One of the points that Lil Joe excellently makes in this analysis, of an actual social
phenomenon and a subject the working class in the United States need to get hip to,
is that, on the one hand, the capitalist and landlord don't produce anything containing
value but appropriate a large percentage of the wealth that the economy produces per year.
On the opposite hand, the proletariat, the only producers of wealth, owning
only their labor power to sell for wages to survive, are increasingly without work
and being pushed, against their will or control, into the social position of the surplus
population. A social structure that produces ever greater amounts of necessities
while more and more people are unable to get these necessities of life to survive,
is bound to and, is already in a state of decay, class conflict and transformation.
By Lil Joe
During the Christmas season American workers are focused to the example and
teachings of Jesus' genuine altruism and giving for the sake of life,
and these working class families watch Dickins' A Christmas Carol' and
regard Scrooge with contempt. That the alternatives to supplying the
unemployed living in poverty and squalor with decent means of
subsistence is also the Spirit of Christmases Future warned it is
in their interests to prevent the poor folk alternative of crime, prison,
death. But, after this altruistic season, these Americans return to their
Scrooge attitute once again: 'let them die, and decrease the surplus population'.
In US election season the Republican Party politicians as
personifications of the interests of capitalists regurgitate the
Scroog ideology: I will not give to the surplus population! Are there
no work houses, are there no prisons - I pay taxes to support them in
these institutions! That the poor are dying in squalor, filth,
desease, ignorance and starvation is not bad but good: 'let them die,
and decrease the surplus population!'
On the other hand, the two 'portly gentlemen who ask their fellow
capitalist, Scrooge, to contribute to charity, represent the image of the
bleeding heart liberal bourgeoisie, represented in America by the
Democrats - excluding the Republican 'Blue Dog' Democrats', of course.
It is in the interests of capitalists to supply the surplus population
with means of subsistence or be devoured by them in bloody revolutionary
expropriations, as the Spirit of Christmas Future show Scroog.
What is happening in the permanent economic 'Great Recession' is that the
capitalist engaged in production have been experiencing declining
rates of profits in consequence of displacing value engendering living
labour (variable capital) by machines (constant capital).
As Marx wrote in the First Volume of Capital:
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One
Chapter Ten: The Working-Day
As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of
capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to
create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means
of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour.
Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking
living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.
(See Marx, Capital Vol I @.
The American working classes don't know this. For that matter neither
does the surplus population! If they did, they would act as though
they know that every penny paid in taxes, whether taken from
capitalists as well as from proletarians, is taken from the wealth
created by workers who objectify their value as human beings into
products through the labour process, and that the bulk of this money
is used by the government not to support means of life but the
purchase of means of destruction, to finance the armed powers of the
State to jail people domestically and kill people internationally,
and not to supply the surplus population with means of subsistence.
"Job killer" my ass! Jobs flouish in the military industries. Money
taken from social programs is redirected to military sending. This
would also be the case were Social Security and Medicare 'privatised'
- i.e. sold by the government to financee capitalists. The Republicans,
the same as the Democrats, recognize this, and the subject therefore
never comes up in candidate 'debate' questions and answers concerning
big government bureaucracy and big spending in the military industrial
The health and the safety of the American poor of the surplus
population are the lowest priority of the Democrats and Republican
representatives and their capitalist masters.
The most absurd recent variation of this fact was the State's response
to the flooded poor of New Orleans, who lacked means of escape and
consequently who were left behind and died from the floods. It was
asserted that the victims were in this situation because they were
irresponsible, lazy, good for nothings who lack subjective initiative
to escape on their own.
Thus the objective means of escaping this situation is ignored and
the individuals who parished are blamed: they didn't drown because
they lacked transportation out of the threatened area but because they
lacked subjective determination to escape by their own mental
resources although they possessed no material means to do so.
They wished and prayed but the drowning continued.
The State does not exist to help the helpless but to defend the
interests of the owners. The US army was sent into the area to 'shoot
to kill' any individual that was left behind who was seen taking food
from a drowned out market!
"Good afternoon!'' said Scrooge.
His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He
stopped at the outer door to bestow the greeting of the season on the
clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge; for he returned
'There's another fellow,' muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: 'my
clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam.'
This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other
people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now
stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and
papers in their hands, and bowed to him.
'Scrooge and Marley's, I believe,' said one of the gentlemen,
referring to his list. 'Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr Scrooge,
or Mr Marley?'
'Mr Marley has been dead these seven years,' Scrooge replied. 'He died
seven years ago, this very night.'
'We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving
partner,' said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the
ominous word 'liberality', Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and
handed the credentials back.
'At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman,
taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should
make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer
greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common
necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts,
'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.
'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
'And the Union workhouses?' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'
'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman, 'I wish I could say they were not.'
'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.
'Both very busy, sir.'
'Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had
occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very
glad to hear it.'
'Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of
mind or body to the multitude,' returned the gentleman, 'a few of us
are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink,
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all
others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I
put you down for?''
'Nothing!' Scrooge replied.
'You wish to be anonymous?'
'I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. 'Since you ask me what I
wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at
Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to
support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and
those who are badly off must go there.'
'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'
'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, ``they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
"Most young black men in the United States don't graduate from high
school. Only 35% of black male students graduated from high school in
Chicago and only 26% in New York City, according to a 2006 report by The
Schott Foundation for Public Education. Only a few black boys who finish
high school actually attend college, and of those few black boys who enter
college, nationally, only 22% of them finish college.
"Young black male students have the worst grades, the lowest test
scores, and the highest dropout rates of all students in the country.
When these young black men don't succeed in school, they are much more
likely to succeed in the nation's criminal justice and penitentiary
system. And it was discovered recently that even when a young black
man graduates from a U.S. college, there is a good chance that he is
from Africa, the Caribbean or Europe, and not the United States."
(America is losing a generation of Black Boys @
Bill Cosby Address at the NAACP' on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v.
Board of Education delivered 17 May 2004, Constitution Hall,
The same kinds of assertion is ranted in the article "Black males'
Rampant Joblessness, high drop-out rate, incarceration dooming black
community: study Jet, March 26, 2007
"Seven out of every 10 African-American children are born out of
wedlock, according to testimony given by a leading social policy
researcher during a Joint Economic Committee hearing on Capitol Hill
in Washington, D.C. In what is being called "the nation's worst crisis
in the history of the Black family," hearing participants attributed
the degenerating situation to the particularly disturbing plight of
young African-American men, half of whom are now unemployed, and have
30 percent chance of serving time in prison before age 30. And among
Black men who drop out of high school-which is estimated at 40
percent--the situation is worse. Of those, 72 percent are jobless, and
the likelihood of being incarcerated jumps to 60 percent."
The above statements by Charles Dickins' Scrooge and the two professional Negroes
quoted above, is the intimation that those of the surplus population of unemployed
workers are in this state because of personality defects.
The intimation is predicated upon the false contrasting of labour and leisure. Based
upon this false premise it is intimated that because the surplus population are
unemployed workers that these individuals choose leisure to work or are high school
In either case the judgement is made that the members of the surplus populations are
unemployed not because they are members of the surplus population thrown out of the
economy by its mechinisms of automation but because they are lazy, good for nothings who
have chosen 'liesure'.
Thus the surplus population are demonized as a collection of lazy bones who by choice
have no 'ligitimate sources of income'. That is,though they are by their circumstances
forced into 'a life of crime', it is asserted that this life is by choice rather than
of necessity to resort to crime to appropriate their means of subsistence, and therefore
as 'criminals' they are "rightly" thrown into prison.
This is the American Protestant Work Ethic based conservative ideology that not only echo
Herbert Spencer's doctrine of survival of the fittest and Thomas Malthus' of surplus
population, as was articulated by Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickins' "A Christmas Carol",
but has been modified in American culture of individualism into the myth of the American dream.
In this contemporary American dream 'conservative' construction, it is a vicious version of
Adam Smith's concept of the function and lack thereof of the State in a laizzie faire economy.
It's vicious American form is a version of the Protestant Work Ethic, which asserts that
individuals are self-responsible to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, whether they
have boots to begin with or not. It does not matter to these vicious ideologues that surplus
populations as surplus populations are bootless populations.
Martin Luther King Jr has already refuted this illusory ideology:
Martin Luther King, Jr.
REMAINING AWAKE THROUGH A GREAT REVOLUTION
National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. 31 March 1968
Now there is another myth that still gets around: it is a kind of over
reliance on the bootstrap philosophy. There are those who still feel
that if the Negro is to rise out of poverty, if the Negro is to rise
out of the slum conditions, if he is to rise out of discrimination and
segregation, he must do it all by himself. And so they say the Negro
must lift himself by his own bootstraps.
They never stop to realize that no other ethnic group has been a slave
on American soil. The people who say this never stop to realize that
the nation made the black man’s color a stigma. But beyond this they
never stop to realize the debt that they owe a people who were kept in
slavery two hundred and forty-four years.
In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the
Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was
not given any land to make that freedom meaningful. It was something
like keeping a person in prison for a number of years and suddenly
discovering that that person is not guilty of the crime for which he
was convicted. And you just go up to him and say, "Now you are free,"
but you don’t give him any bus fare to get to town. You don’t give him
any money to get some clothes to put on his back or to get on his feet
again in life.
Every court of jurisprudence would rise up against this, and yet this
is the very thing that our nation did to the black man. It simply
said, "You’re free," and it left him there penniless, illiterate, and not
knowing what to do. And the irony of it all is that at the same time
the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of
Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the
Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white
peasants from Europe with an economic floor.
But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to
teach them how to farm. Not only that, it provided county agents to
further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years
unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize
their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are
receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every year not to
farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that
they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to
tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel
jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own
Just as there was no 'surplus population' of slaves living off
welfare, neither was there any 'surplus population' of emancipated
slaves. Regarded in terms of class rather than pigmentation, the
emancipated slaves became post-bellum serfs -'share croppers'.
Emancipated slaves, not having the wherewithal to become peasents had
to become share-croppers/ serfs.
The interests of Union industrial capitalists of the North was the
distruction of the unity of Southern capitalist agricultural mode of
appropriation of chattel slave labour because of its connection with
the cotton industrialists of England, with whom they were in vicious
economic competition. Union capitalist's objective was not the
emancipation of Africans from chattel bondage, but the destruction of
the alliance of Southern agricultural capitalist commodity production
by chattel slavery and industrial manufactured British capitalist
commodity production by wage labour.
The Union capitalists didn't give a damn concerning the plights of
former chattel slaves. The War Between the States was the result of material
economic interests, not ideals of 'freedom' or 'liberty' for Africans
in the South. In fact, those Unionist abolitionists were content with
the transformation of chattel slaves into share cropping serfs.
Exceptions to those abolitionists were Horace Greeley, and more
importantly Windel Phillips. They broke with Union indistrial
capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labour
appropriation to become proletarian partisans in the International
The International Working-Men's Association attracted the American working
class' most class conscious worker-revolutionaries. It produced fighter
theoriticians such as Daniel DeLeon and Eugine V.Debs: the Socialist Labor
Party and the Socialist Party.
The American working class over time has evolved from European
immigrants, conquered indigineous populations of occupied Mexico,
(Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Navada, California), emancipated slaves,
Chinese Coolies as well as Europe's surplus populations. Race wasn't
the determining factor.
Georg Wilhem Friedrich Hegel noted in his Philosophy of History Lecture in 1830s:
" [Concerning] the political condition of North America, the general
object of the existence of this State is not yet fixed and determined, and
the necessity for a firm combination does not yet exist; for a real State
and a real Government arise only after a distinction of classes has arisen,
when wealth and poverty become extreme, and when such a condition of things
presents itself that a large portion of the people can no longer satisfy its
necessities in the way in which it has been accustomed so to do. But America
is hitherto exempt from this pressure, for it has the outlet of colonization
constantly and widely open, and multitudes are continually streaming into
the plains of the Mississippi. By this means the chief source of discontent
is removed, and the continuation of the existing civil condition is
guaranteed. A comparison of the United States of North America with European
lands is therefore impossible; for in Europe, such a natural outlet for
population, notwithstanding all the emigrations that take place, does not
exist. Had the woods of Germany been in existence, the French Revolution
would not have occurred. North America will be comparable with Europe only
after the immeasurable space which that country presents to its inhabitants
shall have been occupied, and the members of the political body shall have
begun to be pressed back on each other. North America is still in the
condition of having land to begin to cultivate. (See Hegel Philosophy
of History @ http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/hi/introduction-lectures.htm
A Century later, the American historian Frederick Jackson Turner wrote in On The Significance
of the Frontier in American History:
"The American frontier is sharply distinguished from the European frontier--a
fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most
significant thing about the American frontier is, that it lies at the hither
edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that
settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term
is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We
shall consider the whole frontier belt including the Indian country and the
outer margin of the "settled area " of the census reports. ...
"... The frontier is the line of most rapid and effective
Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a
European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It
takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It
strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting
shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee
and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he
has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick, he
shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In
short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the
man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish, and
so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian
trails. Little by little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome
is not the old Europe, not simply the development of Germanic germs,
any more than the first phenomenon was a case of reversion to the Germanic
mark. The fact is, that here is a new product that is American. At first,
the frontier was the Atlantic coast. It was the frontier of Europe in a
very real sense. Moving westward, the frontier became more and more American.
As successive terminal moraines result from successive glaciations, so each
frontier leaves its traces behind it, and when it becomes a settled area the
region still partakes of the frontier characteristics. ...
"Generally, in all the western settlements, three classes, like the waves of
the ocean, have rolled one after the other. First comes the pioneer, who
depends for the subsistence of his family chiefly upon the natural growth of
vegetation, called the "range," and the proceeds of hunting. His implements
of agriculture are rude, chiefly of his own make, and his efforts directed
mainly to a crop of corn and a "truck patch." The last is a rude garden for
growing cabbage, beans, corn for roasting ears, cucumbers, and potatoes. A
log cabin, and, occasionally, a stable and corn-crib, and a field of a dozen
acres, the timber girdled or "deadened," and fenced, are enough for his
occupancy. It is quite immaterial whether he ever becomes the owner of the
soil. He is the occupant for the time being, pays no rent, and feels as
independent as the " lord of the manor." With a horse, cow, and one or two
breeders of swine, he strikes into the woods with his family, and becomes
the founder of a new county, or perhaps state. He builds his cabin, gathers
around him a few other families of similar tastes and habits, and occupies
till the range is somewhat subdued, and hunting a little precarious, or,
which is more frequently the case, till the neighbors crowd around, roads,
bridges, and fields annoy him, and he lacks elbow room. The preëmption law
enables him to dispose of his cabin and cornfield to the next class of
emigrants; and, to employ his own figures, he "breaks for the high timber,"
"clears out for the New Purchase," or migrates to Arkansas or Texas, to work
the same process over.
"The next class of emigrants purchase the lands, add field to field, clear
out the roads, throw rough bridges over the streams, put up hewn log houses
with glass windows and brick or stone chimneys, occasionally plant orchards,
build mills, school-houses, court-houses, etc., and exhibit the picture and
forms of plain, frugal, civilized life.
"Another wave rolls on. The men of capital and enterprise come. The settler
is ready to sell out and take the advantage of the rise in property, push
farther into the interior and become, himself, a man of capital and
enterprise in turn. (Frederick J. Turner: The Significance of the Frontier
in American History
This westward expansion engendered a racist ideological and practical
policy against the native Americans of subjugation &/0r genocide.
Capitalist commodity production is expansive. The class
interests of chattel commodity production in the antebellum South in
the interests of capitalist commodity production by imported chattel
slavery engendered the ideology and policy that 'the only good Nigger
is an obedient Nigger' because chattel was property - an instrument of
labour and therefore value engendering labour, an economic asset. Means
of production of value engendering people. Capitalists don't destroy
But, this wasn't the case concerning the expropriation of native
American's land. Rather, the resistance of native Americans was to
kill them: - "The only good Injun is a dead Injun". The westward
expansion of the United States, the Homestead Act and so on to entice
the Eastern surplus population of unemployed immigrants &/or their
offspring, together with relocation of native Americans -e.g. the
Cherokee and the Mohawks, together with genocidal mass murder
campaigns in 'the West', were in the interests of the needs of
The trappers were displaced by cattle ranchers, and later came the
farmers and thus the 'range wars' [see the movie Shane]. Then came the
agents of Eastern capitalist speculators and the mining and
industrializing capitalists, the rail lines by Coolie labour and then
the trains for transporting livestock and other commodities in circulation.
The Eastern capitalists expropriated the small time 'white peasants'
in the Old West, that's what the Jesse James saga was all about - who
along with the Youngers, the Daltons and others robbed railroads and
trains as acts of rebellion and resistance. These 'gangs' were supressed
and 'domestic tranquility' for the big bourgeoisie was achieved by the
barrel of the gun of 'law and order' agents of big capital represented by
federal marshals and soldiers.
This history of conflict between big capital, supported by the federal
government -i.e. troops, courts and marshals, is the basis for the
Western states' culture of hatred of and opposition to 'the federal
government' as not the 'solution to problems' , but itself 'the
problem'. Southern state's hatred and opposition to the 'federal
government', is of course historically rooted in the War Berween the
States, where big industrial capitalist commodity production by wage
labour defeated and displaced agricultural capitalist commodity production
by chattel slavery.
If you notice in the movies 'Tombstone' and 'Wyatt Earp', the Earps
were federal marshals, representing Eastern interests advanceing into
the West, displacing the ranchers and farmers as well. Marshals
arrested the Dalton Gang in 1893, helped suppress the Pullman Strike
in 1894. The Clantons' were local cattle ranchers who were represented
by the county sheriff, Cotton. Thus it was a class struggle as well as
the federal government against the regional.
Displacement and genocidal wars on the native American populations
were also based in economics. The capitalist mode of production is
expansive, and the hunter-gatherer-farmer agricultural modes of production of
native American economies, stood in the way of the self-expansion of capital
represented by the federal government and its troops.
Calling the native Americans 'savages', i.e. 'blood thirsty savages',
had the same objective and effect as calling the resistance of native people
of Palestine and Iraq or Afghanistan 'terrorists' or 'Islamist extremist'
Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?
By Guenter Lewy
The story of the encounter between European settlers and America’s native
population does not make for pleasant reading. Among early accounts, perhaps
the most famous is Helen Hunt Jackson’s *A Century of Dishonor* (1888), a
doleful recitation of forced removals, killings, and callous disregard.
Jackson’s book, which clearly captured some essential elements of what
happened, also set a pattern of exaggeration and one-sided indictment that
has persisted to this day.
Thus, according to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the
University of Colorado, the reduction of the North American Indian
population from an estimated 12 million in 1500 to barely 237,000 in 1900
represents a "vast genocide . . . , the most sustained on record." By the
end of the 19th century, writes David E. Stannard, a historian at the
University of Hawaii, native Americans had undergone the "worst human
holocaust the world had ever witnessed, roaring across two continents
non-stop for four centuries and consuming the lives of countless tens of
millions of people." In the judgment of Lenore A. Stiffarm and Phil Lane,
Jr., "there can be no more monumental example of sustained genocide—certainly
none involving a 'race' of people as broad and complex as this—anywhere in the
annals of human history."
Bourgeois economic ideology of the American variation of a neo-laissez
faire doctrine is that the 'federal government' -i.e. the State - leave alone
both the economy and individuals to their own initiative.
Yet, classes and class interests exist as aggregates, not delusional
individuals. One cannot judge individuals participating in an economy
isolated from the laws of motion of production and distribution
characteristic of that economy.
Capital is the form of wealth characteristic of the capitalist mode of
production and appropriation. The deciding power is the power of
capital, the capitalist is but capital personified, but as such it is
the capitalists and not the working class that decide who is to be
hired and fired. The clap trap about 'individual liberty' and
'freedom' in the relation of wage labour to capital is a cynical
No sane human individual would ever voluntarily, as a self-determined choice,
choose to exist on the margins of society in a surplus
population: homeless in the cold &/0r heat, hungry and sickly, eating
from garbage cans or begging, &/0r as surplus women turning tricks
that is risking their life to service crazy men, or surplus men robbing
and stealing - risking their lives and risking a life in prison.
Nobody would choose such a dangerous existence - not even the insane
would 'choose' such a downtrodden and despicable existence. Nobody! -
[would you?] - !
As an aside: Because the ideologists of the capitalist class and State
cannot present an empiricallly based study to argue for such an insanity
that is attributed to a 'lazy' or 'whorish' community of surplus
individuals who are excluded from the 'ligitimate' economy, so these
ideologists instead come up with bullshit analogies, such as the
bullshit analogy of the early bird catching the worms, meaning that
staeving birds are starving because they are too lazy to get up and
work. It is just that - a bullshit analogy:it is a myth in
American culture that is internalized by workers, who believe that
those who don't get jobs are like the late birds that didn't get the
worms. The problem of the analogy, or rather the fallacy in this
analogy is that the late bird as well as the early birds also get
worms, and the early bird do not collect worms and sell those worms to
late birds - let alone do any birds hire other birds to do the labour
of collecting worms to be sold back to them.
In the empirical human world the laws of motion of capitalist
commodity production by appropriated wage labour, this mode of
production and appropriation of labour power and its products the
function of labour through which the workers objectify their labour
powers is sublated value, that is both the accumulated past labour
that is objectified value in the means of production and raw
materialists is congealed value in the products that is transfered to
the new products, as well as the value of the labour time spent in
this labour process of that work.
Marx observed in the 1861-3 Economic Manuscripts:
"The sole antithesis to objectified labour is non-objectified, living
labour. The one is present in space, the other in time, the one is in
the past, the other in the present, the one is already embodied in a
use value, the other, as human activity-in-process, is currently
engaged in the process of self-objectification, the one is value, the
other is value-creating.
( Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63 Volume 30, MECW, p. 33-42
The product of the history of labour evolved from the paleolithic
hominid's percussion flaking technology of homo habilis, homo egaster,
homo sapien the means and know-how of the pressure flaking and the
making of microliths used in making tools for hunting and gathering,
clothing and living quarters, cutting and cooking.
Karl Marx. Capital Volume One
Part III: The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value
Chapter Seven: The Labour-Process and the Process of Producing Surplus-Value
The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, the personal
activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that work, and
3, its instruments.
The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in the
virgin state in which it supplies man with necessaries or the means of
subsistence ready to hand, exists independently of him, and is the
universal subject of human labour. All those things which labour
merely separates from immediate connexion with their environment, are
subjects of labour spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish
which we catch and take from their element, water, timber which we
fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their veins.
If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so to say, been
filtered through previous labour, we call it raw material; such is ore
already extracted and ready for washing. All raw material is the
subject of labour, but not every subject of labour is raw material: it
can only become so, after it has undergone some alteration by means of
An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, which the
labourer interposes between himself and the subject of his labour, and
which serves as the conductor of his activity. ...
Leaving out of consideration such ready-made means of subsistence as
fruits, in gathering which a man’s own limbs serve as the instruments
of his labour, the first thing of which the labourer possesses himself
is not the subject of labour but its instrument. As the earth is his
original larder, so too it is his original tool house. It supplies
him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing,
cutting, &c. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, but when
used as such in agriculture implies a whole series of other
instruments and a comparatively high development of labour. No sooner
does labour undergo the least development, than it requires specially
prepared instruments. Thus in the oldest caves we find stone
implements and weapons. ...Relics of bygone instruments of labour
possess the same importance for the investigation of extinct economic
forms of society, as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct
species of animals. It is not the articles made, but how they are
made, and by what instruments, that enables us to distinguish
different economic epochs. (See Karl Marx. Capital Vol I Part III Chapter 7
The next development is metalurgy powered by controlled fire
manufacturing the tools of agriculture and means of trade. The more
recent industrial revolution was powered steam engines. Todays
technological revolution is based on electronics and nuclear power.
The present productive forces, the means of production and
distribution and labour skills is the result of this history of
production as things, but is also cumulative value of past and present
generations of human labour processes.
"In the labour-process, therefore, man’s activity, with the help of
the instruments of labour, effects an alteration, designed from the
commencement, in the material worked upon. The process disappears in
the product, the latter is a use-value, Nature’s material adapted by a
change of form to the wants of man. Labour has incorporated itself
with its subject: the former is materialised, the latter transformed."
(Marx ibid) [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch07.htm#S1]
The Capitalist mode of appropriation of labour power by it's purchase
has enabled an empirical, objective, quantifiable means of determining
the value of purchased proletarian labour power as a commodity as measured
objectively by the clock:
"What they actually sell to the capitalist for money is their
labour-power. This labour-power the capitalist buys for a day, a week,
a month, etc. And after he has bought it, he uses it up by letting the
worker labour during the stipulated time. With the same amount of
money with which the capitalist has bought their labour-power (for
example, with two shillings) he could have bought a certain amount of
sugar or of any other commodity. The two shillings with which he
bought 20 pounds of sugar is the price of the 20 pounds of sugar. The
two shillings with which he bought 12 hours' use of labour-power, is
the price of 12 hours' labour. Labour-power, then, is a commodity, no
more, no less so than is the sugar. The first is measured by the
clock, the other by the scales.
"The exchange value of a commodity estimated in money is called its
price. Wages therefore are only a special name for the price of
labour-power, and are usually called the price of labour; it is the
special name for the price of this peculiar commodity, which has no
other repository than human flesh and blood.
(See Karl Marx: Wage-Labour and Capital
@ http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/wage-labour/ch02.htm )
These empirical facts of purchased labour power engendering value and,
consequently, surplus value [unpaid labour time] made labor and its
value an object of scientific examination. Production by labour power
on the basis of wages enabled objective analysis and quantification of
socially necessary labour time and thus, the quantification of surplus
[unpaid] labour time provided an understanding of the the rate of
exploitation of proletarian labour by capital.
Capitalists as a class do not participate in the labour process. They,
as investors, do not even any longer manage social production, much less
create any wealth. If, as their Protestant work ethic suggests, the
penalty of laziness is poverty and the reward for work is wealth,
the capitalist should be the poorest on earth and the hard working
miners and farm labourers the richest. The truth however, is the fact
that there is no correletion between laziness and poverty nor hard work
and wealth. The working classes and toiling masses exclusively create
wealth owned by the capitalist. This fact has been well known for a couple
of centuries now.
"The value of a commodity, or the quantity of any other commodity for
which it will exchange, depends on the relative quantity of labour
which is necessary for its production, and not on the greater or less
compensation which is paid for that labour."
(See David Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation Chapter I On Value)
"Labour, like all other things which are purchased and sold, and which
may be increased or diminished in quantity, has its natural and its
market price. The natural price of labour is that price which is
necessary to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to
perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution.
"The power of the labourer to support himself, and the family which may
be necessary to keep up the number of labourers, does not depend on
the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but on the
quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences become essential to
him from habit, which that money will purchase. The natural price of
labour, therefore, depends on the price of the food, necessaries, and
conveniences required for the support of the labourer and his family.
(David Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation Chapter I On Value
"As a matter of fact capitalist production is commodity production as
the general form of production. But it is so and becomes so more and
more in the course of its development only because labour itself
appears here as a commodity, because the labourer sells his labour,
that is, the function of his labour-power, and our assumption is that
he sells it at its value, determined by its cost of reproduction. To
the extent that labour becomes wage-labour, the producer becomes an
industrial capitalist. For this reason capitalist production (and
hence also commodity production) does not reach its full scope until
the direct agricultural producer becomes a wage-labourer.
In the relation of capitalist and wage-labourer, the money-relation,
the relation between the buyer and the seller, becomes a relation
inherent in production. But this relation has its foundation in the
social character of production, not in the mode of exchange. The
latter conversely emanates from the former. It is, however, quite in
keeping with the bourgeois horizon, everyone being engrossed in the
transaction of shady business, not to see in the character of the mode
of production the basis of the mode of exchange corresponding to it,
but vice versa.
(See Karl Marx's Capital Vol 2 Chapter 4: The Three Formulas of the Circuit @
"But, since classes arose, there never was a time when society could
do without a working class. The name, the social status of that class
has changed; the serf took the place of the slave, to be in his turn
relieved by the free working man -- free from servitude but also free
from any earthly possessions save his own labour force. But it is
plain: whatever changes took place in the upper, non-producing ranks
of society, society could not live without a class of producers. This
class, then, is necessary under all circumstances -- though the time
must come, when it will no longer be a class, when it will comprise
all society.( See Frederich Engels Articles from the Labour Standard -
"Social Classes - Necessary and Superfluous @
The capitalist mode of appropriation is the result of the capitalist
mode of production and produces capitalist private property. Within the
capitalist mode of production, labour power is a commodity,
an alienable object, something that can be sold and bought and is the
worker's private property until the capitalist buys it.
The capitalists already own the means of production, raw materials and
so on. These are 'accumulated labour' because they already embody the
value transferred to it through previous labour processes. For instance
a tree is a natural resource, but by cutting it down it hits the
ground as timber and timber is therefore the raw material for further
labour processes. The work of the transformation of timber into lumber
is a different labour process that adds to this cumulative value the
value of the fresh labour expended in transforming it from timber into
lumber. Lumber goes on to the next labour process where fresh labour
transfers more value to the product, and thus the table, as the finished
product, embodies the value of all the labor time of the various
labour processes through which the table passed.
But, the capitalist class can realize profits only upon the sale of the table
as a commodity, an exchange value. On the other hand the workers can
appropriate it as a use value only by purchase. Thus the workers are
forced to sell their labour power - alienating their labour
products to the capitalist who buys the right to own the products of
labour when it purchases that labour power as a commodity. This is
what is meant by the 'capitalist mode of production and appropriation'.
The capitalists compete with each other to make the sale of their commodities
cheaper than can their competitors. Therefore, the capitalists are always looking
for more efficient tools that subsequently displace labourers who are thus thrown
into the streets as an ever increasing surplus population.
The surplus population is the quantity of labourers whose labour power
no longer has a marketable use value. The progress of automation and
electriciation of the means of production, robots and so on, throws
more formerly skilled workers into the now useless to capital heap
of surplus population reminiscent of the 'smokestack industries' of the 'rust belt'.
The inner cities no longer have industrial production that had
attracted workers migrating from the post-bellum South in the
1930-50s, and that's why there is so much mass unemployment in
dilapidated inner city slums. But, with the current permanent
recession as far as labour markets are concerned, especially in the
era of downsizing and outsourcing, the surplus population includes
growing numbers of now unemployable labour of workers living in
suburbs who are loosing their homes to mortgage bankers, even as they
are forced to bail out failing banks and industries.
The existence of surplus labour populations living in squalor,
homelessness and living through crime in societies in which the
capitalist mode of production prevails is therefore not the result
of laziness or the criminal proclivities of individuals.
The surplus population are comprised of indivudal human beings who are
considered from the capitalist class' point of view useless, that is
their laboor power as skilled labour has been displaced by machines.
It certainly has nothing to do with race. Proof of this is that in the
antebellum slave states there was 'full employment' of 'black males'
and no slave was in any prison. During the mass migrations of the
1900s-1950s, especially during the World Wars I and II destruction of
surplus populations, Black males entered the cities and took the places
of white workers sent abroad and were at the time, for the most part,
illiterate country folk.
Displacement of men by machines by the electrification of production,
automation and downsizing, and finally outsourcing in the global economy
ended production in these cities and resulted in surplus populations of
labourers whose labour powers could not find a buyer.
There were a quantity of 'white workers' who had gainful employment
until the 1980s and 90s, but even those industries are automated and
jobs down sized and outsourced. The majority of the houses foreclosed
were suburban, so families whose wage earners were thrown into the
surplus population as useless commodites are now thrown into the
streets as well, into the swelling ranks of the spreading homeless
population. They will also be forced into 'crime', just to live. There
will be more prisons built across the United States.
The other side of the myth of unemployment being the result of working
class laziness is that capitalists earn their riches. This myth is taught
through child stories such as 'the little engine that could' - by convincing
itself it could achieve the impossible by telling itself 'I think I can, I think I can!
I know I can, I know I can!" - thus that 'where there's a will there's a way'.
(See Google references @
The myth tells workers that if they don't become rich, or even
find a job, it is their own fault, they are defective commodities. To
teach this to working class and poor children is to ignore the
empirical facts of the ruthless impersonal nature of capitalist
commodity production - it is not the 'will power'
or the worker's determination to get a job, but the profit driven
decision making proclivities of the capitalist that decide to hire,
or not to hire this or that worker.
Capitalist wealth is not gained from being the early bird that catches
worms, but solely rests upon their social position in the capitalist
mode of production and appropriation that capitalists
as a class are economic parasites. This is based on the
ownership of the means of production and distribution that capitalists
as economic vampires, as investor-owners, suck the value from the sweat
and brain power of workers.
Being a capitalist has nothing to do with being determined to 'make
it, any more than workers being thrown into existing surplus
populations has anything to do with a lack of effort to get rich,
has nothing to do with whether those in the surplus population have
finished school or dropped out.
Those workers who cannot sell their commodity, their labour power, to the
capitalists, because the capitalist refuse to purchase it, no
matter how much the individual seeking employment mumble to himself or
to herself 'I think I can I think I can, I know I can I know I can'.
Because workers lack possession of their own external means of
production and subsistence, they, as a class in modern
capitalist society, are compelled to sell their labour power as a
commodity to be used by the capitalists in commodity production in
order to purchase means of subsistence for themselves in the form
The capitalists alone are of the class of 'individual freedom and
liberty', these are the only individuals who have the wherewithal to
do as they please, including hire and fire whomsoever they want to
hire or fire.
The workers do as they are told, or get fired. This can change only by
these worker's organizing themselves into trade unions and political
parties, that give them the power to limit the bloodsucking
capitalists ability to overwork and underpay them. But, that is not
the solution to the workers conundrum.
The actual emancipation of
the proletariat can come about, the first
act of self-determination of workers as individual members of the
proletariat, only by siezing the productive forces, that they have already produced.
This can come about by winning the battle of democracy, by using this state power to
legislate the transfer of the productive forces from the private
possession of the capitalist classes to the public property of the
working classes. On this basis alone can capitalist commodity
production and wage labour be done away with.
So long as the capitalists as a class are in possession of the means
of social production and distribution the individual workers are a dependent
tool of production. Since the individuals cannot work their way out of
unemployment and poverty, or don't find a way out of natural
disaisters by saying to themselves 'I think I can', they are powerless
and subject to the whims of capitalists and their politicians. The
most stark recent example of this dependency is the Hurricane Katrina
induced flooding in New Orleans.
The situations of people and things in New Orleans in response to
Hurricane Katrina for instance is a stark case in point of the
American conservative polity at work. It was up to individuals to sink
or swim, literally, and that under their own power. Much of New
Orleans surplus population drowned or died from sickness. Those that
weren't killed by the Katrina floodings were forced from living there.
It had nothing to do with racism - the wealthy and politically
connected Blacks in New Orleans escaped as the floods were approaching
the coasts, just as wealthy and politically connected whites did. The
poor white as well as the poor black New Orleans' surplus populations
were left behind to swim for themselves, or to drown.
It is okay for capitalists to enrich themselves by exploiting
workers, and to throw them into the streets when they become useless.
That is what is meant by 'liberty' in America i.e., the clap trap about
individual 'freedom' and 'liberty'; but, the poor are not allowed to
appropriate food to avoid death. That kind of 'individualism' has never
been tolerated in the United States!
Those who drowned decreased the 'surplus population'; those
to old, sick or weak to climb to rooftops. When the State did finally
intervene well after hurricane Katrina blew through, it wasn't to save human life.
In conservative ideology the fetus has the right to life but the drowning
people didn't have the rights to life, liberty or pursuit of food, let
alone 'happiness'. Those who survived had no means of subsistence to
live on either. The State intervened to kill those of the surplus
population who were forced by circumstances to break into stores to
appropriate means of susistence. This is the real purpose of the State
as an instrument of violence promoting capitalist class interests:
New Orleans and Baghdad—two sides of the same policy
By Bill Van Auken 3 September 2005
"As US National Guard troops—just returned from Iraq—moved into New
Orleans Friday with “shoot-to-kill” orders, and Blackhawk helicopters
flew over the city, the essential unity between the policies pursued
by Washington at home and abroad found stark expression. Lt. Gen.
Steven Blum of the National Guard said half of the 7,000 National
Guardsmen arriving in Louisiana had shortly before been serving
overseas and were “highly proficient in the use of lethal force.”
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared, “They have M-16s and they
are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot to kill... and I
expect they will.”
The indiviualism that is acceptable in the United States is bourgeois
individualsm. It is an individualism based on property - therefore
individualism within the rule of law - as it is bourgeois politicians
that legislate and administer those laws! The State is the organized
violence that is the instrument of forcing the working class and poor
Americans to obey those legislated bourgeois laws.
Individual freedom and liberty are nothing but words, and has never
had any empirical actuality for the American working class and poor.
The American working class and poor have never had a worker's party of
their own to legislate social protections for workers as human beings.
Laissez faire and libertarian doctrine's of 'freedoms' and of
'liberty', and other buzz words and flowery terms and rhetoric mealy-
mouthed by American conservatives and Republicans - including Blue Dog
Democrats, is just words and phrases the true intent of which are to
cloke the material interests of capitalists to hire and exploit
American workers and fire American workers as they see fit, without
government interference on behalf of workers and by paying the least
taxes to fund their State.
From the standpoint of the capitalist classes the only valid function
and public business of the State is to "maintain domestic tranquility"
- that is to protect property and to supppress worker unrest: the
recruiting, arming, training and funding special bodies of armed men
and women and consequently building prisons and filling them with the
rebellious members of society.
The United States is an imperialist power, its capitalist
transnationals also need these special bodies of armed men, tanks and
bombs to advance and defend its transnational interests abroad as
The economic basis for the State is taxation. Yet, although this State
functions for the most part in the interests of the capitalists and
landlord classes as an instrument of their political domination - a
bourgeous State, it's funded by the working class. There isn't a single
trade unionist in any branch of government.
All members of Congress and the Presidency are Democrats or
Republicans. These capitalist class parties are
the most powerful, politically dominate classes. The only classes
represented in the US House of Representatives, the Senate, the
Presidency and the Judiciary are the capitalist classes.
The bureaucratic-military State, an apparatus of coercion and violence,
both domestically as well as internationally - e.g. in New Orleans as
well as Bagdad, is the instrument of class rule by terror.
That there is a multitude of rebellious inner city Black males from
the surplus population incarcerated in prisons is not a thing of shame
on these individuals. Capitalism is on trial, among other things for
being such a mode of production that engenders surplus populations,
resulting in crime as a means of appropriating means of subsistence.
This is about social aggregates to which individuals are forced to
adhere, not bourgeois ideological individualism.
It's not racial: millions of males in prisons across America are
overwhelmingly poor. These prison populations are rebellious elements
of the surplus populations of every race and ethnicity, color and
The stupidity is that bourgeois ideological individualism and
ethnocentricm has been so internalized by lumpinproletarian elements
of the surplus population that they are at each others throats in the
slum streets and in prison. The rational alternative is cooperation,
both in the hood and in prison, but this requires the inviduals and homeys
to critically evaluate and discard bourgeois individualism and pragmatism.
It is a paid bourgeois sociologist's red herring to compare how many
educated as opposed to uneducated males are in prison, and also how
many blacks compared to whites and Chicanos males are in prison. What
those sociologists never compare or contrast is who makes the laws and
for what class interests, by comparing how many in prison are working
class and poor to how man capitalists and wealthy elements are in
In plain syllogistic logic: the State is an instrument of capitalist
class rule. Taxes are the economic basis of the State. Taxes should by
paid exclusively by the capitalist classes.
The State is the subject of the Major premise = A: capitalist class
rule is the predicate of this major premise =B. Taxes is the subject
of the Minor premise=C: are the economic basis for capitalist class
rule, thus -A. Taxas is the subject of the Conclusion =C: the
predicate of the Conclusion = B.
As A=B and C=A, then C=B: thus the syllogism and the proper
distribution of the middle term is premised on empirical political
facts - the State is special bodies of armed men and women, with
prisons and so on that serve the interests of the capitalist class and
should be paid for by the capitalist class, not by the working classes and
The capitalist classes want the working classes and the poor of the
surplus populations to the pay the very taxes that will arm, fund,
train and create the prisons that will be used to suppress those same
workers and poor folk.
The Republican Party and conservatives go so far as to hood wink fools
by rhetoric that it is in the interests of the working classes and the
poor to pay the taxes by the very fact that they advocate that
capitalists should not pay taxes. This is where their doctrine of
bourgeois individualism is pragmatic - the capitalist should by this
doctrine have the 'personal freedom' and 'liberty' to punish workers
in retaliation for capitalists having to pay taxes.
The rational response of workers to these capitalists and Republican
Party threats is companies that refuse to employ workers become
nationalized public property, and placed in the possession of workers
self- management of production and distribution. To bring such a
thing into existence, however, would require a Labour Party having its
members representing the workers and the poor in Congress as trade
unionists, minorities and the poor legislating the transfer of the
productive forces from private possessions of the capitalist classes
to the public property of the working classes. What I'm talking about
The Republicans and conservative 'think tanks' assert that wealth
inheritance taxes -which they call 'death taxes', capital gains taxes,
and progressive income taxes are 'bad' for the economy.
Though the capitalist class intersts are represented by the
State, they don't want to pay taxes and imply that taxes are really
transferring 'wealth' from white workers to the black surplus
population. Conservative ideologists, propagandists and politicians
refer to 'spending' as social welfare programs. They ignore the
fact that it is primarily the working class that pay the taxes that
are mostly used to arm, train and pay soldier's to kill opponents of
capitalism and on behalf of US based transnational capitalist
interests invade and kill people in other countries who resist US
There is also the myth in America culture that capitalists are
altruist in their investment policies - that capitalist invest not
solely to make money, i.e. profit from their exploitation of
wageworkers, but to 'create jobs' for the benefit of the workers that
they exploit. American workers don't know that profits are derived
from labour power's exploitation, but taught in school that it is a
'factor payment' - the capitalist's 'return' on investment and
earned for taking risks'.
American workers are taught that it is in their interests to oppose
forcing capitalists to pay taxes, to encourage capitalists to take
risks to 'create jobs': capitalists shouldn't be 'burdened by taxes'.
Thus the phrase is that taxes on capitalists is a 'job killer'.
Remember, the American workers are taught that they are not
proletarians but are 'middle class', and internalize the myth that
the bulk of taxes are used to pay 'government bureaucrats' and to
support 'lazy men', and 'welfare queens' : read - the surplus population.
The demonizing of Black males in poverty who are forced into crime is
the point of the articles to which I am responding. This denigrating
ideological lie is predicated upon the American cultural myth that any
and every American can, if, they 'get an education', 'work hard' and
'play by the rules' [capitulate to and obey their bosses and laws of the
land] that they one and all will 'achieve the American dream' of wealth.
Black members of the working class and poor folk of inner city slums
are, for historical reasons, concentrated in pockets of poverty in
inner city slums, but still, there are more white working class and poor
in the US than there are Black working class and poor because there
are more white than black population in the country.
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