VI

Wages of Labour

Profit of Capital

Rent of Land

[VI. 1.]
....Smith tells us that a society of which the greater part suffers is not happy. [Smith I, p. 70] But, since even the most prosperous state of society leads to suffering for the majority, and since the economic system [Nationalokonomie], which is a society based on private interests, brings about such a state of prosperity, it follows that society's distress is the goal of the economic system.
....We should further note in connection with the relationship between worker and capitalist that the latter is more than compensated for wage rises by a reduction in the amount of labour time, and that wage rises and increases in the interest on capital act on commodity prices like simple and compound interest respectively.
....Let us now look at things from the point of view of the political economist and compare what he has to say about the theoretical and practical claims of the worker.
....He tells us that, originally, and in theory, the whole produce of labour belongs to the worker. [Smith I, p. 57] But, at the same time, he tells us that what the worker actually receives is the smallest part of the product, the absolute minimum necessary; just enough for him to exist not as a human being but as a worker and for him to propagate not humanity but the slave class of the workers.
....The political economist tells us that everything is bought with labour and that capital is nothing but accumulated labour, but then goes on to say that the worker, far from being in a position to buy everything, must sell himself and his humanity.
....While the ground rent of the indolent landowner generally amounts to a third of the product of the soil, and the profit of the busy capitalist to as much as twice the rate of interest, the surplus which the worker earns amounts at best to the equivalent of death through starvation for two of his four children. [Smith I, p. 60]

[VII. 1.]

[VI. 2.]
their competition would be just so much the greater, and the chance of their combining together, in order to raise the price, just so much the less." [ Smith I, p. 322]
....Since we already know that monopoly prices are as high as possible, since the interest of the capitalists, even from a straight-forwardly economic point of view, is opposed to the interest of society, and since the growth of profits acts on the price of the commodity like compound interest [Smith, pp. 87-8], it follows that the sole defence against the capitalists is competition, which in the view of political economy has the beneficial effect both of raising wages and cheapening commodities to the advantage of the consuming public.
But, competition is possible only if capitals multiply and are held by many different people. It is only possible to generate a large number of capitals as a result of multilateral accumulation, since capital in general stems from accumulation. But, multilateral accumulation inevitably turns into unilateral accumulation. Competition among capitalists increases accumulation of capitals. Accumulation -- which, under the rule of private property, means concentration of capital in few hands -- inevitably ensues if capitals are allowed to follow their own natural course. It is only through competition that this natural proclivity of capital begins to take shape.
....We have already seen that the profit on capital is in proportion to its size. If we ignore deliberate competition for the moment,

[VII. 3.]

[VI. 3.]
quantity of labour, and somebody can always be found who is willing to do something in order to obtain it. The quantity of labour, indeed, which it can purchase is not always equal to what it could maintain, if managed in the most economical manner, on account of the high wages which are sometimes given to labour. But it can always purchase such a quantity of labour as it can maintain, according to the rate at which that sort of labour is commonly maintained in the neighbourhood.
....But land, in almost any situation, produces a greater quantity of food than what is sufficient to maintain all the labour necessary for bringing it to market in the most liberal way in which that labour is ever maintained. The surplus, too, is always more than sufficient to replace the stock which employed that labour, together with its profits. Something, therefore, always remains for a rent to the landlord."
[Smith, I, p. 132-3 ]
...."Food is, in this manner, not only the original source of rent, but every other part of the produce of land which afterwards affords rent derives that part of its value from the improvement of the powers of labour in producing food by means of the improvement and cultivation of land."
[Smith, I, p. 150 ]
...."Human food seems to be the only produce of land which always and necessarily affords a rent to the landlord."
[Smith, I, p. 147 ]

...."Countries are populous not in proportion to the number of people whom their produce can clothe and lodge, but in proportion to that of those whom it can feed."
[Smith, I, p. 149 ]

...."After food, clothing, and lodging, are the two great wants of mankind. [Smith, I, p. 147] They generally yield a rent, but not necessarily.

[VII. 3.]



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Send comments to: Lemmaesthetics@freeuk.com The Hypertext Manuscripts of Karl Marx, Paris 1844. Copyright Gary Tedman 2001-3.