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Capitalist Manufacture and Capitalist Domestic Industry

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

I. The Rise of Manufacture and its Main Features

By manufacture is meant, as we know, co-operation based on division of labour. In origin, manufacture belongs directly to the above-described “first stages of capitalism in industry.” On the one hand, workshops with a more or less considerable number of workers gradually introduce division of labour, and in this way capitalist simple co-operation grows into capitalist manufacture. The statistics on the Moscow industries quoted in the preceding chapter clearly show the process of this genesis of manufacture: the larger workshops in all fourth category industries, in some of the third category, and in individual cases of the second category, systematically apply division of labour on a wide scale and must therefore be classed as types of capitalist manufacture. More detailed data on the technique and the economics of some of these industries will be given below.

On the other hand, we have seen how merchant’s capital in the small industries, upon reaching its highest stage of development, reduces the producer to the position of a wage-worker processing the raw material of others for payment by the piece. If further development leads to the introduction of systematic division of labour into production and transforms the technique of the small producer, if the “buyer-up” singles out certain detailed operations and gets them done by wage-workers in his own workshop, if, parallel with the distribution of work to be done in the home, and inseparably connected with it, big workshops with division of labour emerge (belonging very often to these same buyers-up), we are confronted with a process of the genesis of capitalist manufacture of another kind.[1]

Manufacture is highly important in the development of capitalist forms of industry, as the link between handicrafts and small commodity production with primitive forms of capital, and large-scale machine industry (the factory). Manufacture is closer to the small industries because it continues to be based on hand technique, so that the big establishments cannot, therefore, fully displace the small ones, cannot completely divorce the industrialist from agriculture. “Manufacture was unable, either to seize upon the production of society to its full extent, or to revolutionise that production to its very core (in ihrer Tiefe ). It towered up as an economic work of art, on the broad foundation of the town handicrafts, and of the rural domestic industries.”[2] What brings manufacture closer to the factory is the rise of the big market, of big establishments with wage-workers, of big capital, which has brought masses of propertyless workers under its complete domination.

In Russian literature the prejudice regarding the isolation of so-called “factory” production from “handicraft” production, regarding the “artificiality” of the former and the “people’s” character of the latter, is so widespread that we think it particularly important to examine the data on all the more important branches of manufacturing industry and to show their economic organisation after they had grown out of the stage of small peasant industries, and before they were transformed by large-scale machine industry.


[1] For a description of this process of the genesis of capitalist manufacture, see Marx’s Das Kapital, III, 318-320. Russ trans., 267–270.[3]

“It was not even in the bosom of the old guilds that manufacture was born. It was the merchant that became the head of the modern workshop, and not the old guild-master.” (Misère de la philosophie, 190.[4] We have had occasion elsewhere to enumerate the principal features of the concept manufacture according to Marx. [Studies, 179 (See present edition, Vol. 2, The Handicraft Census of 1894-95 in Perm Gubernia. –Ed.)]—Lenin

[2] Das Kapital, I2, S. 383.[5]Lenin

[3] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III, Moscow, 1959, pp. 329-331. [p.385]

[4] See Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, p. 154. [p.385]

[5] Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, p. 368. [p.385]