The Questions 
They Ask

Questioner: Mr. Speaker, would you please explain ‘Surplus Value’?

Speaker: Surplus Value is unpaid labour. It is work the worker NEVER gets paid for. How can that be? Quite simply. Workers today produce much more value than is required to maintain themselves and family. Let’s say a person works 40 hours a week, 5 days — 8 hours a day. Right. Now, 4 of those hours are the value of their wages, 4 of them go straight to the capitalist, as the sole source of profit. This has all been worked out in typical, rather long-winded German professorial fashion by Marx (“Capital” page 216; Kerr edition), using actual figures of the accounts of the cotton mill managed by his friend Engels. (And he should have known, being a successful mill manager on a salary and 10% of the profits), Marx therefore divided the day into “Necessary” and ‘Surplus” Labour. Necessary — for the worker, “Surplus” — for the Company.

Some people think that Surplus Value is the same as Profit, including some ignorant Trade Union leaders. It is NOT — Surplus Value is the ration of unpaid to paid labour — 4 to 4, or 5 to 3 hours, etc. Profit is what the firm has left, after paying everything: wages, rent, raw materials, taxes, and so on. So what with the investment of £100, Surplus Value could be 100%, i.e. 50 to 50, but profit only 10% — 90 to 10.

Next question . . .


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