Does Karl Marx's "Capital Theory" have any modern significance? Now that the Soviet Union and other socialist nations have collapsed and events such as the Communist Revolution have taken place in history, will "capital theory" be one of the classics only researchers can have?
Never so. Now that neo-liberalism has spread all over the world and the gap between rich and poor has become more and more intense, "theory of capital" should be read. This book draws a big help line for that.
Why do we think, “If you don't acquire skills, you cannot live”? Do you think that people who are suffering from poverty are “self-responsibility”?
The author explains that it is because our way of thinking, and even our soul, has been "included" in the capitalist society. Even though the purpose of capitalism is to multiply profits, not to enrich people.
Marx preached a "class struggle" in which workers make various demands on capitalists as a means to save suffering workers. However, under the current neo-liberalism, various mechanisms have been created that are advantageous to capitalists, such as the tax rate of the wealthy being kept lower than that of ordinary workers.
No one would think that issues such as disparity, poverty, and black companies would remain as they are. But I have no idea how to change it. It must be remembered that everyone has the right to live affluently, not just with or without skills. This book inspires us with such messages from "Capital Theory."
Main points of this book
Why study Marx's "Capital Theory" now? It is to know the reason for the absurdity and the pain we face in our lives, and to use it as a weapon for survival.
Capitalism is a society where everything is sold and bought as a product, and the labor force is also treated as a "product that produces a product."
Even if a machine enters a work place or an AI enters, a worker is never made easy. Regardless of the value they generate, the wages paid are based on the minimum amount a worker needs to stay alive.
Marx revives in modern times
"Capital theory" for survival
Why study Marx's "Capital Theory" now? The review of "capital theory," which has been filled with huge amounts of research and critiques, is to use it as a weapon for survival.
The great thing about "capital theory" is not limited to the macroeconomic story of the international economy and global capitalism. He is also involved in extremely familiar and very micro areas such as why his boss takes an unpleasant attitude, and shows that they are all connected.
By knowing "capital theory," it would be ridiculous to live in a situation in which we would have to suffer, and the world would change drastically if more and more people fell into it.
What is a capitalist society?
At the beginning of "Capital Theory", "Our research begins with the analysis of commodities," with the words "The social wealth that is dominant in the capitalist production pattern appears as "a huge product accumulation"." Tied with.
Why does "capital theory" begin with the analysis of "commodities"? This is because, in our living society, most of the necessary things are obtained as "commodities" and we also produce "commodities" through labor. In fact, the labor force is also a “commodity” that capitalists buy from workers.
In other words, the capitalist society is a society in which "production of goods by goods" such as labor is performed, and can be further expressed as a society in which "wealth" and "goods" are equated. In a society where people were self-sufficient in what they needed, they had "wealth" but not "commodities." In this capitalist society, even products that are not yet commercialized will eventually be commercialized.
Where do the products come from?
According to Marx, "the product does not occur inside the community" about the process of creating the "product." For example, you rarely buy or sell things in a family community. The exchange of goods consists only of the act of exchanging outside the community, where there is no relationship between the person who sold and the person who bought it, and the post-rotation. On the contrary, in the community, economic transactions and human relationships are inextricably united, and "lending and borrowing" and "association" inevitably occur.
As the degree of capitalism increases, the communal world narrows. On the other hand, more and more people will be free from the internal constraints of the community. In feudal times, lords had a responsibility to feed their servants, but in a capitalist society, paid wages do not require capitalists to worry about the lives of workers.
[Must read!] Human beings changed by neoliberalism
Body and soul swallowed by capital
To work was to work together to maintain a community. However, in the capitalist society, the product of labor force became the target of buying and selling. The labor force is then used to produce "surplus value". This surplus value is crucial for understanding "capital theory". We will look at this in more detail later, so let's first consider what the surplus value produces.
The production of surplus value has the fate that productivity must be continuously increased. This is because the manual labor in the home loses its price competitiveness all at once when the products are mass-produced at the factory for cost reduction. Due to this change, workers will be restricted by the way capitalists work. The production process will be subdivided and routine work will be performed.
In "Capital theory", such a change is called "inclusion". Workers who carry out routine work are completely subsidized by physical movements as capital. While doing so, the inclusion of soul and sensibility will spread. The point of this is the rise of neo-liberalism, which thinks that "a person gains value only when he or she acquires the skills and powers that are useful for capital."
Why life is boring
A capitalist society can be said to be a "society in which most of the necessary things are obtained and provided through the production, distribution, and consumption of goods." The definition of “most” is ambiguous, but it is in a capitalist society that the proportion increases endlessly. What was thought to be unsuitable for commercialization will be commercialized one after another.
One of them is education. If education is a product, it is expected that it will be useful when you do not know when it will be implemented. Therefore, education is considered a "bad product." Students will also become passive consumers. Instead of thinking "I'll find something interesting and learn it", I end up with an attitude of "Tell me something interesting." If that happens, your life will probably be boring. The devastation of this educational site will continue unless the commercialization of education is stopped.
The capitalist society aims at increasing the value that can be converted into money. It doesn't matter to the capital whether or not it makes people richer.
AI does not make humans easy
AI (artificial intelligence) has become a hot topic in the economic world. There is also an argument that "AI will work, so people will not have to work anymore", but it can be understood by reading "Capital Theory" that this will never happen under capitalism. In fact, the introduction of computers should have improved work efficiency, but working hours are getting longer and longer.
why. To answer this question, we must understand the duality of all products: "use value (quality)" and "exchange value (quantity)". Value in use is the usefulness of what it is useful for, and can be understood to some extent by examining the product. On the other hand, the exchange value is the transaction price, which cannot be seen even if the product itself is examined. It depends on what is caused by the social relationship in which the product is placed, that is, the social attribute.
This duality is extremely important for each worker in the product of the labor force. The labor force produces surplus value because the wages paid are set lower than the economic value generated by the labor force. This is called the exploitation of labor by capital. The standard wage is the "minimum level" that allows workers to continue living without quitting work.
Machines such as computers are for efficiently producing this surplus value. Therefore, people have to exert new usage value and produce surplus value by the amount of working hours reduced there, and if it cannot do that, the exchange value of wages can only be lowered.
Why innovation does not make people happy
Two types of "surplus value"
How can we produce more surplus value from constant capital? Marx divides the method into "absolute surplus value" and "relative surplus value".
Absolute surplus value is the surplus value that can be obtained by lengthening working hours. But this has its limits. There is no choice but to put an upper limit on the amount of time a worker can work a day. Therefore, the labor time required for a certain work is shortened and the productivity is improved. The surplus value created by this is called the relative surplus value.
Furthermore, "Capital theory" also considers innovation. In Marxian terms, innovation refers to the acquisition of “special surplus value”. This is the profit that can be obtained by lowering the price of goods with increased productivity.
However, innovation will soon be imitated and lose its superiority, and profits will decline. In that case, constant competition for technological innovation will occur in search of the next special surplus value. Far from being profitable for workers, it's just a pile of meaningless jobs. Still, capital compels workers to do so. This is because the essence of “capital” is to exercise for surplus value.
How has modern capitalism changed?
What is the current situation of capitalism? It is often heard that "Fordism-type capitalism flourished in the latter half of the 20th century, but it stalled and neoliberalism became the mainstream in the 21st century."
Fordism comes from the car maker Ford. What was epoch-making was to try to give workers relatively high wages and turn them into consumers to mass sell cars. For this reason, we have engaged workers in the pursuit of productivity in factories and competition for special surplus value.
However, since the 1970s, economic growth slowed in developed countries. Ideas and sensibilities became more important for the production of surplus value than mass production by efficient simple work. However, trying to train workers who can innovate on their own was not successful.
Therefore, neoliberalism, which tries to create surplus value by stripping workers' vested interests and lowering the distribution rate to workers, has emerged. We entered an era of fluidization of society, where the capabilities and employment patterns required of workers change in a short period of time.
It is known that the surplus value created by innovation is high, and the key to the development of capitalism is ultimately the cheap labor force.
Can you say "Can you eat something like this!"?
An era where everyone cannot be rich
This book is an introductory book to "Capital Theory," but the underlying theme is "Overthrow of neoliberalism." The true form of neoliberalism is the "top to bottom" class struggle. In the classical sense of class struggle, workers demanded the distribution of surplus value monopolized by capitalists. But while the workers had forgotten the class struggle, the capitalists had won the struggle to increase their share.
In fact, millionaire investor Warren Buffett has revealed that the tax rate on him is lower than his secretary.
What we should think about today is measures to restore the class struggle by workers, but all the strategies that were once advocated have been nullified. The French Revolution-type violent revolution was virtually impossible, the Soviet-style socialism that nationalized the means of production collapsed, and liberalism that aimed at equalization through state intervention gave in to neoliberalism. The militant trade unions have been expelled and are not working at all for the problems of non-regular workers.
So where do you start? It is necessary to go back and think about "capital theory" once.
The one that starts is always finished
Marx has hardly mentioned the concrete theory of class struggle in "Capital". This is because Marx's research into capitalism has led him to understand that the causes of various problems are not the personality of individual capitalists, but the structure of society.
How is Marx's economics in "Capital" different from the classical economics advocated by Adam Smith and Ricardo who criticized him? In classical economics, capitalism was regarded as "natural from the beginning and likely to be eternal". However, Marx saw it as "there is a beginning and an end," and thought that the capitalist class would eventually end and the capitalist society would end.
The right to eat delicious food
In the capitalist society, the principle of equivalence exchange is adhered to, and law and power watch whether the rules are enforced. So Marx-influenced legal scholar Pashkanis argued that "the abolition of equivalence exchange" is the way for communism to go.
Then, what is the equivalent of the labor force product being exchanged? Returning to "capital theory", it means the "minimum necessary level" that allows workers to continue living. Should I be patient with it?
In fact, the origin of the class struggle may lie in whether or not it is possible to endure this low level of living, such as a poor diet. The capital may say, "I don't need that luxury." But then, whether or not I can say, "I have the right to eat good food." It is to increase their value, the value of equivalent exchange.
If I say, "I have no skills, it is of low value," and even the soul will be included in capital. To confront it, you must believe in the fundamental value of human beings that you need to be richer.
Recommendation of reading
Recently, I have come across many business books with the title "as a weapon". Many of them have know-how on how to improve their skills and value to become a “high-selling” person.
This book was probably written with the purpose of being an antithesis of such books. The author explains, based on "Capital Theory," what kind of society is capitalism, and what it means to sell one's own labor force, with its own interpretation.
Many business people have doubts about their daily work and are beginning to wonder what it means to work. Opening this book will give you a new perspective, not just know-how.