“The proletarian is helpless; left to himself, he cannot live a single day. The bourgeoisie has gained a monopoly of all means of existence in the broadest sense of the word. What the proletarian needs, he can obtain only from this bourgeoisie, which is protected in its monopoly by the power of the state. The proletarian is, therefore, in law and in fact, the slave of the bourgeoisie, which can decree his life or death. It offers him the means of living, but only for an “equivalent”, for his work. It even lets him have the appearance of acting from a free choice, of making a contract with free, unconstrained consent, as a responsible agent who has attained his majority.
Fine freedom, where the proletarian has no other choice than that of either accepting the conditions which the bourgeoisie offers him, or of starving, of freezing to death, of sleeping naked among the beasts of the forests! A fine “equivalent” valued at pleasure by the bourgeoisie! And if one proletarian is such a fool as to starve rather than agree to the “equitable” propositions of the bourgeoisie, his “natural superiors”, another is easily found in his place; there are proletarians enough in the world, and not all so insane as to prefer dying to living.”