Karl Marx “Capital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour” meaning

This quote, “Capital is dead labour, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks,” is from Karl Marx’s work “Capital, Volume 1” and it illustrates his theory of surplus value and his view on the exploitative nature of capitalism.

“Capital” refers to the means of production owned and controlled by capitalists – money, factories, tools, machinery, etc. Marx refers to capital as “dead labour” because he sees it as the product of past labour that is stored and accumulated.

The “vampire” metaphor is used to describe the relationship between capitalists and workers. In Marx’s view, just as a vampire sucks blood to stay alive, capital grows by extracting surplus value from workers’ labour. Workers, or the proletariat, are the “living labour” being exploited, as they receive wages less than the value they produce. The difference, or surplus value, goes to the capitalist.

The phrase “and lives the more, the more labour it sucks” emphasizes that the wealth and power of capital increase with the exploitation of more labour. According to Marx, under capitalism, the wealth of the capitalist class grows through this continued exploitation of the working class.

So in summary, Marx is critiquing capitalism as an economic system where the owners of capital grow wealthier by exploiting the labour of workers. The quote reflects Marx’s belief that this system inherently involves a class struggle between capitalists and workers

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