Summary of Frederick Engels' article Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy published in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher

In the fifth notebook of excerpts from the works of economists made by Marx when he was in Paris.

Written: in the first half of 1844
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Volume 3
HTML-Mark-up: Andy Blunden

Private property. Its immediate consequence — trade — like every activity, is a direct source of gain for the trader. The next category to which trade gives rise is value. Abstract real value and exchange-value. For Say utility is the determining feature of real value, for Ricardo and Mill the cost of production. For the Englishmen, competition as against the cost of production represents utility; for Say, it is the cost of production. Value is the ratio of the production costs to utility. Its immediate application: the decision whether to produce at all, whether utility outweighs the cost of production. The practical application of the concept of value is limited to the decision about production. The distinction between real value and exchange-value is based on the fact that the equivalent given in trade is no equivalent. Price: the relationship [between] cost of production and competition. Only that which can be monopolised has price. Ricardo's definition of rent of land is incorrect because it presupposes that a fall in demand instantly reacts on rent and at once puts out of cultivation a corresponding quantity of the worst cultivated land. This is incorrect. This definition leaves out competition, that of Adam Smith leaves out fertility. Rent is the relationship between productivity of the soil and competition. The value of land [Engels stipulates: provided private property is abolished — Ed.] is to be measured by the productiveness of equal areas using equal amounts of labour.

The separation of capital from labour. The separation of capital and profit. The division of profit into profit and interest.... Profit, the weight that capital puts in the scales when the costs of production are determined, remains inherent in capital, and the latter reverts to labour. [Engels discusses the role of profit after the abolition of private property — Ed.] The separation of labour and wages. The significance of wages. The significance of labour in determining the production costs. The split between land and the human being. Human labour is divided into labour and capital.