Harry Braverman
“Capital’s Vast Paper Empire”

Reprinted from Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the 20th Century by Harry Braverman, Monthly Review, July-August 1974 edition; pages 55–58.

The function of the capitalist is to represent capital and to enlarge it. This is done either by controlling the production of surplus value [profit] in the productive industries and activities, or by appropriating it from outside those industries and activities. The industrial capitalist, the manufacturer, is an example of the first; the banker of the second. These management functions of control and appropriation have in themselves become labor processes. Here the productive processes of society disappear into a stream of paper—a stream of paper, moreover, which is processed in a continuous flow like that of the cannery, the meat-packing line, the car assembly conveyor, by workers organized in much the same way.