The purpose and meaning behind wages Essay

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Marxist theory developed by Karl Marx with coaction of Frederick Engels is a theory of capitalist society based on a set of propositions refering the pay system, which lead to anticipations of a subsistence pay degree, capitalist system dislocation, and socialist revolution. “ Wage Labour and Capital ” written by Karl Mark has appeared in a figure of editions which had the purpose practically entirely for propaganda among workers.

Harmonizing to the original theory developed by Karl Marx, the worker sells his labor to the capitalist for rewards, but harmonizing to ulterior editions of the propaganda, the worker sells his labour power. Applied to capitalist economy, it means that the wage-labor relation is the foundation of the businessperson province. It notes farther that this province and its attach toing societal construction can take many different signifiers ( “ infinite fluctuations and steps in visual aspect ” ) . Nevertheless, all will be capitalist ( “ the same economic base… with respect to its chief conditions ” ) , every bit long as the excess labour is extracted through pay labour – which means that the excess merchandise takes the signifier of excess value. When Marx writes of the “ specific economic signifier in which excess labour is pumped out, ” Marxist experts do non see that he is mentioning to the method of development.

Marx was the first to look into the value-creating quality of labor and he discovered that non all labour necessary for the production of a trade good adds to it under all fortunes a magnitude of value which corresponds to the measure of labor expended. ( K. Marx, Wage labor and capital, Moscow 1954, p.72 ) . However, the economic expert ‘s had applied the finding of value by labor to the trade good labor, but how is really the value of “ labour ” determined? And what is the cost of production of labor? In order to reply these inquiries, the economic experts had investigated the cost of production of the worker. It varies with clip and fortunes, but for a given province of society, a given vicinity and a given subdivision of production, it is given within reasonably narrow bounds ( K. , Marx, 1847 ) .

Now, hence, the inquiry: A What are rewards? How are they determined?

If workers were asked: “ What are your rewards? ” one would answer: “ I get a grade a twenty-four hours from my foreman ” ; another, “ I get two Markss, ” and so on. Harmonizing to the different trades to which they belong, they would advert different amounts of money which they receive from their several foremans for the public presentation of a peculiar piece of work, for illustration, weaving a pace of linen or typesetting a printed sheet. In malice of the assortment of their statements, they would all hold on one point: rewards are the amount of money paid by the capitalist for a peculiar labor clip or for a peculiar end product of labor. ( Harmonizing to Karl Marx, 1847 )


The capitalists buy their labor with money. The workers sell to the middle classs their labor for money. But in world, what workers sell to the capitalist for money is their labour power. The workers exchange their trade good, labour power for the trade good of the capitalist, for money, and this exchange takes topographic point in a definite ratio. In fact, the worker has exchanged his trade good, labour power, for other trade goods of all sorts and that in a definite ratio. For illustration, by giving to the worker two Markss, the capitalist has given him so much meat, vesture, light etc. , in exchange for his twenty-four hours ‘s labor. Consequently to Marx ( 1847 ) , the two Markss express the ratio in which labour power is exchanged for other trade goods, the exchange value of his labour power. The exchanged value of a trade good, reckoned in money, is what is called the workers pride. Wagess are merely a particular name for the monetary value of labour power, every bit called the “ monetary value of labor ” .

A Wagess are non the worker ‘s portion in the trade good produced by him. Wagess are the portion of already bing trade goods with which the capitalist buys a definite sum of productive labour power as such. ( K. , Marx, 1847 ) Underliing the pay, which is exactly the exchange value of labour power, is the value of labour power. This is based on the value of the trade goods ( nutrient, vesture, shelter, preparation, etc. ) needed by the workers and their households to reproduce the on the job category. The fact that rewards are usually paid per hr or twenty-four hours – that is, harmonizing to the continuance of clip worked – illustrates the world of the labour theory of value: the value of trade goods produced depends on the labour clip they contain.


As with all trade goods, the value of labour power is invariably altering. It decreases because of progresss in the techniques of bring forthing the workers ‘ necessities. But it besides tends to increase because it contains what Marx called a “ historical and moral component, ” the grade of preparation, instruction and civilisation that society requires of its workers. This component is mostly determined through category battle, even when betterments in the workers ‘ conditions benefit the capitalists as good by doing higher productiveness possible.

The trade good labour power has a alone usage value: it creates new value. Furthermore, the value that the labourer creates must be greater than the value of his or her labour power. In the procedure of capitalist production, hence, the value of the workers ‘ populating labour divides into two classs. One part, paid labour, corresponds to the value of labour power and is taken by the workers in the signifier of rewards. The staying part, unpaid labour or excess value, goes to the capitalists ; it is the beginning of their net income, involvement and rent. The extraction of excess value is the uniquely capitalist signifier of development.

Unlike in pre-capitalist societies, capitalist economy ‘s excess is disguised by the equal exchange of value: labour power for rewards. Exploitation of slaves by their Masterss was naked: what the slaves produced was owned by the maestro who chose what to give back, usually merely plenty for the slaves to exist. Under feudal system, the helot had some rights against the Godhead, but here excessively exploitatory category dealingss were crystalline. But under capitalist economy the dealingss between people are concealed beneath objects and signifiers and look to be between things – trade goods.

Marx wrote Capital to uncover the system ‘s interior kernel behind its outer furnishings. The trade good is the necessary signifier of visual aspect of capitalist development. However, we have seen how middle-class Marxists believe that the trade good signifier instead than the category battle is the key to the system ( and hence that Stalinist societies, where trade good markets are suppressed, can non be capitalist ) . As Marx polemicized against their ascendants:

It is a definite societal relation between work forces that assumes in their eyes the antic signifier of a relation between things. In order, hence, to happen an analogy, we must hold resort to the mist-enveloped parts of the spiritual universe. In that universe the productions of the human encephalon appear as independent existences endowed with life, and come ining into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the universe of trade goods with the merchandises of work forces ‘s custodies. This I call the fetichism which attaches itself to the merchandises of labour, every bit shortly as they are produced as trade goods, and which is hence inseparable from the production of trade goods ( K. , Marx )

The trade good is non merely a thing exchanged between separate proprietors. It is the merchandise of pay labour, the result of a peculiar signifier of development. That is what defines the nature of capitalist economy.

Even if these had been more permeant, capitalist economy would non hold developed where it did and when it did without one really particular trade good: a trade good that merely go available with the visual aspect of the “ free ” wage-laborer ( Marx, 1867, pp. 272-274 )

Wagess will lift and fall harmonizing to the relation of supply and demand, harmonizing to the bend taken by the competition between the purchasers of labour power, the capitalists, and the Sellerss of labour power, the workers. If the capital grows, so the mass of pay labor grows, the figure of wage-workers grows which means that the domination of the capital extends over a greater figure of persons. The rewards increases in a rapid manner because the production of capitalist economy had growing excessively. This rapid growing of productive capital brings about an every bit rapid growing of wealth, luxury, societal wants, and societal enjoyments.

This is like an agitation of the whole universe market, which comprehends the growing, accretion and concentration of capital ensuing in an uninterrupted division of labor. The greater the division of labor it becomes, the labor is being simplified. Which means that the particular accomplishment of the worker it becomes worthless, being transformed into a simple, humdrum productive force which does n’t utilize any rational modules.

If a capital grows quickly, competition among the workers grows uncomparably more and quickly, that is, the agencies of employment, the agencies of subsistence, of the working category decreases proportionally so much the more, and, however, the rapid growing of capital is the most favourable status for pay labor.

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