(IPCUSA) Full version including Part 2: Understanding The Hidden Nature Of Capitalism. The Untaught Syllabus 29.

Submitted by Editor on Fri, 29/10/2004 - 19:51

I always make a promise - show me an intellectually mature and academically honest person with human kindness and love for mankind of all races and nations in his or her heart, and I can promise or guarantee that once it is explained, they would not only accept a Marxist view of the political world, but consequently agree that the world must eventually be a communist world if it is to survive.

October 28, 2004

The Untaught Syllabus. 29.
(Or Marx For Beginners)

By Brian Mitchell.

What Marxism isn't

First, it is necessary to negate a few ignorant myths - myths created and maintained to make Marxism even more inaccessible.

Marxism is not communism or about communism. It is neither a plan nor a guide to communism. Marx hardly mentions the word. Marxism is an explanation of capitalism and therefore implies communism as its counterpart. Implementing communism is left by Marx to the rest of mankind, and has been attempted or practiced in various forms in various countries to varying degrees of success. Hence Leninism, Trotskyism, and the different forms of socialism under such as Fidel Castro in Cuba and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam; Mao's China, and the former socialist world of the European CMEA (Comecon) countries such as the Soviet Union, the GDR (East Germany), Czechoslovakia and so on.

Marxism is not about terrorism. Marxism is about mass action with the greatest possible support. It is not about individual acts of terror. Acts of terror, although carried out by some left wing groups, are not a Marxist concept; and have only been called so by the media in order to alienate people from Marxism. Individual acts of terror is anarchism, not Marxism. The Baader Meinhoff group in Europe in the 1970s and Pol Pot were called left wing or communist by the media in order to discredit the left or communism; but Pol Pot and the Baader Meinhoff group and similar organisations and groups were fascists. Many if not most such groups and actions are set up by the CIA for the very purpose of obtaining anti-Marxist and anti-communist propaganda and disruption in countries in a revolutionary situation.

Another misconception of Marxism is that it divides people into arbitrary classes. This misconception is popularised by syllabus education and the media, even so-called TV documentary discussions. It is capitalism, not Marxism, that divides people into, not arbitrary, but actual economic classes. The capitalist popular notion is of social classes, not economic ones. It stratifies society officially according to the Registrar General in the UK into sociological classes A, B, C and so on - manual workers, white collar workers, the "middle" class, upper class and so on; then prints lorry loads of sociology books full of useless discussion on this stratification and its effects. Marxism, however, is an economic classification according to the socio-economic division of capitalist society into only two classes: Capitalists - the owners of capital which they invest in labour, and labour - Marx's proletariat, the working class, those who have to sell their labour, by hand or by brain, for the profit of the capitalist class in order to obtain the means of existence. In other words: you and me.

This will be fully explained when we discuss Marxist economics under the title: AN INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON MAN.

And since I mention Marxist economics, and as will be explained forthwith, Marxist economics is not, as is purported by capitalist ideology, a plan or blueprint for communism. Marxist economics, or more correctly, Marxist economic philosophy, which is a scientific philosophy, is a full exposé of capitalism, explaining exactly how it works. Not in terms of business studies or accounting, but unlike business and accounting, which is merely a rationalisation of the capitalist system, but in terms of human socio-economic relations within society and between societies.

What Marxism is

Marxism is a philosophy. A philosophy is a system of knowledge, how we validate phenomena, how we understand our world and society.

Marxism applied to human society is primarily a philosophy of socio-economic relations and their social and psycho-social effects. It answers the question - why is human society like it is.

Marxist philosophy is also applied to examination and discussion of nature and science. But we will deal here mainly with its application to human society.

For human society, Marx's most useful discovery and essential achievement was to expose the workings of capitalism in its socio-economic relations between people in society, especially between economic classes. For it is economic relations that are the determinants that permeate all other aspects of society - education and upbringing, the family, relationships, friendships, social norms, morals and behaviour, culture, the hierarchy of social structure and class, social psychology, the law, crime, foreign relations, wars, race, standard of living and quality of life, health and welfare - everything in society that has an effect on each of us as an individual. All these aspects of life have been reduced by capitalist socio-economic relationships to what Marx termed the "cold cash nexus" in all human relationships - not just business or trade relationships.

In business or commercial relationships this nexus is more identifiable. It can be identified in the motor trade in car sales or repairs, where a customer will be persuaded that a certain repair is necessary. It can be identified in the health service - whether private or public. Doctors are visited by sales reps of pharmaceutical companies bearing gifts to persuade them to use their products to cure a disease. Almost all medical research in capitalist countries is funded by pharmaceutical companies, who prefer research results to show that profitable drugs are needed and ignore results not in their favour.

The most profound aspect of Marxism is in his thorough analysis of economics which exposes the predominant socio-economic relationships of capitalist society as between two economic classes - the capitalist class, the bourgeoisie (French: capital owning class), which owns as its own private capital, the land, raw materials, the means of production and therefore the very means of subsistence, the products of this means of production, and the capitalist appropriation of the value of the product as capitalist private profit and further private capital; and the working class - which Marx called proletarians or the proletariat - those who own no capital but their ability to work - by hand or by brain - for the capitalist class.

What the Marxist term class struggle reveals is that the interests of the two classes are diametrically opposed and mutually contradictory. This is obvious when you consider that the interest of a capitalist is to pay as little as possible for land, raw materials and wages, and sell for as much profit as possible. Whereas the interest of the working class is to be paid as much wages as possible for their labour, and to buy the means of subsistence at as low prices as possible.

It is important to note that the Marxist term working class means those who labour by hand or by brain. This is not to be confused by the capitalist Registrar General's meaningless and misleading delineation of class into several social classes such as manual workers, office workers, middle class, professionals, upper class, aristocracy and so on. It is this false and misleading notion of social class that permeates capitalist social studies and sociology syllabuses and the media and the predominant public view. Marxist analysis of class relations in capitalist society reveals the only operating class division as between only two economic classes - capital and labour.

The illusion of capitalist ideology is that all have equal freedom to become a capitalist. This is theoretically true, but it is merely a nominal freedom, since obviously all cannot be capitalists, only a relatively few can. The ratio in the UK in the 1980s was 7-84. That is, seven percent of the population owned 84 percent of the wealth of the country; leaving the remaining pitiful 16 percent to be shared by the 93 percent majority - the rest of us; a gap which has been continually widening since long before the 1980s.

It is therefore within economics that Marxist philosophy is perhaps most attractive and popular to understand by working class people.

Another confusion is over the tenet that Marxist working class activity aims at the long term benefit of the majority of the working class supersedes the short term benefit of a small minority section of the working class. This determines whether, for instance, strike action is supported or not; or even popular uprisings, which historically have either been supported or not supported by for instance the Soviet Union, which had immense reserves of economic resources of working class solidarity and internationalism which has been decisive in supporting socialist revolutions such as those of Cuba or Vietnam; and post-revolutionary economic, technical, material, medical, educational, trading, diplomatic, and military defence support. Whereas in some cases, where minority working class interests rose up for short term aims against not only capital, but more majority working class interests, and was therefore bound to fail, the world socialist community could only offer sympathy and diplomacy.

Clarity is also necessary when it comes to the terms Communism and Socialism. For Marx, socialism is an intermediate set of socio-economic relationships leading to Communism. Also, Socialism has a very distinct definition for Marxists. It does not mean capitalist notions of socialism - bourgeois socialism such as that of the British Labour Party, and especially New Labour, which has written the essential socialist clause out of its manifesto. Bourgeois or Labour Party socialism - so-called public ownership or nationalisation, is a meaningless social reformism. Capitalism cannot work in a socialist way any more than petrol can put out a fire. Reformist socialism cannot ultimately survive in a capitalist controlled state, where capitalists have full economic power and therefore control of the legislative and executive arms of the state, the police and armed forces. If there was overwhelming popular support for a majority communist government in parliament, you would soon see the Queen not giving consent to form a government, parliamentary democracy withdrawn and a state of emergency declared and implemented by the armed forces. Remember that the UK armed forces swear allegiance not to the public, not to parliament, but to the Queen. If a socialist revolution cannot defend itself against an overthrown capitalist state it is doomed to failure. Hence the first priority of the Russian Revolution was the creation of a Red Army of armed workers. And look at what the Russian Revolution had to defend itself against in the form of capital - counter-revolution and the Wars of Intervention where the USSR was invaded by 15 capitalist nations including Britain, the US, Japan, France, Germany and other neighbouring capitalists states; then diplomatic and trade isolation, and finally the onslaught of Nazi Germany - financed and supported by British and US capital. Look at what Vietnam had to defend itself against. With capitalist control of these states and the military these socialist countries could not have survived.

A Scientific Philosophy

Philosophers for centuries have argued about the nature of the world - how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or whether angels have navels, but the point is, as Karl Marx remarked, to change it.

To understand anything in order to have some effect on it or change it, you have to have a system of validating things - a philosophy.

One can interpret phenomena, for instance, historical events, in various ways - by seeing them as the designs of great men, or a series of unconnected accidents. One can be a spiritualist, a fatalist, an idealist, or a dialectical materialist.

But sooner or later, one has got to find an effective method of understanding phenomena. For this we need analytical tools, measurement, and a system of validation. So we measure water temperature with a thermometer, we ask for a spade when we want to dig, and a shovel when we want to move the dug earth out of the way, otherwise digging holes to plant trees would be more difficult, wasteful and time consuming.

Marxism is a scientific philosophy. It formulates its theories and answers questions in a scientific way, using scientific methods and scientific argument.

One can nail all manner of paper and string together like Icarus or pre-Wright brothers and try to build a flying machine. But unless one considers the laws of gravity, aerodynamics and power to weight ratios, one will not get off the ground.

Likewise one cannot understand economics, except from a narrow business accounting point of view, without Marxism - a scientific way of looking at the subject.

Otherwise one is left building flow machines with coloured water and various vessels and ducts and pipes and regulatory valves - as government economists have done, to see how the economy can be tinkered with, adjusting this and that rate, to get a better result. And nobody can give us any vision of the future or its prosperity for society. The only view they can thus provide us with is that the economy is like the weather, something that has its own volition and over which we have no control. Everything in the 50s and 60s was going fine, we had fridges and washing machines and cars and full employment. Then suddenly: "Oh look it's raining!" - along comes a downturn in the economy and arguments about who caused it - usually the unions and the working man wanting too high a price for his labour thus "pricing himself out of the market." The market - this amorphous entity which has a volition and laws of its own.

In primitive times, man had little science with which to measure phenomena. And there were many attempts to find a system of knowledge - a philosophy.  However, because there are many philosophies, though confusing at first, and deliberately intended to be so by any ruling class, it doesn't mean it needs to be difficult to understand.

Throughout history, the dominant philosophy in any society has always been the philosophy of the ruling class in society.

The ruling class in a class society certainly does not want people to have guidance or understanding. Hence the mass of ridiculous philosophical confusion that is propagated and "studied". 

Thus they will allow people, and indeed encourage them, to study the mass of philosophers from Plato to Popper. These have included such things as Von Daniken's theories that straight lines across the Nasca Desert in Peru could only be associated with Martians having landed on earth before mankind. It includes millions of philosophical books and hours and hours of debate and discussion on such things as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or whether angels have navels, and between Plato and Marx on one hand and Popper and Nostradamus on the other.

But the world is not so difficult for mankind to understand if we have a scientific way of understanding it - a scientific philosophy. It was Einstein who said that "The most remarkable thing about the world is that you can understand it." And the inscription on Marx's tombstone in Highgate Cemetery in North London reads "The philosophers have hitherto interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it."

And that's the nature of Marxism.

It's a simple matter of learning to distinguish truth from an overwhelming mass of baby talk. Einstein also said that the most abundant things on this earth are oxygen and stupidity.

Learning Marxism and Overcoming the Barriers and Avoiding the Distortions

Marxism must be learned at its primary source - the reading of Marx himself, not the academic pseudo Marxism which many academics who call themselves Marxist produce in the lorry loads of volumes found on most academic bookshelves.

I found that reading Marxism at its source required a special kind of effort. For one thing, having a working class "education" in a prefab between the gas works and the pork pie factory, where we were taught only enough English to be able to understand factory instructions ("start, stop, slow, fast, very fast, no tea breaks allowed, you're fired") etc, and not being allowed anywhere near Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton, I found the English language of Marx's day differed a little from modern English. However, this was not a real problem, as it soon becomes apparent. It certainly should be no problem to those with a more middle-class education and exposed to an understanding of English Literature and poetry. I also had to overcome the narrow constraints of my bourgeois thinking.

I spent most of one summer college break getting it all together in my mind with the help of the relevant few books and my own annotational scribblings, notes and explanatory diagrams. It was a bit like bulldozing snow, it piles up increasingly higher until one of those rewarding intellectual moments when you break through to increased illumination and clarity. It was like having a filter removed from my mind and I could see the world as it really is, and I have never since, in science and technology, and especially in the humanities - economics, history, sociology, anthropology, evolution and the natural sciences, found a single incidence of illogicality or inconstancy in any Marxist notion. It is always logical and consistent. To my early perseverance and determination to get to the truth or essence of anything, and to the patient teacher and friend who gently fanned the spark of my determination to search for credible and coherent answers which were not present in mainstream British academia, I am eternally grateful

If I had not found this so, I would now either be completely disillusioned, washed out and politically burnt out - as many incomplete Marxists are, or be working for television producing the fake tellytubby intellectual documentaries now produced by those "academic" Marxists of the heady 1960s and 70s. One, and an ex-Communist Party member to boot, even works for Camelot producing the Lottery! Whenever television wants to wheel out a Marxist for an academic opinion or comment on a news or historical event, especially when involving a socialist country, the old USSR, or China, Vietnam or Cuba, it is always one of these highly placed and highly paid academic magicians and smugglers. Some of them own "Marxist" or "radical" publishing companies, spewing out volumes of "Marxist studies" full of everything that Marx did not say or distortions of Marx. Other pretend Marxists are in art and design, advertising and marketing, or are staunch New Labourites. I remember many of Blair's babes and boys and their conservative supporters from my college student union days and their petty self-serving arguments and policies. Such is the power of non-Marxist Marxism you will find abundant on many teachers' bookshelves and in colleges, libraries and bookshops.

And don't fall into the trap of detractors of Marxism to suggest it's about predictions. Marxism is about inherent laws - just like the laws of Newton and Einstein inherent in physics - gravity, relativity, and later, aerodynamics, Marx's labour theory of value is an inherent, immutable and irrefutable law of capitalism discovered and explained by Marx after the circular and tangential explanations of Ricardo and Adam Smith. Marxism is not about predictions. Marx did not provide a blueprint for a future egalitarian society. That's just an Aunt Sally set up by Marxism's detractors so that they could knock it down and "prove" it false to the undiscerning.

Read any one of these pseudo-Marxist interpretations and I guarantee that you will not be intellectually or factually elevated one little bit. Read original Marx, perhaps alongside the very few true Marxist writers for guidance and explanation - which helps because the English language has changed since Marx's writings, and Engels' writing on Marx's economics is also a useful help; and I promise you that you will find it an essential and consistent explanation of all human historical, socio-economic, international and military interaction.

The words Marxist and communist have received meanings; these received meanings are the opposite to the truth because that's what capitalist owned and controlled education, educational publishers and all capitalist publishers and media and entertainment wants them to believe. Nobody, certainly no Marxist or communist, expects capitalists to have a reason to want people to know otherwise, otherwise capitalism would completely collapse.

Marx or Marxism is not about something to preach or indoctrinate people with any more than medicine or a blood transfusion can cure a broken leg. On top of that the capitalist world loves to create millions of pseudo-Marxists so that they can prove Marxism wrong. It's very effective and often the only ultimate mental weapon defending capitalism.

With private capital owning and controlling education and the press and media, films and publishing, and thus what people know and think, and circuses, Big Brother TV programs and Tellytubbies to make babies stupid and dependent on mass supplied manipulative entertainment, there will be an ignorant mass population who will vote for the tyrant - especially as the tyrant can decide when to produce Osamas or Saddams or invade the Falkland Islands. But fortunately, most people, even the uneducated, are human and honest. And if they are given the facts of their life conditions and understand where their true interests lay, they will know what to do at the right time. Examples USSR in 1917, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, and perhaps now Venezuela. In the end it's peoples who are powerful, not blind capital.

History teachers and tutors have a crucial responsibility to humanity. It is the knowledge they dispense which decides whether the future will be peaceful or catastrophic for the human race on this incredibly rich and abundant planet.

Understanding Marxism

Understanding Marxism for most people who have had a British education can be a little strange at first.

bit of a hurdle, depending somewhat on one's intellectual base. It needs to be scientific in nature.  This is best understood in terms of philosophy - how one validates knowledge, how one understands a phenomena. 

But it shouldn't be so difficult for the majority of us who have nothing to lose.

As we have seen, the dominant philosophy in any society is that of the ruling class. Modern capitalist society naturally creates barriers to any other sort of understanding of any philosophy which threatens its existence. It does this through its control over education, culture, publishing and the media.

This is done in several ways - by hiding, by distortion, by imposing diversionary academic and media tactics, and by diverting attention to other areas, other views, ultimately to trivia.

The ruling capitalist establishment hides Marxist or true socialist or communist notions in various ways. But having claimed freedom of speech and freedom of thought, it cannot hide it completely. It exists, but is not referred to.

For those in higher academic or journalistic positions in society it might be problematic to present and sustain, this is because of fear of non-promotion or even of losing one's post.

Progressive journalists either tow the editorial line or freelance out of mainstream and only heard of once in a while. Very few well informed and honest people make it to either mainstream or specialised media or political platforms or outlets for their valuable hard work, usually done at considerable personal sacrifice and difficulty. We have the likes of John Pilger, but we need more of such people. It takes a lot of time and effort and considerable sacrifice to gather truthful material and assemble it in into something meaningful, either as a journalist or a teacher. It's less personal risk if you don't have a mortgage and family depending on you. I have often witnessed the dichotomy of progressively minded teachers and journalists who have the potential to educate and inform, but are victims of financial fear used as a tool for suppressing those who would reveal anything with any effect. You only have to look at a television now to see the decay to which that media has sunk.  Progressive teachers were largely filtered out during the Tory years.

In the 1970s Duncan Cambell and others were tried for publishing information about secret UK defence establishments, items which were publicly available from individual sources; but too enlightening and thought provoking when put together. The court case, however, did wonders for the peace movement, and it taught an ignorant public a few valuable political lessons.

The result is that most people are not exposed to the truth of it. They are of course exposed to mountains of capitalist denial of it and distortion of it, but not the essence. Look for orthodox Marxism in any bookshop or public or school library and you will most likely not find any.

Another capitalist establishment tactic is distortion. There are many so-called Marxist books, published by "radical" book-sellers. But in the absence of original Marx's works, there are volumes of distortions of Marxism, otherwise known as neo-Marxism, Marxist revisionism, or the Frankfurt school of Marxism. These either distort or complicate Marxism so that ordinary working people who are undiscerning will either fail to attempt to read them or will take on the distortions.

A predominant diversionary tactic is the imposition of an erroneous and distorting notion of "balance" in academic study and journalism.

Other tactics are diversion of minds into other areas - note the various types of television documentaries and book subjects; and into pure trivia - note the rest of television and children's programs and toys.

The truth is there. But it is hidden among mountains of so called "balance." And the more you look for it in this pile of "balance" the more you suspect is missing. Early in my college days I compiled a massive bibliographic catalog according to my wide field of interests. A few years later, when the Tories had come to power after gradually infiltrating their people and ideas into the lower realms, I found that many radical books had been removed by the librarian "because there's not much call for these books these days." Gone were the full works of Marx and Lenin, there having till then been a strong Marxist outlook in the humanities; but Mein Kampf and the Bible remained. This is what they call "balance." They couldn't pose a polarity between Marx and religion, that would be too obvious and too enlightening. So they posed a "balance" between good Christian ways and those of the Nazi Stormtroopers who had Got Mit Uns (God is with us) embossed on their belt buckles. The science section's "balance" comprised of Einstein and Newton on the one hand, and Von Daniken and Nostradamus on the other. Regarding the issue of "balance" I wrote a handout for my history students which you will see below when we discuss Marxism and history. .

I have seen syllabuses where von Daniken's theory of the lines across the Nazca Desert in Peru being proof of visitors from outer space before mankind is actually taken seriously - in that no final conclusion is arrived at and the thing is left in the balance for students! Worse than that, I have seen parts of syllabuses where the predictions of Nostradamus were treated as a serious contention in history!

All sorts of ridiculous notions have been applied to history. It is suggested that Henry Ford said "All history is bunk", and that Cecil B de Mille said "History is just one damn thing after another."

Marxism and Human Society

Through history there have been various stages in development of societies with developing socio-economic relations through primitive society - which was a primitive form of communism, slavery, feudalism, and now capitalism.

At all stages except primitive communism, societies have consisted in classes in a hierarchy of socio-economic relationships. That is, one class owning the land and the means of production and subsistence, and a class subservient to that class.

Except for primitive communism, societies have always consisted of economic classes: the one owning the means of production of wealth, the other, owning no means of production themselves and are therefore entirely dependent on making more profit for the owners of capital in order to live, producing that wealth: owner and slave, patrician and plebian, feudal landowner and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, and capitalist or bourgeoisie (French: capital owning class) and proletarian (working class by hand or brain). In short: exploiter and exploited.

Throughout this book I shall be referring to the "working class" or "working people". I do not want to be misunderstood as to mean by "working people" or the "working class" only those who do manual labour. By working class or working people I mean all those who are not capitalists - who use the private ownership of bank or finance capital, or industrial capital, land, or the means of production (factories, machines, or other facilities) in order to extract private profit from the economic exploitation of the working class: whether those workers use their hands or their brains; and whether they are at home or in imperialist 'client' nations.

We now have capitalists: they own the land and its raw materials, the banks, the means of production, the products produced by these means of production, and the profits made in that productive process: and we have wage earning people: workers - by hand or by brain, who own nothing but their power to labour - by hand or by brain in order to produce the surplus value which the capitalist appropriates as his profit, and who are completely dependent upon the will of the capitalist - his production for private profit and not for human need - for their entire means of subsistence, whether they are cooks, bottle washers, factory workers, teachers, computer operators, salesmen, secretaries, bus drivers, business executives or high court judges.

In Britain it was calculated in the late 1970s that the ratio of ownership of wealth between rich and poor, roughly between capitalist and worker, was such that 7 per cent of the British people owned 84 per cent of the country's wealth. The majority of the British people, the other 93 per cent, owned between them the remaining 16 per cent of the country's wealth.

I will elaborate later on the fundamentals of political economy. But suffice it to say here that, like Darwin's theory proves evolution, Newton's theory proves gravity, and Einstein's theory proves relativity, so Marx's equally scientific labour theory of value proves that labour, and only labour, and not capital, creates wealth; but the majority of that wealth is always appropriated by the owner of capital as private profit.

So how do we find a philosophy that works for humanity, for the only class that should exist - the working class?

First of all we have to answer the questions: "Who are the working class? Are there really classes? Aren't we now a classless society?"

Well, let's look at it logically:

This is capitalist society. Therefore there are those who are capitalists, and those who are not. What is the class difference or contradiction between the two? A capitalist wants to make profits by selling at the highest price and buying at the lowest and paying the lowest wages. The working class on the other hand want the highest wages and to buy things at the lowest prices.

Capitalist ideology and values don't stand up to the simplest logical examination when you think of the right questions.

Marxism and Philosophy

When I teach a history class or student, I may not teach much history for the first few sessions. I will first of all establish a philosophical background to verifying historical facts and events.

Before we study the history of anything we must first establish a philosophy, or a method of validating phenomena, and apply this method of validation to the study of history in order to form a useful interpretation of historical events.

I start by explaining that all the multitude of philosophies lie in one or two schools of philosophical thought.

Philosophy is the discipline of validating phenomena. There are only two basic schools of thought within the discipline of philosophy; and all philosophies fall under one or the other. Found in science, they are most apparent in the humanities - economics, sociology, history, anthropology, evolution and natural studies.

These schools of thought in the discipline of philosophy have names that have slightly different meanings to the way they are use in ordinary language. The two schools of thought that encompass all philosophies are called Idealists and Materialists.

These two basic philosophical schools of thought are called the idealists and the materialists. Within the discipline of philosophy these two words, idealist and materialist, are used slightly differently from the way they are used in ordinary language. In ordinary language, an idealist is a person who wants to do good works for the world without regard for what other people call reality; and a materialist is a person who cares less for the world but wants to accumulate material possessions.

To explain the difference I tell a little story of two primitive or Stone Age men standing outside their cave on the side of a mountain trying to explain a thunderstorm over the mountain in the next valley.

To explain the meanings of these two words within philosophy we can consider a story which I use early in courses, since they are applicable in history, philosophy, or indeed any of the humanities. It is certainly valid and essential in the study of in economics - true economics that is, not the accounting or business studies which, even in the London School of Economics, passes for economics; since economics is essentially about the study of socio-economic relations, and is a science, often also called political economy. This true subject of economics, a scientific economic philosophy, reveals the slight of hand by which finance and business studies is palmed off as economics.

Two primitive men were standing on the side of a mountain discussing a thunder storm in the next valley.

One said that whoever can make all that banging and flashing must be big and powerful, therefore we'd better not annoy him or he might harm us; so we'd better leave some food out for him to please him.

One says that: "whoever can make such banging and flashing must be mighty big and powerful and might harm us, We'd better please him. Tonight we'll leave some food on a rock for him." Of course, next morning the thunderstorm had died down and the food was gone - as in the wild it was bound to be - and his ideas were reinforced.

One said that whoever can make all that banging and flashing must be big and powerful, therefore we'd better not annoy him or he might harm us; so we'd better leave some food out for him to please him.

The other said "I think it's simply particles in the clouds crashing into each other."

The other said he thought it was simply particles in the clouds crashing into each other. A simplistic meteorological interpretation might be that lightning burns out a corridor of the oxygen through the atmosphere, and the thunder is the surrounding atmosphere rushing in to fill the vacuum. So both were wrong in a way.

The man who thought it was some powerful being was the philosophically idealist. He was attempting to explain a phenomena purely by the ideas he could imagine inside his mind without reference to any outside reality. Herein lie the origins of superstition, and on which much religion is based.

The man who talked of powerful demons or gods to whom we must pay homage was trying to explain a phenomena purely by what he could imagine in his head, from ideas only, without any fact or substance. He was the idealist.

I'm no meteorologist, but I understand that phenomena to be lightening as an electrical discharge which burns out the oxygen or atmospheres in the corridor through which it passes and the thunder to be the surrounding oxygen or atmosphere rushing in the fill the vacuum.

The man who said it was particles in the clouds crashing into each other may have been wrong in terms of the science of meteorology, but he was trying to understand a phenomena by scientifically verifiable fact, by material means. He was the materialist.

The other man was the philosophical materialist, attempting to explain a phenomena by using his mind, but applied to real things existing outside his mind, by material fact. Herein lies the origin of science. He was attempting to interpret something scientifically. We attempt to interpret something by studying it in a scientific way, by studying real material cause and effect.

Marxist Philosophy and Religion

Examples of idealistic thinking can be found in, for instance, von Daniken's theory that the Nazca lines across the Peruvian desert are purported (by von Daniken) to prove that the earth was visited by superior beings from outer space before the existence of mankind. The fact that straight lines can be made across vast extents of the most undulating terrain by the use of three sticks seems to have escaped von Daniken.

The most obvious examples of idealistic thinking are to be found in superstition and especially religious beliefs, such as:

"Since angels are men... therefore they have garments... but of course infinitely more beautiful and perfect... The garments of the angels corresponds to their intelligence. The garments of some glitter as with flame, and those of others are resplendent as with light: others are of various colours, and some white and opaque... The angels of the inmost heaven are naked... It is because garments represent states of wisdom... in relation to the Church and good men... To be able to discern that what is true is true, and that what is false is false; this is the mark and character of intelligence."
(Emanuel Swedenborg - theologian.)

"The Popes, like Jesus, are conceived by their mothers through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. All Popes are a certain species of man-gods, for the purpose of being better able to conduct the functions of mediator between God and mankind. All powers in Heaven, as well as on earth, are given to them."
(Pope Stephanus V.)

"We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance, for there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost; but the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal..."
(Athanasian Creed.)

Complete illogicality can be found in statements like:

"Reason unaided by revelation can prove that God exists."
(Roman Catholic Baltimore Catechism.)

"I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand."
(St.Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1033-1109.)

"All the truths of religion proceed from the innate strength of human reason; hence reason is the ultimate standard by which man can and ought to arrive at the knowledge of all truths of every kind."
(Pope Pius IX.)

The conflict between religion and science is illustrated in such statements as:

"Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced state, with which I am directly concerned, but they have still got control of that of children. This means that the children have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of about Evolution; about David who killed Goliath, instead of Koch who killed cholera; about Christ's ascent into heaven instead of Montgolfier's and Wright's. Worse than that, they are taught that it is a virtue to accept statements without adequate evidence, which leaves them a prey to quacks of every kind in later life, and makes it very difficult for them to accept the methods of thought which are successful in science."

"Where Church and State are habitually associated it is natural that minds, even of a high order, should unconsciously come to regard religion as only a subtler mode of police."
(Tolpuddle Martyr George Loveless.)

"Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression which everywhere weigh upon the masses who are crushed by continuous toil for others, by poverty and loneliness... Religion teaches those who toil in poverty all their lives to be resigned and patient in this world, and consoles them with the hope of reward in heaven. As for those who live upon the labour of others, religion teaches them to be charitable in earthly life, thus providing a cheap justification for their whole exploiting existence and selling them at a reasonable price tickets to heavenly bliss. "Religion is the opium of the people." (Marx.) Religion is a kind of spiritual intoxicant, in which the slaves of capital drown their humanity and blunt their desires for some sort of decent human existence... The helplessness of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters inevitably generates a belief in a better life after death, even as the helplessness of the savage in his struggle with nature gives rise to a belief in gods, devils, miracles, etc... The modern proletariat ranges itself on the side of Socialism, which, with the help of science, is dispersing the fog of religion and is liberating the workers from their faith in a life after death, by rallying them to the present-day struggle for a better life here upon earth."

Religion's role in the state is expressed in such statements as:

"Let Catholic writers take care when defending the cause of the working class and the poor not to use language calculated to inspire among the people aversion to the upper class of society... Human society, as established by God, is composed of unequal elements, just as parts of the human body are unequal; to make them all equal is impossible, and would mean the destruction of human society itself."
(Pope Pius X, letter to Bishops on Catholic Social Action, 1903.)

"The Church has condemned the various forms of Marxist Socialism... because it is her permanent right and duty to safeguard men from currents of thought and influence that jeopardise their eternal salvation."
(Pope Pius XII.)

"We demand that religion is a private matter as far as the State is concerned, but under no circumstances can we regard it as a private matter with regard to our own Party... Our programme necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism... Of course, we say that we do not believe in god. We know perfectly well that the clergy, the landlords, and the bourgeoisie all claimed to speak in the name of god, in order to protect their own interests as exploiters... The old society was based on the oppression of all the workers and peasants by the landlords and capitalists. We had to destroy this society. We had to overthrow these landlords and capitalists. But to do this, organisation was necessary. God could not create such organisation."

"If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests...
(French philosopher Baron Paul Henry Thiry d'Holbach (1723-1789).)

"Thought is one of the manifestations of human energy, and among the earlier and simpler phases of thought, two stand conspicuous - Fear and Greed. Fear, which, by stimulating the imagination, creates a belief in an invisible world, and ultimately develops a priesthood; and Greed, which dissipates energy in war and trade".
(American historian Brooks Adams, 1848-1927.)

"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
(Napoleon Bonaparte.)

"There can be no doubt of our dependence on forces beyond our control. Primitive man was so impotent in the face of these forces that, especially in an unfavourable natural environment, fear became a dominant attitude, and, as the old saying goes, fear created gods."
(US educator John Dewey.)

All that religion can say in its defence is that, for example:

"It is easy to answer such an extravagant and boastful defence of atheism. We point to the fact that belief in God is universal, held by all people of all times. There has never been a race of atheists."
(Editor "The Sign.")

In ancient India it was universal belief that the world was flat and supported by four elephants.

Marxism and Class

It is often said and believed that it is human nature for the rich and powerful to dominate the rest of us. That's a cop out used by the rich and powerful to make us think there's nothing we can do about it, and so we don't try, most people don't even think about it.

As already mentioned, class division as pointed out by Marxism, is between an property (as capital) owning class, and a class subservient to it by selling the only commodity they have - the power of their labour. This will be fully explained and discussed when we discuss the laws of capitalist economics as discovered and explained by Marx under the title: AN INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL ECONOMY FOR THE COMMON MAN.

It's the nature of further evolution of historically previous socio-economic systems. Primitive tribes were communistic in nature. Each member had a role to play in the survival and economic needs of the group. Only when there was a surplus of production did there become rulers who appropriated this surplus to dominate trade with other tribes. Then evolved slavery, serfdom, feudalism, and capitalism. All are based on a minority owning the means of production so that private profit could be made from the ever growing surplus produced by increasing technology and exploitation of the labour of an underclass. Then comes colonialism and its direct rule and appropriation of the wealth of other peoples' lands, then so-called independence, where local rulers were in nominal power and supported by the old colonialists, but the economy still owned or controlled by the imperial countries and the wealth of the exploited country still going to those previously colonial, now imperialist countries. Now it is global imperialism - the economic control of capital backed up by virtually unopposed or prepondering military force.

Man, like successful animals whether ants or lions, is cooperative by nature; achieving far more by cooperation than by competition. Otherwise we couldn't grow bulk food or make aeroplanes. No one can survive on their own, we need the division of labour our modern production has needed since primitive communalism and especially since a surplus over needs could be produced.

Capitalism makes no sense logically, morally, or in terms of efficiency, that's why it is so anarchistic and unorganised, with boom and slump, companies dying and companies being born, massive purchasing power and the next minute massive unemployment and poverty, where it is not only on the streets of Sao Paulo or Calcutta where the poor sleep in cardboard boxes, but in warm rear of hotel delivery doorways and under bridges on the banks of the Thames, Seine or Potomac.

Marxist Philosophy of History

We now come to its application to the search for truth in the investigation of either historical or what perhaps should be called historico-current events.

It is necessary to attempt to find a method of validation that we can usefully apply to the study of history.

"Almost all Western non-Marxist historical treatment of world events since 1917 has tended to produce a mythology as a substitute for serious history.

It may be useful to examine how this conception of the supposed non-Marxist pure pursuit of truth in the historical field works out in practice. For we come here to the heart of the question of truth and history; the reason why we consider that Marxist historical theory provides the key - not the ready-made answer - but the key to the discovery of historical truth; while non-Marxist theory leads to the distortion of truth. For this purpose we may examine a practical example from one of the most famous Western universities, Oxford University...

At the age of eighteen years I came to Oxford University... Knowing my own ignorance I came in all humility to learn from those wiser.

Then the first imperialist world war broke out. What happened to the search for historical truth at Oxford in this hour of testing? At once all the most distinguished Professors of the Oxford Faculty of History published a collectively signed Manifesto declaring that, having examined all the evidence as trained historians accustomed to weighing impartially historical evidence, they had reached the unanimous conclusion that Britain was in the right in the war and Germany in the wrong. Immediately came a Counter-Manifesto from all the most famous names of German historical learning, names one had equally learned to revere and respect as masters of knowledge - German learning at that time stood very high in the academic world - proclaiming that, in the light of their no less authoritative and scrupulous weighing of historical evidence, they had reached the unanimous conclusion that Germany was in the right and Britain in the wrong...

But truth is truth, and must be faced. This is what happened to Western supposedly impartial historical science when brought to the test of the imperialist war. Just as the test of the imperialist war laid bare the rottenness of the old social democracy, so the same test laid bare the rottenness of the claim of Western capitalist scholarship to represent objective historical science.

In face of this conflict of the learned, what was the innocent searcher after truth to do? The conclusion was reluctantly forced upon me, that if the greatest and most honoured exponents of academic historical wisdom reached diametrically opposed conclusions according to whether they resided in this or that degree of longitude by a few degrees of difference, there must be something defective in this academic historical science, and that the humble searcher after truth could rely on no authority, however dazzling, but must endeavour, however ill-equipped, to reach his own judgement...

Whilst the most famous Professors of History were thus enrolled in the uniform of their imperialist masters, I found that among the small groups of socialist workers with whom I was in contact, who had no such benefits of higher education, there was an entirely different type of discussion of the war as a war between rival masters and exploiters for the spoils of the world. Let us ask the question in the light of contemporary knowledge: who was closer to the truth of history? The great and famous bourgeois professors of history? Or the handful of socialist workers with limited advantages of education? At the present day the essential analysis of Great Power rivalry leading to the first world war is the commonplace theme of conventional history text-books even in schools. But the litter of Oxford War Pamphlets, as they were called, which poured out in a flood from the University Professors of history at this time, today crumble in oblivion and contempt.

How was this possible? Why were these workers, deprived of educational facilities, closer to what is today universally recognised as historical truth (even by present day Oxford historians who remain as wildly astray as their predecessors in relation to the modern contemporary world of the cold war) than all these professors of history? Was it superior mental capacity? The professors had on the contrary been chosen by a rigorous selective process, even though from a narrow stratum of the population, for mental capacity. But their basically false theory rendered them incapable of reaching a correct historical judgement, although they were supposed to be trained historical experts. Socialist theory enabled these class-conscious workers to reach, however crudely, the essential kernel of historical truth...

Academic service to imperialism had collapsed completely when faced with open argument...

It was indeed these and many similar experiences and deepening disillusionment with the hollowness of official bourgeois academic claims and theories during my apprenticeship at Oxford which led me from the very generalised socialist outlook I had already drawn from earlier years, to the serious and systematic study of Marxism since 1915. Here I began to find the answers to the insistent questions which the world situation raised and which all the professors and tutors, when I in all innocence pressed them on these questions, avoided and refused to discuss. Before I was twenty years of age I had some experience of various prisons. At twenty-one years, in the last week of October 1917, that is, ten days before November 7 1917, I had the honour to be expelled from Oxford University for the offence of propagating Marxism...

In the last week of October I addressed a meeting of students on the subject of "Socialism and the War". There was the usual attempt of some hooligan jingo students to create a disturbance... the rowdies... broke some windows and shouted jingo slogans outside. Next morning the wrath of the University authorities was visited, not on the rowdies who had created the disturbance, but on me for organising the meeting; and I was ordered to leave Oxford permanently within twenty-four hours. When a year later I was allowed to take the final examination... it was only under the explicit condition that I had to undertake to arrive only the night before the examination, to leave the day the examination ended, and to address no public meetings...

It may be worth adding that A.D.Lindsay, later Lord Lindsay, who as my tutor held official responsibility with the other governing authorities for the decision to expel me for socialist propaganda, was himself a member of the Fabian Society and in this sense claimed to be a socialist. When he was subsequently appointed Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, in his inaugural address he dwelt on the tradition of academic freedom of opinion, including political opinions, as the treasured characteristic of the university tradition in Britain. As an example of this freedom he called attention to the fact that he himself was a Socialist and yet was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University... illustrating once again the familiar truth that there are two kinds of Socialists... those acceptable to the capitalist authorities and those not acceptable.

The next stage of education in the pursuit of pure truth at Oxford University followed... I discovered that every avenue of employment appeared closed. No professor or tutor was prepared to give me the necessary testimonial... The professors and tutors, when written to by prospective employers... invariably replied that I had such and such academic qualifications, but that whether the extreme political views I held were suitable for any responsible position... was a matter entirely for their governing authority to decide. This invariably finished the approach.

From this experience I learned a useful political lesson."
(Rajani Palme Dutt "Problems of Contemporary History." London 1963.)

In my early teaching days I compiled a handout for students, which has been added to over the years. Its current form is as follows:


There is no such thing as "unbiased" or "balanced" history; nor is there any such thing as an unbiased or balanced historian or history teacher. It has been said by some historians that so-called balanced or unbiased history is dishonest because it reduces to history for history's sake and devoid of any historical meaning. To apply meaning to history is immediately biased.

Bias can hardly be "balanced"; nor does it need or claim to be. But can bias be objective? How is it possible for bias to be objective?

There is a certain way in which it is possible for historical bias to be objective. What you must do; what is essential for you to do; and what any truly objective historian would uncompromisingly insist that you do, is to look at all points of view, no matter how "extreme". Views of history coincide with political poles of, to use the various terms often used to describe these poles of points of view: on the one extreme, the point of view of the "left wing", "Marxist", "materialist", "scientific", "socialist", "communist", "working class", "progressive" historians, and on the other extreme we have the views of the "capitalist", "bourgeois", "non-Marxist", "idealist", "right wing", "fascist", "western", "reactionary" historians.

It is essential that you look at both poles of points of view. Look at them in their "extremity" or polarity; and thus - and only thus - qualify yourself to come to a fully informed conclusion and develop a reasoned opinion. This is as close as we can get to objectivity in history, formed with the full information from both sides in any historical argument, and not just from one or a combination of one side and a so-called "middle ground."

There is no such thing as any middle ground. What is the middle ground when investigating an event? Is this so-called "balance" or "objectivity" in history some "middle ground", somehow midway between two extremes?

A lot of history can, and has, been called a crime. But crime is not history. Nevertheless some methods of investigating crime are useful in investigating history.

Events do not happen in a vacuum. If a robber steals from an old lady; or if the drunken driver of the red car hits the parked blue car; what is a "balanced" or "middle ground" point of view when apportioning blame? Is the old lady somehow part of the blame? Did the thief half rob her? Is the blue car somehow half to blame? Any scientific investigation will show that the thief and the driver of the red car is to blame and is the cause in both cases.

Can any middle ground be useful when investigating crime, accidents, or indeed history?

The old lady says the thief robbed her. There we have a starting point which is already biased. The thief says he did not rob her. There we have another biased starting point for our investigation. We have already said that crime is not the same as history. But philosophically, can objective historical truth lie somehow equidistant between two extremes, not for one moment imagining that objective truth could lay at one of those extremes? Can a court somehow arrive at a "balanced" or "objective" truth between the thief and the old lady or between the red and the blue car that is somehow not biased, not at an extreme, not the point of view of either the old lady or the thief? Of course not. Either the thief robbed the old lady or he did not. Either the red car hit the blue car or it did not. Whatever were the causes of the crime or accident and where blame or cause can be apportioned can be scientifically established. There is no middle ground view about it. Indeed; some historians assert that it is a fruitless waste of time to try to find a "middle ground" in history, whether this is called "balanced", "unbiased" or "objective".

Balance excludes bias, but bias does not necessarily exclude objectivity. Historical meaning is always biased and therefore cannot be "balanced", but it can still be objective. To say that history cannot be objective because of the subjective role of the historian is philosophically idealist and denies history having any material meaning.

Let's look at a practical example of how this supposed "balanced" pursuit of truth in history works out in practice, and whether any idealist "balanced" view of history leads to a distortion of truth or whether a biased or objective view of history is more useful in bringing us closer to material truth. Let's look at an example from that most hallowed seat of learning - Oxford University: an example recounted by British historian Rajani Palme Dutt in a lecture he gave:

"At the age of eighteen years I came to Oxford University... Knowing my own ignorance I came in all humility to learn from those wiser.  Then the first... world war broke out. What happened to the search for historical truth at Oxford in this hour of testing? At once all the most distinguished Professors of the Oxford Faculty of History published a collectively signed Manifesto declaring that, having examined all the evidence as trained historians accustomed to weighing impartially historical evidence, they had reached the unanimous conclusion that Britain was in the right in the war and Germany in the wrong. Immediately came a Counter-Manifesto from all the most famous names of German historical learning, names one had equally learned to revere and respect as masters of knowledge - German learning at that time stood very high in the academic world - proclaiming that, in the light of their no less authoritative and scrupulous weighing of historical evidence, they had reached the unanimous conclusion that Germany was in the right and Britain in the wrong...
(Rajani Palme Dutt, in his book "Problems of Contemporary History.")

But surely truth is truth? What happens to this idealistic notion of "balance" in historical science when faced with the practicalities of a real event? What is the innocent searcher after historical truth to do when the greatest and most honoured exponents of academic historical wisdom reach diametrically opposed conclusions according to whether they resided in this or that country? Is there something wrong with this philosophically idealist notion of "balance" in history? If the most venerable historians of Britain and Germany have different views on causation then surely truth is anybody's and any notion of "balance" is questionable?

The question of "balance", bias and objectivity in any history agenda should never be assumed to be a closed assumption.

As already said, history does not happen in a vacuum and is not merely a series of unexplainable chance events. The study of history is the study of causes.

"The historian, as I said at the end of my last lecture, continuously asks the question 'Why?'"

The past is meaningless to the historian unless he can understand the thought that went behind it. The role of the historian must be investigative, and requires objective interpretation in accordance with the historian's stated ideological set of rules and stated bias. A truly objective and honest historian gives sources for everything he writes and explains his bias.

"History requires the selection and ordering of facts about the past in the light of some principle or norm of objectivity accepted by the historian, which necessarily includes elements of interpretation. Without this, the past dissolves into a jumble of innumerable isolated and insignificant incidents, and history cannot be written at all."

History affects, is effected by all of us in society. Therefore we cannot expect to have history explained "impartially" by anyone standing outside society.

"The historian, before he begins to write history, is the product of history."

If anyone claims impartiality, then we must suspect his honesty or competence. A historian who claims "balance" and omits sources and does not explain his interpretative bias, or denies causation, is usually trying to hide something and is guilty of distortion and dishonesty. And to see history as a series of chance events or the character of individuals is to render history impotent and the historian unintelligent or devious.

"To describe something as a mischance is a favorite way of exempting oneself from the tiresome obligation to investigate its cause; and, when somebody tells me that history is a chapter of accidents, I tend to suspect him of intellectual laziness or low intellectual vitality."

History is past politics. Politics is present history. Those who want to make history impotent are afraid that people who learn from the past will understand the present and might want to effect the future. No past equals cannot influence the present equals no future.

In history we need to understand the past causally as a key to understanding the present.

History does not teach us the way to the future; but it helps teach us the art of navigation.

"History is to the community what memory is to the individual."
(Arthur Marwick.)

Otherwise, such an empty reconstruction of the past is meaningless and purposeless, except to hide and distort causes. If history is a meaningless and purposeless series of accidents then one must deny any causal relationships in history. If one denies any causal relationships in history then one must fatalistically deny anything can be done about the present or the future.

To be "balanced" is to have no opinion. You cannot argue with someone who has no opinion. To be "balanced" is to have the luxury of remaining in a comfortable but fatalistic position. It means that you don't have to defend anything and can reject everything. Such "balanced" notions of causation in say the Second World War or the Cold War are full of obvious contradictions. It means for instance that wars are natural fate and cannot be avoided because they are not planned and have no identifiable cause.

Enough is objectively known about traffic accidents to identify causes in general and causes of specific accidents that it is therefore possible to build preventative factors into cars and traffic systems and rules. It would be useless to take a "balanced" notion of no objective causes and say that you cannot do anything to prevent accidents; it would make insurance claims impossible and safety measures impotent. It is equally useless and destructive to take such notions of history.

If you assume that all versions of history are doubtful - a "balanced" view - means that you accept no objective historical truth. But because history can be seen in different ways does not mean that objective historical facts cannot be established:

"It does not follow that, because a mountain appears to take on different shapes from different angles of vision, it has objectively either no shape at all or an infinity of shapes. It does not follow that, because interpretation plays a necessary part in establishing the facts of history, and because no existing interpretation is wholly objective, one interpretation is as good as another, and the facts of history are in principle not amenable to objective interpretation."
(E.H.Carr "What Is History.")

Just as the objective facts of a mountain can be established by looking from all angles and a conclusion objectively explained from these facts, so it is possible to establish the objective facts of history and explain a conclusion.

"We comprehend the formation of mountain ranges by tectonic activities of the earth's crust, but we cannot explain why Mount Blanc has the specific shape that we see today, nor can we predict which side of Mount Saint Helens will cave in at the next eruption. The occurrence of unpredictable events does not mean that the laws of nature are violated."

An examination candidate who answered a question on, say, the origins of the Second World War with only one cause would get less than a "C", and no responsible examiner would give marks for suggesting there was no particular cause at all. A candidate who merely listed a multitude of causes might get a second. But a first would more likely be awarded to a candidate who arranged all these causes and interpretations into some order of priority with reasons explained.

So, in studying history, look at both points of view, and show that you are able to come to a qualified and a reasoned conclusion: Qualified because you can show that you have considered both ideological points of view properly and extensively, and reasoned so that you can show the reasoning behind your selection and priority of causes.

When you show that you come to your conclusion through a well reasoned process, then you will become a good historian - as biased as the best of us.

end of handout

What Is history?

"Until the lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always favour the hunter."
(African proverb.)

"People make history; but not in circumstances of their own choosing."
(Karl Marx.)

"Men make their own history, whatever its outcome may be, in that each person follows his own consciously desired end; and it is precisely the resultant of these many wills operating in different directions and of their mindful effects upon the outer world that constitutes history."
(Frederich Engels.)

Marxism and Economics

I claim to be able to convince any intellectually honest person of the validity and correctness of the Marxist explanation of how capitalism works.

Studying economics confused me for a long time at first. I couldn't see the logic in the often circular or contradictory arguments and parameters. I discovered that some 95 percent of the books on the shelves of the London School of Economics library should have been under the label of business studies or accounting, because economics they certainly were not. They only had their own circular, self determining logic. There was no science to it; nothing running off at a tangent.

But there is a well hidden subject that most students don't come across unless they are unsatisfied with circular logic, determined, adventurous, courageous and perhaps a little foolhardy like me. It can be called Political Economy, if only after the main textbook of the time: Political Economy by John Eaton. Leads in this book, absent in mainstream economics except to pooh-pooh it, referred to two small pamphlets written by Kark Marx, which, read in conjunction with John Eaton, and in the right order - Wage Labour and Capital (1891) and Wages Price and Profit (1898), explained the workings of the socio-economic relations of capitalism.

But not all working men are fools. We know, and can convince the intellectually honest, that Marx's analysis of the working of capital is correct, that there are immutable and irrefutable laws of economics as a science, and accepting them will get you off the ground instead of paper and string or coloured water flow machines.

Applying this to mankind; one can say that all people want the same thing - to live, happily, healthily, comfortably, and with advancing ways of living and providing the means of life. This, they do far better cooperatively that competitively.

Capitalists like to put competition and entrepreneurial notions as a driving force.

Let's reduce the world to easier understandable dimensions and say that there was only one land mass - a small island, and one family - father, mother, son, daughter; and all the resources they need to build a house and eat and live.

Would we say the best way is entrepreneurial competition? That the father (the capitalist) owns the island, the land and all its resources, the others work for him for a wage, and that the products - the house and food - produced by the others were owned by him, and they could buy some of it back with the wages that he pays them?

Or would it be better to have cooperation and public or popular ownership, with divisions of labour according to suitability in terms of physical stature and special knowledge and aptitude?

Apply this to notions of centralism, or government, or rich vs poor, or the two classes, or polarity, and it becomes a little clearer.

Let's do a test. If we reduce the world to a single island with all the raw materials needed, and the population to a single family - father, mother, and son and daughter of workable age; would we arrange them in a capitalist way of producing their needs? EG: Father is the capitalist, owning the land, raw materials, means of production (tools/factories), the products produced, and the profits made by selling those products to the other family members, to whom he gives over a little of the product as wages? It could not be sustainable. Or would we effect a socialist socio-economic relationship and division of labour according to capability and body structure - father and son dig the foundations, build the house, the timber floors, windows, plumbing and so on, and mother and daughter fetching bricks, painting, curtains (not to be sexist about it), share the growing of food and ownership of the land, its raw materials, the means of production and the products produced. Now add some more family members, totalling first 5, then 6, 7, and so on. Where is the number we get to where this socio-economic system disappears up its own haemorrhoids as capitalism always does - only sustained by continually advancing technology and effective purchasing power, ultimately only by military force? There is no magic number. It is sustainable whatever the population, as we see in embryonic socialist countries so far. (To refer to the USSR and say "See, it doesn't work" is to observe man's attempts at manned flight - from Icarus to just before Wright Brothers and say "see, it doesn't work." It does work, it's just a matter of getting the right relationship between the laws of gravity, aerodynamics and the power-to-weight ratio, then the thing will fly. The history of attempts at socialism so far is only as far as somewhere between the Wright Brothers and Louis Bleriot. But the potential is Boeing 707s and Concorde and beyond.)

To put it another way - I can't recall the exact details - but a British Labour official or Trade Unionist was being shown round a pressed steel plant in Detroit which made steel pressings for car body parts and cases of fridges and washing machines. His American hosts tried to intimidate their guest saying: "See this automated robot production line, the robots just keep working. They are not very good at going on strike, taking smoking breaks, going off sick, they work day and night and don't even need the lights turned on." The British labour official then asked: "Yes but how good are they at buying cars, fridges and washing machines?" That is, capitalistically you can produce cassette tape recorders by the million, but sooner or later you've got to sell them all or go broke; since the workers of the world's only source of purchasing power is the wages capitalist companies an their shareholders pay them, which has got to be less than the selling price of their product - otherwise no profit.

Capitalism has to be imperialistic, ever finding new and cheaper labour to exploit, and a market for the goods where there is only a very limited purchasing power among the home country's working and thus viable market. As soon as this breaks down, especially when technology cannot keep up with cheap labour to exploit and limited and declining purchasing power and therefore markets, the economy slows down and slumps, sometimes with catastrophic results like the 1929 Wall Street crash. It makes no sense or socio-economic logic. It will be ultimately unsustainable with global consequences - whatever that might be. The only way global capitalism. ie: imperialism, has survived such crashes in the past is with a world war, where the economy relies on armaments production and rebuilding all the destruction after a war. Now it is nuclear. And there is no Soviet Union to balance the forces and prevent the US from going ahead. The loss of the USSR and its restraining military force and the power of its economic force to help the poorer socialist countries and increase the socialist economic relations in the world is profound in meaning - possibly to the detriment of all of us. OK the Soviet Union is disintegrated right now. But each former Soviet republic still has a powerful and influential Communist Party. When I was last in Uzbekistan in Soviet Central Asia, we saw on the wall of a block of flats opposite out favourite restaurant, a two feet square portrait of Gorbachev, beside a painting of Stalin three stories tall. Beside the Kremlin walls where are buried previous Soviet leaders, you will find the biggest bunches of flowers on Stalin's grave. OK some of his methods might not have been necessary to our way of thinking. But it was under Stalin's leadership that Soviet production was such that it was able to defeat the Nazi armies where Britain and the US could not have done. And who put the first satellite and the first man in space? And all this achievement started only 20 years after the Russian Revolution, where 90 percent of the population were illiterate peasants.

The first steps of every socialist revolution is to educate the masses to the truth of their situation. The crucial stage is when the masses become literate and can receive printed information. And it is often at this stage that the US tries to smash such revolutions - eg: Chile's Allende government and the US imposition of Pinochet, likewise its attempt at smashing Cuba in the 1960s Bay of Pigs invasion and the so-called Cuban missile crisis, and later Nicaragua, El Salvador, Vietnam, Grenada and so on. It's a powerful, educated set of socialist socio-economic relations in an individual socialist country and between the world socialist economy that the US cannot let happen, hence its role in the economic relations between the socialist community and the capitalist world and between the socialist countries through its control of international hard currency and other devices and an impoverishing arms race that crippled the former massively economically powerful socialist world. Plus of course mistaken faith of the socialist countries in the honesty of capitalist encroachment in their economies and internal mistakes. Capitalism had only private profit as its driving force. But socialism has no history nor book of instructions.

Capitalism is ultimately unsustainable as a socio-economic system. It only survives as dependent on continually expanding markets for its output and continually expanding exploration and devouring of ever cheaper labour and raw materials from the poor and the 40,000 children who will die tonight in this overwhelmingly rich and abundant world. Ultimately it is only sustainable by military invasion and occupation and the planting of local stooges to run the show.

I remember when I was unemployed in the 1980s and bought a tin of beans in a supermarket marked "Country of origin: Ethiopia" during global news coverage of the first televised mass famine in Ethiopia. I had not done a stroke of work to get those beans. I had been given the money to buy them by my country's government - a capitalist state. Then ironically, outside the supermarket at the time was an Oxfam table with volunteers collecting for Ethiopia. After I gave them my tin of Ethiopian beans and they dropped it into a bag I offered a Marxist lesson without in any way affronting or intimidating them. I first asked them where they thought my tin of beans had come from. Their wild guesses included every rich and poor country except Ethiopia. When I asked them to look they were absolutely astounded. When I had explained how the world works in terms of socio-economic relationships, they not only accepted the revelation as they might have the scriptural one, but invited me to speak at their local and regional meetings for several months afterwards as my name was passed from local branch to branch and upwards to region - which I gladly did. None of them ripped off crucifixes and grabbed a red flag, which I wouldn't have wanted them to do as it would mean the kiss of death for Oxfam and perhaps Christianity in this country, and I'm not accepting responsibility but over the next couple of years there was a distinct rise in the knowledge based effectiveness of Oxfam nationally - so something spread rapidly through Oxfam in those years; because I began to meet Oxfam officials and representatives at embassy receptions of communist countries, initially countries like Vietnam and Cuba, then the USSR and other countries of the European advanced socialist community.

Imagine the danger of preaching pure Marxism directly to them. First none of them would have listened, and I certainly would not have been invited to preach at their meetings. And then nobody would ever listen or contribute to Oxfam.

The argument of mainstream economics is circular, with nothing running off at a tangent. Most of the books on the library shelves of the halloed centre of economic study in the UK - the London School of Economics, should have been under the label of business studies or accounting - not economics. I only finally understood economics, or more correctly, economic philosophy, as a science of socio-economic relations, after reading Ricardo, Adam Smith and Marx.

Except for primitive communism, societies have always consisted of economic classes: the one owning the means of production of wealth, the other, owning no means of production themselves and are therefore entirely dependent on making more profit for the owners of capital in order to live, producing that wealth: owner and slave, patrician and plebian, feudal landowner and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, and capitalist or bourgeoisie (French: capital owning class) and proletarian (working class by hand or brain). In short: exploiter and exploited.

Throughout this book I shall be referring to the "working class" or "working people". I do not want to be misunderstood as to mean by "working people" or the "working class" only those who do manual labour. By working class or working people I mean all those who are not capitalists - who use the private ownership of bank or finance capital, or industrial capital, land, or the means of production (factories, machines, or other facilities) in order to extract private profit from the economic exploitation of the working class: whether those workers use their hands or their brains; and whether they are at home or in imperialist 'client' nations.

We now have capitalists: they own the land and its raw materials, the banks, the means of production, the products produced by these means of production, and the profits made in that productive process: and we have wage earning people: workers - by hand or by brain, who own nothing but their power to labour - by hand or by brain in order to produce the surplus value which the capitalist appropriates as his profit, and who are completely dependent upon the will of the capitalist - his production for private profit and not for human need - for their entire means of subsistence, whether they are cooks, bottle washers, factory workers, teachers, computer operators, salesmen, secretaries, bus drivers, business executives or high court judges.

In Britain it was calculated in the late 1970s that the ratio of ownership of wealth between rich and poor, roughly between capitalist and worker, was such that 7 per cent of the British people owned 84 per cent of the country's wealth. The majority of the British people, the other 93 per cent, owned between them the remaining 16 per cent of the country's wealth.

It is not my place to elaborate yet on the fundamentals of political economy. I will explain this later. But suffice it to say that, like Darwin's theory proves evolution, Newton's theory proves gravity, and Einstein's theory proves relativity, so Marx's equally scientific labour theory of value proves that only labour, and not capital, creates wealth; but the majority of that wealth is always appropriated by the owner of capital as private profit.

Indeed, capitalism could not have developed until the accumulation of two important political economic necessities for its development was in a well advanced and polarised form. This already highly polarised form was in the existence of the accumulation of wealth as private capital; and men who were "free" from serfdom and at the same time "free" from the means of production - land, raw materials, machinery; i.e: "free" from any other means of getting a living for themselves except to sell their labour power for wages, or starve.

"This primitive accumulation plays in political economy about the same part as original sin in theology. Adam bit the apple, thereupon sin fell on the human race. Its origin is supposed to be explained when it is told as an anecdote of the past. In times long gone by there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, the intelligent, and above all, frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their subsistence, and more, in riotous living. The legend of theological sin tells us certainly how man came to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but the history of economic original sin reveals to us that there are people to whom this is by no means essential. Never mind! Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell but their own skins. And from this original sin dates the poverty of the great majority that, despite all its labour, has up to now nothing to sell but itself; and the wealth of the few that increases constantly - although they have long ceased to work. Such widespread childishness is every day preached to us in defence of property."
(Karl Marx.)

Thus, the justification of capitalism is explained by theology rather than by mathematics or any explanation of the scientific laws of political economy and economic development.

The feudal system broke down economically and socially, and the whole socio-economic system then became more and more subordinated to the rise in the political power of capital and the corresponding comparative impoverishment of the workers, and the rise in the wealth they produced for the new class of capitalists; since the more the worker produces for private capital, the less he owns himself by comparison. It is the workers themselves which actually produce the wealth which becomes the political power of capital over labour; instead of owning that power themselves, as in socialism. The working class do not want to be ruled over by capital. People should control capital; not the other way round.

Just briefly here, a couple of simple experiments disprove all bourgeois (capitalist) political economic theories that their whole economic philosophy is based on. (Which, incidentally, is why they are always in a total contradictory muddle.):

If, as capitalist political economists say, that capital produces wealth, by investing it in the means of production - factories, machinery, fuel, raw materials, and wages, and adding a percentage as profit; then the question to ask is: where does the worker - the purchaser - get this extra percentage which the capitalist says is his profit; seeing as the worker's wages is what the capitalist pays him? Is the worker printing extra money somewhere to make that extra percentage that is profit - remembering that the worker's only source of income is his wages from the capitalist?

And if, as capitalist ideology says, that under capitalism, equal opportunities lead to universal prosperity for all; then another simple experiment proves that this could never be. Everybody cannot be capitalists. Capitalism, by its very nature, because of its inherent laws, because of what it is, because it is capitalism, can only survive as the exploitation of the majority by a minority. The simple experiment that points out the impossibility of capitalism being otherwise is simply to print and donate to the world's population a million dollars each, which they could then 'invest' and live off the interest and profits, and no one need go to work!

No. A capitalist creates wealth no more than a person who milks a cow creates milk.

As Marx proved, only labour produces the values of the wealth of society that is embodied in the sum of that society's commodities. But the worker doesn't receive the value of his labour - the value of the commodity he creates. This is appropriated by the capitalist.

Under socialism there are no longer classes with conflicting economic interests. One class produces - by hand or by brain - what it owns, and owns what it produces.

Applying this to mankind; one can say that all people want the same thing - to live, happily, healthily, comfortably, and with advancing ways of living and providing the means of life. This, they do far better cooperatively that competitively.

Capitalists like to put competition and entrepreneurial notions as a driving force.

Let's reduce the world to easier understandable dimensions and say that there was only one land mass - a small island, and one family - father, mother, son, daughter; and all the resources they need to build a house and eat and live.

Would we say the best way is entrepreneurial competition? That the father (the capitalist) owns the island, the land and all its resources, the others work for him for a wage, and that the products - the house and food - produced by the others were owned by him, and they could but some of it back with the wages that he pays them?

Or would it be better to have cooperation and public or popular ownership, with divisions of labour according to suitability in terms of physical stature and special knowledge and aptitude?

Marxism and Class and Democracy

If you have abolished capitalism, there is then only one class, the working class, with its own party, the communist or socialist party, to govern and be governed by. (Our island family but bigger.) That is socialist democracy; not parties. What other class would these other parties represent? A socialist democracy votes for policies and the representatives to carry them out; not parties. Of course, these representatives can be corrupt and self serving if the electors do not or cannot keep track of what they are doing. Nobody is saying that the USSR for instance was perfect, or the GDR. The problem is that a socialist society with socialist ideals and the socialist man has not had the chance to be fully developed, and as the East Germans said, we have to build our society with the people we've got; there us no other German people.

In 1917 Russia had a revolution and the working class took power out of the hands of capital. They have one party representing one class, the working class. To the objectors of this situation, it is necessary to ask: Who should this "opposition" party represent in the Soviets? What will be the policy of this "opposition"?

Democracy from the ground upwards, this is how democracy works in the socialist countries.

The absence of two parties does not mean the absence of democracy.

The "freedom" to vote for a choice of capitalist parties while the capitalist mass media suppresses knowledge and understanding of any socialist alternative is nothing more than a nominal freedom. The freedom to vote for a choice of capitalist parties while the means of subsistence is in the hands of private capital is nothing more than the freedom of a prisoner to choose his jailer. Freedom of speech and freedom to travel anywhere in the world for a starving child is nothing but a worthless, hollow freedom. Freedom and democracy under such conditions are meaningless words empty of any substance. Freedom to vote without freedom to be without poverty, unemployment and wars is less than the freedom of the slave. Freedom to vote without the guaranteed freedom of food, clothing, housing and warmth, health and hygiene, education, culture and the full riches of the earth and the means of utilising them, i.e. the means of subsistence, is a complete denial of freedom and a despicable plunder of the meaning of the word.

In short; capitalist "freedom" and "democracy" is a lie.

Soviet people all participate in government; they are the state. British people just vote; they have absolutely no control of the state.

Marxist notions of Freedom and Democracy

What is this "freedom" they talk about in every speech; that they must arm themselves to the teeth for? What are these "vital American interests" which they say they must "defend" in every corner of the globe?

When the capitalists talk of peace they mean only the continuation of a peace that will never be, and never has been; a "peace" which belongs in the museum of man's social and economic history - the "peaceful" exploitation of man by man; the "peaceful" economic plunder of nation by nation.

Why do the richest people on earth use their most advanced billion dollar science and technology to destroy the poorest and most backward peoples of the world who refuse to accept US plans for their happiness? Why are some of the world's poorest and most friendly and gentle people also the world's most bombed people?

The "free" world the US defends is the unhindered freedom of capital to exploit labour. It includes fascism - to keep rebellious workers under control - the world of Pinochet and Pol Pot; a "free" world of several million children who will starve to death this year; of five hundred millions with no medicine or health care; hundreds of millions of illiterates; all this in a very rich and abundant world; the millions of unemployed and homeless - millions of these in the United States itself, and in Europe and other 'advanced' industrialised nations of the capitalist world.

When capitalists can justify their murderous social-economic system to the poor and hungry children; and their murderous wars against humanity in all the small and weak nations of the world; then they can talk of peace. When they can justify their denial of the most basic human rights to the majority of people of the world; then they can talk of human rights.

How dare they talk of human rights and "freedom" when they have sucked the wealth out of all the small nations for hundreds of years and then say that these nations are in "debt" to the West - to Western shareholders, large and small? How dare they scream so loudly about 'human rights' in the socialist countries when they support and retain the most horrific regimes all over the world? How dare capitalists and small investors talk of human rights and freedom when they are 'owed' millions of dollars by every hungry child in the world?

What hypocritical human rights do they talk of - the big finance capitalists and bankers and those unwitting unknowing "I'm not a capitalist" small investors whose collective billions of pounds and dollars are invested in the cheap labour, raw materials and markets of the Third World - in South East Asia, Latin America; or in Africa where the majority of black people have no rights, no home other than a tin shed, and a plank or an old door for a bed, no right to a job, own no land, own no workplaces, can't stand for parliament or elect one, are not allowed to form trade unions, have no access to medical treatment or suitable education, and no access to press, radio or television to tell the world their plight; where the vast majority are deprived and silenced?

Capitalist notions of "freedom" and "human rights" are totally useless to the majority of the world's population who are living and dying under starvation, poverty, unemployment, and lack of basic hygiene and medical care. What use is "freedom of speech" to this majority of people who nobody hears? What use is it to speak when nobody listens? What use is "freedom of travel" to the world's hungry people who can't go anywhere and nobody wants them? What good are capitalist freedoms to them when nobody will listen, transport, feed them, or give them land or the means of production of wealth? What is the practical or effective use of this fake notion of freedom to the children who sleep in cardboard boxes on the streets of Calcutta or Sao Paulo?

When capital ruled in what are now new and emerging socialist countries no one said a word about human rights in those countries. Capitalists have never throughout history been concerned with human rights. They never called for "free and fair" elections in these countries while they were under the direct domination of transnational capital and protected by fascist military dictatorships. They did nor call for the release of Nelson Mandela and free elections in South Africa; they are not calling for freedom and human rights in El Salvador; nor are they calling for the freedom of Palestinians, Grenadans or Chileans. They are only calling for the freedom of the re-imposition of the rule of capital in socialist countries which have already eliminated the poverty and hunger and illiteracy imposed by their previous domination by capital.

We hypocritically scream about "human rights" in socialist countries but it is our own imperialist way of life which murders thousands every day. Children's flesh is turned into flame in order that we might have cheap tin. Hospitals, schools, nursery schools, kindergartens, polyclinics, pioneer camps and miners' clubs are all blown away in order that we might have cheap tungsten. Chile is drenched in blood in order that ITT can have cheap copper for the US military-industrial complex and the we can have cheap aluminium windows, coke cans, cooking foil, electric carving knives. Central America is raped in order that we can have cheap bananas, sugar, coffee and tobacco. Thai and Filipino children starve so that we can have cheap rice, cocoa, rubber, sugar and palm oil. Black people in Apartheid South Africa were oppressed and murdered in order that we could have cheap uranium, diamonds, gold, copper, phosphates and other minerals.

It is time to know the connection between our way of life and poverty, debt and wars. Everything we do under our economic system based on production for profit rather than production for human needs is somehow connected with a hungry child or a war somewhere in the world.

Economic warfare is what you and I conduct every day, when we buy a banana or a tin of fruit; when we pay a penny to the poor peasant who produced it, and the rest to the shareholders of the transnational company and its marketing, distributing and retailing subsidiaries of the product. This is called trade - free trade. It is unequal trade.

Democracy must involve thinking, learning, and political responsibility and honesty. Merely voting for a government is not democracy; it is just accepting the benefits of an imperialist foreign policy while abrogating our responsibility for its consequences. We cannot absolve ourselves from responsibility or rationalise any guilt by saying "It's not my fault, I'm not a capitalist, what can I do about it?" We must learn and understand our world - its socio-economic relationships.

We all kill the hungry child, not with guns and napalm, but with our pounds and dollars in the supermarket, the bank and the building society. When we open a tin of beans we open the stomach of an already hungry child and remove the contents.

"No longer could I resist the conclusion that capitalism was doomed. No longer must the livelihood of the community rest in irresponsible hands; blast furnaces remaining cold, mines undug and houses unbuilt, unless somebody's private profit set forward the lighting, the digging and the building. Shivering miners could not dig the coal they needed, naked men could not weave their shirts and coats, nor could the man who lived seven in a single room enter a brickyard and build himself a house; though he kicked his heels for a dozen years in idleness, he must remain in misery if no one could make a profit from his labour. The public that needed these things and could produce them had no access to the land and machinery of production. Private profit took precedence of human life. Christian morality, if it was to be true to its mission, must find these things intolerable and demand reform."
(Dr. Hewlett Johnson, Dean of Canterbury 1931-1963.)

The Simple Thing - So Hard to Achieve - The Battle of Ideas and the Communist notion of Peaceful Coexistence.

"In the Russian revolution are implanted ideas which will immensely influence the future development of mankind."
(Lord Lothian, 1931.)

"Anyone who doesn't realise that the great struggle of our time is an ideological one, is not looking the question squarely in the face."
(US President Eisenhower.)

"Today, as never before, we are engaged in a fierce battle of ideas, our adversary is the Soviet Union...  This competition is not new... it has been going on since the end of World War II. Our strategy, however, has remained virtually unchanged...  The time has come to take the initiative, to make our case boldly and well. It is time to reorganise USIA [United States Information Agency B.M.] as an important component of the American foreign affairs community. Indeed, USIA is on the cutting edge of the struggle for men's minds."
(USIA Director Charles Wick, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 1983, requesting $711.4 million for ISIA's 1984 "Project Democracy.")

"I have not come here as a prophet of the revolution; nor have I come here to ask or wish that the world be violently convulsed. I have come to speak of peace and co-operation among the peoples, and I have come to warn that, if we do not eliminate our present injustices and inequalities peacefully and wisely, the future will be apocalyptic.  The sound of weapons, threatening language and arrogance, in the international scene must cease. Enough of the illusion that the world's problems can be solved by means of nuclear weapons. Bombs may kill the hungry, the sick and the ignorant, but they cannot kill hunger, disease and ignorance. Nor can they kill the righteous rebellion of the peoples"
(Fidel Castro, at United Nations General Assembly, Oct 12 1979.)

"A major criticism... of our programme in the field of information and propaganda is the failure to formulate a definite, conscious purpose... In contrast, the communist bloc appears to know just where it is going...  Slogans like the 'Four Freedoms' are not enough unless they are completed by slogans that point to the operating rules of a society that puts freedom into practice. We are in a war of ideas, but we have not found our ideas...  Our policy has been too negative, its programmes and slogans almost always a mere response, or reaction, to the more imaginative ideas of the Soviets...  ...the rich and powerful United States has offered no inspirational idea or positive social programme."
(Princeton University Professor John B. Whitton (Ed) in "Propaganda and the Cold War.")

"The greatest threat to the security of the United States within the forseeable future stems from the hostile designs and formidable power of the USSR, and from the nature of the Soviet system... Never before have the intentions and strategic objectives of an aggressor nation been so clearly defined. For a hundred years, victory in the class struggle of the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie has been identified as the means by which Communism would dominate the world."
(From US secret document NSC 20/4. Report by the National Security Council on US Objectives With Respect to the USSR to Counter Soviet Threats to US Security.)

"A real danger of Soviet domination of Western Europe does not lie in an invasion of Western Germany by Russian armoured divisions... A much more probable contingency is that the Soviet Union might achieve its aims without firing a single shot. And that will almost certainly happen if the West has abandoned the will, the military resources, the collective deterrent and the defensive system with which it can resist threats and blackmail. It is for this reason that unilateral disarmament by the West poses such appalling dangers."
(Lord Chalfont, in The Great Unilateral Illusion "Ignorance is Strength.")

"It is the imperialists who need weapons, since they are completely devoid of ideas. They need weapons and they must stockpile them against everybody's will in order to maintain their opprobrious system... But when there are ideas, these ideas can be defended and they can be made to prevail. Ideas don't need weapons, if they can win the masses over to their cause. No one can think that the contradiction between capitalism and socialism can be settled by force. You'd have to be out of your mind to think that way, and that's the way the imperialists think. That's why they have military bases all over the world, threaten everybody and intervene everywhere. Where are the socialist countries' military bases?"
(Fidel Castro.)

"Civilisation will rid itself of communism as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are being written just at this moment... The Western world won't contain communism, it will survive it. We shall not be content to condemn it, we shall get rid of it."
(Ronald Reagan, at Notre Dame University, May 15 1982.)

"A persistent trend in American thought - the belief that there can be no peace and security for the American states until every Communist government has been rooted out in Asia and in Europe. This is a policy of unlimited liability."
(The Times May 22 1951.)

"Three-fourths (one may say nine-tenths) of the people of the world are poor... but the miserably poor want to turn the world upside down - today. They regard the United States as basically in favour of the status quo. All rich people are supposed to be that way.  More significant, perhaps, is the fact that Moscow is regarded by most of the poor people around the world as the friend of the poor and of the rebel... In a nation motivated by revolutionary fervour, including countries which have recently become independent and those undergoing rapid social change, there is great enthusiasm for planning for the future. Five, seven, and even ten-year plans are popular. People are told to sacrifice present living for future benefits to the nation and to their children. Emphasis on consumer goods for the present generation seems disloyal, unpatriotic, and even immoral... Russians, who are pictured as sacrificing themselves today for the benefit of their children of tomorrow, are somehow regarded as more admirable than profligate Americans."
(US Information Agency Director George Allen.)

"A research report of the United States Information Agency has ruefully discovered that the more our propaganda advertises the virtues of 'capitalism' and attacks 'socialism', the less the world likes us...  Having analysed conclusions of its poll - taken in both hemispheres, the USIA study observes: 'Capitalism is evil. The United States is the leading capitalist country, therefore the United States is evil.' It would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that this line of thinking has done... Capitalism is a dirty word to millions of non-Marxists... Most foreigners apparently don't regard 'capitalism' as descriptive of an efficient economy or a safeguard of individual rights... 'Capitalism', abroad, is frequently a pejorative word. Efforts to purge it of negative connotations by phrases like 'people's capitalism' have failed."
("Should the Old Labels be Changed?" New York Times, July 6 1964.)

"The central fact of today's life is the existence in the world of two great philosophies of man and of government. They are in contest... Hundreds of millions make up the jury which must decide the case... The system... which most effectively musters its strength in support of peace and demonstrates its ability to advance the well-being, the happiness of the individual, will win their verdict."
(US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, August 1955.)

"The community of arms is there to defend the community of ideas."
(Ronald Reagan, speaking on NATO, on the visit of Helmut Kohl, Washington, Nov 15 1982.)

"A democracy cannot effect, as the totalitarian state sometimes does, a complete identification of its peacetime and wartime objectives."
(Introduction to US secret document NSC 20/1.)

"The proclaimed political aim here is the elimination of the Soviet regime. This has never before in the atomic age been pronounced as openly as this. And what's more, the spokesman of this school of thought is joining the 'insiders' among Reagan's advisers."
(Suddeutsche Zeitung, FRG, Aug 26 1982.)

"Detente does not exist, nothing is left of detente.  The Soviet leaders would have to choose between changing their system in the direction followed by the West or WAR."
(Reagan's Soviet Affairs Advisor and National Security member Richard Pipes, Harvard University, March 1981.)

"The adoption of these concepts... would be equivalent to saying that it was our objective to overthrow Soviet power. Proceeding from that point, it could be argued that this is in turn an objective unrealisable by means short of war, and that we are therefore admitting that our objective with respect to the Soviet Union is eventual war and the violent overthrow of Soviet power."
(US security document NSC 20/1. Declassified 1975.)

"It's sensible  Anyone can understand it.  It's easy  You're not an exploiter - so you can grasp it  Find out more about it  The stupid call it stupid, the squalid call it squalid  It is against squalor and against stupidity.  The exploiters call it a crime  But we know it is the end of crime  It's not madness but the end of madness  It's not the riddle but the solution.  It is the simple thing so hard to achieve."
(In Praise of Communism. Berthold Brecht.)

"We are not presenting the world with a new principle, saying iin a doctrinaire fashion: "Here is the truth - fall on your knees before it!" We are deriving new principles for the world, and deriving them from principles already inherent in the world. We are showing the world what it is in fact fighting for; and consciousness is something the world must acquire, even if it does not want to."
(Heinrich Heine, on Marxism.)

"The means of production are not private property any more. They belong to the entire society. Every member of society, when he fulfils a certain socially necessary part of work, receives a certificate from the society that he has completed this or that quantity of work. On the basis of such a certificate he obtains from public storages the corresponding quantity of products... The state withers away; since the capitalists have disappeared, classes no longer exist."

"What has destroyed every previous civilisation has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power."
(Henry George.)

"The people came to realise that wealth is not the fruit of labour but the result of organised protected robbery.)
(Frantz Fanon.)

"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
(Justice Louis Brandeis.)

"Socialism: 'From each according to his ability; to each according to his work'.    Communism: 'From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs'.  Both definitions had one thing in common - 'from each according to his ability'. All must work, and work according to his ability. Some as artists, some as artisans, others as organisers, teachers, as engineers and so forth - all must work. It is interesting to note that the Soviet Union was the first state to put duties into its constitution. ["He who does not work; neither shall he eat" is a popular communist saying. B.M.]  It followed, of course, that if all must work, all must be provided for the opportunity for work. And that brought us to the second clause of the definition of socialism - 'To each according to his work'. It ensured the right to an adequate reward for work. Furthermore, as work varied in value or quality, reward in a socialist state would also vary in amount. Socialist society was not an egalitarian society. Socialist society was the stage of society [reached B.M.] in Russia. The corollary that each must receive an adequate reward for work, together with provision for opportunity for work, postulated a planned economy. It also postulated control by the whole community of land, power and all natural resources and productive processes...  I then passed to Marx's definition of communism. Like socialism, communism demanded work from all, in a planned economy: 'From each according to his ability'. But there the likeness ended, the second half of the definition ran thus: 'To each according to his need'. Not, observe, according to his work, but 'according to his need'.  Socialism came first; communism followed. You could not spring straight into communism at once, the ground had to be prepared for 2 reasons: only a rich state could provide enough consumable goods to give 'each according to his need' and only a disciplined people dare try it. It would break down in a work-shy society...  It was the contention of socialists and communists alike that the socialist state would provide in time the quantity of goods and the quality of character - a rich state and an advancing morality - to build communism."
(Dean of Canterbury Hewlett Johnson "Searching For Light.")

"They failed to grasp the historical import of the October Revolution, and had neither the moral strength nor the desire to protest against the bloody and piratical intervention of the capitalists in 1918-1921. When the authorities in the USSR arrest a professor, a monarchist or a conspirator, they protest; but when their capitalists violently coerce the people of Indo-China, India or Africa, they are indifferent. If a score or two arrant criminals are shot in the Soviet Union, they cry "Atrocity!" but if thousands of innocent people are exterminated by guns and machine guns in India or Annam [Vietnam B.M.], the humane intellectuals preserve a discreet silence."
(Maxim Gorky "Reply to an Intellectual." 1932.)

"When socialism has triumphed, when conditions of peace have succeeded conditions of combat, when all men have their share of property in the immense human capital, and their share of initiative and of the exercise of free-will in the immense human activity, then all men will know the fullness of pride and joy; and they will feel that they are co-operators in the universal civilisation."
(French socialist leader Jean Jaures (1859-assassinated 1914).)

"The ultimate aim of the Communist International is to replace the world economy by a world system of Communism. Communist Society, the basis for which has been prepared by the whole course of historical development, is mankind's only way out, for it alone can abolish the contradictions of the capitalist system which threaten to degrade and destroy the human race."
(Programme of the Third (Communist) International, 1928.)

"A Communist has no right to be a mere onlooker."
(Nikita Kruschov, Report to Central Committee, Feb 14 1956.)

"Is there such a thing as Communist ethics? Is there such a thing as Communist morality?... In what sense do we deny ethics, morals? In the sense in which they are preached by the bourgeoisie, a sense which deduces these morals from god's commandments."

"The Jewish bourgeoisie are our enemies, not as Jews but as bourgeoisie. The Jewish worker is our brother."
(Lenin, August 9 1918.)

"Capitalism did not arise because capitalists stole the land or the workmen's tools, but because it was more efficient than feudalism. It will perish because it is not merely less efficient than socialism, but actually self-destructive."

"Marx's great achievement was to place the system of capitalism on the defensive."
(US writer Charles Madison.)

"Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as onanism to sexual love."
(Karl Marx.)

"The philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world. The thing is, however, to change it."
(Karl Marx.)

"We should have had socialism already, but for the socialists."
(George Bernard Shaw.)

"A capitalist creates wealth no more than a person who milks a cow creates milk."
(Kark Marx.)

"When Marx spoke of private property he was not referring to personal property. Private property meant the means of production of the capitalist who hires property-less individuals."
(Erich Fromm.)

"In the end, one or the other will triumph - a funeral dirge will be sung over the Soviet Republic or over world capitalism."

"The Proletarian who is conscious of this task (overthrowal of capitalism) is a slave who has revolted against slavery. The Proletarian who is not conscious of the idea, is a slave who does not realize his position as a slave; at best he is a slave who fights to improve his conditions as a slave, but not one who fights to overthrow slavery."

"If terror is directed against us, we'll respond with terror."

"If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years."
(Lenin, November 27, 1917.)

"One of the chief arguments used in support of the policy of an open shop is that every man has an inalienable and constitutional right to work. I never found that in the Constitution. If a man has the constitutional right to work, he ought to have a constitutional right to a job... A man has the right to work only if he can get a job, and he has also a right not to work."
(US criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow.)

"The strictest loyalty to the ideas of communism must be combined with the ability to make all the necessary practical compromises, to tack, to make agreements, zig-zags, retreats, and so on, in order to accelerate coming into power... If you are not able to adapt yourself, if you are not inclined to crawl in the mud on your belly, you are not a revolutionary but a chatterbox."

"This primitive accumulation plays in political economy about the same part as original sin in theology. Adam bit the apple, thereupon sin fell on the human race. Its origin is supposed to be explained when it is told as an anecdote of the past. In times long gone by there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, the intelligent, and above all, frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their subsistence, and more, in riotous living. The legend of theological sin tells us certainly how man came to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, but the history of economic original sin reveals to us that there are people to whom this is by no means essential. Never mind! Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell but their own skins. And from this original sin dates the poverty of the great majority that, despite all its labour, has up to now nothing to sell but itself; and the wealth of the few that increases constantly - although they have long ceased to work. Such widespread childishness is every day preached to us in defence of property."
(Karl Marx.)


"The Government of the USSR considers that, despite the differences in the economic systems and ideologies, the co-existence of these systems and a peaceful settlement of differences between the USSR and the United States are not only possible, but also doubtless necessary in the interests of general peace."

"A war with the Soviet Union appears to me to be unavoidable. The idea of peaceful coexistence is simply humbug."
(US General Kenny, Sept 1954.)

"We must not allow... our well-planned and steady rebuilding of America's defences to be overcome by a child-like hope for detente with a country whose sole aim is and always has been world domination."
(Caspar Weinberger, Detroit, Jan 30 1986.)

"We are being told that we can sit down and negotiate with this enemy of ours, and that there's a little right and a little wrong on both sides. How do you compromise between good and evil? How do you say to this enemy that we can compromise our belief in God and his dialectical determinism (sic)?"
(President Reagan in the 1960s.)

"The history of a social system will be decided not by rockets, not by atomic and hydrogen bombs, but by the fact of which social system ensures greater material and spiritual benefits to man."
(Nikita Kruschov.)

"We tell them: sit down and stop trying to impose your political system on the whole world by force. Stop dreaming that you are going to change the world; stop dreaming that you are going to halt the course of history; ...solve your problems through negotiation. If they want to maintain capitalism in their own countries, let them maintain it for as long as they want. That is their own business. We are not going to go to the United States to make a revolution there or to impose socialism on them. In an academic discussion we can prove to them that socialism is better, more humane, more rational and fairer than capitalism, but we cannot go there and tell them: change your social system. Roast yourselves on that fire for as long as you want. It will not be forever, but that is not our business. Nobody will ever want to change the capitalist system by force, to impose socialism in Europe, in Japan, in the United States, in Canada, in Australia; nobody will ever want to do that... Sit down and discuss, and save a third of what you are spending on the madness of war and give us back what you are stealing from us."
(Fidel Castro, speaking on the Third World Debt, Havana 1985.)

"The export of revolution is nonsense. Every country makes its own revolution if it wants to, and if it does not want to, there will be no revolution."
(Stalin, interview with US newspaper boss Roy Howard, 1936.)

"If you feed the people just with revolutionary slogans they will listen today, they will listen tomorrow, they will listen the day after tomorrow, but on the fourth day they will say: "To hell with you!"
(Nikita Kruschev.)

"In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another is put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an end."
(Karl Marx and Frederick Engels "The Communist Manifesto.")

"We Marxists believe that revolution will occur in other countries as well... Export of revolution is nonsense... to assert that we desire to bring about revolution in other countries by interfering with their way of life is to speak of something that does not exist, and which we have never preached."
(J.Stalin, March 1 1939.

"The times of that superstition which attributed revolution to the ill will of a few agitators have long passed away. Everyone knows nowadays that whenever there is a revolutionary convulsion, there must be some social want in the background, which is prevented, by outworn institutions, from satisfying itself."
(Frederich Engels, 1851.)

"Our enemies like to depict us Leninists as advocates of violence, always and everywhere. True, we recognise the need for the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into socialist society. It is this which distinguishes the revolutionary Marxist from the reformist, the opportunist. There is no doubt that in a number of capitalist countries the violent overthrow of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the sharp aggravation of class struggle are inevitable... Leninism teaches us that the ruling classes will not surrender their power voluntarily...
(Nikita Kruschov, Report to Central Committee, Feb 14 1956.)

"It is not true that we regard violence and civil war as the only way to remake society... The Communist system must be based on the will of the people, and if the people should not want that system, then that people should establish a different system."
(Nikita Kruschov.)

"Without the support of millions, the best minority is impotent."

"The Communist system must be based on the will of the people, and if the people should not want that system, then that people should establish a different system."
(Nikita Kruschev.)

"The victorious proletariat cannot impose on any other country its own idea of a happy life without doing damage to its own victory."

"We're not advocating subversive ideas. We're not advocating, as I have said, a social revolution...  We cannot suggest socialism as a prerequisite. We're not recommending socialism, but of course neither are we advising against it."
(Fidel Castro, at Meeting on the Foreign Debt of Latin America and the Caribbean. Havana, Aug 3 1985.)


"When the news of the Russian Revolution on November 7, 1917, came through... I had been victimised from big factories and shipyards... I had read a little of Marx, but never anything of Lenin. I had never heard of Stalin, But I feel now what I felt then: "The workers have done it at last". It wouldn't have mattered... to me where this revolution had taken place... The thing that mattered to me was that lads like me had whacked the bosses and the landlords, had taken their factories, their lands and their banks. I had never heard of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat or the expression Soviet Power. All I knew was the workers had conquered, were the top dogs somewhere in the world. That was enough for me. These were the lads and lasses I must support through thick and thin... for me these same people could never do, nor ever can do, any wrong against the working class... I wasn't concerned as to whether or not the Russian Revolution had caused bloodshed, been violent, and all the rest of it. I had lived my life in Lancashire. I had read and seen what the kind-hearted British bosses had done to the Lancashire working class. I knew about Peterloo. I had seen too often on the promenade at Blackpool, when on holiday in our Sunday best, what a stunted deformed bunch we were. I hated everything that the violence of the British Industrial Revolution had done to my class and my people...

...All I was concerned about was that power was in the hands of lads like me, and whatever conception of politics had made that possible was the correct one for me... that still has to remain the conviction and guiding line in our attitude towards the Soviet Union and its people, for it is only the Soviet Union and its people who can say that the whole of the means of production, distribution and exchange are in their hands. It is only in the Soviet Union that there can be a complete planning in which each aspect of the economy of the nation fits one into the other; only there where there is no competition for markets, no class against class, no race against race, and a political and moral unity which amazed the world during the war and thwarted the hopes of reactionaries, whether capitalist or Social Democrat.

...whatever the policy of the Soviet Union it is always in the interests of its people and the working people of every other country in the world.

This is what gives rise to such deadly hatred in the minds of the capitalist class and their Social Democratic allies. This is why they slander the Soviet Union...

The campaign of slander against the Soviet Union is the cunning attempt of reaction to split the international Labour movement, to weaken it, to create doubts in its mind, and to enable the capitalist class to strengthen its political hold on the working class. I say openly, you cannot be a real Socialist and enemy of reaction, and at the same time assist in any way to carry on a struggle against the Soviet Union and its people, however cunningly you try to pretend that it is "only the tactics of certain Soviet leaders" that you are protesting against. The attitude towards the Soviet Union and its people is the real test of the devotion towards Socialism on the part of all who call themselves Socialists.

Since November 8, 1917, when Lenin sent out his historic call for an immediate armistice to the imperialist war then raging - a call the Governments of that time deliberately kept from the knowledge of their peoples - right down to the present time, the Soviet Union has never once formulated a policy that was not in the interests of the common peoples of the world.

A real Socialist Government, such as the Soviet Government, which represents a nation where the exploitation of man by man has ceased to exist, cannot have any other kind of policy."
(British Communist leader Harry Pollitt "Looking Ahead.")

Anti Marxism

"A collective action to eradicate international communism is not an act of intervention in the internal affairs of another State but is an act to uproot intervention."
(US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Chicago, New York Times, Nov 30 1954.)

"The vision that stands before my eyes was of far higher value to me from the very beginning. I wished to be the destroyer of Marxism. I will achieve this task."
(Adolf Hitler, at his trial, 1923.)

"The roots of the Hitlerite movement is the struggle against socialism, in other words against Marxism."
(Karl Friederick von Siemens, in a lecture to General Electric bosses, Oct 27 1931.)

"Yes, we have taken the unalterable decision to tear Marxism out by its roots."
(Adolf Hitler, addressing the Dusseldorf Industrialist's Club, Jan 27 1932.)

"We shall not only extirpate this plague. We shall tear the word "Marxism" out of every book. In fifty years time no one in Germany is to know what that word means."
(Goering, March 19 1933.)

"It is one of the foremost aims of the NSDAP [Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party B.M.] to overcome and destroy the Marxist world outlook, and to liquidate its chief exponents."
(Hitler's chief Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg.)

"Our aim is to drive socialism - Marxist socialism - from our land."
(Margaret Thatcher, Tory Party 1983 General Election campaign.)

"...a massive propaganda campaign such as we have never yet mounted before against the spread of communism."
(Margaret Thatcher, May 1980.)

Part 2 of The Untaught Syllabus 29:

(Or Marx For Beginners)

(Marx's exposure of the capitalist economic system.)


"With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 percent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 percent certain will produce eagerness; 50 percent positive audacity; 100 percent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 percent and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged."
(Quoted in Marx's Capital.)

For twenty years; working in British factories and workshops, and as a self-employed worker, the illusion that one day I'll "make it", that at some time in the future I would significantly raise my standard of living, while for now I'll just spend my wages and have fun, gradually disappeared from my reality. After twenty years of hanging on the end of a factory machine handle dreaming out the window about other worlds, wondering why the world was like it was, the same questions began to come back to me again and again: How was it that we, the workers of the world, were always poor; and they, the bosses, were always rich?

How have the ruling classes managed to keep down the rest of us for centuries? After all; there are only a few of them; and there are millions of us.

Is it a matter of armed forces? Is it because the slaves had nothing but their chains and the owners had whips? That the peasants had only stones and pitchforks while the Lords had guns and swords? And is it that workers have nothing but their hands while their capitalist bosses had armies , police, law courts and jails, and the ultimate gatling gun - nuclear weapons?

No. This is wrong. Unarmed and poorly armed workers have had superb victories in the past. There were slaves' uprisings and peasants' revolts. There have been workers' revolutions - 1917, Cuba, Nicaragua; and revolutionary wars - Vietnam, where young girls of 4'11'' with rifles of 5' drove out the richest and most powerful armed forces in the world.

Unarmed and poorly armed people have shown that they can win. There is one important common factor: All were fighting wars for themselves socially, for their own liberation as workers; not wars for their Lords and masters, for bosses and ruling classes. These were not imperialist wars of competing capitals. They were people's wars against Lords and against bosses and against capital. Another important factor was that the world was on their side. The South Africans knew this throughout their many years of struggle against Apartheid.

No. It is not essentially by armed force that capital stays in power.

Is it a matter of wealth? Wealth comes into it somewhere, but it's not just a matter of wealth; at least, not so much the distribution of wealth and how it is maintained, but more the creation of wealth and how this is maintained. Otherwise reformist programmes of redistribution of wealth such as those of the British Labour party, social democrats and bourgeois socialists would have solved the problems long ago.

No. It is nothing to do with the distribution of wealth.

Is it something to do with social "class" and class control? No. It's not just a sociological problem of social class; otherwise the sociologists would have solved the problem long ago too.

Even though there are undoubtedly different social sub classes - middle class, upper middle class, lower middle class, non-manual working class, skilled manual working class, and unskilled manual working class - all struggling against each other for a bigger share of "the cake", a bigger share in the wealth created - all these sociologists' gradations of class are not useful for us who want to find the real answers to our searching questions.

Is it education? Are we workers somehow more stupid than the upper classes? Is it just a matter of "doing well" at school and becoming as clever and rich as them? Even if we did become more "clever", what would we do? Compete with them on "equal terms"? Compete for what? And how? What would we have to study in order to compete with them and beat them? Business studies? Law? Economics? Politics?

No. It's not just a matter of more "education". Not of their kind anyway. Their kind of education is not useful to us in that way. The education they give us is nothing more than that which they see as necessary to keep us in our place and to keep things just the way they are. Their education right from the beginning is to prepare us for the propaganda bombardment in their media to which they must subject us throughout our lives; just to make sure we keep thinking the way they want us to think, the way they have taught us to think, or more correctly - not think; but only to feel, with our emotions.

But if it's not just a matter of any one of these things yet these things are part of it; then, what is it?

Searching around in subjects like class, education, media, sociology, and even "economics", and more obviously bourgeois subjects like business studies and law will not lead us to the secret of our exploitation and our low social status and our subservient and therefore always to be inferior economic position in life.

Studying aspects of class will tell us a lot about differences in education but not what these differences are for. Except that they are to maintain the continuation of the existing social order.

And studying the media, propaganda, mass psychology and mass opinion forming will only tell us that this is being done to preserve the existing social order. It will tell us how, but not exactly why; at least, not in scientific and concrete, material, tangible, provable terms.

And studying 'economics' will only show us how to maintain and maximise profits in capitalist business terms; and the consequent capitalist distribution of wealth.

It is not just a matter of saying that the world is "unfair" in these ways because the ruling capitalists can put up very good arguments to show how the present system is fair, legal, legitimate and that everybody has the same opportunities. They will point to a "penny-a-go" market stall holder who had become Lord Tesco or Sainsbury. It's just a matter of ingenuity, initiative, enterprise, hard work and entrepreneurial ability they will say. The boss worked "hard" to get where he is today. The boss pays for a "fair day's work." And everybody has the freedom to choose their career; or to choose whether to become a boss or a worker.

Studies of bourgeois politics, economics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, bourgeois versions of history, will explain nothing useful to us in our search for intellectual political emancipation. Bourgeois professors, politicians, economists, philosophers, historians, sociologists and psychologists discuss their aspects of society endlessly, yet have told us nothing useful or credible that concretely explains our social economic position or the reason for our social economic position. Politics, economics, philosophy, history etc. have always been written by the bourgeois themselves. History has always been written by the ruling classes and their obedient scribes. Philosophy has always been the philosophy of the dominant classes. Economics has always been the theory of the economically powerful exploiting classes.

So is there no philosophy of the masses? Has there never been a working class historian? Is there no economics for the working class? Is there no economic theory that explains how wealth is created, what profit is and where it comes from? How the working class is in fact actually exploited? In a way that the bourgeois class cannot put up any worthwhile argument against?

Yes! There have been such men. Such a man was Karl Marx. Together with Engels, Marx wrote for the exploited classes - the working people of the world.

But the works of Karl Marx are not at first easy to read. They were written more than a century ago, in the language of a century ago.

As an uneducated worker for 20 years of my life, I couldn't stop thinking about these things and wondering how the existing order came about and was maintained. So I stopped work one day and went to college and set myself the task of finding the answers to these questions that had always puzzled me.

But the difficulties I found at college were that the syllabuses were not designed to help a worker find out much more than the usual bourgeois theories and explanations. It wasn't till I discovered that the working class needs an ideology of its own - that of Karl Marx, that I started to understand the whole of capitalist society. It wasn't till I came across a slightly elusive subject which I came to know was Political Economy, Marxist Political Economy, that I discovered the essence of capitalist exploitation and domination of us workers.

But finding at first that reading Marxism was extremely hard going for somebody like me, "educated" between the gas works and the meat-pie factory, where I learnt that the Battle of Hastings was 1066 and the Battle of Agincourt was some other day, oh and I was pretty good at rolling plasticine snakes; I decided that although it was perfectly simple and obvious once is was understood; it needed to be written in a language that we workers could easily understand.

This was the task I set myself to do. And this I did. But this embarrassed my "tutors" and assessors. Misled, middle class bourgeois 'socialist' college tutors and lecturers do not like to be told, especially by a working class "intellectual", that their economic and other philosophies are just an apology, a justification, legitimising exploitation of the working class. They failed me for it. It's their job to. It's their role to ensure that Marxism, although studied as an interesting "compliment" to bourgeois sociology and applied economics in colleges, does not gain legitimacy by awarding it any degrees or qualifications. It wasn't till I learned the bourgeois skill of writing misleading claptrap that they reluctantly but instantly awarded me my qualification - a diploma; not a degree, not yet! More a ticket to nowhere for now.

What I offer here is the full, working class, presentation of the work I did in college during my period of "higher education." Higher education has two meanings: For me it means my own political education - the unravelling of the world in my mind; something I learned from non-establishment, non-college sources. For them it means you've been duly processed and stamped fit for higher places. Official "higher education" taught me nothing, except to show me what I was struggling against in my attempts to learn what I needed to know using their time and their machinery. My real tutors were Marx, Engels and Lenin. My real lectures were the speeches of Fidel Castro and the writings of Ho Chi Minh, Jose Marti, many Soviet writers and historians, Bulgaria's Dimitrov, and others. My real tutorials were the guidance of good communists friends who saved me a lot of time by telling me what was worth reading and what was useless rubbish. My real struggle was that against my bourgeois "education" and upbringing and ideology which had got me into the habit of thinking in a certain way. And my real experience was the view into a future world provided by my trips to the Soviet Union, Cuba, the German Democratic Republic; which did not at all match the media's propaganda of these countries and peoples; and the many immediate life-long friends I met in those countries and the feeling of complete security and safety and solidarity I felt on every inch of socialist soil.

Fellow workers, friends, comrades! I have tried to write here as much as possible of some of the most important things I have discovered.

But learning it is the easy bit for us. The next stage: doing something about it, will involve us in much hard work and commitment. And the stage after that; even more commitment and much more personal sacrifice. But the final goal is worth it; because the future is ours; only we don't all know it yet.

As Karl Marx said: We have nothing to lose but our chains, and we have a world to win.

Different countries with different conditions have different approaches to socialism. The Bolsheviks in 1917 took armed insurrection with a workers' army. Conditions were right for it. There was no other way. If they had lost their chance, the progress of socialism may have been held up for generations possibly. In contrast, Chile went on its way to socialism by a majority vote. But achieving a majority vote and holding on to state power is not the same thing, as the people of Chile have tragically found. Whilst the Vietnamese people have suffered more than thirty five years of war with Western nations in order to achieve liberation and socialism. The left wing parties of Britain also have various views on how to achieve socialism. Some are going to get a few grenades and shoulder-borne rocket launchers and take over the BBC in the morning. Others say that when socialism is voted for in Parliament, the capitalist landowners, industrialists and bankers will simply hand over the nation's wealth and state power and together with the Royal family will go and live in a tower block estate in Walthamstow.

A realistic way might be somewhere between; according to conditions at the time.

Whatever road is taken, the ultimate aim is the same - socialism - the social ownership of the means of production of wealth. In other words, economic, political and state power to be under the control of the majority - the working class; and consequently, the creation of a just and truly democratic and free society.


"I owe it to the bourgeois so that they can convince themselves how vastly superior the uneducated workers, for whom one can easily make comprehensible the most difficult economic analysis, are to our supercilious "educated people" to whom such intricate questions remain insoluble their whole life long."
(Frederick Engels, in his introduction to Marx's "Wage Labour and Capital.")

For years I had assumed that economics was not for the likes of me; not for the working class. I had convinced myself that such "complicated" things were only for "intellectuals" - students and university lecturers - and not for "ordinary" people like me, and it didn't concern me anyway.

Yet on the other hand, in my twenty years in the factories and workshops dreaming about other worlds, which I knew existed and were somehow connected with mine, I found a need to know the answers to a multitude of questions which no one seemed to be able to answer satisfactorily. Even those I considered intelligent seemed to resent being asked 'stupid' questions.

I needed to know, for instance, how was it that we workers were exploited, how the bosses I worked for always remained rich and how we, the workers, always remained poor? If, as conservatives are always saying, you get rich through hard work; why was it that my father, a thrifty and frugal man, worked hard all his life until a few weeks before he died at the age of 74 and we had to borrow £50 to bury him? Are there two kinds of hard work? Is there one kind of hard work for people like my father and another kind for people like the bosses who employed him? Why was it, I wondered, that if, as my school teachers sometimes told me while indicating the countries on the globe coloured in red, all this belonged to us British, why was it that my father often couldn't afford to buy me a banana or a pineapple? Why is it that in England in the 1980s the government said the economy was having "growth" yet more people were getting poorer? Why was it that children in Calcutta starved to death a few feet from the walls of a rice warehouse, some bags of which had spilled their contents onto the floor? Why was it that in a hungry world with advanced transport and communications, hundreds of thousands of tons of food were often destroyed in order to keep prices up and the market "thriving." And why was it that the homeless of the world slept in cardboard boxes on the streets of London, Calcutta or Sao Paulo while surplus building materials were destroyed, thousands of building workers went unemployed, and thousands of acres of building land lay idle for years? And what was the connection between all these things?

How wrong I was about economics.

I am now aware of the necessity for the working class to understand economics, or to be more correct, political economy, in order to answer all these kinds of questions.

I also became aware of the necessity of seeing these important ideas written in such a way that we intelligent but less "educated" working class could understand them.

This is what I realised I must take upon myself to do. Not in any academic or 'educated' language, but in our language, as we speak in the factories and in the street.

Some terminology is of course unavoidable, since it is necessary to identify and define things; but where it is not self explanatory I shall explain it.

But first, a few words about what political economy is all about and why it is so important for us to understand.

Political economy is a very important weapon in the working class armoury. It is not an alternative economic policy or anything like that. It is an exposé, an explanation of how the working class are exploited and how wealth is created out of our labour, and the secret of how profit is made.

An understanding of political economy is an absolute necessity for our understanding of our economic and social status and political position.

One of the main effects of our education system on the working class is that we are taught to mistrust our own intelligence and leave 'complicated' things to those who 'understand' them; thus giving other people a completely free hand to control our lives and determine our position in life.

Don't be fooled by these people. It is their job to keep us down. You who are reading this book are intelligent. You are as intelligent as I am. I was a 'failure' at school and was sent to a school for the "educationally backward" (now called Educationally Sub Normal (ESN).) This was probably because I rejected their interference into the natural logic of my childhood mind and persisted in ideas of my own, which were often better and more logical and consistent than theirs. But then, my ideas didn't fall into place in a society dominated by capitalist ideology.

You do not have to be 'educated' or know a single thing about economics; which is actually almost a completely different subject; to be able to understand political economy.

Political economy, unlike economics, is a social science in the truest sense of the term. It is a different subject from economics, which deals mostly with commodities and markets, because it involves people. It deals with peoples' relationships to the economy and the means of production and means of subsistence. It looks at the socio-economic relations between people within a society or country and the socio-economic relations between countries. Manifestly it looks at the socio-economic relations between classes both within a society and a country and world-wide. It is an analysis, an exposé of capitalist production for profit from a human, social and political standpoint.

Above all, it is important because it reveals what wealth is and where it comes from - how it is actually created and by whom; what capital is and how it is generated and by whom. It demonstrates that wealth is created not by financiers, bankers and industrialists, but only by the labour of working people all over the world. It demonstrates that human labour, and only human labour, is the source of all wealth; that it is the source and measure of all economic values. It also counters such establishment lies as that wage rises determine price rises, cause inflation and unemployment, and makes us 'uncompetitive' on the world market, etc. These lies are perpetrated to maintain the enormous profits made out of the labour of the masses.

Economics is what establishment economists talk about. Books on economics can be found in their multitudes on the shelves of bookshops and school or public libraries. The London School of Economics had hundreds of them - all dealing with their different aspects and their academic theories on the market forces, profits, currency, commodities, the banks, finance, "the city", "the pound", "the dollar", interest rates, wage and price levels, inflation and all the other aspects of what is referred to as "the economy" - all without ever using words like "exploitation" or discussing how or out of whom profit is made.

Capitalist, or bourgeois economics does not discuss how or from whom profit is made. It is not concerned with such things. That profit is made and can be maximised is the only context in which it is interested in discussing "the economy".

Capitalist economics takes the firm, the enterprise, as its basic unit, and builds its theory around that. It is not interested in the plight of the worker. Whilst political economy takes the worker, his labour, as its basic unit and builds its theory around that.

The capitalist socio-economic system is opposed and objected to by political economy on moral grounds - that it is wrong because it is exploitative of the working peoples of the world, that it divides people into classes - rich and poor, capitalist and worker; that it creates and perpetuates poverty and starvation and homelessness; that it is wasteful of natural and human resources; and that it produces slumps and mass unemployment. And capitalist theory is opposed by political economy on scientific grounds - that it is unscientific.

Political economy is superior to 'economics' because it has an irrefutable, immutable, scientific theory - like the theory of gravity. It is wrong to say that economics has any true scientific consistent theory. It does not. Capitalist economics and its 'theory' is nothing more than a rationalisation of the profit system - to give it false moral justification and a false academic appearance and respectability.

Those who criticise Marxist political economy either do not understand it or aim to distort it. They have probably read odd bits of it or introductions to it and either haven't understood it or haven't wanted to understand it and haven't seen that it is an irrefutable and immutable scientific and coherent theory - that it starts with the most simple, logical facts and follows them through in the most simple, logical order to their most simple, logical conclusion.

It is easy to tell that critics of Marxist economics haven't read it through or refuse to understand it by the stupid things they say about it. For instance; they say that it has to be proved. So they obviously mistakenly think or deliberately suggest that Marxist economic theory is an actual alternative to what actually goes on under capitalism. It is not an alternative at all. Marxism is not an alternative to bourgeois economics. What Marxist economics, political economy, is, is an analysis, an explanation of capitalist economics. It shows how it operates, how it exploits, how profits are made out of exploitation. It exposes and explains the capitalist system. And out of this analysis and critique of the capitalist system, an economic, political and social alternative is developed.

Businessmen, accountants, financiers, governments, attach the greatest importance to something they call profits. But look in any textbook on economics and you will find that profit is hardly mentioned in terms of how it is made. Is this because profit is such a simple thing to understand that there is really no need at all to explain it? Surely everyone knows that defining profit is simply a matter of working out your costs - rent, machinery, raw materials, fuel, labour (wages) - and adding on a percentage of 'profit' that you think the market will stand - whatever you can get away with? Surely everyone knows that?

This is one of the biggest myths of contemporary institutionalised thinking. It is utterly false. It is a lie.

It takes only a little thought to realise that this could not possibly be true.

The capitalist economic world is divided into two classes, between the capitalists - a minority who live off profits from invested capital, and the majority, the working class - Marx's proletarians - who live off wages for their labour by hand or by brain.

If profit is made by adding on a percentage over costs, then, where do the working class, whose only source of income is the wages they receive from the capitalists, get this extra percentage over costs in order to give the capitalist his profit? Are the working class printing money for themselves or are they receiving money free from somewhere else? Or is the capitalist paying them wages amounting to the sum of his costs and his profits in order that they can buy back the goods they have produced at a profit to the capitalist? Of course, it doesn't make sense.

If I am a capitalist and the cost of my product is £1 and my profit is 40p making a total price of £1.40; do I pay you £1.40p in wages so that you can have the honour of buying back my product at a profit to me? If not; where does my profit come from? Do I charge you only £1, which is my costs - including wages, and obtain the 40p somewhere else myself? Perhaps the bank gives it to me for being so enterprising? Or do I pay you only £1 in wages and hope that you'll find the other 40p somewhere else in order to pay me the £1.40 for my product so that I can make a profit?

Clearly this is ridiculous! This is obviously not the way profit is made by capitalists.

The myth that profit is a percentage "added on" extends to saying that capitalists make a profit by exchanging goods on favourable terms to each other since most transactions are between capitalist and capitalist. But one capitalist's gain in this way would be the other's loss. Yet capitalists as a whole continue to make and increase their profits.

Attempts are also made by bourgeois economics at showing profit as the result of what it calls the "factors of production": that capitalists invest their capital and receive their profits, landowners contribute their land and receive rent, and workers give their labour and receive wages. Everybody contributes their bit, everything is fair, honest, decent, legal and proper. And when it comes to the tax form question on unearned income, the capitalist, the banker, the landowner, and the worker alike can all write: none. Nobody, it seems, has any unearned income. They contribute and they all earn it; honestly and legally.

Not only are these ridiculous theories totally false, but they even invent false moral justifications for them. They say that capitalist profit is the reward for his frugality, sacrifice, risk, enterprise and hard work. Profit is a reward for the "risks" taken with his capital.

This "theory" is nothing but the result of covering up a guilty conscience. All sorts of sophisticated attempts are made to show that profit is somehow "earned" by the capitalist and he therefore has a right to it; just as the worker earns his wages.


Economists and businessmen, financiers and the media, industrialists and bankers, and politicians and governments have been tying themselves up with idealistic nonsense for centuries.

One purpose of this has been to mask the truth - the economic law behind a false outward appearance.

If you want to make a plane that gets off the ground you must understand the theory of gravity and the laws of aerodynamics and power-to-weight ratios. If this is to be extended then the theory of relativity must be taken into account. If you want to scientifically understand animal and human development then you must understand the theory of evolution. Capitalist economic theorists are like people trying to make it possible for humans to fly without considering the law of gravity. This is why they are always trying to adjust bits of "the economy" - the rate of inflation, the interest rate, wages, prices, the pound, the dollar, oil prices, subsidies and adjustments for this and that. If it was a matter of adjustments to this or that, up or down, then why can they never get it right? Why can they not get the capitalist system working for the good of all? Why is world poverty still with us and increasing rapidly after more than two centuries of capitalism? They say the socialist systems, in existence for seventy years, are not working. But 85 percent of humanity still starves after a capitalist world of more than two centuries. But do they say that capitalism has failed? Even after their endless theories and adjustments.

Their economic theory was faulty because they were partly also confusing themselves. They had a partly reasonable basic theory but that became politically uncomfortable, and they could not make it work properly because they were unable to understand it in their own terms.

Like Newton's discovery of the law of gravity, Darwin's theory of evolution, and Einstein's theory of relativity, Marx was the man who found the basic laws of socio-economic relations, the reality that lay beneath the appearance.

This solved the economists' problems but it also exposed the true nature of profit and exploitation hidden behind the assumptions of the classical economists.

The theories of gravity, evolution, aerodynamics, relativity are taken for granted and nobody is derogatorily called a Darwinist or a Newtonian for this. But the prejudice and ignorance of non-Marxists and anti-Marxists still forces the term "Marxist" because the labour theory of value is not taken for granted or even considered by capitalist society. Just as in the past philosophers now found to be correct were in their time either burnt at the stake or forced to drink hemlock because their truths that the earth is round and that the sun, not the earth, is the centre of the universe, negated the power of the ruling classes of the time. And just like Darwin's theory of evolution at about the same time; Marx's Capital, or Das Kapital (he was German but lived in Britain) was met with hostility, rejection and silence. This was because it attacked and completely destroyed all previous explanations which were necessary for the preservation of the existing ruling class.

Although Marx's findings solved the problems of the classical economists; at the same time it exposed the true nature of capitalist exploitation. So from then on the capitalist economists had another problem on their hands: How to use the new knowledge that Marx had discovered but at the same time publicly refute or deny it. And since then they have been running around like sheep confronted with a wolf, trying to avoid reality and dressing up one idealistic alternative theory after another.

Marx, you see, had discovered a theory of economic value based on something material and measurable - human labour. And our bourgeois economists were not having any of that. With a solid and irrefutable theory like that you couldn't fool anybody anymore; you couldn't exploit the workers.

Not to be beaten, our bourgeois economists dreamed up all sorts of theories, such as: value is determined by supply and demand. When Marxists pointed out that although supply and demand have a temporary effect on prices they could not possibly determine the value of a product.

The bourgeois economists then concocted a theory called 'utility value.' When Marxists knocked the bottom out of that argument the bourgeois wheeled out their MkII version: 'marginal utility value', an equally unscientific, idealistic and illogical value theory.

Then after much mumbling and squawking our capitalist economic wizards came up with a solution which solved all their problems: they did without a theory of value altogether! And left everything to the inadequate vagaries and uncertainties of what they call 'the market.'

Since then they have paraded in front of us Messrs. Keynes, Freedman and Monetarism.

All of these have had only one objective - to rationalise and legitimise, by idealistic rather than any scientific means - the making and maximisation of profit.

To these fantastic 'theories', constant adjustments and readjustments have had to be made - budgets and mini-budgets, taxes and increments, subsidies and supplements, green pounds, EEC pounds, import duties, tariffs and quotas, this rate and that rate, percentages here and compensations there. These chaotic and imbecile measures and countermeasures, which to capitalism are quite serious and necessary, are all necessary to prop up an idealistic, far removed from reality, ailing economic and consequently social and political system - a system that has to make a profit yet must hide the way profits are made and how much they are.

Like a pressure cooker; enough weight must be placed on the lid to stop the whole stupid mess exploding all over the place.

Political economy unravels the whole stupid mess and discovers what it is really made of and how it really 'works!'

Political economy is based on Marx's scientific analysis of capitalist production - the law of motion of capital. It is based on definite, scientific measurement and a definite fundamental law; a natural law, an irrefutable law. And like Darwin's theory of evolution, the establishment can ignore it, deny its existence, refuse to accept or even to understand it; they can denigrate it and vilify it, but one thing they cannot do is refute it.

Bourgeois economics on the other hand, is purely idealistic. That is, it is based on ideas rather than reality. Ideas are what exist inside peoples' heads, and bourgeois economic ideas exist only in bourgeois economists' heads. This is one reason why it is such a diabolically forbidding and repulsive subject. It is idealistic and based on nothing concrete and fundamental. There is no fundamental law at the basis of bourgeois economics.

This means that you can simply make up the rules to suit yourself as you play the game. And the game is solely to extract private profit and wealth from the world and its working class.

And when your ideas and 'theories' don't work out in your favour, you simply drop them and continue to dream up one 'theory' after another. This is why capitalist economies always end up in total chaos, always suffering from deficiencies, slumps, unemployment, overproduction, bankruptcies by the city streetful, and total collapse of the economy. I ask you; how can it be that capitalism, which is supposed to be so good, goes along very well, full employment, a thriving market, a booming economy, then suddenly this thing called a slump comes along, like a storm, that comes from nature or outside, and ruins everything? How can that be explained except that capitalism has within it its own downfall? The social consequences of these slumps are our everyday experience.

Even when capitalism is riding high on a boom it cannot solve and never has solved the real problems of the world. After more than tow centuries of capitalism, 85 percent of the world's population, the overwhelming majority of humanity, still lives in starvation and poverty. Millions still starve to death, millions of children sigh their last feeble breath, letting go of life itself in their first year. Millions are homeless and jobless and suffer needless poverty and ill health. Millions are denied the most basic human rights, to medical care and education - all this in a world of abundance. Ignorance, prejudice and hypocrisy replies that they 'come from a poor country.' We must always reply to the ignorant, the prejudiced and the hypercritic that on the contrary, they come from a very rich world.

In economics, as in any other subject, it is only necessary to avoid a scientific method, a fundamental law, and a definite system of measurement when you want to defend minority interests, when you want to defend an exploitative system, when you want to fool people, mask the truth, and expropriate wealth from people - the capitalist profit system.

Socialist systems on the other hand, are planned economies. Of course mistakes are made. One area of town might end up with too many saucepans in the shops and not enough toothbrushes. But these are planning or bureaucratic mistakes, blunders and shortcomings and can be overcome within the system. They are not through failing profits or overproduction or competition or dumping or shortages created to keep prices and profits high and wages low. They are failings within the system and not failings of the system.

In an advanced socialist society there is no more private appropriation of profit. Wealth produced by the nation goes to the whole nation, for the democratic use of the entire population. The people create what they, the people, need; and distribute it accordingly.

In the socialist world, the people know that they can consume only what they themselves produce. So production must be planned and increased accordingly.

Under the first stage of communism, which Marxists call socialism, there are of course inequalities. Socialism does not yet claim to be 'equal.' Socialist production aims to create the necessary conditions for communism. Socialist production is planned for these priorities and for such high levels of production that goods, ultimately, can be produced in abundance. That ultimate stage, that ultimate goal, is Communism; in which things are produced in such abundance that no one needs to 'want', hoard, or steal anything. Supply and demand are no longer out of step with each other.

Socialist production is also planned according to social priorities - bread before cake; toothbrushes before electric carving knives; homes, hospitals, schools and universities for all before private jets and palaces for any. By 1970 only about 10 percent of Soviet citizens had private cars; by the mid 1980s it rose to about 40 percent. But this does not mean that cars for all who want them is not the final aim. One only has to look at the massive three and four lane motorway complexes built into all Soviet cities to see this. In the meantime, Soviet citizens have the benefit of the cheapest transport system in the world.

A country's economic system is the basis of its social system, the State, its legal system (ours protects private appropriation of wealth), its education system, the media, and all state and social functions. Man's relations in economic production is his legal and social history.


Political economy is very easy once you have grasped the basics. Once you understand it you will be able to discuss it with workmates. And what is more important - you will be able to argue the hind legs off the bosses and those who intend to keep us struggling under the yoke of capital. For under the present order of things, capital hires labour, whereas it should be the reverse - workers should be able to "hire" the capital that they have already created as wealth and invest it in the production of more of their own capital or consumable wealth according to their desires and priorities.

Read through the Overview first and then read through the essay itself. It does not matter if you don't fully understand it at your first reading. Even highly trained academics often need to read even quite simple things several times. Reading it quickly through like this gives your mind a preview of the area it is about to cover. Then you can take your time and start to read it systematically, piece by piece, turning it over in your mind between times.

If you come across bits that you don't understand, skip through them and you will often find that later information can help clarify them. You can then come back to them in the light of new knowledge and go through them more slowly, perhaps drawing yourself little diagrams or models or making notes, laying out the ideas in your own schematic way.

It is not important, but if you wish, you might like to read it in conjunction with other books such as Marx's "Wage Labour and Capital" and "Wages, Price and Profit." Engels' "On Marx's Capital" will help you later also but don't trouble with it until you feel you are ready or you need it to help your understanding. These are all very small pamphlets and easy to read. They cost about fifty pence. These are all available from good or more usually good left wing bookshops such as Collets or Central Books in London. John Eaton's "Political Economy" is also one of the best books I know for explaining the subject comprehensively and clearly in everyday language.

You will soon find that the difficult parts suddenly become clear and you will understand the whole thing very easily.

"It's sensible.

Anyone can understand it.

It's easy.

You're not an exploiter - so you can grasp it.

It's a good thing for you - find out more about it.

The stupid call it stupid. The squalid call it squalid.

It is against squalor and against stupidity.

The exploiters call it a crime.

But we know it is the end of crime.

It's not madness but the end of madness.

It's not the riddle but the solution.

It is the simple thing so hard to achieve."
(Berthold Brecht.)

Once you understand it you will be in a position to argue with confidence. And in this way, workers will become strong and will be a powerful ideological force to be reckoned with.

In order to understand the natural economic law that lies hidden beneath what purports or appears to be reality, it is merely necessary to understand a few basic concepts of political economy.

After explaining the difference between commodity production for human needs, which requires two things only: raw materials and human labour; and capitalist production, which also requires two things: wage labour and capital; under which one always not only retains his capital and stays rich and continues to make profits and the other never acquires any of the capital or profits and stays poor.; the book will explain what this capital actually consists of; that is consists of nothing but the labour of the workers' predecessors and ancestors; and how this capital - the labour of his predecessors is used to exploit the worker anew.

We shall also explain what a commodity is; that it must possess certain values or qualities which are called "use values" and "exchange values"; what "use values" and "exchange values" are; and how the exchange value of a commodity is determined by the amount of labour that went into its production, and how this labour is measured and valued.

We shall demonstrate that labour is the only source of all wealth and all economic values, since labour is the only commodity on the market which is able to create more value than its own cost. Labour is the only commodity on the market able to create "surplus value" and this "surplus value" is the only source of all profit and all wealth.

Once you have grasped this you will have grasped the secret of how profit is made and how wealth is produced by the working class and appropriated by the capitalist class.

We shall also completely destroy bourgeois theories of value and how they say profit is made.

We shall explain the origins of capital and capitalist production; how capital is made up and used to expropriate profits from the working class and make more capital for the capitalists; how surplus value is divided into rent, interest and profit among land-owning capital, bank or finance capital and industrial capital. And I will show that wage increases are not the cause of price increases, unemployment or inflation.

We shall also explain how there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall. And how competition forces capitalists to be ruthless whether they like it or not, or be eliminated from the capitalist struggle to survive.

We shall explain imperialism - the export of our industry and capital to poor, Third World countries where labour is cheap and unorganised; causing the destruction of our industry and mass unemployment.

Finally, we will explain how it could be under socialism, had we the political education, class consciousness, social power and political will.


A bag of wheat, a yard of cloth, a seal skin and an iron hunting axe are all commodities.

Production of commodities requires only two things. These two things have always existed in the world in abundance and still do. These two things needed for commodity production are raw materials and labour. No other thing is needed. No other thing was present when the world began. Neither capital nor profit in capitalist terms is necessary in order to produce commodities.


Capitalist production - production for profit, however, also requires two things, two other things: wage labour and capital.

Capital is owned by the capitalists; in the form of land, raw materials, the factories, machines, in fact - the whole means of production and distribution, and therefore - subsistence. The capitalist also owns the commodities produced by these means of production, which he sells on the 'free' market. He also owns the profits made in the process.

Wage labour on the other hand, owns only its labouring power - its power to labour; which is also a commodity, which the working class is also free to sell on the free market.

One gets his profits and still owns the whole means of production and the commodities produced and stays rich; the other gets his wages and remains poor, and of course 'free'; free only to work for another capitalist boss or free to starve if he prefers to.

But what is this capital that the capitalist owns - the factory, the machines, raw materials, the means of production, money in the bank - his capital?

Capital - money which is exchanged for a commodity, which is itself sold for more money than the original amount. But what is money?

Money appears to be what we work for - wages. But this is only the appearance. You can't eat it, clothe or house yourself in it; it has no use value. You can only spend it. You exchange it for the things you need - for commodities. Wages, money, is only a means of exchanging one commodity: labour, for another. Money is just a temporary store of values; a representation of value - the value of your labour or the value of the commodities you buy with it. Hence, money, or capital, merely represents commodities.

Production of commodities, as we have seen, requires only two things: raw materials and labour. Raw materials are free; they cost us nothing; The earth does not charge us one single penny for them. We pay labour to extract them from the earth, but the earth charges us nothing. So commodities consist of raw materials, which are free, and human labour, which is the only thing we actually pay for. The value of a commodity, therefore, is represented by the value of the labour that went into its production.

So money, or capital, represents the value of a commodity, and the value of a commodity is represented by the value of the labour that went into its production. Commodities, or money, or capital, is labour. Labour is the source of all wealth; all values. A million pounds is nothing but a million pounds worth of labour; an amount of labour to the value of a million pounds. Millionaires are people who possess millions of pounds of other peoples' labour.

That's all capital is: my labour, my father's labour, his father's labour, stored up and accumulated in land, factories, machines, the means of production, money in the bank. Capital is nothing but accumulated human labour.


What is a commodity? Whether it's a spark plug in your car, five yards of cloth, your house, your car, your washing machine or a 26,000 ton oil tanker; to be a commodity a thing must be produced, 1) by human labour, 2) for sale on the market, 3) it must possess 'use value' - it must be useful to somebody, and 4) it must have 'exchange value' - either through money or through direct exchange.


To be exchanged on the market, a commodity must have 'use value'; it must be useful to somebody; it must satisfy a human want. A commodity won't be sold if it is no use to anybody.

People need food, shelter, clothing and warmth. And the goods that satisfy these wants have use values. People also want art, music, culture and ornaments. And the goods that satisfy these wants also have use values. Whether these needs arise out of necessity or fancy is irrelevant.

The air we breathe, rain from the sky, and light, warmth and vitamins from the rays of the sun are also human needs. But so far, (and don't think the capitalists are not working on it) they are not produced by human labour for sale on the market and they do not have 'exchange value'. They are not yet commodities.

'Use value', however, is subjective and qualitative. It depends on qualities - shape, size, hardness, strength etc. How 'useful' a thing is depends on the individual. A bushman coming across a computer lying in the Kalahari desert would just kick sand over it as he ran past on his way to collect water in an ostrich shell from twenty-five miles away.

No one has yet discovered a way of measuring how 'useful' something is. 'Use value' cannot be quantitatively measured; it cannot be represented or expressed in quantity.

Different people have different wants. The amount that any commodity is wanted cannot be measured. There is no amount of 'being wanted' in a commodity. Wants or 'use values' cannot be measured against one another for economic comparison, since they only exist inside peoples' minds.


Commodities are produced by the working class under capitalism, not for themselves - for their own use, but for a capitalist - and not even for his own use, but to sell on the market - to exchange, through money, for other commodities, for profit.

A commodity therefore, must have 'exchange value'. It must be produced by human labour, it must have 'use value', and it must be produced for exchange, whether direct or through money.

Unlike use value, exchange value can be quantitatively measured.

A weaver would expect so much iron for so much cloth. A hunter would expect so much cloth for so many sealskins. A farmer would expect so many sealskins for so much wheat. And a smithy would expect so much wheat for so much iron. A pound of iron might be worth 5 yards of cloth, 10 sealskins or a hundredweight of wheat. Or it might be worth so much gold or so much money. £4 in money will buy so much iron, so much sugar, so much cloth, or so much human labour power; for labour power is a commodity just like any other, for it too has exchange value. A capitalist would expect so much labour power for his £4, just as he would expect so much wheat, . And they are both quantitatively measurable; one by the clock, the other by the scales.

Money is merely a temporary store, a measure, a unit, of exchange values.

Regardless of price, which at first seems to confuse the issue, commodities in exchange have definite, objectively measurable, quantitative relations. They have definite values in exchange which do not necessarily correspond to price.

Whether they are exchanged directly or through money, commodities in exchange have exchange value. This is an objective, scientifically measurable economic law, regardless of man's will or intent and regardless of price. Exchange value is measurable in terms which are independent of our own subjectivity. This is what makes Marx's law of value a scientific and objective economic law.


Things, to be measurable, must have some common physical quality or property by which they can be measured. To measure something, we must have a common unit by which we can measure and compare one thing with another. Things have qualities: size, weight, time, temperature etc. And these qualities can be quantitatively measured; by the ruler, the scales, the clock, and the thermometer. These are objective qualities; that is, qualities from outside and independent of our own minds.

Subjective qualities, however, such as beauty, usefulness, desirability etc. are idealistic and up to individual choice. They are idealistic, they come from our own individual ideas about beauty, usefulness, desirability etc. They cannot be measured materially or physically. There is no objective, material, common unit of measurement of beauty, usefulness, or desire etc.

So what is a common quality, which is materialistic and not idealistic, objective and not subjective, by which all commodities can be measured and compared in terms of economic value? There is something common to all commodities, including the commodity: labour power (Which I shall deal with separately so as not to confuse the reader at the moment.). What is common to all commodities, of which some have more, and some have less, by which their values can be compared and equated? By what common quality can we compare the value of a gold watch to a bucket of horse manure; or a house brick to a Rolls Royce car or a loaf of bread? Is it weight? Of course not; the brick and the bucket of horse manure would be more than the gold watch. It isn't heat or smell, because the bucket of horse manure would still be more valuable. Nor is it usefulness to human life, since the loaf of bread would be worth more than the gold watch and the Rolls Royce. There is only one quality common to all commodities by which they can be measured and compared in value: they are all products of human labour (Somebody had to put the horse manure in the bucket!). The value of a commodity corresponds to the amount of human labour power that went into its production. And this can be objectively and materially, physically measured. (I will go into this further in a later chapter.) It is the amount of human labour embodied into a commodity, not just in the final stage of its production, but all stages from extraction of raw materials to the final stage of production which determines its value.

This does not mean however, that the longer that the worker dithers over his work his product will be more valuable. The worker who works slowly, with inefficient tools will not get more for his work since the buyer will go somewhere else. The worker is in competition for efficiency with other producers. He would not get more in exchange than is socially average, so he would have to work harder and more efficiently.

It is the 'socially, average, necessary' labour time embodied in a commodity which determines its exchange value.

'Socially' because virtually all commodities are socially produced; they are all the products of several people's labour, from the raw materials stage to final production.

Socially 'average' because people take slightly different times to perform tasks, according to their ability and level of technology.

And socially average 'necessary' because taking two hours to do what on average takes one hour is unnecessary, and a worker who does this would not produce as much as the average worker and the value of his labour would be less.

So the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of socially average labour time necessary for its production.

The labour theory of value asserts itself in all commodities. But that is not to say that prices do not alter. Price is just a money form of value. Price is value expressed in money.

It is a bourgeois concoction that supply and demand determine value. As we shall discover in a later chapter, supply and demand have temporary effects on prices. But supply and demand do not determine value. Supply and demand determines price, not value. If the bourgeois assertion that supply and demand determines value; how is value determined when supply and demand are equal and have no effect on price? Although supply and demand cause prices to fluctuate above and below a certain level; what is this level that prices fluctuate about? We see the law of labour value again asserting itself.

The labour theory of value is inherent in all commodities. For centuries, gold was used as a common measure of value. Gold is a commodity to which that same law equally applies. It is a common and gross mistake to believe that gold is valuable because of its scarcity. There is no absolute scarcity of gold. There is probably tons of it somewhere under the earth. The only problem is that we are not sure where it is and so a lot of labour is necessary to locate and extract it. The value of gold corresponds to the amount of socially, average, necessary labour power embodied in its production. When new gold deposits are found the value of gold falls; not because it is more abundant but because more gold is produced per unit of human labour; less labour time has been used to produce the total amount of gold in existence.


Now we have to determine the value of labour power.

Labour power is a commodity just like any other. It has 'use value', it has 'exchange value', and it is for sale on the market. It is bought and sold, just like any other commodity. And just like any other commodity; its value is determined by the amount of labour time necessary for its production.

This at first appears confusing. It appears to run in a circle, getting us no nearer to discovering the value of labour power if we only know that the value of a day's labour is equal to a day's labour. And classical economists also ran around in endless circles trying to find a way out of it. They had already agreed that labour is a commodity just like any other, and that the value of a commodity is determined by the amount of labour contained in it necessary for its production. But when they tried to apply the labour theory of value to the commodity 'labour', they fell into endless circles. So like all good academics they dropped the whole theory and came up with another one. This one said that the value of a commodity is equal to its cost of production.

So let us investigate this brilliant deduction and reduce it to its simplest form.

Labour is a commodity, they said, and the value of a commodity is equal to its cost of production. So the next obvious question is: what is the cost of production of labour? This question had our economists somewhat befuddled. "What is labour?" They said. There are many different kinds of labour; hard and easy, hand and brain. 'Labour', or work, is such an abstract concept to define that its cost cannot be determined.

At this point, I would like to  explain that there is a very important fundamental difference between 'labour' and 'labour power'. But this distinction between 'labour' and 'labour power', although an important one, is not entirely essential to our understanding of the immediate matter in hand.

'Labour power' does not here mean the power of labour, or labour's power - as in muscle power or horse-power. It means the worker's ability to labour; his power to work; his physical and mental capabilities; his capacity to labour.

The basic difference is that the value of 'labour' is the value that it creates, which is indeterminate; and the value of 'labour power' is the value that creates it.

Bourgeois economists prefer to talk about the value of the abstract - 'labour' because again, it is idealistic and suits their needs; since it cannot be defined or measured. 'Labour' creates all kinds of values, none of which can be measured objectively. But Marxist political economy talks about 'labour power', because its value can be determined.

Let me explain first the meanings of the terms "idealism" and "materialism". In everyday language, a materialist is one who prefers to acquire material things - a house, a yacht, all kinds of material things, in order to satisfy his needs. But for our purpose, in philosophical terms it means a belief in the material world; that matter exists outside of, and independently of men's minds. This is easily provable by the fact that the world obviously existed before there were minds to contemplate it; the world isn't just a creation of men's minds. Idealists, on the other hand, say that the mind exists before, above, and independently of matter. This is easily refuted by the fact that the mind itself is actually made of matter; it consists of millions of cells called neurons. Ideas are not new in themselves; they are only the piecing together of things that already exist. The invention of the wheel consisted of things that already existed: the idea of an axle, roundness, a roller, and the inventor of the wheel only had to form the concept, or idea, of a round mass rotating about its axis - its centre, and if you can fix this centre to an object you have the wheel. If man could think of ideas purely out of his head, out of things that didn't already exist, then why didn't stone-age man invent the diesel engine? - Because the concepts of fuel that explodes under pressure, crankshafts, con-rods, pistons and cylinders didn't exist in order to mentally put the whole thing together. But after the steam engine these concepts did exist. Man only had then to change the steam for an explosive substance and some means of igniting it, both of which already existed, and put them together in his mind. Idealism, like religion, stems basically from ignorance; that the world was created by some supernatural being, and this comes from early man's inability to provide a scientific explanation of the world around him; for example - who made it rain? Who made the clouds? There must be some supernatural person or being creating and doing all this.

The difference between a materialist view of the world and an idealist one is explained by the following story. Two primitive men were standing on a mountain-side listening to a thunderstorm in the next valley. One explained it by saying that whoever can make such loud noises and powerful burning flashes which could strike down trees or split large rocks must be very strong and powerful, and man should worship him and make sacrifices to such a powerful person to appease him. The other said no; it was simply particles in the clouds crashing into each other. They were both wrong of course. Scientific investigation now knows the meteorological and physical cause of thunder and lightning. But the point is that one man was trying to explain a natural phenomena purely by ideas in his head, purely in terms abstract from the real world; and the other was trying to explain it by scientific method, by what is known to exist or could exist, and is discoverable and verifiable by scientific investigation.

Idealism is very important to capitalist ideology and its economic theory. It simply means that you can make the rules up to suit yourself and justify what you do as you go along. You can say that prices and wages depend on whatever you want. And when one theory doesn't suit you any longer, you can simply change it for another. Capitalist economists have been doing this for centuries. And it is very useful if you want to hide the truth, or reality, from the people you exploit, and it is very useful to make up your own idealistic theories if you want to rationalise what you really want to do - make a profit.

But let us leave the idealistic world of bourgeois economic theory and return to it later, when we will knock the bottom right out of their argument. Let us return to our distinction between labour and labour power.

Asking - what is the cost of labour, or what is the cost of work, are meaningless questions; since labour, or work, are abstract concepts.

It is necessary to look more closely at what the worker actually sells to the employer. Only then can we find a way of measuring it and determining its cost.

If the worker, the seller, sells his labour, i.e. in one mass, he no longer possesses it; he has sold himself and has become a slave; he is no longer the seller of his commodity but has become the commodity himself.

#Labour 'power' on the other hand, is produced by the worker and sold to the capitalist - by the hour, day, week. The capitalist, the buyer of the commodity 'labour power' consumes it by putting it to work; like the burning of fuel in an engine. Labour power, the commodity produced by the worker, becomes the capitalist's property, and the labour process now becomes only a process between two things bought by the capitalist: labour power and the means of production.

The value of 'labour', or work, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained; since 'labour' is an abstract concept. It means all things to all men.

But the cost of the labourer, or worker, can be ascertained, and to a great deal of accuracy. It is that quantity of the means of subsistence necessary for his production and maintenance. That is; the amount of the means of subsistence - food, clothing, shelter, warmth etc. necessary to make him capable of working, and replace him with another worker when he is worn out. I.E: To maintain, or as Engels put it, "to propagate the working class in the necessary numbers."

And although this is correct, it simply means that all our economists are telling us is that the cost of labour is the cost of the means of subsistence, i.e. the price of his food, housing, etc. So, wages being but another word for the price of labour, and prices of the means of subsistence being but another word for cost expressed in money; this means that our economist friends had stumbled across the brilliant truth that prices determine prices! Or cost determines cost! Or value determines value! Or that a week's wages will buy you a week's labour. They still haven't told us the value of a week's labour, or how the value of a week's labour is determined, what it is worth, why it is worth this.

A hundred pounds will buy you a hundred pounds worth of any commodity. It will buy you a hundred pounds worth of labour, a hundred pounds worth of iron, coal, wheat, horse manure or jelly babies, or any other commodity. In the days of our classical economists gold was in use as currency, and gold currency reflected its actual nominal value. A £100 in gold coins was actually hundred pounds worth of actual gold. So making one commodity - gold, the value of all other commodities only shifts the question. We can take any commodity in existence and make it the measure of all other commodities. We could use gold, labour, horse manure or jelly babies; all we are doing is deciding which commodity would be our currency or common measure of all values. Tying in the commodity 'labour' just means that labour has a definite value in relation to all other commodities. But we are no nearer to a consistent theory of value. We are just determining one value by another. So we must find one of these commodities whose value is determined by another factor outside the circle of commodities. We must find one of these commodities that is a common measure of value; something that tells us the meaning of value, what value is, and most importantly, what creates value or increases it.

The man who discovered this, and got the befuddled economists out of their contradictions, and like Darwin with his "Origin of the Species", was met with complete silence followed by vilification and vulgarisation by those whose interests were threatened by this new theory, was Karl Marx with his "Das Kapital", or in English: "Capital."

Karl Marx discovered that what the workers' means of subsistence produced as well as the worker himself, was the commodity 'labour power'. It could equally be called worker power. Labour power, or labouring power - the power to labour, as distinct from the abstract concept 'labour', is a very unique commodity, unlike any other commodity.

Classical economy agrees that labour power is a commodity just like any other. It has 'use value', it has 'exchange value', and it is for sale on the market.

But labour power has a quality, a capacity, an ability - a 'use value' that no other commodity has. It has the ability to create more value than its own cost. It creates value. Labour power is the creator, the prime source, of all economic values. It creates more value than its own cost of production. That is, it costs so much to feed, clothe and house a worker and give him a few little extras in life. But that worker produces a value much greater than this cost.

The surplus that the worker produces over and above the value of his wages is called 'surplus value'.

The commodity 'labour power' has a very special 'use value'. It has the ability to create 'surplus value'. It is this unique 'use value' that only labour power has, that the capitalist invests his capital in. For this is the source of his profit.

Let us compare:

None of these commodities can increase its own value. You can exchange them unequally, but the total will always remain the same. No new value will be created. In each one, or in the total group, whatever is the value of the input will be the value of the output. These values in relation to each other will remain static. You can raise the price of any one of them, but that only inflates the price of it and all it buys. None of these commodities can increase their value in relation to each other without the application of human labour.


This is the only commodity capable of creating more than its own value. E.G: Value of input - food, clothing, rent etc. i.e. wages: £80. Value of output: £800, £8,000 etc.

Labour power is the only commodity capable of producing more value than the value of its own cost. It is the only commodity capable of producing 'surplus value'.

A change in value cannot take place in money or any other commodity, since no commodity other than labour power is capable of increasing its own value.

This is how the capitalists' profit is made. It is made not out of their capital, but out of our labour. Our labour creates more value than its own cost. Our wages for 40 hours labour doesn't buy us commodities worth 40 hours labour. In our working week we make perhaps a hundred television sets worth £200 each; but our wages won't even buy us back one of them. Somebody steals our 'surplus value' from us.


When a worker works he produces two values, both of which are embodied in the product he produces. He produces 'value', i.e. the value of his own means of subsistence - his wages, and he produces 'surplus value'. Surplus value is the value he produces over and above the value of his wages.

In the terminology of political economy this is expressed as 'surplus value', or s/v. (S over V.)

The source of all economic wealth is the difference between these two values. The value of labour power and the value it produces or creates are two different values. It is this difference, this capability of labour to create more than its own value, that the capitalist invests his capital in. This is the capability, or service he expects from it; not that it merely produces, but that it produces more than its own value, that it not only reproduces itself, but that it also produces a surplus value. If it only reproduced itself, its own value, but could not produce any surplus, capitalists would not invest in it, since it would not realise any profit for him.

Applied to the single commodity, this means that each commodity contains 'value' - which is the value of that part of the worker's wages, or means of subsistence, embodied in that commodity; and 'surplus value' - that part of the surplus value, over and above the value of the worker's wages, embodied in that commodity.

Applied to the total commodities produced in a day, or a week, it could be said that it means that a certain number of commodities embody 'value', the value of the worker's wages, and the rest embody 'surplus value'.

And applied to the worker's day, or week, it means that the first part of the worker's day, or week, is spent in producing 'value' - the value of his wages, and the rest is spent producing 'surplus value', which he is not paid for and which the capitalist appropriates.

This 'surplus value' represents the capitalists' profits. And naturally, the capitalists want as much profit as they can possibly get.

Many means are used to maximise capitalist profits, or increase the amount of exploitation.

The degree or amount of exploitation depends on the amount of surplus value that the capitalist can extract or appropriate from the workers. The amount or rate of this exploitation is known as the rate of surplus value. The amount of capitalist profit depends on the rate of surplus value. In the terminology of political economy this is expressed as rate of surplus value equals surplus over value, or s/v = P.

The rate of surplus value, or the amount of profit the capitalist extracts from his workers is affected by a number of things. The most effective of these is the division of the worker's day, or week, into time spent in producing 'value' - the value of his wages, and time spent in producing 'surplus value' - the capitalist's profits.

The division of the worker's day, or week, into 'value' and 'surplus value' is determined by:

1) Productivity - the speed at which the worker produces, and the level of technology or machinery available.

2) The length of the worker's day.

3) The value of the worker's means of subsistence. E.G: The price of his food, rent, clothing etc.

Taking each one of these in turn, this means that:

1) Productivity: The faster the worker works, or the higher the level of technology or machinery, the more surplus value he will produce; or put another way; he will produce his own value, the value of his wages, earlier in the day, or week.

2) The length of the worker's day: A worker who produces his value in the first 2 hours of his working day will produce 6 hours surplus value (profit) in an 8 hour day, or 10 hours surplus value in a 12 hour day.

This is why overtime produces far more for the capitalist than it does for the worker.

This is also why the historic workers' struggle over the last two centuries to reduce the working week from 14 hours a day to 12 hours a day, and from 12 to 10 hours, and from 10 to 8 hours, and the five day week, were met with such resistance from the capitalist class and parliament. Many workers died in these and other struggles. Many were shot down by the army in incidents like the Peterloo massacre, and the Birmingham riots.

The capitalists argued that it was only in the last two hours of a 14 or 12 hour day that their profits were made. But the increases in technology and machinery have increased productivity so much that their arguments have been proved completely false.

3) The value of the worker's means of subsistence: If the value of the workers' means of subsistence can be reduced, for instance by importing cheaper food, clothing and building materials etc. this means that that part of the day spent reproducing this value, or that part of the day spent in reproducing the value of his wages, or means of subsistence, is less. And therefore, the part of the day producing surplus value is increased in proportion.

This is a reason why cheaper food is imported rather than invest in our own agriculture. This is also why cheaper foreign textile products are imported and our own textile industry, like our agriculture, is also run down. This means that profits are kept high because we English workers eat and clothe ourselves at the expense of cheap labour among the starving millions in the poor countries - the even further exploited Third World.

Technology and higher productivity in the means of subsistence also lowers its cost. It means that labour involved in producing the means of subsistence produces more surplus compared with the wages of labour producing food and clothing - both of these being low paid industries. In other words, the price of labour becomes cheaper when, just like any other commodity, the cost of its means of production in food, living expenses, and enough luxuries to keep it content with its status, is cheaper.

The following diagrams make this clearer:

1) Productivity:



Today, due to the vast increase in technology since the days of the hand loom and steam power, workers can produce the value of their week's wages by about tea break on Monday morning. The rest of the week is spent producing surplus value, for which they do not get paid. This is the source of capitalist profit.

2) The length of the working day:

3) Cheaper means of subsistence:


The value of a commodity consists of all the values, determined by labour, that went into its production. This includes not only the value that went into the last stage of its production but also of all previous stages, starting from the original extraction of its raw materials from the earth. It also includes the value of that part of the wear and tear of the machinery, fuel, heat, light, building maintenance, rent and all other costs that went into its production.

Let us look at an example of this.

Let's imagine that the money price of the means of subsistence of an engineer is £10 a day. You can substitute whatever proportionate figure you like. For this he works 8 hours. The capitalist pays for that day: £100 for rent, maintenance, wear and tear of machinery, and fuel etc. used up in production in that day; £200 for raw materials, and £10 for our worker's wages. This totals £310 for our product for that day. But the capitalist counts on getting say £320 for his product, or £10 more than his outlay. Classical economics agreed that a commodity sells at its value. I.E: the labour contained in it. So £320 is the value of our commodity, measured by the labour contained in it; I.E: the value of the labour contained in the raw materials, the value of the labour contained in that part of the wear and tear of the plant and machinery used up in production of that commodity, and the value newly added to the commodity by the labour of our engineer.

But of the £320 for our product £300 were already present before the work began. £200 were present in the raw materials and £100 were present in the overheads. And according to classical economics, £20 had been added to the value of the raw materials by the worker. His 8 hours had created new value of £20. The value of his 8 hours is £20. But our worker has only been paid £10. The capitalist says that his wages for 8 hours is £10. So we now have two values: For the worker, the value of 8 hours labour is £10; for the capitalist it is £20. Lets look at it another way. In 8 hours a value of £20 is created. Therefore, in 4 hours £10 is created. In 4 hours the worker has already paid for, or made for the capitalist, the value of his wages. So at mid-day he stops working since he and the capitalist are now quits. But the capitalist forces him to continue working for another 4 hours, making a total of 8 hours. But in return for 8 hours labour the worker gets as wages the value of commodities worth only 4 hours labour. Either labour has two different values or 8 equals 4.

Of the two different values that the commodity appears to have, it is the greater that represents its true value. Exploitation exists not in the final sale of a commodity but in the fact that the greater of the two values, surplus value, is not paid for by the capitalist.

Of the two values the worker produces - the value of his labour and surplus value; one is paid for and one is not paid for. Another way of looking at it is that the value newly added by the worker is greater than the value paid by the capitalist; because the value that labour power can produce is greater than its cost.


"Can you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends on where you want to get to" said the cat.

"I don't much care where" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go" said the cat.
(From "Alice in Wonderland.")

The above is about as sensible as bourgeois economic theory gets.

Any bourgeois economic 'theory' when subjected to serious critical questioning is quite easily found to be a myth and easily disproved. Bourgeois 'economics' does not have any sound or consistent scientific theory. What it calls 'theory' is nothing more than a rationalisation of the profit system - to give it moral justification and a respectable academic appearance.

Throughout the history of capitalism, great lumbering mountains of books have been laboriously written and produced on the subject of economics. Bourgeois economic 'theory' exists not in reality but in the heads of bourgeois economic 'theorists', and is used by capitalist politicians, businessmen, bankers, financiers and industrialists and is beamed at our brains through the various forms of their media day after day, by way of phrases like "we are paying ourselves too much", "we are pricing ourselves off the market", "the country can't afford it", "we are not producing enough", "we  can't spend what we don't earn", and even the labour movement's "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

These phrases are totally meaningless and misleading, and contain great contradictions. For instance, what is "too much"? What is "enough"? What is a "fair day's work" or a "fair day's pay"? So much an hour? How much an hour? So much per commodity? How much a commodity? What is "the rate for the job"? Who says? If by "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay" they mean there is a certain price or value of a day's work; what is it? What is the economic law that determines this? They don't have one. They cannot explain it by any economic 'theory'. Who or what is "the country"? Who is this "we" and "ourselves"? And who are these people who are "not producing enough"? Do they mean the workers who produce the million tons of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, wine, tomatoes and apples that are destroyed every year because they can't be sold? Do they mean the workers who produced the thousands of car windscreens that a motor manufacturer paid to be smashed up or the thousands of carburettors that another motor manufacturer paid to have destroyed in the 1970s? Or the workers who produced the thousands of tons of building materials destroyed last year while thousands of people went homeless, thousands of building workers became unemployed (some of them homeless themselves) and acres of building land remained idle? Why can't we use the building materials, land and unemployed building workers and build homes for the homeless people? The capitalist class will not move to do this because they will not make a profit out of it.

The capitalist employers and their government and media says we are "pricing ourselves out of our jobs." But in poor parts of the world labour is cheap, therefore they should have full employment, since according to capitalist theory they are not pricing themselves out of work. After the end of the Second World War there was full employment in Britain yet average wages were higher than Germany and France. In 1985, out of 18 developed countries Britain was 15th in the wages league yet had the highest unemployment. The US was highest in wages yet lower than Britain in unemployment. If workers price themselves out of employment them Britain should less unemployment than the other 14 countries above them in the wages league. Sweden has high wages and low unemployment; like Japan, it invests massively in industry, and has quality goods at low prices. But Britain relies on financial imperialism. Instead of investing capital at home, British capitalists invest in cheap labour abroad; the profits of which come back to British capitalists and not to British workers. With technology improving all the time, producing more goods with less labour should mean cheaper and more abundant goods and shorter working hours for everybody; not increased profits for the capitalists and more unemployment. But to be imperialists is a capitalist "human right"; the 5 percent of the British population who own 80 percent of the national wealth have the "right" to decide the employment prospects of the majority and to export their capital abroad. Saying that British workers price themselves out of work is solely a justification for British capitalists investing their capital abroad in order to increase their profits rather than invest it at home to provide jobs and quality British goods that everybody can buy at low prices like Sweden and Japan. One of the primary thrusts of the British labour movement should be against imperialism, which deprives them of work and exploits the poor abroad.

The capitalist politicians and media continually talk about our lack of "productivity." But how can there be a lack of productivity? Productivity has been constantly enormously increased over the last two centuries, yet the ratio of rich and poor has stayed the same. Productivity has increased from steam power in the last century to today's microchip computerised technology. The workers' productivity has increased from the days of steam to today's technology thousands of times. Yet the worker gets no further share in the value of what he produces in relation to the surplus value he produces for capitalists. Sure he has now had flushing toilets and free school milk and medical treatment and other additions to his standard of living, much of which was seen as necessary to keep a supply of healthy labour, and much of which is now being taken away again because a supply of healthy labour is surplus to capitalist requirements. But the capitalists in relation have far more wealth as a class, because it is they who have taken these vast increases in surplus value produced by the workers. There is no change in the relations between capitalist and worker, between capital and labour, between the world's capitalist class and the working class as a whole.

Will they please tell us what it is we are not producing enough of (other than more weapons and missiles)? If it is steel, textiles, or electrical products, then why have these industries and capital been removed to poor countries of the Third World?

Try these questions on your local MP and watch him trying to maintain his petulant composure while struggling for a useful and credible answer.

Classical economics of the mid 19th Century were based on the labour theory of value developed by Ricardo and Adam Smith. (Not to be confused with the Tory hi-jack of the now Right-Wing Adam Smith Institute).

But the theories of the classical economists were not yet complete. They weren't fully understood and so were not fully developed. The man who came to fully understand them was Karl Marx. However, this exposed the nature of capitalist exploitation. Bourgeois economists then immediately rejected the labour theory of value and dreamed up one idealistic theory after another. Now they prefer to dispense with a theory of value altogether; since pursuing such theories interferes with the exploitation of labour and the making of profit.

Bourgeois economic theories are all based not on any scientific analysis of reality but on arbitrary ideas. Ideas exist inside people's heads. This is very convenient for capitalism since it means that you can simply make up the rules as you play the game so that you always win. You can change ideas for other ones, one idealistic theory for another.

For instance, the capitalist idea that the value of a commodity, including labour, is determined by supply and demand simply means that you can play the game according to your own rules.

Supply and demand can be altered any time you like. If, for example, you want to increase the price of sugar of petrol, you simply create a high demand by stockpiling these products. If you wanted to reduce the price of labour you just lower the demand by increasing the supply by creating unemployment. If markets were flooded by releasing the over-produced goods onto the market the price of those goods would drop below their value and no profit would be made. To keep grain prices artificially high, farmers are paid to destroy the year's entire crop, and more likely to grow nothing at all.

Supply and demand can be manipulated completely in favour of whoever controls it and profits out of it.

All idealistic economic theories can be manipulated completely in favour of whoever controls the economy and profits out of it.


Supply and demand can certainly influence prices. If there is a sudden demand for a product its price temporarily increases. But then production increases until the demand is met and prices return to normal. Sometimes supply oversteps the mark, and for a time price falls below value. Supply and demand have this constant push-pull effect on prices; which means that goods are being sold continually above or below value. But on average, goods sell at their value. Ask any bourgeois theorist what determines price when supply and demand are equal and no longer have an effect on each other; when they cancel each other out. Ask him what determines the price, or value of a product then, and watch him struggle for an answer. Certainly supply and demand have effects on price but they cannot determine value. You cannot base a theory of value on supply and demand. For one thing; how do you measure it? What is the amount of demand, of being wanted, of being demanded embodied in a commodity? What determines value when supply and demand are equal? There can be only one answer: the law of exchange value determined by labour, the labour theory of value.

Labour is subject to the same laws as other commodities. The same laws that regulate the price of commodities also regulates the price of wages. E.G: Supply and demand - competition between buyers and sellers. An army of unemployed depresses wages. Certainty of profits creates a demand for labour and wages increase. But as with commodities, wages tend to fluctuate around their true value; which is the cost of maintaining and reproducing the working class. The law of value always asserts itself.

Supply and demand are not the natural phenomena that bourgeois theorists say they are. Supply and demand are extremely controllable by such things as advertising and productivity and levels of technology. You can slow down productivity and create a high demand, and you can speed it up and create a greater supply. But there are ridiculous contradictions in this as in the whole of capitalist production. Slowing down production creates higher demand and higher prices, but less is sold and less profits are made. To make more profits, capitalists speed up production, supply over-reaches demand, prices drop and so do profits; unless massive investments in technology speeds production so high that the rate of profit rises temporarily until the market is saturated again with over-production and markets fall again.

Also, a sudden demand is useless on its own. Where do the 'demanders' get the money to pay for the extra commodities they demand without producing something extra themselves in order to pay for it? Another demand would have to be found or created for the products of these new 'demanders' before they would even have the money to satisfy their own new demand.

Supply and demand can explain capitalist prices, and can go a little way towards indicating that a theory of value exists. For instance, when supply and demand are equal and have no effect on prices. But a consistent and useful theory of value could never be based on something as subjective and unstable as supply and demand.


How profit is made or where it comes from or more precisely who actually produces it are subjects not discussed in bourgeois economics, You will not see things like 'surplus value' mentioned in books on Economics. Bourgeois economics is not concerned with such things. That capital makes a profit for its owners and that these profits can be maximised to the greatest possible extent by every overt or subtle means is all they are concerned with.

Their first twisting of reality appears in their first precept - that capital produces wealth.

Only labour produces wealth in the final analysis, and the final analysis is what we are after.

Place a great heap of capital at the foot of a tree, and wait as long as you will, you will still not produce a chair. But place labour there, without one penny of capital, and you can have a house full of furniture in no time at all.

Profit, or more correctly, wealth can only come from labour. It does not come from capital.

Capitalist economists take great care not to reveal the true nature and amount of their profits by saying that the capitalist calculates all his costs - rent, wear and tear on plant and machinery, fuel and other fixed overheads, raw materials and wages, and then adds on a percentage for profit. But the value (determined by labour) of the rent, wear and tear, fuel and raw materials passes unchanged into the product since none of these commodities is capable of producing surplus value. When in fact it is only that part of his capital invested in labour, i.e: wages, that is capable of increasing its own value, or producing surplus value. Profits can only come from that part of his capital invested in labour.

Lets look at one or two examples of the misleading way in which capitalists, or bourgeois economists 'calculate' their profits.

A capitalist calculates that his outlay will be: £100 for overheads such as building rent and maintenance, wear and tear on plant and machinery, fuel bills etc. This is called his 'fixed capital', since none of these things actually pass into the product; they all remain 'fixed' in the factory; although, through use or wear and tear, that fraction of their original value used in production passes unchanged, and is embodied in part of the total value of the product; £200 for raw materials, the value of which also passes unchanged into the commodity; and £10 for wages; again, the value of which passes unchanged into the product. This makes a total cost of £310. He then adds £10 for his profit and says that his profit is 3-2% of his original £310 capital. But profit only comes from capital invested in labour. And since this was £10, and his profit was £10, this represents a profit of 100%.

Critics of Marxist economics allege that since Marx made his analysis in the early days of the capitalist industrial revolution, his theories no longer apply; further adding that the examples given by modern Marxist economists are too simplistic. But it is easier to use an example using simple figures; and the figures can be expanded to suit modern times without detracting from their validity.

So lets suppose a capitalist pays his worker £3 for a day consisting in twelve hours. In 12 hours the worker makes a commodity. According to capitalist classical economic theory the value of this commodity consists in raw materials £20; machinery etc £1, and labour £3. That is £24 for his commodity. But the capitalist calculates that he will get £27 for his commodity, or £3 more than the capital invested. So where does the extra £3 come from? Classical capitalist economics says that a commodity is sold at its value - the value of the labour contained in it. But the commodity is sold for £27 and this should be its value - the value of the labour contained in it. But £21 was already present in the raw materials - £20, and the means of production - £1. Yet £6 is added. Classical economics says that the £6 is added by labour. Twelve hours labour is £6. But the worker gets only £3. The employer has paid him the value of his labour - £3. So according to capitalist logic does labour have two values? For the worker it is only £3 and for the capitalist it is £6. It is true that commodities sell at their value, even labour. The value of the commodity is £27, the value added by the worker is £6, and the worker sells his labour to the capitalist at its value - £3. So why the contradiction? The secret is that the capitalist pays £3 to the worker but keeps the extra value created by labour over its price - the extra £3 - as his profit. That is: in 12 hours a value of £6 has been created, therefore in 6 hours a value of £3 has been created - the same value the worker gets for 12 hours. For 12 hours labour the worker gets only the value of 6 hours labour.

Classical bourgeois economics has the values of commodities, which even according to themselves sell at their value, including that of labour - defined as the value of the labour contained in it, mixed up. Marx saw that what the classical economists were looking at was not the cost of labour but the cost of the worker. We see again the labour theory of value. That what the worker sells is his labour power - his power to labour; and this is what the capitalist invests in since as we have seen, labour power is the only commodity which creates more value than its own cost value. As soon as the worker starts work his labour power ceases to belong to him; he makes it over to the capitalist. By entering into employment the worker agrees the price of his labour power and starts work. He creates umpteen times more than his means of subsistence - his wages. He is contracted to work 12 hours for the produce in wages of 6 hours labour.

All profits from all other forms of business originate from industrial profits; from capital invested in labour; from the surplus value extracted from the labour of the producer.

Profits from investments in banking, building societies, insurance, loans, finance or any other forms of interest, commerce, trading, buying and selling, rent, land etc. do not result from the creation of new values or new wealth. They can only arise from the redistribution or manipulation of values already created by human labour. The industrial capitalist is the initial appropriator of all surplus values; of all other profits.

Businessmen such as bankers, building societies, insurance companies, loan, finance or investment companies, the stock market, property companies that make their profits out of some form of interest, all invest their capital in human labour - industrial capital - somewhere along the line. You can put a million pounds into any form of finance house and wait for a million years; you will not get back a penny extra if that money is not invested somewhere else, somewhere other than another finance house. It must be invested in human labour somewhere along the line.

Obviously these businesses make a profit. And so do the customers who invest in them, even if they are working class people. So where does the profit come from? Insurance is a little different in parts; premiums are calculated to exceed payments. The working class who invests in finance or interest of some kind is only eventually making profit out of the labour of other workers; possibly even himself if the company invests in the industry he himself works for.

Hire purchase or loan companies also make their profits out of their customers. This is merely interest in reverse.


Wealth, or value, cannot be created by trading or commerce; by buying and selling. E.G: If Smith sells Jones cloth worth £40, and Jones sells Smith  machinery worth £50; together they still hold a total value of £90. No new value has been created. £40 has been exchanged for £50, that's all. £10 in value has been merely transferred from Jones to Smith, but £10 in new value has not been created since it already existed. Wealth is not created by traders. Their profits are neither made by selling goods above value or buying goods below value. If capitalists sold goods 10% above value, everything would remain the same; what each one would gain as a seller he would lose as a buyer. It would be merely raising the value of money by 10%, which is inflation. The same would be if buyers bought everything 10% below value.

Traders' profit is a share in the surplus value created by labour.

Trading - buying and selling, in other words, merchant capital, does not create any new wealth; it does not add any value to the product; it does not create any new surplus value. It only redivides or redistributes wealth or surplus value already created by the working class. The trader acts as an extension of the money grabbing hands of the industrial capitalist seeking to retrieve and renew his capital in order to exploit labour anew in the continuing process.

So in trading - mere buying and selling; or in usury - loan and interest bearing capital, or in land - rent capital, no human labour is involved; no value is added to the product; no surplus value is created. Profits made in this way do not create any new wealth; they do not result from the creation of surplus value, but result from a redistribution of surplus value already created in the commodities that this money represents. Remember; money only represents commodities, or labour power, so an increase in money, unless it is to be inflationary, can only represent an increase in commodities or labour power. Only labour power creates surplus value. Capital, or money, on its own, cannot increase its own value such as by interest on loans or finance capital or by buying and selling commodities. If the total amount of money in the world increased a million times without a corresponding, million times increase in the amount of commodities, it would merely represent grossly inflated money. If a bottle of wine passed through the hands of millions of buyers and sellers, each adding his profit to the price, it would merely become a grossly inflated, grossly overpriced bottle of wine. Interest of any kind, and buying and selling of any commodities, does not create any surplus value. A change in value cannot take place in money since it would merely be inflated money. And a change in value cannot take place in commodities since they would merely represent inflated or overpriced commodities. Neither of them can increase their value by themselves without the application of labour power to add more value to them. Except of course the commodity: labour power.

It is a mistake to believe that profit is made by selling goods above their value. This is impossible; since most business is done between capitalist and capitalist, and if they sold goods to each other by adding say 40p in the pound, the whole capitalist class would be cheating each other, and where one made a profit by adding value the other would make a loss. They would be cheating each other and the profits and losses would cancel each other out, leaving no general profit for the capitalist class. Profits cannot be made by selling goods above their value or buying them below value. Capitalists cannot make a profit by cheating each other.

Value cannot be added to something after its production. Surplus value cannot be created during the sale of a product. It can only be created, or added, during its production. And it can only be added by human labour.

Capitalists sometimes say that profit is what is left after deducting overheads from price and that price depends on what people are prepared to pay for a certain commodity; what the 'market' will stand - demand.

What kind of nonsense is that? What people are prepared to pay for a commodity might not even be enough to cover the capitalist's cost let alone a profit. And if he deducts overheads from price he must have had a price in the first place to be able to deduct from. Therefore he must work out his overheads - his costs, and add profit. The profit he adds, he determines from market forces - whatever he thinks he can get away with, according to competition. But the source of this profit is not in the fact that he has added on £10, but in the fact that he has not paid the worker the full value of his labour power.

Profits can only come from labour power. The whole capitalist class exists by consuming values created by the wage labourer's labour power. That is all profit is - consuming the product of someone else's labour.

The Organic Composition of Capital.

We have seen that all value; all profit; all wealth; all capital, arises originally from industrial capital - capital invested in human labour.

We will now see exactly how this industrial capital is invested and how the way in which it is invested determines the rate of profit and how there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall.

Industrial capital is actually invested in three things, only one of which produces profits, or new value, even though all three are originally the products of labour; profits having already been derived from two of them in previous transactions.

These three things are:

(1). The means of production - buildings, plant, machinery.

(2). Raw materials - either in primary form eg. iron ore; secondary or prepared form eg. steel bars; or as manufactured components eg. nuts and bolts, car clutches. And

(3). Human labour - wages.

However, capital comprises in four types as far as the capitalist is concerned, according to which part of, or how it is invested among, the three things above: means of production, raw materials, and labour. This is called the organic composition of capital.

The four types of capital are on the one side, fixed and circulating, and on the other, constant and variable.

These four types of capital are:

(1). Fixed Capital.

(2). Circulating capital.

(3). Constant Capital.

(4). Variable capital.

Fixed and circulating capital.

(1): Fixed capital:

Capital invested in the means of production - buildings, plant and machinery - the factory, is called "fixed capital." It is called fixed capital because it is tied up. It can lie idle but it cannot be transferred. It is not sold as part of the product in return for money or profit; it does not circulate.

However, although fixed capital does not circulate, its original value gradually passes into the total commodities produced in its lifetime. This is called depreciation and its cost is calculated according to the average life of such things as buildings, plant and machinery.

The value of fixed capital is used up gradually, it turns over very slowly, if at all. The value of fixed capital gradually passes unchanged into each commodity. No profit, no new value is created by fixed capital; it is not capable of increasing its own value.

(2): Circulating capital:

Capital invested in raw materials and wages is called "circulating capital." Its value is used up at once. Raw materials and labour are embodied in the product at once. The product comprises all the value of its raw material and labour.

Circulating capital turns over. The capitalist is free to either use it or transfer it.

It is called circulating capital because its value circulates. Its value passes completely into the product and is sold in one go, along with the product, in return for money of profit, which comes back to the capitalist at each sale. Profit comes from part of circulating capital; not from that part invested in raw materials, but that invested in labour.

Constant and variable capital.

Whilst capital invested in the three things necessary for production - means of production, raw materials, and labour, is either fixed or circulating, only part of it is capable of actually increasing its value. So we need to divide capital not only into that which is fixed or circulating but into that which increases value and that which does not. For this we need to draw another distinction; we need more definitions. We call these "constant capital" and "variable capital."

(3): Constant capital:

The capital invested in the means of production - the factory and machines, and in the raw materials and fuel, we call "constant capital." This is because its value passes unchanged into the product. It stays the same as it was. It does not increase its value; it does not make a profit. Profit has already been extracted from the sale of the buildings, plant, machinery and raw materials by their previous owner. And no more profit can be extracted from them in their existing form.

(4): Variable capital:

The capital invested in human labour - wages, is called "variable capital." This is because its value changes; it varies; it adds value to what already exists. Only variable is capable of increasing its value, since it is the only part of capital invested directly in human labour. Only variable capital is capable of producing a surplus over above its own value. This is expressed as: s/v; or surplus over value, or more correctly - "surplus over variable" capital.

The following shows the organic composition of capital in diagram form.

The capitalist way of determining profit, as we have already discussed, is to add his total capital - constant and variable, and compare the surplus he makes with the total.

EG: Surplus over constant and variable capital - S/C V.

This is called the rate of profit.

But as we have seen; profit does not come from constant capital. Buildings, plant and machinery cannot produce any surplus value; nor can raw materials. Only human labour can.

Profit can only come from variable capital. It is the surplus that labour produces. It is the rate of surplus value produced by labour over the capital invested in labour - variable capital.

EG: Surplus over variable capital - S/V.

This is called the rate of surplus value.

The way in which industrial capital is invested determines the capitalists' rate of profit. Different industries require capital to be invested in different ways. Capital intensive industries require more constant capital and less variable capital. Whilst labour intensive industries require more variable capital and less constant capital.

The rate of profit depends on three main things:

(1) The rate of surplus value.(S/V). This is where profit really comes from.

(2) The speed of turnover of circulating capital. Fixed and circulating capital turns over at different rates. The speed of turnover of circulating capital depends on productivity. This affects surplus value.

(3) The ratio between constant and variable capital. This is called the "organic composition" of capital; constant over variable, or C/V.

For the capitalist there are many contradictions in this organic composition of his capital, as there are throughout the whole of capitalism for all who live under it; which is why it is constantly having to be modified. But the individual capitalist doesn't have much control over these contradictions as we shall see.

The rate of profit depends on the speed of turnover of circulating capital. But this depends on productivity. Productivity means investing more in plant and machinery with new technology. But plant and machinery is fixed capital; it doesn't turn over; it doesn't circulate. And if it doesn't circulate it doesn't produce a surplus and the rate of profit drops.

Another contradiction here is that plant and machinery is also constant capital. But no surplus value comes from constant capital, which stays as it is, constant, not variable, not increasing value; a surplus only coming from variable capital. But the capitalist isn't aware of this because he has not looked at Marxism. He is not concerned with terms such as "surplus over variable." He only understands "surplus over constant and variable" and calculates accordingly and therefore incorrectly.

The capitalist prefers to buy more technology - plant and machinery - constant capital, and less labour - variable capital. But surplus value only comes from variable capital. Also, plant and machinery is fixed capital, but fixed capital doesn't circulate, and the rate of profit depends on the speed of turnover  of circulating capital.

The rate of profit also depends on the ratio between variable and constant capital - C/V - the organic composition of capital. If more is invested in constant than variable capital the organic composition is higher. It is this ratio that often causes capitalist crisis; since this ratio of constant to variable capital tends to increase, this means that the rate of profit has a tendency to fall. But the ratio of constant over variable is determined by what kind of industry it is - whether it is capital of labour intensive, and the level of technology.

Let us compare two examples where the total capital is £1,000 and surplus value (S/V) is 100 percent:

Firm A.........................Firm B.

Constant capital ..£700..........£600

Variable capital.. £300..........£400

Total invested.. £1,000........£1,000

S/V 100 percent....£300..........£400

Total S/V........£1,300........£1,400

Rate of profit. 30 percent.....40 percent

This ratio between constant and variable capital is a cause of capitalist crisis, because the ratio of constant to variable capital tends to increase and become top heavy and the rate of profit tends to fall.

This ratio, as we have seen, is determined by conditions of production; which the capitalist does not have full control over for the reasons we have already discussed.

Bourgeois economists often criticise this theory of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall by saying that is hasn't happened yet. That is; that capitalism has not yet collapsed because of it. They are not very good readers of the written word it seems; since Marxist theory states that this is a tendency and not necessarily a prediction. Marxism predicts nothing of the sort. However, it will be interesting to see when technology can no longer keep productivity racing ahead of this tendency of the rate of profit to fall, which, fortunately for capitalists, they have so far managed to do by creating slumps and recessions.

Capitalists spend more on technology and less on labour power, the source of surplus value, so the rate of profit falls. Capitalists try to combat this by forcing the worker to work faster and produce more surplus value above that of his own value.

One of the ways in which capitalists try to avert these effects is to revert to imperialism - export of capital to the Third World, where workers work for lower wages for longer hours, without unions - in Taiwan or the Philippines etc. where the worker works less for his own keep and more for the capitalist; wages average towards a subsistence level determined by social and geographical conditions. and when recession and unemployment comes, wages can be driven below subsistence level and surplus value thus increased; price of machinery can fall as a result of new technology; but this has a sting in its tail, since less is invested in labour power so less surplus value is imparted per unit of product; also under imperialism there is a cheapening of food and raw materials that make up the working class means of subsistence at the prevailing socially determined level; for example the English Corn Laws, after which cheap American corn reduced the cost of subsistence level of British workers.


I would suggest the following, more or less in the following order:

Initial beginners:

Beginners essential. An introduction and essential beginner readers in Marx:

The Communist Manifesto. Marx. Pamphlet. Penguin. .

Conditions of the English Working Class. Engels. Penguin.

Beginners essential. To fully and easily grasp Marxist economics:

Political Economy. John Eaton. Book. International Publishers NY 1966. and UK reprints.

Read this in conjunction with the following two pamphlets in their date order, since Marx fully formulated the essence between 1891 and 1898:

Wage Labour and Capital. Marx. Pamphlet.1891. Progress and UK reprints.

Wages Price and Profit. Marx. Pamphlet. 1898. Progress and UK reprints.

As you grasp the basics of economics, consult the following:

Engels on Marx's Capital. Pamphlet. Progress and UK reprints.

Capital vol 1. Marx. Progress and UK reprints. It's big and chewy, but you only need to pick your way through it to supplement understanding of the above economics books. There are three other volumes of Capital, useful perhaps if you intend to be a professor of Marxism.

On a scientific philosophy of philosophy itself, and science and economics:

Anti Duhring. Engels. Book. Progress and UK reprints.

The Dialectics of Nature. Engels. Book. Progress and UK reprints.

The above are the essentials for a comprehensive basic Marxist understanding and thinking in all areas of philosophy, nature and science.

For further reading and to consolidate the basics:

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Engels. Book. Foreign Languages Publishing House Moscow 1948. and UK reprints.

Other valid and reputable UK Marxist books include especially:


Communism and Philosophy. Contemporary dogmas and revisions of Marxism. Maurice Cornforth. Lawrence and Wishart. London. 1980.

Dialectical Materialism. An Introduction. Volume 1. Materialism and the Dialectical Method. Maurice Cornforth. Lawrence and Wishart. London. Printed 1952 through to 1987.

Dialectical Materialism. An Introduction. Volume 2. Historical Materialism. Maurice Cornforth. Lawrence and Wishart. London. Printed 1953 through to 1987.

Dialectical Materialism. An Introduction. Volume 3. Theory of Knowledge. Maurice Cornforth. Lawrence and Wishart. London. Printed 1954 through to 1987.


A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Marx. Book. Progress and UK reprints.  The Poverty of Philosophy. Marx. Book. Progress and UK reprints.

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Marx. Book. Progress and UK reprints.


Problems of Contemporary History. Rajani Palme Dutt. London.


Man Against Myth. Barrows Dunham. US and UK.

The best place to find these books are communist second hand book sales. These are sometimes advertised in the Morning Star.

You may also still find them new in Collets and other left bookshops in London.

Some may be in Foyles. And Dillons University Bookshop near London University off Mallet Street is a good bet.

You will find them all and more in the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, where Lenin studied in London.

If you persevere with that lot, especially the basics, I guarantee it will make a proper Marxist of you in a year if you are intellectually honest with yourself.

From Brian Mitchell.


"The most remarkable thing about the world is that you can understand it."

"They shouldn't be killing all the rhinos."
(Kylie Minogue when asked (during Apartheid) what she thought about the situation in South Africa.)

Einstein also said that the two most common elements in the universe are oxygen and stupidity.


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Attention Please !

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