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/edu/ - Education

'The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.' - Karl Marx
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Apologies for any lapses in my grammar as English is not my first language.

I teach Marx's "Wage Labour and Capital" and "Value Price and Profit" in our native language, as part of a trade union movement, where we apprise the laborers with legal rights and theoretical foundations (as compared to "bread and butter unions").

Two questions are usually asked by the workers:
First, doesn't the "risk" taken by the capitalist (in not selling product or selling them below "profit margins") entitle them to a profit?

I'm aware that Marx has a manuscript on this, titled: "Bourgeois Conception of Profit as Reward for Risk" where he paints a dialogue between the worker and farmer. But I'm not so good at the English used here, and so I'd like to ask if my understanding is correct:

Am I correct in saying that because the worker also bears a risk when he sells his labor power to the capitalist (when Marx says: "The workman will he thrown out onto the street if the product is unsalable; and if it falls for long below the market-price, his wages will be brought down below the average and short time will be worked. It is he, therefore, that runs the greatest risk"), this also means that the laborer (seller of his labor power) should ask the capitalist to pay him more, just as the capitalist (as a seller of the finished good) asks the buyer in a market to pay him more?

I do give them an answer, but it's more along the lines of "risk alone is insufficient because there's also the risk of selling more, and in a huge company, profits are basically assured"). But of course, in a smaller enterprise (like a small restaurant chain), the capitalist still has a chance of losing everything and having to pay his creditors.

The workers usually follow this question up with: "what about our family's store?" Since any of their savings go to maintaining a small store (selling at profit). They usually employ someone from the community (or their children) to be paid way below minimum wage. They ask, if they want to pay their "employees." So in a way, they're also exploiting and thus (albeit in a micro and informal economy scale) not very different from their own employers?

Another thing they ask about is luxury goods. They all know it doesn't cost as much to make, in money and in labor power, but it can sell for quite a bit, which runs counter to the theory that the labor power gives a thing its value, and that commodities are sold at, not above or below, their price.

This is all. Thank you very much for indulging the questions above, if you do. I'm very grateful.


It's been some time since I read these two works. The capitalist never incurs a risk bigger than becoming a proletarian.


Bring up limited liability.

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