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Capitalism and the Worker

This research paper topic will argue that there is an inherent disjunction between the interests of labor and owners in capitalistic systems, that successful capitalism requires the exploitation of the many by the few, of the workers by the business owners.

Capitalism and the Worker

We can begin with the Marxist notion of “surplus value”.  A good political science term paper on capitalism notes the following with respect to this concept. Because the capitalist (or his/her agent, the business executive) controls the mean of production, he/she can dictate whether the worker is able to sell his/her labor.  This allows the capitalist to successfully drive a hard bargain: the worker works for a given period of time to produce a product, but he/she receives only a part of the actual value of his/her labor; the rest, the surplus value, is skimmed off by the capitalist.  Thus the system, in Marx’s words, “produces palaces, but hovels for the worker".

Two things are important about this theory.  First, it is inexorably mechanistic.  Capitalism may soften, indeed it has softened, but it is organic to the system that the worker be robbed of a portion of the true value of his labor.  Second, the evocation of Marx is somewhat risky because Marxist systems have not been good at producing wealth, and because Marx’s predictions as to the course that history would take have not been borne out.  But, the research paper should note, there are portions of the Marxist theory that are analytically powerful and retain their value, and that the theory of “surplus value” is one of them.

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