# After you’ve carefully read through Karl Marx’s “The Working Day” and reviewed the passages on Marx in Chapter 16, please write an essay in response to the question below.

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After you’ve carefully read through Karl Marx’s “The Working Day” and reviewed the passages on Marx in Chapter 16, please write an essay in response to the question below.
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THE LIMITS OF THE WORKING-DAY
We started with the supposition that labour-power is bought
and sold at its value. Its value, like that of all other commodities,
is determined by the working-time necessary to its production. If
the production of the average daily means of subsistence of the
labourer takes up 6 hours, he must work, on the average, 6 hours
every day, to produce his daily labour-power, or to reproduce the
value received as the result of its sale. The necessary part of his
working-day amounts to 6 hours, and is, therefore, caeteris
paribus [other things being equal], a given quantity. But with
this, the extent of the working-day itself is not yet given.
Let us assume that the line AB represents the length of the
necessary working-time, say 6 hours. If the labour be prolonged
1, 3, or 6 hours beyond AB, we have 3 other lines:
Working-day I.
Working-day II.
Working-day III.
ABC.
ABC.
ABC.
representing 3 different working-days of 7, 9, and 12 hours.
The extension BC of the line AB represents the length of
the surplus-labour. As the working-day is AB + BC or
AC, it varies with the variable quantity BC. Since A
B is constant, the ratio of BC to AB can always be
calculated. In working-day I, it is 1/6, in working-day II, 3/6, in
working day III 6/6 of AB. Since further the ratio (surplus
working-time)/(necessary working-time), determines the rate of
the surplus-value, the latter is given by the ratio of B-C to A
-B. It amounts in the 3 different working-days respectively to 16
2/3, 50 and 100 per cent. On the other hand, the rate of surplusvalue alone would not give us the extent of the working-day. If
this rate,e.g., were 100 per cent., the working-day might be of 8,
10, 12, or more hours. It would indicate that the 2 constituent
parts of the working-day, necessary-labour and surplus-labour
time, were equal in extent, but not how long each of these two
constituent parts was.
The working-day is thus not a constant, but a variable quantity.
One of its parts, certainly, is determined by the working-time
required for the reproduction of the labour-power of the labourer
himself. But its total amount varies with the duration of the
surplus-labour. The working-day is, therefore, determinable, but
is, per se, indeterminate. [1]
Although the working-day is not a fixed, but a fluent quantity,
it can, on the other hand, only vary within certain limits. The
minimum limit is, however, not determinable; of course, if we
make the extension line B-C or the surplus-labour = 0, we have
a minimum limit, i.e., the part of the day which the labourer must
necessarily work for his own maintenance. On the basis of
capitalist production, however, this necessary labour can form a
part only of the working-day; the working-day itself can never be
reduced to this minimum. On the other hand, the working-day
has a maximum limit. It cannot be prolonged beyond a certain
point. This maximum limit is conditioned by two things. First, by
the physical bounds of labour-power. Within the 24 hours of the
natural day a man can expend only a definite quantity of his vital
force. A horse, in like manner, can only work from day to day, 8
hours. During part of the day this force must rest, sleep; during
another part the man has to satisfy other physical needs, to feed,
wash, and clothe himself. Besides these purely physical
limitations, the extension of the working-day encounters moral
ones. The labourer needs time for satisfying his intellectual and
social wants, the extent and number of which are conditioned by
the general state of social advancement. The variation of the
working-day fluctuates, therefore, within physical and social
bounds. But both these limiting conditions are of a very elastic
nature, and allow the greatest latitude. So we find working-days
of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 hours, i.e., of the most different lengths.
The capitalist has bought the labour-power at its day-rate. To
him its use-value belongs during one working-day. He has thus
acquired the right to make the labourer work for him during one
day. But, what is a working-day? [2]
At all events, less than a natural day. By how much? The
capitalist has his own views of this ultima Thule [the outermost
limit], the necessary limit of the working-day. As capitalist, he is
only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital
has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and
surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of
production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surpluslabour. [3]
Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking
living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The
time during which the labourer works, is the time during which
the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of
him. [4]
If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he
robs the capitalist. [5]
The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the exchange
of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get the greatest
possible benefit out of the use-value of his commodity. Suddenly
the voice of the labourer, which had been stifled in the storm and
stress of the process of production, rises:
The commodity that I have sold to you differs from the crowd
of other commodities, in that its use creates value, and a value
greater than its own. That is why you bought it. That which on
your side appears a spontaneous expansion of capital, is on mine
extra expenditure of labour-power. You and I know on the
market only one law, that of the exchange of commodities. And
the consumption of the commodity belongs not to the seller who
parts with it, but to the buyer, who acquires it. To you, therefore,
belongs the use of my daily labour-power. But by means of the
price that you pay for it each day, I must be able to reproduce it
daily, and to sell it again. Apart from natural exhaustion through
age, &c., I must be able on the morrow to work with the same
normal amount of force, health and freshness as to-day. You
preach to me constantly the gospel of saving and abstinence.
Good! I will, like a sensible saving owner, husband my sole
wealth, labour-power, and abstain from all foolish waste of it. I
will each day spend, set in motion, put into action only as much
of it as is compatible with its normal duration, and healthy
development. By an unlimited extension of the working-day, you
may in one day use up a quantity of labour-power greater than I
can restore in three. What you gain in labour I lose in substance.
The use of my labour-power and the spoliation of it are quite
different things. If the average time that (doing a reasonable
amount of work) an average labourer can live, is 30 years, the
value of my labour-power, which you pay me from day to day is
1/(365×30) or 1/10950 of its total value. But if you consume it in
10 years, you pay me daily 1/10950 instead of 1/3650 of its total
value, i.e., only 1/3 of its daily value, and you rob me, therefore,
every day of 2/3 of the value of my commodity. You pay me for
one days labour-power, whilst you use that of 3 days. That is
against our contract and the law of exchanges. I demand,
therefore, a working-day of normal length, and I demand it
without any appeal to your heart, for in money matters sentiment
is out of place. You may be a model citizen, perhaps a member
of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and in
the odour of sanctity to boot; but the thing that you represent face
to face with me has no heart in its breast. That which seems to
throb there is my own heart-beating. I demand the normal
working-day because I, like every other seller, demand the value
of my commodity. [6]

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