ARTICLE REVIEW 1
For this article review, I would be reviewing the journal article entitled An Analysis of Karl Marx’s Theory of Value on the Contemporary Capitalist Economy written by Anthony Imoisi Ilegbinosa of the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria back in 2012, published through the Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development. Ilegbinosa’s article probes about Marx’s Theory of Value and how it affects the association between the labor services provided by the workers and the unjust treatment of the capitalists in accordance with the contemporary capitalist economy. The article was divided into five parts and seeks to provide answer to the question – whether the laborers/workers/proletariats have a choice of selling their labor or not in order to survive in the contemporary capitalist economy as it were in orthodox capitalism?
During the industrial revolution which originated in Europe during the nineteenth century both had serious positive and negative effects. Production of goods were made easier since most factories made use of machineries, thousands of people were given jobs to earn money for living, and it helped the economy since people were handed over with purchasing power to buy things. However, with the rise of the positive effects also comes the negative ones. The gap between the two social classes became too evident that according to Marx, revolution became a necessity. The proletariats who sold their labor force to the bourgeoisie are continuously exploited with long hours of work but compensated with wages enough only for subsistence. Workers are being detached from themselves, their co-workers, product, all in all from their very human nature.
Based from the article, the Value Theory of Marx is one of the significant part of his economic theories. Marx ensues the traditional classical way of inquiring deeper into the supply or cost of things through the means of value. He described capitalism as the division between the bourgeoisies and the proletariats in which these two classes directly compete each other. The settlement of wages is the product of the relations between them. Furthermore, labor is said to be the only commodity in the whole means of production and is the only source of surplus. Hence, Marx concluded that the value of a particular thing is determined by the amount of labor put into it which then leads into the accumulation of profit. Surplus value happens when a product directs more exchange value which is appropriated by the capitalists to themselves instead of distributing it fairly among to the workers.
According to Marx, the labor services offered by the workers to the capitalists does not come under “free conditions”. Because of social differences in the society, the proletariats are exploited since they don’t have much choice against the bourgeoisies who are the ones who owns the factories. The workers are continuously being pulled into being poor while the capitalists enjoy the increase of wealth through the hard work of their workers. The freedom of the workers as well are being contained because of private ownership by the capitalists. The ruling class only focuses their attention on accruing more profit for their firm and disregards the physical, emotional, and mental conditions of their workers. They treat their workers as mere machines where they could change anytime, but then again without the man-power of the laborers, those machines inside the factories are useless. The continuous exploitation the laborers receive from the capitalists urged them to stand up against them, which led to the occurrence of a revolution.
Likewise, the realm to which the unjust treatment could be measured can be seen through several conditions like the ratio of profits and working hours etc. For Marx, capitalism is a kind of system impelled by profit making which abuses the workers for the benefit of the people on the top. Since surplus value produces more money for the capitalists, the capitalists make sure that they do whatever they can within their powers to maintain this way of collecting more money without the affecting how the workers are being paid. As aforementioned, private ownership leaves the people from the lower class with no choice but to sell their labor power without having the means to bargain the wages they might receive in exchange. If elements concerning the means of production become stagnant like the cost of raw materials and or the initial capital to name a few, there would be no exploitation that would occur. But this is not always the case, capitalists will always find a way to increase their initial profit making. Since the market is constantly in the state of flux, the capitalists are called out to produce more. The only thing capable of being altered is none other than labor. Although the workers are coerced into offering their labor power, it’s not a win-win situation for them as compared to the capitalists since, in the end, they are still either going to be continually exploited or a worker and his family would experience hunger. Also, the capitalists, in order to sustain their competitiveness inside the market, manipulates the only thing that won’t affect them much which is none other than the wages of their workers. The capitalists either maintain the minimum wage or go as far below in exchange of more working hours. If the capitalist or the consumers are impelled to pay more this could lead to the firm’s failure, or if the price of a product becomes too high, it then becomes less competitive which leads to everyone not earning money.
Truly, the theory of value adopted by Marx is closely associated with the theory of exploitation. The notion of value became the ultimate basis in order to perceive the relations of the unjust treatment of the capitalists against the workers. Heedfully, within a capitalist economy, surplus value is used as an indicator of movement, and if the profit expectation exceeded far beyond what was estimated, then the upper class succeeded with their plan. After all, even with examining the Value theory, it is still not enough to attempt answering the initial question cited. Therefore, further inquiry is still needed for this discourse.