Bitter Fruitful Multiplication

8 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 23, “Simple Reproduction,” 1867, Karl Marx)

Here Marx delves further into the greater philosophy of capital, a more gripping section following several chapters more devoted to simpler facts and observations. Simple reproduction refers to the continuation of the capitalist exchange process, that one never undertakes a surplus-value-adding act of circulation just for one round, but to use that surplus for more of the same in the future. An important note to this is that even though the initial buildup of capital may have been some kind of skillful or thrifty saving of funds from one’s own labours to eventually invest in hiring employees and purchasing means of production, all subsequent purchases and exchanges will be based upon unpaid surplus value extracted from labour, so whatever lionization is due to the capitalist for his meritorious acumen should come with a short shelf-life. The existential profundity of the reproduction process emerges from the way capitalist exchanges do not just reproduce and valorize commodity values, but reproduce, reinforce and balkanize the class system it requires. Workers reproduce themselves as workers, dependent entirely on their specialized employment, dependent entirely on the factory system to use them as it sees fit; the capitalist may save for his luxury and his investments, while the worker is merely entitled to get by at a minimum level with his or her family.

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