Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

ciple. Moreover, the development of capitalist production makes it constantly necessary to keep increasing the amount of the capital laid out in a given industrial undertaking; and competition compels each individual capitalist to keep constantly extending his capital, in order to preserve it, but extend it he cannot, except by means of progressive accumulation.


CHAPTER XIII
INFLUENCE OF THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL ON THE WORKING CLASS.--THE INDUSTRIAL RESERVE-ARMY.-- THE THEORY OF THE GROWING IMPOVERISHMENT OF THE MASSES

(Extracted from vol. II, ch. 25.)

WHEN a part of the surplus-value is turned into capital and employed as additional capital, it is evident that such additional capital requires, in its turn, labour. All other circumstances remaining the same, and a definite mass of means of production (constant capital) constantly needing the same mass of labour power (variable capital) to set it in motion, then the demand for labour will increase, and this the quicker the more rapidly the capital increases. Capital produces yearly a surplus-value, of which one part is yearly added to the original value; this surplus-value increases every year, because the capital (as a consequence of accumulation) increases; lastly, when a special stimulus to enrichment arises, such as the opening of new markets, or of new spheres for the outlay of capital in consequence of newly developed social wants, &c., a reduction of the private consumption of the capitalists suffices in order to accumulate a great deal more surplus-value. For all these reasons, the requirements of accumulating capital may exceed the increase of the number of labourers, and, therefore, wages may rise. This must, indeed, ultimately be the case if the conditions supposed above continue. For since in each year more labourers are employed than in its predecessor, sooner or later a point must be reached, at which the requirements of accumulation begin to surpass

-161-

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