Discount Rates, Exploitation, and the End of Capitalism

If one uses “sacrifice,” or “abstinence,” in any sense that is at all fundamental, then it is not the rich men of the world who do the “sacrifice” involved in capital accumulation. The “sacrifice” rests in the lowered incomes and narrowed consumption of the proletariat which permits the propertied class to enjoy its privileged income (Dobb 1932, ch.10).

The capital given in exchange for labour-power is converted into necessaries, by the consumption of which the muscles, nerves, bones, and brains of existing labourers are reproduced, and new labourers are begotten. Within the limits of what is strictly necessary, the individual consumption of the working class is, therefore, the reconversion of the means of subsistence given by capital in exchange for labour-power, into fresh labour-power at the disposal of capital for exploitation (Marx 1967a, ch.27).

The price of labour falls again to a level corresponding with the needs of the self-expansion of capital, whether the level be below, the same as, or above the one which was normal before the rise of wages took place (Marx 1967a, ch.25, §1).

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