In that individuals labour power, that persons

In this essay, I will be discussing Karl Marx
and in particular his piece of writing ‘the production of surplus value’. Karl
Marx grew up in Germany under oppressive conditions, him and his family lived
in great poverty. As a result, I believe it shaped how he thought and perceived
society. By critically reading the text ‘the production of surplus value’ it
gave me a better understanding of the views of the author, Karl Marx who thought
that class struggle would result in workers taking power, this was mentioned in
his communist manifesto. Marx believed that the modern industrial society in
specific is distinguished by class conflict between the bourgeoisie and
proletariat. However, he believed that the productive forces of capitalism are
rapidly ceasing to be harmonious with the exploitive relationship, so in the
end the proletariat will lead a revolution. This revolution however will be different
as the members of the proletariat have no way of seizing property like past
revolutions which merely reallocated property into the possession of the new
ruling class but due to the class of the proletariat they were unable to do
that. Therefore, when they do gain control they will have to dismantle all
ownership of private property so that classes themselves will be destroyed. Marx
believes that capitalism is established on a principle of private ownership which
has the owners of the means of production reliant on wage labour to produce profits.
Marx’s main point is that the creation of commodities is a social process which
is based on exploitation.

In the text, I read about the production of
surplus value, it stated that the ‘capitalist buys labour power in order to use
it; and the labour power in use is labour itself’. This means that the
capitalists hire those who they feel are the most suitable for labour, for
example when hiring for a construction job. The hirer is going to look for
someone who can do their job efficiently. So, someone who is strong, committed
etc. this is that individuals labour power, that persons capacity to do work. That
individual now doing their job is labour itself as the capitalist have now
chosen who they feel is most suitable and will be able to earn money for them. Marx
explains this by stating that the purchaser of this labour power ‘consumes it by
setting the seller of it to work’. Marx view was based on the idea that things
are not made for their value use bust just to be bought and sold. Capitalists don’t
produce goods because they want others to find worth in them but because they
want to earn money from it. The goal of our capitalist society is to gain money
continuously. Marx believed that value comes from labour, which is the idea
that individuals exchange commodities. As well as labour power becoming a
commodity as it is sold and bought on the market. Typically, the worker is
legally the owner of his labour power but is able to sell it easily according to
their own wishes. Exchange value of labour power is the amount of labour it
takes to create it. This means to feed, clothe, bring up the workforce etc. as
Marx puts it. The use value of labour is the amount of commodity that it can generate
in combination with capital. While reading the text I established the meaning
of surplus value, surplus value is when a day’s labour power combined with
means of production produces more value than its price. So, in simpler terms
the difference between a worker’s wages and the value of goods and services
that they produce. Usually the use value which is the value of the goods and
services should be higher than the exchange value which is the worker’s wages
so that the workers generate a positive surplus value through their labour.
Marx used the concept of surplus value as a way to measure a worker’s exploitation
by capitalism. The way this term can be used to measure a worker’s exploitation
is through the idea that a worker does not get paid based on how hard they
work. For example, an individual who is working as a tailor, they would have to
alter and fix hundreds of clothes in a week maybe even thousands if they work
in a big corporation. However, if you look at how much work they do their probably
not paid efficiently for their time (exchange value). Compared to how much the company
they work for would charge each customer for their services and earn (use
value). This means that the corporation would be generating more money than
they are giving out, so worker’s labour begins to be exploited.

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As the question states ‘why does Marx say that
free and fair exchange of commodities can result in exploitation?’. Commodities
are things that fulfil what we need and want and are the necessary elements that
make up capitalism. Marx explains the difference between ordinary money from
capital. In the simplest form of distribution of commodities, a commodity is
turned into money which is then transformed back into a commodity. This happens
through people selling a commodity for example a company selling oil, the
company would then use the money they earn to buy other commodities such as
essentials for the company to run smoothly etc. this whole system means simply
that people produce items so that they can earn money to buy fundamentals that
they need. Free and fair exchange of commodities can lead to exploitation
because commodities value lies in the labour time that is put in it, this extra
time can only come from the workers. Marx argues that the capitalist pressures
the workers into doing longer hours to create more surplus value. This leads to
exploitation as the capitalist must keep the working day at a certain length to
generate profits. This means that some of the day is spent generating value to
feed and clothe the workers and the other part is used to generate surplus
value which goes straight to the capitalist. As workers have no choice
sometimes they do have to work long hours in horrible conditions just to be
able to buy commodities that will allow them to live a somewhat decent life. This
is exploitation of the workers as they have work these long hours to generate
surplus value as mentioned earlier, but also due to the fact they don’t own
what they produce which is exploitation. Since workers don’t own the means to
produce or sell commodities they are then forced into selling their labour
power which is also a commodity. The capitalist will buy as much labour power
as they can from the worker at the lowest price. Marx would argue that one of
the reasons why workers find themselves continually taking part in this cycle
of exploitation is due to alienation. Alienation is ‘the process whereby people
become foreign to the world they are living in.’ Marx’s theory of alienation is
the idea that in modern industrial production under capitalist settings workers
will inescapably lose control over their lives as a result of losing control
over their work.  Marx distinguishes ways
in which workers are alienated. Workers are alienated from other humans, in our
capitalist society in any job we must compete against each other. However just
as how competition between businesses lowers the price of commodities, competition
between workers lowers wages. So, the proletariat does not benefit from such competition,
humans see each other’s as associates in everyday life but under capitalism they
see each other as completion and thus are alienated. Workers are alienated from
the products of their labour