My notes on Capital Vol. 1, indexed. These were originally not written as Roam files so forgive the messiness.

1. The Commodity

So what is a commodity

  1. A thing, that

  2. contains within it human labor,

  3. that is socially useful, and

  4. is transferred via a medium of exchange.

The Dual Character of Labor Embedded in Commodities

In civil society as a whole, at the standpoint of needs, what we have before is the composite idea which we call man. Thus this is the first time, and indeed the only time, to speak of man in this sense.

The Value-Form, or Exchange-Value

Commodity Fetishism

4. The General Formula for Capital

The simple circulation of commodities --- selling in order to buy thus, a variable and not a constant quantity of value

  1. Every change in the relation between the magnitude of surplus-value and the value of labor-power arises from a change in the absolute magnitude of the surplus labor, and consequently of surplus value

  2. The absolute value of labor power can change only in consequence of the reaction exercised by the prolongation of surplus labor upon the wear and tear of labor power.

  • The shortening of the working day follows or precedes a change in the productivity and intensity of labor

  • The lengthening of the working day risks increasing the value of labor power

4. Simultaneous Variations in the Duration, Productivity, and

Intensity of Labor

(1) Diminishing productivity of labor with simultaneous lengthening

of the working day

  • Surplus-value may rise

  • Between 1799 and 1815 this was the case in England

    • Nominal wages rose, real wages fell, productivity increased

    • Pauperism and capital grew together!

(2) Increasing intensity and the productivity of labor with

simultaneous shortening of the working day

  • Decreases amount of necessary labor

  • If the whole length of the working day were to shrink to just its necessary component, surplus labor would vanish

    • This would still lead to an expansion of necessary labor, however

  • The more the working day can be shortened, the more the intensity of labor can increase

18. Different Formulae for the Rate of Surplus-Value

  • The formula for surplus value we know:

$$\frac{Surplus\ value}{Variable\ capital}(\frac{s}{v})=\frac{Surplus\ value}{Value\ of\ labor\ power}=\frac{Surplus\ labor}{necessary\ labor}$$

  • Political economy provides the following derivative equation:

$$\frac{Surplus\ labor}{Working\ day}=\frac{Surplus\ value}{Value\ of\ the\ product}=\frac{Surplus\ product}{Total\ product}$$

  • The derivative equations show how the products of labor are divided between worker and capitalist

  • If you attempt to extract 100% surplus labor, you'll only end up reducing necessary labor to 0, thus making this impossible

  • Political economy loves to present the value of labor power as fractions of the value-product, which only mystifies what's really going on

  • A new formula emerges:

$$\frac{Surplus\ value}{Value\ of\ labor\ power}=\frac{Surplus\ labor}{Necessary\ labor}=\frac{Unpaid\ labor}{Paid\ labor}$$

#+BEGIN_QUOTE Capital, therefore, is not only the command over labor, as Adam Smith thought. It is essentially the command over unpaid labor.

19. The Transformation of the Value (and Respectively the Price) of Labor-Power into Wages

We see, further: the value of 3 shillings [the value of labor which creates a value of 6 shillings], which represents the paid portion of the working day, i.e. 6 hours of labor, appears as the value or price of the whole working day of 12 hours, which thus includes 6 hours which have not been paid for. The age-form thus extinguishes every trace of the division of the working day into necessary labor and surplus labor, into paid labor and unpaid labor. All labor appears as paid labor. Under the corvee system it is different. There the labor of the serf for himself, and his compulsory labor for the lord of the land, are demarcated very clearly both in time and space. In slave labor, even the part of the working day in which the slave is only replacing the value of his own means of subsistence, in which he therefore actually works for himself alone, appears as labor for his master. All his labor appears as unpaid labor. In wage-labor, on the contrary, even surplus labor, or unpaid labor, appears as paid. In the one case, the property-relation conceals the slave's labor for himself; in the other case the money relation conceals the uncompensated labor of the wage laborer.

20. Time-Wages

21. Piece-Wages

22. National Differences in Wages

23. Simple Reproduction

24. The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital

1. The Capitalist Production on a Progressively Increasing Scale. The

Inversion which Converts the Property Laws of Commodity Production into Laws of Capitalist Appropriation

2. The Political Economists' Erroneous Conception of Reproduction on

an Increasing Scale

3. Division of Surplus-Value into Capital and Revenue. The Abstinence


Accumulation is the conquest of the world of social wealth. It is the extension of the area of exploited human material and, at the same time, the extension of the direct and indirect sway of the capitalist.

4. The Circumstances Which, Independently of the Proportional

Division of Surplus Value into Capital and Revenue, Determine the Extent of Accumulation, etc.

5. The So-Called Labor Fund

25. The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

Supplemental: MR Online | Notes on Marx's "General Law of Capitalist Accumulation"

The more or less favorable circumstances in which wage-laborers support and multiply themselves in no way alter the fundamental character of capitalist production.

Accumulation of capital is therefore multiplication of the proletariat.

The relation between capital, accumulation, and the rate of wages is nothing other than the relation between the unpaid labor which has been transformed into capital and the additional paid labor necessary to set in motion this additional capital. It is therefore in no way a relation between two magnitudes which are mutually independent, i.e. between the magnitude of the capital and the numbers of the working population; it is rather, at bottom, only the relation between the unpaid and the paid labor of the same working population.


3. The Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus Population or

Industrial Reserve Army


26. The Secret of Primitive Accumulation

We have seen how money is transformed into capital; how surplus-value is made through capital, and how more capital is made from surplus-value. But the accumulation of capital presupposes surplus-value; surplus-value presupposes capitalist production; capitalist production presupposes the availability of considerable masses of capital and labor-power in the hands of commodity producers. The whole movement, therefore, seems to turn around in a never-ending circle, which we can only get out of by assuming a primitive accumulation... an accumulation which is not the result of the capitalist mode of production but its point of departure.

In actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part.

27. The Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land

28. Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated since the End of the Fifteenth Century. The Forcing Down of Wages by Act of Parliament

29. The Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer

30. Impact of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. The Creation of a Home Market for Industrial Capital

31. The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist

32. The Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation

33. The Modern Theory of Colonization