Reading Capital With Comrades podcast

#8: TECHNOLOGY (Ch. 15)

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Reading chapter 15 on machinery and modern industry, episode 8 focuses on the relationship between technology, capital, and class struggle. After examining Marx’s method of approaching technological transformation, we show how machinery provides the adequate technical foundations for the capitalist mode of production because it displaces and objectifies the knowledge and skills that were formerly held in the living body of the worker. Going through the different sections of the chapter and assessing how they relate to our contemporary organizing, we review: the role machinery plays in capitalist expansion (in terms of class power, colonialism, and imperialism); how it changes the life and organization of work by atomizing workers and subjecting our labor and bodies to machinery; how technology is a response to and site of class struggle; and the role that the state plays in all of this. Because machinery enables capitalism to stand on its own, we also get a first glimpse at industrial cycles of expansion and crisis and how capitalism produces structural unemployment (an industrial reserve army). Throughout the episode, we pay attention to technology fetishism and the idea that technology “develops” and “advances,” and that it’s always a gain for humanity. We also highlight Marx’s mention of how communism could transform the role technology plays in our lives and the world at large.

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