Capital365Notes

Capital365Notes - Karl Marx, selections from Capital Marx...

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Karl Marx, selections from Capital Marx is concerned with the way the bourgeois, “werewolf’s hunger for surplus- labor,” which he compares to the treatment of colonized people in the Americas, still manages to escape, in major areas, regulation and legal boundaries on the exploitation of workers. The most notable area is child labor. As a typical case he notes, “William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when he began to work. He “ran moulds” (carried ready-molded articles into the drying-room, afterwards bringing back the empty mould) from the beginning. He came to work every day in the week at 6 a.m., and left off about 9 p.m.” The immediate correlation is made to child and other unregulated employment and disease and early death. The ‘physical’ (including industry-specific diseases and injuries) and ‘moral’ degeneration of proletarian populations follows from this. It is the most miserable part of the proletariat that undertakes these jobs – he tellingly uses widows and “the ragged, half-starved, untaught children,” as his examples. His example of abuse range from the conditions, forced unpaid overtime (with hours per day ranging up to 16, six days per week, including overnight labor), irregular access to meals, etc. Competitiveness in industry rests on the surplus labor thereby extracted. The massive populations displaced by land reform constantly fed even the most abusive industries. Where unionization, striking and lobbying for reform were attempted, those workers were quickly replaced. Marx’s evidence indicates the concern with the deleterious impact on families where multiple members worked twelve hour (plus) days. The system takes and consumes, Marx notes, all equally, and he uses diverse examples of industry to prove his point. For one example: “In the last week of June, 1863, all the London daily papers published a paragraph with the “sensational” heading, “Death from simple over-work.” It dealt with the death of the milliner, Mary Anne Walkley, 20 years of age, employed in a highly- respectable dressmaking establishment, exploited by a lady with the pleasant name of Elise. The old, often-told story, was once more recounted. This girl worked, on an average, 16½ hours, during the season often 30 hours, without a break, whilst her failing labor-power was revived by occasional supplies of sherry, port, or coffee. It was just now the height of the season. It was necessary to conjure up in the twinkling of an eye the gorgeous dresses for the noble ladies
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Capital365Notes - Karl Marx, selections from Capital Marx...

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