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9. The Time of Surplus Labour or Relative Surplus-Value

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Chapter Summary

Relative surplus-value can be distinguished from absolute surplus-value by the modalities governing the increase of surplus labour time. Labour in capitalism has always been co-operative, namely, several workers, subjected to the authority of the same master, working together with a common aim. The co-operative form of labour is at the origin of two types of saving of labour time that need to be briefly examined, for they have played a considerable role in the development of capitalism. Firstly, with regard to the saving of labour time one notes the economies of scale in constant capital. Secondly, co-operation gives rise to a saving of labour time due to the spatial simultaneity of the productive tasks. Since working time and its control are the main issue in the factory, the discipline of the barracks is imposed and a system of officers and non-commissioned officers becomes the vital cog of this clock-making system.

Keywords: absolute surplus-value; clock-making system; relative surplus-value; simple co-operation; surplus labour time

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