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Means of Production: Capitalism versus Socialism

“In fact, the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labor under the compulsion of necessity and of external utility is required. In the very nature of things it lies beyond the sphere of material production in the strict meaning of the term. Just as the savage must wrestle with nature, in order to satisfy his wants, in order to maintain his life and reproduce it, so civilized man has to do it, and he must do it in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. With his development the realm of natural necessity expands, because his wants increase; but at the same time the forces of production increase, by which these wants are satisfied. The freedom in this field cannot consist of anything else but of the fact that socialized man, the associated producers, regulate their interchange with nature rationally, bring it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by some blind power; they accomplish their task with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most adequate to their human nature and most worthy of it. But it always remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human power, which is its own end, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can flourish only upon that realm of necessity as its basis.”

Karl Marx Capital Volume III

For most people, those who qualify as vulgar Marxists, means of production means economic production, that is, things like factories, machines, and natural resources used in production likes iron and coal. However, as is clear from the quote above from Marx, the means of production go way beyond economic production to include things like ideas, religion, and other aspects of culture/society that we consider necessary. For a really good look at what I’m talking about, I suggest reading Marshall Sahlins Culture and Practical Reason. Sahlins discusses specially the production of advertising in Marxist terms. Very interesting! Continue reading Means of Production: Capitalism versus Socialism

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