STUDY GUIDE

“Value, Price and Profit” by Karl Marx

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Introduction

What were the views of Weston on the general effects of wage increases?

What did Weston think the effect of trade union organizing would be on the other branches of industry? Why?

Chapter 1

Explain the theory of the wages fund. Is it Marxist or anti-Marxist? [follow up questions re: “fixed quantity of production” and “fixed fund for wages”- how Marx debunks this]

Why does Weston’s theory leave it to the “will of the capitalist” to determine the amount of wages paid?

Chapter 2

How does Marx complicate Weston’s “soup” analogy?

Define “rate of profit.”

Explain Weston’s theory that increased demand only increases prices. Does Marx refute this? How? If prices don’t rise with wages, what happens to the rate of profit?

How did the Ten Hour Bill affect the pool of available wages? Does this prove Weston right or wrong, according to Marx?

Chapter 3

[optional reading]

Chapter 4

What is the difference between the market price and the value of a commodity? How do supply and demand relate to each of these terms?

Chapter 5

Review concepts from first half of Chapter 2

Chapter 6

What is the common social substance of all commodities?

What is the difference between a product and a commodity?

How does one measure quantities of labor?

What determines the relative values of commodities?

Are wages the same as the value of labor? Why or why not? Do wages determine the value of a commodity? Why or why not?

Marx says that wages are limited by the values of products but that the values of products are not limited by wages. Explain or draw a picture.

How is the value of instruments of production measured? How does this contribute to the value of the commodity produced?

What is social labor? What is socially necessary labor time?

What two factors determine the productive power of labor?

How does the increased productive power of labor reduce the overall value of its product?

How do we calculate value?

What is the difference between “natural price” and “market price?”

How are profits derived? What is the relationship of profit to the real labor realized in a commodity?

Chapter 7

Bourgeois economists refer to previous or original accumulation, which Marx calls original expropriation. What does he mean?

What is the value of “laboring power?”

Marx says “the cry for equality of wages…rests upon a mistake.” Explain.

Chapter 8

What surplus value, surplus labor, and surplus produce?

Marx says the value of laboring power is different from the use of the laboring power, i.e., from the quantity of labor performed. Explain.

Describe what Marx means by “rate of surplus value”?

Chapter 9

What does Marx mean when he talks about the “value of labor”?

According to Marx, how is the value of labor power represented under capitalism, under slavery, and under feudalism?

Chapter 10

Marx says capitalists make a profit by selling a commodity at its real value. Explain by making diagram.

What does Marx mean when he writes that “The cost of the commodity to the capitalist and its real cost are different things.”

Chapter 11

What are the different parts into which surplus value is divided? (45)

What is the single relation upon which the capitalist system of production hinges? Explain.

Explain why Marx insists that it is false to say that surplus value is “composed of” industrial profit, rents, and interest.

What are the two ways of calculating rate of profit? What are the advantages of each?

Chapter 12

How do changes in the productive power of labor ultimately affect the price of the commodities produced?

Chapter 13

If the prices of necessities rise, what happens to the value of labor? Do wages automatically rise? What happens if they don’t?

Explain “reduction of relative wages” in the event of productivity increases with no change in real wages.

Explain how in prolonging the working day, even though paying higher wages, the capitalist is lowering the value of labor.

Why does Marx say that laborers must always struggle to increase wages as profit fluctuates?

Do struggles for increased wages lead or follow initial actions of capital? Why or why not?

Chapter 14

Describe the physical and social elements which form the value of labor power? What is meant by elastic limits?

Is there any law that determines minimum profits? Why or why not?

Why does Marx call for general political action on the part of the working class? Explain, using the example of the limitation of the working day.

What is meant by “machinery is in constant competition with labor”?

Does the relative increase of capital over labor tend to drive the value of labor up or down? Why or why not?

Why does Marx say that fighting for higher wages is fighting against effects, not causes?

Why is a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work”, a conservative motto?

What are the main failures of trade union work—what is the alternative?

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