applies to any other kind of consumption which in one way or another contributes to the production of some aspect of man. Hence, this is consumptive production. Nevertheless, says political economy, this type of production that is identical with consumption is a secondary phase arising from the destruction of the first product. In the first type of production, the producer assumes an objective aspect; in the second type, the objects created by him assume a personal aspect. Hence, this consuming production -- although it represents a direct unity of production and consumption -- is essentially different from production proper. The direct unity, in which production is concurrent with consumption and consumption with production, does not affect their simultaneous duality.

Production is, thus, at the same time consumption, and consumption is at the same time production. Each is simultaneously its opposite. But an intermediary movement takes place between the two at the same time. Production leads to consumption, for which it provides the material; consumption without production would have no object. But consumption also leads to production by providing for its products the subject for whom they are products. The product attains its final consummation in consumption. A railway on which no one travels (which is therefore not used up, not consumed) is potentially, but not actually, a railway. Without production, there is no consumption; but without consumption, there is no production, either -- since in that case production would be useless. Consumption produces production in two ways.

1. Because a product becomes a real product only through consumption. For example, a dress really becomes a dress only by being worn, a house which is uninhabited is indeed not really a house -- in other words, a product (as distinct from a simple natural object) manifest itself as a product, becomes a product, only in consumption. It is only consumption which, by destroying the product, gives it the finishing touch -- for the product is a product not because it is materialized activity, but only in so far as it is an object for the active subject.

2. Because consumption creates the need for _new_ production, and therefore provides production with the conceptual, intrinsically actuating reason for production, which is the precondition for production. Consumption furnishes the impulse to produce, as well as providing the object, which acts as the determining purpose of production. If it is evident that, externally, production supplies the object of production as a _concept_, an internal image, a need, a motive, a purpose. Consumption furnishes the object or production in a form that is still subjective. There is no production without a need, but consumption re-creates the need.

This is matched on the side of production.

1. By the fact that production supplies the material, the object of consumption. Consumption without an object is no consumption; in this respect, therefore, production creates, produces consumption.

2. But production provides not only the object of consumption, it also gives the consumption a distinct form, a character, a finish. Just as consumption puts the finishing touch on the product as a product, so production puts the finishing touch to consumption. The object is not simply an object in general, but a particular object which must be consumed in a particular way, a way determined by production. Hunger is hunger; but the hunger that is satisfied by cooked meat eaten with a knife and fork differs from hunger that devours raw meat with the help of hands, nails and teeth. Production this produces not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption, not only objectively but also subjectively. Production therefore creates the consumer.

3. Production not only provides the material to satisfy a need, but it also provides the need for the material. When consumption emerges from its original primitive crudeness and immediacy -- and its remaining in that state would be due to the fact that production was still primitively crude -- then it is itself, as a desire, brought about by the object. The need felt for the object is induced by the perception of the object. An _objet d'art_ creates a public that has artistic taste and is able to enjoy beauty -- and the same can be said of any other product. Production accordingly produces not only an object for the subject, but also a subject for the object.

Hence production produces consumption:

1. by providing the material of consumption;

2. by determining the mode of consumption;

3. by creating in the consumer a need for the objects which it first presents as products.

It therefore produces the object of consumption, the mode of consumption and the urge to consume. Similarly, consumption produces the _predisposition_ of the producer by positing him as a purposive requirement.

The identity of consumption and production has three aspects:

1. Direct identity: Production is consumption and consumption is production. Consumptive production and productive consumption. Economists call both productive consumption, but they still make a distinction. The former figures in their work as reproduction, the latter as productive consumption. All investigations concerning the former are concerned with productive and unproductive labor, concerning the latter with productive and non-productive consumption.

2. Each appears as a means of the other, as being induced by it; this is called their mutual dependence; they are thus brought into mutual relation and appear to be indispensable to each other, but nevertheless remain extrinsic to each other. Production provides the material which is the external object of consumption, consumption provides the need -- i.e., the internal object, the purpose of production. There is no consumption without production, and no production without consumption. This proposition appears in various forms in political economy.

3. Production is not only simultaneously consumption, and consumption simultaneously production; nor is production only a means of consumption and consumption the purpose of production -- i.e., each provides the other with its objects, production supplying the external object of consumption, and consumption the conceptual object of production -- in other words, each of them is not only simultaneously the other, and not merely the cause of the other, but each of them by being carried through creates the other, it creates itself as the other. it is only consumption that consummates the process of production, since consumption completes the product as a product by destroying it, by consuming its independent concrete form. Moreover, by its needs for repetition, consumption leads to the perfection of abilities evolved during the first process of production and converts them into skills. Consumption is therefore the concluding act which turns not only the product into a product, but also the producer into a producer. Production, on the other hand, produces consumption by creating a definite mode of consumption, and by providing an incentive to consumption it thereby creates the capability to consume as a requirement. The last kind of identity, which is defined in point 3, has been variously interpreted by economists when discussing the relation of demand and supply, of objects and needs, of needs created by society and natural needs.

Return to Hanover College
Return to History Department