Political Economy – by John Eaton –
22nd April 2018
An Easy to Understand Marxist Textbook
Value of Labour Power
The Living Standards of the Workers
The Secret of Surplus Value
VALUE OF LABOUR POWER
The value of commodities depends on the labour – time required for their production !
The value of labour – power depends then, upon the amount of labour-time that must be expended in order that labour – power may exist.
Labour – power exists only in living men and women.
In order to live men must have the means of subsistence, food ,clothing, fuel, shelter etc..
In order that labour – power may continue to exist , the workers must reproduce themselves,must have children, they must therefore have sufficient means of subsistence not only for themeselves, but also for their children.
“The value of labouring power is determined by the value of the necessaries required to produce, develop,maintain, and perpetuate the labouring power” Marx
The amount of value varies by skills requiring special education or training which takes time during which the worker has to live and on which other expenses may have to be incurred; all these expenses enter into the value of labour – power.
“……Nevertheless, in a given country, at a given period ,the average quantity of the means of subsistence necessary for the labourer is practically known ” Marx
At the present time the distinction between “real wages” and ” money wages” assumes particular importance since the value of money is liable to fluctuate greatly.
By “real wages” are meant wages measured not in terms of money but in terms of goods they will buy.
Movement in real wages are normally measured by comparing the change in the cost of living index with the change in money wages.
The “fodder basis” of wages is in fact recognised by the capitalists when they make a “cost of living” index for the workers.
As explained the existence of a mass of dispossessed workers “free” to work or starve, is a necessary condition of capitalist production.
When there is always another worker at hand to take his place, the capitalist class can in general keep workers’ wages from rising above the subsistence level (as defined above), that is wages do not normally exceed the value of labour power.
Summing up, therefore, we see that the value of labour – power resolves itself into a definite quantity of the means of subsistence which depends on :-
a) physical needs,
b) customary and historically developed needs;
c) requirements for upkeeping of family:
d) expenses of education and training.
THE LIVING STANDARDS OF THE WORKERS
The Capitalist class goes to extreme lengths to ensure that the worker is not able to sell his labour-power above value,re-enacting often the violence of “primitive accumulation” in order to swell the ranks of the working classes and to ensure that there are always more workers than jobs, always a “RESERVE ARMY of LABOUR”
If ever periods of labour scarcity, the workers are able to force some temporary concessions,the capitalists are certain at the earliest opportunity to take vigorous counter measures, often using, as after the World Wars, -the right -wing representatives of capitalism within the Labour Movement to help them break the workers resistance.
( Are you also thinking of Eastern European Workers and Brexit Immigration controls as well as the Centrists Parties £50million ?)
In order to make exploitation effective in the face of changed economic circumstances it may be even necessary to raise living standards.
Wage levels in Britain barely cover the minimum needs of the workers under the conditions in which they work and live.
( Minimum Wage Levels, Value Added Tax and Food Shelter and Fuel Costs plus the false Inflation – the value of the Pound Sterling)
THE SECRET OF SURPLUS VALUE
We have learned that the values which the workers produce far exceed the value of their means of subsistence,that is ,the value of their labour – power, which the capitalist buys by paying wages.
“Constant” capital is the value of raw material,factory buildings,machinery to produce the product.
On the other hand the values which the employer devotes to wages payments expand, to become more than they were to start with.
They may vary so are called “variable” capital.
Labour – Power is , in fact a commodity which has the peculiar property of creating value when it is used greater than its own value.
HOWEVER FREE,OPEN and “FAIR” the labour market may be, but the capitalist still stands to make his profit.
Once the secret of PROFIT has been grasped; the source of profit is the difference between the value of the worker’s labour – power and the value he produces.
THE VALUE WHICH THE WORKER PRODUCES OVER AND ABOVE THE VALUE OF HIS LABOUR – POWER IS CALLED “SURPLUS VALUE”.
The Rate of Surplus Value and the Class Struggle
Wages and the Struggle Between Capitalist and Worker
Abolition of the “Wages System”
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