Modern science is a product of society Re: "MODERN SCIENCE is aproduct of capitalism"

David Welch david.welch at
Mon Aug 30 16:13:36 MDT 1999

"In the same way, science, which is in fact the intellectual product of
the social process, also appears to be the direct offshoot of capital
(since its application to the material process of production take place in
isolation from the knowledge and abilities of the general worker). And
since society is marked by the exploitation of labour by capital, its
development appears to be the productive force of capital as opposed to
labour. It therefore appears to be the development of capital, and all the
more so since, for the great majority, it is a process with which the
drawing-off of labour power keeps pace.
The same transformation may be observed in the forces of nature and
science, the products of the general development of history in its
abstract quintessence. They too confront the workers as the powers of
capital. They become separated from the skill and knowledge of the
individual worker; and even through ultimately they are themselves the
products of labour, they appear as an integral part of capital wherever
they intervene in the labour process. The capitalist who puts a machine to
work does not need to understand it. But the science realized in the
machine becomes manifest to the workers in the form of capital. And in
fact every such application of social labour to science, the forces of
nature and the products of labour on a large scale, appears as no more
than the means for the exploitation labour, as the means of appropriating
surplus labour, and hence it seems to deploy forces distinct from labour
and integral to capital. Of course, capital makes use of these means only
in order to exploit labour, but if it is to exploit it, it must apply
them to production itself. And so the development of the social productive
forces of labour and the conditions of development come to appear as the
achievement of capital, an achievement which the individual worker endures
passively, and which progresses at his expense."
(K Marx, Capital I)

btw I'm surprised the authors don't acknowledge Alfred Sohn-Rethel, he was
a 'fellow-traveller' of the Frankfurt School who came to similar
conclusions about the relationship of the commodity form and the
structures of modern scientific method.

On Mon, 30 Aug 1999, Louis Proyect wrote:

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