I’ve been spending several evenings a week slowly working my way through the three volumes of Capital. The following passage struck me an effective antidote to certain lines of Marxist thought that advance theories of working-class integration based on ideological consumption. It seems to me that Marx rightly points out that the capital relation will be reproduced provided the conditions that constitute such a relation continue, regardless of what workers consume as part of this process. I’m not making any grand claims here, and perhaps I’m not giving these theories their due, but I still thought I’d put this passage up since I reckon it should be used more in these sorts of conversations:
‘The individual consumption of the worker, whether it occurs inside or outside the workshop, inside or outside the labour process, remains an aspect of the production and reproduction of capital, just as the cleaning of machinery does, whether it is done during the labour or when intervals in that process permit. The fact that the worker performs acts of individual consumption in his own interest, and not to please the capitalist, is something entirely irrelevant to the matter. The consumption of food by a beast of burden does not become any less a necessary aspect of the production process because the beast enjoys what it eats. The maintenance and reproduction of the working class remains a necessary condition for the reproduction of capital. But the capitalist may safely leave this to the worker’s drives for self-preservation and propagation.’ Capital, Volume 1 p. 718.