WAGE LABOR AND CAPITAL
A: Engels, Introduction to “Wage Labor and Capital”
B: Marx, “Wage Labor and Capital”
SUPPLEMENTARY READING: Marx, “Value, Price and Profit”
- We can exchange, for example, a pen for a cup either directly through barter or indirectly through money (they are both, let us assume, worth $1), what makes them equal?
- What is a commodity? How does it differ from other products of human labor?
- What determines the value of commodities?
- How does wage labor differ from slave or serf labor? What does the wage worker sell? How does labor power differ from all other commodities?
- Why is the money pocketed by the employer profits, while the payment of the workers are wages? Are workers being repaid for their labor? Why does the view that employers buy labor rather than labor power cause confusion?
- What are the relative bargaining positions of employers and workers? Do workers improve their relative bargaining position with the employer by their labor?
- What is capital? Who produces it? What is wrong with the capitalist argument that profit is payment for risking their capital?
- Why does the employer introduce labor-saving machinery and what is the impact on the individual worker? Is mechanization of production progressive?
- What does Marx mean when he says that under capitalism dead labor (labor already carried out and embodied in commodities) rules over living labor?
- Why are the economic interests of workers and capitalists irreconcilably antagonistic?