Chris Rock’s Neo-Marxist View of Minimum Wage

facebook_1423479685331_resizedIn my classical theory class we just finished reading excerpts from three of Karl Marx’s most (in)famous works: the Paris Manuscripts, Capital, and the Communist Manifesto.

Marx confidently predicted that the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system would lead to its downfall, as economic crises would get progressively worse over time, making clear to workers their real conditions and leading them to revolt against their oppressors.

For Marx, because the state always acted in the narrow interests of the capitalist class, workers would not see the state as looking out for their interests. One thing Marx did not foresee, however, is various more aggressive interventions by the government to keep economic crises from happening and to mitigate their negative effects when they do. Or the entire system of social provision in which the state redistributes by law resources from the capitalist class to the working class. A.k.a., the social welfare state.

Whether this just amounts to the state having the long-term interests of the capitalist class in mind — saving the capitalist class from its own short-sightedness — is a question for another time. But I thought of this issue when the graphic above appeared on my Facebook timeline.

Like Chris Rock, Marx held that it was in the interest of the capitalist class to keep wages as low as possible, since wages paid are negatively related to profits. But the state intervened to mandate a legal minimum wage, to the short-term detriment but the long term profit of business.

Published by David Yamane

Sociologist at Wake Forest U, student of gun culture, tennis player, racket stringer (MRT), whisk(e)y drinker, bow-tie wearer, father, husband. Not necessarily in that order.

One thought on “Chris Rock’s Neo-Marxist View of Minimum Wage

  1. If Congress doesn’t want unemployed people to be tempted to stay at home for a $15 an hour unemployment benefit, they should require employers to compete against that price for labor.
    The fact that every employer from mom and pop to McDonald’s believes that they’re so entitled to profit that they deserve poverty-wage labor indicates how near we are to slavery.
    A big difference is that it used to cost a lot to obtain a slave. Today, a worker is just 7.25 an hour, so there’s no longer even an incentive to keep them alive.

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