Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wage Labor and Capitalism (Analysis 4)

The very moving and universal issue of immigrants being paid less than what they should be getting is illustrated in the documentary called “Made in La.” In this documentary, we see how immigrants are being forced to work in factories where they are exposed physically and mentally. These individuals don’t know how to speak English, therefore they are stuck working for factories that pay them cents for an item capitalists sell for $15 (surplus value). They are given no breaks for water or food and if they decide to complain they are fired, hence left with no other alternatives in which they are able to support their families and children. Karl Marx writes in explicate detail how Wage labor and Capital go hand in hand in his work titled “Wage Labor and Capital.” Marx defines wage labor as “the sum of money paid by the capitalists for a particular labor time or for a particular output of labor” (Marx 659).

However, in reality and in the core lies the mere fact that these people sell to the capitalist their labor power. The exchange value that is taking place is not considered to be an equal exchange, therefore considered cheap labor and a way in which the higher class takes advantage of the lower class.

The film named “The Devil Wears Prada” starring Anne Hathaway (Andy Sachs) and Meryl Streep (Miranda Priestly) brings into light the parallel issues of exposing workers in the fashion industry. However, this film as opposed to the documentary, glamorizes those who lack the means of production, hence are subject to it. The movie is about a magazine editor who has created her own fashion magazine empire by using those lower in class. The very first words that she utters to the new co-assistant that she has hired is “So, you don’t read runway? And before today, you have never heard of me?”This depicts how this particular industry, just like America as a whole, has its own language. A language that you are expected to know well in order to be considered anything but an instrument to the bourgeoisie production relation. Meryl’s character continues by saying “You have no style, no sense of fashion.” This is a translucent mirror to how Capitalism works. They sit you down, they observe your appearance, the color of your skin and judge you accordingly. As the movie progresses, we see the character of Anne Hathaway transform herself into a fashion inspired “individual” by allowing the ruling material force of society dominate the ruling intellectual force- which is meant to be a personal choice/force. Essentially we reach the idea that what we produce and how we produce it identifies us as people. In a country where Capitalism is so dominating, individualism has been lost and perished.
In conclusion, the Capitalism is nothing without the labor worker. If there is no worker there is no product. If there is no product there is no surplus value/ even exchange. When there is none of the things that Capitalism is primarily founded on, there are no people buying the products. All the precautions employers take with keeping their workers healthy goes back to square one- their economic status.

Works Cited
Marx, Karl. "Wage Labor and Capital." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan, MA: Blackwell Publisihing Ltd. 2004. 659-664. Print.

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