1970s >> 1976 >> no-863-july-1976

Condition of Blind Leaders Deteriorating

How hopelessly ignorant can these trade union leaders get?

Here we have John Boyd, the Secretary of the Engineering Union, on television the other night talking about,  ‘the Marxian phrase Surplus Value or what is the same thing, Profit’.

Dear Mr. Boyd, surplus-value is not the same as profit. Profit is calculated on the capitalist’s total outlay including Constant Capital (machinery) and Variable Capital (labour). Surplus-value is calculated on the difference between necessary and surplus labour. It is called “surplus” because it is over and above the value needed to reproduce the workers’ pay.

For instance: An investment of £10,000 (£5,000 Constant and £5,000 Variable or wages) with a rate of surplus-value of 100 per cent, produces a profit of 50 per cent. Why? Because, silly Mr. Boyd, the capitalist has to pay for machinery and raw materials besides labour. Therefore, even if the worker works 4 hours for himself and then 4 free for the capitalist, the boss still doesn’t make 100 per cent. profit: only 50 per cent. on his total outlay.

What Mr. Boyd can do for his members when he doesn’t even know what profit (and therefore wages) is, nobody knows! Perhaps he had better stick to playing the trombone in his Salvation Army band.

Horatio