This is what I am reading for my Capital Reading Group.
Chapter 15 is about surplus value. Surplus value is a kind of value – it is the value that leads to profit.
Section 8 is on machinery. It is actually a really excellent section, I may suggest that my reading group on slavery read it.
This is a long section so I am going to summarize
First what are the social relations that are produced by machinery? This is an interesting question.
Marx talks about different forms of social relations and production
- cooperation (we could call this collaboration) – pre manufacturing
- cottage industries or some parts of constructing an item are automated (and a person, often a woman or child operates it)
- factory – this is the factory system
As a result of this movement from cooperation to cottage industry to factory social relations change that make it impossible for a person to live like a person – to live according to our species being. The family is disrupted, childhood is disrupted, it becomes impossible for parents to care for for their offspring, the ability to make choices is severely impaired by desperate situations.
These include being forced to work as a young child and not being able to get an education. This also involves a lack of moral education, or non existent moral education, since they are treated as adults as children and placed side by side with adults within their milieu – but these are adults that do not care about them. Also they are subject to unclean conditions and disease and in many instances unable to improve these conditions because of the amount of work and the lack of liberal education and moral education.
When I talk about moral education, I do not mean religion or ethics (I am all about the transvaluation of values), I mean the ability to cultivate any value at all the ability to cultivate an inner life and a core from which to make decisions instead of being reactive. Maybe we should call this psychological education.
There is also a discussion of domestic labor impacted by the factory system – but I did not quiet grok it – perhaps the point was that this is where the most unskilled people went.
That in a factory where machines are automated you do not need knowledgable workers, strong workers, or anything like that, you just need cheap workers that can operate the machinery.
There is a brief discussion of laws (the Factory Act), and the impact of laws on business and factory workers, and it seems that the laws do nothing to really change the situation but to perhaps limit exploitation a bit so things are slightly less miserable,
This section is 30 pages and this paragraph is like 30 sentences – But I tried to get the gist of it.