Following a thread from the last post and the one before it and this. I only have a moment, so more brief notes.

Among other things we can see in chapter ten of Capital v1, especially beginning from section 3, a discussion of overconsumption of labor power.

In section 5 Marx writes that “Capital cares nothing for the length of life of labour-power. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power, that can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility. The capitalistic mode of production (essentially the production of surplus-value, the absorption of surplus-labour), produces thus, with the extension of the working-day, not only the deterioration of human labour-power by robbing it of its normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and death of this labour-power itself. It extends the labourer’s time of production during a given period by shortening his actual life-time.”

This is one direction which capitalism points in. Another is a regulated work day, because “the value of the labour-power includes the value of the commodities necessary for the reproduction of the worker, or for the keeping up of the working-class. If then the unnatural extension of the working-day, that capital necessarily strives after in its unmeasured passion for self-expansion, shortens the length of life of the individual labourer, and therefore the duration of his labour-power, the forces used up have to be replaced at a more rapid rate and the sum of the expenses for the reproduction of labour-power will be greater; just as in a machine the part of its value to be reproduced every day is greater the more rapidly the machine is worn out. It would seem therefore that the interest capital itself points in the direction of a normal working-day.”

The goal in either case is not the good of the workers or those cast aside. Social reproduction subjected to capitalism. The laws and statutes are a way to extend capitalist planning beyond the work place (see these old notes on Panzieri and Dunayevksaya). The autonomists’ social factory is quite old.

Likewise pieces of chapter 15 contain discussions of social reproduction, like section 3. Marx’s remark about “[t]he moral degradation caused by the capitalistic exploitation of women and children” (like “[b]y the excessive addition of women and children to the ranks of the workers, machinery at last breaks down the resistance which the male operatives in the manufacturing period continued to oppose to the despotism of capital”) has always made me raise an eyebrow, but I think we can here at the very least see Marx discussing, tangentially, specific family arrangements as systems of/for social reproduction, which are revised as more people enter the labor market.

And section 9 of course, about workplace health and safety.

See also these old notes and some of the comments, including a reference to Capital v3 ch5, section 2, “Savings In Labour Conditions At The Expense Of The Labourers” for more on industrial accidents.

Advertisements