"Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,' we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wage system.' from the Preamble to the IWW's Constitution.
I maintain that the left lost its way sometime after 1910, fishing in the vote getting markets of liberal reformism and shutting out the revolutionaries who spoke of common ownership of the collective product of labour and the abolition of the system of exploitation known as wage labour. The official Marxist-Leninist and Social Democratic left replaced the 'abolition of the wage system' with liberal reformism i.e. with accepting, 'a fair day's wage for a fair day's work' all in the name of 'borng from within' the business unions and the established political States. 'Boring from within' was meant as a tactic; but soon became the strategic goal of the left i.e. to get elected to bourgeois or Marxist-Leninist institutions of politcal power over the wage slaves of the world. To the degree that this point of view triumphed, political amnesia struck the workers' movement. Forgetting that the abolition of wage-labour was the goal of the social revolution, along with common ownership of the collective product of labour, has gotten us to where we are today: with a left composed of radical liberal moralists waiting for a Castro (or fill in some other messiah) to save them, a left that has lost all sense of being part of a social revolution made by themselves and their fellow workers, for themselves as a class. As Marx and Engels put it in THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO:
QUESTION NO. I.
"How will the Co-operative Commonwealth determine the income of each worker?"
In order that the answer to the question be understood, two things must first be grasped, and kept in mind. One is the factor which determines the worker's income today; and that involves the worker's status under Capitalism. The other thing is the worker's changed status in the Co-operative Commonwealth; from which status flows the factor which will then determine the worker's income.
In other words -- differently from the state of things under Capitalism, where the worker's fate is at the mercy of the capitalist -- in the Co-operative Commonwealth the worker will himself determine, will himself be the architect of his fate.
"Fifteen Questions About Socialism"
by Daniel De Leon (1914)
(see also Engels' supplement to Marx's CAPITAL Volume III. In it you will read an historical materialist analysis of how labour time developed as the socially recognised value which products of labour were exchanged.)
Karl Marx from Critique of the Gotha Programme
"The bourgeoisie has thus made irreversible historical time known and has imposed it on society, but it has prevented society from using it. “Once there was history, but not any more,” because the class of owners of the economy, which is inextricably tied to economic history, must repress every other irreversible use of time because it is directly threatened by them all. The ruling class, made up of specialists in the possession of things who are themselves therefore possessed by things, is forced to link its fate with the preservation of this reified history, that is, with the preservation of a new immobility within history. Meanwhile the worker at the base of society is for the first time not materially estranged from history, because the irreversible movement is now generated from that base. By demanding to live the historical time that it produces, the proletariat discovers the simple, unforgettable core of its revolutionary project; and each previously defeated attempt to carry out this project represents a possible point of departure for a new historical life."
Guy Debord 'The Society of the Spectacle'
My point is that the whole conceptual orientation of Marx, especially concerning the interchangeable use of the terminology of 'socialism' and 'communism' was changed in the left public mind by the weight of the Soviet propaganda machine, along with Marx's notion that socialism meant the abolition of wage-labour and its replacement with a system which would have the transparency of socially necessary labour time vouchers in the first phase of socialism.
"But democracy means only formal equality. And as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labor and wages, humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing farther, from formal equality to actual equality, i.e., to the operation of the rule “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”." Lenin THE STATE AND REVOLUTION.
Equality of wages is something Marx ridiculed e.g.:
"Indeed, even the equality of wages demanded by Proudhon only transforms the relationship of the present-day worker to his labour into the relationship of all men to labour. Society is then conceived as an abstract capitalist.
"Wages are a direct consequence of estranged labour, and estranged labour is the direct cause of private property. The downfall of the one aspect must therefore mean the downfall of the other." Marx ECONOMIC AND PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS
As you may know, equality of wages was more or less the rule in the 1920s in the USSR and inequality of wages was introduced in the 1930s. Marx's critique of the wage system was more or less forgotten:
"One form of wage labour may correct the abuses of another, but no form of wage labour can correct the abuse of wage labour itself."
GRUNDRISSE by Karl Marx
Lifting the Veil from S DN on Vimeo.