4600745012/7/17POT2002Karl Marx and Labor Karl Marx is known not asjust a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundationof many communist regimes in the twentieth century. Marx has have had muchinfluence in the creation of the modern world.
Trained as a philosopher, Marxturned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics andpolitics. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, hislater writings have many points of contact with contemporary philosophicaldebates, especially in the philosophy of history and the social sciences, andin moral and political philosophy. Marx argues Capitalism isdistinctive, in that it involves not only the exchange of commodities, but theadvancement of capital, in the form of money, with the purpose of generatingprofit through the purchase of commodities and their transformation into othercommodities which can command a higher price, and thus yield a profit (Philosophy 2003).Marx claims that no previous theorist has been able to explain how capitalismas a whole can make a profit. Marx’s own solution relies on the idea ofexploitation of the worker. In setting up conditions of production thecapitalist purchases the worker’s labor power his ability to labor for the day.The cost of this commodity is determined in the same way as the cost of everyother, in terms of the amount of socially necessary labor power required toproduce it (Philosophy 2003). In this case thevalue of a day’s labor power is the value of the commodities necessary to keepthe worker alive for a day.
This can be seen in the statement, “wehave shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeedthe most wretched of commodities” (Marx n.d.).
Suppose that such commodities takefour hours to produce. Thus, the first four hours of the working day is spenton producing value equivalent to the value of the wages the worker will be paid,this is known as ‘necessary labor’ (Philosophy 2003). Any work the workerdoes above this is known as ‘surplus labor’, producing surplus value for thecapitalist (Philosophy 2003). Surplus value,according to Marx, is the source of all profit.
In Marx’s analysis labor poweris the only commodity which can produce more value than it is worth, and forthis reason it is known as variable capital. Other commodities simply passtheir value on to the finished commodities, but do not create any extra value,they are known as constant capital. Profit, then, is the result of the laborperformed by the worker beyond that necessary to create the value of his or herwages (Philosophy 2003). It is important to understandthat for Marx alienation is not only a matter of subjective feeling, orconfusion. The bridge between Marx’s early analysis of alienation and his latersocial theory is the idea that the alienated individual is ‘a plaything ofalien forces’. In citizens lives they make decisions that have unintendedconsequences, which then combine to create bigger social forces which may havean unpredicted, and volatile, effect.
In Marx’s view the institutions ofcapitalism themselves the consequences of human behavior come back to structuretheir future behavior, determining the possibilities of human action. Forexample, for as long as a capitalist intends to stay in business he mustexploit his workers to the legal limit. Whether or not wracked by guilt thecapitalist must act as a ruthless exploiter. Similarly, the worker must takethe best job on offer; there is simply no other option. But by doing this wereinforce the very structures that oppress us. It can be seen in this excerpt, “Nosooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash,then he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, theshopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc” (Marx n.d.
). The urge to transcend this condition,and to take collective control of our destiny whatever that would mean inpractice is one of the motivating and sustaining elements of Marx’s socialanalysis. Works Cited Marx, Karl. n.
d. Marx estrangled labor and the communist Manifesto. Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of. 2003. “Karl Marx.
” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. August 26. Accessed December 7, 2017. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.