Simple Capitalist Cooperation

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Simple Capitalist Cooperation


the first stage in the development of capitalist production, preceding the manufacture stage; a form of collectivization of labor in which the capitalist exploits a more or less significant number of simultaneously employed wage workers who perform the same work. Simple capitalist cooperation is based on manual labor without a division of labor at a capitalist enterprise. Simple cooperation emerged in precapitalist systems and was used to carry out large-scale projects requiring the simultaneous utilization of the combined labor of people at one place, as in the construction of the pyramids, churches, irrigation structures and dams, and roads.

Simple capitalist cooperation is a specific form of capitalist production that develops from the disintegration of small-scale commodity production. It differs from earlier types of cooperation in that it is organized by a capitalist (owner of capital) for the purpose of extracting surplus value. In simple capitalist cooperation, wage workers who sell their labor are brought together, joint labor is performed under the command of the capitalist, and the product of joint labor belongs to the capitalist, the owner of the means of production. At this stage, however, capitalist production relations are still poorly developed. There are neither large capitalists nor broad strata of proletariat, and the market is extremely narrow.

Although simple capitalist cooperation does not make radical changes in either the technology or methods of production, it does have advantages over small-scale commodity production. Compared to the labor of small scattered producers (artisans), it creates a new, large-scale productive force that is used by the capitalist and raises labor productivity. The social productive force formed by the collective labor of workers operates as the productive force of capital. Simple capitalist cooperation evens out the individual capabilities of employees and engenders competition between them. It also makes it possible to save on labor and jointly-used means of production and to reduce production time. These and other economic advantages of the massive social productive force of labor are used to achieve the largest possible self-sustained growth in the value of capital. Production is managed in a capitalist manner.

The further development of simple capitalist cooperation led to cooperation based on division of labor, that is, capitalist manufactures.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, pp. 333–47, ch. 9.
Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii. Poln. sobr. Soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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