I wanted to go through this small manuscript for a long time. but due to time constrain and not being able to focus on books other than text one, I kept forgetting about it.
In the beginning, the book contains an intro given by Engel. A summary of what engel said:
The book first came out in 1849. The series was never completed though, These were lectures given by Marx. The Last issue was published in 1884. A question that Engel asked was would marx approve the text to be original in a later addition? Reason is his criticism of political economy was finished around 1959-60. So did his theory. As a result, Engel changed only one basic thing of the book of 1891 edition which is considered final from this duo. The change is—Labour for wages, sells labour power. before it was taken as only ‘Labour’.
Classical economy takes all element of production cost as variable and can fluctuate. Also, it says price should be equal to cost of production. This explanation is invalid. Where does the profit lie then? Value of commodity is depended on labour it needed. Value of commodity is equal to cost of production then what is the value of production of labour?
We live in a capitalist society and surely we understand the profit is derived from the labour as other costs are fixed. Classic political economy found itself in blind ally about the explanation. Marx found the way. As worker gives his labour power for dispose of the capitalist. What takes place when worker disposes his labour power? Does he derive any benefit from it other than subsistence?
An interesting thing came out fo the document for me. As MArx defines Switzerland and Belgium as bourgeois Monarchy and Republic respectively at that time.
There are in total 9 chapters of the book. Chapter 1 gave a summary of what is going to be discussed. points like relation of wage, to labour and capital, The rule of the capitalist and the slavery of the workers. Chapter 2 talked about what are wages, how are they determined. We know for different kind of work different some of money is set as wage.Though one thing is common in all. The unit is time. What Marx says is what actually owners or caitalists buy is workers labour power. Labour power is a commodity, measured by time. The worker has exchanged his commodity at a certain ratio. That ratio is the price. The price shows relation, the exchange value. Wage is just a special name. There is no other repository other than flesh and blood. Wage is not a share of worker. Why does he sale it? To survive. A sacrifice from the time of his life. The product is not his focus. The wage is his focus, according to Marx. Worker himself is commodity but his labour power is not his commodity. Chapter 3 talks about how is the price of this commodity is determined. It depends on the price of product and profit. by competition of buyers and sellers and demand. Then basic principals about demand is discussed.A question asked by Marx is what you regard as standard to compare what is high and low price, and what is standard of profit. Also, he explains why supply and demand brings the price back to production price.
In the next chapter Marx says that Wage will fall depending on supply and demand. Fluctuation depends on price. What is the cost of labour power which is training and subsistence. In his words, existence and propagation of worker determines the wage. Then in Chapter 5, Marx talks about how capital is accumulated and nature of capital. The condition that makes things capital is their use. Raw materials left aside, will not be capital until they are used. Same way labour power will not be labour power as long as workers do not go on a contract with the capitalist. Also, capital has exchange value. Producer and their social relation will vary with means of production. The capitalist accumulate their wealth from wages that they do not provide to workers.
Overall, this is the book which gave the basic ideas of the profit in the capitalist society during 19th century.