Capital and Exploitation

Capital and Exploitation

JOHN WEEKS
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 234
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv05q
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  • Book Info
    Capital and Exploitation
    Book Description:

    Professor Weeks proposes that the key to Marx's critique of capitalist society is the labor theory of value. A commodity-producing society, he argues, necessarily gives rise to a capitalist society, so that commodity production and the exploitation of labor are inseparably linked.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5408-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-10)

    In theCommunist Manifesto, Marx and Engels state their famous dictum that, whereas previously analysts sought to explain the world, the purpose of their analysis is to change the world. And to change it in a particular way, i.e., to overthrow the rule of capital and establish a socialist society, itself merely a transitional phase to a communist society. Although Marx’s ideas changed considerably between the publication of theManifestoand the writing of his mature works, the central revolutionary purpose of his theoretical investigations remained unchanged.

    In what follows, the theoretical core of Marx’s critique of capitalism is presented...

  5. CHAPTER I VALUE AS EMBODIED LABOR
    (pp. 11-26)

    The theory of value that Marx developed provides at the same time (1) the revelation that capitalism is merely one form of exploitative (class) society; (2) the explanation of the historical transition from precapitalist to capitalist society; (3) a theory of the concrete operation of a capitalist economy; and (4) an explanation of why others would explain the workings of a capitalist economy in an alternative theoretical framework. The theory explains not only current reality and how history gave rise to current reality but why erroneous theories of that reality exist. Without a clear grasp of the concept of value,...

  6. CHAPTER II VALUE AS A SOCIAL RELATION
    (pp. 27-62)

    The method of Engels, which is common to modern neo-Ricardians and Sraffians, is to move immediately from concrete labor to value-creating labor; or, in other words, from the use value of labor immediately to exchange value. The twofold nature of labor and labor power is ignored in this approach. In a famous letter, Marx gave what he considered “the two best points in my book” (Capital), and the first he lists is the dual and contradictory nature of value-creating labor power.¹

    The significance of this insight can be demonstrated by considering the exchange of two commodities. As use values, they...

  7. CHAPTER III EXPLOITATION AND THE RATE OF SURPLUS VALUE
    (pp. 63-94)

    In the previous chapters we have developed the explanation of the law of value that locates value at the social rather than the individual level. We can reformulate our critique of the “embodied labor time” view of value in this way. The argument of Engels and of those who move directly from concrete labor to exchange value is that value (embodied labor time) not only arises in production but is directly translated into exchange value without the interaction of producers as commodity sellers. Following Marx, we have argued that value originates in production, in that the expenditure of living labor...

  8. CHAPTER IV THEORY OF MONEY
    (pp. 95-122)

    Capitalist society is the first mode of production in which the reproduction of the class structure of society and society itself requires the circulation of the products of labor as commodities. In this type of society, production is for exchange value, and products must be converted into money. That is, products are commodities, and as commodities they must be continually realized in the form of a universal, exchangeable equivalent. This universal equivalent is, by definition and practice, money. Therefore, the analysis of capitalist society necessarily requires (and implies) a theory of money.

    Despite the central role of money in capitalist...

  9. CHAPTER V CREDIT, CREDIT CRISES, AND SOCIAL CAPITAL
    (pp. 123-148)

    In capitalist society, the role of commodity money is hidden not only by representations of money (paper notes and token coins) but also by credit, which can be defined as contractual indebtedness. Credit, in effect, allows for circulation without money, so that the exchange of commodities coincides with the accumulation of indebtedness. When these debts fall due and are not or cannot be further extended, money serves as a means of payment. Thus with the development of credit transactions, money falls out of use as a means of circulation and becomes the medium for canceling debts; i.e., the payment for...

  10. CHAPTER VI THE COMPETITION AMONG CAPITALS
    (pp. 149-172)

    In previous chapters we have stressed that capitalist society is unique in that its reproduction requires the circulation of the products of labor in the form of commodities. This circulation, integrated with the production of use values (characteristic of all societies), rests on the basis of isolated production. The circulation of commodities, along with the parallel circulation of money, is the mechanism by which isolated producers are integrated into a system of social reproduction. Competition, a concept we have alluded to repeatedly, is the interaction of isolated, independent producers. This concept is of central importance to the understanding of capitalist...

  11. CHAPTER VII FIXED CAPITAL AND CIRCULATION
    (pp. 173-186)

    Capitalist society is based upon the exploitation of labor through the buying and selling of labor power. The existence of labor power as a commodity implies not only the capital relation but the circulation of capital. Since money is advanced to initiate production, realization must follow production so that the process can be started afresh. Overall, this process of circulation appears irrational, in that it seems that value expands as money,M-M′, since these are the terminal points from the point of view of capital. It appears that the expansion of value is not material, in that the terminal points,...

  12. CHAPTER VIII ACCUMULATION AND CRISES
    (pp. 187-218)

    A repeated theme in the foregoing chapters has been that capitalist society is based upon historically unique relations of production and that these social relations manifest themselves in forms that assume a unique character. While some of them are older than capitalism—money and commodities, for example—they take on new and qualitatively different significance in capitalist society. As a consequence, all of the phenomena considered to this point—value, profit, money, credit, competition, and fixed means of production—present themselves not in isolation, not as abstract topics for treatment, but as part of the circulation of capital. These phenomena,...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 219-223)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-224)