Lenin's Microsoft

tlmkr at tlug.reptiles.org tlmkr at tlug.reptiles.org
Wed Oct 25 13:58:08 MDT 1995

On Oct 25 Louis wrote:

> Louis: 'tlmkr' is toolmaker, a machinist by trade, who is one of the most
> profound thinkers on the list.

	Thank you, there are many profound thinkers on this list including
yourself. Your statement about toolmaking provoked some thinking on my part
(thank you).

	A toolmaker makes tools. Toolmaking is VERY special. Some people
use toolmaking to define civilization or even Homo Sapiens itself.
Toolmaking requires freedom to work in the manner that one deems appropriate.
To use whatever tools, machines, or techniques they chose.

	Historically toolmakers made tools that processed steel, polymer
or other material. With the development of computer technology new tools
that process information (and hence new toolmakers) are possible. Computer
programs are the new tools and computer programmers are the new toolmakers.

	The bourgeois revolution liberated the toolmaker of that period.
While the conversion to finance capital has almost eliminated the toolmaker
from the ranks of the bourgeois class, uneven development still allows for
the presence of many toolmakers in that class.
	The conversion to finance capital creates a crisis of technical
authority in the workplace. Money can not tell the toolmaker how to work
any more than it can tell the heart surgeon how to work. This can only be
done by another toolmaker, one who is given authority and whose authority
is accepted. This crisis of authority was resolved by the technical program
of Frederick W. Taylor and Charles Bedaux. It recruited toolmakers from
the shop floor and into what became the engineering department. It is from
these beginnings that "Professional Engineering" began. The role of
Professional Engineering in the production process is to plan, control
and POLICE the technical aspects of production, in the interest of capital.

	Initially the engineering profession has close ties with the shop
floor and the advantages of planning usher in a new era of technical
virtuosity, and with it social progress. But the ultimate measure of
performance for capital is not a technical one. It has one single measure
of performance and that is profit derived from the price system. The
engineering profession begins to change the shop floor to make it more
"efficient" economically (as measured by the price system). It replaces
technically efficient practices with economically efficient ones. Because
price diverges from technical value, energy consumption rises, there is
an increase in scrap production, the productivity of the living component
of labor begins to fall, and social disfunction spreads from the workplace
and becomes generalized. The toolmaker's freedom to chose and plan his work
is replaced by the bureacratic control of professional engineering. This
process is completed only with the elimination of the toolmaker and his
replacement by the machinist- a category of labor completely subordinate
to the machine, and hence capital itself. Capital in this stage of
development(decay?) makes bad tools.
	Uneven development, which at one time was dominant in a
national/geographical dimension, has now shifted, and is dominant
between industrial sectors themselves. The computer industry which did
not even exist 20 years ago, has developed and is on the verge of being
monopolized to an extent that surpasses many of the oldest sectors of the
bourgeois economy.

	The first toolmakers of the new industry, Peter Norton, Bill Gates,
Bill Joy, and the like, are easily recruited into the bourgeois class.
The high rate of development and conversion to finance capital quickly
closes the door behind the first few; many must be content as petty
bourgeois, the majority are/(will be) thrown into the proletariat.
The old techniques of capital are no longer capable of harnessing the
productive potential of the new proletariat. It spills over into new
social relations, the internet and the Linux Community. As with all
instances of uneven development that present themselves in a revolutionary
context, we see side by side, the most advanced with the most backward,
the old techniques with the new, the bourgeois with the proletarian. We see
the bureacracy of Microsoft's corporate power, professional engineering, and
Total Quality Management, alongside the Linux Community's, internet and
Peer Review. We see Linux, and the GNU C compiler; alongside Windows 95
and MS Office. We see Bill Gates and Peter Norton, alongside Linus Torvalds
and Richard Stallman.

	As Microsoft et al are driven by the price system to imitate
the engineering techniques of manufacturing, the freedom of the programmer
is replaced by the control of the software engineer, and the tools produced
are no longer suited to the needs of workers but are designed to maximize
returns from the market. The programmer writes code for the market but
uses Linux and GNU C. As he/she becomes further alienated from the product
of his/her own labor, they turn to the Linux Community and the freedom,
and control they have over the product of their own labor. It is in this
manner that the class struggle, which is developing unevenly across
industrial sectors, begins its revolutionary assault on bourgeois property.

		take care-
			tlmkr <:-)=<

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list