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IV.— Simultaneous variations in the duration, productiveness, and intensity of labour. - Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production 
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production, by Karl Marx. Trans. from the 3rd German edition, by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, ed. Federick Engels. Revised and amplified according to the 4th German ed. by Ernest Untermann (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co., 1909).
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IV.—Simultaneous variations in the duration, productiveness, and intensity of labour.
It is obvious that a large number of combinations are here possible. Any two of the factors may vary and the third remain constant, or all three may vary at once. They may vary either in the same or in different degrees, in the same or in opposite directions, with the result that the variations counteract one another, either wholly or in part. Nevertheless the analysis of every possible case is easy in view of the results given in I., II., and III. The effect of every possible combination may be found by treating each factor in turn as variable, and the other two constant for the time being. We shall, therefore, notice, and that briefly, but two important cases.
(1). Diminishing productiveness of labour with a simultaneous lengthening of the working-day.
In speaking of diminishing productiveness of labour, we here refer to diminution in those industries whose products determine the value of labour-power; such a diminution, for example, as results from decreasing fertility of the soil, and from the corresponding dearness of its products. Take the working-day at 12 hours and the value created by it at 6 shillings, of which one half replaces the value of the labour-power, the other forms the surplus-value. Suppose, in consequence of the increased dearness of the products of the soil, that the value of labour-power rises from 3 shillings to 4, and therefore the necessary labour-time from 6 hours to 8. If there be no change in the length of the working-day, the surplus-labour would fall from 6 hours to 4, the surplus-value from 3 shillings to 2. If the day be lengthened by 2 hours, i.e., from 12 hours to 14, the surplus-labour remains at 6 hours, the surplus-value at 6 shillings, but the surplus-value decreases compared with the value of labour-power, as measured by the necessary labour-time. If the day be lengthened by 4 hours, viz., from 12 hours to 16, the proportional magnitudes of surplus-value and value of labour-power, of surplus-labour and necessary labour, continue unchanged, but the absolute magnitude of surplus-value rises from 3 shillings to 4, that of the surplus-labour from 6 hours to 8, an increment of 33 1/3%. Therefore, with diminishing productiveness of labour and a simultaneous lengthening of the working-day, the absolute magnitude of surplus-value may continue unaltered, at the same time that its relative magnitude diminishes; its relative magnitude may continue unchanged, at the same time that its absolute magnitude increases; and, provided the lengthening of the day be sufficient, both may increase.
In the period between 1799 and 1815 the increasing price of provisions led in England to a nominal rise in wages, although the real wages, expressed in the necessaries of life, fell. From this fact West and Ricardo drew the conclusion, that the diminution in the productiveness of agricultural labour had brought about a fall in the rate of surplus-value, and they made this assumption of a fact that existed only in their imaginations, the starting-point of important investigations into the relative magnitudes of wages, profits, and rent. But, as a matter of fact, surplus-value had at that time, thanks to the increased intensity of labour, and to the prolongation of the working-day, increased both in absolute and relative magnitude. This was the period in which the right to prolong the hours of labour to an outrageous extent was established;18 the period that was especially characterised by an accelerated accumulation of capital here, by pauperism there.19
(2) Increasing intensity and productiveness of labour with simultaneous shortening of the working-day.
Increased productiveness and greater intensity of labour, both have a like effect. They both augment the mass of articles produced in a given time. Both, therefore, shorten that portion of the working-day which the labourer needs to produce his means of subsistence or their equivalent. The minimum length of the working-day is fixed by this necessary but contractile portion of it. If the whole working-day were to shrink to the length of this portion, surplus-labour would vanish, a consummation utterly impossible under the régime of capital. Only by suppressing the capitalist form of production could the length of the working-day be reduced to the necessary labour-time. But, even in that case, the latter would extend its limits. On the one hand, because the notion of "means of subsistence" would considerably expand, and the labourer would lay claim to an altogether different standard of life. On the other hand, because a part of what is now surplus-labour, would then count as necessary labour; I mean the labour of forming a fund for reserve and accumulation.
The more the productiveness of labour increases, the more can the working-day be shortened; and the more the working-day is shortened, the more can the intensity of labour increase. From a social point of view, the productiveness increases in the same ratio as the economy of labour, which, in its turn, includes not only economy of the means of production, but also the avoidance of all useless labour. The capitalist mode of production, while on the one hand, enforcing economy in each individual business, on the other hand, begets, by its anarchical system of competition, the most outrageous squandering of labour-power and of the social means of production, not to mention the creation of a vast number of employments, at present indispensable, but in themselves superfluous.
The intensity and productiveness of labour being given, the time which society is bound to devote to material production is shorter, and as a consequence, the time at its disposal for the free development, intellectual and social, of the individual is greater, in proportion as the work is more and more evenly divided among all the able-bodied members of society, and as a particular class is more and more deprived of the power to shift the natural burden of labour from its own shoulders to those of another layer of society. In this direction, the shortening of the working-day finds at last a limit in the generalisation of labour. In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.
Part V, Chapter XVIII
|AVERAGE NUMBER OF SPINDLES PER FACTORY.|
|England, average of spindles per factory||12,600|
|France, average of spindles per factory||1,500|
|Prussia, average of spindles per factory||1,500|
|Belgium, average of spindles per factory||4,000|
|Saxony, average of spindles per factory||4,500|
|Austria, average of spindles per factory||7,000|
|Switzerland average of spindles per factory||8,000|
|AVERAGE NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED TO SPINDLES.|
|France,||one person to||14||spindles|
|Russia,||one person to||28||spindles|
|Prussia,||one person to||37||spindles|
|Bavaria,||one person to||46||spindles|
|Austria,||one person to||49||spindles|
|Belgium,||one person to||50||spindles|
|Saxony,||one person to||50||spindles|
|Switzerland,||one person to||55||spindles|
|Smaller States of Germany,||one person to||55||spindles|
|Great Britain,||one person to||74||spindles|
"This comparison," says Mr. Redgrave, "is yet more un-favourable to Great Britain, inasmuch as there is so large a number of factories in which weaving by power is carried on in conjunction with spinning [whilst in the table the weavers are not deducted], and the factories abroad are chiefly spinning factories; if it were possible to compare like with like, strictly, I could find many cotton spinning factories in my district in which mules containing 2,200 spindles are minded by one man (the "minder") and two assistants only, turning off daily 220 lbs. of yarn, measuring 400 miles in length." (Reports of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct., 1866, p. 31-33, passim.)
It is well known that in Eastern Europe as well as in Asia, English companies have undertaken the construction of railways, and have, in making them, employed side by side with the native labourers, a certain number of English workingmen. Compelled by practical necessity, they thus have had to take into account the national difference in the intensity of labour, but this has brought them no loss. Their experience shows that even if the height of wages corresponds more or less with the average intensity of labour, the relative price of labour varies generally in the inverse direction.
In an "Essay on the Rate of Wages,"48 one of his first economic writings, H. Carey tries to prove that the wages of the different nations are directly proportional to the degree of productiveness of the national working days, in order to draw from this international relation, the conclusion that wages everywhere rise and fall in proportion to the productiveness of labour. The whole of our analysis of the production of surplus value shows the absurdity of this conclusion, even if Carey himself had proved his premises, instead of, after his usual uncritical and superficial fashion, shuffling to and fro a confused mass of statistical materials. The best of it is that he does not assert that things actually are as they ought to be according to his theory. For State intervention has falsified the natural economic relations. The different national wages must be reckoned, therefore, as if that part of each that goes to the State in the form of taxes, came to the labourer himself. Ought not Mr. Carey to consider further whether those "State expenses" are not the "natural" fruits of capitalistic development? The reasoning is quite worthy of the man who first declared the relations of capitalist production to be eternal laws of nature and reason, whose free, harmonious working is only disturbed by the intervention of the State, in order afterwards to discover that the diabolical influence of England on the world-market (an influence which, it appears, does not spring from the natural laws of capitalist production) necessitates State intervention, i.e., the protection of those laws of nature and reason by the State, alias the System of Protection. He discovered further, that the theorems of Ricardo and others, in which existing social antagonisms and contradictions are formulated, are not the ideal product of the real economic movement, but on the contrary, that the real antagonisms of capitalist production in England and elsewhere are the result of the theories of Ricardo and others! Finally, he discovered that it is, in the last resort, commerce that destroys the inborn beauties and harmonies of the capitalist mode of production. A step further, and he will, perhaps, discover that the one evil in capitalist production is capital itself. Only a man with such atrocious want of the critical faculty and such spurious erudition deserved, in spite of his Protectionist heresy, to become the secret source of the harmonious wisdom of a Bastiat, and of all the other Free Trade optimists of to-day.
THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL.
THE conversion of a sum of money into means of production and labour-power, is the first step taken by the quantum of value that is going to function as capital. This conversion takes place in the market, within the sphere of circulation. The second step, the process of production, is complete so soon as the means of production have been converted into commodities whose value exceeds that of their component parts, and, therefore, contains the capital originally advanced, plus a surplus-value. These commodities must then be thrown into circulation. They must be sold, their value realised in money, this money afresh converted into capital, and so over and over again. This circular movement, in which the same phases are continually gone through in succession, forms the circulation of capital.
The first condition of accumulation is that the capitalist must have contrived to sell his commodities, and to reconvert into capital the greater part of the money so received. In the following pages we shall assume that capital circulates in its normal way. The detailed analysis of the process will be found in Book II.
The capitalist who produces surplus-value—i.e., who extracts unpaid labour directly from the labourers, and fixes it in commodities, is, indeed, the first appropriator, but by no means the ultimate owner, of this surplus-value. He has to share it with capitalists, with landowners, 8c., who fulfill other functions in the complex of social production. Surplus-value, therefore, splits up into various parts. Its fragments fall to various categories of persons, and take various forms, independent the one of the other, such as profit, interest, merchants' profit, rent, 8c. It is only in Book III. that we can take in hand these modified forms of surplus-value.
On the one hand, then, we assume that the Capitalist sells at their value the commodities he has produced, without concerning ourselves either about the new forms that capital assumes while in the sphere of circulation, or about the concrete conditions of reproduction hidden under these forms. On the other hand, we treat the capitalist producer as owner of the entire surplus-value, or, better perhaps, as the representative of all the sharers with him in the booty. We, therefore, first of all consider accumulation from an abstract point of view—i.e., as a mere phase in the actual process of production.
So far as accumulation takes place, the capitalist must have succeeded in selling his commodities, and in reconverting the sale-money into capital. Moreover, the breaking-up of surplus-value into fragments neither alters its nature nor the conditions under which it becomes an element of accumulation. Whatever be the proportion of surplus-value which the industrial capitalist retains for himself, or yields up to others, he is the one who, in the first instance, appropriates it. We, therefore, assume no more than what actually takes place. On the other hand, the simple fundamental form of the process of accumulation is obscured by the incident of the circulation which brings it about, and by the splitting up of surplus-value. An exact analysis of the process, therefore, demands that we should, for a time, disregard all phenomena that hide the play of its inner mechanism.
Part VII, Chapter XXIII
WHATEVER the form of the process of production in a society, it must be a continuous process, must continue to go periodically through the same phases. A society can no more cease to produce than it can cease to consume. When viewed, therefore, as a connected whole, and as flowing on with incessant renewal, every social process of production is, at the same time, a process of reproduction.
The conditions of production are also those of reproduction. No society can go on producing, in other words, no society can reproduce, unless it constantly reconverts a part of its products into means of production, or elements of fresh products. All other circumstances remaining the same, the only mode by which it can reproduce its wealth, and maintain it at one level, is by replacing the means of production—i.e., the instruments of labour, the raw material, and the auxiliary substances consumed in the course of the year—by an equal quantity of the same kind of articles; these must be separated from the mass of the yearly products, and thrown afresh into the process of production. Hence, a definite portion of each year's product belongs to the domain of production. Destined for productive consumption from the very first, this portion exists, for the most part, in the shape of articles totally unfitted for individual consumption.
If production be capitalistic in form, so, too, will be reproduction. Just as in the former the labour-process figures but as a means towards the self-expansion of capital, so in the latter it figures but as a means of reproducing as capital—i.e., as self-expanding value,—the value advanced. It is only because his money constantly functions as capital that the economical guise of a capitalist attaches to a man. If, for instance, a sum of £100 has this year been converted into capital, and produced a surplus-value of £20, it must continue during next year, and subsequent years, to repeat the same operation. As a periodic increment of the capital advanced, or periodic fruit of capital in process, surplus-value acquires the form of a revenue flowing out of capital.1
If this revenue serve the capitalist only as a fund to provide for his consumption, and be spent as periodically as it is gained, then, cæteris paribus, simple reproduction will take place. And although this reproduction is a mere repetition of the process of production on the old scale, yet this mere repetition, or continuity, gives a new character to the process, or, rather, causes the disappearance of some apparent characteristics which it possessed as an isolated discontinuous process.
The purchase of labour-power for a fixed period is the prelude to the process of production; and this prelude is constantly repeated when the stipulated term comes to an end, when a definite period of production, such as a week or a month, has elapsed. But the labourer is not paid until after he has expended his labour-power, and realised in commodities not only its value, but surplus-value. He has, therefore, produced not only surplus-value, which we for the present regard as a fund to meet the private consumption of the capitalist, but he has also produced, before it flows back to him in the shape of wages, the fund out of which he himself is paid, the variable capital; and his employment lasts only so long as he continues to reproduce this fund. Hence, that formula of the economists, referred to in Chapter XVIII., which represents wages as a share in the product itself.2 What flows back to the labourer in the shape of wages is a portion of the product that is continuously reproduced by him. The capitalist, it is true, pays him in money, but this money is merely the transmuted form of the product of his labour. While he is converting a portion of the means of production into products, a portion of his former product is being turned into money. It is his labour of last week, or of last year, that pays for his labour-power this week or this year. The illusion begotten by the intervention of money vanishes immediately, if, instead of taking a single capitalist and a single labourer, we take the class of capitalists and the class of labourers as a whole. The capitalist class is constantly giving to the labouring class order-notes, in the form of money, on a portion of the commodities produced by the latter and appropriated by the former. The labourers give these order-notes back just as constantly to the capitalist class, and in this way get their share of their own product. The transaction is veiled by the commodity-form of the product and the money-form of the commodity.
Variable capital is therefore only a particular historical form of appearance of the fund for providing the necessaries of life, or the labour-fund which the labourer requires for the maintenance of himself and family, and which, whatever be the system of social production, he must himself produce and reproduce. If the labour-fund constantly flows to him in the form of money that pays for his labour, it is because the product he has created moves constantly away from him in the form of capital. But all this does not alter the fact, that it is the labourer's own labour, realised in a product, which is advanced to him by the capitalist.3 Let us take a peasant liable to do compulsory service for his lord. He works on his own land, with his own means of production, for, say, 3 days a week. The 3 other days he does forced work on the lord's domain. He constantly reproduces his own labour-fund, which never, in his case, takes the form of a money payment for his labour, advanced by another person. But in return, his unpaid forced labour for the lord, on its side, never acquires the character of voluntary paid labour. If one fine morning the lord appropriates to himself the land, the cattle, the seed, in a word, the means of production of this peasant, the latter will thenceforth be obliged to sell his labour-power to the lord. He will, cæteris paribus, labour 6 days a week as before, 3 for himself, 3 for his lord, who thenceforth becomes a wages-paying capitalist. As before, he will use up the means of production as means of production, and transfer their value to the product. As before, a definite portion of the product will be devoted to reproduction. But from the moment that the forced labour is changed into wage-labour, from that moment the labour-fund, which the peasant himself continues as before to produce and reproduce, takes the form of a capital advanced in the form of wages by the lord. The bourgeois economist whose narrow mind is unable to separate the form of appearance from the thing that appears, shuts his eyes to the fact, that it is but here and there on the face of the earth, that even now-a-days the labour-fund crops up in the form of capital.4
Variable capital, it is true, only then loses its character of a value advanced out of the capitalist's funds,5 when we view the process of capitalist production in the flow of its constant renewal. But that process must have had a beginning of some kind. From our present stand-point it therefore seems likely that the capitalist, once upon a time, became possessed of money, by some accumulation that took place independently of the unpaid labour of others, and that this was, therefore, how he was enabled to frequent the market as a buyer of labour-power. However this may be, the mere continuity of the process, the simple reproduction, brings about some other wonderful changes, which affect not only the variable, but the total capital.
If a capital of £1000 beget yearly a surplus-value of £200, and if this surplus-value be consumed every year, it is clear that at the end of 5 years the surplus-value consumed will amount to 5×£200 or the £1000 originally advanced. If only a part, say one half, were consumed, the same result would follow at the end of 10 years, since 10×£100=£1000. General Rule: The value of the capital advanced divided by the surplus-value annually consumed, gives the number of years, or reproduction periods, at the expiration of which the capital originally advanced has been consumed by the capitalist and has disappeared. The capitalist thinks, that he is consuming the produce of the unpaid labour of others, i.e., the surplus-value, and is keeping intact his original capital; but what he thinks cannot alter facts. After the lapse of a certain number of years the capital value he then possesses is equal to the sum total of the surplus-value appropriated by him during those years, and the total value he has consumed is equal to that of his original capital. It is true, he has in hand a capital whose amount has not changed, and of which a part, viz., the buildings, machinery, 8c., were already there when the work of his business began. But what we have to do with here, is not the material elements, but the value, of that capital. When a person gets through all his property, by taking upon himself debts equal to the value of that property, it is clear that his property represents nothing but the sum total of his debts. And so it is with the capitalist; when he has consumed the equivalent of his original capital, the value of his present capital represents nothing but the total amount of the surplus-value appropriated by him without payment. Not a single atom of the value of his old capital continues to exist.
Apart then from all accumulation, the mere continuity of the process of production, in other words simple reproduction, sooner or later, and of necessity, converts every capital into accumulated capital, or capitalised surplus-value. Even if that capital was originally acquired by the personal labour of its employer, it sooner or later becomes value appropriated without an equivalent, the unpaid labour of others materialised either in money or in some other object. We saw in chapter IV. that in order to convert money into capital something more is required than the production and circulation of commodities. We saw that on the one side the possessor of value or money, on the other, the possessor of the value-creating substance; on the one side, the possessor of the means of production and subsistence, on the other, the possessor of nothing but labour-power, must confront one another as buyer and seller. The separation of labour from its product, of subjective labour-power from the objective conditions of labour, was therefore the real foundation in fact, and the starting point of capitalist production.
But that which at first was but a starting point, becomes, by the mere continuity of the process, by simple reproduction, the peculiar result, constantly renewed and perpetuated, of capitalist production. On the one hand, the process of production incessantly converts material wealth into capital, into means of creating more wealth and means of enjoyment for the capitalist. On the other hand the labourer, on quitting the process, is what he was on entering it, a source of wealth, but devoid of all means of making that wealth his own. Since, before entering on the process, his own labour has already been alienated from himself by the sale of his labour-power, has been appropriated by the capitalist and incorporated with capital, it must, during the process, be realised in a product that does not belong to him. Since the process of production is also the process by which the capitalist consumes labour-power, the product of the labourer is incessantly converted, not only into commodities, but into capital, into value that sucks up the value-creating power, into means of subsistence that buy the person of the labourer, into means of production that command the producers.6 The labourer therefore constantly produces material, objective wealth, but in the form of capital, of an alien power that dominates and exploits him; and the capitalist as constantly produces labour-power, but in the form of a subjective source of wealth, separated from the objects in and by which it can alone be realised; in short he produces the labourer, but as a wage-labourer.7 This incessant reproduction, this perpetuation of the labourer, is the sine quâ non of capitalist production.
The labourer consumes in a twofold way. While producing he consumes by his labour the means of production, and converts them into products with a higher value than that of the capital advanced. This is his productive consumption. It is at the same time consumption of his labour-power by the capitalist who bought it. On the other hand, the labourer turns the money paid to him for his labour-power, into means of subsistence: this is his individual consumption. The labourer's productive consumption, and his individual consumption, are therefore totally distinct. In the former, he acts as the motive power of capital, and belongs to the capitalist. In the latter, he belongs to himself, and performs his necessary vital functions outside the process of production. The result of the one is, that the capitalist lives; of the other, that the labourer lives.
When treating of the working-day, we saw that the labourer is often compelled to make his individual consumption a mere incident of production. In such a case, he supplies himself with necessaries in order to maintain his labour-power, just as coal and water are supplied to the steam engine and oil to the wheel. His means of consumption, in that case, are the mere means of consumption required by a means of production; his individual consumption is directly productive consumption. This, however, appears to be an abuse not essentially appertaining to capitalist production.8
The matter takes quite another aspect, when we contemplate, not the single capitalist, and the single labourer, but the capitalist class and the labouring class, not an isolated process of production, but capitalist production in full swing, and on its actual social scale. By converting part of his capital into labour-power, the capitalist augments the value of his entire capital. He kills two birds with one stone. He profits, not only by what he receives from, but by what he gives to, the labourer. The capital given in exchange for labour-power is converted into necessaries, by the consumption of which the muscles, nerves, bones, and brains of existing labourers are reproduced, and new labourers are begotten. Within the limits of what is strictly necessary, the individual consumption of the working class is, therefore, the reconversion of the means of subsistence given by capital in exchange for labour-power, into fresh labour-power at the disposal of capital for exploitation. It is the production and reproduction of that means of production so indispensible to the capitalist: the labourer himself. The individual consumption of the labourer, whether it proceed within the workshop or outside it, whether it be part of the process of production or not, forms therefore a factor of the production and reproduction of capital; just as cleaning machinery does, whether it be done while the machinery is working or while it is standing. The fact that the labourer consumes his means of subsistence for his own purposes, and not to please the capitalist, has no bearing on the matter. The consumption of food by a beast of burden is none the less a necessary factor in the process of production, because the beast enjoys what it eats. The maintenance and reproduction of the working-class is, and must ever be, a necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. But the capitalist may safely leave its fulfillment to the labourer's instincts of self-preservation and of propagation. All the capitalist cares for, is to reduce the labourer's individual consumption as far as possible to what is strictly necessary, and he is far away from imitating those brutal South Americans, who force their labourers to take the more substantial, rather than the less substantial, kind of food.9
Hence both the capitalist and his ideological representative, the political economist, consider that part alone of the labourer's individual consumption to be productive, which is requisite for the perpetuation of the class, and which therefore must take place in order that the capitalist may have labour-power to consume; what the labourer consumes for his own pleasure beyond that part, is unproductive consumption.10 If the accumulation of capital were to cause a rise of wages and an increase in the labourer's consumption, unaccompanied by increase in the consumption of labour-power by capital, the additional capital would be consumed unproductively.11 In reality, the individual consumption of the labourer is unproductive as regards himself, for it reproduces nothing but the needy individual; it is productive to the capitalist and the State, since it is the production of the power that creates their wealth.12
From a social point of view, therefore, the working-class, even when not directly engaged in the labour-process, is just as much an appendage of capital as the ordinary instruments of labour. Even its individual consumption is, within certain limits, a mere factor in the process of production. That process, however, takes good care to prevent these self-conscious instruments from leaving it in the lurch, for it removes their product, as fast as it is made, from their pole to the opposite pole of capital. Individual consumption provides, on the one hand, the means for their maintenance and reproduction: on the other hand, it secures by the annihilation of the necessaries of life, the continued reappearance of the workman in the labour-market. The Roman slave was held by fetters: the wage-labourer is bound to his owner by invisible threads. The appearance of independence is kept up by means of a constant change of employers, and by the fictio juris of a contract.
In former times, capital resorted to legislation, whenever necessary, to enforce its proprietary rights over the free labourer. For instance, down to 1815, the emigration of mechanics employed in machine making was, in England, forbidden, under grievous pains and penalties.
The reproduction of the working class carries with it the accumulation of skill, that is handed down from one generation to another.13 To what extent the capitalist reckons the existence of such a skilled class among the factors of production that belong to him by right, and to what extent he actually regards it as the reality of his variable capital, is seen so soon as a crisis threatens him with its loss. In consequence of the civil war in the United States and of the accompanying cotton famine, the majority of the cotton operatives in Lancashire were, as is well known, thrown out of work. Both from the working-class itself, and from other ranks of society, there arose a cry for State aid, or for voluntary national subscriptions, in order to enable the "superfluous" hands to emigrate to the colonies or to the United States. Thereupon, the "Times" published on the 24th March, 1863, a letter from Edmund Potter, a former president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. This letter was rightly called in the House of Commons, the manufacturers' manifesto.14 We cull here a few characteristic passages, in which the proprietary rights of capital over labour-power are unblushingly asserted.
"He" (the man out of work) "may be told the supply of cotton-workers is too large...and...must...in fact be reduced by a third, perhaps, and that then there will be a healthy demand for the remaining two-thirds...Public opinion...urges emigration...The master cannot willingly see his labour supply being removed; he may think, and perhaps justly, that it is both wrong and unsound...But if the public funds are to be devoted to assist emigration, he has a right to be heard, and perhaps to protest." Mr. Potter then shows how useful the cotton trade is, how the "trade has undoubtedly drawn the surplus-population from Ireland and from the agricultural districts," how immense is its extent, how in the year 1860 it yielded 5/13 ths of the total English exports, how, after a few years, it will again expand by the extension of the market, particularly of the Indian market, and by calling forth a plentiful supply of cotton at 6d. per lb. He then continues: "Some time..., one, two, or three years, it may be, will produce the quantity...The question I would put then is this—Is the trade worth retaining? Is it worth while to keep the machinery (he means the living labour machines) in order, and is it not the greatest folly to think of parting with that? I think it is. I allow that the workers are not a property, not the property of Lancashire and the masters; but they are the strength of both; they are the mental and trained power which cannot be replaced for a generation; the mere machinery which they work might much of it be beneficially replaced, nay improved, in a twelve-month.15 Encourage or allow (!) the working-power to emigrate, and what of the capitalist?...Take away the cream of the workers, and fixed capital will depreciate in a great degree, and the floating will not subject itself to a struggle with the short supply of inferior labour.... We are told the workers wish it" (emigration). "Very natural it is that they should do so.... Reduce, compress the cotton trade by taking away its working power and reducing their wages expenditure, say one-fifth, or five millions, and what then would happen to the class above, the small shopkeepers; and what of the rents, the cottage rents.... Trace out the effects upward to the small farmer, the better house-holder, and...the landowner, and say if there could be any suggestion more suicidal to all classes of the country than by enfeebling a nation by exporting the best of its manufacturing population, and destroying the value of some of its most productive capital and enrichment.... I advise a loan (of five or six millions sterling),...extending it may be over two or three years, administered by special commissioners added to the Boards of Guardians in the cotton districts, under special legislative regulations, enforcing some occupation or labour, as a means of keeping up at least the moral standard of the recipients of the loan.... can anything be worse for landowners or masters than parting with the best of the workers, and demoralising and disappointing the rest by an extended depletive emigration, a depletion of capital and value in an entire province?"
Potter, the chosen mouthpiece of the manufacturers, distinguishes two sorts of "machinery," each of which belongs to the capitalist, and of which one stands in his factory, the other at night-time and on Sundays is housed outside the factory, in cottages. The one is inanimate, the other living. The inanimate machinery not only wears out and depreciates from day to day, but a great part of it becomes so quickly super-annuated, by constant technical progress, that it can be replaced with advantage by new machinery after a few months. The living machinery, on the contrary, gets better the longer it lasts, and in proportion as the skill, handed from one generation to another, accumulates. The "Times" answered the cotton lord as follows:
"Mr. Edmund Potter is so impressed with the exceptional and supreme importance of the cotton masters that, in order to preserve this class and perpetuate their profession, he would keep half a million of the labouring class confined in a great moral workhouse against their will. 'Is the trade worth retaining?' asks Mr. Potter. 'Certainly by all honest means it is,' we answer. 'Is it worth while keeping the machinery in order?' again asks Mr. Potter. Here we hesitate. By the 'machinery' Mr. Potter means the human machinery, for he goes on to protest that he does not mean to use them as an absolute property. We must confess that we do not think it 'worth while,' or even possible, to keep the human machinery in order—that is to shut it up and keep it oiled till it is wanted. Human machinery will rust under inaction, oil and rub it as you may. Moreover, the human machinery will, as we have just seen, get the steam up of its own accord, and burst or run a muck in our great towns. It might, as Mr. Potter says, require some time to reproduce the workers, but, having machinists and capitalists at hand, we could always find thrifty, hard, industrious men wherewith to improvise more master manufacturers than we can ever want. Mr. Potter talks of the trade reviving 'in one, two, or three years,' and he asks us not 'to encourage or allow (!) the working power to emigrate.' He says that it is very natural the workers should wish to emigrate; but he thinks that in spite of their desire, the nation ought to keep this half million of workers with their 700,000 dependents, shut up in the cotton districts; and as a necessary consequence, he must of course think that the nation ought to keep down their discontent by force, and sustain them by alms—and upon the chance that the cotton masters may some day want them...The time is come when the great public opinion of these islands must operate to save this 'working power' from those who would deal with it as they would deal with iron, and coal, and cotton."
The "Times'" article was only a jeu d'esprit. The "great public opinion" was, in fact, of Mr. Potter's opinion, that the factory operatives are part of the movable fittings of a factory. Their emigration was prevented.16 They were locked up in that "moral workhouse," the cotton districts, and they form, as before, "the strength" of the cotton manufacturers of Lancashire.
Capitalist production, therefore, of itself reproduces the separation between labour-power and the means of labour. It thereby reproduces and perpetuates the condition for exploiting the labourer. It incessantly forces him, to sell his labour-power in order to live, and enables the capitalist to purchase labour-power in order that he may enrich himself.17 It is no longer a mere accident, that capitalist and labourer confront each other in the market as buyer and seller. It is the process itself that incessantly hurls back the labourer on to the market as a vendor of his labour-power, and that incessantly converts his own product into a means by which another man can purchase him. In reality, the labourer belongs to capital before he has sold himself to capital. His economical bondage18 is both brought about and concealed by the periodic sale of himself, by his change of masters, and by the oscillations in the market price of labour-power.19
Capitalist production, therefore, under its aspect of a continuous connected process, of a process of reproduction, produces not only commodities, not only surplus-value, but it also produces and reproduces the capitalist relation; on the one side the capitalist, on the other the wage-labourer.20
Part VII, Chapter XXIV
CONVERSION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO CAPITAL.
[18.] "Corn and labour rarely march quite abreast; but there is an obvious limit beyond which they cannot be separated. With regard to the unusual exertions made by the labouring classes in periods of dearness, which produce the fall of wages noticed in the evidence" (namely, before the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry, 1814-15), "they are most meritorious in the individuals, and certainly favour the growth of capital. But no man of humanity could wish to see them constant and unremitted. They are most admirable as a temporary relief; but if they were constantly in action, effects of a similar kind would result from them, as from the population of a country being pushed to the very extreme limits of its food." (Malthus: "Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent," Lond., 1815, p. 48, note.) All honour to Malthus that he lays stress on the lengthening of the hours of labour, a fact to which he elsewhere in his pamphlet draws attention, while Ricardo and others, in face of the most notorious facts, make invariability in the length of the working-day the ground-work of all their investigations. But the conservative interests, which Malthus served, prevented him from seeing that an unlimited prolongation of the working-day, combined with an extraordinary development of machinery, and the exploitation of women and children, must inevitably have made a great portion of the working class "supernumerary," particularly whenever the war should have ceased, and the monopoly of England in the markets of the world should have come to an end. It was, of course, far more convenient, and much more in conformity with the interests of the ruling classes, whom Malthus adored like a true priest, to explain this "over-population" by the eternal laws of Nature, rather than by the historical laws of capitalist production.
[19.] "A principal cause of the increase of capital, during the war, proceeded from the greater exertions, and perhaps the greater privations of the labouring classes, the most numerous in every society. More women and children were compelled by necessitous circumstances, to enter upon laborious occupations, and former workmen were, from the same cause, obliged to devote a greater portion of their time to increase production." (Essays on Pol. Econ., in which are illustrated the principal causes of the present national distress. Lond., 1830, p. 248.)
[20.] Thus, e.g., in "Dritter Brief an v. Kirchmann von Rodbertus. Widerlegung der Ricardo'schen Theorie von der Grundrente und Begründung einer neuen Rententheorie. Berlin, 1851." I shall return to this letter later on; in spite of its erroneous theory of rent, it sees through the nature of capitalist production.
Note by the Editor of the 3rd Edition. It may be seen from this how favourably Marx judged his predecessors, whenever he found in them real progress, or new and sound ideas. The subsequent publication of Rodbertus' letters to Rud. Meyer has shown that the above acknowledgment by Marx wants restricting to some extent. In those letters this passage occurs: "Capital must be rescued not only from labour, but from itself, and that will be best effected, by treating the acts of the industrial capitalist as economical and political functions, that have been delegated to him with his capital, and by treating his profit as a form of salary, because we still know no other social organisation. But salaries may be regulated, and may also be reduced if they take too much from wages. The irruption of Marx into Society, as I may call his book, must be warded off.... Altogether, Marx's book is not so much an investigation into capital, as a polemic against the present form of capital, a form which he confounds with the concept itself of capital." (Briefe, 8c., von Dr. Rodbertus-Jagetzow, herausgg. von Dr. Rud. Meyer, Berlin, 1881, I. Bd. p. 111., 48. Brief von Rodbertus.). To such ideological commonplaces did the bold attack by Rodbertus in his "social letters" finally dwindle down.
[21.] That part of the product which merely replaces the constant capital advanced, is of course left put in this calculation. Mr. L. de Lavergne, a blind admirer of Eng. land, is inclined to estimate the share of the capitalist too low, rather than too high.
[22.] All well-developed forms of capitalist production being forms of co-operation, nothing is, of course, easier, than to make abstraction from their antagonistic character, and to transform them by a word into some form of free association, as is done by A. de Laborde in "De l'Esprit de l'Association dans tous les intérêts de la communauté." Paris 1818. H. Carey, the Yankee, occasionally performs this conjuring trick with like success, even with the relations resulting from slavery.
[23.] Although the Physiocrats could not penetrate the mystery of surplus-value, yet this much was clear to them, viz., that it is "une richesse indépendante et disponible qu'il (the possessor) n'a point achetée et qu'il vend." (Turgot: "Réflexions sur la Formation et la Distribution des Richesses," p. 11.)
[1.] "Mr. Ricardo, ingeniously enough, avoids a difficulty which, on a first view, threatens to encumber his doctrine, that value depends on the quantity of labour employed in production. If this principle is rigidly adhered to, it follows that the value of labour depends on the quantity of labour employed in producing it—which is evidently absurd. By a dexterous turn, therefore, Mr. Ricardo makes the value of labour depend on the quantity of labour required to produce wages; or, to give him the benefit of his own language, he maintains, that the value of labour is to be estimated by the quantity of labour required to produce wages; by which he means the quantity of labour required to produce the money or commodities given to the labourer. This is similar to saying, that the value of cloth is estimated, not by the quantity of labour bestowed on its production, but by the quantity of labour bestowed on the production of the silver, for which the cloth is exchanged." (A. Critical Discourse on the Nature, 8c., of Value, p. 50, 51.)
[2.] "If you call labour a commodity, it is not like a commodity which is first produced in order to exchange, and then brought to market where it must exchange with other commodities according to the respective quantities of each which there may be in the market at the time; labour is created the moment it is brought to market; nay, it is brought to market before it is created." (Observations on some Verbal Disputes, etc., pp. 75, 76.)
[3.] "Treating labour as a commodity, and capital, the produce of labour, as another, then, if the values of these two commodities were regulated by equal quantities of labour, a given amount of labour would...exchange for that quantity of capital which had been produced by the same amount of labour; antecedent labour would...exchange for the same amount as present labour. But the value of labour in relation to other commodities...is determined not by equal quantities of labour." (E.g. Wakefield in his edition of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," vol. i., London, 1836, p. 231, note.)
[4.] "Il a fallu convenir (a new edition of the contrat social!) que toutes les fois qu'il échangerait du travail fait contre du travail à faire, le dernier (le capitaliste) aurait une valeur supérieure au premier" (le travailleur). Simonde (i.e., Sismondi), "De la Richesse Commerciale," Genève, 1803, t. 1, p. 37
[5.] "Labour the exclusive standard of value...the greater of all wealth, no commodity." Th. Hodgskin, l. c. p. 186.
[6.] On the other hand, the attempt to explain such expressions as merely poetic license only shows the impotence of the analysis. Hence, in answer to Proudhon's phrase; "Le travail est dit valoir, non pas en tant que marchandise lui même, mais en vue des valeurs qu'on suppose, renfermées puissanciellement en lui. La valeur du travail est une expression figurée," 8c., I have remarked: "Dans le travail-marchandise qui est d'une réalité effrayant, il (Proudhon) ne voit qu'une ellipse grammaticale. Donc, toute la société actuelle fondée sur le travail-marchandise, est désormais fondée sur une license poétique, sur une expression figurée. La société veut-elle 'éliminer tous les inconvénients,' qui la travaillent, eh bien! qu'elle élimine les termes malsonnants, qu'elle change de langage, et pour cela elle n'a qu' à s'adresser à l'Académie pour lui demander une nouvelle édition de son dictionnaire." (Karl Marx. "Misère de la Philosophie," p. 34, 35.) It is naturally still more convenient to understand by value nothing at all. Then one can without difficulty subsume everything under this category. Thus, e.g., J. B. Say; what is "valeur?" Answer: "C'est ce qu'une chose vaut," and what is "prix?" Answer; "La valeur d'une chose exprimée en monnaie." And why has "le travail de la terre...une valeur? Parce qu'on y met un prix." Therefore value is what a thing is worth, and the land has its "value," because its value is "expressed in money." This is, anyhow, a very simple way of explaining the why and the wherefore of things.
[7.] Cf. Zur Kritik der Politischen Œkonomie, p. 40, where I state that, in the portion of that work that deals with Capital, this problem will be solved: "How does production, on the basis of exchange-value determined simply by labour-time, lead to the result that the exchange-value of labour is less than the exchange-value of its product?"
[8.] The "Morning Star," a London free-trade organ, naif to silliness, protested again and again during the American civil war, with all the moral indignation of which man is capable, that the negro in the "Confederate States" worked absolutely for nothing. It should have compared the daily cost of such a negro with that of the free workman in the East end of London.
[9.] Adam Smith only accidentally alludes to the variation of the working-day when he is referring to piece-wages.
[10.] The value of money itself is here always supposed constant.
[11.] "The price of labour is the sum paid for a given quantity of labour." (Sir Edward West, "Price of Corn and Wages of Labour." London, 1836, p. 67). West is the author of the anonymous "Essay on the Application of Capital to Land. By a Fellow of the University College of Oxford, London, 1815." An epoch making work in the history of political economy.
[12.] "The wages of labour depend upon the price of labour and the quantity of labour performed.... An increase in the wages of labour does not necessarily imply an enhancement of the price of labour. From fuller employment, and greater exertions, the wages of labour may be considerably increased, while the price of labour may continue the same." West, l. c. pp. 67, 68, 112. The main question: "How is the price of labour determined?" West, however, dismisses with mere banalities.
[13.] This is perceived by the fanatical representative of the industrial bourgeoisie of the 18th century, the author of the "Essay on Trade and Commerce" often quoted by us, although he puts the matter in a confused way: "It is the quantity of labour and not the price of it (he means by this the nominal daily or weekly wages) that is determined by the price of provisions and other necessaries: reduce the price of necessaries very low, and of course you reduce the quantity of labour in proportion. Master manufacturers know that there are various ways of raising and felling the price of labour, besides that of altering its nominal amount." (l. c. pp. 48, 61.) In his "Three Lectures on the rate of Wages," London, 1830, in which N. W. Senior uses West's work without mentioning it, he says: "The labourer is principally interested in the amount of wages," (p. 14.), that is to say the labourer is principally interested in what he receives, the nominal sum of his wages, not in that which he gives, the amount of labour!
[14.] The effect of such an abnormal lessening of employment is quite different from that of a general reduction of the working-day, enforced by law. The former has nothing to do with the absolute length of the working-day, and may occur just as well in a working-day of 15, as of 6 hours. The normal price of labour is in the first case calculated on the labourer working 15 hours, in the second case in his working 6 hours a day on the average. The result is therefore the same if he in the one case is employed only for 7½, in the other only for 3 hours.
[15.] "The rate of payment for overtime (in lace-making) is so small, from ½d. and ¾d. to 2d. per hour, that it stands in painful contrast to the amount of injury produced to the health and stamina of the workpeople.... The small amount thus earned is also often obliged to be spent in extra nourishment." ("Child Emp. Com., II. Rep.," p. xvi., n. 117.)
[16.] E.g., in paper-staining before the recent introduction into this trade of the Factory Act. "We work on with no stoppage for meals, so that the day's work of 10½ hours is finished by 4.30 p.m., and all after that is overtime, and we seldom leave off working before 6 p.m., so that we are really working overtime the whole year round." (Mr. Smith's "Evidence in Child Emp. Com., I. Rep.," p. 125.)
[17.] E.g., in the Scotch bleaching-works. "In some parts of Scotland this trade [before the introduction of the Factory Act in 1862] was carried on by a system of overtime, i.e., ten hours a day were the regular hours of work, for which a nominal wage of 1s. 2d. per day was paid to a man, there being every day overtime for three or four hours, paid at the rate of 3d. per hour. The effect of this system...a man could not earn more than 8s. per week when working the ordinary hours...without overtime they could not earn a fair day's wages." ("Rept. of Insp. of Factories," April 30th, 1863, p. 10.) "The higher wages, for getting adult males to work longer hours, are a temptation too strong to be resisted." ("Rept. of Insp. of Fact.," April 30th, 1848, p. 5.) The bookbinding trade in the city of London employs very many young girls from 14 to 15 years old, and that under indentures which prescribe certain definite hours of labour. Nevertheless, they work in the last week of each month until 10, 11, 12, or 1 o'clock at night, along with the older labourers, in a very mixed company. "The masters tempt them by extra pay and supper," which they eat in neighboring public-houses. The great debauchery thus produced among these 'young immortals' ("Children's Employment Comm., V. Rept.," p. 44, n. 191) is compensated by the fact that among the rest many Bibles and religious books are bound by them.
[18.] See "Reports of Insp. of Fact.," 30th April, 1863, l. c. With very accurate appreciation of the state of things, the London labourers employed in the building trades declared, during the great strike and lockout of 1860, that they would only accept wages by the hour under two conditions (1) that, with the price of the working-hour, a normal working-day of 9 and 10 hours respectively should be fixed, and that the price of the hour for the 10 hours' working-day should be higher than that for the hour of the 9 hours' working-day; (2) that every hour beyond the normal working-day should be reckoned as overtime and proportionally more highly paid.
[19.] "It is a very notable thing, too, that where long hours are the rule, small wages are also so." ("Report of Insp. of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1863, p. 9.) "The work which obtains the scanty pittance of food, is, for the most part, excessively prolonged." ("Public Health, Sixth Report," 1864, p. 15.)
[20.] "Reports of Inspectors of Fact.," 30th April, 1860, pp. 31, 32.
[21.] The hand-nail makers in England, e.g., have, on account of the low price of labour, to work 15 hours a day in order to hammer out their miserable weekly wage. "It's a great many hours in a day (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and he has to work hard all the time to get 11d. or 1s., and there is the wear of the tools, the cost of firing, and something for waste iron to go out of this, which takes off altogether 2½d. or 3d." ("Children's Employment Com., III. Report," p. 136, n. 671.) The women earn by the same working-time a week's wage of only 5 shillings (l. c., p. 137, n. 674.
[22.] If a factory-hand, e.g., refused to work the customary long hours, "he would very shortly be replaced by somebody who would work any length of time, and thus be thrown out of employment." ("Report of Inspectors of Fact.," 31st Oct., 1848. Evidence, p. 39, n. 58.) "If one man performs the work of two...the rate of profits will generally be raised...in consequence of the additional supply of labour having diminished its price." (Senior, l. c., p. 14.)
[23.] "Children's Employment Com., III. Rep.," Evidence, p. 66, n. 22.
[24.] "Report, 8c., relative to the Grievances complained of by the Journeymen Bakers." Lond. 1862, p. 411, and ib. Evidence, notes 479, 359, 27. Anyhow the full-priced also, as was mentioned above, and as their spokesman, Bennett, himself admits, make their men "generally begin work at 11 p.m....up to 8 o'clock the next morning...they are then engaged all day long...as late as 7 o'clock in the evening." (l. c., p. 22.)
[25.] "The system of piece-work illustrates an epoch in the history of the working man; it is halfway between the position of the mere day labourer depending upon the will of the capitalist and the co-operative artisan, who in the not distant future promises to combine the artizan and the capitalist in his own person. Piece-workers are in fact their own masters' even whilst working upon the capital of the employer." (John Watts: "Trade Societies and Strikes, Machinery and Co-operative Societies." Manchester, 1865, p. 52, 53.) I quote this little work because it is a very sink of all long-ago-rotten, apologetic commonplaces. This same Mr. Watts earlier traded in Owenism and published in 1842 another pamphlet: "Facts and Fictions of Political Economists," in which among other things he declares that "property is robbery." That is long ago.
[26.] T. J. Dunning: "Trade's Unions and Strikes," Lond. 1860. p. 22.
[27.] How the existence, side by side and simultaneously, of these two forms of wage favours the masters' cheating: "A factory employs 400 people, the half of which work by the piece, and have a direct interest in working longer hours. The other 200 are paid by the day, work equally long with the others, and get no more money for their overtime.... The work of these 200 people for half an hour a day is equal to one person's work for 50 hours, or 5/6 of one person's labour in a week, and is a positive gain to the employer." ("Reports of Insp. of Fact., 31st Oct., 1860," p. 9.) "Overworking to a very considerable extent still prevails; and, in most instances, with that security against detection and punishment which the law itself affords. I have in many former reports shown...the injury to workpeople who are not employed on piece-work, but receive weekly wages." Leonard Horner in "Reports of Insp. of Fact." 30th April, 1859, pp. 8, 9.)
[28.] "Le salaire peut se mesurer de deux manières: ou sur la durée du travail, ou sur son produit." ("Abrégé élémentaire des principes de l'Economie Politique." Paris 1796, p. 32.) The author of this anonymous work: G. Garnier.
[29.] "So much weight of cotton is delivered to him [the spinner], and he has to return by a certain time, in lieu of it, a given weight of twist or yarn, of a certain degree of fineness, and he is paid so much per pound for all that he so returns. If his work is defective in quality, the penalty falls on him, if less in quantity than the minimum fixed for a given time, he is dismissed and an abler operative procured." (Ure l. c. p. 317.)
[30.] "It is when work passes through several hands, each of which is to take its share of profits, while only the last does the work, that the pay which reaches the work-woman is miserably disproportioned." (Child Emp. Com. II. Report, p. lxx, n. 424.)
[31.] Even Watts, the apologetic, remarks: "It would be a great improvement to the system of piece-work, if all the men employed on a job were partners in the contract, each according to his abilities, instead of one man being interested in overworking his fellows for his own benefit." (l. c. p. 53.) On the vileness of this system, cf. Child. Emp. Com. Rep. III. p. 66, n. 22, p. 11, n. 124, p. xi. n. 13, 53, 59, etc.
[32.] This spontaneous result is often artificially helped along, e.g., in the Engineering Trade of London, a customary trick is "the selecting of a man who possesses superior physical strength and quickness, as the principal of several workmen, and paying him an additional rate, by the quarter or otherwise, with the understanding that he is to exert himself to the utmost to induce the others, who are only paid the ordinary wages, to keep up to him.... Without any comment this will go far to explain many of the complaints of stinting the action, superior skill, and working-power, made by the employers against the men" (in Trades-Unions. Dunning, l. c. pp. 22, 23). As the author is himself a labourer and secretary of a Trade's Union, this might be taken for exaggeration. But the reader may compare the "highly respectable" Cyclopædia of Agriculture of J. Ch. Morton, Art. "Labourer," where this method is recommended to the farmers as an approved one.
[33.] "All those who are paid by piece-work...profit by the transgression of the legal limits of work. This observation as to the willingness to work overtime is especially applicable to the women employed as weavers and reelers." (Rept. of Insp. of Fact., 30th April, 1858, p. 9). "This system (piece-work), so advantageous to the employer...tends directly to encourage the young potter greatly to overwork himself during the four or five years during which he is employed in the piece-work system, but at low wages.... This is...another great cause to which the bad constitutions of the potters are to be attributed." (Child Empl. Com. I. Rept., p. xiii.)
[34.] "Where the work in any trade is paid for by the piece at so much per job...wages may very materially differ in amount.... But in work by the day there is generally an uniform rate...recognized by both employer and employed as the standard of wages for the general run of workmen in the trade." (Dunning, l. c. p. 17.)
[35.] "Le travail des Compagnons-artisans sera réglé à la journée ou à la pièce...Ces maitres-artisans savent à peu près combien d'ouvrage un compagnon-artisan peut faire par jour dans chaque métier, et les payent souvent à proportion de l'ouvrage qu'ils font; ainsi ces compagnons travaillent autant qu'ils peuvent, pour leur propre intérêt, sans autre inspection." (Cantillon, Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en général, Amst. Ed., 1756, pp. 185 and 202. The first edition appeared in 1755.) Cantillon, from whom Quesnay, Sir James Steuart 8 A. Smith have largely drawn, already here represents piece-wage as simply a modified form of time-wage. The French edition of Cantillon professes in its title to be a translation from the English, but the English edition: "The analysis of Trade, Commerce, etc., by Philip Cantillon, late of the city of London, Merchant," is not only of later date (1759), but proves by its contents that it is a later and revised edition; e.g., in the French edition, Hume is not yet mentioned, whilst in the English, on the other hand, Petty hardly figures any longer. The English edition is theoretically less important, but it contains numerous details referring specifically to English commerce, bullion trade, etc., that are wanting in the French text. The words on the title-page of the English edition, according to which the work is "Taken chiefly from the manuscript of a very ingenious gentleman, deceased, and adapted, etc," seem, therefore, a pure fiction, very customary at that time.
[36.] "Combien de fois n'avons-nous pas vu, dans certains ateliers, embaucher beaucoup plus d'ouvriers que ne le demandait le travail à mettre en main? Souvent, dans la prévision d'un travail aléatoire, quelquefois même imaginaire, on admet des ouvriers: comme on les paie aux pièces, on se dit qu'on ne court aucun risque, parceque toutes les pertes de temps seront à la charge des inoccupés." (H. Grégoir: "Les Typographes devant le Tribunal correctionnel de Bruxelles," Bruxelles, 1865, p. 9.)
[37.] Remarks on the Commercial Policy of Great Britain, London, 1815.
[38.] A defence on the Land-owners and Farmers of Great Britain, 1814, pp. 4, 5.
[39.] Malthus, Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, Lond., 1815.
[40.] "Those who are paid by piece-work...constitute probably four-fifths of the workers in the factories." "Report of Insp. of Fact., 30th April, 1858."
[41.] "The productive power of his spinning-machine is accurately measured, and the rate of pay for work done with it decreases with, though not as, the increase of its productive power." (Ure, l. c., p. 317.) This last apologetic phrase Ure himself again cancels. The lengthening of the mule causes some increase of labour, he admits. The labour does therefore not diminish in the same ratio as its productivity increases. Further: "By this increase the productive power of the machine will be augmented one-fifth. When this event happens the spinner will not be paid at the same rate for work done as he was before, but as that rate will not be diminished in the ratio of one-fifth, the improvement will augment his money earnings for any given number of hours' work," but "the foregoing statement requires a certain modification.... The spinner has to pay something additional for juvenile aid out of his additional sixpence, accompanied by displacing a portion of adults" (l. c. p. 321), which has in no way a tendency to raise wages.
[42.] H. Fawcett: "The Economic Position of the British Labourer. Cambridge and London, 1865," p. 178.
[43.] In the London Standard of October 26, 1861, there is a report of proceedings of the firm of John Bright 8 Co., before the Rochdale magistrates "to prosecute for intimidation the agents of the Carpet Weavers Trades' Union. Bright's partners had introduced new machinery which would turn out 240 yards of carpet in the time and with the labour (1) previously required to produce 160 yards. The workmen had no claim whatever to share in the profits made by the investment of their employer's capital in mechanical improvements. Accordingly, Messrs. Bright proposed to lower the rate of pay from 1½d. per yard to 1d., leaving the earnings of the men exactly the same as before for the same labour. But there was a nominal reduction, of which the operatives, it is asserted, had not fair warning before hand."
[44.] "Trades' Unions, in their desire to maintain wages, endeavour to share in the benefits of improved machinery. (Quelle horreur!)...the demanding higher wages, because labour is abbreviated, is in other words the endeavour to establish a duty on mechanical improvements." ("On Combination of Trades, new ed., London, 1834," p. 42.)
[45.] "It is not accurate to say that wages" (he deals here with their money expression) "are increased, because they purchase more of a cheaper article." (David Buchanan in his edition of Adam Smith's "Wealth," 8c., 1814, Vol. I., p. 417. Note.)
[46.] We shall inquire, in another place, what circumstances in relation to productivity may modify this law for individual branches of industry.
[47.] James Anderson remarks in his polemic against Adam Smith: "It deserves, likewise, to be remarked, that although the apparent price of labour is usually lower in poor countries, where the produce of the soil, and grain in general, is cheap; yet it is in fact for the most part really higher than in other countries. For it is not the wages that is given to the labourer per day that constitutes the real price of labour, although it is its apparent price. The real price is that which a certain quantity of work performed actually costs the employer; and considered in this light, labour is in almost all cases cheaper in rich countries than in those that are poorer, although the price of grain, and other provisions, is usually much lower in the last than in the first.... Labour estimated by the day, is much lower in Scotland than in England.... Labour by the piece is generally cheaper in England." (James Anderson, Observations on the means of exciting a spirit of National Industry, 8c., Edin. 1777, pp. 350, 351). On the contrary, lowness of wages produces, in its turn, dearness of labour. "Labour being dearer in Ireland than it is in England...because the wages are so much lower." (N. 2079 in Royal Commission on Railways, Minutes, 1867.)
[48.] "Essay on the Rate of Wages, with an Examination of the Causes of the Differences in the Conditions of the Labouring Population throughout the World," Philadelphia, 1835.
[1.] "Mais ces riches, qui consomment les produits du travail des autres, ne peuvent les obtenir que par des échanges [purchases of commodities.]. S'ils donnent cependant leur richesse acquise et accumulée en retour contre ces produits nouveaux qui sont l'objet de leur fantaisie, ils semblent exposés à épuiser bientôt leur fonds de réserve; ils ne travaillent point, avons-nous dit, et ils ne peuvent même travailler; on croirait donc que chaque jour doit voir diminuer leurs vieilles richesses, et que lorsqu'il ne leur en restera plus, rien ne sera offert en éxchange aux ouvriers qui travailient exclusivement pour eux.... Mais dans l'ordre social, la richesse a acquis la propriété de se reproduire par le travail d'autrui, et sans que son propriétaire y concoure. La richesse, comme le travail, et par le travail, donne un fruit annuel qui peut étre détruit chaque année sans que le riche en devienne plus pauvre. Ce fruit est le revenu qui nait du capital." (Sismondi: Nouv. Princ. d'Econ. Pol. Paris, 1819. t. I. pp. 81-82.)
[2.] "Wages as well as profits are to be considered, each of them, as really a portion of the finished product." (Ramsay, l.c., p. 142.) "The share of the product which comes to the labourer in the form of wages." (J. Mill, Elements, 8c. Translated by Parissot. Paris, 1823. p. 34.)
[3.] "When capital is employed in advancing to the workmen his wages, it adds nothing to the funds for the maintenance of labour." (Cazenove in note to his edition of Malthus, Definitions in Pol. Econ. London, 1853, p. 22.)
[4.] "The wages of labour are advanced by capitalists in the case of less than one fourth of the labourers of the earth." (Rich. Jones: Textbook of Lectures on the Pol. Econ. of Nations. Hertford, 1852, p. 16.)
[5.] "Though the manufacturer" (i.e. the labourer) "has his wages advanced to him by his master, he in reality costs him no expense, the value of these wages being generally reserved, together with a profit, in the improved value of the subject upon which his labour is bestowed." (A. Smith l. c. Book II. ch. III. p. 311.)
[6.] "This is a remarkably peculiar property of productive labour. Whatever is productively consumed is capital, and it becomes capital by consumption." (James Mill l. c. p. 242.) James Mill, however, never got on the track of this "remarkably peculiar property."
[7.] "It is true indeed, that the first introducing a manufacture employs many poor, but they cease not to be so, and the continuance of it makes many." (Reasons for a limited Exportation of Wool. London, 1677, p. 19.) "The farmer now absurdly asserts, that he keeps the poor. They are indeed kept in misery." (Reasons for the late increase of the Poor Rates; or a comparative view of the prices of labour and provisions. London, 1777, p. 37.)
[8.] Rossi would not declaim so emphatically against this, had he really penetrated the secret of "productive consumption."
[9.] "The labourers in the mines of S. America, whose daily task (the heaviest perhaps in the world) consists in bringing to the surface on their shoulders a load of metal weighing from 180 to 200 pounds, from a depth of 450 feet, live on bread and beans only; they themselves would prefer the bread alone for food, but their masters, who have found out that the men cannot work so hard on bread, treat them like horses, and compel them to eat beans; beans, however, are relatively much richer in bone-earth (phosphate of lime) than is bread" (Liebig, l. c., vol. 1, p. 194, note).
[10.] James Mill, l. c., p. 238.
[11.] "If the price of labour should rise so high that, notwithstanding the increase of capital, no more could be employed, I should say that such increase of capital would be still unproductively consumed." (Ricardo, l. c., p. 163.)
[12.] "The only productive consumption, properly so-called, is the consumption or destruction of wealth" (he alludes to the means of production) "by capitalists with a view to reproduction...The workman...is a productive consumer to the person who employs him, and to the State, but not, strictly speaking, to himself." (Malthus' Definitions, 8c., p. 30.)
[13.] "The only thing, of which one can say, that it is stored up and prepared before-hand, is the skill of the labourer.... The accumulation and storage of skilled labour, that most important operation, is, as regards the great mass of labourers, accomplished without any capital whatever." (Tho. Hodgskin: Labour Defended, 8c., p. 13.)
[14.] "That letter might be looked upon as the manifesto of the manufacturers." (Ferrand: Motion on the Cotton Famine, H. o. C., 27th April, 1863.)
[15.] It will not be forgotten that this same capital sings quite another song, under-ordinary circumstances, when there is a question of reducing wages. Then the masters exclaim with one voice: "The factory operatives should keep in wholesome remembrance the fact that theirs is really a low species of skilled labour; and that there is none which is more easily acquired, or of its quality more amply remunerated, or which, by a short training of the least expert, can be more quickly, as well as abundantly, acquired.... The master's machinery" (which we now learn can be replaced with advantage in 12 months) "really plays a far more important part in the business of production than the labour and skill of the operative" (who cannot now be replaced under 30 years), "which six months' education can teach, and a common labourer can learn." (See ante, p. 423.)
[16.] Parliament did not vote a single farthing in aid of emigration, but simply passed some Acts empowering the municipal corporations to keep the operatives in a half-starved state, i.e., to exploit them at less than the normal wages. On the other hand, when 3 years later, the cattle disease broke out, Parliament broke wildly through its usages and voted, straight off, millions for indemnifying the millionaire landlords, whose farmers in any event came off without loss, owing to the rise in the price of meat. The bull-like bellow of the landed proprietors at the opening of Parliament, in 1866, showed that a man can worship the cow Sabala without being a Hindoo, and can change himself into an ox without being a Jupiter.
[17.] "L'ouvrier demandait de la subsistence pour vivre, le chef demandait du travail pour gagner." (Sismondi, l. c., p. 91.)
[18.] A boorishly clumsy form of this bondage exists in the county of Durham. This is one of the few counties, in which circumstances do not secure to the farmer undisputed proprietary rights over the agricultural labourer. The mining industry allows the latter some choice. In this county, the farmer, contrary to the custom elsewhere, rents only such farms as have on them labourers' cottages. The rent of the cottage is a part of the wages. These cottages are known as "hinds' houses." They are let to the labourers in consideration of certain feudal services, under a contract called "bondage," which, amongst other things, binds the labourer during the time he is employed elsewhere, to leave some one, say his daughter, 8c., to supply his place. The labourer himself is called a "bondsman." The relationship here set up also shows how individual consumption by the labourer becomes consumption on behalf of capital—or productive consumption—from quite a new point of view: "It is curious to observe that the very dung of the hind and bondsman is the perquisite of the calculating lord...and the lord will allow no privy but his own to exist in the neighbourhood, and will rather give a bit of manure here and there for a garden than bate any part of his seigneurial right." (Public Health, Report VII., 1864, p. 188.)
[19.] It will not be forgotten, that, with respect to the labour of children, 8c., even the formality of a voluntary sale disappears.
[20.] "Capital pre-supposes wage-labour, and wage-labour pre-supposes capital. One is a necessary condition to the existence of the other; they mutually call each other into existence. Does an operative in a cotton-factory produce nothing but cotton goods? No, he produces capital. He produces values that give fresh command over his labour, and that, by means of such command, create fresh values." (Karl Marx: Lohnarbeit und Kapital, in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 266, 7th April, 1849.) The articles published under the above title in the N. Rh. Z. are parts of some lectures given by me on that subject, in 1847, in the German "Arbeiter-Verein" at Brussels, the publication of which was interrupted by the revolution of February.