January 28 2014
GER150 Lecture 4
Marx, “Wage Labour and Capital” (Tucker 203-217) - on Portal
Marx, Capital, “The Secret of Original Accumulation” (294-297)
fromWage Labour and Capital
• Marx explores the modern deﬁnition of slavery (and serfdom). If you are treated like
property, you are actually treated well because you have been paid for.This was often the
case for classic slavery as well...Why are the proletarian laborers treated so poorly. Another
diﬀerence is that you can’t run away or escape, with “modern” slavery, you will just end up
in the same situation.
• You might be an “accomplished” laborer, and paid well, you are still dependent on this
salary.We have turned our life into a means of production, rather than enjoying it.
• Labour power becomes a commodity, can be bought, and thevalue of it is determined by
the clock. Capitalists look for ways to use his workers in the most eﬃcient way, especially
• No matter how many machines you have, there has to be some sort of human factor.The
better the machines, the faster the products can be made... all capitalists have to keep up
with the technology or else you can’t compete. Capitalism and labour are intertwined.
• Laborer sells his life activity in order to continue existing, to survive. Sells his dignity/
humanity in order to live... the weirdness of this.
• The more money you make, the more diﬃcult it is to meet your needs, since expenses go
up. Running in a hamster wheel.You don’t seek purpose of life in life activity, but in
reproduction. Going to bed, having a drink, etc.This isn’t because people are stupid, but
they have to compensate for loss of life.
• Free labour is totally unfree. Liberalism says you can do whatever you like, but there isn’t
• The free laborer sells his labour, as a separate piece. and then you don’t treat yourself like a
whole human being, which is worse than slavery where you sell your whole self.
• Everything in capitalism is commodiﬁed. Bodies are commodiﬁed - that feeling you get
when you go to the interview.Trying to sell yourself.
• Talks about minimum wage - wage min. doesn’t hold good for the individual but for the the
population as a whole.
• Money or gold isn’t a capital unless it exists within a special framework. Black slaves are
only slaves within a certain framework. Being in a classless society doesn’t mean you will no
longer have money, but it wouldn’t work as a means of produc