Karl Marx Speech
Capitalism is when a wealthy person who uses money to invest in an industry for profit(“capitalist”). We start to see this in Manchester, England around the 1800s. Karl Marx was a German man who lived in Manchester, he also worked in his father’s cotton factory. During this time, he observed inadequate and unjust treatment to the employees. He delivered a speech that spoke harshly about the capitalist class business practices (Engles S26-7).
Marx saw bad conditions such as payments of wages being so low that a man could not support his family. They worked 6 days a week and 14 hour days, having no benefits or holidays off. Women and children often worked in these factories. Some factory owners even got children from orphanages until child labor was outlawed in 1812. The Industrial Revolution Manchester (5-6).
In his speech, Marx compares the labor power of the factory worker to a commodity. He states that the capitalists’ factory owner pays the laborer out of the capital that he already has. With this capital, he purchases supplies for the laborer to produce the goods with. The workers wage does not come out of the profit made from the commodities that were sold. Depending on how the commodities do on the market, maybe some items sell and some do not. But when these items do sell this is how the capitalists make profit (Engles S26-7).
In his speech, Marx also stated that the Capitalists does not own the laborer. “The free laborer, on the other hand, sells his very self, and they by fractions. He auctions off eight, 10, 12,15 hours of his life one day like the next to the highest bidder, to the owner of raw materials, tools, and the means of life-i.e. to the capitalists” (Engles S26-9). Then when the capitalists get done with the laborer he discards them. “But the worker, whose only source of income is the sale of his labor-power cannot leave the whole class of buyers, i.e., the capitalists class unless he gives up his own existence” (Engles S26-9). The laborers need these jobs to literally survive. At this particular time in history, there were not that many options for another job (Engles S27-8).
The capital class system was obviously unequal. Since these technological jobs were so new there no laws written on workers’ rights. There was no one to hold the factory owners accountable for the treatment of their employees. These Capitalists had so much power and did whatever they wanted. The capitalists had no moral compass, by making children work in the factories around dangerous equipment is essentially child abuse. They could have afforded to pay these laborers a more affordable living wage. The quality of life for the average factory worker was horrible. But the capitalists were only interested in making commodities to sell. With the help of these new machines in the factories, more and more goods were being produced than ever before.
In the end, capitalism can be good if it’s done in the right way. Both sides the workers and the capitalist should benefit. There should be check and balances system from a disinterested party. The workers should have been able to work with respect, dignity and basic human rights.
Karl Marx Speech