Economists have a singular method of procedure. There are only two kinds of institutions for them, artificial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are artificial institutions, those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions. In this, they resemble the theologians, who likewise establish two kinds of religion. Every religion which is not theirs is an invention of men, while their own is an emanation from God. When the economists say the present-day relations--the relations of bourgeois production--are natural, they imply that these are the relations in which wealth is created and productive forces developed in conformity with the laws of nature. These relations therefore are themselves natural laws independent of the influence of time. They are eternal laws which must always govern society. Thus, there has been history, but there is no longer any. There has been history, since there were institutions of feudalism, and in these institutions of feudalism we find quite different relations of production from those of bourgeois society, which the economists try to pass off as natural and, as such, eternal.
Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.
Consider this: when you stand at the entry to a steel factory, you can make out through the smoke some men, some metal, the fires. The furnaces roar, the hammers crash; and the metalworkers who forge ingots, weapons, tools, and so on are completely ignorant of the real uses to which their products will be put. The workers can only refer to their products by conventional names. Well, that's where we all stand, all of us! Nobody can see the real character of what he creates because every knife blade may become a dagger, and the use to which an object is put changes both its name and its nature. Only our ignorance shields us from terrible responsibilities.