Who is the stronger Juggernaut or the abomination?

Page numbers refer to: Karl Marx - Friedrich Engels - Works, Volume 23, "Das Kapital", Volume I, Third Section, pp. 245-320
Dietz Verlag, Berlin / GDR 1968


1. The limits of the working day


We started from the premise that labor is bought and sold at its value. Their value, like that of any other commodity, is determined by the labor time necessary for their production. So if the production of the average daily necessities of the worker requires 6 hours, he has to work an average of 6 hours a day in order to produce his labor-power daily or to reproduce the value obtained in its sale. The necessary part of his working day is then 6 hours and is therefore a given quantity, all other things being equal. But that does not mean the size of the working day itself.

Let us assume that the line a______b represents the duration or length of the necessary working time, say 6 hours. Depending on whether the work on a b is extended by 1, 3 or 6 hours, etc., we get the 3 different lines:

Working day I.

Working day II

Working day III

imagine the three different working days of 7, 9 and 12 hours. The extension line b c represents the length of the overtime. Since the working day = a b + b c or a c, it varies with the variable b c. Since a b is given, the ratio of b c to a b can always be measured. In working day I /, in working day II / and in working day III /<246> from. Furthermore, since the proportion (overtime) / (necessary labor) determines the rate of surplus-value, the latter is given by that ratio. It amounts to 16 /, 50 and 100%, respectively, on the three different working days. Conversely, the rate of surplus-value alone would not give us the size of the working day. For example, if it were 100%, the working day could be 8, 10, 12 hours, etc. It would indicate that the two components of the working day, necessary labor and overtime, are equal, but not how large each of these parts is.

The working day is therefore not a constant, but a variable one. One of its parts is determined by the working hours required for constant reproduction of the worker himself, but its total size changes with the length or duration of the surplus work. The working day is therefore determinable, but in and of itself indeterminate. (35)

Although the working day is not a fixed but a fluid quantity, on the other hand it can only vary within certain limits. However, its minimum bound is indeterminate. However, if we set the extension line b c, or the surplus work, = 0, we get a minimum limit, namely the part of the day that the worker has to work for his self-preservation. On the basis of the capitalist mode of production, the necessary work can only ever form part of his working day, so the working day can never be reduced to this minimum. In contrast, the working day has a maximum limit. It cannot be extended beyond a certain limit. This maximum limit is determined twice. Once through the physical barrier of labor. During the natural day of 24 hours, a person can only expend a certain amount of life force. A horse can only work 8 hours day in and day out. During one part of the day the strength has to rest, sleep, during another part man has other physical needs to be satisfied, to nourish, cleanse, clothe, etc. Besides this purely physical barrier, the lengthening of the working day comes up against moral barriers. The worker needs time to satisfy spiritual and social needs, the extent and number of which are determined by the general state of culture. The variation in the working day therefore moves within physical and social barriers. Both <247> However, barriers are of a very elastic nature and allow the greatest scope. So we find working days of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, i.e. of various lengths.

The capitalist has bought labor-power at its daily value. It owns their use value during a working day. So he has obtained the right to let the worker work for him for a day. But what is a working day? (36) At least less than a natural day of life. At what time? The capitalist has his own view of this ultima Thule, the necessary limit of the working day. As a capitalist he is only capital personified. His soul is the capital soul. But capital has a single vital instinct, the instinct to utilize itself, to create surplus value, with its constant part, the means of production, to suck in the greatest possible amount of surplus labor. (37) Capital is dead labor, which is only vampire-like animated by being sucked in more alive Work and the more it lives, the more it sucks in. The time during which the worker works is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labor power he has bought. (38) If the worker consumes his disposable time for himself, he steals from the capitalists. (39)

The capitalist therefore appeals to the law of the exchange of goods. Like every other buyer, he tries to get the greatest possible benefit from the use value of his goods. But suddenly she rises <248> Voice of the worker, which had fallen silent in the storm and stress of the production process:

The commodity I have sold you differs from the other mob of commodities in that its use creates value and costs greater value than itself. That was why you bought them. What appears on your side as the utilization of capital is on my side an excess expenditure of labor. You and I only know one law in the marketplace, that of the exchange of goods. And the consumption of the goods does not belong to the seller who sells them, but to the buyer who buys them. You therefore own the use of my daily labor. But by means of their daily selling price I have to be able to reproduce them daily and therefore sell them again. Apart from the natural wear and tear through age, etc., I must be able to work tomorrow with the same normal state of strength, health and freshness as today. You keep preaching the gospel of "thrift" and "abstinence" to me. Well! Like a sensible, thrifty landlord I want to manage my only wealth, the labor, and refrain from any mad waste of it. Every day I only want to make as much of it liquid, put into movement and work as is compatible with its normal duration and healthy development. By lengthening the working day immeasurably, you can make a greater amount of my labor flow in one day than I can replace in three days. What you gain in work, I lose in substance. The use of my labor and the deprivation of it are quite different things. If the average period an average worker can live with reasonable workload is 30 years, the value of my labor you pay me one day in the next is / or / its total value. But if you consume them in 10 years, you pay me daily / instead of / their total value, i.e. only / their daily value, and therefore steal from me / the value of my goods every day. You pay me one day labor where you consume three days. That is against our contract and the law of the exchange of goods. So I ask for a working day of normal length, and I ask for it without appealing to your heart, because when it comes to money, coziness comes to an end. You may be a model citizen, maybe a member of the Association for the Abolition of Cruelty to Animals and, on top of that, stand in the smell of holiness, but the thing you represent to me has no heart beating in his chest. What seems to throb in it is my own heartbeat. I ask that <249> Normal working day because I demand the value of my goods like any other seller. (40)

One can see that apart from very elastic barriers, the nature of the exchange of goods itself does not result in any limit on the working day, i.e. no limit on surplus work. The capitalist asserts his right as a buyer if he tries to make a working day as long as possible and possibly to make two working days out of one. On the other hand, the specific nature of the commodity sold includes a limit on its consumption by the buyer, and the worker asserts his right as a seller if he wishes to limit the working day to a certain normal size. So there is an antinomy taking place here, right versus right, both equally sealed by the law of the exchange of goods. Violence decides between equal rights. And so in the history of capitalist production the standardization of the working day presents itself as a struggle over the barriers of the working day - a struggle between the total capitalist, i.e. the class of capitalists, and the total worker, or the working class.

2. The cravings for extra work. Factory owner and boyar

Capital did not invent overtime. Wherever a part of society has the monopoly of the means of production, the worker, free or unfree, must add to the working time necessary for his self-preservation excess working time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owner of the means of production (41), regardless of whether this owner is more Athenian '[Greek: kalos k'agathos] , Etruscan theocrat, civis romanus , Norman baron, American slave owner, Wallachian boyar, <250> Modern landlord or capitalist. (42) It is clear, however, that if in an economic social formation it is not exchange value but the use value of the product that predominates, the surplus labor is limited by a narrower or wider circle of needs, but not an unrestricted need for surplus labor arises from the character of the production itself. In antiquity, therefore, there is terrible evidence of overwork, where it is a matter of obtaining exchange value in its independent monetary form, in the production of gold and silver. Working violently to death is the official form of overwork here. Just read Diodorus Siculus. (43) But these are exceptions in the ancient world. But as soon as peoples, whose production still moves in the lower forms of slave labor, compulsory labor, etc., are drawn into a world market dominated by the capitalist mode of production, which develops the sale of their products abroad as a predominant interest, the barbaric atrocities of slavery, Grafted serfdom, etc., to the civilized horror of overwork. Therefore, negro labor in the southern states of the American Union retained a moderately patriarchal character as long as production was mainly directed towards immediate self-consumption. But to the extent that the export of cotton is the vital interest of those states, the overworking of the negro, here and there the consumption of his life in seven years of work, became a factor in a calculated and calculating system. There was no longer any need to knock a certain mass of useful products out of it. It was now the production of the surplus value itself that counted. Similar with the corporal labor, e.g. in the Danube principalities.

The comparison of the cravings for overtime in the Danube principalities with the same cravings in English factories offers one <251> special interest, because the overtime in compulsory labor has an independent, sensually perceptible form.

Let us assume that the working day includes 6 hours of necessary work and 6 hours of overtime. Thus the free worker gives the capitalist 6 x 6 or 36 hours of extra work per week. It is the same as working 3 days a week for himself and 3 days a week for free for the capitalist. But this is not visible. Overtime and necessary work become blurred. I can therefore express the same relationship, for example, in such a way that the worker works 30 seconds for himself and 30 seconds for the capitalist every minute, and so on. The work that the Wallachian peasant, for example, carries out for his self-preservation is spatially separated from his extra work for the boyar. One he does on his own field, the other on the manorial estate. Both parts of the working time therefore exist independently side by side. In the form of compulsory labor, the overtime is precisely separated from the necessary work. Obviously, this different manifestation does not change anything in the quantitative relationship between surplus labor and necessary labor. Three days of extra work a week remains three days of work that is no equivalent for the worker himself, regardless of whether it means slave labor or wage labor. In the case of the capitalist, however, the craving for overtime appears in the urge to prolong the working day immeasurably, in the case of the boyars it is easier to hunt down the frontage.

In the Danube principalities, corporal labor was linked to rents in kind and other accessories of serfdom, but it was the decisive tribute to the ruling class. Where this is the case, serf labor seldom arose from serfdom, but rather, conversely, serfdom mostly originated from slave labor. (44a) This is the case in the Romanian provinces.


Their original mode of production was based on common property, but not on common property in Slavic or even Indian form. A part of the land was cultivated independently by the members of the community as free private property, another part - the ager publicus - was jointly cultivated by them. The products of this joint work served partly as a reserve fund for bad harvests and other coincidences, partly as state treasure to cover the costs of war, religion and other community expenses. In the course of time, warlike and ecclesiastical dignitaries usurped the services for the same with common property. The labor of the free peasants on their common land turned into slave labor for the thieves of the common land. At the same time serfdom developed, but only actually, not legally, until world-liberating Russia elevated it to law under the pretext of abolishing serfdom. The code of compulsory labor proclaimed by the Russian General Kisselev in 1831 was of course dictated by the boyars themselves. In one fell swoop Russia captured the magnates of the Danube principalities and the applause of the liberal cretins from all over Europe.

According to the "Règlement organique", as the code of compulsory labor is called, every Wallachian farmer owes the so-called landowner 1. twelve working days in general, 2. one day of field work and 3. one day of logging, in addition to a number of detailed taxes. All in all 14 days a year. With a deep insight into political economy, however, the working day is not taken in its ordinary sense, but the working day necessary to produce a daily average product, but the daily average product is cleverly determined in such a way that no Cyclops would be able to finish it in 24 hours. In the dry words of true Russian irony, the "Règlement" itself explains that 12 working days are the product of 36 days of manual labor, three days of one day of field work, and three times that amount of timber under one day. Summa: 42 frontage. But there is also the so-called jobagie, services that are due to the landlord for extraordinary production needs. In relation to the size of its population, each village has to provide a certain quota for jobagie every year. This additional compulsory labor is estimated at 14 days for each Wallachian farmer. The prescribed compulsory labor is 56 working days per year. Because of the poor climate, the year of agriculture in Wallachia only adds up to 210 days, 40 of which are for Sundays and public holidays, and an average of 30 for storms <253> 70 days out. 140 working days remain. The ratio of compulsory labor to necessary labor, / or 66 per cent., Expresses a much smaller rate of surplus-value than that which regulates the labor of the English agricultural or factory worker. However, this is only the compulsory labor required by law. And in an even more "liberal" spirit than the English factory legislation, the "Règlement Organique" has known how to facilitate its own circumvention. After making 54 out of 12 days, the nominal daily work of each of the 54 frontages is determined again in such a way that an additional penalty must fall on the following days. In one day, for example, a stretch of land is to be weeded out, which requires twice as much time for this operation, especially on the maize plantations. The statutory daily work for individual agricultural work can be interpreted in such a way that the day begins in May and ends in October. For Moldova, the regulations are even tougher.

If the Règlement organique of the Danube Principalities was a positive expression of the craving for extra work that every paragraph legalizes, the English Factory Acts are negative expressions of the same cravings.These laws curb the urge of capital for excessive exhaustion of labor power by forcibly restricting the working day by the state, on the part of a state ruled by the capitalist and landlord. Aside from a labor movement that grew more threatening every day, the restriction of factory work was dictated by the same necessity that poured guano onto the English fields. The same blind greed, which in one case exhausts the earth, had in the other seized the vital force of the nation at the root. Periodic epidemics were just as clear here as the declining soldiers in Germany and France. (46)


The now (1867) valid Factory Act of 1850 allows 10 hours for the average weekday, namely 12 hours for the first 5 days of the week, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., from which, however, / hour for breakfast and one hour for lunch are legally stipulated , i.e. 10 / working hours remain, and 8 hours for Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., from which / hour for breakfast. There remains 60 working hours, 10 / for the first five days of the week, 7 / for the last day of the week. (47) Separate guards of the law have been appointed, the factory inspectors directly subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior, whose reports are published every six months by Parliament. So they provide ongoing and official statistics on the capitalists' hunger for extra work.

Let's hear the factory inspectors for a moment. (48)

Crises in which production is interrupted and work is only carried out "for a short time", only for a few days a week, of course, do not change the urge to lengthen the working day. The less business is done, the greater the profit on the business made should be. The less time can be worked, the more surplus working time should be worked. This is how the factory inspectors report on the period of crisis from 1857 to 1858:

The same phenomenon was repeated on a smaller scale during the terrible cotton crisis from 1861 to 1865. (54)

These "petty thefts" of capital from the meal and the workers' recovery time are also referred to by factory inspectors as "petty pilferings of minutes", moulting minutes (58), "snatching a few minutes", or like that Technically, workers are called "nibbling and cribbling at meal times". (60)

You can see that in this atmosphere, the creation of added value through extra work is no secret.

Nothing is more characteristic in this respect than the designation of workers who work full time by "full times" and those of children under the age of 13 who are only allowed to work 6 hours as "half times" (63).


Here the worker is nothing more than personified working time. All individual differences dissolve into those of "full-time" and "half-time".

3. English industries without legal barriers to exploitation

So far we have observed the urge to lengthen the working day, the werewolf hunger for extra work, in an area where excessive excesses do not culminate, as a bourgeois English economist says, of the atrocities of the Spaniards against the redskins of America (64), capital at last have laid the chain of legal regulation. Let us now take a look at some branches of production, where the exhaustion of labor is either still free today or it was still yesterday.

The Staffordshire Pottery has been the subject of three parliamentary inquiries over the past 22 years. The results are recorded in the report of Mr. Scriven of 1841 to the "Children's Employment Commissioners", in the report of Dr. Greenhow of 1860, published on the orders of the medical officer of the Privy Council ("Public Health, 3rd Report", I, 102-113), finally in the report of Mr. Longe of 1863, in "First Report of the Children's Employment Commission" of 13 June 1863. For my task it is sufficient to borrow some testimonies from the exploited children themselves from the reports of 1860 and 1863. One might infer from the children about the adults, namely girls and women, in a branch of industry in which cotton spinning and the like appear to be a very pleasant and healthy business. (66)

Wilhelm Wood, nine years old, "was 7 years 10 months old when he started work". He ran molds (carried the finished molded goods into the drying room in order to return the empty mold afterwards) from the start. He comes every day of the week at 6 a.m. and stops around 9 p.m. "I work every day of the week until 9 o'clock in the evening. For example, for the last 7-8 weeks." So fifteen hours of work for a seven year old child! M. Murray, a twelve year old boy, testifies:

Fernyhough, a ten year old boy:


Dr. Greenhow declares life to be extraordinarily short in the pottery districts of Stoke-upon-Trent and Wolstanton. Although only 36.6% of the male population over 20 years of age in the Stoke district and only 30.4% of the male population in Wolstanton are employed in the pottery, more than half of men in this category fall in the first district and approximately / of the deaths due to in the second Breast Diseases on the Potters. Dr. Boothroyd, General Practitioner at Haley, testifies:

Another doctor too, Mr. McBean:

These statements are based on the report of Dr. Taken from Greenhow from 1860. (68)

From the report of the commissioners of 1863: Dr. J. T. Arledge, Senior Physician at North Staffordshire Hospital, says:

Mr. Charles Parsons, recently House Surgeon of the same hospital, wrote in a letter to Commissioner Longe, among other things:


He enumerates the causes of pottery diseases and concludes them culminating with "long hours". The Commission's report hopes that

What is true of the pottery in England is true of those in Scotland. (70)

The manufacture of matches dates from 1833, from the invention of attaching the phosphor to the ignition rod itself. It has developed rapidly in England since 1845 and has spread from the densely populated parts of London to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Norwich, Newcastle, Glasgow, along with the mouth gag, which a Viennese doctor had known as a peculiar disease of matchmakers as early as 1845 discovered. Half of the workers are children under 13 and young people under 18. The manufactory is so disreputable because of its unhealthy and repulsive nature that only the most depraved part of the working class, half-starved widows, etc., give children for them, "ragged, half-starved, completely neglected and uneducated children". (71) Of the witnesses who Inspired by Commissioner White (1863), 270 were under 18 years old, 40 under 10 years old, 10 only 8 and 5 only 6 years old. Change of working day from 12 to 14 and 15 hours, night work, irregular meals, mostly in the work rooms themselves, which are contaminated by phosphorus. In this factory, Dante will find his cruelest hellish fantasies exceeded.

In the wallpaper factory, the coarser types are printed by machine, the finer types by hand (block printing). The busiest business months fall between the beginning of October and the end of April. During this period this work lasts frequently and almost without interruption from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and deeper into the night.

J. Leach testifies:

But the same Mr. Smith, who is so devoted to the pluralis majestatis, adds with a smile: "Machine work is easy." And so the users of block printing say: "Manual work is healthier than machine work." On the whole, the manufacturers declared themselves indignant at the suggestion "to shut down the machine at least during meals".

The commission report naively thinks that the fear of some "leading companies" will lead to time, i.e. the acquisition of time for someone else's work, and thereby "profit." <263> lose "is not" a sufficient reason "to let children under 13 and young people under 18" lose "their lunch for 12-16 hours or to add it to them, like coal and water for the steam engine, soap for wool Wheel oil etc. adds - during the production process itself, as a mere auxiliary material of the work equipment. (73)

No branch of industry in England - (we ignore the machine bread, which is only recently breaking the ground) - has retained such ancient, indeed, as one can see from the poets of the Roman Empire, pre-Christian production methods to this day as the bakery. But, as noted earlier, capital is initially indifferent to the technical character of the labor process which it takes over. First of all, it takes it as it finds it.

The incredible adulteration of bread, notably in London, was first revealed by the Committee of the House of Commons "On Adulteration of Food" (1855-1856) and Dr. Hassall's text "Adulterations detected". (74) The consequence of these revelations was the law of August 6, 1860: "for preventing the adulteration of articles of food and drink", an ineffective one Law, since it naturally observes the highest delicacy against any freetrader who intends to turn an honest penny "to turn an honest penny"> by buying and selling counterfeit goods. (75) The committee itself formulates more or less naive his conviction that free trade essentially means trading in counterfeit or, as the English put it funny, "sophisticated materials". Indeed, this kind of "sophistry" understands it better than Protagoras, black out of white and white out of black too <264> make, and better than the Eleates, to demonstrate the mere appearance of everything real ad oculos. (76)

In any case, the committee had drawn the audience's eyes to its "daily bread" and thus to the bakery. At the same time, in public meetings and petitions to Parliament, the cry of the London baker's journeyman about overhauling, etc. was heard. The cry became so urgent that Mr. H. S. Tremenheere, also a member of the above-mentioned commission of 1863, was appointed royal investigative commissioner. His report (77), including testimony, excited the audience, not his heart, but his stomach. The Bible-firm Englishman knew that if a person is not capitalist or landlord or sinecure by choice, he is called to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but he did not know that in his bread he eats a certain amount of the sweat of people every day must, soaked with boil evacuation, cobwebs, cockroach corpses and rotten German yeast, apart from alum, sandstone and other pleasant mineral ingredients. Irrespective of its sanctity, the "freetrade", the anhero "free" bakery was therefore subjected to the supervision of state inspectors (end of the parliamentary session in 1863) and, by the same parliamentary act, working hours from 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning for baker journeyman under 18 years of age forbidden. The latter clause speaks volumes about the overhaul in this old-fashioned line of business.

Even the bourgeois view of the "underselling masters" understands: "The unpaid labor of the men forms the basis of their competition." (80) And the "full priced baker" denounces his "underselling" competitors Commission of inquiry as thieves of someone else's work and forger.


The forgery of bread and the formation of a baker class that sells bread under full price developed in England from the beginning of the 18th century, as soon as the guild character of the trade declined and the capitalist in the form of miller or flour factor stepped behind the nominal master baker. (82) This laid the foundation for capitalist production, for an immeasurably longer working day and night work, although the latter did not really gain a foothold even in London until 1824. (83)

From the foregoing it will be understood that the report of the commission counts the baker journeyman among the short-lived workers who, after having happily escaped the normal child decimation among all sections of the working class, seldom reach the age of 42. Nonetheless, the bakery industry is always overflowing with candidates. The sources of this "labor" for London are Scotland, the western agricultural districts of England and Germany.

In the years 1858-1860 the journeyman bakers in Ireland organized large meetings at their own expense to agitate against night and Sunday work. The public, e.g. at the May meeting in Dublin in 1860, took her side with Irish warmth. Exclusively day labor was in fact successfully enforced through this movement at Wexford, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Waterford, etc.


The commission of the English government, armed to the teeth in Ireland, is remonstrating bitterly against the relentless master bakers of Dublin, Limerick, Cork, etc .:

We have just been to Ireland. On the other side of the canal, in Scotland, the arable worker, the man of the plow, denounces his 13 to 14 hour work, in the harshest climate, with four hours of additional work for Sunday (in this land of the Sabbath saints!) (86), while three railway workers stand in front of a London grand jury at the same time, a passenger conductor, a locomotive driver and a signal transmitter. A great railway accident has sent hundreds of passengers to the other world. The carelessness of the railroad workers is the cause of the misfortune. They declare unanimously before the jury, 10 to 12 years ago <268> her work only lasted 8 hours a day. During the last 5-6 years it has been screwed up to 14, 18 and 20 hours and with a particularly lively influx of travelers, as in the periods of excursion trains, it often lasts 40-50 hours without interruption. They are ordinary people and not Cyclops. At one point, their labor is failing. Torpor grab them. Your brain stops thinking and seeing your eye. The utterly "respectable British jury man" <"honorable British jury"> replies with a verdict that she sends to the Assize for "manslaughter" and, in a mild appendix, expresses the pious wish that the railroad's capital tycoons want but in future be more wasteful in purchasing the necessary number of "labor" and more "abstinent" or "renunciation" or "thrifty" in sucking out paid labor. (87)

From the motley heap of workers of all professions, ages, sexes, who press on us more eagerly than the souls of the slain on Odysseus and who, without the blue books under their arms, at first glance look at the overwork, we take two more Figures whose striking contrast proves that before <269> Capital all people are the same - a cleaner and a blacksmith.

In the last weeks of June 1863, all the London daily newspapers ran a paragraph with the "sensational" flagship: "Death from simple Overwork". It was about the death of the cleaning lady Mary Anne Walkley, twenty years old, employed in a very respectable court cleaning factory, exploited by a lady with the cozy name Elise. The old story, which is often told, has now been rediscovered (88) that these girls work an average of 16 / hours, but often 30 hours during the season, while their failing "labor" is kept in liquid form by the occasional supply of sherry, port wine or coffee. And it was just the height of the season. It was a matter of conjuring up the splendid dresses of noble ladies for the homage ball at the newly imported Princess of Wales. Mary Anne Walkley had worked 26 / hours without ceasing together with 60 other girls, 30 each in a room that barely allowed the necessary cubic inches of air, while at night they shared a bed two to two in one of the embroidery holes, in which a bedroom was divided Board walls are penned up. (89) And this was one of the better ones <270> London's plasterworks. Mary Anne Walkley fell ill on Friday and died on Sunday without, to Ms. Elise's astonishment, even finishing the last piece of cleaning. The doctor, Mr. Keys, who was called to his deathbed too late, testified before the "Coroner's Jury" in dry words:

In order to give the doctor a lesson in a good way of life, the "Coroner's Jury" declared:

Our "white slaves", the "Morning Star" called the organ of the free trade masters Cobden and Bright, "our white slaves are worked into the grave and perish and die without song or sound". (90)

4. Day and night work. The replacement system

From the point of view of the process of valorization, constant capital, the means of production, are only there to suck in a proportional amount of surplus labor with every drop of labor. In so far as they fail to do so, their very existence constitutes a negative loss for the capitalist, for they represent useless capital advances while they are idle, and this loss becomes positive as soon as the interruption necessitates additional expenses to restart the work.The lengthening of the working day beyond the limits of the natural day into the night only acts as a palliative, only approximately quenches the vampire's thirst for living working blood. To acquire work during all 24 hours of the day is therefore the immanent drive of capitalist production. But since this is physically impossible, if the same workers were continuously sucked out day and night, then to overcome the physical obstacle, the alternation between the workers eaten day and night is required, an alternation which allows different methods, e.g. can be arranged in such a way as to that part of the <272> Workers do day duty one week, night duty the other week, etc. It is known that this system of replacement, this change-over economy, prevailed in the full-blooded youth of the English cotton industry, etc. and is currently flourishing in the cotton mills of the Moscow governorate, among other things. As a system, this 24-hour production process still exists in many up to now "free" branches of industry in Great Britain, including the blast furnaces, forges, rolling mills and other metal factories in England, Wales and Scotland. In addition to the 24 hours of the 6 working days, the work process also largely includes the 24 hours of Sunday. The workers are made up of men and women, adults and children of both sexes. The age of children and young people goes through all intermediate stages from the 8th (in some cases from the 6th) to the 18th year. (92) In some industries, the girls and women also work at night together with the male staff. (93)

Apart from the general harmful effects of night work (94), the uninterrupted twenty-four hour duration of production <273> The process is a very welcome opportunity to exceed the limit of the nominal working day. For example, in the very strenuous branches of industry mentioned above, the official working day for every worker is usually 12 hours, night hours or day hours. But the revision beyond this limit is in many cases, to use the words of the English official report, "truly fearful". (95)


Let us now hear how capital itself understands this twenty-four hour system. The exaggerations of the system, its abuse for the "cruel and unbelievable" lengthening of the working day, of course, are passed over with silence. It only speaks of the system in its "normal" form.

Messrs Naylor and Vickers, steel manufacturers who use between 600 and 700 people, and of them only 10% under 18 years of age, and of these again only 20 boys as night staff, say the following:

Mr. J. Ellis, of the firm of Messrs. John Brown et Co., Steel and Iron Works, which employ 3,000 men and boys for [a] part of the heavy steel and iron work "day and night, in replacements", explains that in the heavy steel mills there are one or two boys for every two men. Your business has 500 boys under the age of 18, of which approximately /, or 170, under 13 years. With regard to the proposed amendment to the law, Mr. Ellis said:

(Messrs. Naylor and Vickers believed, in agreement with the best of their business, on the other hand, that instead of the continuous night work, the periodically changing night work could possibly cause damage.)

(i.e., Ellis, Brown, and Co. could find themselves in the fatal embarrassment of having to pay the full value of the labor).

The "Cyklops steel and iron works" of Messrs. Cammell et Co. are being carried out on the same large scale as those of the said John Brown et Co. The managing director had given government commissioner White his testimony in writing, it found <277> but later it was appropriate to withhold the manuscript that had been returned to him for revision. However, Mr. White has a lasting memory. He remembers perfectly well that for these Mr. Cyclops the prohibition of night work for children and young people "is an impossibility; it would be the same as putting their work to a halt", and yet their business counts little more than 6% boys 18 and only 1% under 13 years! (101)

On the same subject, Mr. E. F. Sanderson, of Sanderson, Bros. et Co., Steel, Rolling, and Forging Mills, of Attercliffe, declares:

Mr. Sanderson doesn't know how much he's paying the children, however

And why not? Why can't boys learn their craft during the day? Your reason

In other words, Messrs. Sanderson would have to pay part of the adult men's wages out of their own pockets instead of the boys' night work. Messrs. Sanderson's profit would fall somewhat on that occasion, and that is Sanderson's good reason why <278> Boys cannot learn their trade during the day. (102) In addition, this would throw regular night work on the men, who are now being replaced by the boys, and they would not be able to stand it. In short, the difficulties would be so great that they would probably lead to the complete suppression of night work. "As for the production of steel itself," says E. F. Sanderson, "it wouldn't make the slightest difference, but!" But Messrs. Sanderson have more to do than make steel. Steel making is a mere pretext for plus making. The smelting furnaces, rolling mills, etc., the buildings, the machinery, the iron, the coal, etc., have more to do than transform themselves into steel. They are there to suck in overtime, and of course suck more in 24 hours than they do in 12. They do, in fact, by god and right because of the Sandersons, instruct the working hours of a certain number of hands for a full 24 hours of the day and lose theirs Capital character, are therefore pure loss for the Sandersons as soon as their function of labor intake is interrupted.

But why do these Sandersons in particular claim a privilege over the other capitalists, who are only allowed to work during the day and whose buildings, machinery and raw materials are therefore "idle" at night?

5. The struggle for the normal working day.
Compulsory laws to extend the working day
from the middle of the 14th to the end of the 17th century


"What is a working day?" How long is the time during which capital is allowed to consume the labor power, the daily value of which it pays? How far can the working day be extended beyond that to reproduce the <280> Worker himself necessary working time? To these questions, one has seen it, the capital answers: The working day counts a full 24 hours every day after deducting the few hours of rest without which the labor force absolutely refuses its renewed service. First of all, it goes without saying that the worker is nothing but labor for his entire day of life, that therefore all of his disposable time is by nature and rightly working time, that is, it belongs to the self-realization of capital. Time for human education, for spiritual development, for the fulfillment of social functions, for social intercourse, for the free play of the physical and spiritual life forces, even the celebration time on Sunday - and if it were in the land of the Sabbath saints (104) - sheer nonsense! But in its immeasurably blind drive, its werewolf cravings for extra work, capital overruns not only the moral, but also the purely physical maximum limits of the working day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It robs time, requires the consumption of the open air and sunlight. It kinks at the meal and possibly incorporates it into the production process itself, so that food is added to the worker as a mere means of production, such as coal to the steam boiler and tallow or oil to the machinery. It reduces the healthy sleep for the collection, renewal and refreshment of the vital force to as many hours of numbness as the revitalization of an absolutely exhausted organism makes it indispensable. Instead of the normal maintenance of labor, the limit of the <281> On the working day, conversely, the greatest possible daily expenditure of labor, however pathologically violent and embarrassing, determines the barrier to the worker's rest time. Capital does not ask about the lifespan of labor. What is of interest is only the maximum of manpower that can be made fluid in one working day. It accomplishes this goal by shortening the length of labor, just as a greedy farmer achieves increased soil yield by depriving the soil of fertility.

Capitalist production, which is essentially the production of surplus value, the sucking-in of surplus labor, therefore, with the lengthening of the working day, not only produces the atrophy of human labor, which is robbed of its normal moral and physical conditions for development and activity. It produces the premature exhaustion and death of the labor force itself. (105) It extends the worker's production time during a given date by shortening his life.

But the value of labor includes the value of the commodities which are required for the reproduction of the worker or for the propagation of the working class. If, therefore, the lengthening of the working day, which is contrary to nature, which capital necessarily strives for in its immoderate drive for self-exploitation, shortens the period of life of the individual workers and thus the duration of their labor, faster replacement of the worn-out becomes necessary, i.e. the inclusion of greater costs of wear and tear in the reproduction of labor Just as the value part of a machine that has to be reproduced on a daily basis is greater, the faster it wears out. Capital therefore seems to have indicated a normal working day by its own interest.

The slave owner buys his worker as he buys his horse. With the slave he loses a capital that has to be replaced by new expenditure on the slave market. But

Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur! Read instead of slave trade Labor Market, instead of Kentucky and Virginia Ireland and the agricultural districts of England, Scotland and Wales, instead of Africa Germany! We heard the overwork cleaning up with the bakers in London, and yet the London job market is always overflowing with German and other death row inmates for the bakery. Pottery, as we have seen, is one of the most short-lived industries. Is that why there is a lack of potters? Josiah Wedgwood, the inventor of modern pottery, an ordinary laborer himself, declared in 1785 before the House of Commons that the whole factory employed 15,000 to 20,000 people. (107) In 1861 the population of the urban headquarters of this industry alone was in Great Britain 101,302.

However, in individual epochs of feverish upswing, the labor market showed worrying gaps. For example, in 1834. But the gentlemen manufacturers now suggested to the Poor Law Commissioners that "over- <283> population "of the agricultural districts to the north, declaring that" the manufacturers would absorb and consume them. "These were her own words. (109)

The Bury Guardian lamented that 10,000 additional hands could be absorbed after the Anglo-French trade agreement was signed and that 30,000 or 40,000 more would soon be needed. After the agents and subagents of the meat trade swept through the agricultural districts in 1860 with a rather unsuccessful result,


What experience shows the capitalist in general is a constant overpopulation, i.e. overpopulation in relation to the current need for valorization of capital, although it forms its stream from stunted, fast-living, rapidly displaced, so to speak immature generations of people. (111) However, it shows <285> On the other hand, the sensible observer experiences how quickly and deeply capitalist production, which, historically speaking, hardly dates from yesterday, has seized the people's power at the roots of life, how the degeneration of the industrial population only through constant absorption of natural elements of life from the country is slowed down and how even the rural workers, in spite of the open air and the principle of natural selection that is so omnipotent among them and that only allows the strongest individuals to emerge, are already beginning to die out. (112) Capital, that way Has "good reasons" to deny the suffering of the generation of workers around it is determined as little and as much in its practical movement by the prospect of future decay of humanity and ultimately unstoppable depopulation as by the possible fall of the earth into the sun. In every stock fraud, everyone knows that the storm is bound to strike, but everyone hopes that it will hit the head of his neighbor after he himself has caught the golden rain and brought it to safety. Après moi le déluge! Is the election cry of every capitalist and every capitalist nation. Capital is therefore ruthless towards the health and longevity of the worker where it is not compelled to be considerate by society. (113) The <286> Complaints about physical and mental stuntedness, premature death, torture of overwork, it answers: Should this torment torment us, since it increases our pleasure (profit)? By and large, however, this does not depend on the good or bad will of the individual capitalist. Free competition asserts the immanent laws of capitalist production against the individual capitalist as an external law of compulsion. (114)

The establishment of a normal working day is the result of centuries of struggle between capitalist and worker. But the history of this struggle shows two opposing currents. Compare, for example, the English factory legislation of our time with the English labor statutes from the 14th to the middle of the 18th century. (115) While the modern factory law forcibly shortens the working day, those statutes seek to prolong it by force. Admittedly, the claims of capital in the embryo state, where it is just beginning to secure its right to suck in a sufficient amount of surplus labor not through the mere force of economic conditions, but also through the help of state power, appear to be quite modest, one compares <287> she with the concessions it growls and reluctantly has to make in its manhood. It takes centuries before the "free" worker, as a result of the developed capitalist mode of production, voluntarily understands himself to do so, i.e. is socially compelled to sell his entire active life, his ability to work himself, his firstborn lentils for a dish for the price of his habitual provisions. It is therefore natural that the lengthening of the working day which capital seeks to impose on adult workers from the middle of the fourteenth to the end of the seventeenth century should roughly coincide with the limit on working hours that existed in the greater half of the nineteenth century Transformation of children's blood into capital is drawn here and there by the state. What today, e.g. in the state of Massachusetts, until recently the most free state of the North American Republic, is proclaimed as a state barrier to the work of children under the age of 12, was still the normal working day in England in the middle of the 17th century for full-blooded artisans, robust farmhands and gigantic blacksmiths. (116)

The first "Statute of Laborers" <"Workers Statute"> (23 Edward III. 1349) found its immediate pretext (not its cause, because legislation of this kind lasts for centuries without the pretext) in the great plague, which decimated the population, so that, as one Tory writer puts it, "the difficulty of finding workers at reasonable prices" (that is, at prices that leave their users a reasonable amount of extra work) <288> "To get to work became, in fact, unbearable" (117). Decent wages were therefore compulsorily dictated by law, as was the working day limit. The latter point, which only interests us here, is repeated in the statute of 1496 (under Henry VII.). The working day for all artificers and arable workers from March to September was then, but this was never enforced, from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., but the hours for meals are 1 hour for breakfast, 1 / hour for lunch and an hour for bread at four o'clock, that is, just twice as much as according to the current factory act. (118) In winter, work should be done from 5 a.m. until dark, with the same interruptions. A statute of Elizabeth of 1562 for all workers "hired for wages per day or week" leaves the length of the working day unaffected, but tries to limit the intervals to 2 / hours for the summer and 2 for the winter. Lunch should only last an hour and "afternoon sleep of / hour" should only be allowed between mid-May and mid-August. For every hour of absence, 1 d. (about 8 pfennigs) from wages. In practice, however, the ratio to the workers was much more favorable than in the statutes. The father of political economy and, so to speak, the inventor of statistics, William Petty, says in a paper he published in the last third of the 17th century:

Did Dr. Andrew Ure not right to shout the Twelve Hours Bill of 1833 as a return to the times of darkness? However, the provisions mentioned in the statutes and by Petty also apply to "apprentices" (apprentices). How things stood with child labor at the end of the 17th century can be seen from the following complaint:

Germany, on the other hand, is praised because the children there are brought up from the cradle to at least "a little bit of activity" (120).


Even during the greater part of the eighteenth century, up to the epoch of great industry, capital in England had not succeeded in acquiring the entire week of the laborer by paying the weekly value of labor-power, with the exception of the agricultural laborers. The fact that they could live a whole week on four days' wages did not seem to the workers a sufficient reason to work the other two days for the capitalist as well. One side of the English economists furiously denounced this obstinacy in the service of capital; another side defended the workers. Let us hear, for example, the polemic between Postlethwayt, whose trade dictionary at that time enjoyed the same reputation as today’s similar writings by MacCulloch and MacGregor, and the previously quoted author of the "Essay on Trade and Commerce" (121).

Postlethwayt says, among other things: