By Freya B. You’ve probably heard the statistic that the minimum wage today in the united states is worth significantly less than it was in decades past. Although the minimum wage in the u.s. has steadily increased over time, this increase has not matched the rate of inflation, at least by some accounts. An estimate […]

Karl Marx’s research method in Capital has been equivocated by not only his predecessors, but also by Marx himself. The equivocation primarily arises from the absence of Marx’s own writing of the research method he employed in Capital. Marx did not expatiate upon his research method because Capital was written for the newly born industrial […]

Our recent release, The Weapon of Theory: A Maoist (Third Worldist) Reader, is now available both in print and as a free PDF. Next to Zak Cope’s Divided World, Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism, The Weapon of Theory aims to be the definitive overview of the Marxist analysis […]

Class analysis is a central component of Marxist thinking. Knowing who our enemies and friends are is imperative if we communists are to move forward into the 21st century. An important aspect of class analysis is the question of exploitation. Exploitation is a condition in which value is extracted from a class of people — […]

The production of surplus value is directly related to the rate of exploitation of workers in the workplace (total surplus value divided by wages). There are essentially two ways to increase this rate. The production of absolute surplus value entails an increase in the amount of total value produced, usually by increasing the workday of […]

In the vulgar economics department, the word capital is lightly thrown around as a synonym of the concept of the instruments of labor; that is, every factor utilized in a productive process that isn’t labor. According to this tale, capital and labor, by being so simplistically defined, have a transhistorical character; they have always existed […]

One of the most fundamental aspects of society is its economics system, i.e. the mode of production. At the basic level, a mode of production is the means (physical objects) and social relations with which societies produce the material necessities for their existence. All societies must be sustained with food, clean water, shelter, etc. Attaining […]

Contrary to popular ‘Marxist’ belief, the value of labor is not indeterminate. A simple equation dividing the total value produced in a given period by the total number of working hours reveals the value of labor. Unlike in Marx’s day when the total value produced in the world economy was unknown, today we can use […]

Over the course of my work, I have inferred that the general rate of exploitation has increased along with the development and maturation of capitalist-imperialism, thus forestalling the tendency of the rate of profit to fall while allowing a minority First World section of the working class to have a ‘cut’ in imperialist superprofits and […]

The July-August 2012 issue of Monthly Review1 centers around the publication of one of two missing chapters of Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order2 by Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy. Anti-Imperialism.com earlier posted about this issue and the suggestion was made that individuals who are interested in the topic of […]

The following article by Helen Yaffe was sourced from the Marxist Internet Archive. Reposting here is for critical discussion and does not imply endorsement or affiliation. In January 1962 Guevara told colleagues in Cuba’s Ministry of Industries (MININD): ‘In no way am I saying that financial autonomy of the enterprise with moral incentives, as it is established in the […]

A model for how First World wages are based on Third World exploitation Days before his first trip to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI stated that “Marxist ideology [sic] in the way it was originally conceived no longer corresponds to reality.” Left-leaning commentators concluded with, “says man in giant hat who speaks to invisible cloud people.” […]

Wages and class struggle

Karl Marx’s opening line in the first chapter of Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 states that, “wages are determined by antagonistic struggle between capitalist and worker.” (p. 19)

This opening line is often cited by nominal leftists as explanation for exorbitantly high wages of many workers in the United States and throughout the First World. The explanation they reach is that First World workers receive such high wages because they have secured them as historic concessions over the course of past class struggle. But this view is narrow and has quite specific limitations.

In terms of scope, this explanatory view negates the workings of capitalism internationally. Wages of all workers have hardly risen, just those within certain spatial and social limitations (i.e., those within the First World and often part of oppressor nations). The notable idea ignored by the First Worldist viewpoint is that while class struggle certainly may have played a role in elevating the status and material fulfillment of First World workers, this class struggle may not have occurred on their part alone. Instead, the raising of wages for a limited number of worker, i.e. those mainly in the First World, was a measure to counteract not merely their own class struggle but that of the international proletariat. During the 20th century, the international proletariat advanced in their struggle in many regards. They were able to establish nominally socialist states which for a time acted as economic and political bulwarks against capitalist-imperialism. As well, the proletariat of the Third World waged several wars of liberation against direct imperialist occupation and neo-colonial puppets. It was no doubt such heightened class struggle which played a large role in determining the wages of First World countries, so as the secure their passivity and tacit support of the system at the moment it was facing its greatest challenges from the international proletariat movement. Continue reading

At least 11 workers at a tea plantation in the north-east Indian state of Assam have died due to starvation or malnutrition recently. After the privately-owned tea plantation closed in October of last year, its owner fled and refused to pay the workers’ wages from the previous nine weeks. Left without any means of subsistence […]