Saturday, November 1, 2014
Marx's class-in-itself becoming a class-for-itself: a brief dialogue
The capitalist says "I'm paying for you to work." The worker says "I'm working for you to pay for me and for yourself."
The capitalist responds: "but we voluntarily exchanged the commodities we owned." The worker points out: "True, but I am the commodity. You own me, and I part with some of my energy in exchange for you to expend it for as long and fast as you want. In return, I get back some of that energy just to sell it to you again for your consumption. Your freedom to buy is my compulsion to sell the only thing I have."
Finally, the capitalist, annoyed by this, barks "well you can walk off the job." The worker ponders this for a moment, and says: "or I can take yours over and throw you out."
The capitalist cries "That's insane! This is my property! I paid for all of this!" The worker sympathetically states: "I'm sorry, I am trying to understand. But I own no property. Your right to property is derived from your property. Your property gives you the right to own those who have none. If you believe in the right to property, that seems self-contradictory. But I'll compromise with you and take your property and share it with you and everyone else. That way your freedom is universal."
The capitalist, not at all satisfied, refuses. "No. You will have to kill me first."
The worker, done with being courteous, shoots back: "Well I will then. But at least it will be quick and painless, whereas your exploitation of my life and strength leads to a slow and painful death. Thank you for the opportunity for employment. It taught me a great deal. But you're just not a good fit for the new social order. We're going to have to let you go."