The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.
So Marx is against urbanization, without explitely saying why, other than crediting his B strawman with the development, while decrying the "idiocy" of rural life.
The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff.
Well, that blows away a lot of thought which credited technology with liberating agrarian labor, in addition to providing new work in cities, for the urbanization. Is technology, itself, a B conspiracy in the B movie of Industrialization?
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground--what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?
Marx's genius is elevating the B to near-Cthulhu levels of diabolical power. Here we are decrying all of the improvements that have made modern life possible, AND set the stage for the reactionary counter-charge that labor is being exploited and Gaia molested.
We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.
So Feudalism--it's not clear whether it was as bad as the B, or merely a precursor--was superceded by this hellish B force. As far as I can tell, Marx is noting a technological progression, and attributing societal side-effects to his B group. Has he confused horse and cart here? Perhaps. Is this a deliberate rhetorical choice? Let's keep the disbelief suspended.
Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded--here and there, now and then--are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."
A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity--the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.
It's as though Marx views technological improvement as though it were nuclear fission. Was he a proto-Luddite?
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.
Here is a critical point: Marx has said that the B are bad, and will now be hoisted upon their own petard. But who is managing that? If the B were so clever as to fell Feudalism, how is the B to be eliminated by less than an Ueber-B?
But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons--the modern working class--the proletarians.
Oh, the Proletariat is going to be bigger and tougher enough to slay the B dragon, while somehow not actually becoming even worse than the B, even though the slope of history sketched by Marx seems rather negative.
In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed â" a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
Wait--are the Proletariat the victims, or the conquerors of the B.
Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc.
OK, here is what I don't get. If "individual character" and "charm for
the workman" are a key component of work in the market, why aren't the
workers in the proletariat leveraging that? I'm talking craft beer,
artisinal cheese, and hand-made furniture.
That is, Marx seems to appeal to fear of obsolescence in the proletariat, rather than appealing to individual greatness and pursuit of excellence.
Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.
One of the interesting aspects is how readily Marx both (a) rejects
individual responsibilty for life outcomes, and (b) places individuals
like sheep in the B factory pens in support of his argument.
In this, Marx seems ready to agree with the B, while purporting to attack them.
The contemporary version is rioters destroying small businesses in Ferguson, in the name of "Fighting the Power". Because #Justice.
<a href="http://slashdot.org/~smitty_one_each/journal/1342943">Part 1</a>
<a href="http://slashdot.org/~damn_registrars/journal/1343899">Part 2</a>
<a href="http://slashdot.org/~smitty_one_each/journal/1344465">Part 3</a>
<a href="http://slashdot.org/~damn_registrars/journal/1553731">Part 4</a>