General Tendencies of Capitalism. Capitalist production and banking speculation, which in the long run swallows up this production, must ceaselessly expand at the expense of the smaller speculative and productive enterprises devoured by them; they must become the sole monopolies, universal and world-embracing.1
Competition in the economic field destroys and swallows up the small and even medium-sized capitalist enterprises, factories, land estates, and commercial houses for the benefit of huge capital holdings, industrial enterprises, and mercantile firms.2
Growing Concentration of Wealth. This wealth is exclusive and every day it tends to become increasingly so by concentrating in the hands of an ever smaller number of persons and by throwing the lower stratum of the middle class, the petty bourgeoisie, into the ranks of the proletariat, so that the development of this wealth is directly related to the growing poverty  of the masses of workers. Hence it follows that the gulf separating the lucky and privileged minority from the millions of workers who maintain tlus minority through their own labor is ever widening and that the luckier the exploiters of labor become, the more wretched the great mass of workers are.3
Proletarianization of the Peasantry. The small peasant property, weighed down by debts, mortgages, taxes, and all kinds of levies, melts away and slips out of the owner's hands, helping to round out the ever-growing possessions of the big owners; an inevitable economic law pushes him in turn into the ranks of the proletariat.4
What is property, what is capital, in their present form? For the capitalist and the property owner they mean the power and the right, guaranteed by the State, to live without working. And since neither property nor capital produce anything when not fertilized by labor -- that means the power and the right to live by exploiting the labor of someone else, the right to exploit the labor of those who possess neither property nor capital and who thus are forced to sell their productive power to the lucky owners of both. . . .
Exploitation Is the Essence of Capitalism. . . . Let us even suppose, as it is being maintained by the bourgeois economists, -- and with them by all the lawyers, all the worshipers of and believers in the juridical right, by all the priests of the civil and criminal code -- let us suppose that this economic relationship between the exploiter and the exploited is altogether legitimate, that it is the inevitable consequence, the product, of an eternal, indestructible social law -- and still it will always remain true that exploitation precludes brotherhood and equality for the exploited.
Workers Forced to Sell Their Labor. It goes without saying that it precludes economic equality. Suppose that I am your worker and you are my employer. If I offer my labor at the lowest price, if I consent to have you live off my labor, it is certainly not because of devotion or brotherly love for you. And no bourgeois economist would dare to say that it was, however idyllic and naive their reasoning becomes when they begin to speak about the reciprocal affections and mutual relations which should exist between employers and employees. No, I do it because my family and I would starve to death if I did not work for an employer. Thus I am forced to sell you my labor at the lowest possible price, and I am forced to do it by the threat of hunger.
Selling of Labor Power Is Not a Free Transaction. But -- the economists tell us -- the property owners, the capitalists, the employers, are likewise forced to seek out and purchase the labor of the proletariat. Yes, it is true, they are forced to do it, but not in the same measure. Had there been quality between those who offer their labor and those who purchase it, between the necessity of selling one's labor and the necessity of buying it, the slavery and misery of the proletariat would not exist. But then there  would be neither capitalists, nor property owners, nor the proletariat, nor rich, nor poor: there would be only workers. It is precisely because such equality does not exist that we have and are bound to have exploiters.3
Growth of the Proletariat Outstrips the Productive Capacity of Capitalism. This equality does not exist because in modern society where wealth is produced by the intervention of capital paying wages to labor, the growth of the population outstrips the growth of population, which results in the supply of labor necessarily surpassing the demand and leading to a relative sinking of the level of wages. Production thus constituted, monopolized, exploited by bourgeois capital, is pushed on the one hand by the mutual competition of capitalists to concentrate evermore in the hands of an ever diminishing number of powerful capitalists, or in the hands of joint-stock companies which, owing to the merging of their capital, are more powerful than the biggest isolated capitalists. (And the small and medium-sized capitalists, not being able to produce at the same price as the big capitalists, naturally succumb in this deadly struggle.) On the other hand, all enterprises are forced by the same competition to sell their products at the lowest possible price.
It [capitalistic monopoly] can attain this two-fold result only by forcing out an ever-growing number of small or medium-sized capitalists, speculators, merchants, or industrialists, from the world of the exploiters into the world of the exploited proletariat, and at the same time squeezing out ever greater savings from the wages of the same proletariat.
Growing Competition for Jobs Forces Down Wage Levels. On the other hand, the mass of the proletariat, growing as a result of the general increase of the population -- which, as we know, not even poverty can stop effectively -- and through the increasing proletarianization of the petty- bourgeoisie, ex-owners, capitalists, merchants, and industrialists -- growing, as I have already said, at a much more rapid rate than the productive capacities of an economy that is exploited by bourgeois capital -- this growing mass of the proletariat is placed in a condition wherein the workers themselves are forced into disastrous competition against one another.
For since they possess no other means of existence but their own manual labor, they are driven, by the fear of seeing themselves replaced by others, to sell it at the lowest price. This tendency of the workers, or rather the necessity to which they are condemned by their own poverty, combined with the tendency of the employers to sell the products of their workeft and consequently to buy their labor, at the lowest price, constantly reproduces and consolidates the poverty of the proletariat. Since he finds himself in a state of poverty, the worker is compelled to sell his labor for almost nothing, and because he sells that product for almost nothing, he sinks into ever greater poverty.
Intensified Exploitation and Its Consequences. Yes, greater misery, indeed! For in this galley-slave labor the productive force of the workers,  abused, ruthlessly exploited, excessively wasted and underfed, is rapidly used up. And once it is used up, what can be its value on the market, of what worth is this sole commodity which he possesses and upon the daily sale of which he depends for a livelihood? Nothing! And then? Then nothing is left for the worker but to die.
What, in a given country, is the lowest possible wage? It is the price of that which is considered by the proletarians of that country as absolutely necessary to keep oneself alive. All the bourgeois economists are in agreement on this point. . . .
The Iron Law of Wages. The current price of primary necessities constitutes the prevailing constant level above which workers' wages can never rise for a very long time, but beneath which they drop very often, which constantly results in inanition, sickness, and death, until a sufficient number of workers disappear to equalize again the supply of and demand for labor.
There Is No Equality of Bargaining Power Between Employer and Worker. What the economists call equalized supply and demand does not constitute real equality between those who offer their labor for sale and those who purchase it. Suppose that I, a manufacturer, need a hundred workers and that exactly a hundred workers present themselves in the market -- only one hundred, for if more came, the supply would exceed the demand, resulting in lowered wages. But since only one hundred appear, and since I, the manufacturer, need only that number -- neither more nor less -- it would seem at first that complete equality was established; that supply and demand being equal in number, they should likewise be equal in other respects.
Does it follow that the workers can demand from me a wage and conditions of work assuring them the means of a truly free, dignified, and human existence? Not at all! If I grant them those conditions and those wages, I, the capitalist, shall not gain thereby any more than they will. But then, why should I have to plague myself and become ruined by offering them the profits of my capital? If I want to work myself as the workers do, I will invest my capital somewhere else, wherever I can get the highest interest, and will offer my labor for sale to some capitalist just as my workers do.
If, profiting by the powerful initiative afforded me by my capital, I ask those hundred workers to fertilize that capital with their labor, it is not because of my sympathy for their sufferings, nor because of a spirit of justice, nor because of love for humanity. The capitalists are by no means philanthropists; they would be ruined if they practiced philanthropy. It is because I hope to draw from the labor of the workers sufficient profit to be able to live comfortably, even richly, while at the same time increasing my capital -- and all that without having to work myself. Of course I shall work too, but my work will be of an altogether different kind, and I  will be remunerated at a much higher rate than the workers. It will not be the work of production but that of administration and exploitation.3
Monopolization of Administrative Work. But isn't administrative work also productive work? No doubt it is, for lacking a good and intelligent administration, manual labor will not produce anything or it will produce very little and very badly. But from the point of view of justice and the needs of production itself, it is not at all necessary that this work should be monopolized in my hands, nor, above all, that I should be compensated at a rate so much higher than manual labor. The co-operative associations already have proven that workers are quite capable of administering industrial enterprises, that it can be done by workers elected from their midst and who receive the same wage. Therefore if I concentrate in my hands the administrative power, it is not because the interests of production demand it, but in order to serve my own ends, the ends of exploitation. As the absolute boss of my establishment I get for my labor ten or twenty times more, and if I am a big industrialist I may get a hundred times more than my workers get for theirs, and this is true despite the fact that my labor is incomparably less painful than theirs.5
The Mechanics of the Fictitious Free Labor Contract. But since supply and demand are equal, why do the workers accept the conditions laid down by the employer? If the capitalist stands in just as great a need of employing the workers as the one hundred workers do of being employed by him, does it not follow that both sides are in an equal position? Do not both meet at the market as two equal merchants -- from the juridical point of view at least -- one bringing the commodity called a daily wage, to be exchanged for the daily labor of the worker on the basis of so many hours per day; and the other bringing his own labor as his commodity to be exchanged for the wage offered by the capitalist? Since, in our supposition, the demand is for a hundred workers and the supply is likewise that of a hundred persons, it may seem that both sides are in an equal position.
Of course nothing of the kind is true. What is it that brings the capitalist to the market? It is the urge to get rich, to increase his capital, to gratify his ambitions and social vanities, to be able to indulge in all conceivable pleasures. And what brings a worker to the market? Hunger, the necessity of eating today and tomorrow. Thus, while being equal from the point of view of juridical fiction, the capitalist and the worker are anything but equal from the point of view of the economic situation, which is the real situation.
The capitalist is not threatened with hunger when he comes to the market; he knows very well that if he does not find today the workers for whom he is looking, he will still have enough to eat for quite a long time owing to the capital of which he is the happy possessor. If the workers whom he meets in the market present demands which seem excessive to  him. because, far from enabling him to increase his wealth and improve even more his economic position, those proposals and conditions might, I do not say equalize, but bring the economic position of the workers somewhat close to his own -- what does he do in that case? He turns down those proposals and waits.
After all, he was not impelled by an urgent necessity, but by a desire to improve a position, which, compared to that of the workers, is already quite comfortable, and so he can wait. And he will wait, for his business experience has taught him that the resistance of workers who, possessing neither capital, nor comfort, nor any savings to speak of, are pressed by a relentless necessity, by hunger, that this resistance cannot last very long, and that finally he will be able to find the hundred workers for whom he is looking -- for they will be forced to accept the conditions which he finds it profitable to impose upon them. If they refuse, others will come who will be only too happy to accept such conditions. That is how things are done daily with the knowledge and in the full view of everyone. . . .
A Master-Slave Contract. . . . The capitalist then comes to the market in the capacity, if not of an absolutely free agent, at least that of an infinitely freer agent than the worker. What happens in the market is a meeting between a drive for lucre and starvation, between master and slave. Juridically they are both equal; but economically the worker is the serf of the capitalist, even before the market transaction has been concluded whereby the worker sells his person and his liberty for a given time. The worker is in the position of a serf because this terrible threat of starvation which daily hangs over his head and over his family, will force him to accept any conditions imposed by the gainful calculations of the capitalist, the industrialist, the employer.
Juridical Right Versus Economic Reality. And once the contract has been negotiated, the serfdom of the worker is doubly increased. . . . M. Karl Marx, the illustrious leader of German Communism, justly observed in his magnificent work Das Kapital that if the contract freely entered into by the vendors of money -- in the form of wages -- and the vendors of their own labor -- that is, between the employer and the workers -- were concluded not for a definite and limited term only, but for one's whole life, it would constitute real slavery. Concluded for a term only and reserving to the worker the right to quit his employer, this contract constitutes a sort of voluntary and transitory serfdom.
Yes, transitory and voluntary from the juridical point of view, but nowise from the point of view of economic possibility. The worker always has the right to leave his employer, but has he the means to do so? And if he does quit him, is it in order to lead a free existence, in which he will have no master but himself? No, he does it in order to sell himself to another employer. He is driven to it by the same hunger which forced him to sell himself to the first employer. 
Thus the worker's liberty, so much exalted by the economists, jurists and bourgeois republicans, is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means for its possible realization, and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty, an utter falsehood. The truth is that the whole life of the worket is simply a continuous and dismaying succession of terms of serfdom -- voluntary from the juridical point of view but compulsory in the economic sense -- broken up by momentarily brief interludes of freedon accompanied by starvation; in other words, it is real slavery.
Labor Contracts Are Observed By the Employer Only in the Breach. This slavery manifests itself daily in all kinds of ways. Apart from the vexations and oppressive conditions of the contract which turn the worker into a subordinate, a passive and obedient servant, and the employer into a nearly absolute master -- apart from all that it is well known that there is hardly an industrial enterprise wherein the owner, impelled on one hand by the two-fold instinct of an unappeasable lust for profits and absolute power, and on the other hand, profiting by the economic dependence of the worker, does not set aside the terms stipulated in the contract and wring some additional concessions in his own favor. Now he will demand more hours of work, that is, over and above those stipulated in the contract; now he will cut down the wages on some pretext; now he will impose arbitrary fines, or he will treat the workers harshly, rudely, and insolently.
But, one may say, in that case the worker can quit. Easier said than done. At times the worker receives part of his wages in advance, or his wife or children may be sick, or perhaps his work is poorly paid throughout this particular industry. Other employers may be paying even less than his own employer, and after quitting this job he may not even be able to find another one. And to remain without a job spells death for him and his family. In addition, there is an understanding among all the employers, and all of them resemble one another. All are almost equally irritating, unjust, and harsh.
Is this a calumny? No, it is in the nature of things, and in the logical necessity of the relationship existing between the employers and their workers.6