[Marxism] Mode of production in material life

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Tue May 11 12:43:09 MDT 2004


The "mode of production in material life" and the capitalist mode of 
production does not mean the same thing. Marx spent a considerable amount of time 
explaining the difference. Socialism is not a mode of production . . . rather the 
industrial system is a mode of production in material life . . . with the 
property relations within. 
Here is Marx. 
"This industrial revolution which takes place spontaneously, is artificially 
helped on by the extension of the Factory Acts to all industries in which 
women, young persons and children are employed."  (Marx Capital Volume 1.) 
(Comment: the industrial revolution is a revolution in the technological 
regime or the material power of the productive forces or the mode of production in 
material life - with the property relations within.) 
"Modern Industry, as we have seen, sweeps away by technical means the 
manufacturing division of labor, under which each man is bound hand and foot for life 
to a single detail-operation. At the same time, the capitalistic form of that 
industry reproduces this same division of labor in a still more monstrous 
shape; in the factory proper, by converting the workman into a living appendage 
of the machine; and everywhere outside the Factory, partly by the sporadic use 
of machinery and machine workers, [220] partly by reestablishing the division 
of labor on a fresh basis by the general introduction of the labor of women 
and children, and of cheap unskilled labor."
(Comment: It is not necessary to believe your home boy "Stalinist" concerning 
the radical distinction in the mode of production and the property relations 
within. Marx states point blank "the Capitalistic form of that industry"  . . 
. BUT ALL THREE VOLUMES OF CAPITAL AND THEORIES OF SURPLUS VALUE, draw the 
exact same distinction. 
"that the development of ocean navigation and of the means of communication 
generally, has swept away the technical basis on which season-work was really 
supported, [209] and that all other so-called unconquerable difficulties vanish 
before larger buildings, additional machinery, increase in the number of 
workpeople employed, [210] and the alterations caused by all these in the mode of 
conducting the wholesale trade." 
(Comment: Over and over Marx counterpoises the development of the 
technological regime with forms of organization of labor with the property relations 
within.) 
= Marx takes the hammer and hits the nail directly on the head. Mode of 
production as distinct from the forms of property or the "property relations 
within" is defined with precision. =
"A chair with four legs and a velvet cover represents a throne in certain 
situations; but this chair, a thing that is there for people to sit upon, is not 
a throne by the nature of its use value. The most essential factor of the 
labor process is the worker himself, and in the ancient production process this 
worker was a slave. It does not follow from this that the worker is by nature a 
slave (although Aristotle is not very far removed from holding this opinion), 
any more than it follows that spindles and cotton are by their nature capital 
because they are at present consumed in the labor process by wage laborers. 
The stupidity of this procedure, whereby a definite social relation of 
production, which is expressed in things, is taken as the material and natural quality 
of these things, strikes us forcibly when we open the nearest textbook of 
political economy, and read on the very first page that the elements of the 
production process, reduced to their most general form, are land, capital and labor. 
[See e.g. John St. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Vol. 1, Book 1] It 
might just as well be said that they are landed property, knives, scissors, 
spindles, cotton, corn, in short the material of labor and the means of labor, 
and — wage labor. On one side we name the elements of the labor process 
enmeshed with the specific social characteristics they possess at a particular 
historical stage of development; and on the other side we add an element which is 
attributable to the labor process, independently of all specific social 
formations, as an eternal process between man and nature in general. 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/economic/ch02a.htm#469a
(Comment: we name the technological regime (its labor component: the tools, 
instruments and machinery deployed and the energy source that drive it) and how 
its sits at the basis of a historically evolved form of social production . . 
. with the property relations within. Marx distinction in describing the mode 
of production could not be clearer.) 
"Modern Industry, as we have seen, sweeps away by technical means the 
manufacturing division of labor, under which each man is bound hand and foot for life 
to a single detail-operation. At the same time, the Capitalistic form of that 
industry reproduces this same division of labor in a still more monstrous 
shape; in the factory proper, by converting the workman into a living appendage 
of the machine; . . ." 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch15.htm#S8
"The antagonism between the manufacturing division of labor and the methods 
of Modern Industry makes itself forcibly felt." 
(Comment: Why the antagonism exists is a separate question. Marx separates in 
exposition the technological regime from the property relations within. Mode 
of production in its fundamentality is always man/women + tools, instruments 
and machinery + energy source. Mode of production - in its fundamentality, 
never means the property relations within.)
"The revolution in the industrial methods which is the necessary result of 
the revolution in the instruments of production, is effected by a medley of 
transition forms. These forms vary according to the extent to which the 
sewing-machine has become prevalent in one branch, of industry or the other, to the time 
during which it has been in operation, to the previous condition of the 
workpeople, to the preponderance of manufacture, of handicrafts or of domestic 
industry, to the rent of the workrooms, [190] &c. . . .  Finally, as is always the 
case with machinery when not organized into a system, and when it can also be 
used in dwarfish proportions, handicraftsman and domestic workers, along with 
their families, or with a little extra labor from without, make use of their 
own sewing-machines. [191] The system actually prevalent in England is, that 
the capitalist concentrates a large number of machines on his premises, and 
then distributes the produce of those machines for further manipulation amongst 
the domestic workers. [192] The variety of the transition forms, however, does 
not conceal the tendency to conversion into the factory system proper. This 
tendency is nurtured by the very nature of the sewing-machine, the manifold uses 
of which push on the concentration, under one roof, and one management, of 
previously separated branches of a trade. . . .  At first, the use of steam 
power meets with mere technical difficulties, such as unsteadiness in the 
machines, difficulty in controlling their speed, rapid wear and tear of the lighter 
machines, &c., all of which are soon overcome by experience. [195] If, on the 
one hand, the concentration of many machines in large manufactories leads to the 
use of steam power, on the other hand, the competition of steam with human 
muscles hastens on the concentration of workpeople and machines in large 
factories. Thus England is at present experiencing, not only in the colossal industry 
of making wearing apparel, but in most of the other trades mentioned above, 
the conversion of manufacture, of handicrafts, and of domestic work into the 
factory system, after each of those forms of production, totally changed and 
disorganized under the Influence of modern industry, has long ago reproduced, and 
even overdone, all the horrors of the factory system, without participating 
in any of the elements of social progress it contains. [196] 
 . . . [198] On the other hand, in order to make up for the loss of time, an 
expansion occurs of the means of production used in common, of the furnaces, 
buildings, &c., in one word, greater concentration of the means of production 
and a correspondingly greater concourse of workpeople. . . . Manufacture, so 
soon as limits are put to the working-day and to the employment of children, 
those industries go to the wall. 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch15.htm#S8
Melvin P. 



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