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joshcryer's Journal
joshcryer's Journal
July 31, 2013

Marx didn't get industry.

Marx writes in a letter to Pavel Vasilyevich Annenko:

Thus, the economic forms in which man produces, consumes and exchanges are transitory and historical. With the acquisition of new productive faculties man changes his mode of production and with the mode of production he changes all the economic relations which were but the necessary relations of that particular mode of production.

Of course, as history has shown, in fact new production concepts did not result in "changing all the economic relations that were but necessary relations of that particular mode of production." As I have continually argued here there are two ways, two abstractions, with which industry could have formed. The hierarchical way and the egalitarian way.

The hierarchical way is the capitalist industrial methodology, where the industry is appropriated (be it by people taking it over or be it by a venture capitalist buying it out), and where the industry is controlled by a hierarchy. The mode of production changes (new advances, new technologies), but the way man handles that production economically doesn't, in any substantiative way. You have people working on a factory line each putting in the same widget for the duration of the day, the Ford Model, the true factory line, and they are effectively abstracted away from the system. They have no ownership of the industry and are mere cogs in an overarching machine.

The egalitarian way is the socialist method, in which production is not appropriated by the individual actors, and all are equals. The industry belongs to everyone and to no one. This is in direct opposition to the industrial capitalist model. Instead of putting in the same widget over and over again to get ones wage or remittance, the individual actor puts in each successive widget, and moves down the line accordingly.

This is why Proudhon does not attribute the technology itself to the process but the organization with which that overarching process exists!

Proudhon writes in the Philosophy of Misery:

Labor, we say, is being organized: that is, the process of organization has been going on from the beginning of the world, and will continue till the end. Political economy teaches us the primary elements of this organization; but socialism is right in asserting that, in its present form, the organization is inadequate and transitory.

For Proudhon it is the organization that was the problem, not the industrial technology in and of itself!

Indeed, he makes it clear to M. Dunoyer:

it is necessary to procure for all the means of competing; it is necessary to destroy or modify the predominance of capital over labor, to change the relations between employer and workman, to solve, in a word, the antinomy of division and that of machinery; it is necessary to ORGANIZE LABOR

Now, I'm not saying Marx was wrong, in his entirety, nor that Marx was against organization. It's just that I think that he placed far too much emphasis on "new productive faculties" changing the mode of production. Technology is neutral in that it can be implemented in a wide variety of ways. Marx's argument, maybe, makes sense in a post-scarce environment, but by then political economy becomes irrelevant (if you can live in your own universe, well, it doesn't matter what the fuck you decide to be your structure).

At no point in history did new productive facilities actually change the mode of production. Ever. It could have resulted in that, indeed, each new technological age could've ushered in a new way of production, but it never did. The masters always retained control over production each and every time. The age of agriculture led to warlords dominating, the stone age led to kings, the metal ages led to kings and pretend government, the industrial age led to plutocrats and oligarchs, the information age has retained the plutocrats for the most part but now we're seeing a glimmer where the information age allows mass consciousness to say, "Hey, we don't need those warlords, kings, plutocrats, and oligarchs." There was always a consciousness to those ends, but it was always buried by those with power, and they will do it again as open source and open hardware begin to dominate the way social economy moves forward!

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Name: Josh Cryer
Gender: Male
Hometown: Colorado
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 62,259

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