Monday, June 22, 2015

Capital, Volume 1 by Marx: Onward Luddites!

This section I am listening to now touches on the concept of machine depreciation.  A problem of industrialization is that the return on capital is maximized in machine intensive operations by running the machines 24 hours a day.  We have three 8-hour shifts now, but this was arrived at in an uneven manner.  The power of machinery also had the wonderful affect of equalizing women and children with men, thus, turning natural relations upside down.  Each new improvement to machinery resulted in workers being thrown out of work, while the amount of excess value attained by the free portion of the laborer (i.e. the labor beyond what would have resulted in zero profit) necessarily increases, thus, increasing the degree of blood sucking that the capitalist is doing.  In our era we recognize that only through a net improvement in productive efficiency can living standards be improved, but Marx only sees evils in this.  He goes on and on and on chronicling the improvement in efficiency of the factories, as if this were self-evident proof that the factories were evil.

Marx has repeatedly come back to accusations of genocide, which has been expanded to the accusation that factory work caused women to lose their natural instincts leading to infanticide.  Of course infanticide (i.e. abortion) has been universally decreed by his followers as being a moral imperative.  This gets into the big problem with all this howling:  The population of England doubled in the 18th century and quadrupled during the 19th century while life expectancy improved and surplus population was exported to America and Australia.  There was also net immigration to England from elsewhere in Europe, due to better conditions.  Certainly there were plenty of horrors to document in the 19th century factory system of England, but the observation remains that Marx has not offered a single opinion on how to make things better, nor has he done this indirectly through the many quotes he includes.

Update:  Marx clarifies a bit later that while the fury of the workers at the machines is understandable, it is misplaced:  The true crime is that of the capitalist who employed the machine and the machine is actually innocent.  I would really like to know what Marx would think of The Terminator.


Max Coutinho said...

Hello Looney,

Again, Marx had a lot of time in his hands to whine, whine and whine without offering a real solution to the problems afflicting society.
We know capitalism isn't perfect but it's not the monster that Marxists paint it to be. And when comparing to other systems, I'd say it is the best one (plus it has been improving over the years). Another thing, abortions have been made even before capitalism came into the picture and women have been killing children before it too.

The machine is innocent...Karl obviously never met the Terminator and its cousins, but I suspect that if he had he'd have whined about capitalism having created them lol.


Looney said...


This reading exercise has been quite helpful for me to understand our current situation: After Reagan won the Cold War, Marxism continued to spread to the point that both the Republicans establishment and all the Democrats are now Marxists, along with America's court system, not to mention the education establishment and the media. Because Marxism as a system doesn't exist, Marxists are always in a position to deny their offspring, and disown their legacy.

Max Coutinho said...


You are right.