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Home Blog The mechanism of exploitation

The mechanism of exploitation

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Marx was much concerned with the notion of exploitation, which he regarded as inherent to Capitalism. But the only people who can exploit other people's labour are landowners. They can even exploit owners of capital, properly defined. (that is one of the defects of Marx, he lumps land and capital together and calls them both capital). The situation is understandable with this parable.

Twelve people arrive on a fertile island. Under a pile of stones on the highest point on the island, they find a chest with the title deeds to all the land on the island. They share it out equally between them. An hour later, another boat arrives and the passengers disembark. They have no alternative but to accept whatever labour contract the first arrivals will offer. Or they can starve. The fact that they might have brought with them capital in the form of machines or domestic animals matters little.

So far as I am aware, Marx does not postulate this situation, which lies at the root of all exploitative situations.


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