The Hierarchy of Motivating Conditions
This suggestive application of theory to the commercial development of France and, more briefly, to that of northern Italy advances a general model of the development of labor's commodity form while it confirms the individuality of each national case. In France and Italy, as in Germany and Britain, the breakthrough to liberal commercialism was critical for establishing a concept of labor which became an enduring part of national culture. Britain's passage was effected in the second half of the seventeenth century, although its legacy was applied to the free sale of what an outside observer is able to term "labor power" only in the mid-eighteenth century. In France the revolution inaugurated a liberal commercial order that definitively cast labor as a commodity during the bourgeois regime of Louis Philippe. In northern Italy the progression began in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and thereafter followed the rhythm set by France. In Germany the movement extended from approximately 1810 to industrial take-off in the 1850s. During these formative periods, economic agents conceived of and implemented the specifications of the sale of labor that eventually gave shape to the instrumentalities of production in the factory.
These divergent specifications of labor as a commodity developed not from elemental but from conjunctural differences: the four countries in our purview had parallel feudal starting points but contrasting disjunctures and overlaps between major institutional changes in their transition to capitalism. In particular, each country offers its own chronology of change in the demolition of guild constraints on the use of labor, of feudal labor dues, and of local trading privileges in finished articles. The timetable established by the dating of each of these changes in relation to the others in a given country represents the decisive context for the emergence of cultural differences. As delineated in Figure 10, there is a hierarchy in the causal influence of these temporal contrasts. For example, what would have happened in Britain if feudal labor dues had persisted in the countryside after an unfet-
tered national market in finished wares had been introduced? The timing of the dismantling of feudal labor dues in agriculture is irrelevant for the British case. The prior triumph of a commercial discourse centered on products alone ensured that whenever constraints on the unfettered purchase of labor power (which might include feudal dues in labor or guild regulation of laborers) were abolished, the exchange of labor in the resulting market would be assimilated to the established model for the vending of finished articles. The traditional restrictions on the sale of labor power proved irrelevant as a positive model for the shape eventually taken by labor as a commodity in Britain. Their contribution was purely negative, that of allowing a market discourse to identify labor as a substance residing in products. We can infer, therefore, that for Britain the precise form of constraint on the vending of labor power, whether by feudal dues in agriculture, by statutory controls on wages, or by other means, was of no consequence for the final shape of labor as a commodity. When viewed in the European context the disjoint recognition of the free exchange of articles and of labor power is sufficient to explain the British outcome.
A concentration on the development of labor's specification as a commodity in Britain and in Germany offers more than a series of rich historical contrasts. A focus on these primary cases offers a theoretic key, because they represent two extremes among the routes of development: the case with the fewest motivating circumstances versus the case with the most complicated and extreme combination of conditions. Once these cases are laid out, we can see that circumstances in France and northern Italy fill in the alternative permutations between the poles of Britain and Germany. The French-German contrast reveals the difference between conceiving of the labor transaction as the receipt of labor activity through the market and thinking of labor as a service over which the employer exercises immediate command. In France, the annihilation of the guilds meant that the urban trades, with their extensive networks of unsupervised subcontractors and home workers, were included as a setting for economic agents to conceive of the sale of labor to employers. Therefore the emphasis on the employer's direct supervision of the worker, which encouraged a distinction between the use and the exchange
values of labor and on the employer's exploitation of the use value of the labor, was relatively weak. The Italian-British opposition discloses the difference between conceiving of labor as valorized in a product and thinking of labor as a medium for equating the difficulty of procuring products. Yet the outcomes in Italy and Britain share a generic similarity, because feudal dues in agriculture were absent in Italy and irrelevant in Britain.
The investigation of economic thought in Italy suggests that in the European context the disjoint establishment of formally free markets in products and in labor power represents a sufficient but not a necessary cause for the development of the view that labor is acquired only as it is materialized in an article. In Italy the conjoint recognition of markets in products and in labor power meant that the understanding of labor as a commodity was not assimilated to an antecedent market discourse focused upon intercourse in finished articles alone. But the absence of a feudal template for the receipt of labor as a service ensured that the Italians would nonetheless adopt the view that labor is purchased only as it is materialized in a product. Whether the Italians maintained a residual guild system that controlled the labor market for urban craft workers and blocked the operation of capitalist categories was inconsequential for the eventual cultural outcome. Without the feudal constitution of society as the delivery of services, Italians lacked a prerequisite for thinking of the purchase of labor as the appropriation of a labor service. The circulation of products among urban craft specialists located in dense networks of trade does not in itself highlight the appropriation of labor power. The Italian case indicates, however, that the staggered recognition of markets in products versus labor power is necessary for assuming, as the British economic agents did, that labor becomes a calibrated, monetized substance once it is embodied in a ware. For the simultaneous appearance of formally free markets in products and in labor power submits the labor activity and the acquisition of wares to a commercial calculus at the same time, as is illustrated in Italian economic theory. Because the two appear for consideration together, it does not happen, as it does in classical British commercial discourse, that the material articles alone are subjected to such a calculus.
This chapter brings a chain of thought full circle. Part One of the study set out in pursuit of the systematic logic that culture contributed to the organization of capitalist practices in the workplace. Part Two examined the broader commercial framework on which the fabrication of that culture depended. Does this work as a whole thereby follow the bipartite explanatory method that Weber presented in The Protestant Ethic , emphasizing culture's causal independence once it was ushered into the world, but its dependence upon the
economy for its birth? Do studies of culture's effect and of its historical genesis represent separate, fragmentable inquiries? The response to this question closes Part Two.