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Fragment on machines

I think I’ll try and get to grip with this, but Marx is very hard read. I am also particularly interested in his views on General Intellect, it seems he agrees that software should be free, but then he also thought that workers should run the state. The fragment on machines is part of the Grundrisse. Here are my notes:


A while ago I found this, so long ago that’ it’s now on the way back machine.


When making my storify, the next evolution of capitalism, , I came across this, “What the hell … is the fragment on machines” by Nate Hawthorne
I was pointed at this recently,

  1. A Few Fragments on Machines by Gerald Raunig, he looks at Marx and some successors, this needs to be read, but is possibly a simpler read.
  2. Another article, A Few Fragments on Machines which seems to share some of the same words, although on closer inspection they seem to be quote. This is on Medium by Tom Chatfield and is possibly the easiest read I have found.

Mason, in post capitalism, mentions it. It’s indexed under General Intellect.
Martin Thomas, edited a pamphlet called, Automation and the working class, depending on your edition, they reproduce the fragment on page 2.
Phil Burton Cartledge writes about it and points to one of his sources,

  1. Marx and the fragement on machines by Phil BC, on his blog
  2. Phil mentions Negri and immaterial labour, and in a further article talks of Hardt & Negria and the supplanting of the making of things with the making if relationships again on his blog. He’s also written this, on the Commons and identity politics, in which he references Cognitive Capital by Yann Moulier Boutang.
  3. I am pointed at “Relations of Production” on wikipedia, “By “relations of production”, Marx and Engels meant the sum total of social relationships that people must enter into in order to survive, to produce, and to reproduce their means of life.”
  4. Did Karl Marx predict artificial intelligence 170 years ago by @MichaelMcBride on Medium

Phil says,

this is a problem because the average amount of what Marx calls socially necessary labour by humans that goes into a commodity is the basis of its value: it is the key lynchpin of how capitalism works. Therefore capital’s drive to raise the rate of exploitation, to increase its share of surplus value is, over the long-term, driving value down. If production becomes entirely automated then no labour time is necessary, and value itself collapses. The problem is as automation gathers pace, so immaterial labour and its production of intangible commodities involves an acceleration of this decline of value.

I found this at tendancecoatsy, which while it’s main purpose seems to be having a laugh at the proponents of the worker’s bomb does look at some of the theory proposing a post proletariat productive class, but not why it’s happening and with some distaste.
Phil BC in his writing points at Hardt & Negri’s Empire trilogy, (Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth) and I link to HUP’s review collection and also at Yann Moulier Boutang’s Cognitive Capitalism. I found this review of the road to a General Theory of the Knowledge Economy which mentions their ideas.
Image Credit: CC 3.0 2013 BY-SA

Comments ( 4 )

  1. Dave
    I added some links from Phil and about Hardt & Negri
  2. The next evolution of capitalism –
    […] fragment on machines/, more reading from my […]
  3. Automating the professionals –
    […] Why is it so hard to organise I.T. workers? Part of it is their exceptionalism; part of it must be the 21st century version of the “Labour Aristocracy”, compounded by the outsourcing, abolition of work places and the ideological victory of anti-solidarity in the workplace epitomised by stack ranking performance management systems. We should acknowledge that the mergers that have taken place amongst the Unions will have accelerated the bureaucratisation of the Unions and diluted their brand as experts in an industry. The domination of US companies with anti-union managements can’t help, but for some reason even when the datenkraken become organised activists start limited staff associations. The surviving manufactures such as Fujitsu still have recognition agreements and the drive to outsourcing public sector business has led to recognition agreements being inherited via TUPE for the strangest of companies such as HP, the scion of Ross Perot’s system integrator business. My confusion about the fundamental economics of software may be because it is not well understood. While some of my earlier writings suggested that software was only constrained by imagination, I have changed my mind as it is clear that the speed of light is a factor in response times and all computers are made of natural resources and require electricity to run. I am still reading and thinking about this and my notes are in my wiki article, the Fragment on Machines. […]
  4. Open access to research |
    […] This is part of my research and campaigning for free software and knowledge. See also Fragments on the Machine. […]

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