I am reading Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism. He examines Marx’s “the Fragment on Machines” in a section called the general intellect on pages 133 – 138.

Mason argues that Marx predicted the transformation of Labour from animal energy to that of organising and applying knowledge and expertise. He also forecast the potentially primary importance of knowledge in the productive process. He also observed that once the machines and their encapsulation of knowledge become significant, then knowledge locked inside the machines is ‘social’.

Improving productivity through improving knowledge use is better i.e. cheaper and limitless, than improving Labour productivity; there’s only so much labour power available but It requires an investment in people.

It’s not possible to value the knowledge inputs of the productive process because it’s independent of the Labour inputs. The price mechanism is undermined as is the means of the appropriation of surplus value.

The development or level of technology is the extent to which social knowledge is a force of production.

This is important, maybe crucial to Mason, as there is now a knowledge based route out of capitalism’s inherent crises. Mason argues that Marx suggested that capitalism cannot co-exist with shared knowledge.



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