Capitalist cooperation

Capitalist cooperation . Work method in which many people participate, planned and together in the same work process or in different ones, but related to each other. Cooperation is a necessary condition of capitalist production.


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  • 1 Simple capitalist cooperation and manufacturing
    • 1 Simple cooperation
      • 1.1 The superiority of cooperation
    • 2 Capitalist manufacturing
      • 2.1 Emergence of manufacturing
      • 2.2 Forms of manufacturing
      • 2.3 Capitalist work at home
      • 2.4 The capitalist character of manufacturing
      • 2.5 Historical role of manufacturing
    • 2 Sources
    • 3 External links

Simple capitalist cooperation and manufacturing

The growth of labor productivity, on which the production of relative surplus value is based , is related to the three phases of development of capitalist production. These are simple cooperation, capitalist manufacturing, and large machine production.

Simple cooperation

The earliest capitalist companies, founded by wealthy merchants, usurers, teachers, and artisans, were generally the old craft workshops. But in it, under the command of the capitalists, salaried workers worked, those who were artisans.

Cooperation is the form of work in which many people participate, planned and jointly in the same work process or in different ones, but related to each other. Simple cooperation is the lowest form of cooperation. There is not yet a more or less permanent division of labor among workers, there being no specialization of labor in separate operations or in the elaboration of a specific article: all the workers carried out a homogeneous work,

Pre-capitalist modes of production were characterized by simple cooperation. In the primitive community, the men hunted and fished, they were engaged in agricultural work and livestock together. In ancient Rome the massive work of slaves in construction, latifundia and deposits. In the domains of feudal lords common work was applied, however simple cooperation has its economic-social peculiarities in capitalism , which differentiate it from previous types of cooperation. The first term is organized by the capitalist, the owner of capital, in order to obtain surplus value. Secondly, capitalist cooperation brings together salaried workers who are incorporated into the production process through the sale and purchase of labor power . Third, the capitalist directs joint work. Fourth, the product of cooperative labor belongs entirely to the capitalist who is the owner of the means of production. All this shows that simple capitalist cooperation constitutes a determined relation of production, a relation of capitalist production. Therefore, it is considered as a historical form of cooperation in general.

Capitalist cooperation appears to be contrary to the individual production of the simple producers of goods. Capitalist cooperation constitutes the absolute condition of the capitalist mode of production. Without it, simple mercantile production cannot be transformed into capitalist production. The first condition of capitalism is the transformation of the individual production of independent producers into capitalist production.

The proportions of the mass of surplus value that the capitalist appropriates are of enormous importance for the establishment and development of capitalist relations themselves. With low labor productivity, even the most ruthless exploitation of one, two, three, or more workers cannot prevent the capitalist from being forced to participate in manual labor along with the other workers.

The formation of the capitalist as an individual who exploits the work of others and lives entirely at the cost of the fruits of the work of others is, therefore, in direct relation to the number of salaried workers available to him. The occupation of many workers and the growth of their number in the company is a necessary condition for the operation of capitalist production, it is the internal law by which it is governed. With the same exploitation norm, the capitalist increases the mass of surplus value on account of the increase in the quantity of hired labor , on account of the increase in the proportions of the variable capital employed.

The employment of a larger number of workers requires a greater amount of variable capital. But the more workers there are, the more means of production are needed, and therefore more constant capital is also required. Therefore, the appearance of the capitalist workshop based on the cooperation of many workers, presupposes as a necessary premise the possession of a certain minimum capital by a certain person. “The holder of money or merchandise,” said Marx, “only becomes a true capitalist where the minimum sum spent on production far exceeds the maximum medieval rate.”

This minimum capital was formed in various ways. Among the teachers and artisans, those who made the most profits at the expense of exploited operators and apprentices, and also of their families, became more capitalists, on account of more favorable conditions of production, which allowed them to increase the productivity of labor. . The money capital accumulated by merchants and usurers played a very important role in the organization of the first capitalist workshops.

The superiority of cooperation

Through cooperation, the early capitalists achieved various advantages over small producers of goods. With the primitive manual work tools the difference between the workers was considerable. Thus, the labor investment of commodity producers could coincide only casually with the socially necessary labor time. With cooperation, the individual differences between workers cease to be of decisive importance. In general, in the production process itself, the work of the workers is close to the average of social work. Thus, the production and sale of capitalists’ goods depend less on chance factors than those of artisans. The main advantage of cooperation is that it creates a new productive force, a social productive force, not possessed by every worker, a force that exceeds the arithmetic sum of the performance of individual labor forces. It is the force of the mass of people, to which work processes are accessible, which cannot be carried out by a single person or can only be carried out in parts.

The cooperative force of labor contributes to raising the productivity of labor, and with it, to lowering the cost of goods per unit. Emulation also works in the same sense, which increases the work activity of each worker in the working conditions of many people. It also reduces the value of goods, the economy of means of production, which is achieved thanks to the joint use of these means.

The new productive force, generated by combined and joint labor, does not cost capital anything. The capitalist pays the worker his individual labor force , but he does not pay the combined labor force.

This new productive force manifests itself only in the labor process, that is, after the commodity of labor power ceases to belong to the worker and passes to the capitalist. For this reason, the productive force that the worker develops thanks to cooperation appears as the productive force of capital.

Capitalist manufacturing

Manufacturing is cooperation based on the division of labor. As a characteristic form of the capitalist production process, manufacturing prevailed in Western European countries from the mid- 16th century to the last third of the 18th century . At that time it is known as the manufacturing period of capitalism development.

Emergence of manufacturing

Manufacturing appears in two ways. In the first case, in a workshop, under the command of the capitalist, workers of heterogeneous and independent trades are grouped to produce a certain class of merchandise. Thus arose, for example, the manufacture of carriages. Until then, the carriage was the fruit of the work of a large number of independent artisans. The capitalist groups the work of all these artisans in a workshop and thanks to their joint work, manufacturing arises: cooperation with the division of labor. Gradually those who were independent craftsmen adapt to an operation in the production of a single kind of product, for example the carriage. The worker specializes in a single operation. For example the saddler deals with preparing the harness only for the carriage,

The second procedure for the emergence of manufacturing consists of the grouping by the capitalist in a common workshop of artisans of the same specialty with the consequent distribution of work among them. For example, prior to the grouping of artisans in the manufacture of pins, each of them performed all the operations necessary to make pins. In manufacturing, work was divided among them into partial operations, each of which was carried out by a worker: one stretched the wire, another straightened it, the third cut it, the fourth burnished it, etc. In the manufacture of pins, the wire passes through a few dozen workers. Gradually, each operation becomes exclusive to a certain worker. “From the individual product of an independent craftsman, who does it all, the merchandise becomes the social product of a community of artisans, each specialized in a different partial operation. ” WroteMarx .

In both the first and the second manufacturing training procedures, the specialization of man’s living work is carried out. Although the trade continues to be the technical basis of manufacturing, there are great differences between artisans and workers. While the artisan performs all of the product preparation work in its entirety, the manufacturing worker performs a partial operation of product preparation throughout his life. The manufacturing worker becomes, according to Marx’s expression, a partial worker.

The main feature of progress put into practice by manufacturing in the productive forces is the division of labor. With it begins the revolution in the technical base bequeathed in inheritance by artisan production and, consequently, the work tools of craftsmanship are perfected. By adapting work instruments to the individual functions of partial workers, manufacturing simplifies, improves and differentiates these instruments. The partial worker and his instrument form the fundamental elements of manufacturing.

Manufacturing forms

Manufacturing is divided by its internal structure into two fundamental forms: heterogeneous and organic. This double character of manufacturing is determined by the technology of production. the product is obtained by mechanically assembling the independent partial products (parts) or its finished shape is due to successive processes linked together (operations). In heterogeneous manufacturing, the division of labor among the workers is done by pieces, from which the finished product is obtained. In organic manufacturing, division of labor is done by operations.

Manufacture, mainly organic, increases labor productivity considerably, which is due above all to the cooperative form of work, which generates the social productive force. But in addition to simple cooperation, manufacturing through division of labor facilitates further increase in labor productivity. In the first place, the specialization of the workers in the execution of the same operations reduces the time that these require. Second, the time invested in moving from one operation to another and in changing tools is reduced. Third, specialization of tools is carried out in manufacturing, which makes them more effective.

Capitalist work at home

In addition to manufacturing, which arises through the direct and centralized cooperation of those who were artisans in the same workshop, there is another type of process of the emergence of capitalist relations in industry, the so-called dispersed manufacturing.

The appearance of such a type of manufacturing is closely related to the penetration of commercial capital into the small mercantile production of artisans and peasants. Initially, the wholesaler buys the items from the small producers of merchandise. If there is no one else to sell the goods to, the wholesaler takes advantage of its monopoly status and reduces purchase prices. Then he lends money to the small producer and to compensate himself for the debts, he takes the goods at very low prices. Later, when buying merchandise, the wholesaler does not pay moneythe producer, but imposes the acquisition of various goods at high prices. Then the wholesaler begins to pay the merchandise with the raw materials necessary for production, subjecting him definitively to his splint and displacing him from the market. Finally, the time comes when the wholesaler supplies raw materials to the small producer for the production of goods for a specified payment. In this way, the wholesaler de facto reduces the small independent producer to the status of a salaried worker, who produces foreign raw materials for a sum of money.agreed, and the wholesaler’s capital is transformed into industrial capital. As can be seen, there is no centralized labor cooperation here, but the economic relations that emerge show the existence of capitalist exploitation. There is also no capitalist manufacturing here, which concentrates the workers in a workshop. This is capitalist home work, which is later transformed into dispersed manufacturing.

Capitalist home work arises before manufacturing and actually plays the role of the first phase of its preparation. The merchant capitalist, in addition to distributing home work, often organizes a large workshop with salaried workers. Between this workshop and those who work at home, an original division of labor arises: the workshop is in charge of finishing the product of the small producers, or material is delivered to them for the execution of certain partial operations that figure in the general production process. of the given product.

Finally, the division of labor arises within the merchant’s large workshop. Classical centralized manufacturing appears, which presupposes the capitalist home work system.

Although capitalist home work arises before manufacturing, its mass spread dates back to the manufacturing phase of capitalist production development. Capitalist home work becomes the inevitable appendage of manufacturing. And that is not accidental. While manual labor dominated, the superiority of large production over small production was negligible. Therefore, small production continued to exist and multiply. Manufacturing itself contributed to this, dividing the work process into partial operations. The manufacturing capitalist very often continued to serve as a wholesaler and widely practiced home delivery. The owners of large companies had not only the work of the workers employed in their companies,

The capitalist character of manufacturing

It has been a long time since the social division of labor emerged. Such division was one of the causes of the disintegration of the primitive community and the appearance of private property and mercantile production. The social division of labor was the most general basis of capitalist mercantile production.

The division of labor in the workshop or the division of labor in manufacturing is a special manifestation of the social division of labor. Another of its varieties is the division of labor within society, that is, the breakdown of social production in large sectors and branches. While the division of labor in society preferably presupposes specialization in the production more than anything of finished or semi-finished products, the division of labor within the company presupposes the specialization of production by piece of articles or by operations. The division of labor in manufacturing is generated by capitalist production.

Between the division of labor in manufacturing and the division of labor throughout capitalist society there are great economic-social differences.

First, the division of labor throughout capitalist society forms the basis of market ties between commodity-producing capitalists, in whose commodities the global labor of the workers exploited by them is embodied. In manufacturing there are no market links between direct producers. The manufacturing worker does not produce the commodity in isolation . The merchandise is only the common product of many workers partial.

Second, in social production under capitalism the most complete anarchy dominates, spontaneous economic laws prevail, and there is no single centralized direction. On the contrary, the division of labor in manufacturing presupposes the unconditional unipersonal direction of the capitalist, his authoritarian power in the labor process within the framework of the company or group of companies.

Third, the proportions between the various parts of social production under capitalism are casual, they are only a moment in the mass of infractions and deviations, a moment of disproportion. In manufacturing, the arrangement of the various links of the production mechanism, the distribution of labor by operations, by jobs, is subject to the “iron law” of proportions. Those proportions are fixed by conscious acts of the capitalist, that is, planned.

The division of labor in manufacturing has a strong capitalist character. The increase in labor productivity achieved in manufacturing leads to a reduction in the value of the labor force. The same result provides a reduction in the training of the partial worker. Thus, manufacturing constitutes a specific form of production of relative surplus value.

As manufacturing production develops, the power of capital over labor increases. The partial worker, who is capable of carrying out only one or the other operation, but does not fully master the trade, is unable to work outside the capitalist enterprise. This worker is forced to sell his labor power not only because he has no means of production but also because he alone cannot create finished goods. The manufacturing worker now functions only as an appendix to the capitalist’s workshop.

Capitalist manufacturing sharply deepens the opposition between manual labor and intellectual labor. The division of labor in manufacturing leads the intellectual force of commodity production to oppose the workers as a foreign force that dominates them. By performing the same operation over and over again that does not need intellectual tension, the partial worker is deprived of creative imagination and stimulation for work. It is only up to him to do manual labor of one kind.

Characterizing the division of labor in capitalist manufacturing, Marx wrote: “… Although on the one hand it represents historical progress and a necessary stage in the economic progress of society, on the other hand it is a means of civilized and refined exploitation.”

Historical role of manufacturing

As a form of capitalist production, manufacturing favored the development of the productive forces and the increase in the productivity of social work. In the manufacturing stage, on the basis of the successive growth of the division of social labor and the development of capitalist relations, the internal market grew considerably. The capitalist entrepreneurs of the city and the countryside demanded means of production to enlarge the existing companies and build others. The increase in the proletariat’s contingent was accompanied by an increase in the demand for the goods that constituted the means of existence of the workers. All this expanded the internal market and accelerated the development of capitalism .

However, manufacturing was not in a position to encompass social production in all its volume and to transform it, since the technical basis of manufacturing remained the same production as small producers. For this reason, manufacturing stood out only as an original superstructure over the production of small merchandise producers.

As capitalism continued to develop, manufacturing as a form of capitalist production turned out to be insufficient. Although manufacturing divided the workers into prepared and unprepared, the number of the latter was limited due to the preponderant importance of the former, of which they had been artisans.

The manufacturing division of labor offered greater possibilities to exploit the work of women and children, although thanks to the resistance of adult workers it remained limited. Since artisanal trades were the basis of manufacturing, capital did not succeed in completely subordinating the workers, especially the prepared, who still had the possibility of abandoning the capitalist and becoming independent producers. On the basis of manual production, capital could not be completely subordinated to labor. All this limited the action of the law of surplus value . Manufacturing as a stage in the production of relative surplus value was disappearing. “Upon reaching – expressed Marx- a certain degree of development, her own narrow technical base, made herself incompatible with the needs of the production that she herself had created. ”

Manufacturing arose on the basis of manual labor, craftsman. And to some degree it transformed this base, creating the partial worker and the specialized tools, but the qualitative level of the material and technical base of production remained the same. Therefore, in the manufacturing period, capitalist production still could not achieve a determining superiority in the level of labor productivity compared to the previous modes of production. This explains the fact that in the manufacturing period capitalist production had not yet become the predominant form of social production, since it was going through a certain phase of intrauterine development and was only one type of economy of feudal society.

The historical role of manufacturing is that it prepared the necessary conditions for the transition to machined production. Thus, important premises for the appearance of the machine were created thanks to the specialization of the working instruments and their adaptation to perform certain operations. In addition, thanks to the prolonged specialization of the workers in the execution of certain operations, the manufacture of specialized workers for the mechanized industry.


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