Recently in [2-01] Marx & Engels III: Capitalism and the Labor Process Category

Blog Post #1 - Kristen Simondet Marx and Engels III

| No Comments

3. Marx argues that competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism. Interpret this part of the reading in your own words-- how are the two related? Think about how Marx uses the concepts of real wages and relative wages-- what is the difference? According to Marx, if real wages for workers increase, does it mean that the working-class has advanced? Why or why not?

Marx argues the competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism. The higher competition between the capitalists is what drives the market. This competition is based on their (the capitalists) product, and the goal to sell to the consumer at a price which is lower, so as to increase profit as more product is sold. The capitalists are focused on taking the market from the other capitalists in hopes of increasing their profit on products and capturing the field by selling at a lower cost to the consumer.Thus, all the capitalists are then in competition with one another to sell their product, which then causes capitalists to increase the product production, however in doing so also attempt to limit the production costs. This competition and product production is a cyclic effect. Not only does it affect the market and the capitalists, but it also affects the workers who are producing said product. The laborers in this market are driven to make wages. These wages are based on the necessity it takes to keep a laborer alive and in the said position to produce the product. The laborers are thus competing with other laborers. The laborers are competing against one another to maintain their position and keep their wages. As the competition rises, the laborers are more driven to produce a product for the market, which in turn affects the gains of the capitalists as profits increase because the product is purchased by the consumer.
Addressing the concept of relative versus real wages is simple. As stated before, the competition rises not only between the capitalists, but the laborers as well. As the laborer increases production, they may see an increase in their real wages as there is a profit for the capitalists due to the profit from the product which is being sold. Once this profit occurs, the capitalists reward the laborer by increasing their real wages. However, as the laborers increase production and they see a rise in their real wages, their 'relative wages' decreases. The relative wage decreases as a result of the increasing share which the capitalists profit from. This profit further widensthe social gap between the laborer and the capitalist. For example, a profit on a product deemed necessary by the consumer increases by twenty two percent. The capitalists then reward the laborer, and provide a raise to the laborer's real wages. The laborer does not see an increase in their real wages by twenty percent, but only by two percent. The capitalist is the one who makes the gain from the profit of the product, widening the social gap between the capitalist and the laborer. Thus, the laborer has not profited, but in turn has fallen back as the capitalist continues to rise. On page 126 Marx states: "...when business is good, wages rise by five per cent, profit on the other hand by thirty per cent, then the comparative, the relative wages, have not increased but decreased."

1) In the capitalist system, as Marx describes it, wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are all related. Wages are paid to the laborer in exchange for his or her work. Most wages are provided only for the sustenance of the worker, not for him/her to enjoy anything lavish. By keeping these wages as low as possible, the capitalist can keep the cost of production down. Although things such as materials for production, equipment, etc. are all included in the cost of production, the wage paid to the worker is also included because it is an additional cost to the capitalist. A low cost of production is ideal for the capitalist because this leads to more profit (surplus value) for him/her. By exchanging work for wages, the labor of the proletariat becomes a commodity; it is something the capitalist is purchasing in order to get the finished product of whatever is being manufactured. Labor is just another important aspect of production similar to any raw materials or machinery involved in the process. The product of the labor is also a commodity. After it comes off the assembly line, it becomes available for purchase to the public.
As industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced to the production process the cost of production decreases. In the capitalist system, efficiency is key. The more efficient something is, the less it costs to produce, so the more value it has. With the development of better machinery, less time needs to be dedicated to producing something. Therefore, more of that product can be produced in a shorter period of time. Since more can be produced in less time, the capitalist will be paying the worker the same wage, but the worker will be producing more. As labor is divided further, individual jobs gradually become easier to complete. Since jobs become less complicated, there are more people who are able to perform these jobs. Since there is less skill required in the labor, the capitalist has more options for potential employees. As a result of competition between workers, some will settle for lower wages in order for job consideration. Furthermore, the capitalist can hire workers for lower wages with little concern that the product will be properly manufactured since the jobs have become easier on account of industrial innovations and increased division of labor.
As a result of a lower cost of production, other aspects of the capitalist system are affected. Most importantly, the class inequality gap is continually widening. As cost of production continues to decrease, the surplus value enjoyed by the capitalist experiences the inverse; it gradually increases. The capitalist excels while the worker experiences more struggles. These struggles result in uneasiness among the proletarians. The proletariat becomes more and more frustrated with the current situation and will want a change. This desire for change eventually leads to revolution. The working class will work to overthrow the bourgeoisie all because of capitalist greed. Another less important effect on the system would be change in the frequency of commodities purchased. If the cost of production is decreasing, the capitalist can lower prices slightly and still make more money since the lowering of prices would theoretically lead to a spike in purchases. This is yet another way the CAPITALIST can CAPITALIZE on a low cost of production.

Blog Post #1 Wage-Labour and Capital (1847)

| No Comments

In the Capitalist system wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are all intrinsically connected. The capitalist system is setup to benefit only the small elite few known as the Bourgeoisie class. In this system, the worker's labor is a commodity just like any other type of product would be. The capitalist "buys" labor with money whilst the laborer "sells" his labor time to the capitalist. The worker never owns any part of the finished product that he makes or the raw materials that were required to make it. The Capitalist "buys" the machinery, raw materials, and supplies just like he "buys" the worker's labor. Wages is just another name for the price of labor. A laborer does not own the product he makes, the Capitalist does, so wages are what the Capitalist pays for his labor time. Wages are a means for the Capitalist to control the society and are used as the reason for why the laborer needs to work ie maintain quality of life. "The cost of production of simple labor, therefore, amounts to the cost of existence and reproduction of the worker." In other words the cost of production is directly tied to the worker's wages. The wages are determined by the amount of training and skill required to perform the task and also by the amount to sustain the workers throughout life.

The implementation of industrial innovations and the increase of division of labor show exactly how wages, labor, and the cost of production are inter-related. For instance there is a company that makes bottled water. At first the Capitalist pays the laborer a wage of 100 dollars a day to bottle water which includes filling the bottle, labeling, capping, and packaging the bottle. The Capitalist then decides to increase the division of labor to lower his cost of production. He does this by adding workers to do each step instead of paying one person to complete each step. Since the time to learn and skill required to only complete one step of the process is lower he does not have to pay each workers as much as the one original workers. He now only has to pay the filler 20 dollars a day, the labelers 20 dollars, and capper 20 dollars, and the packages 20 dollars. The Capitalist now only pays 80 dollars in the cost or production versus the 100 dollars he was paying before all the while the worker is still only receiving as much as required to sustain his living. This example shows that labor is a commodity with a price that is set upon its relative value to the capitalist. If the labor is easy to reproduce and requires little to no training then the worker's wages will be at the wage minimum which is just enough for the worker to live. The more division of labor the Capitalist can create then the lower of the cost of production he pays due to the lower amount of wages paid to the workers.

The problem with this system is that it is based solely around the exploitation of the proletariat class. No matter how much they work, capitalists will on average pay only the wage minimum for the laborer to survive. The laborer receives his means of survival in return for his labor to the capitalist. The capitalist on the other hand receives from the workers their labor which he then turns around and sells it right back to them and a substantial mark up only perpetuating the entire process.

Blog Post #2 - 'Wage-Labour and Capital (1847)" - Karl Marx

| No Comments

Wages, labor, commodities and the cost of production are all related in the system of capitalism because, as Marx outlines it, wage labor ultimately supplies the wealth of the Bourgeoisie. More specifically, wages supply the labor (through wage-labor workers) by giving laborers a reason to need to work for capitalists -- to sustain life. The labor then becomes a commodity because it is measured by time; the amount of time a worker spends working determines the wages he will receive. The cost of production, being the "cost required for maintaining the worker as a worker and of developing him into a worker", is the amount the Capitalists spend on paying the workers their wages and supplying them with the necessary machines and materials to do labor. The Bourgeoisie then profits from the surplus money made from selling the product of the workers' labor, while the laborer retains a set hourly wage.

Industrial innovations cause the cost of production to decrease as industrial innovations and greater division of labor is introduced. The cost of production decreases because workers become replaceable. They become replaceable because the division of labor requires an extremely low level of training for working positions, and this then creates a system that devalues workers. It devalues workers because without the requirement of a knowledge base, workers are easily replaced. Workers cannot argue for higher wages because he/she understands that another worker willing to work for a low wage will come along and replace them. Being able to pay workers extremely low wages for tasks that require very little training lowers the cost of production because work is being completed for as little money as possible. Materials also lower the cost of production when purchased in bulk from the cheapest locations, are so insignificantly priced. Industrial innovations have made the cost of production lower because machines have been invented that replace large numbers of workers so that a factory owner (company owner, etc) can buy a machine once and have it do the work of employees efficiently without having to pay it any wages. Fewer dollars that capitalists have to spend on labor and supplies means a lower the cost of production. The lower the cost of production is, the more money capitalists make.

This affects other parts of the system because by making laborers a commodity it makes them "victim to competition and a fluctuating market". This creates hostility both between workers and bourgeoisie as well as between workers. It also forces the lower middle class to become lower on the totem pole because they cannot sustain themselves with the rising demand and their expensive costs of production. Machines eliminate jobs for workers, and further the gap between the workers and the bourgeoisie. Eventually, the bourgeoisie will create their own demise because the wage labor workers, which make up most of the general population will not be able to afford the goods of industry and therefore industry will fall unless something changes.

In my opinion, this system provides for a very small group of people to prosper infinitely as the expense of the common, greater number of people. Marx and Engels accurately depict the wage-labor society by showing how individuals are devalued and made replaceable as well as how they are pitted against one another competing for jobs.

1. Define how wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are related in the system of capitalism, as Marx outlines it. What happens to the cost of production as industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, and how does this affect other parts of the system?
Wages is the price of labour or also known as the sum of money that is paid for a labour time. Labour is the work or a particular duty to perform a particular piece of work. A commodity is the item or a particular piece of work that was created or performed by a labour. Cost of production is the price for the process and supplements that the employer have provided for the worker to perform a particular piece of work. For example, a car-making corporation provides all the parts and machine tools for the worker to put a car together. The parts only last a particular time and the employer has to figure out the cost of replacing the equipments and the worker. When cost of production as industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, the system is affected. There will be competitions between other employers and also the competitions between the prices of commodities. When more and more buyers and sellers increase, the competition between the buyer and seller increases as well. Whether the buyer is stronger, the prices will be low and if the seller is stronger, the prices will be high.

3. Marx argues that competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism. Interpret this part of the reading in your own words-- how are the two related? Think about how Marx uses the concepts of real wages and relative wages-- what is the difference? According to Marx, if real wages for workers increase, does it mean that the working-class has advanced? Why or why not?
Marx argues that competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism because of interest in growth. Competition between capitalist is good because it drives the motivation for increased production and commodities. As Calhoun stated, "a rapid increase of capital is equivalent to a rapid increase of profit" (Calhoun 126). Competition between workers also drives the system of capitalism due to the fact that when a worker has capitalism and has an interest to raise the growth of capital, he/she increases the wealth of others, therefore also benefiting himself as well. For example, if the worker increases the wealth and growth of a corporation, the corporation will be able to produce more means of goods and also hire more workers. Therefore, it will benefit everyone in return.
When Marx uses the concepts of real wages and relative wages, he is talking about the money value of labour and the adjusted wage. Real wages talks more about inflation and a more representation of an individual's wage. Relative wages talks about exchange value of labour. Relative wages can fall and real wages cannot. Marx gave a clear example of relative wages and real wages. For example, if sells and profits are going up by 50% and wages are increased by a 10% percent, the relative wages have fallen. If profits are going up by 50%, shouldn't relative wages go up by 50% as well? If real wages for workers increased, the working class has advanced because real wages has a better understanding of a personage's wages. As said, the wages for workers increase, society and the capitalist has increased as well.

Lauren Rende Blog 1

| No Comments

In order for me to answer how wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are related in the system of capitalism I would like to begin by defining these terms. Wages are the sum of money paid by capitalist for a particular labour time or for a particular output of labor. "Wages are only a special name for the price of labour, for the price of this peculiar commodity which has no other repository than human flesh and blood." (pg 123) I think that quote is very strong, considering in the time Marx observed his findings, the laborers were underpaid for unjustly amounts of work. Labor can be defined as the work you do to received the wages. Commodities can be described as many things, an example from the text depicts labour and sugar as a commodity. By doing so he sheds light on the fact that labour is a commodity because the money you earn from working (say two marks) can assist you to buy a definite amount of other commodities, such as sugar. This process creates an exchange of good; "Accordingly, the two marks express the ration in which labour is exchanged for other commodities, the exchange value of his labour. The exchange value of commodity, reckoned in money, is what is called its price." (pg 122-123) Bringing me to my next point, the cost of production. The cost of production ranges from the materials, the machines necessary to preform the tasks, and also the laborer. The laborer is paid for before hand, and will rarely reap any benefits of the products he/she produced, except their daily wage. The cost of production is a vital portion to capitalists, because the cheaper it costs to make the products, the cheaper they can sell the products for, therefore more people will be able to afford the product. Also, the entrepreneur with the lowest prices, will slowly drive all other competition away, unless the competitors can compete with the low prices. All these pieces are vital to the capitalist puzzle, considering without one of these components none of the others would exist.
When the cost of production as industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, the prices of products drop, because the methods in which they are produced is vastly cheaper than those using other methods. Take Ford for example, when Ford devised the assembly line the cost of production went down significantly, causing the price of the Ford Model-T to be very affordable for the average joe, consequently almost everyone bought Ford's. The use of assembly lines is still in effect today, because the division of labor lowers the cost of production, but also takes the creativity out of the labor. In regards to industrial innovations and division of labor, I believe they are closely related to the system of capitalism. I believe so because companies do anything to cut costs and increase profits, and by dividing up all methods of labor the cost of production decreases. Also by using specialized machines mechanically engineered to do the job of a human being you receive more uniformity in the engineering of the products, and also machines do not have to be paid so you cut the costs of labor. This can also negatively affect the system in a sense that some laborers may go on strike, or cause riots considering they are upset about their job replacement. This also affects the market negatively, because the aggravated laborers can easily influence others to boy-cot the products. For the most part though, the division of labor and industrial innovations help those in poverty afford more, while making the rich richer.

Blog post #1: Marx and Engels III - Capitalism and the Labor Process

| No Comments

1. Define how wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are related in the system of capitalism, as Marx outlines it. What happens to the cost of production as industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, and how does this affect other parts of the system?

From what I was able to comprehend from this chapter, Marx is suggesting that wage, labor, commodities, and the cost of production work in a recurring manner. The process of each entity affects the other. He starts with wage which he defines as the amount of money paid by the capitalist in exchange for the provision of labor. Basically, there is a price to be paid for extracting labor from someone else. The worker's commodity is his labor as confusing as Marx puts it because "for the same sum with which the capitalist has bought their labor, for example, two marks, he could have bought two pounds of sugar or a definite amount of any other commodity. The two marks, which he bought two pounds of sugar, are the price of the two pounds of sugar. The two marks, with which he bought twelve hours' use of labor, are the price of twelve hours' labor." (122) In other words, labor is a commodity neither more or less than sugar because it is purchased with the capitalist's money. The worker exchanges his commodity (labor) for the capitalist's commodity (wage). The worker in order to make his means of subsistence exchanges the commodity (wage) paid to him for other commodities (products) such as food, fuel, and clothing. He is able to purchase these products because the capitalist has paid him for his labor. As Marx also specifies, the wage of a worker is determined by the cost of the commodity he produces. For example, when a product is made, it is bargained for by buyers who want to buy it for a cheap price and sellers who want to sell it at a reasonable price and still profit. Therefore competition arises and when a final price is reached, this price will determine the worker's wage. Marx uses the term "fluctuation" to describe the variation of things that affect the price of commodities (wages and products). The cost of production being one of them affects wage in the sense that the price of labor will depend on the cost of production such as the time inputted into the labor and the amount of effort as well. Basically, the less time you spend working or the less the job requires of you, the less the cost of production of the worker and the lower his wages.
As industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, the cost of production decreases because larger amounts of products are being created in a shorter time with the same amount of labor and capital. The capitalist profits while the worker's relative wage decreases. This means that the margin between capitalist growth and worker wage widens dramatically. It does not mean that the worker's wage won't increase but in the long run, the bourgeois wins and the proletariat loses. At this stage, the worker needs the capitalist in order to make his means of subsistence. His dependence on capital increases.

Blog Post #1 Marx & Engels III: Capitalism and the Labor Process

| No Comments

2. What does Marx mean when he says that the interests of capitalists and workers are "one in the same?" How are the fates of wage-laborers inextricably tied to those who buy their labor-power (the capitalists)? What are the ultimate implications of this relationship, according to Marx?

In Marx's society, the wage-laborers sell their labor as a commodity to the capitalists. The capitalists then turn around and sell the product for a profit resulting in surplus value. The capitalists obtain their profit by paying as little in wages as possible and selling the product at the highest price possible. To lower the cost of the labor, the capitalists do such things as lengthen the work day, lower the wages, require the laborer to work faster and have a higher product output, etc. In essence, get as much out of the laborer while paying him only enough that he may survive. With the introduction of machines, the laborers were able to make double or triple the product as before in the same amount of time, meaning that they did triple the amount of work for the same wage as they did before the machine was invented. This results in capital productive growth and the profit margin becomes larger. When Marx talks about the interests being "one and the same", this is what he's referring to. As the profits grow, the laborers wages increase as well. On the other hand, though the wage increases, the gap between the social classes grows all the wider. This happens because even if the wages increase by a percentage, the increase in profit will be a much greater percentage. Meaning that in comparison to the profit, the laborers actually are receiving a decreased percentage of the capital. Though this is obviously exploitative, both parties profit from this in the sense that the capitalists business becomes larger and his surplus value grows, and the laborers are able to earn more money and more workers are able to be hired. Even if the wage workers are barely payed enough to survive, that's exactly why they need the jobs provided by the capitalists- to live. If the capitalist business fails, then the laborers are out of a job and have no means to live with. And on the contrary, if the capitalist doesn't have laborers that work productively, than his business will fail as well. Both sides need each other, even though they are in a constant struggle with each other- the laborers wanting more, and the capitalists wanting to give less.

3. Marx argues that competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism. Interpret this part of the reading in your own words-- how are the two related? Think about how Marx uses the concepts of real wages and relative wages-- what is the difference? According to Marx, if real wages for workers increase, does it mean that the working-class has advanced? Why or why not?

Competition between capitalists increases as the market increases. The way to beat the competition is to sell your product at a lesser price than them. The only way to do this is to increase the productive force while not raising production costs. Unfortunately, the competition will eventually start using the same means of production and then the cycle will start all over again. Likewise, the workers have a similar competition between themselves. The wage laborers work for less wages than others as well as working harder to do the work of multiple men. When the machines are introduced, their job becomes much more simple and the skill of that worker is no longer necessary- anyone can push a button or pull a lever. So his job is once again threatened and he works for even less wages and labors even more intensely. This cycle is never ending as well. These two classes relate to one another because the capitalists need the cheaper labor to compete with the other businesses,which the laborer provides for fear of losing his job to a lesser paid worker, and the worker increasing his productivity to keep his job helps the capitalist maintain the lower production cost needed to compete.
The concept of relative and real wages is as follows: as profit increases and capital grows, the wages are often increased as well. Though, for example, if the real wages are increased by 3%, and the profits are actually at a 20% increase, even though the wage increases the gap between the classes grows larger still. The laborer makes more money, but the capitalists makes much more. This means that the real wage increases but the relative wages decreases(meaning that the wages don't increase at the same rate as the profit) In conclusion, this means that the working class has not only NOT advanced, but has fallen even further behind the bourgeoisie.

"Wage-Labour and Capital (1847)" - Karl Marx

1. Define how wages, labor, commodities, and the cost of production are related in the system of capitalism, as Marx outlines it. What happens to the cost of production as industrial innovations and greater division of labor are introduced, and how does this affect other parts of the system?

2. What does Marx mean when he says that the interests of capitalists and workers are "one in the same?" How are the fates of wage-laborers inextricably tied to those who buy their labor-power (the capitalists)? What are the ultimate implications of this relationship, according to Marx?

3. Marx argues that competition between capitalists and competition between workers drives the system of capitalism. Interpret this part of the reading in your own words-- how are the two related? Think about how Marx uses the concepts of real wages and relative wages-- what is the difference? According to Marx, if real wages for workers increase, does it mean that the working-class has advanced? Why or why not?

June 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30            

Pages

Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the [2-01] Marx & Engels III: Capitalism and the Labor Process category.

[1-30] Marx & Engels II: History and Class Struggle is the previous category.

[2-06] Durkheim I: Society and Social Facts is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.