Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
HOW SURPLUS-VALUE ARISES

(Extracted from vol. 1, ch. 7.)

LABOUR power in use is labour itself. The purchaser of labour power consumes it by letting its vendor work. With the eye of a connoisseur the capitalist has selected the means of production and the labour power best adapted to his special line of business--spinning-mill, shoe manufactory, etc.--and he now lets the labourer consume the means of production by his labour. He must begin by taking the labour power just as he finds it; consequently also with a kind of labour as would be found at a time in which capitalists did not exist. Transformations of the forms of production due to the subordination of labour to capital can take place only later, and must therefore be considered later.

The labour process, considered as the consumption of the labour power sold to the capitalist, shows us two peculiarities.

The labourer works under the control of the capitalist. The latter takes care that the work is carried-on properly, and that the means of production are put to a suitable use. In other words: the freedom and independence of the worker during the labour process do not exist.

Secondly, the product is the property of the capitalist, not of the labourer. As the capitalist--according to our hypothesis --pays the daily value of the labour power, it appertains to him to employ this power. Similarly the other elements essential for the manufacture of the product, namely the means of production, belong to him. Consequently the labour process is carried-on amongst things which have all been purchased by the capitalist; and thus the product is his property.

This product constitutes a value in use--yarn, boots, etc. But although boots, for example, are to a certain extent the basis of social progress, our capitalist, a decidedly progressive man, does not manufacture them for their own sake. Values in use are produced solely because, and in so far as, they are exchange values. Our capitalist has two purposes in

-39-

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