Economic Theory

Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working by M. Lebowitz

By M. Lebowitz

Winner of The Deutscher Memorial Prize 2004. In a very transformed variation of his vintage (1991) quantity, Michael A. Lebowitz explores the consequences of the booklet on wage-labour that Marx initially meant to jot down. Focusing upon severe assumptions in Capital that have been to be got rid of in Wage-Labour and upon Marx's technique, Lebowitz stresses the one-sidedness of Marx's Capital and argues that the facet of the staff, their pursuits and their struggles in capitalism were missed via a monolithic Marxism characterised via determinism, reductionism and a silence on human experience.

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Extra resources for Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class

Sample text

Marx here returns to themes set out much earlier in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. There, too, he had argued that ‘the worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size’; that the worker is ‘related to the product of his labour as to an alien object’; that the worker’s labour is a ‘forced labour’ and ‘merely a means to satisfy needs external to it’. And, there as well, Marx stressed the growing need for money accompanying the extension of the realm of alien products (Marx, 1844c: 271–2, 274, 306).

Should we scuttle the idea that capital rests upon the exploitation of workers, that it has an insatiable appetite for surplus labour, that it accordingly searches constantly for ways to extend and intensify the workday, to drive down real wages, to increase productivity? What in the developments of world capitalism in the last two centuries would lead us to think that capital is any different? Do we think, for example, that Marx’s statement that capital ‘takes no account of the health and the length of life of the worker, unless society forces it to do so’ no longer holds?

A Story of Capital 15 produces, they argued, ‘above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable’ (Marx and Engels, 1848: 496). And, that is the same story Marx tells in Capital. With the development of the specifically capitalist mode of production, capital is more and more centralized, ‘the international character of the capitalist regime’ increases, and the mass of misery and exploitation grows, but ‘there also grows the revolt of the working class, a class constantly increasing in numbers, and trained, united and organized by the very mechanism of the capitalist process of production’.

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