Tag Archives: Marxist

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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The Means of Production: Introduction

I’m going to take a break from my reminiscing about my personal past. Instead, I’m going to return to a subject near and dear to my heart: politics. Contrary to what the common usage of that word is, for me politics is much more than the official business of the legitimate governing institutions of this world. I use politics more in the Aristotlean sense; that is, everything and anything that has to do with human interaction. Politics is about how we humans relate to each other, both formally and informally(for a detailed discussion of what I am talking about here, I suggest you read Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice).

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will find what I’m about to say a bit repetitious. Sorry about that, but I need to make we are all on the same page. When it comes to politics as I define it, I am a Marxist, but not a vulgar Marxist. What I mean by that is that I do agree that whoever controls the means of production, controls that particular society.

The mans of production is not just the purely economic means, such as factories, corporations, etc… Rather, the menas of productions includes the means of symbolic production, that is who controls the things like education, theater, music, religion: all those things that shape how we think and how we see the world. (My thanks to Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason for this concept). One of the major producers of symbolic products in Western culture is the media. The media, in it’s attempts to be profitable, sells advertising for products that we really don’t have a need for, at first. However, the advertising creates a false need in consumers. The most glaring and most troubling example, for me, is the advertising done by pharmaceutical companies, a subject I have discussed many times here. Feel free to search this blog for more specific details about my feelings about the drug companies. Suffice it to say, their advertising creates a false sense of need and we wonder why we have so many people in this country addicted to prescription medications. The sad thing is that too often the side effects are worse than the disease being treated. Personally, I’d be more than happy to live with a bad case of acne rather than the more serious side effects that some of the prescription medications for acne bring. In this series of posts, I am going to touch on a number of issues about control of the means of production that trouble me in Western society, especially here in the U.S. The first one, which we will cover next time, is the total misrepresentation in American politics(the institutional kind) and the media about what Socialism is, and who is or isn’t a Socialist. Let me tell you upfront; I am a Socialist, and Barack Obama is so far from being a Socialist, it’s not even funny. I only wish he was one.