Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
Part 3) Relative Surplus Value
[XX-1283] We have considered absolute and relative surplus value separately. But in capitalist production they are bound together. And it is precisely the development of modern industry which shows how they develop simultaneously, how the working day is prolonged in the same degree as necessary labour time is reduced by the development of the social productive powers of labour. It is capital’s tendency to develop surplus value simultaneously in both forms. It thereby calls forth at once the struggle for the normal working day, depicted previously, and its enforced establishment as a law imposed on capital by the. state. The tendency of capitalist production is shown clearly when one compares the state’s intervention in the first dawn of bourgeois industry (as this appears e.g. in the labour statutes of the 14th century) with modern factory legislation. In the former case, labour time is fixed in order to compel the workers to perform a certain quantity of surplus labour for their employers (or even labour in general), to compel them to perform absolute surplus labour. In the latter case, the aim is forcibly to establish a boundary, beyond which the capitalist may not prolong absolute labour time, so as to prevent the prolongation of labour time beyond a definite limit. The necessity of such an intervention by the state, which was first demonstrated in England, the home of large-scale industry, and the necessity of extending this intervention progressively to new branches of industry, in the same measure as capitalist production seizes hold of those branches, proves at once, on the one hand, that capitalist production knows of no limits to the appropriation of alien labour time, and that, on the other hand, the workers are incapable within the established conditions of capitalist production — without acting as a class upon the state, and, through the state, upon capital — of saving from the harpy’s claws of capital even the free time necessary for their physical preservation. The working day for children and adults in France is 12 hours. According to the Law of 1833, which preceded the Ten Hours’ Bill, labour in England from 1835 onwards was to last 9 hours a day for children under 12 years old (since 1836 for children of 13 as well), and 12 hours a day for young persons below 18 years (not after 8.30 in the evening and not before 5.30 in the morning). 1 1/2 hours pour les repas, mais ce temps n'est pas compris dans les neuf ou 12 heures de travail. (At the same time the Law of 1833 included 2 hours of compulsory school attendance.) (As late as 1844 the manufacturers had the workers work 14 to 16 hours in those branches where children could be dispensed with or replaced by adults who had lost any other means of support.)
May 1844 12 hours for adults and 6 1/2 for children. (12 hours inclusive of free hours.) (*Half an hour for breakfast and an hour for dinner.*) In 1672 Petty wrote his Political Anatomy of Ireland. There he says:
* “Labouring men work 10 hours per diem and make 20 meals per week, viz. 3 a day for working-days, and two on Sundays;” * (now only 2 meals) * “whereby it is plain, that if they could fast on Friday nights, and dine in one hour and a half” * (now breakfast and dinner only amount to 1 1/2 hours), * “whereas they take two, from eleven to one; thereby thus working 1/20 more, and spending 1/20 less, the 1/10 * //for taxes// * “abovementioned might be raised” * (10th Ed., London, 1691).
It follows from this passage that in those days the labour time for adults was not greater than what is now legally prescribed for children over 13 years old, and that the workers had more to eat. And we already find this favourable situation for the workers in England in the 15th century.
“It appears from the Statute of 1496 that the diet was then considered equivalent to 1/3 of the income of an artificer, and 1/2 the income of a labourer, which indicates a greater degree of independence among the working classes than prevails at present; for the board, both of labourers and artificers, would now be reckoned at a much higher proportion of their wages. The hours for meals and relaxation were more liberal, too, than at this day. They amounted to e.g. from March to September one hour for breakfast, an hour and a half for dinner, and half an hour for noon-meate. Hence 3 hours altogether. In winter they worked from 5 o'clock in the morning until it went dark. In contrast, in the factories of the present there is only half an hour for breakfast, one hour for dinner, exactly half what there was in the 15th century” (John Wade, History of the Middle and Working Classses, 3rd Ed., London, 1835, [pp.] 24, 25 and 577, 578).
[XX-1284] The absolute surplus labour which is gained from lengthening the working day is of course the basis from which the individual capitalist proceeds, since an increase in the productivity of labour only brings about a relative reduction in the wages paid by the individual [capitalist], in so far as he is able to sell the product of labour above its individual value; in so far as the article he produces enters the consumption of the worker the effect is, with the exception of articles of decisive importance, not sudden, and secondly it is common to all capitalists, whether it is they or their brother capitalists who bring about this alteration in the value of the means of subsistence. With the individual [capitalist], however, where there are piece-wages, it appears that with improvements in machinery, as Ure himself concedes, the piece-wage is reduced in the same proportion, or, if the state of business does not allow this, roughly in the same, as the productive power of labour grows, although the price of the product at first stands above its value, i.e. is not reduced in the same proportion as the amount of labour required to make it. There is a striking general example in the fact that directly after the abolition of the Corn Laws the manufacturers undertook a fairly general reduction of wages by 10%, an act which as late as 1853 produced a strike of 8 months in Preston. Wages rose later owing to a combination of circumstances which produced an extraordinary demand for labour and were entirely independent of the general laws governing average wages.
The question we [have] now to consider is the ratio of wages to surplus value.
Let us first take the working day as given. In this case the value of the product of the working day — or the total amount of value, part of which forms the wage, the other part the surplus value — remains constant. And it is clear that the magnitude of value of both parts and the change in their value stand in an inverse proportion. The greater the one, the smaller the other, and vice versa. Furthermore, we have seen a that the rate of surplus value is, generally speaking, nothing but the ratio of surplus to necessary labour, or, and this is the same thing, the ratio of the surplus value to the variable capital; it follows from this that a change in the relative value of wages and surplus value can only come about through a change in the magnitude of the variable capital, or, and this is the same thing, a change in the necessary labour time or in wages altogether. If, as a result of an increase in the productive power of labour, the value of labour capacity falls, there is a rise in the part of the value of the product which represents unpaid labour or surplus value. If the productivity of labour falls, e.g. as a result of bad harvests, etc., the surplus value also falls. For it should not be forgotten that the proportion of necessary labour time to surplus labour time is determined not by the productivity of the sphere of industry in which the worker works, but by the productivity of all the branches whose results enter into his reproduction process. Whatever the circumstances, a rise or fall in surplus value can only emerge here from a change in the value of labour capacity, and this is conditioned by, and stands in an inverse ratio to, the productivity of labour.
The presupposition here is that labour capacity is paid at its value, hence there is an average wage, and no rise above this average takes place, no fall below this level. If the length of the working day is given, it is clear that the more productive the labour, the shorter the part of the working day the worker works for himself, and the longer the part he works for capital, and vice versa.
But even an increase of wages over the average would change nothing in this law. Surplus value could only increase to the extent that there was a fall in the value of labour capacity and therefore in wages, and it could only fall for the opposite reason.
The average wage, or the value of labour capacity, as stated earlier, is not a constant magnitude quoad exchange value. But it expresses a constant quantity of use values, a constant quantity of commodities for the satisfaction of needs, i.e. means of subsistence. The value of this quantity of use values depends on the general productivity of all the branches of industry the results of which enter into the worker’s necessary consumption. Assume now that industry becomes more productive. Then the following cases are possible. The worker receives the same quantity of use values as before. In this case there is a fall in the value of his labour capacity or his wage. For there has been a fall in the value of this quantity, which has remained constant. The worker has to work less labour time to pay the equivalent of his wage. A greater part of the working day therefore falls to the share of capital. The proportion in which the worker participates in the value of the product of his working day has fallen, while on the other hand there has been an increase in unpaid labour time, or capital’s part of the value, surplus value. Hence the relative wage, the proportion of the wage, has dropped.
[XX-1285] Assume, secondly, that there is a rise in the amount, the quantity, of the means of subsistence, and therefore in the average wage, but not in the same proportion as in the worker’s productivity. In this case the value of labour capacity falls; and surplus value rises in the same proportion. For although the worker receives a greater amount of commodities than before, they are the product of a smaller part of his working day than before. His paid labour time has fallen, his unpaid has risen. Although his real wage has risen (relating the real wage to use value), its value, and therefore the worker’s relative wage — the proportion in which he shares with capital the value of his product — has fallen. Finally the third case: The worker continues to receive the same value — or the objectification of the same part of the working day — as before. In this case, because the productivity of labour has risen, the quantity of use values he receives, his real wage, has risen, but its value has remained constant, since it continues to represent the same quantity of realised labour time as before.. In this case, however, the surplus value too remains unchanged, there is no change in the ratio between the wage and the surplus value, hence the proportion [of surplus value] to the wage remains unchanged.
The cases can be summarised as follows: quantity remains the same, proportion falls; quantity rises, proportion falls; proportion remains the same, quantity rises. But in all these cases the surplus value, the rate of surplus value, its ratio to the capital laid out in wages, can only grow through a fall in the value of wages; the growth can only be in inverse ratio to the value of wages, and only as a result of changes occurring in the value of wages arising from a change in the productivity of labour. (If, on the other hand, the industry became less productive, the value of wages, relative wages, would rise if the quantity remained the same, and therefore surplus value, and hence the ratio of surplus value to variable capital, would fall.)
Assume a situation where wages remain constant in value, although the productivity of labour increases, hence there is an increase in the quantity of commodities in which this value is embodied. Then there would be no change in surplus value, although the latter would represent, just as wages would, a greater quantity of use values than before. It is therefore possible, looking at this from the point of view of use value, of the quantity of commodities in which wages and surplus value are expressed, for both to rise in the same proportion, but it is impossible for the exchange value of one to rise unless the exchange value of the other falls.
If the industry becomes less productive and wages do not fall below the average, their value rises. Quantity remains the same. Proportion rises. If real wages fall, but in such a way as nevertheless to represent more labour time than before, proportion rises, although quantity falls. Proportion remains the same, quantity falls: if the worker only receives the product of the number of hours that was normal before the change in productive power.
* “When an alteration takes place in the productiveness of industry, so that either more or less is produced by a given quantity of labour and capital, the proportion of wages may obviously vary, whilst the quantity which that proportion represents remains the same, or the quantity may vary, whilst the proportion remains the same” * ([J. Cazenove,] Outlines of Political Economy, London, 1832, [p.] 67).
“In a country where the *gross return* is *small, a larger proportion of the whole may give the labourer a less command of necessaries, than in other countries,* where the * gross return * is greater, * a smaller proportion of the whole” * (Ramsay, [An Essay on the] Distribution of Wealth, Edinburgh, 1836, p. 178).
What Ricardo says about the ratio between profits and wages is true of the ratio between wages and surplus value.
“In proportion as less is appropriated for wages, more will be appropriated for profits, and vice versa” ([Ricardo, on the Principles of Political Economy, and Taxation, 3rd ed., London, 1821, p.] 500).
“It is not the progress of mechanical science that is to blame, but the social order, if the worker, who gains the power of doing in two hours what he did previously in twelve, does not thereby become richer” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes, Vol. I, [p.] 349).55
[XX-1286] “It is a remarkable result of the philosophical history of mankind that the progress of society in population, industry, and enlightenment is always achieved at the expense of the health, the skill and the intelligence of the great mass of the people ... the individual happiness of the great majority is sacrificed to the happiness of a small number of individuals; and it would be doubtful which of these two conditions, that of barbarism or prosperity, is to be preferred, if the insecurity inherent in the first did not incline the scales in favour of the second” (H. Storch, Cours d'économie politique, Vol. III, ed. by Say, [Paris,] 1823, [pp.] 342-43).
* “Trades Unions, in their desire to maintain wages, endeavour to share in the profits of improved machinery ... * They demand higher wages because * labour is abbreviated* ... in other words: they endeavour *to establish a duty on manufacturing c improvements” * (On Combinations of Trades, new ed., London, 1834, [p.] 42).
In the case considered, Ricardo is correct in saying that the sum of wages+profit = a constant magnitude of value, in so far as they always represent the same quantity of labour time.
We come now to the second case, the lengthening of the working day, and for the sake of simplification we assume here that the productive power of labour remains the same.
There are in fact only two possibilities to investigate.
1) Surplus labour time is lengthened, without any increase in wages, or any appropriation by the worker himself of a part of this overtime. This was for the most part the case throughout the period in which the factory system pushed overtime to an unlimited extent, both in its own sphere and in other spheres (outside it). (The example of the London bakeries.) (Also shown in the fact that wages rose relatively more in the branches subject to the Ten Hours’ Bill than where there was no normal working day laid down by law.) (See the list quoted earlier.') The value of labour capacity apparently remains the same here, while surplus value rises. Or the value of labour capacity, although it remains the same absolutely, falls relatively, because surplus value rises. surplus labour does not grow because necessary labour is lessened absolutely, but necessary labour falls in comparison with surplus labour, because the latter grows absolutely. If we compare the magnitude of the value of labour capacity or wages here with surplus value — or compare the paid with the unpaid part of the working day — the latter has risen absolutely, and therefore the former has fallen relatively, while in the first case (of a change resulting from a change in the productivity of labour) any rise or fall in surplus value arises only from a direct change in the value of labour capacity, or in the magnitude of the necessary labour time. Here too, a relative fall in wages corresponds to the growth of surplus value, but this is a relative fall which is caused by a change in surplus labour, a movement independent of necessary labour time — or of the value of labour capacity.
There are, however, two comments to be made here.
If this lengthening of labour time is not temporary, and the lengthened and lengthening working day becomes firmly established as normal, if this lengthening becomes established as normal, as was previously the case in all the branches of labour now subject to the Ten Hours’ Bill, and is now the case in a very large part of the spheres of production not yet subject to it, this fall in relative wages also rests on an absolute devaluation of labour capacity, a fall in its value. For, as we have seen, the daily, weekly average wage presupposes a normal number of years, which comprises a working life — the active existence of the worker, and therefore of his labour capacity. As a result of the lengthening of labour time this working life is shortened. If, e.g., the period = 20 years, and the daily necessary wage = x, then the total value of the labour capacity is:
In 1 day the wage is x,
in 365 days the wage is 365x,
in 20 years the wage = 365×20×x.
In 365 days×20 the wage = 365×20×x.
In 1 day the wage = x [365 x 20]/[365×20]
[XX-1287] If now the cycle of labour capacity is shortened by overtime from 20 years to 15, the value of labour capacity has fallen from 365×20x to 365×15x, from 4 to 3, or from 1 to 3/4. Hence by 1/4. If the daily value of labour capacity is to remain constant, despite its accelerated consumption, x must be changed into y, hence the following equation must take place:
365 × 15y = 365×20x. y = (365×20x)/(365×15) = 20x/15 = 4/3 x =(1+ 1/3)x. In other words, the necessary wage would now have to grow by 1/3 in order to remain the same.
Assume, e.g., that the weekly wage = 10s. With about 52 weeks, in the year this = 520s., and in 20 years = 520×20 = 10,400s. = (= £26 a year) = £520 in 20 years. Therefore, if the value of labour capacity is to remain the same, when its duration is reduced from 20 to 15 years by overtime, the annual wage would have to = £520/15 (or £34 2/3) and weekly wage = £520/(52×15) = £10/15 = 10×20/15 s. = 10×4/3 s. = 13 1/3 s. Therefore, for the daily value of labour capacity to remain the same, not only nominally but in reality, the worker would have to appropriate for himself as necessary labour time ‘/3 more of the total working day.
Under all circumstances, however, we must note (which is important for our later discussion) that when we look at the value of the product in which the total working day is objectified, this value naturally always = wages+surplus value, in other words necessary labour time+surplus labour time. It would on the other hand be wrong to invert this and say, as in the first case, that the total amounts of wages and surplus value always represent the same constant sum of value, because they represent the same labour time. They rather represent a changing labour time and therefore a variable sum of value.
Ferrand’s witticism in his speech of April 27, 1863 in the House of Commons, cited above, contains no element of contradictio in adjecto:
* “The cotton trade of England had existed for 90 years. It had existed through three generations of the English race, and he believed he might safely say that during the same period it had destroyed nine generations of factory operatives.” *
What Professor Cairnes says in The Slave Power, London, 1862, is even truer of the manufacturers, since they do not even have to pay the fee-simple for the workers:
* “The rice-grounds of Georgia or the swamps of the Mississippi may be fatally injurious to the human constitution; but the waste of human life, which the cultivation of these districts necessitates, is not so great that it cannot be repaired from the teeming preserves of Virginia and Kentucky”
(read Ireland and the agricultural districts of England, as long as their surplus population was not yet used up or withered in the bud).
“Considerations of economy, moreover, which, under a natural system, afford some security for humane treatment by identifying the master’s interest with the slave’s preservation, when once trading in slaves is practised, become reasons for racking to the uttermost the toil of the slave; for, when his place can at once be supplied from foreign preserves, the duration of his life becomes a matter of less moment than its productiveness while it lasts. It is accordingly a maxim of slave management, in slave importing countries, that the most effective economy is that which takes out of the [XX-1288] human chattel in the shortest space of time the utmost amount of exertion it is capable of putting forth. It is in tropical culture, where annual profits often equal the whole capital of plantations, that negro life is most recklessly sacrificed. It is the agriculture of the West Indies, which has been for centuries prolific of fabulous wealth, which has engulfed millions of the African race. It is in Cuba, at this day, whose revenues are reckoned by millions, and whose planters are princes, that we see, in the servile class, the coarsest fare, the most exhausting and unremitting toil, and even the absolute destruction of a portion of its members every year, by the slow torture of overwork and insufficient sleep and rest” * ([pp.] 110, 111).
Consideration of the case cited above leads us further to a different conception of the value of labour capacity, which is of little importance in our analysis of capital, but becomes very important in considering wages specifically.
* “The price of labour is the sum paid for a given quantity of labour; the wages of labour is the sum earned by the labourer ... the wages of labour depend upon the price of labour and the quantity of labour performed” * (Sir Edw. West, Price of Corn and Wages of Labour, London, 1826, [pp.] 67, 68).
* “An increase in the wages of labour does not necessarily imply an enhancement of the Price of labour. From fuller employment, and greater exertions, wages of labour may be considerably increased, whilst the price of labour may continue the same” * (l.c.,[p.] 112).
//Malthus maintains that the value of labour is constant, and that only the values of the commodities in which labour is paid change. This assertion, which like everything else is also found at certain points in Adam Smith, rests on the following train of thought, of which Malthus himself is by no means conscious a : Assume that the length of the working day is given, e.g. = 12 hours. At a certain level of productive power, let necessary labour = 10 hours and surplus labour = 2. If there is a general growth in the productivity of labour, the results of which enter into the worker’s necessary means of subsistence, the ratio will be changed into 9 hours of necessary and 3 hours of surplus labour. If the general productivity of labour declines, it will be changed into 11 hours of necessary and 1 hour of surplus labour. If we look at this from the point of view of the worker, his wage always costs him 12 hours of labour, although the commodities into which the wage can be resolved represent in turn the value of 10, 9 and 11 hours, according to the different levels of productivity of labour, and, corresponding with this, his surplus labour = 2, 3 and 1 hour, hence the profit is entirely different in each case. But to say that, because the worker — presupposing that the length of the working day is given — must work a given number of hours, e.g. 12, in order to obtain the product of 9, 10, or 11, the value of labour is constant, and therefore is the standard of value, is preposterous. The same quantity of labour appears here rather in an expression which is variable, and entirely different from the product of that quantity of labour. It would, as Bailey rightly says, be the same as declaring 1 yard of cloth to be the standard of value because the yard of cloth always remains identical whether it costs 5 or 1 or 6s.//
So far we have not spoken of the value of labour but only of the value of labour capacity, since a direct exchange of more labour for less would contradict the law of commodity exchange, and the form, whether the labour is active or objective, is entirely irrelevant, and the more irrelevant in that the value of a definite quantity of objectified labour is measured not by the quantity of labour objectified in it but by the average quantity of living labour required to reproduce the same commodity. On the other hand, the concept of the commodity in and for itself excludes labour as process — i.e. the value of the commodity — : labour as process, in actu, is the substance and measure of value, not value. Only as objectified labour is it value. Therefore, in considering capital in general — where the presupposition is that commodities are exchanged at their value — labour can only function as labour capacity, which is itself an objective form of labour.
In the production process, however, this mediation disappears. If we disregard the formal process of the exchange [XX-1289] between capital and labour and consider what really occurs in the production process, and appears as the result of the production process, a certain quantity of living labour is exchanged for a smaller quantity of objective labour, and at the end of the process a certain quantity of objectified labour is exchanged for a smaller quantity of objectified labour.
A working day of 12 hours, e.g., is exchanged on the part of the worker for the product of 12-2 hours, or 10 hours, if the surplus labour = 2 hours.
It appears as a result that a commodity of the value of 10 hours = the value of the labour capacity, the value of the manifestation of this labour capacity of 12 hours, i.e. 12 hours of labour. In fact the reproduction of the worker’s labour capacity = 10 hours of labour, costs him 12 hours. He must work for 12 hours — must deliver a product in which 12 hours of labour are realised — in order to obtain commodities in which 10 hours are realised. The value of his labour capacity, determined by the 10 hours of labour time required for its daily reproduction, is the equivalent he receives for 12 hours of labour, and thus appears as the value of a 12-hour working day.
Price is at the outset merely the monetary expression of value. Assuming that the quantity of money which can be produced in an hour is 6d., this makes 6 x 12d., or 6s., for 12 hours of labour. If now the necessary labour time = 6 hours, the price of labour capacity = 3s. (its value expressed in money) and these 3s. — the value or price of the labour capacity — appear as the value or price of a working day of 12 hours.
They are in fact the price, or the amount of value, the worker receives in payment for the 12 hours — as equivalent. It is in this sense that we speak of the value or price of labour. //Once again, this is as distinct from the market price of labour, which stands now above, now below, its value, as with every. other commodity.// And it is in fact the form in which the relation appears. For our investigation we must hold fast to what is essential. So if we speak of the value (or, expressed in money, the price) of labour, this must always be understood to mean the value of labour capacity. But since this value of labour capacity (which is its daily, weekly, etc., value) in fact forms the wage, hence the sum of money the worker receives in payment for the whole of his working day, this price, in which only the paid part of the working day is objectified, appears as the price or value of the whole working day. And in this way 3s. are the value of a working day of 12 hours, although they are only the product of 6 hours of labour. In this form, the value, price of labour is a specific expression, which directly contradicts the concept of value. But this contradiction exists. It is mediated through a series of intermediate elements, which we have developed. In reality the relation appears unmediated, and therefore the wage appears as the value or price of a definite quantity of living labour. This form becomes important when one is examining wages in their real
movement. It is also important in understanding many misconceptions in the theory. But at this point we shall only consider [XX-1290] it incidentally in relation to the passage from West quoted above, and the CASE we are examining at present.
One can see that initially the phrase
* “the price of labour is the sum paid for a given quantity of labour"*
is correct. It is the unconceptual form in which the value of labour appears (i.e. the value of labour capacity). We do not de prime abord see from this sum paid what difference there exists between the labour the worker performs and the labour required for the production of his wage. Let us take the above example. The labour time of 1 hour is objectified in 6d., and the labour time of 12 hours in 6s. Since the worker only receives 3s. for 12 hours of labour, the ratio of his surplus labour to his necessary labour = 100:100, or, this is the difference between the value of his labour capacity, which is paid him in wages, and its valorisation, which constitutes surplus value for the capitalist. This cannot, however, be perceived in the expression that the value of a working day of 12 hours = 3s.
[Let us assume that a commodity is sold at its price of production. If one deducts from its value the value of the constant capital contained in it, as well as the part of the wage contained in it, one might imagine that the excess was the surplus value, and thus the difference between the value and the valorisation of labour capacity could be calculated from the wage. We shall see later that this is not the case.]
Even so, this form too allows certain conclusions to be drawn which are relevant to our case.
Assume the total working day = 10 hours, assume further that the necessary labour time = 6 hours, and assume finally that 1 hour of labour is objectified in 6d. For 10 hours of labour the worker receives the product of 6 hours = 36d. = 3s. Thus the price or value of 1 hour (value or price in the sense developed above) comes to 3/10 s. or 3 3 /5d., and the surplus value comes to 2 2/5d. an hour. 2 2/5:3 3/5 = 12/5:18/5 = 12:18 = 2:3. Or, inversely, 3 3/5:2 2/5 = 3:2. In fact the ratio of total surplus labour [to necessary labour] is 4 hours:6 hours = 2/3:1.
The total working day = 10 hours, of which 6 are necessary labour . 6/10 = 3 /5. The worker works for himself for 3/5 of 10 hours, and he works for his capitalist for 2/5. (This is again the ratio of 3:2 or 2:3, according to whether one takes the ratio of necessary labour to surplus labour or the inversion of this.) He therefore works /, of every hour for himself, and 2/5 for his capitalist. Or 36 minutes for himself and 24 minutes for capital. And 2 these 36 minutes are represented by 3 3/5d., the 24 minutes by 2/5d. If surplus labour is now lengthened from 4 hours to 6, hence by 2 hours, the value of the working day remains 3s. as before, = the value of the labour capacity. The price of an hour of labour time now only comes to 3/ 12s. or 3d.; it has therefore fallen from 3 3/5 to 3, or by 3/5d. Whereas the surplus value has risen from 2 2/5 to 3, or by 3/5. Previously the worker worked 36 minutes of each hour for himself, and 24 for the capitalist; now he works 36-6 for himself and 24+6 for the capitalist. This change in the ratio of necessary labour to surplus labour, brought about by the absolute prolongation of the working day, therefore finds expression as a fall in the price or value of a certain quantity of labour, of an hour of labour in the given case. Here it appears as an absolute (not merely relative) fall. (But, as we have seen, it also implies a real depreciation of labour capacity, in so far as 12 hours’ use of labour capacity presupposes a different duration of labour capacity from 10 hours’ use.)
[2)] a Now let us assume the opposite case, where the worker receives the same price in payment for the 2 additional hours as for the 10, hence 2(3 +3/5)d. or 7 1/5d. The surplus value then comes to 2(2 +2 /5) = 4 4/5d. In the 12 hours, 6s. are now produced altogether. And of these 6s. the worker receives 3s. 7 1/5d., while the capitalist receives 2s. 4 4/5d. In this case the value of labour has risen from 3s. to 3s. 7 1/5d., and the surplus value from 2s. to 2s. 4 4/5d. This simultaneous rise in the value of labour and in surplus value is only possible given an absolute lengthening of the working day. //Except when the labour time becomes more intensive; but this can only apply to individual branches of labour. If the intensification becomes general, it is the normal intensity of labour, and the more intensive hour of labour is now the normal hour of labour, which is presupposed when one speaks of 1 hour of labour.// This rise in the wage (in its value) takes place without any increase in the price of labour or the value of labour. It only shows that labour time has been lengthened, and this absolute lengthening of the working day is not entirely a free gift for the capitalist. This shows the correctness of a [XX-1291] further remark by West:
* “The wages of labour is the sum earned by the labourer ... the wages of labour depend upon the price of labour and the quantity of labour performed... An increase in the wages of labour does not necessarily imply an enhancement of the price of labour... Wages of labour may be considerably increased, whilst the price of labour may continue the same."*
It is therefore wrong to conclude that the value or price of labour has increased if the exchange value of the wage has risen, where this rise is connected with a growth in the quantity of labour or a lengthening of the working day.
In this case the surplus value has grown, but not its rate, for the increase in the variable capital has kept pace with the growth in the surplus value.
As long as 10 hours, were worked, capital paid a wage of 3s. (36d.) and made a surplus value of 2s. This is therefore a rate of surplus value of 2 /3 = 66 2/3%. Once 12 hours are worked, ca ital pays 3s. 7 1/5d. (or 43 1/5d.), and the surplus value = 2s. 4 4/5 d. (=284 /,d.). 43 1/5d. = 216/5 d., and 28 4/5 d. = 144/5. Hence the ratio of surplus value to variable capital = 144/216 = 72/108 = 36/54 = 18/27, and 18:27 = 66 2/3: 100.
Here, therefore, there takes place a growth in the value of the wage and a growth in surplus value, without any change in the proportion between them, nor therefore in relative surplus value or in the relative wage.
[In the case indicated here, however, there would be a relative increase in profit, for reasons which can only be explained later.]
But in this case the rise in the value of the wage is not accompanied by a rise in the price or value of labour, understanding this phrase to mean the total amount paid for a given labour time.
In the given case the worker works 7 1/5 of the 12 hours for himself and 4 4/5 for capital. Previously he worked 6 hours for himself and 4 for capital. But 7 1/5 is related to 4 4/5 as 6 is related to 4. I.e. the ratio of paid to unpaid labour time has remained unchanged. But since 6 hours was the labour time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity, the wage now in fact appears to have risen above the minimum, above the value of labour capacity. The value of this labour capacity, however, was calculated on its being consumed for ten hours every day. With a twelve-hour consumption there is a change in its total duration, and therefore in the total value of this labour capacity, if the wage does not rise in the same proportion as the length of exploitation — the duration — of the labour capacity diminishes. It depends on the circumstances whether a lengthening of the working day, with the price of labour remaining constant, hence an increase in the wage, brings about a real depreciation of labour capacity, which is not indicated by any change in the price of labour, and indeed is accompanied by an increase in the value of the wage.
We have examined 1) the case where the lengthening of the absolute labour time is entirely appropriated by capital; and 2) the case where the ratio between paid and unpaid labour remains the same while labour time has been lengthened. Now we come 3) to the case where the overtime is admittedly divided between capitalist and worker, but not in the same ratio as existed previously between paid and unpaid labour time.
As long as 10 hours were worked the worker worked 6 hours for himself (3s.) and 4 hours for the capitalist (2s.).Once 12 hours are worked, let him receive 6d. in payment for 1 hour, and work one hour for the capitalist (= 6d.). The total labour time the worker now works for himself = 7 hours, the labour time he works for the capitalist = 5 hours. Previously the ratio was 4 /6 (= 2/3), now it is 5 /7. 2 A= 14 /21, and 5/7 = 15/21. The worker now receives 3s. 6d. for 12 hours; this makes 3 1/2d. for one hour, instead of the previous 3 3/5d. The price of labour has therefore fallen by 1/10 d. And the wage has risen from 3s. to 3s. 6d. [XX-1292] Here, therefore, a rise in wages has taken place (disregarding the depreciation of the labour capacity by its more rapid consumption) at the same time as a fall in the price of labour, and the surplus value has risen in the same proportion as the price of labour has fallen. Previously, the 2 capitalist laid out 3 and received 2, = 2/3; now he lays [out] 3s. 6d. and receives 2s. 6d.; hence he lays out 42d. and receives 30. 30/42 = 15/21; = 5/7. The rate of surplus value has therefore risen from 2/3 to 5/7, or from 14/21 to 15/21 or by 1/21.
Conversely, if the worker received 11/2 of the 2 hours, hence 9d., the relation would be this: His wage now = 3s. 9d., = 45d., this makes 3 3/4d. an hour, whereas previously he received only 3 3/5. 3 /4-3/5 = 15/20-12/20 = 3/20. In this case the rise in the wage is accompanied by a rise in the price of labour, to which there would correspond a fall in the rate of surplus value. The capitalist lays out 3s. 9d., there therefore remain for him 2s. 3d. 3s. 9d. = 45d. = 45d., and 2s. 3d. = 27d. 27/45 = 60%. Previously it was 66 2/3%. A fall of 6 2/3%. We shall see later on that relative profit may grow even in this case, where the amount of surplus value increases although its rate declines.
A rise in wages — seen from the point of view of exchange value, not use value, and with the productivity of labour remaining constant, as is the overall assumption in this part of the investigation — can therefore take place with the price of labour remaining constant, whereby a depreciation of labour capacity is possible. It can take place with the price of labour falling, a depreciation of labour capacity accompanied by not only an absolute but also a relative increase in surplus value.
It is necessary to subdivide this form in this way, as value of labour or price of labour, in which the value of labour capacity presents itself in practice and in its direct manifestation, in order to solve certain problems connected with the movement of wages. In considering the general relation we have only to take account by way of exception of this inverted form in which the value of labour capacity appears. This inverted form is, however, the way in which it appears in the real process of competition, where everything appears in an inverted form, and in the consciousness of both worker and capitalist.
We saw earlier: Given the length of the working day (and as long as we are not speaking of a fall of wages below the minimum or of their rise above the minimum, hence of price fluctuations which do not concern value itself), any alteration can only proceed from changes in the productivity of labour. So, assuming the case of a rise in the price of the necessary means of subsistence (e.g. the products of agriculture) as a result of a fall in the productivity of agriculture — with all other circumstances remaining the same, hence no fall for example in the price of the non-agricultural means of subsistence which might cancel out the above price rise — the value of labour capacity would have to rise, there would have to be an increase in necessary labour time at the cost of surplus labour time, and surplus value would have to fall. The quantity of the means of subsistence received by the workers would remain constant in spite of the rise in the value of labour capacity. If not, if it declined, the level of wages, or wages, would fall below its established minimum, in spite of the increased value of labour capacity and in spite of the resultant rise in relative wages and fall in relative surplus value. But this law does not by any means apply if the working day functions not as a constant but a variable magnitude, i.e. is prolonged beyond its previous normal limit. If absolute surplus labour is prolonged in. this way, then despite the rise in the value of labour capacity relative surplus value can not only remain the same but even grow. This was unquestionably the case in England, e.g., for the period 1800 to 1815. During this time the products of agriculture became dearer but it was at the same time the main period of the lengthening of the normal working day.
[There were other circumstances in that period which brought about not only a relative, but an absolute fall in the average wage. One of these factors was the continuous depreciation of money, and, as is well known, in epochs of the depreciation of money the nominal wage rises in the same proportion as money is depreciated. The value of money, is taken as constant throughout our investigation.]
[XX-1293] We have seen a that the rate of surplus value is to be calculated simply by reference to the magnitude of the variable capital, or, and this is the same thing, is to be expressed as the ratio of surplus labour/necessary labour. In the first expression surplus value/variable capital, the ratio of surplus value to the capital, whose variation it is, is expressed; it is a value relation; in the ratio of surplus labour to necessary labour both values, the variable capital and the surplus labour, are reduced to the basic ratio which measures them both, since the ratio of the two values is determined by the labour time contained in them, and the values are therefore in the same relation to each other as the labour times. Surplus value/variable capital and surplus labour/necessary labour or unpaid labour/ paid labour are all the original, conceptual expressions of the same relation.
[I have already used the expression (paid labour/ unpaid labour) in my original presentation of the rate of surplus value. This must not be done. Since it presupposes the payment of quantities of labour, not labour capacity. Unpaid labour is the expression used among the bourgeois themselves for abnormal overtime.]
The same relation can also be expressed in other derived forms, but these do not present the essential points with the same conceptual rigour.
Necessary labour+surplus labour = the total working day. Assuming that necessary labour = 8, and surplus labour = 4, the ratio = 4/8 = 1/2. Or 50% is the rate of exploitation of labour. The total working day = 12 (= necessary = necessary labour+surplus labour), necessary labour time = 12×2/3, and surplus labour time = 12/3. Both can be expressed as aliquot parts of the total working day, and if we compare these expressions, the same proportion emerges. (12×2)/3 or 24/3:12/3 = 24:12 = 8:4. But the rate of exploitation is not given directly by this expression. E.g., if surplus labour is 50% of necessary, it is 1/3 or 33 1/3%, of the total working day. This 33 1/3% does not, unlike the 50%, directly express the rate of exploitation. Although this derivative form is serviceable in some investigations, it can lead to entirely false conclusions.
For example, if we assume that necessary labour = 6 hours, and surplus labour = 6 hours, the rate of surplus value, or the rate of exploitation, will be 100%. If we assume that necessary labour = 4 hours, and surplus labour = 8 hours, the rate of surplus value, or the degree of exploitation, will be 200%. It is clear, on the other hand, that — (surplus labour)/( total working day) can never = 100%, since this ratio always = (total working day — necessary labour)/(total working day), in other words the surplus labour always forms an aliquot part of the total working day, is always smaller than the total working day, hence never = 100/100. Still less can it ever = (100+x)/100. The total working day is a limit which surplus labour can never reach, however great the reduction in necessary labour.
[This applies to the worker in so fat. as he is employed. For the total day composed of many simultaneous working days the day of the individual worker can be left out of account.]
Since surplus labour = the = the total [working day] — necessary labour, it will grow in the same ratio as necessary labour becomes smaller. But if the latter became 0, surplus labour would also be 0, since it is only a function of necessary labour. Various writers on political economy (some of whom also confuse profit with surplus value) have drawn from this the incorrect conclusion that the rate of surplus value can never amount to 100%, thus taking a derived expression, which does not directly express the ratio, for the direct expression of the ratio. The expression must first be converted back in order to find the real ratio. If, e.g., we have the ratio of surplus labour to the surplus labour total working day, or (surplus labour)/(working day), it results front this that necessary labour = the total working day. And we therefore also have the ratio of the necessary working day to the total working day. The two ratios: (necessary labour)/(total working day) and surplus labour (surplus labour)/(total working day) yield (surplus labour)/(necessary labour) and only with this ratio do we have the real rate of exploitation, which can amount to 100% and more.
[XX-1294] Just as the expressions of necessary labour and surplus labour as fragments of the total working day are derived forms of the ratio (surplus labour)/(necessary labour), (paid labour)/( unpaid labour), so the expression of wages and surplus value as aliquot parts of the total product (i.e. of the value of the total product) is a derived form of the conceptual relation (surplus value)/( variable capital). The value of the product = constant capital+ (variable capital+surplus value). If we put constant capital = 0, i.e. if we abstract from its value, which does not affect the ratio between surplus value and variable capital, or does not affect the value the newly added labour has imparted to the product, the value of the total product = the value of the variable capital+the surplus value, = wages+ surplus value. Hence once the production process is extinguished in its result, in the product, once the living labour exchanged for objectified labour has again objectified itself, wages and surplus value can be expressed as fractions of value, as proportional parts of the total value of the product. Thus if the variable capital of £8 is reproduced by £8, and if in addition the surplus labour has objectified itself in £4, the value of the product = 8v+4s, = £12. The values £8 and £4, in which necessary and surplus labour have respectively been objectified, can then be expressed as proportional parts of the total product of £12.
Firstly, this derived ratio suffers from the same disadvantage as the derived formula we considered earlier. It does not directly express the rate of exploitation. Secondly, because the finished product always expresses labour time of a specific magnitude, all relations emerging from variations in the working day, in absolute surplus labour, disappear in this form. We find, therefore, that in fact the writers on political economy who make particular use of this form a treat the sum of necessary time+surplus time, the total working day, as a constant magnitude, hence they also treat the total value of the product, in which the total working day is expressed, solely as a constant magnitude. Lastly, however, when this formula is treated as the original formula, it blurs and falsifies the qualitative character of the exchange relation between capitalist and worker, the exchange between living labour and objectified labour, which really takes place in the production process, by dealing solely with objectified labour, labour objectified in the product. The essential relation, the fact that the worker has no share in the product, and that this exchange, instead of giving him a share, excludes him from any share in the product as such, this vital point of the whole relation, disappears, and its place is taken by the false semblance that the capitalist and the wage labourer form a partnership, and share out the product in proportion to their different contributions to its formation. This is therefore a favourite formula of bourgeois apologists for the relation of capital.
Nevertheless, this derived formula is an expression that emerges from the result of the production process itself, in which both wages and surplus value are ultimately represented as parts of the value of the product, the total amount of objectified labour. We shall learn the true meaning of this formula for the development of the relation of capital later on — when considering accumulation. This formula becomes all the more important because money figures as means of payment, i.e. labour is first paid for once it is objectified, hence has itself already passed over from the form of the process to that of rest, from the form of value-creating activity to that of value.
The value or price of labour (expressed in money) is the direct form in which the value of labour capacity appears. The situation appears to the worker as if he sells his labour for a certain sum of money; to the capitalist too it appears as if he buys this commodity for a certain sum of money. This price is then regulated, like that of every other commodity, by the laws governing the demand for, and supply of, labour. But the question has then to be asked, what regulates the laws of supply and demand? Or, in the case of this commodity (labour), as with all other commodities, one must ask what regulates its value, or the price corresponding to its value? Or its price, once supply and demand are evenly balanced? With labour as such, in contrast to all other commodities, we see that it is not directly covered by the law of value, for the value of a commodity, or the price which corresponds to that value, is determined by the quantity of [XX-1295] labour contained in this commodity, or the labour time objectified in it. It would be absurd to speak of the quantity of labour contained in a quantity of living labour, or of the determination e.g. of 12 hours of labour by 12 hours of labour. Here it is apparent that value can only be determined, one can only speak of the value of labour at all, in so far as the latter is a derivative form of the value of labour capacity.
Let us look first at the conceptual expression [of labour capacity], and then at its converted form as it appears on the surface — on the market. The comparison will serve also to clarify the relation between the two expressions.
Let us assume that the daily value of labour capacity = 6 hours of labour. Let 1 hour of labour be realised in 6d.; or let 6d. be the expression in money of 1 hour of labour. The worker sells his labour capacity to the capitalist for 6×6d. = 36d. = 3s. He has then sold his labour capacity at its value. The actual consumption of this commodity by the capitalist consists in the worker’s labour. But labour capacity is only sold for a certain part of the whole day. Assume the normal working day is 12 hours. The value of the product in which the 12-hour working day is realised = 12 hours. The first 6 hours in which it is realised are only an equivalent, for the wage. The value of the product (12 hours) minus the value of the labour capacity (6 hours), the difference between the value in which the working day is realised and the value of the labour capacity, forms the surplus value. Or, the difference between the total working day and the necessary labour time = the surplus labour.
The value in which the total working day is realised = 6s.; the value in which the value, or the price, of the labour capacity is replaced = 3s. The surplus value = 6-3s., or = 3s., or the surplus labour = 12 hours-6 hours = 6 hours. The surplus value appears here directly as the difference between the total amount of value in which the working day is realised and the value in which the part of the working day is realised which replaces only the wage, the value of the labour capacity; in other words it appears as the difference between the total working day and the paid part of the working day.
But, as remarked earlier, labour capacity is one of the commodities where money figures as means of payment; i.e. it figures twice, first as means of purchase, in the sale, then as means of payment, when the sale is realised, once the use value of the commodity has passed into the possession of the buyer. The worker only receives payment, e.g. daily or weekly, once the capitalist has had his labour capacity work e.g. for a week during 12 hours of each day. The equivalent he receives therefore appears as an equivalent for his 12 hours of labour. Apart from this, he has sold his labour capacity, hence its consumption, for a particular period of time. But this time-determined consumption on the part of the capitalist is on the part of the worker a particular quantity, measured in time, of his own activity, i.e. his labour, hence e.g. the sale of 12 hours of his labour a day. And the price, the sum of money he receives, thus reappears, for him as for the capitalist, as the price of, or the equivalent for, his 12 hours of labour. It is the more natural, therefore, that this real result of the process — namely that a particular quantity of labour has been bought and sold for a particular quantity of money — should also appear to the capitalist as the content of the transaction, since what concerns him in the whole of the transaction is only this content.
Now what appears in this form as the value of labour or as its price, forming the limit of market prices? Precisely the value of labour capacity, or the sum of money in which the necessary labour is objectified. If the normal working day consists of 12 hours — and necessary labour time is 6 hours — then 3s. (the result of 6 hours of labour) will appear as the value of the 12-hour working day. Prices which stand above or below this are prices which diverge from the value of labour and oscillate around it as a central point. Under these circumstances, therefore, 3d. appears as the value of one hour of labour. We have already explained earlier that this would have a higher expression if the normal working day were less than 12 hours, and [a smaller expression] if it were more than 12 hours. However, we do not want to return to this discussion here. Here we are concerned with another side, the qualitative side. (The wage for a particular period of time, a particular quantity of labour (e.g. an hour of labour), is determined here by the ratio of necessary labour to the total working day. And the wage appears as the sum which is paid for the total working day. If the price of labour remains constant, the wage can rise if labour time is prolonged; if the wage remains constant, the price of labour can fall if labour time is prolonged; equally, if the price of labour falls, the wage can rise if [labour] time [XX-1296] is prolonged.)
Hence the value in which the necessary labour time is realised appears as the value of the working day, which = necessary labour time+surplus labour time. 3s. thus appears under the above presupposition as the value of a 12-hour working day, although the 12-hour working day is objectified in 6s. Thus the value of the working day appears in this example as half the size of the value of the product in which this working day is objectified. (See p. 40 of Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie, Part One, 1859, where I announce that in my analysis of capital this problem will be solved:
“How does production on the basis of exchange value solely determined by labour time lead to the result that the exchange value of labour is less than the exchange value of its product?”)
If the necessary labour time = x, the total working day = y or = x+z, and if x is realised in a value x’, while y is realised in x'+z’, x’ appears as the value of x+z.
The value of labour (or of the working day), as it appears in this unconceptual form, is therefore something entirely different from the value of the commodity determined by the working day.
Before we go any further, two more remarks should be made.
Firstly: On the above presupposition, the value of an hour of labour = 3d., and this is the case because the value of the labour capacity, or the value in which the necessary labour is realised, = 6 hours, and the value of each hour = 6d., hence the value in which 6 hours are realised = 36d. This 36/12, or the value of the labour capacity — the value of the commodities in which the necessary labour time is realised — divided by the number of hours which form the total working day, necessary+surplus labour, appears here as the value of an hour of labour. If the total working day came to only 10 hours, the value of an hour would = 36/10; if it came to 18 hours, the value would = 36/ is. The constant factor is the value of the labour capacity, or the value in which the necessary labour is realised. But the price of a particular quantity of labour, e.g. the price of an hour, is determined by the ratio of the necessary labour time to the total working day, or to the necessary+the surplus labour.
It is therefore clear that if on the above presupposition 3d. per hour is established as the average value of an hour of labour, this is on the assumption not only that the total working day is twice as long as the necessary labour time, 12 hours instead of 6, but that the worker is employed for 12 hours every day, or that his average daily employment over the year comes to 12 hours. For only if he works 12 hours every day is he capable of reproducing the value of his own labour capacity, and therefore continuing to live as a worker under the same average conditions; or, only if he works 12 hours is he capable of producing for himself a daily value of 6 hours — the value of his labour capacity. If he were only employed for e.g. 10 hours at a price per hour of 3d., he would only receive 30d. = 2s. 6d., a wage which would fall below the daily value of labour capacity, and therefore below the average wage. If he were only. employed for 6 hours, he would receive precisely half the wage required to conduct his life in its traditional manner. The same phenomena occur when there is only half time work, 3/4 time, etc. It is for this reason that the London builders spoke out in their strike of 1860 sq. against payment by the hour instead of by the working day or the working week. This is also an important aspect in determining the case of the seasonal workers, etc.; here the worker perhaps overworks for 3 months and for the rest of the year is only half or 1/3 employed.
The second point follows from the specific nature of overtime. The calculation of the price or value of an hour has hitherto always been done on the presupposition that the worker is employed for longer than 6 hours, i.e. that he works his necessary labour time for himself. With overtime this limit does not exist. There it is not only presupposed that the worker works 1/2 an hour for himself, 1/2 an hour for his master, but that he works 12 /2 hours for himself in the course of the day. This is in fact the limit. If the master had him work only 6 hours, the necessary wage would be expressed as 3 /6x6, = 3s. I.e. the value of the labour = the value of the product of the labour; and the surplus labour, hence surplus value, would = 0. If the whole working day only came to 7 hours, the master would gain only 1 surplus hour, only the 6d. of surplus value in which the value of a surplus hour is expressed. If he now has the worker work more than the normal working time of 12 hours, and pays the wage of 6d. even for the 2 extra hours, the ratio of necessary to surplus labour no longer enters the picture. He can gain 1 surplus hour without having 6 necessary hours worked.
[XX-1291a]  The value concept is not only completely extinguished in this expression of the value of labour or the price of labour time, but inverted into something directly contradictory to it. The value in which one part of the normal working day is embodied (namely the part necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity) appears as the value of the total working day. Thus the value of 12 hours of labour = 3s., although the value of the commodity which is produced in 12 hours of labour = 6s., and indeed because 12 hours of labour are represented by 6s. This is therefore an irrational expression, somewhat like sqrt(-2) in algebra. But it is an expression which necessarily results from the production process, it is the necessary form of appearance of the value of labour capacity. It is already contained in the term wage of labour, in which the wage of labour = the price of labour = the value of labour. This form lacks conceptual rigour; but it is the form which lives both in the consciousness of the worker and in that of the capitalist, because it is the form which directly appears in reality; it is therefore the form vulgar political economy sticks to, making the specific difference which sets the science of political economy apart from all the other sciences the fact that the latter seek to uncover the essence which lies hidden behind commonplace appearances, and which mostly contradicts the form of commonplace appearances (as for example in the case of the movement of the sun about the earth), whereas the former proclaims the mere translation of commonplace appearances into equally commonplace notions to be the true business of science. In this inverted and derived form, the form in which the value of labour capacity presents itself on the surface of bourgeois society, possesses its commonplace expression (its exoteric shape) as the value or, expressed in money, the price of labour, the difference between paid and unpaid labour is entirely extinguished, since the wage is after all a payment for the working day and an equivalent for it — in fact, for its product. The surplus value the product contains must therefore in fact be derived from an invisible, mysterious quality, from constant capital. This expression, the difference between wage labour and serf labour, forms a delusion of the worker himself.