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Section 3
The proximate effects of machinery on the workman
The starting-point of modern industry is, as we have shown, the revolution in the instruments of labour, and this revolution attains its most highly developed form in the organised system of machinery in a factory. before we inquire how human material is incorporated with this objective organism, let us consider some general effects of this revolution on the labourer himself
A. appropriation of supplementary labour-power by capital. the employment of women and children
In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power, it becomes a means of employing labourers of slight muscular strength, and those whose bodily development is incomplete, but whose limbs are all the more supple. the labour of women and children was, therefore, the first thing sought for by capitalists who used machinery. that mighty substitute for labour and labourers was forthwith changed into a means for increasing the number of wage-labourers by enrolling, under the direct sway of capital, every member of the workman's family, without distinction of age or sex. compulsory work for the capitalist usurped the place, not only of the children's play, but also of free labour at home within moderate limits for the support of the family
The value of labour-power was determined, not only by the labour-time necessary to maintain the individual adult labourer, but also by that necessary to maintain his family. machinery, by throwing every member of that family on to the labour-market, spreads the value of the man's labour-power over his whole family. it thus depreciates his labour-power. to purchase the labour-power of a family of four workers may, perhaps, cost more than it formerly did to purchase the labour-power of the head of the family, but, in return, four days' labour takes the place of one, and their price falls in proportion to the excess of the surplus-labour of four over the surplus-labour of one. in order that the family may live, four people must now, not only labour, but expend surplus-labour for the capitalist. thus we see, that machinery, while augmenting the human material that forms the principal object of capital's exploiting power, at the same time raises the degree of exploitation
Machinery also revolutionises out and out the contract between the labourer and the capitalist, which formally fixes their mutual relations. taking the exchange of commodities as our basis, our first assumption was that capitalist and labourer met as free persons, as independent owners of commodities; the one possessing money and means of production, the other labour-power. but now the capitalist buys children and young persons under age. previously, the workman sold his own labour-power, which he disposed of nominally as a free agent. now he sells wife and child. he has become a slave-dealer. the demand for children's labour often resembles in form the inquiries for negro slaves, such as were formerly to be read among the advertisements in american journals
'my attention,' says an english factory inspector, 'was drawn to an advertisement in the local paper of one of the most important manufacturing towns of my district, of which the following is a copy: wanted, 12 to 20 young persons, not younger than what can pass for 13 years. wages, 4 shillings a week. apply &c.'
The phrase 'what can pass for 13 years,' has reference to the fact, that by the factory act, children under 13 years may work only 6 hours. a surgeon officially appointed must certify their age. the manufacturer, therefore, asks for children who look as if they we're already 13 years old. the decrease, often by leaps and bounds in the number of children under 13 years employed in factories, a decrease that is shown in an astonishing manner by the english statistics of the last 20 years, was for the most part, according to the evidence of the factory inspectors themselves, the work of the certifying surgeons, who overstated the age of the children, agreeably to the capitalist's greed for exploitation, and the sordid trafficking needs of the parents. in the notorious district of bethnal green, a public market is held every monday and tuesday morning, where children of both sexes from 9 years of age upwards, hire themselves out to the silk manufacturers. 'the usual terms are 1s. 8d. a week and '2d. for myself and tea.' the contract is binding only for the week. the scene and language while this market is going on are quite disgraceful.' it has also occurred in england, that women have taken 'children from the workhouse and let any one have them out for 2s. 6d. a week.' in spite of legislation, the number of boys sold in great britain by their parents to act as live chimney-sweeping machines exceeds 2,000. [44]the revolution effected by machinery in the juridical relations between the buyer and the seller of labour-power, causing the transaction as a whole to lose the appearance of a contract between free persons, afforded the english parliament an excuse, founded on juridical principles, for the interference of the state with factories. whenever the law limits the labour of children to 6 hours in industries not before interfered with, the complaints of the manufacturers are always renewed. they allege that numbers of the parents withdraw their children from the industry brought under the act, in order to sell them where 'freedom of labour' still rules, i.e., where children under 13 years are compelled to work like grown-up people, and therefore can be got rid of at a higher price. but since capital is by nature a leveller, since it exacts in every sphere of production equality in the conditions of the exploitation of labour, the limitation by law of children's labour, in one branch of industry, becomes the cause of its limitation in others
We have already alluded to the physical deterioration as well of the children and young-persons as of the women, whom machinery, first directly in the factories that shoot up on its basis, and then indirectly in all the remaining branches of industry, subjects to the exploitation of capital. in this place, therefore, we dwell only on one point, the enormous mortality, during the first few years of their life, of the children of the operatives. in sixteen of the registration districts into which england is divided, there are, for every 100,000 children alive under the age of one year, only 9,000 deaths in a year on an average in 24 districts the deaths are over 10,000, but under 11,000; in 39 districts, over 11,000, but under 12,000; in 48 districts over 12,000, but under 13,000; in 22 districts over 20,000; in 25 districts over 21,000; in 17 over 22,000; in 11 over 23,000; in hoo, wolverhampton, ashton-under-lyne, and preston, over 24,000; in nottingham, stockport, and bradford, over 25,000; in wisbeach, 16,000; and in manchester, 26,125. as was shown by an official medical inquiry in the year 1861, the high death-rates are, apart from local causes, principally due to the employment of the mothers away from their homes, and to the neglect and maltreatment, consequent on her absence, such as, amongst others, insufficient nourishment, unsuitable food, and dosing with opiates; besides this, there arises an unnatural estrangement between mother and child, and as a consequence intentional starving and poisoning of the children. in those agricultural districts, 'where a minimum in the employment of women exists, the death-rate is on the other hand very low.' [47] the inquiry commission of 1861 led, however, to the unexpected result, that in some purely agricultural districts bordering on the north sea, the death-rate of children under one year old almost equalled that of the worst factory districts. dr. julian hunter was therefore commissioned to investigate this phenomenon on the spot. his report is incorporated with the 'sixth report on public health.' [48] up to that time it was supposed, that the children were decimated by malaria, and other diseases peculiar to low-lying and marshy districts. but the inquiry showed the very opposite, namely, that the same cause which drove away malaria, the conversion of the land, from a morass in winter and a scanty pasture in summer, into fruitful corn land, created the exceptional death-rate of the infants. [49] the 70 medical men, whom dr. hunter examined in that district, were 'wonderfully in accord' on this point. in fact, the revolution in the mode of cultivation had led to the introduction of the industrial system
Married women, who work in gangs along with boys and girls, are, for a stipulated sum of money, placed at the disposal of the farmer, by a man called the 'undertaker,' who contracts for the whole gang. 'these gangs will sometimes travel many miles from their own village; they are to be met morning and evening on the roads, dressed in short petticoats, with suitable coats and boots, and sometimes trousers, looking wonderfully strong and healthy, but tainted with a customary immorality and heedless of the fatal results which their love of this busy and independent life is bringing on their unfortunate offspring who are pining at home.'
Every phenomenon of the factory districts is here reproduced, including, but to a greater extent, ill-disguised infanticide, and dosing children with opiates. 'my knowledge of such evils,' says dr. simon, the medical officer of the privy council and editor in chief of the reports on public health, 'may excuse the profound misgiving with which i regard any large industrial employment of adult women.'
'happy indeed,' exclaims mr. baker, the factory inspector, in his official report, 'happy indeed will it be for the manufacturing districts of england, when every married woman having a family is prohibited from working in any textile works at all.'
The moral degradation caused by the capitalistic exploitation of women and children has been so exhaustively depicted by f. engels in his 'lage der arbeitenden klasse englands,' and other writers, that i need only mention the subject in this place. but the intellectual desolation artificially produced by converting immature human beings into mere machines for the fabrication of surplus-value, a state of mind clearly distinguishable from that natural ignorance which keeps the mind fallow without destroying its capacity for development, its natural fertility, this desolation finally compelled even the english parliament to make elementary education a compulsory condition to the 'productive' employment of children under 14 years, in every industry subject to the factory acts. the spirit of capitalist production stands out clearly in the ludicrous wording of the so-called education clauses in the factory acts, in the absence of an administrative machinery, an absence that again makes the compulsion illusory, in the opposition of the manufacturers themselves to these education clauses, and in the tricks and dodges they put in practice for evading them
'for this the legislature is alone to blame, by having passed a delusive law, which, while it would seem to provide that the children employed in factories shall be educated, contains no enactment by which that professed end can be secured. it provides nothing more than that the children shall on certain days of the week, and for a certain number of hours in each day, be inclosed within the four walls of a place called a school, and that the employer of the child shall receive weekly a certificate to that effect signed by a person designated by the subscriber as a schoolmaster or schoolmistress.'
Previous to the passing of the amended factory act, 1844, it happened, not unfrequently, that the certificates of attendance at school were signed by the schoolmaster or schoolmistress with a cross, as they themselves were unable to write
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'on one occasion, on visiting a place called a school, from which certificates of school attendance, had issued, i was so struck with the ignorance of the master, that i said to him: 'pray, sir, can you read?' his reply was: 'aye, summat!' and as a justification of his right to grant certificates, he added: 'at any rate, i am before my scholars.''
The inspectors, when the bill of 1844 was in preparation, did not fail to represent the disgraceful state of the places called schools, certificates from which they were obliged to admit as a compliance with the laws, but they were successful only in obtaining thus much, that since the passing of the act of 1845
The figures in the school certificate must be filled up in the handwriting of the schoolmaster, who must also sign his christian and surname in full.'
Sir john kincaid, factory inspector for scotland, relates experiences of the same kind
'the first school we visited was kept by a mrs. ann killin. upon asking her to spell her name, she straightway made a mistake, by beginning with the letter c, but correcting herself immediately, she said her name began with a k. on looking at her signature, however, in the school certificate books, i noticed that she spelt it in various ways, while her handwriting left no doubt as to her unfitness to teach. she herself also acknowledged that she could not keep the register in a second school i found the schoolroom 15 feet long, and 10 feet wide, and counted in this space 75 children, who were gobbling something unintelligible' but it is not only in the miserable places above referred to that the children obtain certificates of school attendance without having received instruction of any value, for in many schools where there is a competent teacher, his efforts are of little avail from the distracting crowd of children of all ages, from infants of 3 years old and upwards; his livelihood, miserable at the best, depending on the pence received from the greatest number of children whom it is possible to cram into the space. to this is to be added scanty school furniture, deficiency of books, and other materials for teaching, and the depressing effect upon the poor children themselves of a close, noisome atmosphere. i have been in many such schools, where i have seen rows of children doing absolutely nothing; and this is certified as school attendance, and, in statistical returns, such children are set down as being educated.'
In scotland the manufacturers try all they can to do without the children that are obliged to attend school
'it requires no further argument to prove that the educational clauses of the factory act, being held in such disfavour among mill-owners, tend in a great measure to exclude that class of children alike from the employment and the benefit of education contemplated by this act.'
Horribly grotesque does this appear in print works, which are regulated by a special act. by that act
'every child, before being employed in a print work must have attended school for at least 30 days, and not less than 150 hours, during the six months immediately preceding such first day of employment, and during the continuance of its employment in the print works, it must attend for a like period of 30 days, and 150 hours during every successive period of six months.... the attendance at school must be between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. no attendance of less than 2½ hours, nor more than 5 hours on any one day, shall be reckoned as part of the 150 hours. under ordinary circumstances the children attend school morning and afternoon for 30 days, for at least 5 hours each day, and upon the expiration of the 30 days, the statutory total of 150 hours having been attained, having, in their language, made up their book, they return to the print work, where they continue until the six months have expired, when another instalment of school attendance becomes due, and they again seek the school until the book is again made up.... many boys having attended school for the required number of hours, when they return to school after the expiration of their six months' work in the print work, are in the same condition as when they first attended school as print-work boys, that they have lost all they gained by their previous school attendance.... in other print works the children's attendance at school is made to depend altogether upon the exigencies of the work in the establishment. the requisite number of hours is made up each six months, by instalments consisting of from 3 to 5 hours at a time, spreading over, perhaps, the whole six months.... for instance, the attendance on one day might be from 8 to 11 a.m., on another day from i p.m. to 4 p.m., and the child might not appear at school again for several days, when it would attend from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; then it might attend for 3 or 4 days consecutively, or for a week, then it would not appear in school for 3 weeks or a month, after that upon some odd days at some odd hours when the operative who employed it chose to spare it; and thus the child was, as it were, buffeted from school to work, from work to school, until the tale of 150 hours was told.'
By the excessive addition of women and children to the ranks of the workers, machinery at last breaks down the resistance which the male operatives in the manufacturing period continued to oppose to the despotism of capital
B. prolongation of the working-day
If machinery be the most powerful means for increasing the productiveness of labour — i.e., for shortening the working-time required in the production of a commodity, it becomes in the hands of capital the most powerful means, in those industries first invaded by it, for lengthening the working-day beyond all bounds set by human nature. it creates, on the one hand, new conditions by which capital is enabled to give free scope to this its constant tendency, and on the other hand, new motives with which to whet capital's appetite for the labour of others
In the first place, in the form of machinery, the implements of labour become automatic, things moving and working independent of the workman. they are thenceforth an industrial perpetuum mobile, that would go on producing forever, did it not meet with certain natural obstructions in the weak bodies and the strong wills of its human attendants. the automaton, as capital, and because it is capital, is endowed, in the person of the capitalist, with intelligence and will; it is therefore animated by the longing to reduce to a minimum the resistance offered by that repellent yet elastic natural barrier, man. this resistance is moreover lessened by the apparent lightness of machine work, and by the more pliant and docile character of the women and children employed on it
The productiveness of machinery is, as we saw, inversely proportional to the value transferred by it to the product. the longer the life of the machine, the greater is the mass of the products over which the value transmitted by the machine is spread, and the less is the portion of that value added to each single commodity. the active lifetime of a machine is, however, clearly dependent on the length of the working-day, or on the duration of the daily labour-process multiplied by the number of days for which the process is carried on
The wear and tear of a machine is not exactly proportional to its working-time. and even if it were so, a machine working 16 hours daily for 7½ years, covers as long a working period as, and transmits to the total product no more value than, the same machine would if it worked only 8 hours daily for 15 years. but in the first case the value of the machine would be reproduced twice as quickly as in the latter, and the capitalist would, by this use of the machine, absorb in 7½ years as much surplus-value as in the second case he would in 15
The material wear and tear of a machine is of two kinds. the one arises from use, as coins wear away by circulating, the other from non-use, as a sword rusts when left in its scabbard. the latter kind is due to the elements. the former is more or less directly proportional, the latter to a certain extent inversely proportional, to the use of the machine
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But in addition to the material wear and tear, a machine also undergoes, what we may call a moral depreciation. it loses exchange-value, either by machines of the same sort being produced cheaper than it, or by better machines entering into competition with it. in both cases, be the machine ever so young and full of life, its value is no longer determined by the labour actually materialised in it, but by the labour-time requisite to reproduce either it or the better machine. it has, therefore, lost value more or less. the shorter the period taken to reproduce its total value, the less is the danger of moral depreciation; and the longer the working-day, the shorter is that period. when machinery is first introduced into an industry, new methods of reproducing it more cheaply follow blow upon blow, and so do improvements, that not only affect individual parts and details of the machine, but its entire build. it is, therefore, in the early days of the life of machinery that this special incentive to the prolongation of the working-day makes itself felt most acutely. [66]
Given the length of the working-day, all other circumstances remaining the same, the exploitation of double the number of workmen demands, not only a doubling of that part of constant capital which is invested in machinery and buildings, but also of that part which is laid out in raw material and auxiliary substances. the lengthening of the working-day, on the other hand, allows of production on an extended scale without any alteration in the amount of capital laid out on machinery and buildings. not only is there, therefore, an increase of surplus-value, but the outlay necessary to obtain it diminishes. it is true that this takes place, more or less, with every lengthening of the working-day; but in the case under consideration, the change is more marked, because the capital converted into the instruments of labour preponderates to a greater degree. the development of the factory system fixes a constantly increasing portion of the capital in a form, in which, on the one hand, its value is capable of continual self-expansion, and in which, on the other hand, it loses both use-value and exchange-value whenever it loses contact with living labour. 'when a labourer,' said mr. ashworth, a cotton magnate, to professor nassau w. senior, 'lays down his spade, he renders useless, for that period, a capital worth eighteen-pence. when one of our people leaves the mill, he renders useless a capital that has cost £100,000.' [69] only fancy! making 'useless' for a single moment, a capital that has cost £100,000! it is, in truth, monstrous, that a single one of our people should ever leave the factory! the increased use of machinery, as senior after the instruction he received from ashworth clearly perceives, makes a constantly increasing lengthening of the working-day 'desirable.' [70]
Machinery produces relative surplus-value; not only by directly depreciating the value of labour-power, and by indirectly cheapening the same through cheapening the commodities that enter into its reproduction, but also, when it is first introduced sporadically into an industry, by converting the labour employed by the owner of that machinery, into labour of a higher degree and greater efficacy, by raising the social value of the article produced above its individual value, and thus enabling the capitalist to replace the value of a day's labour-power by a smaller portion of the value of a day's product. during this transition period, when the use of machinery is a sort of monopoly, the profits are therefore exceptional, and the capitalist endeavours to exploit thoroughly 'the sunny time of this his first love,' by prolonging the working-day as much as possible. the magnitude of the profit whets his appetite for more profit
As the use of machinery becomes more general in a particular industry, the social value of the product sinks down to its individual value, and the law that surplus-value does not arise from the labour-power that has been replaced by the machinery, but from the labour-power actually employed in working with the machinery, asserts itself. surplus-value arises from variable capital alone, and we saw that the amount of surplus-value depends on two factors, viz., the rate of surplus-value and the number of the workmen simultaneously employed. given the length of the working-day, the rate of surplus-value is determined by the relative duration of the necessary labour and of the surplus-labour in a day. the number of the labourers simultaneously employed depends, on its side, on the ratio of the variable to the constant capital. now, however much the use of machinery may increase the surplus-labour at the expense of the necessary labour by heightening the productiveness of labour, it is clear that it attains this result, only by diminishing the number of workmen employed by a given amount of capital. it converts what was formerly variable capital, invested in labour-power, into machinery which, being constant capital, does not produce surplus-value. it is impossible, for instance, to squeeze as much surplus-value out of 2 as out of 24 labourers. if each of these 24 men gives only one hour of surplus-labour in 12, the 24 men give together 24 hours of surplus-labour, while 24 hours is the total labour of the two men. hence, the application of machinery to the production of surplus-value implies a contradiction which is immanent in it, since of the two factors of the surplus-value created by a given amount of capital, one, the rate of surplus-value, cannot be increased, except by diminishing the other, the number of workmen. this contradiction comes to light, as soon as by the general employment of machinery in a given industry, the value of the machine-produced commodity regulates the value of all commodities of the same sort; and it is this contradiction, that in its turn, drives the capitalist, without his being conscious of the fact, to excessive lengthening of the working-day, in order that he may compensate the decrease in the relative number of labourers exploited, by an increase not only of the relative, but of the absolute surplus-labour
If, then, the capitalistic employment of machinery, on the one hand, supplies new and powerful motives to an excessive lengthening of the working-day, and radically changes, as well the methods of labour, as also the character of the social working organism, in such a manner as to break down all opposition to this tendency, on the other hand it produces, partly by opening out to the capitalist new strata of the working-class, previously inaccessible to him, partly by setting free the labourers it supplants, a surplus working population, which is compelled to submit to the dictation of capital. hence that remarkable phenomenon in the history of modern industry, that machinery sweeps away every moral and natural restriction on the length of the working-day. hence, too, the economic paradox, that the most powerful instrument for shortening labour-time, becomes the most unfailing means for placing every moment of the labourer's time and that of his family, at the disposal of the capitalist for the purpose of expanding the value of his capital. 'if,' dreamed aristotle, the greatest thinker of antiquity, 'if every tool, when summoned, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it, just as the creations of daedalus moved of themselves, or the tripods of hephaestos went of their own accord to their sacred work, if the weavers' shuttles were to weave of themselves, then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers, or of slaves for the lords.' and antipatros, a greek poet of the time of cicero, hailed the invention of the water-wheel for grinding corn, an invention that is the elementary form of all machinery, as the giver of freedom to female slaves, and the bringer back of the golden age. [74] those heathens! they understood, as the learned bastiat, and before him the still wiser macculloch have discovered, nothing of political economy and christianity. they did not, for example, comprehend that machinery is the surest means of lengthening the working-day. they perhaps excused the slavery of one on the ground that it was a means to the full development of another. but to preach slavery of the masses, in order that a few crude and half-educated parvenus, might become 'eminent spinners,' 'extensive sausage-makers,' and 'influential shoe-black dealers,' to do this, they lacked the bump of christianity
C. intensification of labour
The immoderate lengthening of the working-day, produced by machinery in the hands of capital, leads to a reaction on the part of society, the very sources of whose life are menaced; and, thence, to a normal working-day whose length is fixed by law. thenceforth a phenomenon. that we have already met with, namely, the intensification of labour, develops into great importance. our analysis of absolute surplus-value had reference primarily to the extension or duration of the labour, its intensity being assumed as given. we now proceed to consider the substitution of a more intensified labour for labour of more extensive duration, and the degree of the former
It is self-evident, that in proportion as the use of machinery spreads, and the experience of a special class of workmen habituated to machinery accumulates, the rapidity and intensity of labour increase as a natural consequence. thus in england, during half a century, lengthening of the working-day went hand in hand with increasing intensity of factory labour. nevertheless the reader will clearly see, that where we have labour, not carried on by fits and starts, but repeated day after day with unvarying uniformity, a point must inevitably be reached, where extension of the working-day and intensity of the labour mutually exclude one another, in such a way that lengthening of the working-day becomes compatible only with a lower degree of intensity, and a higher degree of intensity, only with a shortening of the working-day. so soon as the gradually surging revolt of the working-class compelled parliament to shorten compulsorily the hours of labour, and to begin by imposing a normal working-day on factories proper, so soon consequently as an increased production of surplus-value by the prolongation of the working-day was once for all put a stop to, from that moment capital threw itself with all its might into the production of relative surplus-value, by hastening on the further improvement of machinery. at the same time a change took place in the nature of relative surplus-value. generally speaking, the mode of producing relative surplus-value consists in raising the productive power of the workman, so as to enable him to produce more in a given time with the same expenditure of labour. labour-time continues to transmit as before the same value to the total product, but this unchanged amount of exchange-value is spread over more use-value; hence the value of each single commodity sinks. otherwise, however, so soon as the compulsory shortening of the hours of labour takes place. the immense impetus it gives the development of productive power, and to economy in the means of production, imposes on the workman increased expenditure of labour in a given time, heightened tension of labour-power, and closer filling up of the pores of the working-day, or condensation of labour to a degree that is attainable only within the limits of the shortened working-day. this condensation of a greater mass of labour into a given period thenceforward counts for what it really is, a greater quantity of labour. in addition to a measure of its extension, i.e., duration, labour now acquires a measure of its intensity or of the degree of its condensation or density. the denser hour of the ten hours' working-day contains more labour, i.e., expended labour-power. than the more porous hour of the twelve hours' working-day. the product therefore of one of the former hours has as much or more value than has the product of 1 1/5 of the latter hours. apart from the increased yield of relative surplus-value through the heightened productiveness of labour, the same mass of value is now produced for the capitalist say by 3 1/3 hours of surplus-labour, and 6 2/3 hours of necessary labour, as was previously produced by four hours of surplus-labour and eight hours of necessary labour
We now come to the question: how is the labour intensified?
The first effect of shortening the working-day results from the self-evident law, that the efficiency of labour-power is in an inverse ratio to the duration of its expenditure. hence, within certain limits what is lost by shortening the duration is gained by the increasing tension of labour-power. that the workman moreover really does expend more labour-power, is ensured by the mode in which the capitalist pays him. in those industries, such as potteries, where machinery plays little or no part, the introduction of the factory acts has strikingly shown that the mere shortening of the working-day increases to a wonderful degree the regularity, uniformity, order, continuity, and energy of the labour. it seemed, however, doubtful whether this effect was produced in the factory proper, where the dependence of the workman on the continuous and uniform motion of the machinery had already created the strictest discipline. hence, when in 1844 the reduction of the working-day to less than twelve hours was being debated, the masters almost unanimously declared
'that their overlookers in the different rooms took good care that the hands lost no time,' that 'the extent of vigilance and attention on the part of the workmen was hardly capable of being increased,' and, therefore, that the speed of the machinery and other conditions remaining unaltered, 'to expect in a well-managed factory any important result from increased attention of the workmen was an absurdity.'
This assertion was contradicted by experiments. mr. robert gardner reduced the hours of labour in his two large factories at preston, on and after the 20th april, 1844, from twelve to eleven hours a day. the result of about a year's working was that 'the same amount of product for the same cost was received, and the workpeople as a whole earned in eleven hours as much wages as they did before in twelve.' i pass over the experiments made in the spinning and carding rooms, because they were accompanied by an increase of 2% in the speed of the machines. but in the weaving department, where, moreover, many sorts of figured fancy articles were woven, there was not the slightest alteration in the conditions of the work. the result was: 'from 6th january to 20th april, 1844, with a twelve hours' day, average weekly wages of each hand 10s. 1½d., from 20th april to 29th june, 1844, with day of eleven hours, average weekly wages 10s. 3½d.' here we have more produced in eleven hours than previously in twelve, and entirely in consequence of more steady application and economy of time by the workpeople. while they got the same wages and gained one hour of spare time, the capitalist got the same amount produced and saved the cost of coal, gas, and other such items, for one hour. similar experiments, and with the like success, were carried out in the mills of messrs. horrocks and jacson. [81]
The shortening of the hours of labour creates, to begin with, the subjective conditions for the condensation of labour, by enabling the workman to exert more strength in a given time. so soon as that shortening becomes compulsory, machinery becomes in the hands of capital the objective means, systematically employed for squeezing out more labour in a given time. this is effected in two ways: by increasing the speed of the machinery, and by giving the workman more machinery to tent. improved construction of the machinery is necessary, partly because without it greater pressure cannot be put on the workman, and partly because the shortened hours of labour force the capitalist to exercise the strictest watch over the cost of production. the improvements in the steam-engine have increased the piston speed, and at the same time have made it possible, by means of a greater economy of power, to drive with the same or even a smaller consumption of coal more machinery with the same engine. the improvements in the transmitting mechanism have lessened friction, and, what so strikingly distinguishes modern from the older machinery, have reduced the diameter and weight of the shafting to a constantly decreasing minimum. finally, the improvements in the operative machines have, while reducing their size, increased their speed and efficiency, as in the modern power-loom; or, while increasing the size of their framework, have also increased the extent and number of their working parts, as in spinning-mules, or have added to the speed of these working parts by imperceptible alterations of detail, such as those which ten years ago increased the speed of the spindles in self-acting mules by one-fifth
The reduction of the working-day to 12 hours dates in england from 1832. in 1836 a manufacturer stated
'the labour now undergone in the factories is much greater than it used to be compared with thirty or forty years ago owing to the greater attention and activity required by the greatly increased speed which is given to the machinery.'
In the year 1844, lord ashley, now lord shaftesbury, made in the house of commons the following statements, supported by documentary evidence
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'the labour performed by those engaged in the processes of manufacture, is three times as great as in the beginning of such operations. machinery has executed, no doubt, the work that would demand the sinews of millions of men; but it has also prodigiously multiplied the labour of those. who are governed by its fearful movements.... in 1815, the labour of following a pair of mules spinning cotton of no. 40 — reckoning 12 hours to the working-day — involved a necessity of walking 8 miles. in 1832, the distance travelled in following a pair of mules, spinning cotton yarn of the same number, was 20 miles, and frequently more. in 1835' 'the spinner put up daily, on each of these mules, 820 stretches, making a total of 1,640 stretches in the course of the day. in 1832, the spinner put up on each mule 2,200 stretches, making a total of 4,400. in 1844, 2,400 stretches, making a total of 4,800; and in some cases the amount of labour required is even still greater.... i have another document sent to me in 1842, stating that the labour is progressively increasing-increasing not only because the distance to be travelled is greater, but because the quantity of goods produced is multiplied, while the hands are fewer in proportion than before; and, moreover, because an inferior species of cotton is now often spun, which it is more difficult to work.... in the carding-room there has also been a great increase of labour. one person there does the work formerly divided between two. in the weaving-room, where a vast number of persons are employed, and principally females the labour has increased within the last few years fully 10 per cent., owing to the increased speed of the machinery in spinning. in 1838, the number of hanks spun per week was 18,000, in 1843 it amounted to 21,000. in 1819, the number of picks in power-loom-weaving per minute was 60 — in 1842 it was 140, showing a vast increase of labour.'
In the face of this remarkable intensity of labour which had already been reached in 1844 under the twelve hours' act, there appeared to be a justification for the assertion made at that time by the english manufacturers, that any further progress in that direction was impossible, and therefore that every further reduction of the hours of labour meant a lessened production. the apparent correctness of their reasons will be best shown by the following contemporary statement by leonard horner, the factory inspector, their ever watchful censor
'now, as the quantity produced must, in the main, be regulated by the speed of the machinery, it must be the interest of the mill-owner to drive it at the utmost rate of speed consistent with these following conditions, viz., the preservation of the machinery from too rapid deterioration; the preservation of the quality of the article manufactured; and the capability of the workman to follow the motion without a greater exertion than he can sustain for a constancy. one of the most important problems, therefore, which the owner of a factory has to solve is to find out the maximum speed at which he can run, with a due regard to the above conditions. it frequently happens that he finds he has gone too fast, that breakages and bad work more than counterbalance the increased speed, and that he is obliged to slacken his pace. i therefore concluded, that as an active and intelligent mill-owner would find out the safe maximum, it would not be possible to produce as much in eleven hours as in twelve. i further assumed that the operative paid by piecework, would exert himself to the utmost consistent with the power of continuing at the same rate.' horner, therefore, came to the conclusion that a reduction of the working hours below twelve would necessarily diminish production? he himself, ten years later, cites his opinion of 1845 in proof of how much he under-estimated in that year the elasticity of machinery, and of man's labour-power, both of which are simultaneously stretched to an extreme by the compulsory shortening of the working-day
We now come to the period that follows the introduction of the ten hours' act in 1847 into the english cotton, woollen, silk, and flax mills
'the speed of the spindles has increased upon throstles 500, and upon mules 1,000 revolutions a minute, i.e., the speed of the throstle spindle, which in 1839 was 4,500 times a minute, is now 5,000; and of the mule spindle, that was 5,000, is now 6,000 times a minute, amounting in the former case to one-tenth, and in the second case to one-fifth additional increase.'
James nasmyth, the eminent civil engineer of patricroft, near manchester, explained in a letter to leonard horner, written in 1852, the nature of the improvements in the steam-engine that had been made between the years 1848 and 1852. after remarking that the horse-power of steam-engines, being always estimated in the official returns according to the power of similar engines in 1828, is only nominal, and can serve only as an index of their real power, he goes on to say
'i am confident that from the same weight of steam-engine machinery, we are now obtaining at least 50 per cent. more duty or work performed on the average, and that in many cases the identical steam-engines which in the days of the restricted speed of 220 feet per minute, yielded 50 horsepower, are now yielding upwards of 100...' 'the modern steam-engine of 100 horse-power is capable of being driven at a much greater force than formerly, arising from improvements in its construction, the capacity and construction of the boilers, &c....' 'although the same number of hands are employed in proportion to the horse-power as at former periods, there are fewer hands employed in proportion to the machinery.' 'in the year 1850, the factories of the united kingdom employed 134,217 nominal horse-power to give motion to 25,638,716 spindles and 301,445 looms. the number of spindles and looms in 1856 was respectively 33,503,580 of the former, and 369,205 of the latter, which, reckoning the force of the nominal horse-power required to be the same as in 1850, would require a force equal to 175,000 horses, but the actual power given in the return for 1856 is 161,435, less by above 10,000 horses than, calculating upon the basis of the return of 1850, the factories ought to have required in 1856.' 'the facts thus brought out by the return appear to be that the factory system is increasing rapidly; that although the same number of hands are employed in proportion to the horse-power as at former periods, there are fewer hands employed in proportion to the machinery; that the steam-engine is enabled to drive an increased weight of machinery by economy of force and other methods, and that an increased quantity of work can be turned off by improvements in machinery, and in methods of manufacture, by increase of speed of the machinery, and by a variety of other causes.' [90]
'the great improvements made in machines of every kind have raised their productive power very much. without any doubt, the shortening of the hours of labour... gave the impulse to these improvements. the latter, combined with the more intense strain on the workman, have had the effect, that at least as much is produced in the shortened working-day as was previously produced during the longer one.'
One fact is sufficient to show how greatly the wealth of the manufacturers increased along with the more intense exploitation of labour-power. from 1838 to 1850, the average proportional increase in english cotton and other factories was 32%, while from 1850 to 1856 it amounted to 86%
But however great the progress of english industry had been during the 8 years from 1848 to 1856 under the influence of a working-day of 10 hours, it wag far surpassed during the next period of 6 years from 1856 to 1862. in silk factories, for instance, there were in 1856, spindles 1,093,799; in 1862, 1,388,544; in 1856, looms 9,260; in 1862, 10,709. but the number of operatives was, in 1856, 56,131; in 1862, 52,429. the increase in the spindles was therefore 26.9% and in the looms 15.6%, while the number of the operatives decreased 7%. in the year 1850 there were employed in worsted mills 875,830 spindles; in 1856, 1,324,549 and in 1862, 1,289,172 but if we deduct the doubling spindles that figure in the numbers for 1856, but not in those for 1862, it will be found that after 1856 the number of spindles remained nearly stationary. on the other hand, after 1850, the speed of the spindles and looms was in many cases doubled. the number of power-looms in worsted mills was, in 1850, 32,617; in 1856, 38,956; in 1862, 43,048. the number of the operatives was, in 1850, 79,737; in 1856, 87,794; in 1862, 86,063; included in these, however, the children under 14 years of age were, in 1850, 9,956; in 1856, 11,228; in 1862, 13,178. in spite, therefore, of the greatly increased number of looms in 1862, compared with 1856, the total number of the workpeople employed decreased, and that of the children exploited increased
On the 27th april, 1863, mr. ferrand said in the house of commons
'i have been informed by delegates from 16 districts of lancashire and cheshire, in whose behalf i speak, that the work in the factories is, in consequence of the improvements in machinery, constantly on the increase. instead of as formerly one person with two helps tenting two looms, one person now tents three looms without helps, and it is no uncommon thing for one person to tent four. twelve hours' work, as is evident from the facts adduced, is now compressed into less than 10 hours. it is therefore self-evident, to what an enormous extent the toil of the factory operative has increased during the last 10 years.'
Although, therefore, the factory inspectors unceasingly and with justice, commend the results of the acts of 1844 and 1850, yet they admit that the shortening of the hours of labour has already called forth such an intensification of the labour as is injurious to the health of the workman and to his capacity for work
'in most of the cotton, worsted, and silk mills, an exhausting state of excitement necessary to enable the workers satisfactorily to mind the machinery, the motion of which has been greatly accelerated within the last few years, seems to me not unlikely to be one of the causes of that excess of mortality from lung disease, which dr. greenhow has pointed out in his recent report on this subject.'
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the tendency that urges capital, so soon as a prolongation of the hours of labour is once for all forbidden, to compensate itself, by a systematic heightening of the intensity of labour, and to convert every improvement in machinery into a more perfect means of exhausting the workman, must soon lead to a state of things in which a reduction of the hours of labour will again be inevitable. on the other hand, the rapid advance of english industry between 1848 and the present time, under the influence of a day of 10 hours, surpasses the advance made between 1833 and 1847, when the day was 12 hours long, by far more than the latter surpasses the advance made during the half century after the first introduction of the factory system, when the working-day was without limits
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38. dr. edward smith, during the cotton crisis caused by the american civil war, was sent by the english government to lancashire, cheshire, and other places, to report on the sanitary condition of the cotton operatives. he reported, that from a hygienic point of view, and apart from the banishment of the operatives from the factory atmosphere, the crisis had several advantages. the women now had sufficient leisure to give their infants the breast, instead of poisoning them with 'godfrey's cordial.' they had time to learn to cook. unfortunately the acquisition of this art occurred at a time when they had nothing to cook. but from this we see how capital, for the purposes of its self-expansion, has usurped the labour necessary in the home of the family. this crisis was also utilised to teach sewing to the daughters of the workmen in sewing schools. an american revolution and a universal crisis, in order that the working girls, who spin for the whole world, might learn to sew!
39. 'the numerical increase of labourers has been great, through the growing substitution of female for male, and above all, of childish for adult labour. three girls of 13, at wages of from 6 shillings to 8 shillings a week, have replaced the one man of mature age, of wages varying from 18 shillings to 45 shillings.' since certain family functions, such as nursing and suckling children, cannot be entirely suppressed, the mothers confiscated by capital, must try substitutes of some sort. domestic work, such as sewing and mending, must be replaced by the purchase of ready-made articles. hence, the diminished expenditure of labour in the house is accompanied by an increased expenditure of money. the cost of keeping the family increases, and balances the greater income. in addition to this, economy and judgment in the consumption and preparation of the means of subsistence becomes impossible. abundant material relating to these facts, which are concealed by official political economy, is to be found in the reports of the inspectors of factories, of the children's employment commission, and more especially in the reports on public health
40. in striking contrast with the great fact, that the shortening of the hours of labour of women and children in english factories was exacted from capital by the male operatives, we find in the latest reports of the children's employment commission traits of the operative parents in relation to the traffic in children, that are truly revolting and thoroughly like slave-dealing. but the pharisee of a capitalist, as may be seen from the same reports, denounces this brutality which he himself creates, perpetuates, and exploits, and which he moreover baptises 'freedom of labour.' 'infant labour has been called into aid even to work for their own daily bread. without strength to endure such disproportionate toil, without instruction to guide their future life, they have been thrown into a situation physically and morally polluted. the jewish historian has remarked upon the overthrow of jerusalem by titus that it was no wonder it should have been destroyed, with such a signal destruction, when an inhuman mother sacrificed her own offspring to satisfy the cravings of absolute hunger.'
41. a. redgrave in 'reports of lnsp. of fact. for 31st october, 1858,' pp. 40, 41
42. 'children's employment commission, fifth report,' london, 1866, p. 81, n. 31
43. 'children's employment commission, third report,' london, 1864, p. 53, n. 15
44. l.c., fifth report, p. 22, n. 137
45. 'sixth report on public health,' lond., 1864, p. 34
46. 'it showed, moreover, that while, with the described circumstances, infants perish under the neglect and mismanagement which their mothers' occupations imply, the mothers become to a grievous extent denaturalised towards their offspring-commonly not troubling themselves much at the death, and even sometimes... taking direct measures to insure it.'
47. l.c., p. 454
48. l.c., pp. 454-463. 'report by dr. henry julian hunter on the excessive mortality of infants in some rural districts of england.'
49. l.c., p. 35 and pp. 455, 456
50. l.c., p. 456
51. in the agricultural as well as in the factory districts the consumption of opium among the grown-up labourers, both male and female, is extending daily. 'to push the sale of opiate... is the great aim of some enterprising wholesale merchants. by druggists it is considered the leading article.' infants that take opiates 'shrank up into little old men,' or 'wizened like little monkeys.' we here see how india and china avenged themselves on england
52. l.c., p. 37
53. 'rep. of insp. of fact. for 31st oct., 1862,' p. 59. mr. baker was formerly a doctor
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54. l. horner in 'reports of insp. of fact. for 30th june, 1857,' p. 17
55. l. horner in 'rep. of lnsp. of fact. for 31st oct., 1855,' pp. 18, 19
56. sir john kincaid in 'rep. of insp. of fact. for 31st oct., 1858,' pp. 31, 32
57. l. horner in 'reports, &c., for 31st oct., 1857,' pp. 17, 18
58. sir j. kincaid in 'reports, &c., 31st oct., 1856,' p. 66
59. a. redgrave in 'rep. of insp. of fact., 31st. oct., 1857,' pp. 41-42. in those industries where the factory act proper has been in force for some time, the obstacles in the way of the education clauses have, in recent years, been overcome. in industries not under the act, the views of mr. j. geddes, a glass manufacturer, still extensively prevail. he informed mr. white, one of the inquiry commissioners: 'as far as i can see, the greater amount of education which a part of the working-class has enjoyed for some years past is an evil. it is dangerous, because it makes them independent.'
60. 'mr. e., a manufacturer informed me that he employed females exclusively at his power-looms gives a decided preference to married females, especially those who have families at home dependent on them for support; they are attentive, docile, more so than unmarried females, and are compelled to use their utmost exertions to procure the necessaries of life. thus are the virtues, the peculiar virtues of the female character to be perverted to her injury thus all that is most dutiful and tender in her nature is made a means of her bondage and suffering.'
61. 'since the general introduction of machinery, human nature has been forced far beyond its average strength.'
62. the english, who have a tendency to look upon the earliest form of appearance of a thing as the cause of its existence, are in the habit of attributing the long hours of work in factories to the extensive kidnapping of children, practised by capitalists in the infancy of the factory system, on workhouses and orphanages, by means of which robbery, unresisting material for exploitation was procured. thus, for instance, ficiden, himself a manufacturer, says: 'it is evident that the long hours of work were brought about by the circumstance of so great a number of destitute children being supplied from different parts of the country, that the masters were independent of the hands, and that having once established the custom by means of the miserable materials they had procured in this way, they could impose it on their neighbours with the greater facility.' with reference to the labour of women, saunders, the factory inspector, says in his report of 1844: 'amongst the female operatives there are some women who, for many weeks in succession, except for a few days, are employed from 6 a. in. till midnight, with less than 2 hours for meals, so that on 5 days of the week they have only 6 hours left out of the 24, for going to and from their homes and resting in bed.'
63. 'occasion... injury to the delicate moving parts of metallic mechanism by inaction.'
64. the manchester spinner before referred to says in relation to this subject: 'it is also intended to cover the loss which is constantly arising from the superseding of machines before they are worn out, by others of a new and better construction.'
65. 'it has been estimated, roughly, that the first individual of a newly-invented machine will cost about five times as much as the construction of the second.' (babbage, l.c., p. 349
66. 'the improvements which took place not long ago in frames for making patent net were so great that a machine in good repair which had cost £1,200, sold a few years after for £60 improvements succeeded each other so rapidly, that machines which had never been finished were abandoned in the hands of their makers, because new improvements bad superseded their utility.' in these stormy, go-ahead times, therefore, the tulle manufacturers soon extended the working-day, by means of double sets of hands, from the original 8 hours to 24
67. 'it is self-evident, that, amid the ebbings and flowings of the markets and the alternate expansions and contractions of demand, occasions will constantly recur, in which the manufacturer may employ additional floating capital without employing additional fixed capital... if additional quantities of raw material can be worked up without incurring an additional expense for buildings and machinery.'
68. this circumstance is mentioned only for the sake of completeness, for i shall not consider the rate of profit, i.e., the ratio of the surplus-value to the total capital advanced, until i come to the third book
69. senior, 'letters on the factory act.' london, 1837, pp. 13, 14
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70. 'the great proportion of fixed to circulating capital makes long hours of work desirable.' with the increased use of machinery, &c., 'the motives to long hours of work will become greater, as the only means by which a large proportion of fixed capital can be made profitable.' 'there are certain expenses upon a mill which go on in the same proportion whether the mill be running short or full time, as, for instance, rent rates, and taxes, insurance against fire, wages of several permanent servants, deterioration of machinery, with various other charges upon a manufacturing establishment, the proportion of which to profits increases as the production decreases.'
71. why it is, that the capitalist, and also the political economists who are imbued with his views, are unconscious of this immanent contradiction, will appear from the first part of the third book
72. it is one of the greatest merits of ricardo to have seen in machinery not only the means of producing commodities, but of creating a 'redundant population.'
73. f. biese. 'die philosophie des aristoteles,' vol. 2. berlin, 1842, p. 408
74. i give below the translation of this poem by stolberg, because it brings into relief, quite in the spirit of former quotations referring to division of labour, the antithesis between the views of the ancients and the moderns. 'spare the hand that grinds the corn, miller girls, and softly sleep. let chanticleer announce the morn in vain! deo has commanded the work of the girls to be done by the nymphs, and now they skip lightly over the wheels, so that the shaken axles revolve with their spokes and pull round the load of the revolving stones. let us live the life of our fathers, and let us rest from work and enjoy the gifts that the goddess sends us.'
'schonet der mahlenden hand, o müllerinnen, und schlafet
Sanft! es verkünde der hahn euch den morgen umsonst!
Däo hat die arbeit der midchen den nymphen befohlen
Und itzt hüpfen sic leicht über die räder dahin
Daß die erschütterten achsen mit ihren speichen sich wälzen
Und im kreise die last drehen des wälzenden steins
Laßt uns leben das leben der väter, und labt uns der gaben
Arbeitslos uns freun, welche die göttin uns schenkt.'
75. there are, of course, always differences, in the intensities of the labour in various industries. but these differences are, as adam smith has shown, compensated to a partial extent by minor circumstances, peculiar to each sort of labour. labour-time, as a measure of value, is not, however, affected in this case, except in so far as the duration of labour, and the degree of its intensity, are two antithetical and mutually exclusive expressions for one and the same quantity of labour
76. especially by piece-work, a form we shall investigate in part vi. of this book
77. see 'rep. of lnsp. of fact. for 31st october, 1865.'
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78. rep, of insp, of fact. for 1844 and the quarter ending 30th april, 1845, pp. 20-21
79. l.c., p. 19. since the wages for piece-work were unaltered, the weekly wages depended on the quantity produced
80. l.c., p. 20
81. the moral element played an important part in the above experiments. the workpeople told the factory inspector: 'we work with more spirit, we have the reward ever before us of getting away sooner at night, and one active and cheerful spirit pervades the whole mill, from the youngest piecer to the oldest hand, and we can greatly help each other.'
82. john fielden, l.c., p. 32
83. lord ashley, l.c., pp. 6-9, passim
84. rep. of insp. of fact. for quarter ending 30th september, 1844, and from 1st october, 1844, to 30th april, 1845, p. 20
85. l.c., p. 22
86. 'rep. of lnsp. of fact. for 31st october, 1862,' p. 62
87. this was altered in the 'parliamentary return' of 1862. in it the actual horse-power of the modern steam engines and water wheels appears in place of the nominal. the doubling spindles, too, are no longer included in the spinning spindles further, in the case of woollen mills, the number of 'gigs' is added, a distinction made between jute and hemp mills on the one hand and flax mills on the other, and finally stocking-weaving is for the first time inserted in the report
88. 'rep. of insp. of fact. for 31st october, 1856,' pp. 13-14, 20 and 1852, p. 23
89. l.c., pp. 14-15
90. l.c., p. 20
91. 'reports, &c., for 31st october, 1858,' pp. 0-10. compare 'reports, &c., for 30th april, 1860,' p. 30, sqq
92. 'reports of lnsp. of fact. for 31st oct., 1862,' pp. 100 and 130
93. on 2 modern power-looms a weaver now makes in a week of 60 hours 26 pieces of certain quality, length, and breadth; while on the old power-looms he could make no more than 4 such pieces. the cost of weaving a piece of such cloth had already soon after 1850 fallen from 2s. 9d. to 5 1/8d
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'thirty years ago one spinner with three placers was not required to attend to more than one pair of mules with 300-324 spindles. at the present time he has to mind with the help of 5 piecers 2,200 spindles, and produces not less than seven times as much yarn as in 1841.' (alex. redgrave, factory inspector in the journal of arts, 5th january, 1872.)
94. 'rep. of insp. of fact. for 31st oct., 1861,' pp. 25, 26
95. the agitation for a working-day of 8 hours has now begun in lancashire among the factory operatives
96. the following few figures indicate the increase in the 'factories' of the united kingdom since 1848: see the blue books 'statistical abstract of the united kingdom,' nos. 8 and 13. lond., 1961 and 1866. in lancashire the number of mills increased only 4 per cent. between 1839 and 1850; 19 per cent. between 1850 and 1856; and 33 per cent. between 1856 and 1862; while the persons employed in them during each of the above periods of it years increased absolutely, but diminished relatively. the cotton trade preponderates in lancashire. we may form an idea of the stupendous nature of the cotton trade in that district when we consider that, of the gross number of textile factories in the united kingdom, it absorbs 45.2 per cent., of the spindles 83.3 per cent., of the power-looms 81.4 per cent., of the mechanical horse-power 72.6 per cent., and of the total number of persons employed 58.2 per cent
97. ure, l.c., p. 18
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