Front Page Titles (by Subject) I. Raising the Intensity of Exploitation. - Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole
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I. Raising the Intensity of Exploitation. - Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole 
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole, by Karl Marx. Ed. Federick Engels. Trans. from the 1st German edition by Ernest Untermann (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co. Cooperative, 1909).
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I. Raising the Intensity of Exploitation.
The rate at which labor is exploited, the appropriation of surplus-labor and surplus-value, is raised by a prolongation of the working day and an intensification of labor. These two points have been fully discussed in volume I as incidents to the production of absolute and relative surplus-value. There are many ways of intensifying labor, which imply an increase of the constant capital as compared to the variable, and consequently a fall in the rate of profit, for instance setting a laborer to watch a larger number of machines. In such cases—and in the majority of manipulations serving to produce relative surplus-value—the same causes, which bring about an increase in the rate of surplus-value, may also imply a fall in the mass of surplus-value, looking upon the matter from the point of view of the total quantities of invested capital. But there are other means of intensification, such as increasing the speed of machinery, which although consuming more raw material, and, so far as the fixed capital is concerned, wearing out the machinery so much faster, nevertheless do not affect the relation of its value to the price of labor set in motion by it. It is particularly the prolongation of the working day, this invention of modern industry, which increases the mass of appropriated surplus-labor without essentially altering the proportion of the employed labor-power to the constant capital set in motion by it, and which tends to reduce this capital relatively, if anything. For the rest, we have already demonstrated—what constitutes the real secret of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall—that the manipulations made for the purpose of producing relative surplus-value amount on the whole to this: That on one side as much as possible of a certain quantity of labor is transformed into surplus-value, and that on the other hand as little labor as possible is employed in proportion to the invested capital, so that the same causes, which permit the raising of the intensity of exploitation, forbid the exploitation of the same quantity of labor by the same capital as before. These are the warring tendencies, which, while aiming at a raise in the rate of surplus-value, have at the same time a tendency to bring about a fall in the mass of surplus-value, and therefore of the rate of surplus-value produced by a certain capital. It is furthermore appropriate to mention at this point the extensive introduction of female and child labor, in so far as the whole family must produce a larger quantity of surplus-value for a certain capital than before, even in case the total amount of their wages should increase, which is by no means general.
Whatever tends to promote the production of relative surplus-value by mere improvements in methods, for instance in agriculture, without altering the magnitude of the invested capital, has the same effect. While the constant capital does not increase relatively to the variable in such cases, taking the variable capital as an index of the amount of labor-power employed, the mass of the product does increase in proportion to the labor-power employed. The same takes place, when the productive power of labor (whether its product passes into the consumption of the laborer or into the elements of constant capital) is freed from obstacles of circulation, of arbitrary or other restrictions which become obstacles in course of time, in short, of fetters of all kinds, without touching directly the proportion between the variable and the constant capital.
It might be asked, whether the causes checking the fall of the rate of profit, but always hastening it in the last analysis, include the temporary raise in surplus-value above the average level, which recur now in this, now in that line of production for the benefit of those individual capitalists, who make use of inventions, etc., before they are generally introduced. This question must be answered in the affirmative.
The mass of surplus-value produced by a capital of a certain magnitude is the product of two factors, namely of the rate of surplus-value multiplied by the number of laborers employed at this rate. Hence it depends on the number of laborers, when the rate of surplus-value is given, and on the rate of surplus-value, when the number of laborers is given. In short, it depends on the composite proportion of the absolute magnitudes of the variable capital and the rate of surplus-value. Now we have seen, that on an average the same causes, which raise the rate of relative surplus-value, lower the mass of the employed labor-power. It is evident, however, that there will be a more or less in this according to the definite proportion, in which the opposite movements exert themselves, and that the tendency to reduce the rate of profit will be particularly checked by a raise in the rate of absolute surplus-value due to a prolongation of the working day.
We saw in the case of the rate of profit, that a fall in the rate was generally accompanied by an increase in the mass of profit, on account of the increasing mass of the total capital employed. From the point of view of the total variable capital of society, the surplus-value produced by it is equal to the profit produced by it. Both the absolute mass and the absolute rate of surplus-value have thus increased. The one has increased, because the quantity of labor-power employed by society has grown, the other, because the intensity of exploitation of this labor-power has increased. But in the case of a capital of a given magnitude, for instance 100, the rate of surplus-value may increase, while the mass may decrease on an average; for the rate is determined by the proportion, in which the variable capital produces value, while its mass is determined by the proportional part which the variable capital constitutes in the total capital.
The rise in the rate of surplus-value is a factor, which determines also the mass of surplus-value and thereby the rate of profit, for it takes place especially under conditions, in which, as we have seen, the constant capital is either not increased at all relatively to the variable capital, or not increased in proportion. This factor does not suspend the general law. But it causes that law to become more of a tendency, that is, a law whose absolute enforcement is checked, retarded, weakened, by counteracting influences. Since the same causes, which raise the rate of surplus-value (even a prolongation of the working time is a result of large scale industry), also tend to decrease the labor-power employed by a certain capital, it follows that these same causes also tend to reduce the rate of profit and to check the speed of this fall. If one laborer is compelled to perform as much labor as would be rationally performed by two, and if this is done under circumstances, in which this one laborer can replace three, then this one will produce as much surplus-labor as was formerly produced by two, and to that extent the rate of surplus-value will have risen. But this one will not produce as much as formerly three, and to that extent the mass of surplus-value will have decreased. But this reduction in mass will be compensated, or limited, by the rise in the rate of surplus-value. If the entire population is employed at a higher rate of surplus-value, the mass of surplus-value will increase, although the population may remain the same. It will increase still more, if the population increases at the same time. And although this goes hand in hand with a relative reduction of the number of laborers employed in proportion to the magnitude of the total capital, yet this reduction is checked or moderated by the rise in the rate of surplus-value.
Before leaving this point, we wish to emphasize once more that, with a capital of a certain magnitude, the rate of surplus-value may rise, while its mass is decreasing, and vice versa. The mass of surplus-value is equal to the rate multiplied by the number of laborers; however, this rate is never calculated on the total, but only on the variable capital, actually only for a day at a time. On the other hand, with a given magnitude of a certain capital, the rate of profit can never fall or rise, without a simultaneous fall or rise in the mass of surplus-value.