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Wage-labour and capital; and, Value, price,…

Wage-labour and capital; and, Value, price, and profit

by Karl Marx

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This short book really hits home hard for me that the answer to "do you earn enough?" should always, in fact must always, be no. It's not possible to earn as much as we need to in a capitalist system, that is if you happen to have to sell your labor; if you're buying the labor you should be fine. Fine that is unless you have competitors because Marx very clearly sets out why capitalists have to behave in the way they do, in fact they are as much a slave to the system as we are.

The logical conclusion of this, apart from the obvious fact that capitalism leads inevitably to monopolies, is that the system is beyond reform because reform will never deal with the core problem that capitalists ultimately have to play a part in destroying their own system in order to keep moving forward with profit in the present.

Competition, efficiency developments and wage depression must increase over time in a capitalistic system in order for profits to be realized, which points to Marx's contention that the present monetary system contains the seeds of it's own destruction. In fact when competition and technology have destroyed every last job we'll all be Marxists!

I had a moment of satori while reading this; I finally understood that Marx had proved beyond reasonable doubt that technological development is driven by the ever increasing need for new markets and profit and certainly not by the common good, or by a sense of human endeavor. The next time someone asks you if A. mission drives progress or if B. progress drives mission say "A". ( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
The bad thing about being famous is that people have prejudices about who you are. Word of mouth is often enough for forming an opinion and our time is too limited to stray off-course and verify the truthfulness of the rumours. Given the choice between reading a work of Marx and a book off the New York Times Best Sellers list, which one would you choose?

I needed to read it for myself.

To be honest, I was looking for "Capital: Critique of Political Economy" (or "Das Kapital") but I picked up "Wage Labour and Capital" by mistake (or should I say by ignorance). It was reasonably smaller so I thought, why not, it would be a good prelude to the real thing.

"Wage Labour and Capital" was published almost 20 years before "Capital" in 5 issues of "Neue Rheinische Zeitung" ("New Rheinish Newspaper"). It was based on lectures Marx held in Brussels before the German Workers' Association and it still retains the rhythm of a talk. There are many repetitions and point summaries, the read is an easy one, provided you are in the mood to lead a conversation on the topic.

Marx is not a preacher. He's an explorer, a scientist comparable to those who sailed on the ships to Africa, India, America, Australia. His specialty is society economics and he's meticulously studying all the phenomena involved. It's been said that the better you understand a problem, the simpler your explanation would be for a layman to understand. That's true for "Wage Labour and Capital".

Marx is writing for the workers, he doesn't seek praise how intricate his theories might be, he wants to be understood by the masses. How is the wage formed? What turns money into a capital? Is the rapid development of an industrial sector really good for the workers? There isn't a word about communism/socialism here, he writes about capitalism, taking it apart and examining every part, following different "what if" scenarios. Marx had to terminate the publication but even in its unfinished state this book will change your worldview. ( )
  Valari2 | May 1, 2013 |
Good introductory text on economics. ( )
  Hanuman2 | Dec 16, 2007 |
One of the most important basic texts for those interested in Marxist thought. This book describes the relationship between capital and labor. Changes the way that you look at your paycheck forever. ( )
  mamorico | Oct 31, 2007 |
A useful, albeit brief, introduction to Marxist economics.
  Fledgist | Jun 16, 2007 |
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Wie nun wird eine Summe von Waren, von Tauschwerten zu Kapital?

Dadurch, dass sie als selbständige gesellschaftliche Macht, d.h. als die Macht eines Teils der Gesellschaft sich erhält und vermehrt durch den Austausch gegen die unmittelbare, lebendige Arbeitskraft. Die Existenz einer Klasse, die nichts besitzt als die Arbeitsfähigkeit, ist eine notwendige Voraussetzung des Kapitals.

Die Herrschaft der aufgehäuften, vergangnen, vergegenständlichen Arbeit über die unmittelbare, lebendige Arbeit macht die aufgehäufte Arbeit erst zum Kapital.
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This pamphlet first appeared as a series of articles in 1849. An early precursor to the landmark Das Kapital, here Marx develops the ideas of supply, demand, labor-as-commodity, the distinction between labor and power, and capitalism's dependence on the exploitation of labor, with the prediction that capitalism would eventually collapse.… (more)

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