‘The article below was complete several weeks before the outbreak of the War. It was intended for our number which was to have greeted the planned Congress of the International. Like so much else this Congress has been brought to nothing by the events of the last days. Yet although purely theoretical in nature, the article has not lost its relevance to the practice which it sought to help explain. We publish the article, with the omission of passages which related to the International Congress and the addition of some considerations on the war.’

Editorial Note Die Neite Zeit, September 11th, 1914.

We have seen that the undisturbed advance of the process of production presupposes that the different branches of production all produce in the correct proportion. Yet it is also evident that within the capitalist mode of production there is a constant drive towards the violation of this proportion, because within a specific zone the capitalist mode of production tends to develop much more quickly in the industrial than in the agricultural sector. On the one hand, this is an important reason for the periodic crises which constantly grip the industrial sector, and which thereby restore the correct proportion between the different branches of production. On the other hand, the growing ability of capitalist industry to expand constantly increases the pressure to extend the agricultural zone that provides industry not only with foodstuffs and raw materials, but also with customers. Since the importance of the agrarian zones to industry is a dual one, the disproportion between industry and agriculture may also be expressed in two ways. Firstly, the outlets for industrial products in the agrarian zones may not grow so fast as industrial production; this appears as overproduction. Secondly, agriculture may not provide the quantities of foodstuffs and raw materials needed for the rapid growth of industrial production; this takes the form of dearth.

These two phenomena may seem mutually exclusive, but in fact they are closely inter-related insofar as they derive from the disproportion between industrial and agricultural production, and not from other causes such as fluctuations in gold output or changes in the power situation of producers vis-`-vis consumers through cartels, commercial policies or fiscal policies. One of the two phenomena, dearth or overproduction, may easily pass over into the other, because they both derive from the disproportion in question. An increase in prices always forshadows the beginning of a crisis, although this emerges as overproduction and brings with it a price collapse.

On the other hand, the constant drive of the industrialized capitalist countries to extend the agricultural zones involved in trade relations with them, takes the most varied forms. Given that this drive is one of the very conditions of the existence of capitalism, it is still far from proven that any one of these forms is an indispensable necessity for the capitalist mode of production.