merits of this discussion/mode of production in material life

Waistline2 at Waistline2 at
Tue Nov 11 17:47:26 MST 2003

In a message dated 11/11/03 8:09:43 AM Pacific Standard Time,
cbrown at writes:

>CB: I have asked this before, but I use "mode of production" to refer to a
property regime, not a technological regime. For me the SU had an industrial
technological regime, not a mode of production. The mode of production of the SU
was socialist.

This is the classical Marxist usage I believe. Not that we have a strict
custom of usage here. But, just for clarity, it would help to understand whether
you consider this novel usage from the regular Marxist custom. <


You are correct concerning the classical usage of the term mode of production
in material life. Several problems presented themselves in unraveling the
industrial curve of development and where we exist today - our juncture of
history. Over the past couple of years I have basically abandoned using the term
capitalism in theory discussion. In place of the word capitalism, "bourgeois
property relations" is used to avoid the tendency to look at the "mode of
accumulation" as primary instead of the material power of production and its property
relation that creates the circuit and shape of capital reproduction.

Nevertheless, what justifies using mode of production to describe primarily
the technological regime in contained in Marx famous quote from his

"In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations
that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production
which correspond to a definite stage of development of the material productive
forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic
structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and
political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social

"The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and
intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that
determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that
determines their consciousness.

"At a certain stage of the development of the material power of the
productive forces of society, it comes in conflict with the existing relations of
production, or - what is but a legal expression for the same thing - with the
property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of
development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. (End
of quote)

"In . . . social production . . . men enter into definite relations . . .
relations of production, which correspond, to a definite stage of development of
the material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production
(as they exist based on a definite stage of development of the material
productive forces) constitutes the economic structure of society, the real
foundation, . ."

Thus, it seems that Marx does give primacy to the "technological regime:" "a
definite stage of development of the material productive forces."  There is of
course no mode of production that is devoid of property relations with the
advent of class society. However the mode of production - the technological
regime, arises in front of the property relations - in the form of tools and
instruments, and set the stage for and becomes the basis upon which the evolution
of property relations takes place. And the communist revolution will destroy
all form of property but the mode of production in material life will remain.

The concrete problem that arose was the existence of two very similar
technological regimes - industrial societies with different property relations in the
industrial infrastructure - industrial bourgeois property society and
industrial public property society. The problem of describing Soviet socialism was
complicated by the fact that it had to develop on the basis of a technological
and capital transfer from the bourgeois technological regime. This is only
possible if both societies have the same basic "mode of production" or a similar
"definite stage of development of the material productive forces."

My usage of the term mode of production varies from the classical generations
usage of the term. In place of the "mode of production in material life,"
often the concept of "the material power of the productive forces" is used in
describing that, which is fundamental to qualitative change waves and change
quakes in society. This "shift" is not an attempt to be clever but to more
accurately describe what we are experiencing.

Usage of the term class varies from the classical usage of the term, as does
the usage of the expression "social relations." Did the Soviet Union have "new
social relations" or "industrial social relations," organized on the basis of
public property? The property relations in the Soviet Union held the
potential for new forms of industrial social relations, but these social relations
could not be anything but industrial relations because of the "mode of
production." All these categories are interactive and condition one another. Part of the
problem is learning and creating a language and concept framework where we
understand one another and some of this entails breaking with the past - the
period of the Third International and its aftermath.

Here is a formulation I use that causes considerable trouble:

"Society is formed on the basis of the unity of productive forces and
productive relations. Productive relations embody the laws defining property and the
relationship of people to property in the process of production. The constant,
spontaneous development of the productive forces eventually disrupts this
unity. An epoch of social revolution unfolds that creates new productive forces
that reflect - expresses, the level of, and are compatible with, the newly
developed productive forces."

Here the effort is to avoid the argument over "social relations of
production" because industry creates and created similar forms of industrial social
relations in bourgeois America and under Soviet socialism. Huge industrial centers
arise at one curve in the development of the industrial system no matter what
its property relations because of the tendency to rationalize production. The
forms will vary but you end up with large industrial centers with the people
organized around and on the basis of servicing the centers and infrastructure.

Computerization, advanced robotics and digitalized processes unravel
industrial social relations and property relations under the bourgeois regime and the
proletarian regime. Under the proletarian regime the form of public property
is compelled to pass beyond state ownership and its corresponding forms of
administration. One cannot pass beyond industrial administration on the basis of
ideology and politics no matter how much democracy is brought to bear within
the action of administering. What is need is a technology that supersede
industrial forms of organization.

Comrade Mark presented a similar view from the standpoint of the management
of the material assets of Soviet power; the limitations of industrial expansion
and explained this limitation - barrier to industrial expansion, on the basis
of principles of thermodynamics and it deadly handmaiden - entropy.
Thermodynamics and the law of entropy are not to be discarded, but these laws will
define the parameters of the new mode of production already emerging.
Computerization cannot be placed back into the womb, although capital is an incredible
barrier to its full and thoughtful implementation - within the framework of the
laws of thermodynamics.

On one level the Soviet's faced a no win situation. One cannot keep making
huge factories - thermodynamics and it deadly handmaiden - entropy or the finite
limits of reality - earth itself. Nor is the prospect of a huge
industrialized planet desirable. On the other hand, world rationalization without bourgeois
property based on the emerging new mode of production - as limited by
entropy, is the solution. Communism can only be visualized on the basis of the
unraveling and destruction of the value producing system. This could not be
understood in 1949.

The Soviet's could not "leap" outside the value system and the vision of
industrial agricultural cooperatives is historically obsolete. The same economic
and political form was not obsolete in 1949 or 1960 for that matter.
Revolutionizing the political superstructure and the infrastructure and the
administration of things calls for political revolution and technological revolution - the
real social revolution.

(I have inadvertently defined the only real meaning of "permanent revolution"
on the basis of the evolution of value; why the new technological regime
destroys the commodity form, creates a communist class and here is the social
revolution Marx speaks of changes in the mode of production. "Permanent
Revolution" has been liberated from the subjectivism of "ism's," and placed on the basis
of a concrete description of the changes in the mode of production and not
calling for world revolution, when the world is not ready for world - communist,
revolution. Yes I had help with shaping this concept on Marxline.) :-)

Socialism is a political transition to something else. The goal is not public
property but the destruction of property relations - ownership rights over
socially necessary means of production and then all property. This becomes
possible once the value form begins to unravel and with it the commodity form of
social products.

Melvin P.

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