Surplus Value?

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Groucho is here to teach you about Marxism

Capital has not invented surplus-labour. Wherever a part of society possesses the monopoly of the means of production, the laborer, free or not free, must add to the working-time necessary for his own maintenance an extra working-time in order to produce the means of subsistence for the owners of the means of production…
(Marx: Capital Vol. 1)

It occurs to me that I’m using a technical term without defining it. That’s a mark of laziness that I’ll correct immediately.

Earlier I wrote about how playaz, hoez, and single dudes are thriving at the expense of married men, and I specifically called the extra produce of such married men surplus value. In order to understand what I mean by this term, I have to delve into some boring shit, like Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, and his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. This is tedious but necessary work, and I’ll try and be as brief as I can.

Aristotle defined a human being as a “rational animal,” and Descartes defined a human being as a “thinking thing.” This became a big argument, with philosophical heavy-hitters taking either side. Marx transcended this dispute entirely, and defined human beings as homo faber. That’s a fancy latin word that means ‘man the maker.’ We are, in Marxist terms, builders of equipment. We are born with an instinctive drive to take natural products, add value to them, and derive use value from the produce.

Some of the things that human beings have developed have really cool uses.

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homo faber sent this machine to Venus, simply because he could

Of course, we might make things which don’t seem to be valuable. You know the old man who carves wooden rifles for the kids in your ‘hood? Remember how your mother did those cheeseball paint-by-number things? Your homosexual uncle, who writes bad poetry… when you think about it, it becomes obvious that it’s all the same process. We’re hard wired to do shit like this. Take a look around, and you’ll find surplus value is all around you.

Whether any of us wants to admit as much, the reality is that workers who are married men produce more than workers who are playaz, monks and wimminz. Married men are far more productive than married women, in fact.

It’s well known that married men make significantly more money than wimminz, either single or married. Feminists call this the “wage gap,” and they endlessly wail about it. Married men make far more money than single men do, also. Is making money correlated with productivity? In our society, I’d argue that it is.

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(Vandenbroucke)

That entire paper is both interesting and accessible, and I’d encourage everyone here to skim through it. From its thesis, it’s easy to conclude a few things. Married men work harder than other classes of worker, for example. Married men tend to work longer hours. Married men tend to be better educated. Married men might be motivated to work a side-gig along with a regular job.

Married men tend to do these things because a skillful wife will motivate her husband to hustle for the extras. A skillful wife also keeps an efficient household, so her husband can concentrate on work, and he never has to worry about dishes or vacuuming. This is all obvious, but it doesn’t get to the root of what’s really going on, and in order to address the reasons why I don’t condemn marriage, we need a deeper look.

Nevertheless the grand structures of ancient Egypt are less due to the extent of its population than to the large proportion of it that was freely disposable. Just as the individual labourer can do more surplus-labour in proportion as his necessary labour-time is less, so with regard to the working population. The smaller the part of it which is required for the production of the necessary means of subsistence, so much the greater is the part that can be set to do other work.
(Marx: Capital Vol. 1)

When a man enters the factory and begins his workday, he creates, through his own genius, more value than his wage reflects. Some of that value is kept by his bosses (who don’t do any work themselves), and some of it is used by capital to reproduce the material conditions for the capitalist system to project itself temporally. The rest of it bleeds out into the social macrosphere.

Married men get paid more because they add more surplus value, not only to their bosses’ ledgers, but to society as a whole. Those of us who aren’t married are easy riders, who enjoy things like roads, bridges, antibiotics and cheap vegetables, without fully paying into the system which produced them. Who produced them? In large part it was married men.

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Karl Marx: Husband to Jenny

If you like living in an advanced, industrial society, with good things on offer, then you ought to respect the men who get up early to go to their factory jobs every morning. They are providing all of these benefits, and they’re doing it because some semblance of social sanity still exists. A world without marriage is a global ghetto, where everyone is a bastard, no one knows who his father is, and where life is brutal, miserable, and short.

Author: Boxer

Sinister All-Male Dancer. Secret King of all Gamma Males. Member of Frankfurt School. Your Fave Contrarian!

4 thoughts on “Surplus Value?”

  1. “Some of that value is kept by his bosses (who don’t do any work themselves)…”

    As much as I dislike capitalism (or free enterprise or whatever it is we have here in the USA), I think it would be better to say the bosses do very little work themselves. But I think it would be highly unusual to have a boss create more value than his compensation reflects.

  2. As much as I dislike capitalism (or free enterprise or whatever it is we have here in the USA), I think it would be better to say the bosses do very little work themselves. But I think it would be highly unusual to have a boss create more value than his compensation reflects.

    For a small business you’re surely correct. I think if Marx were alive today, he’d account small businesses and sole proprietorships differently.

    When I talk about the average boss in the U.S.A., I’m talking about the owners of the company. I can open my Fidelity account and see that I’m getting recognized as one of the owners of the Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Valero Energy, Schlumberger, and five dozen other firms…

    So, I’m a boss at General Electric. Other than knowing they make lightbulbs and jet engines, I have almost no other insight about what goes on there. I’ve never set foot on company property, and have certainly never created any value rubbing shoulders with the actual workers on the factory floor. Yet, here I am, voting on the makeup of their board, and getting a cut of that same surplus labor that workers schuck off on a daily basis as they stand on the assembly line.

  3. @OKRickety

    Bosses with strong organizational and planning skills are incredibly valuable. Unfortunately the Peter Principle leads to stagnant bureaucracy.

    Read the “The Mythical Man Month”. It basically states that in certain areas (like software development) labor productivity does not scale with number of workers. The bottleneck becomes management and communication. The biggest problem is the quality of management, which on the whole is terrifyingly awful.

  4. There seems to be more and more and more people above me in my field who spend a lot of time telling fewer and fewer people on the lower levels in the management to get a job done, and properly with fewer and fewer actual bodies doing the required work. I get screamed at freqently about labor costs by four different upper levels of management in my company but when I try to combine or streamline work on the floor, these same putzes then suddenly get a “company vision and mission” with me about how I am supposed to be running a professional building…..much of the work I do as a property manager in my posotion would never be doing in 1987, 1997, or 2003. I had to cut two janitor positions, keep the building spotless which means on some days….there is an emergnecy………bathroom filthy on the 8th floor, but my one janitor is cleaning the second floor that a “funny guy” (dick move) decided to discharge a fire extinguisher…but he’s “cool” and a “leader” in his business and she’s cleaning that….has five other tasks to do before close of business….who cleans the bathroom? Me.

    Why do I need three different “upper level managers” from four different departments telling me what to do? They all are surprised because prior to me they needed “two” managers to do all the work in this property.

    I am not one of those who says “oh the humble janitor should be making the calls, and should be the highest person paid in the building” Our janitor is compensated well, with benefits too.

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