50 Years Ago: Why the Unemployed are Necessary Under Capitalism

The position may be summed up as follows. As under present conditions, all commodities are produced for profit, production must cease with the cessation of profit. As profit and wages between them constitute and have their only source in the value created by the worker, profit can only appear while wages are prevented from consuming the whole product of labour. As wages, the price of labour power, are regulated by the relation of supply and demand, a surplus of labour-power (the unemployed), is necessary to prevent wages swallowing up all profit. Therefore the unemployed army is a vital necessity to Capitalist production, and there can be no solution under Capitalism.


(From the Socialist Standard, December, 1908.)