Surplus population thesis

In March 1918, in effort to reform and modernise the Russian Empire (1721–1917) into a soviet republic , the Bolshevik government agreed to the strategically onerous, territorial cessions stipulated in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918), and Russia yielded to Germany much of the arable land of European Russia , the Baltic governorates , Belarus , Ukraine , and the Caucasus region. [22] Despite such an extensive geopolitical victory, tactical defeat in the Western Front, strategic over-extension, and factional division in government compelled Imperial Germany to abandon the eastern European Lebensraum gained with the Brest-Litovsk Treaty (33 per cent of arable land, 30 per cent of industry, and 90 per cent of the coal mines of Russia) in favour of the peace-terms of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), and yielded those Russian lands to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine.

However, surplus labour created by this process does not simply equate with surplus value that is realized as profit.  Rather, until redeployed again by capital, surplus labour is a surplus population (Marx, 1973, p. 399). Marx argues that as an effect of its quest for profitability in an environment of inter-firm competition, capital seeks both to maximize the number and the hours worked of the total population engaged in necessary labour and to reduce to a minimum such a population. As an employment process, the accumulation dynamic of capitalism thus alternately expels and redeploys labour.  By reducing the time taken to produce a constant bundle of commodities, equivalent to the value of labour power, capital increases the population that potentially can be deployed as necessary wage labour. Over the long term, this expulsion redeployment logic ‘spreads wage labour absolutely’ but not evenly or necessarily productively.

Surplus population thesis

surplus population thesis

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