changes in "material conditions of production"

lisa rogers lisa.rogers at m.cc.utah.edu
Wed Jun 7 18:47:52 MDT 1995


Hey Chris B., this makes a lot of sense to me - part of your post appended
below.

(But I still don't believe that any species is simply "cooperative".)

Lisa Rogers


On Fri, 26 May 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> ... What I meant was that
> the working class *as organised in large concentrated units of
> production*, is smaller.
>
> I would argue that Marx's view of the historical
> destiny of the working class, and Lenin's too is highly contingent,
> (if you read all the references carefully) on the concrete material
> conditions of production * - which have now changed.
> (snip)
>
> * "Modern industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal
> master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of
> labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. ...
> The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the
> more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.
> ...
> ... with the development of industry the proletariat not only increases
> in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength
> grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and
> conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more
> equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of
> labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level....
> ...
> This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are
> created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different
> localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was
> needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same
> character, into one national struggle between classes. ...
> This organisation of the proletarian into a class, and consequently
> into a political party, is continually being upset again by the
> competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again,
> stronger, firmer, mightier. "  CM Part I
>
> "... but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class
> always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the
> very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. ...
> Centralization of the means of production and socialisation of labour
> at last reach a point where they become incompatible with the capitalist
> integument. This integument is burst asunder." Capital Vol 1 penultimate
> chapter.
>
> These are the central stategic arguments of the inevitability of the
> triumph of the working class and they are inexcapably contingent on
> the concentration of extremely large numbers of uniformly oppressed and
> embittered workers in modern industrial sites, just ready for street
> corner agitators
>
> This does not mean that the marxist analysis was nonsense at the time.
> a) methods of production in the technologically advanced part of the
> world have become more complex and use other sources of energy than vast
> industrial armies of labour power.
> b) not least under pressure from the marxist and socialist critique,
> capitalism has lived to fight another day, by extensive anti-
> monopoly legislation and by significant concessions in socialising the
> control of basic working conditions and in the division of the surplus
> product between capital and labour, to create a mass commodity market.
> Thanks are due not least to Marx for this.
>
> But still the laws of motion of commodity exchange work away, on a global
> basis.
>


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