The Dirty Roots of Capitalism
Marx’s description of the origins of capitalism is a systematic process of alienation of the worker from the means of production, preventing you from consuming what you produce without the interface of the market.
This is a process that is ever expanding, reaching into new markets and colonies and offshoring. A look at the process of capitalism readying these new areas for exploitation quickly makes it clear that capitalism is not a natural form. At least not natural in the sense that people would choose it if they had other options.
But then force has never been far beneath the surface of any society.
Exertion is separated from its recompense
If the market is unfettered, it moves from competition to monopoly; consolidation as things get bigger and bigger to derive the benefits of scale. The worker does not benefit, the rich get richer as they accumulate and the poor become more and more dependent on the capitalist as it’s the only work in town.
A type of labour force jiu-jitsu
Things can’t be uninvented, and that includes capitalism and the manufacturing system. So Marx looks for solutions from within the capitalist mode.
While wanting workers who just follow orders, in order to advance, capitalism needs educated scientists and engineers to maintain and develop its systems.
So there might be a way in here, using the systems that already exist, to develop them in a way that is positive for the worker. A type of labour force jiu-jitsu.
Machinery and Large-Scale Industry
Machines free up time, but not for leisure. Capitalism has other plans for the worker.
speed things up, standardise and control. More gets produced at an ever-accelerating rate, but increasing that rate is the end goal. Machines are not a liberator of workers from labour. Instead, they draw ever more people into the capitalist mode.
After reading last week about the labour struggle to define and control the working day, I’ve found everything I’ve read this week raises questions over what had been fought for.
There is good and bad work, and just as some people are using the rights gained from that struggle to deliver less of what they “owe”, others are seeking fulfilment in more of it.
Love or hate work, what underpins it is consumerism. But consumerism too has changed. As always, there’s the choice of quantity or quality. However, as work becomes increasingly abstract, it gets increasingly difficult to distinguish between them.
The pleasures of progress are dulled as what was a choice becomes an acceptance.