Wage-slavery

In the heat of the Wall Street protests, a female young unemployed had held up a placard, read hire me. Wasn’t this humiliating, that an innocent social being beseeching from inhuman Wage-slavery system to get her hired? Why, did she use such a disrespectable terminology? She could have written on the placard: right to life, right to work, instead, etc. Was it her wording lapse or a word in common usage in the US Capitalism, based on the Wage- slavery system? Further, why did she single herself out? Hire me. Was it just her predicament seeking to work,or so many others were standing next to her in the Wall Street, who too were suffering from the same cruel symptom? Why did she individualise and alienate herself from the sea body of the Wall Street protesters? Hire me.

There is HSS Hire chain shops one can hire tools from. Similarly, Capitalists see that, there are human tools` shops and they can use them, whenever they needed to hire human tools. But, human being is not a tool/commodity. Rather, as a social creature, human beings have been born free, thus they are not sellable or hireable. By way of co-operation and using tools, human beings have since unmemorable times(1) been endeavoured to meet their social needs. How come, capitalist class regard workers as a tool, to hire them?

The cruel Roman Empire had been founded on exploitation/gratis labour of slaves. According to the Roman property law, as conqueror they had legitimate right to possess the defeated army and make them slave. They shackled and whipped slaves to make them perceive the social relation of lord-v-slave or slavery as a natural law. According to Roman barbaric doctrine, Slave was not considered as a human being, but Vocale Instrumendos- a tool that can talk. A Millennium later, with the emergence of the nascent capitalist mode of Wage-slavery, the English bourgeoisie adopted and elaborated the Roman doctrine of Slavery system. They transported Slaves from Africa to America in extreme horrifying conditions, so much so that at least half of the poor human beings would have been died during the transportation, and their corpses were being throwing into the ocean(2). Similar to the Romans` attitude towards the Slaves, bourgeois traders believed that, they were not transporting humans but sub-human beings. Hence, were completely indifferent towards the sufferings of these innocent human beings. According to Marx, Slave trade or human trafficking made one pillar of the primitive Capital accumulation of English Capitalism(3).

How the laws of Capitalism`s wage-slavery system appeared as natural laws by the working classes?

According to Marx (4) in order capitalism to consolidate itself as an irreversible economic mode of production, and henceforth its laws looked at as natural laws by the workers, it required three preconditions as follow:

1- Expropriation of means of production from peasants and artisans- the source  of generating working class, who had nothing except to selling her/his labour power to maintain their subsistence.

2- Establishing the right of property as an inviolable bourgeois law

3- As a result of expropriation, a huge portion of Expropriated masses of peasantry turned into beggars and vagabonds rather than giving in to the regimentation of the capitalist workshop. Now, the state rushed to assisting the capitalist class and by wielding its despotic measures, whipping, cutting ears, branding with Iron bar, dragging behind the carts, to make their bloods running over the earth, and last but not least hanging them, forced dispossessed wretches marching into the capitalist workshops and succumbed to its discipline (5).  

 As we see, though the first two preconditions were necessary, but still not sufficient. Hence, without the state`s despotic measures on behalf of the capitalist class, the very existence of the nascent capitalist mode of Wage-Slavery hanged in the balance. Hence, in order the laws of the capitalist wage-slavery system to look as if natural laws by the workers, the capitalist class needed its state to prosecuting “Capitalist Regulation System”. At last, following the successful execution of the latter stage,  as Marx states: capital dropped down the crutches and stood firmly on its own feet(6). And since then,it appeared to workers that their lots are to getting exploited and capitalism laws appeared to them as natural laws. Thus capitalism is not simply money or means of production; it is fundamentally a particular social relation. The latter means that, on the one pole of the production process stands capitalist, embodiment of the capital/means production, at the opposite pole is the dispossessed worker, wage-Slave, who has no choice other than to selling her/his mental/physical labour power.

It is a sheer hypocrisy on the side of capitalist boasting that, he is investing to create jobs and providing means of subsistence to workers. As a matter of fact, he would never ever invest his money or capital, unless he will make profit/surplus value. But, no matter how much money or capital he holds in possession, he needed workers in order to set it in motion the process of production. But, be aware, Capitalist never employ worker unless he appropriate worker`s surplus value, or what capitalist and its sycophant economists call it profit(7).

But how was capitalism consolidated in the USA?

Marx, on “The Modern Theory of colonisation” (8)expounds that following landing the European immigrant workers at the America, for a while many would work to saving enough money in order to leave their job and starting to take up farming- there were too abundant free land. As such, capitalists faced with chronic a labour shortage. Here too, on behalf of the capitalists state intervened and took possession of the land. Further, it charged substantially high price to sell it. Hence, the capitalist sate, with one stone killed two birds. On the one hand, made worker to work for much longer a period, if he could now managing to save sufficient money enabling him to purchase a plot of land. On the other hand, the money government obtained from the selling off the land served as a part of primitive accumulation of the emerging capitalism.
Now, we understand why the innocent female young unemployed raised her placard upon the “Wall Street Protesters movement” and was beseeching from the Wage- Slavery system to get her hired. For her, the hiring of a social human being appeared as a natural law of capitalism. But capitalism is not a natural, rather a historical mode of production; same as the Primitive societies of common-ownership, Slavery and Feudalism had been. And, Capitalism, as a Wage-Slavery system replaced the European Feudalism just no more than a few hundred years ago.

Wage-Slavery as the origin of Workers`alienation

We saw earlier that, the female young unemployed appeared as an individualized and alienated from the sea body of the Wall Street Protesters-demanding hire me. By the act of expropriation of the ownership of the means of production from the individual producers, capitalism generated masses of dispossessed people, who have now no means of maintaining their subsistence, except selling their labour power; and only for a period that capitalist can extract surplus value from her/him. Then, no sooner the latter process than interrupted workers are throwing onto the heap of unemployment. Therefore, so long as labourers cannot sell their labour power or to get employed, their potential labour power is no avail to them.
Prior to capitalism came to existence, as a subject, the individual producer worked by his own tool, exerted a certain amount of mental and physical effort to making an object, which was his product. Hence, both the efforts and the product belonged to the individual producer. In other words neither were alienated from him. But, Wage-Slave`s fortune is diametrically different. Upon her/his labour power, as a commodity, was temporarily bought by the capitalist, and entered into the process of production, she/he has neither control over her/his labour power nor the product, but capitalist, the embodiment of the capital, does . Thus, labourer, the embodiment of her/his labour power, stands against the means of production and the product is appropriated by the capital not the worker. Hence, both the labour and its product alienated from the worker. Finally, as the process of production goes on, at the same time worker produces ever much more surplus value/ capital grows ever bigger and is exchanged into a huge means of production; and as a monstrous power of capital stands opposite to the worker.

Morad Azimi

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Notes

1- The existence of ancient primitive common ownership in Asia, Europe, Africa and America were undisputed fact. When criminal Christopher Columbus and his associates landed on the new world, they got bewildered to see a social system different than prevailing private ownership in Europe. One more example, in the first half of nineteenth century, the Scottish landlords attacked highland clans- enjoying a social system of common ownership- killed many thousands of Scots and expelled surviving wretches starving to death and expropriated their lands.

2- Black Jacobins, Toussaint  L` Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, by C.L.R. James     

3- The Secret of Primitive Accumulation, Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, Chapter, xxv1

4- Bloody legislation against The Expropriated… Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1 , Chapter XXV111

5- Ibid

6- Ibid

7- Marx , in his work Grundrisse, shows us the apparent nature of a bargain is struck between the capitalist and worker in the labour market, which capitalists and their sycophant economists have been brushing under the carpet . The capitalist would not pay the wage/salary at the point of begin , rather at the end of one day work, one week work or one month work, depending on the pattern of payment. This means that, the worker has to procure her/his means of subsistence or reproduction of mental and physical capacity or labour power on her/his own expense, and worked the process of production to the capitalist, gratis. At the end of one day work, one week work or one month work, capitalist owes wage/salary to the worker.

Having consumed her/his labour power, worker has produced a certain amount of commodity. The capitalist would sell it, paying his debt or dues towards the worker`s wage/salary and further, he appropriates a certain amount of surplus value, gratis. We see that, without spending a penny- in the process of production- towards the worker`s wage/salary, at the end of one day work, one week work or one month work, capitalist appropriates a certain amount of surplus value over and above the wage/salary he owed to the worker. Thus, in tandem to one day work, one week or one month work, the capitalist appropriates certain quantity of worker`s labour- in the form of commodity-, and the capital of capitalist class is the product of previous labour of the working class.

8-Capital Volume1, Chapter 33