Chapter Three – Communism, Karl Marx

Marx Exercises


Part 1

How is capitalism different since Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifesto? How is capitalism the same? Explain changes, if any, to the appropriation of surplus value. Refer to the course material: Basic definitions of Marxist terminology.

Part 2

It has been said that Marx admired capitalism. At the same time, Marx delivered a demolishing blow to the basis of the capitalist mode of production.  Find quotes from the Communist Manifesto (or other works by Marx) that show his admiration and his condemnation of capitalism.

Part 3

In the Second Chapter of the Communist Manifesto, what does Marx mean by private property? What kind of property does he think should be abolished and why? Finally, drawing on the first chapter, how does this connect with his ultimate goal of a society without classes?

Part 4

The setting is a cotton T shirt factory in Virginia. The factory buys cotton and linen cloth and workers are employed to make T-shirts. Discuss the following:

a) According to Marx, who is generating value and how?

b) How are profit and surplus value connected?

c) What mechanisms do workers use to minimize the extraction of surplus value and take home more money?

e) Why would this corporation open another T-shirt making factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh? How would it affect the factory workers in Virginia?

Part 5

 A – Mary at Facebook, makes 150,000 a year, full benefits (retirement funds, health care, gym membership, etc)

B – John at McDonalds, makes minimum wage, no benefits

C – Eli at The Workers Coop, makes 30,000 a year, no benefits

Of the three people above, who has surplus value extracted?



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