Karl Marx, not a cat person

From Value, Price and Profit (1865), with emphasis added:

It is perfectly true that, considered as a whole, the working class spends, and must spend, its income upon necessaries. A general rise in the rate of wages would, therefore, produce a rise in the demand for, and consequently in the market prices of necessaries. The capitalists who produce these necessaries would be compensated for the risen wages by the rising market prices of their commodities. But how with the other capitalists who do not produce necessaries? And you must not fancy them a small body. If you consider that two-thirds of the national produce are consumed by one-fifth of the population — a member of the House of Commons stated it recently to be but one-seventh of the population — you will understand what an immense proportion of the national produce must be produced in the shape of luxuries, or be exchanged for luxuries, and what an immense amount of the necessaries themselves must be wasted upon flunkeys, horses, cats, and so forth, a waste we know from experience to become always much limited with the rising prices of necessaries.

Via [fn3], h/t ejh.

11 thoughts on “Karl Marx, not a cat person”

  1. Mandeville responds:

    What is this “luxury” of excess cats being implied here? How many cats are appropriate? 1? 2? 3? In truth, we could all do without any cats at all – though vermin would certainly be more of a problem. So if we wish to control yjr vermin, we will need cats. But then, the more cats we have, the better vermin is controlled…so what does it mean to say that cats are a “luxury”? If the implication is that some cats are surplus to strict requirement – then one must simply point to the great expenditure upon cat upkeep the members of the beau monde indulge in. If there were no “luxury” cats, what would happen to the makers of cat collars? Or cat groomers? Of the manufacturers of dainty little petticoats to adorn the pet cats of privileged children? And then what in turn would happen to the children of these now unemployed manufacturers?

    Luxury cats! We ought embrace them as the engine of a great and flourishing society – or else live amongst the rats, frugal and virtuous in our cat-less existence. Mr Marx laments the rise of luxury cats – without seeing that without these cats, his proletarians would be even more wretched than before!

  2. Maybe that’s why Brian Barry is so mean about him in Culture and Equality. As you’ve pointed out, it was Gertie who oversaw the entire operation…

  3. Marx himself bought cats (as well as dogs) for his children when he managed to make a bit of extra money to spend. So he knew whereof he spoke.

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