Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
Part 3) Relative Surplus Value
[V-190]John Stuart Mill remarks:
* “It is questionable, if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being."*
He should have said, of any toiling human being. But on the basis of capitalist production the purpose of machinery is by no means to lighten or shorten the day’s toil of the worker.
* “Articles are cheap, but they are made of human flesh” * ([J. B. Byles,] Sophisms of Free-Trade, 7th edit., London, 1850, p. 202).
The purpose of machinery, speaking quite generally, is to lessen the value, therefore the price, of the commodity, to cheapen it, i.e. to shorten the labour time necessary for the production of a commodity, but by no means to shorten the labour time during which the worker is employed in producing this cheaper commodity. In fact it is not a matter of shortening the working day but rather, as in any development of productive power on a capitalist basis, of reducing the labour time the worker needs for the reproduction of his labour capacity, in other words for the production of his wages; it is therefore a matter of shortening the part of the working day during which he works for himself, the paid part of his labour time, and thereby lengthening the other part of the day, during which he works for capital for no return, the unpaid part of the working day, his surplus labour time. Why the mania for devouring alien labour time grows everywhere with the introduction of machinery, and why the working day, instead of being shortened is rather extended beyond its natural limits — until legislation is obliged to take a hand — why therefore not only relative surplus labour time but also total labour time increases, is a phenomenon we shall examine in Chapter 3. [V-190]
[V-196]  — Simultaneously, however, with the increase of numbers has been the increase of toil. The labour performed by those engaged in the processes of manufacture, is three times as great as in the beginning of such operations. Machinery has executed, no doubt, the work that would demand the sinews of millions of men; but it has also prodigiously multiplied the labour of those who are governed by its fearful movements” * (Ten Hours’ Factory Bill. Lord Ashley’s Speech, London, 1844, p. 6).
[V-190] Only in isolated cases does the capitalist intend to secure a direct reduction of wages by introducing machinery, although this is always the case when he replaces skilled labour with simple labour, and the labour of grown men with that of women and children. The value of the commodity is determined by the socially necessary labour time contained in it. With the introduction of new machinery, and as long as the major part of production continues to be based on the old means of production, the capitalist can sell his commodity at less than its social value, even though he sells it at more than its individual value, i.e. for more labour time than he requires to manufacture it under the new production process. Here, therefore, the surplus value appears to originate for him from selling — from his taking advantage of the other owners of commodities, from the fact that the commodity’s price has risen above its value; not from the reduction in necessary labour time and the lengthening of surplus labour time. Yet, this too is merely the way things appear. Through the exceptional productive power attained here by labour in contrast to average labour in the same branch of industry, it becomes higher labour in relation to the average, so that e.g. an hour of this higher labour would be equal to 1/4 hours of average labour; simple labour raised to a higher power. But the capitalist pays it as average labour. Thus a smaller number of hours of labour becomes equal to a greater number of hours of average labour. He pays for this labour as average labour and sells it as what it is, higher labour, a given quantity of which = a greater quantity of average labour. Here, therefore, the worker needs to work, on our assumption, for a shorter time than the average worker in order to produce [V-191] the same value. He therefore in fact works less labour time — than the average worker — in order to produce an equivalent for his wages, or in other words to produce the means of subsistence necessary for the reproduction of his labour capacity. He therefore gives the capitalist a greater number of hours of labour as surplus labour, and it is only this relative surplus labour which provides the latter, when selling the commodity, with the excess of its price over its value. The capitalist only realises this surplus labour time, or this surplus value, which is the same thing, by selling the commodity; the surplus value therefore originates not in the sale but in the reduction of necessary labour time and the concomitant relative increase of surplus labour time. Even if the capitalist who introduces the new machinery were to pay a higher than average wage, the surplus realised by him over and above the normal surplus value, the surplus value realised by the other capitalists in the same branch of industry, would originate solely from the fact that the wage was not increased in the same proportion as this labour rose above the level of average labour, that a relative increase in surplus labour time continued to occur. Therefore this case can also be subsumed under the general law that surplus value = surplus labour.
In its early stages machinery is mostly nothing but a more powerful craftsman’s tool; but as soon as it is applied in the capitalist fashion, it presupposes simple cooperation, and indeed, as we shall see later,  simple cooperation appears as a much more important element in the application of machinery than in the system of manufacture resting on the division of labour, where it only asserts itself in the principle of multiples, i.e. the principle that the different operations are not only distributed between different workers but according to certain numerical proportions, in which a definite number of workers, organised in groups, is assigned to, subsumed under, each individual operation. In the mechanical workshop, the most developed form of the capitalist application of machinery, it is essential that many should do the same thing. Indeed, this is its main principle. The application of machinery further presupposes as the original condition of its existence the system of manufacture based on the division of labour, since the construction of machines — hence the existence of the machine — is itself based on a workshop in which the principle of the division of labour has been completely implemented. Only at a further stage of development does the construction of machines itself take place on the basis of machinery, by means of the mechanical workshop.
“In the infancy of mechanical engineering, a machine-factory displayed the division of labour in manifold gradations — the file, the drill, the lathe, having each its different workmen in the order of skill; but the dexterous hands of the filer and driller are now superseded by the planing, the key-groove cutting, and the drilling machines; and those of the iron and brass turners, by the self-acting slide-lathe” (Ure, l.c., Vol. 1, pp. 30-31).
On the one hand, the division of labour developed under the system of manufacture is repeated within the mechanical workshop, although on a greatly reduced scale; on the other hand, as we shall see later on, the mechanical workshop overturns the most essential principles of the system of manufacture based on the division of labour. And finally, the application of machinery increases the division of labour within society, that is to say it multiplies the number of specialised branches of industry and independent spheres of production.
Its fundamental principle is the replacement of skilled labour by simple labour; hence also the reduction of the amount of wages to the average wage, or the reduction of the worker’s necessary labour to the average minimum and the reduction of the production cost of labour capacity to the production cost of simple labour capacity.
[V-192] The increase in productive power achieved through simple cooperation and the division of labour costs the capitalist nothing. They are natural forces provided free of charge by social labour in the particular forms it takes on under the rule of capital. The application of machinery does not just bring the productive forces of social labour into play, as opposed to the labour of the isolated individual. It transforms simple natural forces, such as water, wind, steam, electricity, etc., into powers of social labour. This apart from the exploitation of the mechanical laws which operate in the actual working part of the machinery (i.e. the part which directly transforms the raw material, mechanically or chemically). However, this form of increasing the productive forces, hinc [of reducing] necessary labour time, is distinguished as follows: A part of the pure force of nature which is applied is, in this, its applicable form, a product of labour, as for example the conversion of water into steam. Where the motive power is naturally available, e.g. when water is available as a waterfall and the like flit is highly characteristic, by the way, that in the course of the 18th century the French let their water work horizontally, whereas the Germans always made artificial earthworks for it//, the medium through which its motion is transferred to the actual machinery, e.g. the water-wheel, is the product of labour. But this point is even truer for the machinery itself which directly recasts the raw material. Therefore machinery, unlike simple cooperation or the division of labour in manufacture, is a productive force which has been produced; it costs money; when it enters into the sphere of production in which it functions as machinery, functions as a part of the constant capital, it does so as a commodity (directly as machinery, or indirectly as a commodity which must be consumed in order to give the motive power the required form). Like any portion of constant capital, the machinery adds to the product the value contained in it, i.e. it makes it dearer to the extent of the labour time required for its own production. In this chapter we are exclusively examining the ratio of variable capital to the magnitude of the value in which it is reproduced, in other words the ratio of the necessary labour employed in a sphere of production to the surplus labour; we therefore deliberately refrain from investigating the ratio of surplus value to constant capital, and to the total amount of capital advanced. Nevertheless, the analysis of the application of machinery demands that we also investigate the other parts of capital, besides that laid out in wages. For the principle that the employment of means whereby productive power is increased increases relative surplus time and therewith relative surplus value, rests upon the cheapening of the commodities, hence the curtailment of the labour time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity, in consequence of these contrivances through which productive power is increased, i.e. more use values are produced by the same number of workers in the same period of time. In the case of the employment of machinery, however, this result is only attained by an increase in the outlay of capital, by the consumption of already existing values, therefore by the introduction of an element which increases the magnitude of the product’s, the commodity’s, value to the amount of its own value.
To begin with, as far as the raw material is concerned, its value naturally remains the same, in whatever manner it is treated — it is, to be precise, the value it has when it enters the process of production. [V-193] Furthermore, the employment of machinery reduces the amount of labour absorbed by a given amount of raw material, or, in other words, increases the amount of raw material transformed into product over a given labour time. Considering both these elements, the commodity produced with the assistance of machinery contains less labour time than the one produced without machinery, it represents a smaller magnitude of value, it is cheaper. But this result is only attained by the industrial consumption of commodities — commodities existing in the machinery — whose value enters into the product.
Therefore, since the value of the raw material remains the same whether machinery is employed or not, and since the amount of labour time which converts a given amount of raw material into product and hence into commodity is reduced by the employment of machinery, it follows that the cheapening of the commodities produced by machines depends on one circumstance alone: the labour time contained in the machinery itself is less than the labour time contained in the labour capacity replaced by it; the value of machinery which enters into the commodity is less than — i.e. = less labour time than — the value of the labour replaced by it. And this value = the value of the number of labour capacities whose employment is made unnecessary by machinery.
As machinery emerges from the stage of infancy, as it diverges in dimensions and character from the craft tool it originally replaced, it becomes more massive and expensive; more labour time is required to produce it, and its absolute value rises, although it becomes cheaper relatively, i.e. although more efficient machinery costs less in proportion to its efficiency than less efficient machinery, i.e. the amount of labour time it costs to produce it grows in a much smaller proportion than the amount of labour time it replaces. But in any case its absolute dearness rises progressively, it therefore adds to the commodity produced by it a value which is greater absolutely, particularly in comparison with the craft tool or even the simple instruments of labour or those based on the division of labour which it replaces in the production process. Why then is the commodity produced by this more expensive instrument of production cheaper than the commodity produced without it? Why is the labour time contained in the machinery itself less than the labour time replaced by it? This is due to the two following circumstances:
1) As the efficiency of the machinery grows, as the productive power of labour is thus raised, the quantity of use values and therefore of commodities which are produced in the same labour time with the help of machinery grows, in the proportion to which the machinery enables one worker to do the work of many workers. This means an increase in the number of commodities in which the value of the machinery re-appears. The total value of the machinery only re-appears in the totality of the commodities in whose production it has assisted as a means of labour; this total value is distributed in aliquot parts among the individual commodities which when added together make up the total amount of the commodities. Therefore, the greater this total amount the smaller the portion of the machinery’s value that re-appears in the individual commodity. In spite of the difference in value between the machinery and the tool or simple instrument of labour, a smaller portion of value will enter the commodity from the machinery than from the instrument of labour and from the labour capacity replaced by the machine, in proportion as the value of the machine is spread over a greater total amount of products, of commodities. A spinning machine which absorbs a given labour time in 1,000 pounds of cotton re-appears in the individual pound of yarn as a fraction of value of only 1/1000, whereas if it only helped to spin 100 pounds in the same time, 1/l00 of its value would re-appear in the single pound of yarn, it would therefore contain in this case ten times more labour time, ten times more value, be 10 times dearer, than in the first case. [V-194] Machinery can therefore only be employed (on a capitalist basis) under circumstances in which mass production, production on a large scale, is possible (see p. 201, quotation from Rossi).
[V-201] “The division of labour and the use of powerful machines are only possible in establishments which offer enough labour to all classes of worker and provide results on a large scale. The more considerable the product the smaller the proportional expenditure on tools and machines. If two equally powerful machines produce respectively 100,000 metres and 200,000 metres of the same cloth in the same space of time, you may say that the first machine costs twice as much as the second, that one of these enterprises has employed a capital double that employed in the other” (Rossi, Cours d'économie politique, p. 334). [V-201]
[V-194] 2) It is already the case in manufacture resting on the division of labour as in industry on the craft basis, etc., that the instruments of labour (in the same way as other parts of the conditions of labour, like factory buildings) enter into the labour process to their whole extent, either directly as means of labour or indirectly as conditions (such as buildings) which are necessary for the labour process to take place. But they only enter into the valorisation process piece by piece, partially — i.e. they enter to the extent to which they are used up in the labour process, to the extent to which their exchange value is consumed in the labour process simultaneously with their use value. Their use value as means of labour enters into the labour process wholly, but it is preserved over a period which comprises a number of labour processes, during which these means of labour serve repeatedly for the production of the same kind of commodity, i.e. serve over and over again as means of labour used by new labour for working up new material. Their use value as means of labour of this kind is only used up at the end of a period, which may be shorter or longer, during which the same labour process has been constantly repeated. Their exchange value therefore only re-appears completely in the total amount of commodities they have helped to produce during such a period — the whole period, from their entry into the labour process to their removal from it. Only a certain aliquot part of the value of the instrument of labour therefore enters into each individual commodity. If the instrument served for 90 days, 1/90 of its value would re-appear in the commodities produced on each day. A notional average calculation necessarily enters the picture here, for the value of the instrument only re-appears as a whole in the whole period of labour processes during which it has been completely used up — therefore in the sum total of the commodities it has helped to produce during this period. The calculation is therefore made in this way: on each day on the average an equal aliquot part of the instrument’s use value is used up (this is the fiction), and therefore an equal aliquot part of the value of the instrument re-appears in the product of this one day.
With the introduction of machinery, as a result of which the means of labour assumes a very extensive value and is represented in a massive quantity of use values, there is an increase in this difference between the labour process and the valorisation process, which becomes a significant element in the development of productive power and in the character of production. If a workshop is equipped with mechanical looms, and they perform their function, e.g., over 12 years, the wear and tear of the machinery, etc., during the labour process in the course of one day is insignificant, and therefore the portion of the value of the machinery which re-appears in the Individual commodity or even in the product of a whole year is relatively insignificant. Past, objectified labour here enters massively into the labour process, whereas only a relatively insignificant portion of this part of capital, the portion used up in the same labour process, enters into the valorisation process and therefore re-appears in the product as part of the value. Therefore, however considerable the magnitude of the value that is represented by the machinery that enters into the labour process, and the factory buildings, etc., associated with it, the part of this overall value that enters into the daily valorisation [V-195] process, hence into the value of the commodity, is always relatively small; it makes the commodity relatively more expensive, but only insignificantly, to a much smaller extent than the manual labour replaced by the machinery would have done. Therefore, however large the part of the capital laid out in machinery may appear to be in comparison with the part laid out for the living labour which this machinery serves as means of production, this proportion appears to be very small if the part of the value of the machinery which re-appears in the individual commodity is compared with the living labour absorbed in the same commodity, and the part of the value added to the individual product by both of them — machinery and labour — appears to be small in proportion to the value of the raw material itself.
It is with the coming of machinery that social production on a large scale first obtains the power of introducing into the labour process in their entirety, wholly as means of production, products which represent a large amount of past labour, hence large masses of value, whereas only a relatively small aliquot part of those products enters into the valorisation process taking place during the individual labour process. The capital which enters in this form into every individual labour process is large, but the proportion in which its use value is used up, consumed, during this labour process, making necessary the replacement of its value, is relatively small. The machinery functions in its entirety as means of labour, but it only adds value to the product in the proportion to which the labour process diminishes its value, a devaluation which is conditioned by the degree of the reduction of its use value through wear and tear during the labour process.
The conditions enumerated under 1) and 2), on which it depends whether the commodity produced by the dearer instrument is cheaper than the commodity produced by the cheaper one, or whether the value contained in the machinery itself is smaller than the value of the labour capacities it replaces, therefore amount to the following: The first condition is mass production; this depends on the degree to which the amount of commodities 1 worker can produce in the same labour time is large in comparison with the amount he would produce without machinery. In other words, it depends on the degree to which labour is replaced by machinery; hence the number of labour capacities which is used in regard to the amount of the product is reduced as far as possible, as many labour capacities as possible are replaced by the machinery, and the part of the capital which is laid out in labour appears relatively small in comparison with the part of the capital which is laid out in machinery. And secondly: however large the part of the capital which consists in machinery, the part of the value of the machine which re-appears in the individual commodity, the part of the value, therefore, which is added by the machinery to the individual commodity, is small in comparison with the parts of the value of labour and raw material contained in the same commodity, and indeed small because during a given labour time the machinery enters in its entirety into the labour process but only a relatively insignificant portion of it enters into the valorisation process; the whole of the machinery enters into the labour process, but there always enters merely an aliquot part of the total magnitude of the machinery’s value [into the valorisation process].
Accordingly, the following criticism of Ricardo needs itself to be corrected:
“Ricardo speaks of “a portion of the labour of the engineer in making machines — * as contained, e.g., in a pair of stockings. * “Yet the total labour that produced each single pair of stockings, if it is of a single pair we are speaking, includes the whole labour of the engineer, not a portion; for one machine makes many pairs, and none of those pairs could have been done without any part of the machine"* (Observations on Certain Verbal Disputes in Political Economy, London, 1821, [p.] 54).
[V-196] The part of the capital laid out in raw material grows disproportionately more rapidly in comparison with the part laid out in wages than where there is a mere division of labour. The new and relatively large amount of capital laid out in means of labour, machinery, etc., comes additionally into consideration. The progress of industry is therefore accompanied by a growth in the auxiliarypart of capital as against the part laid out in living labour.
[V-197] One of the first effects of the introduction of new machinery, before it has become dominant in its branch of production, is to prolong the labour time of those workers who continue to work with the old, imperfect means of production. Although the commodity produced with the machinery is sold at more than its individual value, i.e. at more than the quantity of labour time contained in it, it is sold at less than the previous social, general value of the same species of product. The labour time socially necessary for the production of this particular commodity has therefore fallen, but not the labour time necessary for the worker using the old instruments of production. If, therefore, 10 hours of labour time suffice for the reproduction of his labour capacity, the product of his 10 hours is no longer 10 hours of necessary labour time, that is to say labour time necessary under the new social conditions of production for the manufacture of this product; it is instead perhaps only 6 hours. Therefore, if he works for 14 hours, those 14 hours of his represent only 10 hours of necessary labour time and only 10 hours of necessary labour time have been realised in them. Hence the value of the product also does not exceed the value of the product of 10 hours of general, necessary, social labour. If he works independently, he will have to prolong his labour time. If he works as a wage labourer, hence necessarily also works surplus time, then however much the absolute labour time is prolonged, average surplus labour for the capitalist will only emerge through a reduction of his wage below the previous average, i.e. he works more hours but less of them are appropriated by him personally, not because his labour has become more productive but because it has become less productive, not because he creates the same quantity of product in less labour time but because the quantity falling to his share is reduced.
The surplus value ( = surplus labour, absolute as well as relative) which capital brings into existence through the employment of machinery does not arise from the labour capacities replaced by the machinery but from the labour capacities employed by it.
“According to Baines *a first rate cotton-spinning factory cannot be built, filled with machinery, and fitted with the steam engines and gasworks, under £100,000. A steam-engine of 100 horse power will turn 50,000 spindles, which will produce 62,500 miles of fine cotton thread per day. In such a factory 1,000 persons will spin as much thread as 250,000 persons could without machinery"* (S. Laing, The National Distress, London, 1844, p. 75).
In this case the surplus value of the capital comes not from the saving made on the labour of 250 persons, but from the 1 person who replaces them; not from the 250,000 persons replaced, but from the 1,000 employed. It is their surplus labour which is realised in the surplus value. The use value of the machine, and its replacement of human labour is its use value, does not determine its value; this is determined by the labour required to produce the machine itself. And this value, which it possesses before being employed, before entering into the production process, is the sole value it adds to the product qua machinery. The capitalist paid for this value when he bought the machine.
On the presupposition that the commodities are sold at their value, the relative surplus value created by capital by means of the machinery, as in applying all other arrangements which increase the productive power of labour and thereby reduce the price of the individual product, consists simply in this, that the commodities necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity are cheapened, hence that there is a reduction of the labour time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity, which is only an equivalent of the labour time contained in wages; and therefore that the surplus labour time is prolonged, with the [V-198] overall length of the working day remaining the same. (There are a number of circumstances modifying this, which will be dealt with later.) This curtailment of necessary labour time is a result which redounds to the benefit of capitalist production as a whole and reduces the production costs of labour capacity altogether, because on our assumption the commodity produced by the machinery in fact contributes to the reproduction of labour capacity. However, this is not a motive for the individual capitalist to introduce machinery — it is a general result which is not particularly advantageous to him.
Firstly: Machinery may be introduced, either in replacement of a craft-based industry (as e.g. in the case of spinning), hence in subjecting a branch of industry for the first time to the capitalist mode of production; or in revolutionising a form of manufacture which previously rested merely on the division of labour (as in a factory for making machines); or, lastly, in driving out older by more efficient machinery or in extending the field of application of machinery in a workshop to parts of the operation it had not as yet previously seized hold of. In all these cases, as remarked above, it prolongs necessary labour time for the workers still subsumed under the old mode of production, and also prolongs their overall working day. On the other hand, in workshops where it is newly introduced it curtails necessary labour time, relatively speaking. If 2 hours of labour by a hand loom weaver are only equivalent to 1 socially necessary hour of labour after the introduction of the power loom, 1 hour of labour by the power loom weaver is now, before the power loom has been introduced generally into this form of weaving, of greater magnitude than one hour of necessary labour. Its product has a higher value than the product of one hour of labour. It is the same as if simple labour were realised in it at a higher power, or a higher sort of weaving labour were realised in it. This concerning the extent to which the capitalist who employs the power loom, while admittedly selling the product of 1 hour below the level of the old hour of labour, below its previous socially necessary value, even so sells it at more than its individual value, i.e. at more than the labour time he himself has to employ to produce it with the help of the power loom. The worker therefore needs to work fewer hours for the reproduction of his wage, his necessary labour time is curtailed in the same measure as his labour has become higher labour in the same branch, that is to say the product of an hour of his labour is sold at perhaps more than the product of two hours of labour in the workshops where the old mode of production still prevails. If, therefore, the normal day remains the same — equally long — surplus labour time increases here because necessary labour time has been curtailed. This would occur even in the case of an increase in wages, always on the assumption that in the new circumstances the worker does not employ as large an aliquot part of the day as previously in replacing his wage or reproducing his labour capacity. This curtailment of necessary labour time is of course temporary, and it disappears once the general introduction of machinery into this branch has reduced the value of the commodity again to the labour time contained in it. Nevertheless, this is at the same time an incentive to the capitalist to raise the labour time he employs above the general level of the necessary labour time in the same sphere of production, by introducing ever new, small improvements. This is true whatever branch of production the machinery is employed in, and it is independent of whether the commodities produced by the machinery enter into the consumption of the worker himself.
Secondly. It is a general experience that as soon as machinery is employed in the capitalist way — i.e. emerges from the infant stage in which it originally appears in many branches, namely as merely a more productive form of the old handicraft tool, which is, however, still employed in the old industrial mode [V-199] by independent workers and their families — once it takes on an independent existence as a form of capital vis-à-vis the worker, the absolute labour time, the overall working day, is not curtailed but prolonged. The investigation of this case belongs to Chapter III. But the main points should be presented here. In this context we must distinguish between two things. Firstly the new conditions in which the worker finds himself and which enable the capitalist forcibly to prolong labour time. Secondly the motives which impel capital to undertake this operation.
In looking at 1) we have firstly to consider the converted form of labour, its apparent ease, which transfers all muscular exertion to the machinery, and similarly all skill. For the first reason, prolongation does not initially come up against physical impracticability; the second change breaks the resistance of the worker, who can no longer dig his heels in because his dexterity, still predominant under the system of manufacture, has now been broken; instead of this capital is able to replace skilled workers by unskilled ones, who therefore are more under its control. Then the new class of workers, who enter the situation as a determining element, alter the character of the whole workshop, and by their nature are more obedient to the despotism of capital. The element, namely, of female and child labour. Once the working day has been prolonged forcibly by tradition, generations are required, as in England, before the workers are capable of bringing it back to its normal limits. Thus the prolongation of the day beyond its natural limits, nightwork, is an offshoot of the factory system.
* “It is evident that the long hours of work were brought about by the circumstance of so great a number of destitute children being supplied from the different parts of the country"* (from the workhouses) *"that the masters were independent of the hands, and that, having once established the custom by means of the miserable materials which they procured in this way, they could impose it upon their neighbours with the greater facility — * (J. Fielden, The Curse of the Factory System London, 1836, [p. 11]).
* “ ‘Mr. E., a manufacturer, informed me that he employs females exclusively at his power looms; it is so universally; gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support; they are attentive, docile, more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertions to procure the necessaries of life.’ Thus are the virtues, the peculiar virtues, of the female character to be perverted to her injury, — thus all that is most dutiful and tender in her nature is to be made the means of her bondage and suffering!” * (Ten Hours Factory Bill. The Speech of Lord Ashley, London, 1844, p. 20).
Fielden, already cited above, says:
* “As improvements in machinery have gone on, the avarice of masters has prompted many to exact more labour from their hands than they were fitted by nature to perform” * (Fielden, I.e., [p.] 34).
A keen appetite for alien labour (surplus labour) is not a feature specific to the person who employs machinery, it is the driving motive of the whole of capitalist production. Since the factory master is now in a better position to indulge this urge, he quite naturally lets go of the reins. A further remark: As long as the motive force proceeds from human beings (and indeed animals too) [V-200] it can only physically function for a certain portion of the day. A steam engine, etc., needs no rest. It can continue operating for any length of time. [V-200]
[V-199] However, there are yet further circumstances which give this urge a very special impetus in the case of the employment of machinery.
[V-200] Machinery, etc., is valorised over a lengthy period, during which the same labour process is constantly repeated in order to produce new commodities. This period is determined by calculating the average time it takes for the whole value of the machinery to be transferred to the product. The extension of labour time beyond the limits of the normal working day shortens the period over which the capital laid out in the machinery is replaced by the total amount of production. Let us assume the period is 10 years if 12 hours are worked every day. If 15 hours are worked every day, hence if the day is lengthened by 1/4 over one week this makes 1/2 days = 18 hours. The whole week comes to 90 hours on our assumption. 18/90 = 1/5 week. And so 1/5 of the 10 years would be saved; 2 years, therefore. Hence the capital laid out in machinery would have been replaced in 8 years. Either it has in fact been used up in that time. Then the reproduction process has been hastened. If not — if the machinery is still capable of functioning — the ratio of variable capital to constant capital is raised, because the latter continues to function without however having to enter into the valorisation process any more. This brings about an increase, if not in the surplus value (which has already grown as a result of the prolongation of labour time), at least in the ratio of that surplus value to the total amount of capital laid out — and therefore an increase in profit. And additionally: When new machinery is introduced the improvements come thick and fast. Thus a large part of the old machinery constantly loses part of its value or becomes entirely unusable before it has passed through its circulation period, or its value has re-appeared in the value of the commodities. The more the reproduction period is curtailed, the slighter this danger is, and the more the capitalist is able, the value of the machinery having returned to him in a shorter period, to introduce the new improved machinery and sell cheaply the old machinery, which can again be profitably employed by another capitalist, since it enters into his production as from the outset the representative of a smaller magnitude of value. (We shall deal with this point in more detail under fixed capital, bringing in Babbage’s examples as well.)
What has been said here is valid not only for machinery but for the whole of the fixed capital which the employment of machinery brings in its train and is the condition for.
Yet, the capitalist is by no means concerned merely to get back the amount of value laid out in the fixed capital as soon as possible, so as to protect it from devaluation and to possess it again in disposable form; he is concerned above all with the profitable employment of this capital — of the great quantity of capital fixed in a form in which it both decays as exchange value and is useless as use value, except to the extent that it is brought into contact with the living kind of labour whose fixed capital it constitutes. Since the part of capital laid out in wages has become much smaller in relation to the total capital — particularly in relation to the fixed capital — and since the magnitude of surplus value depends not only on its rate but on the number of working days simultaneously employed, while profit depends on the ratio of this surplus value to the total capital, the consequence is a fall in the rate of profit. The simplest means to prevent this is of course to prolong the absolute surplus labour as far as possible by prolonging the working day, thereby making the fixed capital the means of appropriating the greatest possible quantity of unpaid labour. If the factory is not in operation, the manufacturer regards this as being robbed by the workers; for his capital has obtained a form in fixed capital in which it is directly a draft entitling him to alien labour. This is all expressed very naively by Mr. Senior, who in the year 1837 still was of the opinion [V-201] that the working day — hence absolute labour time — would necessarily have to become longer with the development of machinery.
Senior says, giving, moreover, the honourable Mr. Ashworth as his authority:
“The difference between the hours of work usual over the whole world in cotton factories and other employments derives front two sources. 1) The great proportion of fixed to circulating capital, which makes long hours of work desirable” (Senior, Letters on the Factory Act etc., London, 1837, p. 11) (XL 4).
With the constant growth of fixed capital in relation to circulating capital
* “the motives to long hours of work will become greater, as the only means by which a large proportion of fixed capital can be made profitable. ‘When a labourer,’ said Mr. Ashworth to me, ‘lays down his spade, he renders useless, for that period, a capital worth 18d. When one of our people leaves the mill, he renders useless a capital that has Cost £100,000'” * l.c., [p.] 14).
He renders useless! After all the machinery is there — such a great capital has been invested in it — precisely to squeeze labour out of the worker. In fact he has already committed a great crime against a capital that has cost £100,000 by leaving the mill at all!
(this was the original reason for nightwork: “later our factories usually worked 80 hours a week”) (XI, 5).
“If a steam engine, or other kind of machine, only works for some hours or some days a week, there is a loss of energy. If it works for the whole day it produces more, and it produces still more if it works night and day” (J. G. Courcelle-Sencuil, Traité théorique et pratique des entreprises industrielles etc., 2nd ed., Paris, 1857, p. 48).
“The first machines for weaving patent net, when first installed, were very expensive, costing from £1,000 to £1,200 [or £1,300]. Though the machines increased the quantity produced, the possessors were nevertheless unable, with the workers’ working time being limited to 8 hours, to compete with the old methods in price terms. This disadvantage arose from the large capital the instalment of the machinery cost; but the manufacturers quickly perceived that with the same expense of fixed capital, and a small addition to their circulating capital, they could work the same machines during the whole 24 hours” (Babbage, p. 279).
[V-206] *"It is self-evident, that, amid the ebbings and flowings of the market, and the alternate contractions and expansions of demand, occasions will constantly recur, in which the manufacturer may employ additional floating capital without employing additional fixed capital ... if additional quantities of raw material can be worked up without incurring an additional expense for buildings and machinery"* (R. Torrens, On Wages and Combination, London, 1834, p. 64).
This is, in general, an advantage associated with the prolongation of labour time — saving of an additional expense for buildings and machinery. [V-206]
[V-201] Thirdly. To the extent that the employment of machinery curtails the labour time during which the same commodity can be produced, it lessens the value of the commodity and makes the labour more productive, because it provides more product in the same time. To that extent the machinery only affects the productive power of normal labour. But a definite quantity of labour time continues to be represented in the same magnitude of value. Therefore as soon as competition has reduced the price of the commodity produced by machinery to its value, the employment of machinery can only increase the surplus value, the profit [V-202] of the capitalist, in so far as the cheapening of the commodity leads to a reduction in the value of wages or the value of labour capacity or in the time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity.
There is, however, an additional circumstance here owing to which the employment of machinery increases absolute labour time, and therefore absolute surplus value, even without any prolongation of the working day. This happens through the, so to speak, condensation of labour time, in which every part of the time increases its labour content; the intensity of labour grows; there is growth not only in the productivity (hence the quality) of the labour owing to the employment of machinery, but in the quantity of labour performed within a given period. The pores of time are so to speak shrunk through the compression of labour. One hour of labour thereby represents the same quantity of labour as perhaps 6 /4 hours of the average labour performed without the employment of machinery or with the employment of less efficient machinery.
Where machinery has already been introduced, the improvements which reduce the number of workers in relation to the amount of commodities produced and the machinery employed are accompanied by the circumstance that the labour of the individual worker who replaces 1 or 2 workers grows with the improvements in the machinery, hence that the machinery only enables him to do what 2 or 3 workers did previously by compelling him to increase his labour and fill each period of time more intensively with labour. Thus labour capacity is more rapidly worn out during the same hour of labour.
Let us look first at the way those who have investigated factory labour at different times have spoken about the growth in labour accompanying improvements in machinery. This follows on the one hand from the greater rapidity of the machine, which the worker has to follow; and on the other hand from the greater quantity of machine labour the individual worker has to overlook, as for example when the number of spindles on the MULE is increased, with double rows of spindles (double decking) as well, or when 1 weaver has to supervise 2 or 3 POWER LOOMS instead of 1.
* “The labour now undergone in the factories is much greater than it used to be, owing to the greater attention and activity required by the greatly increased speed which is given to the machinery that the children have to attend to, when we compare it with what it was 30 or 40 years ago"* (J. Fielden, The Curse of the Factory System, [London, 1836,] p. 32).
This was in the year 1836. John Fielden was himself a manufacturer.
Lord Ashley (now Earl of Shaftesbury) stated in his speech on the Ten Hours Factory Bill on March 15, 1844:
* “The labour performed by those engaged in the processes of manufacture, is 3 times as great as in the beginning of such operations. Machinery has executed, no doubt, the work that would demand the sinews of millions of men; but it has also prodigiously multiplied the labour of those who are governed by its fearful movements” * (l.c., [p.] 6). * “In 1815, the labour of following a pair of mules spinning cotton yarn of Nos. 40 — reckoning 12 hours to the working day — involved a necessity for walking 8 miles. In 1832, the distance travelled in following a pair of mules spinning cotton-yarn on the same numbers, was 20 miles, and frequently more. But the amount of labour performed by those following the mules, is not confined merely to the distance walked. There is far more to be done. In 1835,a the spinner put up daily on each of these mules 820 stretches; making a total of 1,640 stretches in the course of the day. In 1832, the spinner put upon each mule 2,200 stretches, making a total of 4,400. In 1844, according to a return furnished by a practised operative spinner, the person working puts up in the same period 2,400 stretches on each mule, making a total of 4,800 stretches in the [V-203] course of the day; and in some cases, the amount of labour required is even greater"* (pp. 6, 7).
* “I have a document here, signed by 22 operative spinners of Manchester, in which they state that 20 miles is the very least distance travelled, and they believe it to be still greater. I have another document sent to me in 1842, stating that the labour is progressively increasing — increasing not only because the distance to be travelled is greater, but because the quantity of goods produced is multiplied, while the hands are, in proportion, fewer than before; and, moreover, because an inferior species of cotton is now often spun, which it is more difficult to work"* (l.c., pp. 8, 9).
* “In the carding room there has been also a great increase of labour — one person there does the work formerly divided between two. In the weaving room where a vast number of persons are employed, and principally females ... the labour has increased, within the last few Years, fully 10 per cent, owing to the increased speed of the machinery. In 1838, the number of hanks spun per week was 18,000; in 1843 it amounted to 21,000. In 1819, the number of picks in power loom weaving per minute was 60 — in 1842 it was 140, showing a vast increase of labour, because more nicety and attention are required to the work in hand” * (p. 9).
//As long as machinery enables a manufacturer to sell the commodity for more than its individual value, the following passage applies, showing that even in this case the surplus value derives from a curtailment of necessary labour time, is itself a form of relative surplus value:
* “A man’s profit does not depend upon his command of the produce of other men’s labour, but upon his command of labour itself. If he can sell” * (by, raising the money prices of the commodities) *"his goods at a higher price, while his workmen’s wages remain unaltered, he is clearly benefited by the rise, whether other goods rise, or not. A smaller proportion of what he produces is sufficient to put that labour into motion, and a larger proportion consequently remains for himself” * (Outlines of Political Economy (by a Malthusian), etc., London, 1832, pp. 49-50).//
The Factory Reports show that in those branches of industry which were covered (until April 1860) by the Factory Act, and ill which therefore the working week had been reduced by law to 60 hours, wages did not fall (comparing 1859 with 1839) but rather rose, whereas they positively fell during this period in factories where
“The labour of children, young persons and women” was still “unrestricted”.
The reference here is to
“Printing, bleaching and dyeing works, in which until 1860 the hours of work remain now the same as they were 20 years since, in which the protected classes under the Factory Acts are at times employed 14 and 15 hours per day.”
[V-204] The following list shows in general that, with the progress of industry in the last 20 years, wages have fallen considerably in a number of branches of industry.
|* Calico printing, dyeing and bleaching, 60 hours per week||Fustian dyeing, 61 hours per week.|
|Washer and Labourer||16 & 15||ditto|
(Factory Reports. For Half Year ending 30 April 1860, p. 32).* [V-204]
[V-203] In the first kind of factory, production increased more, relatively speaking, than previously, and at the same time the profits of the manufacturers increased, as is demonstrated by the rapid spread of the factories.
* “The great improvements that have been made in machinery, of all kinds, have vastly improved their productive powers, improvements to which a stimulus was doubtless given, especially as regards the greater speed of the machines in a given time, by the restrictions of the hours of work. These improvements, and the closer application which the operatives are enabled to give, have had the effect ... of as much work being turned off in the shortened time as used to be in the longer hours"* (Factory Reports for the Half Year Ending October 31, 1858, [p.] 10. Cf. Reports for the Half Year Ending 30th April 1860, p. 30 sqq.).
[V-204] The phenomenon that the Ten Hours’ Bill has not cut down the profits of the English manufacturers, in spite of the shortening of the working day, is explained by two reasons:
1) The English hour of labour stands above the Continental one, it is related to it as more complex labour to simple labour. (Hence the relation of the English to the foreign manufacturer is the same as the relation of a manufacturer who has introduced new machinery to his competitor.)
* “All things being equal, the English manufacturer can turn out a considerably larger amount of work in a given time than a Foreign manufacturer, so much as to counterbalance the difference of the working days, between 60 hours a week here and 72 or 80 elsewhere; and the means of transport in England enable the manufacturer to deliver his goods upon a railway, almost at his factory, whence they may be almost directly shipped for exportation"* (Reports of Inspectors of Factories. 31 October 1855, London, 1856, [p.] 65).
2) What is lost through the reduction of absolute labour time is gained in condensation of labour time, so that in fact 1 hour of labour is now equal to 6/5 or more hours of labour. just as the absolute extension of the working day beyond certain limits (beyond the natural day) is defeated by natural obstacles, so does the condensed working day have its limits. It is questionable whether the amount of labour which is now provided in the factories under the Ten Hours’ Law would be possible at all for 12 hours at e.g. an equal level of intensity.
*“In fact one class of manufacturers, the spinners of woollen yarn,”
(since they do not wish to employ two sets of half timers, children under 13 years who work for 6 hours)
* “now rarely employ children under 13 years of age, i.e. half-timers. They have introduced improved and new machinery of various kinds, which altogether supersedes the necessity of the employment of children, for instance, as an illustration, by the addition of an apparatus, called a piecing machine, to existing machines, the work of 6 or 4 half-timers, according to the peculiarity of each machine, can be performed by one young person ... the half-time system had some share in stimulating the invention of the piecing machine” * (Factory Reports for the Half Year Ending 31 October 1858, London, 1858, pp. 42-43).
In any case this effect of the shortening of absolute labour time shows us how the manufacturers look for means of curtailing necessary labour time in order to prolong relative surplus labour time. It also shows us how machinery not only enables one individual to perform the labour of many, but increases the amount of labour required of that individual, thus giving the hour of labour a higher value, and thereby lessening the proportion of his time the worker himself needs for the reproduction of his wage.
[V-205] As we have said, this occurs as a result of the increase both in the machine’s rapidity of action and in the amount of working machinery the individual worker has to supervise. This result is attained partly through changes in the construction of the machine which supplies the motive power, changes enabling a machine of the same weight to set in motion, and in more rapid motion, with a relative, and often an absolute reduction in cost, a greater quantity of machinery than before.
* “The facts thus brought out by the Return appear to be that the Factory system is increasing rapidly; that although the same number of hands are employed in proportion to the horsepower as at former periods there are fewer hands employed in proportion to the machinery; that the steam engine is enabled to drive an increased weight of machinery by economy of force, and other methods, and that an increased quantity of work can be turned off by improvements in machinery, and in methods of manufacture, by increased speed of the machinery, and by a variety of other causes” * (Factory Reports for the Half Year Ending 31st October 1856, p. 20).
“In the *Report for October 1852, Mr. Horner quotes ... a letter from Mr. Jas. Nasmyth, the eminent civil engineer, of Paticroft, near Manchester, explaining the nature of recent improvements in the steam engine, whereby the same engine is made to perform more work with a diminished consumption of fuel.... ‘It would not be very easy to get an exact return as to the increase of performance or work done by the identical engines to which some or all of these improvements have been applied; I am confident, however, that could we obtain an exact return, the result would show, that from the same weight of steam-engine machinery, we are now at least obtaining 50 per cent more duty or work performed on the average, and that ... in many cases, the identical steam engines which, in the days of the restricted speed of 220 feet per minute, yielded 50 horsepower, are now yielding upwards of 100."'
* “The return of 1838,"* says Horner *(Reports, 31st October 1856), “gave the number of steam engines and of water wheels, with the amount of horsepower employed. At that time the figures represented a much more accurate estimate of the actual power employed than do the figures in the returns either of 1850 or 1856. The figures given in the Returns are all of the nominal power of the engines and wheels, not of the power actually employed or capable of being employed. The modern steam engine of 100 horsepowers is capable of being driven at a much greater force than formerly, arising from the improvements in its construction, the capacity and construction of the boilers, etc., and thus the nominal power of a modern manufacturing steam engine — cannot be considered more than an index from which its real capabilities are to be calculated"* (l.c., pp. 13-14).
Fourthly: Replacement of simple cooperation by machinery.
Just as machinery removes or revolutionises cooperation in its developed form of division of labour, so also in many cases does it do away with or revolutionise simple cooperation. For example, if operations such as mowing corn, sowing seed, etc., require the simultaneous employment of many hands, they can be replaced by mowing or sowing machines. The same with the production of wine, when the wine-press replaces treading by foot. This is equally true of the application of steam engines to raise building materials to the top of a building or to the height at which they [V-206] are required.
“The turnout of the Lancashire workmen in the building trade (1833) has introduced a curious application of the steam engine. This machine is now employed in some towns, instead of manual labour, in hoisting the various building materials to the top of the edifices where they are intended to be used” ([E. C. Tufnell,] Character, Object and Effects of Trades’ Unions etc., London, 1834, [p.] 109).
Fifthly: Invention and employment of machinery against strikes, etc., and against wage demands.
Strikes usually originate from attempts either to prevent a cut in wages or enforce an increase in wages, or to settle the limits of the normal working day. What is at stake in a strike is always the limitation of the positive or relative amount of surplus labour time or the appropriation of part of it by the worker himself. The capitalist counters this with the introduction of machinery. Here the machine appears directly as a means of curtailing necessary labour time; it also appears as a form of capital — an instrument of capital — a power of capital — over labour — for the suppression of any claim by labour to autonomy. Here machinery comes into play as a form of capital inimical to labour in intention as well. Selfactors, wool-combing machines in the spinning industry, the so-called “condenser” which replaces the hand-turned “slubbing machine” (in the woollen industry as well), etc., are all machines invented in order to defeat strikes.
the self-acting apparatus for executing the dyeing and rinsing operations was invented “under the high pressure of the same despotic confederacies” (namely the workers’ associations)
(what is being referred to here is the printing of calico, where from 4 to 6 colours can now be printed at once with the application of steam-driven engraved cylinders). Ure comments further, with reference to the invention of a new machine in the weaving industry:
“The combined malcontents, who fancied themselves impregnably entrenched behind the old lines of division of labour, found their flanks turned and their defences rendered useless by the new mechanical tactics, and were obliged to surrender at discretion” (l.c., p. 142). [V-207]
[V-206] The result of these new machines is either to make the previous kind of work completely superfluous (as the selfactor makes the spinner superfluous) or to lessen the number of workers required and make the new kind of work simpler in comparison with the previous kind (as the work of the comber with combing machines).
“The most frequent cause of strikes in the cotton trade has been the introduction of improved machinery, and especially the enlargement of mules, by means of which the number of spindles a spinner is capable of superintending has been continually increasing a master, on the introduction of such improved machinery into his establishment stipulates with his spinners to pay them less per piece, but still at such a rate that, owing to the greater power of the machine, their weekly earnings shall rise rather than fall.... But such a bargain is injurious to the masters and men in the manufacturies where the improved machine is not introduced” ([E. C. Tufnell,] Character, Object and Effects of Trades’ Unions etc., London, 1834, [pp.] 17-18).
“1829 a serious turnout. A little before this time, several masters had rejected mules, carrying from 4,500 spindles, which enabled the spinners who worked at them to receive a less sum in the proportion of 3 to 4 for a given quantity of work, and at the same time to earn at least an equal amount of wages with those who were employed on the old machinery. 21 mills and 10,000 persons were thrown idle for 6 months by this strike” (l.c., p. 19).
“The strike of 1833 at Messrs. Hindes and Derham (West Riding of Yorkshire) was the cause of the invention of a wool-combing machine, which wholly superseded the labour of that class of men, who were the chief ringleaders in this affair. and which has struck a blow at their combination, that it can never recover” (pp. 61-62).
[V-207] Similarly “The introduction of steam as an antagonist to human power” (P. Gaskell (Surgeon), Artisans and Machinery etc., London, 1836, p. 2 3).
“The surplus hands would readily enable the manufacturers to lessen the rate of wages, but the certainty that any considerable reduction would be followed by immediate immense losses from turnouts, extended stoppages, and various other impediments which would be thrown in their way, makes them prefer the slower process of mechanical improvement, by which, though they may triple production, they require no new men” (l.c., p. 314).
* “The factory operatives should keep in wholesome remembrance the fact that theirs is really a low species of skilled labour; and that there is none which is more easily acquired or of its quality more amply remunerated, or which, by a short training of the least expert can be more quickly as well as abundantly, supplied.” “The master’s machinery really plays a far more important part in the business of production than the labour and skill of the operative, which 6 months’ education can teach, and a common labourer can learn” * (The Master Spinners and Manufacturers’ Defence Fund. Report of the Committee Appointed for the Receipt and Apportionment of This Fund, to the Central Association of Master Spinners and Manufacturers, Manchester, 1854, pp. 17, 19).
Ure says with regard to the “Iron Man” (self-acting, mule ):
“When capital enlists science in her service, the refractory hand of labour will always be taught docility (p. 140).
“The necessity of enlarging the spinning-frames, created by the decrees of the workers’ associations, has recently given an extraordinary stimulus to mechanical science.... In doubling the size of his mule, the owner is enabled to get rid of indifferent or restive workers, and to become once more the master of his mill, which is no small advantage” (Ure, Vol. II, p. 134).
This expedient tends
“to raise, or uphold at least, the wages of each spinner, but to diminish the numbers of workers necessary for the same quantity of work, so that those employed would prosper, but the combined body of workers would thereby be impoverished” (l.c., [pp.] 133, 134).
“The Iron Man ... a creation destined to restore order among the industrious classes” (p. 138).
“The first manufacturers, who had to trust entirely to hand labour, were subjected periodically to severe immediate losses through the refractory spirit of their hands, who timed their opportunity, when the markets were particularly pressing, to urge their claims. .. a crisis was rapidly approaching, which would have checked the progress of manufactures, when steam and its application to machinery at once turned the current against the man” (Gaskell, l.c., [pp.] 34, 35).
[V-208] Sixthly. Presumption of the workers in wishing to appropriate part of the productivity of their labour brought about by machinery.
“Trades unions, in their desire to maintain wages endeavour to share in the profits of improved machinery.... They demand higher wages because labour is abbreviated ... in other words: they endeavour to establish a duty on manufacturing improvements” (On Combinations of Trades, New Edit., London, 1834, p. 42).
“The principle of adjusting wages to the supposed profits of the employer, which is involved in claiming higher remuneration from improved machinery, is wholly inadmissible. The application of this principle is not, however, confined to one description of profit. The dyers, on August 7th 1824, turned out ... setting forth in a placard that their masters had obtained an increase of price for dyeing, more than adequate to the advance they claim ... wages thus change their character completely, and either absorb or become an ad valorem tax upon profits” (l.c., pp. 43, 44).
Seventhly. More continuity of labour. Utilisation of waste etc. More work can be done at a finishing stage if more raw materials are provided with the help of machinery.
Continuity of labour generally increases with the employment of machinery (of fixed capital altogether).
The machine has the further effect that it provides a more plentiful supply of the material of labour for the branches of industry for which its product serves as raw material. For example in the 18th century the handloom weavers always suffered from the impossibility of supplying themselves with materials (yarn) for their labour. Considerable vacations were frequently occurring in this respect, and at these periods they found themselves suffering “privations”.
“What was now gained from the improvement in the spinning machine had arisen not so much from any increase in the rate of payment for labour, as from a market generally understocked, and a constantly increasing production of yarn, which enabled them to work full hours” (Gaskell, l.c., p. 27).
This is one of the main results of machinery,
“this possibility of continuously working full hours in the same department”.
This would be the possibility of working full hours for the small man who works on his own account. For the capitalist it is the possibility of having other people work full hours.
What the spinning machine does for weaving, by providing the yarn, was done for the spinner by the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, by Eli Whitney, of Connecticut. This machine provides the cotton. The plantation owner had enough black slaves to sow a large amount of cotton, but not enough to separate the fibres from the seed. This therefore considerably reduced the amount of raw production, and increased what it cost to produce e.g. a pound of cotton.
* “It was an average day’s work to separate a pound of cotton fibre perfectly from the seed.... Whitney’s invention enabled the owner of his gin to separate the Seed completely from  pounds of fibres per day per hand, [and] the efficiency of the gin [has] since increased."* 
[V-209] The same thing in India.
*"The next evil in India is one which one would scarcely expect to find in a country which exports more labour than any other in the world, with the exception perhaps of China and England — the impossibility of procuring a sufficient number of hands to clean the cotton. The consequence of this is that large quantities of the crop are left unpicked, while another portion is gathered from the ground, where it has fallen, and of course discoloured and partially rotten, so that for want of labour at the proper season, the cultivator is actually forced to submit to the loss of a large part of that Crop, for which England is so anxiously looking” * (Bengal Hurkaru. Bi-Monthly Overland Summary of News, 22nd July 1861).
*"A common churka worked by a man and woman turned out 28 lbs daily. Dr. Forbes’ churka worked by 2 men and a boy turns out 250 lbs daily"* (Bombay Chamber of Commerce Report for 1859-60, p. 171). *"16 of these (last named machines), driven by bullocks, would clean a ton of cotton per day, which was equal to the ordinary day’s work of 750 people” * (Paper Read before the Society of Arts, on the 17th April 1861).
Machinery can work with materials which are too inferior to be worked by hand.
* “The demand for cheap goods"* (woollen in the West Riding of Yorkshire) *"has given an immense impulse to this kind of manufacture, the economy of which consists not so much in improved machinery and labour-saving processes, as in the employment of an inferior staple and woollen rags, brought again, by powerful machinery, to the original condition of wool, and then either spun into yarn for inferior cloths, or mixed with new wool, spun into yarn for better kinds of cloths. This manufacture prevails nowhere to so great an extent as in England, although it is considerable in Belgium"* (Reports of Inspectors of Factories for 31st October 1855, London, 1856, [p.] 64).
* “There is frequently a great saving of materials, as in the change from making boards with the adze, to that of making them with the saw; and again the labour of natural agents is so much cheaper, that many articles which would otherwise have been worthless, are now deserving of attention, as they may now be profitably endowed with some form of value” * (F. Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Boston, 1843, [pp.] 72-73).
In production on a large scale, moreover, the waste products are so considerable that they themselves can in turn more readily become simple articles of commerce, whether for agriculture or for other branches of industry.
[V-210] Eighthly. Replacement of labour.
“Perfection of the crafts means nothing other than the discovery of new ways of making a product with fewer people, or (which is the same thing) in less time than previously” (Galiani, Della Moneta, Custodi, Parte Moderna, p. 158 ).
This is true as much for simple cooperation or the division of labour as it is for machinery — fewer people and less time for the manufacture of a product are identical. If someone can do in 1 hour what he previously did in 2, one person can do in one working day what previously was done by two; and what therefore previously required two simultaneous working days. Therefore every means of reducing the necessary labour time of an individual worker implies at the same time a reduction in the number of workers required to bring about the same effect. If we look now at the employment of machinery, is there only a difference of degree in this reduction, or is there some specific additional feature?
Sir James Steuart says in his Principles of Political Economy, Book I, Ch. XIX:
“Machines therefore I consider as a method of augmenting (virtually) the number of the industrious, without the expense of feeding an additional number” [p. 123].
Indeed, in the same passage he asks:
“Wherein does the effect of a machine differ from that of new inhabitants?” (1. c.).
//Price of the commodity and wages. We [shall] speak [in] another place of Proudhon’s nonsense. But what he is replied to by Mr. Eugène Forcade, one of the best economical critics in France, is as false and ridiculous as Proudhon’s assertions Forcade says:
“If Proudhon’s objection ... that the worker cannot buy back his own product (on account of the interest which is added to it) “were correct, not only would it apply to the profits of capital; it would eliminate the very possibility of industry. If the worker is compelled to pay 100 for something for which he has only received 80, if his wages can buy back only the value he has put into a product, this amounts to saying that the worker cannot buy back anything”
//hence even if he gets back the whole value he has put into the product, that is to say, if there exists no profit and no other form of surplus value expressing surplus labour; and holding such notions Forcade claims to understand anything whatever of political economy! Proudhon’s nonsense consists in his belief that the worker must buy back with the money he receives (as wages) a higher value in commodities than is contained in the money, or in other words that the commodity is sold above its value because profit, etc., is realised in the sale. But now here comes Forcade, declaring that industry becomes impossible as soon as the wage is only able to buy back in a product the value that the worker has put into it. The reverse is true. Capitalist industry becomes impossible if the wage is sufficient to buy back in a product the whole of the value the worker has put into it. In that case, there would neither be surplus value, nor profit, nor interest, nor rent, nor capital. In fact: Forcade’s comment has a bearing not only on the “worker” but on the producer in general//,
“that wages cannot pay for anything”.
(Thus we have in fact the general proposition: if the producer can only buy back in a product the value he has put into it, the producer cannot pay for anything. Because the commodity contains constant capital apart from the labour added.)
“In fact the cost price always contains something more than the wage”
(This is already a very crude way of putting it. He means to say that there is always something more than the last piece of labour added to, and realised in, the commodity.)
“e.g. the price of the raw material, often paid out abroad ...
(And even if it were not paid out abroad the situation would not be changed in the least. Forcade’s objection, which [V-211] is based on a crude misconception, remains the same. The point is this: the amount of the total product which forms the payment of wages contains no particle of value due to the value of the raw material, etc., although every single commodity, considered for itself, is composed of the value due to the last labour added and to the value of the raw materials, etc., independent of that labour. The same applies to the whole of that part of the produce which constitutes the surplus value. (Profit, etc.) as to the value of the constant capital, it is replaced either by itself, in natura, or by exchange with other forms of constant capital.)
“Proudhon has forgotten the continual growth of the national capital; he has forgotten that this growth takes effect for all workers, both the entrepreneurs and the labourers” (Revue des Deux Mondes, Vol. 24, Paris, 1848, Eugène Forcade, [pp.] 998, 999).
And with this meaningless phrase Forcade endeavours to evade solving the problem; and yet he is indisputably one of the “most critical” political economists!
Here we want to bring together immediately the whole of Proudhon’s rubbish.//
At this point (March 1862) Marx abandoned the systematic exposition of problems reated to surplus value and turned to a detailed analysis of bourgeois political economists known as Theories of Surplus Value. In late 1862-early 1863 he returend to the issue of the use of machinery by capitalists. See letters to Engels of 24th January 1864 and 28th January.
[V-211] Costs of machinery, buildings, etc., when not working. In The Times for November 26, 1862 a spinning manufacturer points out that his mill, employing 800 workpeople and consuming, when at full work, about 150 bales of East Indian, or about 130 bales of American cotton, costs him about £6,000 a year (about £120 a week) when not working. There are, first of all, fixed costs, which do not concern us here (but which are very important in practice), namely rent, the most significant fixed cost, whether the machine works or not (rent in the above case = £2,450), further insurance (insurance of mills and machinery against fire in the above case = £477, insurance of cotton in process £123); taxes on this property // rates on the mills and machinery, as paid in 1861 (poor rate included) £3 10 //. Further: salaries of manager, book-keeper and salesmen. (In the above case £625.) Then wages of lodgekeeper, watchmen, engineer, and occasional labour to tend the machinery (£250. This occasional labour to tend the machinery belongs to the outgoings to conserve it). Then coal for warming the mill, and occasionally working the steam engine. (£150.) Finally “allowance for deterioration of machinery”. (£ 1,200, because the machinery is already very worn out.) With regard to the last point, the Lancashire spinner remarks..
* “It may appear to many that, as the mills and machinery are not working, they cannot be deteriorating... It is not intended to cover the cost of the ordinary wear and tear, which is repaired, as a knife has a new blade, by a staff of mechanics provided for the purpose by every manufacturer when his mill is working. But it is intended to cover that kind of wear which cannot be repaired from time to time, and which, in the case of a knife, would ultimately reduce it to a state in which the cutler would say of it, ‘it is not worth a new blade’. It is also intended to cover the loss which is constantly arising from the superseding of machines before they are worn out by others of a new and better constitution. From these two causes it is well known that the machinery in a mill gets entirely renewed, at the least, once in every 15 or 20 years; and invention does not stand still in times like these, being always stimulated by difficulties; nor do the weather and the natural principle of decay suspend their operations because the steam engine ceases to revolve.” *
The same fellow also says:
* “No doubt a large number (of manufacturers) have ample reserves on which they can fall back, but the bulk of Lancashire manufacturers have no spare capital. The habit of the trade is to spend in extensions of their mills and machinery their profits as fast as they make them, and as a rule they have an insufficiency rather than a redundancy of floating capital” * [p. 12].
[V-212] Cherbuliez: Riche ou pauvre etc., Paris, 1841. (Reprint of the Geneva edition.)
|“New Capital||Old Capital|
|1) the machine||1) provisioning of the workers|
|2) annual upkeep||2) the instrument and its upkeep|
|3) raw materials||3) raw materials.”|
//There is of course provisioning of the workers in the case of new capital as well. He is only speaking here of the provisioning of the workers replaced by the machine. //
“On both sides one must abstract from the number of workers who are necessary to supervise and direct the movements of the machine. The old capital would grow in direct proportion to the number of workers employed. If it is 100 for a particular number, it is 200 for twice that number. The new capital is not subject to the same laws of growth, for the element of the machine that serves the application of the motor does not grow in numbers or in dimensions in proportion to the number of workers whose labour it replaces. Hence whatever the superiority of the new capital over the old for a given number of workers, it lies in the nature of this surplus labour that it is converted into inferiority, in proportion as one increases the number of the workers represented and replaced by the machine. If 2 workers are replaced, it is perhaps more expensive. If 4, 10, 20 workers are replaced, it becomes ever cheaper. This favourable result can only be obtained on condition that one disposes of a previously accumulated capital which is sufficient to set up a machine to replace the required number of workers and to obtain a quantity of raw materials proportionate to that number. Here again, as in the case of a new subdivision of labour, the saving is linked to the prior realisation of an additional capital. Each accumulation of wealth provides the means of accelerating subsequent accumulation” ([pp. 28-]29).
//Firstly: The situation with accumulation is to be taken into account in the conversion of surplus value into capital. It should be mentioned here that just as accumulation is a condition of capitalist production, so capitalist production is a cause of accumulation.
Secondly: The machine replaces a certain quantity of workers, either in real terms, i.e. by taking their place (this is always the case when the trade is not new but was previously carried on without machinery); or potentially, in that so and so many workers would be necessary to replace it. If we speak e.g. of the millions of workers (see Hodgskin ) who would be needed to furnish the amount of production now furnished in the cotton industry, we are speaking of the number of the workers who would be needed to replace the machinery. It is different when we say that so and so many weavers were displaced by the powerloom. Then we are speaking of the workers the machine has replaced This is a big distinction. Once machinery has been introduced as the basis of a branch of production (with no more competition from manufacture) it only displaces workers to the degree that it is improved. But production expands with a given level of perfection of the machinery before it attains a higher level.
If e.g. 10 were employed at handlooms, and 20 are employed at powerlooms, and if a powerloom replaces 10 handlooms, then the 20 accomplish as much as 200 did previously. But they have not driven out or replaced 200. The first powerloom drove out 10. The other 19 powerlooms have employed 19. One must not say, therefore, that productive power has replaced 180, because 200 would have been needed without the powerlooms. The productive power has merely increased tenfold.
If a new powerloom is invented, allowing 10 to do as much as 20, the 20 would be replaced by the 10, or 10 thrown out of work. If the number of these powerlooms grew in turn to 20, 20 would be employed. And 40 would have been necessary on the previous scale. And 400 on the original scale. But the 400 men, who never existed, have not been replaced. The first powerloom drove out 10 and second 2. Thus the productive power has grown in the proportion 20: 1.
At any rate there has thus been a twenty-fold increase in the productive power. If this development had taken place in all branches, the worker would have needed 20 times less time to reproduce his means of subsistence. Thus if it was 11 hours initially, it is now 11/20 of an hour, and all the remaining part of his working day, 11 9/20 hours, belongs to the capitalist. But the development is not uniform and all-embracing.
It should further be remarked: the amount of surplus labour is determined not by the workers replaced by the machine but by the workers employed by it. This is precisely what Cherbuliez forgets. The productivity of the machine (and its cheapness) is not only determined by the quantity of workers it replaces, but also by the quantity of workers whose labours it assists. Or the expressions are in [V-213] some respect identical.//
//In so far as machine labour curtails the labour time needed to produce a particular commodity, hence increases the quantity of commodities which are produced in the same labour time, 2 things are possible. The commodity enters into the consumption of the workers. Then, leaving aside what we developed previously, there is an increase in the amount of labour which can be applied to produce commodities that do not enter into the consumption of the workers; in which surplus labour can therefore be represented. This extends the basis, upon which can [be] reared a larger upper class. At the same time the pleasures of this class. But there is also an extension of the basis, upon which can [be] reared a larger working class, or the amount of living material on whose exertions the upper class is reared. If, secondly, the commodity does not enter into the consumption of the workers, there is either a cheapening of pleasures or a setting free of labour for new fields of exertion. //
Distribution of the value of the machinery, buildings, etc., over the quantity of commodities produced
Constant capital, in so far as its relative magnitude of value — proportionately to the total capital — enters as a determining factor into the rate of profit, is to be left out of account entirely in examining surplus value as such. We have therefore regarded it as c, of indifferent magnitude, both in the section on absolute surplus value and in dealing with cooperation, division of labour, etc. In examining machinery, however, we are compelled to concern ourselves especially with constant capital. Nevertheless, there is no inconsistency here. Two points should be made about this:
1) Relative surplus value can be created only in so far as the commodities entering into the consumption of the workers (means of subsistence) are cheapened; hence the value of these commodities is reduced, i.e. the quantity of labour time required for their production is reduced. And the labour time contained in the commodity consists of two parts: a) the past labour time contained in the means of labour consumed in the commodities, and in the raw material, s'il y en a; b) the living labour last added, in short the labour which is realised with the aid of those means of labour and in that raw material.
All the methods of shortening the labour time necessary for the production of a commodity, hence reducing its value, leave untouched the value of the raw material which enters into production. (There is at most a saving of it given labour on a larger scale.) This part of the past labour which enters into the value of the commodity therefore does not come into consideration at all. What all these methods have in common is that they curtail to a greater or lesser degree the living labour which is applied to past labour.
All that remains to be considered now, therefore, is the part of the past labour which consists of the instruments and conditions of labour (such as buildings, etc.). This part remains unchanged with simple cooperation and division of labour. (It is, inversely, cheapened by concentration and utilisation in common.) But it is different with the employment of machinery. Here a specific relation enters the picture. The curtailment of living labour rests here upon a revolution in this part of constant capital, and one can say, expressing it very roughly, that complex, large-scale, and expensive instruments of production replace simple and cheap ones. If the commodity were therefore just as much made dearer by the machinery (or more so) as it is on the other hand cheapened by the acceleration and curtailment of the living labour added, the value of the commodity would not be reduced. One component [of the value] of the commodity would fall by the very fact that the other increased. There would be no reduction in the total quantity of labour time necessary to the production of the commodity, therefore no production of surplus value. So because this method of creating relative surplus value rests on the revolution of a particular part of the constant capital, and is thereby distinguished from other methods, this point must be examined here specifically. Viewed quite generally, the problem is solved by saying that the total quantity [V-214] of the commodities produced by the machinery is so large that in every aliquot commodity there enters a smaller value component (part of the depreciation) of the machinery, buildings and the matières instrumentales needed for the functioning of the machinery than if the same commodity were produced in the old manner by human beings and their old craft tools. But the fulfilment of this condition will in turn depend on the following circumstances:
a) the quantity of commodities an individual worker can produce in a given labour time, e.g. a working day, by means of the machinery;
b) the number of workers who, if the above relation is given, simultaneously receive assistance from the machinery in their labour; and through whom the value part of the total machinery calculated on each individual is relatively reduced; g) the difference between the period during which the machinery enters into the labour process and the period during which it enters into the valorisation process. E.g. a machine which lasts for 15 years enters completely into the labour process every year for 15 years. But only 1/15 of it enters into the valorisation process every year. The total annual product in commodities therefore never contains more than 1/15 of the value component of the machinery.
2) A big distinction is to be made between the question of how far the constant capital affects the rate of profit — this is the investigation of the question of the ratio of the surplus value to the value of the capital advanced, without any regard to the functions of different parts of that capital — and on the other hand, the question of how far a particular configuration of constant capital (machinery, etc.) lessens the price of the individual commodity, or the labour time contained in it (past and present labour). In content of course the two questions come down to the same thing. But here the same phenomenon is considered from entirely different points of view. In the one case we investigate how the commodity //and therefore labour capacity, in so far as the commodity enters into the consumption of the workers// is cheapened, i.e. the total quantity of labour, past and living, required for its production, is lessened. In the other case we investigate how the ratio of surplus value to total capital advanced (the rate of profit) is affected by the revolution in the quantity and value relations of the constituent parts of the capital. The latter investigation presupposes surplus value; it presupposes the whole of capitalist production (including the process of circulation). The former investigation presupposes nothing but our general law about the value of commodities and the laws that follow therefrom about the value of labour capacity and ratio of surplus value to the latter.
3) The confusion between these questions: the lessening of the labour time required for the production of an individual commodity (or a number of commodities), and the proportion of surplus labour to necessary on the one hand, and on the other hand the value and quantity relations of the different components of capital, is the source of great fallacies.
D'abord the main fallacy. If the essence of capitalist production is grasped, it is absolutely no contradiction to say that the labour time necessary for the production of a commodity is reduced, but that there is on the other hand an increase in the total amount of time the worker must use for the production of this commodity which has become cheaper. In contrast, this constitutes, in fact, an incomprehensible contradiction to the economists who let the machine be invented and introduced, not in order to curtail the labour time the worker needs for the production of a commodity, but in order to curtail the labour time he must provide altogether as equivalent of his wage. And especially so, if on the one hand profit is explained by the fact that machinery shortens the worker’s labour time, and on the other hand it is demonstrated (Senior, etc.) that machinery necessitates the prolongation of that labour time.
Secondly: As far as the labour time of the worker himself is concerned, his paid labour time is shortened by this, and his unpaid labour time lengthened. It already follows [V-215] from this that the quantity of labour time contained in a commodity and the proportion in which this labour time is divided between capitalist and worker are two entirely different things. If the capitalist sells a commodity more cheaply, it does not follow at all from this that he makes less profit on it, realises less surplus value on it. The situation is usually the reverse. In addition to this, it is not the individual commodity, but the total amount of commodities produced in a certain period, that is to be considered as the product of the capital.
Prolongation of absolute labour time in the factory system.
The developed organisation of labour which corresponds to the machine system on the capitalist basis is the factory system, which predominates even in modern large-scale agriculture, more or less modified by the peculiarities of that sphere of production.
The main proposition that applies here is that the surplus value the capitalist makes derives not from the labour replaced by the machine, but from the labour which is employed on the basis of machinery.
Now the yield in surplus value is determined by two moments: the rate at which the individual worker is exploited, or the share of surplus labour in the working day of an individual worker, and, secondly, the number of workers simultaneously employed, the number exploited by a given capital. The introduction of machinery lessens the latter moment, while it raises the former. It raises the surplus labour time of the individual worker, but it lessens the number of workers simultaneously exploited by a particular capital. The same method, therefore, which has a tendency to raise the rate of surplus value, has at the same time the antagonistic tendency to weaken the other moment, which acts equally to determine the amount of surplus value.
If each of 20 workers works for 12 hours, 2 hours of which is surplus value, the amount of surplus value = 2x20 = 40 hours of labour ( = 3 working days of 12 hours each plus 4 hours). If each of 10 workers works 12 hours, 4 hours of which is surplus labour, the amount of surplus value = 40 hours as above. But 6 workers, each of whom works 6 hours of surplus labour, will only provide 36 hours of surplus value. And if the same capital set in motion 20 workers in the first case and 6 workers in the second, the amount of surplus value would have declined, even though its rate had increased.
This antagonistic tendency of exploitation based on machinery impels the extension of absolute labour time. If e.g. in the second case the workers were to work 14 hours instead of 12, and 8 hours were surplus labour, the amount of surplus value would = 6 X 8 = 48.
This reason, which impels the absolute prolongation of labour time — the increase of absolute surplus labour, the prolongation of the working day — is something the capitalists and their spokesmen are totally unconscious of. The phenomenon shows itself once machine manufacturing has been sufficiently extended and developed through competition for the social value, the market value, of the commodities produced with machinery to be brought down to their individual value, so that the capitalist can no longer pocket the difference.
This is a driving motive entirely independent of the valorisation of the part of the constant capital which consists of machinery and buildings. The valorisation motive, as being more obvious, is directly present in the consciousness of the capitalists and their spokesmen.
This motive is very simple, and common to all surplus labour, but it operates particularly strongly when the value and the amount of the capital employed in the means of labour is large enough to be predominant.
D'abord, no additional outlay of machinery and building is necessary, whether 12 or 24 hours are worked, whereas, if a correspondingly greater amount of labour is to be absorbed simultaneously, the buildings, machinery [V-216] and to a certain degree the machinery which produces the motive power must be increased in size. The commodity is cheapened thereby too. For it is irrelevant whether the value of the machinery is distributed over more labour spatially, through the number of workers who work alongside each other and are assisted simultaneously by it; or this happens temporally, by the fact that the same number of workers are assisted by the same machinery over 24 instead of 12 hours.
The absolute reproduction time of the buildings remains roughly the same, whether they enter really as conditions into the labour process over 12 or over 24 hours.
The reproduction time of the machinery itself is not curtailed to the same extent as its active service is prolonged. But the reproduction time of its value is curtailed to the same extent.
The profit is thus greater in a given section of circulation and the profit in general is calculated according to the surplus value which is realised in a particular period of circulation, e.g. a year.
The ratio of constant to variable capital is in general reduced by this, because the share of the most important part of the constant capital is reduced.
The examination of this last point therefore belongs to the theory of profit.
Replacement of the tool of labour by machinery.
It should be noted here that machinery does not only replace living labour, but also the worker and the tools of his craft. The latter may of course be very insignificant, e.g. when sewing machines replace the usual labour of sewing. This is usually not a replacement; the actual working tool rather re-emerges in the machinery itself, even if on an infinitely larger scale and more or less altered by mechanisation.
Conglomeration of workers in the factory system.
Later on we shall go further into the peculiarities of cooperation, as it appears in the factory system, as distinct from both simple cooperation and manufacture based on the division of labour.
But here it is to be noted above all that developed machinery — the system of production based on machinery — presupposes the conglomeration of workers at one point, their spatial concentration under the direction of a single capitalist. Concentration of this kind is its condition. See the quotation from Ravenstone. 
The machinery which produces the motive power — and similarly the directing machinery which subdivides and transmits the power — is relatively cheapened to the degree that it is applied to a progressively larger system of machinery; there is a similar relative reduction in the cost of buildings, heating, superintendence, etc., in short the objective conditions of labour which are communally needed and consumed by the mass of the workers. There must correspond to the system of simultaneously operating machinery an army of simultaneously employed workers, partly to put into effect the division of labour peculiar to the machine system, partly to implement the system of simple cooperation, the simultaneous exploitation of many people who do the same thing, which is characteristic of the division of labour. Hence although the number of workers set in motion by a particular capital — and the number of workers required for the production of a given amount of commodities — is reduced, the number of workers simultaneously employed and commanded under individual capitalists increases; there is an increase in the concentration of workers acting together in space and time.
Just as the capital functioning in production in this system takes on the shape of a great social mass of wealth, even if it belongs to an individual capitalist, which stands in no relation at all to an individual’s capacity — however large — for working and earning, so the same is true of the system of collaborating workers in a great social combination.
[V-217] Condensation of labour.
If we call the variable capital v, the constant c, and the surplus labour contained in the product x, the value of the commodities produced by a particular capital, if we assume that the whole of the constant capital enters into the valorisation process, considered from the point of view of the absolute surplus value = c + v + x.
The methods which raise relative surplus value change absolutely nothing in this formula. Or, the value of the total product is not raised by these methods. c may grow, because the amount, and therefore the value, of the raw material grows. Ditto, because the value of the machinery grows. But the value of c remains unaltered. It only reappears in the product. Just as little is x altered. v is exchanged in the labour process for v + x, where v represents the labour time which is expressed in v, and x represents the excess over and above this. v + x is the total working day. It is not altered by the methods which create relative surplus value. Or, in other words: however much the quantity of products produced in a working day is increased by these methods, their value is not increased, even though, as a result of the cheapening of the products, hinc of the means of reproduction of labour capacity, the division of labour time into paid and unpaid is changed. (The value of the total product of e.g. one working day may be increased: e.g. more cotton may be spun, etc. In short because more constant capital is consumed in the same time.)
There is nevertheless an exception to this. And an exception which only develops with machine labour. This is condensation of labour, or it is so in so far as, owing to the development of the social productive power of labour, the intensity of labour, the filling in of the pores in labour time, is driven onwards to such an exceptional degree, and becomes so much the constant feature of .labour in a particular sphere of production, that the more intensive hour of labour = the more extensive hour of labour + x At a certain point what has been gained in extension must be lost in intensity. But the same result also occurs in reverse. And the replacement here of quantity by degree is not a matter of speculation. Where the factum occurs, there is a very experimental way to prove it: if it is physically impossible for the worker e.g. regularly to perform the same quantity of labour over 12 hours in the course of a week as he now performs over 10 or 10 1/2 hours. Here we see the necessary reduction of the normal or total working day as a result of the greater condensation of labour, which implies a greater tautness, nervous tension, but at the same time a greater physical exertion. With the increase of the two moments — the rapidity and the extent (the quantity) of the machinery which is to be supervised — a nodal point is necessarily reached, at which the intensity and the extent of labour cannot simultaneously grow any further, the one necessarily excluding the other. And in this case, in spite of the reduction in absolute labour time, the surplus labour may not only remain the same, but grow. And indeed for two reasons. On the one hand, because the productivity of labour grows, i.e. owing to the general law that determines relative surplus value altogether. Secondly, however, because the more intensive hour of labour now counts as such, hence its product e.g. = the value of 1 1/2 extensive hours of labour in the previous mode of production. The more intensive hour of labour — here as the regular, general law of a particular sphere of production, not as something accidental and individual — will now be reckoned as what it is, as a greater quantity of labour, condensed as opposed to more porous labour time. As long as the intensity grows simultaneously with the extension of the absolute labour time, the worker will admittedly be subject to not only simple but double overwork; but the more intensive hour of labour does not count as such. It only counts from the moment at which its heightened intensity appears as the real, tangible and given limit of its extension.
This is the reason why with the introduction of the Ten Hours’ Bill there was not only a growth in the productivity of the branches of English industry into which it was introduced, but also a rise rather than [V-218] a fall in the amount of value they produced, and even in wages.
It should of course always be remarked that as soon as a concrete economic phenomenon comes into question, general economic laws can never be applied simply and directly. E.g., in the matter just referred to, a mass of circumstances come into consideration which lie far away from our subject; indeed, it would be impossible to explain these circumstances without anticipating developments which involve much more concrete relations than those we are so far able to grasp. E.g., the rise in demand following from the expansion of the world market since the discoveries in California and Australia, b and the combinations connected with this. The influence exerted, precisely during the period of occurrence of the phenomenon referred to, by the cheapness and abundance of the supply of the raw material (cotton), etc., in a number of these branches of industry. And finally the measure of the value, e.g. of cotton, is determined not by the English hour of labour, but by the average necessary time of labour on the world market.
But leaving aside all this, the English Factory Reports unanimously demonstrate two facts: 1) that since the introduction of the Ten Hours’ Act (later modified to 10 1/2 hours) the small, piece-by-piece improvements in machinery were on a far larger scale and more continuous than in any prior period, and 2) that the speed of the machinery, and the amount of it that the individual worker has to overlook, have very much increased the intensity of labour, the demands on the worker’s nerves and muscles.
Furthermore, the same Reports leave no doubt about the other two facts: 1) that without the law on hours, the limitation of the absolute working day, that great revolution in the running of industry would not have occurred, that it was enforced by the outer limit set by legislation to the exploitation of the worker; 2) that the experiment would not have been possible, i.e. not possible so quickly with this favourable result, without the high level of technological development already attained, and the means of assistance given by the level of capitalist production attained in general.
If all branches of industry were subjected to the same restrictions, and with the same success, with an equal rise in the intensity of labour, this intensity would count as a general rule, and not as the distinct property of a specifically determined branch of labour. A new average normal working day would merely have been established. The whole day would have been shortened, but also the necessary labour time and the surplus labour time within that (on an average) in the different branches. (An English working day of 10 1/2 hours is not only more productive, but contains perhaps as great a quantity of labour as the 24 hours worked in the cotton mills of Moscow.)
The capitalist mode of production in general condenses labour time, or increases the amount of labour provided within a definite time, the amount of labour which is actually worked in for instance an hour or 12 hours. This is in fact identical with increasing the continuity of labour for the individual worker (for the individual worker, disregarding the continuity of the production process, i.e. its regular continuance over whole periods of time). Even the formal subsumption of labour under capital brings this about, as does the whip in the mode of production based on slavery. This intensity is increased still further by cooperation, but particularly by the division of labour and even more by machinery, where the continuing activity of the individual is bound and conditioned by the activity of a whole, of which he only appears as a member, or which works, as in the mechanical workshop, with the utter uniformity and tirelessness of an inanimate force of nature, an iron mechanism. A certain average degree of intensity of labour — of the real quantity of labour which is performed in a given time — and a relatively higher degree //although in the nature of things it differs in different branches of production // than is found in non-capitalist or even in merely formally capitalist production, is here altogether a general presupposition. It is presupposed for all work, if one speaks of time as its measure, and if one speaks of the labour time necessary for the production of a commodity. But this is not what is being referred to here.
Just as little is it the greater (or different) performance of the same labour in the same time, according to the degree to which skill, etc., has been developed through the division of labour and transmitted skill, and efficiency is increased through the aid of machinery. These two aspects relate to the higher productivity of labour, whereby in fact the real quantity of labour remains the same, and (with machinery) might even be diminished to a certain degree.
[V-219] What is being spoken of here is an increase in the exertions of labour which accompanies the development of productive power; so that in the same time not only more is produced, but more work is done, more labour power is expended, and indeed above the average degree — in a degree which is only made feasible permanently, day in day out, by limiting the extension of labour time. In this case not only relative but absolute surplus value is created, as long as this degree of intensity is not universal. But the latter would presuppose, just as much, a general reduction of the working day.
In any case, intensification of labour meets with barriers just as does extension of labour. And these barriers are shown by the fact that at a certain point the intensity of labour can only be raised by reducing its extension. Thus e.g. if 10 hours is the normal average working day, with the corresponding level of intensity of labour — or of condensation of labour time, quantity of labour which is provided at each moment in time — all inventions which made labour more productive on this basis, without increasing the tension of the labour itself, would only raise relative surplus value.
But if a new condensation of labour time were linked to this development of the productive forces, so that the quantity of labour grew in the same time, and not only the productivity of that labour, a point would soon be reached at which the overall working day would have to be shortened again.
It is only capital’s shameless and ruthless lack of moderation, impelling it to go beyond the natural limits of labour time into the realms of madness, whereby the labour also silently becomes more intensive and strained with the development of the productive forces, that forcibly compels even the society which rests on capitalist production (in this connection the rebellion of the working class itself is of course the main driving force) to restrict the normal working day within firmly fixed limits. This first occurs as soon as capitalist production has emerged from the crude and boisterous years of its adolescence and created a material basis for itself. Capital’s reaction to this forcible restriction of labour time is a greater condensation of labour, which for its part in turn brings about a new curtailment of absolute labour time at a certain point. This tendency to replace extent by degree only emerges at a higher level of development of production. This is in a certain sense a condition for social progress. Free time is created in this way for the worker as well, and the intensity of a particular kind of labour therefore does not remove the possibility of activity in another direction; this can on the contrary function, appear, as a relaxation from it. Hence the extraordinarily beneficial consequences — statistically demonstrated — of this process for the physical, moral, and intellectual amelioration of the working classes in England.
As we have often repeated, we always proceed, in our whole development, from the assumption that commodities, and therefore also labour capacity, are always paid for at their value, and we consider the changes in surplus labour exclusively on this basis. The real cuts in wages, etc., conditioned by competition are therefore not mentioned here. Thus e.g. the supply of labour is increased by overtime, without any increase in the number of workers, or one group of workers is overworked, while the other group is entirely or partly unemployed. In this way an artificial oversupply of labour is created, with the result that the supply of those rendered unemployed by this overworking forces down wages altogether (also those of the employed).
This is, on the other hand, one of the reasons why wages rose rather than fell in England in the branches of industry covered by the Factory laws. Since the demand for commodities rose as a result of the extension of the world market, and, in particular, in the opinions of the capitalists, the extent of this demand rose still further, the demand for labour also rose; but this demand could not, as under the old conditions, be satisfied by artificially increasing the supply of labour, nor was it possible thereby to paralyse its effects on wages.
[The] supply of workers also fell off very considerably; in part through emigration from England, in part through the Irish exodus and pestilence.
[XIX-1159] One example of the condensation of labour is work that is not practised at factories, e.g. tailoring in London. During certain months of the year there is both the greatest possible extension of the working day, and the work is carried on at a feverish rate. [In all seasonal businesses] For the rest of the year the tailors are for the most part unemployed or only partially employed. The necessary labour time — hinc wages — is not determined by the labour time in this period of the paroxysm of labour, but is rather calculated on the average labour time, and the wage thus obtained therefore also covers a great part of the whole year’s income. Here the condensation of labour is bound up with the extension of the working day, but the whole working period is restricted e.g. to a few months or weeks. One of the most miserable forms of exploitation of labour. These are periods of feverish labour, alternating with chronic slackness and unemployment.