- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Middle Class?

Posted by: Red Flooder ( Socialist party, Gross Britain ) on April 05, 1999 at 17:02:54:

OK, I said I'd dig this quote out:

"[18] The distinction between skilled and unskilled labour rests in part on pure illusion, or, to say the least, on distinctions that
have long since ceased to be real, and that survive only by virtue of a traditional convention; in part on the helpless condition of
some groups of the working-class, a condition that prevents themfrom exacting equally with the rest the value of their
labour-power. Accidental circumstances here play so great a part, that these two forms of labour sometimes change places.
Where, for instance, the physique of the working-class has deteriorated, and is, relatively speaking, exhausted, which in the
case in all countries with a well developed capitalist production, the lower forms of labour, which demand great expenditure of
muscle, are in general considered as skilled, compared with much more delicate forms of labour; the latter sink down to the
level of unskilled labour. Take as an example the labour of a bricklayer, which in England occupies a much higher level than that
of a damask-weaver. Again, although the labour of a fustian cutter demands great bodily exertion, and is at the same time
unhealthy, yet it counts only as unskilled labour. And then, we must not forget, that the so-called skilled labour does not occupy
a large space in the field of national labour. Laing estimates that in England (and Wales) the livelihood of 11,300,000 people
depends on unskilled labour. If from the total population of 18,000,000 living at the time when he wrote, we deduct 1,000,000
for the "genteel population," and 1,500,000 for paupers, vagrants, criminals, prostitutes, &c., and 4,650,000 who compose the
middle-class, there remain the above mentioned 11,000,000. But in his middle-class he includes people that live on the interest
of small investments, officials, men of letters, artists, schoolmasters and the like, and in order to swell the number he also
includes in these 4,650,000 the better paid portioti of the factory operatives! The bricklayers, too, figure amongst them. (S.
Laing: "National Distress," &c., London, 1844).
[Deathy's Emphasis] "The great class who have nothing to give for food but ordinary labour, are the
great bulk of the people." (James Mill, in art.:"Colony," Supplement to the Encyclop. Brit., 1831.)"

Karl Marx: Capital.

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