An exchange of views on Marx’s relations of production 2

The previous post raised a host of issues and it would take a great deal of time to address all of them adequately. Instead I’ll limit myself to only four, which I will still only touch upon.

1.In Marx’s time the main form of the petty bourgeoisie was the peasantry.   This class has declined dramatically across Europe, North America and Japan and is declining relatively in the rest of the world.  By contrast the working class, those that live by their wage labour, has grown enormously, and continues to do so, most recently in East Asian countries including China.  An ILO report from 2013 reported that in 2011 the world-wide labour force employed in agriculture was 1.208 billion, while that working in industry and services totaled 2.057 billion.  There may be more recent figures and more detailed analysis but the basic point would only be reinforced.

These trends are important because they reveal not just class numbers loosely defined but property relationships and class relationships as understood by Marxists. They reveal the growth of the class that Marx held was the grave-digger of capitalism and reduction in that class which owns, or is otherwise tied to, the means of production as land.  It also reveals the increasing role of capital and the class that personifies it. After all, the growth of wage labour and the working class implies the growth of capital that employs and exploits this wage labour.

2. It is argued that there is an emergence of a petty bourgeoisie and the example of Britain is referred to, where “the number of small firms paying taxes to the State as documented by government statistics is 5.7 million. a small firm in the statistics is defined as employing 250 people or less. Many of the 5.7 million we can presume to have families of at least one other person, so the number of people belonging to the petty bourgeoisie could be said to be about 11. 4 million.” Given that the population of the UK is 65.6m the petty bourgeoisie would be over 17% of this population.

But who are these petty bourgeoisie?  Well 76% of these small firms don’t employ anyone.  In Marxist parlance, they don’t exploit labour power. Of the remaining small businesses 96% employ an average of 1.6 workers.

On the other hand, seven thousand large businesses employ 40% of the labour force and account for 49% of total turnover of business.  The rest of the labour force, and just over half of the turnover, is accounted for 5,687,000 businesses. We therefore have a position in which 96% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees.

Over the 15 years from 2001 to 2016, in each year, 10% to 12% of businesses die while 10 to15% of businesses are born. Over ten years the odds aren’t good on surviving, although obviously, many do.  Not so far the makings of a powerful social class.

So over three quarters of the “petty bourgeoisie” don’t employ labour power.  They are self-employed.  So who are these self-employed?

It is first necessary to note that this group has grown in the UK over the last number of years from 3.3 million people in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, or from 12% of the labour force to 15%.  However, this growth has been driven by those self-employed who employ no one but themselves, accounting for 2.4 million in 2001 and 4 million in 2016.

The level of earnings among the self-employed is lower than those in employment.  The most common level is £400 per week for employees but only £240 per week for the self-employed, and the difference in the median earnings between the two groups has grown during these fifteen years.

Earnings of part time self-employed male workers were only just over half of their total income while almost 34% came from pension and retirement income, which was also the second most important source of income for female part-time self-employed workers, who also relied on benefits and tax credits for over 17% of their total income. Many of the self-employed are therefore at an age to collect their pension, or rely on welfare benefits and tax credits.

In terms of wealth just over 25% of the self-employed do not own property, while a slightly greater proportion (26.9%) of employees own no property.  The proportion owning less than £125,000 is less than 30% but around 35% for employees.  At the highest end about 10% of self-employed have property wealth of £500, 000 and over, while the share is only just over 5% for employees.

Just over 45% of the self-employed have no private pension wealth and the self-employed lag behind employees in all the income ranges of such wealth, from those with private pensions worth less than £25,000 to those that have pensions worth more than £500,000. If we look at financial wealth there is little difference between the two groups in the 35 to 54 age group, although 19.4% of the self-employed fall into the £100,000 and over range while only 12.2% of employees do so.

So even if we took, as a crude estimate, the top 20% of the self-employed as owning significant wealth, wealth that is however not enough to save them from working – as we have seen many still do so after retirement, we are talking about roughly 20% of 4.8m, which is nearly 1 million.

If we repeat the exercise of adding one additional family member, which may be on the low side, we get 2 million people.  If we add the number of small and medium businesses that actually employ people, and also add one family member to each, we get 2.7 million people.  In other words, this method of estimating the petty bourgeoisie gives us a total of 4.7 million, not 11.4.  If we round this figure up to 5 million (this is hardly a scientific exercise anyway) we get a percentage of 7.6% of the UK population. Even if we made a crude estimate to work out this group as a proportion of the adult population, the percentage would be something like 10% of the total population. By no means insignificant but less impressive when we consider the tiny fraction of the population that can be considered as consisting of the capitalist class and the vast majority who can be considered as the working class.

The point of this exercise is only to show that this approach to trying to show the power of a new petty bourgeoisie is faulty.  For example, many of the self-employed are construction workers enticed into such status through tax incentives, while many are described as ‘dependent self-employed’, who have none of the advantages of workers’ rights such as employment protection, holiday and sickness entitlements.  In these ways they are exploited more than many employed workers.

Of course, there are self-employed finance consultants, some making do after redundancy from the City; and others are IT consultants, journalists, engineers, accountants etc.  We have seen that many earn less than ordinary employees and could be more accurately classified as such.  The self-employed include in their ranks taxi drivers, plumbers, hairdressers, lorry drivers, musicians and other artists, as well as a host of others.  Legal definition should not get in the way of class analysis.

3. Belfast Plebian makes reference to the idea that the petty bourgeoisie “lived off a surplus extracted from the manual proletariat.”  So far as Marx was concerned the distribution of surplus value involved the payment of state employees out of the surplus created by workers in the productive sector of the economy through taxation.  By productive sector we mean productive of surplus value.  In this case cleaners in the NHS, civil servants in offices and teachers in schools are all paid from surplus value created by other workers.

Most people would understand these people as part of the working class, and they would be right. Irrespective of legal definition, this is also true of many self-employed workers.

Productive workers (productive of surplus value) are not by that account exploited by these workers, since the latter are paid a wage, not out of capital but out of taxation of surplus value.  Their labour is not exploited but the productive labour from which their wages originate is exploited by capital, which is taxed.  They are paid a wage that generally represents a value equal to their labour power, which may be less than the value that their labour time worked might otherwise produce in the productive sector.

Those self-employed, or highly paid state employees, or even more highly paid managers of capitalist enterprises, may be paid a salary that is so high it would not involve any exploitation, where they productive workers.  That is, their salary would cover not only the value of their labour power, the assumed value created by their necessary labour that corresponds to a normal wage, but also any potential surplus value that they could create, that normally would be appropriated by the capitalist as profit.

It should be recognised that many workers described as middle managers or even senior managers are not in any real sense allied to capital in the suppression of their fellow workers, in their assurance of the social reproduction of the capitalist system.  In the state sector in the NHS for example, you can be a ‘senior manager’ but have little control over the organisation you work for, and such control as you have is simply supervision of more junior staff, and if you’re lucky, some minor control over your own work.

Many professions are being proletarianised, with accountants and lawyers more and more divided between those training and earning a pittance; those qualified and hoping for a decent wage; and those earing smaller or larger fortunes at the top of the profession.

That a worker therefore lives off the surplus value created by another worker, either in the state or private sector, does not therefore make them part of the petty bourgeoisie; just as in the contrary case, someone earning a salary could be paid so much that they are amassing capital through savings. The latter might move from well-paid worker creating surplus value, to a petty bourgeois that isn’t exploited, to a manager aspiring to becoming a capitalist. As we have seen, most self-employed are not in the last camp, not in the second camp either, but are in the first – they are effectively working class.

4. Belfast Plebian states that ‘the division of mental and manual labour is directly bound up with the monopolisation of knowledge, Those ‘Marxists’ who do acknowledge the mediating role of the petty bourgeoisie try to save the two class schema of Marx by classifying the new petty bourgeoisie in terms more akin to high skilled workers and therefore still make them receptive to a future socialism, but what sort of socialism?”

Belfast plebian is right that what he calls the petty bourgeoisie are often skilled workers, as I have argued above.  In contrast to many socialists today, who equate socialism with the interests of simply the poor, it has often been reactionary conservatives who have appealed to skilled workers as a means of dividing the working class.

But Marx makes clear that capitalism makes the working class fit to become the ruling class of society and it has done so by increasingly destroying any basis for the monopolization of knowledge.  As this post makes clear, capitalism has created and is still creating an educated working class, and without it no socialism is possible.  Only a view that socialism arises solely from crisis and oppression can fail to recognise and welcome this development as, far from postponing or calling into question the potential to create a new society, the increasing education of working people makes it more likely.

And what sort of socialism does this make workers receptive to? Well, one in which they can develop to the full their existing freedom, knowledge and capacities, that capitalism has promised and given potential to, but which it frustrates and limits.  That is, not the experience of the Russian revolution, where workers found themselves reliant on ‘bourgeois’ experts, but rather the situation more prevalent now, in which they increasingly find the experts from within their own ranks.

Lenin never made the mistake of thinking socialism relied on the most oppressed, otherwise he would have stood on the ground of the peasantry.  Marxists believe the working class is the potential creator of a single class i.e. a classless society, because it is much more than an oppressed class but has the interests and capacity to liberate the whole of society.

Back to part 1

4 thoughts on “An exchange of views on Marx’s relations of production 2

  1. I am not certain if you think the middle classes are a declaiming or disappearing social class but I think you do. If we are to be guided by ‘the text book’ version of what Marx presented as his ‘theory’, the materialist account of history, the petty bourgeoisie could be thought to be a disappearing class, their preoccupation with individual private ownership over property, individual possession, turning into a social a fetter on capitalist economic growth which is socialised production. I recognise there might be some room for doubt, the only statement I can find about the matter is a remark in the Theories of Surplus value, intended as a rebuke aimed at Ricardo ‘ What he forgets to emphasise is the constantly growing number of the middle classes, those who stand between the workman on the one hand and the capitalist and the landlord on the other. The middle classes maintain themselves to an ever increasing extent directly out of revenue, they are a burden weighing heavily on the working base and increase the social security and power of the upper ten thousand.’

    Let me refer to some other issues of relevance. The ownership of the means of production takes second place to the individual right of possession, property right, within political liberalism, including Hobbes, Locke, Smith, Hume, Kant and Hegel, what is stressed is not the social ownership over the means of production, rather it is Constitutional and lawful right to private ownership of property, one can possess property right without also being an employer of living Labour power. Preferring the Marxist concept of the bourgeois control to the means of production as the primary criterion neatly takes a lot of ‘holders of property right’ immediately out of the class assessment.

    To give just one example, a very important presence is the ‘class of property owning
    Landlords’, these landlords are not the direct exploiters of living labour; they cannot therefore to be called ‘capitalists’ using the textbook Marxist criteria. But for me in my subjective mode, the landlords are the very worst sorts of capitalists, capitalist parasites. You in your reply have also neatly removed the self-employed as belonging to a capitalist middle class, I don’t agree, I think the self-employed act and behave in the imitation of the most committed sort of property rights capitalists, mostly they firmly believe in the Divine Right of Private Property.

    Then let me go on to mention the compulsion to own tour own home, this is the bourgeois ideal par excellence. The Desire to own your own home is an obsession, nay a bourgeois psychosis in our capitalist society, and most of the population is caught up with it. An individual is thought to be a drop out if he or she does not desire to own their own home, a society is thought to be declining if there is something less than an 80 per cent individual home ownership. All of this goes to make up a large sector of the capitalist economy, the buying or renting of ‘homes’ to increase personal wealth. The middle classes that I speak about are heartily involved with the acquiring of property for property’s sake. Yet this property sector can be abstracted from the productive process of capital accumulation, though the new builds do require the exploitation of living labour power, the new builds are a tiny part of the property economy, so those trading in the legacy builds can be thought to be innocent of exploiting living labour power. So carry on buying and selling homes to your hearts content, for you are not behaving like a nasty capitalist who exploits the living labour power of the workers.

    In April 2013 a group of academics published online a class survey of British Society, the theoretical construct they used was not one deduced from any Marxist textbook, they used another approach pioneered by Perre Bourdie . Their findings on income and wealth indicate a substantial and well-heeled middle class. Their study found society demarcated along the following lines:

    An Elite, an established middle class, a technical middle class, an affluent working class and a traditional working class, then an emergent service class and a precariat.

    The Elite: made up around 6 per cent of population.
    The criteria used here did not refer to ownership of the means of production; rather it referred to household income, amount and type of personal savings and ownership of property.
    The average per annum household income of the elite was said to be £89,000, the EST house price was £325,000, and they also had private savings of £142,500 and above.

    An Established middle class: thought to be about 25 per cent of population.
    The average household income being was put at £47,184, personal saving at £26,000, the EST house value of the home at £176,000.

    The Technical middle class ; 6 per cent of the population:
    The household income was £37,000, the personal savings was £65,000, the est House value was £163,362.

    The Affluent Working class : 15 percent of the population surveyed.
    The Household income was £29,000, the household savings was £4,918, and the House Value was £128,639.

    The Traditional working class: 14 percent of those surveyed.
    The Household Income was £13,305, Household savings were £9,500, the est value of Home was £127,174.

    I won’t go through all of the collected data since I am concerned to pin down the middle class, while the data does not fit with textbook Marxist stipulation, it does provide a window into the sort of income and wealth profile of British people. If we used strict class criteria we could move some income profiles into different groupings. Yet it seems to me that the middle class looks like a prominent state of being, 25 per cent, plus another 6 per cent, plus the 6 percent of the Elite group, only 4 percent short of giving the Tories Party a potential stay in Government.

    My main point is to query the idea that the middle class is a disappearing class in capitalist society, the empirical evidence for this has not been provide by textbook Marxism.. On a another occasion Marxism had to recast its understanding of class composition. Lenin argued that in the age of Imperialism and monopoly capital a social cleavage within the working class between the unskilled workers and the labour aristocrats who had organisation and skills. This was his explanation for the power and appeal of labour reformism. Casting a eye over the British and Irish Marxist declared Groups in our time, one conception that they are well known for is their disregard for Lenin’s idea of an aristocracy of Labour within the labour movement. In the Socialist Worker Tendency it is part of the formal education of all members that there is no such economic division within the working class, British workers have no material interest in supporting foreign imperialism, and of course Protestant workers have had no substantial interest in upholding sectarian privilege and the Orange State in the north of Ireland.

    Without invoking the key factor of the middle class, so many political things seem to me to be inexplicable. How to explain Brexit without invoking the revolt of the middle class against the instruction and leadership of the bourgeoisie? As you know the bourgeoisie is for the most part pitted against Brexit, the bourgeoisie operates on a wider geographic scale than the middle class; they take a keener interest in foreign affairs and world events than do the middle class who is mainly concerned with domestic issues. The immediate pressure of workers demands hampers the bourgeoisie much less, they can move their capital to different locations or they can make concessions to minimal trade union proposals, the middle feels more hemmed in by the workers. The gradgrind spirit of austerity and neo-liberalism is directly attributable to a middle class mentality that hates to see the poor getting anything for free. The middle class is the reason we have relative political stability, if the class struggle was just about the 1 percent, or the 5 percent or even the 20 percent against the workers then there would be no capitalist stability to think about.

    One last point, when the actual class structure of modern capitalism is queried the first line of defence is to point out the global expansion of the working class, hundreds of million of workers or real proletarians are being made by global capitalism in China, India etc. I don’t dispute the facts, however if we set them in the context of historical materialism the facts take on a different complexion. It is the case that the Marxist account maintains that the advanced capitalist world represents the near future for the less developed world, barring war and socialist revolution of course. So if the advanced world has developed to the point of possessing a large middle class then so must the catching up world of capitalism. The argument about millions of new proletarians is not as strong as it first appears.

    In one of the best single assessments of the legacy of Marx the social scientist T.B. Bottomore has an important insight to make about the matter. He says ‘In the main, it is not the Marxists who have studied closely the development of modern social classes and elites, of ideologies, or of political parties, or have attempted to analyse revolutionary movements…To take one example; I do not think that there has been a single important contribution to the study of modern social classes from the side of orthodox Marxism.’

    Although Bottomore’s observation dates from the nineteen seventies one can still say same old same old!

    • You write of the Marxist analysis of class as being “text book” and belonging to “theory” as if it is less real or concrete than some bourgeois notions of class that you recount in your comment. In fact the Marxist account of class is real in a more fundamental sense than the bourgeois notions you have reproduced.

      As Marx explains, there would be no society of any kind unless humans produce and reproduce their means of existence, and their mode of doing so can be analysed into the forces that are employed in this reproduction and the relations that they enter into to accomplish it. Every society, in order to be sustainable and to develop, must produce a surplus above that immediately consumed by those producing, and it is the means and relations by which this surplus is produced that defines how that society reproduces itself and the class structure that results.

      Ideas that class are about income, about the distribution of what is produced, fail utterly to explain how production occurs in the first place and how society reproduces itself, how these productive arrangements are the basis for the existence of certain classes and how the distribution of the fruits of production are fundamentally determined by the relationship of individuals to the production process. (The alternative categorisation of classes quoted above illustrates this clearly).

      All this was explained in my series of posts on the forces and relations of production. It might have been thought by some readers that the topics discussed in them were tangential to any idea of an alternative to capitalism but your reply demonstrates why this is not the case.

      In any event, whenever someone actually tries to employ the concept of class to explain things they find themselves lapsing into Marxist ideas, unconsciously and without acknowledgement. So you introduce the position of landlords in society, who, if they simply receive and expend rental income on conspicuous consumption are not capitalists. If this rent is used to procure additional land and partake of the surplus value produced by workers employed by them upon it, then they become capitalist. Marx posits that rent to the landlord is paid out of the social surplus, which takes the form of surplus value under capitalism and gives landlords the “parasitic” character you see as a purely subjective phenomenon. Even when you come to explain support in Britain for Brexit you call upon the differences between big and small capital as part of the explanation.

      In this latest comment you attempt to counterpose an idea of middle classes to the more fundamental categories of capitalist and worker (and the role within this of intermediate layers), having initially attempted to support the argument that there was a large and growing petty bourgeoisie essentially consisting of small capitals. You have retreated from this claim, at least on the original grounds put forward, while pretending all ‘self-employed’ are the same, despite evidence presented that they are not.

      So you now substitute a concept of middle classes defined by subjective views about private property. But where do such views come from? Are they consistent or not with these classes’ material interests as defined objectively? In other words, are there good reason to think they could or will change?

      It is of course permissible to talk in terms of middle classes, and you quote Marx to this effect. But notice that Marx situates these classes as those performing social roles “between the workman on the one hand and the capitalist and the landlord on the other.” This does not of course make them unimportant, but any importance they have can only be understood within the context that defines their existence. Their importance cannot be understood with reference to the categories you enumerate.

      We have a digression on the love of home ownership, “the bourgeois ideal par excellence”, apparently. You seem to disagree with the view that “the property sector can be abstracted from the productive process of capital accumulation . . . so those trading in the legacy builds [previously built houses] can be thought to be innocent of exploiting living labour power.” But both of these claims are obviously true.

      You say that this means you can “carry on buying and selling homes to your hearts content, for you are not behaving like a nasty capitalist who exploits the living labour power of the workers.” But no one is saying this is a productive way to carry on. It is just that no society could reproduce itself and would be sustainable if it only carried on like this; so such buying and selling – the free market as understood by the intellectuals and apologists of capitalism – is incapable of explaining how capitalism reproduces itself. And yes, they are not behaving like capitalists who exploit living labour because they are not capitalists exploiting living labour, regardless of what we might think of their behaviour.

      You seem to endorse the class stratification put forward in which the middle class form 31% of the population with an elite, which must include the capitalist class, containing 6% of the population. But the categorisation not so much involves imprecise and blurred boundaries, as appears utterly arbitrary, with workers potentially moving out of and into the various categories over a lifetime, and the category description not at all according to the level of income. For example, it has been some time since a share of white collar employment, even in some ‘professional’ occupations, were ‘out-earned’ by workers involved in some manual labour, e.g. plumbers and electricians.

      This classification would point us to a capitalist class with an average income only three times that of ‘affluent’ workers, whose households bring in £29,000 a year with £5,000 savings. This level of income doesn’t make a household affluent while the real capitalist class, much smaller than 6%, will receive multiples of even the best paid worker. Workers with a technical qualification are still workers and a ‘middle class’ with £26,000 savings (this must be a typo) will not be giving up their good job to live on capital or savings any time soon. Likewise, a household income of £37,000 a year will not make anyone middle class, except if they wish to believe so, and then they are kidding themselves.

      It may be that these figures are years out of date, but this only illustrates the limited nature of such classification, that it is static and impressionistic. Such definitions do not explain the social roles played by various parts of the workforce in how production takes place and therefore has limited explanatory force.

      Such a breakdown simply confirms what I have said – that the working class, in the most economically developed countries, cannot be defined as those who are in absolute poverty. Paper wealth in houses is fine until you have to buy another one, or sell it and hope to get a deposit together for your children so they might be able to buy a house. The ‘bourgeois’ appeal of owning a house reflects not a love of private property per se but a response to a situation in which accommodation is limited, and rents are high while the standard of housing often poor, and all sorts of incentives are put in place to impel workers into buying their accommodation.

      In his book. ‘Sins of the Father”, Conor McCabe recounts how in the new Irish State “even where offered, home ownership was not the automatic choice for working-class families.” He further reports that “in 1923, the Labour Party noted that with home ownership as the only solution offered to the housing problem, ‘workers are being compelled to purchase their homes and [are] saddled with the cost of maintenance.” He goes on to say that “twenty years later the Dublin Housing Inquiry noted that ‘many tenants did not want to buy a house, but used the only means at their disposal of getting a house. If similar accommodation could have been got on renting terms most of them would have preferred it.”

      It is not that you are completely wrong about the attitude to many about home ownership and the illusory wealth it represents, but that this is the result not mainly of ‘bourgeois’ ideology but of objective forces that have shaped many working class and middle class ideas.

      Having failed to establish the preponderance of a petty bourgeoisie through ownership of small capital I can’t see you having established a large middle class through higher levels of income, savings and household assets. Such an approach simply reinforces the mistaken view of some socialists who can envisage no other road to socialism other than revolution prompted by crisis and mass misery in which workers embrace the cause of the reconstruction of society out of desperation at their plight in the existing one. The possibility of socialism with such a view depends on vicious and successful attacks on the political and socials rights of the working class and the success, up to a point, of such attacks.

      None of this means that there is no stratification within the working class or that differences within it are unimportant. The unity of class position and interests of the various sections and layers of the working class is important precisely because these divisions exist and are important. However, if a whole section of it is to be dismissed as ‘middle class’ because of a relatively higher standard of living than the poorest, the potential for socialism is significantly disabled. And as you suggest, this has implications for the future of the working class in the developing world and for socialism in general in the future.

      Failure to envisage how socialism can be achieved except through crisis and poverty leads to many false perspectives but one frequent result is demoralisation and apostasy, as it is realised that many workers are not in poverty. As Marx reminds us, what matters is that workers are wage slaves none the less, and socialism asks them not to haggle over the price of their slavery but to overthrow the condition of wage slavery itself.

      • Still suffering with the back, so just a quick comment.

        “Marx posits that rent to the landlord is paid out of the social surplus, which takes the form of surplus value under capitalism and gives landlords the “parasitic” character you see as a purely subjective phenomenon.”

        Substantially correct, except Marx says the social surplus takes the form of profit under capitalism. The social surplus takes the form of surplus value in pretty much all class societies other than classical slave society. Its not just a pedantic point. The significance is that in his history of rent, from pre-capitalist through to capitalist society, Marx makes the point that in pre-capitalist societies, it is rent which is the dominant form of the surplus value, and it limits the extent of profit. In other words, the peasant producer has to first pay rent, whether as Labour rent, Rent in Kind, or Money rent. Its extent is determined historically on the basis of the surplus value produced by the peasant producer. The peasant producer can only make profits by producing additional surplus value over and above that required to meet their rent.

        Under capitalism the situation is reversed. Profit is the dominant form, and it determines the limit of rent. Capital is only advanced where it can produce the average profit. Average profit is then determined in industry. Agriculture produces surplus profits, because of its lower than average organic composition. The surplus profit constitutes the magnitude of the rent. Rent cannot exceed it, because if it did, less than average profit would be made, and capital would not be advanced in agriculture, and would be advanced in industry instead, where the average profit could be made.

  2. I would love to be able to join in this discussion to a greater degree, but a) I am suffering from a bad back that materialised from some unknown cause a few days ago, and b) I have lots of other stuff to try to do. As usual, I agree with the main thrust, and most of the argument put forward.

    The points I would take up would be that

    a) socialised capital changes things in terms of ownership etc., the capital wage labour relation continues but socialised capital is not owned by capitalists. Private capitalists appropriate a portion of surplus value – interest – via their ownership of fictitious capital.

    b) these changed social relations also affect who can be considered as part of the petit-bourgeoisie. As Marx says in The Eighteenth Brumaire, it isn’t relationship to the means of production that determines the petit-bourgeois mindset. The concept of shared interest, which socialised capital also engenders, the growth of a large bureaucracy – trades union,state, managerial – whose role is to mediate on the basis of this shared interest is the foundation of social-democracy.

    c) State workers, such as NHS cleaners, nurses, teachers are not paid out of surplus value produced by productive workers elsewhere. They are financed, as with the other expenses involved in the provision of those commodities/services by the state, out of “taxes” paid by workers for the receipt of those commodities services. That is no different than the way any other commodity/service for personal consumption is bought with revenue, i.e. when I buy a mars Bar, I do so out of my wages, and a capitalist similarly buys it from their profit or interest. “Taxes” here are not actually taxes in the true sense, as described by Marx, but really a collective price for a commodity. And, as with any other such commodity service capitalistically provided the payment does not go directly from the revenue of the consumer to the worker, but goes via the capitalist, here the state capitalist, who receives the taxes.

    Its no different than were a worker to pay to send their kids to a fee paying school. They pay out of their wages, to the school. The school as a capitalist enterprise pays teachers as wage labourers, and buys their labour power, from the schools variable capital, which it thereby reproduces via the sale of education. The teacher as with any other worker is paid only the value of their labour-power, and so the school makes surplus value from the teacher’s labour. None of that is changed as a result of the teacher, nurses et al, being employed by a state capitalist rather than a private capitalist.

    Civil servants are different where they are employed only to undertake the administration of the capitalist state itself. That is financed from taxes, and hereby from surplus value.

Leave a Reply to Boffy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.