Reading Capital With Comrades podcast

#9: COLLECTIVE LABOR (Ch. 16-22)

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Our ninth episode reviews chapters 16-22, starting with a discussion of the commonly misunderstood concept of “productive labor.” We clarify Marx’s use of this concept and the role it plays in Marxist theory and organizing. We then reconsider the relationship between relative and absolute surplus value, viewing them as a contradictory unity and as strategies capital pursues to exploit workers. In the second part, we turn from the value of labor to its money expression: the wage. In addition to revealing the ideological role that wages play in capitalism--what we might call the “wage fetish”--we think through different forms of wages and the distinct functions each form embodies for capitalists and workers in the class struggle. Finally, we touch on national differences in wages and the relevance this has for analyzing imperialism and international trade.

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