2) Absolute Surplus Value

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2) Absolute Surplus Value[edit source]

MECW, Volume 30, p. 172-180

[III-95] The view presented here is also correct in strictly mathematical terms. Thus in the differential calculus let us take e.g. y = f(x) + c, where c is a constant magnitude. The change of x into x + Dx does not alter the value of c. dc would = 0, because the constant magnitude does not alter. Hence the differential of a constant is zero. [140]

a) Surplus Value is to be Conceived as a simple Relation to a Definite Portion of Capital, namely that laid out in Wages[edit source]

At the end of the production process capital has a surplus value, which means, expressed in accordance with the general concept of exchange value: The labour time objectified in the product (or the quantity of labour contained in it) is greater than the labour time contained in the original capital, the capital advanced during the production process. This is only possible (assuming that the commodity is sold at its value) because the labour time objectified in the price of labour (the wage of labour) is less than the living labour time by which it is replaced in the production process. What appears as surplus value on the side of capital, appears as surplus labour on the side of the worker. Surplus value is nothing but the excess labour provided by the worker over and above the quantity of objectified labour he has received in his own wage as the value of his labour capacity.

We have seen that equivalents are exchanged in the exchange between capital and labour capacity. But the result of the transaction, as it appears in the production process and as it forms on the part of the capitalist the whole purpose of the transaction, is this, that the capitalist buys a greater quantity of living labour for a definite quantity of objectified labour, or that the labour time which is objectified in the wage is less than the labour time which the worker works for the capitalist and which is accordingly objectified in the product. The mediatory role of the exchange between capital and labour capacity (or the fact that the labour capacity is sold at its value) is a circumstance which is irrelevant in this context, where the question at issue is the analysis of surplus value. What is at stake here is rather the magnitude of the labour time objectified in the wage (the value of labour capacity), on the one hand, and on the other hand the magnitude of the labour time the worker really gives to the capitalist in return, or how much use is made of his labour capacity.

The relation in which objectified labour is exchanged for living labour — hence the difference between the value of labour capacity and the valorisation of that labour capacity by the capitalist — assumes another form in the production process itself. For there it presents itself as a splitting up of living labour itself into two quantities, both measured by time, and as the ratio between these two quantities. For firstly the worker replaces the value of his labour capacity.

Let us assume the value of his daily means of subsistence to be equal to 10 hours of labour. He reproduces this value by working for 10 hours. Let us call this part of the labour time the necessary labour time. Let us assume that the material of labour and the means of labour — the objective conditions of labour — are the property of the worker himself. On our assumption he would have to work 10 hours a day, reproduce a value of 10 hours of labour time a day, in order to be able every following day to appropriate for himself means of subsistence to the amount of 10 hours of labour, to reproduce his own labour capacity, to be able to continue living. The product of his 10 hours of labour would be equal to the labour time contained in the worked up raw material and the tool used up in the process of labour + the 10 hours of new labour he would have added to the raw material. He could only consume the latter portion of the product if he wished to continue producing, i.e. to preserve his conditions of production.

For he must deduct the value of the raw material and the means of labour from the value of his product every day in order to be able to replace constantly the raw material and the means of labour; in order to have afresh at his disposal every day as much raw material and means of labour as is required for the realisation (application) of ten hours of labour. If the value of the worker’s average daily necessary means of subsistence is equal to 10 hours of labour, he must work a daily average of 10 hours of labour to be able to replace his daily consumption, and provide himself with the conditions needed for his life as a worker. This labour would be necessary for him personally, for his [III-96] own self-preservation, quite irrespective of whether he is or is not himself the owner of the conditions of labour-material of labour and means of labour, whether his labour is or is not subsumed under capital. This labour time is necessary for the preservation of the working class itself, and we can call this part of labour time necessary labour time.

But we can also call it this from another point of view.

The labour time which is necessary to reproduce the value of labour capacity itself — i.e. the daily production of the worker which is required so that the worker’s consumption can be repeated every day — or the labour time with which the worker adds to the product the value he himself receives every day and destroys every day in the form of wages — is also necessary labour time from the standpoint of the capitalist in so far as the whole capital-relation presupposes the continuous existence of the working class, its continuing reproduction, and capitalist production has as its necessary prerequisite the continuous availability, preservation and reproduction of a working class.

Further: Let us suppose that the value of the capital advanced for production has to be simply preserved and reproduced, i.e. the capitalist creates no new value in the production process. It is then clear that the value of the product will only be equal to the value of the capital advanced, if the worker adds to the raw material as much labour time as he has received in the form of wages, i.e. if he reproduces the value of his own wage. The labour time which is necessary for the worker to reproduce the value of his own daily means of subsistence is at the same time the labour time necessary for capital simply to preserve and reproduce its value.

We have assumed that a labour time of 10 hours = the labour time contained in the wage; hence the labour time during which the worker only gives back to the capitalist an equivalent for the value of the wage is at the same time the necessary labour time, the labour time necessary both for the preservation of the working class itself and for the simple preservation and reproduction of the capital advanced, and, finally, for the possibility of the capital-relation altogether.

On our assumption, then, the first 10 hours the worker works are necessary labour time and this is at the same time nothing but an equivalent for the objectified labour time he has received in the form of the wage. Let us call surplus labour all the labour time the worker works over and above these 10 hours, this necessary labour time. If he works 11 hours, he has provided 1 hour of surplus labour, if 12, two hours of surplus labour, and so on. In the first case the product possesses a surplus value of one hour in excess of the value of the capital advanced, in the second case a surplus value of 2 hours, and so on. But in all circumstances the surplus value of the product is only the objectification of surplus labour. Surplus value is simply objectified surplus labour time, just as value in general is merely objectified labour time. Thus surplus value amounts to labour time the worker works for the capitalist in excess of the necessary labour time.

We have seen that the capitalist pays the worker an equivalent for the daily value of his labour capacity; but he receives in return the right to extract from that labour capacity a value greater than its own value. If 10 hours of labour a day are necessary for the daily reproduction of labour capacity, he sets the worker to work for e.g. 12 hours. In reality, therefore, he exchanges 10 hours of objectified labour time (objectified in the wage) for 12 hours of living labour time. The ratio in which he exchanges objectified labour time (objectified in the capital advanced) for living labour time is the same as the ratio of the worker’s necessary labour time to his surplus labour, the labour time he works over and above the necessary labour time. It therefore presents itself as a ratio between two portions of the labour time of the worker himself — necessary labour time and surplus labour. The necessary labour-time is the same as the labour time necessary to reproduce the wage. It is therefore a simple equivalent given back to the capitalist by the worker. The latter has received a certain labour time in money; he gives it back in the form of living labour time.

The necessary labour time is therefore paid labour time. On the other hand, no equivalent has been paid for the surplus labour. [Id est, it has not been objectified in an equivalent for the worker himself.] It is rather the valorisation of labour [III-97] capacity by the capitalist in excess of that capacity’s own value. It is therefore unpaid labour time. The ratio in which objectified labour is exchanged for living labour can be resolved into the ratio between the necessary labour time of the worker and his surplus labour, and the latter ratio can be resolved into the ratio of paid to unpaid labour time. Surplus value is equal to surplus labour is equal to unpaid labour time. Surplus value can therefore be resolved into unpaid labour time, and the level of surplus value depends on the ratio in which surplus labour stands to necessary labour, or unpaid to paid labour time.

If we look now at capital, we find that it is originally split up into 3 constituent parts (only two in some industries, such as the extractive industries; but we are taking the most complete form, that of manufacturing industry): raw material, instrument of production, and finally the part of capital which is exchanged for labour capacity in the first instance. Here we are concerned only with the exchange value of capital. As regards the part of the capital’s value that is contained in the used up raw material and means of production, we have seen that it simply re-appears in the product. This part of capital never adds more to the value of the product than the value it itself possesses independently of the production process. In reference to the value of the product, we can call this part of the capital its constant part. As noted under heading 1, its value may rise or fall, but this rising or falling has nothing to do with the production process, in which these values enter as values of the material and the instrument of production.

If 12 hours are worked instead of 10, more raw material is of course necessary so as to absorb the two hours of surplus labour. What we call constant capital will therefore enter the production process in an amount, i.e. an amount of value, a magnitude of value, which varies according to the quantity of labour the raw material has to absorb, in general the quantity of labour to be objectified in the production process. But it is constant in so far as its magnitude of value, whatever its ratio towards the total amount of capital advanced, re-appears unchanged in the product. We have seen that it is not itself reproduced in the proper sense of the word. It is rather just preserved because the material and means of labour are (in accordance with their use value), made into factors of the new product by labour, as a result of which the constant capital’s value re-appears in this product. And this value is determined simply by the labour time required for its own production. They add to the labour time contained in the product only as much labour time as they themselves contained before the production process.

It is therefore only the 3rd part of capital, the part exchanged for labour capacity or advanced in wages, which is variable. Firstly, it is really reproduced. The value of labour capacity, or the wage of labour, is annihilated (the value and the use value), consumed by the worker. But it is replaced by a new equivalent; an equal quantity of living labour time, added by the worker to the raw material or materialised in the product, steps into the place of the labour time objectified in the wage. And secondly, this part of the value of the capital is not only reproduced, and simply replaced by an equivalent, but also exchanged in the actual production process for a quantity of labour = the labour contained in it + an excess quantity of labour, the surplus labour the worker performs over and above the labour time which is necessary for the reproduction of his own wage, hence is contained in the component of the value of the capital which can be resolved into wages. Therefore, if we call the labour time contained in constant capital c, that contained in variable capital v, and the time the worker has to work over and above the necessary labour time s, the labour time contained in P, or the value of the product, = c + (v + s). The original capital was equal to c + v. The excess of its value over its original value therefore = s. But the value of c simply re-appears in the product, whereas the value of v is firstly reproduced in v and secondly increased by s. It is therefore only the part of the value of the capital denoted by v which has changed, in that v has reproduced itself as v + s. s is therefore only a result of an alteration in v; [If it is assumed that c = 0 and that the capitalist has advanced wages alone (variable capital), the magnitude of s remains the same although no part of the product replaces c] and the ratio in which surplus value is created is expressed as v:s, the ratio in which the labour time contained in the v component of the value of the total capital has been exchanged for living labour time, [III-98] or, which is the same thing, the ratio of necessary to surplus labour, of v:s. The newly created value results from the alteration in v alone, its transformation into v + s. It is only this part of capital which increases its value or posits surplus value. The ratio, therefore, in which surplus value is posited, is the ratio in which s stands to v, in which the part of the value of capital expressed in v is not only reproduced but magnified. The best demonstration of this is that if v is simply replaced by an amount of labour time equal to that contained in v itself, no surplus value at all is created; on the contrary, the value of the product is equal to the value of the capital advanced.

If therefore, surplus value is, in general, nothing but the excess of living labour for which the labour objectified in capital is exchanged, or, which is the same thing, nothing but the unpaid labour time worked by the worker over and above the necessary labour time, the magnitude of the surplus value, the ratio in which it stands to the value it replaces, the ratio in which it grows, is simply determined by the ratio s:v, surplus labour to necessary labour, or, and this is the same, the ratio of the labour time advanced by the capitalist in wages to the surplus of labour, etc. Thus if the necessary (wage-reproducing) labour time = 10 hours, and the worker works for 12, the surplus value is equal to 2 hours, and the ratio in which the value advanced has increased = 2:10, = 1/5, = 20%, whatever may be the amount of labour time contained in c, the constant part of capital, whether it is 50, 60, 100, in short x hours of labour, whatever may be the ratio of the variable to the constant part of capital. As we have seen, the value of this [the constant] part of capital simply re-appears in the product and has absolutely nothing to do with the value-creation that occurs during the production process itself.

[I-A] // If the original ratio of necessary labour to surplus labour = 10 hours: 2 hours = 5:1, and if now 16 hours are worked instead of 12, hence 4 more hours, the worker would have to receive 3 1/3 and the capitalist only 2/3 of an hour from those 4 hours for the ratio to remain the same; for 10:2 = 3 1/3:2 /3 = 10/3:2 /3 = 10:2. But under the mathematical law that “A ratio of greater inequality is diminished, and of less inequality increased, by adding any quantity to both its terms”, the ratio of wages to surplus value is unchanged if the overtime is divided in accordance with the above ratio. Previously the ratio of [necessary] labour to surplus was 10:2 = 5:1 (5 times greater). Now it will be 13 1/3:2 2/3 = 40/3:8/3 = 40[:8 = 5:1]. // [141]

It is very important to keep a strong hold on the idea that surplus value = surplus labour, and that the ratio of surplus value is the ratio of surplus labour to necessary labour. In this connection the customary notion of profit and the rate of profit should initially be entirely forgotten. What kind of relation exists between surplus value and profit will be seen later on. [142]

We shall therefore use a few examples to clarify this conception of surplus value and the rate of surplus value, the ratio in which it grows — the yardstick by which its magnitude is to be measured. These examples are borrowed from statistical sources. Hence labour time always appears here expressed in money. Furthermore, different items bearing different names appear in the calculations, e.g. side by side with profit there is interest, taxes, rent, etc. These are all different portions of surplus value under different names. [143] How surplus value is distributed among the different classes, i.e. how much of it the industrial capitalist gives up under various headings, and how much he keeps for himself, is completely irrelevant to the conception of surplus value itself. It is, however, entirely clear that all those people — whatever heading they figure under — who do not themselves work, who do not take part in the material process of production themselves as workers, can only participate in the value of the material product in so far as they divide the product’s surplus value among themselves, for the value of raw material and machinery, the constant part of the value of capital, must be replaced. Similarly with the necessary labour time, for the working class absolutely must first of all work the quantity of labour time necessary to preserve its own life before it can work for others. Only the value x, equal to the workers’ surplus labour, hence also the use values that can be purchased with this surplus value, is available for distribution among the non-workers.

It is only the variable part of capital, the quantity of objectified labour which is exchanged in the production process for a greater quantity of living labour time, that undergoes any change at all, that changes its value, posits a surplus value, and the magnitude of this newly created value depends entirely on the ratio between the quantity of living surplus labour obtained in exchange for the variable part of capital and the labour contained in it before the production process.

[III-99] Senior must be cited here as a second example illustrating the political economists’ failure to understand surplus labour and surplus value. [144]

Now the following points are still to be examined under surplus value:

// 1) Extent of surplus labour. Drive of capital to spin this out to infinity. 2) Surplus value depends not only on the number of hours the individual worker works over and above the necessary labour time, but also on the number of simultaneous working days, or the number of workers the capitalist employs. 3) The relation of capital as producer of surplus labour: working more than is needed. Civilising character of capital, labour time and free time. Opposition. Surplus labour and surplus product. Hence in the last instance relation of population and capital. 4) Mr. Proudhon’s thesis that the worker cannot buy back his own product, or the price of the portion of the product, etc. 145 5) This form of surplus value is the absolute form. Persists in all modes of production which are founded on the opposition between classes one of which is the possessor of the conditions of production and the other of labour. //

b) Ratio of Surplus Labour to Necessary Labour. Measure of Surplus Labour[edit source]

Capital has in common with hoarding the boundless tendency to self-enrichment. Because surplus value is reducible to surplus labour, capital has a boundless drive to increase surplus labour. Capital endeavours, in return for the objectified labour expended in wages, to obtain the greatest possible quantity of living labour time, i.e. the greatest possible excess of labour time over and above the labour time required for the reproduction of the wage, i.e. the reproduction of the value of the daily means of subsistence of the worker himself. The whole of capital’s history is a proof of its unrestrained extravagances in this respect. The tendency is evident everywhere without concealment, and it is only held in check in part by physical conditions, and in part by social obstacles, which we shall not go into in any more detail here (and which that tendency itself is the first to create). All we need do here is note the tendency. In this respect it is interesting for example to compare the modern factory system in England with corvée labour, perhaps in the Danubian Principalities. The two forms, of which one is a developed capitalist form and the other is among the crudest forms of serfdom, display with equal clarity the appropriation of alien excess labour, of surplus labour, as the direct source of enrichment. The special circumstances additionally present in the factory system, in the developed capitalist mode of production, which allow labour time to be lengthened unnaturally, beyond its natural bounds, can only be indicated more closely in the course of this investigation.

In comparing Walachian corvée labour with English wage labour the following point is to be kept in view. If the total daily labour time of a worker consists of 12 or 14 hours, and the necessary labour time in each case amounts to only 10 hours, the worker would provide in the course of 6 days of the week in the first case 6 × 2 or 12 hours of surplus labour, in the second case 6 × 4 or 24 hours of surplus labour. In the first case [he] would work one day out of 6 for the capitalist without equivalent, in the second case 2 days. Over the whole year, week in week out, the situation can be resolved into this: he works 1, 2 or x days a week for the capitalist, but the other days of the week he works for himself. This is the form in which the relation appears directly in corvée labour, that of Walachia for example. In essence the general relation is in both cases the same, although the form — the mediation of the relation — is different.

There are, however, natural barriers to the duration of the daily labour time of a particular individual. Leaving aside the time required for the intake of food, the individual needs sleep, relaxation, needs a break during which labour capacity and its organ can enjoy the rest without which they are incapable of continuing the work or starting afresh. The day itself can be characterised as the natural measure of labour’s duration, and indeed in England the 12 hour day is called the “Working Day”. The limits of the working day are however indistinct, and we find it extended from 10 to 17 (18) hours among different nations and in specific branches of industry within the same nation. The periods of work and rest can be displaced, so that for example work can be done during the night, with the daytime for resting, sleeping. Or the working day can be distributed between day and night. In the Russian factories in Moscow, for example, we find that work proceeds for 24 hours, day and night. (This was also the case in large part in the early days of the English cotton industry.) But then two teams (sets) of workers are employed. The first team works 6 hours during the day and is then replaced by the second team. After that the first team again works for 6 hours during the night and is then again replaced for the following 6 hours by the second team. Or (as in the case of the dressmaker, which is to be cited) (bakers too) 30 hours can be worked, one after another, and then a break, etc. [146]

[III-100] The examples (to be brought in here) on the extraction of labour time are also useful, because they show strikingly how value, i. e. wealth as such, can simply be reduced to labour time.

We have seen that the capitalist pays labour capacity its equivalent, and that the valorisation of labour capacity beyond its value does not stand in contradiction to this operation, which occurs according to the law of the exchange of commodities namely the law that commodities exchange in proportion to the labour time contained in them, or in proportion to the labour time required to produce them — on the contrary, that it proceeds from the specific nature of the use value of the commodity which is being sold here. Hence the degree to which labour capacity is valorised by the capitalist, or the extent to which the duration of labour time in the actual production process is increased, appears to be a matter of complete indifference, i. e. it does not appear to be given by the nature of the relation itself. That is to say, in other words: The magnitude of the living surplus labour, hence also of the total living labour time obtained by capital in exchange for a particular quantity of objectified labour, determined by the cost of production of labour capacity itself, appears to be subject to just as little restriction by the nature of this economic relation itself as the manner in which a buyer utilises the use value of a commodity is determined by the relation of sale and purchase as such. It is much rather independent of this. The limits that develop here — e. g., later, economically from the relation of supply and demand or from state intervention and the like — do not, by contrast, appear to be included in the general relation itself.

Nevertheless , the following point must be considered: What on capital’s side is the valorisation of labour capacity (or, as we previously called it, the consumption of labour capacity — it is of the nature of labour capacity that its consumption is at the same time a process of valorisation, objectification of labour) is on the worker’s side work, hence the expenditure of vital force. If labour is prolonged beyond a certain period — or labour capacity is valorised to more than a certain extent — labour capacity will be temporarily or definitively destroyed, instead of being preserved. If the capitalist sets the worker to work for e. g. 20 hours today, tomorrow he will be incapable of working the normal labour time of 12 hours or perhaps any labour time at all. If the overwork extends over a long period, the worker will perhaps only preserve himself and therefore his labour capacity for 7 years instead of the 20 or 30 years for which he might otherwise have preserved it. It is well known, for example, that before the invention of the cotton gin the 2 hours of manufacturing labour (domestic labour) the slaves in the southern states of North America had to perform to separate the cotton wool from its seed, after they had worked in the fields for 12 hours, reduced their average life expectancy to 7 years. This is still at this moment the case in Cuba, where after 12 hours in the fields the Negroes have a further two hours of manufacturing labour to perform in connection with the preparation of sugar or tobacco.

But if the worker sells his labour capacity at its value — and we are proceeding from this assumption in our investigation, just as we proceed altogether from the presupposition that commodities are sold at their value a — all that is assumed thereby is that he receives an average daily wage which enables him to continue living in his customary manner as a worker, hence that he is in the same normal state of health the day afterwards as the day before (leaving aside the degeneration brought about naturally through age or through the kind of work he does); that his labour capacity is reproduced or preserved, hence can be valorised again in the same way as on the previous day, over a definite normal period of time, e. g. 20 years. Thus if surplus labour is stretched out to an extent of overwork which forcibly shortens, temporarily annihilates, i. e. damages or entirely destroys, the normal duration of labour capacity this condition is breached. The worker places the use of his labour capacity at [the capitalist’s] disposal — if he sells it at its value — but only to such an extent as to rule out the destruction of the value of the labour capacity itself, or rather, only to an extent sufficient to ensure that the wage enables him to reproduce his labour capacity, to preserve it throughout a certain normal average time. If the capitalist uses the worker for longer than this normal labour time, he destroys the labour capacity and with that its value. He has, after all, only bought the labour capacity’s average daily [III-101] value, hence by no means the value it possesses on the next day as well. In other words, he has not bought in 7 years the value it possesses during 20.

Hence, as, on the one hand, the specific use value of this commodity — labour capacity — implies that its consumption is itself valorisation, the creation of value, so on the other hand, the specific nature of this use value implies that the extent to which it can be consumed, valorised, must be kept within certain limits to prevent the destruction of its own exchange value.

Here, where we are making the overall assumption that the worker sells his labour capacity at its value, we also assume that the total period, the sum of the necessary labour time and the surplus labour time, does not exceed the normal working day, whether this is set at 12, 13 or 14 hours, worked by the worker in order to preserve his labour capacity in its customary state of health and ability to work for a certain normal average period, and to reproduce it every day afresh.

It follows from what has been said, however, that there is an antinomy here in the general relation itself. This antinomy arises in the following way: On the one hand, if we disregard the natural limit which absolutely prohibits the extension of labour time beyond a certain duration, the general relation between capital and labour — the sale of labour capacity — posits no limit to surplus labour. But on the other hand, in so far as surplus labour destroys the value of labour capacity itself, whereas labour capacity’s use is only sold to the extent to which it preserves and reproduces itself as labour capacity, implying also the preservation of its value throughout a definite normal period of time, surplus labour which goes beyond a certain indeterminate boundary contradicts the very nature of the relation which is given with the worker’s sale of his labour capacity.

We know that in practice it depends on the relative power of the buyer and the seller (which is determined each time economically) whether a commodity is sold at less or more than its value. Similarly here. Whether the worker provides surplus labour of more than the normal amount or not will depend on the power of resistance he is able to oppose to the measureless demands of capital. The history of modern industry teaches us, however, that the measureless demands of capital could never be held in check by the isolated efforts of the worker. The struggle had instead to take on the form of a class struggle, and thereby call forth the intervention of the state power, before the overall daily labour time was confined within certain limits (as yet mostly within certain spheres alone).

One might think that, just as the slave-owner, when he has consumed the Negro in 7 years, is compelled to replace him with a fresh purchase of Negroes, so capital must itself pay for the rapid exhaustion of the workers, since the continuous existence of the working class is capital’s fundamental prerequisite. The individual Capitalist A may have enriched himself through this “killing no murder”, [147] whereas Capitalist B has perhaps to pay the expenses, Or Generation B of the capitalists does. Nevertheless, the individual capitalist perpetually rebels against the overall interest of the capitalist class. On the other hand, the history of modern industry has shown that continuous overpopulation is possible, although it consists of a stream of human generations plucked so to speak before they are ripe, quickly wasted and following each other in rapid succession. (See the passage in Wakefield[148])

c) Advantage of Overwork[edit source]

Let us assume that the average necessary labour time = 10 hours, and that the normal surplus labour = 2 hours, hence the total daily labour time of the worker = 12 hours. Now assume that the capitalist sets the worker to work for 13 hours a day during 6 days of the week, hence 1 hour over the normal or average surplus labour time. These 6 hours amount to 1/2 working day in the week. Now one has to take into consideration more than this surplus value of 6 hours. In order to appropriate 6 hours of surplus labour, the capitalist would under normal conditions have had to employ 1 worker for 3 days or 3 workers for one day, i. e. he would have had to pay for 30 (3 × 10) hours of necessary labour time. With this daily extra hour of surplus labour he obtains half a day of surplus labour a week, without having to pay for the 3 days of necessary labour time he would have had to pay for under normal conditions, so as to appropriate the 6 hours of surplus labour. In the first case a surplus value of only 20%; in the second, one of 30%; but the last 10% of surplus value do not cost him any necessary labour time.

d) Simultaneous Working Days[edit source]

[III-102] The amount of surplus value evidently depends not only on the surplus labour performed by an individual worker above and beyond the necessary labour time; it depends just as much on the number of workers employed simultaneously by capital, or the number of simultaneous working days it makes use of, each of these = necessary labour time + surplus labour time.[149] If the necessary labour time = 10 hours, the surplus labour = 2, and the total working day of a worker therefore equals 12 hours, the magnitude of the surplus value will depend on its own magnitude × by the number of workers employed by capital, or by the number of simultaneous working days from which the surplus value has resulted. By simultaneous working days we mean the period during which a certain number of workers work on the same day.

If a capitalist employs e.g. 6 workers, each of whom works for 12 hours, the 6 simultaneous working days, or 72 hours, objectified by him in the production process, are transferred to the objective form of value. If the surplus labour of a worker amounts to 2 hours, on top of 10 hours of necessary labour time, the surplus labour of 6 workers = 6 × 2 = 12 hours . (That is, the surplus labour of the individual worker multiplied by the number of workers simultaneously employed.) With n workers, then, n × 2, and it is clear that the magnitude of the product n X 2 depends on the magnitude of n, the factor which expresses the number of workers or the number of simultaneous working days. It is equally clear that if the mass, the total amount, of surplus value grows with the number of workers and depends on it, the ratio of surplus value to necessary labour time, or the ratio in which the capital advanced in the purchase of labour valorises itself, the proportionate magnitude of the surplus value, is not thereby altered, hence there is no change in the ratio between the paid and the unpaid labour. 2:10 is 20%, and so is 2×6:10×6, or 12:60. (2:10 = 12:60.) (Or, expressed more generally, 2:10 = n×2:n×l0. For 2×n×10 = l0×n×2.) Assuming that the ratio of surplus value to necessary labour time is given, the amount of surplus value can only grow in proportion to the increase in the number of workers (of simultaneous working days). Assuming that the number of workers is given, the amount, the mass, of surplus value can only grow in the measure to which the surplus value itself grows, i.e. as the duration of the surplus labour increases. 2×n (n being the number of workers) is equal to 4×n/2.

It is therefore clear that if a particular ratio between necessary labour time and surplus labour is given — or if the total time worked by the worker has reached what we shall call the normal working day — the amount of the surplus value depends on the number of workers who are simultaneously employed, and it can only grow in so far as this number increases.

We therefore take the normal working day as the measure of the consumption and valorisation of labour capacity.

The amount of surplus value therefore depends on the population and other circumstances (size of capital, etc.) which we shall investigate straight away.

This much must be noted before we proceed. For the owner of money or commodities to be able to valorise as capital his money or commodities, in short the value he possesses, and therefore for him to produce as a capitalist, it is necessary in advance that he be capable of employing a certain minimum number of workers simultaneously. From this point of view, too, a certain minimum magnitude of value is a prerequisite if it is to be employed as productive capital. The first condition for this magnitude is given from the outset by the fact that, in order to live as a worker, the worker would need merely the amount of raw material (and means of labour) required to absorb the necessary labour time, say 10 hours. The capitalist must be able to buy at least as much more raw material as is required to absorb the surplus labour time (or also as much more of the matières instrumentales, etc.). Secondly, however: Suppose the necessary labour time is 10 hours and the surplus labour time is 2 hours. The capitalist, if he does not work himself, would have already to employ 5 workers, so as to take in a value of 10 hours of labour a day in addition to the value of his capital. But what he took in every day in the form of surplus value [III-103] would only enable him to live like one of his workers. And even this only on condition that his purpose was merely the preservation of his life, as with the workers, hence not the increase of his capital, which is the presupposition with capitalist production. If he worked alongside them, so as to earn a wage himself, his mode of life would scarcely differ from that of a worker (it would merely give him the position of a somewhat better paid worker) (and this boundary is made hard and fast by the guild regulations). He would in any case still stand very close to the position of a worker, particularly if he were to increase his capital, i.e. capitalise a portion of the surplus value. This is the situation of the guild masters in the Middle Ages, and in part still that of the present master craftsmen. They do not produce as capitalists.

If the necessary labour time is given, and similarly the ratio of surplus labour to it — in a word, the normal working day, the overall sum of which = the necessary labour time + the time the surplus labour lasts — the amount of surplus labour, hence the amount of surplus value, depends on the number of simultaneous working days, or the number of workers who can be set in motion simultaneously by capital. In other words: the amount of surplus value — its total amount — will depend on the number of labour capacities available and present in the market, hence on the magnitude of the working population and the proportion in which this population grows. Hence the natural growth of population, and therefore the increase of the number of labour capacities present in the market, is a productive power of capital, since it provides the basis for the growth in the absolute amount of surplus value (i.e. of surplus labour).

It is clear on the other hand that capital must grow in order to employ a greater quantity of workers. Firstly, its constant part must grow, i.e. the part the value of which merely re-appears in the product. More raw material is required to absorb more labour. More of the means of labour is also required, though in a more indeterminate proportion. If we assume that manual labour is the main factor, that production is carried on in a handicraft manner (and here, where we are still only considering the absolute form of surplus value, this assumption is valid; for although this form of surplus value remains the fundamental form even of the mode of production transformed by capital, it is still characteristic of capital’s mode of production, and it is its sole form as long as capital has only formally subsumed the labour process under itself, i.e. actually a previous mode of production, in which human manual labour was the chief factor of production, has merely been brought under capital’s control[75]), then the number of instruments and means of labour must grow fairly uniformly with the number of the workers themselves and the quantity of raw material required for labour by the increased number of workers. Thus the value of the whole constant part of capital grows proportionately to the growth in the number of workers employed.

Secondly, however, the variable part of capital, which is exchanged for labour capacity, must grow (as constant capital grows) in the same proportion as the number of workers or the number of simultaneous working days. This variable part of capital will experience its greatest growth under the conditions of industry of the handicraft type, where the essential factor of production, the manual labour of the individual, only delivers a small amount of product in a given time, hence the material consumed in the production process is small in proportion to the labour employed; likewise the handicraft instruments, which are simple and themselves only represent insignificant values. Since the variable part of capital forms its largest constituent, it will have to grow most of all when capital grows; or since the variable part of capital forms its greatest part, it is precisely this part which will have to grow most significantly when exchanges are made with more labour capacities. If I employ a capital 2/5 of which is constant, and 3/5 of which is laid out in wages, the calculation will be as follows, if the capital is to employ 2 × n workers instead of n workers: Originally the capital was = n (2 /5 + 3/5). 2n/5 + 3n/5. Now it will be 4n/5 + 6n/5. The part of capital laid out in wages, or the variable part, always remains greater than the constant part, in the same proportion as the growth in the number of workers; in the same proportion as it was presupposed to be greater at the outset.

On the one hand, therefore, the population must grow, to allow the amount of surplus value, hence the total capital, to grow under the given conditions; on the other hand, it is presupposed that capital has already grown so that the population may grow. Thus there appears to be a circulus vitiosus here //which should be left open as such at this point and not explained. It belongs in Chapter V[150]//.

[III-104] If one assumes that the average wage is sufficient not only for the preservation of the working population but for its constant growth, in whatever proportion, an increasing working population is given in advance for growing capital, while a growth of surplus labour, hence also an increase of capital through the growth in population, is simultaneously given. In analysing capitalist production one must actually proceed from this assumption; for it implies a constant increase in surplus value, i.e. in capital. We do not yet need to investigate how capitalist production itself contributes to the growth of population.[151]

The population numbers working under capital as wage labourers or the number of labour capacities available on the market can grow without any absolute growth in the total population or even in the working population alone. If for example members of working-class families, such as women and children, are pressed into capital’s service, and they were not in this position before, the number of wage labourers has increased without any increase in the overall size of the working population. This increase can take place without any increase in the variable part of capital, the part which is exchanged for labour. The family might receive the same wage from which they lived previously But they would have to provide more labour for the same wage.[152]

On the other hand, the overall working population may grow without any absolute growth in the population as a whole. If sections of the population which were previously in possession of the conditions of labour, and worked with them — such as independent handicraftsmen, allotment-holding peasants, and lastly small capitalists — are robbed of their conditions of labour (of property in them) in consequence of the impact of capitalist production, they may turn into wage labourers and thus increase the absolute number of the working population, without any increase having occurred in the absolute number of the population. There would merely have been an increase in the numerical size of various classes and in their proportional share in the absolute population. But this is known to be one of the effects of the centralisation brought about by capitalist production. In this case the amount of the working population would have risen absolutely. The amount of wealth available and employed in production would not have increased absolutely. But there would have been an increase in the portion of wealth turned into capital and acting as capital.

In both cases there is growth in the number of wage labourers without any absolute increase, in the one case, in the working population, and in the other case, in the total population; without any increase, in the one case, in the amount of capital laid out for wages, and in the other case, in the absolute amount of wealth devoted to reproduction. This would at the same time produce an increase b in surplus labour and surplus value and therefore dynamei the increase in capital necessary to support the absolute growth of the population. //This will all be considered under Accumulation. [150] //

e) Character of Surplus Labour[edit source]

Once there exists a society in which some people live without working (without participating directly in the production of use values), it is clear that the surplus labour of the workers is the condition of existence of the whole superstructure of the society. They [the non-workers] receive two things from this surplus labour. Firstly: the material conditions of life, because they share in, and subsist on and from, the product which the workers provide over and above the product required for the reproduction of their own labour capacity. Secondly: The free time they have at their disposal, whether for idleness or for the performance of activities which are not directly productive (as e.g. war, affairs of state) or for the development of human abilities and social potentialities (art, etc., science) which have no directly practical purpose, has as its prerequisite the surplus labour of the mass of workers, i.e. the fact that they have to spend more time in material production than is required for the production of their own material life. The free time of the non-working parts of society is based on the surplus labour or overwork, the surplus labour time, of the working part. The free development of the former is based on the fact that the workers have to employ the whole of their time, hence the room for their own development,[153] purely in the [III-105] production of particular use values; the development of the human capacities on one side is based on the restriction of development on the other side. The whole of civilisation and social development so far has been founded on this antagonism.[154]

On the one hand, therefore, the free time of one section corresponds to the surplus labour time, the time in thrall to labour, of the other section — the time of its existence and functioning as mere labour capacity. On the other hand: The surplus labour is realised not only in a surplus of value but in a surplus product — an excess of production over and above the quantity the working class requires and consumes for its own subsistence.

The value is present in a use value. The surplus value is therefore present in a surplus product. The surplus labour is present in surplus production, and this forms the basis for the existence of all classes not directly absorbed in material production. Society thus develops in contradictory fashion through the absence of development of the mass of workers, who form its material basis. The surplus product need not express surplus value at all. If 2 quarters of wheat are the product of the same amount of labour time as previously 1 quarter, the 2 quarters will not express any higher value than the 1 quarter did previously. But if we presuppose a definite, given development of the productive forces, surplus value will always be represented by a surplus product, i.e. the product (use value) created over 2 hours is twice as large as that created over 1 hour. To put it more definitely: the surplus labour time worked by the mass of workers over and above the quantity necessary for the reproduction of their own labour capacity, their own existence, over and above the necessary labour, this surplus labour time, which presents itself as surplus value, is simultaneously materialised in extra product, surplus product, and this surplus product is the material basis for the existence of all the classes apart from the working classes, of the whole superstructure of society. It simultaneously provides free time, gives them disposable time for the development of their other capacities. Thus the production of surplus labour time on one side is at once the production of free time on the other. The whole of human development, so far as it extends beyond the development directly necessary for the natural existence of human beings, consists merely in the employment of this free time and presupposes it as its necessary basis. Thus the free time of society is produced through the production of unfree time, the labour time of workers prolonged beyond that required for their own subsistence. Free time on one side corresponds to subjugated time on the other side.

The form of surplus labour we are examining here — labour prolonged beyond the necessary labour time — is common to capital and all forms of society in which development has taken place beyond the purely natural relation; a development which is therefore antagonistic, making the labour of one section into the natural basis of the social development of another section.[154]

Surplus labour time as considered here — absolute surplus labour time — remains the basis in capitalist production too, although we shall become acquainted with yet another form.

In so far as we have here only the opposition between worker and capitalist, all the classes which do not work must share the product of surplus labour with the capitalist, so that this surplus labour time not only creates the basis of their material existence but also their free time, the sphere of their development.

Absolute surplus value, i.e. absolute surplus labour, later too always remains the dominant form.

Just as plants live from the earth, and animals live from the plants or plant-eating animals, so does the part of society which possesses free time, disposable time not absorbed in the direct production of subsistence, live from the surplus labour of the workers. Wealth is therefore disposable time. [155]

We shall see how the political economists, etc., consider this opposition as natural.

Since surplus value is initially represented in the surplus product, but all other work is disposable time in comparison with the labour time employed in the production of the means of nourishment, it is clear why the Physiocrats base surplus value on the surplus product of agriculture; they only make the mistake of regarding it as a simple gift of nature.[126]

[III-106] Here the following can already be remarked:

The branches of labour employed in the production of commodities are distinguished from each other according to their degree of necessity, and this in turn depends on the extent to which the use value they create is necessary for physical existence. This kind of necessary labour is related to use value, not exchange value. That is to say, we are concerned here not with the labour time necessary to create a value reducible to the sum of the products necessary to the worker for his existence; rather with the relative necessity of the needs satisfied by the products of different kinds of labour. In this respect the most necessary of all is agricultural labour (understanding by this all work required to procure the immediate means of nourishment). It is agricultural labour which first provides the disposable free hands for industry, as Steuart says.[156] However, we must make a further distinction. While one person employs the whole of his disposable time in agriculture, the other can employ it in manufacture. Division of labour. But the surplus labour in all other branches similarly depends on the surplus labour in agriculture, which provides the raw materials for everything else.

*"It is obvious that the relative numbers of persons who can be maintained without agricultural labour, must be measured wholly by the productive powers of cultivation” * (R. Jones, On the Distribution of Wealth, London, 1831, pp. 159-60). [157]

Additions[edit source]

To b. In the struggle in London between the workers in the building industry and the building masters (capitalists), which is still continuing, the workers make the following objections, among others, to the hour system imposed by the masters (according to which the contract between the two sides is only valid for the hour, the hour being in fact fixed as the normal day):

Firstly: This system, the workers argue, abolishes any normal day (normal working day), hence any boundary to a total day’s labour (necessary and surplus labour taken together). But the establishment of a normal day of this kind is the constant goal of the working class, whose members stand at the lowest point of humiliation in every branch where such a normal day, be it in law or in practice, is not in existence, as e.g. among the jobbing labourers of the Thames docks, etc. They stress how a normal day of this kind not only forms the yardstick for the workers’ average life expectancy but rules over the whole of their development.

Secondly: They argue that this hour system rules out extra pay for overwork, i.e. surplus labour performed in excess of its normal and traditional amount. While on the one hand this extra pay [makes it possible] for the masters to have work done over and above the normal day in extraordinary cases, on the other hand it imposes golden chains on their drive for an indefinite extension of the working day. This was one reason why the workers demanded the extra pay. The second reason: they demand extra pay for overwork because the lengthening of the normal day brings with it not only a quantitative but a qualitative difference, and the daily value of labour capacity itself must therefore be subjected to an altered valuation. If, for example, a 13-hour working day replaces one of 12 hours, this must be estimated as the average working day of a labour capacity which is used up over, e.g., 15 years, whereas in the other case the average working day is that of a labour capacity which is used up in 20 years.

Thirdly: One group of workers is thereby overworked, a corresponding group becomes unemployed, and the wages of the employed are forced down by the wage at which the unemployed work.

//Taking absolute and relative surplus value together, the following is seen: If the productivity of labour remains the same, and likewise the number of workers, surplus value can only grow to the extent that surplus labour increases, hence the total working day (the yardstick for the use of labour capacity) is extended beyond its given boundary. If the total working day remains the same, and ditto the number of workers, surplus value can only grow if the productivity of labour grows, or, what is the same thing, the part of the working day required for necessary labour is shortened. If the total working day and the productivity of labour remain the same, the rate of surplus value, i.e. its ratio to the necessary labour time, will remain unalterable, but the mass of surplus value can grow in both cases with the increase in the number of simultaneous working days, i.e. with the growth of population. Inversely: The rate of surplus value can fall only if either surplus labour is reduced, hence the total working day is shortened while the productivity of labour remains the same, or if the productivity of labour falls, hence the part of the working day required for necessary labour increases, while the duration of the total working day remains the same. In both cases, the amount of surplus value can fall, while the rate of surplus value remains unchanged, if the number of simultaneous working days falls, that is the population falls (i.e. the working population).

It is presupposed in all these relations that the worker sells his labour capacity at its value, i.e. that the price of labour, or the wage, corresponds to the value of the labour capacity. As we have repeatedly stated, this assumption underlies the whole [III-107] investigation . The question of how far the wage itself can rise above or fall below its value belongs in the chapter on wages, in exactly the same way as does the presentation of the specific forms in which the relative distribution of necessary and surplus labour can appear (daily wage, weekly wage, piece wage, hourly wage, etc.).[33] In the meantime one can make this general remark: If the minimum wage, the cost of production of labour capacity, were itself permanently depressed to a lower level, surplus value would thereby to an equal extent be constantly kept at a higher level, hence surplus labour would increase as if the productivity of labour had increased. It is evidently the same thing, from the point of view of the result, whether out of 12 hours of labour a worker works for himself for only 8 hours instead of 10 hours as previously, because his labour has become more productive and he can produce the same means of subsistence in 8 hours as he required 10 hours to produce previously, or whether he receives in future inferior means of subsistence, the production of which requires only 8 hours, whereas the previous, superior ones required 10 hours to produce. In both cases the capitalist would gain 2 hours of surplus labour, would exchange the product of 8 hours of labour for that of 12, whereas he previously exchanged the product of 10 hours for that of 12. Further: If no such fall in the value of labour capacity itself were to take place, or no decline, no constant worsening in the worker’s mode of life, a temporary reduction of wages below their normal minimum, or, which is the same thing, a fall in the daily price of labour capacity below its daily value, would temporarily coincide — during its time of occurrence — with the above-mentioned case, only that what was there constant would here be temporary. If a capitalist forces wages down below their minimum, in consequence of competition among workers, etc., this means in other words simply that he deducts a portion of that part of the working day that normally forms the necessary labour time, i.e. the part of the labour time allotted to the worker himself. Every reduction in necessary labour time that is not a consequence of an increase in the productivity of labour is in reality not a reduction in necessary labour time but merely an appropriation of necessary labour time by capital, an encroachment by capital beyond its own domain of surplus labour. If the worker receives a lower wage than normal, that is the same thing as receiving the product of less labour time than is necessary for the, reproduction of his labour capacity under normal conditions, so that if 10 hours of labour time are required for this, he only receives the product of 8 hours, 2 hours out of his necessary labour time of 10 hours being appropriated by capital. As far as the capitalist’s surplus value is concerned, it is naturally all the same for this surplus value, i.e. surplus labour, whether he pays the worker the 10 hours he needs for his normal existence and has him perform 2 hours of surplus labour for capital, or whether he has him work only 10 hours and pays him for 8 hours, whereby he is unable to buy the means of subsistence necessary for his normal existence. A reduction of wages while the productivity of labour remains the same is an increase in surplus labour through the forcible curtailment of necessary labour time as a result of encroachments on its domain. It is clear that for the capitalist it is all one whether he pays less for the same labour time or has the worker work longer for the same wage. //

Addition to e. In so far as in capitalist production capital compels the worker to work over and above his necessary labour time — i.e. over and above the labour time required for the satisfaction of his own vital needs as a worker — capital, as this relation of domination in which past labour stands to living labour, creates, produces surplus labour and therewith surplus value. Surplus labour is the labour performed by the worker, the individual worker, beyond the limits of his requirements, it is in fact labour for society, although here this surplus labour is initially pocketed, in the name of society, by the capitalist. As we have said, this surplus labour is on the one hand the basis of society’s free time, and on the other hand, by virtue of this, the material basis of its whole development and of civilisation in general.[154] In so far as it is capital’s compulsion which enforces on the great mass of society this labour over and above its immediate needs, capital creates civilisation; performs a socio-historical function. With this there is created society’s industriousness in general, which extends beyond the period necessitated by the immediate physical requirements of the workers themselves.

It is admittedly clear that this same compulsion is exerted, within certain limits, by all ruling classes — within slavery for example, in a much more direct form than in wage labour — and therefore that here too labour is forced beyond the boundaries set for it by purely natural requirements. This is true wherever society rests on class antagonism, so that there are on one side owners of the conditions of production, who rule, and on the other side propertyless people, excluded from ownership of the conditions of production, who must work and maintain themselves and their rulers with their labour. But in all situations where use value predominates, the labour time is a matter of less consequence, provided only it is sufficiently extended to provide, apart from the means of subsistence of the workers themselves, a certain mass of use values, a kind of patriarchal wealth, for the rulers.[158] However, in proportion as exchange value becomes the determining element of production the lengthening of labour time beyond the measure of natural requirements becomes more and more the decisive feature. Where, for example, slavery and serfdom predominate among peoples which engage in little trade, there can be [III-108] no question of overwork. It is therefore among commercial peoples that slavery and serfdom take on their most hateful form, as e.g. among the Carthaginians; this is even more pronounced among peoples which retain slavery and serfdom as basis of their production in an epoch when they are connected with other peoples in a situation of capitalist production; thus e.g. the southern states of the American Union.

Since in capitalist production exchange value, for the first time ever, dominates over the whole of production and the whole articulation of society, the compulsion capital imposes on labour to go beyond the boundaries of its own requirements is at its greatest. Similarly, since in capitalist production necessary labour time (socially necessary labour time) for the first time ever completely determines the magnitude of value of all products, the intensity of labour attains a higher level under that system, since it is only there that the workers are in general compelled in producing an object to employ only the labour time necessary under the general social conditions of production. The whip of the slave-owner cannot produce this intensity to the same degree as the compulsion of the capital-relation. In the latter, the free worker, in order to satisfy his essential requirements, must 1) convert his labour time into necessary labour time, give it the general, socially determined (by competition) level of intensity; 2) provide surplus labour, in order to be allowed (to be able) to work for the labour time necessary for him himself. The slave, in contrast, has his essential requirements satisfied, like an animal, and it now depends on his natural disposition how far the whip, etc., is cause for him, an adequate motive for him, to provide labour in return for these means of subsistence. The worker works in order to create himself his means of subsistence, to gain his own life. The slave is kept alive by another person in order to be compelled by him to work.

The capital-relation is therefore more productive in this way — for one thing because what is at stake here is labour time as such, exchange value, not the product as such or the use value; and secondly because the free worker can only satisfy the requirements of his existence to the extent that he sells his labour; hence is forced into this by his own interest, not by external compulsion.

A division of labour can only exist at all if every producer of a commodity employs more labour time in the production of that commodity than is required by his own need for the commodity in question. But it does not yet follow from this that his labour time in general will be prolonged beyond the extent of his needs. On the contrary, the extent of his needs — which will of course from the outset expand with advances in the division of labour, of employments — will determine the total amount of his labour time. For example an agriculturalist who produced all his means of subsistence himself would not need to work in the fields for the whole day, but he would have to divide e.g. 12 hours between field labour and various kinds of domestic work. If he now employs the whole of his labour time of 12 hours in agriculture, and exchanges the excess product of these 12 hours for the products of other kinds of work, buys them, this is the same as if he himself had devoted a part of his labour time to agriculture and another part to other branches of business. The 12 hours he works continue to be the labour time required for the satisfaction of his own needs, and they are labour time within the limits of his natural or rather social needs. But capital drives beyond these natural or traditional boundaries of labour time, by making the intensity of labour at the same time dependent on the level of social production, and thus withdrawing it from the accustomed routine of the independent producer or the slave who works only under external compulsion.

If all branches of production become subject to capitalist production, it follows simply from the general growth of surplus labour — of general labour time — that there will be an increase in the division of the branches of production, the differentiation of work and the variety of the commodities being exchanged. If 100 men in a branch of business work for as long a time as 110 men did previously — with a smaller amount of surplus labour or shorter duration of labour overall — then 10 men can be thrown into another, new branch of business, and similarly the part of the capital that was previously required to employ those 10 men. The departure — transfer — of labour time beyond its natural or traditional limits will therefore lead in itself to the application of social labour in new branches of production. This due to the fact of labour time becoming free, and surplus labour not only creates free time, it makes labour capacity which was tied down in one branch of production, labour in general, free (this is the point) for new branches of production. But it is a law of the development of human nature that once the satisfaction of a certain sphere of needs [III-109] has been assured new needs are set free, created. Therefore when capital pushes labour time beyond the level set for the satisfaction of the worker’s natural needs, it impels a greater division of social labour — the labour of society as a whole — a greater diversity of production, an extension of the sphere of social needs and the means for their satisfaction, and therefore also impels the development of human productive capacity and thereby the activation of human dispositions in fresh directions. But just as surplus labour time is a condition for free time, this extension of the sphere of needs and the means for their satisfaction is conditioned by the worker’s being chained to the necessary requirements of his life.

Addition to a)

Firstly. Nassau W. Senior says in his pamphlet Letters on the Factory Act, as It Affects the Cotton Manufacture etc., London, 1837 (pp. 12, 13) [144]:

“Under the present law, no mill in which persons under 18 years of age are employed can be worked more than 11 1/2 hours a day, that is, 12 hours during the first 5 days and 9 hours on Saturday. Now, the following analysis will show that in a mill so worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. A manufacturer invests £100,000:£80,000 in factory buildings and machinery, and £20,000 in raw material and wages. The annual return of that mill, supposing the total capital to be turned once a year, and gross profits to be 15%, ought to be goods worth £115,000, reproduced by the constant conversion and reconversion of the £20,000 circulating capital, from money into goods and from goods into money, in periods of rather more than two months. Of this £115,000 each of the 23 half hours of work produces 5/115 or 1/23. Of these 23/23, constituting the whole £115,000, 20/23, that is to say, £100,000 out of the £115,000, simply replace the capital; 1/23, or £5,000 out of the £15,000 (gain), makes up for the deterioration of the mill and machinery. The remaining 2/23, that is, the last two half hours of every day, produce the net profit of 10%. If, therefore (prices remaining the same), the factory could be kept at work 13 hours instead of 11 1/2, by an addition of about £2,600 to the circulating capital, the net profit would be more than doubled. On the other hand, if the hours of working were reduced by one hour per day (prices remaining the same), net profit would be destroyed; if they were reduced by an hour and a half, even gross profit would be destroyed.”

Firstly: The correctness or incorrectness of the positive data adduced by Senior is irrelevant to the subject of our investigation. However, it may be remarked in passing that the English Factory Inspector Leonard Horner, a man distinguished as much by his thorough knowledge of the facts as by his incorruptible love of truth, has demonstrated the falsity of these data, presented in 1837 by Mr. Senior, the faithful echo of the Manchester manufacturers. (See Leonard Horner, A Letter to Mr. Senior etc., London, 1837.)

Secondly: the quotation from Senior is characteristic of the hopeless intellectual degeneration the interpreters of science fall victim to as soon as they degrade themselves to be sycophants of a ruling class. Senior wrote the above-quoted pamphlet in the interests of the cotton manufacturers, and before writing it he went to Manchester with the express purpose of receiving the material for the pamphlet from the manufacturers themselves.

In the passage we have quoted, Senior, Professor of Political Economy at Oxford and one of the most renowned living English economists, commits crude errors he would find unforgivable in any of his own students. He makes the assertion that a year’s work in a cotton mill, or, what is the same thing, the work of 11 1/2 [hours], day in day out throughout the year, creates, not only the labour time or value that labour itself adds to the raw material, the cotton, by means of the machinery, [III-110] but also, additionally, the value of the raw material contained in the product and the value of the machinery and factory buildings consumed in the course of production. According to this, the workers in a spinning mill, for example, would simultaneously produce during their 11 1/2 hours’ labour time — apart from the labour of spinning (i.e. the value) — the cotton they work on, ditto the machine with which they work the cotton and the factory building in which this process occurs. Only in this case could Mr. Senior say that the 23/2 daily hours of labour during the whole year constitute the £115,000, i.e. the value of the total annual product.

Senior calculates in this way: The workers work so and so many hours during the day to “replace”, i.e. to create, the value of the cotton, so and so many hours to “replace” the value of the consumed portion of the machinery and the mill, so and so many hours to produce their own wages, and so and so many hours to produce the profit. This childishly silly notion, according to which the worker, as well as working his own labour time, simultaneously works that contained in the raw material he operates on and in the machinery he uses, that he therefore produces raw material and machinery at the same time as they form, as finished products, the conditions of his own labour, can be explained in the following way. Senior, being entirely under the sway of the lessons given him by the manufacturers, introduced a confusion into their practical way of reckoning, which admittedly is itself quite correct theoretically but is for one thing entirely irrelevant to the relation Senior claims to be investigating, namely that of labour time and gain, and for another thing easily gives rise to the absurd notion that the worker produces not only the value he adds to his conditions of labour but also the value of those conditions themselves.

That practical calculation goes like this. Let us assume that the value of the total product of, say, 12 hours of labour time consists, e.g to 1/3 of the value of the material of labour, e.g. cotton, to 1/3 of the value of the means of labour, e.g. machinery, and to 1/3 of the value of the newly added labour, e.g. spinning. The ratio is not important here. But some particular ratio must always be assumed. Suppose the value of this product is £3 sterling. The manufacturer can calculate like this: The value of the product of 1/3 of the day’s labour time, or 4 hours, is equal to the value of the cotton I need over the 12 hours, or the cotton worked up in the total product. The value of the product of the second 1/3 of the day’s labour time is equal to the value of the machinery I wear out over 12 hours. Finally the value of the product of the third 1/3 of the day’s labour time is equal to wages plus profit. He can therefore say that the first 1/3 of the day’s labour time replaces the value of the cotton, the second 1/3 replaces the value of the machinery, and finally the third 1/3 forms the wages and the profit. But in reality this means quite simply that the whole of the day’s labour time adds nothing but itself to the value of the cotton and the machinery, which is present independently of it; it adds nothing but the value which forms on the one hand wages, on the other hand profit. That is to say the value of the product of the first third of the day, or the first 4 hours, is equal to 1/3 of the value of the total product of 12 hours of labour.

The value of the product of these first 4 hours is equal to £1, if the value of the total product of 12 hours = £3. But 2/3 of the value of this £1, hence 13 1/3 shillings, consists of the value of cotton and machinery present in advance (on our assumption). Only 1/3 of new value has been added, or the value of 6 2/3 shillings, of 4 hours of labour. The value of the product of the first 1/3 of the day’s labour = £1, because 2/3 or 13 1/3s. in this product consists of the value of the raw material and used-up machinery, which was present beforehand and merely re-appears in the product. In 4 hours the labour has created no more than 6 2/3s. of value, hence it creates only 20s. or £1 of value in 12 hours. The value of the product of 4 hours of labour is indeed something quite different from the newly created value, the value of the newly added labour, the labour of spinning, which on our assumption increases the existing value by only 1/3. In the first 4 hours the labour of spinning works up the raw material, not of 12 hours, but of 4. If, however, the value of yarn spun in 4 hours is equal to the value of the cotton worked up during 12 hours, this is only due to the fact that on our assumption the value of the cotton forms 1/3 of the value of the yarn spun in each individual hour, hence also 1/3 of the value of the yarn produced in 12 hours, i.e. is equal to the value of the yarn produced in 4 hours.

The manufacturer might also calculate that the product of 12 hours of labour replaces the value of cotton for 3 days, without thereby affecting the relation in question in the least. For the manufacturer, the calculation has a practical value. On the level of production at which he works he must work up as much cotton as is required to absorb a definite quantity of labour time. If the cotton forms 1/3 of the value of the total product of 12 hours, [III-111] the product of 1/3 of the total working day of 12 hours, i.e. the product of 4 hours, forms the value of the cotton worked up during 12 hours. It can be seen how important it is to keep hold of the fact that in a particular process of production, e.g. spinning, the worker does not create any value apart from that measured by his own labour time (here spinning), one part of this labour time replacing the wage, the other part forming the surplus value which falls to the share of the capitalist.

(In reality the workers do not produce or reproduce one particle either of the value of the raw material or of that of the machinery, etc. They contribute nothing more than their own labour to the value of the raw material and the value of the machinery consumed in production, and this labour is the newly created value, of which one part is equal to their own wages and the other is equal to the surplus value the capitalist receives. It is therefore not the whole of the product — should production continue — that is divisible between the capitalist and the worker, but only the product less the value of the capital advanced in it. There is not a single hour of labour devoted to the “replacement” of the capital in Senior’s sense, such that the labour would produce doubly, would produce its own value and the value of its material, etc. The upshot of Senior’s assertion is simply this, that of the 11 1/2 hours the worker works, 10 1/2 form his wages and only 2/2, or 1 hour, forms his surplus labour time.)

Thirdly: The whole of Mr. Senior’s treatment is entirely unscientific, in the sense that he does not separate out what was essential here, namely the capital laid out in wages, but throws it together with the capital laid out for raw material. Moreover, if the ratio he gives were correct, the workers would, out of the 11 1/2 hours, or 23 half hours, work 21 half hours for themselves and only provide 2 half hours of surplus labour to the capitalist. According to this, surplus labour would be related to necessary in the proportion 2:2 1, = 1:10 1/2; hence 9 11/21 %, and this is supposed to give a profit of 10% on the whole of the capital! The most peculiar feature, which displays his complete ignorance of the nature of surplus value, is this: He assumes that of the 23 half hours, or 11 1/2 hours, only 1 hour is surplus labour, hence forms surplus value, and is therefore amazed to find that if the workers were to add to this 1 hour of surplus labour a further 1 1/2 hours of surplus labour, if they were to work 5 half hours instead of 2 half hours (hence 13 hours altogether), the net gain would increase more than twofold. Equally naive is the discovery that, on the assumption that the whole of the surplus labour or surplus value is equal to one hour, the whole net profit would disappear as soon as the labour time were reduced by this one hour, i.e. if no surplus labour were performed at all. On the one hand, we see Senior’s astonishment at the discovery that the surplus value, hence the gain too, is reduced to mere surplus labour, and on the other hand simultaneously the failure to grasp this relation, which Mr. Senior, influenced as he is by the manufacturers, notes merely as a curiosity of the cotton industry.

Secondly. The money the worker receives as wages represents the labour time which is present in the commodities required for the satisfaction of his vital needs. Surplus value originates through the fact that the worker gives more labour time in exchange for these commodities than is contained in them, more living labour for a particular quantity of objectified labour. Therefore he buys these commodities, the range of which constitutes his wages, with more labour than is required to produce them.

*"Whatever quantity of labour may be requisite to produce any commodity, the labourer must always, in the present state of society, give a great deal more labour to acquire and possess it than is requisite to buy it from nature. Natural Price so increased to the labourer is Social Price"* (Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, London, [Edinburgh,] 1827, [p.]220).

“Brotherton, himself a manufacturer, stated in the House Of Commons that the manufacturers would add hundreds of. pounds a week to their gain if they could induce their workers — (their men, people) “to work but one hour more a day” (Ramsay, l.c., p. 102).

“Where there is no surplus labour, there can be no surplus produce, hence no capital” (The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties etc., London, 1821, [p.] 4).

[III-112] * “The amount of capital which can be invested at a given moment, in a given country, or the world, so as to return not less than a given rate of profits, seems principally to depend on the quantity of labour, which it is possible, by laying out the capital, to induce the then existing number of human beings to perform” * (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand etc., Lately Advocated by Mr. Malthus, London, 1821, [p.] 20).

For pages 106, 107:

*"If the labourer can be brought to feed on potatoes, instead of bread, it is indisputably true that then more can be exacted from his labour; i.e., if when fed on bread he was obliged to retain for the maintenance of himself and family the labour of Monday and Tuesday, he will, on potatoes, require only half of Monday; and the remaining half of Monday and the whole of Tuesday are available either for the service of the state or the capitalist” * (The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties, London, 1821, [p.] 26).

* “Whatever may be due to the capitalist, he can only receive the surplus labour of the labourer; for the labourer must live. But it is perfectly true, that if capital does not decrease in value as it increases in amount, the capitalist will exact from the labourers the produce of every hour’s labour beyond what it is possible for the labourer to subsist on: and however horrid or disgusting it may seem, the capitalist may eventually speculate on the food that requires the least labour to produce it, and eventually say to the labourer: ‘You sha'n’t eat bread, because barley meal is cheaper. You sha'n’t eat meat, because it is possible to subsist on beet root and potatoes — * (l.c., [pp.] 23-24).159

Addition to e), p. 107.

* “Wealth is disposable time and nothing more” * (The Source and Remedy etc., p. 6).

In capitalist production the worker’s labour is much greater than in the case of the independent worker, because the former relation is definitely not determined by the relation between his labour and his need, but by capital’s unrestricted, boundless need for surplus labour.

“The labour of, for example, the agriculturalist will amount to much more, if only because it is no longer determined by his particular needs” (J. G. Busch, Abhandlung van dem Geldumlauf... Theil 1, Hamburg and Kiel, 1800, p. 90).160

Addition to e, p. 104. The relation which compels the worker to do surplus labour is the fact that the conditions of his labour exist over against him as capital. He is not subjected to any external compulsion, but in order to live in a world where commodities are determined by their value he is compelled to sell his labour capacity as a commodity, whereas the valorisation of this labour capacity over and above its own value is the prerogative of capital. Thus his surplus labour both increases the variety of production and creates free time for others. The political economists like to conceive this relation as a natural relation or a divine institution As far as industriousness brought about by capital is concerned:

*"Legal constraint"* (to labour) *"is attended with too much trouble, violence and noise; creates ill will etc., whereas hunger is not only a peaceable, silent, unremitted pressure, but, as the most natural motive to industry and labour, it calls forth the most powerful exertions” * (A Dissertation on the Poor Laws. By a Well-wisher to Mankind (The Rever. Mr. J. Townsend), 1786. Republished, London, 1817, [p.] 15).

Since the capital-relation presupposes that the worker is compelled to sell his labour capacity, hence has essentially only his labour capacity to sell, Townsend says:

*"It seems to be a law of nature, that the poor should be to a certain degree improvident, that there always may be some to fulfil the most servile, the most sordid, and the most ignoble affairs in the community. The stock of human happiness is thereby much increased, the more delicate * are relieved from drudgery, and are left at liberty, without interruption, to pursue higher callings, etc.” (l.c., [p.] 39). *"The poor law tends to destroy the harmony and beauty, the symmetry and order of that system, which god and nature [III-113] have established in the world"* (p. 41).

This parson Townsend is admittedly not the actual inventor of the so-called theory of population, but he was the first to give it the form in which Malthus appropriated it and made great literary capital therefrom. It is odd that, with the exception of the Venetian monk Ortes (whose “Della Economia Nazionale” libri sei of 1774 is much more ingenious than Malthus), it is mainly parsons of the English church who have wrestled with the “urgent appetite” and the, in Townsend’s words, “checks which tend to blunt the shafts of Cupid”. In opposition to Catholic dogmatism (“superstition” says Townsend), they laid claim to the injunction “be fruitful, and multiply,, a on behalf of the priesthood itself, while preaching celibacy to the working class.

“God ordains that men who carry on trades of primary utility are born in abundance” (Galiani, Della Moneta, in Custodi, Vol. III, p. 78).

The progress of the nation’s wealth, says Storch, “gives birth to this useful class of society ... which undertakes the most tedious, sordid and distasteful tasks, which, in a word, by taking upon itself everything that is disagreeable and servile in life procures for the other classes the time, the peace of mind and the customary dignity of character they need to embark successfully on work of all elevated kind” (Cours d'économie politique, ed. Say, Vol. Ill, Paris, 1823, p. 223).

“Our zone require labour for the satisfaction of wants, and therefore at least a portion of society must work indefatigably (Sir Morton Eden, The State of the Poor: or, an History of the Labouring Classes in England, from the Conquest to the Present Period etc., Vol. I, London, 1797, Book 1, Ch. 1).

Addition to d), p. 102. This law only implies that with a constant productivity of labour and a given normal day, the amount of surplus value will grow with the number of workers simultaneously employed. It does not follow from it that in all branches of production (e.g. agriculture) the productivity of labour remains the same in the measure to which a greater quantity of labour is employed. (This is to be put in a note.) It follows that if other conditions remain the same the wealth of a country, on the basis of capitalist production, depends on the size of the proletariat, of the portion of the population dependent on wage labour.

“The more slaves a master has, the richer he is; it follows, assuming the masses are equally oppressed, that the more proletarians a country has the richer it is” (Colins, L'économie politique. Sources des révolutions et des utopies prétendues socialistes, Vol. III, Paris, 1857, [p.] 331).

Addition to a. Illustration of surplus value.

According to Jacob, writing in 1815, the wheat price was 80s. per quarter and the average product per acre was 22 Bushels (now 32), giving an average product of £11 per acre. He calculates that the straw pays the expense of harvesting, threshing, and carrying to the place of sale, reckoning up the items as follows:

£ s.

Seed (wheat) 1 9 Tithes, Rates and Taxes1 1

Manure 2 10 Rent 1 8

3 19

Wages 3 10 Farmer’s profit and interest 1 2

7 9 3 11

In this table the right hand column, taxes, rates, rent, farmer’s profit and interest, represents only the total surplus value[143] the farmer (the capitalist) receives, part of which he however gives up to the state, the landlord, etc., under various names and headings. The total surplus value therefore = £3 11s. The constant capital (seed and manure) = £3 19s. The capital advanced for labour = £3 10[s].

It is this [III-114] latter portion of capital, variable capital, which is alone to be considered when we are dealing with surplus value and the ratio of surplus value. In the present case, therefore, the ratio between surplus value and the capital expended on wages, or the rate at which the capital expended on wages increases is given by the ratio £3 11s. to £3 10s. The capital of £3 10[s.] expended on labour is reproduced as a capital of £7 1s. Only £3 10[s.] of this represents the replacement of the wages, whereas £3 11 s. represents the surplus value, which therefore amounts to more than 100%. The necessary labour time would accordingly be slightly smaller than the surplus labour, roughly equal to it, so that 6 of the 12 hours of the normal working day would belong to the capitalist (including the various people who share in this surplus value). It may admittedly be the case that e.g., at 80s., the price of the quarter of wheat stands above its value, hence that a part of its price derives from the sale of other commodities in return for wheat at less than their value. But, firstly, it is only a matter of making clear how, in general, surplus value and hence the rate of surplus value are to be understood. On the other hand, if the market price of a bushel of wheat stands, say, 10s. above its value, this can only increase the surplus value received by the farmer provided that he does not pay the agricultural worker, whose labour has risen above its normal value, the amount by which his labour now exceeds the normal value.

Let us take another example from modern English agriculture, namely the following real Bill from a high formed estate:

Yearly Expenditure in Production Itself Farmers Income and outgoings

£ £

Manure 686 Rent 843

Seed 150 Taxes 150

Cattle fodder 100 Tithes none

Losses, tradesmen’s bills, etc. 453 Profit 488

1,389 1,481

Wages 1,690

3,079

(F. W. Newman, Lectures on Political Economy, London, 1851, p. 166 [167]).

In this example, therefore, variable capital, or capital exchanged for living labour, amounts to £1,690. It is reproduced as £1,690 + 1,481 = £3,171. The surplus value is £1,481, and the ratio of the surplus value to the part of the capital from which it arises = 1,481/1,690, or something over 87%.

//"The inextinguishable passion for gain — the auri sacri fames — will always lead capitalists” (McCulloch, The Principles of Political Economy, London, 1825, p. 163).//

Addition to e, p. 104.

“ It is because one works that the other can rest” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes d'économie politique, Vol. 1, pp. 76-77).b

Addition to e, p. 107. Surplus labour and the multiplication of products provides the conditions for the production of luxuries, for part of production throwing itself into the production of luxury products, or, what is the same thing, being exchanged for these products (through foreign trade).

“Once there is an overabundance of products, the excess labour must be devoted to luxury objects. The consumption of objects of prime necessity is limited, that of objects of luxury is unlimited” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes etc., Vol. 1, p. 78). “Luxury is only possible when it is bought with the labour of others; assiduous, uninterrupted labour is only possible when it is the sole means of obtaining, not the frivolities, but the necessities of life” (l.c. p. 79).

//The demand of the workers for capital is therefore the only thing the capitalist needs, i.e. for him everything turns on the proportion in which living labour offers itself for objectified labour.

* “As to the demand from labour, that is, either the giving labour [III-115] in exchange for goods, or, if you choose to consider it in another form, but which comes to the same thing, the giving, in exchange for complete products, a future and accruing addition of value... conferred on certain particles of matter entrusted to the labourer. This is the real demand that it is material to the producers to get increased, as far as any demand is wanted, extrinsic to that which articles furnish to each other when increased” * (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand and the Necessity of Consumption etc., London, 1821, [p.] 57).//

When James Mill for example says:

* “To enable a considerable portion of the community to enjoy the advantages of leisure, the return to capital must evidently be large” * (James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, p. 50),

he means nothing other than this: The wage labourer must slave a good deal so that many people can have leisure, or the free time of one section of society depends on the ratio of the worker’s surplus labour time — to his necessary labour time.

The capitalist’s task is to “obtain from the capital expended” (the capital exchanged for living labour) “the largest possible amount of labour” (J. G. Courcelle-Sencuil, Traité théorique et pratique des entreprises industrielles etc., 2nd ed., Paris, 1857, p. 62).a

That the valorisation of capital, the surplus value it produces over and above its own value, hence its productive power, consists in the surplus labour it appropriates to itself, is stated by J. St. Mill for example.

Capital, strictly speaking, has no productive power. The only productive power is that of labour; assisted, no doubt, by tools, and acting upon materials.... The productive power of capital can only mean the quantity of real productive power” (labour) “which the capitalist, by means of his capital, can command” (J. St. Mill, Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, London, 1844, pp. 90, 91).

Addition to a.) It is clear that in the reproduction of capital and its increase the value of the raw material and machinery as such is altogether a matter of indifference for the production process. Take a raw material, e.g. flax. The amount of labour the flax can absorb to be converted into linen for example — if the level of production, a certain degree of technological development, is given — does not depend on its value but on its quantity, and in the same way the assistance a machine can give to 100 workers depends not on its price but on its use value.

Addition to p. 114.) Or let us take another example. J. C. Symons, Arts and Artisans at Home and Abroad, Edinburgh, 1839 [p. 233], gives the following calculation for a Glasgow power-loom factory with 500 looms, calculated to weave a good fabric of calico or shirting, such as is generally made in Glasgow:

Expense of erecting the factory and machinery £18,000

Annual produce, 150,000 pieces of 24 yards at 6s. £45,000

Interest on fixed capital and for Depreciation of Value of the machinery, reckoning 900 (5%) for interest 1,800

Steam-power, oil, tallow, keeping up machinery, etc. 2,000

Yarns and Flax 32,000

Wages 7,500

Profit 1,700

45,000

In this case interest and profit amount to 900 + 1,700 = 2,600. The self-reproducing and self-increasing part of capital laid out for labour is £7,500. Surplus value = 2,600; rate of surplus value therefore: nearly 33%. [162]

[III-116] Addition to b.) p. 99)

Richard Jones, in his Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, London, 1831, rightly regards corvée labour, or what he calls labour rent, as the most primitive form of rent. We have only to consider it here as a particular form of surplus value which falls to the landed proprietor.[163] It is, thus, a form in which the agricultural workers possess a part of the land, and cultivate it to obtain their own subsistence. The labour time they employ for this purpose corresponds to the necessary labour time with which the wage labourer replaces his own wage. However, whereas the modern agricultural day labourer realises the whole of his labour time — both the part that replaces his wages and the part that forms the surplus value — on the same land (which is rented from the farmer) — just as the factory worker employs the same machinery for the realisation of his necessary and his surplus labour — here, in contrast, there takes place not only a division of the time (and much more tangibly than in wage labour) but also a division of the conditions of production (the sphere of production) by means of which this labour time is realised.

For example, the corvée labourer cultivates the field assigned to him as his possession on certain days of the week. On other days he works on the seignorial estate, for the landowner. What this form of labour has in common with wage labour is the fact that the worker gives to the owner of the conditions of production not, as in other modes of production, the product, and not money, but labour itself. Surplus labour is here more distinctly marked off from necessary labour than in the wage system, because here necessary and surplus labour are performed on two different plots of land. The corvée labourer does the labour necessary for the reproduction of his own labour capacity on the field he himself possesses. He performs surplus labour for the landed proprietor on the seignorial estate. This spatial separation makes the division of the total labour time into two parts more clearly apparent, whereas with the wage labourer one may just as well say that he works, e.g., 2 out of 12 hours for the capitalist as that he works for the capitalist for 1/6 of every hour or of any other aliquot part of the 12 hours.

Firstly, then, the division into necessary labour and surplus labour, labour for the reproduction of one’s own labour capacity and labour for the owner of the conditions of production, is more clearly, more distinctly apparent in the form of corvée labour than in the form of wage labour. Secondly, however, it follows from its appearing more clearly in the corvée form than in wage labour that surplus labour is unpaid labour and that the whole of surplus value can be reduced to surplus labour, i.e. unpaid labour. If the corvée labourers work 5 days of the week on their own land, and the 6th day on the landowner’s, it is clear that on this 6th day they perform unpaid labour, they work not for themselves but [for] another, and that all the receipts of this other person are the product of their unpaid labour; it is called corvée labour precisely for that reason. If factory workers work 2 hours out of 12 every day for the capitalist, it is the same as if they worked 5 days of the week for themselves and 1 for the capitalist, hence in effect the same as if they performed 1 day of corvée labour a week for the capitalist.

The form of the wage is absent from the whole corvée system, and this makes the relation yet more tangible. The corvée labourer receives the conditions of production required for the realisation of his own necessary labour; he is allotted them once and for all. He therefore pays his own wages or directly appropriates the product of his necessary labour. With the wage labourer, in contrast, the whole of his product is first converted into capital, in order to flow back to him subsequently in the form of wages. If the corvée labourer, who works 1 day in the week for his lord, had to hand over to him the product of the whole week, so that the lord could convert it into money and pay back 5/6 of this money to the corvée labourer, the latter would have been turned into a wage labourer in this respect. Inversely. If the wage labourer, who works 2 hours every day for the capitalist, were himself to pocket the product or the value of the product of 5 days of his labour (deductions from the value for the conditions of production and the material and means of labour take place in both situations, even if in different forms) and work for capital during the 6th day for nothing, he would have turned into a corvée labourer. In so far as the nature of necessary labour and surplus labour and their relationship come into consideration, the result is the same.

We find corvée labour in larger or smaller quantities combined with all forms of serfdom. But where it appears in its pure form, as the dominant relation of production, which was particularly the case and in part still is the case in the Slav countries and the Danubian provinces occupied by the Romans, we can certainly say [III-117] that it did not arise on the basis of serfdom; instead serfdom arose, inversely, from corvée labour. The latter is based on a community, and the surplus labour the members of the commune performed over and above that required for their subsistence, which served partly as a (communal) reserve fund, and partly to cover the costs of their communal, political and religious requirements, gradually became transformed into corvée labour performed for the families which had usurped the reserve fund and the political and religious offices as their private property. In the Danubian Principalities, and similarly in Russia, this process of usurpation can be precisely demonstrated. A comparison between the Wallachian boyars and the English manufacturers from the point of view of their thirst for alien labour time is interesting in that the appropriation of alien labour appears in both cases as the direct source of wealth: surplus value as surplus labour.

// * “The employer will be always on the stretch to economize time and labour (Dugald Stewart, Lectures on Political Economy, Vol. I, Edinburgh, 1855, p. 318, in Vol. VIII of the Collected Works, Ed. BY Sir W. Hamilton). For p. 107, to the Addition to e.//

Surplus labour appears in its most primitive “independent”, “free” form in corvée labour; free in so far as in slavery the whole of the slaves’ day, like the cattle’s, belongs to the proprietor, and he must naturally feed them.

Even in Moldavia and Wallachia payment in kind still exists alongside the corvée.[164] Let us take here the Règlement organique, put into effect in 1831.[165] For our present purpose it is irrelevant, and therefore only needs mentioning in passing, that the land, cattle, etc., in fact belong to the Wallachian peasants, that the obligations to the proprietors arose through usurpation, and that the Russian Règlement raised this usurpation to the level of a law. The payments in kind consist of 1/5 of the hay; 1/20 of the wine; and 1/10 of all other products (all this in Wallachia). The peasant possesses: 1) 400 stagenes (a stagene is about 2 square metres) for house and garden on the plain, 300 in the mountains; 2) 3 pogones (1 1/2 hectares) of ploughland; 3) 3 pogones of grassland (pasture for 5 horned cattle).

Here we must mention incidentally that this code of serfdom was proclaimed a code of freedom by the Russians (under Kiselev) and recognised as such by Europe. Secondly: the boyars in fact edited the Règlement. Thirdly: it was much worse, relatively speaking, in Moldavia than in Wallachia.

According to the Règlement every peasant owes the proprietor annually: 1) 12 days of general labour; 2) 1 day of field labour; 3) 1 day of wood-carrying. However, these days are measured not by time but by the work to be accomplished. The Règlement organique therefore itself lays down that the 12 days of [general] labour are to be the equivalent of 36 days of manual labour, the day of field labour = 3 days, and the day of wood-carrying similarly = 3 days. Summa summarum 42 days. But there has to be added to this the so-called jobbagio (service, servitude), i.e. labour for the proprietor’s extraordinary production requirements. This extraordinary labour involves the provision by the villages of 4 men for each 100 families, 3 men by villages of 63-75 families, 2 men by villages of 38-50 families, and 1 by villages of 13-25 families. This jobbagio is estimated at 14 working days for each Wallachian peasant. Thus the corvée prescribed by the Règlement itself = 42 + 14 = 56 working days. Owing to the severe climate the agricultural year in Wallachia consists of only 210 days, of which 40 must be deducted for Sundays and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather; taken together this is 70 days less. There remain 140 days. Subtract from this the 56 corvée days. This leaves 84 days: a proportion which is even so no worse than that for the English agricultural workers, if we compare the time they work for their wages with the time they work for the creation of the surplus value which is divided between the farmer, the church, the state, the landowner, etc.

These are the days of corvée legally at the disposal of the proprietor, the legally established surplus labour. Yet the Règlement made provision for the further extension of the corvée without any infringement of the letter of the law. Namely, each day’s task was determined in such a way that a certain amount remained over, so that it could only be completed during the next day’s labour time. For example, particularly on the maize plantations, “a day’s weeding was estimated at twelve perches, thereby imposing a task twice as large as a man could perform in one day”. The day’s weeding is in fact determined by the Règlement in such a way

“that it begins in the month of May and ends in the month of October.”. [III-118] “In Moldavia,” as one of *the grand boyars himself said, “the 12 working days of the peasant, granted by the Règlement, amount in fact to 365 days” [p. 311].

The ingenuity with which the boyars have exploited this law in order to appropriate the peasants’ labour time can be explored in further detail in E. Regnault, Histoire politique et sociale des principautés danubiennes, Paris, 1855, pp. 305 et seq.

Let us now compare with this the greedy appetite for labour time-surplus labour time — characteristic of capitalist production in England.

It is not my intention here to go into the history of overwork in England since the invention of machinery. The fact is that as a result of these excesses there broke out epidemics whose devastating effects were equally threatening to capitalists and workers; that the state, against tremendous resistance from the capitalists, was compelled to introduce normal [working] days in the factories (later imitated in greater or lesser degree all over the Continent); that, as things are at the moment, this introduction of the normal day has yet to be extended from the factories proper to other branches of labour (bleachworks, printworks, dyeworks); and that this process is still going forward at the present time, the struggle for the normal day continues (e.g. the introduction of the Ten Hours’ Bill, the extension of the Factory Acts, [166] e. g., to the lace manufacture in Nottingham, etc.). I refer for details on the earlier phases of this process to F. Engels, Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England, Leipzig, 1845. Moreover, the practical resistance of the manufacturers was no fiercer than the theoretical resistance offered by their spokesmen and apologists, the professional economists. Indeed, Mr. Newmarch, the joint editor of Tooke’s History of Prices, felt himself obliged, as President of the section for economic science, at the last Congress of the British Association for Arts etc. (the name of the association to be checked), held at Manchester in September 1861, to stress that the understanding of the necessity for legal regulation and compulsory limitation of the normal working day in factories, etc., was one of the very latest achievements of present-day political economy, in virtue of which it was superior to its predecessors[167]!

My purpose here is simply to illustrate the parallel with the greedy appetite of the boyars by adducing certain quotations from the latest Factory Reports; and similarly to bring forward one or two examples in respect of branches of industry where the Factory Acts have not yet been introduced (lacemaking) or have only just been introduced (printing works). All we need here is a few illustrations for a tendency which does not operate any more strongly in Wallachia than in England.

First illustration. LACE TRADE in Nottingham. “The Daily Telegraph'’ of January 17, 1860.[168]

“It was declared by Mr. Broughton, a county magistrate, who filled the chair at a meeting held in the Nottingham Town Hall on Saturday last (January 14, 1860) that there is an amount of suffering and privation among that portion of the local population connected with the lace trade such as is utterly unknown anywhere else in the civilised world ... children of 9 or 10 years are dragged from their squalid beds at 2, 3, or 4 o'clock in the morning, and compelled to work for a bare subsistance until 10, 11, or 12 at night, their limbs wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faces whitening, and their humanity absolutely sinking into stone-like torpor utterly horrible to contemplate.... We are not surprised that Mr. Mallett or any other manufacturer should stand forward and protest against discussion.... The system, as Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of unmitigated slavery, socially, physically, morally, and spiritually.... What can be thought of a town which holds a public meeting to petition that the period of labour for men shall be diminished to 18 hours a day... We declaim against the Virginian and Carolinian cotton-planters. Is their black-market, however, their lash, and their barter of human flesh, more detestable than this slow sacrifice of humanity, which takes place in order that veils and collars [III-119] may be fabricated for the benefit of capitalists?” *

[III-119] Second illustration. Factory Acts.

“The fraudulent mill-owner begins work a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less), before 6 a.m.; and leaves off a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 6 p.m. He takes 5 minutes from the beginning and end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally allowed for dinner. He works for a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

* [III-120] // To p. 119. Since there is in existence that incorrect view that the factory system has become completely different I quote here a note from General Register Office, 28 October 1857 (“The Quarterly Return of the Marriages, Births and Deaths”, etc. published by authority of the Registrar-General, etc., No. 35, p. 6), where it says:

“Mr. Leigh, of the Deans gate subdistrict (Manchester), makes the following judicious remarks, which deserve the careful attention of the people at Manchester: Very sad there is the life of a child.... The total number of deaths, exclusive of coroner’s cases, is 224, and of this number 156 were children under 5 years of age.... So large a proportion I have never before known It is evident that whilst the ordinary circumstances affecting adult life have been to a considerable extent in abeyance, those militating against the very young have been in great activity.... 87 of the children died under the age of one year. Neglected diarrhoea, close confinement to ill ventilated rooms during hooping cough, want of proper nutrition, and free administration of laudanum, producing marasmus and convulsions, as well as hydrocephalus and congestion of brain, these must explain why ... the mortality (of children) is still so high."// [III-120]

“Thus his gain” // here directly identified with the surplus labour he has filched // “is as follows:

“Before 6 a.m. 15 minutes

After 6 p.m. 15 ditto

At breakfast time 10 Total for 5 days:

At dinner time 20 300 minutes

60

On Saturdays

Before 6 a.m. 15 m.

At breakfast time 10

After 2 p.m. 15

40*

Total weekly gain: 340 minutes, or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 working weeks in the year, allowing two for holidays and occasional stoppages, are equal to 27 working days"* (Suggestions, etc., by Mr. L. Horner, in “Factories Regulation Acts. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 9 August 1859”, pp. 4-5).

* “The profit to be gained by it (overworking over the legal time) appears to be, to many (mill-owners) a greater temptation than they can resist; they calculate upon the chance of not being found out; and when they see the small amount of penalty and costs, which those who have been convicted have had to pay, they find that if they should de detected there will still be a considerable balance of gain"* (Report of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year ending 31st Oct. 1856, [p.] 34).

* “Five minutes a day’s increased work, multiplied by weeks, are equal to 2 1/2 days of production in the year” * (l.c., [p.] 35).

* “In cases where the additional time is gained by a multiplication of small thefts in the course of the day, there are insuperable difficulties to the Inspectors making out a case"* (l.c., p. 35).

(Here the overtime appropriated in this way is directly characterised as “theft” by the official English Factory Inspectors.)

[III-120] These small thefts are also described as “petty pilferings of minutes” (l.c., p. 48), later on as “snatching a few minutes” (l.c.), “or as it is termed, ‘nibbling’, or ‘cribbling at meal times"* (l.c.).

* “If you allow me,” said a highly respectable master to me, “to work only 10 minutes in the day over time, you put one thousand a year in my pocket” * (l.c., p. 48).

According to the Factory Inspectors, the working time is in practice still unrestricted in English printworks, and even as late as 1857 children of 8 years and upwards had to work from 6 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock in the evening (15 hours).

* “The hours of labour in printworks may practically be considered to be unrestricted, notwithstanding the statutory limitation. The only restriction upon labour is contained in 22 of the Printwork Act (8 and 9 Victoria C. 29) which enacts that no child — that is, no child between the ages of 8 and 13 years — shall be employed during the night; which is defined to be between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following morning. Children, therefore, of the age of 8 years; may be lawfully employed in labour analogous in many respects to factory labour, frequently in rooms in which the temperature is oppressive, continuously and without any cessation from work for rest or refreshment, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (16 hours); and a boy, having attained the age of 13, may lawfully be employed day and night for any numbers of hours without any restriction whatever. Children of the age of 8 years and upwards have been employed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the last half-year in my district” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories, 31st Oct. 1857, Report of Mr. A. Redgrave, [p.] 39).

* “An additional hour a day, gained by small instalments before 6 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and at the beginning and end of the times nominally fixed for meals, is nearly equivalent to making 13 months in the year"* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1858. Report of Mr. L. Horner, p. 9 [101).

So concerned are the Factory Inspectors to make it clear that the GAIN is nothing but labour time, surplus labour time, and the extra GAIN is therefore surplus labour time over and above the normal working day. [III-121] A period of crisis therefore does nothing to change the attempt to have the workers work overtime. If only 3 or 4 days in the week are worked, the profit consists only in the surplus time that is worked during these 3 or 4 days. Hence an extraordinary profit is only to be made during the unpaid surplus time, which is worked beyond the normal surplus time, and therefore beyond the legally determined normal working day. If I multiply 2 hours of surplus labour by 3 days of the week, the surplus value is of course only half as great as if I multiplied it by 6 days of the week. There is therefore an even greater temptation during crises to have the workers work overtime, i.e. more unpaid labour time than would otherwise be worked, on the days when work actually takes place. (Other manufacturers do the same thing in practice by reducing wages, i.e. by lessening necessary labour time during the 3 or 4 days on which work is done.) Hence in 1857-58:

* “It may seem inconsistent that there should be any overworking"*

//it is not in the least inconsistent that the manufacturer should try to snatch the largest possible portion of unpaid labour time during the crisis//

* “at a time when trade is so bad; but that very badness leads to transgressions by unscrupulous men; they get the extra-profit of it* (Reports etc. 30th April 1858. Report of Mr. L. Horner, [p. 10]).

//The worse the time and the less business is done, the greater the profit that has to be made on the business done.// Horner therefore remarks, l.c., that at the very time when 122 mills in his district had been given up, 143 stood idle, and all the rest were on short-time working, overwork over the legal time was continuing (l.c.). Similarly another Factory Inspector, T. J. Howell, remarks of the same year:

* “I continue, however,” * (although in most of factories only half time was worked owing to the bad time) * “to receive the usual number of complaints that half or 3 quarters on an hour in the day are snatched from the workers by encroaching upon the times allowed for rest and refreshment during the working day, and by starting 5 minutes and more before the proper time in the morning and by stopping 5 minutes or more after the proper time in the evening. These petty pilferings, amounting in the whole to from half to three quarters on an hour daily, are very difficult of detection"* (T. J. Howell’s Report, l.c., p. 25).

* “To prove a systematic course of overworking, made up of minutes taken at 6 different times of the day, could manifestly not be done by the observation of an Inspector"* (Reports. L. Horner. 31st Oct. 1856 [p. 35]).

* “It is this general acquiescence in the practice, if not approbation of the principle, and the general concurrence that the limitation of labour is expedient, etc.” (Reports etc. 31st Oct. 1855, p. 77).

The governments on the Continent (France, Prussia, Austria, etc.) were compelled, in proportion with the development there of capitalist production, hence of the factory system, to follow the English example by limiting the working day d'une manière ou d'une autre. They have for the most part, with certain modifications, copied, and inevitably so, the English Factory Legislation.

[III-122] In France there existed in practice until 1848 no law for the limitation of the working day in factories. The law of March 22, 1841 for the limitation of the work of children in factories (Factories, works and workshops employing moving power, or a continuous fire, and all establishments giving employment to more than 20 workmen), the basis of which was 3 and 4 William IV, C. 103, remained a dead letter and has up to this day been implemented in practice in the Département du Nord alone. [169] In any case, according to this law children under 13 years old can be employed even at night (between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.) “Upon the occasion of urgent Repairs, or the stoppage of a waterwheel”. Children more than 13 years old can be employed even during the night “if their labour is indispensable”.

On March 2, 1848 the Provisional Government promulgated a law limiting the working time to 10 hours in Paris and 11 in the Departments, not only in factories but in all places of manufacture and craft workshops, not only for children but for adult workmen too. The Provisional Government proceeded from the false assumption that the normal working day was 11 hours in Paris and 12 in the Departments. But:

“In many of the spinning mills the work lasted 14 to 15 hours a day, and even longer, greatly damaging the health and morality of the workers and particularly the children” ([J. A.] Blanqui, Des classes ouvrières en France, pendant l'année 1848).

The National Assembly modified this law, by the law of September 8, 1848, as follows:

* “The daily labour of the workman in manufactures and works shall not exceed 12 hours. The government has the power to declare exceptions to the above enactment in those cases where the nature of the work or of the apparatus requires it.” *

The government put these exceptions into effect by the decree of May 17, 1851. Firstly, it listed the various branches of industry to which the law of September 8, 1848 did not apply. In addition, however, the following limitations were made:

* “The cleaning of machinery at the end of the day; work rendered necessary by accident to the moving power, the boiler, the machinery, or the building. Labour may be extended in the following cases: For 1 hour at the end of the day for washing and stretching pieces in dye works, bleach works, and cotton print works. For 2 hours in sugar factories, and refineries, and in chemical works. For 2 hours during 120 days a year, at the choice of the manufacturer, and with the sanction of the Préfet, in dye works, print works, and finishing establishments."*

//Factory Inspector A. Redgrave remarks in Reports etc. 31st October 1855, p. 80, in regard to the implementation of this law in France:

* “I have been assured by several manufacturers that when they have wished to avail themselves of the permission to extend the working day, the workmen have objected upon the ground that an extension of the working day at one moment would be followed by a curtailment of the ordinary number of hours at another ... and they especially objected to work beyond the 12 hours per day, because the law which fixed those hours is the only good which remains to them of the legislation of the Republic.”

* “The prolongation of the working day is optional with the workmen.... When it is mutually agreed ... the rate per hour (beyond 12) is generally higher than their ordinary pay"* (l.c., p. 80).

A. Redgrave remarks on p. 81 that as a result of overwork and the physical enervation and mental demoralisation bound up with this

* “the labouring population of Rouen and Lille ... have succumbed”, become “diminutive in growth”, and “many are afflicted with that species of lameness which in England has given to its victims the name of ‘factory cripples"’.*

* “It must he admitted that a daily labour of 12 hours is a sufficient call upon the human frame, and when the requisite intervals for meals, the time required for going to and returning from work, are added to the hours of labour, the balance at the disposal of the workman is not excessive” * (A. Redgrave, l.c., p. 8 1).

Among the hypocritical pretexts (objections) advanced by the English manufacturers against the Ten Hours’ Bill there is the following:

* “One of the many objections made to the Ten Hours’ Bill was the danger of throwing upon the hands of the young persons and females so much leisure time, which, from their defective education, they would [III-123] either waste or misuse; and it was urged that until education progressed, and means were provided for occupying in profitable mental or social employment the leisure Hours which the Ten Hours’ Bill proposed to award to the Factory population, it was more advisable, in the interests of morality, that the whole of the day should be spent in the factory"* (A. Redgrave, l.c., [p.] 87).//

//How much Macaulay distorts the economic FACTS so as to be able to act as Whig apologist for the here-and-now — Cato the Censor’ towards the past alone, a sycophant towards the present — can be seen from the following passage among others:

* “The practice of setting children prematurely to work, a practice which the state, the legitimate protector of those who cannot protect themselves, has, in our time, wisely and humanely interdicted, prevailed in the 17th century to an extent which, when compared with the extent of the manufacturing system, seems almost incredible. At Norwich, the chief seat of the clothing trade, a little creature of six years old was thought fit for labour. Several writers of that time, and among them some who were considered as eminently benevolent, mention, with exultation, the fact, that in that single city boys and girls of tender age, created wealth exceeding what was necessary, for their own subsistence by 12,000 pounds a year. The more carefully we examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent from those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social evils. The truth is, that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, old. That which is new is the intelligence which discerns and humanity which remedies them” * ([Th. B.] Macaulay, [The History of] England, Vol. I, p. 417).

This passage proves precisely the opposite, namely that at that time child labour was still an exceptional phenomenon, noted with exultation as particularly praiseworthy by political economists. What modern writer would mention it as something particularly noteworthy that children of tender age were being used up in factories? Anyone who reads writers like Child, Culpeper, etc., with common sense would come to the same conclusion. // The legal time of working is often exceeded

* “by keeping the children, young persons, and women in the mill to clean the machinery during a part of the meal times, and on Saturdays after 2 o'clock, in place of that work being done within the restricted time” * (Reports etc. 30th April 1856, L. Horner, p. 12).

This overworking also takes place with workpeople

* “who are not employed on piece-work, but receive weekly wages” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1859, L. Horner, p[p. 8-]9).

(* Mr. Horner, besides being one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners of 1833, was one of the original Inspectors of Factories, and during the early days of factory supervision had to contend with serious difficulties.*) This is what Horner says in his last report, dated 30th April 1859[170]:

* “The education of the children, professedly provided for, is, in numerous cases, an utter mockery; the protection of the workpeople against bodily injuries and death from unfenced machinery, also professedly provided for, has become, practically, a dead letter; the reporting of accidents is, to a great extent, a mere waste of public money.... Overworking to a very considerable extent, still prevails; and, in most instances, with that security against detection and punishment, which the law itself affords"* (l.c., pp. 9, 8).

(* Children above 13 years qualified to be employed for the same number of hours as adult men; half-timers children under 13 years.*)

[III-124] *"The fact is, that prior to the Act of 1833, young persons and children were worked all night, all day, or both ad libitum (Reports etc. 30th April 1860, p[p. 50-]51).

According to the Act of 1833 night lay between 8 1/2 p.m. and 5 1/2 a.m. The millowners were permitted

* “to take their legal hours of labour at any period within 5 1/2 a.m. and 8 1/2 p.m. Il.*

  • This signification of “day” and “night” continued through all the subsequent Factory acts, though with restricted hours of work until 1850, when, for the first time, the day hours of permitted labour were fixed at from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and in winter from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. if so desired by the mill occupier.*

    * “ The bulk of the accidents happened in the largest mills.... The perpetual scramble for every minute of time, where work is going on by an unvarying power, which is indicated at perhaps a thousand horses, necessarily leads to danger. In such mills, moments are the elements of profit — the attention of everybody’s every instant is demanded. It is here, where ... there may be seen a perpetual struggle between life and inorganic forces; where the mental energies must direct, and the animal energies must move and be kept equivalent to the revolutions of the spindles. They must not lag, notwithstanding the strain upon them either by excessive excitement or by heat; nor be suspended for an instant by any counter attention to the various movements around, for in every lagging there is loss” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1860, p. 56).

    * “The Children’s Employment Commission, the reports of which have been published several years, brought to light many enormities, and which still continue, — some of them much greater than any that factories and printworks were ever charged with.... Without an organized system of inspection by paid officers, responsible to Parliament, and kept to their duty by half-yearly reports of their proceedings, the law would soon become inoperative; as was proved by the inefficiency of all the Factory Laws prior to that of 1833, and as is the case at the present day in France: the Factory Law of 1841 containing no provision for systematic inspection"* (Reports of the Inspectors etc 31st Oct. 1858, [p.] 10).

    *The Factory Acts “have put an end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers; by making them masters of their own time they have given them a moral energy which is directing them to the eventual possession of political power"* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 31st Oct. 1859, [p.] 47).

    * “A still greater boon is, the distinction at last made clear between the workers own time and his master’s. The worker knows now when that which he sells is ended, and when his own begins; and by possessing a sure foreknowledge of this, is enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own purposes!"* (I.c., p. 52.)a

    This is very important with regard to the establishment of a normal working day. Before 1833:

    * “The master had no time for anything but money, the servant had no time for anything but labour” * (l.c., p. 48).

    * “The cupidity of millowners, whose cruelties in the pursuit of gain have hardly been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards on the conquest of America, in the pursuit of gold” * (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd ed. London, 1835, p. 114).

    [III-124a] 17f * “Certain classes of workers (such as the adult males, and female weavers) have a direct interest in working overtime, and it may be supposed that they exercise some influence over the more juvenile classes, which latter have, besides, a natural dread of dismissal by giving any evidence or information calculated to implicate their employers ... even when detected (the juvenile workers) in working at illegal times, their evidence to prove the facts before a Bench of Magistrates, can seldom be relied on, as it is given at the risk of losing their employments” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year Ending 31st Oct. 1860, p. 8).

    * “A factory employs 400 people, the half of which work by the ‘piece’ and have ... a direct interest in working longer hours. The other 200 are paid by the day, work equally long with the others, and get no more money for their overtime. A habit has arisen in some localities of starting systematically 5 minutes before and ceasing 5 minutes after the proper hour. There are 3 starting and 3 leaving off times each day; and thus 5 minutes at 6 different times, equal to half an hour are gained daily, not by one person only, but by 200 who work and are paid by the day. The work of these 200 people for half an hour a day is equal to one person’s,, work for 50 hours, or 5/6 of one person’s labour in a week, and is a positive gain to the employer” * (l.c., p. 9).

    If piece-wages are paid, the worker has indeed a share in his overtime, and he himself appropriates a portion of the surplus time during which he works. But the capitalist, quite apart from the more rapid valorisation of his fixed capital, enjoys a surplus profit even if he pays an hour of overtime at the same rate as, or even higher than, the hours of the normal working day: 1) Because he does not need to increase the number of machines on which the work is done (e.g. spindles, looms). The same worker works at the same power loom whether he works for 12 or 15 hours. Thus a part of the capital outlay is subtracted with this production of surplus time. 2) If the normal working day is 12 hours, of which 2 hours are surplus labour, 10 hours must be paid for 2 hours of surplus time.

Here of the 30 minutes (1/2 hour), 1/6 is gained, = 5 minutes, and the worker is paid 25 minutes. The surplus time is otherwise dependent on the worker’s having first worked 10 hours for himself. Here it is already assumed in advance that he has earned his necessary wages. He can therefore be fobbed off with 1 aliquot part of the overtime.

If the overtime is gratis, capital acquires it without paying necessary labour time; 100 hours of overtime, if 10 hours a day are being worked, = the labour time of 10 workers, whose wages are completely saved.

[III-124b] The Bleaching and Dyeing Acts were to come into operation on August 1, 1861.

The main provisions of the Factory Acts proper are:

*"All persons under 16 years of age must be examined by the certifying surgeon. Children cannot be employed under the age of 8 years. Children between 8 and 13 years of age can only be employed for half-time, and must attend school daily. Females and young persons under the age of 18 years cannot be employed before 6 o'clock in the morning nor after 6 o'clock in the evening, nor after 2 o'clock in the afternoon of Saturdays. Females and young persons cannot be employed during a meal time, nor be allowed to remain in any room in a factory while any manufacturing process is carried on. Children under 13 years of age cannot be employed both before noon and after 1 o'clock on the same day” ([Report &..,] l.c., pp. 22-23).

* “The hours of work are governed by a public clock; generally the clock of the nearest railway station.... It is sometimes advanced by way of excuse, when persons are found in a factory either during a meal hour or at some other illegal time, that they will not leave the mill at the appointed hour, and that compulsion is necessary to force them to cease work, especially on Saturday afternoons. But, if the hands remain in a factory after the machinery has ceased to revolve, and occupy themselves in cleaning their machines and in other like work, they would not have been so employed if sufficient time had been set apart specially for cleaning, etc., either before 6 p.m. or before 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons” * q.c., p. 23).

A further provision of the Factory Acts in regard to mealtimes:

*"One hour and a half must be given to all young persons and females, at the same time between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.; of this one hour must be given before 3 p.m., and no person can be employed for more than 5 hours before 1 p.m. without an interval of 30 minutes. The usual mealhours of mechanics throughout the country are, half an hour for breakfast and an hour for dinner” * (lI.c., [p.] 24).

A further provision of the Factory Acts:

*"The parent is required to cause his child to attend school for 3 hours daily for 5 days in the week. The occupier is restricted from employing children unless he shall have procured on each Monday morning a schoolmaster’s certificate that each child has attended school for 3 hours daily for 5 days in the preceding week” * (p. 26).

In earlier centuries too, in the period preceding capitalist production, we likewise find forcible regulation, i.e. regulation by laws, on the part of governments. But the aim then was to force the workers to work for a definite period of time, whereas the present regulations all have the opposite objective, to force the capitalist to have them work for no more than a definite period of time. In the face of developed capital it is only government compulsion that can limit labour time. At the stage at which capital is only entering on its development, [III-124c] government compulsion steps in to transform the worker forcibly into a wage labourer.

*"When population is scanty, and land abundant, the free labourer is idle and saucy. Artificial regulation has often been found, not only useful, but absolutely necessary to compel him to work. At this day, according to Mr. Carlyle, the emancipated negroes in our West India Islands, having hot sun for nothing, and plenty of pumpkin for next to nothing, will not work. He seems to think legal regulations compelling work absolutely necessary, even for their own sakes. For they are rapidly relapsing into their original barbarism. So in England 500 years ago, it was found, by experience, that the poor need not, and would not work. A great plague in the 14th century having thinned the population, the difficulty of getting men to work on reasonable terms grew to such a height as to be quite intolerable, and to threaten the industry of the kingdom. Accordingly, in the year 1349, the Statute 23rd, Edward III, was passed, compelling the poor to work, and interfering with the wages of labour. It was followed with the same view through several centuries by a long series of statutable enactments. The wages of artisans, as well as of agricultural labourers; the prices of piece-work, as well as of day-work; the periods during which the poor were obliged to work, nay, the very intervals for meals (as in the Factory acts of the present day) were defined by law. Acts of Parliament regulating wages, but against the labourer, and in favour of the master, lasted for the long period of 464 years. Population grew. These laws were then found, and really became, unnecessary and burdensome. In the year 1813, they were all repealed"* ([J. B. Byles,] Sophisms of Free-Trade etc., 7th ed., London, 1850, pp. 205-06).

“It appears from the Statute of 1496 that the diet was considered equivalent to 1/3 of the income of an artificer and 1/2 the income of a labourer, which indicates a greater degree of independence among the working classes than prevails at present; for the board, both of labourers and artificers, is now reckoned at a higher proportion of their wages. The hours for meals and relaxation were more liberal than at this day. They amounted to e.g. 1 hour for breakfast from March to September, 1 1/2 hours for dinner, and 1/2 hour for ‘noon-meate’. “ (Thus 3 hours altogether.) “In winter they worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until it went dark. In the cotton factories of the present time, in contrast, 1/2 hour is allowed for [III-124d] breakfast, 1 hour for dinner”, hence only 1 1/2 hours, exactly half as much as in the ]5th century (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd ed., London, 1835, pp. 24-25 and 577-78).

The Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act. Passed in 1860. There are different provisions in the Print Work Act, Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act and the Factory Act.

*"The Bleaching etc Works Act limits the hours of work of all females and young persons between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m, but does not permit children to work after 6 p.m The Print Works Act limits the hours of females, young persons and children between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., provided the children have attended some school for 5 hours in any day but Saturday before 6 o'clock p.m."* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year Ending 31st Oct. 1861, pp. 20-21).

* “The Factory Acts require 1 1/2 hours to be allowed during the day, and that they shall be taken between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and one hour thereof shall be given before 3 o'clock in the afternoon; and that no child, young person, or female shall be employed more than 5 hours before 1 o'clock in the afternoon of any day without an interval for meal time of at least 30 minutes.... In the Print Works Act there is no requisition ... for any meal time at all. Accordingly, young persons and females may work from 6 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night without stopping for meals"* (l.c., p. 21).

*"In Print Works a child may work between 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night.... By the Bleach Works Act a child may only work as under the Factories Act, whilst the labour of the young persons and females, with whom it has been previously working during the day, may be continued till 8 o'clock in the evening"* (I.c., [p.] 22).

* “To take the silk manufacture for example, since 1850, it has been lawful to employ children above 11 years of age” * (from 11 to 13 years, therefore) * “in the winding and throwing of raw silk for 10 1/2 hours a day. From 1844 to 1850 their daily work, less Saturday, was limited to 10 hours; and before that period to 9 hours. These alterations took place on the ground that labour in silk mills was lighter than in mills for other fabrics, and less likely, in other respects also, to be prejudicial to health” * (I.c., p. 26).

* “The allegation put forth in 1850 about the manufacture of silk being a healthier occupation than that of other textile fabrics, not only entirely [III-124e] fails of proof, but the proof is quite the other way; for the average death rate is exceedingly high in the silk districts, and amongst the female part of the population is higher even than it is in the cotton districts of Lancashire, where, although it is true that the children only work half time, yet from the conditional causes which render cotton manufacture unhealthy, a high rate of pulmonary mortality might be supposed to be inevitable” * (I.c., p. 27).

Lord Ashley said in his speech on the Ten Hours’ Bill (March 15, 1844) that hours of labour in Austrian factories at that time were

*"15, not unfrequently 17 hours a day"* (Ten Hours’ Factory Bill, London, 1844, p. 5).

  • In Switzerland the regulations are very strict*:

    *"In the canton of Argovia, no children are allowed to work, under 14 years, more than 12 hours and 112; and education is compulsory on the millowners.”

    * In the canton of Zurich “the hours of labour are limited to 12; and children under 10 years of age are not allowed to be employed.... In Prussia, by the law of 1839, no child who has not completed his or her 16th year, is to be employed more than 10 hours a day; none under 9 years of age to be employed at all” (p[p. 5-]6).

    [V-196] [172] “Sub-inspector Baker reports (Factory Reports, 1843), as to “having seen several females, who, he was sure, could only just have completed their 18th year, who had been obliged to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with only 1 1/2 hours for meals. In other cases, he shows, females are obliged to work all night, in a temperature from 70 to 80 degrees.... I found (says Mr. Horner, Factory Reports, 1843) many young women, just 18 years of age, at work from half past 5 in the morning until 8 o'clock at night, with no cessation except a quarter of an hour for breakfast, and 3 quarters of an hour for dinner. They may be fairly said to labour for 15 hours and a half a out of 24. There are (says Mr. Saunders, Factory Reports, 1843) among them females who have been employed for some weeks, with an interval only of a few days, from 6 o'clock in the morning until 12 o'clock at night, less than 2 hours for meals, thus giving them for 5 nights in the week, 6 hours out of its 24 to go to and from their homes, and to obtain rest in bed"* (l.c., [pp.] 20-21).

    The earlier wearing out of labour capacity, in other words premature ageing, in consequence of the forcible lengthening of labour time:

    * “In the year 1833, a letter was addressed to me by Mr. Ashworth, a very considerable millowner in Lancashire, which contains the following curious passage: ‘You will next naturally inquire about the old men, who are said to die, or become unfit for work, when they attain 40 years of age, or soon after.’ Mark the phrase ‘old men’ at 40 years of age!"* (l.c., p. 12).

    * The government commissioner M'Intosh (one of those commissioners, sent expressly to collect evidence against that taken by the committee of 1832), says in his report of 1833: “Although prepared by seeing childhood occupied in such a manner, it is very difficult to believe the ages of men advanced in years, as given by themselves, so complete is their premature old age” * (l.c., p. 13).

    [III-124e] In 1816 Sir R. Peel procured a committee of the House of Commons to examine into the Apprentice Act of 1802 (among other things). According to the evidence of John Moss, overseer of a mill near Preston , the Apprentice Act was constantly set at nought. The witness did not even know of it. The children in the mill were almost all Apprentices of London Parishes; they were worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until 8 at night, all the year round, with 1 hour for the 2 meals, they invariably worked from 6 on the Sunday morning till 12, in cleaning the machinery for the week (15 hours).

Average working day among the London bakers 17 hours. Regularly 17 hours in the earliest stages of the cotton industry. Shortly after this introduction of night work.

Rate of Surplus Value[edit source]

If the worker does 10 hours of necessary labour and 2 hours of surplus labour, the rate = 1/10 = 1/5 = 20%. It would result in an incorrect calculation, i.e. the rate of exploitation would be wrongly stated, if one were to consider the whole of the working day of 12 hours, and say, for instance, that the worker receives 5/6 and the capitalist 1/6 of it. The rate would then amount to 1/6 (12/6 = 2 hours), = 16 2 /3%. The same error would occur if the product were calculated, and indeed not the ratio of the surplus product to the part of the product which is equivalent to the wage, but to the surplus product as aliquot part of the aggregate product. This point is not only very important for the determination of surplus value but it is later of decisive importance for the correct determination of the rate of profit. [173]

[III-124f] “He” (one of the entrepreneurs in the first period of the development of the cotton industry) “communicated an admirable idea to me, I don’t know whether it is his own invention, but it is truly worthy of him: it is the organisation of night work The workers will be divided into two gangs, in such a way that each of them on alternate nights will be awake until the morning: the business will no longer come to a halt. The work, when confined to 17 hours, allowed an enormous capital — the value of the Machines, the rent of the buildings, etc. — to lie dormant for 7 whole hours. These 7 whole hours of interest a day will no longer be lost. He explained to me a plan thanks to which he will recover, and more than recover, the expenses of lighting, simply by his way of remunerating night work” (St. Germain Leduc, Sir Richard Arkwright etc. (1760 à 1792), Paris, 1842, [pp.] 145-46).a

This is now the norm in the cotton factories of Moscow. Much more frightful at this moment the system followed in the mirror factories of Manchester, with children being used as well. There are two gangs, which relieve each other every 6 hours, day and night, during the whole of the 24 hours. We read in Babbage (On the Economy of Machinery etc., London, 1832):

“The first machines for manufacturing tulle were very expensive when first purchased, at between £1,000 and £1,200 or £1,300 sterling. Every manufacturer who possessed one of these machines soon found that he was manufacturing more, but because its work was limited to 8 hours a day he could not, in view of its price, compete with the old method of manufacture. This disadvantage stemmed from the considerable sum of money devoted to the initial establishment of the machine. Soon, however, the manufacturers noticed that with the same expenditure of initial capital and a small addition to their circulating capital they could set the same machine to work for 24 hours. The advantages thereby realised induced other people to direct their attention to the means of perfecting the machine; so that its purchase price underwent a considerable reduction simultaneously with increases in the speed and quantity of tulle manufacture” (Ch. XXII).[174]

Dale, Owen’s predecessor in the cotton mill at New Lanark, and himself a philanthropist, still employed children for 13 hours a day, even those under 10 years old.

“To cover the expense of these so well combined arrangements, and for the general upkeep of the premises, it was absolutely necessary to employ these children in the cotton mills from 6 o'clock in the morning until 7 o'clock in the evening, summer and winter alike.... The directors of the workhouses, through misplaced motives of economy, did not want to send the children entrusted to their care, unless the owner of establishment took charge of them from the ages of 6, 7 or 8 years” (Henry Grey Macnab, Examen impartial des nouvelles vues de M. Robert Owen, et de ses établissements a New-Lanark en Ecosse. Traduit par Laffon de Ladébat, Paris, 1821, [p.] 64).

“Thus the arrangements of Mr. Dale and his tender solicitude for the well-being of these children were in the last resort almost entirely useless and unsuccessful. He had taken these children into his service, and without their labour he could not feed them” (l.c., [p.] 65).

“The source of this evil was that the children [III-124g] sent by the workhouses were much too young for the work, and ought to have been kept for four more years, and to have received primary schooling.... If this is the true and not exaggerated picture of the situation of our apprentices emerging from the workhouses, in our Present manufacturing system, even under the best and most humane regulations, how deplorable must the situation of these children be under a bad management?” (l.c., [p.] 66).

As soon as Owen took over the management:

“The system of accepting apprentices drawn from the workhouses was abolished.... They gave up the practice of employing children of six to eight years of age in the factories” ([p.] 74).

“Working hours, which were 16 out of the 24, have been reduced to 10 and a half per day” ([p.] 98).

This was naturally regarded as subversive of society. A great noise was made by the économistes and Benthamite “philosophers”.

* * *

“But it is still easier to obtain bread in the eastern islands of the Asian archipelago, where sago grows wild in the forests. When the inhabitants have convinced themselves, by boring a hole in the trunk, that the pith is ripe, the tree is cut down and divided into several pieces, the pith is extracted, mixed with water and filtered: it is then quite fit for use as sago meal. One tree commonly yields 300 pounds, and it may yield 500-600. There, then, one goes into the forest and cuts one’s own bread, just as with us one cuts firewood” (J. F. Schouw, Die Erde, die Pflanzen und der Mensch, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1854, [p.] 148).

Suppose that 1 day (of 12 hours) a week is required for this bread-cutter to satisfy all his needs. If capitalist production were introduced, he would have to work 6 days a week in order to appropriate for himself the product of that one day.

Surplus labour naturally consists of the same kind of labour as necessary labour. If the worker is a spinner, his surplus labour consists of spinning, and his surplus product of spun yarn. If he is a miner, similarly, etc. It can therefore be seen that the kind of labour it is, its particular quality, the particular branch it belongs to, is entirely irrelevant to the ratio of surplus labour to necessary labour. Equally irrelevant, therefore, is the ratio between the values of different days of labour, or, which is the same thing, the ratio in which a day of more or less skilled labour is equated with a day of unskilled average labour. This equation has no effect at all on the ratio under investigation here. In order to simplify (the presentation) we can therefore always argue as if the labour of all the workers employed by the capitalist = average unskilled labour, simple labour.[69] In any case, in the capitalist’s own calculations (in the monetary expression of labour), every kind of labour is reduced, in practice and in fact, to this expression.

[III-124h] The qualitative differences between the different kinds of average labour, whereby one requires more dexterity, the other more strength, etc., cancel each other out in practice. But as regards the individual differences between workers who perform the same labour, the following must be pointed out: These differences are greatest in handicraft production (and in the higher spheres of so-called unproductive labour). They vanish progressively as time goes on, and in developed capitalist production, where division of labour and machinery prevail, their role is limited to a sphere almost too small for calculation. (If we set aside the short period during which apprentices learn their trade.) The average wage must be high enough to preserve the average worker’s life as a worker; and an average performance is here the prerequisite the worker must fulfil to be allowed into the workshop at all. He who stands above or below this average is an exception, and, viewing the workshop as a whole, its entire personnel provides the average product in the average time of the branch in question under the average conditions of production. In the daily or weekly wage, etc., no regard is in fact taken of these individual differences. They are taken into account in the piece-wage system, though. But this does not change the relation between capitalist and worker at all. If the labour time of A is higher than that of B, his wages are higher too, but also the surplus value he produces. If his performance falls below the average, his wages fall, but also the surplus value. The workshop as a whole, however, must provide the average. What is above and below the average is mutually complementary, and the average, which the great bulk of labourers perform in any case, remains what it was. These matters are to be considered under the wages of labour.[33] For the relation being considered here they are irrelevant. For the rest, the piece-wage was introduced very early on into the English factories. Once it was established how much could be performed on an average in a given period of labour, the wage was determined accordingly (the number of hours in the working day being simultaneously given). And in fact the wage (the aggregate) was then lower if 17 hours a day were worked than if 10 were worked. Only with extraordinary overtime working would the workers benefit from the distinction, so that they could appropriate to themselves a part of this extraordinary surplus labour. Which, incidentally, is also the case where there is extraordinary surplus labour under the daily wage system, etc.

We have seen that the basis of value is the fact that human beings relate to each other’s labour as equal, and general, and in this form social, labour. This is an abstraction, like all human thought, and social relations only exist among human beings to the extent that they think, and possess this power of abstraction from sensuous individuality and contingency. The kind of political economist who attacks the determination of value by labour time on the ground that the work performed by 2 individuals during the same time is not absolutely equal (although in the same trade), doesn’t yet even know what distinguishes human social relations from relations between animals. He is a beast. As beasts, the same fellows then also have no difficulty in overlooking the fact that no 2 use values are absolutely identical (no 2 leaves, Leibniz[175]) and even less difficulty in judging use values, which have no common measure whatever, as exchange values according to their degree of utility.

If the monetary expression (money to be supposed to keep its value, as it really does for longer periods) of an average working day of 12 hours were = 10s., it would be clear that the worker who works for 12 hours can never add more than 10s. to the object of labour. If the total amount of the means of subsistence he needs every day is 5s., the capitalist will have to pay 5s. and receive 5s. of surplus value. If it comes to 6 he will only receive 4, if 7 only 3, if 3 in contrast then 7, etc. With a given labour time — length of the working day — it must be firmly grasped that the sum total of the necessary and the surplus labour is represented in a product of constant value and of equal monetary expression of that value, as long as the value of money remains constant.