Introduction: Karl Marx: the political economist, revolutionary, and the philosopher, was one of the most influential thinkers of the nineteenth century. Few men have caused such heated debate, manifest through the continued arguments of pro and anticommunists, as he has done. Notwithstanding this element of charisma through controversy, Marx teachings are essential fora comprehensive understanding of capitalism. The keystone of Marx theory is formulated in his work, Capital: Volume One. The purpose of the book is to unmask the capitalist mode of production for all to see.
That is, froman objective position, Marx critically analyses the capitalist system. It was neither written forthe proletariat nor the capitalists. It was written quite simply for humans, who by nature are rational creatures. His hope was that this work would educate humanity on the conditions of capitalism so that we could see that this system would eventually necessarily self-destruct.
The following pages attempt to lay out the logic of Capital: Volume One, and in so doing, suggest the implications thereof on societies wrought by the capitalist mode of production. Pr cis of Capital: Volume One: Scientific, logical discourse must begin with definitions and axioms. Since Marx investigation of capitalism was intended to be objective and logical, he quite accordingly began with exposition of the key aspects of the capitalist system. The first chapter of the book is dedicated to the commodity. Marx defines a commodity as… an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind.
... of adapting to real life conditions. Finally a system including both ideas with special arrangement would bring ... from cradle-to-grave and is the same system for every one" are the words said ... There is a new system called S.T.W (school-to-work) introduced by Marc Tucker, the president ... way. Further more, the concept of " team work " will eliminate academic competition and personal achievements. Phyllis ...
Because we live in a capitalist society, when we walk through the shopping mall, all we see on the shelves are commodities. According to our current standards, as we live in capitalist economy, … wealth [of our society] appears as an immense collection ofcommodities. They are commodities because they satisfy our needs necessary or otherwise Commodities have a twofold nature, namely: their use-value (or substance of value) and exchange-value (or magnitude of value).
The utility or usefulness of an object, which is conditioned by its physical properties, i sits use-value. For instance, in its form as a properly functioning computer, my computer has use-value.
It aids me in communicating with colleagues and writing term papers. If it were not functioning properly, however, it would serve no use-value other than perhaps a decoration in my den. Therefore, the use-value of an object can only be realized through its use or consumption and accordingly, it is expressed in qualitative terms. The exchange-value of commodity is determined by the proportion of which its use-value exchanges for other commodities use-values. That is to say, based on their respective use-values, how many of the commodity x would I exchange for commodity y The notion of exchange-value is therefore quantitative expression. Having defined use-value and exchange-value, Marx explains what is meant by value.
What is / has value Value is expressed in terms of the amount of socially necessary labour-time embodied in a given commodity, through its manufacture. The duration of the labour-time (hours, days, weeks, etc. ) embodied in a given commodity determines its exchange-value, and hence its value. As exchange-values [hence, value], all commodities are merely definite quantities of congealed labour-time. Thus, if twenty hours of socially necessary labour-time was spent making commodity x, but only 10 hours was spent on commodity y, then commodity has twice as much value embodied in it as commodity y. In this case, it is clear that we would not exchange one x for one y.
Now we may ask ourselves, Can a commodity have a use-value while not having an exchange-value The answer is to the affirmative. If a thing is useful, yet contains no expended labour-time, it has a use-value without an exchange-value. Elements of nature such a sair, water and the sun are examples of this. Their usefulness is clear to us, yet we do not place price on them for the purpose of sale on the market. Another way for a thing to have a use-value but not an exchange-value is if someone creates the object for the purpose of his own use. That is, if I craft a chair for myself, it has my labour-time embodied in it and it has utility to me.
... in February 1900 and decided to form a distinct Labour group in parliament. The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) was appointed ... Hardie, secretary of the Scottish Miners' Federation, formed the Scottish Labour Party, because he was disgusted with the complacency ... Times">, a chance to form a new party. The whole woollen area, racked by unemployment and wage reductions, was bristling with Labour ...
However, my intention is not to market the item it is for my own use, and intended to be as such. Lastly, a thing could be produced with labour-time but be considered useless. Thus, the thing would not have any exchange-value. Marx says, If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it. Following his discourse on useful labour, Marx exposes the twofold nature of labour. Qualitatively speaking, the labour must be useful, or productive in nature, which for Marx is called the substance of value.
As William Petty states, … labour is the father of material wealth, the earth is its mother. All labour in commodity production has a definite aim. For instance, the chair maker expends his labour power for the purpose of producing chairs. The blacksmith s goal is to fabricate shoes for horses.
These examples of differing types and intentions of labour illustrate Marx social division of labour. [In a capitalist society] of commodity producers, this qualitative difference between the useful forms of labour which are carried on independently and privately by individual producers develops into a complex system, a social division of labour. The tailor and the weaver must combine their respective, specific, forms of labour (and their corresponding ends) to make a coat, for example. The dual nature of the commodity provides that all commodities come into the world into differing aspects. On the one hand, they are objects of utility, in the form of use-values. This is their natural form.
... false happiness which is money. By rules of economy, we get money for an exchange of the work we ... do or services we give. In return, money gives us ... you find yourself. These are all things that money cannot purchase. I have heard of many people ... are able to obtain anything they want financially. Money is just a temporary state of happiness, eventually ...
On the other hand, since human labour power is embodied in them through production, they are bearers of value. This is their value form. In order for us to determine the exchange-value for a given commodity, we must compare it to another commodity. For example, x amount of commodity A is worth y amount ofcommodity B.
This is the simple or accidental form of value. The first commodity plays an active role, the second a passive one. The value of the first commodity is represented as relative value, in other words, the commodity is in the relative form of value. The second commodity fulfils the function equivalent, in other words it is in the equivalent form.
The form of value can be expressed in expanded form such that: x amount of commodity A is equal to y amount of commodity B, or z amount of commodity C. Hence, commodity x confronts the two other commodities in terms of their values as equivalents. Ultimately, a particular commodity, namely gold, will serve as a universal expression ofvalue. This… specific kind of commodity with whose natural form the equivalent form is socially interwoven now becomes the money commodity, or serves as money.
Thus, the money form can be expressed as: x amount of commodity A is equal to y amount of gold. The only reason that gold can assume this important role in the system of commodity exchange, isbecause it had previously confronted other commodities as a commodity. The owners of commodities are responsible for the exchange of their respective commodities. Commodities do not decide to exchange themselves on the market. For theowner, his commodity has no use-value other than its ability to be exchanged… for [theowner] its only direct use-value is as a bearer of exchange-value…
At this point, Marx s discourse focusses on a more in-depth examination of money. Money performs two different functions. On the one hand it functions as the social incarnation of human labour. On the other hand, it is also the standard of price as a quantity of metal with a fixed weight.
The incorporation of the money commodity is now essential for the process ofcommodity exchange, through its function as a universal standard of value. Instead, moreover, of exchanging one commodity for another, owners of commodities began to exchange their products for money in order to buy other commodities. That is, instead of previous formula for exchange illustrated as Commodity-Commodity, the formula became Commodity-Money-Commodity, or C-M-C. The first part of the formula, C-M represents the commodity s owner selling it, and the second part of the formula represents the exchange of the money for another commodity. In the process of circulation, money repeats this transition over and over again. As means of circulation, money circulates commodities, which in and for themselves lack the power of movement, and transfers them from hands in which they are non-use-values into hands in which they are use-values.
... increase their capacity to give loans thus increasing the money supply in circulation (Handa 322). Another thing that the Federal Reserve does ... to increased supply of U. S. dollars in the foreign exchange market (Handa 9). This makes the U. S. dollar to ... benefit the intermediary. Banks are usually heavily regulated as they form an important pillar of any country’s economy. For profit ...
Indeed, commodities enter and drop out of this process of circulation they are born and die in this respect. However, money continues in the process of circulation and, to use the aforementioned metaphor, holds a certain immortality therein. Money, … , as the medium ofcirculation, haunts the sphere of circulation and constantly moves around within it. This begs the question then, how much money is there in circulation.
The answer to this is that the amount of money existent in the sphere of circulation is dependent on the total price of all commodities that are actively circulating / metamorphosis ing . What results is the equation: Quantity of Money Functioning as the Circulating Medium = The sum of the Prices of the Commodities / The number of Times Coins of the same Denomination Turn Over. This is termed the velocity ofcirculation. Therefore, … given the sum of the values of commodities, and the average rapidity of their metamorphoses, the quantity of money or of the material of money in circulation depends on its own value.
Marx notion of hoarding illustrates money s function as a store of value. Hoarding occurs in instances where, … commodities are [sold] not in order to buy commodities, but in order to replace their commodity-form by their money-form. Instead of being merely a way of mediating the metabolic process, this change of form becomes an end in itself. The drive for men to accumulate wealth thereafter became the basis for capitalist society. According to Marx, then, money serves the following functions: a measure of value; the facilitator of circulation; and a store of value.
... – financial institution employees. 3) Speed of the transactions: Money laundering process would be less expensive and faster as the one using ... . These derivatives can be exchanged, like any other traditional commodity or securities derivatives, between account holders. Consumers purchase a ... by law enforcement agencies in order to get more power. Maybe we look not thoroughly enough or our instruments ...
In addition to this, he says that money serves as means of payment and as world money. In the first case, a person may create a line of credit as he purchases commodities on anI. O. U. basis. When he has the money, he pays off his debt.
If, however, this person finds himself unable to repay his debt by accumulating enough money, the result is a monetary crisis. World money is used to settle debts with respect to international debt, in order to stabilize the economy on a global level. Ricardo says, World money serves as the universal means of payment, as the universal means of purchase, and as the absolute social materialization of wealth as such (universal wealth).
At the completion of Part One, Marx has provided the definitions and axioms necessary to the subsequent discourse involved in dissecting the capitalist system.
The key elements exposed hitherto are: the commodity; the process of exchange; and money, or the circulation ofcommodities. Part Two begins with examining the transformation of money into capital. Previously, we followed Marx formula for the exchange of commodities as C-M-C. Since this formula doesn t allow for the accumulation of wealth, which is paramount for the capitalist, a new formula must be adopted, namely: M-C-M. This formula yields not a new commodity, but a new money, as it were.
The money owner begins the process of exchange with an amount of money for which he exchanges a given commodity. Then he sells the commodity for a return of money. Now, we may ask ourselves why anyone would essentially exchange money for money. Certainly, there must be a motivation for the money owner. That motivation lies in the fact thatthe equation, once expanded one step further, is M-C-M’. Thus, the money owner makes profit, and hence his motivation for exchanging use-values at the first.
The increment gained as a result of the transformation of M-C-M’ is what Marx calls surplus value. How then does money, as a commodity, essentially grow into a lager amount during this process of exchange Marx calls this the valorization of value. Now if the formula M-C-M’ can be performed with success once, it can be performed again. It follows then that, if the money owner reinvests the valorized value (M’), the formula would become M’-C-M”; and further, M”-C-M”‘. Alas, money is multiplying rather quickly! Indeed, the money owner is delighted as this process of exchange occurs again and again, all the while accumulating wealth, and by virtue of such, becoming a capitalist. As the bearer of this movement, the possessor of money becomes a capitalist.
... over money, power, and fame. The choice between right and wrong can ... certain decisions, we are focused on the prospect of gaining money, power, or fame for ourselves. Conscience is also a big motivator ... is exemplified in both literature and history. The notion that power, money, and fame are more powerful motivators than conscience is illustrated ...
His person, or rather his pocket, is the point from which the money starts, and to which it returns. The objective content in the circulation we have been discussing the valorization of value is his subjective purpose, and it is only in so far as the appropriation of ever more wealth in the abstract is the sole driving force behind his operations that the functions as a capitalist, i. e. as capital personified and endowed with consciousness and a will. Use-values must therefore never be treated as the immediate aim of the capitalist; nor must the profit on any single transaction His aim is rather the unceasing movement of profit-making. It should be noted that there is a distinction between what we refer to as a miser, and a capitalist.
The former, who operates his affairs according to M-C-M’, simply removes the increment gained, through the valorization of his money, from the sphere of circulation. The latter on the other hand, reinvests his capital back into the sphere of circulation, so that it may return again in valorized form. It would seem curious that the capitalist is able to make his money grow in this fashion, since it appears as though this new value simply magically appears. We ask ourselves how it isth at the capitalist s money can valorize itself in such a way…
the money-owner must be lucky enough to find within the sphere of circulation, on the market, a commodity whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of value, whose actual consumption is therefore itself an objectification of labour, hence a creation of value. The possessor of money does find such a special commodity on the market: the capacity for labour, in other words labour-power. The capitalist, when he exchanges the original sum of money at the first, exchanges it for the peculiar commodity of labour-power. This commodity is peculiar because it has the capability of actually producing value through its consumption by its purchaser.
In order to abide by the laws of commodity exchange of which the capitalist system operates on, certain conditions must be present for the capitalist to potentially purchase this commodity. Firstly, the owner of the labour-power must offer it as purchasable on the market. Secondly, he must do this of his own accord, (as he is the owner of his commodity), and for a definite period of time, since offering it indefinitely for a one-time price would make him a slave. After the sale of his commodity, and since he has no control of the means of production, as he is not using his labour-power for his own production of commodities, our friend becomes worker, and by definition of such, a few key conditions become manifest. The commodity that was sold, in the form of labour-power, was alienated in terms of its use-value to the previous owner. Thus the capitalist, as the current owner of this commodity, can justly consume it however he pleases.
For example, if I purchase a pencil, I am not required to use it strictly forthe purpose of writing I can use it as a hair ornament if I choose. In addition, the worker now has a new commodity with which he can purchase the commodities necessary for his (and hisfamily s) subsistence. However, once he consumes his food (and pays his bills) he has to return to the market and sell another unit of his labour-power. Consequently, this process must be ongoing for the worker so that he may survive. Hereafter, the process of the purchase and sale of labour-power, and hence the capitalist-worker relationship, is essentially self-perpetuating, since the capitalist constantly needs his special commodity, in the form of the worker, for the purpose of creating value through its consumption; while the worker needs a means to survive. What is key is that the exchange-value of labour power, as a commodity, is determined by the amount of socially acceptable labour-time embodied in it through its production.
Theproduction of labour-time involves the worker eating, drinking, and sleeping under a roof. Therefore, the value of labour-power is determined by the cost of living for the worker and hisfamily, as his offspring will become the future work force. If more labour-time is embodied in x unit of labour-power than y unit of labour-power, then the former is more valuable. Educated labour-power embodies more labour-time than non educated labour-power since, as Marx observes: In order to modify the general nature of the human organism in such a way that it acquires skill and dexterity in a given branch of industry, and becomes labour-power of a developed and specific kind, a special education or training is needed, and this in turn costs an equivalent in commodities of a greater or lesser amount. The costs of education vary according to the degree of complexity of the labour-power required.
The expenses (exceedingly small in the case of ordinary labour-power) form a part of the total value spent in producing it. This specialized type of labour-power, therefore, is more valuable than non specialized labour-power. Part Three deals with the creation of absolute surplus-value through the labour process. The simple elements of the labour process are (1) purposeful activity, which is work itself, (2) the object on which that work is performed, and (3) the instruments of that work. Every process of labour requires these three constituent parts. Thus, the labour process is defined as the…
purposeful activity aimed a the production of use-values. Since the capitalist purchases these three forms of commodities for the labour process, and therefore the owner of the means ofproduction, he also owns the product resulting from the process and the value created therein. The capitalist has two key objectives. The first, is that he strives to produce commodities which are intended to be sold on the market, that is, exchange-value. Secondly, he needs toproduce surplus-value, that is he must… produce a commodity greater in value than the sum of the values of the commodities used to produce it, namely the means of production and the labour-power he purchased with his good money on the open market.
But how does the capitalist bring about the valorization of the value of the three commodities he purchased for the labour (value-creating) process The answer is he doesn t. Surplus-value (capital in valorized form) is produced the moment the labour process is prolonged beyond the point where it yields a simple equivalent for the purchased value of labour-power. As Marx notes: If we now compare the process of creating value with the process of valorization, we see that the latter is nothing but the continuation of the former beyond a certain point. If the process is not carried beyond the point where the value paid by the capitalist for the labour-power is replaced by an exact equivalent, it is simply a process of creating value; but if it is continued beyond that point, it becomes a process of valorization.
Surplus value, then, is created as a result from… a quantitative excess of labour, from a lengthening of one and the same labour process. The organic composition of capital is exposed at this point in the discourse. The part of capital that the capitalist purchases… the raw material, the auxiliary material and the instruments of labour, [which] does not undergo any quantitative alteration of value in the process of production…
is what Marx calls constant capital. The other part, which is used to purchase the labour-power, and which does undergo a change in value in the process ofproduction, is called variable capital. This organic composition of capital can be represented as C (capital) = c (constant capital) + v (variable capital).
Upon completion of the process ofproduction, i.
e. , after valorization and hence creation of surplus-value, the equation becomes C’ = (c+v) +s (surplus-value).
The rate of surplus-value, or the rate at which capital valorizesitself, therefore, is calculated by the formula s / v. During the working day, the worker performs two different types of labour. The first type, which involves the necessity of replenishment of the worker s living costs, so that he i sable to survive (read, work again tomorrow), is called necessary labour-time. This is the part of the working day that the worker is paid the value of his labour-power.
The second part, which does not reflect any value in the eyes of the worker, (as he has already been paid), and bywhich capital is able to valorize in the form of surplus-value, is called surplus-labour time. The rate of surplus-value can be calculated either by using the aforementioned formula s /v, or using the formula surplus-labour / necessary labour. The rate surplus-value is therefore an exact expression for the degree of exploitation of labour-power by capital, or of the worker bythe capitalist. Despite the fact that the working day can vary in duration, it can only do so within certain limits. There are physical and social limits imposed on the length of the working day. On the one hand, the worker must be able to ensure that his body is able to return to work, which means eating, sleeping, drinking, etc.
On the other hand, he must also have time to satisfy his intellectual and social obligations. However, since the rate of surplus value is determined by the amount of surplus labour-time exploited from the worker by the capitalist during the working day, and the capitalist wishes to see the highest rate of surplus-value possible, the drive by thecapitalist to lengthen the working day, thereby increasing the amount of surplus labour-time, is unceasing. The limit is stretched continuously, testing the boundaries of what is sociallyacceptable in terms of the length of the working day; while at the same time however, the worker resists this elasticity by demanding that his employer not deviate from what is the sociallyacceptable duration. After all, since his labour-power is sold by him as a commodity with exchange-value, which presupposes the embodiment of an amount of socially acceptable labour-time, he wants nothing more than to receive equal exchange for his commodity, which is determined according to socially average standards. Hence, in the history of capitalist production, the establishment of a norm for the working day presents itself as a struggle over the limits of that day, a struggle between collective capital, i.
e. the class of capitalists, and collective labour, i. e. the working class. This struggle results in a vision of the working class, by capital, as a massive unit of labour-power, hence labour, hence surplus labour-time, hence surplus-value, personified. Therefore, the working class is considered as an object (rather than as persons) asa means to an end.
It would seem that the capitalist holds the upper hand, in light of our discourse heretofore. To be sure, the working class as a whole is worse off than the capitalist class. It i sfor this concern that Marx comes to the conclusion that the working class must… put their heads together and, as a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful social barrier bywhich they can be prevented from selling themselves and their families into slavery and death by voluntary contract with capital. If the rate of surplus-value is calculated by s / v, then we can expand the formula to incorporate a mass number of workers, in co-operation with each other, under the guidance and employ of one capitalist.
The resulting formula is, S (mass of surplus-value) = (s / v) V (the value of average labour power).
Large scale industry will emerge from this logic as mass numbers of workers can be exploited simultaneously, thereby increasing the amount of surplus-value attained by the capitalist. The co-operation of many workers under one roof offers many advantages to thecapitalist. If lights, heat, water, building maintenance, in short, the cost of housing the means ofproduction is incorporated into the constant portion of capital, and the capitalist can decreaseth is amount by bringing his whole operation under one roof, then he can lower the value of his commodity. This is favourable since he can sell his commodity for a lesser price than his competitors for the moment, while still receiving the same surplus-value, relatively, as his counterparts. In short, the capitalist can alter the ratio of surplus-value to the total capital advanced.
In addition, decreasing the cost of commodities (for the capitalist class as a whole) is beneficial since the value of labour-power will also decrease as wage-goods cheapen. Capital therefore has an immanent drive, and a constant tendency, toward increasing the productivity oflabour, in order to cheapen commodities and, by cheapening commodities, to cheapen theworker himself. Co-operation is the fundamental form of the capitalist mode of production and is evident in the methods of manufacture. Manufacture can arise either out of (1), combining workers of various trades together inthe production of a particular commodity (heterogeneous manufacture), or (2), combining tradesmen of one type together in production of a particular commodity (organic manufacture).
In any case, the… final form is always the same a productive mechanism whose organs are human beings.
By virtue of employing mass numbers of workers simultaneously, the manufacture done in a co-operative effort operates under a social division of labour. Modern manufacture is the classical shape that the division of labour assumes. For example, the production in an auto plant incorporates many different tasks to be performed simultaneously in order to produce a vehicle at optimum productivity. Thus, the commodity ceases to be the product of individual craftsmen. Rather, it becomes the… social product of a union of craftsmen, each of whom performs one, and only one of the constituent partial operations.
The implication for the craftsmen, resulting from their limited participation in producing commodity which previously had been done by their hands from start to finish, is that they become disinterested in their work because they become alienated from the finished product. That is to say, they no longer hold the pride in their work that they once did. However, the division of labour in manufacture benefits capital, in terms of its rate of self-valorization because it promotes specialization of specific tasks, which in turn increases productivity. Since there are different levels of specialization, manufacture creates a… hierarchy of labour-powers, to which there corresponds a scale of wages. Such a hierarchy will undoubtedly create a strong level of competition among labourers, which will naturally increase productivity and further the domination of capital over the worker.
Not only does the process of production, through manufacture, result in specialized labour, it consequently produces tools that are also specialized. The famous Tim the tool man Taylor ism, You need the right tool for the job helps explain the need for specialized tools, namely, that these tools promote increased productivity. The benefits enjoyed by the capitalist as a result of organizing his means of production such as in the case of manufacture, are conversely and equally ghastly to the workers. As the rate of necessary labour-time decreases, and capital valorized increasingly, the worker, of necessity, is being exploited and dominated by the capitalist to an increasing degree. It is the continuous drive for capitalists to increase productivity that gives rise to new methods of production (such as manufacture and large-scale industry), as well as new technological advances. Machines are created to do the job faster and therefore produce commodities more cheaply.
The machine is a means for producing surplus-value. Machines consist of three parts. The first is the motor mechanism, or the driving force ofthe machine. The second is the transmitting mechanism, which regulates the motion of themachine. Finally, the machine has a tool or working machine, of which the worker uses to operate it. In large-scale industry, the collective machine takes the place of the collective worker because the machine produces cheaper commodities.
Also, machines do not have a cost of living as the worker does. This will decrease the amount of necessary labour-time in theworking day, indeed nearly eliminating variable capital! Again, machines benefit the capitalist, while at the same time they are detrimental to the worker, as the latter is threatened by increasing unemployment. Increasing unemployment furthers increased domination of capital over the worker since the workers compete against each other for limited job-slots. Machines do not create value, as workers do. Because they are to be considered as specialized tools, they merely transfer their value to the commodity produced.
The productivity of a machine is determined by the amount of human labour-power it replaces. The purpose for employing machines is therefore not to create value, but to cheapen the value of the product and thus reduce the value of labour-power, in addition to creating more surplus-value. In the event that the machine employed costs more than the worker s labour-power which it replaces, themachine s purpose is not fulfilled it fails to create a greater amount of surplus-value and is useless to the process. As stated earlier, the incorporation of the machine in manufacture generates great advantages to the capitalist.
It produces greater surplus-value, if it s a good machine, than theworker can because it decreases the value of commodities through increased productivity. Therefore it also cheapens the cost of variable capital, since the cost of living for the worker is cheaper. Perhaps most importantly it solidifies the dominance of capital over the working class. On the other hand, the worker opposes the machine since it minimizes the need for physical strength in production, allowing for the employment of physically weaker workers namely, women and children. Since more family members are working (of necessity), the cost of living for a family is spread out over more earners so the value of labour-power will decrease on a per person basis. The result for the family dynamic is startling relationships within the family are changed as less time is spent as a family.
Earlier, the alienation of the worker to his product, to the capitalist, to other workers and to the work itself, was illustrated. Now, we canada the alienation of the worker to his family. Not even the sanctity of the family is spared by capital s lust for self-valorization. The length of the working day is also affected by large-scale industry. This follows fromthe quality of the work in terms of its taxation on the worker in the physical sense. In short, the work is not as physically demanding as it was before the introduction of the machine, therefore, the working day can be lengthened.
Another reason that the working day can be extended isbecause the machines used are continuously subject to being outperformed by newer, better machines. Hence, the capitalist tries to get his money out of his purchased machine as quickly as possible. The longer the working day is, then, the shorter period of time it will take for themachine to produce its value to the capitalist. The use of machines destroys the previous technical aspect of labour evident in petty commodity production. Marx says, In the handicrafts and manufacture, the worker makes use of a tool; in the factory, the machine makes use of him. Practically speaking, the factory produces additional problems for the workers.
Theworking conditions are very poor in the factory. The economical use of the social means of production, matured and forced as in a hothouse by the factory system, is turned in the hands of the capital into a systemic robbery of what is necessary for the life of the worker while he is at work, i. e. space, light, air and protection against the dangerous or the unhealthy concomitants of the production process.
As a comment regarding our discourse so far: If we have been following the argument closely, we may be (rightfully) scratching our heads. If capitalism requires the consumption oflabour-power, which produces surplus-value, as its fundamental precondition for existence, andthe worker is no longer able to sell his labour power, which produces surplus-value, because heis chronically unemployed, how then (ultimately) can the capitalist mode of production sustain itself The logic can be laid out in simple, chain form: If machines oust the workers, then therein no longer variable capital to be purchased. If there is no variable capital available, then no surplus-value can be created. If no surplus-value can be created, then the system, by definition, is not a capitalist system (i. e. , it cannot exist as such).
But machines are ousting the workers. Therefore, the capitalist system is one which is unsustainable as the… reproduction, [the]perpetuation of the worker, is the absolutely necessary condition for capitalist production. The instrument of labour, when it takes the form of a machine, immediately becomes a competitor of the worker himself. The self-valorization of capital by means of the machine is related directly to the number of workers whose conditions of existence have been destroyed by it. The whole system of capitalist production is based on the worker s sale of his labour-power as a commodity.
The division of labour develops this labour- power in a one-sided way, by reducing it to the highly particularized skill of handling a special tool. When it becomes the job of the machine to handle this tool, the use-value of the worker s labour-power vanishes, and with it its exchange-value. The worker becomes unsaleable, like paper money thrown out of currency by legal enactment. The section of the working class thus rendered superfluous by machinery, i. e.
converted into a part of the population no longer directly necessary for the self-valorization of capital, either goes under in the unequal contest between the old handicraft and manufacturing production and the new machine production, or else floods all the more easily accessible branches of industry, swamps the labour-market, and makes the price of labour-power fall below its value… When machinery seizes on an industry by degrees, it produces chronic misery among the workers who compete with it. Machines present a direct threat to the livelihood, indeed existence of the working classes a whole. The individual worker revolts against this particular form of the means ofproduction because it is the only explicit object he sees, or knows, to be the cause of his misery. In time however, the worker will realize that it is not the machine that is to be blamed for the hardships; it is the system which created them that should be revolted against.
Marx believed that through education of the theory of capital, the working class as a whole could join together in revolt against the capitalist system of necessity since the system threatened their very hides. As a d noumena to his treatise, Marx returns to the beginnings of the capitalist system. He answers our curiosity in terms of the origins of the conditions of the capitalist system. Where did the worker-capitalist dichotomy emerge in the first place The answer lies in the history leading up to the capitalist system.
In order for there to bea free agent, who is willing to sell his labour-power on the market for a wage, this agent must be free from the means of production. That is to say, he must not be able to produce commodities on his own. We learned that the organic composition of capital was both labour-power and the materials and tools for the production of commodities. If the free agent brings the labour-power to the table naturally, yet he is unable to produce commodities autonomously, then he must be without the means of production. Marx tells us, The process which creates the capital-relation is nothing other than the process which divorces the worker from the ownership of the conditions of his own labour. The expropriation of the agricultural producer from his own soil is the genesis of this process.
The best illustration of this process of expropriation, for Marx, occurred in England in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Through a combination of the Crown s seizure of arable lands for the church, and of the great feudal lords reclaiming of their property, in response to the booming wool industry, A mass of free and unattached proletarians was hurled onto the labour-market by the dissolution of the bands of feudal retainers, who, as Sir James Steuart correctly remarked, everywhere uselessly filled house and castle. Although the royal power, itself a product of bourgeois development, forcibly hastened the dissolution of these bands of retainers in its striving for absolute sovereignty, it was by no means the sole cause of it. It was rather that the great feudal lords, in their defiant opposition to the king and Parliament, created an incomparably larger proletariat by forcibly driving the peasantry from the land, to which the latter had the same feudal title as the lords themselves, and by usurpation of the common lands. The rapid expansion of wool manufacture in Flanders and the corresponding rise in the price of wool in England provided the direct impulse for these evictions.
The old nobility had been devoured by the great feudal wars. The new nobility was the child of its time, for which money was the power of all powers. Transformation of arable land into sheep-walks was therefore its slogan. The point of looking back into the history of the evolution of the feudal system into thecapitalist system is to emphasize that the current system is a result of a natural progression. Indue time, the system will collapse due to its unity of contradiction. Either the worker can sit idly (read, working like a dog chasing his own tail), while the system literally destroys him, or he must revolt against the system itself, by joining forces with his fellow tail-chasers.
The paradox remains however, how, today, as we ve become so dependent upon theproduction of use-value by others, and hence the increasing element of mystery for the individual, can we begin to revolt How do I churn butter, or make a chair, or plant potatoes Perhaps I will do some research on where to start this process right after I finish my shift at the taxi stand (if I can find time).
Shit, this is the ultimate catch twenty-two.