[Marxism] Clarifying the term "petty bourgeoisie"?

Rdkrnstdt at aol.com Rdkrnstdt at aol.com
Thu Aug 12 20:59:22 MDT 2004

"Masters are labourers as well as their journeymen. In this character their 
interest is precisely the same as their men.  But they are also either 
capitalists or agents of capitalists, and in this respect their interest is decidedly 
opposed to the interests of the workmen." Vol 3.  Chap XXIII. Footnote on p 
389 (International Publisher's 1973.)
“Of course he can, like his labourer, take to work himself, participate 
directly in the process of production, but he is then only a hybrid between 
capitalist and labourer, a ‘small master’.”  Vol. 1.  Chap XI.  p308 (1973.)
This is the petit-bourgeois:  at once, worker and capitalist.
This class is distinguished by and from the other class categories according 
to the formula for the value of its commodity.
Class                                                    Value of Commodity
Wage-Worker                                    v
Independent Worker[1]                                l + c (where l = v + s)
Petit-bourgeois                         l + c + v + s
Bourgeois                                             c + v + s
v = wage
l = labor 
c = constant capital
s = surplus-value
The petit-bourgeois is distinguished from the two classes of workers by the 
fact that hir exploits the labor of others (s); hir differentiates hirself from 
the capitalist in that hir adds value to the product in the form of hir’s own 

[1] Marx on the “Independent Worker”:  
"It will suffice merely to refer to certain intermediate forms, in which 
surplus-labour is not extorted by direct compulsion from the producer, nor the 
producer himself yet formally subjected to capital. In such forms capital has not 
yet acquired the direct control of the labour-process. By the side of 
independent producers who carry on their handicrafts and agriculture in the 
traditional old-fashioned way, there stands the usurer or the merchant…” Vol. 1.  Chap 
XVI.  p510.  (1973.)
"Mill might have gone further and have added, that the labourer who advances 
to himself not only the necessaries of life but also the means of production, 
is in reality nothing but his own wage-labourer."  Vol. 1.  Chap XVI.  p517.  
"For the understanding of the following discoveries of Wakefield, two 
preliminary remarks: We know that the means of production and subsistence, while they 
remain the property of the immediate producer, are not capital. They become 
capital only under circumstances in which they serve at the same time as means 
of exploitation and subjection of the laborer."  Vol 1.  Chap XXXIII.  p767.  
Or from Engels:  
“…it is supposed that the workers are in possession of their means of 
production, they they work on the average for equally long periods of time and with 
equal intensity, and exchange their commodities with one another directly. 
Then, in one day, two workers would have added by their labor an equal amount of 
new value to their products, but the product of each would have different 
value, depending on the labor already embodied in the means of production. This 
latter part of the value would represent the constant capital of capitalist 
economy, while that part of the newly-added value employed for the worker's means 
of subsistence would represent the variable capital, and the portion of the 
new value still remaining would represent the surplus-value, which in this case 
would belong to the worker. Thus, after deducting the amount to replace the 
"constant" part of value only advanced by them, both workers would get equal 
values; but the ratio of the part representing surplus-value to the value of the 
means of production -- which correspond to the capitalist rate of profit -- 
would be different in each case. But since each of them gets the value of the 
means of production replaced through the exchange, this would be a wholly 
immaterial circumstance.   Vol 3.  Supplement.  Pp895-6.

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