"The Capitalist System" by Mikhail Bakunin



this audio production was made in collaboration with audible anarchist the capitalist system by Mikhail Bakunin is it necessary to repeat here the irrefutable arguments of socialism which no booj wah economist has yet succeeded in disproving what is property what is capital in their present form for the capitalist and the property owner they mean the power and the right guaranteed by the state to live without working and since neither property nor capital produces anything we're not fertilized by labour that means the power and the right to live by exploiting the work of someone else the right to exploit the work of those who possess neither property nor capital and thus who are forced to sell their productive power to the lucky owners of both note that I have left out of account altogether the following question in what way did property and capital ever fall into the hands of their present owners this is a question which when envisaged from the points of view of history logic and justice cannot be answered in any other way but one which would serve as an indictment against the present owners I shall therefore confine myself here to the statement that property owners and capitalists in as much as they live not by their own productive labor but by getting land rent house rent interest upon their capital or by speculation on land buildings in capital or by the commercial and industrial exploitation of the manual labor of the proletariat all live at the expense of the proletariat speculation and exploitation no doubt also constitute a sort of labor but altogether non-productive labor I know only too well that this mode of life is highly esteemed in all civilised countries that it is expressly internally protected by all the states and that the states religions and all the juridical laws both criminal and civil and all the political governments monarchies and republican with their immense judicial and police apparatuses and their standing armies have no other mission but to consecrate and protect such practices in the presence of these powerful and respectable authorities I cannot even permit myself to ask whether this mode of life is legitimate from the point of view of human justice Liberty human equality and fraternity I simply asked myself under such conditions our fraternity inequality possible between the exploiter and the exploited our justice and freedom possible for the exploited let us even suppose as it is being maintained by the bourgeois economist and with them all the lawyers all the worshipers and believers in the juridical right all the priests of the civil and criminal code let us suppose this economic relationship between the exploiter and the exploited is altogether legitimate that it is the inevitable consequence the product of an eternal indestructible social law yet still it will always be true that exploitation precludes Brotherhood and equality it goes without saying that it precludes economic equality suppose I am your worker and you are my employer if I offer my labor at the lowest price if I consent to have you live off my labor it is certainly not because of devotion or brotherly love for you and Nobu's wanama stood dare say that it was however idyllic and naive their reasoning becomes when they begin to speak about reciprocal affections and mutual relations which should exist between employers and employees no I do it because my family and I would starve to death if I did not work for an employer thus I am forced to sell you my labor at the lowest possible price and I am forced to do it by the threat of hunger but the economists tell us the property owners the capitalist the employers are likewise forced to seek out and purchase the labor of the proletariat yes it is true they are forced to do it but not in the same measure had there been equality between those who offer their labor and those who purchase it between the necessity of selling one's labor and the necessity of buying it the slavery and misery of the proletariat would not exist but then there would be neither capitalists nor property owners nor the proletariat nor rich nor poor there would be only workers it is precisely because such equality does not exist that we have and are bound to have exploiters this equality does not exist because in modern society where wealth is produced by the intervention of capital paying wages to labor the growth of the population outstrips the growth of production which results in the supply of labour necessarily surpassing the demand and leading to a relative sinking of the level of wages production thus constituted monopolized exploited by budva capital is pushed on the one hand by the mutual competition of the capitalist to concentrate ever more in the hands of an ever diminishing number of powerful capitalists or in the hands of joint stock companies which owing to the merger of their capital are more powerful than the biggest isolated capitalists and the small and medium-sized capitalists not being able to produce at the same price as the big capitalists naturally succumb in the deadly struggle on the other hand all enterprises are forced by the same competition to sell their products at the lowest possible price capitalist monopolies can attain this twofold result only by forcing out an ever growing number of small or medium sized capitalists speculators merchants or industrialists from the world of exploiters into the world of the exploited proletariat and at the same time squeezing out ever greater savings from the wages of the same proletariat on the other hand the mass of the proletariat growing as a result of the general increase of the population which as we know not even poverty can stop effectively and through the increasing proletarianization of the petty bourgeoisie ex owners capitalist merchants and industrialists growing as I have said at a much more rapid rate than the productive capacities of an economy that is exploited by bourgeois capital this growing mass of the proletariat is placed in a condition wherein the workers are forced into disastrous competition against one another for since they possess no other means of existence but their own manual labor they are driven by the fear of seeing themselves replaced by others to sell it at the lowest price this tendency of the workers or rather the necessity to which they are condemned by their own poverty combined with the tendency of the employers to sell the products of their workers and consequently by their labor at the lowest price constantly reproduces and consolidates the poverty of the proletariat since he finds himself in a state of poverty the worker is compelled to sell his labor for almost nothing and because he sells that product for almost nothing he sinks into even greater poverty yes greater misery indeed for in this galley slave labour the productive force of the workers abused ruthlessly exploited excessively wasted and underfed is rapidly used up and once used up what can be its value on the market of what Worth is the sole commodity which he possesses and upon the daily sale of which he depends for a livelihood nothing and then then nothing is left for the worker but to die what in a given country is the lowest possible wage it is the price of that which is considered by the proletarians of that country is absolutely necessary to keep oneself alive all the bougie autonomous are in agreement on this point turgeau who saw fit to call himself the virtuous minister of louis xvi and really was an honest man said quote the simple worker who owns nothing more than his hands has nothing else to sell than his labour he sells it more or less expensively but its price whether high or low does not depend on him alone he depends on an agreement with whoever will pay for his labor the employer pays as little as possible when given the choice between a great number of workers the employer prefers the one who works cheap the workers are then forced to lower their price in competition against the other in all types of labor it necessarily follows that the salary of the worker is limited to what is necessary for survival unquote be say the true father of budva economists in France also said quote wages are much higher when more demand exists for labor and less is offered and are lowered accordingly when more labor is offered and less demanded it is the relation between supply and demand which regulates the price of this merchandise called the workers labor as are regulated all other public services when wages rise a little higher than the price necessary for the workers families to maintain themselves their children multiply and a larger supply soon develops in proportion with the greater demand when on the contrary the demand for workers is less than the quantity of people offering to work their gains decline back to the price necessary for the class to maintain itself at the same number the families more burdened with children disappear from then forward the supply of labor declines and with less labor being offered the price rises in such a way it is difficult for the wages of the laborer to rise above or fall below the price necessary to maintain the class the workers the proletariat in the number required unquote after citing Turgot and JB san prudent cries quote the price as compared to the value in real social economy is something essentially mobile consequently essentially variable and that in its variations it is not regulated more than the bike it is not regulated more than by the concurrence let us not forget that is turgot and Sant agree has the necessary effect not to give to wages to the worker more than enough to barely prevent death by starvation and maintain the class in the numbers needed unquote the current price of primary necessities constitutes the prevailing constant level above which the workers wages can never rise for a very long time but beneath which they drop very often which constantly results in an initial sickness and death until a sufficient number of workers disappear to equalize again the supply of and demand for labour what the economists call equalized supply and demand does not constitute real equality between those who offer their labor for sale and those who purchase it suppose that I a manufacturer need a hundred workers and that exactly a hundred workers present themselves in the market only 104 more came the supply would exceed demand resulting in lower wages but since only 100 appear in since I the manufacturer need only that number neither more nor less it would seem at first that complete equality was established that supply and demand being equal in number they should likewise be equal in other respects does it follow that the workers can demand from me a wage and conditions of work assuring them of a truly free dignified and human existence not at all if I grant them those conditions and those wages I the capitalists shall not gain thereby any more than they will but then why should I have to plague myself and become ruined by offering them the profits of my capital if I want to work myself as workers do I will invest my capital somewhere else wherever I can get the highest interest and will offer my labor for sale to some capitalist just as my workers do if profiting by the powerful initiative afforded me by my capital I ask those hundred workers to fertilize that capital with their labor it is not because of my sympathy for their sufferings nor because of a spirit of justice nor because of a love for humanity the capitalists are by no means philanthropist they would be ruined if they practiced philanthropy it is because I hope to draw from the labor of the workers sufficient profit to be able to live comfortably even richly while at the same time increasing my capital and all that without having to work myself of course I shall work too but my work will be of an altogether different kind and I will be remunerated at a much higher rate than the workers it will not be the work of production but that of administration and exploitation but is an administrative work also productive work no doubt it is for lacking a good and an intelligent administration manual labour will not produce anything or it will produce very little and very badly but from the point of view of justice and the needs of production itself is not at all necessary that this work should be monopolized in my hands nor above all that I should be compensated at a rate so much higher than manual labor the cooperative associations already have proven that workers are quite capable of administering industrial enterprises that it can be done by workers elected from minced and who received the same wage therefore if I concentrate in my hands the administrative power it is not because the interests of production demanded but in order to serve my own needs the ends of exploitation as the absolute boss of my establishment I get from my labor ten or twenty times more than my workers get for theirs and this is true despite the fact that my labor is incomparably less painful than theirs but the capitalist the business owner runs risks they say while the worker risks nothing this is not true because when seen from his side all the disadvantages are on the part of the worker the business owner can conduct his affairs poorly he can be wiped out in a bad deal or be a victim of a commercial crisis or by an unforeseen catastrophe in a word he can ruin himself this is true but does ruin mean for the booj wha point of view to be reduced to the same level of misery as those who die of hunger or to be forced among the ranks of the common laborers this so rarely happens that we might as well say never afterwards it is rare that the capitalist does not retain something despite the appearance of ruin nowadays all bankruptcies are more or less fraudulent but if absolutely nothing is saved there are always family ties and social relations who with help from the business skill learned which they passed their children permit them to get positions for themselves and their children in the higher ranks of labour in management to be a state functionary to be an executive in a commercial or industrial business to end up although dependent with an income superior to what they paid to their former workers the risks of the worker are infinitely greater after all if the establishment in which he is employed goes bankrupt he must go several days and sometimes several weeks without work and for him it is more than ruined it is death because he eats every day what he earns the savings of the workers are fairy tales invented by Buju economist to lull their weak sentiment of justice the remorse that is awakened by chance in the bosom of their class this ridiculous and hateful myth will never soothe the anguish of the worker he knows the expense of satisfying the daily needs of his large family if he had savings he would not send his poor children from the age of six wither away to grow weak to be murdered physically and morally in the factories where they are forced to work night and day a working day of 12 and 14 hours if it happens sometimes that the worker makes a small savings it is quickly consumed by the inevitable periods of unemployment which often cruelly interrupts his work as well as by the unforeseen accidents and illnesses which befall his family the accidents and illnesses that can overtake him constitute a risk that makes all the risk of the employer nothing in comparison because for the worker debilitating illness can destroy his productive ability his labor power overall prolonged illness is the most terrible bankruptcy a bankruptcy that means for him and his children hunger and death I know full well that under these conditions that if I were a capitalist who needs a hundred workers to fertilize my capital that on employing these workers all the advantages are for me all the disadvantages for them I propose nothing more nor less than to exploit them and if you wish me to be sincere about it and promise to guard me well I will tell them quote look my children I have some capital which by itself cannot produce anything because a dead thing cannot produce anything I have nothing productive without labor as it goes I cannot benefit from consuming it unproductively since having consumed it I would be left with nothing but thanks to the social and political institutions which rule over us and are all in my favour in the existing economy my capital is supposed to be producer as well it earns me interest from whom this interest must be taken and it must be from someone since in reality by itself it produces absolutely nothing this is not concern you is enough for you to know that it renders interest alone this interest is insufficient to cover my expenses I am NOT an ordinary man as you I cannot be nor do I want to be content with little I want to live to inhabit a beautiful house to eat and drink well to ride in a carriage to maintain a good appearance in short to have all the good things in life I also want to give a good education to my children to make them into gentlemen and send them away to study and afterwards having become much more educated than you they can dominate you one day as I dominate you too and as education alone is not enough I want to give them a grand inheritance so that divided between them they will be left almost as rich as I consequently because all the good things in life I want to give myself I also want to increase my capital how will I achieve this goal armed with this capital I propose to exploit you I propose that you permit me to exploit you you will work and I will collect and appropriate and sell for my own behalf the product of your labor without giving you more than a portion which is absolutely necessary to keep you from dying of hunger today so that at the end of tomorrow you will still work for me in the same conditions and when you have been exhausted I will throw you out and replace you with others know it well I will pay you with salary as small as imposed on you a working day as long working conditions as severe as despotic as harsh as possible not from wickedness not from a motive of hatred towards you nor an intent to do you harm but from the love of wealth and to get rich quick because the less I pay you and the more you work the more I gain unquote that is what is said implicitly by every capitalist every industrialists every business owner every employer who demands the labor power of the workers they hire but since supply and demand are equal why do the workers accept the conditions laid down by the employer if the capitalist stands in just as great a need of employing the workers as the 100 workers do of being employed by him does it not follow that both sides are in an equal position do not both meet at the market as to equal merchants from the juridical point of view at least one bringing a commodity called a daily wage to be exchanged for the daily labor of the worker on the basis of so many hours per day and the other bringing his own labor as his commodity to be exchanged for the wage offered by the capitalist since in our supposition the demand is for a hundred workers and the supply is likewise that of a hundred persons it may seem that both sides are in equal position of course nothing of the kind is true what is it that brings the capitalists to the market it is the urge to get rich to increase his capital to gratify his ambitions and social vanities to be able to indulge in all conceivable pleasures and what brings the worker to the market hunger the necessity of eating today and tomorrow thus while being equal from the point of juridical fiction the capitalist and the worker are anything but equal from the point of view of the economic situation which is the real situation the capitalist is not threatened by hunger when he comes to the market he knows very well that if he does not find today the workers for whom he is looking he will still have enough to eat for quite a long time owing to the capital of which he is the happy possessor if the workers whom he meets in the market present demands which seem excessive to him because far from enabling him to increase his wealth and improve even more his economic position those proposals and conditions might I do not say equalized but bring the economic position of the workers somewhat close to his own what does he do in that case he turns down those proposals and waits after all he was not impelled by an urgent necessity but by a desire to improve his position which compared to that of the workers is already quite comfortable and so he can wait and he will wait for business experience has taught him that the resistance of the workers who possessing neither capital nor comfort nor any savings to speak of are presented by a relentless necessity by hunger that this resistance cannot last very long and that finally he will be able to find the hundred workers for whom he is looking for they will be forced to accept the conditions which he finds it profitable to impose upon them if they refuse others will come who will be only too happy to accept such conditions that is how things are done daily with the knowledge and in full view of everyone if as a consequence of the particular circumstances that constantly influence the market the branch of Industry in which he planned at first to employ his capital does not offer all the advantages that he had hoped then he will shift his capital elsewhere thus the budva capitalist is not tied by nature to any specific industry but tends to invest as it is called by the economist exploit is what we say indifferently in all possible industries let's suppose finally that learning of some industrial incapacity or misfortune he decides not to invest in any industry well he will buy stocks and annuities and if the interest and dividends seem insufficient then he will engage in some occupation or shall we say sell his labor for a time but in conditions much more lucrative than he had offered to his own workers the capitalists then comes to the market in the capacity if not of an absolutely free agent at least that of an infinitely freer agent than the worker what happens in the market is a meeting between a drive for lucre and starvation between master and slave juridically they are both equal but economically the worker is the serf of the capitalist even before the market transaction has been concluded whereby the worker sells his person and his liberty for a given time the worker is in the position of a serf because this terrible threat of starvation which daily hangs over his head and over his family will force him to accept any conditions imposed by the gainful calculations of the capitalist the industrialist the employer and once the contract has been negotiated the serfdom of the workers is doubly increased or to put it better before the contract has been negotiated goaded by hunger he is only potentially a serf after it is negotiated he becomes a serf in fact because what merchandise has he sold to his employer it is his labor his personal services the productive forces of his body mind and spirit that are found in him and are inseparable from his person it is therefore himself from then on the employer will watch over him either directly or by means of overseers every day during working hours and under controlled conditions the employer will be the owner of his actions and movements when he is told do this the worker is obligated to do it or he is told go there he must go is he not what is called a serf Karl Marx the illustrious leader of German communism justly observed in his magnificent work Das Kapital that if the contract freely entered into by the vendors of money in the form of wages and the vendors of their labor that is between the employer and the workers were concluded not for a definite and limited term only but for one's whole life it would constitute real slavery concluded for a term only and reserving to the worker the right to quit his employer this contract constitutes a sort of voluntary and transitory serfdom yes transitory and voluntary from the juridical point of view but no wise from the point of view of economic possibility the worker always has the right to leave his employer but has he the means to do so and if he does quit him is it in order to lead a free existence in which he will have no master but himself no he does it in order to sell himself to another employer he is driven to it by the same hunger which forced him to sell himself to the first employer thus the workers Liberty so much exalted by the economist juris and Buchwald Republicans is only a theoretical freedom lacking any means for it's possible realization and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty and utter falsehood the truth is that the whole life of the worker is simply a continuous and dismaying succession of terms of serfdom voluntary from the juridical point of view but compulsory in the economic sense broken up by momentarily brief interludes of freedom accompanied by starvation in other words it is real slavery this slavery manifests itself daily in all kinds of ways apart from the vexations and oppressive conditions of the contract which turned the worker into a subordinate a passive and obedient servant and the employer into a nearly absolute master apart from all that it is well known that there is hardly an industrial enterprise wherein the owner impelled on the one hand by the twofold instinct of an unappeasable lust for profits and absolute power and on the other hand profiting by the economic dependence of the worker does not set aside the term stipulated in the contract and ring some additional concessions in his favour now he will demand more hours of work that is over and above those stipulated in the contract now he will cut down wages on some pretext now he will impose arbitrary fines or he will treat the workers harshly rudely and insolently but one may say in that case the worker can quit easier said than done at times the worker receives part of his wages in advance or his wife or children may be sick or perhaps his work is poorly paid throughout this particular industry other employers may be paying even less than his own employer and after quitting his job he may not even be able to find another one and to remain without a job spells death for him and his family in addition there is an understanding among all employers and all of them resemble one another all are almost equally irritating unjust and harsh is this calumny no it is the nature of things and in the logical necessity of the relationship existing between the employers and their workers this has been a production of audible anarchist you can find more audible anarchist on YouTube you




Comments
  1. I mean this literally could have been written yesterday, with minor jargon adjustments and no one would be able to tell it was written over 100 years ago 😬

  2. I can't believe you've started the video about a great man making excuses for his language and way of sharing his ideas.

  3. Man and the State (which remained unfinished) is pretty good. Chomsky likes Bakunin and has noted how little Bakunin is read today. Unsurprising.

  4. Bakunin was dead right about capitalism and dead right about Marxism. He more or less prophesied the key political battlegrounds of 20th century. Quite extraordinary.

  5. Just wait until the owners replace the worker on every level with the machine.

    Eventually the machine will replace even the owner.

  6. It's ironic that the modern anarchist has a love of capitalism and any time I have tried to inform them of its exploitive tendencies they scoffed at it, yet here is a founding anarchist who is clearly saying just that. I was not familiar with Bakunin but am becoming intrigued ever more of him.

  7. In our time artificial intelligence and automation are making the workers obsolete. Things are bound to get worse for the "non-wealthy." AI, bio-tech and automation make most humans useless to the wealthy.

  8. This is hilarious living in the modern era. This guy was worrying about "workers" starving to death, now "workers" are all over weight. What an archaic philosophy.

  9. The USA is mainly a gulag for our predatory totalitarian warfare/police state. Bakunin was lucky to pre-date the nuclear, persistent toxic environmental pollution, and 5G era. "Bourgeois capital" has disappeared down the insatiable maw of multi-national finance and the word "catastrophe" now has to encompass the very extinction of human existence.

  10. You do know that Marx and Bakunin didn't have the best friendship in fact Bakunin called Marx out for being a hypocrite.

  11. During their days : Marx , Lenin, bucanin , nevsti and others felt for the serfs workers, etc .. the exploitation oppression was quite obvious and rebellion natural … today it’s worse because the serf has a smartphone and can express his frustration on fb and tweet … fighting monsters that seek to take away our toys more money is spent on war machines during peace … isn’t that strange ? Nazi germany and it’s grand war machine was defeated in 5 years …. while jungle militia like todays sand savages continue to defy defeat and conquest for decades??? But reading about these guys is considered outdated irrelevant and insane because the representatives of their work writing lost !!

  12. I agree, I also think that we hairless monkeys tend to make stupid monkey hierarchies in any complex social systems

  13. bla bla bla and then you look at the ACTUAL numbers and FACTS and see the 19th century was the most impressive jump in living conditions in human history for the countries in which the free market was allowed to operate and government was minimal, like the US.
    and today, we again see that capitalist countries with minimal governments like in hong kong and singapore do the best in terms of delivering their people with the highest quality of life.

  14. I wish bakunin's anarchism was more popular to day(leaving aside his anti semitism of course). I love conquest of bread and all but i think bakunin's collectivism seems immediately more attainable and there are too many crypto tankies in the ancom community.

  15. Like modern USA that's been brutally exploited and all the companies now to moved to China leaving USA empty

  16. A much dark, raw version of Marx; no utopia, no Hegelian dialectics: just a self-substaining represive un-human system brought up (thought up) directly out of a pragmatic utilitarianism and description of economical forces, rather than the marxist historical, semiotic, religious causes of capitalism. One can clearly see why Marx came thru as the prefered philosopher: the poetical, profetical and slight mystical haze of the Manifesto (literally) beats the crap out of the raw reality of this writing,, tho Bakunin does school Marx in other ways, ie. concrete asertions and description of reality

  17. Thank you for reading this in a human voice, not an electronic one. A major question: How does Bakunin differ from Marx?

  18. they pit corporatist vs corporatist and use the fear of a loss of an illusion of meaningless freedom, all while you toil your life away at the lowest acceptable wage while we elect a man who has literally made his grotesque abundance off the back of the common man to the highest office.

  19. Interesting video and ideas but , and I know its rude to say it, they need a new reader. He sounds like a boy.

  20. I play a game where I resell Items currency (generated in game) is destroyed as I buy and resell items. I make a profit while doing this. now some people would think that this is exploiting the person selling the item and making profit on their work. but I am sitting at a computer the same as they are I take risks with my money to buy those items. they generate them for free. I offer the service of them being able to instantly sell their items.
    Are they exploiting me? Because its hard to make the case that I exploit them when all I did was ask to buy an item.

  21. I'm interested in anarchism. Can someone link me a nice yt vid of an interview /speech/ discussion/debate with a living proponent of the movement? Thanks

  22. This channel is a godsend, omg, I have dyslexia and little time to sit down, but I can listen to audio at my work, so this really is the best thing I could have found in my life right now. Thank you all so much for putting in the work to provide this for people like me who can’t sit down and read these works 🌹

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