12 October 2010


Course on Marx's Capital: Week 20


Chapter 25 of Marx’s Capital, Volume 1, called The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation, is about the effects of Capital on the workforce.

Section 3 of Chapter 25 is concerned with what we nowadays refer to as Unemployment. Marx argues very directly and very convincingly in this section that unemployment is a necessary, constant, conscious and deliberate part of the capitalist system. He writes:

“The over-work of the employed part of the working-class swells the ranks of the reserve, whilst conversely the greater pressure that the latter by its competition exerts on the former, forces these to submit to overwork and to subjugation under the dictates of capital. The condemnation of one part of the working-class to enforced idleness by the overwork of the other part, and the converse, becomes a means of enriching the individual capitalists”.

In the light of what Marx says here, it can be argued that all protestations from bourgeois democrats that they are intending to provide "jobs" for all of the unemployed are false.

This course is now being doubled up so that we can move on to Volumes 2 and 3 of Capital and complete the whole lot this year. This means that we will do another posting this week and two postings next week, thereby completing Volume 1.

Picture: A South African mine worker (AP).

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