Marx, machines, and my personal ramblings

We are a slave to the machine. In a very very general, abbreviated version that is the Marxist belief.

I should pause this post for a minute with a disclaimer: I have extremely strong negative views of Karl Marx.However, I decided to read Fragment on Machines with a relatively open mind (granted, not completely open, but I like to think I did my best) for a few reasons. For one, I had never read this piece before, nor had I heard of it. Two, I was genuinely curious. My knowledge of Marx comes from his more famous writings and political influence. This gave me the opportunity to read about Marx’s views on a slightly different subject matter.

Essentially his writing discussed the relationship between the mode of production and the relations of production. Marx believes the growth of the mode of production – fixed capital machinery that leads to surplus value – is hindering the relations of production between owner and worker. The role of the worker alters, with the machine the source of value that once belonged to the worker. My question is, if it wasn’t for this growth in machinery, how does a society progress? Marx believes that man simply becomes an appendage of the machine, meaning the value to the owner’s value lies in technology rather than the individual. In some ways this may be true. But the growth of the world is due to this growth in technology. Man created that technology. In today’s society, new technology is constantly being developed and may be reducing the role of workers. So how does one find that balance between ensuring progress but not eliminating jobs for the people?

The skills of people change. This is the beauty of the human brain. We adapt, more than any other creature on the planet. We have the ability to obtain knowledge that we may never have had previously. Think about the technology that existed years ago – telegraphs, typewriters, even something as recent as the floppy disk. The people and companies that made these devices did not simply disappear. They adapted. They trained themselves in skills that allowed them to grow and move with society.

Those directly interacting with the technology – which were the people Marx focused on – have the same opportunity. The operation is as important as the machine itself, and as the technology grows so will the workers. Marx advocates the idea of a “cooperative form of labor” vs private labor. He promotes advocating worker democracy. In some ways, this is implemented through labor unions. Today, many unions are forced. The problem with this concept is the fact that it focuses on the majority and the individual worker loses all rights. Workers should be able to choose, voluntarily, to make demands as they wish. Similarly, employers may choose to meet demands if they wish – voluntarily.

I kind of got a little off track…. this is what Marx does to me. Back to Fragment on Machines. Technology and machines are the source of success and progress in the world. Innovation allows for societal and individual growth. Altering this process by limiting opportunities for the application of machinery will have negative repercussions in the long run. We are not slaves to the machine – we are the creators of the machine. And we are the people will be beat the machines, with stronger, faster, and better ones.


~ by nikitasingh125 on October 2, 2014.

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