Monday, 7 May 2012
Marx on having Chinese wages in Europe
"Labour is one-third cheaper in France than in England; for their poor work hard, and fare hard, as to their food and clothing. Their chief diet is bread, fruit, herbs, roots, and dried fish; for they very seldom eat flesh; and when wheat is dear, they eat very little bread."  "To which may be added," our essayist goes on, "that their drink is either water or other small liquors, so that they spend very little money.... These things are very difficult to be brought about; but they are not impracticable, since they have been effected both in France and in Holland."  (Capital I, chap. 24) And the footnote amplifies:  Today, thanks to the competition on the world-market, established since then, we have advanced much further. "If China," says Mr. Stapleton, M.P., to his constituents, "should become a great manufacturing country, I do not see how the manufacturing population of Europe could sustain the contest without descending to the level of their competitors." (Times, Sept. 3, 1873, p. 8.) The wished-for goal of English capital is no longer Continental wages but Chinese.