I thought Marx’s Wage Labour and Capital was much more interesting and easier to understand than the previous reading. In this section, Marx attacks the idea of competition, division of labor, capital growth, and the injustice that workers must face as a result of them. Marx says that even with capital growth that would ideally benefit the working class, “the antagonism between his [the workers] interests and the interests of the bourgeoisie” still exist and that “profit and wages remain as before in inverse proportion” (211).
Underlying all this, Marx explains how competition serves only to “rob capital of the golden fruits of this [production] power by bringing the price of the commodities back to the cost of production” (214) and among workers, causes a decrease in wages (215). However, competition also results in the seeking of alternatives, which in terms of companies, allow them to be more creative and come up with better technology so as to beat their competitors, and in terms of laborers, allows them to focus and advertise their best skills in order to excel and beat out other members when looking for a job.
Marx on the other hand talks of a “game” of a competition-production-price cylce (213) that feeds each other and in the end reduces prices to its production cost. He however fails to mention that in this cycle and in the markets, there will always be those who fail (and drop out of the cycle), and that man’s natural innovation and creativity would lead to better and new products; and hence there wouldn’t be just one big augmenting chain.
Marx also criticizes division of labor, calling its effects “evil” (215) and claiming the idea of wanting to do whatever he wanted to such as “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening” (160), but he ignores the fact that not everyone is capable at doing all those things and that some will be better than others at certain tasks and that if they wanted to capitalize on their skills, they would exploit their own skills for their own good.
I found the rest of this section, The German Ideology, rather confusing especially when he talks about consciousness and the four historical relationships and the division of labor together). Nevertheless, I found Marx had a valid point when he wrote as “the need for extended markets, grows, the world market becomes more and more contracted, fewer and fewer new markets remain available for exploitation” (217).
Today, investors in industrialized countries are expanding their boundaries and tapping into international markets, especially those in emerging countries such as China. Growth rates are highest in such booming markets and so are profits, but there would be a threshold as to how much they could offer once these countries become fully industrialized themselves. Once that happens, there would be fewer and fewer markets left to tap into to reap the benefits available.