Category: Karl Marx
Turkey: Erdogan’s government removes Karl Marx from school books
| September 23, 2017 | 9:18 pm | Communist Party Turkey, Karl Marx, Turkey | No comments

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Turkey: Erdogan’s government removes Karl Marx from school books

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/09/turkey-erdogans-government-removes-karl.html
According to soL news portal, the Turkish government removed Karl Marx from sociology textbooks, promoted Islamic prophet Muhammad’s “holy birth week”.
 
As the debates on Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party-led Islamic school curriculum has inflamed the society, the theme of Karl Marx was removed from the school books of sociology for high school degree.
 
While the last year’s sociology textbook involved August Comte, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, the topic of Karl Marx has been removed from the 2017-2018 education term curriculum.
In addition to the AKP’s pro-sharia impositions in many other textbooks, the sociology school book’s chapter, “Social Institutions”, includes “the holy birth week” with reference to the unknown birthdate of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The subchapter, “The Functions of Religion As a Social Institution”, reads:
 
“Religion has the functionality of recreation, travel and relaxation with regard to the field of influence. The celebrations of Holy Birth Week, commemoration ceremonies, mystic and Sufi meetings, visiting religious and sacred venues are such religious social activities.”
 
Meanwhile, the celebrations of “holy birth week” were launched in Turkey with the initiative of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s religious cult. However, the AKP government has decided to change the celebration date of “holy birth week” after Turkey witnessed a military coup attempt in July 2016, masterminded by the Gülenist faction, the long-termed ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
 
The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) issued a declaration to the people, calling for a countrywide united struggle against the AKP-imposed Islamic and anti-science school curriculum.
V.I. Lenin writes about Engels: “A great fighter and teacher of the proletariat!”
| August 7, 2017 | 6:55 pm | Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin | 1 Comment

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

V.I. Lenin writes about Engels: “A great fighter and teacher of the proletariat!”

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/vi-lenin-writes-about-engels-great.html

“Frederich Engels”

By Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
Written in autumn 1895, First published in 1896 in the miscellany Rabotnik, No. 1-2.
Source: V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 via Marxists Internet Archives.

What a torch of reason ceased to burn, 
What a heart has ceased to beat!


On August 5 (new style), 1895, Frederick Engels died in London. After his friend Karl Marx (who died in 1883), Engels was the finest scholar and teacher of the modern proletariat in the whole civilised world. From the time that fate brought Karl Marx and Frederick Engels together, the two friends devoted their life’s work to a common cause. And so to understand what Frederick Engels has done for the proletariat, one must have a clear idea of the significance of Marx’s teaching and work for the development of the contemporary working-class movement. 
Marx and Engels were the first to show that the working class and its demands are a necessary outcome of the present economic system, which together with the bourgeoisie inevitably creates and organises the proletariat. They showed that it is not the well-meaning efforts of noble-minded individuals, but the class struggle of the organised proletariat that will deliver humanity from the evils which now oppress it. In their scientific works, Marx and Engels were the first to explain that socialism is not the invention of dreamers, but the final aim and necessary result of the development of the productive forces in modern society. All recorded history hitherto has been a history of class struggle, of the succession of the rule and victory of certain social classes over others. And this will continue until the foundations of class struggle and of class domination – private property and anarchic social production – disappear. The interests of the proletariat demand the destruction of these foundations, and therefore the conscious class struggle of the organised workers must be directed against them. And every class struggle is a political struggle.
 
These views of Marx and Engels have now been adopted by all proletarians who are fighting for their emancipation. But when in the forties the two friends took part in the socialist literature and the social movements of their time, they were absolutely novel. There were then many people, talented and without talent, honest and dishonest, who, absorbed in the struggle for political freedom, in the struggle against the despotism of kings, police and priests, failed to observe the antagonism between the interests of the bourgeoisie and those of the proletariat. These people would not entertain the idea of the workers acting as an independent social force. On the other hand, there were many dreamers, some of them geniuses, who thought that it was only necessary to convince the rulers and the governing classes of the injustice of the contemporary social order, and it would then be easy to establish peace and general well-being on earth. They dreamt of a socialism without struggle. Lastly, nearly all the socialists of that time and the friends of the working class generally regarded the proletariat only as an ulcer, and observed with horror how it grew with the growth of industry. They all, therefore, sought for a means to stop the development of industry and of the proletariat, to stop the “wheel of history.” Marx and Engels did not share the general fear of the development of the proletariat; on the contrary, they placed all their hopes on its continued growth. The more proletarians there are, the greater is their strength as a revolutionary class, and the nearer and more possible does socialism become. The services rendered by Marx and Engels to the working class may be expressed in a few words thus: they taught the working class to know itself and be conscious of itself, and they substituted science for dreams.
 
That is why the name and life of Engels should be known to every worker. That is why in this collection of articles, the aim of which, as of all our publications, is to awaken class-consciousness in the Russian workers, we must give a sketch of the life and work of Frederick Engels, one of the two great teachers of the modern proletariat.
 
Engels was born in 1820 in Barmen, in the Rhine Province of the kingdom of Prussia. His father was a manufacturer. In 1838 Engels, without having completed his high-school studies, was forced by family circumstances to enter a commercial house in Bremen as a clerk. Commercial affairs did not prevent Engels from pursuing his scientific and political education. He had come to hate autocracy and the tyranny of bureaucrats while still at high school. The study of philosophy led him further. At that time Hegel’s teaching dominated German philosophy, and Engels became his follower. Although Hegel himself was an admirer of the autocratic Prussian state, in whose service he was as a professor at Berlin University, Hegel’s teachings were revolutionary. Hegel’s faith in human reason and its rights, and the fundamental thesis of Hegelian philosophy that the universe is undergoing a constant process of change and development, led some of the disciples of the Berlin philosopher – those who refused to accept the existing situation – to the idea that the struggle against this situation, the struggle against existing wrong and prevalent evil, is also rooted in the universal law of eternal development. If all things develop, if institutions of one kind give place to others, why should the autocracy of the Prussian king or of the Russian tsar, the enrichment of an insignificant minority at the expense of the vast majority, or the domination of the bourgeoisie over the people, continue for ever? Hegel’s philosophy spoke of the development of the mind and of ideas; it was idealistic. From the development of the mind it deduced the development of nature, of man, and of human, social relations. While retaining Hegel’s idea of the eternal process of development,[1] Marx and Engels rejected the preconceived idealist view; turning to life, they saw that it is not the development of mind that explains the development of nature but that, on the contrary, the explanation of mind must be derived from nature, from matter…. Unlike Hegel and the other Hegelians, Marx and Engels were materialists. Regarding the world and humanity materialistically, they perceived that just as material causes underlie all natural phenomena, so the development of human society is conditioned by the development of material forces, the productive forces. On the development of the productive forces depend the relations into which men enter with one another in the production of the things required for the satisfaction of human needs. And in these relations lies the explanation of all the phenomena of social life, human aspirations, ideas and laws. The development of the productive forces creates social relations based upon private property, but now we see that this same development of the productive forces deprives the majority of their property and concentrates it in the hands of an insignificant minority. It abolishes property, the basis of the modern social order, it itself strives towards the very aim which the socialists have set themselves. All the socialists have to do is to realise which social force, owing to its position in modern society, is interested in bringing socialism about, and to impart to this force the consciousness of its interests and of its historical task. This force is the proletariat. Engels got to know the proletariat in England, in the centre of English industry, Manchester, where he settled in 1842, entering the service of a commercial firm of which his father was a shareholder. Here Engels not only sat in the factory office but wandered about the slums in which the workers were cooped up, and saw their poverty and misery with his own eyes. But he did not confine himself to personal observations. He read all that had been revealed before him about the condition of the British working class and carefully studied all the official documents he could lay his hands on. The fruit of these studies and observations was the book which appeared in 1845: The Condition of the Working Class in England. We have already mentioned what was the chief service rendered by Engels in writing The Condition of the Working Class in England. Even before Engels, many people had described the sufferings of the proletariat and had pointed to the necessity of helping it. Engels was the first to say that the proletariat is not only a suffering class; that it is, in fact, the disgraceful economic condition of the proletariat that drives it irresistibly forward and compels it to fight for its ultimate emancipation. And the fighting proletariat will help itself. The political movement of the working class will inevitably lead the workers to realise that their only salvation lies in socialism. On the other hand, socialism will become a force only when it becomes the aim of the political struggle of the working class. Such are the main ideas of Engels’ book on the condition of the working class in England, ideas which have now been adopted by all thinking and fighting proletarians, but which at that time were entirely new. These ideas were set out in a book written in absorbing style and filled with most authentic and shocking pictures of the misery of the English proletariat. The book was a terrible indictment of capitalism and the bourgeoisie and created a profound impression. Engels’ book began to be quoted everywhere as presenting the best picture of the condition of the modern proletariat. And, in fact, neither before 1845 nor after has there appeared so striking and truthful a picture of the misery of the working class.
It was not until he came to England that Engels became a socialist. In Manchester he established contacts with people active in the English labour movement at the time and began to write for English socialist publications. In 1844, while on his way back to Germany, he became acquainted in Paris with Marx, with whom he had already started to correspond. In Paris, under the influence of the French socialists and French life, Marx had also become a socialist. Here the friends jointly wrote a book entitled The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Critique. This book, which appeared a year before The Condition of the Working Class in England, and the greater part of which was written by Marx, contains the foundations of revolutionary materialist socialism, the main ideas of which we have expounded above. “The holy family” is a facetious nickname for the Bauer brothers, the philosophers, and their followers. These gentlemen preached a criticism which stood above all reality, above parties and politics, which rejected all practical activity, and which only “critically” contemplated the surrounding world and the events going on within it. These gentlemen, the Bauers, looked down on the proletariat as an uncritical mass. Marx and Engels vigorously opposed this absurd and harmful tendency. In the name of a real, human person – the worker, trampled down by the ruling classes and the state – they demanded, not contemplation, but a struggle for a better order of society. They, of course, regarded the proletariat as the force that is capable of waging this struggle and that is interested in it. Even before   the appearance of The Holy Family, Engels had published in Marx’s and Ruge’s Deutsch-Franz\”osische Jahrb\”ucher[5] his “Critical Essays on Political Economy,”[6] in which he examined the principal phenomena of the contemporary economic order from a socialist standpoint, regarding them as necessary consequences of the rule of private property. Contact with Engels was undoubtedly a factor in Marx’s decision to study political economy, the science in which his works have produced a veritable revolution.
 
From 1845 to 1847 Engels lived in Brussels and Paris, combining scientific work with practical activities among the German workers in Brussels and Paris. Here Marx and Engels established contact with the secret German Communist League,[7] which commissioned them to expound the main principles of the socialism they had worked out. Thus arose the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party of Marx and Engels, published in 1848. This little booklet is worth whole volumes: to this day its spirit inspires and guides the entire organised and fighting proletariat of the civilised world.
 
The revolution of 1848, which broke out first in France and then spread to other West-European countries, brought Marx and Engels back to their native country. Here, in Rhenish Prussia, they took charge of the democratic Neue Rheinische Zeitung[8] published in Cologne. The two friends were the heart and soul of all revolutionary-democratic aspirations in Rhenish Prussia. They fought to the last ditch in defence of freedom and of the interests of the people against the forces of reaction. The latter, as we know, gained the upper hand. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung was suppressed. Marx, who during his exile had lost his Prussian citizenship, was deported; Engels took part in the armed popular uprising, fought for liberty in three battles, and after the defeat of the rebels fled, via Switzerland, to London.
 
Marx also settled in London. Engels soon became a clerk again, and then a shareholder, in the Manchester commercial firm in which he had worked in the forties. Until 1870 he lived in Manchester, while Marx lived in London, but this did not prevent their maintaining a most lively interchange of ideas: they corresponded almost daily. In this correspondence   the two friends exchanged views and discoveries and continued to collaborate in working out scientific socialism. In 1870 Engels moved to London, and their joint intellectual life, of the most strenuous nature, continued until 1883, when Marx died. Its fruit was, on Marx’s side, Capital, the greatest work on political economy of our age, and on Engels’ side, a number of works both large and small. Marx worked on the analysis of the complex phenomena of capitalist economy. Engels, in simply written works, often of a polemical character, dealt with more general scientific problems and with diverse phenomena of the past and present in the spirit of the materialist conception of history and Marx’s economic theory. Of Engels’ works we shall mention: the polemical work against D\”uhring (analysing highly important problems in the domain of philosophy, natural science and the social sciences),[2] The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (translated into Russian, published in St. Petersburg, 3rd ea., 1895),[9] Ludwig Feuerbach (Russian translation and notes by G. Plekhanov, Geneva, 1892),[10] an article on the foreign policy of the Russian Government (translated into Russian in the Geneva Social-Demokrat, Nos. 1 and 2),[11]splendid articles on the housing question,[12] and finally, two small but very valuable articles on Russia’s economic development (Frederick Engels on Russia, translated into Russian by Zasulich, Geneva, 1894).[13] Marx died before he could put the final touches to his vast work on capital. The draft, however, was already finished, and after the death of his friend, Engels undertook the onerous task of preparing and publishing the second and the third volumes of Capital. He published Volume II in 1885 and Volume III in 1894 (his death prevented the preparation of Volume IV).[14] These two volumes entailed a vast amount of labour. Adler, the Austrian Social-Democrat, has rightly remarked that by publishing volumes II and III of Capital Engels erected a majestic monument to the genius who had been his friend, a monument on which, without intending it, he indelibly carved his own name. Indeed   these two volumes of Capital are the work of two men: Marx and Engels. Old legends contain various moving instances of friendship. The European proletariat may say that its science was created by two scholars and fighters, whose relationship to each other surpasses the most moving stories of the ancients about human friendship. Engels always – and, on the whole, quite justly – placed himself after Marx. “In Marx’s lifetime,” he wrote to an old friend, “I played second fiddle.”[15]His love for the living Marx, and his reverence for the memory of the dead Marx were boundless. This stern fighter and austere thinker possessed a deeply loving soul.
 
After the movement of 1848-49, Marx and Engels in exile did not confine themselves to scientific research. In 1864 Marx founded the International Working Men’s Association,[16] and led this society for a whole decade. Engels also took an active part in its affairs. The work of the International Association, which, in accordance with Marx’s idea, united proletarians of all countries, was of tremendous significance in the development of the working-class movement. But even with the closing down of the International Association in the seventies, the unifying role of Marx and Engels did not cease. On the contrary, it may be said that their importance as the spiritual leaders of the working-class movement grew continuously, because the movement itself grew uninterruptedly. After the death of Marx, Engels continued alone as the counsellor and leader of the European socialists. His advice and directions were sought for equally by the German socialists, whose strength, despite government persecution, grew rapidly and steadily, and by representatives of backward countries, such as the Spaniards, Rumanians and Russians, who were obliged to ponder and weigh their first steps. They all drew on the rich store of knowledge and experience of Engels in his old age.
 
Marx and Engels, who both knew Russian and read Russian books, took a lively interest in the country, followed the Russian revolutionary movement with sympathy and maintained contact with Russian revolutionaries. They both became socialists after being democrats, and the democratic feeling of hatred for political despotism was exceedingly strong in them. This direct political feeling, combined   with a profound theoretical understanding of the connection between political despotism and economic oppression, and also their rich experience of life, made Marx and Engels uncommonly responsive politically. That is why the heroic struggle of the handful of Russian revolutionaries against the mighty tsarist government evoked a most sympathetic echo in the hearts of these tried revolutionaries. On the other hand, the tendency, for the sake of illusory economic advantages, to turn away from the most immediate and important task of the Russian socialists, namely, the winning of political freedom, naturally appeared suspicious to them and was even regarded by them as a direct betrayal of the great cause of the social revolution. “The emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself” – Marx and Engels constantly taught.[17] But in order to fight for its economic emancipation, the proletariat must win itself certain political rights. Moreover, Marx and Engels clearly saw that a political revolution in Russia would be of tremendous significance to the West-European working-class movement as well. Autocratic Russia had always been a bulwark of European reaction in general. The extraordinarily favourable international position enjoyed by Russia as a result of the war of 1870, which for a long time sowed discord between Germany and France, of course only enhanced the importance of autocratic Russia as a reactionary force. Only a free Russia, a Russia that had no need either to oppress the Poles, Finns, Germans, Armenians or any other small nations, or constantly to set France and Germany at loggerheads, would enable modern Europe, rid of the burden of war, to breathe freely, would weaken all the reactionary elements in Europe and strengthen the European working class. That was why Engels ardently desired the establishment of political freedom in Russia for the sake of the progress of the working-class movement in the West as well. In him the Russian revolutionaries have lost their best friend.
 
Let us always honour the memory of Frederick Engels, a great fighter and teacher of the proletariat!
 
Notes:
 
[1] Marx and Engels frequently pointed out that in their intellectual development they were much indebted to the great German philosophers, particularly to Hegel. “Without German philosophy,” Engels says, “scientific socialism would never have come into being.” —Lenin.
 
[2] This is a wonderfully rich and instructive book. Unfortunately, only a small portion of it, containing a historical outline of the development of socialism, has been translated into Russian (The Development of Scientific Socialism, 2nd ea., Geneva, 1892). —Lenin.
Programa 1 – Escuela de cuadros – Manifesto Comunista, Parte I (Marx y Engels)
| July 26, 2017 | 7:20 pm | Frederick Engels, Karl Marx | No comments

Programa 116 – Escuela de cuadros – Miseria de la filosofía, Parte I (Marx)
| July 26, 2017 | 7:17 pm | Karl Marx | No comments

Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part II)
| July 26, 2017 | 7:09 pm | Analysis, Economy, Karl Marx, Labor | No comments

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part II)

 https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/07/karl-marx-wage-labour-and-capital-1847_27.html

Wage, Labour and Capital.

By Karl Marx. 
First Published: April 1849.
Source: From the original 1891 pamphlet via Marxists Internet Archives.
 

(Continue from Part I)

 
PART II.
 
THE NATURE AND GROWTH OF CAPITAL 
Capital consists of raw materials, instruments of labor, and means of subsistence of all kinds, which are employed in producing new raw materials, new instruments, and new means of subsistence. All these components of capital are created by labour, products of labour, accumulated labour. Accumulated labour that serves as a means to new production is capital.
So say the economists. What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race. The one explanation is worthy of the other.
A Negro is a Negro. Only under certain conditions does he become a slave. A cottonspinning machine is a machine for spinning cotton. Only under certain conditions does it become capital. Torn away from these conditions, it is as little capital as gold is itself money, or sugar is the price of sugar.
In the process of production, human beings work not only upon nature, but also upon one another. They produce only by working together in a specified manner and reciprocally exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into definite connections and relations to one another, and only within these social connections and relations does their influence upon nature operate – i.e., does production take place.
These social relations between the producers, and the conditions under which they exchange their activities and share in the total act of production, will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production. With the discover of a new instrument of warfare, the firearm, the whole internal organization of the army was necessarily altered, the relations within which individuals compose an army and can work as an army were transformed, and the relation of different armies to another was likewise changed.
We thus see that the social relations within which individuals produce, the social relations of production, are altered, transformed, with the change and development of the material means of production, of the forces of production. The relations of production in their totality constitute what is called the social relations, society, and, moreover, a society at a definite stage of historical development, a society with peculiar, distinctive characteristics. Ancient society, feudal society, bourgeois (or capitalist) society, are such totalities of relations of production, each of which denotes a particular stage of development in the history of mankind.
Capital also is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois relation of production, a relation of production of bourgeois society. The means of subsistence, the instruments of labour, the raw materials, of which capital consists – have they not been produced and accumulated under given social conditions, within definite special relations? Are they not employed for new production, under given special conditions, within definite social relations? And does not just the definite social character stamp the products which serve for new production as capital?
Capital consists not only of means of subsistence, instruments of labour, and raw materials, not only as material products; it consists just as much of exchange values. All products of which it consists are commodities. Capital, consequently, is not only a sum of material products, it is a sum of commodities, of exchange values, of social magnitudes. Capital remains the same whether we put cotton in the place of wool, rice in the place of wheat, steamships in the place of railroads, provided only that the cotton, the rice, the steamships – the body of capital – have the same exchange value, the same price, as the wool, the wheat, the railroads, in which it was previously embodied. The bodily form of capital may transform itself continually, while capital does not suffer the least alteration.
But though every capital is a sum of commodities – i.e., of exchange values – it does not follow that every sum of commodities, of exchange values, is capital.
Every sum of exchange values is an exchange value. Each particular exchange value is a sum of exchange values. For example: a house worth 1,000 pounds is an exchange value of 1,000 pounds: a piece of paper worth one penny is a sum of exchange values of 100 1/100ths of a penny. Products which are exchangeable for others are commodities. The definite proportion in which they are exchangeable forms their exchange value, or, expressed in money, their price. The quantity of these products can have no effect on their character as commodities, as representing an exchange value , as having a certain price. Whether a tree be large or small, it remains a tree. Whether we exchange iron in pennyweights or in hundredweights, for other products, does this alter its character: its being a commodity, or exchange value? According to the quantity, it is a commodity of greater or of lesser value, of higher or of lower price.
How then does a sum of commodities, of exchange values, become capital?
Thereby, that as an independent social power – i.e., as the power of a part of society – it preserves itself and multiplies by exchange with direct, living labour-power.
The existence of a class which possesses nothing but the ability to work is a necessary presupposition of capital.
It is only the dominion of past, accumulated, materialized labour over immediate living labour that stamps the accumulated labour with the character of capital.
Capital does not consist in the fact that accumulated labour serves living labour as a means for new production. It consists in the fact that living labour serves accumulated labour as the means of preserving and multiplying its exchange value.
RELATION OF WAGE-LABOUR TO CAPITAL
What is it that takes place in the exchange between the capitalist and the wagelabourer?
The labourer receives means of subsistence in exchange for his labour-power; the capitalist receives, in exchange for his means of subsistence, labour, the productive activity of the labourer, the creative force by which the worker not only replaces what he consumes, but also gives to the accumulated labour a greater value than it previously possessed. The labourer gets from the capitalist a portion of the existing means of subsistence. For what purpose do these means of subsistence serve him? For immediate consumption. But as soon as I consume means of subsistence, they are irrevocably lost to me, unless I employ the time during which these means sustain my life in producing new means of subsistence, in creating by my labour new values in place of the values lost in consumption. But it is just this noble reproductive power that the labourer surrenders to the capitalist in exchange for means of subsistence received. Consequently, he has lost it for himself.
Let us take an example. For one shilling a labourer works all day long in the fields of a farmer, to whom he thus secures a return of two shillings. The farmer not only receives the replaced value which he has given to the day labourer, he has doubled it. Therefore, he has consumed the one shilling that he gave to the day labourer in a fruitful, productive manner. For the one shilling he has bought the labour-power of the day-labourer, which creates products of the soil of twice the value, and out of one shilling makes two. The day-labourer, on the contrary, receives in the place of his productive force, whose results he has just surrendered to the farmer, one shilling, which he exchanges for means of subsistence, which he consumes more or less quickly. The one shilling has therefore been consumed in a double manner – reproductively for the capitalist, for it has been exchanged for labour-power, which brought forth two shillings; unproductively for the worker, for it has been exchanged for means of subsistence which are lost for ever, and whose value he can obtain again only by repeating the same exchange with the farmer. Capital therefore presupposes wage- labour; wage-labour presupposes capital. They condition each other; each brings the other into existence.
Does a worker in a cotton factory produce only cotton? No. He produces capital. He produces values which serve anew to command his work and to create by means of it new values.
Capital can multiply itself only by exchanging itself for labour-power, by calling wage-labour into life. The labour-power of the wage-labourer can exchange itself for capital only by increasing capital, by strengthening that very power whose slave it is. Increase of capital, therefore, is increase of the proletariat, i.e., of the working class.
And so, the bourgeoisie and its economists maintain that the interest of the capitalist and of the labourer is the same. And in fact, so they are! The worker perishes if capital does not keep him busy. Capital perishes if it does not exploit labour-power, which, in order to exploit, it must buy. The more quickly the capital destined for production – the productive capital – increases, the more prosperous industry is, the more the bourgeoisie enriches itself, the better business gets, so many more workers does the capitalist need, so much the dearer does the worker sell himself. The fastest possible growth of productive capital is, therefore, the indispensable condition for a tolerable life to the labourer.
But what is growth of productive capital? Growth of the power of accumulated labour over living labour; growth of the rule of the bourgeoisie over the working class. When wage-labour produces the alien wealth dominating it, the power hostile to it, capital, there flow back to it its means of employment – i.e., its means of subsistence, under the condition that it again become a part of capital, that is become again the lever whereby capital is to be forced into an accelerated expansive movement.
To say that the interests of capital and the interests of the workers are identical, signifies only this: that capital and wage-labour are two sides of one and the same relation. The one conditions the other in the same way that the usurer and the borrower condition each other.
As long as the wage-labourer remains a wage-labourer, his lot is dependent upon capital. That is what the boasted community of interests between worker and capitalists amounts to.
If capital grows, the mass of wage-labour grows, the number of wage-workers increases; in a word, the sway of capital extends over a greater mass of individuals. Let us suppose the most favorable case: if productive capital grows, the demand for labour grows. It therefore increases the price of labour-power, wages.
A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilization, if the neighboring palace rises in equal or even in greater measure, the occupant of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.
An appreciable rise in wages presupposes a rapid growth of productive capital. Rapid growth of productive capital calls forth just as rapid a growth of wealth, of luxury, of social needs and social pleasures. Therefore, although the pleasures of the labourer have increased, the social gratification which they afford has fallen in comparison with the increased pleasures of the capitalist, which are inaccessible to the worker, in comparison with the stage of development of society in general. Our wants and pleasures have their origin in society; we therefore measure them in relation to society; we do not measure them in relation to the objects which serve for their gratification. Since they are of a social nature, they are of a relative nature.
But wages are not at all determined merely by the sum of commodities for which they may be exchanged. Other factors enter into the problem. What the workers directly receive for their labour-power is a certain sum of money. Are wages determined merely by this money price?
In the 16th century, the gold and silver circulation in Europe increased in consequence of the discovery of richer and more easily worked mines in America. The value of gold and silver, therefore, fell in relation to other commodities. The workers received the same amount of coined silver for their labour-power as before. The money price of their work remained the same, and yet their wages had fallen, for in exchange for the same amount of silver they obtained a smaller amount of other commodities. This was one of the circumstances which furthered the growth of capital, the rise of the bourgeoisie, in the 18th century.
Let us take another case. In the winter of 1847, in consequence of bad harvest, the most indispensable means of subsistence – grains, meat, butter, cheese, etc. – rose greatly in price. Let us suppose that the workers still received the same sum of money for their labour-power as before. Did not their wages fall? To be sure. For the same money they received in exchange less bread, meat, etc. Their wages fell, not because the value of silver was less, but because the value of the means of subsistence had increased.
Finally, let us suppose that the money price of labour-power remained the same, while all agricultural and manufactured commodities had fallen in price because of the employment of new machines, of favorable seasons, etc. For the same money the workers could now buy more commodities of all kinds. Their wages have therefore risen, just because their money value has not changed.
The money price of labour-power, the nominal wages, do not therefore coincide with the actual or real wages – i.e., with the amount of commodities which are actually given in exchange for the wages. If then we speak of a rise or fall of wages, we have to keep in mind not only the money price of labour-power, the nominal wages, but also the real wages.
But neither the nominal wages – i.e., the amount of money for which the labourer sells himself to the capitalist – nor the real wages – i.e., the amount of commodities which he can buy for this money – exhausts the relations which are comprehended in the term wages.
Wages are determined above all by their relations to the gain, the profit, of the capitalist. In other words, wages are a proportionate, relative quantity.
Real wages express the price of labour-power in relation to the price of commodities; relative wages, on the other hand, express the share of immediate labour in the value newly created by it, in relation to the share of it which falls to accumulated labour, to capital.
THE GENERAL LAW THAT DETERMINES THE RISE AND FALL
OF WAGES AND PROFITS
 
We have said: “Wages are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by him. Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labor-power.” But the capitalist must replace these wages out of the price for which he sells the product made by the worker; he must so replace it that, as a rule, there remains to him a surplus above the cost of production expended by him, that is, he must get a profit.
 
The selling price of the commodities produced by the worker is divided, from the point of view of the capitalist, into three parts: 
 
First, the replacement of the price of the raw materials advanced by him, in addition to the replacement of the wear and tear of the tools, machines, and other instruments of labor likewise advanced by him; 
 
Second, the replacement of the wages advanced; and 
 
Third, the surplus leftover – i.e., the profit of the capitalist.
 
While the first part merely replaces previously existing values, it is evident that the replacement of the wages and the surplus (the profit of capital) are as a whole taken out of the new value, which is produced by the labor of the worker and added to the raw materials. And in this sense we can view wages as well as profit, for the purpose of comparing them with each other, as shares in the product of the worker.
 
Real wages may remain the same, they may even rise, nevertheless the relative wages may fall. Let us suppose, for instance, that all means of subsistence have fallen 2/3rds in price, while the day’s wages have fallen but 1/3rd – for example, from three to two shillings. Although the worker can now get a greater amount of commodities with these two shillings than he formerly did with three shillings, yet his wages have decreased in proportion to the gain of the capitalist. The profit of the capitalist – the manufacturer’s for instance – has increased one shilling, which means that for a smaller amount of exchange values, which he pays to the worker, the latter must produce a greater amount of exchange values than before. The share of capitals in proportion to the share of labour has risen. The distribution of social wealth between capital and labour has become still more unequal. The capitalist commands a greater amount of labour with the same capital. The power of the capitalist class over the working class has grown, the social position of the worker has become worse, has been forced down still another degree below that of the capitalist. 
 
What, then, is the general law that determines the rise and fall of wages and profit in their reciprocal relation? 
 
They stand in inverse proportion to each other. The share of (profit) increases in the same proportion in which the share of labour (wages) falls, and vice versa. Profit rises in the same degree in which wages fall; it falls in the same degree in which wages rise. 
 
It might perhaps be argued that the capitalist class can gain by an advantageous exchange of his products with other capitalists, by a rise in the demand for his commodities, whether in consequence of the opening up of new markets, or in consequence of temporarily increased demands in the old market, and so on; that the profit of the capitalist, therefore, may be multiplied by taking advantage of other capitalists, independently of the rise and fall of wages, of the exchange value of labourpower; or that the profit of the capitalist may also rise through improvements in the instruments of labour, new applications of the forces of nature, and so on. 
 
But in the first place it must be admitted that the result remains the same, although brought about in an opposite manner. Profit, indeed, has not risen because wages have fallen, but wages have fallen because profit has risen. With the same amount of another man’s labour the capitalist has bought a larger amount of exchange values without having paid more for the labour on that account – i.e., the work is paid for less in proportion to the net gain which it yields to the capitalist. 
 
In the second place, it must be borne in mind that, despite the fluctuations in the prices of commodities, the average price of every commodity, the proportion in which it exchanges for other commodities, is determined by its cost of production. The acts of overreaching and taking advantage of one another within the capitalist ranks necessarily equalize themselves. The improvements of machinery, the new applications of the forces of nature in the service of production, make it possible to produce in a given period of time, with the same amount of labour and capital, a larger amount of products, but in no wise a larger amount of exchange values. If by the use of the spinning- machine I can furnish twice as much yarn in an hour as before its invention – for instance, 100 pounds instead of 50 pounds – in the long run I receive back, in exchange for this 100 pounds no more commodities than I did before for 50; because the cost of production has fallen by 1/2, or because I can furnish double the product at the same cost. 
 
Finally, in whatsoever proportion the capitalist class, whether of one country or of the entire world-market, distribute the net revenue of production among themselves, the total amount of this net revenue always consists exclusively of the amount by which accumulated labour has been increased from the proceeds of direct labour. This whole amount, therefore, grows in the same proportion in which labour augments capital – i.e., in the same proportion in which profit rises as compared with wages.   
Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part I)
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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part I)

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Wage, Labour and Capital.
By Karl Marx. 
First Published: April 1849.
Source: From the original 1891 pamphlet via Marxists Internet Archives.
PART I.
INTRODUCTION.
BY FRIEDRICH ENGELS.
This pamphlet first appeared in the form of a series of leading articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, beginning on April 4th, 1849. The text is made up of from lectures delivered by Marx before the German Workingmen’s Club of Brussels in 1847. The series was never completed. The promise “to be continued”, at the end of the editorial in Number 269 of the newspaper, remained unfulfilled in consequence of the precipitous events of that time: the invasion of Hungary by the Russians [Tsarist troops invaded hungary in 1849 to keep the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty in power], and the uprisings in Dresden, Iserlohn, Elberfeld, the Palatinate, and in Baden [Spontaneous uprisings in Germany in May-July 1849, supporting the Imperial Constituion which were crushed in mid-July], which led to the suppression of the paper on May 19th, 1849. And among the papers left by Marx no manuscript of any continuation of these articles has been found.
“Wage-Labor and Capital” has appeared as an independent publication in several editions, the last of which was issued by the Swiss Co-operative Printing Association, in Hottingen-Zurich, in 1884. Hitherto, the several editions have contained the exact wording of the original articles. But since at least 10,000 copies of the present edition are to be circulated as a propaganda tract, the question necessarily forced itself upon me, would Marx himself, under these circumstance, have approved of an unaltered literal reproduction of the original?
Marx, in the ’40s, had not yet completed his criticism of political economy. This was not done until toward the end of the fifties. Consequently, such of his writings as were published before the first installment of his Critique of Political Economy was finished, deviate in some points from those written after 1859, and contain expressions and whole sentences which, viewed from the standpoint of his later writings, appear inexact, and even incorrect. Now, it goes without saying that in ordinary editions, intended for the public in general, this earlier standpoint, as a part of the intellectual development of the author, has its place; that the author as well as the public, has an indisputable right to an unaltered reprint of these older writings. In such a case, I would not have dreamed of changing a single word in it. But it is otherwise when the edition is destined almost exclusively for the purpose of propaganda. In such a case, Marx himself would unquestionably have brought the old work, dating from 1849, into harmony with his new point of view, and I feel sure that I am acting in his spirit when I insert in this edition the few changes and additions which are necessary in order to attain this object in all essential point.
Therefore, I say to the reader at once: this pamphlet is not as Marx wrote it in 1849, but approximately as Marx would have written it in 1891. Moreover, so many copies of the original text are in circulation, that these will suffice until I can publish it again unaltered in a complete edition of Marx’s works, to appear at some future time.
My alterations centre about one point. According to the original reading, the worker sells his labor for wages, which he receives from the capitalist; according to the present text, he sells his labor-power. And for this change, I must render an explanation: to the workers, in order that they may understand that we are not quibbling or word-juggling, but are dealing here with one of the most important points in the whole range of political economy; to the bourgeois, in order that they may convince themselves how greatly the uneducated workers, who can be easily made to grasp the most difficult economic analyses, excel our supercilious “cultured” folk, for whom such ticklish problems remain insoluble their whole life long.
Classical political economy [1] borrowed from the industrial practice the current notion of the manufacturer, that he buys and pays for the labor of his employees. This conception had been quite serviceable for the business purposes of the manufacturer, his bookkeeping and price calculation. But naively carried over into political economy, it there produced truly wonderful errors and confusions.
Political economy finds it an established fact that the prices of all commodities, among them the price of the commodity which it calls “labor”, continually change; that they rise and fall in consequence of the most diverse circumstances, which often have no connection whatsoever with the production of the commodities themselves, so that prices appear to be determined, as a rule, by pure chance.
As soon, therefore, as political economy stepped forth as a science, it was one of its first tasks to search for the law that hid itself behind this chance, which apparently determined the prices of commodities, and which in reality controlled this very chance. Among the prices of commodities, fluctuating and oscillating, now upward, now downward, the fixed central point was searched for around which these fluctuations and oscillations were taking place. In short, starting from the price of commodities, political economy sought for the value of commodities as the regulating law, by means of which all price fluctuations could be explained, and to which they could all be reduced in the last resort. And so, classical political economy found that the value of a commodity was determined by the labor incorporated in it and requisite to its production. With this explanation, it was satisfied. And we, too, may, for the present, stop at this point. But, to avoid misconceptions, I will remind the reader that today this explanation has become wholly inadequate. Marx was the first to investigate thoroughly into the value-forming quality of labor and to discover that not all labor which is apparently, or even really, necessary to the production of a commodity, imparts under all circumstances to this commodity a magnitude of value corresponding to the quantity of labor used up.
If, therefore, we say today in short, with economists like Ricardo, that the value of a commodity is determined by the labor necessary to its production, we always imply the reservations and restrictions made by Marx. Thus much for our present purpose; further information can be found in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, which appeared in 1859, and in the first volume of Capital. But, as soon as the economists applied this determination of value by labor to the commodity “labor”, they fell from one contradiction into another. How is the value of “labor” determined? By the necessary labor embodied in it. But how much labor is embodied in the labor of a laborer of a day a week, a month, a year. If labor is the measure of all values, we can express the “value of labor” only in labor.
But we know absolutely nothing about the value of an hour’s labor, if all that we know about it is that it is equal to one hour’s labor. So, thereby, we have not advanced one hair’s breadth nearer our goal; we are constantly turning about in a circle. Classical economics, therefore, essayed another turn. It said: the value of a commodity is equal to its cost of production. But, what is the cost of production of “labor”? In order to answer this question, the economists are forced to strain logic just a little. Instead of investigating the cost of production of labor itself, which, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained, they now investigate the cost of production of the laborer.
And this latter can be ascertained. It changes according to time and circumstances, but for a given condition of society, in a given locality, and in a given branch of production, it, too, is given, at least within quite narrow limits. We live today under the regime of capitalist production, under which a large and steadily growing class of the population can live only on the condition that it works for the owners of the means of production — tools, machines, raw materials, and means of subsistence — in return for wages. On the basis of this mode of production, the laborer’s cost of production consists of the sum of the means of subsistence (or their price in money) which on the average are requisite to enable him to work, to maintain in him this capacity for work, and to replace him at his departure, by reason of age, sickness, or death, with another laborer — that is to say, to propagate the working class in required numbers. Let us assume that the money price of these means of subsistence averages 3 shillings a day. Our laborer gets, therefore, a daily wage of 3 shillings from his employer. For this, the capitalist lets him work, say, 12 hours a day.
Our capitalist, moreover, calculates somewhat in the following fashion: Let us assume that our laborer (a machinist) has to make a part of a machine which he finishes in one day. The raw material (iron and brass in the necessary prepared form) costs 20 shillings. The consumption of coal by the steam-engine, the wear-and-tear of this engine itself, of the turning-lathe, and of the other tools with which our laborer works, represent, for one day and one laborer, a value of 1 shilling. The wages for one day are, according to our assumption, 3 shillings. This makes a total of 24 shillings for our piece of a machine. But, the capitalist calculates that, on an average, he will receive for it a price of 27 shillings from his customers, or 3 shillings over and above his outlay. Whence do they 3 shillings pocketed by the capitalist come?
According to the assertion of classical political economy, commodities are in the long run sold at their values, that is, they are sold at prices which correspond to the necessary quantities of labor contained in them. The average price of our part of a machine — 27 shillings — would therefore equal its value, i.e., equal the amount of labor embodied in it. But, of these 27 shillings, 21 shillings were values were values already existing before the machinist began to work; 20 shillings were contained in the raw material, 1 shilling in the fuel consumed during the work and in the machines and tools used in the process and reduced in their efficiency to the value of this amount. There remains 6 shillings, which have been added to the value of the raw material. But, according to the supposition of our economists, themselves, these 6 shillings can arise only from the labor added to the raw material by the laborer. His 12 hours’ labor has created, according to this, a new value of 6 shillings.
Therefore, the value of his 12 hours’ labor would be equivalent to 6 shillings. So we have at last discovered what the “value of labor” is. “Hold on there!” cries our machinist. “Six shillings? But I have received only 3 shillings! My capitalist swears high and day that the value of my 12 hours’ labor is no more than 3 shillings, and if I were to demand 6, he’d laugh at me. What kind of a story is that?” If before this we got with our value of labor into a vicious circle, we now surely have driven straight into an insoluble contradiction. We searched for the value of labor, and we found more than we can use. For the laborer, the value of the 12 hours’ labor is 3 shillings; for the capitalist, it is 6 shillings, of which he pays the workingman 3 shillings as wages, and pockets the remaining 3 shilling himself. According to this, labor has not one but two values, and, moreover, two very different values! As soon as we reduce the values, now expressed in money, to labor-time, the contradiction becomes even more absurd.
By the 12 hours’ labor, a new value of 6 shillings is created. Therefore, in 6 hours, the new value created equals 3 shilling — the mount which the laborer receives for 12 hours’ labor. For 12 hours’ labor, the workingman receives, as an equivalent, the product of 6 hours’ labor. We are, thus, forced to one of two conclusions: either labor has two values, one of which is twice as large as the other, or 12 equals 6! In both cases, we get pure absurdities. Turn and twist as we may, we will not get out of this contradiction as long as we speak of the buying and selling of “labor” and of the “value of labor”. And just so it happened to the political economists. The last offshoot of classical political economy — the Ricardian school — was largely wrecked on the insolubility of this contradiction. Classical political economy had run itself into a blind alley.
The man who discovered the way out of this blind alley was Karl Marx. What the economists had considered as the cost of production of “labor” was really the cost of production, not of “labor”, but of the living laborer himself. And what this laborer sold to the capitalist was not his labor. “So soon as his labor really begins,” says Marx, “it ceases to belong to him, and therefore can no longer be sold by him.” At the most, he could sell his future labor — i.e., assume the obligation of executing a certain piece of work in a certain time. But, in this way, he does not sell labor (which would first have to be performed), but not for a stipulated payment he places his labor-power at the disposal of the capitalist for a certain time (in case of time-wages), or for the performance of a certain task (in case of piece-wages). He hires out or sells his labor-power. But this labor-power has grown up with his person and is inseparable from it. Its cost of production, therefore, coincides with his own cost of production; what the economist called the cost of production of labor is really the cost of production of the laborer, and therewith of his labor-power. And, thus, we can also go back from the cost of production of labor-power to the value of labor-power, and determine the quantity of social labor that is required for the production of a labor-power of a given quantity, as Marx has done in the chapter on “The Buying and Selling of Labor Power”. [Capital, Vol.I] Now what takes place after the worker has sold his labor-power, i.e., after he has placed his labor-power at the disposal of the capitalist for stipulated-wages — whether time-wages or piece-wages? The capitalist takes the laborer into his workshop or factory, where all the articles required for the work can be found — raw materials, auxiliary materials (coal, dyestuffs, etc.), tools, and machines. Here, the worker begins to work. His daily wages are, as above, 3 shillings, nd it makes no difference whether he earns them as day-wages or piece-wages.
We again assume that in 12 hours the worker adds by his labor a new value of 6 shillings to the value of the raw materials consumed, which new value the capitalist realizes by the sale of the finished piece of work. Out of this new value, he pays the worker his 3 shillings, and the remaining 3 shillings he keeps for himself. If, now, the laborer creates in 12 hours a value of 6 shilling, in 6 hours he creates a value of 3 shillings. Consequently, after working 6 hours for the capitalist, the laborer has returned to him the equivalent of the 3 shillings received as wages.
After 6 hours’ work, both are quits, neither one owing a penny to the other. “Hold on there!” now cries out the capitalist. “I have hired the laborer for a whole day, for 12 hours. But 6 hours are only half-a-day. So work along lively there until the other 6 hours are at an end — only then will we be even.” And, in fact, the laborer has to submit to the conditions of the contract upon which he entered of “his own free will”, and according to which he bound himself to work 12 whole hours for a product of labor which cost only 6 hours’ labor. Similarly with piece-wages. Let us suppose that in 12 hours our worker makes 12 commodities. Each of these costs a shilling in raw materials and wear-and-tear, and is sold for 2.5 shillings. On our former assumption, the capitalist gives the laborer .25 of a shilling for each piece, which makes a total of 3 shillings for 12 pieces. To earn this, the worker requires 12 hours. The capitalist receives 30 shillings for the 12 pieces; deducting 24 shillings for raw materials and wear-and-tear, there remains 6 shillings, of which he pays 3 shillings in wages and pockets the remaining 3. Just as before! Here, also, the worker labors 6 hours for himself — i.e., to replace his wages (half-an-hour in each of the 12 hours), and 6 hours for the capitalist. The rock upon which the best economists were stranded, as long as they started out from the value of labor, vanishes as soon as we make our starting-point the value of labor-power. Labor-power is, in our present-day capitalist society, a commodity like every other commodity, but yet a very peculiar commodity. It has, namely, the peculiarity of being a value-creating force, the source of value, and, moreover, when properly treated, the source of more value than it possesses itself.
In the present state of production, human labor-power not only produces in a day a greater value than it itself possesses and costs; but with each new scientific discovery, with each new technical invention, there also rises the surplus of its daily production over its daily cost, while as a consequence there diminishes that part of the working-day in which the laborer produces the equivalent of his day’s wages, and, on the other hand, lengthens that part of the working-day in which he must present labor gratis to the capitalist. And this is the economic constitution of our entire modern society: the working class alone produces all values. For value is only another expression for labor, that expression, namely, by which is designated, in our capitalist society of today, the amount of socially necessary labor embodied in a particular commodity. But, these values produced by the workers do not belong to the workers.
They belong to the owners of the raw materials, machines, tools, and money, which enable them to buy the labor-power of the working class. Hence, the working class gets back only a part of the entire mass of products produced by it. And, as we have just seen, the other portion, which the capitalist class retains, and which it has to share, at most, only with the landlord class, is increasing with every new discovery and invention, while the share which falls to the working class (per capita) rises but little and very slowly, or not at all, and under certain conditions it may even fall.
But, these discoveries and inventions which supplant one another with ever-increasing speed, this productiveness of human labor which increases from day to day to unheard-of proportions, at last gives rise to a conflict, in which present capitalistic economy must go to ruin. On the one hand, immeasurable wealth and a superfluidity of products with which the buyers cannot cope.
On the other hand, the great mass of society proletarianized, transformed into wage-laborers, and thereby disabled from appropriating to themselves that superfluidity of products. The splitting up of society into a small class, immoderately rich, and a large class of wage-laborers devoid of all property, brings it about that this society smothers in its own superfluidity, while the great majority of its members are scarcely, or not at all, protected from extreme want. This condition becomes every day more absurd and more unnecessary. It must be gotten rid of; it can be gotten rid of.
A new social order is possible, in which the class differences of today will have disappeared, and in which — perhaps after a short transition period, which, though somewhat deficient in other respects, will in any case be very useful morally — there will be the means of life, of the enjoyment of life, and of the development and activity of all bodily and mental faculties, through the systematic use and further development of the enormous productive powers of society, which exists with us even now, with equal obligation upon all to work. And that the workers are growing ever more determined to achieve this new social order will be proven on both sides of the ocean on this dawning May Day, and on Sunday, May 3rd. [Engels is refering to the May Day celebrations of 1891]
FREDERICK ENGELS,
London, April 30, 1891.
Footnotes:
[1] “By classical political economy, I understand that economy which, since the time of W. Petty, has investigated the real relations of production in bourgeois society, in contradistinction to vulgar economy, which deals with appearances only, ruminates without ceasing on the materials long since provided by scientific economy, and there seeks plausible explanations of the most obtrusive phenomena for bourgeois daily use, but for the rest confines itself to systematizing in a pedantic way, and proclaiming for everlasting truths, trite ideas held by the self-complacent bourgeoisie with regard to their own world, to them the best of all possible worlds.” (Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.I, p.93f.)
PRELIMINARY.
 
From various quarters we have been reproached for neglecting to portray the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes and nations. With set purpose we have hitherto touched upon these conditions only when they forced themselves upon the surface of the political conflicts.
 It was necessary, beyond everything else, to follow the development of the class struggle in the history of our own day, and to prove empirically, by the actual and daily newly created historical material, that with the subjugation of the working class, accomplished in the days of February and March, 1848, the opponents of that class — the bourgeois republicans in France, and the bourgeois and peasant classes who were fighting feudal absolutism throughout the whole continent of Europe — were simultaneously conquered; that the victory of the “moderate republic” in France sounded at the same time the fall of the nations which had responded to the February revolution with heroic wars of independence; and finally that, by the victory over the revolutionary workingmen, Europe fell back into its old double slavery, into the English-Russian slavery. The June conflict in Paris, the fall of Vienna, the tragi-comedy in Berlin in November 1848, the desperate efforts of Poland, Italy, and Hungary, the starvation of Ireland into submission — these were the chief events in which the European class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the working class was summed up, and from which we proved that every revolutionary uprising, however remote from the class struggle its object might appear, must of necessity fail until the revolutionary working class shall have conquered; — that every social reform must remain a Utopia until the proletarian revolution and the feudalistic counter-revolution have been pitted against each other in a world-wide war . In our presentation, as in reality, Belgium and Switzerland were tragicomic caricaturish genre pictures in the great historic tableau; the one the model State of the bourgeois monarchy, the other the model State of the bourgeois republic; both of them, States that flatter themselves to be just as free from the class struggle as from the European revolution.
But now, after our readers have seen the class struggle of the year 1848 develop into colossal political proportions, it is time to examine more closely the economic conditions themselves upon which is founded the existence of the capitalist class and its class rule, as well as the slavery of the workers.
We shall present the subject in three great divisions:
The Relation of Wage-Labor to Capital, the Slavery of the Worker, the Rule of the Capitalist.
The Inevitable Ruin of the Middle Classes [petty-bourgeois] and the so-called Commons [peasants] under the present system.
The Commercial Subjugation and Exploitation of the Bourgeois classes of the various European nations by the Despot of the World Market — England.
We shall seek to portray this as simply and popularly as possible, and shall not presuppose a knowledge of even the most elementary notions of political economy. We wish to be understood by the workers. And, moreover, there prevails in Germany the most remarkable ignorance and confusion of ideas in regard to the simplest economic relations, from the patented defenders of existing conditions, down to the socialist wonder-workers and the unrecognized political geniuses, in which divided Germany is even richer than in duodecimo princelings. We therefore proceed to the consideration of the first problem.
WHAT ARE WAGES?
HOW ARE THEY DETERMINED?
If several workmen were to be asked: “How much wages do you get?”, one would reply, “I get two shillings a day”, and so on. According to the different branches of industry in which they are employed, they would mention different sums of money that they receive from their respective employers for the completion of a certain task; for example, for weaving a yard of linen, or for setting a page of type. Despite the variety of their statements, they would all agree upon one point: that wages are the amount of money which the capitalist pays for a certain period of work or for a certain amount of work.
Consequently, it appears that the capitalist buys their labor with money, and that for money they sell him their labor. But this is merely an illusion. What they actually sell to the capitalist for money is their labor-power. This labor-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 labor during the stipulated time. With the same amount of money with which the capitalist has bought their labor-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 labor-power, is the price of 12 hours’ labor. Labor-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.
Their commodity, labor-power, the workers exchange for the commodity of the capitalist, for money, and, moreover, this exchange takes place at a certain ratio. So much money for so long a use of labor-power. For 12 hours’ weaving, two shillings. And these two shillings, do they not represent all the other commodities which I can buy for two shillings? Therefore, actually, the worker has exchanged his commodity, labor-power, for commodities of all kinds, and, moreover, at a certain ratio. By giving him two shillings, the capitalist has given him so much meat, so much clothing, so much wood, light, etc., in exchange for his day’s work. The two shillings therefore express the relation in which labor-power is exchanged for other commodities, the exchange-value of labor-power
The exchange value of a commodity estimated in money is called its price. Wages therefore are only a special name for the price of labor-power, and are usually called the price of labor; it is the special name for the price of this peculiar commodity. which has no other repository than human flesh and blood.
Let us take any worker; for example, a weaver. The capitalist supplies him with the loom and yarn. The weaver applies himself to work, and the yarn is turned into cloth. The capitalist takes possession of the cloth and sells it for 20 shillings, for example. Now are the wages of the weaver a share of the cloth, of the 20 shillings, of the product of the work? By no means. Long before the cloth is sold, perhaps long before it is fully woven, the weaver has received his wages. The capitalist, then, does not pay his wages out of the money which he will obtain from the cloth, but out of money already on hand. Just as little as loom and yarn are the product of the weaver to whom they are supplied by the employer, just so little are the commodities which he receives in exchange for his commodity — labor-power — his product. It is possible that the employer found no purchasers at all for the cloth. It is possible that he did not get even the amount of the wages by its sale. It is possible that he sells it very profitably in proportion to the weaver’s wages. But all that does not concern the weaver. With a part of his existing wealth, of his capital, the capitalist buys the labor-power of the weaver in exactly the same manner as, with another part of his wealth, he has bought the raw material — the yarn — and the instrument of labor — the loom. After he has made these purchases, and among them belongs the labor-power necessary to the production of the cloth he produces only with raw materials and instruments of labor belonging to him. For our good weaver, too, is one of the instruments of labor, and being in this respect on a par with the loom, he has no more share in the product (the cloth), or in the price of the product, than the loom itself has.
Wages, therefore, are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by himself. Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labor-power.
Consequently, labor-power is a commodity which its possessor, the wage-worker, sells to the capitalist. Why does he sell it? It is in order to live.
But the putting of labor-power into action — i.e., the work — is the active expression of the laborer’s own life. And this life activity he sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. His life-activity, therefore, is but a means of securing his own existence. He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another. The product of his activity, therefore, is not the aim of his activity. What he produces for himself is not the silk that he weaves, not the gold that he draws up the mining shaft, not the palace that he builds. What he produces for himself is wages ; and the silk, the gold, and the palace are resolved for him into a certain quantity of necessaries of life, perhaps into a cotton jacket, into copper coins, and into a basement dwelling. And the laborer who for 12 hours long, weaves, spins, bores, turns, builds, shovels, breaks stone, carries hods, and so on — is this 12 hours’ weaving, spinning, boring, turning, building, shovelling, stone-breaking, regarded by him as a manifestation of life, as life? Quite the contrary. Life for him begins where this activity ceases, at the table, at the tavern, in bed. The 12 hours’ work, on the other hand, has no meaning for him as weaving, spinning, boring, and so on, but only as earnings, which enable him to sit down at a table, to take his seat in the tavern, and to lie down in a bed. If the silk-worm’s object in spinning were to prolong its existence as caterpillar, it would be a perfect example of a wage-worker.
Labor-power was not always a commodity (merchandise). Labor was not always wage-labor, i.e., free labor. The slave did not sell his labor-power to the slave-owner, any more than the ox sells his labor to the farmer. The slave, together with his labor-power, was sold to his owner once for all. He is a commodity that can pass from the hand of one owner to that of another. He himself is a commodity, but his labor-power is not his commodity. The serf sells only a portion of his labor-power. It is not he who receives wages from the owner of the land; it is rather the owner of the land who receives a tribute from him. The serf belongs to the soil, and to the lord of the soil he brings its fruit. The free laborer , on the other hand, sells his very self, and that by fractions. He auctions off eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his life, one day like the next, to the highest bidder, to the owner of raw materials, tools, and the means of life — i.e., to the capitalist. The laborer belongs neither to an owner nor to the soil, but eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his daily life belong to whomsoever buys them. The worker leaves the capitalist, to whom he has sold himself, as often as he chooses, and the capitalist discharges him as often as he sees fit, as soon as he no longer gets any use, or not the required use, out of him. But the worker, whose only source of income is the sale of his labor-power, cannot leave the whole class of buyers, i.e., the capitalist class , unless he gives up his own existence. He does not belong to this or that capitalist, but to the capitalist class ; and it is for him to find his man — i.e., to find a buyer in this capitalist class.
Before entering more closely upon the relation of capital to wage-labor, we shall present briefly the most general conditions which come into consideration in the determination of wages. Wages, as we have seen, are the price of a certain commodity, labor-power. Wages, therefore, are determined by the same laws that determine the price of every other commodity. The question then is, How is the price of a commodity determined?
BY WHAT IS THE PRICE OF A COMMODITY DETERMINED?
By the competition between buyers and sellers, by the relation of the demand to the supply, of the call to the offer. The competition by which the price of a commodity is determined is threefold.
The same commodity is offered for sale by various sellers. Whoever sells commodities of the same quality most cheaply, is sure to drive the other sellers from the field and to secure the greatest market for himself. The sellers therefore fight among themselves for the sales, for the market. Each one of them wishes to sell, and to sell as much as possible, and if possible to sell alone, to the exclusion of all other sellers. Each one sells cheaper than the other. Thus there takes place a competition among the sellers which forces down the price of the commodities offered by them.
But there is also a competition among the buyers; this upon its side causes the price of the proffered commodities to rise.
Finally, there is competition between the buyers and the sellers: these wish to purchase as cheaply as possible, those to sell as dearly as possible. The result of this competition between buyers and sellers will depend upon the relations between the two above-mentioned camps of competitors — i.e., upon whether the competition in the army of sellers is stronger. Industry leads two great armies into the field against each other, and each of these again is engaged in a a battle among its own troops in its own ranks. The army among whose troops there is less fighting carries of the victory over the opposing host.
Let us suppose that there are 100 bales of cotton in the market and at the same time purchasers for 1,000 bales of cotton. In this case, the demand is 10 times greater than the supply. Competition among the buyers, then, will be very strong; each of them tries to get hold of one bale, if possible, of the whole 100 bales. This example is no arbitrary supposition. In the history of commerce we have experienced periods of scarcity of cotton, when some capitalists united together and sought to buy up not 100 bales, but the whole cotton supply of the world. In the given case, then, one buyer seeks to drive the others from the field by offering a relatively higher price for the bales of cotton. The cotton sellers, who perceive the troops of the enemy in the most violent contention among themselves, and who therefore are fully assured of the sale of their whole 100 bales, will beware of pulling one another’s hair in order to force down the price of cotton at the very moment in which their opponents race with one another to screw it up high. So, all of a sudden, peace reigns in the army of sellers. They stand opposed to the buyers like on e man, fold their arms in philosophic contentment and their claims would find no limit did not the offers of even the most importunate of buyers have a very definite limit.
If, then, the supply of a commodity is less than the demand for it, competition among the sellers is very slight, or there may be none at all among them. In the same proportion in which this competition decreases, the competition among the buyers increases. Result: a more or less considerable rise in the prices of commodities.
It is well known that the opposite case, with the opposite result, happens more frequently. Great excess of supply over demand; desperate competition among the sellers, and a lack of buyers; forced sales of commodities at ridiculously low prices.
But what is a rise, and what a fall of prices? What is a high and what a low price? A grain of sand is high when examined through a microscope, and a tower is low when compared with a mountain. And if the price is determined by the relation of supply and demand, by what is the relation of supply and demand determined?
Let us turn to the first worthy citizen we meet. He will not hesitate one moment, but, like Alexander the Great, will cut this metaphysical know with his multiplication table. He will say to us: “If the production of the commodities which I sell has cost me 100 pounds, and out of the sale of these goods I make 110 pounds — within the year, you understand — that’s an honest, sound, reasonable profit. But if in the exchange I receive 120 or 130 pounds, that’s a higher profit; and if I should get as much as 200 pounds, that would be an extraordinary, and enormous profit.” What is it, then, that serves this citizen as the standard of his profit? The cost of the production of his commodities. If in exchange for these goods he receives a quantity of other goods whose production has cost less, he has lost. If he receives in exchange for his goods a quantity of other goods whose production has cost more, he has gained. And he reckons the falling or rising of the profit according to the degree at which the exchange value of his goods stands, whether above or below his zero — the cost of production.
We have seen how the changing relation of supply and demand causes now a rise, now a fall of prices; now high, now low prices. If the price of a commodity rises considerably owing to a failing supply or a disproportionately growing demand, then the price of some other commodity must have fallen in proportion; for of course the price of a commodity only expresses in money the proportion in which other commodities will be given in exchange for it. If, for example, the price of a yard of silk rises from two to three shillings, the price of silver has fallen in relation to the silk, and in the same way the prices of all other commodities whose prices have remained stationary have fallen in relation to the price of silk. A large quantity of them must be given in exchange in order to obtain the same amount of silk. Now, what will be the consequence of a rise in the price of a particular commodity? A mass of capital will be thrown into the prosperous branch of industry, and this immigration of capital into the provinces of the favored industry will continue until it yields no more than the customary profits, or, rather until the price of its products, owning to overproduction, sinks below the cost of production.
Conversely: if the price of a commodity falls below its cost of production, then capital will be withdrawn from the production of this commodity. Except in the case of a branch of industry which has become obsolete and is therefore doomed to disappear, the production of such a commodity (that is, its supply), will, owning to this flight of capital, continue to decrease until it corresponds to the demand, and the price of the commodity rises again to the level of its cost of production; or, rather, until the supply has fallen below the demand and its price has risen above its cost of production, for the current price of a commodity is always either above or below its cost of production.
We see how capital continually emigrates out of the province of one industry and immigrates into that of another. The high price produces an excessive immigration, and the low price an excessive emigration.
We could show, from another point of view, how not only the supply, but also the demand, is determined by the cost of production. But this would lead us too far away from our subject.
We have just seen how the fluctuation of supply and demand always bring the price of a commodity back to its cost of production. The actual price of a commodity, indeed, stands always above or below the cost of production; but the rise and fall reciprocally balance each other , so that, within a certain period of time, if the ebbs and flows of the industry are reckoned up together, the commodities will be exchanged for one another in accordance with their cost of production. Their price is thus determined by their cost of production.
The determination of price by the cost of production is not to be understood in the sense of the bourgeois economists. The economists say that the average price of commodities equals the cost of production: that is the law . The anarchic movement, in which the rise is compensated for by a fall and the fall by a rise, they regard as an accident. We might just as well consider the fluctuations as the law, and the determination of the price by cost of production as an accident — as is, in fact, done by certain other economists. But it is precisely these fluctuations which, viewed more closely, carry the most frightful devastation in their train, and, like an earthquake, cause bourgeois society to shake to its very foundations — it is precisely these fluctuations that force the price to conform to the cost of production. In the totality of this disorderly movement is to be found its order. In the total course of this industrial anarchy, in this circular movement, competition balances, as it were, the one extravagance by the other.
We thus see that the price of a commodity is indeed determined by its cost of production, but in such wise that the periods in which the price of these commodities rises above the costs of production are balanced by the periods in which it sinks below the cost of production, and vice versa. Of course this does not hold good for a single given product of an industry, but only for that branch of industry. So also it does not hold good for an individual manufacturer, but only for the whole class of manufacturers.
The determination of price by cost of production is tantamount to the determination of price by the labor-time requisite to the production of a commodity, for the cost of production consists, first of raw materials and wear and tear of tools, etc., i.e., of industrial products whose production has cost a certain number of work-days, which therefore represent a certain amount of labor-time, and, secondly, of direct labor, which is also measured by its duration.
BY WHAT ARE WAGES DETERMINED?
Now, the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general, naturally regulate wages , or the price of labor-power. Wages will now rise, now fall, according to the relation of supply and demand, according as competition shapes itself between the buyers of labor-power, the capitalists, and the sellers of labor-power, the workers. The fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labor-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labor-time necessary for production of this commodity: labor-power.
What, then, is the cost of production of labor-power?
It is the cost required for the maintenance of the laborer as a laborer, and for his education and training as a laborer.
Therefore, the shorter the time required for training up to a particular sort of work, the smaller is the cost of production of the worker, the lower is the price of his labor-power, his wages. In those branches of industry in which hardly any period of apprenticeship is necessary and the mere bodily existence of the worker is sufficient, the cost of his production is limited almost exclusively to the commodities necessary for keeping him in working condition. The price of his work will therefore be determined by the price of the necessary means of subsistence.
Here, however, there enters another consideration. The manufacturer who calculates his cost of production and, in accordance with it, the price of the product, takes into account the wear and tear of the instruments of labor. If a machine costs him, for example, 1,000 shillings, and this machine is used up in 10 years, he adds 100 shillings annually to the price of the commodities, in order to be able after 10 years to replace the worn-out machine with a new one. In the same manner, the cost of production of simple labor-power must include the cost of propagation, by means of which the race of workers is enabled to multiply itself, and to replace worn-out workers with new ones. The wear and tear of the worker, therefore, is calculated in the same manner as the wear and tear of the machine.
Thus, the cost of production of simple labor-power amounts to the cost of the existence and propagation of the worker. The price of this cost of existence and propagation constitutes wages. The wages thus determined are called the minimum of wages. This minimum wage, like the determination of the price of commodities in general by cost of production, does not hold good for the single individual , but only for the race. Individual workers, indeed, millions of workers, do not receive enough to be able to exist and to propagate themselves; but the wages of the whole working class adjust themselves, within the limits of their fluctuations, to this minimum.
Now that we have come to an understanding in regard to the most general laws which govern wages, as well as the price of every other commodity, we can examine our subject more particularly.
Carolus Wimmer: The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Carolus Wimmer: The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/06/carolus-wimmer-great-october-revolution.html
The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America.
By Carolus Wimmer* / Source: International Communist Review, Issue 7, 2017.
I) Introduction
The hundredth anniversary of the Great October Revolution comes in the midst of a counteroffensive by imperialism and the forces of reaction against the social and political advances of the working class. In these conditions, it becomes especially important to deliver the objective truth about the first victorious proletarian Revolution, its historic global importance for the world’s worker movement, for the struggles to liberate the oppressed peoples from imperialism, and ultimately for all humanity.
In 1917, the proletarian and peasant Revolution did not only triumph throughout wide-reaching Russia, but its bells of freedom also began to sound across the globe. Through the construction of a socialist society and the latter building of Communism, the era in which humanity would jump “from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom”[1]– as the well-known definition from Frederich Engels states- had begun.
With the victory of the October Revolution a new social system had begun to be built. The laws of socialist Revolution, which in their earliest form had been elaborated by Marx and Engels, underwent an immense technical and practical development in the melting pot of the Russian Revolution.
That the arena was a great multinational State, with areas of developed Capitalism and others with clear signs of persistent Feudalism and the slave era, does not take anything away from or reduce the quality of the Revolution. Its own characteristics as a socialist Revolution under the hegemony of the working class; the agglutination of all of the oppressed masses; the situation of the Russian Empire, which reflected the real situation of the world under the dominion of Imperialism, all reaffirm the greatness of October and its core principal as the immense and multifaceted Revolution of our time.
For the Latin American nations, exploited as they were by Imperialism, the Russian Revolution bore a three-fold importance:
1. This severe blow at the heart of Imperialism served as a strong stimulus to all the peoples’ struggles and especially by the recently born proletariat of the colonial and dependent world against their oppressors.
2. It meant a fraternal hand from the most advanced class- which had been able to destroy the essence of Capital- to the ample oppressed masses. The totally new international relations which Russia established, its peaceful and anticolonial policies, and the quantitatively different economic links which it offered opened up impressive new horizons for national liberation struggles and, where chosen, to those who wanted to transit down the road towards Socialism. What’s more, as Soviet power began to establish itself and a new correlation of forces was created in the world, Russia transformed itself into a stronghold which put the brakes on, impeded, and defeated other Imperialist interventions.
3. In the ex-Tsarist Empire, the development of the Revolution became an example into itself with proletarian solutions being found to the problems of national self-determination and the incorporation of very backward regions into a more developed economy and culture.
In Latin America, the October Revolution gave our peoples a new perspective. In many countries Communist Parties were created, and the working class vanguard and the clearest minded intelligentsia opened their arms to Lenin’s cause. Yet its influence was even greater than that: there is not a single important popular movement in Latin America in which the powerful stamp of October cannot be seen[2].
In this year (1917) in Venezuela with its rural and pre-capitalist economic structure and in the midst of a fierce military dictatorship controlled by the USA, there was also something new happening. In the west of the country oil based economic activity was beginning, and with it came the creation of the working class in the region: great masses of handicraft workers, peasants, and fisherman started transforming themselves into oil workers. Inspired by the achievements of the Russian Revolution, these workers came to be the backbone of the formation of the Communist Party of Venezuela in 1931 from the Russian Revolution solidarity movements and from the polemic and heated definitions of the Trade Union movement, who were later to lead the vast solidarity movement with the USSR after the attacks of the Second World War.
II) The Communist International and Latin America
The Communist International, also known as the Third International or Comintern, was born out of the October Revolution and founded in March 1919, relating itself perfectly to the working class traditions of the principal and practice of internationalism. As the bourgeoisie and Capital have international characters, the working class do also, and necessarily had to organize their struggles without regard for national borders. In the face of reactionary bourgeois nationalism in Europe, the working class movement proclaimed the idea of internationalism.
In the second half of the 19th Century the First and Second Internationals had existed. The First International had had just a brief existence due to the strong repression which it suffered. The Second International had a longer duration, but the prevalence of opportunist and reformist tendencies at its heart led the majority of social democratic European parties to ally themselves to the bourgeoisie in their countries and support the warmongering policies which led to the First World War and to what Lenin correctly described as bankruptcy.
One of the first challenges the Third International faced was the urgency of considering the relationship between national and international issues, between State and Revolution, between power and the project, especially because now- for the first time- the Communist movement wasn’t merely in opposition but it was in power and was the State, as in ex-Tsarist Russia. How do you connect these elements which are not necessarily concordant? The response to this challenge can be seen throughout the history of the Communist International.
The work of the Communist International was initially directed towards Central Europe, but with its internationalist vision and so that it functioned better, the world leadership of the Communist movement created regional structures.
The idea that the Communist Party of Russia (Bolshevik) deserved great prestige was  something that was accepted in the communist movement, partly because  it “had more experience and authority” but also because it controlled the Country of the Soviets, representing the strategic rear-guard of the worlds communist movement. However, in organisational terms, the Communist Party of Russia (Bolshevik) was just one more section of the Communist International which, together with the other sectionals, obeyed the collective decisions.
In the case of Latin America, the Communist Parties of Mexico, Argentina, and USA played similar roles with respect to the other parties in the region.
Since the beginning of the 1920’s, there were special departments in Moscow for the Latin American subcontinent. Regional Secretariats were created in 1926, and Latin America was placed under the control of the “Latino” Regional Secretariat (“Latin American” as of 1928), with the number of functionaries living in Moscow who were dedicated to Latin America growing (Latin Americans as well as Europeans). The Regional Secretariat was subordinated to the Executive Committee and acted on all relevant issues connected with Latin America.
In 1919 the first branch of the Communist International in Latin America was opened in Mexico, although it only functioned for a few months. By resolution of the Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and as part of the process of “bolshevization”, the South American Secretariat was created in 1925 in Buenos Aires with the aim of contributing to the “intensification and unification of Communist ideological training with the objective of creating a stronger relationship between the South American parties and the Communist International”. The South American Secretariat, with its political campaigns and the work of its press organ- the Correspondencia Sudamericana (South American Correspondent)– played a decisive part in the diffusion of the politics of the Communist International in Latin America. It was reorganized in the summer of 1928 and with the Italian-Argentine Victorio Codovilla at the reins, the fulfilment of its workload was guaranteed.
In Mexico it worked alongside the Anti-imperialist League of the Americas (LADLA in Spanish)- which was founded in 1924- and diverse sub-secretaries which had been created in 1928 for the preparation of the First Latin-American Conference of Trade Unions (celebrated in Montevideo in June 1929), as well as with various regional institutions controlled by the Communists. In New York the Caribbean Bureau was created in 1931 to oversee the same tasks as its South American counterpart.
The LADLA was founded at the end of 1924 by the Communist Parties of Mexico and the USA after receiving the proposal from the Communist International. The idea was based on the concept which was developed by Lenin of a united anti-imperialist front. Workers, peasants, students, and intellectuals from across the American Continent were convened as a consequence to unite against the “principal enemy”: the bourgeoisie of each country and North American imperialism.
III)                The Impact of the October Revolution in Latin America
Workers from the Latin American countries, as those from other parts of the world did, warmly applauded the October Revolution, its great leader Lenin and the Leninist policies of peace, and they declared themselves in defence of the world’s first Socialist State and against the Imperialists and counterrevolution.
Often, the people received true and complete information about the deeds of October in Russia late, and the bourgeois press deliberately tried to silence or twist the great happenings of the world’s first socialist Revolution. All the more in vain, as Pablo Neruda would say, were the efforts of Capitalism to organize a confabulation of silence about Soviet Russia, to deform the truth and turn off the light which was arriving from the other side of the ocean[3].
The peoples of Latin America understood the immense importance of what was happening in far off Russia from the very first days. “I vote for the Russian Bolsheviks without hesitation, as they are showing us the path to peace and the liquidation of the barbaric Capitalist bourgeois regime” stated the founder of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Emilio Recabarren, in the days following the October Revolution. “He who does not defend their cause defends Capitalism and all its horrors” [4].
The progressive Brazilian writer Lima Barreto on the 14th June 1918 wrote that “the Russian Revolution has shaken not only the thrones, but also the social bases of our predatory bourgeois society. The sympathetic wave which has been awoken in our hearts cannot be ignored and it is impossible to drown our desire to see something similar here”[5].
The opinion of the Latin American vanguard was of comprehension and praise for the historic role of the leader of the Proletarian Revolution, V.I. Lenin. The Argentinian scientist José Ingenieros characterized Lenin as a man of “great intelligence” and “illustrious statesmanship”[6] in his work Economic Teachings of the Russian Revolution written in 1920. He also wrote that there had been no obstacles from the dominant bourgeois classes and Governments which may have “stopped the admirable current of good-feeling which the Russian Revolution has awoken across the entire world”[7].
In Argentina, where class rivalry had been considerably exacerbated by the eve of the First World War, 10,000 men took to the streets of Buenos Aires on the 7thNovember 1918 with slogans of support for Soviet Russia.
The 10th Congress of the FORO-V, the largest Trade Union Federation in Argentina, took the decision to “express their most ample solidarity and backing to the workers of Russia… and fervently go out and look for votes of support for the consolidation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Soviets of Russia, so that this supreme aspiration of the proletariat can be established and made a reality”[8].
Victor Codovilla, veteran of the Latin American working class movement and president of the Communist Party of Argentina, remembers that “the most conscious parts of the working class and Argentinian people felt that, with this victory, a new era in the history of humanity had opened up, the era of the fall of Capitalism and of the triumph of Socialism and Communism”[9].
The victory of the October Revolution was welcomed with enthusiasm in Brazil. The workers understood that the October Revolution was a proletarian Revolution, close to the heart of the workers[10], as Astrogildo Pereira, one of the founders of the Brazilian Communist party, recalls. In one example, a public meeting held on the 1st May 1919 in Rio de Janeiro with the participation of 60,000 workers in the Brazilian Capital, approved a message of solidarity with the Russian working class.
Another shining example of proletarian support was the 24-hour strike of 11th July 1919 of the Metal Workers Union in the Federal District of Rio de Janeiro in protest against the intervention of the Imperialist States in Soviet Russia.
The victory of the workers and peasants in Russia was also celebrated by the workers of Cuba. In November 1919 a meeting of workers was held in Habana to commemorate the second anniversary of the October Revolution. The delegates to the Second Workers Congress of Cuba, held in April 1920, sent a fraternal greeting to the soviet workers.
In October 1923, the First Student Congress of Cuba adopted a resolution which protested the unfair isolation to which the new Russia was being subject to by the world powers and to request that the Cuban Government recognize the Socialist Republic of Russia[11].
The heartfelt waves of affection and respect from the Cuban people towards Lenin manifested themselves particularly in the days of January 1924. On the 21st of this month, Antonio Bosch, Mayor of Regla (a suburb of Habana), described Lenin as a “great citizen of the world” and requested that the citizens of the city honour his memory with two minutes of silence and meetings on the 27th January, the day of the funeral of the head of the Proletarian Revolution, in the El Fortin hill where an olive tree would be planted as a symbol of peace “in memory of this date and the deeds which worry us”. More than 1,000 workers, sailors, day labourers, and students from Habana met at the given hour in El Fortin despite the torrential tropical rain where Antonio Bosch and the young Cuban Mercedes Barrero planted an olive tree. Later, all of the meetings progressed to the Municipal Palace where a joint meeting was held in Lenin’s memory. Those at the meeting received telegrams of solidarity from the workers of Santiago of Cuba, Morón, and other cities from the island. The El Fortin Hill has since been called the Lenin Hill[12].
At the start of the 20’s, Soviet Russia was visited by numerous and notable personalities of the Latin American Revolutionary movement. On returning to their countries, they emotionally explained to the workers the achievements of the first proletarian state in the world and published articles and books.
Leader of the Chilean workers and founder of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Emilio Recabarren, spent more than 40 days in the Soviet country in 1922. In the book which he published after his trip, entitled Rusia obrera y campesina (Worker and Peasant Russia), he wrote that “I went to see if the working class did effectively have political power with which they guarantee the conservation in their hands of economic power … I went to see if the working class had abolished once and for all types of Capitalist exploitation and tyranny. I gladly saw that effectively the Russian workers did indeed have all the strength of political and economic power in their hands, and it seemed that there was not a force in this world able to dispose the Russian proletariat of the power that they had won… I could also testify that the expropriation of the exploiters is so complete that a regime of exploitation and tyranny, such as that which we still put up with in Chile, will never return to Russia”[13].
The speeches of Recabarren in Chile about the Soviet Republic produced immense impressions in the auditoriums. Pablo Neruda remembers that in those days a magnificent Chilean returned from the Soviet Republic which had just been born. His name was Luis Emilio Recabarren, and the return of this titanic personality changed the progress of the ideological currents in Neruda’s generation.
Whilst talking to him and listening to his speeches, he understood the feeling of the great event… Recabarren allowed him to understand, with great simplicity, that an entire age has been left in the past, that from the utopia had been born the practical creation of a new State and of a new society[14].
In the same year of 1922, one of the founders of the Uruguay Communist Party, Francisco Pintos, similarly spent various months in the Soviet Republic.
The economic, political, and military strength of the USSR, the increase in its international prestige, as well as the thriving support from the worlds proletariat and the hopes of the commercial foreign mediums to enter into mercantile-economic relations with the USSR are key factors which forced the Governments of the majority of the Capitalist States to abandon their policies of non-recognition of the Soviet Union and proceed towards the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with her.
The foresight of Lenin, expressed in his speech to the Plenary of Soviets of Moscow on the 20th November 1922, about how “economic relations- and through them diplomatic ones- will normalize themselves, must normalize themselves, and will be normalized without fail” came perfectly true[15].
IV) The October Revolution and its influence in the formation of Communist Parties: an approximation
The October Revolution was a response from the Russian working class, peasants, and soldiers to feudal despotism and Capitalist exploitation. The Latin American working class and workers from the city and countryside similarly understood this: not only were good feelings towards Russia on the increase, but so was the consciousness of the need to follow the example of the Russian Revolution to construct Socialism-Communism.
In 1918 in Argentina, Victorio Codovilla and Rodolfo Ghioldi founded the International Socialist Party, which, with only 92 days since its foundation, decided to affiliate itself to the Communist International the following year. Codovilla, who had started his political activism in his home country in the ranks of the Italian Socialist Party, and was now a resident of Buenos Aires, was amongst the founders of the “Karl Marx Study Centre” in 1912.
In 1919 in Guatemala the League of Patriotic Workers was organized, which only months later was the principal driving force behind the insurrection of the workers against the dictatorship. In 1921 the 1st May was celebrated for the first time in this country.
Also in 1919 the First Socialist Congress of Mexico was held, which, with a majority of votes, decided to incorporate itself into the Communist International. Two months later it opted to change its name in accord with the international organisation which it had just joined: it would now be the Mexican Communist Party.
In Colombia, the Trade Union Federation, the Confederation for Social Action, and the Society of Mutual Assistance met, and, with the representation of 20 associations and guilds, formed a Socialist Party which would be used to promote the independence of the working class from other political parties and religious sects and to fight for working class concessions. Its main initial themes were proclaimed to be freedom, equality, and fraternity.
Despite the fact that we are concentrating on Latin America and the Caribbean, it is also important to mention the foundation of proletarian parties in the USA: the Communist Party and the Workers Communist Party. Both parties worked clandestinely and joined the Communist International, unifying themselves in 1921. The US Communist Party gained legality in 1929.
The people of Guatemala rose up against the dictator in 1920 and were able to overthrow him. This victory bought new energy to the young working class, and class based Trade Union organisation grew with the creation of the Trade Union confederation “Worker’s Union”.
On the 17th July 1920 the Second Congress of the Communist International met in Petrograd, setting the conditions which working class parties would have to meet to be accepted into its ranks. Lenin’s report “On the role of the Communist Party in a proletarian Revolution” was accepted, censuring the opportunist theses of some Trade Unionists which maintained the uselessness of a political party of the working class and the priority of the Trade Unions.
The report assures that revolutionary Trade Unionists “wish to fight against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie but don’t know how. They don’t understand that the working class without an autonomous party is like a headless tree trunk. The Trade Unionist and Revolutionary industrialist represent a step forward only in comparison with the old, rancid, counterrevolutionary ideology of the Second International. But, in comparison with Revolutionary Marxism, i.e. Communism, Trade Unionism and industrialism are but a step backwards”[16].
Under this Leninist line, the 8th Congress of the Uruguayan Socialist Party decided with a massive majority to incorporate themselves into the Communist International. The following year-1921- they decide to change their name to the Communist Party of Uruguay.
In December 1920, the Socialist Workers Party of Chile which had been founded in 1912 by Luis Emilio Recabarren and which had manifested its warm felt support for the October Revolution in 1919, now decided to join the Communist International. In 1922 it opted for the name of the Communist Party of Chile.
In June 1921, the Constituent Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions met in Moscow with 41 countries, including an important class-based contingent from Latin America.
In 1921 the Third Congress of the Communist International met with the assistance of 50 affiliated parties, including Latin Americans. One of the central objectives was the creation of a unified front which would allow the union of all of the workers in the fight against Capitalism. An ample discussion was held on tactical questions, and guided as it was by Lenin, the Communist International recommended “criticizing in a fraternal, but energetic and clear way, the anarchic-Trade Union tendencies which reject the dictatorship of the proletariat and negate the necessity of a leading, unique, central organization to work with the Revolutionary vanguard, i.e. a Communist party[17]. The Communist International judged the “fusion of the Revolutionary labour organisations and Communists into a united front” as being possible[18].
With this political line numerous unconnected Marxist groups met in March 1922 in Rio de Janeiro by the invitation of A. Pereira, director of the journal “O Movimento Comunista” (The Communist Movement) and resolved to construct the Brazilian Communist Party.
By the end of 1922, the following Communist Parties existed in Latin America, each of which acted as Latin American sections of the Communist International: Argentina (January 1918), Mexico (November 1919), Uruguay (September 1920), Chile (January 1922), Brazil (March 1922) and Guatemala (1922).
As per the logic of the Latin American class struggle, faced by the plan of the Communist International, US Imperialism counter-attacked; and faced with Revolutionary advances by the working class, in 1923 the Fifth Pan-American Conference met in Santiago of Chile.
In 1924, year of the passing away of Vladimir Ilich Lenin in Gorki in January aged 54, a great depression overtook the progressive forces of the world, including the Latin American Communists.
Lenin’s work, however, continued to expand in the Latin American region. This very year the Communist Party of Honduras was founded, instantly confronting the imperialist United Fruit Company with heroic acts, and declaring itself as a sectional of the Comintern on the very day of its foundation.
In August 1925 the Communist Party of Cuba was organized in illegal conditions. Back in February 1917 an insurrection against the Government which was coordinated with numerous strikes had caused US Imperialism to take the opportunity to send marines to invade the island, under legal protection from the Platt Amendment. The occupation lasted until 1922, during which the first steps for the creation of a Communist movement were taken: left wing socialists met and approved a declaration recognising the need for the creation of a unified party, such as the Comintern had suggested. Marxist groups from various cities and villages were organized in build up to August 1925 when, in a clandestine congress, the Communist Party of Cuba was born, with its leaders requesting immediate incorporation into the Comintern.
In Argentina in 1925 a strong anti-imperialist Latin American movement was given form, with great resonance in the intellectual world. Amongst its objectives was “to develop in the Latin American peoples a consciousness of solidarity for national and continental interests, supporting all ideological renovation which pushes for the exercising of popular sovereignty and combatting all types of dictatorship which oppose social reforms”[19].
In 1926 in Ecuador some Marxist-Leninist groups had sprung up since 1920, and in 1924 Ricardo Paredes founded the newspaper ‘La Antorcha’ (‘The Torch’). In 1925 the ‘Ecuadorian Communist Sectional for the Divulgation of the Ideas of Lenin’ was organized, with workers and intellectuals affiliating themselves. In May 1926 the Ecuadorian Socialist Party was formed, incorporating itself to the Comintern in 1928.
In Brazil, the Communists started making contact with the Revolutionary, democratic military movements (lieutenant rank mostly) which Luis Carlos Prestes presided over. From these contacts was born the Worker-Peasant Front.
In most Latin American Countries Anti-imperialist leagues appeared, such as in Mexico and Cuba, which combined the class-based Revolutionary struggle with the international solidarity struggle. Revolutionary intellectuals commonly participated in these organisations, often editing numerous newspapers in which North American Imperialism was challenged with great worth.
By initiative of Ghioldi and Codovilla, in December 1926 the Communist Party of Argentina manifested their solidarity with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, ratifying their energetic opposition to Trotskyism and its conceptions, describing them as “erroneous, adventurous, and anti-Leninist”[20].
Propelled by this Revolutionary and anti-imperialist upsurge, in Nicaragua in July 1927 General Augusto Sandino, the “General of free men”, started the patriotic war of the guerrillas against the invading North American troops. Next to Sandino was the El Salvadorian Communist Farabundo Martí. This movement for national liberation received the support of all of the anti-imperialist sectors of Latin America. The Venezuelan Communists Carlos Aponte and Gustavo Machado were also on the scene. For the people it was the start of a historic struggle which culminated with the victory of the Sandinista Revolution decades afterwards.
At the anti-imperialist Congress held in Brussels in 1927 and presided over by the French writer Henry Barbusse, Latin Americans such as Gustavo Machado (Venezuela), Jose Vasconcelos (Mexico), and Victor Codovilla (Argentina) were present.
Similarly, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations for the October Revolution in November 1927, some of the most important Revolutionary leaders in the world congregated in Moscow, with the Latin Americans who were present taking advantage of the encounter to discuss strategy and tactics in the Latin American struggle.
In 1928 in Moscow the 6th Congress of Comintern was held, with Latin America being amongst the themes discussed. Taking into account the existence of mass-based organisations, the Congress considered the need to transform “the expression of the will of these mass-based political parties into truly Bolshevik parties”. With this objective the Caribbean Bureau was created, and the Socialist Party of Ecuador and Socialist Revolutionary Party of Colombia were accepted as Comintern sectionals.
In September 1928 the Peruvian Communist Party was founded, with Jose Carlos Mariátegui as its most important leader.
In Colombia, an extraordinary resurgence of the masses, as much in the labour organisations as well as the political parties, drove the conservative Government to consider a law to restrict the constitutional guarantees and prohibit the practices of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (PSR). At the time, the Venezuelan General and anti-dictatorial fighter, Emilio Arevalo Cedeño was exiled in Colombia and, whilst working with the plans of the PSR, was planning an invasion of Venezuela through the plains, giving Cedeño, an ex-telegraphist, the nickname of the “new Sandino”[21].
In June of 1929 the First Communist Conference of Latin America took place in Buenos Aires. Thirty-eight delegates took part from fifteen countries across the region (Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Paraguay) as well as delegates from the Comintern, the Youth Comintern, from the Communist Parties of the United States and France. In the same year, the Caribbean Bureau set up a Support Committee in Barranquilla, Colombia, for the incipient Communist movement which was working clandestinely in Venezuela. At the head of the mission was Gustavo Machado, who later became the President of the Communist Party of Venezuela whilst residing in Bogota.
In Venezuela since 1914 various foreign companies, led by Royal Dutch Shell, were extracting oil from the ground, reaching a total of 332.000 barrels. During this year, work on the first commercial refinery began, with great quantities of handicraft workers, peasants, and fisherman being transformed into oil workers. Inspired by the news of class struggle on the old continent and the victory of the Bolsheviks, political and labour struggles expanded. The US, alongside the Venezuelan dictator, recognized the dangers that the example of the October Revolution could set when, in 1918, they expressed that “the doctrines of the radicals in Europe will have a greater impact in the countries where the ignorant and poor people are deprived of their political rights. Driven by the initiative of the social parties of Mexico and Puerto Rico, a public propaganda campaign is seeking the formation of a Workers League in all of the countries of America. This type of agitation is dangerous for us because our enemies will try to exploit it and some of those will start replicating the extremist doctrines of the Russians, i.e. the redistribution of land and wealth amongst workers and soldiers…”[22].
On the 5th March 1931, the first Communist branch in Venezuela was constructed in clear clandestinity, and on the 1st May the first manifesto from the Venezuelan Communist Party was circulated “to the working people”. The manifesto finished with a phrase from Lenin: “the gun on the shoulder of a worker is the only guarantee of democracy”, and amongst the slogans used was “Long Live Soviet Russia”.
Equally, for the first time in Venezuela, the Bolshevik Revolution was mentioned in a party political document, stating that “in Russia, the largest country in the world and with a population 50 times greater than Venezuela’s, which was submitted to a tyranny as bloody as that of Gomez- the Tsarist regime- the workers and peasants overthrew this Government thirteen years ago and put in place a Government of their own class, a workers and peasant Government called Soviet. The lands of the great landowners have been redistributed to those who directly worked them, and the factories, mines, and businesses have become collective property of the workers Soviets… wages have gone up and prices have fallen and there are no workers unemployed… in the schools, colleges, and universities workers and their children are given preference and the Government covers all of the needs of all of the students. Women enjoy exactly the same rights and advantages as men and are given complete time off for 2 months before and 2 months after giving birth. Under the worker and peasant Government in Soviet Russia comfortable and clean houses are being built for the workers, magnificent tower blocks for rehabilitation centres, hospitals, clubs, libraries, schools for the workers, who enjoy a freedom and comfort that has never been seen before in the world by the class which produces… the workers of the entire world are struggling and organizing to do that which their class brothers have done in Russia”[23].
V)                 Conclusions
“As the exploitation of one individual by another will also be put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to”[24] wrote Karl Marx and Frederich Engels in the Communist Manifesto. One hundred years later these words have been made a reality in Latin America and the Caribbean thanks to the October Revolution of 1917 and the presence of Communist Parties.
Despite the fact that Lenin couldn’t apply himself extensively to Latin America, it was not absent from his worries. In his works about Imperialism there are frequent references to Latin America, using Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay to illustrate his theory and show the worst effects of the inter-imperialist contradictions that divided the region. In the First Congress of Soviets he denounced the North American imperialists who “are anxious to devour Mexico” [25].
With the great Revolution of October, the theory of a modern Revolution with its specific anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-oligarchic characteristics and with its uninterrupted transition to the socialist-communist Revolution expanded to Latin America.
On one hand the objective socio-economic structures existed for the popularization of Marxism-Leninism: Imperialist penetration, Capitalism, a deepening of the class struggle, and agrarian problem which still today have not been solved. On the other hand, the existed an increase in the entire region of liberation movements as part of a global “revolutionary situation of general character” whose apex was the Great October Revolution.
The Communist Parties found in the examples of popular action and socio-political thought the subjective factors which bring alive the Revolutionary processes of the region even today.
Carolus Wimmer.
We commemorate with Revolutionary optimism this 100-year anniversary of the October Revolution expressing as did Lenin in 1905: “the defeat of Russian Tsardom- heroically started by our working class- will change the course of all of the countries, will ease the task of the workers of all nations, of all states, across all of the confines of the Globe”[26].
The history of the last 100 years clearly confirms the truth of this Leninist vision.
[1] Eduardo Viera. Revista Internacional (International Review), Caracas, 1977, pg. 32
[2] Ibid, pg. 33
[3] Pravda, 8.XI, 1964
[4]Pravda, 5.XI, 1967. Quote taken from the pronounced speech in Moscow of Luis Corvalán, General Secretary of the CC of the CP of Chile in the formal meeting dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution of October.
[5] L.Barreto. Obras completas (Complete Works), Sao Paulo, 1956, t. IX, pg.72
[6] J. Ingenieros. Enseñanzas económicas de la revolución rusa. Los tiempos nuevos (Economic Lessons of the Russian Revolution. New Times), Buenos Aires, 1950, pg. 211
[7] Ibid, pg. 229
[8] Nuestra Palabra (Our Word), Buenos Aires, 21.XXX, 1967
[9] Pravda, 7.XI, 1964
[10] A. Pereira. Ensayos de Historia del Brasil (Lessons of Brazilian History), Moscow, 1962, pg. 260. Also see Problemas, 1958, N° 39
[11] Revista Cuba (Cuban Review), November 1967, pg.4
[12] Revista Cuba (Cuban Review), November 1967, pg. 5-6
[13] Revista Internacional (International Review), 1967, N°11, pg. 80
[14] Pravda, 8.XI, 1964
[15] V. I. Lenin. Selected Works in three volumes, Spanish edition, t.3, Moscow, 1966, pg. 754
[16] Ibid, pg.182-183
[17] Ibid, pg. 184
[18] Ibid, pg. 184
[19] Ibid, pg. 188-189
[20] Ibid, pg. 189
[21] Ibid, pg. 193
[22] Ibid, pp. 4-5
[23] J. Sanoja Hernández. 60 años de la URSS y su impacto en el proceso político venezolano (60 Years of the USSR and its impact on the Venezuelan Political Process), Caracas, Cantaclaro Editions, 1983, pp.27-28
[24] Ibid, pg. 8
[25] V. I. Lenin. Complete Works, 2° ed., Buenos Aires, Cartago, t. X, pg. 94
[26] Ibid, pg. 95.
* Director of the Journal “Debate Abierto” (Open Debate), International Relations Secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela.