Marx, Engels, and the idea of exploitation

Nature, Society, and Thought 10 (4):509--522 (1997)
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Abstract

Until the nineteenth century, the term 'exploitation' was used in its nonjudgmental, nonmoral sense. Early attempts to explain the character of exploitation of labor by industrial capitalism at first hinged upon lack of equality in the laborer-capitalist relation. The early attempts by Marx to deal with the concept of exploitation focused on the process of alienation. It was only after he introduced the labor-labor power distinction in the value-creating process that a proper theory of exploitation could emerge. With this distinction it became possible to identify a surplus that has no political, juridical, or moral home except through the appropriation of the capitalist.

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