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, sociologist, communist, and revolutionary, whose ideas played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism. Marx summarized his approach in the first line of chapter one of The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Marx argued that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, would inevitably produce internal tensions, which would lead to its destruction. Just as capitalism replaced feudalism, he believed socialism would, in its turn, replace capitalism, and lead to a stateless, classless society called pure communism. This would emerge after a transitional period called the "dictatorship of the proletariat": a period sometimes referred to as the "workers state" or "workers' democracy". Marx argued for a systemic understanding of socio-economic change. He argued that the structural contradictions within capitalism necessitate its end, giving way to socialism: “What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” —(The Communist Manifesto) On the other hand, Marx argued that socio-economic change occurred through organized revolutionary action. He argued that capitalism will end through the organized actions of an international working class: "Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement that abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence." While Marx remained a relatively obscure figure in his own lifetime, his ideas and the ideology of Marxism began to exert a major influence on workers' movements shortly after his death. This influence gained added impetus with the victory of the Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution in 1917, and few parts of the world remained significantly untouched by Marxian ideas in the course of the twentieth century. Marx is typically cited as one of the principal architects of modern social science.
Marxian Concepts of Wage Labour and Capital What are Wages? How are they Determined? Wages are the amount of money which the capitalist pays for a certain period of work or for a certain amount of work. Consequently, it appears that the capitalist buys their labour with money, and that for money they sell him their labour. But this is merely an illusion. What they actually sell to the capitalist for money is their labour-power. This labour-power the capitalist buys for a day, a week, a month, etc. And after he has bought it, he uses it up by letting the worker labour during the stipulated time. With the same amount of money with which the capitalist has bought their labour-power (for example, with two shillings) he could have bought a certain amount of sugar or of any other commodity. The two shillings with which he bought 20 pounds of sugar is the price of the 20 pounds of sugar. The two shillings with which he bought 12 hours' use of labour-power, is the price of 12 hours' labour. Labourpower, then, is a commodity, no more, no less so than is the sugar. Actually, the worker has exchanged his commodity, labour-power, for commodities of all kinds, and, moreover, at a certain ratio. By giving him two shillings, the capitalist has given him so much meat, so much clothing, so much wood, light, etc., in exchange for his day's
Now. in bed. Why does he sell it? It is in order to live. What. shovels. therefore. was sold to his owner once for all. weaves. his wages. He is a commodity that can pass from the hand of one owner to that of another. The slave did not sell his labourpower to the slave-owner. which enable him to sit down at a table. and so on – is this 12 hours' weaving. Consequently. And the labourer who for 12 hours long. now fall. He himself is a commodity. millions of workers. but only as earnings. it would be a perfect example of a wage-worker. the cost of his production is limited almost exclusively to the commodities necessary for keeping him in working condition. The slave. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another. or in the price of the product. and being in this respect on a par with the loom. at the table. Let us take any worker. sells to the capitalist. Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labourpower. the wage-worker. is not the aim of his activity. the workers. or the price of labor-power. it is the special name for the price of this peculiar commodity. naturally regulate wages. Labour-power was not always a commodity (merchandise). The two shillings therefore express the relation in which labour-power is exchanged for other commodities. together with his labour-power. than the loom itself has. spins. therefore. Life for him begins where this activity ceases. is the cost of production of labor-power? It is the cost required for the maintenance of the laborer as a laborer. The serf sells only a portion of his labour-power. but the wages of the whole working class adjust to this minimum. any more than the ox sells his labour to the farmer. as life? Quite the contrary. In those branches of industry in which hardly any period of apprenticeship is necessary and the mere bodily existence of the worker is sufficient. turning. The exchange value of a commodity estimated in money is called its price. If the silk-worm's object in spinning were to prolong its existence as caterpillar. and for his education and training as a laborer. according to the relation of supply and demand. The wages thus determined are called the minimum of wages. it is rather a sacrifice of his life. Wages therefore are only a special name for the price of labour-power. by cost of production. then. bores. spinning. by the labor-time necessary for production of this commodity: labor-power. carries hods. and are usually called the price of labour. building. Therefore. on the other hand. the exchange-value of labour-power. a weaver. and so on. For a weaver. regarded by him as a manifestation of life. do not receive enough to be able to exist and to propagate themselves. The product of his activity. does not hold good for the single individual. are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by himself. spinning. to take his seat in the tavern. and to lie down in a bed. turns. boring. shovelling. The fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. He does not count the labour itself as a part of his life.Wages. The price of his work will therefore be determined by the price of the necessary means of subsistence. is one of the instruments of labour. The 12 hours' work. the smaller is the cost of production of the worker.work. the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general. for example. the shorter the time required for training up to a particular sort of work. stone-breaking. the lower is the price of his labor-power. breaks stone. has no meaning for him as weaving. boring. builds. . Individual workers. the capitalists. but his labour-power is not his commodity. and the sellers of labor-power. he has no more share in the product (the cloth). but only for the race. Wages will now rise. labour-power is a commodity which its possessor. indeed. at the tavern. according as competition shapes itself between the buyers of labor-power. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labor-power will be determined by the cost of production.
are such totalities of relations of production.The Nature and Growth of Capital Capital consists of raw materials. living labor-power. All these components of capital are created by labor. It is only the dominion of past. as the power of a part of society – it preserves itself and multiplies by exchange with direct. All products of which it consists are commodities. feudal society. will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production. Capital does not consist in the fact that accumulated labor serves living labor as a means for new production. We thus see that the social relations within which individuals produce. the capitalist receives. not only as material products. and raw materials. in exchange for his means of subsistence. which are employed in producing new raw materials. and new means of subsistence. the social relations of production. Relation of Wage-Labour to Capital What is it that takes place in the exchange between the capitalist and the wage-labor? The laborer receives means of subsistence in exchange for his labor-power. labor. in creating by my labor new values in place of the values lost in consumption. it consists just as much of exchange values. the instruments of labor. unless I employ the time during which these means sustain my life in producing new means of subsistence. instruments of labor. moreover. the creative force by which the worker not only replaces what he consumes. of exchange values. a society with peculiar. and. consequently. a relation of production of bourgeois society. accumulated labor. and means of subsistence of all kinds. distinctive characteristics. of which capital consists – have they not been produced and accumulated under given social conditions.e. a society at a definite stage of historical development. the productive activity of the laborer. Capital. within definite social relations? And does not just the definite social character stamp the products which serve for new production as capital? Capital consists not only of means of subsistence. The laborer gets from the capitalist a portion of the existing means of subsistence. are altered. As an independent social power – i. it is a sum of commodities. The relations of production in their totality constitute what is called the social relations. But it is just this noble reproductive .. they are irrevocably lost to me. products of labor. each of which denotes a particular stage of development in the history of mankind. and the conditions under which they exchange their activities and share in the total act of production. materialized labor over immediate living labor that stamps the accumulated labor with the character of capital. Ancient society. but also gives to the accumulated labor a greater value than it previously possessed. For what purpose do these means of subsistence serve him? For immediate consumption. accumulated. bourgeois (or capitalist) society. society. of the forces of production. Social relations between the producers. with the change and development of the material means of production. The means of subsistence. the raw materials. It consists in the fact that living labor serves accumulated labor as the means of preserving and multiplying its exchange value. new instruments. transformed. within definite special relations? Are they not employed for new production. It is a bourgeois relation of production. instruments of labor. Accumulated labor that serves as a means to new production is capital. The existence of a class which possess nothing but the ability to work is a necessary presupposition of capital. But as soon as I consume means of subsistence. under given special conditions. is not only a sum of material products. Capital also is a social relation of production. of social magnitudes.
its means of subsistence. 10. since now a more extensive sale is necessary not only to gain a greater profit. Strictly speaking. with neither physical nor mental elasticity. there flow back to it its means of employment – i. that those laborers who have been rendered superfluous by machinery find new venues of employment. and upon an even greater scale. for that portion of the young generation of laborers who were about to enter upon that branch of industry which had . and it is all the more violent the more powerful the means of production already invented are. revolutionized. Furthermore. and since this more extensive sale has become a question of life and death not only for him. The laborer seeks to maintain the total of his wages for a given time by performing more labor.. he competes against himself as a member of the working class. The economists tell us. the power hostile to it. competition will make their adoption general. therefore competitors press upon him from all sides. in the last analysis.e. but also in order to replace the cost of production. the more he compels them to compete against him. The generals (the capitalists) vie with one another as to who can discharge the greatest number of industrial soldiers. the sole result of the greater productiveness of his capital will be that he must furnish at the same price. The special skill of the laborer becomes worthless. Consequently. how division of labor necessarily draws after it greater division of labor. 1. work upon a large scale work upon a still greater scale. Effect of Capitalist Competition on the Capitalist Class the Middle Class and the Working Class We thus see how the method of production and the means of production are constantly enlarged. and from the moment that they have been generally adopted.000 times as much. that is become again the lever whereby capital is to be forced into an accelerated expansive movement. But since he must find a market for. the old struggle must begin again. 20. 100 times as much as before. We have hastily sketched in broad outlines the industrial war of capitalists among themselves. And for this simple reason: the more he works. the employment of machinery greater employment of machinery. so that. He becomes transformed into a simple monotonous force of production. Facts cry out too loudly against this lie. they only maintain that new means of employment will be found for other sections of the working class. Thus. he has lost it for himself. This war has the peculiarity that the battles in it are won less by recruiting than by discharging the army of workers. and constantly shouts in its ear: March! march! No matter how powerful the means of production which a capitalist may bring into the field. They dare not assert directly that the same laborers that have been discharged find situations in new branches of labor. he himself multiplies the disastrous effects of division of labor. and to offer themselves on the same wretched conditions as he does.power that the laborer surrenders to the capitalist in exchange for means of subsistence received. to the same degree in which the division of labor increases. or by accomplishing more in the same number of hours. is the labor simplified. growth of the rule of the bourgeoisie over the working class. But what is growth of productive capital? Growth of the power of accumulated labor over living labor. perhaps. under the condition that it again become a part of capital. The division of labor and the application of machinery will therefore take a fresh start. capital. urged on by want. to be sure. His work becomes accessible to all. for example. but also for his rivals. in order to outweigh the lower selling price by the greater quantity of the sale. the more he competes against his fellow workmen. When wage-labor produces the alien wealth dominating it. This is the law that continually throws capitalist production out of its old ruts and compels capital to strain ever more the productive forces of labor for the very reason that it has already strained them – the law that grants it no respite. either by working a great number of hours.
. the more does competition extend among the workers. you disturb trade and you precipitate the invasion of machines which. If the whole class of the wage-laborer were to be annihilated by machinery. a mass of small business men and of people living upon the interest of their capitals is precipitated into the ranks of the working class. that of stopping competition among the workers. but. Of course. and it is an effort as ridiculous as it is dangerous for you to revolt against the eternal laws of political economy. the more it extends the division of labor and the application of machinery. But the maintenance of wages. you prevent manufacturers from carrying out their orders. constitute themselves into groups as the capitalists in their turn unite for the purpose of repression. at first isolated. competition among the workers grows with even greater rapidity – i. Once it has reached this point. begging for work. the maintenance of the association becomes more necessary to them than that of wages. ceases to be capital! To sum up: the more productive capital grows. in the eyes of these economists.just been abolished. while the arms themselves grow every leaner. association takes on a political character. without wage-labor. By combination you hinder the regular progress of industry.e. are established solely in favor of wages. the rapid growth of capital is the most favorable condition for wage-labor. We thus see that if capital grows rapidly. If the first aim of resistance was merely the maintenance of wages. It is evident that the small manufacturer cannot survive in a struggle in which the first condition of success is production upon an ever greater scale.. In addition. by rendering your labour in part useless. and in the face of always united capital. which. this common interest which they have against their boss. grows ever thicker. Thus the forest of outstretched arms. the means of employment and subsistence for the working class decrease in proportion even more rapidly. Thus combination always has a double aim. In this struggle – a veritable civil war – all the elements necessary for a coming battle unite and develop. which. whatever you do. Competition divides their interests. This consolation seems to be intended more for the comfort of the capitalists themselves than their laborers. This is so true that English economists are amazed to see the workers sacrifice a good part of their wages in favor of associations. combinations. unites them in a common thought of resistance – combination. how terrible that would be for capital. Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown to one another. this is a great satisfaction to the disabled laborers. and they will have nothing else to do than to stretch out their arms alongside of the arms of the workers. force you to accept a still lower wage. On Workers and Strikes: The economists say to workers: Do not combine. Besides. the more do their wages shrink together. The first attempt of workers to associate among themselves always takes place in the form of combinations. Capitalists – the dead may bury their dead. your wages will always be determined by the relation of hands demanded to hands supplied. It is evident that the small manufacturers and thereby increasing the number of candidates for the proletariat – all this requires no further elucidation. so that they can carry on general competition with the capitalist. There will be no lack of fresh exploitable blood and muscle for the Messrs. this notwithstanding. the more the division of labor and the application of machinery extend. the working class is also recruited from the higher strata of society.
the greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself. In the struggle. of the bourgeois order. Any work the worker does above this is known as surplus labour. This mass is thus already a class as against capital. the shock of body against body. Marx argues. The condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition of every class. . but the advancement of capital. Of all the instruments of production. in the form of money. it is necessary that the productive powers already acquired and the existing social relations should no longer be capable of existing side by side. common interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle. Does this mean that after the fall of the old society there will be a new class domination culminating in a new political power? No. Other commodities simply pass their value on to the finished commodities. of which we have noted only a few phases. The interests it defends become class interests. this mass becomes united. For the oppressed class to be able to emancipate itself. This is known as necessary labour. was the abolition of all estates and all orders. is the result of the labour performed by the worker beyond that necessary to create the value of his or her wages. just as the condition for the liberation of the third estate. and thus yield a profit.Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. producing surplus value for the capitalist. In setting up conditions of production the capitalist purchases the worker's labour power — his ability to labour — for the day. Profit. Surplus value. Marx claims that no previous theorist has been able adequately to explain how capitalism as a whole can make a profit. is the source of all profit. with the purpose of generating profit through the purchase of commodities and their transformation into other commodities which can command a higher price. according to Marx. in that it involves not merely the exchange of commodities. since political power is precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society. This is the surplus value theory of profit. and for this reason it is known as variable capital. but not yet for itself. and constitutes itself as a class for itself. is it at all surprising that a society founded on the opposition of classes should culminate in brutal contradiction. In Marx's analysis labour power is the only commodity which can produce more value than it is worth. Indeed. in the course of its development. in terms of the amount of socially necessary labour power required to produce it. In this case the value of a day's labour power is the value of the commodities necessary to keep the worker alive for a day. The organization of revolutionary elements as a class supposes the existence of all the productive forces which could be engendered in the bosom of the old society. The emancipation of the oppressed class thus implies necessarily the creation of a new society. a struggle which carried to its highest expression is a total revolution. and there will be no more political power properly so-called. Thus the first four hours of the working day is spent on producing value equivalent to the value of the wages the worker will be paid. An oppressed class is the vital condition for every society founded on the antagonism of classes. The cost of this commodity is determined in the same way as the cost of every other. Suppose that such commodities take four hours to produce. The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation. as its final conclusion? Conclusion: Capitalism is distinctive. The working class.e. They are known as constant capital. i. Marx's own solution relies on the idea of exploitation of the worker. Meanwhile the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is a struggle of class against class. but do not create any extra value. will substitute for the old civil society an association which will exclude classes and their antagonism. then.
Marx's refusal to accept that capitalism involves a harmony of interests between worker and capitalist. versus the capitalist's drive for ever greater profits. replacing this with a class based analysis of the worker's struggle for better wages and conditions of work. .
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