Precarity

More notes on Capital:

Marx’s word is ‘prekärer’ Capital Vol 1 LW640, also LW707– and when the trades unionist and the precarious are not on good terms, precarity throws, for example, Irish families from the gaity of hearth into ‘hotbeds of vice’ (LW707). He mentions those ruined Ludford women again. Sickness and death among the ‘troglodytes working on the Lewisham to Sevenoaks railway line’ (LW664-5) while Millwall, Greenwich and Deptford are in utter distress and destitution (LW668), there are more kids on opium – the godfrey’s cordial stocks running low (LW695). The parson and gentlefolk seem ‘frit to death’ (LW691) at this scene. All labour is of course precarious, depending upon how ‘frit’ the labourers can make the bosses.

At this point that Marx describes how worker recognition that precarity is a condition determined by their predicament in capitalism is key (D669. P793) Precarity is the condition of having been ‘set free’ of old ties to community and possession. So that Marx writes, with more than a hint of grim optimism:

‘as soon as the workers learn the secret of why it happens that the more they work, the more alien wealth they produce, and that the more the productivity of their labour increases, the more does their very function as a means for the valourization of capital become precarious: as soon as they discover that the degree of intensity of the competition amongst themselves depends wholly upon the pressure of the relative surplus population; as soon as by setting up trade unions etc., they try and organize planned cooperation between the employed and unemployed in order to obviate or to weaken the ruinous effects of this natural law of capitalist production on their class, so soon does capital and its sycophant, political economy, cry out at the infringement of the ‘eternal’ and so to speak ‘sacred’ law of supply and demand. Every combination between employed and unemployed disturbs the ‘pure’ action of this law’ (P793-4 D669)

The next move is to the colonies. Where violence is used instead of a reserve army. (Reference also to Sancho).

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