Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marxist Mondays (belated)

Capital is a process of wealth accumulation derived from the unequal relations between employers and employees. Employees may perform the necessary work of production, but because they enter into relationships with employers at a disadvantage, what they receive in return is only a fraction of the value of what they have produced; the "surplus-value," as Marx called it, becomes the property of the employer.

Capitalist economics says this is morally inconsequential: after all, the relationship is voluntary; in a word, "free." Nobody is forcing you to work for this or that employer, whereas in previous economic systems they were. Marx's innovation was to remain unimpressed, never divorcing economic relations from their social meaning -- a meaning that is contested politically between competing groups: employers and employees.


Montag said...

there are many mechanisms in our society that serve to force people to work for an employer. the maintenance of a certain level of unemployment, debt traps, privatized health insurance and so on.

politically, employers, being few, can more easily coordinate their efforts to ensure these conditions obtain; while employees, being many, and being disadvantaged unequally by these conditions, struggle to form any sort of politically effective coalition.

like Marx, i am unimpressed.

Montag said...

also, in my own clumsy way i posted something along the same lines the other day.

JRB said...

Thank you, sir.