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«Part II: The Transformation of Money in Capital Ch. 4: The General Formula for Capital Ch. 5: Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital Ch. 6: ...»

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[156] Robert Owen, soon after 1810, not only maintained the necessity of a limitation of the working-day in theory, but actually introduced the 10 hours' day into his factory at New Lanark. This was laughed at as a communistic Utopia; so were his "Combination of children s education with productive labour and the Co-operative Societies of workingmen. first called into being by him. To-day. the first Utopia is a Factory Act, the second figures as an official phrase in all Factory Acts, the third is already being used as a cloak for reactionary humbug.

[157] Ure: "French translation, Philosophie des Manufactures." Paris, 1836, Vol. II, pp. 39, 40, 67, 77, &c.

[158] In the Compte Rendu of the International Statistical Congress at Paris, 1855, it is stated: "The French law, which limits the length of daily labour in factories and workshops to 12 hours, does not confine this work to definite fixed hours. For children's labour only the work-time is prescabed as between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Therefore, some of the masters use the nght which this fatal silence gives them to keep their works going, without intermission, day in, day out, possibly with the exception of Sunday. For this purpose they use two different sets of workers, of whom neither is in the workshop more than 12 hours at a time, but the work of the establishment lasts day and night. The law is satisfied, but is humanity?" Besides "the destructive influence or night-labour on the human organism," stress is also laid upon "the fatal influence of the association of the two sexes by night in the same badly-lighted workshops."

[159] "For instance, there is within my district one occupier who, within the same curtilage, is at the same time a bleacher and dyer under the Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act, a printer under the Print Works Act, and a finisher under the Factory Act." (Repon of Mr. Baker, in Reports, lic., for October 31st, 1861, p. 20.) Afler enumerating the different provisions of these Acts,and the complications arising from them, Mr. Baker says: "It will hence appear that it must be very difficult to secure the execution of these three Acts of Parliament where the occupier chooses to evade the law." But what is assured to the lawyers by this is law-suits.

[160] Thus the Factory Inspectors at last venture to say: "These objections (of capital to the legal limitation of the working-day) must succumb before the broad principle of the rights of labour.... There is a time when the master's right in his workman's labour ceases, and his time becomes his own, even if there were no exhaustion in the question." (Reports, 8cc., for 31 st Oct., 1862, p. 54.) [161] "We, the workers of Dunkirk, declare that the length of time of labour required under the present system is too great, and that, far from leaving the worker time for rest and educatioo, it plunges him into a coodition of servitude but little better than slavery. That is why we decide that 8 hours are enough for a working-day, and ought to be legally recognised as enough; why we call to our help that powerful lever, the press;... and why we shall consider all those that refuse us this help as enemies of the reform of labour and of the rights of the labourer."

(Resolution of the Working Men of Dunkirk, New York State, 1866.) [162] Reports, &c., for Oct., 1848, p. 112.

[163] "The proceedings (the manoeuvres of capital, e.g., from 1848-50) have afforded, moreover, incontrovertible proof of the fallacy of the assertion so often advanced, that operatives need no protection, but may be considered as free agents in the disposal of the only property which they possess — the labour of their hands and the sweat of their brows." (Reports, &c., for April 30th, 1850, p. 45.) "Free labour (if so it may be termed) even in a free country, requires the strong arm of the law to protect it." (Reports, &c., forOctober31st, 1864, p. 34.) "To permit, which is tantamount to compelling... to work 14 hours a day with or without meals," &c. (Repts., &c., for April 30th, 1863, p. 40.) [164] Friedrich Engels, l. c., p. 5.

[165] The 10 Hours' Act has, in the branches of industry that come under it, "put an end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers." (Reports, &c., for 31st Oct., 1859, p. 47.) "Capital (in factories) can never be employed in keeping the machinery in motion beyond a limited time, without certain injury to the health and morals of the labourers employed; and they are not in a position to protect themselves." l. c., p. 8) [166] "A still greater boon is the distinction at last made clear between the worker's 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 prearrange his own minutes for his own purposes." (l. c., p. 52.) "By making them masters of their own time (the Factory Acts) have given them a moral energy which is directing them to the eventual possession of political power" (l. c., p. 47). With suppressed irony, and in very well weighed words, the Factory Inspectors hint that the actual law also frees the capitalist from some of the brutality natural to a man who is a mere embodiment of capital, and that it has given him time for a little "culture." "Formerly the master had no time for anything but money; the servant had no time for anything but labour" (l. c., p. 48).

Transcribed by Zodiac Html Markup by Stephen Baird (1999) Next: Chapter Eleven: Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value Capital Volume One- Index Karl Marx Capital Volume One





Part III:

The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value

CHAPTER ELEVEN:

RATE AND MASS OF SURPLUS VALUE

In this chapter, as hitherto, the value of labour-power, and therefore the part of the workingday necessary for the reproduction or maintenance of that labour-power, are supposed to be given, constant magnitudes.

This premised, with the rate, the mass is at the same time given of the surplusvalue that the individual labourer furnishes to the capitalist in a definite period of time. If, e.g., the necessary labour amounts to 6 hours daily, expressed in a quantum of gold = 3 shillings, then 3s. is the daily value of one labour-power or the value of the capital advanced in the buying of one labour-power. If, further, the rate of surplusvalue be = 100%, this variable capital of 3s. produces a mass of surplusvalue of 3s., or the labourer supplies daily a mass of surpluslabour equal to 6 hours.

But the variable capital of a capitalist is the expression in money of the total value of all the labour-powers that he employs simultaneously. Its value is, therefore, equal to the average value of one labour-power, multiplied by the number of labour-powers employed. With a given value of labour-power, therefore, the magnitude of the variable capital varies directly as the number of labourers employed simultaneously. If the daily value of one labour-power = 3s., then a capital of 300s. must be advanced in order to exploit daily 100 labour-powers, of n times 3s., in order to exploit daily n labour-powers.

In the same way, if a variable capital of 3s., being the daily value of one labour-power, produce a daily surplusvalue of 3s., a variable capital of 300s. will produce a daily surplusvalue of 300s., and one of n times 3s. a daily surplusvalue of n x 3s. The mass of the surplusvalue produced is therefore equal to the surplusvalue which the workingday of one labourer supplies multiplied by the number of labourers employed. But as further the mass of surplusvalue which a single labourer produces, the value of labour-power being given, is determined by the rate of the surplusvalue, this law follows: the mass of the surplusvalue produced is equal to the amount of the variable capital advanced, multiplied by the rate of surplusvalue, in other words: it is determined by the compound ratio between the number of labour-powers exploited simultaneously by the same capitalist and the degree of exploitation of each individual labour-power.

Let the mass of the surplusvalue be S, the surplusvalue supplied by the individual labourer in the average day s the variable capital daily advanced in the purchase of one individual labour-power v, the sum total of the variable capital V, the value of an average labour-power P, its degree of exploitation a' (surplus-labour) ————————————— a (necessary-labour)

and the number of labourers employed n; we have:

/s | —- x V |v S= | | a' | P x —- x n.

\ a It is always supposed, not only that the value of an average labour-power is constant, but that the labourers employed by a capitalist are reduced to average labourers. There are exceptional cases in which the surplusvalue produced does not increase in proportion to the number of labourers exploited, but then the value of the labour-power does not remain constant.

In the production of a definite mass of surplusvalue, therefore the decrease of one factor may be compensated by the increase of the other. If the variable capital diminishes, and at the same time the rate of surplusvalue increases in the same ratio, the mass of surplusvalue produced remains unaltered. If on our earlier assumption the capitalist must advance 300s., in order to exploit 100 labourers a day, and if the rate of surplusvalue amounts to 50%, this variable capital of 300s. yields a surplusvalue of 150s. or of 100 x 3 workinghours. If the rate of surplusvalue doubles, or the workingday, instead of being extended from 6 to 9, is extended from 6 to 12 hours and at the same time variable capital is lessened by half, and reduced to 150s., it yields also a surplus-value of 150s. or 50 x 6 workinghours. Diminution of the variable capital may therefore be compensated by a proportionate rise in the degree of exploitation of labour-power, or the decrease in the number of the labourers employed by a proportionate extension of the workingday.

Within certain limits therefore the supply of labour exploitable by capital is independent of the supply of labourers. [1] On the contrary, a fall in the rate of surplusvalue leaves unaltered the mass of the surplus-value produced, if the amount of the variable capital, or number of the labourers employed, increases in the same proportion.

Nevertheless, the compensation of a decrease in the number of labourers employed, or of the amount of variable capital advanced by a rise in the rate of surplusvalue. or by the lengthening of the working-day, has impassable limits. Whatever the value of labour-power may be, whether the workingtime necessary for the maintenance of the labourer is 2 or 10 hours, the total value that a labourer can produce, day in, day out, is always less than the value in which 24 hours of labour are embodied, less than 12s., if 12s. is the money expression for 24 hours of realised labour. In our former assumption, according to which 6 workinghours are daily necessary in order to reproduce the labour-power itself or to replace the value of the capital advanced in its purchase, a variable capital of 1,500s., that employs 500 labourers at a rate of surplusvalue of 100% with a 12 hours' workingday, produces daily a surplusvalue of 1,500s. or of 6 x 500 workinghours. A capital of 300s. that employs 100 labourers a day with a rate of surplusvalue of 200% or with a workingday of 18 hours, produces only a mass of surplusvalue of 600s. or 12 x 100 workinghours; and its total value-product, the equivalent of the variable capital advanced plus the surplus-value, can, day in, day out, never reach the sum of 1,200s. or 24 x 100 workinghours. The absolute limit of the average workingday — this being by nature always less than 24 hours — sets an absolute limit to the compensation of a reduction of variable capital by a higher rate of surplusvalue, or of the decrease of the number of labourers exploited by a higher degree of exploitation of labour-power. This palpable law is of importance for the clearing up of many phenomena, arising from a tendency (to be worked out later on) of capital to reduce as much as possible the number of labourers employed by it, or its variable constituent transformed into labour-power, in contradiction to its other tendency to produce the greatest possible mass of surplusvalue. On the other hand, if the mass of labour-power employed, or the amount of variable capital, increases, but not in proportion to the fall in the rate of surplusvalue, the mass of the surplusvalue produced, falls.

A third law results from the determination, of the mass of the surplus-value produced, by the two factors: rate of surplusvalue and amount of variable capital advanced. The rate of surplusvalue, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power, and the value of labour-power, or the amount of necessary workingtime being given, it is selfevident that the greater the variable capital, the greater would be the mass of the value produced and of the surplusvalue. If the limit of the working-day is given, and also the limit of its necessary constituent, the mass of value and surplusvalue that an individual capitalist produces, is clearly exclusively dependent on the mass of labour that he sets in motion.



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