Thus, some Cypriots have saved in every way for capital, not for themselves.

An individual worker can be industrious above the average, more than he has to be in order to live as a worker, only because another lies below the average, is lazier; he can save only because and if another wastes. The most he can achieve on the average with his self-denial is to be able better to endure the fluctuations of prices — high and low, their cycle — that is, he can only distribute his consumption better, but never attain wealth. And that is actually what the capitalists demand. The workers should save enough at the times when business is good to be able more or less to live in the bad times, to endure short time or the lowering of wages. (The wage would then fall even lower.) That is, the demand that they should always hold to a minimum of life’s pleasures and make crises easier to bear for the capitalists etc. Maintain themselves as pure labouring machines and as far as possible pay their own wear and tear. Quite apart from the sheer brutalization to which this would lead — and such a brutalization itself would make it impossible even to strive for wealth in general form, as money, stockpiled money — (and the worker’s participation in the higher, even cultural satisfactions, the agitation for his own interests, newspaper subscriptions, attending lectures, educating his children, developing his taste etc., his only share of civilization which distinguishes him from the slave, is economically only possible by widening the sphere of his pleasures at the times when business is good, where saving is to a certain degree possible), [apart from this,] he would, if he saved his money in a properly ascetic manner and thus heaped up premiums for the lumpen proletariat, pickpockets etc., who would increase in proportion with the demand, he could conserve savings — if they surpass the piggy-bank amounts of the official savings banks, which pay him a minimum of interest, so that the capitalists can strike high interest rates out of his savings, or the state eats them up, thereby merely increasing the power of his enemies and his own dependence — conserve his savings and make them fruitful only by putting them into banks etc., so that, afterwards, in times of crisis he loses his deposits, after having in times of prosperity foregone all life’s pleasures in order to increase the power of capital; thus has saved in every way for capital, not for himself.

-Karl Marx,  Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, pp. 286-7.


About Christos Hadjioannou
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