[Marxism] (no subject) value, social revolution and revolution at the front

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 30 09:42:17 MST 2009

:No comrade, I write from the "viewpoint"  that the social relation of 
production that defines capital, the organization of the means of production 
as private property and the organization of  labor as wage-labor in order to 
appropriate surplus value and realize that appropriation as profit [whew! 
that's one long winded social relatin], determines the necessity for 
applications of improved technology.

Your viewpoint, as expressed by you is:

' Manufacturing was the highest and final stage of the manual labor system. 
The  last stages of manufacturing prepared the ground for mechanical labor 
and made  its introduction inevitable. Yes, the need for accumulation and 
struggle over  shares of the social product drive the process, through its 
quantitative stages.  Something else outside conflict between means and 
relations of production must  enter the picture to displace the 
manufacturing process as the pivot of  production or social organization of 
labor. A qualitative change in motive  force was necessary. "Not till the 
invention of Wart's second and so-called  double-acting steam engine was 
[such] a prime mover found.“ (Capital Vol 1.)'

And again:

'Although the change in the form of wealth began the break-up of feudalism, 
such change could not overthrow its social organization of labor. Every 
schoolbook states that the industrial revolution brought down feudalism, or 
rather the social organization of labor upon which sat, politician 
feudalism.  Sure, human beings - classes, are driven into political revolt 
and insurrection.  However, no level of revolt can transform the social 
organization of labor, as  this is founded on a distinct cluster of 

The world created by manual labor was overthrown by the new world created 
by mechanical labor. The newly liberated productive forces consolidated and 
a  new social order was built to accommodate them. In the political arena 
the new  classes of the industrial revolution vied for political supremacy. 

[to which I must reply, I don't know what textbooks you've been reading but 
if that's the claim, they're wrong.  Must be textbooks approved by the Texas 
Board of Education].

So I think that my statement that you identify the transition from feudalism 
to capitalism as being driven by the introduction of a new [steam] 
technology is a fair evaluation of your argument.


But then you go on to contradict yourself and write:

'Complex industrial machinery, including the steam engine, developed during 
the manufacturing period but did not create an industrial revolution. As 
machines became bigger and more complex, demanding a powerful and reliable 
motive energy, the engineers introduced the double- acting steam engine. 
Contradiction became antagonism and the social revolution was under way'

Did not create the industrial revolution?  But you just wrote that 
"something outside conflict between means and relations of production must 
enter the picture to displace the manufacturing process....A qualitative 
change in motive force was necessary..."  [Also, comrade, check your history 
of England, the era of manufacture was not the feudal era.]

You also state:

'However, no level of revolt can transform the social organization of labor, 
as  this is founded on a distinct cluster of technology.'

To which I can only reply, "Are you kidding me?"  It is exactly the level of 
revolt that transforms the social organization of labor, and that labor of 
revolt is precipitated when the growth in the means of production, the means 
of accumulation, comes into conflict with the relations of production, the 
property,  the relations of accumulation-- when value production undermines 
the reproduction of value, when revalorization becomes devaluation.

You write:

"The micro-chip and the semiconductor were  developed outside the industrial 
process and then brought into it. They have  created an antagonism by 
transforming electricity from a help to mechanics
into  an independent life as electronics and in opposition to mechanics. 
They have  sparked the ongoing economic revolution."

The history and current practice of semiconductor design, development, 
fabrication, of PRODUCTION was not developed outside the industrial process, 
but directly through that process.  That it took sometime to be applied to 
other industrial processes is of course the normal course of events in 
capitalism.   Intel, which garners more than half the total revenue in 
semiconductor and microprocessor production was founded in 1968 by engineers 
who had worked previously for Fairchild Semiconductor, a company hardly 
outside the industrial process.  Its first chips, static random memory and 
dynamic random memory were utilized in calculators, and some phone systems. 
In the early 1980s, as chip production became a "commodity-type" 
production-- which is the bourgeoisie's way of saying INDUSTRIAL TYPE--  
high volume, low profit margin; higher volume, reduced costs per MIPs, 
expanding revenues smaller margins-- Intel moved to microprocessors, the 
"value-added" end of the market.

The industry itself as a whole has been extremely cyclical, with growth 
rates exhibiting a structural decline, and fixed investment costs propelling 
bursts of overproduction.

More importantly, with the application of microprocessors to industrial 
production, there has been no ongoing economic revolution.  There hasn't 
even been a little bit of an economic revolution.  The microprocessor 
revolution did not even precipitate the pre-emptive Reagan era 
counterrevolution of  asset-stripping, leveraged buy-out, decomposition 
period of the 1980s, overproduction did that.  The application of 
microprocessor technology did participate in a burst of capital investment, 
increased productivity, expanding profits in the 1990s but.... but so did 
trucks and telephones.  As a matter of fact it is precisely the "lead 
factor" of profitable production of these instruments of circulation, of 
transportation and communication, that marks that era of expansion.    There 
was, and is, nothing revolutionary in the application of microprocessor 
technology to the processes and instruments of circulation, transportation, 
and communication.  Nor is there anything revolutionary in its application 
to production. Computer assisted design, fabrication etc. exacerbates the 
contradiction inherent in capital between accumulation and profit and it 
does so precisely because the technology is developed within and 
circumscribed by the social relationship of production, just as the 
application of steam, electric, electronic technologies were circumscribed 
by that social relationship.

Marx explicitly and repeatedly argues that the contradictions in capital 
that propel the necessity for its overthrow are inherent to capital; do not 
require an external motive force; and are reproduced on an expanding level 
throughout its development.
You produce this long section of Marx to buttress an argument that it is the 
revolution in motive power that propels the stages of society, of new class 

"Just as the  individual machine retains a dwarfish character, so long as it 
is worked by the  power of man alone, and just as no system of machinery 
could be properly  developed before the
steam-engine took the place of the earlier motive powers,  animals, wind, 
and even water; so, too, Modern Industry was crippled in its  complete 
development, so long as its characteristic instrument of production,  the 
machine, owed its existence to personal strength and personal skill, and 
depended on the muscular development, the keenness of sight, and the cunning 
of  hand, with which the detail workmen in manufactures, arid the manual 
labourers  in handicrafts, wielded their dwarfish implements’ Thus, apart 
from the dearness  of the machines made in this way, a circumstance that is 
ever present to the  mind of the capitalist, the expansion of industries 
carried on by means of  machinery, and the invasion by machinery of fresh 
branches of production, were  dependent on the growth of a class of workmen, 
who, owing to the almost artistic  nature of their employment, could 
increase their numbers only gradually, and not  by leaps and bounds. But 
besides this, at a certain stage of its
development,  Modern Industry became technologically incompatible with the 
basis furnished for  it by handicraft and Manufacture. The increasing size 
of the prime movers, of  the transmitting mechanism, and of the machines 
proper, the greater  complication, multiformity and regularity of the 
details of these machines, as  they more and more departed from the model of 
those originally made by manual  labour, and acquired a form, untrammelled 
except by the conditions under which  they worked, [18] the perfecting of 
the automatic system, and the use, every day  more unavoidable, of a more 
material, such as iron instead of  wood-the solution of all these problems, 
which sprang up by the force of  circumstances, everywhere met with a 
stumbling-block in the personal  restrictions, which even the collective 
labourer of Manufacture could not break  through, except to a limited 
extent. Such machines as the modern hydraulic  press, the modern power-loom, 
and the modern carding engine, could never have  been furnished by 

But go back to the beginning of that chapter [15] to see what is the origin 
of this discussion and the purpose:

'John Stuart Mill says in his “Principles of Political Economy":

“It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened 
the day’s toil of any human being.”

That is, however, by no means the aim of the capitalistic application of 
machinery. Like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, 
machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that 
portion of the working-day, in which the labourer works for himself, to 
lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, to the 
capitalist. In short, it is a means for producing surplus-value.

In manufacture, the revolution in the mode of production begins with the 
labour-power, in modern industry it begins with the instruments of labour. 
Our first inquiry then is, how the instruments of labour are converted from 
tools into machines, or what is the difference between a machine and the 
implements of a handicraft?......'

Marx answers:

The machine proper is therefore a mechanism that, after being set in motion, 
performs with its tools the same operations that were formerly done by the 
workman with similar tools. Whether the motive power is derived from man, or 
from some other machine, makes no difference in this respect. From the 
moment that the tool proper is taken from m-an, and fitted into a mechanism, 
a machine takes the place of a mere implement. The difference strikes one at 
once, even in those cases where man himself continues to be the prime mover. 
The number of implements that he himself can use simultaneously, is limited 
by the number of his own natural instruments of production, by the number of 
his bodily organs. In Germany, they tried at first to make one spinner work 
two spinning-wheels, that is, to work simultaneously with both hands and 
both feet. This was too difficult. Later, a treddle spinning-wheel with two 
spindles was invented, but adepts in spinning, who could spin two threads at 
once, were almost as scarce as two-headed men. The Jenny, on the other hand, 
even at its very birth, spun with 12-18 spindles, and the stocking-loom 
knits with many thousand needles at once. The number of tools that a machine 
can bring into play simultaneously, is from the very first emancipated from 
the organic limits that hedge in the tools of a handicraftsman.

And Marx continues:

Here and there, long before the period of manufacture, and also, to some 
extent, during that period, these implements pass over into machines, but 
without creating any revolution in the mode of production. It becomes 
evident, in the period of Modern Industry, that these implements, even under 
their form of manual tools, are already machines. For instance, the pumps 
with which the Dutch, in 1836-7, emptied the Lake of Harlem, were 
constructed on the principle of ordinary pumps; the only difference being, 
that their pistons were driven by cyclopean steam-engines, instead of by 
men. The common and very imperfect bellows of the blacksmith is, in England, 
occasionally converted into a blowing-engine, by connecting its arm with a 
steam-engine. The steam-engine itself, such as it was at its invention, 
during the manufacturing period at the close of the 17th century, and such 
as it continued to be down to 1780,  did not give rise to any industrial 
revolution. It was, on the contrary, the invention of machines that made a 
revolution in the form of steam-engines necessary. As soon as man, instead 
of working with an implement on the subject of his labour, becomes merely 
the motive power of an implement-machine, it is a mere accident that motive 
power takes the disguise of human muscle; and it may equally well take the 
form of wind, water or steam


Notice a couple of things here:  Marx talks about Modern Industry, 
industrial revolution-- without ever referring to either, identify either as 
capitalism, as a social revolutionary force creating a new class, bringing a 
new class to power.  Certainly didn't bring a new class to power in England. 
And in the example of the pumps used by the Dutch, capitalism was well 
established in Holland before 1836-1837.  Nothing occurred with the 
application of steam power that brought about the overthrow of one class by 

Yes indeed, Modern Industry became TECHNOLOGICALLY incompatible with the 
basis provided for it by manufacture.  Marx says that.  He does not say that 
modern industry became socially incompatible with the class basis 
established by manufacture.


Marx writes further:

A radical change in the mode of production in one sphere of industry 
involves a similar change in other spheres. This happens at first in such 
branches of industry as are connected together by being separate phases of a 
process, and yet are isolated by the social division of labour, in such a 
way, that each of them produces an independent commodity. Thus spinning by 
machinery made weaving by machinery a necessity, and both together made the 
mechanical and chemical revolution that took place in bleaching, printing, 
and dyeing, imperative. So too, on the other hand, the revolution in 
cotton-spinning called forth the invention of the gin, for separating the 
seeds from the cotton fibre; it was only by means of this invention, that 
the production of cotton became possible on the enormous scale at present 
required.  But more especially, the revolution in the modes of production of 
industry and agriculture made necessary a revolution in the general 
conditions of the social process of production, i.e., in the means of 
communication and of transport.


Note, even where Marx talks about the social process of production he 
defines it here, for this purpose, as the means of transport and of 
communication, not the relationship of classes.

And that is why I maintain that your analysis is, no pun intended, 
mechanistic, formalized, and confuses the usefulness of the means of 
production with their social existence as commodities, when it is exactly 
that manifestation of capital's self-contradiction that propels revolution.

--- Original Message ----- 

From: <waistline2 at aol.com>
> Reply
> Capitalism is a specific kind of “ism.” Capitalism is not machinery. The
> steam engine is a machine. manifesting a technology. The steam engine and
> related technology created the industrial revolution. You read this as 
> “steam
> power creates capitalism.”
> Social revolution comes about, is caused by revolution in the material
> power of production.
> You read this as “Political revolt and political insurrection is 
> determined
> and tied to technology.”

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