- Capital, Volume I
"Capital, Volume I" is the first of three volumes in
Karl Marx's monumental work, " Das Kapital," and the only volume to be published during his lifetime. Originally published in 1867, Marx's aim in "Capital, Volume I" is to uncover and explain the laws specific to the capitalist mode of productionand of the class strugglesrooted in these capitalist social relations of production.
Part One: Commodities and Money
Chapters 1-3 begin with a dense theoretical discussion of the commodity, value, exchange, and the genesis of money. As Marx writes, "Beginnings are always difficult in all sciences ... the section that contains the analysis of commodities, will therefore present the greatest difficulty." [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 89.]
Chapter 1: The Commodity
ection 1. The Two Factors Of The Commodity: Use-Value And Value (Substance Of Value, Magnitude Of Value)
Marx begins the chapter with this: “The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’…” [ibid. 125. ] A commodity, Marx states, is an external object that satisfies any human need; he adds that it does not matter how the commodity meets those needs. To be a commodity, something must have both a use-value and a value. A use-value is another way of knowing how useful a commodity is, and it cannot be separated from the “physical body” of the commodity. Value is the thing that is common to different commodities, and a commodity's value is found in the labor that goes into producing it. When Marx says "substance of value,” he is equating it with “labor in the abstract”; abstract labor is not a strict definition of labor, but simply labor of some form or another. When Marx speaks of a commodity’s “magnitude of value,” he is referring to “socially necessary labor time.” This is, in other words, the way in which a commodity’s value is measured. “Socially necessary labor time” is defined as “the labor-time required to produce any use-value under the conditions of production normal for a given society and with the average degree of skill and intensity of labor prevalent in that society.” [ibid. 129. ] And so the value of a commodity would rise, for instance, if the productivity of labor is low, but the labor time to produce it is high. (Think of a diamond; this is a rare commodity, and to find one usually requires a great deal of time.) Marx goes on to say that just because something is a use-value does not mean it has value. To understand this, think of such things as air, virgin soil, etc.; these are use-values, but they do not require labor to produce them, so therefore they have no value. One must think of a commodity going through the social function of exchange. If something is just a use-value for oneself, then it is not a commodity; something only becomes a commodity when it is produced for others. Finally, it is important to note that if labor is producing something that is useless, then, as Marx says, “the labor does not count as labor, and therefore creates no value." [ibid. 131. ]
ection 2. The Dual Character Of The Labour Embodied In Commodities
Marx discusses the relationship between labor and value. Marx states if there is a change in the quantity of labor expended to produce an article, the value of the article will change. This is, in fact, a direct correlation. Marx gives an example of the value of linen versus cloth to explain the worth of each commodity in a capitalist society. Linen is hypothetically twice as valuable as thread because more socially necessary labor time was used to create it. Use-value of every commodity is produced by useful labor. Use-value measures the actual usefulness of a commodity, whereas value is a measurement of exchange value. The source of value is labor-power. Objectively speaking, linen and thread have some value. Different forms of labor create different kinds of use-values. The value of the different use-values created by different types of labor can be compared because both are expenditures of human labor. One coat and ten yards of linen take the same amount of socially necessary labor time to make, so they have the same value.
ection 3. The Value-Form or Exchange-Value
(a) The Simple, Isolated, or Accidental Form of Value
In this chapter Marx explains that commodities come in double form. Commodities come in natural form and value form. We don't know commodities' value until we know how much human labor was put in it. Commodities are traded between each other, after their value is decided socially. Then there is value-relation, which lets us trade between different kind of commodities. Marx explains value without using money. Marx uses 20 yards of linen and a coat to show the value of each other. (20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or: 20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat) pg. 139. Marx calls this an equivalent form. He adds that the value 20 yards of linen is just 20 yards of linen, there is no expression of value. Linen is an object of utility and that we cannot tell its value until we compare it to another commodity. Figuring out the value of commodity depends on its position in the expression value. Also commodities value depends in its being expressed or a commodity which the value is being expressed.
(b) The Total or Expanded Form of Value
Marx begins this section with an equation for the expanded form of value: "z commodity A = u commodity B or = v commodity C or = w commodity D or = x commodity E or = etc." where the lower case letters (z, u,v, w, and x) represent quantities of a commodity and upper case letters (A, B,C,D, and E) represent specific commodities so that an example of this could be: "20 yards of linen = 1 coat or = 10 lb. tea or = 40 lb. coffee or = 1 quarter of corn or = 2 ounces of gold or = ½ ton of iron or = etc." [ibid. 155. ] Marx explains that with this example of the expanded form of value the linen “is now expressed in terms of innumerable other members of the world of commodities. Every other commodity now becomes a mirror of linen’s value.” [ibid. 155. ] At this point, the particular use-value of linen becomes unimportant, but rather it is the magnitude of value (determined by socially necessary labor time) possessed in a quantity of linen which determines its exchange with other commodities. This chain of particular kinds (different commodites) of values is endless in that it contains every commodity and is constantly changing as new commodities come into being.
(c) The General Form of Value
Marx Begins this section with the table:: [ibid. 157. ] In such a table, the value of specific quantities of various commodities are now expressed in relation to a specific quantity of one single commodity, so that the form of value is now both simple and unified. Marx writes, “through its equation with linen, the value of every commodity is now not only differentiated from its own use-value, but from all use-values, and is, by that very fact expressed as that which is common to all commodities. By this form commodities are, for the first time, really brought into relation with each other as values, or permitted to appear to each other as exchange-values”. [ibid. 158.] At this juncture, one commodity (here linen) becomes a universal equivalent. It establishes the exchange between all other commodities and loses its ability to function in the relative form of value because it cannot function as its own equivalent (20 yds. of linen = 20 yds. of linen is not a meaningful expression of value).
(d) The Money Form
When in the course of history, one commodity, through social custom takes the form of the universal equivalent that commodity becomes the money commodity and begins to serve as money. Marx claims that in European history that commodity is gold. Thus, in the first table gold and linen switch places creating: : [ibid. 162. ] When the relative value of a commodity is expressed in terms of a commodity serving as the money commodity that is considered the price form.
ection 4. The Fetishism of the Commodity and Its Secret
Marx's inquiry in this section focuses on the nature of the commodity, apart from its basic use-value. In other words, why does the commodity in its value-form (exchange) appear to be something other than the aggregation of homogenous human labor? Marx contends that due to the historical circumstances of capitalist society, the values of commodities are usually studied by political economists in their most advanced form: money. These economists see the value of the commodity as something metaphysically autonomous from the social labor that is the actual determinant of value. Marx calls this fetishism - the process whereby the society that originally generated an idea eventually, through the distance of time, forgets that the idea is actually a social and therefore all-too-human product. What this means is that this society will not look beneath the veneer of the idea (in this case the value of commodities) as it currently exists. They will simply take the idea as a natural and/or God-given inevitability that they are powerless to alter. Marx compares this fetishism to the manufacturing of religious belief; people initially create a deity to fulfill whatever desire or need they have in present circumstances, but then these products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into a relation both with each other and with the human race (165). Similarly, commodities only enter into relation with each other through exchange, which is a purely social phenomenon. Before that, they are simply useful items, but not commodities. Value itself cannot come from use-value because there is no way to compare or contrast the usefulness of an item; there are simply too many potential functions. So once in exchange, their value is determined by the amount of socially useful labor-time put into them because labor can be generalized. It takes longer to mine diamonds than it does to dig for quartz, thus diamonds are worth more. Fetishism within capitalism occurs once labor has been socially divided and centrally coordinated, and the worker no longer owns the means of production. They no longer have access to the knowledge of how much labor went into a product because they no longer control its distribution. From there, the only obvious determinant of value to the mass of people is the value that has been assigned in the past. Thus the value of a commodity seems to arise from a mystical property inherent to it, rather than from the labor-time, the actual determinant of value.
Chapter 2: The Process of Exchange
Marx explains commodity exchange and the fact that commodities need assistance to be exchanged. Owners enable commodities to be exchanged. Commodities cannot hide from humans. Trading commodities requires relating the commodities in the sense of how much of commodity x equals how much of commodity y. Marx states that "humans are made for each other to be holders or representatives of commodities." [ ibid. 179.] Commodities have no direct use-value to their owners. Owners’ commodities have exchange-value which must be realized “before they can be realized as use-values.” [ibid. 179.] As far as the value of owned commodities, the labor expended on them only counts insofar as it is expended in a form which is useful for others.” [ibid. 180.] Since commodities values must be related to other commodities and society must accept the equal value. Exchange requires a “universal equivalent” –- money -- “the money-form is merely the reflection thrown upon a single commodity by the relations between all other commodities.” [ibid. 184.] Money is a commodity and ultimately a symbol of human labor. Closing the chapter, Marx states that "Men are henceforth related to each other in their social process of production in a purely atomistic way. ... because the products of men's labour universally take on the form of commodities." [ibid. 187.]
Chapter 3: Money, or the Circulation of Commodities
1. The Measure of Values
Functions of Metallic Money
In chapter 3 section I Marx examines the functions of money commodities. According to Marx the main function of money is to provide commodities with the medium for the expression of their values, i.e. labor time. The function of money as a measure of value serves only in an imaginary or ideal capacity. That is, the money that performs the functions of a measure of value is only imaginary because it is society that has given the money its value. The value that is contained in one ton of iron for example, is expressed by an imaginary quantity of the money commodity, which contains the same amount of labor as the gold.
Multiple Forms of Metallic Money
As a measure of value and a standard of price money performs two functions. First it is the measure of value as the social incarnation of human labor and secondly it serves as a standard of price as a quantity of metal with a fixed weight. As in any case where quantities of the same denomination are to be measured the stability of the measurement is of the utmost importance. Hence the less the unit of measurement is subject to variations the better it fulfills its role. Metallic currency may only serve as a measure of value because it is itself a product of human labor.
Commodities with definite prices appear in this form: a commodity A= x gold; b commodity B= y gold; c commodity C= z gold, etc where a, b,c represent definite quantities of the commodities A, B,C and x, y,z definite quantities of gold.In spite of the varieties of commodities their values become magnitudes of the same denomination, gold-magnitudes. Since these commodities are all magnitudes of gold they are comparable and interchangeable.
Price is the money-name of the labor objectified in a commodity. Like the relative form of value in general, price expresses the value of a commodity by asserting that a given quantity of the equivalent is directly interchangeable. The price form implies both the exchangeability of commodities for money and the necessity of exchange. Gold serves as an ideal measure of value only because it has already established itself as the money commodity in the process of exchange.
2. The Means of Circulation
(a) The Metamorphosis of Commodities
In this section Marx further examines the paradoxical nature of the exchange of commodities. The contradictions that exist within the process of exchange provide the structure for “social metabolism”. The process of social metabolism “transfers commodities from hands in which they are non-use-values to hands in which they are use-values…” (198). Commodities can only exist as “values” for a seller and “use-values” for a buyer. In order for a commodity to be both a “value” and a “use-value” it must be produced for exchange. The process of exchange alienates the ordinary commodity when its antithesis, the “money commodity” becomes involved. During exchange, the money commodity confronts the ordinary commodity disguising the true form of the ordinary commodity. Commodities and money are at opposites spectrums, and exist as separate entities. In the process of exchange, gold or money, functions as “exchange-value” while commodities function as “use-values”. A commodity’s existence is only validated through the form of money and money is only validated through the form of a commodity. This dualistic phenomenon involving money and commodities is directly related to Marx’s concept of “use-value” and “value”. Commodity-Money-Commodity Marx examines the two metamorphoses of the commodity through sale and purchase. In this process, “as far as concerns its material content, the movement is C-C, the exchange of one commodity for another, the metabolic interaction of social labor, in whose result the process itself becomes extinguished” (200). First metamorphosis of the commodity, or sale. In the process of sale, the value of a commodity, which is measured by socially necessary labor-time, is then measured by the universal equivalent, gold. The second or concluding metamorphosis of the commodity: purchase. Through the process of purchase all commodities lose their form by the universal alienator, money. “Since every commodity disappears when it becomes money it is impossible to tell from the money itself how it got into the hands of its possessor, or what article has been changed into it” (205). "=" A purchase represents a sale although they are two separate transformations. This process allows for the movement of commodities and the circulation of money.
(b) The Circulation of Money
The circulation of money is first initiated by the transformation of a commodity into money. The commodity is taken from its natural state and transformed into its monetary state. When this happens the commodity “falls out of circulation into consumption”. The previous commodity now in its monetary form replaces a new and different commodity continuing the circulation of money. In this process, money is the means for the movement and circulation of commodities. Money assumes the measure of value of a commodity (i.e.) the socially necessary labor-time. The repetition of this process constantly removes commodities from their starting places, taking them out of the sphere of circulation. Money circulates in the sphere and fluctuates with the sum of all the commodities that co-exist within the sphere. The price of commodities varies by three factors. “…the movement of prices, the quantity of commodities in circulation, and the velocity of circulation of money” (218).
(c) Coin. The Symbol of Value
Money takes the shape of a coin because of how it behaves in the sphere of circulation. Gold became the universal equivalent by the measurement of its weight in relation to commodities. This process was a job that belonged to the state. The problem with gold is that it wore down as it circulated from hand to hand. The introduction of paper money as a representation of gold arose from the state as a new circulating medium. This form of imaginary expression continues to mystify and intrigue. Marx views money as a “symbolic existence” which haunts the sphere of circulation and arbitrarily measures the product of labor.
The exchange of money is a continuous flow of sales and purchase. Marx goes on to say, “In order to be able to buy without selling, he must have previously sold without buying.” This simple illustration demonstrates the essence of hoarding. In order to potentially buy, without selling a commodity in your possession, you must have hoarded some degree of money in the past. Money becomes greatly desired due to potential purchasing power. If you have money, you can exchange this for commodities and vice versa. However, while satisfying this newly arisen fetish for gold, the hoard causes the hoarder to make personal sacrifices.
(b) Means of Payment
In this section Marx analyzes the relationship between debtor and creditor and exemplifies the idea of the transfer of debt. In relation to this, Marx discusses how the money-form has become a means of incremental payment for a service or purchase. He states that the “function of money as means of payment begins to spread out beyond the sphere of circulation of commodities. It becomes the universal material of contracts.” Due to fixed payments and the like, debtors are forced to hoard money in preparation for these dates.“While hoarding, as a distinct mode of acquiring riches, vanishes with the progress of civil society, the formation of reserves of the means of payment grows with that progress.”
(c) World Money
Countries have reserves of gold and silver for two purposes: (1) Home Circulation; and (2) External Circulation in World Markets. Marx says that it is essential for countries to hoard, as it is needed “as the medium of the home circulation and home payments, and in part out of its function of money of the world.” With all of this discussed hoarding and the aforementioned idea of hoarded money’s inability to contribute to the growth of a capitalist society, Marx states that banks are the relief to this problem.“Countries in which the bourgeois form of production is developed to a certain extent, limit the hoards concentrated in the strong rooms of the banks to the minimum required for the proper performance of their peculiar functions. Whenever these hoards are strikingly above their average level, it is, with some exceptions, an indication of stagnation in the circulation of commodities, of an interruption in the even flow of their metamorphoses.”
Part Two: The Transformation of Money into Capital
Chapters 4-6 connect the abstract discussion of commodities, money, and value begun in Part I with their role in the formation of class relations under capitalism.
Chapter 4: The General Formula For Capital
In this chapter, Marx explains what capital is and how it is produced. The form of capital is money, yet not all money is capital. In Marx’s words there is “money as money" and "money as capital" (247). For money to be converted into the form of capital, it must undergo a deliberate process based on the circulation of commodities in an exchange market.
There are two different forms of commodity circulation: the direct or simple form of circulation (C-M-C) and the capital-generating form (M-C-M). Two common elements can easily be identified: the sale of a commodity (C-M) and the purchase of a commodity (M-C). Clearly the two contrast simply by their order in which the sale and purchase occur.
In the first form (C-M-C), a commodity is produced in order that one may acquire the means to purchase another commodity i.e. “selling in order to buy” (247). This particular form of commodity circulation is essentially a closed system. Once a commodity has been obtained by the purchase (M-C), the commodity exits the exchange-market thereby achieving its aim as a use-value, consumed according to necessity. The money is simply expended achieving its objective as a medium of exchange between two qualitatively different commodities.
The second, capital-generating form of commodity production (M-C-M) is simply an inversion of the previous form. In this instance, money purchases a commodity (M-C) in order that it be sold for money i.e. "buying in order to sell" (248). In contrast to the simple form of circulation, the capital-generating form culminates in the reflux, or return of money back to the capitalist as the desired result. Essentially money is exchanged for money (M-M). Since money is the starting point and conclusion of the capital-generating form of circulation "its determining purpose, is therefore exchange-value" (250). Consequently, use-values of commodities become negligible while the exchange-value of a commodity acquires meaning solely in the context of exchange. Therefore, in order for money to retain its form as capital it must remain in circulation otherwise it would simply be expended.
Finally, we must consider the role and motivations of the capitalist in the capital-generating form of circulation. If one expends money for the sake of receiving its return, then the capitalist necessarily desires its augmentation known as surplus-value. Since capital must remain in circulation, it manifests itself as ongoing process without end. The new value (original + surplus) becomes the starting point of a new cycle for the capitalist to exchange his money for more money. Therefore, the general formula for capital becomes M-C-M' in which M'=M+ΔM or the original value of money plus some increment of money, or surplus-value.
Chapter 5: Contradictions in the General Formula
After distinguishing money as capital (M-C-M) from money in general, Marx raises the question of how the capitalist accrues surplus-value by buying a commodity and then selling it. The key problem is how the exchange of equivalent values can produce more value. He rejects 5 possibilities:
*First: Marx recognizes that use-value changes among buyers. So, one could just sell the commodity to the buyer with the most use-value and charge more to them. However, use-value does not determine value which is what is being created as a surplus. Since money is the universal equivalent of "value", “the circulation of commodities involves a change only in the form of their values”. [ibid. 260] As above, one can exchange 2oz of gold for only 1 coat and get only 2oz of gold for that coat, so long as the socially necessary labor time remains constant. Use-value plays no role in these formulas.
*Second: In principle, “commodities may be sold at prices which diverge from their values, but this divergence appears as an infringement of the laws governing the exchange of commodities”. [ibid. 261] Yet, the capitalist may possess some privilege by which s/he can sell above value. However, other capitalists have this privilege and overcharge the first capitalist who then loses his/her profit. The result is nominal price inflation which only changes the purchasing power of money, but not the real value. [ibid. 263]
*Third: There could be a class of people who consume but do not produce. They pay for commodities, and thus have money, without having produced and sold some commodity beforehand. The “free” money they thus put into circulation can be used to artificially alter exchange-values. However, since the consumption class has money without producing anything, the money must come from those outside of the consumption class. (Marx gives the example of Roman taxes.) Thus this class uses others' money to buy those people's products. No actual surplus-value is being created. [ibid. 264-5]
*Fourth: It may be that the capitalist overcharges a buyer as in the second rejection, but the buyer cannot recover the lost value and the capitalist will not be overcharged him/herself. However, there is still no surplus-value. If the buyer has $40 and the capitalist a $10 shirt, there is a total value of $50 in circulation. If the buyer pays $20 for the $10 shirt and has $20 left over, there is still a total value of $50. The only change is distribution of wealth. [ibid. 265]
*Fifth: Since the circulation of commodities is between equivalent values, any surplus-value must emerge outside of this circulation. However, outside of circulation, the value of a commodity is only the labor put into it. The producer “cannot create values which can valorize themselves.” Surplus-value thus cannot emerge outside of circulation. [ibid. 268]
Conclusion: “Circulation, or the exchange of commodities, creates no value”. [ibid. 266] Only labor does. And, since nothing external to circulation creates value, something must be operating within circulation which is not circulation itself. Marx closes with the contradiction: "The transformation of money into capital has to be developed on the basis of the immanent laws of the exchange of commodities, in such a way that the starting-point is the exchange of equivalents". [ibid. 268-9]
Chapter 6: The Sale and Purchase of Labour-Power
Marx begins this chapter by explaining how a change in the value of money must take place in the first act of commodity circulation, M-C, where the commodity is bought, but must originate in the commodities' use-value. Such a change requires a commodity whose use-value possesses the property of being a source of value, and thus, inherently creates value through its consumption.
Labour-power embodies everything mentally and physically capable by labour, but is only realized through the production of use-values. Thus, labour-power becomes the commodity that inherently creates value. However, its possessor must be the free proprietor of their labour and be willing to sell it as a commodity. The sale of labour simultaneously alienates labour-power from the means of production while allowing them to maintain ownership rights. Marx even goes on to say, “the owner of money must find the free worker available on the commodity market; and this worker . . . can dispose of his labour-power as his own commodity, and . . . is free of all objects needed for the realization of his labour-power.” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 272. ] This realization of labour-power can occur only when labour is used in conjunction with the means of production; hence, a separation from the means of production compels individuals’ to put their labour on the market because of an inability to sell commodities.
The value of labour-power is determined by the value of the means of subsistence necessary for the maintenance of the owner. These means of subsistence must be sufficient to maintain a “normal state” as a working individual, and, in order to perpetuate a presence in the marketplace, the means necessary for subsistence of the worker’s replacements.
Marx continues with an example on the value of labour-power, which states that, “half a day of labour is required for the daily production of labour-power,” and that, “half a day of average social labour is present in 3 shillings, . . . the price corresponding to the value of a day’s labour-power”. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 276. ] Subsequently, three shillings would now represent a buying and selling price for labour-power because the value of the necessary means of subsistence equals three shillings.
The creation of an obscure commodity, labour-power, isn’t without its consequences; for instance, the value of labour-power is determined prior to the sale of said labour-power. Coincidentally, the owners of labour-power will not realize their use-value until after production has occurred, and in most cases production must occur for an extended period before pay is obtained. Therefore, labour is forced to produce on credit because the money-owner consumes labour prior to payment. Furthermore, labour’s use-value can only manifest through the consumption of labour-power, and this consumption becomes the commodity production process as well as the creator of surplus value.
In the end Marx shifts from a transparent realm, “where everything takes place on the surface and in full view” to the reality of commodity production where, “the money-owner now strides out in front as a capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his worker”. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 280. ]
Part Three: The Production of Absolute-Surplus Value
In chapters 7-11, Marx elaborates his analysis of exploitation and the extraction of
surplus-value. He highlights both the fundamental way in which capital seeks to increase the rate of surplus-value through lengthening the working day, as well as the variety of ways workers strive to resist this increased exploitation.
Chapter 7: The Labour Process and the Valorization Process
1. The Labor Process
The utilization of a worker’s labor-power is the labor process. The process changes the objects being worked upon—which was the intention of the worker at the start of the process—and creates use-values which can be called products or commodities. Labor will ultimately be objectified in the final product produced by this process.Marx points out that this production of use-values (the labor process) is the same under capitalism or any other economic system, and that the simple elements of this process are:
1. Purposeful activity—the work itself
2. An object on which work is carried out (object of labor)
a. Marx calls the object of labor a raw material when it has undergone some alteration by means of a previous labor process.
3. Instruments of labor
a. A thing or complex of things which the worker uses in acting on the object of labor
b. Marx considers all objective conditions necessary for carrying out the labor process to be instruments of labor.
The means of production are made up of the instruments and object(s) of labor. These instruments and objects are often the use-values of previous labor. A hammer (instrument) used to nail up sheetrock (object) and the sheetrock itself are both use-values (products of earlier labor) incorporated into the labor process of building a wall as well as means of producing a wall. If a use-value involved in the labor process is an object of labor, instrument of labor or product of labor depends on that use-values’ role in the process. The fact that use-values produced by prior labor can become means of production for other labor illustrates that labor itself is in part a process of consumption. Marx calls this consumption productive consumption. The persons consuming in the course of action of productive consumption are the workers whose labor-power is the force that gives the labor process its life.
Capitalism and the labor process:
To the capitalist labor-power is a necessary use-value or product purchased to animate the labor process. Without labor-power, the capitalist cannot be successful—his/her objects and instruments of labor would be wasted raw materials with no one to create the use-value or commodity the capitalist wishes to sale on the market. Marx points out that labor-power is a commodity which the capitalist consumes by causing the worker (who is selling the labor-power) to consume the means of production by his/her labor.Marx points out two phenomena of the capitalist’s consumption of labor-power:
1. The worker works under the control of the capitalist to whom his labor belongs.
2. The product is the property of the capitalist and not that of the worker—the person who made the product.
2. The Valorization Process
The capitalist strives to produce a use-value with exchange-value (a commodity) that has a greater value than the sum of its parts (the means of production and labor-power). The process of production must therefore be understood as the synthesis of the labor process and the process of creating value.
Marx uses as an example of valorization the spinning of cotton into yarn. When the capitalist purchases 10 lb. of cotton at its full value of 10 shillings, the price conveys the labor objectified in the cotton. In addition, all of the socially necessary means of production used up in the cotton’s production, which Marx represents in the wear and tear of the spindle, have a value of 2 shillings.
To determine the value of the yarn, then, all of the successive processes necessary to produce the cotton, manufacture the spindle, and spin the yarn must be taken into account. The values of the means of production, the 12 shillings, are a part of the total value of the product.
There are two conditions that must be met for this process to produce value. First, a use-value must have been produced. Second, the labor-time used to produce the use-value (in this case yarn) must be no more than that which is socially-necessary.
Yet these factors still only amount to a portion of the total value of the yarn; labor constitutes the remainder. Since labor-power is “absorbed” by the raw material in the form of spinning, the resulting yarn “is now nothing more than a measure of the labor absorbed by the cotton.” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 297. ]
Value is added to the yarn by the labor objectified in it. The value of a day’s labor-power (six hours of labor) is 3 shillings. Assuming the spinner can turn 10 lb. of cotton into 10 lb. of yarn in six hours, the cotton contains six hours of labor, the same amount contained by 3 shillings of gold. Spinning, then, has added a value of 3 shillings to the cotton.
The total value of the 10 lb. of yarn is calculated by adding all of the socially necessary means of production used up and all of the socially necessary labor absorbed. Two days of labor were absorbed by the cotton and spindle, a half a day by the process of spinning. The two and a half days of labor are represented by a piece of gold valued at 15 shillings. This is thus the price of the 10 lb. of yarn.
In this process, though, the capitalist has not created surplus-value, even though value has been added to the product (10 shillings to produce the cotton, 2 shillings for the worn spindle, and 3 shillings to purchase the labor-power). The capitalist has broken even, which is not why they entered business.
The capitalist realizes that the worker spins for only six hours to survive for twenty-four hours, and could remain effective for twelve hours. This increases the value created twofold. The two and a half days of labor become five, the 10 lb. of yarn becomes 20, and the value created becomes 30 shillings. The price of the 20 lb. of cotton is thus 30 shillings, but the total value of the labor and means of production is only 27 shillings. A surplus-value of three shillings has been created, and money has been transformed into capital.
Everything is exchanged equally and the capitalist pays the full value for each commodity consumed.
Chapter 8: Constant Capital and Variable Capital
This chapter is all about Marx’s break down of value. Marx starts out by explaining that a worker adds value to the capitalist product in two different ways. The first way is by investing the workers own socially necessary labor time into making the product and the second way the workers also adds value to the product is by transferring the value of the means of production into the product. To explain this further Marx breaks down the transference of value from the machinery to the product. Marx explains this with “It is known by experience how long on the average a machine of a particular kind will last. Suppose its use-value in the labor-process to last only six days. Then, on the average, it loses each day one-sixth of its use-value, and therefore parts with one-sixth of its value to the daily product” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 317. ] Marx then notes that “the means of production can never add more value to the product than they themselves possess independently of the process in which they assist”. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 312. ] Marx renames the twofold purposes of a workers labor as constant capital and variable capital. Constant capital is represented by the means of production or those materials that do not undergo any quantitative alterations of vlaue. Variable capital does undergo an alteration of value. It both reproduces the equivalent of its ovn value, and also produces an excess, a surplus-value which may itself vary. To explain all of this Marx uses the example of converting cotton into yarn. So if the worker can not spin the yarn productively then he will not be able to make the cotton into yarn, which means that he can not shift the values of the cotton and spindle to the yarn. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 312. ] Thus, the value of cotton has a particular amount of socially necessary labor, and the amount of value of cotton that it can attribute to something else is the value it has. Marx therefore highlights a characteristic of what he terms constant capital.
Chapter 9: The Rate of Surplus Value
1. The Degree of Exploitation of Labor-Power Capital advanced is the sum of constant capital and variable capital.
C = c + v
For example $500 (advanced capital) = $410 (constant) + $90 (labor)
Through the process of production a surplus, s, is created. The resulting sum is C’ constituting the total of constant capital, variable capital, and surplus value. Thus
C’ = (c + v) + s
For example $590 = $410 + $90 + $90 (surplus)
Surplus value comprises the excess of the value of the commodity produced over the capital advanced for production. Constant capital transfers only part of its value during the process of production, as the remainder of its value continues to reside in the machinery. This does not alter the calculation because the constant value incorporated in the equation is only concerned with the materials actually utilized in production. For example, if the constant capital equals $410, it could be broken down as such
$ 312 raw materials $ 44 auxiliary materials $ 54 value of the machine worn away during productionc = $ 410
Let’s say the total value of the machinery itself costs $1054. The only value imparted to the product is the $54 of wear, because the machinery retains $1000 of value. If this value is entered into the equation, it must be entered on both sides.
C = $500, + $1000 = $1500C’ = $590, + $1000 = $1590
Either considering or neglecting the value retained by the machinery results in the same difference, or surplus value, of $90. Constant capital, c, will therefore refer solely to the value actually consumed during production. The constant capital advanced transfers all of its value to the product and therefore cannot produce surplus value. Thus we can equate constant capital with 0. The new value produced is therefore not the total value of the product, (c + v) + s or $590, but the sum of variable capital and surplus value, v + s or $180. The absolute quantity of surplus value is $90. The relative quantity of surplus value, or rate of exploitation, can be determined by s/v. In our example this equates to 90/90, or % 100.
2. The Representation of the Components of the Value of the Product by Corresponding Proportional Parts of the Product Itself In order to explain the conversion of money into capital, Marx offers an example of yarn production. A 12-hour workday produces 20 lbs of yarn valued at a total of 30s. 24s of value are the result of constant capital (20 lbs of cotton at 20s, and 4s for repair of the machine). The remaining 6s includes the variable capital (the worker’s wage) and the surplus value (profit). The workers wage is 3s and 3s of surplus are produced, equaling a % 100 rate of exploitation (3s/3s). This exploitation occurs not only during the process of spinning the yarn, but during the production of all its constituents (i.e. picking the cotton, building the spindle etc.)
3. Senior’s “Last Hour”
In section 3 of chapter 9, Marx condemns the economic analysis of cotton mills conducted by Professor Nassau W. Senior in his pamphlet “Letters on the Factory Act, as it affects the cotton manufacture.” The pamphlet suggest that the entirety of the surplus value is produced during the last hour of a 12 hour workday, with the remainder contributing to the wage of the worker. Marx disputes Senior’s analysis on the grounds that Senior failed to separate constant and variable capital, instead including the mill and machinery as one factor and the wages and raw material as a second factor. This failure to discern between variable and constant capital was considered by Marx to be a crucial blunder. Marx also notes that the value produced during each hour is likely to be equal, and if 11 hours were contributing to wages, with 1 hour producing net profit, that proportion should be reflected in the ratio of wages paid to profits. Senior’s calculations do not take into account the value embedded in the constant capital and takes for granted their contribution of value to the finished product, instead of acknowledging that the method of transferring that value is through the use of labor-power.
4. Surplus Produce
Surplus-produce refers to the portion of the product that represents surplus-value. Like the ratio of surplus value to variable capital, the relative quantity of surplus production is determined by the ratio of surplus-produce to the part of the total product in which necessary labor time is incorporated. The sum of necessary and surplus labor constitutes the working day.
Chapter 10: The Working Day
1. The Limits of the Working Day.
Value of labor power is the necessary labor time required for a worker to produce an amount equal to his means of subsistence. Any amount of time worked beyond the necessary labor time is called surplus labor.
The Working Day = A-------B----------C. The line AC represents the working day. AB is the necessary labor time and BC is surplus labor.
Under the Capitalist system, Marx says that a working day can never be reduced to necessary labor time only. This would not profit the capitalist. Marx then describes the two factors that limit the maximum length of the working day. First, there are physical limits to labor power. A worker can only work for so long before he must rest, eat, sleep, etc. In addition to physical limitations, there are moral obstacles that limit the working day. “The worker needs time in which to satisfy his intellectual and social requirements, and the extent and the number of these requirements is conditioned by the general level of civilization.” The capitalist seeks to create the most surplus value he can by extending the working day to absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus labor. In other words, the capitalist is like any other buyer of commodities; he wants to extract the maximum use value of his commodity, which in this case is labor power. The worker who sells his labor power must be able to reproduce it every day in order to resell it. If the working day is extended too far, the capitalist may extract a greater quantity of labor power than the worker is able to restore before his next shift begins. This will cause deterioration in the health of the worker. Marx goes on to describe how the process of overwork leads to the worker being unfairly compensated for his labor power in his daily wages. He gives this example: If the average length of time a worker can live and do a reasonable amount of work is 30 years, the value of his labor power for which he is paid from day to day is: 1 /( 365 x 30) or 1 / 10,950 of its total value. If worked too hard and the value of his labor power is consumed in 10 years, he is still paid the same amount. That is 1 / 10,950 of his labor power daily instead of 1 / 3650. Therefore he is only paid 1 / 3 the value of his labor power daily, and is robbed of 2 / 3. Marx concludes this section saying that the establishment of a norm for the working day presents its self as a struggle between collective capital (class of capitalists) and collective labor (working classes).
2. The Voracious Appetite for Surplus Labor. Manufacturer and Boyar.
“Capital did not invent surplus labor”, begins Marx. This section focuses of the historical tendency for the owners of the means of production to attempt to extract greater and greater amounts of surplus labor out of workers, often in an unscrupulous manner. He gives two main examples. The first is the system of the “corvée” in the Danubian provinces of precapitalist Russia. The second example is that of a fraudulent capitalist factory owner. Under the corvée system of the early 19th century, the peasant owed a specific quantity of labor to the landlord annually. This labor consisted of 12 general labor days, one day of field labor, and one day of wood carrying. This amounted to a total of 14 days a year. These days were not average work days, however. They amounted to the total time necessary to produce an average daily product. Russian leaders took such great liberties in deciding what an average daily product was that it turned out to be equal to three days of actual work. The 14 days of corvée became 42 days of required labor. Marx then gives a few more examples of ways the landlords were able to tack on more and more days to the corvée.
The second main example for the strong appetite for surplus labor is that of a fraudulent factory owner that illegally extends the working day. He does this by starting work 10 or 15 minutes early or by shaving a few minutes off of the beginning and ending of breaks and lunch hours. These small additions of work add up to hours of uncompensated surplus labor over the course of a week, and weeks of surplus labor over the course of a year.
3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation
In this section, Marx presents the historical debate regarding the work day and the exploitation of children. Using examples of match manufacturing and bread-making, Marx describes the issues children faced by working long hours in poor conditions at extremely young ages. In many cases, these children died or faced long-term ailments. Marx also covers similar issues of exploitation of children in both Ireland and Scotland.
4. Day-Work and Night-Work. The Shift-System
Means of production (constant capital) exists to be used to produce commodities. When not in use, no surplus-labor is occurring. This unproductive time can only be seen as good for the capitalist if the time the constant capital lies dormant is used so that the worker can rest and be more productive when again using the means of production to create a commodity. Although is it ideal for the capitalist to have people who could work constantly (24 hours a day), the workers would suffer and thus profits could not continue to increase. In order to produce 24 hours a day, the capitalist realized that by instituting shift-work, he could both maximize his profits while allowing the individual worker to get his necessary rest.
5. The Struggle for a Normal Working Day. Laws for the Compulsory Extension of the Working Day, from the Middle of the Fourteenth to the End of the Seventeenth Century
Ideally a capitalist would have an individual worker producing 24 hours a day with only so much rest time as the worker needed to continue to function. The worker is nothing more to the capitalist than labor-power and a means to accumulate surplus-value and so the worker’s personal time means nothing to the capitalist. Yet according to Marx, having this attitude is a double-edge sword in that if the capitalist had his way and exploited the worker to this extent, he would in essence be killing his own workforce. However the value of labor-power (the worker) includes all of the commodities that go into keeping the worker alive. In the end, it is more expensive for the capitalist to replace a worker than to keep one sustained adequately. Ultimately it is in capital’s best interest to not have an individual work 24 hours a day with only necessary breaks but to have a work day that is short enough to sustain healthy strong labor-power.
Marx summarizes this process in saying, “Establishment of a normal working day is the result of centuries of struggle between the capitalist and the worker” (382).
Chapter 11: The Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value
Having explained the rate of surplus-value earlier in Ch. 9, Marx focuses this chapter on the mass of surplus-value. The mass of surplus-value is completely dependent on the number of workers under the capitalist's control. We know that the rate of surplus value is equal to or the or the . To increase this rate, the capitalist simply has to work his workers longer hours. This is simply a rate dependent on the degree of exploitation of the workers. The mass of surplus-value is determined by the rate of surplus value (S/V) multiplied by the number of workers. The more exploitation that exists, the more money the capitalist will possess.
This brief chapter is filled with typical Marxist theoretical situations to explain the mass of surplus-value but the core of the chapter lies in the three laws that Marx describes dealing with the rate of surplus-value. Marx explains as his first and most fundamental law that, "the mass of surplus-value produced is equal to the amount of the variable capital advanced multiplied by the rate of surplus-value". [Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990.418] Basically, as stated above, the mass of surplus-value is totally dependent on the total numbers of workers being exploited by the same capitalist and how much exploitation is going on. The formula comes about, where is equal to surplus value produced by the individual worker, being equal to the variable capital advanced in the purchase of an individual labor power, being the total amount of variable capital, being the value of an average labor-power, and represents the degree of exploitation (surplus labor/necessary labor). [Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990.418] Marx lets it be known that under this law, that the mass of surplus-value is not constant in nature, but that a decrease in one factor can be made up by an increase in another factor, such as variable capital dropping but the exploitation of the labor-power increasing to make up for this change.
Marx's second law deals with the limitation of compensating for lacking factors. He says that the "compensation for a decrease in the number of workers employed cannot be overcome" [Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990.419] What we see is the natural tendency of capital automatically reducing the number of workers employed by the capitalist. It is important to note the average working day in terms of compensating for fluctuating factors, because it sets an absolute limit on such compensations. Marx's third law states that "The rate of surplus-value and the value of labor time, being given, it is self-evident that the greater the variable capital, the greater would be the mass of the value produced and of the surplus-value". [Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 420] These two factors explained are completely dependent on the mass of labor performed by the worker, or better yet how heavily the worker is exploited. Marx states that this law, or the numerical value of the factors involved here, are determined by how much variable capital is advanced from the capitalist. He further suggests that we now know the capitalist divides his capital into two parts; one part on the means of production (a constant factor) and the other on the living labor-power, which is heavily exploited and forms his variable capital.
Part Four: The Production of Relative-Surplus Value
Chapters 12-15 focus on the ways in which capital seeks to increase worker productivity as a means of increasing the rate of workers' exploitation.
Chapter 12: The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value
In the beginning of this chapter, Marx provides an illustration of the working day whose length is defined, and its division between necessary labor and surplus labor is marked as well. The line, AC, looks like this: A - - - - - - - - - - B - - CThe section AB represents necessary labor, and the section BC represents surplus labor. He then poses the question, “How can the production of surplus-value be increased, i.e. how can surplus labor be prolonged, without any prolongation, or independently of any prolongation, of the line AC?” [ibid. 429] . Marx proposes that it is in the best interest of the capitalist to divide the working day like this: A - - - - - - - - - B’ - B - - CThis is showing that the amount of surplus labor is increased, while the amount of necessary labor is decreased. Through this, part of the labor-time that was used by the worker for the worker is lost, and the lost time there would be used as labor-time for the benefit of the capitalist. When there is a change in the amount of necessary labor-time, and therefore an increase in surplus-value, Marx calls this
relative surplus-value. (Whereas when there is an actual lengthening in the working day and surplus value is produced, this is called absolute surplus-value.)Marx then goes onto discuss what can decrease the value of labor-power. First, remember that the value of labor-power is “the labor-time necessary to produce labor-power” [ibid. 430] . With this in mind, Marx says that the value of labor-power can be decreased if there is an increase in the productivity of labor. But productivity of labor cannot be increased without there first being a change in the mode of production, i.e. there must be innovations in both the technical and social conditions of the process of labor. And when the value of labor-power falls alongside an increase in the productivity of labor, commodities become cheaper. Along with this, Marx states that, as the productivity of labor increases, so, too, does the relative surplus-value; on the other hand, when there is a decrease in the productivity of labor, the relative surplus-value decreases as well. In other words, there is a direct proportion between the two things. The perpetual drive of capital according to Marx is to increase the productivity of labor, so that commodities can become cheaper. Through this process, the worker himself becomes cheaper. The reader is reminded that the capitalist is not interested in the absolute value of a commodity; instead, he is concerned with the surplus-value that is there in it, a value that is recognized through the sale of that commodity. Marx concludes that, through the increase of the productivity of labor, the aim of capitalist production “is the shortening of that part of the working day in which the worker must work for himself, and the lengthening, thereby, of the other part of the day, in which he is free to work for nothing for the capitalist” [ibid. 438] .
Chapter 13: Co-operation
A group working under a capitalist does as much work as another group of the same amount of people working under the same capitalist. Their skills and shortcomings balance each other out to make groups of the same number equatable. Upon dividing up groups into smaller subgroups, changes can be noticed. Marx states, "Of the six small masters, then, one would squeeze out more than the average rate of surplus-value, another less. The inequalities would cancel out for the society as a whole, but not for the individual masters." (p 441). To simplify, among individual groups, there will be stronger, more productive groups and weaker, less productive groups. However, when reexamining the subgroups as a whole, the strong balance out the weak and balance is restored. With this information Marx defines co-operation as, "When numerous workers work together side by side in accordance with a plan, whether in the same process, or in different but connected processes." (p 443). This works well for capitalists in that, social contact brings out a natural competitive nature in people which in turn produces more commodities. Co-operation also shortens the time needed to complete a certain task. Marx says, "If the labour process is complicated, then the sheer number of the co-operators permits the apportionment of various operations to different hands, and consequently their simultaneous performance. The time necessary for the completion of the whole work is thereby shortened." (p 445). The only problem for capitalists comes with payment. It is easier for a capitalist to hire fewer people and pay them for a longer period of time than to pay many workers for a short amount of time. In essence, the amount of capital a capitalist has to spare for payment affects how many laborers he can hire at any given time. With co-operation also comes resistance. The larger a group, the more likely they are to resist conditions implemented by the capitalist and so the more the capitalist must overcome their resistance. Marx also makes the point to say, "It is not because he is a leader of industry that a man is a capitalist; on the contrary, he is a leader of industry because he is a capitalist." (p 450). Marx concludes by showing an example of co-operation that many are familiar with: the creation of the pyramids. As the food grown in the Nile valley belonged to the king, he was able to commission a large number of people to work in co-operation with one another to create the pyramids in a very short amount of time.
Chapter 14: The Division of Labour and Manufacture
In section I, “The Dual Origin of Manufacture” Marx identifies two ways in which manufacture originates. The first method occurs when a series of workers with different trades are brought together to work for one capitalist under the same roof, in such a way that a single product passes from one worker to the next. Under this method tradesmen find themselves making only one type of product: “so that a locksmith working for a carriage company would make locks only for carriages when he used to make locks for a variety of different products ”. [ibid. 455] . The second form occurs when a capitalist hires a number of workers, each worker making an entire product himself. Under the external circumstance of requiring a need to speed up production this method changes so that each worker is given a specific task within the making of a product”. [ibid. 456] . Isolated jobs on each commodity can start to be assigned to one worker and a division of labour can be created in this manner. In section 2, “The Specialized Worker and His Tools” Marx argues that a worker who performs only one task throughout his life will perform his job at a faster and more productive rate, forcing Capital to favor the specialized worker to the traditional craftsmen”. [ibid. 458] . In this section Marx also demonstrates that a specialized worker doing only one task can use a more specialized tool, which cannot do many jobs but can do the one job well, in a more efficient manner than a traditional craftsman using a multi-purpose tool on any specific task ”. [ibid. 460] . Marx considers this a basic element of manufacture. In Section 3, “The Two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture- Heterogeneous and Organic” Marx argues that the production of various commodities produces a hierarchy of skilled and unskilled labor. Skilled labor requires large amounts of training or skill and tends to command a higher value of labor-power, while unskilled labor, which any man can do, takes little to no training and commands a lower value of labor-power”. [ibid. 470] . Keeping these highly specialized workers focused on keeping there highly valued job skills along with keeping them divided from their trade as a whole making of one commodity further devalues there labor power to each of them. Also one item with several menial processes (each assigned to one worker) helps to divide the workers from the value of their own labor power. In section 4, “The Division of Labour in Manufacture and the Division of Labour in Society” Marx argues that the division of labor in society has existed long before capitalism. However, Marx sees the division of labour within a factory or workshop as something totally unique to the capitalist mode of production”. [ibid. 480] . While physiological and social circumstances may mediate the division of labour in society, it is the need to produce surplus value which creates the need for a division of labour within manufacture. In section 5, “The Capitalist Character of Manufacture” Marx considers the way in which a division of labour within manufacture limits the mind and education of a worker. Marx also points to the revolution of machinery as a way to increase surplus-value by increasing the productivity of each worker thereby reducing the number of unskilled workers necessary.
Chapter 15: Machinery and Large-Scale Industry
1. Development of Machinery
Marx explains the Development of Machinery. “The machine is a means for producing surplus-value” (Marx 492). Machines shorten the part of the working day that the worker works for his means of subsistence, in turn lengthening the work they do contributing to the capitalists Surplus Value. Marx explains the three parts of machinery. The motor mechanism, the transmitting mechanism, and the working machine. :*1. The motor mechanism powers the mechanism. Be it a steam engine, water wheel or a person’s caloric engine. :*2. The transmitting mechanism, wheels, screws, and ramps and pulleys. These are the moving parts of the machine. :*3. The working machine uses itself to sculpt whatever it was built to do. Machines do tasks that workers formerly did with hand tools, but a bit more efficiently. Workers still must run these machines and maybe even power them. This is where animal power comes into play. Marx says that if a man is found operating a machine where an animal could do just as well, “it is purely accidental that the motive power seems to be clothed in the form of a human” (Marx 497). Marx states obviously that the bigger the size of the machine, the more motive power it will need to be run. As far as the development of machinery, necessity is the mother of invention. “Men wore clothes before there were any tailors” (Marx 503). Inventors started inventing machines to complete necessary tasks, the machine making industry grew larger and workers efforts started going toward building machines. Many machines being made, spawned need for new machines. For example, the spinning machine started a need for printing and dying, and the designing of the cotton gin. Here, started the building of machines, by machines. “Without steam engines, the hydraulic press could not have been made.” Along with the press, came the mechanical lathe and an iron cutting machine. Labor assumes a material mode of existence which necessitates the replacement of human force by natural forces” (Marx 508). Human labor is often taken over by practical/natural forces, saving the laborer work time done for his means of subsistence and increasing his Surplus Value.
2. The Value Transferred by Machinery to the Product
Machines have been introduced to capital. Workers now go to work, not to handle tools, but to operate machines that handle tools. These machines ‘raise the productivity of labor’ without an increase in labor expended. “Machinery, like every other component of constant capital (C), creates no new value, but yields up its own value to the product it serves to beget. Insofar as the machine has value and, as a result, transfers value to the product” (Marx 509). Since machines have high cost to make, the product that they make will have a higher value. Machine made goods have a higher value than a craft made by any given person. Machines give value to products as well as making products, the longer a machine operates and depreciates, the greater the difference is of the two.
The value given to a product by means of the machine differs due to the size of the product. The value given to the product also depends on the value of the machinery, and the labor used to make the machine.
As far as the use of machines, ‘if the machine costs as much labor to make it, as is saved by the use of it, labor was only displaced. Labor to make a commodity has not been lessened.’ “The productivity of the machine is therefore measured by the human labor-power it replaces” (Marx 513). In addition to this, “The use of machinery is limited by the requirement that less labor must be expended in producing the machinery than is displaced by the employment of that machinery” (Marx 515). Marx goes on explaining how machines took the place of girls and women working in mines. Women were also used to haul barges in England, “The land of machinery” (Marx 517).
4. The Factory
Marx begins this section with two descriptions of the factory as a whole.
“Combined co-operation of many orders of workpeople, adult and young, in tending with assiduous skill, a system of productive machines, continuously impelled by a central power” (the prime mover); on the other hand, as “a vast automaton, composed of various mechanical and intellectual organs, acting in uninterrupted concert for the production of a common object, all of them being subordinate to a self-regulated moving force.” (544-545)
This twofold description shows the characteristics of the relationship between the collective body of labor power and the machine. In the first description, the workers, or collective labor power, are viewed as separate entities from the machine. In the second description, the machine is the dominant force, with the collective labor acting as mere appendages of the self operating machine. Marx uses the latter description to display the characteristics of the modern factory system under capitalism.
In the factory, the tools of the worker disappear, and the worker’s skill is passed on to the machine. The division of labor and specialization of skills re-appear in the factory, only now as a more exploitative form of capitalist production. Work is still organized into co-operative groups. Work in the factory usually consists of two groups, people who are employed on the machines and those who attend to the machines. The third group, outside of the factory, is a superior class of workers, trained in the maintenance and repair of the machines.
Factory work begins at childhood to ensure that a person may adapt to the systematic movements of the automated machine, therefore increasing productivity for the capitalist. Marx describes this work as being extremely exhausting to the nervous system and void of intellectual activity. Factory work robs workers of basic working conditions like clean air, light, space, and protection. Marx ends the section by asking if jourier was wrong when he called factories ‘mitigated jails’?
5. The Struggle between Worker and Machine
In the beginning of this section Marx recounts the introduction of machinery and the resistance among workers that followed it. Marx does not criticize the machines themselves or technology, but the capitalist system that envelopes the machines. He states that,
“It took both time and experience before workers learned to distinguish between machinery and their employment by capital, and therefore to transfer their attacks from the material instruments of production to the form of society which utilizes those instruments.” (554)
Marx describes the machine as the instrument of labor for the capitalists’ material mode of existence. The machine competes with the worker, diminishing the use-value of the worker’s labor-power. Marx also points out that with the advance in technology of machines led to the substitution of less skilled work for more skilled work which ultimately led to a change in wages. During the progression of machinery the numbers of skilled workers decreased, while child labor flourished, increasing profits for the capitalist.
6. The Compensation Theory, With Regard to the Workers Displaced by Machinery
In this section, Marx sets forth to illuminate the error within the compensation theory of the political economists. According to this theory, the displacement of workers by machinery will necessarily “set free” an equal stable, amount of variable capital previously used for the purchase of labor-power and remains available for the same purpose. However, Marx argues that the introduction of machinery is simply a shift of variable capital to constant capital. The capital “set free” cannot be used for compensation since the displacement of variable capital available becomes embodied in the machinery purchased [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 565] .The capital that may become available for the compensation will always be less than the total amount of capital previously used to purchase labor-power before the addition of machinery. Furthermore, the remainder of variable capital available is directed towards hiring workers with the expertise skills to operate new machinery. Therefore the conversion of the greater part of the total capital is now used as constant capital, a reduction of variable capital necessarily follows. As a result of machinery, displacedworkers are not so quickly compensated by employment in other industries but are forced into an expanding labor-market at a disadvantage and available for greater capitalist exploitation without the ability to procure the means of subsistence for survival [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 566-568] . Furthermore, Marx argues that the introduction of machinery may increase employment in other industries, yet this expansion “has nothing in common with the so-called theory of compensation” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 570] . Greater productivity will necessarily generate an expansion of production into peripheral fields that provide raw materials. Conversely machinery introduced to industries that produce raw materials will lead to an increase in those industries that consume them. The production of greater surplus-value leads to greater wealth of the ruling classes, an increase in the labor-market, and consequently the establishment of new industries. As such Marx cites the growth of the domestic service industry equated to greater servitude by the exploited classes [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 570-575] .
7. Repulsion and Attraction of Workers Through The Development of Machine Production, Crises in the Cotton Industry
The political economist apology for the displacement of workers by machinery asserts that there is a corresponding increase in employment. Marx is quick to cite the example of the silk industry in which an actual decrease of employment appears simultaneously with an increase of existing machinery. On the other hand an increase in the number of factory workers employed is the result of “the gradual annexation of neighboring branches of industry” and “the building of more factories or the extension of old factories in a given industry.” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 576-577] Furthermore, Marx argues that an increase in factory workers is relative since the displacement of workers creates a proportionately wider gap between the increase of machinery and a proportionate decrease of labor required to operate that machinery. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 578] The constant expansion of capitalism and ensuing technical advances leads to extension of markets until it reaches all corners of the globe thus creating cycles of economic prosperity and crisis. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 580] Finally, the “repulsion and attraction” of workers therefore results as a cycle in which there is a constant displacement of workers by machinery which necessarily leads to increased productivity followed by a relative expansion of industry and higher employment of labor. This sequence renews itself as all components of the cycle lead to novel technological innovation for "replacing labor-power." [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 582-583]
Part Five: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value
Chapters 16-18 examine how the capitalist strategies for the production of both absolute and relative surplus-value are combined and can function simultaneously.
Chapter 17 Changes of Magnitude in the price of Labor-Power and in Surplus-Value
The Value of Labor power, also known as wage, is the first thing that Marx begins to re-explain in the opening of the chapter stressing that it is equal to the quantity of the “necessaries of life habitually required by the average laborer.” By re-stressing the importance of this concept he is building a foundation on which he can begin to elaborate his argument on the changing price of labor. In order to make his argument, Marx states that he will leave out two certain factors of change (the expenses of labor power that differ with each mode of production and the diversity of labor power between men and women, children and adults) and that he will also be making 2 assumptions. The two assumptions made are first, the commodities are sold at their values, and second, the price of labor-power occasionally rises above its value, but never falls beneath it. Given these assumptions Marx begins to formulate his argument by first establishing the three determinants of the price of labor power. These three determinants, or circumstances as Marx calls them, are: the length of the working day, the normal intensity of labor, and the productiveness of labor. Formulating these three circumstances into different combinations of variables and constants Marx begins to clarify the changes in Magnitude in the price of labor-power. The majority of Chapter XVII is dedicated to the chief combinations of these three factors. “I. Length of the working day and Intensity of labor constant; Productiveness of labor variable.” Starting out with these assumptions Marx explains that there are three laws that determine the value of labor-power. The first of these three laws states that a working day of given amount of hours will always produce the same amount of value. This value will always be a constant, no matter the productiveness of labor, or the price of the commodity produced. The second states that the surplus-value and labor-power are negatively correlated or that when surplus-value increases a unit and value stays the same labor-power must decrease one unit also. The third of these laws is that a change in surplus-value presupposes a change in that of the labor-power. Given these three laws Marx explains how the productiveness of labor, being the variable, changes the magnitude of labor-value. Marx explains saying “a change in the magnitude of surplus-value, presupposes a movement in the value of labour-power, which movement is brought about by a variation in the productiveness of labour.” This variation in the productiveness of labor is what eventually leads to the developing change in value, which is then divided by either the laborers, through extra labor-value, or the capitalist, through extra surplus value.
“II. Working-day constant; Productiveness of labor constant; Intensity of labor.” The Intensity of labor is the expenditure that the laborer puts into a commodity. The increase in the intensity of labor results in the increase of value that the labor is producing. This increase that the laborer is producing is again divided amongst the capitalist and laborer in the form of either surplus-value or an increase in the value of labor power. Though they may both increase simultaneously the addition to the labor may not be an addition if the extra payment received from his increase in intensity does not cover the wear and tear it has on the laborer.
“III. Productivity and Intensity of Labor Constant; Length of Working Day Variable.”In this example it is possible to change the length of the working day by either lengthening of shortening the time spent at work. Leaving the other two variables constant, reducing the length of the work day leaves the labor-power’s value the same as it was before. This reducing of the length of the work day will reduce the surplus labor and surplus value dropping it below its value. The other option in changing the workday is to lengthen it. If the labor-power stays the same with a longer workday then the surplus-value will increase relatively and absolutely. The relative value of labor-power will fall even though it will not absolutely. With the lengthening of the workday and the nominal price staying the same, the price of labor-power possibly could fall below its value. The value is estimated to be what is produced by the worker and a longer workday will affect the production and therefore the value.It is fine to assume the other variables stay constant, but a change in the work day with the others constant will not result in the outcomes supposed here. A change in the work day by the capitalists will most definitely affect the productivity and intensity of the labor.
“IV. Simultaneous Variations in the Duration, Productivity and Intensity of Labor.” In the real world it is almost never possible to isolate each of the aspects of labor. Two or even three of the variables may vary and in different aspects. One may move up while another moves down, or in the same direction. The combinations are endless, but may be characterized by the first three examples. However, Marx limits his analysis to two cases. “(1) Diminishing productivity of labor with a simultaneous lengthening of the workday.” This example is one where workers are working longer hours paying less attention or dedication on the job and productivity is in turn reduced; or productivity decreases, increasing the workday to achieve the same output. Therefore, the magnitude of these changes will continue on its path causing longer and longer workdays with lower productivity until the system can sustain no more. “(2) Increasing intensity and productivity of labor with simultaneous shortening of the working day.” Productivity and intensity are closely related and offer similar outcomes. Higher productivity and intensity will increase the workers output allowing for the workday to be shorter as they will achieve their necessary subsistence. The working day can shrink multiple times so long as the other elements live up to their sides of the bargain. The price of labor-power is affected by many things that can be broken down. The three main elements of intensity, productivity and length of workday were broken down and analyzed separately and then together. From the examples presented it is possible to see what would happen in any and all situations.
Part Six: Wages
Chapters 19-22 examine the ways in which capital manipulates the money wage as ways of both concealing exploitation and of extorting increased amounts of unpaid labor from workers.
Chapter 19: The Transformation of the Value (and Respective Price) of Labour-Power into Wages
In this chapter Marx brings into perspective how wages fit into the picture of capitalism. Marx begins by noticing how oblivious society is when it speaks "of the value of labour and call its expression in money its necessary or natural price"(675). A laborer is interested primarily in meeting his means of subsistence; therefore, he is easily exploited by the capitalist, who, is more interested in paying him as little as possible than endowing him with an equal exchange for the value he creates. As selling this labor-power is a way of ensuring the means of subsistence, laborers are willing to sell their labor power to a capitalist, for whom he will serve a specific function. Marx compares this version of surviving to that of a slave, who similarly gives functions of labor power to his master to ensure his subsistence. Though the labor of a slave would appear unpaid to most, he too is in fact ensuring his subsistence.
Chapter 20: Time-Wages
In the first part of his analysis of the forms wages take, Marx presents time-wages; whereby, a worker is paid a certain amount per certain period of time. An example of a time-wage is working for $10.00/hr. The time-wage and actual cost of labor are independent of one another. The cost of labor for Marx is the average daily value of labor-power divided by the hours in the average working day. [ibid. 684] It is the actual value of a worker over a day's labor. Time-wages are the compensation workers get per unit of time. Thus, if the value of labor-power falls, the cost of labor will fall though the actual wage a worker receives, the time-wage, may not. This independence allows the capitalist to pay the worker less than the value of their labor-power while still appearing to offer fair compensation. [ibid. 686] For the worker to survive then, she must work more hours or get a second job. To both the worker and capitalist, time-wages seem to demonstrate the connection between working harder and being more successful. To Marx, this appearance only hides the fact that time-wages are ways of increasing the rate of surplus-value by reducing variable costs and the length of the working day.
Chapter 21: Piece-Wages
Marx explains the exploitative nature of the piece-wage system. Under this system workers are paid a pre-determined amount for each piece they produce, creating a modified form of the time-wage system. A key difference is in the fact that the piece-wage system provides an exact measure of the intensity of labor. Meaning that the capitalists’ know about how long it takes to produce one piece of finished product. Those who cannot meet these standards of production will not be allowed to keep their jobs. This system also allows for middlemen to usurp positions between the capitalists and laborers. These middlemen make their money solely from paying labor less than capitalists are actually allotting, thus, bringing about worker on worker exploitation. Logic would lead a laborer to believe that straining one’s labor power “as intensely as possible” works in one’s own interests because the more efficiently they produce the more they will be paid. Therefore, the workday will lengthen to the extent that worker’s allow and necessitate. However, prolongation in the workday requires the price of labor to fall. Marx elucidates that, “The piece-wage therefore has a tendency, while raising the wages of individuals above the average, to lower this average itself”, and “it is apparent that the piece-wage is the form of wage most appropriate to the capitalist mode of production.” Marx gives examples of the Weaving Industry around the time of the Anti-Jacobin War where "piece-wages had fallen so low that in spite of the very great lengthening of the working day, the daily wage was then lower than it had been before." So in this example we are able to see how piece-wages do nothing but decrease the value of labor and better disguise the true way the workers are exploited. [Marx, Karl. Capital, Volume I. Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 697-698] .
Part Seven: The Process of Accumulation of Capital
Chapters 23-25 explore the ways in which profits are used to recreate capitalist class relations on an ever expanding scale and the ways in which this expansion of capitalism creates periodic crises for capitalist accumulation. For Marx, these crises in accumulation are also always crises in the perpetuation of the class relations necessary for capitalist production and so are also opportunities for revolutionary change.
Chapter 23: Simple Reproduction
Just as a society cannot stop consuming, it cannot stop producing, either. “Every social process of production,” writes Marx, “is at the same time a process of reproduction.” [ibid. 711] This is one of Marx’s most important points, for capital must be seen as a forever developing value. Since labor power and the means of production are constantly consumed in the process of production, they must be reproduced for production to continue.
Simple reproduction refers to a capitalist consuming all of the surplus value created and reinvesting the same amount of capital during each cycle. This causes production levels to remain constant.
Marx pauses here to clarify two points. First, though workers are seemingly paid in money, in actuality they are paid in wages. Off the clock, in order for workers to obtain part of their means of subsistence, they must give these wages back to the capitalist class. “The transaction,” Marx writes, “is veiled by the commodity-form of the product and the money-form of the commodity.” [ibid. 713]
Second, Marx points out that the capitalist must produce surplus value in order for production to continue. If surplus value is not created, and the capitalist keeps advancing capital (and consuming) from his own pocket, he will eventually go broke. Simple reproduction therefore “converts all capital into accumulated capital.” [ibid. 715]
Part of the cycle of simple reproduction is the replication of class relations. Workers receive enough to keep them at work and purchase their means of subsistence. “The worker always leaves the process in the same state as he entered it – a personal source of wealth, but deprived of any means of making that wealth a reality for himself.” [ibid. 716] Since there is nothing left over after purchasing their means of subsistence, they must sell their labor power again. In this way workers remain poor and remain at work. Meanwhile, the capitalists advance capital, create surplus value, and are able to profit and reinvest.
Chapter 24: The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital
In Chapter 24, Marx explains how capitalist are able to transform surplus value into more capital. Marx begins by expounding upon the accumulation of capital, which he defines as “the employment of surplus-value as capital, or its reconversion into capital.” [ibid. 725] Marx uses the illustration of a Master yarn Spinner to demonstrate how capitalist use more money to invest in more means of production and labor-power. Thus, Marx is able to further reiterate that, “accumulation requires to the transformation of a portion of the surplus product into capital.” [ibid. 726] Marx further elaborates that the reason why surplus-value can be transformed into capital is because the surplus product “already comprises the material components of a new quantity of capital." [ibid. 727]
Capitalist expansion, according to Marx, requires additional labor-power. Marx explains that the “mechanism of capitalist production” is constantly producing and reproducing a working class that depends on wages to survive, thus replenishing the capitalist need for labor-power and thereby aiding capitalist expansion. [ibid. 727] Marx states that what is true of all accumulated capital in comparison to the addition of capital made by it is that “the original capital continues to reproduce itself and to produce surplus-value alongside the newly formed capital.” [ibid. 728]
Marx lists three results of the original transformation of money: (1) that the product belongs to the capitalist and not the worker; (2) that the value of this product includes, apart from the value of the capital advance; a surplus-value which costs the worker labour but the capitalist nothing, and which nonetheless becomes the legitimate property of the capitalist; (3) that the worker has retained his labour-power and can sell it anew if he finds another buyer. [ibid. 731]
Marx, therefore concludes, that even in simple reproduction all capital is made into accumulated capital; despite the fact that the capital originally advanced begins to diminish when compared to the directly accumulated capital. [ibid. 734]
Chapter 25, Section 3 & 4: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation
The composition of capital undergoes a qualitative change when the total social capital of a society grows, or accumulates. This accumulation presupposes an increase in productivity and efficiency in the affected industries and consequently produces a decreased need for labor in general. If productivity increases (i.e. if there are more machines that take the place of human labor) then there is less employment; for even if the total quantity of labor employed increases, it is in a “constantly diminishing proportion” to the average amount needed by capital for the valorization process. Thus accumulation creates an industrial reserve army of labor that is available for hire. Conversely, if productivity and accumulation is stagnant, or the cost-benefit ratio of machine power to labor power is unfavorable, there exists a greater need for labor to create surplus value. But this is not what a capitalist wants and is antithetical to the ethos of capitalist production.What a capitalist wants is increased productivity and thus the increased production of relative surplus value. By making fewer workers (in proportion to the total population and need for labor) work more productively, and thus put more of their labor time into producing surplus value, there is less need to employ more workers, and the superfluous workers already employed can be discarded. Marx states that this creates a division in the working class of a nation; the forcibly unemployed industrial reserve army already mentioned, versus an employed class of workers who are chronically underpaid and overworked.This affects wages in two ways. If there this a high level of industrial reserve workers in proportion to a low level of employed workers, then obviously demand for labor is low and thus wages are low. Conversely, if there are few in the industrial reserve and many people employed, thus accelerating accumulation, then demand for labor is high and wages are high. However, this upward trend in employment always reaches a critical mass when too much is produced and there are not enough consumers to absorb it, and thus products (and therefore surplus value) go to waste. Then workers are “set free,” wages drop for those still employed, and the cycle begins anew. This is the workers paradox; work harder, produce more, but get fired in the end because they produced too much. As the total social wealth of a nation grows, so does its population, and as its population suffers through the abovementioned cycle, the more people become unemployed due to their own productivity. That is essentially the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation.
Part Eight: So-Called Primitive Accumulation
Chapters 26-33 concern the history and origins of capitalism and of capitalist class relations.
Chapter 26: The Secret of Primitive Accumulation
Primitive accumulationis the accumulation of wealth that takes place prior to the capitalist era of production and provides the starting point that makes possible subsequent capitalist accumulation. This chapter describes the creation of capitalist society in terms of the creation of two classes: workers and capitalists. Marx argues that it is not just the accumulation of money that is required in order for capitalism to begin, but also the creation and accumulation of large numbers of “free” workers who are willing, able, and needing to work for a monetary wage. The “secret” of this primitive accumulation lies in the fact that it emerges from a history of systematic violence and brutality, rather than from the simple hard work and thrift of a few would-be capitalists. The “freeing” of serfs and slaves from their feudal lords at the same time “frees” them of their land and homes i.e. their means of productionand means of subsistence. “So-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production.” [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 874-875. ] This process dates from about the sixteenth century and is far from idyllic and peaceful. The history of this primitive accumulation of both capital and workers as it was experienced in England is continued in the following chapters.
Chapter 27: The Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land
The last third of the 15th Century marked the beginning of the rise of the capitalist mode of production and the initial creation of the working class. At this time, England served as the leading nation in pre-capitalist endeavors as the process of primitive accumulation took place via the usurpation of communal lands owned by peasants and feudal lords alike. The peasants were forced to migrate to barren, coarse lands while their former communal lands became the private property of a few soon-to-be capitalist landowners. The technological advances in the manufacture of textiles and the accompanying higher prices for wool served as the motivation for feudal lords to drive peasantry from communal property. Feudal tenure was abolished as estates were seized and farmlands were liquidated into the hands of a few landowners. Marx refers to this process as a time of "turning arable lands into sheepwalks," and thus, usurping and using the land strictly for the purpose of industry, only to later be turned into deer preserves still keeping peasants from their native soil. Similarly, the forced dissolution of the property associated with the Catholic church by the state added to the bulk of land that transferred hands. Though the peasant farmers were initially driven off the land by brute force, the ‘Bills for Inclosure of Commons’ was later sanctified by the Parliament in the 18th Century, legally enforcing the ability of landowners to claim peoples’ land as private property. No longer able to provide their own means of subsistence without arable land or property of their own, a body of wage-laborers was created in need of employment for survival. The seized, liquidated and privately owned land then provided the means for large-scale agricultural production, which provided the market and employment for the new "free and rightless" proletariat class who now depended on its industry.
Chapter 28: Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated since the End of the Fifteenth Century. The Forcing Down of Wages by Act of Parliament
The creation of the bourgeoisie, fueled by the enclosure of common lands that once sustained a vast peasant population, left these peasants and serfs, the new proletariat, to adapt to a new way of life. The old subsistent mode of production no longer existed leaving these people, as Marx puts it, “free and rightless”. Though at this point in history we see the beginnings of a bourgeoisie class, there is not yet an efficient capitalist mode of production to absorb the newly ‘created’ proletariat. Because it was not yet natural to sell ones labor for profit many became beggars and thieves. This is why at the end of the fifteenth century there is a sudden increase in the number of harsh and violent laws against vagabonds. From the early 1500s on, harsh punishment ranged from whipping and mortification to forced slavery and even beheading. Thomas More indicates that as many as 72,000 were put to death under the pretext of theft. Over generations, these violent laws made people begin to look “upon the requirements of that mode of production(Capitalism) as self evident natural laws”. And thus, the once self sufficient peasants and serfs were forced to accept giving their labor up as pure commodity in order to buy products they once produced themselves.
Chapter 29: The Genesis of the Capitalist Farmer
In this chapter Marx discusses how the class of the capitalist farmer originated. This class was made up by farmers who employed wage-laborers, and then paid rent to a landlord; they became wealthy through a relatively simple series of events. In the sixteenth century the value of precious metals decreased; the farmers could pay wage-laborers and landlords less because contracts were based on old money values. The Agricultural Revolution had already increased the productivity of their farms, and the value of agricultural products rose netting the farmer relatively huge profits.
Chapter 30: Impact of the Agricultural Revolution on Industry. The Creation of a Home Market for Industrial Capital
As the self supporting proletariats were forced from their rural homes to urban areas they dramatically speed up the process to full scale capitalism. Working long hours for a determined wage to be able to acquire living necessities was a completely different concept than providing for oneself. This massive change was absorbed by waiting agricultural capitalists who began purchasing and operating large scale agricultural ventures. The demands of the once farmer turn wage laborer now had to be met by the same hand they are employed by. Since there was no way to create ones means of subsistence in a large urban area the newly arrived working class provided the steady market necessary for capitalism to secure control of commerce. "And only the destruction of rural domestic industry can give the home market of a country that extension and stability which the capitalist mode of production requires." (p.911)
Chapter 31: The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist
It is out of the ashes of feudalism, via widespread expropriation of the agricultural peoples that Industrial Capitalism springs. Deprived of their traditional means of subsistence, many of these displaced farmers and artisans found themselves faced with few options for survival, and therefore they themselves became capitalists. In this sense, workers parted with tangible property ownership in exchange for capital with no legal right to the property used for its production. The worker is deprived power over the land and goods that they are expected to maintain through forced, and waged-labor. The capitalists then required great labor forces to manage their newly amassed resources. To solve this problem, the capitalists then began a long process of enslaving people to provide this labor force. The implementation of government systems in England such as national debt, taxes, and the military assured the continuation of capitalist demand (915). This colonial system became the structure necessary for the execution of commercial wars to accumulate resources for the generation of capital via the exploitation of waged, and slave laborers. The employment of child labor and exploitation became common, as it was maximally profitable for the capitalist objective. The market for capital was of course then able to be controlled for the benefit of the capitalist. Even famine became a tool for capitalist generation in 1769-1770 when England bought up rice for the purpose of selling it at a disproportionately larger profit (917). The workers under the capitalist society are by definition vital proponents of the capitalist market. Encouraged to participate in the creation of debt, each worker participates in the creation of “joint-stock companies, the stock-exchange and modern bankocracy” (919). The international credit system conceals the source of its generation, the exploitation of slave and wage laborers. Taxpayers keep buying into these credit systems and paying taxes, but are not able to escape either system. In fact, for any person involved in this system they themselves cannot escape capital’s bloody roots (926).
Chapter 32: The Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation
In this chapter, Marx is explaining the direction that Capitalist Accumulation is going, which is ultimately the downfall of capitalism through a revolution of the mass workers. Marx begins this chapter with a question, "What does the primitive accumulation of capital resolve itself into?" The answer to that question is "the dissolution of private property based on the labour of its owners, i.e expropriation of the immediate producers". [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 927]
The private property of the worker is essential to establish small-scale industries, and furthermore, small-scale industry is a necessary condition for the development of social production and of the free individuality of the worker. The worker is his own boss, whether if that is through cultivating their own land, or the artisan owning the tools with which he is an accomplished performer. However, we now see that a mass expropriation of the worker lays the foundation for capitalist history. Private property is now replaced with capitalist private property, by the highest form of exploitation, and we now see the shift from the days of free labour to immigrant/alien labour. Workers are turned into proletarians and their means of labour are transformed into capital by the capitalist who is exploiting the workers on a large scale. Capitalist private property is formed from the capital mode of appropriation, which has dwindled away the once existent private property that was founded on personal labour of workers. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 929]
The nature of capitalism, though, brings about its own demise. In a system that "exlcudes co-operation, the social control and regulation of forces of nature, and the free development of the productive forces of society" it allows no room other for modes of production outside of its own. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 927] As capitalists begin to strike down one another they eventually are faced with being expropriated by the workers through a "centralization of capitals" [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990.929] With a working class that is strong in number and fully united, this group soon becomes "incompatible with their capitalist integument" and "the expropriators are expropriated" and the we know have a situation in which "the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of people". [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 929]
Of course, Marx stresses that the demise of capitalism does not necessarily mean the return of private property. "It does not re-establish private property, but it does indeed establish individual property on the basis of the achievements of the capitalist era: namely co-operation and the possession in common of the land and the means of production produced by labour itself." That is to say that the transformation of capitalist private property, which already sustains itself by society, into social property.
Chapter 33: The Modern Theory of Colonization
The chapter begins with the explanation of two different kinds of private property. The first "rests on the labour of the producer himself", while the second, "(rests) on the exploitation of the labour of others". [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 931] Marx says that the second type was a result of the first and only grows off the first type. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 931] With the advent of colonies, capitalist nature has to take a different structure than that of "Homeland Capitalism". E.G. Wakefield said, "in the colonies capital is not a thing but a social relation between persons which is mediated through things". [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 932] The wage labourer of colonies is not willing to sell himself of his own free will, as many do back in the mother country, as land is plentiful and cheap if not free in the colonies. Capitalism has to turn the means of production from the individual producers into capital. This can be achieved by expropriation and heavy exploitation of the worker. If domination over the workers free will cannot be achieved, Marx then asks, "how did capital and wage-labour come into existence?" [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 933] This comes about through the division of workers into owners of capital and owners of labour and the workers have essentially expropriated themselves in order to accumulate capital. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 934] This self-expropriation served as primitive accumulation and therefore the catalyst for capitalism in the colonies. The worker is socially dependent on the capitalist, by expropriating himself and selling himself to the capitalist in return for capital(through some artificial means<. Once thref>Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 934] ) and the workers continue to increase in number, the mode of production will generate capital. But it is important to realize the difference in the dependence of the worker to the mother land compared to the colony. We have seen that the capitalist practice of primitive accumulation has been prescribed for use in the colonies now and also the continual expropriation of the worker. [Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume I". Trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990. 939] Though the chapter is heavy on the establishment of colonies and the implementation of capitalist methods in the new areas, Marx makes his point fairly clear in the last paragraph of Chapter 33. He is letting the reader know that capitalist private prosperity can only exist once the private property of the individual producer has been expropriated and annihilated.
* [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm "Capital, Volume I"] , by
* [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/1868-syn/index.htm "Synopsis of Capital, Volume I"] , by
* [http://www.graphicwitness.org/contemp/marxtitle.htm "Capital in Lithographs"] , by
* [http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/357ksg.html Study Guide to "Capital, Volume I"] , by
* [http://www.duke.edu/~hardt/Capital.html Reading Notes on Marx's "Capital"] , by
* [http://www.appstate.edu/~stanovskydj/marxfiles.html The MarX-Files: Resources on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels]
* [http://davidharvey.org Reading Marx’s Capital] An open course consisting of a close reading of the text of Marx's Capital Volume I in 13 two-hour video lectures with David Harvey
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