Emancipation Proclamation By the Wage Slavery Abolitionists
In 1855, Frederick Douglas, a former slave, wrote: “The difference between the white slave, and the black slave, is this: the latter belongs to ONE slave-holder, and the former belongs to ALL the slave-holders, collectively. The white slave has taken from his, by indirection, what the black slave had taken from him, directly, and without ceremony. Both are plundered, and by the same plunderers”. He understood so why can’t others understand? The modern slave-owner has no such interest in his slaves. He neither purchases nor owns them. He merely buys so much labour-power – physical energy – just as he buys electric power for his plant. The worker represents to him merely a machine capable of developing a given quantity of labour-power. When he does not need labour-power he simply refrains from buying any. Wage slavery is the most satisfactory form of slavery that has ever come into existence, from the point of view of the masters. It gives them all the slaves they require, and relieves them of all responsibility in the matter of their housing, feeding and clothing.
We’re the ones who build things, make things, provide services, make things work, provide the ideas. But though we build the world around us, it does not belong to us. Everything that has been built around us is the result of our work and yet we don’t work for ourselves. We produce not for ourselves, but at the behest’s and whims of others. Worker is compelled to labour for the purpose of producing something to satisfy the wants of others who, holding the things necessary for their lives, thereby control them. They are, therefore, still a slaves. We are the ones who are told what to produce, how to produce it, how much, and how fast.We are the ones who receive a pay cheque, be it high or low, not for selling what we produce but for selling our power to toil. With that pay cheque we try to buy back what we make. The source of someone else’s profits comes from our sweat and stress.
Capitalism is based on wage-labour. Capitalism is identified with private control of markets organised on profit and loss economics. Propertarians, espouse not liberty but wage slavery. Capitalism is capital accumulation. Capitalism breeds inequality. Wage slavery has become the only option for the majority to sustain itself. The capitalist system originated through acts of theft and murder.
The capitalist class argue that “waged work isn’t slavery when free and just conditions exist.” If only that were the case.
Workers sell their labour power to capitalist enterprises for a wage as stated above in earlier post. As a commodity, labour power has an exchange value and a use value, like all other commodities. Its exchange value is equal to the sum total of the exchange values of all those commodities necessary to produce and reproduce the labour power of the worker and his or her family. The use value of labour power is its value creating capacity which capitalist enterprises buy and put to work as labour. However, labour power is unlike other commodities in that it creates value. During a given period it can produce more than is needed to maintain the worker during the same period. The surplus value produced is the difference between the exchange value of labour power and the use value of the labour extracted by the capitalists. In capitalism, however,the wage-worker is a “free” agent. No master holds a person as a chattel, nor feudal lord as serf. This modern worker is free and independent: he or she has choices. We can dispose of our services to this or that capitalist owner, or we can withhold them. But this freedom is ephemeral. We must sell our working ability to some employer or other or face deprivation. In a capitalist society workers have the option of finding a job or facing abject poverty. Little wonder, then, that people “voluntarily” sell their labour and “consent” to authoritarian employment conditions. They have little option to do otherwise. So, within the labour market workers can and do seek out the best working conditions possible, but that does not mean that the final contract agreed is “freely” accepted and not due to the force of circumstances, that both parties have equal bargaining power when drawing up the contract or that the freedom of both parties is ensured. Our slavery is cloaked under the guise of wage-labour.
When the worker has found a master he or she receives in return for labour a price known as wages which represents on the average what is necessary for sustenance so that he or she can reproduce the energy to go on working, and also produce a new generation of workers when their working days are over. During their day in the factory or office or whatever, the worker produces wealth equivalent to that for which is paid as wages, but this does not require all the time of the working day. In providing for their own keep workers have also produced a surplus and this surplus belongs to the employer. This may eventually be split into profit to the manufacturer, rent to the landlord, and interest on capital invested by a financier. As capitalism develops the time in which the workers produces their own keep decreases while the surplus accruing to the capitalist increases. During this development the productivity of labour increases at an accelerating tempo: The worker continually produces more with less. So when someone sells his or her labour power a number of hours for a certain wage, the amount of necessaries to produce his or her wages is always smaller than the amount of labour which the employer receives, the difference between what the workers receives as wages and what their labour power produces during his working time, constitutes the sole source of unearned income, i.e., capitalist profits. So profits exist because the worker sells themselves to the capitalist, who then owns their activity and, therefore, tries to control them like a machine. Wage levels will vary with “the respective power of the combatants” as Marx puts it and in the long run this will determine the value of labour-power and the necessaries of life. From the point of view of wage-labour, wage levels and the value of labour-power depends on the balance of class forces, on what workers can actually get from their employers. As wages are also regulated by the relation of supply and demand, a surplus of labour power (theunemployed) is necessary to prevent wages swallowing up all profit. Therefore the unemployed reserve army is a vital necessity to capitalist production, and there can be no solution under capitalism. It would be wrong to confuse exploitation with low wages. It does not matter if real wages do go up or not. The absolute level of those wages is irrelevant to the creation and appropriation of value and surplus-value. Labour is exploited because labour produces the whole of the value created in any process of production but gets only part of it back. On average workers sell their labour-power at a “fair” market price and still exploitation occurs. As sellers of a commodity (labour-power) they do not receive its full worth i.e. what they actually produce. Nor do they have a say in how the surplus value produced by their labour gets used. The worker goes into the labour market as an article of merchandise, and his wages, that is, his price, is determined like that of any other article of merchandise, by the cost of production (i.e. the social labour necessary), and this in the case of the worker is represented by the cost of subsistence. The price of labour power fluctuates by the operation of supply and demand. There are generally more workers in the market than are actually required by the employers, and this fact serves to keep wages from rising for any length of time above the cost of subsistence. Moreover, machinery and scientific applications are ever tending to render labourers superfluous, with a consequent overstocking of the labour market, decrease of wages, and an increase in the number of the unemployed. Under these conditions relative poverty is necessarily the lot of the working-class. We have the worker entirely dispossessed of the means of getting a living except by selling himself as an article of merchandise to the owners of the means of living. This is wage-slavery. While capitalists are as a class against the workers as regards the ownership of the wealth produced by the working-class, they, the capitalists, are also antagonistic to one another in the endeavour to get the larger share of the markets. It wasn’t just Marx but also Fourier who pointed long ago that this competition could only end in monopoly, and we do see concentration an going on in every branch of industry. Many seek a capitalism with the rough corners smoothed out, the utopian aspiration of a tamed capitalism. What is really required is a fundamental change of the economic basis of society. Many seek an idealised world and call for governments not to interfere in the operation of the market, to let market forces operate unhindered – laissez faire – and that the detrimental effects of the capitalist system can be eliminated by taming global corporations. For as long as capitalism has existed state “interference” or state “intervention”, in the economy has always existed. A corporation-dominated government is really the logical outcome of a class-divided society where the state must serve the owning minority. Individualists attack socialism because they fear the whole of the wealth of society shall be owned by a number of persons incorporated into a State or a bureaucracy, instead of being, as at present, owned by private individuals. They maintain that the right of the individual is supreme, and condemn any action on the part of a State or collection of individuals, that interferes with their desires. But socialists are not statists, that if the working class was compelled to work for a State instead of for individual employers then wage-slavery is not abolished, but is intensified.The worker to-day, while compelled to work for an employer, still has some sort of a choice among those masters, but with the State as the only employer he is compelled to work for that employer and under all of that employer’s conditions, or take the only other alternative – starvation. State-capitalism (or as some like to call it State Socialism) would intensify slavery, but state-capitalism is not socialism. People completely misunderstand Marxism if you believe that the solution is to have GOVERNMENT-OWNERSHIP of the means of production and the Marxist object is to simply just to REDUCE the power of the capitalist because he wished a mere re-distribution of wealth between capitalists and the working class. Socialists stand for the the ABOLITION OF THE STATE and stand for the ABOLITION OF CAPITALISM (not its replacement by capitalism in another form). Critics of Marxism should go to the source and forget what the state-capitalist Leninists or Trotskyists say and understand that Marx was in favour of the abolition of the state and its replacement by an “association of associations”, i.e. by a co-ordinated network of neighbourhood councils and producer-controlled production units. Marx made quite clear when he said, “The existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery…”