Class War 2/3

Our declaration of class war

“The essence of all slavery consists in taking the product of another’s labour by force. It is immaterial whether this force be founded upon ownership of the slave or ownership of the money that he must get to live.” — Leo Tolstoy

With all the media’s nationalistic coverage of our masters’ wars, it is easy to ignore the reality that there is a civil war going on which will never cease as long as our world is divided into two contending classes. The class war turns humans into competing enemies and transforms society into a battlefield. Under capitalism, the means of wealth production and distribution are monopolised by a class that is legally entitled to defend its ownership and control by means of coercion. The facts of class possession are beyond dispute. In the UK, the richest ten per cent of the population owns more of the accumulated wealth than the poorer ninety per cent put together. The relationship between capital and wage labour is that of exploiter and exploited, robber and robbed.

Wages are the hallmark of legalised theft, profits are a gift provided by the workers so as to support the capitalists. This may sound strange to workers but a little investigation into capitalist production soon demonstrates the truth of it. The capitalists own and control the technology, means of production and resources which enable humanity to survive. Either they own them privately or through their executive committee, the State.

They are only in this privileged position because a majority of people allow it to be. The majority of people are not capitalists: they possess very little except their ability to work: labour-power. So the workers possess mental and physical energies, but lack the ownership and control of the productive machinery, the capitalists have the productive machinery, but they need human labour to run it for them. It is a “partnership”  between Haves and Have-Nots, the workers are employed to produce, but not possess and the capitalists are permitted to possess, but not produce. The relationship of wage labour and capital is one of user and used. The capitalist employs – uses – the worker’s labour-power at a price which is called a wage. When labour-power is purchased it is the capitalist’s to use for a period of time. Labour power is a commodity for sale on the market.

Why does the capitalist buy labour-power? Capitalists seek workers to produce wealth, in that the value of the wealth produced by them will be greater than the wage paid. In short, unless workers create the surplus value they are of no use to the capitalists. Surplus value is that proportion of wealth produced by a worker which is over and above the reproduction of his or her own wage (variable capital) plus the cost of machinery and raw materials, used during production (constant capital). So if a worker is paid £300 a week he must produce wealth which reproduces the value of £300, reproduces the cost of machinery and materials used, and in addition, he must create a surplus which provides unearned income for the idle owner of capital. If a worker earning £300 only reproduces wealth to the value of £300 plus the cost of machinery and materials used, but not any surplus-value, he or she will be considered unproductive.

The objective of capitalist production is the creation of surplus-value. Out of surplus value comes rent, interest and profit. Profits arise from the unpaid labour of the working class. The capitalist class do not give workers jobs out of charity. If they did not make a profit out of the deal, they would be in the same position as the workers. They only employ us if we can be exploited to provide some of the wealth which secures their life of ease and luxury. Many workers are grateful to the capitalists for exploiting them, they think themselves lucky at being exploited.

The vast majority of people own practically nothing but their ability to work and the little that they do own is dependent on their continuing to exercise that ability to work. Unable to do so through infirmity, old age or unemployment, they are quickly reduced to the level of a pauper. We are working-class because we have to sell our working power to live and to such an extent that we virtually live to work.

This lack of ownership among the many is paralleled by the immense wealth of the few. They are the capitalist class because they live on the income from their capital which, as well as the means of production and distribution, includes the labour-power, the mental and physical abilities, of those workers hired to operate them.

The working class produce all the wealth of capitalist society but they only get back a part of it. The rest goes to the capitalist class – first, to provide for the continuation of production and the maintenance of the conditions by which the working class are exploited, and second, to keep them in the manner they are accustomed to. This is the basis of the class struggle in capitalism.

Politically, the capitalist class are supreme but, economically, they need the working class. Much is made of the wealth of the capitalists “providing” jobs for the workers. The only way that they can put their wealth to effect is by hiring the labour-power of those with no wealth.

In terms of playing a social role in production, the capitalist class are redundant. At the dawn of their epoch, they were instrumental in ending the anachronistic restrictions of feudalism and developing the means of production and distribution on an enormous scale in their drive for bigger and better profits. Today, they only take part on a small, individual basis and have been replaced by paid managers and various other hired hands. The only role left to them is that of consuming the finest fruits of a society run by the working class.

 To achieve their ends, working people have to become revolutionary and set out for the complete overthrow of the whole structure of capitalist society. In order to do this, they have to gain political power – control of the bureaucratic, military and legal apparatus of the State.

 Today, working-class emancipation from the bonds of capital will mean the emancipation of all mankind. The production of wealth is the cooperative effort of untold millions and the potential capacity of that production is unprecedented. No person need go short of anything