Masks and Mirrors
Capitalists and labour are stuck in a cycle of production: production of growth for the capitalist and production of surplus value for the labourer.
As often happens when people are stuck in something they don’t like, and a mirror is held up to it they seek to mask the nature of that reality.
So growth is unequivocally good because it’s a structural necessity that the system has to grow. Productivity is good, so a productive person is good.
For all his faults, Marx is unremitting in questioning underlying assumptions. In a world of fake news, this is more important than ever.
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.
Busy Bees Might Not be Happy Bees
With a limit to the hours of work and the works who can work them the only way to increase surplus value is to increase productivity.
Shrinking time and space by bringing all the functions together in a single factory allows the entire process to be seen as a whole, and reconfigured to be more efficient. Tasks that were the role of the skilled craftsmen are broken down into tasks capable of being performed by the unskilled labourer.
Tasks that were the role of the skilled craftsmen are broken down into tasks capable of being performed by the unskilled, but specialist labourer, with a corresponding loss of understanding and control.
The delights of honey-gathering in the fields is swapped for the the drone of the factory.