Thus,when we speak of production,we always have in mind production at a definite stage of social development --of production by individuals in a society.It might therefore seems that,in order to speak of production at all,we must either trace the various phases in the historical process of development,or else declare from the very beginning that we are examining oneparticular historical period,as for instance modern bourgeois production,which is,indeed,our real subject matter.All periods of production,however,have certain features in common;they have certain common categories.Production in generalis an abstraction,but a sensible abstraction in so far as it actually emphasizes and defines the common aspects and thus avoids repetition.Yet this generalconcept,or the common aspect which has been brought to light by comparison,is itself a multifarious compound comprising divergent categories.Some elements are found in all epochs,others are common to a few epochs.The most modern period and the most ancient period will have [certain]categories in common.Production without them is inconceivable.But,although the most highly-developed languages have laws and categories in common with the most primitive languages,it is precisely their divergence from these general and common features which constitutes their development.It is necessary to distinguish these definitions which apply to production in general,in order not to overlook the essential differences existing despite the unity that follows from the very fact that the subject (mankind)and object (nature)are the same.For instance,on failure to perceive this fact depends the entire wisdom of modern economists who prove the eternity and harmony of existing social relations.For example,no production is possible without an instrument of production,even if this instrument is simply the hand.It is not possible without past,accumulated labor,even if this labor is only the skill acquired by repeated practice and concentrated in the hand of a savage.Capital is,among other things,also an instrument of instrument of production,and also past,materialized labor.Consequently,capital is a universal and eternal relation given by nature --that is,provided one omits precisely those specific factors which turn the "instrument of production"or "accumulated labor"into capital.The whole history of the relations of production thus appears,for instance in Carey's writings,as a falsification malevolently brought about by government.

Just as there is no production in general,so there is also no general production.Production is always a particular branch of production --e.g.agriculture,cattle-breeding,manufacture --or it is the totalityof production.Political economy,however,is not technology.The relations of the general categories of production at a given social stage to the particular forms of production is to be set forth elsewhere (later).

Finally,not only is production particularproduction,but it is invariably only a definite social corpus,a social subject,that is engaged in a wider or narrower totality of production spheres.The relation of academic presentation to the actual process does not belong here either.Production in general Particular branches of production.

Totality of production.

It is fashionable to preface economic works with a general part --and it is just this which appears under the heading "Production",see for instance John Stuart Mill --which deals with the general conditions of all production.This general part comprises or purports to comprise:

1.The conditions without which production cannot be carried on.

This means,in fact,only that the essential factors required for any kind of production are indicated.But this amounts actually,as we shall see,to a few very simple definitions,which become reduced to trivial tautologies.

2.The conditions which promote production to a larger or smaller degree,as in the case of Adam Smith's progressive and stagnant state of society.

To give this,which in Smith's work has its value as an apercu,to give it scientific significance,research into the degree of productivityat various periods in the development of individual nations would have to be conducted;strictly speaking,such an investigation lies outside the framework of the subject.Those aspects which are however relevant to it ought to be mentioned in connection with the development of competition,accumulation,etc.

The answer in its general form amounts to the general statement that an industrial nation achieves its highest productivity which it is altogether at the height of its historical development.(In fact,a nation is at the height of its historical development so long as,not the gain,but gaining remains its principal aim.In this respect,the Yankees are superior to the English.)Or else that,for example,certain races,formations,climates,natural circumstances,such as maritime position,fertility of the soil,etc.are more conducive to production that others.This,again,amounts to the tautological statement that the production of wealth grows easier in the measure that its subjective and objective elements becomes available.

Karl Marx