By Others

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Designers became “designers” not by making goods—as would have been the case for craftsmen from time immemorial—but by specifying the material forms to be produced by others. “By others” is also a central feature distinguishing capitalist production from previous models. Workers are said to be “alienated” from their labor by producing goods that they themselves do not determine or design or use and by selling their efforts for a wage, which is required then to purchase the necessary goods for their own survival (rent, food, clothing, etc.). The difference between what is paid for labor, materials, and tools to produce commodities and the money made from selling the commodities—called surplus value*—is translated into profits for the firm’s owners. Capitalists use profits as new capital to invest in further ventures, thus putting in motion both the accumulation of wealth and a growing divide between the owners and workers.
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