[OPE-L] workers' needs, civilising moment, contemporary power of capital

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2006 - 11:38:44 EDT

I think Jurriaan or Jerry asked about this quote from the grundrisse
(vintage, 287):

Incidentally -- in so far as the whole thing is not a hypocritical
phrase of bourgeois 'philanthropy', which consists in fobbing the
worker off with 'pious wishes' -- each capitalist does demand that
his workers should save, but only his own, because they
stand towards him as workers; but by no means the remaining world of
workers, for these stand towards him as consumers. In
spite of all 'pious' speeches he therefore searches for means to spur
them on to consumption, to give his wares new charms, to
inspire them with new needs by constant chatter etc. It is precisely
this side of the relation of capital and labour which is an
essential civilizing moment, and on which the historic justification,
but also the contemporary power of capital rests.
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
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