Anyone well read in Marx? - Printable Version

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Anyone well read in Marx? - Odin - Thu, 03 Jan 2019 20:42:18 +0000

There is something which stuck in my head that I read many years ago. It was either Zerzan or Bob Black who wrote something which included the line 'Marx thought age 9 was a good time to start work'.

At the time when I read it many years ago, it sounded strange. So I looked it up. I remember it took me a long time to find it at my local university library, but I eventually found it in one of the volumes of Letters to Engels (I think?), but I'm not sure. When I read the context it wasn't exactly a devastating critique of Marx's view on child labor, since he also advocated for much better working conditions and shorter hours for working children. So I didn't dwell on it, but I did make a mental note of the fact that Marx was in principle still okay with the idea of child labor.

Over the years I had forgotten about it until recently when it came up in a discussion I was having with someone on a youtube channel. Now they are demanding a source.

So I went back through Zerzan's works and Bob Black's works to try and find the original source where I first read it, but I can't find it anywhere in either of their writings. I thought for sure I had read it in Zerzan's The Practical Marx, but it wasn't there. Maybe it was in an article in AJODA? On the other hand, I'm not about to go through Marx's entire collected works to try and find it again.

If anyone on here is well read in Marx and could point me in the right direction where Marx would have mentioned this, and exposed his belief in child labor, I'd be grateful for a reference.


RE: Anyone well read in Marx? - Odin - Tue, 08 Jan 2019 06:18:37 +0000

Found it.

Marx on child labour:

Critique of the Gotha Programme:

"A general prohibition of child labor is incompatible with the existence of large-scale industry and hence an empty, pious wish. Its realization -- if it were possible -- would be reactionary, since, with a strict regulation of the working time according to the different age groups and other safety measures for the protection of children, an early combination of productive labor with education is one of the most potent means for the transformation of present-day society. "

International Workingmen’s Association 1868 - Speech:

"Another consequence of the use of machinery was to force women and children into the factory. The woman has thus become an active agent in our social production. Formerly female and children’s labour was carried on within the family circle. I do not say that it is wrong that women and children should participate in our social production. I think every child above the age of nine ought to be employed at productive labour a portion of its time, but the way in which they are made to work under existing circumstances is abominable."

"In the Geneva Resolution, they proposed that the labour of children between 9 and 12 be restricted to 2 hours a day, that of 13 to 15 year olds to 4 hours, and that of 16 and 17 year olds to 6. No parent and no employer should be allowed to use juvenile labour except when combined with education."

Lol...Marx was not against child labour itself, he merely wanted the conditions to improve! He thought that children should be productively employed, even in industrial factories, starting at age 9, as long as it were for no longer than 2 hours per day, and in conjunction with school education. Marx thought this was more 'realistic' as well as strategic (for breaking capitalism's dominance over the process of development) than abolishing child labour outright.