Society Does Not Consist of Individuals
(Nothing is more erroneous than the manner in which economists as well as socialists regard society in relation to economic conditions. Proudhon, for example, replies to Bastiat by saying (XVI, 29): ‘For society, the difference between capita] and product does not exist. This difference is entirely subjective, and related to individuals. Thus he calls subjective precisely what is social; and he calls society a subjective abstraction. The difference between product and capital is exactly this, that the product expresses, as capital, a particular relation belonging to a historic form of society. This so-called contemplation from the standpoint of society means nothing more than the overlooking of the differences which express the social relation (relation of bourgeois society). Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand. As if someone were to say: Seen from the perspective of society, there are no slaves and no citizens: both are human beings. Rather, they are that outside society. To be a slave, to be a citizen, are social characteristics, relations between human beings A and B. Human being A, as such, is not a slave. He is a slave in and through society. What Mr Proudhon here says about capital and product means, for him, that from the viewpoint of society there is no difference between capitalists and workers; a difference which exists precisely only from the standpoint of society.)
Karl Marx, The Grundrisse
Subscribe to comments with RSS.