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Question 3 example Assignment #2 Soc. Sci. 275 16 March, 2003 Question 3: Marx and Engels in "The Communist Manifesto" describe the mode of production as a historical phenomenon giving rise to civil society. Following the Manifesto, Marx and Engels continue to apply historical materialism to society, as seen in Capital, which analyzes the capitalist mode of production. In Capital's chapter 15 "Machinery and Modern Industry" Marx follows the stages of capitalist production from handicraft production, through manufacture proper, to the period of Modern Industry.
In the handicraft production, tools were most important. Marx makes a clear distinction between a tool and a machine. Whereas the tools require the motive power of a man, machines' motive power is anything else - a horse, wind, water, steam, electricity etc. Men could still be operators of the machine, but in any case, machines should not be regarded as complicated tools. Machines consist of three components: the working part, or tool; the motive power, or motor; and the transmission of motive power. Marx states "the tool or working machine is that part of the machinery with which the industrial revolution of the 18 th century started." In the period of manufacture the separation of labor occurred as merchants began organizing the production process by making workers specialize in one activity of production.
With time the tools and machines used also became specialized, but they remained isolated in the process of labor co-operation. Marx contrasts this with the notion of the Modern Industry collective, single machines with many tools and functions, where the production is more continuous. "In manufacture the isolation of each detail process is a condition imposed by the nature of division of labor, but in the fully developed factory the continuity of those processes is, on the contrary, imperative." In the Modern Industry production Marx introduces the concept of "automated system of machinery" (p. 501), which operates only with man's attendance and is "susceptible of constant improvement in its details." This is also when technology and science began interacting, thus designing the optimal tools for machinery. The revolution in modes of production in the Modern Industry is also associated with changes in the social process of production, such as communication and transportation. In the first part of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx focuses on explaining the emergence of capitalism, and the resulting social classes that emerge out of this new mode of production.
Foremost Marx notes that capitalism comes forth out of the context of feudal society. "The feudal system of industry, under which industrial production was monopolized by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place." (p. 473). Marx captures the continuum of events leading to the state of modern industry by writing "the place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry, the place of the industrial middle class, by industrial millionaires, ...
the modern bourgeoisie." He is able to explain this transition from feudalism to capitalism by noting that classes in society have objectively opposed interests over the direction of change, and this class struggle determines the course of history by altering the mode of production. Marx explains that this class conflict is eternal but often hidden by stating "the history of hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, ... lord and serf...
in a word oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight... ." (p. 473). Marx argues that it is the mode of production that gives rise to and defines the social classes in any society. He begins his discussion of the capitalist class or bourgeoisie by making reference to this phenomenon: "We see therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of evolution in the modes of production and exchange." Since the bourgeoisie arises out of the capitalist mode, and at the same time influences its direction, it would follow then that this class could influence the political, legal and ideological relations of civil society.
Marx explains this by saying "the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society." (p. 474). Marx notes the capitalists' influence on the political relations of society by writing "each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied a corresponding political advance of that class." (p. 473).
Reference: RC Social Science 275, Course pack #3, Selected readings (see pages);.
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