the political economist, labour is the only means whereby man can enhance
the value of natural products, and labour is the active property of man.
But, according to this same political economy, the landowner and the capitalist,
who as such are merely privileged and idle gods, are everywhere superior
to the worker and dictate the law to him.
...According to the political economist,
labour is the only constant price of things. But nothing is more subject
to chance than the price of labour, nothing exposed to greater fluctuations.
....While the division of labour increases
to the productive power of labour and the wealth and refinement of society,
it impoverishes the worker and reduces him to a machine. While labour
gives rise to the accumulation of capital, and so brings about the growing
prosperity of society, it makes the worker increasingly dependent on the
capitalist, exposes him to greater competition and drives him into the
frenzied world of overproduction, with its subsequent slump.
Whilst according to the political economist the interest of the worker
is never opposed to the interest of society, society is always and inevitably
opposed to the interest of the worker.
....According to the political economist,
the interest of the worker is never opposed to that of society: (1) because
the rise in wages is more than made up for by the reduction in the amount
of labour time, with the other consequences explained above, and (2) because
in relation to society the entire gross product is net product, and only
in relation to the individual does the net product have any significance.
...But that labour itself--not only under
present conditions, but in general and insofar as its goal is restricted
to the increase of wealth--that labour itself is harmful and destructive,
follows from the analyses made by the political economists, even though
they themselves are unaware of it.
...In theory, ground rent and profit on capital
are deductions made from wages. But, in reality, wages are a deduction
which land and capital grant the worker, an allowance made from the product
of labour to the worker, to labour.
....The worker suffers most when society
is in a state of decline. He owes the particular severity of his distress
to his position as a worker, but the distress as such is a result of the
situation of society.
....But, when society is in a state of progress,
the decline and impoverishment of the worker is the product of his labour
and the wealth produced by him. This misery, therefore, proceeds from
the very essence of present-day labour.
....A society at the peak of prosperity--an
ideal, but one which is substantially achieved, and which is at least
the goal of the economic system and of civil society--is static misery
for the worker.
....It goes without saying that political
economy regards the proletarian--i.e., he who lives without capital and
ground rent, from labour alone, and from one-sided, abstract labour at
that--as nothing more than a worker. It can, therefore, advance the thesis
that, like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does
not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being.
It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables,
politics, and the beadle.
....Let us now rise above the level of political
economy and examine the ideas developed above, taken almost word for word
from the political economists, for the answers to these two questions:
....(1) What is the meaning, in the development
of mankind, of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract
....(2) What mistakes are made by the piecemeal
reformers, who either want to raise wages and thereby improve the situation
of the working class, or--like Proudhon--see equality of wages as the
goal of social revolution?
....In political economy, labour appears
only in the form of wage-earning activity.