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Never-ending profit-making

by on September 14, 2020

Social media is amazingly useful, if you let it be. For instance, an organization I follow on Twitter follows another organization on Twitter (USCPR follows Haymarket Books), and for that reason I find out on this day in 1867 Das Kapital was first published.

Some people I know have read, by assignment or interest, nearly the entire Marx-Engel reader, 2nd Edition, edited by Robert Tucker ( (C) 1978 ). I confess I have merely read parts of it, despite plans to do otherwise.

I’m not going to take space on the internet reviewing Marx’s mathematical equations of produce plus capital. Before I get into a long quote I want to point out his M–C–M where “M” equals money and “C” equals a an exchange of money (selling or buying).

A capitalist, Marx said – and he remains correct – looks for the expansion of value.

The expansion of value, which is the objective basis or main-spring of the circulation M–C–M, becomes [the capitalists’] subjective aim, and it is only in so far as the appropriation of ever more and more wealth in abstract becomes the sole motive of his operations. … The restless never-ending process of profit-making is what he aims at. This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-value, is common to the capitalist.

(p 334, paperback edition of Marx-Engel Reader by Tucker)

While that is equally the aim of the miser, Marx says, the difference is that the miser saves his money, while the capitalist looks to throw more and more money into the system, so that (s)he can have more capital.

Marx moves on to many things, but let’s look at the labor process.

The labour process, turned into the process by which the capitalist consumes labour-power, exhibits two characteristic phenomena. First, the labourer works under the control of the capitalist to who his labour belongs; the capitalist taking good care that the work is done in a proper manner, and the the means of production are used with intelligence, so that there are no unnecessary waste of raw material, and no wear and tear of the implements beyond what is necessarily caused by the work.

Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist and not that of the labourer. …

(p. 350

I’ll skip part of that paragraph that talks about horses and use value, and commerce. The paragraph, about the product belong to the capitalist and not the person who did the labor, says just as importantly that ” the labour- process is a process between things that the capitalist has already purchased” including the price of labor.

The capitalist is always looking to expand his capital and he looks to do this through the labor of other people, who works under the capitalist and who has no claim to the product of their labor under this system.

Along with the “constantly diminishing numbers of magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process” of the transformation of capitalism, Marx concluded, “grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class ; a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of of the process of capitalist production itself.” Then, in the end the “centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible” with the capitalist system. This layer of capitalism “is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds.”

Say what you will about private property. Marx is not wrong that capitalism leads to an increasing number of members of the working, class, and the capitalism system, as it increases, leads to the growth of “misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation”. We might also being seeing the “revolt of the working class” against the system based merely on capital. It is apparent that as the capitalist reaches for ever more capital, the level of oppression and exploitation increase, and therefore the level of revolt against the capital system increases in volume.

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