Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
2) Absolute Surplus Value by Karl Marx


Volume 30, MECW, p. 193-228

To b. In the struggle in London between the workers in the building industry and the building masters (capitalists), which is still continuing, the workers make the following objections, among others, to the hour system imposed by the masters (according to which the contract between the two sides is only valid for the hour, the hour being in fact fixed as the normal day):

Firstly: This system, the workers argue, abolishes any normal day (normal working day), hence any boundary to a total day’s labour (necessary and surplus labour taken together). But the establishment of a normal day of this kind is the constant goal of the working class, whose members stand at the lowest point of humiliation in every branch where such a normal day, be it in law or in practice, is not in existence, as e.g. among the jobbing labourers of the Thames docks, etc. They stress how a normal day of this kind not only forms the yardstick for the workers’ average life expectancy but rules over the whole of their development.

Secondly: They argue that this hour system rules out extra pay for overwork, i.e. surplus labour performed in excess of its normal and traditional amount. While on the one hand this extra pay [makes it possible] for the masters to have work done over and above the normal day in extraordinary cases, on the other hand it imposes golden chains on their drive for an indefinite extension of the working day. This was one reason why the workers demanded the extra pay. The second reason: they demand extra pay for overwork because the lengthening of the normal day brings with it not only a quantitative but a qualitative difference, and the daily value of labour capacity itself must therefore be subjected to an altered valuation. If, for example, a 13-hour working day replaces one of 12 hours, this must be estimated as the average working day of a labour capacity which is used up over, e.g., 15 years, whereas in the other case the average working day is that of a labour capacity which is used up in 20 years.

Thirdly: One group of workers is thereby overworked, a corresponding group becomes unemployed, and the wages of the employed are forced down by the wage at which the unemployed work.

//Taking absolute and relative surplus value together, the following is seen: If the productivity of labour remains the same, and likewise the number of workers, surplus value can only grow to the extent that surplus labour increases, hence the total working day (the yardstick for the use of labour capacity) is extended beyond its given boundary. If the total working day remains the same, and ditto the number of workers, surplus value can only grow if the productivity of labour grows, or, what is the same thing, the part of the working day required for necessary labour is shortened. If the total working day and the productivity of labour remain the same, the rate of surplus value, i.e. its ratio to the necessary labour time, will remain unalterable, but the mass of surplus value can grow in both cases with the increase in the number of simultaneous working days, i.e. with the growth of population. Inversely: The rate of surplus value can fall only if either surplus labour is reduced, hence the total working day is shortened while the productivity of labour remains the same, or if the productivity of labour falls, hence the part of the working day required for necessary labour increases, while the duration of the total working day remains the same. In both cases, the amount of surplus value can fall, while the rate of surplus value remains unchanged, if the number of simultaneous working days falls, that is the population falls (i.e. the working population).

It is presupposed in all these relations that the worker sells his labour capacity at its value, i.e. that the price of labour, or the wage, corresponds to the value of the labour capacity. As we have repeatedly stated, this assumption underlies the whole [III-107] investigation . The question of how far the wage itself can rise above or fall below its value belongs in the chapter on wages, in exactly the same way as does the presentation of the specific forms in which the relative distribution of necessary and surplus labour can appear (daily wage, weekly wage, piece wage, hourly wage, etc.).[33] In the meantime one can make this general remark: If the minimum wage, the cost of production of labour capacity, were itself permanently depressed to a lower level, surplus value would thereby to an equal extent be constantly kept at a higher level, hence surplus labour would increase as if the productivity of labour had increased. It is evidently the same thing, from the point of view of the result, whether out of 12 hours of labour a worker works for himself for only 8 hours instead of 10 hours as previously, because his labour has become more productive and he can produce the same means of subsistence in 8 hours as he required 10 hours to produce previously, or whether he receives in future inferior means of subsistence, the production of which requires only 8 hours, whereas the previous, superior ones required 10 hours to produce. In both cases the capitalist would gain 2 hours of surplus labour, would exchange the product of 8 hours of labour for that of 12, whereas he previously exchanged the product of 10 hours for that of 12. Further: If no such fall in the value of labour capacity itself were to take place, or no decline, no constant worsening in the worker’s mode of life, a temporary reduction of wages below their normal minimum, or, which is the same thing, a fall in the daily price of labour capacity below its daily value, would temporarily coincide — during its time of occurrence — with the above-mentioned case, only that what was there constant would here be temporary. If a capitalist forces wages down below their minimum, in consequence of competition among workers, etc., this means in other words simply that he deducts a portion of that part of the working day that normally forms the necessary labour time, i.e. the part of the labour time allotted to the worker himself. Every reduction in necessary labour time that is not a consequence of an increase in the productivity of labour is in reality not a reduction in necessary labour time but merely an appropriation of necessary labour time by capital, an encroachment by capital beyond its own domain of surplus labour. If the worker receives a lower wage than normal, that is the same thing as receiving the product of less labour time than is necessary for the, reproduction of his labour capacity under normal conditions, so that if 10 hours of labour time are required for this, he only receives the product of 8 hours, 2 hours out of his necessary labour time of 10 hours being appropriated by capital. As far as the capitalist’s surplus value is concerned, it is naturally all the same for this surplus value, i.e. surplus labour, whether he pays the worker the 10 hours he needs for his normal existence and has him perform 2 hours of surplus labour for capital, or whether he has him work only 10 hours and pays him for 8 hours, whereby he is unable to buy the means of subsistence necessary for his normal existence. A reduction of wages while the productivity of labour remains the same is an increase in surplus labour through the forcible curtailment of necessary labour time as a result of encroachments on its domain. It is clear that for the capitalist it is all one whether he pays less for the same labour time or has the worker work longer for the same wage. //

Addition to e. In so far as in capitalist production capital compels the worker to work over and above his necessary labour time — i.e. over and above the labour time required for the satisfaction of his own vital needs as a worker — capital, as this relation of domination in which past labour stands to living labour, creates, produces surplus labour and therewith surplus value. Surplus labour is the labour performed by the worker, the individual worker, beyond the limits of his requirements, it is in fact labour for society, although here this surplus labour is initially pocketed, in the name of society, by the capitalist. As we have said, this surplus labour is on the one hand the basis of society’s free time, and on the other hand, by virtue of this, the material basis of its whole development and of civilisation in general.[154] In so far as it is capital’s compulsion which enforces on the great mass of society this labour over and above its immediate needs, capital creates civilisation; performs a socio-historical function. With this there is created society’s industriousness in general, which extends beyond the period necessitated by the immediate physical requirements of the workers themselves.

It is admittedly clear that this same compulsion is exerted, within certain limits, by all ruling classes — within slavery for example, in a much more direct form than in wage labour — and therefore that here too labour is forced beyond the boundaries set for it by purely natural requirements. This is true wherever society rests on class antagonism, so that there are on one side owners of the conditions of production, who rule, and on the other side propertyless people, excluded from ownership of the conditions of production, who must work and maintain themselves and their rulers with their labour. But in all situations where use value predominates, the labour time is a matter of less consequence, provided only it is sufficiently extended to provide, apart from the means of subsistence of the workers themselves, a certain mass of use values, a kind of patriarchal wealth, for the rulers.[158] However, in proportion as exchange value becomes the determining element of production the lengthening of labour time beyond the measure of natural requirements becomes more and more the decisive feature. Where, for example, slavery and serfdom predominate among peoples which engage in little trade, there can be [III-108] no question of overwork. It is therefore among commercial peoples that slavery and serfdom take on their most hateful form, as e.g. among the Carthaginians; this is even more pronounced among peoples which retain slavery and serfdom as basis of their production in an epoch when they are connected with other peoples in a situation of capitalist production; thus e.g. the southern states of the American Union.

Since in capitalist production exchange value, for the first time ever, dominates over the whole of production and the whole articulation of society, the compulsion capital imposes on labour to go beyond the boundaries of its own requirements is at its greatest. Similarly, since in capitalist production necessary labour time (socially necessary labour time) for the first time ever completely determines the magnitude of value of all products, the intensity of labour attains a higher level under that system, since it is only there that the workers are in general compelled in producing an object to employ only the labour time necessary under the general social conditions of production. The whip of the slave-owner cannot produce this intensity to the same degree as the compulsion of the capital-relation. In the latter, the free worker, in order to satisfy his essential requirements, must 1) convert his labour time into necessary labour time, give it the general, socially determined (by competition) level of intensity; 2) provide surplus labour, in order to be allowed (to be able) to work for the labour time necessary for him himself. The slave, in contrast, has his essential requirements satisfied, like an animal, and it now depends on his natural disposition how far the whip, etc., is cause for him, an adequate motive for him, to provide labour in return for these means of subsistence. The worker works in order to create himself his means of subsistence, to gain his own life. The slave is kept alive by another person in order to be compelled by him to work.

The capital-relation is therefore more productive in this way — for one thing because what is at stake here is labour time as such, exchange value, not the product as such or the use value; and secondly because the free worker can only satisfy the requirements of his existence to the extent that he sells his labour; hence is forced into this by his own interest, not by external compulsion.

A division of labour can only exist at all if every producer of a commodity employs more labour time in the production of that commodity than is required by his own need for the commodity in question. But it does not yet follow from this that his labour time in general will be prolonged beyond the extent of his needs. On the contrary, the extent of his needs — which will of course from the outset expand with advances in the division of labour, of employments — will determine the total amount of his labour time. For example an agriculturalist who produced all his means of subsistence himself would not need to work in the fields for the whole day, but he would have to divide e.g. 12 hours between field labour and various kinds of domestic work. If he now employs the whole of his labour time of 12 hours in agriculture, and exchanges the excess product of these 12 hours for the products of other kinds of work, buys them, this is the same as if he himself had devoted a part of his labour time to agriculture and another part to other branches of business. The 12 hours he works continue to be the labour time required for the satisfaction of his own needs, and they are labour time within the limits of his natural or rather social needs. But capital drives beyond these natural or traditional boundaries of labour time, by making the intensity of labour at the same time dependent on the level of social production, and thus withdrawing it from the accustomed routine of the independent producer or the slave who works only under external compulsion.

If all branches of production become subject to capitalist production, it follows simply from the general growth of surplus labour — of general labour time — that there will be an increase in the division of the branches of production, the differentiation of work and the variety of the commodities being exchanged. If 100 men in a branch of business work for as long a time as 110 men did previously — with a smaller amount of surplus labour or shorter duration of labour overall — then 10 men can be thrown into another, new branch of business, and similarly the part of the capital that was previously required to employ those 10 men. The departure — transfer — of labour time beyond its natural or traditional limits will therefore lead in itself to the application of social labour in new branches of production. This due to the fact of labour time becoming free, and surplus labour not only creates free time, it makes labour capacity which was tied down in one branch of production, labour in general, free (this is the point) for new branches of production. But it is a law of the development of human nature that once the satisfaction of a certain sphere of needs [III-109] has been assured new needs are set free, created. Therefore when capital pushes labour time beyond the level set for the satisfaction of the worker’s natural needs, it impels a greater division of social labour — the labour of society as a whole — a greater diversity of production, an extension of the sphere of social needs and the means for their satisfaction, and therefore also impels the development of human productive capacity and thereby the activation of human dispositions in fresh directions. But just as surplus labour time is a condition for free time, this extension of the sphere of needs and the means for their satisfaction is conditioned by the worker’s being chained to the necessary requirements of his life.

Addition to a)

Firstly. Nassau W. Senior says in his pamphlet Letters on the Factory Act, as It Affects the Cotton Manufacture etc., London, 1837 (pp. 12, 13) [144]:

“Under the present law, no mill in which persons under 18 years of age are employed can be worked more than 11 1/2 hours a day, that is, 12 hours during the first 5 days and 9 hours on Saturday. Now, the following analysis will show that in a mill so worked, the whole net profit is derived from the last hour. A manufacturer invests £100,000:£80,000 in factory buildings and machinery, and £20,000 in raw material and wages. The annual return of that mill, supposing the total capital to be turned once a year, and gross profits to be 15%, ought to be goods worth £115,000, reproduced by the constant conversion and reconversion of the £20,000 circulating capital, from money into goods and from goods into money, in periods of rather more than two months. Of this £115,000 each of the 23 half hours of work produces 5/115 or 1/23. Of these 23/23, constituting the whole £115,000, 20/23, that is to say, £100,000 out of the £115,000, simply replace the capital; 1/23, or £5,000 out of the £15,000 (gain), makes up for the deterioration of the mill and machinery. The remaining 2/23, that is, the last two half hours of every day, produce the net profit of 10%. If, therefore (prices remaining the same), the factory could be kept at work 13 hours instead of 11 1/2, by an addition of about £2,600 to the circulating capital, the net profit would be more than doubled. On the other hand, if the hours of working were reduced by one hour per day (prices remaining the same), net profit would be destroyed; if they were reduced by an hour and a half, even gross profit would be destroyed.”

Firstly: The correctness or incorrectness of the positive data adduced by Senior is irrelevant to the subject of our investigation. However, it may be remarked in passing that the English Factory Inspector Leonard Horner, a man distinguished as much by his thorough knowledge of the facts as by his incorruptible love of truth, has demonstrated the falsity of these data, presented in 1837 by Mr. Senior, the faithful echo of the Manchester manufacturers. (See Leonard Horner, A Letter to Mr. Senior etc., London, 1837.)

Secondly: the quotation from Senior is characteristic of the hopeless intellectual degeneration the interpreters of science fall victim to as soon as they degrade themselves to be sycophants of a ruling class. Senior wrote the above-quoted pamphlet in the interests of the cotton manufacturers, and before writing it he went to Manchester with the express purpose of receiving the material for the pamphlet from the manufacturers themselves.

In the passage we have quoted, Senior, Professor of Political Economy at Oxford and one of the most renowned living English economists, commits crude errors he would find unforgivable in any of his own students. He makes the assertion that a year’s work in a cotton mill, or, what is the same thing, the work of 11 1/2 [hours], day in day out throughout the year, creates, not only the labour time or value that labour itself adds to the raw material, the cotton, by means of the machinery, [III-110] but also, additionally, the value of the raw material contained in the product and the value of the machinery and factory buildings consumed in the course of production. According to this, the workers in a spinning mill, for example, would simultaneously produce during their 11 1/2 hours’ labour time — apart from the labour of spinning (i.e. the value) — the cotton they work on, ditto the machine with which they work the cotton and the factory building in which this process occurs. Only in this case could Mr. Senior say that the 23/2 daily hours of labour during the whole year constitute the £115,000, i.e. the value of the total annual product.

Senior calculates in this way: The workers work so and so many hours during the day to “replace”, i.e. to create, the value of the cotton, so and so many hours to “replace” the value of the consumed portion of the machinery and the mill, so and so many hours to produce their own wages, and so and so many hours to produce the profit. This childishly silly notion, according to which the worker, as well as working his own labour time, simultaneously works that contained in the raw material he operates on and in the machinery he uses, that he therefore produces raw material and machinery at the same time as they form, as finished products, the conditions of his own labour, can be explained in the following way. Senior, being entirely under the sway of the lessons given him by the manufacturers, introduced a confusion into their practical way of reckoning, which admittedly is itself quite correct theoretically but is for one thing entirely irrelevant to the relation Senior claims to be investigating, namely that of labour time and gain, and for another thing easily gives rise to the absurd notion that the worker produces not only the value he adds to his conditions of labour but also the value of those conditions themselves.

That practical calculation goes like this. Let us assume that the value of the total product of, say, 12 hours of labour time consists, e.g to 1/3 of the value of the material of labour, e.g. cotton, to 1/3 of the value of the means of labour, e.g. machinery, and to 1/3 of the value of the newly added labour, e.g. spinning. The ratio is not important here. But some particular ratio must always be assumed. Suppose the value of this product is £3 sterling. The manufacturer can calculate like this: The value of the product of 1/3 of the day’s labour time, or 4 hours, is equal to the value of the cotton I need over the 12 hours, or the cotton worked up in the total product. The value of the product of the second 1/3 of the day’s labour time is equal to the value of the machinery I wear out over 12 hours. Finally the value of the product of the third 1/3 of the day’s labour time is equal to wages plus profit. He can therefore say that the first 1/3 of the day’s labour time replaces the value of the cotton, the second 1/3 replaces the value of the machinery, and finally the third 1/3 forms the wages and the profit. But in reality this means quite simply that the whole of the day’s labour time adds nothing but itself to the value of the cotton and the machinery, which is present independently of it; it adds nothing but the value which forms on the one hand wages, on the other hand profit. That is to say the value of the product of the first third of the day, or the first 4 hours, is equal to 1/3 of the value of the total product of 12 hours of labour.

The value of the product of these first 4 hours is equal to £1, if the value of the total product of 12 hours = £3. But 2/3 of the value of this £1, hence 13 1/3 shillings, consists of the value of cotton and machinery present in advance (on our assumption). Only 1/3 of new value has been added, or the value of 6 2/3 shillings, of 4 hours of labour. The value of the product of the first 1/3 of the day’s labour = £1, because 2/3 or 13 1/3s. in this product consists of the value of the raw material and used-up machinery, which was present beforehand and merely re-appears in the product. In 4 hours the labour has created no more than 6 2/3s. of value, hence it creates only 20s. or £1 of value in 12 hours. The value of the product of 4 hours of labour is indeed something quite different from the newly created value, the value of the newly added labour, the labour of spinning, which on our assumption increases the existing value by only 1/3. In the first 4 hours the labour of spinning works up the raw material, not of 12 hours, but of 4. If, however, the value of yarn spun in 4 hours is equal to the value of the cotton worked up during 12 hours, this is only due to the fact that on our assumption the value of the cotton forms 1/3 of the value of the yarn spun in each individual hour, hence also 1/3 of the value of the yarn produced in 12 hours, i.e. is equal to the value of the yarn produced in 4 hours.

The manufacturer might also calculate that the product of 12 hours of labour replaces the value of cotton for 3 days, without thereby affecting the relation in question in the least. For the manufacturer, the calculation has a practical value. On the level of production at which he works he must work up as much cotton as is required to absorb a definite quantity of labour time. If the cotton forms 1/3 of the value of the total product of 12 hours, [III-111] the product of 1/3 of the total working day of 12 hours, i.e. the product of 4 hours, forms the value of the cotton worked up during 12 hours. It can be seen how important it is to keep hold of the fact that in a particular process of production, e.g. spinning, the worker does not create any value apart from that measured by his own labour time (here spinning), one part of this labour time replacing the wage, the other part forming the surplus value which falls to the share of the capitalist.

(In reality the workers do not produce or reproduce one particle either of the value of the raw material or of that of the machinery, etc. They contribute nothing more than their own labour to the value of the raw material and the value of the machinery consumed in production, and this labour is the newly created value, of which one part is equal to their own wages and the other is equal to the surplus value the capitalist receives. It is therefore not the whole of the product — should production continue — that is divisible between the capitalist and the worker, but only the product less the value of the capital advanced in it. There is not a single hour of labour devoted to the “replacement” of the capital in Senior’s sense, such that the labour would produce doubly, would produce its own value and the value of its material, etc. The upshot of Senior’s assertion is simply this, that of the 11 1/2 hours the worker works, 10 1/2 form his wages and only 2/2, or 1 hour, forms his surplus labour time.)

Thirdly: The whole of Mr. Senior’s treatment is entirely unscientific, in the sense that he does not separate out what was essential here, namely the capital laid out in wages, but throws it together with the capital laid out for raw material. Moreover, if the ratio he gives were correct, the workers would, out of the 11 1/2 hours, or 23 half hours, work 21 half hours for themselves and only provide 2 half hours of surplus labour to the capitalist. According to this, surplus labour would be related to necessary in the proportion 2:2 1, = 1:10 1/2; hence 9 11/21 %, and this is supposed to give a profit of 10% on the whole of the capital! The most peculiar feature, which displays his complete ignorance of the nature of surplus value, is this: He assumes that of the 23 half hours, or 11 1/2 hours, only 1 hour is surplus labour, hence forms surplus value, and is therefore amazed to find that if the workers were to add to this 1 hour of surplus labour a further 1 1/2 hours of surplus labour, if they were to work 5 half hours instead of 2 half hours (hence 13 hours altogether), the net gain would increase more than twofold. Equally naive is the discovery that, on the assumption that the whole of the surplus labour or surplus value is equal to one hour, the whole net profit would disappear as soon as the labour time were reduced by this one hour, i.e. if no surplus labour were performed at all. On the one hand, we see Senior’s astonishment at the discovery that the surplus value, hence the gain too, is reduced to mere surplus labour, and on the other hand simultaneously the failure to grasp this relation, which Mr. Senior, influenced as he is by the manufacturers, notes merely as a curiosity of the cotton industry.

Secondly. The money the worker receives as wages represents the labour time which is present in the commodities required for the satisfaction of his vital needs. Surplus value originates through the fact that the worker gives more labour time in exchange for these commodities than is contained in them, more living labour for a particular quantity of objectified labour. Therefore he buys these commodities, the range of which constitutes his wages, with more labour than is required to produce them.

*"Whatever quantity of labour may be requisite to produce any commodity, the labourer must always, in the present state of society, give a great deal more labour to acquire and possess it than is requisite to buy it from nature. Natural Price so increased to the labourer is Social Price"* (Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, London, [Edinburgh,] 1827, [p.]220).

“Brotherton, himself a manufacturer, stated in the House Of Commons that the manufacturers would add hundreds of. pounds a week to their gain if they could induce their workers — (their men, people) “to work but one hour more a day” (Ramsay, l.c., p. 102).

“Where there is no surplus labour, there can be no surplus produce, hence no capital” (The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties etc., London, 1821, [p.] 4).

[III-112] * “The amount of capital which can be invested at a given moment, in a given country, or the world, so as to return not less than a given rate of profits, seems principally to depend on the quantity of labour, which it is possible, by laying out the capital, to induce the then existing number of human beings to perform” * (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand etc., Lately Advocated by Mr. Malthus, London, 1821, [p.] 20).

For pages 106, 107:

*"If the labourer can be brought to feed on potatoes, instead of bread, it is indisputably true that then more can be exacted from his labour; i.e., if when fed on bread he was obliged to retain for the maintenance of himself and family the labour of Monday and Tuesday, he will, on potatoes, require only half of Monday; and the remaining half of Monday and the whole of Tuesday are available either for the service of the state or the capitalist” * (The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties, London, 1821, [p.] 26).

* “Whatever may be due to the capitalist, he can only receive the surplus labour of the labourer; for the labourer must live. But it is perfectly true, that if capital does not decrease in value as it increases in amount, the capitalist will exact from the labourers the produce of every hour’s labour beyond what it is possible for the labourer to subsist on: and however horrid or disgusting it may seem, the capitalist may eventually speculate on the food that requires the least labour to produce it, and eventually say to the labourer: ‘You sha'n’t eat bread, because barley meal is cheaper. You sha'n’t eat meat, because it is possible to subsist on beet root and potatoes — * (l.c., [pp.] 23-24).159

Addition to e), p. 107.

* “Wealth is disposable time and nothing more” * (The Source and Remedy etc., p. 6).

In capitalist production the worker’s labour is much greater than in the case of the independent worker, because the former relation is definitely not determined by the relation between his labour and his need, but by capital’s unrestricted, boundless need for surplus labour.

“The labour of, for example, the agriculturalist will amount to much more, if only because it is no longer determined by his particular needs” (J. G. Busch, Abhandlung van dem Geldumlauf... Theil 1, Hamburg and Kiel, 1800, p. 90).160

Addition to e, p. 104.

The relation which compels the worker to do surplus labour is the fact that the conditions of his labour exist over against him as capital. He is not subjected to any external compulsion, but in order to live in a world where commodities are determined by their value he is compelled to sell his labour capacity as a commodity, whereas the valorisation of this labour capacity over and above its own value is the prerogative of capital. Thus his surplus labour both increases the variety of production and creates free time for others. The political economists like to conceive this relation as a natural relation or a divine institution As far as industriousness brought about by capital is concerned:

*"Legal constraint"* (to labour) *"is attended with too much trouble, violence and noise; creates ill will etc., whereas hunger is not only a peaceable, silent, unremitted pressure, but, as the most natural motive to industry and labour, it calls forth the most powerful exertions” * (A Dissertation on the Poor Laws. By a Well-wisher to Mankind (The Rever. Mr. J. Townsend), 1786. Republished, London, 1817, [p.] 15).

Since the capital-relation presupposes that the worker is compelled to sell his labour capacity, hence has essentially only his labour capacity to sell, Townsend says:

*"It seems to be a law of nature, that the poor should be to a certain degree improvident, that there always may be some to fulfil the most servile, the most sordid, and the most ignoble affairs in the community. The stock of human happiness is thereby much increased, the more delicate * are relieved from drudgery, and are left at liberty, without interruption, to pursue higher callings, etc.” (l.c., [p.] 39). *"The poor law tends to destroy the harmony and beauty, the symmetry and order of that system, which god and nature [III-113] have established in the world"* (p. 41).

This parson Townsend is admittedly not the actual inventor of the so-called theory of population, but he was the first to give it the form in which Malthus appropriated it and made great literary capital therefrom. It is odd that, with the exception of the Venetian monk Ortes (whose “Della Economia Nazionale” libri sei of 1774 is much more ingenious than Malthus), it is mainly parsons of the English church who have wrestled with the “urgent appetite” and the, in Townsend’s words, “checks which tend to blunt the shafts of Cupid”. In opposition to Catholic dogmatism (“superstition” says Townsend), they laid claim to the injunction “be fruitful, and multiply,, a on behalf of the priesthood itself, while preaching celibacy to the working class.

“God ordains that men who carry on trades of primary utility are born in abundance” (Galiani, Della Moneta, in Custodi, Vol. III, p. 78).

The progress of the nation’s wealth, says Storch, “gives birth to this useful class of society ... which undertakes the most tedious, sordid and distasteful tasks, which, in a word, by taking upon itself everything that is disagreeable and servile in life procures for the other classes the time, the peace of mind and the customary dignity of character they need to embark successfully on work of all elevated kind” (Cours d'économie politique, ed. Say, Vol. Ill, Paris, 1823, p. 223).

“Our zone require labour for the satisfaction of wants, and therefore at least a portion of society must work indefatigably (Sir Morton Eden, The State of the Poor: or, an History of the Labouring Classes in England, from the Conquest to the Present Period etc., Vol. I, London, 1797, Book 1, Ch. 1).

Addition to d), p. 102. This law only implies that with a constant productivity of labour and a given normal day, the amount of surplus value will grow with the number of workers simultaneously employed. It does not follow from it that in all branches of production (e.g. agriculture) the productivity of labour remains the same in the measure to which a greater quantity of labour is employed. (This is to be put in a note.)

It follows that if other conditions remain the same the wealth of a country, on the basis of capitalist production, depends on the size of the proletariat, of the portion of the population dependent on wage labour.

“The more slaves a master has, the richer he is; it follows, assuming the masses are equally oppressed, that the more proletarians a country has the richer it is” (Colins, L'économie politique. Sources des révolutions et des utopies prétendues socialistes, Vol. III, Paris, 1857, [p.] 331).

Addition to a. Illustration of surplus value.

According to Jacob, writing in 1815, the wheat price was 80s. per quarter and the average product per acre was 22 Bushels (now 32), giving an average product of £11 per acre. He calculates that the straw pays the expense of harvesting, threshing, and carrying to the place of sale, reckoning up the items as follows:

£ s.

Seed (wheat) 1 9 Tithes, Rates and Taxes1 1

Manure 2 10 Rent 1 8

3 19

Wages 3 10 Farmer’s profit and interest 1 2

7 9 3 11

In this table the right hand column, taxes, rates, rent, farmer’s profit and interest, represents only the total surplus value[143] the farmer (the capitalist) receives, part of which he however gives up to the state, the landlord, etc., under various names and headings. The total surplus value therefore = £3 11s. The constant capital (seed and manure) = £3 19s. The capital advanced for labour = £3 10[s].

It is this [III-114] latter portion of capital, variable capital, which is alone to be considered when we are dealing with surplus value and the ratio of surplus value. In the present case, therefore, the ratio between surplus value and the capital expended on wages, or the rate at which the capital expended on wages increases is given by the ratio £3 11s. to £3 10s. The capital of £3 10[s.] expended on labour is reproduced as a capital of £7 1s. Only £3 10[s.] of this represents the replacement of the wages, whereas £3 11 s. represents the surplus value, which therefore amounts to more than 100%. The necessary labour time would accordingly be slightly smaller than the surplus labour, roughly equal to it, so that 6 of the 12 hours of the normal working day would belong to the capitalist (including the various people who share in this surplus value). It may admittedly be the case that e.g., at 80s., the price of the quarter of wheat stands above its value, hence that a part of its price derives from the sale of other commodities in return for wheat at less than their value. But, firstly, it is only a matter of making clear how, in general, surplus value and hence the rate of surplus value are to be understood. On the other hand, if the market price of a bushel of wheat stands, say, 10s. above its value, this can only increase the surplus value received by the farmer provided that he does not pay the agricultural worker, whose labour has risen above its normal value, the amount by which his labour now exceeds the normal value.

Let us take another example from modern English agriculture, namely the following real Bill from a high formed estate:

Yearly Expenditure in Production Itself Farmers Income and outgoings

£ £

Manure 686 Rent 843

Seed 150 Taxes 150

Cattle fodder 100 Tithes none

Losses, tradesmen’s bills, etc. 453 Profit 488

1,389 1,481

Wages 1,690


(F. W. Newman, Lectures on Political Economy, London, 1851, p. 166 [167]).

In this example, therefore, variable capital, or capital exchanged for living labour, amounts to £1,690. It is reproduced as £1,690 + 1,481 = £3,171. The surplus value is £1,481, and the ratio of the surplus value to the part of the capital from which it arises = 1,481/1,690, or something over 87%.

//"The inextinguishable passion for gain — the auri sacri fames — will always lead capitalists” (McCulloch, The Principles of Political Economy, London, 1825, p. 163).//

Addition to e, p. 104.

“ It is because one works that the other can rest” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes d'économie politique, Vol. 1, pp. 76-77).b

Addition to e, p. 107. Surplus labour and the multiplication of products provides the conditions for the production of luxuries, for part of production throwing itself into the production of luxury products, or, what is the same thing, being exchanged for these products (through foreign trade).

“Once there is an overabundance of products, the excess labour must be devoted to luxury objects. The consumption of objects of prime necessity is limited, that of objects of luxury is unlimited” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes etc., Vol. 1, p. 78). “Luxury is only possible when it is bought with the labour of others; assiduous, uninterrupted labour is only possible when it is the sole means of obtaining, not the frivolities, but the necessities of life” (l.c. p. 79).

//The demand of the workers for capital is therefore the only thing the capitalist needs, i.e. for him everything turns on the proportion in which living labour offers itself for objectified labour.

* “As to the demand from labour, that is, either the giving labour [III-115] in exchange for goods, or, if you choose to consider it in another form, but which comes to the same thing, the giving, in exchange for complete products, a future and accruing addition of value... conferred on certain particles of matter entrusted to the labourer. This is the real demand that it is material to the producers to get increased, as far as any demand is wanted, extrinsic to that which articles furnish to each other when increased” * (An Inquiry into those Principles, Respecting the Nature of Demand and the Necessity of Consumption etc., London, 1821, [p.] 57).//

When James Mill for example says:

* “To enable a considerable portion of the community to enjoy the advantages of leisure, the return to capital must evidently be large” * (James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, p. 50),

he means nothing other than this: The wage labourer must slave a good deal so that many people can have leisure, or the free time of one section of society depends on the ratio of the worker’s surplus labour time — to his necessary labour time.

The capitalist’s task is to “obtain from the capital expended” (the capital exchanged for living labour) “the largest possible amount of labour” (J. G. Courcelle-Sencuil, Traité théorique et pratique des entreprises industrielles etc., 2nd ed., Paris, 1857, p. 62).a

That the valorisation of capital, the surplus value it produces over and above its own value, hence its productive power, consists in the surplus labour it appropriates to itself, is stated by J. St. Mill for example.

Capital, strictly speaking, has no productive power. The only productive power is that of labour; assisted, no doubt, by tools, and acting upon materials.... The productive power of capital can only mean the quantity of real productive power” (labour) “which the capitalist, by means of his capital, can command” (J. St. Mill, Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, London, 1844, pp. 90, 91).

Addition to a.) It is clear that in the reproduction of capital and its increase the value of the raw material and machinery as such is altogether a matter of indifference for the production process. Take a raw material, e.g. flax. The amount of labour the flax can absorb to be converted into linen for example — if the level of production, a certain degree of technological development, is given — does not depend on its value but on its quantity, and in the same way the assistance a machine can give to 100 workers depends not on its price but on its use value.

Addition to p. 114.) Or let us take another example. J. C. Symons, Arts and Artisans at Home and Abroad, Edinburgh, 1839 [p. 233], gives the following calculation for a Glasgow power-loom factory with 500 looms, calculated to weave a good fabric of calico or shirting, such as is generally made in Glasgow:

Expense of erecting the factory and machinery £18,000

Annual produce, 150,000 pieces of 24 yards at 6s. £45,000

Interest on fixed capital and for Depreciation of Value of the machinery, reckoning 900 (5%) for interest 1,800

Steam-power, oil, tallow, keeping up machinery, etc. 2,000

Yarns and Flax 32,000

Wages 7,500

Profit 1,700


In this case interest and profit amount to 900 + 1,700 = 2,600. The self-reproducing and self-increasing part of capital laid out for labour is £7,500. Surplus value = 2,600; rate of surplus value therefore: nearly 33%. [162]

[III-116] Addition to b.) p. 99)

Richard Jones, in his Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, London, 1831, rightly regards corvée labour, or what he calls labour rent, as the most primitive form of rent. We have only to consider it here as a particular form of surplus value which falls to the landed proprietor.[163] It is, thus, a form in which the agricultural workers possess a part of the land, and cultivate it to obtain their own subsistence. The labour time they employ for this purpose corresponds to the necessary labour time with which the wage labourer replaces his own wage. However, whereas the modern agricultural day labourer realises the whole of his labour time — both the part that replaces his wages and the part that forms the surplus value — on the same land (which is rented from the farmer) — just as the factory worker employs the same machinery for the realisation of his necessary and his surplus labour — here, in contrast, there takes place not only a division of the time (and much more tangibly than in wage labour) but also a division of the conditions of production (the sphere of production) by means of which this labour time is realised.

For example, the corvée labourer cultivates the field assigned to him as his possession on certain days of the week. On other days he works on the seignorial estate, for the landowner. What this form of labour has in common with wage labour is the fact that the worker gives to the owner of the conditions of production not, as in other modes of production, the product, and not money, but labour itself. Surplus labour is here more distinctly marked off from necessary labour than in the wage system, because here necessary and surplus labour are performed on two different plots of land. The corvée labourer does the labour necessary for the reproduction of his own labour capacity on the field he himself possesses. He performs surplus labour for the landed proprietor on the seignorial estate. This spatial separation makes the division of the total labour time into two parts more clearly apparent, whereas with the wage labourer one may just as well say that he works, e.g., 2 out of 12 hours for the capitalist as that he works for the capitalist for 1/6 of every hour or of any other aliquot part of the 12 hours.

Firstly, then, the division into necessary labour and surplus labour, labour for the reproduction of one’s own labour capacity and labour for the owner of the conditions of production, is more clearly, more distinctly apparent in the form of corvée labour than in the form of wage labour. Secondly, however, it follows from its appearing more clearly in the corvée form than in wage labour that surplus labour is unpaid labour and that the whole of surplus value can be reduced to surplus labour, i.e. unpaid labour. If the corvée labourers work 5 days of the week on their own land, and the 6th day on the landowner’s, it is clear that on this 6th day they perform unpaid labour, they work not for themselves but [for] another, and that all the receipts of this other person are the product of their unpaid labour; it is called corvée labour precisely for that reason. If factory workers work 2 hours out of 12 every day for the capitalist, it is the same as if they worked 5 days of the week for themselves and 1 for the capitalist, hence in effect the same as if they performed 1 day of corvée labour a week for the capitalist.

The form of the wage is absent from the whole corvée system, and this makes the relation yet more tangible. The corvée labourer receives the conditions of production required for the realisation of his own necessary labour; he is allotted them once and for all. He therefore pays his own wages or directly appropriates the product of his necessary labour. With the wage labourer, in contrast, the whole of his product is first converted into capital, in order to flow back to him subsequently in the form of wages. If the corvée labourer, who works 1 day in the week for his lord, had to hand over to him the product of the whole week, so that the lord could convert it into money and pay back 5/6 of this money to the corvée labourer, the latter would have been turned into a wage labourer in this respect. Inversely. If the wage labourer, who works 2 hours every day for the capitalist, were himself to pocket the product or the value of the product of 5 days of his labour (deductions from the value for the conditions of production and the material and means of labour take place in both situations, even if in different forms) and work for capital during the 6th day for nothing, he would have turned into a corvée labourer. In so far as the nature of necessary labour and surplus labour and their relationship come into consideration, the result is the same.

We find corvée labour in larger or smaller quantities combined with all forms of serfdom. But where it appears in its pure form, as the dominant relation of production, which was particularly the case and in part still is the case in the Slav countries and the Danubian provinces occupied by the Romans, we can certainly say [III-117] that it did not arise on the basis of serfdom; instead serfdom arose, inversely, from corvée labour. The latter is based on a community, and the surplus labour the members of the commune performed over and above that required for their subsistence, which served partly as a (communal) reserve fund, and partly to cover the costs of their communal, political and religious requirements, gradually became transformed into corvée labour performed for the families which had usurped the reserve fund and the political and religious offices as their private property. In the Danubian Principalities, and similarly in Russia, this process of usurpation can be precisely demonstrated. A comparison between the Wallachian boyars and the English manufacturers from the point of view of their thirst for alien labour time is interesting in that the appropriation of alien labour appears in both cases as the direct source of wealth: surplus value as surplus labour.

// * “The employer will be always on the stretch to economize time and labour (Dugald Stewart, Lectures on Political Economy, Vol. I, Edinburgh, 1855, p. 318, in Vol. VIII of the Collected Works, Ed. BY Sir W. Hamilton). For p. 107, to the Addition to e.//

Surplus labour appears in its most primitive “independent”, “free” form in corvée labour; free in so far as in slavery the whole of the slaves’ day, like the cattle’s, belongs to the proprietor, and he must naturally feed them.

Even in Moldavia and Wallachia payment in kind still exists alongside the corvée.[164] Let us take here the Règlement organique, put into effect in 1831.[165] For our present purpose it is irrelevant, and therefore only needs mentioning in passing, that the land, cattle, etc., in fact belong to the Wallachian peasants, that the obligations to the proprietors arose through usurpation, and that the Russian Règlement raised this usurpation to the level of a law. The payments in kind consist of 1/5 of the hay; 1/20 of the wine; and 1/10 of all other products (all this in Wallachia). The peasant possesses: 1) 400 stagenes (a stagene is about 2 square metres) for house and garden on the plain, 300 in the mountains; 2) 3 pogones (1 1/2 hectares) of ploughland; 3) 3 pogones of grassland (pasture for 5 horned cattle).

Here we must mention incidentally that this code of serfdom was proclaimed a code of freedom by the Russians (under Kiselev) and recognised as such by Europe. Secondly: the boyars in fact edited the Règlement. Thirdly: it was much worse, relatively speaking, in Moldavia than in Wallachia.

According to the Règlement every peasant owes the proprietor annually: 1) 12 days of general labour; 2) 1 day of field labour; 3) 1 day of wood-carrying. However, these days are measured not by time but by the work to be accomplished. The Règlement organique therefore itself lays down that the 12 days of [general] labour are to be the equivalent of 36 days of manual labour, the day of field labour = 3 days, and the day of wood-carrying similarly = 3 days. Summa summarum 42 days. But there has to be added to this the so-called jobbagio (service, servitude), i.e. labour for the proprietor’s extraordinary production requirements. This extraordinary labour involves the provision by the villages of 4 men for each 100 families, 3 men by villages of 63-75 families, 2 men by villages of 38-50 families, and 1 by villages of 13-25 families. This jobbagio is estimated at 14 working days for each Wallachian peasant. Thus the corvée prescribed by the Règlement itself = 42 + 14 = 56 working days. Owing to the severe climate the agricultural year in Wallachia consists of only 210 days, of which 40 must be deducted for Sundays and holidays, 30 on an average for bad weather; taken together this is 70 days less. There remain 140 days. Subtract from this the 56 corvée days. This leaves 84 days: a proportion which is even so no worse than that for the English agricultural workers, if we compare the time they work for their wages with the time they work for the creation of the surplus value which is divided between the farmer, the church, the state, the landowner, etc.

These are the days of corvée legally at the disposal of the proprietor, the legally established surplus labour. Yet the Règlement made provision for the further extension of the corvée without any infringement of the letter of the law. Namely, each day’s task was determined in such a way that a certain amount remained over, so that it could only be completed during the next day’s labour time. For example, particularly on the maize plantations, “a day’s weeding was estimated at twelve perches, thereby imposing a task twice as large as a man could perform in one day”. The day’s weeding is in fact determined by the Règlement in such a way

“that it begins in the month of May and ends in the month of October.”. [III-118] “In Moldavia,” as one of *the grand boyars himself said, “the 12 working days of the peasant, granted by the Règlement, amount in fact to 365 days” [p. 311].

The ingenuity with which the boyars have exploited this law in order to appropriate the peasants’ labour time can be explored in further detail in E. Regnault, Histoire politique et sociale des principautés danubiennes, Paris, 1855, pp. 305 et seq.

Let us now compare with this the greedy appetite for labour time-surplus labour time — characteristic of capitalist production in England.

It is not my intention here to go into the history of overwork in England since the invention of machinery. The fact is that as a result of these excesses there broke out epidemics whose devastating effects were equally threatening to capitalists and workers; that the state, against tremendous resistance from the capitalists, was compelled to introduce normal [working] days in the factories (later imitated in greater or lesser degree all over the Continent); that, as things are at the moment, this introduction of the normal day has yet to be extended from the factories proper to other branches of labour (bleachworks, printworks, dyeworks); and that this process is still going forward at the present time, the struggle for the normal day continues (e.g. the introduction of the Ten Hours’ Bill, the extension of the Factory Acts, [166] e. g., to the lace manufacture in Nottingham, etc.). I refer for details on the earlier phases of this process to F. Engels, Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England, Leipzig, 1845. Moreover, the practical resistance of the manufacturers was no fiercer than the theoretical resistance offered by their spokesmen and apologists, the professional economists. Indeed, Mr. Newmarch, the joint editor of Tooke’s History of Prices, felt himself obliged, as President of the section for economic science, at the last Congress of the British Association for Arts etc. (the name of the association to be checked), held at Manchester in September 1861, to stress that the understanding of the necessity for legal regulation and compulsory limitation of the normal working day in factories, etc., was one of the very latest achievements of present-day political economy, in virtue of which it was superior to its predecessors[167]!

My purpose here is simply to illustrate the parallel with the greedy appetite of the boyars by adducing certain quotations from the latest Factory Reports; and similarly to bring forward one or two examples in respect of branches of industry where the Factory Acts have not yet been introduced (lacemaking) or have only just been introduced (printing works). All we need here is a few illustrations for a tendency which does not operate any more strongly in Wallachia than in England.

First illustration. LACE TRADE in Nottingham. “The Daily Telegraph'’ of January 17, 1860.[168]

“It was declared by Mr. Broughton, a county magistrate, who filled the chair at a meeting held in the Nottingham Town Hall on Saturday last (January 14, 1860) that there is an amount of suffering and privation among that portion of the local population connected with the lace trade such as is utterly unknown anywhere else in the civilised world ... children of 9 or 10 years are dragged from their squalid beds at 2, 3, or 4 o'clock in the morning, and compelled to work for a bare subsistance until 10, 11, or 12 at night, their limbs wearing away, their frames dwindling, their faces whitening, and their humanity absolutely sinking into stone-like torpor utterly horrible to contemplate.... We are not surprised that Mr. Mallett or any other manufacturer should stand forward and protest against discussion.... The system, as Rev. Montagu Valpy describes it, is one of unmitigated slavery, socially, physically, morally, and spiritually.... What can be thought of a town which holds a public meeting to petition that the period of labour for men shall be diminished to 18 hours a day... We declaim against the Virginian and Carolinian cotton-planters. Is their black-market, however, their lash, and their barter of human flesh, more detestable than this slow sacrifice of humanity, which takes place in order that veils and collars [III-119] may be fabricated for the benefit of capitalists?” *

[III-119] Second illustration. Factory Acts.

“The fraudulent mill-owner begins work a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less), before 6 a.m.; and leaves off a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 6 p.m. He takes 5 minutes from the beginning and end of the half hour nominally allowed for breakfast, and 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the hour nominally allowed for dinner. He works for a quarter of an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) after 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

* [III-120] // To p. 119. Since there is in existence that incorrect view that the factory system has become completely different I quote here a note from General Register Office, 28 October 1857 (“The Quarterly Return of the Marriages, Births and Deaths”, etc. published by authority of the Registrar-General, etc., No. 35, p. 6), where it says:

“Mr. Leigh, of the Deans gate subdistrict (Manchester), makes the following judicious remarks, which deserve the careful attention of the people at Manchester: Very sad there is the life of a child.... The total number of deaths, exclusive of coroner’s cases, is 224, and of this number 156 were children under 5 years of age.... So large a proportion I have never before known It is evident that whilst the ordinary circumstances affecting adult life have been to a considerable extent in abeyance, those militating against the very young have been in great activity.... 87 of the children died under the age of one year. Neglected diarrhoea, close confinement to ill ventilated rooms during hooping cough, want of proper nutrition, and free administration of laudanum, producing marasmus and convulsions, as well as hydrocephalus and congestion of brain, these must explain why ... the mortality (of children) is still so high."// [III-120]

“Thus his gain” // here directly identified with the surplus labour he has filched // “is as follows:

“Before 6 a.m. 15 minutes

After 6 p.m. 15 ditto

At breakfast time 10 Total for 5 days:

At dinner time 20 300 minutes


On Saturdays

Before 6 a.m. 15 m.

At breakfast time 10

After 2 p.m. 15


Total weekly gain: 340 minutes, or 5 hours and 40 minutes weekly, which multiplied by 50 working weeks in the year, allowing two for holidays and occasional stoppages, are equal to 27 working days"* (Suggestions, etc., by Mr. L. Horner, in “Factories Regulation Acts. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 9 August 1859”, pp. 4-5).

* “The profit to be gained by it (overworking over the legal time) appears to be, to many (mill-owners) a greater temptation than they can resist; they calculate upon the chance of not being found out; and when they see the small amount of penalty and costs, which those who have been convicted have had to pay, they find that if they should de detected there will still be a considerable balance of gain"* (Report of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year ending 31st Oct. 1856, [p.] 34).

* “Five minutes a day’s increased work, multiplied by weeks, are equal to 2 1/2 days of production in the year” * (l.c., [p.] 35).

* “In cases where the additional time is gained by a multiplication of small thefts in the course of the day, there are insuperable difficulties to the Inspectors making out a case"* (l.c., p. 35).

(Here the overtime appropriated in this way is directly characterised as “theft” by the official English Factory Inspectors.)

[III-120] These small thefts are also described as “petty pilferings of minutes” (l.c., p. 48), later on as “snatching a few minutes” (l.c.), “or as it is termed, ‘nibbling’, or ‘cribbling at meal times"* (l.c.).

* “If you allow me,” said a highly respectable master to me, “to work only 10 minutes in the day over time, you put one thousand a year in my pocket” * (l.c., p. 48).

According to the Factory Inspectors, the working time is in practice still unrestricted in English printworks, and even as late as 1857 children of 8 years and upwards had to work from 6 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock in the evening (15 hours).

* “The hours of labour in printworks may practically be considered to be unrestricted, notwithstanding the statutory limitation. The only restriction upon labour is contained in 22 of the Printwork Act (8 and 9 Victoria C. 29) which enacts that no child — that is, no child between the ages of 8 and 13 years — shall be employed during the night; which is defined to be between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following morning. Children, therefore, of the age of 8 years; may be lawfully employed in labour analogous in many respects to factory labour, frequently in rooms in which the temperature is oppressive, continuously and without any cessation from work for rest or refreshment, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (16 hours); and a boy, having attained the age of 13, may lawfully be employed day and night for any numbers of hours without any restriction whatever. Children of the age of 8 years and upwards have been employed from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the last half-year in my district” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories, 31st Oct. 1857, Report of Mr. A. Redgrave, [p.] 39).

* “An additional hour a day, gained by small instalments before 6 a.m. and after 6 p.m., and at the beginning and end of the times nominally fixed for meals, is nearly equivalent to making 13 months in the year"* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1858. Report of Mr. L. Horner, p. 9 [101).

So concerned are the Factory Inspectors to make it clear that the GAIN is nothing but labour time, surplus labour time, and the extra GAIN is therefore surplus labour time over and above the normal working day.

[III-121] A period of crisis therefore does nothing to change the attempt to have the workers work overtime. If only 3 or 4 days in the week are worked, the profit consists only in the surplus time that is worked during these 3 or 4 days. Hence an extraordinary profit is only to be made during the unpaid surplus time, which is worked beyond the normal surplus time, and therefore beyond the legally determined normal working day. If I multiply 2 hours of surplus labour by 3 days of the week, the surplus value is of course only half as great as if I multiplied it by 6 days of the week. There is therefore an even greater temptation during crises to have the workers work overtime, i.e. more unpaid labour time than would otherwise be worked, on the days when work actually takes place. (Other manufacturers do the same thing in practice by reducing wages, i.e. by lessening necessary labour time during the 3 or 4 days on which work is done.) Hence in 1857-58:

* “It may seem inconsistent that there should be any overworking"*

//it is not in the least inconsistent that the manufacturer should try to snatch the largest possible portion of unpaid labour time during the crisis//

* “at a time when trade is so bad; but that very badness leads to transgressions by unscrupulous men; they get the extra-profit of it* (Reports etc. 30th April 1858. Report of Mr. L. Horner, [p. 10]).

//The worse the time and the less business is done, the greater the profit that has to be made on the business done.// Horner therefore remarks, l.c., that at the very time when 122 mills in his district had been given up, 143 stood idle, and all the rest were on short-time working, overwork over the legal time was continuing (l.c.). Similarly another Factory Inspector, T. J. Howell, remarks of the same year:

* “I continue, however,” * (although in most of factories only half time was worked owing to the bad time) * “to receive the usual number of complaints that half or 3 quarters on an hour in the day are snatched from the workers by encroaching upon the times allowed for rest and refreshment during the working day, and by starting 5 minutes and more before the proper time in the morning and by stopping 5 minutes or more after the proper time in the evening. These petty pilferings, amounting in the whole to from half to three quarters on an hour daily, are very difficult of detection"* (T. J. Howell’s Report, l.c., p. 25).

* “To prove a systematic course of overworking, made up of minutes taken at 6 different times of the day, could manifestly not be done by the observation of an Inspector"* (Reports. L. Horner. 31st Oct. 1856 [p. 35]).

* “It is this general acquiescence in the practice, if not approbation of the principle, and the general concurrence that the limitation of labour is expedient, etc.” (Reports etc. 31st Oct. 1855, p. 77).

The governments on the Continent (France, Prussia, Austria, etc.) were compelled, in proportion with the development there of capitalist production, hence of the factory system, to follow the English example by limiting the working day d'une manière ou d'une autre. They have for the most part, with certain modifications, copied, and inevitably so, the English Factory Legislation.

[III-122] In France there existed in practice until 1848 no law for the limitation of the working day in factories. The law of March 22, 1841 for the limitation of the work of children in factories (Factories, works and workshops employing moving power, or a continuous fire, and all establishments giving employment to more than 20 workmen), the basis of which was 3 and 4 William IV, C. 103, remained a dead letter and has up to this day been implemented in practice in the Département du Nord alone. [169] In any case, according to this law children under 13 years old can be employed even at night (between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.) “Upon the occasion of urgent Repairs, or the stoppage of a waterwheel”. Children more than 13 years old can be employed even during the night “if their labour is indispensable”.

On March 2, 1848 the Provisional Government promulgated a law limiting the working time to 10 hours in Paris and 11 in the Departments, not only in factories but in all places of manufacture and craft workshops, not only for children but for adult workmen too. The Provisional Government proceeded from the false assumption that the normal working day was 11 hours in Paris and 12 in the Departments. But:

“In many of the spinning mills the work lasted 14 to 15 hours a day, and even longer, greatly damaging the health and morality of the workers and particularly the children” ([J. A.] Blanqui, Des classes ouvrières en France, pendant l'année 1848).

The National Assembly modified this law, by the law of September 8, 1848, as follows:

* “The daily labour of the workman in manufactures and works shall not exceed 12 hours. The government has the power to declare exceptions to the above enactment in those cases where the nature of the work or of the apparatus requires it.” *

The government put these exceptions into effect by the decree of May 17, 1851. Firstly, it listed the various branches of industry to which the law of September 8, 1848 did not apply. In addition, however, the following limitations were made:

* “The cleaning of machinery at the end of the day; work rendered necessary by accident to the moving power, the boiler, the machinery, or the building. Labour may be extended in the following cases: For 1 hour at the end of the day for washing and stretching pieces in dye works, bleach works, and cotton print works. For 2 hours in sugar factories, and refineries, and in chemical works. For 2 hours during 120 days a year, at the choice of the manufacturer, and with the sanction of the Préfet, in dye works, print works, and finishing establishments."*

//Factory Inspector A. Redgrave remarks in Reports etc. 31st October 1855, p. 80, in regard to the implementation of this law in France:

* “I have been assured by several manufacturers that when they have wished to avail themselves of the permission to extend the working day, the workmen have objected upon the ground that an extension of the working day at one moment would be followed by a curtailment of the ordinary number of hours at another ... and they especially objected to work beyond the 12 hours per day, because the law which fixed those hours is the only good which remains to them of the legislation of the Republic.”

* “The prolongation of the working day is optional with the workmen.... When it is mutually agreed ... the rate per hour (beyond 12) is generally higher than their ordinary pay"* (l.c., p. 80).

A. Redgrave remarks on p. 81 that as a result of overwork and the physical enervation and mental demoralisation bound up with this

* “the labouring population of Rouen and Lille ... have succumbed”, become “diminutive in growth”, and “many are afflicted with that species of lameness which in England has given to its victims the name of ‘factory cripples"’.*

* “It must he admitted that a daily labour of 12 hours is a sufficient call upon the human frame, and when the requisite intervals for meals, the time required for going to and returning from work, are added to the hours of labour, the balance at the disposal of the workman is not excessive” * (A. Redgrave, l.c., p. 8 1).

Among the hypocritical pretexts (objections) advanced by the English manufacturers against the Ten Hours’ Bill there is the following:

* “One of the many objections made to the Ten Hours’ Bill was the danger of throwing upon the hands of the young persons and females so much leisure time, which, from their defective education, they would [III-123] either waste or misuse; and it was urged that until education progressed, and means were provided for occupying in profitable mental or social employment the leisure Hours which the Ten Hours’ Bill proposed to award to the Factory population, it was more advisable, in the interests of morality, that the whole of the day should be spent in the factory"* (A. Redgrave, l.c., [p.] 87).//

//How much Macaulay distorts the economic FACTS so as to be able to act as Whig apologist for the here-and-now — Cato the Censor’ towards the past alone, a sycophant towards the present — can be seen from the following passage among others:

* “The practice of setting children prematurely to work, a practice which the state, the legitimate protector of those who cannot protect themselves, has, in our time, wisely and humanely interdicted, prevailed in the 17th century to an extent which, when compared with the extent of the manufacturing system, seems almost incredible. At Norwich, the chief seat of the clothing trade, a little creature of six years old was thought fit for labour. Several writers of that time, and among them some who were considered as eminently benevolent, mention, with exultation, the fact, that in that single city boys and girls of tender age, created wealth exceeding what was necessary, for their own subsistence by 12,000 pounds a year. The more carefully we examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent from those who imagine that our age has been fruitful of new social evils. The truth is, that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, old. That which is new is the intelligence which discerns and humanity which remedies them” * ([Th. B.] Macaulay, [The History of] England, Vol. I, p. 417).

This passage proves precisely the opposite, namely that at that time child labour was still an exceptional phenomenon, noted with exultation as particularly praiseworthy by political economists. What modern writer would mention it as something particularly noteworthy that children of tender age were being used up in factories? Anyone who reads writers like Child, Culpeper, etc., with common sense would come to the same conclusion. //

The legal time of working is often exceeded

* “by keeping the children, young persons, and women in the mill to clean the machinery during a part of the meal times, and on Saturdays after 2 o'clock, in place of that work being done within the restricted time” * (Reports etc. 30th April 1856, L. Horner, p. 12).

This overworking also takes place with workpeople

* “who are not employed on piece-work, but receive weekly wages” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1859, L. Horner, p[p. 8-]9).

(* Mr. Horner, besides being one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners of 1833, was one of the original Inspectors of Factories, and during the early days of factory supervision had to contend with serious difficulties.*) This is what Horner says in his last report, dated 30th April 1859[170]:

* “The education of the children, professedly provided for, is, in numerous cases, an utter mockery; the protection of the workpeople against bodily injuries and death from unfenced machinery, also professedly provided for, has become, practically, a dead letter; the reporting of accidents is, to a great extent, a mere waste of public money.... Overworking to a very considerable extent, still prevails; and, in most instances, with that security against detection and punishment, which the law itself affords"* (l.c., pp. 9, 8).

(* Children above 13 years qualified to be employed for the same number of hours as adult men; half-timers children under 13 years.*)

[III-124] *"The fact is, that prior to the Act of 1833, young persons and children were worked all night, all day, or both ad libitum (Reports etc. 30th April 1860, p[p. 50-]51).

According to the Act of 1833 night lay between 8 1/2 p.m. and 5 1/2 a.m. The millowners were permitted

* “to take their legal hours of labour at any period within 5 1/2 a.m. and 8 1/2 p.m. Il.*

*This signification of “day” and “night” continued through all the subsequent Factory acts, though with restricted hours of work until 1850, when, for the first time, the day hours of permitted labour were fixed at from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and in winter from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. if so desired by the mill occupier.*

* “ The bulk of the accidents happened in the largest mills.... The perpetual scramble for every minute of time, where work is going on by an unvarying power, which is indicated at perhaps a thousand horses, necessarily leads to danger. In such mills, moments are the elements of profit — the attention of everybody’s every instant is demanded. It is here, where ... there may be seen a perpetual struggle between life and inorganic forces; where the mental energies must direct, and the animal energies must move and be kept equivalent to the revolutions of the spindles. They must not lag, notwithstanding the strain upon them either by excessive excitement or by heat; nor be suspended for an instant by any counter attention to the various movements around, for in every lagging there is loss” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 30th April 1860, p. 56).

* “The Children’s Employment Commission, the reports of which have been published several years, brought to light many enormities, and which still continue, — some of them much greater than any that factories and printworks were ever charged with.... Without an organized system of inspection by paid officers, responsible to Parliament, and kept to their duty by half-yearly reports of their proceedings, the law would soon become inoperative; as was proved by the inefficiency of all the Factory Laws prior to that of 1833, and as is the case at the present day in France: the Factory Law of 1841 containing no provision for systematic inspection"* (Reports of the Inspectors etc 31st Oct. 1858, [p.] 10).

*The Factory Acts “have put an end to the premature decrepitude of the former long-hour workers; by making them masters of their own time they have given them a moral energy which is directing them to the eventual possession of political power"* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories. 31st Oct. 1859, [p.] 47).

* “A still greater boon is, the distinction at last made clear between the workers own time and his master’s. The worker knows now when that which he sells is ended, and when his own begins; and by possessing a sure foreknowledge of this, is enabled to pre-arrange his own minutes for his own purposes!"* (I.c., p. 52.)a

This is very important with regard to the establishment of a normal working day. Before 1833:

* “The master had no time for anything but money, the servant had no time for anything but labour” * (l.c., p. 48).

* “The cupidity of millowners, whose cruelties in the pursuit of gain have hardly been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards on the conquest of America, in the pursuit of gold” * (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd ed. London, 1835, p. 114).

[III-124a] 17f * “Certain classes of workers (such as the adult males, and female weavers) have a direct interest in working overtime, and it may be supposed that they exercise some influence over the more juvenile classes, which latter have, besides, a natural dread of dismissal by giving any evidence or information calculated to implicate their employers ... even when detected (the juvenile workers) in working at illegal times, their evidence to prove the facts before a Bench of Magistrates, can seldom be relied on, as it is given at the risk of losing their employments” * (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year Ending 31st Oct. 1860, p. 8).

* “A factory employs 400 people, the half of which work by the ‘piece’ and have ... a direct interest in working longer hours. The other 200 are paid by the day, work equally long with the others, and get no more money for their overtime. A habit has arisen in some localities of starting systematically 5 minutes before and ceasing 5 minutes after the proper hour. There are 3 starting and 3 leaving off times each day; and thus 5 minutes at 6 different times, equal to half an hour are gained daily, not by one person only, but by 200 who work and are paid by the day. The work of these 200 people for half an hour a day is equal to one person’s,, work for 50 hours, or 5/6 of one person’s labour in a week, and is a positive gain to the employer” * (l.c., p. 9).

If piece-wages are paid, the worker has indeed a share in his overtime, and he himself appropriates a portion of the surplus time during which he works. But the capitalist, quite apart from the more rapid valorisation of his fixed capital, enjoys a surplus profit even if he pays an hour of overtime at the same rate as, or even higher than, the hours of the normal working day: 1) Because he does not need to increase the number of machines on which the work is done (e.g. spindles, looms). The same worker works at the same power loom whether he works for 12 or 15 hours. Thus a part of the capital outlay is subtracted with this production of surplus time. 2) If the normal working day is 12 hours, of which 2 hours are surplus labour, 10 hours must be paid for 2 hours of surplus time.

Here of the 30 minutes (1/2 hour), 1/6 is gained, = 5 minutes, and the worker is paid 25 minutes. The surplus time is otherwise dependent on the worker’s having first worked 10 hours for himself. Here it is already assumed in advance that he has earned his necessary wages. He can therefore be fobbed off with 1 aliquot part of the overtime.

If the overtime is gratis, capital acquires it without paying necessary labour time; 100 hours of overtime, if 10 hours a day are being worked, = the labour time of 10 workers, whose wages are completely saved.

[III-124b] The Bleaching and Dyeing Acts were to come into operation on August 1, 1861.

The main provisions of the Factory Acts proper are:

*"All persons under 16 years of age must be examined by the certifying surgeon. Children cannot be employed under the age of 8 years. Children between 8 and 13 years of age can only be employed for half-time, and must attend school daily. Females and young persons under the age of 18 years cannot be employed before 6 o'clock in the morning nor after 6 o'clock in the evening, nor after 2 o'clock in the afternoon of Saturdays. Females and young persons cannot be employed during a meal time, nor be allowed to remain in any room in a factory while any manufacturing process is carried on. Children under 13 years of age cannot be employed both before noon and after 1 o'clock on the same day” ([Report &..,] l.c., pp. 22-23).

* “The hours of work are governed by a public clock; generally the clock of the nearest railway station.... It is sometimes advanced by way of excuse, when persons are found in a factory either during a meal hour or at some other illegal time, that they will not leave the mill at the appointed hour, and that compulsion is necessary to force them to cease work, especially on Saturday afternoons. But, if the hands remain in a factory after the machinery has ceased to revolve, and occupy themselves in cleaning their machines and in other like work, they would not have been so employed if sufficient time had been set apart specially for cleaning, etc., either before 6 p.m. or before 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons” * q.c., p. 23).

A further provision of the Factory Acts in regard to mealtimes:

*"One hour and a half must be given to all young persons and females, at the same time between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.; of this one hour must be given before 3 p.m., and no person can be employed for more than 5 hours before 1 p.m. without an interval of 30 minutes. The usual mealhours of mechanics throughout the country are, half an hour for breakfast and an hour for dinner” * (lI.c., [p.] 24).

A further provision of the Factory Acts:

*"The parent is required to cause his child to attend school for 3 hours daily for 5 days in the week. The occupier is restricted from employing children unless he shall have procured on each Monday morning a schoolmaster’s certificate that each child has attended school for 3 hours daily for 5 days in the preceding week” * (p. 26).

In earlier centuries too, in the period preceding capitalist production, we likewise find forcible regulation, i.e. regulation by laws, on the part of governments. But the aim then was to force the workers to work for a definite period of time, whereas the present regulations all have the opposite objective, to force the capitalist to have them work for no more than a definite period of time. In the face of developed capital it is only government compulsion that can limit labour time. At the stage at which capital is only entering on its development, [III-124c] government compulsion steps in to transform the worker forcibly into a wage labourer.

*"When population is scanty, and land abundant, the free labourer is idle and saucy. Artificial regulation has often been found, not only useful, but absolutely necessary to compel him to work. At this day, according to Mr. Carlyle, the emancipated negroes in our West India Islands, having hot sun for nothing, and plenty of pumpkin for next to nothing, will not work. He seems to think legal regulations compelling work absolutely necessary, even for their own sakes. For they are rapidly relapsing into their original barbarism. So in England 500 years ago, it was found, by experience, that the poor need not, and would not work. A great plague in the 14th century having thinned the population, the difficulty of getting men to work on reasonable terms grew to such a height as to be quite intolerable, and to threaten the industry of the kingdom. Accordingly, in the year 1349, the Statute 23rd, Edward III, was passed, compelling the poor to work, and interfering with the wages of labour. It was followed with the same view through several centuries by a long series of statutable enactments. The wages of artisans, as well as of agricultural labourers; the prices of piece-work, as well as of day-work; the periods during which the poor were obliged to work, nay, the very intervals for meals (as in the Factory acts of the present day) were defined by law. Acts of Parliament regulating wages, but against the labourer, and in favour of the master, lasted for the long period of 464 years. Population grew. These laws were then found, and really became, unnecessary and burdensome. In the year 1813, they were all repealed"* ([J. B. Byles,] Sophisms of Free-Trade etc., 7th ed., London, 1850, pp. 205-06).

“It appears from the Statute of 1496 that the diet was considered equivalent to 1/3 of the income of an artificer and 1/2 the income of a labourer, which indicates a greater degree of independence among the working classes than prevails at present; for the board, both of labourers and artificers, is now reckoned at a higher proportion of their wages. The hours for meals and relaxation were more liberal than at this day. They amounted to e.g. 1 hour for breakfast from March to September, 1 1/2 hours for dinner, and 1/2 hour for ‘noon-meate’. “ (Thus 3 hours altogether.) “In winter they worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until it went dark. In the cotton factories of the present time, in contrast, 1/2 hour is allowed for [III-124d] breakfast, 1 hour for dinner”, hence only 1 1/2 hours, exactly half as much as in the ]5th century (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classes, 3rd ed., London, 1835, pp. 24-25 and 577-78).

The Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act. Passed in 1860.

There are different provisions in the Print Work Act, Bleaching and Dyeing Works Act and the Factory Act.

*"The Bleaching etc Works Act limits the hours of work of all females and young persons between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m, but does not permit children to work after 6 p.m The Print Works Act limits the hours of females, young persons and children between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., provided the children have attended some school for 5 hours in any day but Saturday before 6 o'clock p.m."* (Reports of the Inspectors of Factories for the Half Year Ending 31st Oct. 1861, pp. 20-21).

* “The Factory Acts require 1 1/2 hours to be allowed during the day, and that they shall be taken between 7.30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and one hour thereof shall be given before 3 o'clock in the afternoon; and that no child, young person, or female shall be employed more than 5 hours before 1 o'clock in the afternoon of any day without an interval for meal time of at least 30 minutes.... In the Print Works Act there is no requisition ... for any meal time at all. Accordingly, young persons and females may work from 6 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night without stopping for meals"* (l.c., p. 21).

*"In Print Works a child may work between 6 o'clock in the morning and 10 o'clock at night.... By the Bleach Works Act a child may only work as under the Factories Act, whilst the labour of the young persons and females, with whom it has been previously working during the day, may be continued till 8 o'clock in the evening"* (I.c., [p.] 22).

* “To take the silk manufacture for example, since 1850, it has been lawful to employ children above 11 years of age” * (from 11 to 13 years, therefore) * “in the winding and throwing of raw silk for 10 1/2 hours a day. From 1844 to 1850 their daily work, less Saturday, was limited to 10 hours; and before that period to 9 hours. These alterations took place on the ground that labour in silk mills was lighter than in mills for other fabrics, and less likely, in other respects also, to be prejudicial to health” * (I.c., p. 26).

* “The allegation put forth in 1850 about the manufacture of silk being a healthier occupation than that of other textile fabrics, not only entirely [III-124e] fails of proof, but the proof is quite the other way; for the average death rate is exceedingly high in the silk districts, and amongst the female part of the population is higher even than it is in the cotton districts of Lancashire, where, although it is true that the children only work half time, yet from the conditional causes which render cotton manufacture unhealthy, a high rate of pulmonary mortality might be supposed to be inevitable” * (I.c., p. 27).

Lord Ashley said in his speech on the Ten Hours’ Bill (March 15, 1844) that hours of labour in Austrian factories at that time were

*"15, not unfrequently 17 hours a day"* (Ten Hours’ Factory Bill, London, 1844, p. 5).

*In Switzerland the regulations are very strict*:

*"In the canton of Argovia, no children are allowed to work, under 14 years, more than 12 hours and 112; and education is compulsory on the millowners.”

* In the canton of Zurich “the hours of labour are limited to 12; and children under 10 years of age are not allowed to be employed.... In Prussia, by the law of 1839, no child who has not completed his or her 16th year, is to be employed more than 10 hours a day; none under 9 years of age to be employed at all” (p[p. 5-]6).

[V-196] [172] “Sub-inspector Baker reports (Factory Reports, 1843), as to “having seen several females, who, he was sure, could only just have completed their 18th year, who had been obliged to work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with only 1 1/2 hours for meals. In other cases, he shows, females are obliged to work all night, in a temperature from 70 to 80 degrees.... I found (says Mr. Horner, Factory Reports, 1843) many young women, just 18 years of age, at work from half past 5 in the morning until 8 o'clock at night, with no cessation except a quarter of an hour for breakfast, and 3 quarters of an hour for dinner. They may be fairly said to labour for 15 hours and a half a out of 24. There are (says Mr. Saunders, Factory Reports, 1843) among them females who have been employed for some weeks, with an interval only of a few days, from 6 o'clock in the morning until 12 o'clock at night, less than 2 hours for meals, thus giving them for 5 nights in the week, 6 hours out of its 24 to go to and from their homes, and to obtain rest in bed"* (l.c., [pp.] 20-21).

The earlier wearing out of labour capacity, in other words premature ageing, in consequence of the forcible lengthening of labour time:

* “In the year 1833, a letter was addressed to me by Mr. Ashworth, a very considerable millowner in Lancashire, which contains the following curious passage: ‘You will next naturally inquire about the old men, who are said to die, or become unfit for work, when they attain 40 years of age, or soon after.’ Mark the phrase ‘old men’ at 40 years of age!"* (l.c., p. 12).

* The government commissioner M'Intosh (one of those commissioners, sent expressly to collect evidence against that taken by the committee of 1832), says in his report of 1833: “Although prepared by seeing childhood occupied in such a manner, it is very difficult to believe the ages of men advanced in years, as given by themselves, so complete is their premature old age” * (l.c., p. 13).

[III-124e] In 1816 Sir R. Peel procured a committee of the House of Commons to examine into the Apprentice Act of 1802 (among other things). According to the evidence of John Moss, overseer of a mill near Preston , the Apprentice Act was constantly set at nought. The witness did not even know of it. The children in the mill were almost all Apprentices of London Parishes; they were worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until 8 at night, all the year round, with 1 hour for the 2 meals, they invariably worked from 6 on the Sunday morning till 12, in cleaning the machinery for the week (15 hours).

Average working day among the London bakers 17 hours. Regularly 17 hours in the earliest stages of the cotton industry. Shortly after this introduction of night work.