Social Scientist. v 12, no. 136 (Sept 1984) p. 63.


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Karl Marx, Andrew Ure and the Question of Managerial Control

OF LATE, there has been a renewed interest in the study of the labour process in capitalist societies among the social scientists and, sometimes, starting with basic Marxist formulations about the capitalist societies, they have even attempted to transcend Marxism. A long line of Marxist writers, starting from Lenin, have enriched the tradition of studying capitalist production relations and have tried to interpret the Marxist teachings on the issue of control in the factory system, though many writers in this tradition have succumbed to some deviations on account of stressing the importance of the labour process without situating it in the overall context of a commodity or market dominated society. The self-management theories being propounded in Yugoslavia have, in fact, gone to the extent of suggesting that self-control by the workers of the labour process is a necessary and sufficient condition for the transformation of capitalist relations of production. In recent years, Sweezyand Baran, Ernest Mandel, Harry Braverman and Theo Nichols have devoted themselves to the study of labour process in the modern capitalist societies. But most of these studies tend to give an impression that the control of labour process in the era of monopoly capitalism marks a discontinuity from competitive capitalism. The organic link between the unified body of ideas on valorisation process, as presented by Marx, has not received the attention it deserves from the present-day analysts of labour process in capitalist factory. In fact, the inherent assumption of these studies seems to be that the theories of techno-structurc or managers dominating the control of labour process have posed a serious challenge to classical Marxist formulations. Most of the debates of Marxists with the managerialists start with the interest Lenin and Gramsci showed in Taylorism or Fordism.

In this paper, we are attempting the limited purpose of putting this debate between the apologists of the bourgeoisie and spokesmen of working class in a historical perspective. In fact, Marx himself had to contend with ^ew class* theories in their embryonic form. The ancestry



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