Does it really matter whether the workers are robbed as consumers or as producers?


Does it really matter whether the workers
are robbed as consumers or as producers?
VOL. 110 NO. 7



It matters very much. First, workers ARE robbed as producers. Apart from a few exceptional instances of cheating, they are NOT robbed as consumers. Workers who take a dollar to the grocery store normally get a dollar's worth of groceries in exchange. They get the same amount of groceries for their dollar that the capitalists, who are also consumers, get for theirs.

On the whole, workers are not cheated as buyers of merchandise. They are cheated as producers of merchandise. Marxian science demonstrates that when the workers sell their labor power to the capitalists they receive a wage that amounts to only a fraction of the value of the new wealth their labor creates. The cheating, the legal robbing of the workers, consists of the capitalists' appropriating the workers' products and paying them only a fraction of the value of these products in wages.

It is important for other reasons that the workers understand that they are robbed as producers. As Arnold Petersen, a former national secretary of the SLP, once put it in some correspondence on this question:

"The fact is that the workers are robbed at the point of production. The robbery of the working class by the capitalist class is a CLASS act. As a CLASS (exclusive of all other layers in society) the workers are robbed as wealth PRODUCERS. As a CLASS they must organize on class lines to abolish the robber system, capitalism."

Petersen went on to say that it is important for the workers to understand that they have no interests in common with the capitalist class and its various reformers. Yet, if the workers were robbed as consumers, they would have interests in common with everyone, since everyone is obviously a consumer.

If the workers are deluded into thinking they are robbed as consumers they inevitably become victims of reforms and reformers, and the real robbery -- the robbery at the point of production -- goes on unabated. On the other hand, when the workers understand how and where they are robbed, the solution is clearly indicated. It is not reform, but revolution, the complete abolition of capitalism with its wage system and exploitation.