Report of Marx's Lecture on Wage Labour and Capital at the Meeting of the First Workers' Association of Vienna on September 2, 1848

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 5 September 1848


First published in Die Constitution No. 136, September 5, 1848
Printed according to the newspaper
Published in English for the first time in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 7
Collection(s): Die Constitution

On September 8, 1848, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung published the following note by its Vienna correspondent Müller-Tellering concerning this report: “At today’s sitting of the first Vienna Workers’ Association Marx delivered a speech on the social-economic question.”

...Dr. Marx delivered a fairly long lecture on wage labour and capital. He said in his introduction that all revolutions are social revolutions. Capital consists not of money, but of raw materials, instruments of production and articles of consumption; wage labour produces capital as distinct from the products. The assertion that the interests of the capitalist and of the wage labourer are identical is false. Along with division of labour, competition among the workers grows and wages fall; but this occurs still more owing to the use of machines. Production costs determine wages. Civilisation does not increase the well-being of the workers, but does the opposite. Taxes and the price of the necessities of life increase.

The lecturer spoke also about the remedies that had been tried and their inadequacy, such as, for example, Malthus’ theory of over-population. The workhouses in England. Industrial training. Abolition of protective tariffs and of taxes. Finally, he stated that conditions must improve because not all the workers are used as workers, but part of them are maintained....