Broadly speaking Marx, in his “Pre-Capitalist Property and Production”, is trying to do two things:
1. In the first part 261-266, he is interested in establishing what the relationship between labour and capital is. He suggests that, following some of the theoretical principles discussed in the German Ideology, this contradiction necessarily derives from historical processes. That is there is nothing spontaneous about this particular relationship. The main result is: the dissolution of worker as a proprietor, and this dissolution is threefold:
- He is no longer “owner” of land, whereby he can produce his own means of subsistence.
- He is no longer part of a more intimate community (i.e. guild). So social relations have transformed. The worker is socially detached and became isolated.
- His production was tied to particular type of economic relations (i.e. slavery or feudalism), and there his capacity to work was owned by the Masters or the Lords. (In none of these relationships the worker can be seen as worker because what he produces is wholly taken.)
- This contradiction (labour and capital) ultimately denotes the transcendence of old mode of production (Slavery and feudalism).
- Capital derives from money, but also from circulation (this is important because it will tell us more about how capital societies operate and produce opulence… a point that is not fully explored by Smith). More specifically, wealth (land and the production of manufactures) in conjunction with money help to produce capital.
- Within this contradiction Marx argues that Capital allows for the emergence of exchange-value, rather than use-value exclusively, and this expansion ultimately will create the condition for capital to reproduce itself via speculation (and greed). It is important in that regard to recognize that land, products which have use-value, and workers have lost predominance in the formation of the capital system, even though only with them the capital system can exist. The lack of predominance is ultimately the separation (or dissolution) of the workers from land and soil and from property in the conditions of production.