Machinery and Large-Scale Industry (chapter of DAS KAPITAL)

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Marx, Karl. "Machinery and Large-Scale Industry." Ch. 15 of Book I (i.e., the first volume) of Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (in Part Four). 1867. Frequently trans. and rpt., e.g. Ben Fowkes, trans. Ernest Mandel, introd. New York: Vintage-Random, 1976.

See esp. section 3 of the chapter, "The Most Immediate Effects of Machine Production on the Worker," and section 4, "The Factory." Includes descriptions and analyses of working with machines in the UK in the middle of the 19th c. and a very important comment on two possible relationships between humans and machines in a factory: "In one, the combined collective worker appears as the dominant subject . . ., and the mechanical automaton [i.e., the machine] as the object; in the other, the automaton itself is the subject, and the workers are merely conscious organs, co-ordinated with the unconscious organs of the automaton, and together with the latter subordinated to the central moving force. The first description is applicable to every possible employment of machinery on a large scale, the second is characteristic of its use by capital, and therefore of the modern factory system" (544-45; 2nd paragraph of 15.4). For application of KM's insight to industry in general, see E. S. Rabkin, "Irrational Expectations" (162-63), cited under Literary Criticism.[1]