W5-Marx-Early+Writings-Recommended

W5-Marx-Early+Writings-Recommended - KARL MARX EARLY...

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Unformatted text preview: KARL MARX EARLY WRITINGS INTRODUCED BY LUCIE] CULLETTI TRANSLATED BY RODNEY: LH’INGSTDNE AND GREG-DR BENTON PENGUIN BOOKS in association with Ntw Ltifi Raview FIRST MANUSCRIPT Wages of Labour Wages are determined by the fierce struggle between capitalist 'talist inevitably wins. The capitalist can live and worker. The capi I ‘ longer without the worker than the worker can without hnn. Combination among capitalists is habitual and effective, while combination among the workers is forbidden and has painful consequences for them. In addition to that, the landowner and the capitalist can increase their revenues with the profits of industry, while the worker can supplement his income from In- dustry with neither ground rent nor interest on capital. This is the reason for the intensity of competition among the workers. It is for the worker that the separation of capital, landed property and labour is a necessary, essential and pernicious separation. Capital and landed property need not remain con- stant in this abstraction, as must the labour of the workers. So for the worker tire separation of capital, ground rent and labour isfatal. 5. Marx fulfilled this promise in Tlte Holy Family, written jointly with Engels in 1845. Economic anar Philosophical Manuscripts 283 For wages the lowest and the only necessary rate is that required for the subsistence ofthe worker during work and enough extra to support a family and prevent the race of workers from dying out. According to Smith, the normal wage is the lowest which is compatible with common humanity, i.e. with a bestial existence.1 Tire demandfor men necessarily regulates the production of men, as of every other commodity. If the supply greatly exceeds the demand, then one section of the workers sinks into beggary or starvation. The existence of the worker is therefore reduced to the same condition as the existence of every other commodity. The worker has become a commodity, and he is lucky if he can find a buyer. And the demand on which the worker’s life depends is regulated by the whims of the wealthy and the capitalists. If supply exceeds demand, one of the elements which go to make up the price — profit, ground rent, wages at will be paid below its price. A part of these elements is therefore withdrawn from this application, with the result that the market price gravitates to- wards the natural price as the central point. But (1) it is very difficult for the worker to direct his labour elsewhere where there is a marked division of labour; and (2} because of his subordinate relationship to the capitalist, he is the first to suffer. S o the worker is sure to lose anor to lose mostfrom tlte gravitation of tlte market price towards tlte natural price. And it is precisely the ability of the capitalist to direct his capital elsewhere which either drives the worker, who is restricted to one particular branch of employment, into starvation or forces him to submit to all the capitalist‘s demands. The sudden chance fluctuations in market price hit ground rent less than that part of the price which constitutes profit and wages, but they hit profit less than wages. For every wage which rises, there is generally one which remains stationary and another which falls. Tlte worlcer does not necessarily gain when the capitalist gains, but he necessarily loses witlt ltim. For example, the worker does not gain if the capitalist keeps the market price above the natural price by means of a manufacturing or trade secret, a monopoly or a favourably placed property. Moreover, tlte prices of labour are much more constant than the 1. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 2 vols., Everyman edition, Vol. I, p. 61. 234 Early Writings prices of provisions. They are often in inverse proportion. In. a dear year, wages drop because of a drop in demand and rise because of an increase in the price of provisions. They therefore balance. In any case, some workers are left without bread. ln cheap years wages rise on account of the rise in demand and fall on account of the fall in the price of provisions. So they balance.2 Another disadvantage for the worker: The price of the iohonr of o'iflerent kinds of workers vories much more than the profits of the various branches in which capitol is put to use. In the case of labour, all the natural, spiritual and social variations in individual activity are manifested and vari- ously rewarded, whereas dead capital behaves in a uniform way and is indifferent to reel individual activity. In general, we should note that where worker and capitalist both suffer, the worker suffers in his very existence while the capitalist sufiers in the profit on his dead mammon, The worker has not only to struggle for his physical means Lof subsistence; he must also struggle for work, i.e. for the possibihty and the means of realizing his activity. 1 Let us consider the three main conditions which can occur in society and their effect on the worker. (1) If the wealth of society is decreasing, the worker suffers most, for although the working class cannot gain as much as the property owners when society is prospering, none snflers more cruelly from its decline than the working close? _ I I (2} Let us now consider a society in which wealth is increasing. This condition is the only one favourable to the worker. Here competition takes place among the capitalist-s. The demand for workers outstrips supply. But: in thefirsi piece the rise in wages leads to overwork among the workers. The more they want to earn the more they must sacrifice their time and freedom and work like slaves in the service of avarice. In doing so they shorten their lives. But this is all to the good of the working class as a whole, since it creates a renewed demand. This class must always sacrifice a part of itself if it is to avoid total destruction. Furthermore, when is a society prosperity? When the capitals and revenues of a country growing. But this is only possible I (a) as a result of the accumulation of a large quantity of labour, 2. Smith, op. cit, I, pp. "lb—T. 3. ibid., p. 230. in a condition of increasing are Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 235 for capital is accumulated labour; that is to say, when more and more of the worker‘s products are being taken from him, when his own labour increasingly confronts him as. alien property and the means of his existence and of his activity are increasingly con- centrated in the hands of the capitalist. (b) The accumulation of capital increases the division oflabour, and the division of labour increases the number of workers; con- versely, the growth in the number of workers increases the division of labour, just as the growth in the division of labour increases the accumulation of capital. As a consequence of this division of labour on the one hand ,and the accumulation of capitals on the other, the worker becomes more and more uniformly dependent on labour, and on a particular, very one-sided and machinerlike type of labour. Just as he is depressed, therefore, both intellectually and physically to the level of a machine, and from being a man becomes an abstract activity and a stomach, so he also becomes more and more dependent on every fluctuation in the market price, in the investment of capital and in the whims of the wealthy. .Equally, the increase in that class of men who do nothing but work increases the competition among the workers and therefore lowers their price. In the factory system conditions such as these reach their climax. {c} In a society which is becoming increasingly prosperous, only the very richest can continue to live from the interest on money. All the rest must run a business with their capital, or put it on the market. As a result the competition among the capitalists increases, there is a grr' ing concentration of capital, the big capitalists ruin the small ones and a section of the former capi- talists sinks into the class of the workers which, because of this increase in numbers, suffers a further depression of wages and becomes even more dependent on the handful of big capitalists. Because the number of capitalists has fallen, competition for workers hardly exists any longer, and because the number of workers has increased, the competition among them has become all the more considerable, unnatural and violent. Hence a section of the working class is reduced to beggary or starvation with the same necessity as a section of the middle capitalists ends up in the working class. So even in the state of society most favourable to him, the inevitable consequence for the worker is overwork and early death, reduction to a machine, enslavement to capital which piles 236 Eoriy Writings up in threatening opposition to him, fresh competition and starvation or beggary for a section of the workers. An increase in wages arouses in the worker the same desire to get rich as in the capitalist, but he can only satisfy this desire by sacrificing his mind and his body. An increase in wages presup- poses, and brings about, the accumulation of capital, and thus opposes the product of labour to the worker as something in- creasingly alien to him. Similarly, the division oflabour makes him more and more onewsided and dependent, introducing competition from machines as well as from men. Since the worker has been reduced to a machine, the machine can confront him as a com- petitor. Finally, just as the accumulation of capital increases the quantity of industry and therefore the number of workers, so it enables the same quantity of industry to produce a greater quantity of products. This leads to overproduction and ends up either by putting a large number of workers out of work or by reducing their wages to a pittance. Such are the consequences of a condition of society which is most favourable to the worker, in a condition of growing wealth. But in the long run the time will come when this state of growth reaches a peak. What is the situation of the worker then“? (3) ‘In a country which had acquired that full complement of riches . . . both the wages of labour and the profits of stock would probably be very low . . . the competition for employment would ' duce the wages of labour to what was barely sufficient to keep up the number of labourers, and, the country being already fully peopled, that number could never be augmented.‘4 The surplus population would have to die. So in a declining state of society we have the increasing misery of the worker; in an advancing state, complicated misery; and in the terminal state, static misery. Smith tells us that a society of which the greater part suffers is not happy.5 But since even the most prosperous state of society leads to suffering for the majority and since the economic system [Notionrriiikouomie], which is a society based on private interests, brings about such a state of prosperity, it follows that society‘s distress is the goal of the economic system. We should further note in connection with the relationship between worker and capitalist that the latter is more than com- 4. ibid., p. 84. 5. ibid., p. 70. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 23? pensated for wage rises by a reduction in the amount of labour time, and that wage rises and increases in the interest on capital act on commodity prices like simple and compound interest respectively. Let us now look at things from the point of view of the political economist and compare what he has to say about the theoretical and practical claims of the worker. He tells us that originally, and in theory, the whole produce of labour belongs to the worker.‘a But at the same time he tells us that what the worker actually receives is the smallest part of the product, the absolute minimum necessary; just enough for him to exist not as a human being but as a worker and for him to pro- pagate not humanity but the slave class of the workers. The political economist tells us that everything is bought with labour and that capital is nothing but accumulated labour, but then goes on to say that the worker, far from being in a position to buy everything, must sell himself and his humanity. While the ground rent of the indolent landowner generally amounts to a third of the product of the soil and the profit of the busy capitalist to as much as twice the rate of interest, the surplus which the worker earns amounts at best to the equivalent of death through starvation for two of his four children.’I According to the political economist labour is the only means whereby man can enhance the value of natural products, and labour is the active property of man. But according to this same political economy the landowner and the capitalist, who as such are merely privileged and idle gods, are everywhere superior to the worker and dictate the law to him. According to the political economist labour is the only con- stant price of things. But nothing is more subject to chance than the price oflabour, nothing exposed to greater fluctuations. While the division of labour increases the productive power of labour and the wealth and refinement of society, it impoverishes the worker and reduces him to a machine. While labour gives rise to the accumulation of capital and so brings about the growing prosperity of society, it makes the worker increasingly dependent on the capitalist, exposes him to greater competition and drives him into the frenzied world of overproduction, with its subsequent slump. According to the political economist the interest of the worker 5. ibid., p. 5?. 'i. ibiti., p. 60. 288 Early Writings is never opposed to the interest of society. But society is invariably and inevitably opposed to the interest of the worker. According to the political economist the interest of the worker is never opposed to that of society (1] because the rise in wages is more than made up for by the reduction in the amount .of labour time, with the other consequences explained above, and (2) because in relation to society the entire gross product is net product, and only in relation to the individual does the net product have any significance. But it follows from the analyses made by the political econo- mists, even though they themselves are unaware of the fact, that labour itselF— not only under present conditions but in general in so far as its goal is restricted to the increase of wealth -1s harmful and destructive. a: are deductions made which land and the product of In theory, ground rent and profit on capital I from wages. But in reality wages are a deduction capital grant the worker, an allowance made from labour to the worker, to labour. The worker suffers most when societ He owes the particular severity of his distress worker, but the distress as such is a result of the situation of society. But when society is in a state of progress the decline and im» poverishment of the worker is the product of his labour and the wealth produced by him. This misery therefore proceeds from the very essence of present-day labour. A society at the peak of its prosperity — an ideal, but one which is substantially achieved, and which is at least the goal of the economic system and of civil society — is static misery for the worker. it goes without saying that political economy regards the proletarian, i.e. he who lives without capital and ground rent from labour alone, and from one-sided, abstract labour at that, as nothing more than a worker. It can therefore advance the thesis that, like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics and the beadle. Let us now rise above the level of y is in a state of decline. to his position as a political economy and Economic and Phiiosophicai Manuscripts 239 examine the ideas developed above, taken almost word for word from the political economists, for the answers to these two ques- tions: (1) What is the meaning, in the development of mankind, of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labour? {2} What mistakes are made by the piecemeal reformers, who either want to raise wages and thereby improve the situation of the working class, or — like Proudhon — see equality of wages as the goal of social revolution? . In political economy iabour appears only in the form of wage- earning activity. a: ‘It can be argued that those occupations which demand specific abilities or longer training have on the whole become more lucrative; while the oominensurate wage i or mechanically uniform activity, in which anyone can be quickly and easily trained, has fallen, and inevitably so, as a result of growing competition. And it is precisely this kind of labour which, under the present system oflabour organisation, is by far the most common. So ifa worker in the first category now earns seven times as much as he did fifty years ago, while another in the second category continues to earn the same as he did then, then on average they earn four times as much. But if in a given country there are only a thousand workers in the first category and a million in the second, then 999,000 are no better off than fifty years ago, and they are worse off if the prices of staple goods have risen. And yet people are trying to deceive themselves about the most numerous class of the population with superficial average calculations of this sort. Moreover, the size of wages is only one factor in evaluating a worker‘s income: it is also essential to take into account the iengtit of time for which such wages are guaranteed, and there is no question of guarantees in the anarchy of sovcalled free com- petition with its continual fluctuations and stagnation. Finally, we must bear in mind the hours of work which were usual earlier and those which are usual now. And for the English cotton workers the working day has been increased, as a result of the employers’ greed, from twelve to sixteen hours during the past twentywfive years or so, i.e. since labour-saving machines were introduced. This increase in one country and in one branch of industry in- evitably carried over to a greater or lesser degree into other areas, 290 Early Writings for the rights of the wealthy to subject the poor to boundless exploitation are still universally acknowledged.‘3 ‘But even if it were as true as it is false that the average income of ail classes of society has grown, the differences and relative intervals between incomes can still have grown bigger, so that the contrast between wealth and poverty becomes sharper. For it is precisely because total production rises that needs, desires and claims also increase, and they increase in the same measure as production rises; relative poverty can therefore grow while absolute poverty diminishes. The Samoyed is not poor with his blubber and rancid fish, for in his self-contained society everyone has the same needs. But in a state which is making rapidr headway, which in the course of a decade increases its total production in relation to the population by a third, the worker who earns the same at the end of the ten years as he did at the beginning has not maintained his standard of living, he has grown poorer by a third.” But political economy knows the worker only as a beast of burden, as an animal reduced to the minimum bodily needs. “If a people is to increase its spiritual freedom, it can no longer remain in thrall to its bodily needs, it can no longer be the servant of the flesh. Above all it needs time for intellectual exercise and recreation. This time is won through new developments in the organization of labour. Nowadays a single worker in the cotton mills, as a result of new ways of producing power and new machinery, can often do work that previously needed 100 or even 250—350 workers. All branches of industry have witnessed similar consequences, since external natural forces are increasingly being brought to bear on human labour. If the amount of time and human energy needed earlier to satisfy a given quantity of material needs was later reduced by half, then without any forfeiture of material comfort the margin for intellectual creation and recrea- tion will have increased by half. But even the sharing of the spoils which we win from old Chronole on his very own territory still depends on blind and unjust chance. In France it has been estimated that at the present stage of production an average working day of live hours from each person capable of work would be sufficient to satisfy all society’s material needs . . . In E. Wilhelm Schulz, Die Hervegung tier Proauhiion. cine geschichilich- starisiische Ahhana‘i’aag, Ziirieh and Winterthnr, 1843, p. 65. 9. ibid., pp. 55—6. 10. The Greek God of Time. nr-—— Ecoaomic and Philosophical Manuscripts 291 spite of the time saved through improvements in machinery, the time spent in slave labour in the factories has increased for many people.’11 “The transition from complicated handicrafts presupposes a breaking down of such work into the simple operations of which it consists. To begin with, however, only a part of the uniformly recurring operations falls to the machines, while another part falls to men. Permanently uniform activity of this kind is by its very nature harmful to both soul and body u- a fact which is also confirmed by experience; and so when machinery is combined in this way with the mere division of labour among a larger number of men, all the shortcomings of the latter inevitably make their appearance. These shortcomings include the greater mortality of factory workers . . . No attention has been paid to the essential distinction between how far men work through machines and how far they work as machines.‘12 “in the future life of the nations, however, the mindless forces of nature operating in machines will be our slaves and servants.”1 3 “In the English spinning mills only 158,318 men are employed, compared with 196,818 women. For every hundred men workers in the Lancashire cotton mills there are 103 women workers; in Scotland the figure is as high as 209. In the English flax mills in Leeds there are 14? women for every 100 men workers; in Dundee and on the east coast of Scotland this figure is as high as 280. In the English silk-factories there are many women workers; in the wool factories, where greater strength is needed, there are more men. As for the North American cotton mills, in 1333 there were no fewer than 38,921? women alongside 18,593 men. So as a result of changes in the organization of labour, a wider area ofemployment opportunities has been opened up to members of the female sex . more economic independence for women . . . both sexes brought closer together in their social relations.’14 ‘Employed in the English spinning mills operated by steam and water in the year 1835 were: 20,553 children between 3 and 12 years of age; 35.36? between 12 and 13; and finally, 108,208 between 13 and 18 True, the advances in mechanization, which remove more and more of the monotonous tasks from human hands, are gradually eliminating these ills. But standing in the way of these more rapid advances is the fact that the 11. Schulz, op. cit., pp. 67-8. 12. ibid., p. 69. 13. ibid., p. T4. 14. ibid., pp. Tl—Z. 292 Early Writings capitalists are in a position to make use of the energies of the lower classes, right down to children, very easily and very cheaply, attd to use them instead of machinery."5 ‘Lord Brougham‘s appeal to the workers: “ Become capitalists !” . . . The evil that millions are only able to eke out a living through exhausting, physically destructive and morally and intellectually crippling labour, that they are even forced to regard the mis- fortune of finding such work as fortunate.”5 ‘So in order to live, the non-owners are forced to place them- selves directly or indirectly at the service of the owners, i.e. become dependent upon them.‘17 ‘Servants —- pay; workers m wages; clerks — salaries or emolu- ments.“ ‘hire out one‘s labour“, ‘lcnd out one’s labour at interest‘, ‘work in another‘s place‘. ‘hlrc out the materials of labour’, ‘lend the materials of labour at interest’, ‘make another work in one‘s place’.” ‘This economic constitution condemns men to such abject employments, such desolate and bitter degradation, that by com« parison savagery appears like a royal condition?” ‘Prostitution of the non-owning class in all its forms.‘21 Ragaand-bone men. Ch. London, in his work Solution cla problems de la popula- tion,“ gives the number of prostitutes in England as advance. The number of women of ‘ doubtful virtue‘ is roughly the same.” ‘The average life span of these unfortunate creatures on the streets, after they have embarked on their career of vice, is about six or seven years. This means that if the number of fill—28,000 prostitutes is to be maintained, there must be in the three king- doms at least 8—2000 women a year who take up this infamous trade, i.e. roughly twenty-four victims a day, which is an average of one an hour. So if the same proportion is true for the whole surface of the planet, then at all times there must be one and a half million of these unhappy creatures.’2“ 15. ibid., pp. 28421. 16. ibitl., p. tit]. 12. C. Pecqueur, The’orie nonvelle d‘eeonornie marble or poliriaae, oa erodes sar l “organisation ties socie'te's, Paris, 1842, p. 409. 18. ibid.. DI)..489—1fl. 19. ibid., p. 411. 28'. ibid., pp. 412—18. 21. ibid., pp. 421 ft. 22. Charles London, Solution do probleme tie la population el de lo sab- sistanee, soarnise a an meldecin dons one se'rie tie lelrres, Paris, 1842, p. 229. 23. ibid., p. 223. 24. ibid., p. 229. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 293 ‘The population of the poor grows with their poverty, and it is at the most extreme limit of need that human beings crowd to- gether in the greatest numbers in order to fight among themselves for the right to suffer . . . In 1821 the population of Ireland was 6,881,822. By 1831 it had risen to 2,264,018; that is a 14 per cent increase in 10 years. In Leinster, the most prosperous of the provinces, the population only grew by 8 per cent, while in Con- naught, the poorest of the provinces, the increase was as high as 21 per cent. (Extract front inquiries Published in England on Ireland, Vienna, 1840.)‘25 Political economy regards labour abstractly as a thing; labour is a commodity; if the price is high, the commodity is much in demand; if it is low, then it is much in supply; ‘the price oflabour as a commodity must fall lower and lower’.16 This is brought about partly by the competition between capitalist and worker and partlyr hy the competition among the workers themselves. ‘. . . the working population, seller of labour, is forced to accept the smallest part of the product . . . Is the theory of labour as a commodity anything other than a disguised theory of slavery 2“” ‘Why then was labour regarded as nothing more than an exchange value?“28 The big workshops prefer to buy the labour of women and children, because it costs less than that of men.” ‘ Vis—d-vis his employer the worker is not at all in the position of afree seller . . . The capitalist is always free to employ labour, and the worker is always forced to sell it. The value of labour is completely destroyed if it is not sold at every instant. Unlike genuine commodities, labour can be neither accumulated nor saved. I ‘Labour is life, and if life is not exchanged every day for food it sulters and soon perishes. If human life is to be regarded as a commodity, we are forced to admit slavery.‘3° So if labour is a commodity, it is a commodity with the most unfortunate characteristics. But even according to economic principles it is not one, for it is not the ‘free product of a free market’F'1 The present economic regime ‘reduces at the satne time both the price and the remuneration of labour; it perfects the 25. Eugene Buret, De la misére ties classes laborieases en Angleterre er en France, 2 vols., Paris, 1840, Vol. I, pp. 364-2. 26. ibid., p. 43. 22. ibid. 28. lbid., p. 44. 29. ibid. 38. ibid., pp. 49-58. 31. ibid., p. 50. 294 Early Writings worker and degrades the man’.*'!'2 ‘lndustry has become a war, commerce a game?“ ‘Thc machines for spinning cotton (in England) alone represent 84,000,000 handworkers.“H Up to now industry has been in the situation of a war of conquest: ‘it has squandered the lives of the men who composed its army with as much indifl‘crence as the great conquerors. Its goal was the possession of riches, and not human happiness?” ‘Tlicse in- terests [i.c. economic interests), left to their own free development, . . . cannot help coming into conflict; war is their only arbiter, and the decisions of war assign defeat and death to some and victory to others . . . It is in the conflict of opposing forces that science looks for order and equilibrium: perpetual war, in the view of science, is the only means of achieving peace; this war is called competition?“ ‘The industrial war, if it is to be waged successfully, needs large armies which it can concentrate at one point and decimate at will. And neither devotion nor duty moves the soldiers of this army to bear the burdens placed upon them; what moves them is the need to escape the harshness of starvation. They feel neither affection nor gratitude for their bosses, who are not bound to their subordinates by any feeling of goodwill and who regard them not as human beings but as instruments of production which bring in as much and cost as little as possible. These groups of workers, who are more and more crowded together, cannot even be sure that they will always be employed; the industry which has summoned them together allows them to live only because it needs them; as soon as it can get rid of them it abandons them without the slightest hesitation; and the workers are forced to offer their persons and their labour for whatever is the going price. The longer, more distressing and loathsome the work which is given them, the less they are paid; one can see workers who toil their way non-stop through a sixteen hour day and who scarcely manage to buy the right not to dial“ ‘We are convinced . . . as are the commissioners appointed to look into the conditions of the handloom weavers, that the large industrial towns would quickly lose their population of workers 33. ibid., p. 52. as. ibid., p. 23. 34. ibid., p. 193. 3?. ibid., pp. 68—9. 32. ihid., p. 524i. 35. ibid., p. 20. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts 295 if they did not all the time receive a continual stream of healthy people and fresh blood from the surrounding country areas.’3‘a ...
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W5-Marx-Early+Writings-Recommended - KARL MARX EARLY...

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