This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The separation of ownership from work

Chronologically, as well as logically, this inversion of the relationship between capital and labor is preceded by another more subtle development. In order for capital and labor to be placed in opposition, they first must become distinct. For example, the man who owns his own shop and works from within it as its proprietor could never conceive of his activity as a duality of “capital and labor.” For him such an antimony does not exist. In order for the capital-labor duality to come into existence, he must assume one of the roles and abdicate the other. For example, he may transition into the role of an owner who pays employees to run his business instead of running it himself. In such a case, he limits his role to that of proprietor of the establishment (capital) and hires wage-workers (labor) for the day to day maintenance of the place, filling orders, keeping shop, etc. Now and only now do we begin to see the two parties mentioned above—one representing capital and the other labor.

Further, because capitalism takes competition as a positive force in its theory, it exacerbates this division. Thus, we find Leo XIII lamenting the fact that “the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”[1] Here are sown the seeds of concentration, inequality and strife.

[1] RN, 3.

Share This