1970s >> 1976 >> no-867-november-1976

Karl Marx and Enoch Powell

“Suppose that on the occasion of some of these crises, the nation were to rouse itself to the effort of getting rid by emigration of some hundreds of thousands of superfluous arms, what would be the consequence?


That, at the first returning demand for labour, there would be a deficiency. However reproduction may be, it takes a space of a generation to replace the loss of adult labour. Now the profits of our manufacturers depend mainly on the power of making use of the prosperous moment, when the demand is brisk. Compensating for when it is slack.


This power is secured to them by the command of machinery and manual labour. They must have hands ready by them, they must be able to increase the activity of their operations when required and to slacken it again according to the state of the market, or they cannot possibly maintain the pre-eminence in the rate of competition on which the wealth of the country is founded.”


This is quoted by Marx in Capital Vol. 1, p. 595: “Lectures on Colonies” by Professor H. Merivale, Oxford, 1841.

But in fact, says Marx: “it is capitalistic accumulation that constantly produces, and produces in the direct ratio of its own energy and extent, a relatively redundant population of labourers i.e. a population of greater extent than suffices for the average needs of the self-expansion of capital and therefore a surplus population.” Marx called this the Industrial Reserve Army.