Materialist Conception of History and its validity in 21st century to guide the impending social change

By Sudip Chakraborty and Sankar Sartar of the group Unite for a Cooperative World 

Part A

Rudiments of conceptual development of MCH

The generalised view of society perceived history as a mere record of political events, dynasties, military campaigns, and a series of interventions of the great men who had successively appeared and drawn society onward.

History in this form had no continuity. It was conceived of as a series of discrete stages. There was no identified pointer or link to describe the propagation of social growth of one stage from another. There was also no noteworthy effort to track the thread of advancement or the mark of causality that runs throughout society.

Not only did history lack continuity in time, but also it was assumed as actions of dynasties of different nations and had no connection geographically. We saw the rise and fall of kings in England and France, in Greece and Rome, in Egypt and Assyria, but that any of these exercised any influence on each other were utterly disregarded. No broad, continuous global view of society was reached through careful consideration.

Institutions were considered as eternal. The growth of present forms from earlier ones was inconceivable. Under the influence of the theory of evolution, we have come to know that we can no more understand their present forms without a study of their earlier forms (which can be geographically distributed) than the chemist can understand the compound without reducing it to its elements. And the different development stages of different races, distributed globally, can only be realised if they are conceived as various stages of a common evolution. For example, Japan has but recently passed through a stage of evolution that England had gone though a century ago. In other words, there is one great evolution, through which institutions, races and the society as a whole is passing.

However the initial attempt to grasp the threads of history was more or less idealistic. The idealistic position holds that ideas move society. Hegel was one of the first to attempt a philosophy of history. He greatly influenced the thought of his time, and produced a revolution in philosophy by pointing out that all history is an evolution, not a collection of disconnected facts, as his predecessors had said. But Hegel’s interpretation was, after all, idealistic. As per him “In contemplating world history we must thus consider its ultimate purpose. This ultimate purpose is what is willed in the world itself. We know of God that He is the most perfect; He can will only Himself and what is like Him. God and the nature of His will are one and the same; these we call, philosophically, the Idea. Hence, it is the Idea in general, in its manifestation as human spirit, which we have to contemplate. More precisely, it is the idea of human freedom. The purest form in which the Idea manifests itself is Thought itself. In this aspect the Idea is treated in Logic. Another form is that of physical Nature. The third form, finally, is that of Spirit in general. The nature of Spirit may be understood by a glance at its direct opposite – Matter. The essence of matter is gravity, the essence of Spirit – its substance – is Freedom.”[1]

Still another attempt of an idealistic character to explain the progress of society is known as the political interpretation of history. This point of view indicates that throughout all history there can be discerned a definite movement from monarchy to aristocracy, from aristocracy to democracy, and a constant progress from absolutism to freedom.

Finally, a third idealistic view of society has been held by those who have believed they saw in religion the keynote of social advance.

These three lines include practically all the important attempts to explain social growth from the idealist’s standpoint. It was now possible for an interpretation of history to arise based on physical relations. Buckle’s name is the one earliest connected with the doctrine of physical environment. Establishing a science of history he argued that human actions are governed by laws as fixed and regular as those that rule in the physical world. He claimed that climate, soil, food, and the aspects of nature are the primary causes of intellectual progress.

It now remains to elucidate the following question: What is the principal determining force in the complex of conditions of material life of society which establishes the relation between social being and social consciousness and also determines the character of the social system and the development of society from one system to another?

The answer that Buckle and his other contemporaries were unable to produce was given by Karl Marx, the originator of the idea of the economic interpretation of history. He said, “…the first premise of all human existence and, therefore, of all history, the premise, namely, that men must be in a position to live in order to be able to “make history.” But life involves before everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing and many other things. The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself. And indeed this is an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history, which today, as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human life… Therefore in any interpretation of history one has first of all to observe this fundamental fact in all its significance and all its implications and to accord it its due importance.” [2]

And further: “…Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature. Of course, we cannot here go either into the actual physical nature of man, or into the natural conditions in which man finds himself – geological, hydrographical, climatic and so on. The writing of history must always set out from these natural bases and their modification in the course of history through the action of men.

Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.

The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the actual means of subsistence they find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production.” [2]

production

It’s now relevant to quote another piece of Marx, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” [3]

And thus in 1859 Marx formulate the essence of Materialist conception of History in the historic Preface to his famous book, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

The general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the guiding principle of my studies can be summarised as follows.

In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or – what is but a legal expression for the same thing – with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so can we not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.” (Italics and Underlines are ours)

Thus, in a highly compressed expression, we have four major connected domains: (a) the material forces of production, to which correspond (b) the relations of production, on which is erected (c) a legal and political superstructure, and to which correspond (d) forms of social consciousness.

Now the path traversed by Marx to reach the MCH is pointed out by the speech that Engels made at Marx’s funeral. He described it, “Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.;” hence we should apprehend that just like Darwin made the Evolution theory, Marx also constructed the architecture of MCH by selectively choosing materials from the past work done before him, and again, like Darwin, there were other people working more or less on the same lines. The gradual formulation of the concept of MCH by Marx is rather the confirmation of MCH itself. [4]

So, MCH as formulated by Marx tells us that within the society contradictions are produced because of social antagonism present in the structure; and because of the conflicts among the opposite forces, the initial contradiction is dissolved to generate a newer and higher form of contradiction; and the motion goes on by demolishing the older shell and kernel by each & every time revolutionising the modes of existing production system; thus, we consider MCH as the most revolutionary and scientific method to lay out the traces of social metamorphosis;

However, after the fall of USSR and so called socialist societies anti Marxists raised their voices against the MCH. Some Marxists told that socialism was not at all established so there is no question of its fall and they are satisfied with their explanation. Some are pointing towards the opportunism within the Marxist camp. Some are saying that due to some wrong steps and conspiracies socialism fell. After all MCH is discredited. Therefore, we will investigate the validity of the concept of MCH along the transformation of production system.

Part B

Validity of MCH

To find out the efficacy of MCH, let us examine the Evolution of Social Production from late 19th century to 20th century and Evolution of Retail, Money and Corporate Structure up to early 21st century:

  1. Fragmented production

In 1893 Lenin observed and said – “Recently, in the United States, the woodworking factories are becoming more and more specialized, ‘new factories are springing up exclusively for the making of, for instance, axe handles, broom handles, or extensible tables….Machine building is making constant progress, new machines are being continuously invented to simplify and cheapen some side of production…. Every branch of furniture making, for instance, has become a trade requiring special machines and special workers…. In carriage building, wheel rims are made in special factories (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee), wheel spokes are made in Indiana and Ohio, and hubs again are made in special factories in Kentucky and Illinois. All these separate parts are bought by factories which specialize in the making of whole wheels. Thus, quite a dozen factories take part in the building of some cheap kind of vehicle” (Mr. Tverskoi, “Ten Years in America,” Vestnik Yevropy, 1893, 1. I quote from Nik. —on,[5]p. 91, footnote 1). [5]

This is the fragmented form of social production within national boundary. Later on this form of production was followed by Combination of production or integrated production system.

  1. Combination of production

In 1916 Lenin observed “ a very important feature of capitalism in its highest stage of development is so-called combination of production, that is to say, the grouping in a single enterprise of different branches of industry, which either represent the consecutive stages in the processing of raw materials (for example, the smelting of iron ore into pig-iron, the conversion of pig-iron into steel, and then, perhaps, the manufacture of steel goods)—or are auxiliary to one another (for example, the utilization of scrap, or of by-products, the manufacture of packing materials, etc.).

Combination,” writes Hilferding, “levels out the fluctuations of trade and therefore assures to the combined enterprises a more stable rate of profit. Secondly, combination has the effect of eliminating trade. Thirdly, it has the effect of rendering possible technical improvements, and, consequently, the acquisition of superprofits over and above those obtained by the ‘pure’ (i.e. non-combined) enterprises. [6]

And “What exactly were the Soviet relations of production? In the Soviet Union, in the period 1928-88, the political and the economic could not be separated. In theory, all means of production were owned jointly by the Soviet people. In practice, this meant that production decisions were centralized in Moscow under the authority of the Soviet political leadership. While economic planning was done in detail by a central planning agency, the central planners were subordinate to the political
leadership for all tactical and strategic decisions. In its unity of political and economic aspects, the Soviet economy was more like the feudal situation (where the nobles automatically had both political and economic control) than like capitalism (where the economic ruling class attempts, with varying success, to control the political structure).In brief, Soviet relations of production in that period amounted to:(1) government control of production, plus (2) elite control of the government.” [7]

In 1917 Russian Revolution was taken place and a new soviet industrial production system emerged. Soviet production system was all out combination of production or integrated national production. Partial elimination of trade occurred within Soviet Union. Machines or means of productions were not act as commodities within Soviet Union but act as commodities during foreign trade. So, by and large instead of competition, cooperation was the binding force of coordination within the Soviet, but when its economy interacted with other countries, then competition was unavoidable. Still within Soviet, all industries came under the same umbrella – the state. Shrinkage of domestic trade was taken place with this wider national combination of production. And along with the concentration of capital and development of productive forces, nationalized production under the state ownership was the order of the day; and the concept of state owned production system due to its material basis also influenced the world; one third followed the soviet, another one third fifty-fifty. Now the reason of influence can be depicted as-

“The advance of state monopolistic programming provided an answer to the imperative demands of the new productive forces which were to be seen more and more obviously to be tearing down the framework of private capitalist relations. At the same time this advance was dictated by the increasingly tense competition with socialism and was presented by the strategists of capitalism as a kind of alternative to socialist planning.” [8]

Combination of production within national boundary was higher form of social production than fragmentation of production within national boundary and it was the immediate material basis of Soviet socialism.

But evolution of social production was not ended here. From 1960 onward another form of social production has taken place slowly and steadily –

  1. Global production

  • “Electronics production, along with a small number of other forms of production (textiles and automobiles for instance), is organized in terms of a combination of ‘technically disarticulated’ labour processes. Under certain conditions, therefore (…….) particular labour processes can be dispersed to selected locations within the home country or overseas, in order to take advantage of specific combinations of production factors ( usually particular forms, qualities, and cost of labour power ), or, as in the case of Europe, penetrate the major markets which exist there. With modern telecommunications and transport systems linking dispersed production units to the centralized control function, the ‘world factory’ phenomenon emerges. More than any other industrial branch, Semiconductor manufacture, since the early 1960s, has constituted the prototypical example of a production system organized on the basis of ‘world factories’.” [9]

  • ” The concentration of financial and economic power in the hands of a few banks and the growth of multinational banking associations are indicative of a new and higher stage in the socialization of production;” [10]

This is the international or multinational fragmentation of production. Soviet type of social production could not compete with this type of social production and therefore we have seen the fall of USSR and its allies.

  • Before the fall of Soviet Union – “In this context, protectionism and defensive attitudes are losing bets. It is not by chance that even a superpower—the USSR—that had built barriers around itself and was striving to compete and advance by planning its economy in isolation is now being forced to come to terms with this new reality and open up to the opportunities afforded by technological change. The implications of Gorbachev’s new course for the organization of Soviet society are immense, and the bureaucratic resistance to change is likely to be tough. In the largest developing country—the People’s Republic of China—a similar process is taking place, demonstrating that the new advances present immediate opportunities not only for already industrialized countries but for all nations.” [11]

After the fall of Soviet Union we have got the “Made in the World” production system.
Today, companies divide their operations across the world, from the design of the product and manufacturing of components to assembly and marketing, creating international production chains. More and more products are “Made in the World” rather than “Made in the UK” or “Made in France”. (WTO)

Combination of production was the immediate material basis of the rise of USSR and Multinational form of fragmentation of production was immediate material basis of the fall of USSR.

Multinational form of fragmentation of production developed further and becoming more and more global.

EVOLUTION of RETAIL

  • Local culture – the Corner Store: 1900s
    If you start back from the 1900s, local corner stores dominated retail. There were some catalogs, but the overwhelming shopping experience was at the corner store. People walked to the store to get the basics. Choice was limited. In some of the bigger cities, you could find more but you were basically limited by what you could carry back to your home.

  • Mass modernization culture – Department store: 1900 – 1940
    While the automobile hit the streets at scale in the 1920s, it wasn’t really until the 1940s when the automobile was mainstream (in US culture, at least). With the automobile, people could go farther and carry more. At the same time, in-home refrigeration allowed shoppers to stock more. Retail moved from local corner stores to general merchants and department stores.

  • Suburban culture – Mall: 1950s – 1970s
    The population boom and the explosion of suburbia led to open air malls, strip centers, and mass retailers. This was the time of the true mall, as well as the heyday of the TV ad.

  • Consolidation culture – Big Box stores: 1970 – 1990
    From the 1970s to the ‘90s, the big box player burst onto the scene. You saw an explosion of value players, club stores, and category killers. These stores drove a lot of the smaller local merchants out of business.

  • Digital culture – E-commerce: 1990 – 2013
    Perhaps we should call this the Amazon era, but the advent of e-commerce has shaken the retail world to its core. Think about this: 7 of the 8 largest retailers in the US in 1980 had fallen from this position by the time the century turned – either bankrupt, acquired or irrelevant. The frenzy of the dotcom bubble was something of smokescreen that hid the truly fundamental changes in how people shopped that we’re still living with today.[12]

EVOLUTION of MONEY

The amalgamation of money, transactions, software and devices will continue to grow in the decades to ev moneycome.

Eventually it will come to the point where everything that we interact with on a daily basis will be able to make a transaction.

Eventually, payments may become invisible. Instead of handing over cash or a card to a person or machine, our mere presence will be able to conduct a transaction for whatever good or service we desire. The progression from hard currency to fiat currency to the digitization of money and payment cards mixed with the power of smart phones and the Internet of Things is what makes this not just feasible, but probable within our lifetimes.

It’s is the ultimate endpoint for the notion of currency. [13]

We have found the evolution of ownership of the means of production from 19th century to 20th century as below:
National private ownership to national state ownership and from National state ownership to Multinational private ownership.

EVOLUTION of CORPORATE

In its early forms, the corporation was a creature of the state. Governments chartered and sanctioned corporations to perform specific duties on behalf of the nation and its rulers. This changed somewhat during the nineteenth century, when the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries granted company owners limited liability, and corporations gained a more liberated status as independent “legal persons.”

The mid-nineteenth century saw the emergence of what can be called the international corporation. An entrepreneurial joint-stock company, organized in simple hub-and-spoke networks, it established and controlled international trade routes, often relying on its home state’s armed forces for protection. In some industries, corporations used these routes to import raw materials (diamonds, rubber, tea, and oil) and export finished products (chocolate, soap, margarine, and other manufactured consumer goods). The basic structure of home-country manufacture and international distribution applied across almost every industry.

A second phase in the corporation’s life began in 1914, with the conflagration of World War I and the subsequent collapse of economies in the United States and Europe. International corporations found their trade-based networks blocked. The spread of protectionism in the 1920s and 1930s led to the rise of tariffs, exchange controls, and other trade barriers. In response, businesses began to evolve into what is today recognized as the MNC. The MNC was a hybrid. On the one hand, it adapted to trade barriers by building local production. American MNCs such as General Motors and Ford, for instance, built auto plants in Europe and Asia, thus allowing them to sell to important local markets without incurring tariff penalties. On the other hand, the MNC performed some tasks on a global basis, such as research and development (R & D) and product design.

There were, of course, many recognizably global products throughout the twentieth century, from Coca-Cola to the Sony Walkman, products whose worldwide success underlined the growing importance of branding and marketing. But by and large, corporations continued to organize production market by market, within the traditional boundaries of the nation-state.

During the last three decades of the century, however, some important changes began to play out across the world economy. First, economic nationalism abated, and so trade and investment barriers receded. The liberalization of trade and investment flows changed companies’ perceptions of what sorts of globalization were permissible. Second, starting in the early 1970s, the revolution in information technology (IT) improved the quality and cut the cost of global communications and business operations by several orders of magnitude. Most important, it standardized technologies and business operations all over the world, interlinking and facilitating work both within and among companies. This combination of shared technologies and shared business standards, all built on top of a global IT and communications infrastructure, changed the sorts of globalization that companies found possible.

Together, new perceptions of the permissible and the possible have deepened the process of corporate globalization by shifting its focus from products to production — from what things companies choose to make to how they choose to make them, from what services they offer to how they choose to deliver them. Simply put, the emerging globally integrated enterprise is a company that fashions its strategy, its management, and its operations in pursuit of a new goal: the integration of production and value delivery worldwide. State borders define less and less the boundaries of corporate thinking or practice.

Global integration

The shift from Multinational Corporation to Globally Integrated Enterprise has assumed two distinct forms. The first has involved changes in where companies produce things; the second, changes in who produces them. Until recently, companies generally chose to produce goods close to where they sold them. As a consequence, most foreign investments targeted specific foreign markets. Today, overseas investments continue to be made with a view to gaining access to important sources of foreign demand, but companies are investing more to change the way they supply the entire global market. The global integration of production cuts costs and taps new sources of skills and knowledge.

The most visible signs of this change can be seen in China and India. By one estimate, between 2000 and 2003 alone, foreign firms built 60,000 manufacturing plants in China. Some of these factories target the local Chinese market, but others target the global market. European chemical companies, Japanese carmakers, and U.S. industrial conglomerates are all building (or have declared their intention to build) factories in China to supply export markets around the world. Similarly, banks, insurance companies, professional-service firms, and IT companies are building R & D and service centers in India to support employees, customers, and production worldwide.

But these changes reach far beyond China and India. American radiologists send x-rays to Australia for interpretation. Customer-service centers in Nova Scotia handle warranty inquiries for U.S. shoppers. Procurement centers in Manila process corporate purchasing decisions on behalf of firms big and small around the world. Back offices in Dublin process derivatives transactions for global investment banks. In the United States, European biotech and pharmaceutical companies, such as Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Eppendorf, are building manufacturing and R & D centers to support global research and production. Chipmakers, such as Samsung and Infineon Technologies, and chip-manufacturing-equipment companies, such as Tokyo Electron, are tapping U.S. engineers and know-how to advance their manufacturing technologies. Everywhere, economic activity is turning outward by embracing shared business and technology standards that let businesses plug into truly global systems of production.

These shared standards, meanwhile, have given companies options in terms of whom they choose to produce things. As shared business practices spread, along with shared modes of connecting business activity, companies can hand over more and more of the work they had previously performed in-house (from back-office support work, such as invoicing and employee-benefits administration, to R & D, sales, and customer support) to outside specialists.

Therefore, the corporation was seen as a collection of country-based subsidiaries, business units, or product lines. (The IBM of 30 years ago, for example, was in many respects an emblematic multinational. Over the past decade, IBM and its clients have changed structurally, operationally, and culturally in response to globalization and new technology.) Now the spread of outsourcing is encouraging companies to view themselves as an array of specialized components: procurement, manufacturing, research, sales, distribution, and so on. For each of these components, the global integration of operations is forcing companies to choose where they want the work to be performed and whether they want it performed in-house or by an outside partner. (Procter & Gamble, for example, relies on outside specialists in nearly all areas of its business.) The corporation, then, is emerging as a combination of various functions and skills — some tightly bound and some loosely coupled — and it integrates these components of business activity and production on a global basis to produce goods and services for its customers. This simple change in the corporation’s purpose and mission has many ramifications.

The alternative to global integration is not appealing. Left unaddressed, discontent with globalization will only grow. People might ultimately choose to elect governments that impose strict regulations on trade or labor, perhaps of a highly protectionist sort. Worse, they might gravitate toward more extreme forms of nationalism, xenophobia, and antimodernism. The shift from MNCs to Globally Integrated Enterprises provides an opportunity to advance both business growth and societal progress. But it raises issues that are too big and too interconnected for business alone or government alone to solve. [14]

Part C

Production in early 21st century

We can consider the primary journey of production started with the Handicraft and with the introduction of division of labour in the production process, the era of Manufacture begins.

The division of labour in manufacture splits the process of production into various successive manual operations. Whether complex or simple, each operation has to be done by hand, retains the character of a handicraft, and is therefore dependent on the strength, skill, quickness, and sureness, of the individual workman in handling his tools. The handicraft continues to be the basis. This narrow technical basis excludes a really scientific analysis of any definite process of industrial production. In this way, each workman becomes exclusively assigned to a simple and repetitive fractional task of the complete production system, for the rest of his life; and thus he becomes automatic, specialised organ of that operation. Not only this the manufacturing period simplifies, improves, and multiplies the tools of labour, by adapting them to the exclusively special functions of each detail labourer. It thus creates at the same time one of the material conditions for the existence of machinery, which consists of a combination of simple instruments.

Since handicraft skill is the foundation of manufacture, and since the mechanism of manufacture as a whole possesses no framework, apart from the labourers themselves, capital is constantly compelled to wrestle with the insubordination of the workmen.

At the same time manufacture was unable, either to seize upon the production of society to its full extent, or to revolutionise that production to its very coreAt a given stage in its development, the narrow technical basis on which manufacture rested, came into conflict with requirements of production that were created by manufacture itself.” [15]

Hence, the basis of manufacture period was handicraft and it was mechanised by the cooperation of specialised workmen with their specialised yet simplified instruments of labour and combining all of these they paved the way to Modern Industry manifested with machines.

In manufacture, the revolution in the mode of production begins with the labour-power, in modern industry it begins with the instruments of labour or machines which is the material embodiment of capital and also the material basis of the capitalist mode of production.

Like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of the working day, in which the labourer works for himself, to lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, to the capitalist. In short, it is a means for producing surplus-value by extracting more labour-power; on the contrary, the division of labour specialises this labour-power, by reducing it to skill in handling a particular tool. So soon as the handling of this tool becomes the work of a machine, then, with the use-value, the exchange-value too, of the workman’s labour-power vanishes; the workman becomes unsalable, like paper money thrown out of currency by legal enactment.

Thus with every advance in the use of machinery, the constant component of capital, that part which consists of machinery, raw material increases, while the variable component, the part laid out in labour-power, decreases; as a result, the rate of surplus value generation decreases; so, the replacement of labourer by the incorporation of machines shows an inherent contradiction of the capitalist production system.

Apart from that the varied, apparently unconnected, and petrified forms of the industrial processes now resolved themselves into so many conscious and systematic applications of natural science to the attainment of given useful effects. Technology also discovered the few main fundamental forms of motion, which, despite the diversity of the instruments used, are necessarily taken by every productive action of the human body; just as the science of mechanics sees in the most complicated machinery nothing but the continual repetition of the simple mechanical powers.

Modern industry never looks upon and treats the existing form of a process as final. The technical basis of that industry is therefore revolutionary, while all earlier modes of production were essentially conservative.” [16]

Hence from above we can realise that the basis of modern industry is the technology of machines and their cooperation in the advanced process of production, utilising huge natural resources and laws of natural science with little amount of human supervision. Moreover the accumulation & consequently the centralisation of capital also help the centralisation of technology in the hands of few. And this fundamental characteristic of modern industry made Automation & Robotics inevitable in the evolution of productive forces from around the late 20th century.

Features of present day automation:

modauto

  • Today the evolution of science and technology is driving the social labour towards a situation where the physical labour will be completely replaced by the machine labour in all the spheres of production like cultivation, food processing and communication etc. in future. Already this process has been progressed far enough to even replace the mental labour by virtue of automation technologies viz Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, Quantum Computing etc.

What it is thought earlier that the mystery of intellectual power of human being can’t be revealed but can only be known is the reaction in different stimulation; but now every living being of this planet is considered as DNA-software based biological machines and their controlling directives can be extracted, changed and magnified also. That is, the possibilities of prototyping of software coding of human intellect or the replica of human thought process have arrived.

Hence, the future society will be free from human labour instead it will be dependent on intelligent machines driven by software.

  • Recently, there was a global cyber attack of malware viruses (viz Wanncry or Petya Ransomware), which nearly affected 20,000 organizations in 150 countries. In this form of attacks hackers takes the control of computer system and blocks the access to it until a ransom is paid. The hackers gain control over the machine when it is connected to the satellite network.

Ransomware has shown that today’s world is under the control of software, which is the brain of nearly all existing systems; so the pulse of digital life line of this globally interconnected capital society can be shut down by software control;

Possibilities unveiled by automation:

The strength of Wannacry or Petya Ransomware doesn’t lie in the amount of bitcoins they have forced to pay or their failure in withdrawing those; we should comprehend the underlying motion of technology, the future possibilities that’s unveiling; it’s heading towards a production system where machines will be under DCS (Distributed Control Systems), and their intelligence will be in the form of software provided locally and globally through networks of fibre optics and satellite; the genesis has began; so, in a system where software is coded by open sources globally, the whole control of machines as well as of the production system will be in the hands of a open source society, i.e. the common ownership of means of production; the economic conflict in capitalist modes of production has procreated this process in the name of automation; This process of automation is made possible not only by technological development, but also by the nature of human work during the capitalist stage. For the highly-specialist capitalist division of labor reduces human labor to a simple repetitive task, which is exactly the kind of task that machines can be designed to do, since they are tasks that do not require human creativity. They are dull, monotonous and in many cases risky too.

So, the Ransomware has revealed a glimpse of possibility to conquer the future capitalist means of production by the technology still in an embryonic condition in the womb of capitalism; the strength lies there.

All the historical contradictions of capitalism are concentrated in the two fold character of automation. On the one hand, it represents the perfected development of material forces of production, which could in themselves potentially liberate mankind from the compulsion to perform mechanical, repetitive, dull and alienating labour. On the other hand, it represents a new threat to job and income, a new intensification of anxiety, insecurity, return to mass unemployment, periodic losses of consumption and income, and intellectual and moral impoverishment. This has created the real material basis of 1% have and 99% have not situation. By maturing the material conditions, that is by revealing the anarchy and the catastrophes of capitalist production as a whole it matures the contradictions and antagonisms of the capitalist form of production, and thereby provides, along with the elements for the formation of a new society, the forces for exploding the old one.

So these dual situations actually indicate that the inner contradiction of capitalism has led it to a collapsing situation, and thereby providing a proof for the validity & omnipotence of MCH.

REFERENCES:

[1] General Introduction to the Philosophy of History, G.W.Hegel,1820

[2] The German Ideology, Karl Marx, 1845

[3] The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx,1852

[4] Speech by Engels at Karl Marx’s Funeral, 1883

[5] On the so called market question, Lenin

[6] Imperialism the highest form of capitalism, Lenin

[7] Rise and fall of the Soviet Union, Howard J.Sherman, 1994

[8] The international working class movement, vol 6

[9] The globalization of high technology production, by Jeffrey Handerson, 1989 edition

[10] (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia,1979)( http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Centralization+of+Capital)

[11] The Technology Revolution and the Restructuring of the Global Economy. National Research Council.1988. Globalization of Technology: International Perspectives. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1101.(https://www.nap.edu/read/1101/chapter/4#27)

[12] ( https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130607115409-12921524-how-did-we-get-here-a-short-history-of-retail)

[13] https://arc.applause.com/2015/04/15/future-of-currency-and-mobile-payments/

[14] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2006-05-01/globally-integrated-enterprise

[15] Capital, chapter 14, Karl Marx, 1857

[16] Capital, chapter 15, Karl Marx, 1857


Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s