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By Karl Marx

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Example text

Grave misunderstandings arise, however, if the reader attempts to pass straight from Volume 1 to Volume 3, under-estimating the key place of Volume 2 in the monumental theoretical construction. Marx himself quite precisely clarified this place, in a letter sent to Engels on 30 April 1868: ‘In Book I… we content ourselves with the assumption that if in the self-expansion process £100 becomes £110, the latter will find already in existence in the market the elements into which it will change once more.

We have dwelt on this problem elsewhere and shall not repeat the argumentation here. Suffice it to say that, under capitalism, both the dynamics of value determination and the non-determination of consumer expenditure make it impossible to maintain exact proportions between the two departments in such a way as to allow harmonious growth. The very nature of expanded reproduction – capitalist reproduction – under capitalism implies that production takes place not only on a broader scale, but also under changed technological conditions.

But this analysis, starting from a high level of abstraction and drawing nearer and nearer to the everyday ‘phenomena’ of capitalist life, itself represents this process of circulation in successive stages of concreteness. First there is the circulation of (money) capital in its most general form as we encountered it in Volume 1: M–C–M′(M+AM) Money buys commodities so that they may be sold with an accretion of money – a profit – part of which will be added to the initial money capital. If we translate this formula into the real operations of the capitalist mode of production, we have to replace C, the commodities bought, with the specific operation of the industrialist, namely, the purchase of means of production and labour-power in order that the labour-power may produce additional value, surplus-value.

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