Monday, November 14, 2011

Capital: Volume 1, Chapter 15 by Karl Marx

Chapter 15: Machinery and Large-Scale Industry

- The development of machinery
  1. manufacture "takes labour-power as its starting point"; large-scale industry, "instruments of labour are the starting point - 492
  2. 1735: "John Wyatt announced his spinning machine, and thereby started the industrial revolution" - 493
  3. machine: motor mechanism, transmitting mechanism, tool (working machine) - 494
  4. "From the moment that the tool proper is taken from man and fitted into a mechanism, a machine takes the place of a mere implement" - 495
  5. "A real machine system...Here we have again the co-operation by division of labour which is peculiar to manufacture, but now it appears as a combination of machines with specific functions. The tools peculiar to various specialized workers...are now transformed into the tools of specialized machines, each machine forming a special organ, with a special function in the combined mechanism." - 501
  6. "As soon as a machine executes, without man's help, all the movements required to elaborate the raw material, and needs only supplementary assistance from the worker, we have an automatic system of machinery, capable of constant improvement in its details." - 503
  7. "The transformation of the mode of production in one sphere of industry necessitates a similar transformation in other spheres...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 transport." - 505-6
  8. "The most essential condition for the production of machines by machines was a prime mover capable of exerting any amount of force, while retaining perfect control." - 506
  9. "As machinery, the instrument of labour assumes a material mode of existence which necessitates the replacement of human force by natural forces, and the replacement of the rule of thumb by the conscious application of natural science." - 508
- The value transferred by the machinery to the product
  1. "Science, generally speaking, costs the capitalist nothing, a fact that by no means prevents him from exploiting it." - 508, notes
  2. "Given the rate at which machinery transfers its value to the product, the amount of value so transferred depends on the total value of the machinery. The less labour it contains, the less value it contributes to the product. The less value it gives up, the more productive it is, and the more its services approach those rendered by natural forces." - 512
- The most immediate effects of machine production on the worker
  1. "To purchase the labour-power of a family of four may perhaps cost more than it formerly did to purchase the labour-power of the head of the family, but, in return, four days' labour takes the place of one day's, and the price falls in proportion to the excess of the surplus labour of four over the surplus labour of one." - 518
  2. "The instrument of labour now becomes an industrial form of perpetual motion. It would go on producing forever, if it did not come up against certain natural limits in the shape of the weak bodies and the strong wills of its human assistants." - 526
  3. "Hence that remarkable phenomenon in the history of modern industry, that machinery sweeps away every moral and natural restriction on the length of the working day. Hence too the economic paradox that the most powerful instrument for reducing labour-time suffers a dialectical inversion and becomes the most unfailing means for turning the whole lifetime of the worker and his family into labour-time at capital's disposal for its own valorization." - 532, emphasis mine
  4. "machinery becomes in the hands of capital the objective means, systematically employed, for squeezing out more labour in a given time. This occurs in two ways: the speed of the machines is increased, and the same worker receives a greater quantity of machinery to supervise or operate." - 536
  5. "Capital's tendency, as soon as a prolongation of the hours of labour is once for all forbidden, is to compensate for this by systematically raising the intensity of labour, and converting every improvement in machinery into a more perfect means for soaking up labour-power." - 542
- The factory
  1. "in place of the hierarchy of specialized workers that characterizes manufacture, there appears, in the automatic factory, a tendency to equalize and reduce to an identical level every kind of work that has to be done by the minders of the machines" - 545
  2. "The lifelong specialty of handling the same tool now becomes the lifelong specialty of serving the same machine. Machinery is misused in order to transform the worker, from his very childhood, into a part of a specialized machine." - 547
  3. "In  handicrafts and manufacture, the worker makes use of a tool, in the factory, the machine makes use of him." - 548
  4. "Owing to its conversion into an automation, the instrument of labour confronts the worker during the labour process in the shape of capital, dead labour, which dominates and soaks up living labour-power." - 548
- The struggle between worker and machine
  1. "It took both time and experience before the workers learnt to distinguish between machinery and its employment by capital, and therefore to transfer their attacks from the material instruments of production to the form of society which utilizes those instruments." - 554-5
  2. "The instrument of labour, when it takes the form of a machine, immediately becomes a competitor of the worker himself...The whole system of capitalist production is based on the worker's sale of his labour-power as a commodity...When it becomes the job of the machine to handle this tool, the use-value of the worker's labour-power vanishes, and with it its exchange-value. The worker becomes unsaleable, like paper money thrown out of currency by legal enactment." - 557
-The compensation theory, with regard to the workers displaced by machinery
  1. "the workers, when driven out of the workshop by the machinery, are thrown onto the labour-market. Their presence in the labour-market increases the number of labour-powers which are at the disposal of capitalist exploitation." - 567
  2. "if the total quantity of the article produced by machinery is equal to the total quantity of the article produced by a handicraft or by manufacture, and now made by machinery, then total labour expended is diminished." - 570
  3. "The immediate result of machinery is to augment surplus-value and the mass of products in which surplus-value is embodied. It also increases the quantity of substances for the capitalists and their dependents to consume, and therefor the size of these social strata themselves. Their growing wealth, and the relatively diminished number of workers required to produce the means of subsistence, begets both new luxury requirements and the means of satisfying them." - 572-3
  4. "the extraordinary increase in the productivity of large-scale industry, accompanied as it is by both a more intensive and a more extensive exploitation of labour-power in all other spheres of productions, permits a larger and larger part of the working class to be employed unproductively. Hence it is possible to reproduce the ancient domestic slaves, on a constantly extending scale, under the name of a servant class." - 574
- Repulsion and attraction of workers through the development of machine production
  1. "in spite of the mass of workers actually driven out and virtually replaced by machinery...their numbers grow through the building of more factories or the extension of old factories in a given industry." - 577
  2. "we have already seen that every advance in the use of machinery entails an increase in the constant component of capital...and a decrease in its variable component [labour]...This constant variation is however equally constantly interrupted by periods of rest, during which there is a merely quantitative extension of factories on the existing technical basis." - 578
  3. "as soon as the general conditions of production appropriate to large-scale industry have been established, this mode of production acquires an elasticity, a capacity for sudden extension by leaps and bounds, which comes up against no barriers but those presented by the availability of raw materials and the extent of sales outlets." - 579
  4. life of industry: moderate activity --> prosperity --> over-production --> crisis --> stagnation - 580
- The revolutionary impact of large-scale industry on manufacture, handicrafts and domestic industry
  1. "In the so-called domestic industries this exploitation is still more shameless than in modern manufacture, because the workers' power of resistance declines with their dispersal; because a whole series of plundering parasites insinuate themselves between the actual employer and the worker he employs" - 591
  2. "The children generally tire and become as restless as birds towards the end of their long detention at an occupation that is monotonous, eye-straining, and exhausting from the uniformity in the posture of the body. Their work is like slavery." - 597, Children's Employment Commission, Second Report (1864)
- The health and education clauses of the factory acts
  1. "the capitalist mode of production, by its very nature, excludes all rational improvement beyond a certain point." - 612
  2. "the germ of the education of the future is present in the factory system; this education will, in the case of every child over a given age, combine productive labour with instruction and gymnastics, not only as one of the methods of adding to the efficiency of production, but as the only method of producing fully developed human beings." - 614
  3. "Large-scale industry tore aside the veil that concealed from men their own social process of production and turned the various spontaneously divided branches of production into riddles" - 616
  4. "Modern industry never views or treats the existing form of a production process as the definitive one. Its technical basis is therefore revolutionary, whereas all earlier modes of production were essentially conservative." - 617
  5. "the partially developed individual, who is merely the bearer of one specialized social function, must be replaced by the totally developed individual, for whom the different social functions are different modes of activity he takes up in turn." - 618
  6. from the Report from the Select Committee on Mines (1866): "Do you not think that the mine-owner also suffers loss from an explosion?...Are not you workmen in Lancashire able to take care of your own interests without calling in the Government to help you?" "No." - 634
  7. "the result of the immense impetus given to technical improvement by the limitation and regulation of the working day is to increase the anarchy and the proneness to catastrophe of capitalist production as a whole, the intensity of labour, and the competition of machinery with the worker. By the destruction of small-scale and domestic industries it destroys the last resorts of the 'redundant population', thereby removing what was previously a safety-valve for the whole social mechanism." - 635
- Large-scale industry and agriculture
  1. "Capitalist production collects the population together in great centres, and causes the urban population to achieve an ever-growing preponderance. This has two results. On the one hand it concentrates the historical motive power of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the metabolic interaction between men and the earth, i.e. it prevents the return to the soil of its constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the eternal natural condition for the lasting fertility of the soil. Thus it destroys at the same time the physical health of the urban worker, and the intellectual life of the rural worker." - 637
  2. "all progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing  the fertility of the soil for a given time is a progress towards ruining the more long lasting sources of that fertility." - 638

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