More notes related to this thing. Marx says that what capitalists do is spend money to buy materials of various sorts and to hire people to work with those materials. The workers make goods and/or perform services that the capitalist owns. In general, capitalists sell those goods/services for more than what they spent in materials and wages. The difference between the sale price of the product and capitalist’s cost is called surplus value. The operating principle of the capitalist system is for capitalists to spend money in order to make more money, on and on in a spiral. And they way they make money is by making us work. Their wealth comes from our labor, so in an important way we pay our own wages – minus deductions for the capitalist.

The systematic priority of making more money makes capitalists basically indifferent to other issues than making more money. Of course, individual capitalists may care a great deal about this or that idea or cause, but the main priority has to be spending money to make money. That’s what the system rewards – people who do that more and better are rewarded with more money, which allows them to do that even more. Capitalism as a system is basically indifferent to values other than the continual flow of wealth to those who already have it. More than that, the logic of the capitalist system limits peoples lives in various ways, and can only do so. Those of us who value other things than the rich getting richer, which is basically everyone who is not a capitalist, find our lives in conflict with this systemic indifference to and limitation upon our lives.

Conflicts around the ways capitalism limits our lives often involve things that would raise costs for capitalists – safer workplaces cost more money than unsafe ones, higher wages cost more than lower ones – and of course many of us want to end capitalist altogether. It’s important to note that while these conflicts involve struggle over where the wealth extracted from workers go – how much ends up for the capitalist’s use, how much gets used up as a cost of production, how much goes to workers – but much of workers’ struggles are not motivated simply by demand for a greater share of the pool of surplus labor. Capitalists’ priority of spending money to make more money is different from workers’ wanting money and other things that often cost capitalists money. Capitalists are about the endless pursuit of wealth. Workers are about all kinds of things, for better and for worse. Because workers struggles involve costs to capitalists, it’s easy to think that that’s the goal, that all workers want is a share of economic wealth, narrowly defined. That’s a mistake.