Discussion points for educationals on Wage Labour and Capital

Submitted by martin on 14 June, 2007 - 4:24

You can find the text here. Skip the section headed "By what is the price of a commodity determined?", but do make sure to read the Introduction.

1. What is the difference between labour and labour-power, and why is it important?

2. In an ideal capitalist economy, everything is bought and sold at the going rate - in an equal exchange. Yet inequality is the result. Marx argues that this inequality arises from the exchange in which labour-power is bought and sold. Why? What is special about that exchange?

3. Because of the special features of the sale of labour-power, workers are exploited, i.e. capitalists get surplus-value. But a defender of capitalism would reply that nevertheless workers still do all right, better than they would without the ability of dynamic capitalism to increase overall production, and it is just mean, destructive envy to complain about the capitalists getting a bit extra. What do you think of that argument?

4. What other bad consequences does the sale of labour power have for the working class, apart from it making the capitalists relatively rich and the workers relatively poor?

5. Conservatives argue that workers and capitalists have a common interest in general prosperity. What is Marx's answer to this argument?

There are also some discussion points drafted by Andy Blunden here which we can look at if you like.