Marx at 200; Capital at 150

Holmstrom, Nancy

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23320

Holmstrom discusses the relevance of Marx's Das Capital in understanding modern and historical economic systems. Specifically, she looks at the themes of exploitation, gender, race and capital.




Exploitation occurs when producers lack control of their means of subsistence, and hence in order to survive are forced, directly or indirectly, to work for others who appropriate their labor's product.

In slavery and in feudalism, both the force and the extraction of surplus are clear. In capitalism, neither the force nor the surplus are apparent: Legally speaking, workers are free to work for different employers or for none, and employers pay them a wage for their labor.

Workers, Marx says, "agree, i.e. are compelled by social conditions" (their lack of means of production/subsistence), to work for others who own/control these resources and who then reap the product of their labor. His account of primitive accumulation explains how this came about, resting, he says, on force and establishing the conditions which then force the producers to work for the owners. (Volume 1, 714)

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